The Number 23

This article first appeared in New View magazine #107 April-June 2023

People born in the middle of a century, like me (1952), tend to look back to the beginning of the century, the time of their grandparents’ youth, as well as to the end of the century, the time of their own maturity and old age and also of their own grandchildren. As someone interested in history since childhood, this has always been true for me. As a 12 year old already I had become fascinated with the First World War, was aware of the dangers of nuclear war and also wondered with expectation and some concern what the new 21st century, the new millennium, would be like. But I was also born ‘in between’ in space as well as time: I was born on the Welsh side of the southern end of the border between England and Wales, near a town, Caerleon, which, 2000 years ago, had been garrisoned by the II Legion Augusta of the Roman army, and I grew up from ages 3 to 18 on the English side of the northern end of that same border, in the city of Chester, where, 2000 years ago, the XX Legion Valeria Victrix of the Roman army was stationed for about 330 years. The two places are almost vertically aligned at the north and south end of the border. My father was a Welsh soldier and my mother an English local government civil servant. So, my entry into and early upbringing in this life was spent on this border and between those two locations, both once ancient Roman army bases, north and south, east and west of each other -  between the English and Celtic cultures.

My father was in the Royal Signals, traditionally the British Army’s communications specialists, who have as their cap badge the symbol of Hermes, or Mercury, the messenger of the gods, who was always travelling ‘up’ and ‘down’ between the human and divine worlds. In astrology, Mercury is said to ‘rule’ the sign of Gemini (The Twins), under which I was born. The two major stars of Gemini are those of Castor and Pollux. Castor looks like one star to the naked eye, but is actually a sextuple star system consisting of three binary pairs, while Pollux is a single giant star. In Greek mythology, Castor was mortal and Pollux immortal. Traditionally, the 12 signs of the Zodiac are said to relate to parts of the human body. The binary sign of Gemini, with its two vertical and two horizontal (slightly curved) lines, is usually associated with symmetry and the shoulders and arms in the human body.

“Do you know about the number 23?”

Given all these things, plus the fact that from the age of 21 until 29, I lived in Japan and so my small east-west bicultural (Anglo-Celtic) experience in Britain was expanded across Eurasia, it is not surprising that even before I encountered the mysterious number 23 at the age of 30, the question of finding a balance between two poles and overcoming dualism had already become something of an existential one for me. It is perhaps the Geminian issue. By the time I had arrived at university aged 18, I had understood that political extremes were to be avoided, so I was drawn to none of the extremist groups that were then common in university politics. Yet in Japan I found myself encountering a culture that was in many ways, compared to Britain, one of extremes: of climate, of natural disasters, of the soul life and behaviour of the people, of religious practice, of ancient and modern. How on earth to bridge East and West between Japan and Britain and within myself? It took years to find an answer to this question.

In my first week at university to study history, I bonded in friendship through a shared interest in architecture and music with a physics student from Yorkshire. We were born just 16 days apart at midsummer. His interests at the time mostly had to do with aspects of space and technology, mine with time and history.  We were like chalk and cheese but remained close friends, despite my years in Japan, until his death 4 years ago. A Cancerian very much concerned for his material environment and proud of his Yorkshire heritage, he travelled very little outside of Britain yet was one for extremes and spent most of his life veering from one to the other. While I was expanding my mind and experience in Japan, he expanded his by plunging into the world of drugs and was lucky to survive. Then, like his LSD ‘hero’, American professor Timothy Leary, he moved on, aged 30, from drugs to computers. At that time, I too was 30 years old and had discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner only months before. After my years in Japan, I was more than ready for it. I soon found that in Steiner’s work I had finally discovered the bridge that I had been looking for between east and west, between past and present, arts and sciences, Christianity and Buddhism. It was around that time when I was visiting my friend’s flat in London one day, he suddenly asked me: “do you know about the number 23?”

The Threefold Social Order of the Body Social (1925), an old English collection of Steiner’s ideas on the threefold social organism, was the first thing by Steiner I ever read, aged 29. And as stated above, having just returned from my first seven years in Japan with questions about East-West relations, my encounter with Steiner’s emphasis on threefolding, as distinct from western dualism in philosophy, politics and economics, gave rise to numerous conversations on such matters with my friend. It was in that context that he asked: “do you know about the number 23?”

The Discordians

He had come across “the mystery of the number 23”, also sometimes called “the 23 enigma”, through his reading of the Discordians. They were a group of Americans in California in the late 50s/early 60s who created the pseudo-religion of Discordianism, which worshipped the ancient Greek goddess Eris, the goddess of chaos, confusion, strife and discord. Much influenced by ancient Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen philosophies that were fashionable among the 1950s Beat Generation, the American Discordians sought to rebel against society in a playful and paradoxical, absurdist way by declaring that all concepts of order and disorder are illusions. In their principal text, the Principia Discordia, they wrote: “If you can master nonsense as well as you have already learned to master sense, then each will expose the other for what it is: absurdity. From that moment of illumination, a man begins to be free regardless of his surroundings. He becomes free to play order games and change them at will. He becomes free to play disorder games just for the hell of it. He becomes free to play neither or both. And as the master of his own games, he plays without fear, and therefore without frustration, and therefore with good will in his soul and love in his being.”(1) It was perhaps no coincidence that one of the two originators of Discordianism, Kerry Thornley (1938-1998)(left), was a good friend of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged killer of President John F. Kennedy. This friendship drew Thornley into the murky world of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, and ardent conspiracism, as well as the equally ardent lampooning of conspiracism, became a staple of Discordian writings.  Later in the 1960s, Thornley and fellow Discordian founder Greg Hill (1941-2000) got to know novelist William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), and also Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007) and Robert Shea (1933-1994), two editors at Playboy magazine of libertarian, anarchistic and agnostic mind, who also became Discordians and wrote the cult classic book The Illuminatus! Trilogy, published in 1975, which amongst other things spawned a fascination with the secret society of the (Bavarian) Illuminati. Wilson, together with Timothy Leary (1920-1996) and Terence McKenna (1946-2000), became iconic figures of the 1970s counterculture. The influence of the Discordians appealed to the antinomian inclinations of the youth movements of the 1960s and 70s and was ‘recycled’ with the growth of the Internet in the 1990s; it has since permeated varied aspects of contemporary postmodern culture: the fascination with Far Eastern philosophies, paradox, absurdism, nihilism and meaninglessness, synchronicity, and conspiracism, as well as experimentation with drugs. Having learned of the 23 enigma from William S. Burroughs, the Discordians chose the number 23 as a kind of emblem or icon of their pseudo-religion. My friend was very fond of the Discordians because of their wacky sense of humour, and did not enquire too far into the 23. But I did enquire, and was to find that the 23 enigma was far from wacky; on the contrary, it is profound and awesome.

