“Everything in history rises up from the grave in a changed form after 33 years.”
– Rudolf Steiner, “Et Incarnatus Est,” 23 December 1917
Much reflection is invited by the approach – on November 22, 2013 – of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event which can be seen to have initiated the historical trajectory that culminates in America’s Apocalyptic present. As America continues to play a critical role in the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ahriman’s incarnation, the office of the President of the United States demands particularly close attention in our consideration of America’s destiny. The coup d’état that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 certainly was an exoteric dynastic crime executed by key members of the military-industrial complex. Was it also an occult crime, whose timing – like so many acts of political assassination carried out by black brotherhoods – carries the signature of esoteric knowledge of the mysteries of Time? No doubt 2013 will bring a cascade of commentary upon both the assassination and legacy of JFK. Is there some perspective that the new star wisdom can lend to this event?
As Robert Powell has perennially pointed out, the “33-year rhythm” is “the ‘crown’ of astrosophical research.”1 Taken together with Rudolf Steiner’s pronouncements in 1917 about the importance of the 33-year rhythm, and given that this year’s 50th anniversary is halfway to the “fulfillment” rhythm of a full century (3 x 33 1/3 years), 2013 seems like an opportune moment to consider the JFK assassination in light of the 33-year historical rhythm. In this essay I will survey the history of the use by anthroposophical authors of Rudolf Steiner’s indications about the 33-year rhythm in the human historical process, and reflect upon whether one can detect this rhythm manifesting in relationship to the JFK assassination or events immediately preceding this tragedy.
Rudolf Steiner first brought this mystery into the open in his “Et Incarnatus Est” lecture in Basel on 23 December 1917. Drawing attention to the phrase from the Latin mass – “et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex virgine Maria” – he critiqued the modern understanding of the Incarnation by quoting extensively from Ernst Renan’s Life of Jesus (1863), Heinrich Heine, Edward von Hartmann, and Paul Heyse’s Die Kinder der Welt (1873). Then, saying that the Magi’s conscious action of signaling the Incarnation by “following the star” had also signaled the working of Christ into the historical process, Rudolf Steiner stated the “events happening at approximately the present time (we can only say approximately in such matters) refer back to their historical connections in such a way that we are able to perceive their birthdays or beginnings in the events of thirty-three years ago, and the events of today also provide a birthday or beginning for events that will ripen to fruition in the course of the next thirty-three years.”2
The sole example given in this lecture of such a relationship between events was of English political interference in Egypt and French attempts to exert colonial power in the early 1880s; without ever saying so directly, Rudolf Steiner implied that these events were connected via the 33-year rhythm to the period 1914 to 1917, and World War I.
When Rudolf Steiner first brought this mystery into the open in 1917, as well as on the three other occasions when he spoke of it, he used the phrase “33 years.”3 The anthroposophical authors who took up this indication of a new Christ-given cosmic Time rhythm employed “33” as an operative principle for their research and writing. In 1937, Walter Johannes Stein examined world political events on either side of the timeline centered on the date of April 8, 1904, the occasion of Great Britain and France signing the “Entente Cordial,” and the outbreak of war between Russia and Japan. Stein identified the January 18, 1871 proclamation of the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles as the “Christmas” event leading to the 1904 “Easter.” As the “Easter” events 33 years subsequent to this diplomatic deed, Stein pointed to: 1) Japan and Russia’s struggle for Manchuria, and Germany’s signing of a treaty preparing for an attack on Russian Bolshevism; 2) Germany’s withdrawal on January 30, 1937 from the 1919 Treaty of Versailles; 3) the foundation of the Italian “Empire” with the annexation of Abyssinia on June 1, 1936. The intervals between these events vary from 32 years and 11 months to 33 years and 2 months.
In their considerations of the 33-year rhythm, Emil Bock4, Willi Sucher5, and Ernst Lehrs6, all passed over the crucial issue of the exact period of time meant by Rudolf Steiner. After pointing out that Rudolf Steiner’s 1917 examples were all “negative” – i.e., related to the late 19th/early 20th century political turmoil in Europe – Lehrs offered as a positive example the event of Rudolf Steiner’s founding of Waldorf education in 1919 as the “resurrection” of the period he spent as a tutor in the Specht home in 1886. Lehrs does not specify the months nor the particular events chosen as “Christmas” and “Easter.” Dr. Steiner’s residency in the Specht home actually began in June 1884, and the founding of the first Waldorf school could be considered to range from April 23, 1919, when Emil Molt first asked Rudolf Steiner about the possibility of a school for his employees’ children, to August 20, 1919, when Steiner’s training of the first teachers began.
