Once more, a report on our recent weekly Section for Literary Arts and Humanities “Zoom” meeting with the local group in Fair Oaks.

At our meeting yesterday April 18, I started the discussion by sharing a comment from Herbert Hagens. Herbert sent the comment to the group by email. He pointed out the overlap between the Rudolf Steiner quote that I shared last week and the meditation for Easter week in The Calendar of the Soul. I read this Calendar of Soul verse to start and end our meeting. Here are the two verses so you can compare.

Thus the inner life of man not only elucidates itself, but also external things. From this point an infinite perspective for human cognition opens up. Within glows a light which does not confine its luminosity to this interior. It is a sun which illuminates all reality at once. Something appears in us which unites us with the whole world. We are no longer merely the single accidental man, no longer this or that individual. In us the whole world reveals itself. To us it discloses its own interconnection, and it shows us how we ourselves as individuals are connected with it. Out of self‑knowledge is born knowledge of the world. And our own limited individuality takes its place spiritually in the great interconnection of the world because something comes to life in it which reaches beyond this individuality, which embraces everything of which this individuality is a part. — (Eleven European Mystics by Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner Publications, Blauvelt, NY, pg. 119)

When out of farthest worlds
The Sun communes with sense of Man
And gladness from the depths of soul
In vision joins with light,
Then from the sheath of selfhood, thoughts
File forth towards distances of space
And dimly join
Human essence to the Spirit’s being.
(Oster-Stimmung) trans. Daisy Aldan

Cheryl then recited to us her lovely original poem that appeared recently in the Christian Community newsletter. At one point in our work over the years, the Section in Fair Oaks devoted meeting time to creative writing. Perhaps we can work this in again? Creative writing is — at least for me, I think — an important part of our Section activity — and as I mentioned earlier, my experience over the decades has been that if you open yourself to Novalis, you will receive inspiration for creativity and self-renewal. Try it and see!

Download Cheryl’s poem (pdf)

After Cheryl, Alice gave us a splendid presentation with pictures of the Wartburg, the historical Heinrich von Ofterdingen, and the Battle of the Singers. We looked again at the map of “Novalis country” — which is also a map of “Wolfram country” — not to mention Bach, Luther, Goethe, etc. Something to ponder? Alice helped us understand karmic connections between the character Strader and Heinrich von Ofterdingen. She also helped us to contemplate connections to the cultural impulse of Wolfram von Eschenbach — and she drew our attention to Klingsor. As we journey down the road with young Henry, I hope we will be able to contemplate these overlaps and karmic connections more deeply. Maybe a good idea to dust off your Parzival?

We discussed the representation of the Crusades and the Middle East in chapters two and three. We digressed into considerations of mining and subsurface domains, groping around a bit for the King of Metals and the light that dwells in darkness. We also touched on 1001 Arabian Nights, and Marion discussed the importance of this collection of tales for the romantics — and for world literature generally.

Finally, Marion and I presented a work-in-progress translation of one of the very last poems that Novalis wrote: “Alle Menschen Seh ich Leben.” This prompted a lively dialogue concerning matters of translation — which was heaps of fun, and I think helpful even for those who don’t read German. It’s good to hear the significant words of a poem in the original language, and it’s good to hear the sort of problems translators confront, even if you don’t speak the language under discussion. Poets such as Robert Bly and others have done very exciting translations of poems, even when they themselves are not secure in the native language. It brings up all kinds of interesting problems for a poet: how to stay true to the truth of poetry while teetering on the balance beam of grammar and semantics. I hope we will have more such dialogues in the future.

In closing, I posted a “ Novalis” video for the friends in the core group, and here’s the link, for those who are interested. (The pictures I included give you an idea of the “golden shower of poppies” at the river. California poppies are profuse this year at the river — more California poppies than I have ever seen in spring! — and I’ve been walking that territory daily for years. Here’s the video.


“The world must be romanticized. In this way one will again discover the originary meaning. Romanticism is nothing else but a qualitative potentization. The lower self is identified via this operation with a better self. Thus we ourselves are the products of such a series of potentizations. This operation is yet entirely unknown. I romanticize the world to the extent that I give the common a higher meaning, the ordinary a mystery‑laden aspect, the known the dignity of the unknown, and the finite the lustre of eternity—taken another way, this operation occurs for the sake of the higher, the unknown, the mystical, and the eternal—through such joining these are logarythmisized—and receive a current expression: romantic philosophy. Lingua Romana. Alternation of ascension and descent.”  — Novalis