A Bridge between the West and the Middle, Vladimir Havrda

The Rose Cross in Prague – the search for the middle stream

Archangel Michael, David Newbatt

Mankind is in forgetfulness
Of the Godhead’ s innermost being
We, though, want to raise it
Into the bright light of consciousness
And then bear it over dust and ashes… (1)

It all started with just a handful of participants of the Rose Cross conference in Emerson College at Easter 2007. While most of them seemed to regard the contents with mild interest and relaxed detachment, in the soul of one sounded a loud wake-up call: “This is what we urgently need in Middle Europe. This is the key to unlock the door to our forgotten home.” When asked whether they would bring the theme to Prague, the lecturers answered half-jokingly: ‘Yes. You organise it.’ And so the unlikely train of events was set in motion.

The conference in Emerson dealt with the problem of the spiritual identity of Europe in the light of three questions formulated by Rudolf Steiner shortly before his death in a conversation with his esoteric pupil Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz in March 1925: The question of the two Johns. (John the Baptist and John the Evangelist) Where did Kaspar Hauser come from? Who was Dmitri? (the so-called Pseudo-Dmitri, Czar of Russia, 1605-06) And these were linked here with the destinies and tasks of the three parts of Europe - the West, the Middle and the East - respectively. Steiner said that if we occupy ourselves with these problems it will help us to understand much about our present situation and about the opposing forces that try to hinder Europe from fulfilling its tasks and mission for the future.

The English-speaking peoples may feel more or less comfortably embedded within their social structure, but this is because it is shaped by the knowledge flowing from the occult centres within that culture. But there is a sense of deep underlying despair and powerlessness in Middle Europe. We don’t know who we are and what our task is. There is no light from the other side of the threshold to be shed upon these profound questions. Not knowing ourselves leads to dilettantism in public life and political wavering between the two sides – the former communist East, the influence of which still lingers in various ways, and now the capitalist West - while in the deep strata of the soul lingers a dim intuition that we are not either of those two.

Consciousness of this middle European identity and the search for the middle stream has been attacked and suppressed by both sides - from the East and the West - for centuries. We can go back as far as the Thirty Years' War or beyond and look at the two World Wars and the Cold War to see how the middle was always squeezed out, erased, eradicated. In this respect, the life and death of Kaspar Hauser - his unknown birth, noble origin, abduction, imprisonment, fettering, disablement, his seduction and second 'abduction' - by Lord Stanhope, and then, after coming to himself, his murder - is also a true picture of the tragic destiny of Middle Europe.

The most recent example was the collapse (or rather the termination and and dismantling) of the socialistic experiment called 'communism'. It came to us in Middle Europe from the East but was in fact conceived in western occult circles and grafted onto the religious Russian soul. Once this 'communism' lost its grip we were re-integrated again into the economic and political spheres of the West. But contrary to official propaganda and popular belief fed by the media, the victory of ‘good’ western capitalism over ‘bad’ eastern communism did not bring lasting solution or happiness. Only changing sides in a never-ending story of black and white.

During the tectonic shift of power, a small window of opportunity seemed to open for a brief period of time (1989-1993) and hopes that something new could come awakened. But these were destined to be dashed, and the favourable moment quickly passed unnoticed. There was no consciousness, no concept or model of the middle ready to be used while both sides, aided and abetted by the 'southern' power of the Roman Catholic Church, had planned their moves and details of the transfer of power over vassal territories well ahead. Instead of going in a threefold direction, the previously bipolar Europe now became uni-polar. A new spectre was invented as a bogeyman – terrorism - and the western 'crusaders' moved further eastward.

At least Anthroposophy was allowed to enter the public space in the former communist countries and start its work anew. It has existed here - in Bohemia and then Czechoslovakia - before but after 50 years of destruction by Nazi occupation, war and Communism, hardly anything of it was left in the national soul. Only ruins and ashes. It was like planting a new seed in the desert. In order for a tender plant to grow in such a wasteland it has to be watered and fertilised. It needs support and care for its roots to break through the sand and to find underground water and nourishment deep down in its mother soil. Then it can grow and bring good fruit.

And exactly this has been the impulse for bringing the Rose Cross Conference from England to Prague. After five years its motivation still holds true: To reconnect a near-extinct home impulse with its offshoot on the periphery where it survived, flowing in freedom and continuity.

The lecturers were well-suited and prepared for the task. Richard Ramsbotham through his research into the Shakespeare-Bacon question, Terry Boardman with his knowledge of Kaspar Hauser and his enemies, and Markus Osterrieder from Munich, Germany through his academic and personal familiarity with the peoples and cultures of Eastern Europe. In Prague the three quickly became known as 'the Three Musketeers' and were joined by the fourth - Anezka Janatova, the founder and leader of the Tabor Academy of Social Arts and the Chairwoman of the Czech Anthroposophical Society. Her students have been excellent organisers, interested listeners and artistic contributors to the cultural programme of plays, music, singing and Eurythmy.

Unlike in cool England, the theme in Prague met with a warm and enthusiastic reception and caused a great stir and sensation, especially among the many younger members of the audience. The main evening events were attended by up to a hundred people. The mood? At last, somebody from England (and Germany) was bringing words of truth and insight into the muddle we’re in, to shed the light of knowledge on the chaos and confusion all around which can help us to understand ourselves.

