Spirit Awakening Through Novalis

By Douglas Gabriel

Novalis was the most significant representative of German romanticism at the end of the eighteenth century. He was a poet, a writer, a scientist, a thinker and philosopher who was profoundly influenced by Fichte and Kant. The full revelation of Novalis’ genius only came when his beloved Sophie von Kuhn died at age 15.  All his creative works were written within the short period of three years; each of these years focused on a different area of study.

Novalis picture profileThe first year we see the philosopher and natural scientist at work; in the second, the writer of beautiful fairy-tales, and finally the mystic poet of Christianity. Novalis died before he reached the age of twenty-nine.

Up to the present, the writings of Novalis have been incompletely available in English translations and many of these are unavailable. This oversight of literary translators is a sad testimony to one of the greatest influences on modern thinkers. Novalis’ impact on the Romantic Movement is primary. He is often called the Prophet of Romanticism. His style and delivery has yet to be equaled, and his work is as relevant today as ever.

There is truly no end to the depth of Novalis. One should realize that when you begin to study Novalis, you have begun a life-long task. His works merit reading over and over to gain the infinite ramifications that are implicit therein.

Georg Friedrich Philipp von Hardenburg (Novalis) was born May 2, 1772, in Oberwiederstedt, Prussian Saxony, into a family of Protestant Lower Saxon nobility.  His father was the director of a salt mine. He was the eldest son in a large family, consisting of ten children beside himself.  As he had from birth been of poor health and wholly self-absorbed, he appeared in the first years of life to be a child who was removed and distance from his surroundings. A serious illness struck him down in his ninth year, confining him to his bed for months. Suddenly, after the illness, his inner faculties developed creating a remarkable memory, concentration, and a gift of observation wrought with a deep religious and artistic sense.

His thousands of notations, which he called “literacy seedlings,” show the universality of his mind. The aphoristic nature of Novalis’ literary legacy makes difficult the presentation of a coherent picture of his life work. The presentation itself may, in spots, appear aphoristic. New vistas and deeper perspectives reveal themselves at every turn. His writings often afford glimpses at an ultimate synthesis of science, art, and religion.

The great philosopher, prophet, pedagogue, and spiritual seer Rudolf Steiner has given many indications about Novalis. Steiner has even gone back in time to find out who Novalis was in previous incarnations.

If we are to take seriously what Steiner says, Novalis is one of the oldest and most significant souls in human history.

According to Steiner, Novalis can write about the most profound foundations of life because he was there when those foundations were laid. The most important moments in Christian history can be understood through Novalis because of his central role in the enactment of the mysteries of Christianity. Of course, the reader is free to surmise what you will out of pure study of Novalis’ work, but it is often found that an inner question about the works of this author arises, “From what source can such wisdom flow?”

Having simply stated these ideas without a clear elucidation of Steiner’s details also leaves the reader free to pick up the trail if one feels so inclined. A wonderful book summarizing Steiner’s thought concerning Novalis is found in, Eternal Individuality, by Sergei Prokofieff. This book will require some familiarity with the philosophy of Steiner, called Anthroposophy. All endeavors in this direction will yield a wealth of fruit found in few other places. Otherwise, the reader is free to simply bathe oneself in the rich and poignant images of the poet/philosopher/scientist known as the “father of humanity.

Novalis, the Forerunner of Humanity

        “And so we see in Novalis a radiant and splendid forerunner of that Michael stream which is now to lead you all while you are living, and when you have passed through the gate of death.”  (Rudolf Steiner, GA 260)

Rudolf Steiner said that there were three sources of his philosophy Anthroposophy:

1) the writings of Novalis,

2) the effort it took to create Anthroposophy,

3) and, the being of Anthroposophia.

Each person’s relationship to Sophia (Anthroposophia) is personal and will develop naturally on the path of spiritual development. Reading Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy is very difficult and not for everyone, but reading Novalis is easy to do and his writings are very approachable because he does not use jargon or dogma. The spiritual thoughts found in Novalis’ work creates “new ground” upon which the aspirant can stand firmly and view the spiritual horizon.

Novalis’ spirituality arises through his conscious design of using no religious doctrine but lifting the commonplace into the realm of the divine. Novalis uses simple language to reveal the spiritual beings who stand behind ordinary things. For example, the language Novalis uses to write his description of the “blue flower” seems to consciously disenchant matter and free it to ascend back to the spirit from whence it came. Novalis approaches the greatest ideas with humble words. He is succinct and yet profound, opening new vistas for the imagination and creating the opportunity for pure inspiration to fill the reader as common words begin to illuminate the radiant world of spirit that stands behind them.

When you read Novalis, you can find that the images he uses seem to inscribe ideas into one’s everlasting imagination and enflame the soul to inspiration filled with an unquenchable passion for life. This is tantamount to living unhindered by separateness and fear, belonging to the whole and knowing that each thought can give birth to a new world.

Novalis’s Fragments and Pollen contain indications for a “hyper-science” where metals transmute into other metals alchemically through mental design — lead becomes gold.  Novalis describes the archetypal marriage of soul to spirit that can happen simply by reciting a poem or passage from a fairy-tale where the beggar ends up becoming the king. Through the eyes of Novalis, life’s dramas become universities of learning where the mundane reveals cosmic secrets that free the romantic soul to hear the calling of living archetypes. Novalis can enliven our thoughts through his virtuous embodiment of noble principles and archetypal ideals.

Johann Goethe tried to match Novalis’s longsuffering and blissful melancholy. Novalis was living art, the canvass of the archetypal human who suffers for himself and humanity. He embodies the original Adam, who led us into this world of Maya and delusion, where suffering, old age, and ignorance reign supreme. But now he has led us back to the source, the New Eden, floating above the earth at the north pole, surrounded by the wall of fiery color. Through countless lives, including Elijah, Elias, Phineas, John the Baptist, Raphael Sanzio, and the poet Novalis (Frederick von Hardenburg), this individuality has witnessed the fall and return of the prodigal son.

Novalis has taken wing and arisen to new heights of human expression. His gift of spiritual seeing was perfected and tested when Christ came before him to be baptized.  John the Baptist was the first Adam recognizing the Second Adam, who had come to redeem the sin of paradise. As John said, ‘I must decrease so that he may increase.’  John was fully aware of the mission of the messiah and his place beside Jesus.

Novalis was one of the sources of inspiration for Rudolf Steiner, but he is also the quintessential example of what humanity should be developing in the evolutionary stream of time. Novalis is essentially the primal human who has learned what there is to learn through many incarnations as a human trying to understand his relationship with the spirit. Steiner indicates that Novalis was previously Raphael Sanzio, John the Baptist and the original Adam. Whether we subscribe to these ideas or not lessens the importance of Novalis negligibly. Novalis was the father of the German Romantic Movement and his idea of the ‘blue flower’ became the symbol of that movement. Novalis’ influence on modern thinking is profound as he leads humanity into many new paths of inspiration and revelation throughout human history.

What Novalis gives us comes from all of the wisdom he has gleaned over the centuries.  Through the passing of time, Novalis has truly mastered language as a vehicle of the spirit. 

Rudolf Steiner on Novalis

Rudolf Steiner had a most singular respect for Novalis that was even greater than his life-long dedication to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German statesman and author of Faust, whose scientific work Steiner edited. Steiner indicated that the works of Novalis where somewhat of a preface to his own work, a sort of pre-anthroposophy. The importance of Novalis upon the work of Steiner cannot be over-emphasized.

