The Portal of Initation rudolf steiner's mystery drama, a tquest production

The Portal of Initiation,

by Rudolf Steiner

Performed during the Polarities Mystery Conference, Oct. 27 – 29, 2017

and on November 4, 2017

Reserve My Seat Now for the Conference and/or Performance

Director: Magi Nadelle

Set Design & Construction: Julian Mulock

Bust of Ahriman, headdresses for Lucifer, Ahriman & hierophants, staffs for hierophants, painting of pilgrim awaiting ferryman: Julian Mulock

Painting of Capesius: Paul Hodgkins

Window-blacking (creating the darkness into which light can shine!): Les Black

Lighting: Carl Natiuk

Costumes: Northern Star Eurythmy

Music & Sound: Graham Jackson, supported by Elisabeth Chomko & Corinna Sons

Eurythmy: Northern Star Eurythmy

Choirmaster: Elisabeth Chomko

Photography, Brochure, Website & Program: Richard Chomko

Stage hands & all-round problem-solvers: Rachel Knight & Michael Smith

Stage Manager: Tim Nadelle


Sophia’s Children: Gray Nelson, Sira Nelson, Marta Baptista Cohen

Sophia’s Children (cont'd): Liliana Baptista Cohen

Sophia: Puneet Mann

Estella: Heidi Vukovich

Johannes: Tim Nadelle

Maria: Susan Richard

Philia in Scene 1: Elisabeth Chomko

Philia in Eurythmy (scenes 4, 7 &11): Maria Ebersole

Luna: Gabriele Schneider

Astrid (scenes 1, 4, 7): Cynthia Gelder

Astrid in scene 11: Reg Down

Professor Capesius: Graham Jackson

Dr. Strader: Les Black

Theodora: Sylvie Roberge (supported by Corinna Sons in scene 11)

Felix Balde: Allan Hughes

Felicia Balde: Angelika Dauth

Benedictus: Paul Hodgkins

Theodosius: Warren Cohen

The Other Maria: Rachel Knight

Romanus: Linda Fairburn

Germanus: Michael Smith

Helena: Heidi Vukovich

Voice in Scene 2 (“O human being…): Paul Hodgkins

Maria’s Foster Child: Marta Baptista Cohen

Spirit Voice (scenes 3 & 10): Sylvie Roberge

Lucifer (Eurythmy): Cynthia Gelder

Lucifer (Voice): Sylvie Roberge

Ahriman (Eurythmy): Jonathan Snow

Ahriman (Voice): Mark McAlister

The Spirit of the Elements: Michael Melia

Young Capesius: Michael Smith

Retardus: Kim McQuaite

Eurythmy in fairy tale: Gabriele Schneider & Jonathan Snow

Spirit of the Earth Brain: Michael Smith

Voice of Soul Forces Scene 7: Sylvie Roberge

Synopsis of The Portal of Initiation


Sophia’s home

As the scene opens, Sophia is practising a song with her children. An old friend, Estella, enters and asks Sophia to accompany her to the performance of a play. Estella is a passionate follower of modern arts. But Estella has forgotten that the group to which Sophia belongs is also presenting a drama this evening: The Portal of Initiation.

Estella feels that, as a consequence of Sophia’s spiritual world view, Sophia is drawing away from her and losing touch with everyday life. Even worse, she feels that Sophia’s artistic interests lean towards outdated, didactic, allegorical forms and hollow abstractions. Sophia, however, confesses that she finds in what Estella considers genuine art only fruitless criticism of life. “For no hunger is stilled, no source of moral degradation is uncovered, when merely the outer appearance of hunger and tear-stained faces or degraded characters are shown on the stage. How this is usually done is unspeakably distant from the real depths of life and true relationships between living beings.”

Despite their growing differences, as Estella leaves they reconfirm their ongoing friendship.

