Letters to the Editor

RE: Editor’s page

Dear Frank,      
The first thing is that, though the Palestinians are not angels, they have suffered an injustice. They were persuaded by Arab governments and Israel to leave their homes or if they did not do this, they became a minority in their own country. Jewish support for Zionism increased after the holocaust, which helped in the foundation of Israel. A European problem was transferred to the Middle East. Arab governments have not always supported Palestinian leaders. From what I remember, Syria wanted Arafat out of the way in 1983. Gadafy has expelled Palestinians from Libya. Egypt has not given so much support to the Palestinians since the death of Nasser. Now the only solution is for the Israelis and Palestinians to find a way of living next to each other. The policy of constructing more and more settlements in Palestinian territory has lead to increasing despair. Sharon and Nettianou sabotaged the Oslo agreement. In addition religious extremists on both sides have been fanning extremism. Fear, hate and doubt have been provoked in both peoples by terrorism, murders, military occupation etc. I do not know moreover whether Arafat can really control his supporters in this situation, irrespective of his real aims (peace or war and the support of terrorism).

Ben Aharon, an Israeli anthroposophist, worker in civil society, active in the threefolding network GN3, wrote: "..the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to solve their differences by themselves will ‘force’ the US to send NATO or other forces to the occupied territories, as part of the coming ‘solution’ to the conflict. So it happened in Bosnia-Herzogovina, also in Kosovo etc. The Israelis and Palestinians have only themselves to blame. The U.S has its clear agenda and it pursues it relentlessly.. But it can only achieve its goals as long as Israelis and Palestinians play into their hands"

Note also that Rudolf Steiner was against Zionism; in a reply to a question after a lecture to workers, he supported assimilation of the Jews. During a trip to Israel in 1982, I discussed this with my uncle, an Israeli living in Haifa, who has since died. After the death of my mother I went to see an old lady, Freda Muller, who had been a friend of the family (1985). Her husband Ernst Muller had written a book on Jewish mysticism before dying in the late fifties (or early sixties). I had with my parents met both in 1951, 52 or 53 in the English resort of Buxton. In 1985 Freda Muller told me that her husband had met Rudolf Steiner around 1910 and their only disagreement was about Zionism. You can use as much of this message as you judge suitable for Southern Cross Review. Though my family is of Jewish origin, I was once almost accused of anti-Semitism.
Best wishes,
Michael Friedjung

Dear JoAnn,
Thank you for sending me R. Steiner's *Spiritual Cosmology*. I have read many of his books which were translated from German into Italian by Willy Schwartz about 30 or 40 years ago.

I read the editorial on Israel-Palestine in the latest issue. I must say that I found it inaccurate and disturbing.

Thank you again and may the festive season bring you joy and happiness.

Dear Goffredo,
Thank you for your kind letter.  May we print it in the next issue of SCR? If so, would you care to enlarge upon your statement that our editorial was inaccurate and disturbing?  That is, what inaccuracies did you find, or what specifically did you find disturbing?  We are always open to dialog with our readers.

I hope you also find joy and happiness in this festive season.  My friends in Melbourne tell me Santa's sleigh is pulled by kangaroos down in Oz. <G>

Dear JoAnn.
Thank you for replying to my letter about SRC's editorial. Yes, please publish my comments if you so wish. Regarding the statements that I found inaccurate and disturbing, I wish to point out that most of those "Arab oppressors" fear a revolt within their countries but the sacrificial scapegoats are the Palestinians not Israel. Israel, in fact, is becoming more and more powerful through such terrible deeds. While American money and weapons are given to the Israelis, the Arab despots appear to prefer playing a double role not to incur the wrath of the American and Israel administrations. Some of them supply information to the wrong side either for rewards or out of fear.

QUOTE from the editorial.
"I refer above to the Palestine cause as a false cause." And "The real villains of the piece are, however, the despots governing Arab states (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, et al) who finance, train and arm the Palestinian terror. They need the Palestine-Israel conflict in order to retain power, divert their people's attention from their corruption and oppression and supply a sacrificial scapegoat - Israel. Peace in the region is not on their agenda"
Kind Regards

RE: Rudolf Steiner’s Mexican Mysteries Revisited  

Dear SCR Readers:
Regarding my Issue # 20 article: "Rudolf Steiner’s Mexican Mysteries Revisited", some new research provoked by assistance from helpful friends has resulted in the following:

1. Regarding the Aztec practice of ritual sacrifice and removal of the stomach - as claimed by Steiner but unsupported by any corroborating evidence - the following may be illuminating:

The footnote #58 in the German edition of the lecture cycle in which Steiner's difficult statement takes place says, in part:
"Taotl: For external sources of information concerning the Aztecs and their customs, as well as concerning the names of their Gods, Rudolf Steiner used the book by Charles William Heckethorn, Geheime Gesellschaften, Geheimbunde und Geheimlehren, Leipzig 1900 (The Secret Societies, Secret Brotherhoods and Secret Teachings of All Ages and Countries). From here Rudolf Steiner obtained the detail that he mentioned that the priests cut out the victim's stomach, an assertion that is variously objected to as apparently not corresponding to the traditions that have been passed down to our time." (as recently translated by James Hindes)
The German original of the relevant sentence is:
"Von hier stammt auch das von Rudolf Steiner erwähnte Detail, dass die Priester den Opfern den Magen ausschnitten, was verschiedentlich - als angeblich nicht mit der Überlieferung übereinstimmend - beanstandet worden ist."

An alternate translation of that sentence reads:
"This is the origin of the detail mentioned by Rudolf Steiner that the priests cut open the victims' stomachs, which has been criticized on various occasions as apparently not in accordance with recorded tradition." (Trans.: Frank Thomas Smith)

You might easily imagine my amazement upon first reading this translation, for no other commentator on the subject has taken notice of the German original (the footnote does not exist in the English edition), nor referred to it as a possible explanation for Steiner's remark. What is most interesting about this citation is that it is misleading; Heckethorn does not mean to imply that the stomach was excised. What he does say is:

"The high priest then opened his [the victim's] stomach with the knife, and tearing out his heart, held it up to the sun, and then threw it before the idol in one of the chapels on the top of the great pyramid where the rite was performed."

While I do not have a copy of the German edition of Heckethorn's book to refer to, it is quite possible that Steiner made the same mistake as did his modern editors, especially if the translation into German was not sufficiently precise.

To belabor the obvious, what is clearly intended by Heckethorn is that the victim's belly was cut open to allow access to the heart, not that the organ of the stomach was removed. In this one instance, Heckethorn's description, along with other details not quoted here, corresponds exactly with all other reports. Here I believe we have a solution to "the question of the stomach" in Steiner's "Mexican Mysteries" lectures.

2. As other discussions have dwelt upon the derivation of the name "Vitzliputzli", it should be noted that the only other known instance of an identical spelling occurs in Heckethorn - he uses it seven times - with dissimilar variants used by other sources (Sahagun, Koslik), e.g.; Uitzilopotchtli. Heckethorn chooses to use "Vitzliputzli" instead of the other variant he mentions for Huitzilopochtli: "Heritzilopochtli."

As such, it is obvious that "Vitzliputzli" and "Huitzilopochtli" are meant to refer to the same entity, at least by the 16th C. chroniclers - and by those that rely upon them.

Unexamined in this regard are Eduard Seler's extensive German texts. Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, in his Alti Publishing edition of "Treasures of the Great Temple", cites Sahagun's Florentine Codex references to "Vitzilopochtli."

As Heckethorn's use of "Vitzliputzli" predates Steiner's by some 16 years, I believe it reasonable to deduce that Steiner borrowed the form of the name from Heckethorn, with no obvious reservations about its associations with the Aztec warrior and culture-hero. I say "reservations", because "Vitzliputzli" was a at the beginning of High culture in Mesoamerica and "Huitzilopochtli" is a at the tail end of it, so some difficult work is entailed in tracing the devolution of one into the other. Steiner does not address this at all, but uses the name of the 16th C. villain for the name of the 1st C. initiate. This creates a conceptual and imaginal knot that must be teased apart; a simple literalism simply will not do.

Thus, evaluating both considerations, I consider that the case that Steiner relied upon Heckethorn is strengthened, although the question of why he would have done so is no closer to solution. As I have tried to emphasize at all times, these details merely lend colour to the story of how Steiner came to tell this tale. On the main points of his description about Christ's activity in Mesoamerica, his seership was in full sail, and entirely reliable, as I can attest from my own investigations. For those who might entertain naïve notions that everything he said must have invariably derived from infallible supersensible perception, that conscientious testing of his reports is somehow tantamount to subversive disloyalty, or that uninformed opinion masquerading as belief or Faith is the same as knowledge, experience, or authority, I must confess a lack of sympathy with such notions.

Stephen Clarke
New Mexico, USA

Letters to the Editor are always welcome. Send to fts@SouthernCrossReview.org