Robert Anton Wilson (below) described how he first heard of the 23 enigma from William S. Burroughs, who “had known a certain Captain Clark, around 1960 in Tangier, who once bragged that he had been sailing 23 years without an accident. That very day, Clark’s ship had an accident that killed him and everybody else aboard. Furthermore, while Burroughs was thinking about this crude example of the irony of the gods that evening, a bulletin on the radio announced the crash of an airliner in Florida, USA. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was Flight 23.” (2) The Discordians, approving of all things paradoxical, were drawn to apparent synchronicities like this. Both Burroughs and Wilson made extensive collections of examples of weirdness relating to the number 23, but they never came to any conclusion about what the number signified. Wilson in particular was opposed to conclusions per se!

A 23 database

Like Burroughs and Wilson, after I learned of the supposed significance of the number 23, I also made such empirical collections of incidences of the number that appeared in my life and in history, in the news, in movies etc. almost every month from 1989 until 2008 in Britain, and in Japan when I was living there from 1991- 1994; they became quite a large database, far too large to be replicated here. When I did not actively search, I remained open, and the number would ‘appear’ to me in many places. This search and these serendipitous appearances convinced me that there was indeed something special about the number 23, so to test it, I used other numbers as ‘controls’: I looked in current events and history for other numbers, chosen at random, such as 17 and 37. I did not come across them in history and current events anywhere near as frequently as I found 23. I became convinced that the number was deliberately placed in movies, TV dramas, news broadcasts, sometimes subliminally – this was not the case with other numbers – and that furthermore, it was not so much the number 23 itself that was important, i.e. two 10s and 3 units, but rather, the combination of a 2 and a 3, the juxtaposition of the numbers of duality and threefoldness.

For good or ill, and so far, one would have to say the balance has been for the most part ill, Hollywood has become the English-speaking world’s way of presenting stories and mythologies to the peoples of the world, and Hollywood movies have been full of references to 23 for many decades. One only has to be alert and open one’s eyes to see them. I did not see them myself before the mid-1980s, they passed me by, but once I became aware of their existence, they soon showed themselves, often in sinister contexts which reflected Hollywood’s predilections. For example, the murder victim would be found in hotel room number 203, or the drug deal would be worth $230 million dollars or the key percentage in a corrupt financial scam would be 2.3% etc. In other words, all permutations of 2 and 3, the numbers of duality and trinity, were and are very frequently presented to us in movies, often in subliminal and fleeting ways. This means by the screenwriters, directors or producers. But at other times, they occur very blatantly. In 2007 a humorous but ultimately sinister American horror movie, not one of the most gruesome, was released, titled The Number 23 (left), directed by Joel Schumacher and starring comedian Jim Carrey. It was about a dog handler who became obsessed with a book about the number 23. Here, Hollywood literally thrust the 23 enigma into the faces and minds of the public, and in a dark and sinister way. Yet even after this movie, the references to 23 went on occurring in many, many more movies, and still do.2 Sometimes, I sense that a 23 is inserted into a movie by a screenwriter or a director just as a fad, a fashion with no ulterior motive, done in a trivial way just because it appears in other movies, but other times, in more  important cinematic contexts, the number is clearly very deliberately placed to signify, usually, that something sinister is about to happen or that an important choice is about to be made or has been made.

To give just a few examples of the significance of the number from my 23 database: ‘macrocosmically’, the angle of the Earth’s axis is tilted at 23.44o to the plane of the earth’s orbit around the Sun (above).(3) The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are at 23.26° north and south respectively. It’s worth keeping in mind perhaps, especially in this year 2023, that the Tropic of Cancer runs right through the island that is currently a bone of contention between China and the USA, namely Taiwan. This 23° angle of the Earth’s axis to the Sun and the ecliptic gives us the seasons of the year, around which most human cultural life has been based throughout history. ‘Microcosmically’, human cells normally have 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs. Of these 23 pairs, 22 are alike in males and females; these are called the “autosomes.” The 23rd pair are the sex chromosomes ‘X’ and ‘Y’. So, we see that both on the planetary scale and on the individual human scale the number 23 is profoundly related to human physical life on this planet. Rome is located on a line of longitude 23 degrees west of Jerusalem – for many Christians the world’s true centre. Due north of Rome on that line is Venice, a city of beauty, intrigue and decadence. Further north lie Leipzig/Chemnitz and Copenhagen. The line also passes just west of Potsdam, outside Berlin. It is in fact roughly the line of the Iron Curtain 1945-1989. South of Rome the line touches the westernmost point of that beautiful but troubled isle of Sicily, with its dark and turbulent past.

Turning to events in history and current affairs, the Tropic of Capricorn passes through French Polynesia (where A-Bomb tests were conducted from 1966-74), northern Chile/Argentina, Paraguay, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is located at exactly 23° south of the equator. The colossal statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer) which stands above Rio de Janeiro is situated at 22° 57′ south. The observation deck at the foot of the statue is reached by 223 steps and is located on the Corcovado peak, which is 2,300 ft (700m) high.

