Over a century ago, Rudolph Steiner said the greatest discovery of 20th century science would be that the heart is not a pump but vastly more, and that the great challenge of the coming age of humanity would be to allow the heart to teach us to think in a new way. How does the heart speak?
The heart speaks through metaphor.
This wisdom of the heart is not new, it’s ancient. It’s just that we’ve long forgotten it. The earliest humans did not have words—they used their physical bodies through gesture, facial expression, sounds, and posture to convey messages to one another. They painted pictographs on cave walls, communicated through visual signs, and learned by sensing, seeing, and touching the world around them. Thunder, rain, wind, plants and animals were all sources of learning and knowing. As James Hillman writes, “Metaphor was then the primary mode of knowing and understanding the world. The world was interpreted animistically—thunder was a God, and reality was structured in accordance with myth. Metaphor wasn’t understood to be a figure of speech, it was a vital means for understanding the world.”
Our next evolution as humans is to bridge this polarity—between the mind and the heart, between the “real” world and the “world behind this world.” We bridge this gap by tapping into the transformative power of metaphoric images.