From the World Society: ‘Into the Future’ by Bert Chase, General Secretary

From the World Society: ‘Into the Future’ by Bert Chase, General Secretary

Dear Members and Friends of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada.

How does the light shine through matter?

How does substance receive radiance into itself?

Early in the twentieth century Rudolf Steiner began the practice of creating unique, identifying motifs for anthroposophical activities and publications. These designs were to be visual cues that artistically communicated the essential anthroposophical character of what was taking place. Rudolf Steiner’s intention was that these distinct forms would stand as signatures for what was arising out of his work.

Over the years this new art form has evolved extensively, becoming integral to anthroposophical initiatives wherever they occur. As such the quest for an appropriate design, that includes a typeface and colours that enhance the image, is one of the most important steps in developing a public presence for an anthroposophical initiative.

In 2016 the Council of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada began an extensive review of the Society’s structure and purpose.  Over several years a broad consultation with members across the country took place. One aspect of this consultative process was the development of a new ‘Statement of Purpose’ for the Society, that represents the essence of Anthroposophical endeavor in Canada sixty years after it was initially established in 1953. Out of the contributions of members from across the country our current Statement evolved.

Purpose of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada adopted in 2016

To foster the life of the soul and a true spiritual understanding of the world, both in the individual and in human culture. Based on the path of knowledge brought by Rudolf Steiner; our intention is to make a contribution to the artistic, scientific, and cultural life of today, and for the future.

The primary themes arising out of this lengthy consultative process are the longing to develop relationships, to meet each other, to work together.  The foundational intentions of the 2016 Ottawa conference were to experience this ‘Encountering Our Humanity’; meeting each other, working together.

As this vision for the future developed, an impulse arose to seek for a new artistic motif, a new visual signature, that represents our Society as it has evolved and how we see it going into a new century. This quest for an artistic expression became part of the preparation for the 100- year celebrations of the founding of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Christmas Conference of 1923/24.

This initiative led the Council to invite artists working out of an anthroposophical impulse to collaborate on this new project. The Visual Arts Section of the School of Spiritual Science guided this process and three members of the Section stepped forward to take on this task – Jean Balekian, Regine Kurek, and Bert Chase.

The task given them was to capture this evolving gesture of our anthroposophical life in Canada, and to give visual expression to the qualities of the newly adopted Statement of Purpose, both for our time and for the future we seek.

One of the most significant influences of how we see ourselves as members of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada is the aftermath of the 1980 referendum on Sovereignty Association for Québec, and the politicization arising from it. Soon after the referendum the Council of the Society in Canada made a pivotal decision; that our Society must stand as an example in Canada, that we structure ourselves in such a way that we fully integrate and support Francophone members and culture. This decision acted as the primary impetus for what developed, an association based on movement and inclusion.  Our leadership was to come from across the country. The Council and our Annual Meetings were to ‘migrate’ across our land – voyageur, caribou, geese. These were conscious steps to bring about ways of working that weave and connect us to each other across vastness.

As Jean, Regine and Bert began their explorations, this embracing, inclusive gesture was the foundation for all their work. This pulse beat, running between east and west, linking diverse communities and languages, so clearly represents something essential about us and the Society we seek. From this starting point, and working with the newly adopted Purpose, they entered a lengthy ‘artistic conversation’ developing proposals for how to bring these impulses into an artistic representation. Working individually, and then coming together to consider what had been developed, became the pattern of artistic reciprocity out of which the design gradually took on form.

Early in this process a new element began to emerge. Beyond the clear east-west relationship was a more hidden impulse coming from the north. The first beginnings of this consciousness, and the place of the vastness of the north in our Canadian perspective, came with the 2009 Encircling Light Conference in Whitehorse, Yukon. This more delicate influence in our work has different aspects to it. The most obvious is an awakening sense of closeness to Indigenous communities and values. A link that we continue to seek for ways to develop.

This relationship to the North, and to its People, gradually awakened a sense for the relationship between substance and light, and how the sun has a distinct relationship with the earth in the North. We were reminded of the separation of Sun and Earth, an integral aspect of the reality of our North. These realizations brought an impulse to grapple with, and visually represent, the complex interrelationship of light and darkness. As we worked, questions gradually evolved. How does the light shine through matter? How does substance receive radiance into itself? These questions seemed critical indications for how we seek to realize anthroposophy across our land, a common gesture that transcends cultures of language and of geography.

All of these considerations became formative principles in the design finalized by Jean.

The signature form has two aspects, its artistic motif and its accompanying lettering that together form our new logo.

In its development the artistic forms were gradually rotated to the point where a grail gesture spontaneously appeared, one that seems to reach both East and West – horizontally. This receptive open embrace rests in substance, in matter. Rising from it, and descending into it, are two other forms. Each becomes lighter, more buoyant. Lifting substance into the light, receiving the divine into itself.

This rising and descending is amplified by the colours selected. The chalice is indigo; the colour of the consciousness – spiritual soul. A ‘new’ colour, appropriate for the soul faculties we are in the process of unfolding. The colour of the earth within which an inner radiance shines.

Its complement, the upper form, is rose that inclines toward violet. This indicates a relationship to the threshold between the world of substance and of spirit where ‘peach blossom’ appears.

Between these two the third element in the design is a dynamic balance of blue–violet and rose–violet; selflessly enabling what is below to rise up, what is above to descend. In the simplest of ways these three forms, clothed in their coloured mantles, moving up from the substance and descending into it, capture something essential of our anthroposophical striving.

This sign is then completed, made whole, with the powerful scarlet sash running east, streaming west. Our pulse beat, held, given its distinct form by the realities of language and culture that we truly are.

The essence of who we are, and who we strive to become – Canada.