King James I

Turning from space to time, when I was a young boy, I memorised the reign dates of all the monarchs of England. This became a useful framework for me to orient myself in my study of history. When in my early 30s I discovered that Rudolf Steiner had said that King James I (1603-1625),(4) of the House of Stuart, was one of the most significant British monarchs in whom “an extraordinary initiate soul lived”(5), a statement that might surprise many people. This does not necessarily mean that James was an initiate soul in his life as James but could mean that he had been an initiate in a previous life and that something of those previous abilities had passed into his life as James. After all, elsewhere Steiner also described him as “one of the greatest, most gigantic spirits of the British realm” who “stands quite close to the opposition against what is merely commercial within the British commercial empire”. “James,” he says, “brings in a new element by continuously inoculating into the substance of the British people something that they will have forever, something that they must not lose if they are not to fall utterly into materialism. What it is that he inoculates into them is something that is linked by underground channels to the whole of the rest of European culture. Here we are confronted by a significant mystery.”(6) Steiner does not tell us overtly what this mystery is, but he did drop a hint, because in the same lecture, immediately before speaking about King James, he mentioned the lawyer, statesman and philosopher of science Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the great playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the German mystic Jacob Böhme (1575-1624), and Jacob Balde (1604-1668), a southern German Jesuit poet, and said that these four very different men were all inspired from the same source!(7) Bacon and Shakespeare, very ‘worldly’ men, were both personally connected to James, Bacon as his Attorney-General and Lord Chancellor, and Shakespeare as one of his favoured entertainers – the King’s Men – and the country’s leading playwright, who wrote several plays with themes specifically intended for James, such as Macbeth and Hamlet. Bacon was eventually found guilty on 23 charges of corruption in 1621 and briefly imprisoned. Shakespeare’s collection of plays, known as the “First Folio”, was published in 1623, seven years after his death. Böhme and Balde, who did not know each other, were both men of the spirit, of mysticism and poetry respectively. In indicating these four men, Steiner was pointing to “an impulse which says that a link ought to be created with the opposite pole”(8) – the link between the spiritual and the material. This is the essence of Rosicrucianism – the black cross and the red roses.

I decided I should look more closely at King James (above), and soon found that he had the same birthday as me! Around the time I discovered that particular Steiner lecture in which King James I was mentioned, my godson was born with the same birthdate as King James and me, and his parents, not knowing about King James I, decided to name him James. Many years later, when I was giving a lecture on British history in Newbattle Abbey, the former home of the Marquesses of Lothian about seven miles from Edinburgh, I found that directly opposite me on the wall at the other end of the room was a very large portrait of King James VI and I. The king had made the first Earl of Lothian, Mark Kerr, a Privy Counsellor; he was an important nobleman very close to the king. I found that very many significant things did indeed occur during the reign of King James I. Born in 1566, he became King James VI of Scotland at the age of only one year old. In July 1589, when he was 23, his betrothal to Anne of Denmark was sealed; he married her by proxy in August 1589 and in November he travelled by sea to Norway in the one romantic episode of his life to meet his bride, with whom he then travelled to Denmark before returning with her to Scotland in May 1590. He thus spent almost all the year when he was aged 23 on securing his wife, with whom he would later have the son who would become Charles I, of infamous memory (beheaded in 1649 during the English Civil Wars, the first English monarch to be tried and publicly executed). In the early 18th century, when the modern political party system was emerging in Britain, the system was defined by men’s attitudes towards the Stuart monarchy – for or against. The German Hanoverian monarchs of Britain (from 1714), from whom stem the present Royal Family, were descended from James VI and I’s daughter Elizabeth Stuart, who married the German Prince Elector Frederick V of the Palatinate. During his return to Scotland from Denmark in 1590, James, concerned that witches may have tried to sink his ship, became fascinated by the question of witchcraft, of which, as he was a scholarly king, he then made a study and published a book, Daemonologie (1597). Here we have the darker side of the number 23. The Discordians linked 23 with what they called ‘the Law of Fives’, because 2 + 3 = 5 and they were keen on pentagons and pentagrams, both of which rightly have 3 points above and 2 below, but when turned upside down, place the 2 above the 3 – the inverted pentagram being a traditional sign of the Devil. The moral ambiguity of the pentagram appealed to the Discordian penchant for chaos over law and order.   James became King of England by succeeding Queen Elizabeth I, who died early on 24 March 1603, so 23rd March was her last full day as Queen of England and James’ last day as King only of Scotland. James was the 23rd king of England since the Norman Conquest in 1066, and he died on 27 March 1625, just 3 days into the 23rd year of his reign. Many significant things happened in James’ reign, not least the joining, in James’ person, of the two crowns of the old enemies England and Scotland. James’ government made peace between England and Spain only one year after the very pacific James, who had a horror of violence, came to the throne in 1603. This peace was not popular with the people of England but was very farsighted, because by it, the East India Company (founded 1600) was able to flourish, and England extended its trade throughout the world and planted its first colonies in N. America (Jamestown, Virginia) and the first English trading factory at Surat in India (1615). Then there was the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes and other Catholic rebels sought to blow up King James, all his court and the members of Parliament, and the planting of Scottish Protestant settlers in Ulster, N. Ireland (from 1606), which still has difficult consequences today. There was also the production of arguably the two greatest treasures of the English language – the King James’ Bible (1611)(9) and the First Folio of the plays of William Shakespeare (1623).

The King James Bible is replete with examples of the number 23. In verse 23 of Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, we read: “And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.” On the fifth day God had created the first living creatures, in water and air.  23 is thus related to the number 5 and to living beings. Chapter 23 of Genesis, however, entirely concerns the death and burial of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. In the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament, in Chap. 23, verse 23, we read: “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob (= Jacobus = James), neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!” What do we find on either side of this verse? Verse 22 says: “God brought them (Jacob and Israel) out of Egypt; he hath as it were, the strength of an unicorn”, while verse 24 says: “Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.” King James I added the unicorn to the lion in the royal coat of arms of the monarchs of England, which pair of creatures have been the royal heraldic animals of Britain ever since.(10) The two animals, the unicorn and the lion, represent wisdom and strength. In I Kings 7:15-16 we are told that the two pillars of the temple of Solomon, Jachin and Boaz measured 18 cubits each, plus 5 cubits for the capitals, a total height of 23 cubits for each pillar. The erudite King James was frequently referred to as “Solomon” in his time.

This purported ‘Solomon’, as King James VI of Scotland was initiated into Freemasonry in Scotland in 1601 (in the Lodge of Scoon), and when he also became King James I of England two years later, the beginnings of modern ‘speculative’ Freemasonry (i.e. Freemasonry as a symbolic system rather than as an operative craft) came down to England from Scotland after him. The two pillars Jachin and Boaz from the Temple of Solomon, representing thinking/wisdom and feeling/strength respectively, are an important feature of Freemasonic symbolism. According to Steiner, these pillars refer back to the “cosmos of wisdom” (also called the Old Moon in Anthroposophy), which was the phase of the  development of the earth and solar system that preceded our present phase, and also to the still earlier phase known as the “cosmos of strength” (aka the Old Sun). ‘Old Saturn’, ‘Old Sun’ and Old Moon’ were terms Steiner used for the three conditions of the solar system and of the earth that, many aeons ago, preceded the present condition. They do not refer to the three heavenly bodies we see today. “What the earth has inherited from the cosmos of strength is expressed in [the present] Mars and what it has inherited in the cosmos of wisdom is expressed in [the present] Mercury. The mission of the earth itself is to add love to these” – the impulse of the heart between those of will and thought respectively. Mars puts iron in the earth and in the blood, brings form and condenses matter. Mercury brings the relational aspect of wisdom that enables thinking to relate things to everything else. Steiner also spoke in his lecture on the Apocalypse of St. John of these three principles, strength, wisdom and love,  represented on earth when Christ appeared between Moses (wisdom) and Elijah (strength) in His Transfiguration on a mountaintop, most likely Mt. Tabor.(11) The two pillars were represented in the 4th of the seven Seals of the Apocalypse that Steiner had made in 1907.(12) of that year. (see below).