In 1955, Guenther Wachsmuth pointed to Rudolf Steiner’s creation of the Calendar of the Soul in 1912 as the “Easter” fulfillment of the 1879 advent of Michael’s Archangelic regency. I am unsure of the exact date of the Calendar’s genesis, but if one considers October 1879 as the date of the beginning of Michael’s reign, the date of publication or conception for the Calendar of the Soul would need to be close to October 1912 to qualify this as an example, at least from an exoteric/calendrical standpoint, of the “33-year rhythm.”
It is not surprising that Rudolf Steiner’s biography became the favorite subject of anthroposophical speculation upon the working of the 33-year rhythm. Rudolf Grosse in 1984 connected Rudolf Steiner’s deed of the Christmas Conference in 1924 to the “aura” of 1957, seeming to once again employ 33 as the cycle of years. Of course, the Christmas Conference began in the waning days of 1923, suggesting a convenience of arithmetic in the use of 1924 as the initial date.
This sort of imprecise arithmetic occurs frequently in Peter Tradowsky’s Kaspar Hauser: The Struggle for the Spirit7, which examines the rhythm of 33 years following the birth (in 1812) and death (in 1833) of Kaspar Hauser. Tradowsky’s thought-provoking commentary on the political and social events following these two markers fails to go beyond the years – 1812 and 1833 – to the months and days of Kaspar Hauser’ birth and death, and generally employs 99 years, not 100, as his template for the fulfillment after three 33-year rhythms, of the original “Christmas” deeds.
In his book, Transparent Realities, Hans Peter von Manen8 examines the 33-year rhythm in the Anthroposophical Society, from 1956 to 1989, and is the first of the authors considered so far to explicitly take up the question of the exact duration of the rhythm originally indicated by Rudolf Steiner. In a lengthy footnote, von Manen cites a number of German authors9 who employ a cycle of 32¼ years, as well as two works10 that take “33” to mean 33 1/3. Von Manen also discusses the work of Ormond Edwards, who has argued for both of these cycles.11
Readers of the Journal for Star Wisdom are most likely aware of Robert Powell’s pioneering research regarding the nature and effect of the Christ rhythm in history, but perhaps will find surprising – as I did in preparing this article – the extent to which his findings have not penetrated the anthroposophical community, including those engaged in historical research. Dr. Powell’s “’crown’ of astrosophical research” remark expresses both its importance as a “first fruit” of his discovery of the exact chronology of Jesus Christ’s life, and as a critical underpinning of Powell’s research on the metahistorical aspects of Christ’s Second Coming. Having first established the “33-year rhythm” as exactly 1½ days short of 33 1/3 years12, Powell went on to reiterate and extend his statement of this rhythm.13 Both William Bryant, in A Journey Through Time: Biographical Rhythms, and Kevin Dann have offered evidence from biographical study that affirms the 33 1/3 – year rhythm.14
Few of the authors who have taken up this question have delved into the nature of how this rhythm operates in the historical process. Inspired in part by the writing of Hans Peter von Manen, James Gillen proposed that the rhythm is, like seasonal and diurnal rhythms, a consequence of the activity of the Spirits of Rotation of Time (Geister der Umlaufzeiten).15 This explanation – unlike Robert Powell’s, which understands the 33 1/3 – year rhythm to be strictly a product of Christ’s etheric body, merged into the stream of Time – permits more latitude in chronology, akin to the organic and labile rhythms of the natural world. Gillen and von Manen liken the variation in timing of the 33-year rhythm to seasonal rhythms like migration, flowering, etc., which are strictly a product of the interaction of organisms with their local and regional environments, while Rudolf Steiner’s use of “approximately” in the Et Incarnatus Est lecture refers to the unpredictability of the human social realm.
Camelot’s “Christmas” Events
“The 33-year rhythm makes visible the secret activities of the opponents of the spirit. It is capable, if understood correctly, of bringing to light the doings of these practicing occult groups.”