When we read the words of Novalis, a new cosmology and worldview can be born in our mind that does not rely upon scientific jargon or ecclesiastical doctrine. The direct experience of the phenomena itself becomes the religious experience upon the altar of consciousness. Steiner took these concepts, “pollen and fragments”, and buillt his comprehensive cosmology upon Novalis’ phenomenological experience. Novalis experienced the spirit, while Steiner described the path to the spirit. Novalis can bring the reader face to face with their higher spiritual self, while Steiner maps out the road to self-knowledge of the higher self that arrives at the same goal.

In a way, Novalis is the short-cut to the spirit for those who already have a clear cosmology. Any comprehensive cosmology, philosophy, or religion can easily map onto Novalis’ grappling with the spirit behind matter. Novalis throws himself across the threshold into the spiritual world, while Steiner carefully guides and encourages the questing soul to face the threshold between the physical and the spiritual.

Simply reading Novalis can prepare the soul to become a personal witness of the spirit that lives within the human and the world.

Phenomenological experience can open the door to the spirit if the questing soul utilizes an effective cosmology. A comprehensive worldview can prepare the soul to communicate with the spirit. Novalis call this poetry, the “art of making history into a fairy tale.”

The following selections from the work of Rudolf Steiner demonstrate the power and wisdom that he attributes to the works of Novalis. It is easy to see why the study of Novalis can be a key to understanding Steiner’s Anthroposophy.

Let your endeavours here be permeated as much by the spirit of Novalis as by the spirit of spiritual science itself. May such a spirit unite you, that spirit who is, at the same time, the spirit of the Masters of Wisdom. (GA 272)

And so, we see that in Novalis there lives, in a distinctively individual form, everything which has now been given through spiritual science. (GA 126)

Anyone who reads Novalis will feel something of the breath which leads one into this higher world. It is not expressed in the usual way, but there is something in him that charms or spells also have. They have significance as much for ordinary, undeveloped people as they have for initiates. (GA 53)

The creative work of Novalis makes so deep an impression because whatever we have before us in immediate sense-perceptible reality, whatever the eye can see and recognize as beautiful, appears with a well-nigh heavenly splendor in the poetry of Novalis through the magical idealism that lives in his soul. Through the magical idealism of his poetry, he can make the most insignificant material thing live again in all its spiritual light and glory. (GA 168)

This young man, who left the physical plane at the age of twenty-nine and who gave more to the German spirit than hundreds and thousands of others, lived a life that was really the memory of a previous one. Through a quite definite event the spiritual experiences of earlier incarnations were called forth, appeared before his soul, and flowed out from this soul in tender, rhythmically surging poems. (GA108)

In Novalis, we would not find a spirit who expresses himself in words and teachings of the kind that we can give in spiritual science, but nevertheless a spirit who through his words gives expression to exactly the same substance. What is given now as anthroposophical spirituality lived in Novalis. He is the herald who is permeated by an anthroposophical Christian impulse like the dawning of a new Christ idea which is a proclamation for the future. He feels and experiences himself as having his being within the higher spirit nature. What he expresses, he feels through his innate genius as the revelations of this very spirit nature. (GA 18)

If in this way we hear the heart’s ringing of our beloved Novalis, through which he told in so intimate a way of the mission of Christ, we sense something of a vindication of our spiritual stream. It is a wonderful thing to immerse oneself in the heart and soul of such a man as Novalis. We feel how Novalis was, in his incarnation, one of the prophets of recent times for what we would seek in the spirit worlds, and also how we can best be inspired in this quest through that inspiration which lived in the heart, in the soul of Novalis, and which was his through his being inwardly permeated by the Christ-impulse. We turn longingly to Novalis and feel with his soul how the longing for a new spiritual life for mankind permeates and irradiates the whole of its spiritual vibrance.  Then we take courage and feel that something of the power comes to us which can enable us to approach this new spiritual life of mankind in our own lives.

Thus, does Novalis stand before us, and we should revere him in such a way that he can, amongst much else, be one of the mediators who show us the way in which we may add to the spiritual revelations to which we aspire in the stream of our spiritual world-outlook: the right heart, the right love, the right enthusiasm, the right devotion. Novalis can shine before us like a kind of guiding star, in such a way that when we follow him in our experience we at the same time have the good will to raise ourselves to him through our work in knowledge with all the effort that we can muster, and on the other hand to cultivate the living will to permeate with knowledge every human heart that seeks the spiritual in truth. (GA 142)

Thus, Novalis was able to gain an insight into these times when the Gods dwelt amongst men, when everything had a spiritual foundation and the spirits and souls of men had not yet descended into earthly bodies. And so, he was able to see the transition: how death entered in the world, and how the men of those times depicted death in its earthly, shadowy aspect and how they sought to beautify it through fantasy and through art. But death remained a riddle. The something of universal significance took place.  And Novalis was able to behold the universal significance of what was happening in the world at that time. Souls had descended into the Kingdom of Nature.

The memory of the spiritual origins of existence had been lost, though a particular spiritual Being lived on in this universal womb whence everything had descended – the Nathan Soul. Novalis was able to see the whole significance of Christ’s death and it became clear to him. Then was the riddle of death, the riddle of Christ, unveiled to him in the night of soul-existence.  It was indeed so that this individuality learnt to know this most significant event that anyone is call upon to know – namely, the Mystery of Golgotha – through his memories of previous lives. (GA 108) 

A Lecture About Novalis by Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner gave a beautiful Christmas address to the Berlin Theosophical group on the nature of Novalis. We offer here a selection from that lecture that presents one of the most comprehensive imaginations about Novalis in Steiner’s work. It is a profound secret that reveals the true nature of Novalis and the sources of his inspiration.  

The Christmas Mystery, Novalis the Seer, Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, 22 December 1908, GA 108.

The young German poet Novalis became a seer — we might almost say ‘miraculously’ — by the grace of divine-spiritual Powers. Through a deeply shattering event which made him aware, as if by a stroke of magic, of the connection between life and death, his eyes of spirit were opened and as well as a great vista of past ages of the Earth and Cosmos, the Christ Being Himself appeared before him. He was able to say of himself that he was one who with the eyes of spirit has actually seen what is revealed when ‘the stone is lifted’ and the Being who has furnished earthly existence with the proof that life in the spirit will forever overcome death, becomes visible.

In the case of Novalis we cannot really speak of a self-contained life in the ordinary sense, for his was like a remembrance of an earlier incarnation. The Initiation conferred upon him as it were through Grace, brought to life within him his achievements and experiences in earlier incarnations; there was a kind of consolidation of intuitions and insights that had been his in a previous life. And because he looked back through the ages with his own awakened eyes of spirit, he was able to affirm that nothing in his life was comparable in importance with the experience of having discovered Christ as a living reality.

Such an experience is like a repetition of the happening at Damascus, when Paul, who had hitherto persecuted the followers of Christ Jesus and rejected their proclamation, received in higher vision the direct proof that Christ lives, that He is present, and that the Event of Golgotha is unique in the whole process of the evolution of humanity. Those whose eyes of spirit are open can themselves behold this Event, for in truth Christ was not only present in the Body that was once His dwelling-place. He has remained with the Earth; through Him the Sun-Power has united with the Earth.

Novalis speaks of the revelation that came to him as ‘unique’ and he maintains that only those who with their whole soul are willing to relate themselves with this Event are men in the true sense. He rightly says that the ancient Indian, with his sublime spirituality, would have allied himself with Christ had he but known Him. Not out of any dim inkling or blind faith, but out of actual knowledge, Novalis says that the Christ whom he has seen with eyes of spirit is a Power pervading all beings. This Power can be recognized by the eye in which it is working. The eye that beholds the Christ has itself been formed by the Christ-Power. The Christ-Power within the eye beholds the Christ outside the eye. These are truly wonderful words!