Shakespeare, Hamlet and 23

Shakespeare’s greatest or most well-known play is probably Hamlet (full title: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark), about the doubts of a Danish prince who lived at Elsinore Castle, which James himself had visited aged 23. First published in 1603, in the first year of James’ reign, this is arguably the quintessential play about the modern human soul. Hamlet is haunted by the vengeful ghost of his murdered father, the king, and revolted by his mother’s marriage to his uncle Claudius, who had killed his father, but Hamlet is paralysed by doubts as to how to apply his own will. The play ends tragically, with all the main characters, the whole Danish royal family, dead, including Hamlet. We can recall in passing that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes had invaded England from the Danish peninsula about 1100 years earlier. Act 5, Scene I is one of the most famous scenes, where Hamlet and his friend Horatio chat with a churchyard gravedigger who is digging a grave. The gravedigger hands Hamlet a skull and tells him “this skull has lien you i’ th’ earth three and twenty years”. Hamlet asks whose skull it is and is told it is that of his father’s court jester Yorick. Hamlet holds it up and muses on the vanity and pathos of life. King James’ own father had been murdered when James was only an infant. The exact date when Hamlet was written is unknown but 23 years before publication would take us back to 1580; James had formally become an adult ruler in 1579.

The skull and the grave: the imagery puts us in mind of Golgotha (the place of Christ’s Crucifixion), which means ‘place of the skull(s)’, and after His Crucifixion, His body was placed in a grave belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, a merchant whom tradition connects with journeys to Britain to buy tin. The whole oeuvre of Shakespeare’s plays brings the audience historically to the point in evolution of the solitary individual on this material earth, fallen away from the spiritual world and open to all kinds of errors, crimes and sins, but free, as an individual, to find his or her own path. A dangerous place. Will modern man fall into the grave that is a fixation on materialism? Or will he, through finding his way to Christ, finding his real self, turn away from that which is decayed and rotten and, overcoming doubt, transform his thinking to find the way out of the graveyard of the ancient into a new future?

This is the real ‘Matter’ of England, the problem of England, the choice of those whose native tongue is English: death or resurrection. And because, as Steiner described, the Germanic peoples of northern Europe (who include the English) provide the ‘vanguard’ for humanity in this current historical epoch (from the 15th century until the mid-4th millennium), it is also the problem for humanity in our time. And in this central place in his oeuvre, at this churchyard grave, Shakespeare set the number 23, the number of death and resurrection, or rather, the choice between them, between the 2 and the 3. The number is here associated with humour, with Yorick the jester: humour and death are juxtaposed. The English are known for their humour and comedy; names such as Alice in Wonderland, Charlie Chaplin, Monty Python, Mr Bean, and Ricky Gervais are known around the world. The English are not so well-known for philosophy or religion, and therefore, not really understanding life, or making philosophical sense of it, they take refuge in laughing at it. Hamlet throws the skull back into the grave in disgust: “Pah!” The gravedigger, known in the play  – humorously – as a ‘clown’, is under the mistaken impression that Prince Hamlet has been sent to England. Hamlet asks: “why was he sent to England?” and the clown/gravedigger replies: “Why, because ‘a was mad: ‘a shall recover his wits there; or if ‘a do not, ‘tis no great matter there.” “Why?” asks Hamlet, and the clown replies: “Twill not be seen in him there. There the men are as mad as he”. So, there is the choice: to recover one’s wits in England or not to, and be as ‘mad’ as the English, or as ‘mad’ as the Discordians, who also spoke English. As I dwelt on the mystery and pathos of the graveyard scene, eventually, the significance of the number 23 became clearer to me.

23 in Steiner’s work

I had parted company with mathematics around the age of 9 – largely due to an incongenial maths teacher, I told myself for years. But I later realised it was something much deeper than that; I could not blame Mr Roberts for my bewildering incapacity to calculate. All maths lessons and those others which required maths were torture for me throughout my high school years. Aged 15, I was introduced in maths lessons to binary numbers, a new school subject in the 1960s, and I thought that perhaps I could start again with this new form of mathematics, but no, after a short promising start, the familiar block re-emerged, and I was shut out from the world of maths once again. Perhaps just as well; I might otherwise have gone on to become a computer programmer. And yet, while I could not use maths for calculating and quantifying, I was always strangely drawn to the qualities of numbers, even to the different shapes of them. I was easily able to remember numbers, historical dates, dates of all kinds, and telephone numbers.

After meeting Steiner’s work, I noted that he was an esoteric teacher for 23 years (1902-1925) and 1923, when he entered his 63rd year, was the year of crisis in his life and work, as will be touched on later in this article. In a lecture cycle he gave  in 1914 titled Human Thought, Cosmic Thought(13), I came across a pregnant indication about the number 23. There are, says Steiner, “19 possible worldviews” which people can have: 12 are based on the Zodiac, and 7 on the planets, but there also 3 “tones” which “modify” these 19 worldviews. These 3 tones he calls Theism, Intuitionism and Naturalism, and they relate to thinking that is oriented to the Sun, the Moon and the Earth respectively, for example, people whose thinking is oriented religiously in a sun-like way are Theists; those whose thinking is oriented in an aesthetic way are Intuitionists, while those whose thinking is more scientifically inclined are Naturalists. This makes 22 “world pictures”, but there is one more:  the 23rd, Anthropomorphism: “It occurs only in a single case, when a person, taking all the world-pictures to some extent, restricts himself only to what he can experience on or around or in himself. That is Anthropomorphism. Such a person corresponds to the man who observes the Earth on its own account, independently of its being shone upon by the Sun, the Moon, or anything else. Just as we can consider the Earth for itself alone, so also with regard to world-outlooks we can reckon only with what as men we can find in ourselves.” The Anthropomorphist thus ignores the cosmos, sun, moon, planets. He looks only to himself and to the earth. A rather ‘English’ perspective, one might say… Steiner goes on: “You see, it is not true to talk in terms of one cosmic conception, but of 12 + 7 = 19 + 3 = 22 + 1 = 23 cosmic conceptions which all have their justification. We have twenty-three legitimate names for cosmic conceptions.” Here of course, the point is not the difference between 2 and 3 but the total number of “cosmic conceptions”. Nevertheless, the fact that it adds up to 23 is not without interest, given the number’s macrocosmic and microcosmic dimensions mentioned earlier in this article.