Scene One:

A sitting room

A man in his early thirties, Johannes Thomasius walks into a large room to be alone for a moment. He and others have just heard a lecture on anthroposophy by Benedictus, the spiritual leader of the group with which Johannes belongs. Maria, the host of the gathering and a dear friend to Johannes, now enters. In the past Johannes, an artist, listened hungrily to these lectures. He had intended to place himself and his art in service of the spirit, feeling certain that he would develop spiritual faculties which would unfold within him as a new artistic vision. Inexplicably, the opposite has occurred. Everything he has learned through Benedictus and through Maria has dulled his natural genius and inspiration and he can no longer create. He’s in a state of crisis and this has strained even his relationship with Maria. Finally, with some prodding encouragement, he confides in her.

Philia, Astrid and Luna now enter, speaking enthusiastically about the lecture and about the intriguing conversations which are now taking place among other listeners. (These three characters are here introduced as human beings, but in later scenes, where supersensible worlds are represented, they appear as the soul powers of Maria.)

Capesius, a professor of history and Doctor Strader, a scientist, enter soon after. Capesius cannot altogether agree with everything he has heard, especially when it comes to the subject of thinking. Over the course of long thought and study, he has come to the conclusion that thoughts are only shadowy reflections of reality and do not have the power to shape events. But despite his apparent self-confidence, he cannot easily dismiss these spiritual ideas and he confesses that he is unsettled by a feeling that the “strange something” he experiences in Maria’s circle cannot not bear the kind of man he is.

Life for Strader has been a hard struggle. He explains how he grew up among simple pious people and in his youth wished to become a monk. However, when he discovered scientific thinking it had a dramatic effect upon him: it made it impossible for him to any longer accept religion. It has become clear to him that only facts confirmed by scientific research can provide us with a firm ground of support.

Soon afterwards, a seeress, Theodora, enters. She suddenly passes into a trance-like condition and speaks of a vision of the future which appears before her. She beholds a radiant being, speaking. Other human beings are listening, as well. This being reveals to them that the comfort they have received through faith, through hope, shall now be transformed to vision. It becomes apparent that the being who is speaking is the Christ.

A human being separates from the shining light and tells her how Christ, Who once lived on earth in bodily form, will now start to appear to people who are capable of experiencing Him as a spiritual being. Theodora’s words have a remarkable effect upon Strader, who feels he must accept the vision as some kind of a fact. Capesius, however, remains skeptical.

Felix and Felicia Balde enter. They live in a remote place in the mountains. Both Benedictus and Capesius visit them from time to time. Capesius explains how, at times when he feels drained of life, Felicia tells him stories of beings dwelling in the world of dreams and having gay adventures in the realms of fairy tales. New life then streams into his soul and all his weakness is banished. After the Felix and Felicia depart, in response to a somewhat dismissive comment from Capesius about Felix, Benedictus points out that, listening to Felix’s words, you can feel as if the powers of nature were seeking to manifest themselves.

Another group now appears. Theodosius encourages Strader to turn to the spirit thought faith, arguing that thinking can bring knowledge only of what is transitory and that we have no power to penetrate the veil spread out before the senses. Romanus has especially developed his powers of will; and he believes that only practical work in life can further human progress. Germanus is a cynic and a great wit, who loves to make fun of anything serious. However, he is also deeply affected by the lecture. He recognizes his own superficiality and confides that the unseen power which is present in Maria’s circle has laid hold of him.

“The Other Maria” is so named because of her very close relationship with Maria, the guiding light of this circle. Through heavy burdens in life, The Other Maria had become utterly exhausted. Then she connected with Maria and her friends. What she has learned of spiritual realities in this circle has transformed her life and provided her with the renewed strength to become a healer.

After the departure of the other visitors, Johannes confides to Maria a shattering experience which unfolded for him over the course of the conversation he just witnessed. In the process of living imaginatively into the life experiences of the others, a picture of his own life arose before him. He confesses how he once deserted a young girl who loved him. He is now shaken by the realisation of his guilt and feels himself responsible for her subsequent death.

Maria tells him that only Benedictus can help him now, then she is called away. Helena (whose archetype is revealed in the course of the play as Lucifer), now enters. She chides Johannes, telling him that knowledge of the spirit should bring him bliss rather than despondency and encourages him to seek in himself the faults which are blocking his way forward. Johannes, however, has in fact taken a step forward on the path to self knowledge. He clearly recognizes the superficiality of her judgement.