– Peter Tradowsky, Kaspar Hauser: The Struggle for the Spirit
There is no ambiguity in the consideration of the JFK assassination as a “Christmas” deed that occurred on a precise date – November 22, 1963. Its first “Easter” anniversary took place on March 22nd, 1997. The second cycle will complete on July 22, 2030; the third – and an “octave” in the sense of Rudolf Steiner’s 1917 indication that a deed reached its full flowering in the social realm after two rhythms of 33 1/3 years – will occur on or about November 22, 2063. Bill Clinton began his second term as President of the United States on January 20, 1997, and was enjoying a period of relative quiescence between the initial allegations of sexual harassment (1991 to 1994) and the House vote to impeach based on these improprieties (1998). The period around March 1997 also saw an easing of international conflicts; Clinton presided over US military operations between 1993 and 1995 in both Somalia and Bosnia, and the Kosovo crisis (1999) and “Operation Desert Fox” against Saddam Hussein (December 1998) had yet to begin. From an exoteric historical perspective, there seems no evidence of an event that might be interpreted as an “Easter” expression of the black deed of the November 22nd murder of President John F. Kennedy.
Evil deeds gain power in the social realm when they go unrecognized. Certainly identifying evil was a hallmark of Rudolf Steiner’s work, and was likely the primary motivation for his calling attention to the 33 1/3 – year rhythm in December 1917. The extraordinary efforts by opponents of Kaspar Hauser to continue to suppress the truth about his life and death both immediately after his assassination in 1833 and right up to the present time16 demonstrate the cascading effect that a lie can have as time progresses, and the obscurantism surrounding the case of Kaspar Hauser should heighten our awareness when we approach the question of the Kennedy assassination (as well as the subsequent murders of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy, and the mass murders committed on September 11, 2001).
A brief survey of past anniversaries of JFK’s assassination reveals a sustained and systematic propaganda campaign to reinforce the official government explanation of Lee Harvey Oswald as the “lone gunman” in the public mind, despite massive evidence discrediting it. At the most recent (40th) anniversary in 2003, Parkland Hospital (the Dallas, Texas hospital where the initial autopsy of JFK was performed) physician Dr. Robert Grossman made the rounds of high-profile radio and television programs, falsely claiming to have been present during the autopsy, and that he saw head wounds consistent with the Warren Commission report. These statements institutionalized and reified the falsified autopsy report of still unnamed conspirators operating under government direction at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Curiously, Grossman’s falsehood was first introduced in a TV interview on March 22, 1997 – one day prior to exactly 33 1/3 years after the November 22, 1963 assassination.
Since the publication of James Douglass’s JFK and the Unspeakable17, a growing number of students of the Kennedy assassination take for granted that Kennedy’s peacemaking efforts – from his refusal to attack Cuba in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco (April 1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962) to his historic but largely forgotten efforts on behalf of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and withdrawal from Vietnam – marked him out for murder by the “deep state.” Deep state is Peter Dale Scott’s term for the permanent ruling cabal of intelligence agencies and military officials working in collusion with multinational business interests. This cabal is the principle tool of the black brotherhoods in derailing world destiny. Douglass draws particular attention to JFK’s June 10, 1963 American University commencement address, citing early in his book its bold statement eschewing a “Pax Americana18 enforced by weapons of war,” and including the entire text of Kennedy’s speech as an appendix. In a search for a date for study of the 33 1/3-year rhythm in relation to the positive deed of President John F. Kennedy in avoiding catastrophic nuclear war at the height of the Cold War, the June 10th American University address stands out as a good candidate. But a study of Kennedy’s public statements in the months leading up to his assassination offers many alternative dates – most notably Kennedy’s September 20, 1963 address before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations lauding the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, in which Kennedy called for “a better weapon than the H-bomb – peaceful cooperation”; and his July 26 radio and television address to the American people on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the day after its signing.