Each of the 12 zodiac signs Steiner associates with a particular form of thinking.  ‘Mathematism’ was one of the 12 forms, and he associated it with … Gemini. Moving from Cancer (Materialism) to Aries (Idealism) via Gemini (Mathematism) and Taurus (Rationalism), Steiner says:(14)

“The most uncompromising materialist would say, ‘No, I do not even calculate, for that would presuppose a superstition — it would imply that I assume that things are ordered by measure and number.’ And anyone who raises himself above this crude materialism will become a mathematical thinker, and will recognize as valid only whatever can be treated mathematically. From this, results a conception of the universe that really admits nothing beyond mathematical formulae. This may be called Mathematism.”

Clearly, the mathematist viewpoint that recognises only number as the basis of the world is something extreme. Yet in our ‘smart’-phone- (i.e. pocket computer)-obsessed, digitalised societies today, increasingly, the way we see the world is made of just two numbers, 1 and 0, the binary electro-numerical basis of our digital technology. In a lecture given on 25.11.1917,(15) Steiner spoke about the polarity of Gemini-Sagittarius, the midsummer and midwinter (or midday and midnight) signs, in contrast to the polarity of Pisces-Virgo, the spring and autumn (or sunrise and sunset) signs (see above). He associated the Gemini-Sagittarius axis with N. America and India respectively and foretold that the binary polarity at work in electromagnetism, which, he said, has its cosmic origin in the constellation of Gemini, would be used by scientists associated with western occult brotherhoods to employ technology that would foster super-materialism. Today, this electro-magnetic binary force is at work in all our modern technology that is all based on sequences of 1s and 0s, which represent on or off states of electrical impulses. We could thus say that our modern, increasingly digitalised civilisation is entirely based on the number 2.

In the lecture cycle (GA 186) which includes the above-mentioned lecture, Steiner speaks about an etheric being called the ahrimanic double,(13) which unites with the bio-electrical nature of our bodies when we are born and remains with it until shortly before we die. This being facilitates ahrimanic impulses in us, and individuals are variously inclined to it depending on their past karma, some people more, some less, and some hardly at all. Through technological devices such as ‘smart’-phones, the ahrimanic double can work on our thoughts, feelings and will impulses to nudge, push or drive us in an ahrimanic direction – that of egotism, fear, contraction, fragmentation and materialism, material satisfaction. When we see people utterly focused on their mobile phones, they are as if possessed, shut off from other people and from the world around them. They have ‘split’ – left their surroundings – and have entered another domain, which we could call a counter-spiritual domain; the domain of Ahriman. This is all related to the number 2, which can be called the number of duality, dualism, splitting and fragmenting.

The negative aspect of the pole associated with Sagittarius, on the other hand, would tend to boost the bestial, animal-like tendencies in us; we are, after all, centaur-like beings; we have a human and an animal nature, and the task of Sagittarius is to assert the human control over the animal element, not in a domineering but in an understanding way. Animals are guided by their instincts, which are powerful spiritual forces that work into them from outside, from their collective group soul beings, which, Steiner describes, exist in the spiritual world. As such, animals are ‘moral automatons’; their behaviour is instinctive and automatic. As moral automatons, they are governed by an outer code; they have no inner sense of freedom as humans have. The centaur-like quality of human nature – part animal, part human – can be used, said Steiner in that same lecture, by “egotistical brotherhoods of the eastern, Indian stream” to mislead eastern Europe (the Slavic peoples), which has the task of preparing the next cultural epoch after our present one, which since the 16th century, has been carried by the Germanic peoples. On their ‘smart’-phones today, young Europeans in both East and West can, for example, first be drawn to eastern notions of “enlightenment” through physical practices such as Yoga and Tantra which work with the human body, but these practices, especially under the influence of unethical spiritual teachers, can degenerate in the West to lower, westernised forms of Tantric sexual practices (the so-called ‘Left-hand Path’) and even to orgiastic activity, rather as soft drugs can lead on to hard drugs.(16)

The dualistic forces inherent in the Gemini-Sagittarius axis would thus be used to boost human egotism in different ways: technological or animalistic. Steiner described how instead of these forces and this midday/midnight axis which represents extremes in the natural cycle (midsummer and midwinter), scientists need to work in their laboratories with the inherently ethical and moral sunrise and sunset forces of the Pisces-Virgo axis, which are of a mediating, in-between nature. The combination of forces working from these two cosmic directions of the Fishes and the Virgin, he said, would serve human healing. These two signs are between the polar extremes of Gemini/Sagittarius and as such represent the mediating balance – a third element between the poles.

869 and 1923

When I was growing up in Chester, two numbers, two dates, regularly impinged themselves upon me. Aged 7-10, I would take the bus into town on Saturdays, get off near the City Hall, look up at the grand Victorian Gothic building and there on the front clearly visible was the year of its construction – 1869. In my teenage years I would cycle to school every day across the suspension bridge over the River Dee from what had once been Roman Chester to what had been a Celtic settlement outside it, the suburban area of my school. I would look up and see the date of the bridge’s opening: 1923. A thousand years before 1869, which incidentally was the year of the First Vatican Council, was the year 869. 8 + 6 + 9 = 23. There is a mysterious connection between 869 and 1923 which I realised not long after I had embarked on the path of Anthroposophy. I soon discovered that 1923 was a critical year in the life of Steiner and in the story of the Anthroposophical movement and Society.