Scene Two:

The open air, rocks & springs (the surroundings are to be thought of as in Johannes’s soul)

Johannes is in meditation. He is aware the whole world is summoning him to self knowledge. He hears from everywhere and from his own self the spirit word, “O human being, know thou thyself.” He becomes separated from his bodily shell and experiences the spirit of the woman he abandoned, speaking through him and expressing the suffering which he caused her. His lower being appears to him in the form of a dragon, begot of lust and greed. Then occurs the event which Rudolf Steiner describes as the meeting with the double, the lower Guardian of the Threshhold.

Johannes’s meditation passes over into inner reality and Maria appears to him, drawn by her awareness of his suffering. She expresses how she too feels herself in deep trouble and is unable to bear the riddle of her own life: she cannot understand why the wisdom she shares with others seems to work upon them so destructively. She tells him that they both must look to Benedictus for guidance. Johannes feels utterly destroyed by these experiences. But he nevertheless holds on and never altogether despairs.

Scene Three:

A room for meditation

At Maria’s request, Benedictus gives Maria’s foster child a verse to take with her into sleep. When the child has gone to bed, Maria turns to Benedictus for guidance in understanding the riddle of her life. Benedictus explains that in this circle of friends, a knot is forming, out of the threads which karma spins in world becoming. All the things Maria suffers are reflected in this knot of destiny, in which the deeds of heavenly powers are active in human lives. He describes how he was approached by a heavenly being who was to descend into a human form of flesh. His spirit eye, in seeking, fell on Maria. This revelation makes such a powerful impression on Maria that she leaves her physical body, winging free into spirit spheres. She appears to lose consciousness.

Johannes must now face a terrible ordeal. From Maria’s lips come the most bitter curses. Benedictus explains to Johannes that Maria’s soul is soaring in the heights and that she has left behind her mortal semblance. Where a human body is left without its spirit, a space is left which the enemy of good seeks out as a means of entering the visible. As Johannes has often heard from Maria the words of spirit, world karma has not spared him from hearing through her as well the prince of hell.

Johannes has stood firm through his own terrible trials and Benedictus tells Johannes that now he has been found ready and may proceed. He can be released from the world of sense. He can follow Maria into supersensible realms. Benedictus speaks a spirit verse to guide him.

Scene Four:

A landscape – the world of souls

With awakened consciousness, Johannes first encounters Lucifer and Ahriman. The elemental world now becomes manifest to him: The Spirit of the Elements appears. One aspect of this being is the figure known through Greek mythology as Charon. He ferries human beings across the river of time into life at each incarnation and back again across the river at death.

In spirit vision, Johannes perceives how the Spirit of the Elements has brought Capesius and Strader up from subterranean depths to a sphere where, as souls, they can look out over the surface of the earth. In Johannes’s vision, Capesius (who is elderly) appears to him as a youth and Strader (who is young on earth) appears to him as an old man.

The thoughts of Capesius and Strader are abstractions, proud illusions typical of much modern thought. In the elemental worlds, their wrong thinking awakens compensating powers of storm which appear as thunder and lightning, breaking worlds apart, to prevent consequences of destruction, of death to eternities. The Spirit of the Elements admonishes them and disappears.

The soul form of The Other Maria becomes visible. She is closely in touch with the wisdom of nature as it flows over into human wisdom. She is able to transform the proud words of Capesius and Strader into forces which spread out over the surface of the earth, nourishing its elemental beings. In response to a question by Capesius, The Other Maria describes two paths which can rightly lead them back to the domain of the Spirit of the Elements. One path leads, through embracing what the majestic beauty of the kingdoms of nature reveal, to perception of the spiritual origins of worlds. The second path is to renounce reason and let Nature’s mood lead one in child-like wonder to the springs of life. Capesius and Strader reject both paths.

