Group Moral Artistry, The Art of Goethean Conversation

Group Moral Artistry II
by Marjorie Spock


Conversing, as Goethe conceived it, is the art of arts. The very place in his works where the subject finds mention lets us glimpse its singular rank in his esteem. This is in a key scene of his fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. There, the four kings enthroned in the subterranean mystery temple are roused to the dawning of a new Age of Man when the serpent, made luminous by the gold she had swallowed, penetrates with her light into their dark sanctuary, and the following dialogue takes place:

“Whence came you hither?” asked the golden king.

“Out of the clefts where gold dwells,” replied the serpent.

“What is more glorious than gold?”


“What is more quickening than Light?”


Unless one understands what Goethe meant one can feel disappointed at the serpent's answer, which scarcely seems the revelation one expected. For is conversation as we know it in the Twentieth Century really more glorious than gold, more quickening than light? Hardly! We attach the term to every casual exchange, to the most idle, inconsequential chit-chat. Surely, we feel, the term must have come down in the world since Goethe's day, suffering severest diminution in its slide.

That this is indeed the case becomes apparent when we recall the salons of earlier centuries where great minds came together for significant talk. These occasions were of a wholly different order from our social happenings. They were disciplined, where ours are chaotic, built around a common purpose, mutually enriching rather than depleting. It is impossible to picture the participants in a salon all talking at once, babbling away on as many subjects as there were pairs of conversationalists present. No! The star of a theme hung over the assemblage as over a pool studded with crystals, and the responsively scintillating crystal intellects took turns voicing the reflections awakened in them.

But Goethean conversations differ at least as much again from those of the salon as did the salon from today's cocktail party. Their purpose is to call forth a fullness of spiritual life, not to stage displays of intellectual fireworks. They have nothing in common with the salon's formal play of light-points sparkling in cold starlit glitter. Instead, they strive to enter the sun-warm realm of living thoughts where a thinker uses all himself as a tool of knowledge, where – in the manner of his thinking – he takes part as a creative spirit in the ongoing creative process of the cosmos.

But this is to say that a true Goethean conversation takes place across the threshold, in the etheric world, where thoughts are intuitions (cf. Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom), -- that it breaks through into the realm of First Causes.

Lesser types of interchange never do this; they remain mere mentalizing, speculation, argument, a recounting of experience, an offering of opinion, a reporting. At their best they are nothing more than disciplined discussion, at their worst a mindless associative rambling.

While most of these lesser forms of exchange can be made to serve useful purposes, the fact that they remain on this side of the threshold condemns them to spiritual barrenness; they leave earth and those who take part in them unfulfilled. They cannot overcome the isolation with which every man born since Adam feels afflicted.

But true conversations have that power. As the participants strive to enter the world of living thought together, each attunes his intuitive perception to the theme. And he does so in the special atmosphere engendered by approaching the threshold of the spiritual world: a mood of supernaturally attentive listening, of the most receptive openness to the life of thought into which he and his companions are now entering. In such an attitude the consciousness of all who share it shapes itself into a single chalice to contain that life. And partaking of that divine nutriment they partake also of communion, of fellowship; they live the Grail experience of modern man.


We have found Goethe depicting conversation as the art of arts. If it is indeed such, and we aspire to it, what does its practice require of us? Surely no amount of inspired groping will suffice; techniques of a very special order must be cultivated.

Perhaps the first pre-requisite is to be aware that the spiritual world beyond the threshold wishes every bit as keenly to be known to us as we wish to know it. It does not have to be taken by assault; it comes gladly to meet us, much as a wise and loving teacher responds to the warmth of a student's interest. And no one genuinely eager to approach such a teacher with the proper reverence fails to elicit his responses. The spiritual world is no less eager to meet our interest. We recall Christ’s assurance of this: “Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

The seeker's attitude thus proves a magically evoking wand that, like the rod of Moses, unlocks a flow of spiritual life. One must know this to be a fact, both in one's own and others' cases. Then the group’s consciousness becomes indeed a common vessel in which to receive such illumination as the world beyond the threshold may, on each given occasion, find it suitable to offer.