On the first day of that year 1923, the Goetheanum Building, the international centre for Anthroposophy, which Steiner had laboured for 10 years to construct with the help of countless supporters, lay in ruins, after an arson attack on the last night of 1922. But despite this shattering blow, Steiner was not dismayed or defeated. He immediately set to work to reconstruct the Society and the building, and at Christmas 1923, organised a large international gathering later known as “the Christmas Conference”, at which he re-founded the Anthroposophical Society on a completely different basis.

On the second day of that conference, Christmas Day, he laid in the hearts of the 800 or so members of the Society gathered there the foundation stone of the re-founded Society by speaking aloud three verses, which came to be known as the Foundation Stone Meditation. Its three multi-layered verses were addressed to the willing, feeling, and thinking of the human soul. With this act, Steiner restored to Europe, to the world, and to Christians throughout the world something vital that had been lost in the 9th century, specifically in the year 869/70: the Trichotomy, the understanding of the threefold nature of the human being as a being of body, soul and spirit. He had been speaking since at least 1917 of the world-historical importance of the 8th Ecumenical Council(17) at Constantinople, (5 October 869 – 28 February 870), an importance that had gone unnoticed by Christians in the West for over a thousand years, and at the Christmas Conference of 1923 he brought six years of speaking about the threefolding of the human being and of society to a culmination by openly restoring the Trichotomy in place of the human Dichotomy that had been imposed by the Church in the Council of 869-870. For several years before 1923, he had made the radical claim that at the Council of 869, the human spirit had been “abolished”. By this, he meant that the Church had proclaimed a dogma at that Council with regard to the understanding of what a human being is that reduced the human being from a threefold entity of body, soul and spirit to a twofold entity of body and soul only. This “abolition of the spirit”, as he called it, was to have enormous consequences for the whole of western civilisation from the 9th century onwards. It meant that no longer were Christians allowed to seek their own way to God through their own individual spirit; henceforth, they were supposed to depend for salvation on the dogmas of the Church and the words of the Church authorities.

However, if we look at the 27 canons (church laws) promulgated by the Council of 869-870, we find no such declaration of the “abolition of the spirit”. Instead, it was deviously concealed in the text of Canon XI as part of an attack on a particular doctrine alleged to have been taught by Patriarch Photios of Constantinople, who was not even named in the canon. Indeed, the very purpose of convening the Council had been to condemn Photios, and so it is sometimes known as the ‘Anti-Photian Council’. The doctrine anathematised in Canon XI was known as the doctrine of the ‘twin, or two, souls’, which referred to the two souls that the doctrine claimed human beings have: one which looks to the needs of the body and one which looks to the human being’s higher, spiritual needs.

This notion of ‘the two souls’ was a last remnant of the older, threefold teaching from the New Testament, that of the pneuma (spirit) psyché (soul) and the soma or sarx (body), the ‘higher’ of the two souls being seen as the pneuma. The early Greek Church Fathers had of course known of and taught the human Trichotomy, but in its later battles against those it called ‘heretics’, the Church, especially in the Latin West, lost sight of it and dropped the pneuma altogether, merging spiritus into anima, which resulted in the human Dichotomy of body (corpus) and soul (anima) only. The anathema at the Council of 869/70 against the teaching of the two souls was the effort of Rome’s representatives at the Council to do away with the final remnant of Trichotomy by insisting that a human being has only one soul, which, they insisted, is a “rational and intellectual soul”. The estrangement between the eastern and western Churches that was much increased in 869-70 by the disagreement over Photios, a highly educated Patriarch who stood up against Rome’s claims to primacy, culminated in 1054 with the Great Schism(18) between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches, when the Roman papal legate laid a ban of excommunication upon the altar of the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia (the Holy Spirit, see pic. left), and the two confessions then stopped communicating with each other – a schism which even today is not yet properly healed. It was also a schism between the two cultures, the Greek and the Latin, which dominated the entire Greco-Roman epoch from the founding of Rome in the 8th cent. BC (753) to the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century AD (1453).(19)

Mysterious arithmetic

Mysterious in this context is also the arithmetical fact that not only does 8 + 6 + 9 = 23, as mentioned earlier, but there are 54 years (6 x 9) between those two dates in the Chester years of my youth, 1869 and 1923, and I noted that 869 + 1054 (the year of the Great Schism)= 1923, which was the year of the existential crisis and resurrection of the Anthroposophical Society. Exactly 1000 years after the 8th Ecumenical Council of 869-870 (accepted as ecumenical by the Roman Catholic Church, but not recognised by the Orthodox confessions) was the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), at which the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was defined and proclaimed. In the year 869 in the 9th century, we see the numbers 6 and 9. In the year 1054 in the 11th century, just after the beginning of the second millennium, we see the numbers 6 and 9 in a different way: 6 x 9 = 54. So the year 1869 that was 1000 years after the Council of 869 is numerically related to the year of the Council of 869-870, to the year of the Great Schism of East and West  (1054) and to the year 1923, when, after the ‘crucifixion’ of the Anthroposophical movement,   Steiner ‘resurrected’ the Anthroposophical Society and ‘restored’ the threefold image of Man.

Expressionist Architecture Outside Germany | Rudolf steiner ...

In December 1923, at the Christmas Conference in Dornach, Switzerland,  in the “Goetheanum” building he had designed (above), Steiner not only refounded the Anthroposophical Society but did so specifically on the basis – the Foundation Stone Meditation – of Trichotomy, the threefold image of Man, and in doing so, restored the Trichotomy to western culture, thus signifying that the time to begin to draw back the heavy  veil that had closed off the individual spirit since 869 had now arrived. It was the historical moment for the announcement of the modern spiritual freedom of the individual in the face of traditional authorities that had sought to repress and control that freedom, and it was immediately confronted by new, modern forms of authoritarianism – Communism, Fascism, and National Socialism – that sought to do the same. Those three new forms of authoritarianism can be said to be based on the numbers 1 and 2 – the number 1 because they were all monolithic and insisted on commanding the whole of society and culture and demanding the full subservience of every individual, and the number 2 because they were all based on the materialistic and dualistic natural science (or their interpretation thereof) that had emerged in the West since the 17th century, the science that had divorced the reality of the inner human being from the reality of outer nature by separating the scientist’s inner life from the object of his enquiry.