Scene Five:

A subterranean rock temple, the hidden Mystery Centre of the Hierophants

Before the inner eye of Johannes in the astral world, the hidden Mystery Place of the spirit leaders of humanity is revealed. In a subterranean rock temple, the four Hierophants stand, their archetypes revealed as the Spirits of Wisdom (Benedictus, in the East), Love (Theodosius, in the South), Action (Romanus, in the West) and a fourth, who acts as a retarding spirit (Retardus, in the North).

However, although Johannes is mature enough to see the temple, this does not imply that he is able to see without error. Steiner has referred to this scene as the “Maya Temple”, explaining that “No part of this scene would contribute to Johannes’s development unless it bore the same relationship to astral experience that concepts and ideas of the physical world bear to our understanding of the world.” Just as the astral world shines into the ordinary physical world so is there a higher world shining into the astral world. The question is whether Johannes will be able to experience the temple with such purity that he can perceive this higher world which shines into the temple.

Felix Balde and The Other Maria find their way into the temple. It is of great significance for the hierophants that these two human beings - who have not been initiated - are able to make their way into the temple. The Hierophants explain that if Felix and The Other Maria unite with them in the temple, their work of consecration will succeed and their gifts of wisdom, love and strength will ripen in Johannes’s soul.

Scene Six:

A landscape – the world of souls

Still meditating, Johannes observes how The Spirit of the Elements has summoned Felicia Balde. The Spirit of the Elements reminds her how her fairy tales have brought healing powers to Strader and Capesius, at times when their dry thinking had lamed their souls. Felicia’s stories have their source in the elemental world and their creation has resulted in a debt, which Strader and Capesius are unable to pay. The Spirit of the Elements informs Felicia that she must pay the debt.

She must bring forth out of herself a fairy tale and entrust it to the beings who serve the Spirit of the Elements. As a further consequence, Felicia will lose vital powers, which will result in bodily ugliness. Felicia protests, but nevertheless agrees and tells the story.

Afterwards, a mocking version of her tale rings out. When Felicia addresses the invisible speaker, Germanus appears in the form of the Spirit of the Earth Brain. A dwarf-like copy of this Spirit lives within all human beings. And when we think our thoughts, employing our small human brains, the content of those thoughts can appear grotesque when expanded to the scale of the Earth-Brain. The Spirit of the Earth-Brain has seized upon the chance for once to reflect this back to a person who can hear him (Felicia).

Scene Seven:

The realm of the spirit

Having passed through these necessary experiences in the astral world, Johannes is now able to enter the spiritual world, Devachan. Maria has gone before him and she calls upon her soul sisters, Philia, Astrid and Luna, to arouse within the soul of Johannes the strength for soaring flight in the spiritual world. Qualities of the sentient soul are revealed in Philia, of the intellectual soul in Astrid and of the consciousness soul in Luna. However, we are not to think of Philia, Astrid and Luna as symbols or allegories, but as real people who, in concert with Maria, form a group.

Supported by the work of the brothers and through the presence of Felix and The Other Maria in the temple, supported also through the preparations of Maria and her soul sisters, Johannes now appears in full awareness in Devachan. Hitherto, in the astral world, he had been unable to determine whether his spirit sight truly had come in touch with other things – or whether he had only widened out his vision of his self into a world. Now, in Devachan, because of the deep relationship they had formed in the physical world, Johannes is able to recognize Maria as eternally she stands in spirit and he knows that he is perceiving realities.

His recognition makes it possible for Theodora to appear and to speak to Johannes and Maria in pictures of a previous life they had shared. Benedictus appears and conveys to Johannes and Maria that they have been joined by destiny to unfold powers which are to serve the good in active work for the healing of the world. He now shares with them in a higher form the spirit words of strength which he had spoken to Johannes earlier, at the outset of his spiritual journey (end of scene three):

Light’s weaving essence radiates

from human being to human being

to fill the world with truth.

Love’s blessing gives its warmth

to souls through souls

to work and weave the bliss of all the worlds.

And messengers of spirit join

human works of blessing

with purposes of worlds.

And when those souls who find themselves one in the other

can join these both together

The light of spirit radiates through warmth of soul.


