Lyre Association of North America

All Souls Festival and Retreat in the Central Region

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By Debbie Barford, Chicago, IL - dsbarford@yahoo.com

The lyre was present at the All Souls Festival and Retreat of the Central Regional Council and the Twin Cities Branch of the Anthroposophical Society in America.

For the past year, the Central Regional Council sponsored a study called The Bridging Project, focusing on Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on The Influence of the Dead on Destiny. The culmination of the 2017 study was a weekend workshop in St. Paul, MN, attended by about thirty people from around the region. Another thirty from the local community also attended the Saturday evening festival.

When I first read of this event, I wished to attend but found that a packed schedule and other commitments would not allow me to participate. Our lyre colleague, Nancy Carpenter, was part of the planning and was to be there to play lyre for the event. At the last minute, Nancy was unable to attend due to some extenuating circumstances, and reached out to the LANA board to help. There arose in me an inner ‘yes’ and in speaking of what would be needed for me to attend, I found that all I needed was provided. I am very grateful to the Central Regional Council for providing my transportation and to Marianne and Dennis Dietzel for providing a place to stay. I was delighted and honored to play lyre with Marianne Dietzel, Yushi Zhang, and Joan Daelande, with our singer, Dawn Spanton.

The planning group had committed to the integration of eurythmy, lyre, song, poetry, and art in the weekend events. For the group’s own exploration and preparation for the public event Saturday evening, we experienced the planetary realms the soul meets after death with both the lyre and eurythmy. Lyres first played the planetary tones and mirrored scale with a brief improvisation, and then we sang the related planetary song from Songs of the Seven Planets by Colin Tanser. Eventually, the participants also sang these songs, accompanied by lyre. Raven Garland guided us in the eurythmy gestures and colors for each planet and spoke inspiringly of the questions each planetary realm presents to the soul on its journey through the spiritual world.

These eurythmy and lyre sessions with the planetary realms were interspersed with small and large group discussion and sharing, exercises for "listening from behind" and connecting with our beloved dead, planning for the All Souls Festival, and shared meals with opportunities for more individual conversation.

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The hall of the Minnesota Waldorf School was transformed with a beautiful 450' hand-dyed silk rainbow banner hung from above around the entire meeting area. At one end, artistic work was displayed, some done during the study preparation, and a memorial table held photos and objects representing loved ones of the gathered whose journey after this life was already underway.

For Saturday evening, another beautiful rainbow silk was unrolled – this one dyed in rainbow stripes and so large (150') that it could be placed in a lemniscate form on the floor. The oval at the lower end had the purple moon stripe of the rainbow on the inside and moved outward, the same order experienced in life between birth and death. The point of crossing represented the threshold, where Raven stood as Guardian, and the upper oval had the rainbow reversed with the purple stripe on the outside. The planetary realms were represented twice – once going outward, and again in reverse order on the descent to earth. One person as moon (or other planet) gave the eurythmy gesture, and the opposite person gave the gesture for the vowel. In the pause in the area of the zodiac, when the soul comes to the “midnight hour,” a large crystal bowl rang out before the descent back to earth.

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With the lights dimmed, each person had an opportunity to walk the path inside the lemniscate from earth to spiritual realm and back, while the lyres played a ‘tone bath’ of the planetary tones up and down the intervals, the eurythmic movements resounded, and the crystal bowl rang out. All this was a very powerful experience, one which I will revisit again and again.

On Sunday morning we had the opportunity to reflect on our time together before we left for our various earthly homes. Many expressed how the sounding of the planetary scales and related music on the lyre added a whole different dimension to the experience of life after death and the planetary spheres, giving them a whole new appreciation of dissonance. See more photos here