An Esoteric Quest in Central Europe

December 5, 2006

After a quiet period here at Lapis online, things are starting to quicken in pace. We are delighted to be co-sponsoring with the Open Center a truly unique conference in the Czech Republic and in Weimar, Germany on the western esoteric tradition. Something of a shift in focus after our work on the religious right last year, this event will look at the often forgotten spiritual streams that characterized renaissance Bohemia when alchemy, kabbalah, neo-platonism and hermetic philosophy were the essence of the magical worldview.

Sadly, the spiritual and cultural brilliance of Sixteenth Century Bohemia and early Seventeenth Century Heidelberg were lost in the horrors of the Thirty Years War. The tragic battle of the White Mountain outside Prague took place in the same year that the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. But as America began to emerge, Europe descended into a morass of religious prejudice and wanton violence. By the time the continent emerged from this nightmare, the renaissance understanding of the world was lost and in its place we had the powerful concepts of the universe as a machine and the inescapable split between mind and body.

Had the philosophers of nature, the alchemists, continued their fusion of spirituality and science, we would never have found ourselves with the ravaged and abused planet that we inhabit today. In the late Eighteenth Century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German playwright, poet and novelist, developed his own approach to science that had much in common with that of the alchemists. It involved a deep, meditative attunement and close observation of nature. Goethe's method allowed the thoughts hidden within the natural world to come alive in his own creative imagination. In this way, he was able to understand the metamorphosis of plants and the nature of color. For him, this achievement rivaled any of his literary creations.

The conference at the beginning of September will focus on this neglected spiritual and scientific tradition. Perhaps it can finally find a place of respect in the 21st Century as we desperately struggle to restore ecological balance. I invite you to learn more about it at

A further note:

As mentioned above, after a rather quiet time at Lapis online, we are now redoubling our efforts to make this site dynamic and innovative.

Starting soon we will be posting audio interviews with remarkable thinkers and writers on a regular basis. These can be downloaded and listened to on your computer. First up in our series will be Henry Barnes, now 94 years old and one of the most knowledgeable men in America in the work and legacy of Rudolf Steiner. He studied at the original Waldorf School in Stuttgart in 1933, the year Hitler came to power, and is perhaps the only person alive today in the English speaking world who can describe how the noble spiritual impulses of Germany in the Thirties were strangled by the malicious intent of rising fascism.