The red thread running through all the five years has been the unifying theme of Rosicrucianism as a proper path of knowledge and initiation for our time. Revolving around it from various angles and points of view were studies of different spiritual streams (Freemasonry, Jesuitism, Swedenborgianism, New Age) in the background of outer events, ideologies, geopolitical strategies shaping our world, the significance of various historical events and phenomena (e.g. 9/11), the role of different personalities and social movements, the intentions behind politics (EU), economics etc. and the effects of all this on the human soul, especially of young people.

As Rudolf Steiner’s verse quoted above says, we want to raise our innermost being to the clear light of consciousness. This is our task in the age of the consciousness soul. For this the combination and cooperation of different nationalities at the conference has been essential. The trend towards the consciousness soul appears in them differently - the English are led to it by instinct, the German educate themselves to it through intellectuality, and the Western Slavs (Czechs, Slovaks , Poles, Slovenes) transform this intellectuality into mysticism.(2) This threefoldness makes it wholly human.

There is another important aspect of such international co-operation, especially among people pursuing anthroposophical Spiritual Science. As Rudolf Steiner tells us, it is well-known in English occult centres, but kept secret from the world, that relatively soon, threefold capacities will evolve out of human nature - material (mechanical) occultism in the West, hygienic occultism in the Middle and eugenic occultism in the East. These will have to intertwine and communication to exist between different peoples in order to create social forms worthy of a human being. Already here and now in Prague this mutually beneficial intertwining of western and middle European capacities can be felt as bringing healing, clarity and creating a new social reality. Let’s hope more participants from the West and from the East can come next time (19-22/11/15) to experience and strengthen what is growing in Praha (Prague), the city of the threshold. 'Praha', in Czech, actually means 'threshold'!

It is unrealistic to claim that one can proceed socially in the same way everywhere - in Russia, Germany or England. Europe is threefold and not one homogenous unit like a mixed king from Goethe’s fairy tale. It is a realm of three kings - the golden, silver and brazen - with their qualities of wisdom, image and power distributed over its three parts. The British folk character relates to 'power', in the broadest sense of that word. The German folk character resonates with appearance and image, while the Russian has to do with the social wisdom of the future. The Englishman is political, the German is non-political, the Russian is anti-political.

The western Slavs (Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Slovenes) also have their specific character and task in Europe.(3) They are interjected into the German-speaking parts of Middle Europe like heat lightning,(1) indicating what is to come from the Slavic peoples in the future. They are also non-political but they tend toward bringing the spiritual world down into the physical world, even in the present life. Their spiritual nature acts antipathetically upon the German-speaking population. Their politics are dependent upon the manner and degree to which they fail to please. History and present events fully confirm this. The Rose Cross conference is a living proof that it is possible and healthy to combine these diverse elements into one organic whole. The three kings - the Four Musketeers (Czech, German, English) - work here together in complete harmony and create a new social reality.

Steiner’s indications about the forces moving behind history should be taken seriously and used by us for the good. Otherwise, this knowledge is kept secret and withheld from the rest of the world, which gives tremendous power to those who know over those who don’t. A one-sided, un-free and unhealthy social order would be created. It must be stressed, though, that the aims of the occult centres of the West are not identical with the mission and interests of the English-speaking people, although they work among them and use their capacities suited to the consciousness soul age. What the occult centres of the West engage in is in fact a perversion of the mission of the English-speaking people.(4) The presence and manifold contributions of the two Englishmen in Prague are a living testimony to the urgency of this fine distinction.

It is not so much a question anymore whether the English-speaking peoples will achieve mastery over the world but rather how they use it. Will they bring the world the threefold social order or a social slavery under the pretext of spreading freedom and democracy? Will they illumine different peoples’ tasks and capacities to help them find themselves (which the Prague Rose Cross events certainly do)? Or will they shroud their knowledge in secrecy and use it only for their own one-sided benefit? With power and dominance also comes a primary responsibility for the condition and shaping of the world. A double responsibility lies with students of anthroposophy. We cannot say we did not know. We have been told.

If we realise that a self-conscious Middle Europe is a key to the health of the whole continent and that only a healthy, threefold Europe can bring healing and order to the whole world, then the importance of collaborative spiritual ventures such as the Prague Rose Cross Conference can be hardly overstated. Just a slightly paraphrased Verse to Friends in Berlin could stand as its motto:

Middle Europe is in forgetfulness of its true identity and spiritual mission
We, though, want to raise it to the clear light of consciousness
And bear it over rubble and ashes - The divine flame in the human heart.

Vladimir Havrda is a Czech living in Uckfield, England.

P.S.: The Conference has recently encountered financial difficulties. In order to survive, it has to grow and change and become a truly international forum. More participants from the west are welcome to attend and sponsors are encouraged to support it. To see the programme, register or donate visit www.rose-cross.cz or apply to info@rose-cross.cz.


1. Verse ‘To the Berlin Friends’, 10 November 1923
2. The Challenge of the Times, GA 186, Lectures III and VI, 1 and 8 December 1918
3. The Karma of Untruthfulness, GA 174, Lecture 20, 15 January 1917
4. Rudolf Steiner’s private note from 1918

(1) Heat lightning occurs high in the atmosphere without clouds. Flashes of light are followed by no thunder, storm or rain.