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  Book Review: Medicine and Mysteries

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By: Christa van Tellingen-van Heek, M.D.
Medicine and Mysteries by Walter Holtzapfel

A few weeks ago, the translation of Walter Holtzapfel's Medicine and Mysteries came out with Mercury Press one year after the passing of the author. The original German was published in June, 1984 and is the pearl of Holtzapfel's work. Those who know Holtzapfel's work can testify to his solid knowledge of the subjects he writes about - mostly curative education – and his practical way of dealing with them, with great attention to detail.

This book is no exception, but the subject is what makes it special: the book. Fundamentals of Therapy in relation to the renewal of the Mysteries of medicine. Those who have bravely taken up Fundamentals of Therapy of which title and size are so promising, have soon experienced the reality of this fact. It is the answer to Ita Wegman's question to Rudolf Steiner in August of 1923 in Penmaenmwar, England: Is it possible to renew the Mysteries of medicine? Thus it is not a simple, thin book to learn about anthroposophical medicine; it is a Mystery book. That means that one has to be constantly active in reading it for it stretches our thinking, our feeling and our will to their limits and beyond so that healing qualities can grow in us in this process. For us lazy thinkers, critical experiencers and fearful willers in the 20th century, this is no minor task.

Walter Holtzapfel has worked with Fundamentals of Therapy for many years, and the fruits of his work are in Medicine and Mysteries. Through his thorough knowledge of the Old Mysteries, he was able to experience in its chapters the essences of some of these old mysteries that Rudolf Steiner spoke about extensively in the cycle. Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centers in Novem- ber/December 1923 as a preparation for the Christmas Foundation meeting (GA 232). For instance, he shows the 6th chapter of Fundamentals of Therapy, entitled "Blood and Nerve" to be related to the Hibernian Mysteries with their two statues, "Science" and "Art."

Walter Holtzapfel describes how the principles of these mysteries are presented medically in the book, Fundamentals of Therapy and makes it possible for us to experience and work with these Mystery principles through our struggle with the book.

The English edition is based on a good translation. Unfortunately, not all of the illustrations have come out well.

Altogether, Medicine and Mysteries is a great asset for those interested in medicine, in Fundamentals of Therapy and in the study of the Mysteries.

Christa van Tellingen-van Heek, M.D.

Raphael House

7953 California

Fair Oaks, CA 95628

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