Do you Believe in Magic? Gods, Guitars and Gewurztraminer…
I’m a modern day romantic cynic, a living contradiction. I don’t believe in Potter-esque wizardly magic, but I know magic exists. Magic occurs in a place that feels right, when things are put together just so; sculpted, crafted, or played with skill - like a Carlos Santana guitar solo! It is in the glint of an eye, a properly timed smile, or an unexpected question from one of my daughters. Magic happens when the world speaks, and you just happen to be listening.
The origins of Abraxas are from a time when questions could not be answered with reason or science and were instead enshrouded in mysticism. Abraxas made its earliest known appearances in the Gnostic “Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit” and the Greek “Magical Papyri,” bestowing Abraxas with the fantastic and the magical from the beginning.
For an ancient Greek or Egyptian, looking up into the night sky to see planets move against a backdrop of stars was magic, a dance not fully understood. Rotations could be counted, yet no one knew it was they who were riding the spinning orb.
Conjuring the spirits, a god was created to explain the natural or, in their mind, the supernatural. Abraxas was the Great Archon, the supreme god who embodied both good and evil. Abraxas, with the head of a cock, the body of a man and legs of the serpent, was the overlord of the 365 spheres and (just in case you did not make the connection that Abraxas was responsible for the year) the Greek letters of Abraxas add up to 365. Abraxas also represented the natural through its spelling, with each of its letters tied to one of the seven classic planets, then believed to be the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Abraxas was nature in all its good and evil glory. The ancients, without the modern tools of science, were unable to explain the life forces around them, so instead they created a god with supernatural attributes to explain the unexplainable.
All of this is not an issue for the people of today, or is it? We are an arrogant bunch. We believe we know it all, that we have or can find all the answers. We know that the sun is a star and there are nine planets… no, wait, now there are only eight! New knowledge, that was unavailable to us only a few years ago, had the power to change our perception of our solar system. It makes you wonder what else we don’t know?
Less than a hundred years ago, Rudolph Steiner gave a lecture to a group of farmers that became the basis for the method of farming we call Biodynamic. Steiner attempted to connect “life forces” (read: the forces of nature) with the activity and results on the farm. His goal was to teach the farmer to reconnect with nature to create produce that would provide the highest level of quality to feed not only the body, but the spirit.
Rudolph was not a farmer, but what he lacked in practical knowledge, he more than made up for with his power of observation. He was able to look at the cycles of the moon and theorize its impact on plant life, or observe the destruction caused by the newly mechanized industrial farm (that treated land more like a mine than as a resource) and see the need for creating methods to heal the earth.
Steiner lived at that intersection of disciplines where magic happens. As a scientist, philosopher, theologian and educator, he could draw from each area of study to formulate his theories and methods. Sometimes, when something was unexplainable with known science, he fell back on the spiritual or ritualistic, which resulted in some embarrassingly silly procedures that makes some, including us, question whether or not he is a worthy mentor. But then you see the magic in the farm and look back at the path Biodynamics has led, and you realize there is nothing wrong with trying to tap into the power of nature, even if you don’t fully comprehend its origins … because nature is magic.