Finding light (and warmth) in the darkness
As we turn inwards again with the advent of the Winter months, it’s good to find places where we can find the light in the darkness of these often-challenging times. Finding community with others is one place where we can cultivate light of thought and warmth of heart.
According to Rudolf Steiner (June 15, 1915), cultivating Anthroposophy in friendly community is one of the most important things we can do today for the future; fostering community activity in which everything is built upon freedom of thought and care for the well-being of others.
The Legend of Parzival
So it seems to be more than just chance that the story of Parzival and the Grail is emerging as a key theme of several current initiatives both here and internationally. The Parzival story is central to the Steiner (Waldorf) School curriculum for seventeen-year olds but it’s deeply spiritual motif of compassion and unexpectedly finding light in the darkness speaks to people of all ages. So find out more about Parzival (or Parsifal, Perceval or Peredur, as he is also known) or maybe read a lecture by Steiner on the theme.
There is a production of Wagner‘s ‘Parsifal’ coming to the Goetheanum Stage next Easter 2023. It is a coproduction of opera and eurythmy and a wonderful opportunity to experience this seminal artwork live – if you can get there. Tickets to the event are already on sale, so you need to start planning soon!
But closer to home, there is a new multimedia Parsifal Project, launching next month. This Ink Pot Arts project also culminates in a performance season next April but this project is a community one, so everyone can get involved in one stage or other. You can read more about the program of this year-long creative development here and find out how to get involved. The first stage of the project, an online course unpacking the complex threads of the story through image, text and discussion, starts in June.
The Human Journey
Also in June for those in the Greater Sydney area, there is The Human Journey, a mid-winter experience of lectures, artistic events and workshops based on the Parzifal story, but with a broader scope that includes eurythmy performance of Calendar of the Soul and sessions on self-development. It’s free of charge, donation only, courtesy of the Sydney St John’s Group Branch and Sydney Rudolf Steiner College.
There’s more storytelling on offer with Telling the Difference: The Oral Art of Telling, an online course about building your skills in this popular artform. Accomplished storyteller Iris Curteis is leading this practice-based course, which combines storytelling, parenting, education and community building. It’s starting very soon, so if you would like to hone your storytelling skills, look here for more information about the course.
First Goetheanum-themed arts
Not about Parzival, and for those who lean more towards the visual arts, there is a Winter weekend arts retreat at Linuwel School over the first weekend in June. This practice-based intensive is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in artistic practice in the company of other creative souls, as everyone works together in a studio environment on the theme of Steiner’s comprehensive collection of motifs for the developing artist. There will be an exhibition of artworks and sketches from participants of two earlier online courses on the theme, followed by an open public lecture, The Mission of the Arts, on the Friday evening. You can find out more about the weekend and how to register here.
On this same of Steiner’s motifs, there is another Goetheanum event coming up in August: the New Art Impulse Centenary Intensive Week – another one for the international travellers. This conference is both a commemoration of the burning down of the First Goetheanum and a celebration of Steiner’s gift of training motifs and sketches for the artists. This Visual Arts Section conference will highlight the knowledge and experience of painters, sculptors and architects working out of this impulse with a full program of practical workshops, followed by an exhibition on the theme with the original sketches of Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Nine Trainings Sketches (nature moods), as well as modern interpretations from artists around the world. If you would like to know more about this series, have a look at here at some examples of how one might interpret them. Some of these works will be on display at the Goetheanum exhibition in August.
Freedom, community and the Arts
And finally, returning to the theme of freedom of thought in community with friends, have a browse of the work of Free Columbia, an established initiative devoted to realising this ideal. Based in New York, it provides a studio environment for arts-based practice, but also social theory and community, brought together using methodologies of contemplative inquiry and aesthetic education. But Free Columbia’s real goal is the ideal of Free Culture – where people’s financial situation should not limit their access to developing themselves or to accessing culture. To get a taste of how they work, read about their vision or you can sign up a series of five videos on the theme of painting the cosmic evolution taking place this June. It’s free, in keeping with their goal.
Perhaps this is a future initiative we could work towards here in Australia?
I gaze into the Darkness.
In it arises Light
Who is this Light in the darkness
It is I myself in my reality.
This reality of the I
Does not enter into my earthly life.
I am but a picture of it.
But I shall find it again
When with good will for the Spirit
I shall have passed through the Gate of Death.
Rudolf Steiner, Verses and Meditations