In passing, it may be noted that two of the first three individuals to whom Steiner taught the fundamentals of threefold social thinking in the summer of 1917 were born in 1869. These were Count Otto Lerchenfeld (1869-1938), a Bavarian, who was the first to ask Steiner how the First World War could be ended in an honourable way on the basis of a true Central European impulse – the question that first enabled Steiner to speak about social threefolding – and the Austrian Count Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz (1869-1945), one of Steiner’s closest pupils and a man deeply concerned with East-West issues, the future of Europe, and the threefold social impulse. He was born in Prague, the very centre of Europe, and did much to illuminate and expose the contemporary activities of both Freemasons and Jesuits.(20) The third in this honourable trio was Walter Johannes Stein (1891-1957), who was then an army officer from Vienna.

Hexagram 23

If we extend the upper lefthand side of the figure 8, we make the figure 6 and if we extend the lower righthand side of the figure 8, we make the figure 9. The 6 (2 x 3) and the 9 (3 x 3) would thus be included in the figure 8. The well-known ancient Chinese Yin-Yang symbol  represented a profound form of philosophical dualism and is composed of shapes which resemble the figures 6 and 9 and a form of it (left) was used as the symbol of the Technocracy movement in America in the 1930s. Technocrats believed that electricity – a binary force – was the way of the future and that society should be governed scientifically by technocrats (designers and engineers). The Yin-Yang philosophy was merged in China about 2300 years ago(21) with a much older divinatory system called the I Ching (Book of Changes). This system of foretelling the future consists of 64 hexagrams (Nb. 8 x 8), each of which has 6 horizontal lines, either broken (yin) or unbroken (yang). Each hexagram has profound multi-layered meanings that are rooted in concrete natural events or actions. Hexagram 23 (left), for example, is named (bō or pō), which means “splitting” in the sense of stripping, peeling, or removing that which is unusable or outmoded, such as a rice husk, or a building. The outer (upper) trigram means ‘bound’ in the way a mountain is both a boundary of something and marks a new beginning, e.g. a boundary between countries, while the inner (lower) trigram  means field, which offers up produce. The image is of a still mountain resting upon the earth.

Here is the I Ching scholar Richard Wilhelm’s interpretation of this hexagram: “the dark (yin broken) lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light (yang) line by exerting a disintegrating influence upon it” [recall the Discordians!] and “The inferior forces overcome what is superior not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually and imperceptibly, so that it finally collapses. ….the hexagram presents the image of a house, the top line being the roof, and because the roof is being shattered, the house collapses….the yin power pushes up ever more powerfully and is about to supplant the yang power altogether.” The divinatory advice in this case is that lower elements are rising inexorably and “it is not favourable for the superior man to undertake anything” in such circumstances. “One should submit to the bad time and remain quiet [as] it is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time”. “The mountain rests upon the earth. When it is steep and narrow, lacking a broad base, it must topple over. Its position is strong only when it rises out of the earth broad and great, not proud and steep.” Rulers therefore – and the I Ching was especially directed at rulers – “should be generous and benevolent, like the earth that carries all. Then they will make their position as a secure as a mountain is in its tranquillity.” The concluding line of the advice means that when the splitting apart “has reached its end and misfortune has spent itself, better times return. The seed of the good remains … and when the fruit falls to the ground …. the good sprouts anew from its seed. The superior man again attains influence and effectiveness, but the inferior man’s wickedness is visited upon himself. His house is split apart. A law of nature is at work here. Evil is not destructive to the good alone but inevitably destroys itself as well. For evil, which lives solely by negation, cannot continue to exist on its own strength alone.”(22)

The 2 and the 3

So, we see that Hexagram 23 means that a split, a separation must take place. This can be seen as something negative – splits usually are seen that way – but it can also be necessary and inevitable, as the hexagram says, and can result in a new beginning and new growth. If we focus on the 2, we focus on the split; if we focus on the 3, we focus on the new. It is like Crucifixion and Resurrection. 23 is of course 2 x 10 and 3 x 1. The larger 2 x 10 seems superior to the smaller 3 x 1.  If we see the 2 over the 3, as in two thirds , then the two is shown as above or superior to the three, but if we see the number horizontally, from left to right, then we can see the 2 giving way to the 3, being succeeded by the 3. In the pentagram, the 3 should be above, not below. Steiner spoke of the number 5 (2 + 3) as the number of evil,(23) because the godhead, he said, created the human being with a physical body, an etheric body (of life forces), an astral body (of feelings) and an ego (a “sleeping seed of the will”) i.e. a fourfold being, but when the seed of the fifth element, the spirit self (Geistselbst) was added, human beings were no longer mere creatures of the divine, they were now able to rebel against the divine, become free to do their own will, fall into error and thus do evil. The number 5 (2 + 3) is thus that of the creative individual between good and evil. Ernst Bindel, in his fascinating book Die geistigen Grundlagen der Zahlen (The Spiritual Basis of Numbers) (4th ed., 1980) points out that Steiner also regarded 5 as the number of crisis; this word comes from the Greek verb krinein, to separate, or one could say, discriminate between two things, as in separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats (as in the Gospel of Matthew 25:32). From this viewpoint, it is therefore no accident that in our modern age, which Steiner called the 5th Post-Atlantean Epoch, since the 15th century, the English-speaking peoples have played such a prominent role. For not only are they, according to Steiner, the pre-eminent people of the Consciousness Soul (the last of the three soul elements),(24) which it is the task of humanity as a whole to develop in this epoch, the age of the individual’s rediscovery of the spirit, they have also initiated the modern world into the age of radical materialism through the Industrial Revolution, which began in England the process of creating, from the subterranean realms of the earth  a new species of beings – the machines. Furthermore, the number 23 has played a particular role in the history of the English people, out of whom the other English-speaking peoples developed. We have seen this with King James I, the 23rd monarch since the Norman Conquest in 1066, in whose reign England’s global role can be said to have begun in East and West, and with Shakespeare, who was supposedly born and died on 23 April,(25) which is also St. George’s Day, England’s national day and in Psalm 23 in the Old Testament – the most beloved and well-known Psalm among the English-speaking peoples since King James’ time. The psalm speaks of confidence in the beneficent guidance of God, despite the evils and enemies that may confront one.

Conclusion: 23 as the number of choice

To reiterate, 23 is the number of choice in this modern age when humanity is challenged to take responsibility for itself and for its planetary home, which happens, as mentioned earlier, to be angled at 23° to the plane of its orbit round the Sun. 2 is the number of materialism and dualism; 3 is the way beyond them. We can either see 23 as: 2 comes before 3, i.e. is superior to 3 – this is the negative and sinister aspect of 23 which is largely dominant in popular culture, as in Winston Churchill’s V for Victory sign (two fingers up, three down)(26) and ultimately in the inverted pentagram of black magic -  or we can see 23 as moving on from 2 to 3, from duality to threefoldness.