But one cannot step with a single stride from ordinary thought and chatter into Goethean conversation. The latter requires the most loving preparation. Thoughts must first be conceived like children, and then brooded out in the spirits of the thinkers. To this end the theme of a meeting is set in advance. Each member of the group lives with it as a developing concern in his meditation. As the day of foregathering draws near he begins to anticipate coming together as a festival of light which, if he and his fellows have done their work well, will lead to their illumination by the spiritual world.

What, specifically, is meant by work here? Certainly not the production of any finished concepts, the amassing of quotes from authoritative sources, the getting up of a resume of reading done. Thinking and study engaged in prior to a meeting rather serve the purpose of rousing the soul to maximum activity so that it may come into the presence of the spirit all perception. Work of this sort is a warming up, a brightening of consciousness to render the soul a dwelling place hospitable to insight. One must be willing to sacrifice previous thinking, as one does in the second stage of meditation, in order to clear the scene for fresh illumination.

The principle here is the same as that advanced by Rudolf Steiner when he advised teachers to prepare their lessons painstakingly and then be ready to sacrifice the prepared plan at the dictate of circumstances which may point to an entirely fresh approach to their material If one is well prepared, he said, one will find the inspiration needed. Indeed, the principle is common to all esoteric striving. Invite the spirit by becoming spiritually active, and then hold yourself open to its visitation.

Those who come to the meeting place thus prepared will not bring the street in with them in the form of all sorts of distracting chatter. One does not, after all, approach the threshold in an ordinary mood; and where an approach is prepared, the scene in which the encounter takes place becomes a mystery temple setting. What is spoken there should harmonize with a temple atmosphere. Conventional courtesies to the person in the next chair, comments on the weather, the transacting of a bit of business, are all completely out of tune and keeping.

To abstain from chatter means learning to live without any sense of discomfort in poised quiet. But then, a very special regard for and tolerance of silence is a sine qua non of esoteric life, under which heading conversations too belong. This means an about-face from accustomed ways. In ordinary social intercourse words must flow, or there is no proof of relating; silences signal breakdowns in communication. But as one grows in awareness of the threshold, words for words' sake come to seem disturbers of the peace. Unnecessary utterance intrudes upon and destroys the concentrated inner quiet that serves as a matrix for the unfolding life of intuition.

Conversations, then, rest as much on being able to preserve silence as on speaking. And when it comes to the latter, one can find no better guide to the ideal than is offered in another piece of Goethean insight. The poet saw necessity as art's criterion (“Here is necessity; here is art.”). And one can sharpen one's sense of the necessary to the point where a conversation develops like a living organism, every part essential and in balance, each contributor taking pains to lift and hold himself above the level of unshaped outpourings. To achieve true conversations one must, in short, build with the material of intuition. And to reach this height everything of a personal, sentient nature must be sacrificed. Only then can a conversation find its way to necessity.

When it does so, it becomes a conversation with the spiritual world as well as with one's fellow earthlings.


Though groups vary greatly, a good deal of practice is usually needed to grow into a capacity for Goethean converse. Most individuals today are so habituated to discussion that they can hardly conceive higher levels of exchange. We are conditioned to earth; the etheric realm has become a stranger to us.

Several means exist to school oneself in etheric thinking. A prime one is, of course, meditation as Anthroposophy teaches it. Another is an ever repeated study of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom, carried on with special attention to the way this book, which starts out on the customary ground of philosophic-intellectual argument, suddenly deserts it to lift, winged, into realms where every thought quickens and is free creative deed. Simply to follow that metamorphosis is to receive an infusion of etheric forces whereby one's own thinking is enlivened and one's mind tuned to intuitive perception.

A like transformation is brought about by steeping oneself in fairy tales and great poetry. For rhythms and images teem with spiritual life, and as one absorbs them one can feel one's own life being magically quickened.

It is wholly contrary to a truly modern community building concept to lean on leaders in a conversation. Rather does the creation of a Grail Cup consciousness require an intact circle of fully active, responsible individuals whose only leader is the spiritual world. If, before coming together, every such individual brings the theme of the meeting alive in himself and then, having arrived there, suppresses the thoughts he has had, while offering the life they have engendered to the spirit, the spirit will not fail to bestow fresh insight on a gathering prepared to receive it. This can be experienced again and again. One has only to be active and keep the way clear, knowing that “where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of you.”

