by Nicholas “The Bard” Andrea
In ancient times, human beings instinctively knew the gods and all the beings of the spiritual world. We communed with nature spirits, angels, and other higher beings. We saw the earth mother as a living being that required our stewardship and care, for we were in relationship with her.
For most cultures, however, there came a twilight of the gods when the veil was pulled over our spiritual eyes; we lost our supersensible/intuitive sight, our natural clairvoyance, and the understanding of our interconnectedness with all life. Some say the purpose of this was so that humans could enter more fully into this world and develop our human individualities. One could say, we had to lose our ability to hear guidance from the spiritual world so that we could become fully awake and individually free human beings. This is not unlike the process a young adult goes through when they leave home to make something of themselves. Today, we find ourselves in an age where individual freedom is the mantra, and the need for this is increasing every day. It is what drives, for example, the various human rights campaigns such as marriage equality and black lives matter. These are good things.
The shadow of this cosmic event, however, was that we divorced ourselves from a spiritual connection with nature and all beings. We no longer saw ourselves as part of her; we became estranged from nature and she became something to conquer. We began to see other human beings in the same way, and this gave rise to the colonialism and “manifest destiny” thinking of the mercantile age up until the present day. We began to rape the earth and those who still protected her – the indigenous peoples of the world, many of whom, I would argue, never experienced the same twilight of the gods as most modern cultures did. Today, there are few, if any, indigenous cultures unharmed by the modern world, let alone even left standing. In most cases, they have all but been wiped out.
As a Waldorf teacher whose job is to courageously bear the truths of the world to the next generation of growing human beings while preserving their innocence as long as possible, this presents a challenge. I cannot merely gloss over these facts of history. At the same time, I don’t want my children inoculated with a vaccine of cultural guilt when their feeling life is still under heavy development in these precious elementary grades. It’s too soon to get so heavy, so what is to be done? My solution is to tell the facts without going into detail of the causes and effects and what peoples’ motives and intentions were. It just happened, and my students will explore the underlying causes later in their educational careers when their hearts have become strong enough to bear the darkness of the world without it turning them cynical – children must come to love the world before they learn to criticize it. That being said, it is helpful for me to inwardly have the gesture of understanding as to why these things happened – our divorce from nature and all of life. Bearing this understanding within my breast, I can rather focus on the solution. “Here we find ourselves, children. Yes, these bad things were done by people who had lost their way, somehow. But, neither you nor I were there. We didn’t do these things, but we can bring healing in our times by working to heal the earth, by embracing all people as brothers and sisters, no matter their color, creed, race, religion, language, or culture, and by taking an active interest in them. That is what we can do.”