Calendar of the Soul:
Week 44 (Candlemas Week)

Stirring new sensual magic,
recalling its own spirit birth,
the clarity of my soul
now fills
the bewildering, teeming,
evolving universe
with the creative willing
of my own thinking.

February 2 is one of the great cross-quarter days which make up the wheel of the year. Known as Candlemas, Imbolc or Groundhog day, it falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and in many traditions is considered the beginning of spring. This time of year promises the return of the light and the renewal of life which were made at the winter solstice are now becoming manifest. It’s the dawn of the year. It’s time to creep out of the hibernation of winter, cautiously, like the Groundhog who supposedly emerges on this day to check his shadow. It’s the time of germination. This is a traditional time for new beginnings. In Western Europe, this was the time for preparing the fields for the first planting. This is a significant moment in a community which depends on the earth for sustenance. The fields were purified and offerings were made.

Interestingly, the month of February, in ancient Roman times (and possibly before) was a month of purification. The word itself, February, ultimately from Latin februarius mensis “month of purification,” from februare “to purify,” from februa “purifications, expiatory rites” (plural of februum “means of purification, expiatory offerings”)

How does this relate to us today? What are we being asked to purify? How does this light move through you?  And why? Ever notice how more children have fevers this time of year?

In Steiner’s lectures on the Gospel of Luke, he describes the moment when Mary presents the infant baby in the temple, 40 days after his birth (the original Candlemas), and the spiritual significance of the light that emanated out of him:

When the Individuality whose power now rayed down from spiritual heights upon the child of parents belonging to David’s line was born in India long ago — when the Buddha to be was born as Bodhisattva — the whole momentous significance of the events described to-day was revealed to a sage living at that time, and what he beheld in the spiritual world caused that sage — Asita was his name — to go to the royal palace to look for the little Bodhisattva-child. When he saw the babe he foretold his mighty mission as Buddha, predicting, to the father’s dismay, that the child would not rule over his kingdom, but would become a Buddha. Then Asita began to weep, and when asked whether misfortune threatened the child, he answered: ‘No, I am weeping because I am so old that I shall not live to see the day when this Saviour, the Bodhisattva, will walk the Earth as Buddha!’ Asita did not live to see the Bodhisattva become Buddha and there was good reason for his grief at that time. But the same Asita who had seen the Bodhisattva as a babe in the palace of King Suddhodana, was born again as the personality who, in the Gospel of St. Luke, is referred to as Simeon in the scene of the presentation in the temple. We are told that Simeon was inspired by the Spirit to go into the temple where the child was brought to him (Luke II, 25–32). Simeon was the same being who, as Asita, had wept because in that incarnation he would not be able to see the Bodhisattva attaining Buddhahood. But it was granted to him to witness the further stage in the development of this Individuality, and having ‘the Holy Spirit upon him’ he was able to perceive, at the presentation in the temple, the radiance of the glorified Bodhisattva above the head of the Jesus-child of the House of David. Then he could say to himself: ‘Now you need no longer grieve, for what you did not live to see at that earlier time, you now behold: the glory of the Saviour shining above this babe. Lord, now let thy servant die in peace!”

Whoever turns to the Gospel of St. Luke will, to begin with, only be able to feel dimly something of what it contains; but an inkling will then dawn on him that whole worlds, vast spiritual worlds, are revealed by this Gospel. After what was said in the last lecture, this will be obvious to us, for as we heard, spiritual research shows how the Buddhistic world-conception, with everything it was able to give to mankind, flowed into the Gospel of St. Luke. It may truly be said that Buddhism radiates from this Gospel, but in a special form, comprehensible to the simplest and most unsophisticated mind.

The Buddha gave humankind knowledge of love and compassion, and when we have completely transformed our astral bodies through the eightfold path, we will know everything we need to know about the law of this path.”

Steiner described the path as follows. —

“Man attains this kind of knowledge about the world when he acquires a right view of things, a view that has nothing to do with sympathy or antipathy or preference of any sort. He must strive as best he can to acquire the right view of each thing, purely according to what presents itself to him outwardly. That is the first principle: the right view of things. Secondly, man must become independent of what has remained from earlier incarnations; he must also endeavour to judge in accordance with his right view of a thing and not be swayed by any other influences. Thus right judgment is the second principle. The third is that he must strive to give true expression to what he desires to communicate to the world, having first acquired the right view and right judgment of it; not only his words but every manifestation of his being must express his own right view — that and that alone. This is right speech. The fourth principle is that man must strive to act, not according to his sympathies and antipathies, not according to the dark forces of Samskara within him, but in such a way that he lets his right view, right judgment and right speech become deed. This is right action. The fifth principle, enabling a man to liberate himself from what is within him, is that he should acquire the right vocation and station in the world. We may best understand what Buddha meant by this, if we remember how many people are dissatisfied with the tasks devolving upon them, believing that some other position would be more advantageous. But a man should be able to derive from the situation into which he is born or into which fate has placed him, the best that is possible, i.e. to acquire the right ‘occupation’ or ‘vocation’. Whoever finds no satisfaction in the situation in which he is placed, will not be able to derive from it the power to unfold right activity in the world. This is what Buddha called right vocation. The sixth principle is that a man should make increasing efforts to ensure that what he acquires through right views, right judgment and so forth, shall become habit in him. He is born into the world with certain habits. A child gives evidence of this or that inclination or habit. But man’s endeavours should be directed, not towards retaining the habits, proceeding from Samskara but towards acquiring those that gradually become his own as the result of right views, right judgment, right speech, and so on. These are the right habits. The seventh principle is that a man should bring order into his life through not invariably forgetting yesterday when he has to act to-day. He would never accomplish anything if he had to learn his skills anew each time. He must strive to develop recollectedness, mindfulness, regarding everything in his life. He must always turn to account what he has already learnt, he must link the present with the past. Thus along the Eightfold Path man must acquire right mindfulness in the sense of Buddha’s teaching. The eighth quality is acquired when, without partiality for one view or another and without being influenced by any element remaining in him from former incarnations, he surrenders himself with pure devotion to the things of the world, immerses himself in them and lets them alone speak to him. This is right contemplation.”