The choice is between crucifixion on the twofold cross of materialism if we opt to sink ever further into materialism and self-destruction -  and resurrection in the rediscovery of our spiritual nature as threefold beings of body, soul and spirit. This rediscovery leads to affirmation of our individuality and freedom, on the threefold basis of which we can build a new sense of community free of ancient blood ties, a new society that reflects our modern human reality.  This is why Steiner’s ideas about social threefolding are so important.(27) They point to the new way forward for society in this third millennium, because a threefold society in which the three spheres of culture and research, law and politics, and economic life (industry, agriculture and commerce) are disentangled, clearly separated and yet harmoniously interrelated with the real movement of the age.

The second Christian millennium was marked by a strong dualism in many fields of human life, not least in philosophy, science, politics and economics, and this dualism culminated in the 1990s in the World Wide Web – WWW: 23-23-23, W being the 23rd letter of the alphabet. This technological web, which has been conjured up and spun around us all so quickly these past 30 years, as if by some wizard, Harry Potter-like, cannot be allowed to dominate our lives in the third millennium. For this millennium, we need fundamentally new social thinking.

Such thinking is clearly beyond the ‘high priests’ and would-be ‘Illuminati’ aristocrats of the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations and the Bank of International Settlements, with their much touted “Agenda 2030” – an authoritarian, technocratic and digitalised vision of an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)-driven surveillance dystopia, which is continually represented by the mainstream media as inevitable. Those elitist ‘high priests’ are merely recycling the dualism of the last millennium and the collectivist monism of the millennia before that, dressed up in modern garb, in their top-down, patrician prescriptions for a neo-feudal order, a one world government by corporate elites and a passive global populace, hooked on benefits, drugs, cheap chemicalised food and entertainment ‘circuses’, and cowed into compliance by technological ‘magic’. The new social thinking that we urgently need today is based on a thoroughgoing threefold approach to society, such as is found in Steiner’s ideas about social threefolding. At its heart is the threefold picture of the human being. The first requirement here is the freeing of the cultural sphere from the joint grip of the State and of Big Business so that education, medicine, religion, philosophy, jurisprudence and artistic and scientific research are not subjected to dictates and influence from the political and economic spheres. This emancipation of the individual human spirit in the West, fettered since the dogma of the Council of 869, is now essential if we are to move on from crucifixion on the twofold cross to resurrection in a threefold society.


1 From The Principia Discordia or, How I Found the Goddess and What I Did To Her When I Found Her by Malaclypse the Younger (aka Greg Hill)

2 Another movie about 23, German this time, called simply “23”, was made in 1998 (Nb. 3 x 666). This was based on supposedly a true Cold War spy drama from the 1980s; the real life protagonist died on 23 May 1989, a presumed suicide.

3 The angle of the Earth’s axial tilt varies with respect to the plane of the Earth’s orbit. These variations take approximately 41,000 years to move between a tilt of 22.1° and 24.5° and back again.

4  James was also King James VI of Scotland from 1567-1625, so is also known as King James VI and I. But here I focus on him as King of England because England, as the much wealthier country, was the one that embarked in his reign on its global endeavours.

5 18.7.1916 Collected Works GA 169.

6 Lecture 15.1.1917 Collected Works GA 174, in The Karma of Untruthfulness, Vol 2.

7 As to who this source may have been, see Who Wrote Bacon?: William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and James I, a Mystery of the Twenty-first Century  (2004) by Richard Ramsbotham.

8 See n. 7.

9 Also the revised Book of Common Prayer (1604).

10 1914, Collected Works GA 151.

11 (26.6.1908, GA 104)

12 They were made for the Munich Congress of the German Section of the Theosophical Society, held in 1907. Steiner began to develop the artistic impulse in his work and teaching at that time, when he was still in the Theosophical Society, which he left at the end of 1912 and helped to form the Anthroposophical Society in early 1913.

13  21 Jan. 1914, Berlin, Collected Works GA 151.

14 Collected Works GA 186.

15 Ahrimanic: the adjective from Ahriman, the name Steiner gave – from the ancient Persian Spirit of Lies and Darkness – to the powerful spiritual being who, amongst other things, inspires materialism and the ideas behind our modern electromagnetic and electronic technology.

16 A number of ‘spiritual masters’ in the Tibetan or Indian Tantric traditions have been found over the past several decades to have been sexually exploiting or abusing their followers.

17 Also known as the 4th Council of Constantinople, as the Orthodox tradition does not recognise this Council as ecumenical. It was held from 5 October 869 to 28 February 870.

18 Another factor in the split was the disagreement over the meaning of the filioque (“and the Son”) clause relating to the definition of the Holy Spirit: did it proceed from the Son as well as the Father? The West said yes, the East said no.

19 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, who were Muslims. The Muslim Holy Book, the Qur’an, was revealed over a total of 23 years (609-632 AD) to the Prophet Muhammed.

20 See Thomas H. Meyer, Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz – A European (Temple Lodge, 2014).

21 The time of the great philosopher, scholar and spiritual writer, Zou Yan, 305-240 BC.

22 See R. Wilhelm, The I Ching or Book of Changes (3rd ed. 1968), pp.93-96.

23 Lecture of 15.9.1907, Stuttgart.

24 The Self expresses itself over the course of millennia of historical time, through the three aspects of the soul: Sentient Soul, Intellectual/Mind Soul, Consciousness Soul. These correspond to feeling, thinking and willing respectively. See R. Steiner, Theosophy (1904)

25 He certainly died on 23 April; his birth on 23 April is anecdotal; there is no firm proof of it, but clearly there was a wish that he should have been born and died on the same day, which points to the significance of that date in the minds of the English.

26 Churchill was all his life a man of war and imperial domination. The only member of the UK Cabinet in both world wars, he played a major part in starting and perpetuating those wars.

27 See R. Steiner, Toward Renewal, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999, The Social Future, Anthroposophic Press, 1972, and S.E. Usher ed., Rudolf Steiner’s Social and Political Science,  Sophia Books (Rudolf Steiner Press), 2003.

The lead illustration above is that of the Archangel Uriel, the Archangel of midsummer.

Terry Boardman April 2023