Sophia’s home

The two friends meet again and Estella recounts with great enthusiasm the plot of the play she has seen, Disinherited in Body and Soul. She explains that art can achieve its greatest triumphs only by being faithful to life. Listening carefully, we may notice that the play Estella saw is a truncated, tragic and one-dimensional version of the Portal of Initiation.

Sophia expresses how, while admiring how many writers have achieved a mastery in this, she nevertheless feels a certain discomfort in the face of representational art. For in attempting to imitate what appears in life, the greatest artist can never be more than a blunderer, compared with the fullness of nature. Whereas the higher spirits who weave in creation inspire people to continue in a way the work of creation through art; and the most imperfect artistic rendering of what is hidden from external observation can be a revelation.

As the scene closes, the vast differences in perspective on a subject which matters so much to both of them make evident the tensions in their friendship.

Scene Eight:

Same as scene one: a sitting room

Three years have passed since the events which transpired in scenes one through seven At the start of scene eight, Johannes has just finished a remarkable painting of Capesius. The painting reveals the inner being of Capesius. Capesius speaks glowingly of the painting and of the transformation he has witnessed in Johannes, who has become his friend and pupil. He expresses also how Johannes’s paintings have changed his former views about the impertinence of researching worlds beyond the senses’ range. What he feels about the painting he calls a parable. Through it, he sees the ancient word of wisdom, “Know thou thyself” in a new light.

Strader disputes with Capesius and Maria, pointing out that a spirit power works within every artist, just as it works within a tree or stone. We shouldn’t confuse the capacity to create artistically with the apparent capacity to perceive in the spiritual world. Yet, as Strader studies the painting, his arguments fall away. The painting stirs him deeply; he feels like he would like to break through the canvas to uncover its mystery; he feel as if ghosts were drawing him on… disturbed by the experience he flees the room and Capesius goes after him.

Johannes explains to Maria how, although Johannes could not yet behold Capesius’s past lives, still, through his spirit vision, he has seen much in Capesius which could not come out of the present time. His brush was led by powers Capesius unfolded from previous lives on earth.

Scene Nine:

Same as scene two: The open air, rocks & springs (the surroundings are to be thought of as in Johannes’s soul)

Johannes is in meditation. The words “O human being, know thou thyself,” which we heard in scene two have evolved and now ring out, “O human being, unfold thy being”. Johannes recognizes how, through these words, a man can conquer himself and find his freedom. They carry in them hope that they can lead man’s spirit, in its growth, from narrowness far out to distant worlds. Johannes feels them sounding in his soul, bestowing strength. He finds he is given certainty, wherever the power of these words follow him. He finds himself again within the spirit of the woman he abandoned. But now he sees how the light of spirit will give him strength to live her self within his self.

Standing in his spirit vision before high purposes of gods, he feels his own weakness. And yet, feeling the blessing of these high purposes, he perceives how in time he will come to recognize his own purpose, which for now remains hidden in seed form. Then, from light-filled heights, a being shines forth to him and through this being Johannes recognizes that he too shall come to free himself. He perceives that he will come to resemble this higher being in future times. Johannes commits himself to following this being; and the vision of his soul is now awakened by a host of spirit-beings who have welcomed him. He has won, through his striving, humanity’s first assurance: the certainty of being. He feels the power of these universal, guiding words: O human being, unfold thy being.

Scene Ten:

Same as scene three: a room for meditation

This scene illustrates how challenging it is for a clairvoyant to distinguish truth from illusion. It seems to Johannes that the hierophant who is the Spirit of Love is speaking to him. As in the earlier temple scene, this Spirit of Love appears in the form of a person Johannes knows in the sense world: Theodosius.

But in this scene, Theodosius is a mask for Lucifer. The first hint that something is wrong comes after Johannes arrives at what appears to be a marvelous inspiration. After listening to Theodosius, Johannes feels that he has reached the stage where he can rely now on himself to bring forth the powers of love, as he can feel those powers within him. But in the next moment he feels strange. He recognizes the feeling: he has always felt in the past when evil powers wished to seize him. He believes Ahriman is approaching him.

