The Present Moment and the Way Forward

Renewing the Call of the Christmas Foundation Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society.

A conference in Chestnut Ridge (Spring Valley) NY


Conference Details

The conference opens with registration at 3:00 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2023 and ends at 1:00 p.m. on Dec. 31.

The 1923 Christmas Conference brought—in seed form– the potential for a new civilization, formed out of a renewed understanding of what it means to be human. What is our responsibility to this impulse? How can this event—this historical turning point—bring us new, health-giving ways of working? How can they be potentized in the future? How can we — as a group of free individuals who have received the Foundation Stone of Love in their hearts — marry our practical outer work with esoteric inner striving, while supporting the spiritual tasks of the Anthroposophical Society? Can we, at this somber moment in world history, yet find the sources of strength we need to help humanity in its future development?

We rejoice at the opportunity to explore and inwardly move these questions together—here, in this third decade of the 21st century.

Keynotes & Presentations

Rudolf Steiner and the Year 1923: Out of the Ashes, A New Community of the Spirit
Karl Fredrickson
The tragic loss of the First Goetheanum brought about a search for a new way forward. How did the events and themes of that year build toward an awakening of new heart forces and a conscious connection to the being Anthroposophia?

Laying of the Foundation Stone for the First Goetheanum
Margaret Shipman
The Foundation Stone Meditation was a centerpiece of the 1923/24 Christmas Conference. Preparation for this began years before with the laying of the physical foundation stone into the earth on Sept. 20, 1913. We will experience this ceremony again in opening our 100th Anniversary Celebration.

The Dream Song of Olaf Asteson
Bonnie Manaças
The dream song of Olaf Asteson is an ancient Norwegian song cycle. This dramatic story tells of a spiritual initiation that takes place over the twelve days of Christmas. Bonnie translated this song cycle with a Norwegian friend and has performed it over many years using the authentic traditional melodies.

A follow-up on Fire in the Temple:
Glen Williamson
The Christmas Foundation meeting and Rudolf Steiner’s death in the light of The Mystery Dramas and Goethe’s Fairy Tale.

The Foundation Stone Meditation – Awakening the Seed Forces for Social Change
Jon McAlice
During the Christmas Conference a society was formed that was rooted solely in shared striving to gain a deeper relationship to the spiritual in the world and respect for the striving of others. It was founded on the awakening seed forces in each striving individual. Its “foundation stone” is a meditation that has the potential to awaken in us the capacities to bring such a society of free, striving individuals to fruition.

Sulfur, Mercury and Salt in Relation to the Foundation Stone Meditation
Margaret Shipman
We take living in the age of the consciousness soul for granted, but in the Middle Ages humanity had not developed these modern capacities. The ‘alchemists’ worked to discover spirit within matter. They were not trying to turn lead into gold! They were seeking conscious perception into the spiritual world through the forces and processes of material substances. We will explore a little of how these processes live in the Foundation Stone Meditation and see how Rudolf Steiner weaves Christian Rosenkreutz’s amazing work into modern spiritual striving.

Patient Attentiveness – How With the Christmas Conference All Becomes Esoteric
Jon McAlice
Simone Weil characterized attentiveness as the highest form of generosity, pure attention as prayer. With these words she touched on the nature of esoteric presence. Is this what Rudolf Steiner was speaking of when he said that everything in the newly formed General Anthroposophical Society would have to be esoteric in its nature.

The Incarnation of the Logos
Glen Williamson
The story of Jesus’ birth, childhood and youth. Harmonizing the accounts of Matthew and Luke, this saga weaves the threads of many traditions into an intimate but also cosmic drama. Adam and Eve, Moses, Adonis, Osiris, Isis, Apollo, Krishna, Buddha and Zarathustra all appear in this sometimes astonishing retelling of the greatest story ever told.

Building a Hut in the Land of Life and Truth
Rudiger Janisch
What does it mean ‘to build a hut’ on the way of inner development?  Where and what is the ‘land of life and truth’?  Rudolf Steiner suggested to practice not only reviewing the events of our daily life in reverse order but also other contents. What can we discover in this way and whom can we meet when doing so with the Foundation Stone Meditation?


Workshop with Judith Brockway
Karma Exercises
After the Christmas Foundation Meeting, Rudolf Steiner gave new content about reincarnation and Karma in lectures from February 1924 through September 1924. In this workshop we will explore three of the Karma Exercises given in 1912 and 1924. The exercises given in the earlier lectures were not taken up in any significant way by the membership at the time. In one
of her leading thoughts, Ita Wegman writes,”To understand Karma in connection with oneself
and with others means to vanquish Ahrimanic powers. With the Karma revelations the fight between Michael and Ahriman has begun.”

Singing Workshop with Bonnie Manaças
Messengers of Spirit
The spiritual musings and revelations of popular singer-songwriters of our time.
Bonnie has spent many years with the Dream Song of Olaf Asteson and this song describing a spiritual awakening that took place over the twelve holy nights has been the stimulus for her thinking about spiritual striving as expressed in present day popular songs. In these workshops she will sing and teach songs of the bards of today including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul
Simon and many more.

Eurythmy Workshop with Barbara Schneider-Serio
Elements of the Foundation Stone Meditation

Workshop with Glen Williamson
Onwards From: The Fire in the Temple
Working with movement, drama and conversation, Glen will deepen the themes of his talk.