Novalis is also aware of the stupendous truth that since the Event of Golgotha the Being we call Christ has been the planetary Spirit of the Earth, the Spirit by whom the Earth’s body will gradually be transformed. A wonderful vista of the future opens out before Novalis. He sees the Earth transfigured; he sees the present Earth in which the residue of ancient times is still contained, transformed into the Body of Christ; he sees the waters of the Earth permeated with Christ’s Blood, and he sees the solid rocks as Christ’s Flesh. He sees the body of the Earth gradually becoming the Body of Christ; he sees the Earth and Christ miraculously made one; he sees the Earth in future time as a great organism enshrining man, an organism whose soul is Christ. In this sense, and out of his deep insight into occult truths, Novalis speaks of Christ as the Son of Man. Just as in a certain sense men are the ‘Sons of the Gods’, that is to say of the ancient Gods who through untold millions of years have molded and shaped our planet, who have built the bodies in which we live and the ground upon which we move, so, by overcoming earthly things, man’s task is to build, through his own powers, an Earth that will be the body of the new God, the God of the future.

And whereas the men of old looked back to the primeval Gods, yearning to be united with them in death, Novalis recognizes the God who in time to come will have as his body all that is best in us and that we can offer to Him. In Christ, he sees the Being to whom humanity offers itself in order that this Being may have a body. He recognizes Christ as the ‘Son of Man’ in this higher, cosmological sense. He speaks of Christ as the ‘God of the future.’ All these experiences and perceptions are so pregnant with meaning that they are well able to kindle the true mood of Christmas in our souls.

And so, we see how in the supremely gifted Novalis, feelings free of all denominational bias quicken to life at the portrayal of this holy Mystery which was enacted at the first Christmas and is repeated at every Christmastide. It is the Mystery of the ancient Initiates, represented by the Magi, bringing their offerings to the new Mystery. The Wise Men, who are bearers of the wisdom of times past, make their offerings to that which is to go forward into the future, that which, in a human being, will one day harbor the power by which all worlds connected with the Earth are pervaded. Novalis experienced the Christ Mystery, the Mary Mystery, in relation to the Cosmic Mystery, the light of which shone before his eyes of soul as it had shone at the first Christmas, when Beings who had not descended to the physical plane proclaimed the union between a cosmic and an earthly Power, which can become a reality in human hearts and in the Cosmos itself when the human heart unites with Christ. The Egyptian proclamation: ‘The God with whom you must be united dwells in the world that can be reached only after death’, holds good no longer. For now, the God with whom man must be united lives among us here, between birth and death; and men can find Him when they unite their hearts and souls with Him in this world. Thus, in the first Holy Night of Christendom the strain resounded: Revelation in the Heights to God, Quiet and peace through all the Earth, Blessed joy in Men.

No wonder that, as he stood before the Madonna, there arose in Novalis the most beautiful, most glorious memory of that life of which this present life of his was itself the memory, and who thereby germinated within himself all the beautiful feelings and wonderful sensitivity that the mystery of humanity depicted in this painting could awaken; no wonder that, within him, these feelings streamed on from there to the being from whom Christ was born, to the figure who brought forth the bud, the calyx, from which sprang the blossom that could allow the seed of the new God to ripen. (End of Steiner selection)

Spirit Awakening Through Novalis

The following selections are taken from The Collected Works of Novalis, and are a free rendering derived from multiple sources and selected especially for English readers.  These selections are also chosen as a type of “spiritual path” that attempts to sketch out the design of Novalis’ personal cosmology or worldview. The writings were chosen to follow the path of spiritual self-development that can be attained by reading the words of this most amazing thinker. Simply considering the thoughts presented in the words will change the way the reader looks at the world.  With some thought, reflection, and application the reader can truly change their interaction with the world find living beings behind outer phenomena.    

Conscience takes the place of God on Earth, and is hence to that extent the highest and last.

I say to everyone, He lives

The Risen One is He;

For he is hovering in our midst,

There evermore to be.

There is no religion that is not Christianity.

Earthly glory flew away, and my sorrow with it. Far and wearisome was my pilgrimage to the holy grave and the cross was heavy. He whose mouth the crystal wave has moistened, which, indiscernible to the ordinary senses, issued from within the dark womb of the hill at whose foot the earthly flood bursts forth, he who has stood up upon this border-region of the world and has looked out over that new land, night’s dwelling place, such a one does not return to the bustle of the world, to the land where light abides in eternal restlessness.  In the heights he builds himself huts, shelters of peace; night’s dwelling place.

Uplifted is the stone –

Mankind is now arisen –

To Thee we all are wed

And nevermore feel bonds.

Christ was not only present in the body that was once His dwelling-place, He has remained united with the Earth; through Him the power of the Sun has united with the Earth.

O nurse, my Beloved,

My yearning breast,

That I in slumber,

In love, may rest.

Now feel I death’s

Youth-bringing flood,

To balm and ether,

Is changed my blood –

By day are faith

And courage my food,

At night I die

In holy ardour’s mood.

Through the countless happy hours

When I found life’s fairest flowers,

Only one stayed true to me;

One when in my deepest grieving

I learnt in my heart’s own weaving

Who it was that died for me.

The heart is the key of the world and of life.  Thus, Christ is, from this standpoint, indeed the key to the world.

All our inclinations would seem to be nothing other than applied religion.  The heart would appear to be the religious organ.  Perhaps the higher testimony of the productive heart is none other than heaven itself.

The perfected human being must be able to live in several places and in several human beings at once – he would have to be constantly present in a wide circle and at a great number of events.

If God was able to become man, he can also become stone, plant, animal and element, and perhaps there is in this way a perpetual redemptive power in nature.

Then from the blue expanses, from the heights of my ancient bliss, a tremor from a gleam of dawn – and at one stroke the bonds of birth, the fetters of light, were sundered.  Away fled the splendor of Earth and my sorrow fled with it.  My pain flowed together into a new and unfathomable world.  O spirit of night, slumber of heaven, you came over me.  The place where I was, lifted itself gently upwards; over this place hovered my free, new-born spirit.

To trace higher influences in myself and to forge a path of my own into the world of my origins is an essential aspect of my existence.

We dream of journeys through the universe: but is not the universe in us?  The depths of our spirit we do not know.  The path of mysteries leads within.  Eternity, with its worlds of past and future, is in us or nowhere.

Now I went down to holy, ineffable, mysterious night.  To us more heavenly than those radiant stars are the endless eyes that night has opened in us.  But the domain of night is beyond time or space.  Night has become the mighty womb of revelation.

The outer world is a world of shadows, it casts its shadows into the realm of light.

This ego of a higher kind is related to man as man is to nature or as the wise man is to the child. Man longs to become like it, just as he seeks to make the not-self like himself.  Such a fact cannot be demonstrated. Everyone must experience it himself.  It is a fact of a higher kind which only the higher man encounters.

The great mystery is open to all and remains eternally unfathomable.  The new world is born of grief, and ash is dissolved in tears as a draught of eternal life.  In everyone there dwells the heavenly mother, bearing each child in eternity.  Do you not feel the sweetness of birth in the throbbing of your breast?

The fairest mystery of the Virgin, which renders her so inexpressibly alluring, is the foretaste of motherhood, the presentiment of a future world that slumbers within her and shall develop out of her. She is the most appropriate image of the future.