Kennedy’s dedication to fostering peaceful cooperation between the US and the Soviet Union was in evidence in almost every speech he gave in 1963, even at relatively inconsequential occasions, like an October 26 appearance to receive an honorary degree at Amherst College, on a day devoted to honoring poet Robert Frost. Kennedy thoughtfully questioned the nature of American ideas and ideals of heroism, pointing to Frost’s legacy of increasing not “our self-esteem, but our self-comprehension.” Acknowledging the contribution of powerful men to America’s greatness, Kennedy lauded as even more indispensable those who question power. This commitment to peace tragically continued right up to the day of his assassination, when he had ventured right into the heart of the Gunslinger Nation, and a city and state notorious for its pugnacious, often violent, vigilante frontier ethic – a place where his pacific political views were hardly welcome. In remarks prepared for delivery to the Texas State Democratic Committee in Austin, JFK predictably stressed growth and prosperity, but began by reminding his audience that he was “determined this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”
Small Gestures, Large Waves
Secrecy can ensure victory for evil for a time, and thus must be overcome by those who labor for disclosure of the truth about historic events. Secrecy can also be a tool for truth, justice, and peace. James Douglass places great emphasis upon the secret negotiations conducted between Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in the months leading up to the signing of the test ban treaty, and he draws particular attention to a passage in a 27-page letter from Khrushchev, in which he proposes to JFK Noah’s Ark as a symbol of the world situation: “We’re all on the ark in the nuclear age – let’s not argue over who’s clean and unclean.” Calling the Kennedy – Khrushchev alliance a “miracle,” Douglass’s language comes close to suggesting the cooperation of the spiritual world in some of these deeds. He also approaches an understanding of Kennedy’s assassination as a deed of sacrifice; in a number of intimate vignettes, Douglass demonstrates how keenly aware Kennedy was of his own mortality.
Peter Tradowsky has beautifully brought into focus Rudolf Steiner’s indications that Kaspar Hauser performed a deed of sacrifice of world historic magnitude, and, given the precarious balance of the nuclear-armed superpowers in the 1960s, as well as the psychopathic attitude of people like “Dr. Strangelove” – General Curtis LeMay – one can easily entertain the thought that JFK too chose a sacrificial path when he “turned” (Douglass’s term) from Cold Warrior to peace promoter.
James Douglass’s sensitivity to the emotional power of small gestures allows him to approach JFK’s essential humanity in a beautiful, revealing way. He stresses how deeply affected JFK was by the death of his infant son Patrick; receiving the news while he was meeting with Norman Cousins and other allies in his efforts to eliminate the nuclear threat, Kennedy had already been haunted by the prospect of the deadly effects of radioactive fallout upon innocent children. The loss of his son in utero seemed to intensify this horror for the President. Perhaps Patrick too performed a sacrifice that helped intensify his father’s peacemaking resolve.
Both Rudolf Steiner and Robert Powell have given us the bright promise that the Christ rhythm has been working more effectively since the advent of the New Age of the Etheric Christ in 1899. In so many of the reports of encounters with the Etheric Christ, we know that Christ comes as intimate, compassionate friend. In our efforts to discern the working of the Christ rhythm in history, we would do well to turn our attention from the heavily documented and discussed deeds of powerful men and women, from the treaties signed or battles fought, to the spontaneous gestures of friends and allies of humble rank. On the morning of October 5, 1963, while President Kennedy was meeting in the Rose Garden with his National Security Council (some of whom were undoubtedly privy to the conspiracy to take his life), his 6-year-old daughter Caroline approached him, wanting his attention. JFK shooed her away, but she persisted, and he then let her speak. Caroline began to recite her father’s favorite poem, “Rendezvous”: “I have a rendezvous with death . . .” While the President and the NSC members watched and listened Caroline spoke the entire poem.
Might it be that the 33 1/3 – year rhythm for which we should search in relation to the tragedy of the Kennedy assassination is actually the one that ripples out silently from the morning of October 5, 1963, when a young daughter of a President facing the “unspeakable” evil of his own Cabinet and the CIA feels the call to speak a poem of whose meaning she herself cannot be aware? Might there be in the days leading up to and falling away from February 5, 1997, some echo of Caroline’s small deed? And might we, as we look forward another 33 1/3 years to February of 2030, begin to imagine how this sublime rhythm of Time may burst forth and blossom as the Christ-imbued timing of new initiatives for peace and justice?
In light of the current apocalyptic unfolding of events expressing both imperial excess abroad 19 and tightening state control over civil liberties at home20 one would hope that the coming year would see American citizens reflecting upon the contemporary state of America’s mission in the world. The commentaries in this volume offer scores of opportunities – based on planetary rhythms against the zodiac – to bring to mind both founding “Christmas” impulses toward the Good, and adversarial efforts to thwart the Good. At this critical time, when the Etheric Christ calls to us to cultivate the Good as earnestly as we seek to recognize evil, may we also take great solace and strength from the knowledge that this Christ-given rhythm of Resurrection pulses eternally through Time.
