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Curative Eurythmy

Curative Eurythmy: References to the Fourth German Edition

On-line since: 13th December, 2006

REFERENCES TO THE FOURTH GERMAN EDITION

 

The basis for the text: The course was taken down in short-hand by the professional shorthand writer Helene Finckh (1883–1963) and then written out in longhand. The Stuttgart lecture of October 28, 1922, which is included as the eighth lecture, was probably taken down by participants. There is no shorthand report.

For the first edition (manuscript of lectures 1–6) the material was arranged by the curative eurythmist Elisabeth Baumann-Dollfus.

For the second edition (manuscript of lectures 1–6, with the addition of lecture 7) the first publication was revised by Isabella de Jaager.

For the third edition (first edition in the complete works) the publisher, Dr. Hans W. Zbinden, used Helene Finckh's original shorthand notes as a reference.

The present (fourth) edition is an unaltered impression of the third edition, the only additions being the summary of the contents and the subject index.

 

Concerning lectures 7 and 8:

The lecture of April 18, 1921, which was included as the seventh lecture of this course, was given in connection with the so-called second doctors' course and is contained in the volume “The Spiritual Scientific Aspect of Therapy”. In that context Rudolf Steiner refers to this lecture by saying “After a short pause we shall continue by going more in the direction of eurythmy.”

The lecture given in Stuttgart on October 28, 1922, and which has been included in this course as the eighth lecture, was given in connection with the “Medical Week” held in Stuttgart from October 26–28, 1922, (see “Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine”). The lecture has been published in the present volume only, however.

 

How the course came about and the ladies to whom the abbreviations “Frau B. and Frl. W.” refer:

Frau B. is Elisabeth Baumann-Dollfus (1895–1947) who actively participated in the development of eurythmy as from the summer of 1913. Later on she was the first eurythmy teacher at the Independent Waldorf School in Stuttgart, and she was an active member of the curative eurythmy course.

Frl. W. is Erna van Deventer, née Wolfram (1894–1976), one of the first eurythmists, and, together with Elisabeth Baumann, an active member of the curative eurythmy course. In a memorial essay of the year 1961 in the periodical “Blätter für Anthroposophie” she makes the following reference to it:

“I have two rather faded pieces of paper in front of me; one is a small drawing of the curve of Cassini and the other is a postcard dated February 1921 from Dr. Roman Boos [ 1 ] in Dornach. Two modest pieces of paper, and yet they are almost the only visible testimonies of the events that led up to the curative eurythmy course that Dr. Steiner gave in Dornach in the Spring of 1921 alongside the second doctors' course.

If I want to go back in memory to the time when Dr. Steiner gave the first therapeutic eurythmy exercises I have to go much further back than 1921. As early as 1915 and even earlier Dr. Steiner gave me, and probably other eurythmy teachers too, in answer to our questions, various eurythmy exercises for speaking, and hints for using in special cases we had encountered in towns all over Germany. The expression curative eurythmy did not even exist then, and Dr. Steiner called these exercises “therapeutic” eurythmy and said that these arose out of the Greek Mysteries. This remark will perhaps show how earnest Dr. Steiner was even at that time about healing by means of eurythmy movements, and it will also show how deeply it was impressed upon the consciousness of us still very young teachers that “healing” is connected with “holy”, and that our movements in this therapeutic eurythmy would really have to be carried by “the will to heal” if we wanted to achieve any success with this therapy. (Dr. Steiner did not coin the expression “the will to heal” until later; it was actually on the occasion of our asking him for advice, in 1923–24, whereupon he entered into our problems and gave the course for young medical students.)

Anyone who worked with Dr. Steiner in any way will remember that everything he gave was in answer to a question, a wish, or sometimes even a vague aspiration that came his way. It was the same with curative eurythmy. For instance two children with speech defects were brought to him, and he gave what we would later on have called “curative eurythmy exercises”. In 1919 I met a child with curvature of the spine. Dr. Steiner entered into my questions very thoroughly and gave me the help I warned. I could give lots more examples like this. Yet at the same time I myself was also learning, in the course of giving lessons, to observe people, and I learnt to unite the various phenomena I observed in a person, and to become aware of how many people actually in the numerous eurythmy courses round about were in need of help.