The productive imagination is the beginning of a true permeation of the self by the spirit, which never ends. Without inspiration, there is no spirit-manifestation.  Inspiration is manifestation and counter-manifestation, appropriation and communication all at the same time.

It seems to one as though one were involved in a conversation and an unknown spiritual being were in a most wonderful way giving rise to the development of the most conclusive of thoughts. This being must be of a higher nature, for there is something about him that does not belong to a being that is bound to the world of appearances. He must be of a homogeneous nature, for he treats him as one would a spiritual being, and asks of him only the very rarest manifestation of selfhood.

An Angel bendeth o’er you

And bears you to the strand

And, filled with joy, before you

You see the promised land.

Every effective action is accompanied by a higher Being – contact with a higher Being. The main thing is synthetically to forge a true method – forwards and backwards. The method of the divine genius.

Christianity must become alive and effective.

For me, the unifying impulse is none other than the solemn call to a new communion, the powerful wing-strokes of the Angelic herald as he flies past.

The mortal quavers in his foundations, but the immortal begins to shine more brightly and comes to learn who he is.

The Holy Spirit is more than the Bible. He shall be our teacher of Christianity, and not dead, earthly, ambiguous letters.

The world is a universal metaphor of the spirit, a symbolic picture of the same.

All that we experience is a sharing of information. And so, the world is truly a sharing of information – a revelation of the spirit.

The world is a macro-anthropos. There is a world-spirit, just as there is a world soul.  The soul shall become the spirit of the bodily world.  The world is not yet ready – so little like the world-spirit – from one God shall spring an all-God. From one word – a universe. With the cultivation of the spirit goes the cultivation of the world-spirit – and hence religion.

What is man? A perfect metaphor of the spirit.

For many there is a lack of spirit in the present – hence so much the more will they have spirit in the future.

The world of spirits is indeed already open to us, it is always discernible. If we suddenly became sufficiently flexible, we would see ourselves in its midst.

Man has been able at every moment to be a supersensible being. Otherwise he would not be a citizen of the world but an animal.

The resolve to philosophize is a summons to the true ego that it shall awaken to self-awareness and be a spirit.

In former times, everything was a manifestation of spirits.

We are on a mission. We have been called to cultivate the Earth. If a spirit were to appear to us, we would at once gain mastery over our own spirituality – we would be inspired at once by ourselves and the spirit – without inspiration there is no spirit manifestation.

Mankind is the collective organ of the Gods.

We must seek to become magicians so that we may become truly moral. The more moral, the more in harmony with God – the more divine, the more united with God.

Every man who now lives by God and through God shall himself become God. God wants Gods!

A child is love made visible. We ourselves are a visible seed of the love between Nature and spirit of art. Love is the foundation for the possibility of magic. Love works in a magical way.

The first chapter of physics belongs to the spirit world. Nature cannot be explained in a static way, but only as something that is proceeding onwards, to morality. God has nothing to do with Nature – He is the goal of Nature, that with which it shall one day be in harmony. Nature is to become moral. It shall be explained through morality.

God is love. Love is the highest reality – the ground of everything.

Mankind is the higher meaning of our planet, the nerve that connects this limb with the higher world, the eye which it raises to the heavens.

Christendom will again be alive and effective and from the human heart – man’s holy organ – its impulses will be able to permeate the whole of human social life.  The New Jerusalem will be the capital of the world.

As earthly man we strive towards spiritual development – towards the spirit as a whole. As extraterrestrial, spiritual beings, towards earthly development – towards the body as a whole. With us the thousand-year kingdom lasts perpetually. The best of us, those who have attained to the spirit-world during their lifetime, only appear to die. Whoever does not attain perfection here attains it, perhaps, in yonder realm, or else must begin a repeated earthly life-cycle. In yonder realms ought there not also be a death whose result in earthly birth?

The synthesis of soul and body is called a person – the person is related to the spirit in the same way as the body is to the soul. It, too, falls apart and then arises again in an ennobled form.

When spirit dies, it becomes a man. When a man dies, he becomes a spirit. Free death of the spirit, free death of man.

We have mysteriously

Flowed forth ever on this tide

Into life’s expanse of ocean,

Deeply into God.

Forth from His heart’s outward streaming

We return to our own circle,

And the spirit of highest striving

Dives into our inmost vortex.

Love is the ultimate purpose of world history – the sole center of the universe.

To be the apotheosis of the future, of this truly better world, is the essential injunction of Christianity.  With it there ends the religion of antiquity, the spirituality of the ancient world, the restoration of olden times as the second great wing.  Both maintain the universe, as the body of the Angel, in an eternal state of suspension, in an eternal enjoyment of space and time.

All races have, in a childlike way, revered the tender, thousandfold flame as the highest thing in the world.

Ordinary life is a priestly act of service, almost of a vestal nature. We have here to do with nothing other than the receiving of a holy and mysterious flame. It depends on us, how we tend and await it. Should the manner in which we tend it be, perhaps, the yardstick for our faithfulness, love and solicitude towards the highest things, for the character of our being?

In the fire which Paul beheld on the road to Damascus we should see the miraculous, spiritualized fire. In this fire, all that was great and noble in the past will be born in the future.

Just have patience, it will, it must come, this holy time of eternal peace, when the New Jerusalem will be the capital of the world.

Faith in the boundless capacity of all earthly things to be the bread and wine of eternal life.

The first man is the first beholder of the spirit. Everything appears to him as spirit.  What are children if they are not first men? The fresh look of a child is more exuberant than the notions of the most confirmed visionary.

The old world was drawing to an end. The pleasure-garden of the youthful race was fading; the human beings, growing up children no longer, were striving upwards in a space unconfined and desolate. The Gods had disappeared with their retinue.  Nature was left lonely and lifeless. With an iron chain it bound barren number and strict measure. Life’s measureless bloom fell apart in dark words as though in the dust of air.

I feel within me

Activity’s end

Heavenly freedom,

Blessed return.

Conscience is a man’s post personal nature in its most radiant form, the heavenly human archetype.

Science is only one half, faith is the other.

The wondrous power of faith – all faith is wonderful and wonder-working. God is in the moment when I have faith in Him. Faith represents the influences and sensations of another world perceived in this one – it is the perception of a transmundane act. True faith relates only to the things of another world. To have faith is to have awareness of waking and working and sensing in another world.

Religion is the great Orient in us, which seldom becomes dull. Without it I would be unhappy. Thus, does everything unite in One great, peaceful thought, in One still, eternal faith.

All these are no more than indications, disjointed and unrefined, but they reveal to the historical eye a universal individuality, a new history, a new humanity, the sweetest embrace of a young, astonished Church and a loving God, and the ardent receiving of a new Messiah amongst its thousand members all at the same time.

Metaphysics and astronomy are one science. The Sun is to astronomy what God is to metaphysics. Freedom and immortality will come to be the foundations of spiritual physics in the same way that the Sun, light and warmth are the foundations of earthly physics.

Every illness is a musical problem – healing a musical solution. The shorter and more complete the solution, so much the greater is the musical talent of the doctor.

The man of culture lives wholly for the future. His life is a struggle; his support and his purpose, science and art. The more one learns to live no longer in moments but in years and so forth, the more noble one becomes. Hasty agitation and petty spiritual endeavors vanish in the wake of great, peaceful, simple and all-encompassing activity, and a wonderful patience finds its place. Religion and morality, these foundations of our existence, become ever more triumphant.