But instead of Ahriman, he is astonished to perceive Benedictus, who has come to offer help and guidance. It takes some time for Johannes to decide that it is truly Benedictus, rather than an illusion. And by this time, Benedictus has departed. Once again, Theodosius (Lucifer) appears and Johannes is comforted and inspired by his words.

Johannes believes he is making good progress when he comes to perceive a spirit who lives within him, hitherto concealed. He invokes this spirit to come forth and reveal himself in his true being. He is shocked when first Lucifer and then Ahriman appear. And, in their words, we recognize the complexity of their influence for, in what they say, truth mingles with illusion and error. Despite his shock and dismay, there is hope in the very fact the Johannes has recognized them and the Voice of Spirits from the Heights speaks:

Your thoughts now guide you

to depths of world foundations;

what, in soul illusion, impelled you,

what in error, has sustained you,

appears to you in spirit light;

light, through whose fullness

human beings, when seeing,

in truth are thinking;

light, through whose fullness

human beings, when striving,

n love are living.

Scene Eleven:

The Sun Temple. The hidden Mystery Place of the Hierophants at the surface of the earth.

The scene opens with Retardus berating Capesius and Strader. Retardus has provided each of them with gifts. To Capesius, he gave a noble mind and the power to speak attractively, convincingly. To Strader, he opened up the way to certain knowledge, to exactness of thought. Retardus had intended that, with these gifts, Capesius and Strader would drive out in Johannes and Maria the inclination to spirit vision. Instead, Capesius and Strader opened themselves to influences from Johannes and Maria. In consequence, Retardus is compelled to withdraw from Johannes and Maria.

Lucifer acknowledges that the wisdom Johannes and Maria have gained conveys powers through which he can be observed. Lucifer can only dominate souls who cannot observe him. Still, if he cannot tempt their souls, his remaining, allotted power will ripen in their spirits fruits of greatest beauty.

Ahriman also must renounce their spirits, recognizing that Johannes and Maria will turn to the light. Still, he will give their souls joy through the senses’ glory. They will not see it as truth, but will have the power to see through it how truth is revealed.

In what now unfolds, we see how closely the destinies of a group who follow spirit pathways are interwoven. Theodosius explains how the Other Maria previously kept her goodness as a thing that came out of unconscious feeling, rather than the light of wisdom. This prevented Theodosius from giving Maria the warmth of love. Romanus explains how Felix Balde previously kept apart from the temple, recognizing illumination only through his own capacity to perceive the spirit within sense phenomena. This prevented Romanus from illuminating the will forces of Johannes and Maria, prevented him from helping them find direction in purposes of worlds.

However, the sacrifice the Other Maria is bringing to the Temple and the will force Felix Balde has expended in making his way to the Temple – these gifts make it possible for Johannes and Maria to progress further.

Philia, Astrid and Luna speak of the soul forces which will now unfold in Johannes, respectively, joy from the growth and change of worlds (Philia), warmth of soul (Astrid) and light of soul, through which he may life out his self (Luna).

Retardus asks how Johannes and Maria will find his power’s benefits, now that he must leave them. In response, Felicia Balde reminds Retardus what she has shown him before: that a human being can kindle the fire of thought without help from Retardus. In resonance, Johannes proclaims that the knowledge which streams from Felicia shall be married to the light which, from the Temple’s source, can shine into human souls.

Retardus expresses concern for Capesius, who has withdrawn himself from Retardus before the Temple’s light could shine for him. But Benedictus points out that Capesius has begun and will find within his own depths of soul what Felicia has brought him in the past.

Strader alone feels lost and in doubt. He does not believe that he shall find the way again to the Temple. But Theodora speaks words of hope to him, encouraging him to trust in himself. He too will find the way to the temple when his time has come.

Sponsored by the Anthroposophical Society in Canada and the Thornhill Group

Supported by donations from Lia Torchio and Julian Mulock

and by the gifts of Northern Star Eurythmy

Location: 901 Rutherford Rd., Thornhill, Ontario, Canada

Contact Tim Nadelle at: tnadelle@yahoo.ca

Reserve My Seat Now for the Conference and/or Performance


Photos by Richard Chomko

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.