Karl Fredrickson taught history in the Green Meadow Waldorf High School for 35 years. Since then he has taught main lesson blocks and advised teachers in a number of schools, as well as giving talks on historical and anthroposophical themes. He lives now in Radburn, New Jersey, and spends his time writing, hiking and being a grandparent.

Rüdiger Janisch has been working in Curative Education and teaching in professional training programs in Germany and the United States for over 40 years. A long-time student of anthroposophy, he serves on the Collegium of the School for Spiritual Science in North America. His contributions to adult education methods were recognized in the context of an international research project sponsored by the European Union. He has been a member of the core faculty of a joint ‘Training for Trainers’ program supporting Curative Education and Social Therapy in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. He has also taught as an adjunct faculty member of the M.S. Ed program in Waldorf Remedial Education at Antioch University N.H. Having taught many different aspects of anthroposophy and Curative Education, he currently is focused on action research and the development of artistic and experiential approaches to the spiritual scientific study of the human being.

Jennifer Kleinbach has been performing and teaching speech arts and eurythmy in a variety of settings over the past 17 years. In 2000, she completed eurythmy training in Spring Valley, followed by touring with the stage ensemble (2000-2005), teaching eurythmy at Spring Valley (200-2007), and completing her speech training in 2005. Since 2004, she has performed in a variety of theatre productions (including the Mystery Dramas), festivals, and eurythmy performances. Jennifer currently leads a community speech chorus, teaches speech arts at Eurythmy Spring Valley, the Christian Community Seminary, and Steiner School of Speech Arts. She holds a BA in Classical Languages, an MA in Medieval Studies, completed the Foundation Year and Goethean Studies course at Rudolf Steiner College, and is an alumna of Sacramento Waldorf School.

Bonnie Manaças has a Masters of Fine Arts degree as well as 30 years experience as a Waldorf class teacher. She has studied painting with Donald Hall of the Assenza school and with Laura Summer. She has had several Exhibitions of her paintings in the Threefold community. She currently has an exhibition of her most recent work, oil paint and cold wax technique, at the Threefold Cafe. Bonnie is also a singer and guitar player who performs frequently in and around the Threefold community. She has performed her own translation of the Dream Song Of Olaf Asteson for many years.

Jon McAlice is a Senior Researcher and Educator at the Nature Institute, where he has helped develop the Foundation Course, Encountering Nature and the Nature of Things. He began teaching in Vermont in 1976, working with adolescents on carpentry and boatbuilding. He then moved to Switzerland, where for a decade he worked with the Educational Section of the Goetheanum; besides editing a journal for teachers, he became deeply involved in supporting Waldorf Schools in Eastern Europe and developing countries. He has led workshops and conferences all around the world, helping teachers go beyond the boundaries of conventional knowledge to participate fully in the spiritual reality of our world.

Margaret Shipman has been a member of the Anthroposophical Society for over 40 years and considers the work of Rudolf Steiner to be the core of her life. In 2002 she started a national study group for anthroposophy – “Geographically Engaged Members Studygroup”, or G.E.M.S. She is also a cellist and pianist and spent 36 years repairing and making instruments of the violin family. She co-authored the book “Violin Restoration” with her mentor, Hans Weisshaar, who was in the second-ever Waldorf class and met Rudolf Steiner as a child.

Grigory Smirnov is a pianist and composer working with Eurythmy Spring Valley — the school and performing ensemble. His compositions have been performed on major stages worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Tanglewood Festival and Moscow Philharmonic Hall. As a pianist, he performs classical and improvisational music, his own compositions, and music for eurythmy. Originally from Siberia, Russia, he came to the United States in 2008 to continue his studies at The Juilliard School in New York City. Since 2019 he has been actively working in the Threefold Community in Spring Valley, NY.


Glen Williamson recently produced a full-cast production of his new play, Fire in the Temple. In past years, he played multiple roles in touring productions. He appeared as Johannes Thomasius in all four of Rudolf Steiner’s mystery dramas in 2014, and his sequel to these dramas, Future Dawning, has received several lauded staged readings. Glen has given his one-man performances throughout North America and in Europe.

Barbara Schneider Serio has led the performing ensemble and the professional training at Eurythmy Spring Valley since 2005.  After graduation  from ESV in 1983, she studied with many of the first generation eurythmists in Dornach.  Barbara returned to ESV in 1988 to perform and teach.  In her time as Artistic Director she has developed over thirty programs which have been performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and China.

Judith Brockway was a co-worker at the Fellowship Community in Spring Valley for twenty-five years where she shared the lives and experiences of many older individuals as they crossed the Threshold.  She is a Registered Nurse trained in anthroposophical nursing care and a Rhythmical Massage Therapist. Karma and Reincarnation and the Karma Exercises have been central themes for her for many years. She presently lives at the Fellowship Community as a Member (retired co-worker), and is active in anthroposophical work here in Spring Valley. She is one of three Class Holders of the School for Spiritual Science here in Spring Valley.

Sponsored by the Threefold Branch of the Anthroposophical Society and Threefold Educational Foundation.

Register for the Christmas Conference


A note about registration costs:

Our goal is to make the conference accessible to all who want to come regardless of their ability to pay. Please select the registration commensurate with what you can afford to pay. Or select “enter your payment” and pay any amount you can afford.

The Basic Conference Supporter fee is the average amount needed per participant to cover costs.





If you need a place to stay during the conference, check out housing options here. 

If you would like to stay at Holder House, a booking code (promo code) will be provided in your confirmation email to facilitate your room reservation upon completing your conference registration.

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