An unspoken sound - an unborn child
There are some things in life that never leave your mind. For over twenty seven years I've been occupied with Rudolf Steiner’s words in the Speech Eurythmy course (GA279) second, third and forth lecture, where he is introducing the sound C. Beautiful, but at the same time puzzling description: “I will naturally not go in to the specific shape of the written letters; they are in many regards corrupt, the written letters doesn't need to bother us regarding eurythmy,” [i] says Steiner, before he starts describing the letter C. And before starting his description of the letter C, he says that he could just as well take the sounds of more ancient languages, but in the lectures he wants to describe the sounds that are used in the German language at the time it was held. His starting point is the German letters (he repeatedly uses the word “Buchstaben” meaning "letters" in his speech) that are written down much with the same letters as the Latin language. Then he continues with his description of the very interesting C-sound.
“---C raises matter into the realm of the spirit. I said that it contains within it a feeling of lightness; it indicates that matter can be overcome by spirit and lifted into the heights. Fundamentally speaking, we may say that C can best be experienced when a child who up to now has been crawling learns to stand upright.” And further ” --- You will feel C best by imagining that in some inexplicable way something is lying on the surface of your arms and in making the c-movement you toss it upwards.”
He gives a very profound description of a sound that is written down with a letter that is merely a leftover sign from the Latin alphabet. Because what has been puzzling me all these years is how you pronounce the letter C as a different sound from K, S, or Z? C is not pronounced as K, S or Z. They have all different movements as described above for the letter C. Steiner is apparently not focusing on the written letter C, which according to him, might be a very corrupt sign. He is focusing on a spoken sound that apparently comes as the third sound in the alphabet. When speaking it, the sound is: “ejected/ gives the feeling of relief/ the feeling of lightness/ it is similar to what happens when sneezing.” Rudolf Steiner also says in the second lecture: “And the occultists have said: the C is in ancient times seen as the regent of health.” My question has been:
Will the human beings living in the present age feel the urge of expressing a totally new quality in their speech organs as they grasp the challenges facing them? Will the jump in the evolution of consciousness that needs to be taken in our time express itself in a new spoken sound? Can we change our materialistic thinking to a thinking considering spiritual dimensions?
Language is emerging and developing constantly together with human consciousness. A total change in the written RUNE alphabet simultaneously occurred as the Viking age started (793–1066 AD). An alphabet with 24 letters was reduced to 16 called the younger fuÞark, eleven of them were consonants. It did not include the sound V. V came after a while into use and other sounds of the Viking age disappeared. The language of the Vikings vanished together with their spirituality and together with it also the runes.
After that people of the north came under the influence of the Latin culture and alphabet. It has given people a certain degree of independence and new faculties. It is though not the end of a development. It is much more a passing trough. In order to develop the necessary spirituality of the time we are living in, we need to overcome the one-sidedness of the Latin culture, still very much present in our time. We need to develop new faculties regarding our understanding of the world. Especially we need to observe our thinking. Only an active, strong thinking can grasp the essence of many of the riddles and challenges that confront us in the present time.
So why do I write about this in the December blog? Does it have anything to do with Advent and Christmas? In my opinion it very much does. Advent is in many regards a new beginning, an expectation, awaiting for something new to enter into our lives. So what if Rudolf Steiner when speaking about the letter C is describing a new quality that might emerge in us when speaking in general. “It (C) somehow takes the matter into the spirit and lifts it”. Can it have something to do with how we experience our own thinking process, when our thinking has become active, - living?
Rudolf Steiner has created choreography to an enormous amount of poems. Before each poem there often is a silent choreography that prepares the spoken text. The silent choreography he created to the Foundation Stone Meditation [ii] is for us of particular interest. There the eurythmists steps slowly onto the stage in the gesture of the Libra (zodiac sign). When the eurythmists arrive to the place where they are about to start their silent choreography they first do the C movement. Silently the gesture fills the room. This is the only place Rudolf Steiner uses the C movement in his choreography. The Foundation Stone Meditation prepares a new era in the development of mankind. Making the C visible in such a place gives us a clear sign of its unique character. This sound cannot be forced on us, it must be found in inner activity.
The puzzling thing is that he puts the C in connection with the Libra sign. When Rudolf Steiner later develops painted figures for all the different consonants belonging to the different Zodiac signs, he leaves the letter C with no figure! The painted figures are a great help for the eurythmist when practicing how to express the sound in movement. Why didn't Steiner paint a figure for the C? Is it because it is not yet fully understood, and still to be found? And how does Steiner explain the Libra quality? (Libra) is: the pondering of the precondition of thought. Or can it be asked as a question: how can I prepare myself to get in a condition of pure thinking?
I believe we haven't fully realized the sound C yet. As new faculties are developed in mankind regarding his/her connection to the spiritual world the sound C will also realize itself. With these words I hope you have a peaceful and fulfilled Christmastime.
Jostein Aarbakke, Nummela 26.12.2020
[i] (GA279) second lecture
[ii] A Meditation given by Rudolf Steiner, January 1st, 1924 (GA 260)
Joulukuun blogin kirjoittajana toimi Jostein Aarbakke (s.1959); diplomi-eurytmisti, eurytmiaopettaja ja taide-eurytmian kouluttaja.
The 2020 year's blogs will all carry a theme: "The World Through Eurythmist's Eyes". Eurythmy Channel Helsinki has asked to see the world through 12 different eurythmist's eyes and experiences. Through the blogs we can have some expression of that how practising eurythmy can transform human consiousness and the way of understanding the world and oneself.
Vuoden 2020 Blogit käsittelevät teemaa: "Maailma eurytmistin silmin". Eurythmy Channel Helsinki on pyytänyt saada nähdä maailman 12:sta eri eurytmistin näkemänä ja kokemana. Blogien avulla voimme saada jonkinlaisen ilmaisun sille, miten eurytmian harjoittaminen voi kehittää ihmisen tietoisuutta ja tapaa ymmärtää maailmaa sekä itseään.