... During those years I often met Elisabeth Baumann-Dollfus, who was also one of the first eurythmists, and a deep love for the work we shared united us for many years. In 1919, after the end of the First World War, we encountered one another again when the Waldorf School was being founded. So we began to exchange our experiences, she being a teacher at the Waldorf School where she worked with Dr. Schubert's remedial class, and I being a eurythmist who in the course of the year gave eurythmy courses in almost all the big towns in Germany, and I had the privilege when I was in Stuttgart of standing in for Frau Baumann at the Waldorf School when she was ill. We each had much joy in the other, because we were aware of our common bond. We were both searching for the same thing, and what were we looking for? The healing element in or behind eurythmy!

This was one of the threads of destiny that hound us together. The other one was my engagement and marriage to H.A.R. van Deventer, who was himself a doctor, and who approached eurythmy from a background of medicine with the same enthusiasm that we approached medicine from a background of eurythmy. And what gave rise to it? The natural science course in Stuttgart at Christmas 1920/21.

Frau Baumann and I went to this course — more as visitors really — since we could not understand a lot of what Dr. Steiner was saying, and as eurythmists we hardly even belonged to that enlightened gathering of students and scholars! But — even if we did not understand it all with our intellect — our enthusiasm for the astronomical drawings made up for it. And one day Dr. Steiner drew something on the blackboard that made us fall on top of one another and nearly jump into the air, and that was the curve of Cassini.

This was the external occurrence that we needed to make us aware that the paths of the stars and the flow of forces within us, both sprang from the same source! For this curve of Cassini that Dr. Steiner was now describing in connection with natural science and astronomy, why, we eurythmists knew it too! As early as 1915, in the White Room of the old Goetheanum, Dr. Steiner had given four to six eurythmy teachers a series of lessons, and on this occasion he taught us “children's forms, good for children and young people from the age of three to eighty, to stop their thoughts scattering”. Those were his words, and one of these forms was the curve of Cassini, to the words “We will seek one another, we feel near one another, we know one another well”.

In 1915 we young people did not have the least idea why he gave this form as a pedagogical exercise, in fact we hardly knew the “Why” of any of the eurythmy teaching material — and to be honest do we know it that much better today? And yet it should be our task to pass not only the exercises but also the “Why” on to our successors. The only way to do this seems to be that in the eurythmy of the future we must separate truth from error, and the source of eurythmy from a watering down of it.

This experience of “recognizing” such an apparently insignificant form was what drew me to Elisabeth Baumann and what caused her and my husband to sit together for hours discussing the problem “If this form which Dr. Steiner was illustrating in the natural science course is so important for both macrocosmic man and microcosmic man, then does not everything given us in eurythmy come from the same source, and should it not be applicable for healing?” For just as with the curve of Cassini, we had also over the years learnt about the cosmic and the human healing effect of vowels, for instance AUM. Our experience of the curve of Cassini was really only the corner-stone of the building of our surmises and experiences in the realm of eurythmy!

But how was it to be done? How were we to acquire a knowledge of “therapeutic eurythmy”? What we knew up till then — Elisabeth Baumann and I — were only small building stones that Dr. Steiner had given us on occasion. Through the fact that my husband supported us in our ideas, as a doctor — he had done quite a lot of eurythmy himself and could understand and support our endeavours from both the medical and the eurythmic side — this gave us courage to ask Dr. Steiner whilst he was still in Stuttgart whether he would like to teach us a kind of therapeutic eurythmy in a systematic way just like he had taught us ordinary eurythmy. Dr. Steiner was very kind, looked at us somewhat astonished at our bold plans, and said he would discuss the matter further with my husband in Holland, and then we would hear.

And thus it happened. Dr. Steiner was in Holland at the beginning of 1921, and as my husband had a strong connection with our work through his medical studies, he had a good deal of opportunity to talk with Dr. Steiner. Frau Baumann was in Stuttgart at the time and I was in Breslau, but we had both set down our wishes very clearly in writing and sent them to my husband (He was still my fiance then). At any rate I)r. Steiner asked him one day in Holland “Do you actually have some eurythmists who would really put their backs into therapeutic eurythmy?” — to which my husband replied “Yes indeed, two at present, Frau Baumann and my future wife”. “Then we can start with it” said Dr. Steiner, and instructed my husband to do the necessary organizing.

This brings me back to the beginning, for the little drawing was the “curve of Cassini” which came from an evening's discussion with Dr. Steiner, and the faded postcard from Roman Boos was his announcement from Domach to say that the “Curative Eurythmy Course” (Dr. Steiner had now coined the name) was due to take place in Dornach at the beginning of April, along with the second doctor's course, that was also due to be given then.

In an article for the periodical “Beiträge zu einer Erweiterung der lleilkunst nach Geisteswissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen” (1971, volume 4) headed “Curative Eurythmy: 1921–71. Its Origins, Development and Task” she describes the following:

During the second doctors' course, from April 12 to 17, 1921, Dr. Steiner gave the curative eurythmy course in six lectures, for doctors, and also for eurythmists who had been training for more than two years. Not one of us could imagine what the course would be like! Dr. Steiner stood on the platform, and Frau Baumann and 1, sitting on two chairs in front of it, felt very uncomfortable, for we had instigated the situation, and in the meantime, from February till April, we had heard no word from Dr. Steiner as to how he would establish this new branch of medical science with the likes of us, who had not the slightest preparatory training in the realm of medicine!

We certainly did not have the necessary knowledge for curative eurythmy work — would it not have been much more practical and sensible for Dr. Steiner to have chosen a small group of doctors for this work? Or did Frau Baumann and I, being eurythmists, really bring something with us out of our past that seemed important to him? In the instructions he gave me shortly after the course, about the training necessary for curative eurythmy, I had my answer.

He answered our question by saying “The prerequisite for the curative eurythmy profession is that you first of all know the whole foundation of artistic eurythmy, in theory and practice. You must he capable of performing a dramatic poem on the stage, for example “der Zauberlehrling” (sorcerer's apprentice) by Goethe, and carry out all the eurythmic indications for word meaning and sentence construction, with all the forms and postures you have learnt. Not until you have mastered all the aspects of artistic eurythmy are you ready to change over to curative eurythmy. He made it clear to us that we would first of all have to master all the possibilities of artistic eurythmy, be able to find them in the cosmos as the forces of the planets and the fixed stars, then in their reflection in human speech and music, then through movements of the human body itself, and in this way we would get to know the human being, that is, ourselves, as beings who reflect macrocosm and microcosm in our own body. Not until we had grasped our situation and task would we be able to advance from the periphery of eurythmy to the centre of the healing aspect of eurythmy. Yet “first of all you must know the periphery, and then you can move on to the centre of man!” What a perspective for us, who had already been actively engaged in artistic and pedagogical eurythmy for eight years, though more in a practical way, and by learning from doing it rather than filling it with our consciousness. The vowels, consonants, parts of speech, rhymes — how much more significant they now appeared to be!

...What a eurythmist should know was also clearly defined by Dr. Steiner telling me what and how I would have to learn from my husband's textbooks, the “Spalteholz” [ 2 ] and the textbook by Professor Broesicke [ 3 ] of Breslau.

Dr. Steiner told us this shortly after the curative eurythmy course, so that it was with a deep feeling of responsibility that we took our departure from Dornach.

 

Notes:

1. Head of the Dornach administration at that time.
2. Prof. W. Spatcholz of the University of Leipzig, February 1914
3. Prof. Dr. Gustav Broesicke, Breslau 1920




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