All historical knowledge strives to become mathematical. The mathematical power is the ordering power. All mathematical knowledge strives, in turn, to become philosophical – animated or rationalized – then poetic – at length moral – and finally religious.

Would that men could only know,

Our comrades of the future,

That in every joy of theirs

We actively are with them.

Charcoal and diamond are of one substance and yet how different – it is surely the same, is it not, with man and woman. We are alumina – and women are world-eyes and sapphires which consist of this same alumina.

But I know that there is a power in man which, with careful tending, can develop into energy of a singular kind.

I am wholly content – the power that assumes superiority over death is one that I have newly won – my being has acquired unity and form – a future existence is springing up within me.

Praise to the world Queen, the high herald of sacred worlds, the fostering nurse of blessed love; she sends you to me, tender beloved, lovely Sun of the night. Now I wake, for I am yours and mine; you have proclaimed to me the night as life and made me human. Consume my body with spirit-fire, that I may ethereally co-mingle with you more intimately and that the bridal night may then last forever.

The place around me gently rose aloft; and over the region hovered my released, new-born spirit. The hill became a cloud of dust, and through the cloud I saw the transfigured features of my beloved. In her eyes reposed eternity. I grasped her hands, and my tears became like a glittering, unbreakable chain. Millennia disappeared into the distance, like storms. Upon her neck, I wept ecstatic tears unto the new life. It was my first dream in you. It passed, but its reflection remained, an everlasting, immutable faith in the heaven of the night and in its Sun, the beloved.

Glory of melodies, like Angels round the Madonna? I am you.

In the bosom of the heavenly bride, Sophia, the birth of the Christ Spirit comes to pass within the human soul.

When our intelligence and our world are in harmony – then are we like God.

Knowledge – the contemplation and experimentation of God is the true source of life.

Being a complete ego is an art – one can do, and is, what one wills. One is more or less an ego according to how one wills.

The law of the concept and the law of the object must be one – separated only in reflection – conceiving and beholding are one when they are related to the ego, divided when one reflects upon both without relating them to the ego.

Freedom grows with the training and skill of the thinker. Freedom and love are one.

Morality, rightly understood, is the real-life element in man. Our pure moral will is the will of God. In that we carry out his will, we enliven and expand our own existence, and it is as though it had been our own will alone that we thus acted out of our inner nature.

To become human is an art.

All knowledge should bring about morality – the moral impulse, the impulse towards freedom, should give rise to knowledge. To be free is the propensity of the ego – the capacity of being free is the productive imagination – harmony is the condition of its activity – of hovering between opposing forces. To be at one with yourself is, therefore, the basic condition of the highest purpose – of being, or being free. All being, being in general, is none other than being-in-freedom – hovering between extremes which need to be untied and need to be separated. From this focus of hovering, all reality streams forth – everything is contained within it – object and subject arise through it, not it through them. Egohood or productive imagination, hovering, determines, produces the extremes, that between which the hovering is happening. This is an illusion, but only in the realm of common understanding. In other respects, it is something that is absolutely real, for hovering – its cause, is the source, the mother of all reality, reality itself. Regard the nature of this hovering.

In every moment when we act in freedom there is such a triumph of the infinite ego over the finite, for this moment the not-I is utterly vanquished – though not for material existence.

The active use of organs is nothing other than magical, miraculous thinking or voluntary use of the physical world – for will is nothing other than a magical, vigorous capacity of thinking.

The most wonderful, the eternal phenomenon is one’s own existence. The greatest mystery is man himself. The solution of this infinite task is, indeed, world history.

All that is perfect speaks not of itself alone – it expresses a whole world of kindred things. Thus, around every kind of perfection there hovers the veil of the eternal Virgin – which the gentlest touch dissolves in a magical fragrance that becomes the cloud-chariot of the seer. It is not antiquity alone that we see – it is the sky, the telescope – and the fixed stars all at once – and, in addition, a true revelation of a higher world.

Christianity will thereby be raised to the rank of the foundation, the projective power, of a new world-building and a new humanity – a true emblem of chastity – a living moral space.

The veil is for the Virgin what the Spirit is for the body. Her most essential organ whose folds are the letters of her sweet proclamation; the endless play of folds in a musical code, for language is too wooden and too brash: her lips open only I order to sing. To me, the veil of the Virgin is none other than the solemn call to a new majestic gathering, the mighty wing of a passing Angelic herald. These are the first labor pains; all should make ready for the birth!

The pure ego we see always outside – the pure ego is the object. It is in us and we see it outside in one and the same moment.

The accidental or single form of our ego ceases to be only for this single form – death sets and end only to egotism. The single form is retained for the whole only in as far as it has become a general form. We speak of “I” as of one when they are two that are completely different from each other – and yet absolute correlates.

The highest task of one’s inner development is to make oneself master of one’s transcendental self, and one’s ego the equal of its ego.

We are not “I”, but we can and shall become “I.” We are the embryos of true ego-development. We are to transform everything into a “you”, into a second ego, for only in this way will we rise to the great ego which is one and at one level with everything.

Withdrawing into ourselves for us means to abstract ourselves from the outer world. For spirits, earthly life signifies inner contemplation, entering into oneself, an immanence of activity. Thus, earthly life issues from a primal reflective deed, a primal entering or gathering into oneself which is as free as our reflective deeds.

What corresponds to human existence in yonder regions? The daemon, or genius, to whom the body is what the soul is to us.

In Christianity, one has eternities to study. Everything becomes ever higher, more manifold and more magnificent.

The world become to the living ever more infinite – thus there can never be an end to the binding of the manifold, there can never be a condition of inactivity for the thinking ego. Golden ages may come – but they do not bring an end of things – the goal of man is not the golden age.He shall exist eternally and remain a well-ordered individual – this is the tendency of his nature.

I long to serve you word and deed,

You know so well my inmost need.

O sweet Mother, now relent,

Through sign of cheer show your intent.

My being rests in you alone,

Let for one moment my heart be your throne.

The question clearly works as the stimulation and driving force of thinking, it allows the writer to enter into an inner conversation with himself which determines the path of investigation.

All science becomes poetry – after it has become philosophy.

The poet is simply the highest degree of the thinker. Poet and priest were originally one – only later times have separated them.  Should not the future bring about the return of the way things were before?

Paradise has, so to speak, been dispersed over the whole Earth and has therefore become so unrecognizable – its dispersed features shall be united – its skeleton shall be filled out.  Regeneration of Paradise?

The true “I” does indeed lie within the essential nature of thinking.  This can be observed once thinking is observed without prejudice.  The “I” is to be found within thinking. 


Below are this author’s favorite selections from Novalis’ Fragments, which are, for him, a most enigmatic form and delivery of literature. In fact, these brilliant insights were an exercise that Novalis conducted by writing down at least one profound insightful thought a day that had been carefully mulled over throughout the pauses between work. The Fragments came up out of his work in the world and the insights that arose from interacting with the world. These are no ruminations of a philosopher at a university; more so the notes of an initiate working his way through the soul and spirit found in everyday concerns.

The aphorism known as Fragments were written at different times in Novalis’ life as axiomatic, scientific insight that is meant to turn the mind of the natural scientist towards the ultimate sources of nature, God, or God in man. These sayings have influenced thinkers over the years to consider the connectedness of science, art, and religion. Awe, reverence, and wonder are found throughout these sayings connecting the reader with deeper sources of directly experienced knowledge that may or may not be able to be seen or heard. Novalis is a scientist of the supersensible wherein the invisible becomes tangible and personable. Nature is a being to come to know, not a machine to dissect.

These fragments are also a philosophy that builds on Kant and Fichte directly. Novalis was a serious student of Fichte and some say he advanced Fichte into a new philosophy called Magical Idealism. There are over 10,000 books and doctoral papers that have been sparked by the inventive thinking of Novalis. His influence seemingly has no end.  Though, in the English-speaking world Novalis is still not known well enough. The great thinkers all have studied what they could but Novalis is still a well-kept secret in the West. When he is considered, he often is categorized with Goethe as a true renaissance man who developed all aspects of his broad-ranging personality.

Novalis saw this ‘blossom dust’ as a hope of cross-pollinating the thinking of scientists, priests, and poets to stem off the over-focused, tunnel-vision of specialization. To Novalis, the scientist is a poetic priest of the living being of nature, serving the needs of a humanity that is intrinsically united with all that nature was, is, or will be. This universalism was a fresh impulse in an era of materialism and empirical science limited by the five senses and earth-bound thinking. Novalis came to open the doors to a new way of looking and communicating with the living forces of nature.

Usually the fragments are arranged by topics, but the author has decided to give no specific arrangement to the selections. Some selections come from letters and prose writings that are not technically “fragments.”  The intent of this section is to familiarize the reader with the scope and breadth of Novalis’ thinking as an evolution of spiritual development. The combined effect of these fragments is a sanguine journey through the encyclopedic mind of a great philosopher, scientist, and spiritual poet. 

Fragments by Novalis

The key to life lies in intellectual contemplation.

We are on a mission. Our vocation is the education of the earth.

Only an artist can divine the meaning of life.

Self equals non-self – the highest principle of all learning and art.

At any event, the world is the result of a mutual effect between myself and the divine being.  Everything that exists and comes into being – does so out of contact between spirits.

Faith is the boundless capacity of all earthly things to be the bread and wine of eternal life.

The greatest good endures in the imagination.

Just have patience, it will, it must come, this holy time of eternal peace, when the New Jerusalem will be the capital of the world.

All novels where germinal love is presented are fairy-tales – magical events.

In the fire which Paul beheld on the road to Damascus we should see the miraculous, spiritualized fire. In this fire, all that was great and noble in the past will be born in the future.

Mythology holds the history of the archetypal world, which contains past, present and future.

Ordinary life is a priestly act of service, almost of a vestal nature. We have here to do with nothing other than the receiving of a holy and mysterious flame . . . It depends on us, how we tend and await it. Should the manner in which we tend it be, perhaps, the yardstick for our faithfulness, love and solicitude towards the highest things, for the character of our being?

Poetry dissolves the being of others in its own.

Go to that tree of wonder,

Give space to silent longing;

From it goes forth a fire

Th’oppressive dream consuming.

Where children are, there is a golden age.

One person succeeded – he lifted the veil of the goddess at Sais – But what did he see? He saw – wonder of wonders – himself.

The Christians of the future will understand not only the Christ who has passed through death, but also the triumphant Christ of the Apocalypse, resurrected in the spiritual fire, whose coming has already been predicted. The Easter Festival can always be for us a symbol of the Risen One, a link reaching over from Christ on the Cross to the Christ triumphant, risen and glorified, who raises all men with Himself to the right hand of the Father.

Everything must become food. The art of drawing life out of everything. To vivify everything is the goal of life. Pleasure is life. The absence of pleasure is a way to pleasure, as death is a way to life.

To be the apotheosis of the future, of this truly better world, is the essential injunction of Christianity. With it there ends the religion of antiquity, the spirituality of the ancient world, the restoration of olden times as the second great wing. Both maintain the universe, as the body of the Angel, in an eternal state of suspension, in an eternal enjoyment of space and time.

Genius in general is poetic. Where genius has been active it has been poetically active.  The truly moral person is a poet.

Love is the ultimate purpose of world history – the sole center of the universe.

The whole of nature might well be feminine, virgin and mother at the same time.

In the truest sense doing philosophy is – a caress. It bears witness to the deepest love of reflection, to absolute delight in wisdom.

The synthesis of soul and body is called a person – the person is related to the spirit in the same way as the body is to the soul. It, too, falls apart and then arises again in an ennobled form.

Every word is a word to conjure with. Whichever spirit calls – another such appears.

As earthly man, we strive towards spiritual development – towards the spirit as a whole.  As extraterrestrial, spiritual beings, towards earthly development – towards the body as a whole. With us the thousand-year kingdom lasts perpetually. The best of us, those who have attained to the spirit-world during their lifetime, only appear to die. Whoever does not attain perfection here attains it, perhaps, in yonder realm, or else must begin a repeated earthly life-cycle. In yonder realm ought there not also be a death whose result is earthly birth?

The artist turns himself into everything he sees and wants to be.

God is love.  Love is the highest reality – the ground of everything.

Poetry is the basis of society as virtue is the basis of the state. Religion is a mixture of poetry and virtue – can you guess, then – what it is the basis of?

The first chapter of physics belongs to the spirit world. Nature cannot be explained in a static way, but only as something that is proceeding onwards, to morality.  – God has nothing to do with Nature – He is the goal of Nature, that with which it shall one day be in harmony. Nature is to become moral . . .  it shall be explained through morality.

What is nature? An encyclopedic systematic index of the plan of our spirit. Why should we be content with the mere catalogue of our treasures – let us examine them for ourselves – and work with them and use them in diverse ways.

A child is love made visible. We ourselves are a visible seed of the love between Nature and the spirit of art. Love is the foundation for the possibility of magic. Love works in a magical way.

We shall understand the world when we understand ourselves, because we and it are integral halves. We are God’s children, divine seeds. One day we shall be what our Father is.

We must seek to become magicians so that we may become truly moral.The more moral, the more in harmony with God – the more divine, the more united with God.

In the ancient world, religion already was, to a certain extent, what it will become for us – practical poetry.

We are on a mission – to the perfecting of Earth are we called.  Man’s world is the community instrument of the gods, man is the higher meaning of our planets; he is the nerve which connects this member with the upper world; the eye it raises towards Heaven.

Mankind is the collective organ of the Gods.

Worlds are not built enough on the profound and urgent sense: But a living heart satisfies the striving spirit.

If a spirit were to appear to us, we would at once gain mastery over our own spirituality – we would be inspired at once by ourselves and the spirit – without inspiration there is no spirit manifestation.

The true philosophical act is the slaying of the self; this is the real beginning of all philosophy.

In former times, everything was a manifestation of spirits.

Marriage is the greatest of all mysteries. There are unions of all kinds, but true marriage is eternal.

The resolve to philosophize is a summons to the true ego that it shall awaken to self-awareness and be a spirit.

The most wonderful and eternal phenomenon is oneself. Man is the greatest of mysteries. The history of the world is the answer to this problem. Philosophy, science, and literature all seek to solve the riddle. Its attraction will never cease as long as men exist.

Man has been able at every moment to be a supersensible being. Otherwise he would not be a citizen of the world but an animal.

Woman is the symbol of beauty and goodness; man, of truth and law.

What is man? A perfect metaphor of the spirit.

We are united by closer bonds with the unseen, that with the seen.

The world is macro-anthropos. There is a world-spirit, just as there is a world-soul. The soul shall become the spirit of the bodily world. The world is not yet ready – so little like the world-spirit – from one God shall spring an all-God – from one world – a universe.  With the cultivation of the spirit goes the cultivation of the world-spirit – and hence religion.

The individual soul must be brought into harmony with the soul of the universe.

All that we experience is a sharing of information. And so, the world is truly a sharing of information – a revelation of the spirit.

With the ancients, religion certainly was what it ought to be with us – poetry.

There is no higher enjoyment than in learning; and the feeling of power is the source of all pleasure.

The power of perception is in itself the greatest of charms.

The Holy Spirit is more than the Bible. He shall be our teacher of Christianity, and not dead, earthly, ambiguous letters.

Love is the goal of the world’s history – the Amen of the universe.

Only the backward-looking eye brings one forwards, for the forward-looking eye leads one backwards.

Religion alone really unites men.

The mortal quavers in his foundations, but the immortal begins to shine more brightly and comes to learn who he is.

He who seeks God will find Him everywhere.

For me, the unifying impulse is none other than the solemn call to a new communion, the powerful wing-strokes of the Angelic herald as he flies past.

Every reflecting man will seek out truth, and find it whatever he does, wherever he goes.

Science is only one half; faith is the completion.

The main thing is synthetically to forge a true method – forwards and backwards. The method of the divine genius.

It is strange how our sacred history resembles a fairy tale. It commences with an evil spell, which is overcome by a marvelous expiation, and the spell is broken.

The highest task of culture is self-mastery of the inner life, so that it may indeed be the true I, ego. Without complete self-knowledge, one can never understand others.

Logic is the grammar of the highest speech – thought.

All inwardly concentrated thought is, at the same time, an ascension, a view of the true outward.

It is only because man remembers his origin that he can work in the realm of thought.  Thought is the only spiritual influence in the world. Therefore, it is a duty to think of the dead. It is the only way in which one can remain in communion with them.  Is not God alone realized by faith?

How strange it is that the inner life of men is so little thought of, and treated in so spiritless a way. So-called psychology is a mere mask which has usurped the place in which godlike images should be enshrined.

Genuine mathematics are the true element of the magician.

Mathematics are the life of the gods.

When I believe that Sophia is about me and may appear, and while I act in keeping with this faith, she is about me indeed and at last surely does appear to me – in precisely the place where I thought I was myself, within me.

I have a beloved, Sophia – Philo-Sophia is her name.

The great mystery is open to all and remains eternally unfathomable. The new world is born of grief, and ash is dissolved in tears as a draught of eternal life. In everyone there dwells the heavenly mother, bearing each child in eternity. Do you not feel the sweetness of birth in the throbbing of your breast?

Goethe will and must be outdistanced, but only as the ancients can be outdistanced, in content and power, in diversity and depth, not really as an artist, or at least but little.  For the truth and discipline within him are perhaps even more exemplary than they seem.

Heaven is the soul of the star system; the stars form its body.

The perfectly self-possessed man is called a “seer.” As earthly beings, we strive toward spiritual completion, toward spirit itself. As other-worldly spiritual beings, we strive toward earthly completion, toward body itself.

Medicine must change radically to become the art and nature of living.

Absolute love, independent of the heart, founded on faith, is religion.

Reason with imagination is religion; reason with understanding is science.

Space is the downbeat of time – the necessary result of time.

Love is the reason for the possibility of magic. Love works magic.

The duration of sleep is eternal. Holy sleep – do not bless too seldom him who is consecrated to night in this earthly work of the day.

Inward leads the mysterious way. Within us, or nowhere, lies eternity with its worlds, the past and the future. The outside world is a world of shadows – it casts the shadows into the realm of light.

Perfection speaks not merely on its own. It expresses a whole world related to itself.  That is why perfection of every kind is shrouded by the veil of the Eternal Virgin which the slightest touch dissolves into magic vapor becoming the seer’s cloud chariot. She is heaven – the telescope and at once the fixed star – and therefore the manifestation of a higher world… With every feature of perfection a work leaps further away from its master, into more than space and distance. With the final stroke, the master sees his ostensible creation separated from himself by a chasm of thought, the span of which he himself scarcely comprehends, and across which only imagination, like the shadow of the giant named intelligence, can leap. At the very moment when it is to enter into full being, it becomes more than he, its creator, while he in turn becomes the organ and chattel of a higher power. The artist belongs to the work and not the work to the artist.

The true fairytale must be at once a prophetic presentation, and idealized presentation, an absolutely necessary presentation. The true storyteller is a seer into the future.

The Bible begins gloriously with Paradise, the symbol of youth, and ends with the eternal kingdom, the holy city . . .  the history of every man ought to be a Bible . . . a Bible is the highest mission of creative writing.

Sleep is digestion of the soul. The body digests the soul. Wakefulness is the state during which the body relishes the soul.  In sleep, the bonds of the system are lose, in waking they are taut.

The world of the spirit has indeed opened up to us even now. It is always manifest.  Were we suddenly to become as resilient as we should be, we would recognize that we live in the midst of that world.

This divine spark of an understanding nature dwelt even in Spinoza. Plotinus, perhaps moved by Plato, was the first to enter this sanctuary in the true spirit, and no one since has penetrated it so deeply. Goethe is to become the liturgist of this physical science – he understands the temple service perfectly.

Thought is but a dream of sensation, a feeling that has died, a life that has grown pale, grey, and feeble.

The poets alone have sensed what the nature of man could be.

The life of the universe is an everlasting, thousand-voiced discourse.

If, by yon inscription, none who is mortal can lift the veil, then must we seek to become immortal. Whoever refuses to lift it is no true novice of Sais.

Ordinary life is a priestly service, almost like that of the vestals. We are busied with nothing but the maintenance of a sacred and mysterious flame.

The world must become romanticized. In this way one rediscovers its original meaning.  Romanticizing is nothing but a qualitative raising to a higher power. In this operation, the lower self becomes identified with a higher self. Just as we ourselves are such a qualitative exponential series. This operation is still wholly unknown.

We dream of journeys through the cosmos: isn’t the cosmos then in ourselves? The depths of our spirit we know not.  –Toward the Interior goes the arcane way. In us, or nowhere, is the Eternal with its worlds, the past and future.

The human world is the commonplace organ of God. Poetry conjoins us to God, as it conjoins us to one another.

The spirit leads to proof of an eternal self.

We are waking up when we dream that we are dreaming.

Only an artist can divine the sense of life.

The repose of the spirit realm is the flowering world. Humanity still slumbers in India, and its holy dream is a Garden, in which oceans of milk and sugar flow.

Art is the complement of nature.

In the essential sense, philosophizing is – a caress – a testimony to the inner love of reflection, the absolute delight of wisdom.

All our inclinations would seem to be nothing other than applied religion. The heart would appear to be the religious organ. Perhaps the higher testimony of the productive heart is none other than heaven itself.

The world is, in any case, the result of a reciprocation between me and the Godhead. All that is – and arises – arises from the touch of the spirit.

It is with love as with philosophy – she is and should be wholly each and everything.  Love is also the I – the idea of each aspiration.

Woman is the symbol of good and beauty; man is the symbol of truth and right.

The blossom is the symbol of our spirit’s secrets.

Each voluntarily or randomly chosen individual can become a world-organ for us. A glance, a star, a region, an ancient tree can in our interior create epochs. This is the great reality of fetishism, of idolatry.

Words are acoustic configuration of thought.

The method is rhythmic. If one has the world’s rhythm down, then one has the world down. Each individual has a particular rhythm. The rhythmic sense is genius.

Poetry is like an art of the emotions.

In fairy-tales is my heartfelt spiritual vision best expressed.