(published in the Journal for Star Wisdom 2013)
1 Quoted from “Robert Powell’s Research Confirming the 33 1/3-year Rhythm of the Life of Christ,” the second part of “By way of a response to Jonathan Hilton’s review. . .” of Robert Powell’s article “In Memory of Willi Sucher (1902–1985)” in Journal for Star Wisdom 2010. The phrase quoted comes as an addition to a passage excerpted from Robert’s “Sub-Nature & the Second Coming” article in Inner life of the Earth, 2008; this material is available on the Web at: http://steinerbooks.org/review.html?session=fab2c67cad2148fa14d924f87f697a2e&cat=7&id=9780880107136&revid=980]
2 Et Incarnatus Est: The Time Cycle in Historic Events, (Spring Valley, NY: Mercury Press, 1983), 15
3 Lectures in: 1) Basel on 23 December 1917, published as Et Incarnatus Est: The Time Cycle in Historic Events, op cit.; 2) Dornach on 24 December 1917 (“A Christmas Lecture,” unpublished); 3) Dornach on 26 December 1917, “On the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Times,” lecture 2; 4) Dornach, December 14, 1919, “The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth,” lecture 3
4 Die Drei Jahre, 1948, published as The Three Years: The Life of Christ Between Baptism and Ascension, (London: Christian Community Press, 1955)
5 “The 33 Year Rhythm,” Anthroposophical Movement, 1954
6 “The Thirty Three Years Rhythm,” Anthroposophical Quarterly, 1956
7 Kaspar Hauser: The Struggle for the Spirit (London: Temple Lodge, 1997; originally published in German as Kaspar Hauser oder das Ringen um den Geist (Verlag am Goetheanum: Dornach, 1980). There is also a brief discussion of the 33-year rhythm in his Christ and Antichrist: Understanding the Events of Our Time and Recognizing Our Tasks, (London: Temple Lodge, 1999), p. 55
8 Hans Peter von Manen, Transparent Realities: The Anthroposophical Impulse in the Environmental Movement: The 33-Year Rhythm in the History of the Anthroposophical Society, (London: Temple Lodge, 1994)
9 Bock, op cit.; Sucher, op cit.; Joachim Schulz and Emil Funk, Zeitgeheimnisse im Christus-leben: Chronologie und 33-jähriger Rhythmus [Secrets of Time in the Life of Christ: Chronology and the 33-Year Rhythm], (Verlag am Goetheanum: Dornach, 1970)
10 Rudolf Meyer, Die Wiedergewinnung des Johannesevangeliums [Retrieving the Fruits of the Gospel of John], (Verlag Urachhaus: Stuttgart, 1962); Ellen Schalk (in Das Goetheanum, 20 February 1983)
11 Ormond Edwards, The Time of Christ: A Chronology of the Incarnation, (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1986)
12 in“The Second Coming,” Appendix II of Hermetic Astrology Volume I: Astrology and Reincarnation (1987)
13 in Hermetic Astrology II: Astrological Biography (1989, pp. 335 – 339); Christian Hermetic Astrology: Star of the Magi (1991); Chronicle of the Living Christ (1996, pp. 415 – 423); The Christ Mystery (1999); The Most Holy Trinosophia (2000, pp. 55 – 57); p. 125 and Appendices 3 and 4 in Charles Tidball, Jesus, Lazarus and the Messiah (2005); The Mystery, Biography, and Destiny of Mary Magdalene (2008, p. 84); and Inner life of the Earth (2008), as well as a number of articles in the journal Shoreline in the late 1980s, and in many lectures.
14 William A. Bryant, A Journey Through Time: Biographical Rhythms (Fair Oaks, California: Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2006), pp. 47–54; Kevin Dann, “Henry David Thoreau and the Christ Rhythm,” Journal for Star Wisdom 2011, 49 -53.
15 Personal correspondence with James Gillen, June 8, 9, and 13, 2012
16 See Terry Boardman, “The Ongoing Struggle for the Truth About the Child of Europe from 1828 to 2004 and Beyond,” available at: http://threeman.org/?p=39
17 James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008)
18 “Pax Americana” is a term used widely to express the idea of Western hemisphere peace in the 20th century due to the political and military power of the United States.
19 Military adventurism in the Middle East and North Africa; persistent State Department belligerence toward Iran, China, and Russia; the CIA drone program of “targeted killings,” now conducted under a new Orwellian definition of militants as “all military age males in a strike zone.”
20 Widespread police brutality against citizens participating in the “Occupy” movement; the frightening provisions (such as indefinite detention) of the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA]