In Rudolf Steiner's book, "How to Know Higher Worlds" he leads us chapter by chapter, like the Bhagavadgita does, to the heights of the cosmic worlds. He brings us to the crossing point, the Great Bridge Between the Worlds, the Gjallar Bridge, where every individual must stand and confront the Great Guardian. These final chapters in the book are why I became a member of the anthroposophical society, later in life, after growing up with parents who studied Steiner.
The Guardian of the Threshold Kristena West M.A. Duo aqua-oils 3' x4' ( I am very honored to share that my work has been chosen to be one of the featured artists in the North American School for Spiritual Science Art Section for the conference in Ottawa, Canada at the College of Applied Arts. http://www.encounteringourhumanity.ca/welcome )
The Bridge Over the Worlds is found cross-culturally in many traditions. In the Dream Song of Olaf Asteson who falls asleep during the 12 Holy Nights he crosses the Gjallar Bridge to begin his journey of the trials of the Human Being. (artist: unknown)
Other bridges are the Bifrost Bridge or the Asgard Bridge in Norse mythology. And Tolkein shows us the Balrog and the collapse of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm in Moria with Gandalf the Grey. After meeting this lower guardian Gandalf is transformed into Gandalf, the White.
Dorothy meets the Scarecrow who can't think, a Tin Man who has no heart and a Cowardly Lion who lacks courage. Here we meet the Scarecrow who represents the plant kingdown, The TinMan who represents the Mineral Kingdom and the Cowardly Lion who represents the Animal Kingdom; Thinking, Feeling and Willing. Its' no surprise to note that Baum was an anthroposophist and he gave us in beautiful images a cosmic picture for those who are Young at Heart.
Dorothy and company arrive at the Emerald city (Grail Stone) only to discover the Wizard of Oz is a phony as is our lower Ego. But when all hope is lost Glinda the Good Witch comes down from the heavenly heights and gives Dorothy her wisdom. And so Dorothy's redeemed parts are whole and she discovers how to "Go Home." Glinda is a splendid representation of meeting the Greater Guardian in a children's tale. (Aslan in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, etc.) She is a luminous Being of Light.
Steiner states, "An indescribable splendor shines forth from the second Guardian of the Threshold; union with him looms as a far distant ideal before the soul's vision. Yet there is also the certitude that this union will not be possible until all the powers afforded by this world are applied to the task of its liberation and redemption. By fulfilling the demands of the higher light-being the initiate will contribute to the liberation of the human race. He lays his gifts on the sacrificial altar of humanity. "
As an artist when I am trying to understand a concept, I make art about it. As I grapple with the ideas internally in day waking consciousness, and try to work over threshold of sleep with the Being I am engaged in conversation with. I try to bring that "picture" into some form of artistic practice. I work rhythmically with day thinking and study and with asking the questions living within me at night before sleep, until a feeling, an idea or image may arise. This practice was taught to me as a teenager by my father who was an anthroposophist. It's become a life-long practice along with dream journaling.
Trying to work consciously with the spiritual worlds is the emphasis of this foundational book by Steiner, "How to Know Higher Worlds; a Modern Path of Initiation." Steiner gives exercises that build inner spiritual strength to lead one to a conscious threshold experience.
Describing how to try to work with spiritual beings, Steiner's lecture, "Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom," states...
The fact that man, if he wants to penetrate to the spiritual world, has to acquire a totally different relation to the world than that, which he has to the sense world, as has often been stressed. Man has the sense world all about him. He looks at the sense world and sees it in its colors and forms and hears its sounds. The sense world is there, and we are in the midst of it, feeling its influence, perceiving it and thinking about it. That is how we relate to the sense world. We are passive and the sense world, as it were, works its way into our souls. We think about the sense world and make mental images of it.
Our relationship is quite different when we penetrate into the spiritual world. One of the difficulties consists in getting the right idea of what a person experiences when he enters the spiritual world. I have attempted to characterize some of these difficulties in my booklet (‘The Threshold of the Spiritual World’). We make mental images of the sense world and we think about it. If we go through all a person has to go through if he wants to follow the path of initiation, something occurs that can be described like this: We ourselves relate to the beings of the higher hierarchies in the same way as the things around us relate to us; they make a mental image of us, they think us. We think the objects around us, the minerals, plants and animals; they become our thoughts, whereas we are the conceptions, thoughts and perceptions of the spirits of the higher hierarchies. We become the thoughts of the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai and so on. They take us in, in the same way as we take in the plants, animals and human beings. And we must feel their sheltering protection when we say, ‘The beings of the higher hierarchies think us, they make mental images of us. These beings of the higher hierarchies take hold of us with their souls’. In fact we can actually picture that when Olaf Asteson fell asleep he became a mental image of the spirits of the higher hierarchies, and in the course of his sleep these beings of the higher hierarchies experienced what the beings of the earth spirit were experiencing (these are, of course, a plurality for us). And when Olaf Asteson sinks back into the physical world he remembers what the spirits of the higher hierarchies experienced in him. Let us imagine for a moment that we are setting out on the path of initiation. How can we relate to the spiritual world, which is a host of spiritual beings of the higher hierarchies, into which we wish to enter? How can we relate to them?
We can appeal to them and say ‘How can we enter into you, how do you reveal yourselves to us?’ And then, when we have acquired an understanding of the different kind of relationship the human soul has to the higher worlds, there will sound forth to us, as it were from the spiritual worlds, ‘You cannot perceive the spiritual world the same way as you perceive the sense world, the way the sense world appears before you and impinges on your senses. We must think you, and you must feel yourself in us. You must feel the kind of experience in you which a thought you think in the sense world would have if it could experience itself within you. You must surrender yourself to the spiritual world, to the beings of the higher hierarchies who can reveal themselves to you will enter into you. This will stream into your soul and live within it, bringing grace, in the same way as you live in your thoughts when you think about the sense world. If the spiritual world wishes to favor you and have compassion on you, it will fill you with its love!’
Artist: Kristena West M.A. Holy Nights Art 2011 The Dream Song of Olaf Asteson 12 8" x 10" Duo aqua oils