This article was first published in New View magazine Issue 96 Jul-Sept 2020
As we approach midsummer we can recall Rudolf Steiner’s stern characterisation of the Archangel of Summer, Uriel.1 The Archangel of the historical conscience, Uriel gazes into the depths and sees through our errors but also summons us to resist summer’s languid dreaming and its physical temptations and indulgences and instead, to raise our minds to the heights and exercise our capacity to think with that historical conscience – to weigh our own deeds and those of our culture. It is a summons powerfully evoked in Vivaldi’s “Summer” from his Four Seasons when the lightning powers down from above into the depths after the opening drowsy languor.
From the sonnet text of the piece:
The shepherd trembles,
fearing violent storms and his fate.
The fear of lightning and fierce thunder
Robs his tired limbs of rest
As gnats and flies buzz furiously around.
Alas, his fears were justified.
The heavens thunder and roar and with hail
Cut the head off the wheat and damage the grain.
At such a time it is worth watching and reflecting on the documentary “Midsommar: Initiation into the Ancient Religion of the Future” by Truthstream Media on Youtube2. It discusses the Swedish-American movie “Midsommar” which was released in summer 2019 at the height of the Greta Thunberg/Extinction Rebellion phenomena. The documentary-makers explore how this film, which is full of symbolism, was clearly intended by its Jewish American writer and director Ari Aster as an initiation ritual disguised as a young lovers’ break-up movie. Their relationship ends up as something of a summer day’s nightmare but also as a catharsis and breakthrough for the heroine, Dani. It points beyond what is presented as the sickness and breakdown of the modern industrial culture of America – including the theme of death by suffocation – to a new form of communitarian society and culture that is actually not new at all, but very ancient. The future, it suggests, is the past: the pre-Christian past, in this case, of ancient Sweden: the American Dani and her boyfriend, the unsubtly named and very inadequate Christian, find themselves in an empathic,