The hope of that Presence can be strengthened by learning to listen to one's fellowmen in exactly the way one would listen to the spiritual world: evocatively, with reverence, refraining from any trace of reaction, making one's own soul a seedbed for others' germinal ideas.

This is not to imply that the listener surrenders the least measure of discrimination. He weighs what he hears. But he does so in a novel manner by cleansing himself of sympathy and antipathy in order to serve as an objective sounding board against which the words of the speaker ring true or false.

Thus the speaker is brought to hear himself and weigh his own utterances. Correction – in the sense of an awakening – is there without others sitting in judgment on him.

Nor is this all. Listening evocatively is a sun like deed. It rays the warmth and light of interest into the thought-life quickening in the circle and encourages it to a veritable burgeoning.

A question often asked by those who become interested in exploring conversations is: How does one go about choosing themes?

Certainly not in the usual arbitrary manner. One cannot, as perhaps happened in the salon, seek out the intellectually most appealing theme, nor, like today's discussion group, run one's finger down a list of Timely Topics trying to light on the timeliest. Instead, burning questions that have been harbored in the souls of the participants will seek the light, -- questions that have sprung from a heart's concern with matters of the spirit and are therefore already full of life, and fire and rooted in something deeper than the intellect. Of their own vitality these will burst out to claim the attention of the meeting.

Often a theme teems with such fullness of life that it goes through a long series of metamorphoses requiring many meetings for its exploration. Themes of this kind are especially valuable, for they tend to become lifelong spiritual concerns of all the members, and it is easy to see how indissolubly conversations about such matters link the participants in the conversation.


For a conversation to become a work of art, its life must be given form within a framework. Otherwise it would straggle on amorphously.

The framework that keeps conversations shaped is built in part of temporal elements, in part of a very simple ritual. Thus it will be found desirable to fix the exact time of both beginning and ending meetings, and to keep punctually to it, while everyone who intends to be present understands that he should arrive well beforehand to prepare himself to help launch the evening's activity in a gathered mood. These are invariable rules of esoteric practice. The ritual consists of rising and speaking together a line or more chosen for its spiritually-orienting content, -- for example “Ex deo nascimur (Of God we are born);” “In Christo morimur (In Christ we die);” “Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus (Through the Holy Spirit we shall live again).” The same or another meditation may be spoken to end the meeting, again exactly at a pre-determined hour.

It may be feared that rigid time-limits inhibit the free unfolding of a conversation. This fear proves ungrounded. A painter's inspiration is not limited by the size of his canvas. Rather do limits serve in every art form as awakeners, sharpening awareness of what can be accomplished, and composition always adapts itself intuitively to the given space.

To make a composition all of one piece as it must be if it is to rank as art, the conversing circle needs to take unusual measures to preserve unity. Here again, there is a vast difference between a discussion and a conversation. In the former, few feel the least compunction about engaging in asides. Disruptive and rude though these are, and betraying conceit in their implication that what one is muttering to one's neighbor is of course of far more interest than what the man who has the floor is saying, they are not as final a disaster as when they take place in a conversation. For discussions base themselves on intellect, and intellectual thinking tends naturally to separateness. But conversations are of an order of thought in which illumined hearts serve as the organs of intelligence, and the tendency of hearts is to union. The conversation group must make itself a magic circle; the least break in its Grail-Cup wholeness would let precious light-substance generated by the meeting drain away. Sensitive participants will feel asides and interruptions to be nothing less than a cutting off of the meeting from the spiritual world.

Many individuals feel that no conversation could ever match the inspiration of a top-flight lecture. Hence, they tend to think conversing is a waste of time much better spent reading lectures or listening to them.

No doubt lectures do serve important functions. Painstakingly prepared, they convey concentrations of spiritual substance to listeners, who sit down as it were to a meal someone else has placed before them. But to continue the analogy, dyed-in-the-wool lecture-goers do all their eating at restaurants, never learning the lovely art of home-making.

There is something woefully one-sided in such a way of life. Not only does it avoid responsibility and neglect opportunities for creative growth: it means remaining childishly dependent in the most important phase of human evolution, when one should be progressing from having truth revealed to discovering truth by one's own activity.

