Wednesday, January 1, 2014

‘New Year’s with Novalis’


Our word philosophy derives from the Greek philo and sophia, meaning love of wisdom. So, when I spot the name Sophie decorated with a heart that someone engraved in the once fresh cement of a Manhattan sidewalk, I have to smile. (That this graffito is found immediately outside the front door of the Anthroposophical Society's NYC Branch, I'm sure, has something to do with it.)

It was back to Centerpoint this evening for a very well presented lecture. I only wish I knew what it was about, but it inspires research. A first year student of Eurythmy at Spring Valley spoke thoughtfully for more than an hour on the subject of Novalis, with ample discourse (and here’s where I got lost) on Rudolf Steiner’s thoughts on Adam Kadmon, John the Baptist, and the linkages of King Solomon to St. Matthew and Nathan the Prophet to St. Luke. I hope I didn’t get that last part backward, but either way this is something I need to read up on.

Novalis—his government name was Friedrich von Hardenberg—is remembered as one of the fathers of German Romanticism. Not so much here in America actually, but in Germany, he is rated right up there with Goethe, Schiller, and other greats. Our lecturer read from Novalis’ journal to lay the foundation of his talk that would touch on the topics mentioned above, and even involve Raphael. (The painter, not the archangel.) The lecture began with the story of Novalis and his love for Sophie von Kühn, which makes my stumbling across the sidewalk graffito shown at top even more serendipitous.

I didn’t take notes, because I knew I’d be left in the dust, but Anthroposophy definitely is something I will be studying. A nine-day festival/conference is scheduled for August at Chestnut Ridge, New York to discuss the future of the movement. I’m very curious to hear what will come of that. Until then, I’ll continue visiting its New York City Branch and shopping in the bookstore.

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