Rudolf Steiner was no friend of dependency in any form. He seldom told people the solution to a problem, and the only when exceptional pressures of time required it. Rather did he show the way to solving problems for oneself. And that is what the times demand of us: that we become spiritually self-active, learning to draw sustenance from the spiritual world for earth's renewal.

Goethean conversations will be found an ideal schooling for this task of foremost importance.

Remembering Marjorie Spock: LeadTogether Highlight #5, 9-15-14

Dear Colleagues,

In doing research for the September Newsletter, I reconnected with Marjorie Spock's important booklets, "Group Moral Artistry: The Art of Community Building I and II." They have been a source of inspiration since 1986 when a colleague first shared them with me. While these little gems are available in our resource section, this week's highlight is about Marjorie herself. Last week (September 8) she would have been 110 years old. In 1922, at 18, Marjorie went to Dornach to learn eurythmy and study with Rudolf Steiner, an experience that inspired her life as a eurythmy teacher (at 100 she produced and directed a film on eurythmy), a biodynamic farmer (she was part of the inspiration for Rachel Carson's Silent Spring), a writer, and a teacher.

She was a true Michaelic warrior whose life and writing continue to fan the sparks of courage and initiative in the hearts of us all.

Click here for three short biographies of her remarkable life.

Keep in touch,

Michael Soule

Here is a quote from her.

“In a universe where all life is in movement, where every fact seen in perspective is totally engaging, we impose stillness on lively young bodies, distort reality to dullness, and make action drudgery. Those who submit - as the majority does - are conditioned to a life lived without their human birthright: work done with the joy and creativity of love. But what are schools for if not to make children fall so deeply in love with the world that they really want to learn about it? That is the true business of schools. And if they succeed in it, all other desirable developments follow of themselves. In a proper school, no fact would ever be presented as a soulless one, for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Every facet of reality, discovered where it lives, startles with its wonder, beauty, and meaning.”

Marjorie Spock: Eurythmy, Biodynamics, Waldorf Education, Anthroposophy

 Below are three pieces about the life and work of Marjorie Spock.


Marjorie Spock

(September 8, 1904, New Haven, Connecticut – January 23, 2008, Sullivan, Maine) was an environmentalistauthor and poet, best known for her influence on Rachel Carson when the latter was writing Silent Spring. Spock was also a noted Waldorf teachereurythmist, biodynamic gardener and anthroposophist.


Marjorie Spock was born the second child and the first daughter of six children. Her older brother was Benjamin Spock, the world-renowned pediatrician and author of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.

At 18, Spock studied at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland where she met and worked with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. She was present at the "Christmas Conference" of December 25, 1923 – January 1, 1924 when the Anthroposophical Society was refounded.[1]

When she returned to the U.S., Spock received her BA and MA degrees from Columbia University at the age of 38. She was a teacher and served as the head of a progressive school in New York City. She also taught at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City and the Waldorf School of Garden City, New York. Spock worked closely with Ehrenfried Pfeiffer for the biodynamic agriculture movement in the U.S.

Environmental activism.

In the late 1950's, Marjorie Spock was a biodynamic gardener on Long Island, New York. Spock complained when the government began indiscriminate aerial spraying of DDT over wide areas of the countryside against the perceived gypsy moth epidemic. When the spraying was not stopped, Spock brought a case with 11 other people against the United States government for the continued DDT spraying.[1] For Spock, the concern was for people’s health and the constitutional right for a property owner to manage her land free of government infringement.

The Federal judge dismissed 72 uncontested admissions for the plaintiffs and denied their petition. When the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1960, Spock wrote daily reports to interested and influential friends of the case's progress. Rachel Carson heard of Spock's case and soon got the daily reports. Carson used the testimony from the experts that Spock had found in her own research. Spock's case, along with a massive bird kill on Cape Cod, provided the impetus for Carson's book, Silent Spring.

The plaintiffs lost the case but won the right to enjoin the government, prior to a potentially destructive environmental activity, to provide a full scientific review of the proposed action. With this right to environmental review, Spock helped give rise to the environmental movement.


  • Teaching as a Lively Art
  • In Celebration of the Human Heart
  • Eurythmy
  • To Look on Earth With More Than Mortal Eyes
  • Fairy Worlds and Workers: A Natural History of Fairyland

Pamphlets and Articles

A Quote by Marjorie Spock

 “In a universe where all life is in movement, where every fact seen in perspective is totally engaging, we impose stillness on lively young bodies, distort reality to dullness, make action drudgery. Those who submit - as the majority does - are conditioned to a life lived without their human birthright: work done with the joy and creativity of love.

But what are schools for if not to make children fall so deeply in love with the world that they really want to learn about it? That is the true business of schools. And if they succeed in it, all other desirable developments follow of themselves.

In a proper school, no fact would ever be presented as a soulless one, for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Every facet of reality, discovered where it lives, startles with its wonder, beauty, meaning.”
― Marjorie Spock

In Memorium, Marjorie Spock, Eurythmist, Sept 8 1904 to Jan 23 2008

Marjorie Spock died peacefully Jan. 23, 2008, at the age of 103, at her home in Sullivan. Marjorie Spock was born Sept. 8, 1904, in New Haven, Conn., the second child, and first daughter, of six children.

The Spock family was prominent in New Haven, as her father was a corporate lawyer there and her older brother, Dr. Benjamin Spock, was later a world-renowned pediatrician, known through “The Baby Book,” which changed the way children were brought up and viewed, and known for his work against the Vietnam War. At 18, Marjorie went to Dornach, Switzerland, to meet and work with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. This had deep significance for her life, especially her study of the dynamics of human movement, through Eurythmy. After her final return to the U.S., she received her BA and MA degrees from Columbia University at the age of 38. During her studies, she began a prominent career as a teacher and the head of the Dalton Middle School and teacher at the Fieldston Lower School, both progressive schools in New York City. She also taught at The Rudolf Steiner School in New York City and The Waldorf School in Garden City, Long Island.

With her deep understanding of nature and as an avid Bio-Dynamic gardener, Marjorie’s work took on an added dimension when, in the area where she and her friend Polly Richards lived, on Long Island, N.Y., the government began aerial spraying of DDT against the perceived gypsy moth epidemic. She and Polly, who helped finance the legal action, brought a case with 10 other people against the United States government for the continued DDT spraying. Marjorie and Polly were formidable leaders for this commitment to the health of the earth. Organic, Biodynamic food was a life-saving matter for Polly, who was in ill health. For Marjorie, the concern was for her friend’s health, and the constitutional right as a property owner to keep her land, as she wanted it, free of government infringement.

This team was brilliant, committed and erudite. According to Marjorie, the “government ran roughshod over anyone who got in the way of the new technology. They brushed us off like so many flies.” The federal judge, appointed by President Eisenhower, threw out 72 uncontested admissions for the plaintiffs and denied their petitions. From the summer of 1957 to 1960, when the case reached the Supreme Court, Marjorie wrote a report to interested and influential friends of each day’s progress in and out of court, each evening after work.

Rachel Carson heard of this and soon got these daily briefings because she realized that the testimony from the experts that Marjorie had found, would be valuable for her own research. This case, along with a massive bird kill on Cape Cod, was the springboard for the writing of “Silent Spring.” The trial took only 22 days, and toward the end, Rachel Carson asked for the transcript. They became close collaborators and friends. Though the plaintiffs lost the case, they won the right to bring an injunction in court, so that prior to a destructive environmental event, a full and proper scientific a review had to be made. Marjorie always described it, saying, “We lost the battle but won the war.” This became the germinal legal action for the environmental movement in the United States. There has been continuous interest in this case since that time. Recently, Marjorie was interviewed for a documentary on Rachel Carson.

After the case, Marjorie moved to Chester, N.Y., where she farmed, bringing Biodynamic produce to a larger public. She worked closely with Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, the renowned soil scientist, and compost and farm adviser for Biodynamic movement. As a beloved destination since childhood, in 1965, Marjorie moved to Maine, where she lived and worked for the next 43 years as an inspiring teacher, eurythmist, author, Bio-Dynamic farmer, translator and mentor to the many people, young and old, who came to see her. Until last Thursday, she held a study group, which has been ongoing since 1965, and to which people came from all over the state. Visitors, from all over the world, and wonderful neighbors, were always heartily welcomed and experienced wide-ranging and deep conversations, wise counsel and humor.

Amongst Marjorie Spock’s writings are “Teaching as a Lively Art,” her master’s thesis; “In Celebration of the Human Heart;” “Eurythmy;” “To Look on Earth With More Than Mortal Eyes;” and “Fairy Worlds and Workers: A Natural History of Fairyland.” The two pamphlets, “Group Moral Artistry I: Reflections on Community Building” and “Group Moral Artistry II: The Art of Goethean Conversation,” have had a readership around the world. Her love and understanding of the mystery of language can be seen in her article, “A B C D E F G: The Secret Life of Letters."

Surviving Marjorie Spock are several nephews, grand nieces and Mary Morgan, the wife of Dr. Benjamin Spock.

In the 100th year of her life Marjorie produced, directed and choreographed a video about Eurythmy that was filmed at Hammond Hall in Winter Harbor, followed by two short training films at 101 and 102 years of age.

From Waldorf in the Home


Marjorie Spock

By William Jens Jensen

For the better part of a century, Marjorie Spock has had a beneficial influence on the development of anthroposophy in North America. She has been a eurythmist, a Waldorf teacher, and an active practi­tioner and advocate of biodynamics and community renewal. She has written several books and articles, including In Celebration of the Human Heart; Fairy Worlds and Workers; Teaching As a Lively Art; and Eurythmy. She has also translated several books, including Nutrition and The Nature of Sub­stance by Rudolf Hauschka.

Marjorie Spock was born in New Haven, Connect­icut, early in the twentieth century. At the age of eighteen, filled with excitement and plans to study dance and with no notion of anthroposophy or the arts associated with it, she traveled to Dornach, Switzerland. Only a year earlier, in 1921, while a counselor at a girls’ camp, the painting instructor there had spoken of a wonderful dance program in “Door Knock” (as she heard the name). She under­stood these words to mean “Knock and it shall be opened unto you,” and knew instantly that she needed to go there.

Except for brief interruptions, she spent much of her youth in Dornach. No doubt, she experienced many deep and lasting impressions during that time, and even first impressions can stir a desire for self-development. Marjorie Spock says that when she first saw the first Goetheanum she “thought it was the ugliest thing” she’d ever seen. Later, she heard that Rudolf Steiner had said that, for those who are still unable to perceive their own inner nature, “one’s whole stature as a human soul became clear to oneself when seeing the Goet­heanum for the first time.”

Later, she became seriously ill and was confined to Dr. Ita Wegman’s clinic. Around Christmastime, she was released for a brief time, and on that New Year’s Eve, she witnessed the complete destruction of the Goetheanum by fire. She said,

“I think that something in me burned up that needed to be burned up as I watched it. And, for the first time, I became truly interested in anthro­posophy. Up until that time, I had loved Eurythmy; now the whole seriousness of what was at stake there impressed itself on me, which I had not felt before. So I began to study anthroposophy in great earnest.”

The following year, at nineteen, she was able to attend the Christmas Conference, the series of meetings called to reorganize and renew the Gen­eral Anthroposophical Society. Although young and inexperienced in such matters, she neverthe­less sensed the significance of that event.

Around Christmas 1924, she returned to the U.S. and decided to support herself by working in an anthroposophical bookstore in New Haven. That work proved to be a tremendously valuable experi­ence— “After all,” she said, “I had a whole library of anthroposophy at my fingertips, and I read and studied with great seriousness during those years.”

After working in the bookshop for three years, she returned to Europe and studied for three years at the Eurythmy school in Stuttgart. Later, she went to Dornach, where she performed Eurythmy on the Goetheanum stage. During that time, she became familiar with Marie Steiner, who was actively involved in most of the Eurythmy rehears­als. “Frau Dr. Steiner was simply magnificent,” she recalls, “but rather unapproachable.”

When asked about her experience of Rudolf Steiner during that time, what she expressed was singular:

I looked at his head, and I looked at his hands as I sat in his lectures, and I had the feeling that his head was sort of a condensation of all he was speaking. And the words that he was saying were tremendously significant, although I can’t say that I remember more than a sentence of all the things that he said in those years. But there was one point where I remember his gesture and his words exactly, and that was when he expressed “the wake-up call to become a person of initiative.”

Looking back, I had the sense that he meant something completely different from what hap­pened. People in the society tried to become little Rudolf Steiners, and I felt that we needed to pull together and get an entirely new kind of feeling about community—in a truly Christian sense, really helpful to one another, spiritually and in every possible way—rather than indulging in all the criticism.

It’s incredible that people should not appreciate each other, because we are, each one, developing as individuals, each one developing a completely unique ability of some kind. But instead of look­ing upon this as an absolute treasure, we cut the ground out from under the feet of people. Largely this is what has happened.

Rudolf Steiner said that, if any group of people gets together with an ideal purpose, an archangel is assigned to that group to guide it. But I don’t think that can happen unless we have the right attitude toward one another.

When asked for her impression of Rudolf Steiner’s appearance, Marjorie Spock said, “he appeared very much like Abraham Lincoln.”

He looked as though he bore up most manly under the most terrible burden … but, of course, he had many warm personal relationships. My father came over to see him when I was in Dor­nach, and I was able to introduce him to Rudolf Steiner. When we departed this wonderful meet­ing, my father said first of all, “I think he liked me. I was surprised at the way he looked—he looked just like anybody else!” I took that to be a comple­ment to Rudolf Steiner to say that he looked like anybody else.

When she again moved back to the U.S., Marjorie Spock taught for five years at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City. Later, she spent a year teaching in a school at the Hales community near the border of Maine and Canada. The community was involved in operating a dairy and vegetable farm on 12,000 acres of forest and lakes. They also had a “sensitive crystallization” laboratory, which was able to test the nutritional vitality of food.

She returned to New York, this time to Columbia University for a major in education. Having no college degree, the school administration gave her “nine hours of examinations in all subjects” to help determine where to place her.

Due to my studies of Anthroposophy and all the interesting things that Rudolf Steiner was always reporting, I was able to pass them all. The dean of admissions said to me that he didn’t “know of a single school in America that can match that”— especially considering that I had an IQ that was only just respectable.

As a result of those tests, the college awarded her credit for three years of college and allowed her into the post-graduate program. After two years, she received a master’s degree.

For the next five years, she taught at “two of the big progressive schools” in New York—the Ethical Culture School and the Dalton school (or “chil­dren’s university”). From there, she went on to teach Eurythmy for eight years at the Garden City Waldorf School. It was while living in Garden City that she began her lifelong passion for biodynamic agriculture, which led her and a friend to buy 140 acres of land in Upstate New York.

Living on their new farm, Marjorie Spock and her friend became interested in producing and selling organic vegetables, but their land was always being sprayed with pesticides—something that had also happened in Garden City. They decided that it “was absolutely essential to challenge this practice” by getting an injunction against spraying private lands. Although the suit, which reached the U.S. Supreme Court, was unsuccessful, it raised aware­ness of the issue and influenced the views expressed by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. Even­tually, the courts decided that private lands could not be sprayed without the owners’ consent.

After Rudolf Steiner’s death in 1925, various diffi­culties and divisions arose in the Anthroposophical Society, which led Marjorie Spock to write two articles on community building, later published under the general title of “Group Moral Artistry.” They have been widely circulated ever since— especially among young people according to the author. One of the articles, “The Art of Goethean Conversation,” was included in the recent edition of Goethe’s Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily (see page 74).

Marjorie Spock’s most popular book these days is Fairy Worlds and Workers. It is a sensitive, imagina­tive exploration of nature’s inner beings—its Little People, the elementals, the Middle Kingdom. She says that her feeling for the natural world of fairies arose not clairvoyantly but from her connection with the earth as a farmer and gardener. That feel­ing is an ability to read certain signs of nature and to hear what it is asking for.

Today, Marjorie Spock remains active—indeed, an activist. She participates in an anthroposophical study group, she writes, and she enjoys nature, people, and the world around her. Her spirit shines brightly through her words, her sense of humor, and in her concern for our future as human beings and anthroposophists.