A fairy-tale is truly like a dream-image – apart from its conclusion. An ensemble of wonderful things and occurrences – a musical fantasy – the harmonious effect of an Aeolian harp – nature itself.

The fairy-tale is, as it were, the canon of poetry – everything poetic must be fairy-like.

We are all bound to be transmuted into a new You – into a second I – only thus can we elevate ourselves into a greater I – the One and the All are conjunct.

God wants Gods.

The heart is the key to the world and to life. One lives in this helpless condition in order to love and to meet other obligations. Through incompleteness one becomes susceptible to other influences, and to assimilate those strange influences is the aim.

All enchantment is an artistic madness. All passion is an enchantment. An alluring maiden is an actual sorceress, inasmuch as one believes in her. The everyday life is a priestly service – almost a vestal one. We are engaged with nothing so much as with the preservation of the holy and mysterious flame – a duplicate, as it appears.

Only woman and love dissolve the intellect.

The kingdom of eternity is founded,

By love and peace all strife has been impounded,

The dreams of pain are gone, to plague us never,

Sophia is priestess of all hearts forever.

The poem of the understanding is philosophy. It is the greatest impetus that the understanding gives itself – union of the understanding and the imagination. Without philosophy, a person remains divided in his most essential powers. He is two people – one who has understanding – and one who is a poet. Without philosophy, a poet is incomplete. Without philosophy, a thinker – or a judge –is incomplete.

Poetry elevates each single thing through a particular combination with the rest of the whole – and if it is philosophy that first prepares the world through its legislation for the active influence of ideas, then poetry is as it were the key to philosophy, its purpose and meaning; for poetry shapes the beautiful society – the world family – the beautiful household of the universe.

Just as philosophy strengthens the powers of the individual with the powers of humanity and the universe through system and the state, making the whole the instrument of the individual and the individual the instrument of the whole – in the same way poetry functions in respect of life. The individual lives in the whole and the whole in the individual. Through poetry there arises the highest sympathy and common activity, the most intimate communion of the finite and the infinite.

Nothing is more poetic than memory and premonition, or the conception of the future.  The everyday present joins both of these together through limitation. Contiguity comes into being through atrophy – crystallization. But there is a spiritual present – which fuses them together through dissolving them – and this mixture is the element, the atmosphere of the poet. What is not spirit is matter.

The conceptions of times past draw us toward dying – toward disintegration. The conceptions of the future – drive us toward living forms – to incorporation, the action of assimilation. Hence all memory is melancholy – all premonition joyful. The former moderates excessive liveliness – the latter is uplifting for life that is too weak.

The beautiful secret of the virgin, precisely what makes her so inexpressibly attractive, is the premonition of motherhood – the sensing of a future world that slumbers within her and is to be developed from her. She is the most accurate image of the future.

The act of transcending oneself is the highest in every respect – the point of origin – the genesis of life.  Thus, the flame is nothing but such an act. Thus, all philosophy begins where philosophizing philosophizes itself – that is, where it at once consumes (determines, compels) and renews again (does to determine, releases). The history of this process is philosophy. Thus, all living morality begins at the point at which out of virtue I act against virtue – then the life of virtue begins, through which perhaps its capacity increases infinitely, without ever losing its boundary – that is, the condition of the possibility of its life.

Formerly all things were spirit appearances. Now we can see nothing but dead repetition, which we do not understand. The meaning of the hieroglyph is missing. We are still living on the fruit of better times.

The world must be made Romantic. In that way one can find the original meaning again.  To make Romantic is nothing but a qualitative raising to a higher power. In this operation, the lower self will become one with a better self. Just as we ourselves are such a qualitative exponential series. This operation is as yet quite unknown. By endowing the commonplace with a higher meaning, the ordinary with mysterious respect, the known with the dignity of the unknown, the finite with the appearance of the infinite, I am making it Romantic. The operation for the higher, unknown, mystical, infinite is the converse – this undergoes a logarithmic change through this connection – it takes on an ordinary form of expression. Romantic philosophy.

Are they (women) not similar to the infinite in that they cannot be squared, but can be found only through approaching them? And similar to the highest in that they are absolutely close to us and yet always sought – that they are absolutely understandable and yet not understood, that they are absolutely indispensable and yet are mostly dispensed with, and similar to higher beings in that they appear so childlike, so ordinary, so idle, and so playful? Would we also love them if this were not the case?  With women love came into being, and with love women – and therefore one cannot understand the one without the other.

It is only because of the weakness of our organs and of our contact with ourselves that we do not discover ourselves to be in a fairy world. All fairy tales are only dreams of that familiar world of home which is everywhere and nowhere. The higher powers in us, which one day will carry out our will like genies, are now muses that refresh us with sweet memories along this arduous path.

Doing philosophy is a conversation with oneself of the above kind – an actual revelation of the self–arousal of the real self through the ideal self.  Doing philosophy is the foundation of all other revelations. The decision to do philosophy is a challenge to the real self to reflect, to awaken and to be spirit. Without philosophy there is no true morality, and without morality no philosophy.

When one begins to reflect on philosophy – then philosophy seems to us to be everything, like God, and love.  It is a mystical, highly potent, penetrating idea – which ceaselessly drives us inwards in all directions. The decision to do philosophy – to seek philosophy is the act of self-liberation – the thrust toward ourselves.

Comets are truly eccentric beings – capable of the greatest illumination and the greatest darkening – inhabited by powerful good and evil spirits – filled with organic bodies that can extend themselves as gas – and condense themselves as gold.

The art of becoming omnipotent – the art of realizing our will totally. We must attain power over the body as we do over the mind. The body is the tool to shape and modify the world – we must therefore seek to cultivate our bodies to become an organ capable of anything. Modification of our tool is modification of the world.

The first human being is the first spirit-seer. Everything appears to him as spirit. What are children other than first human beings? The fresh gaze of the child is more brimming with emotion than the intuition of the most determined seer.

About our self – as the flame of the body within the soul – similarity of the soul to oxygen. All synthesis is a flame or a spark, or some analogue of these.

The Conscience appears in every perfection, in every fashioned truth. Every inclination and ability transformed by reflection into a universal type becomes a phenomenon, phase of Conscience. All formation tends to that which can only be called Freedom; though by that is not meant an idea, but the creative realm of all being. Such freedom is mastery . . . To speak accurately, this all-embracing freedom . . . is the essence, the impulse of Conscience.  In it is revealed the sacred individuality, the immediate creation of Personality, and every action of the master is at once the announcement of the lofty, simple, uncomplicated world – God’s word . . . Conscience is the innate mediator of every man.  It takes the place of God upon earth, and is therefore to many the highest and the final judge. But how far was former knowledge, called ethics, from the pure shape of this lofty, comprehensive, personal thought. Conscience is the individual essence of the human race fully glorified, the divine archetype of Man.

Nature cannot be declared moral by standing still but only by progressing . . . we perceive God but by the moral sense. The moral sense is the sense of existence . . .  the sense of the highest – the sense of harmony.

The immortal sense of the invisible can never be destroyed, though ill winds may dim and paralyze it, crowd it out with other senses. It is the sacred sense that must again arise.

The heart is the central organ to perceive our unique nature, to stir the sacred sense of intuition . . . to animate the life of the heart.

Religion is the great Orient in us, which seldom becomes dull. Without it I would be unhappy. Thus, does everything unite in One great, peaceful thought, in One still, eternal faith.

Every illness is a musical problem – healing a musical solution.

All historical knowledge strives to become mathematical. The mathematical power is the ordering power. All mathematical knowledge strives, in turn, to become philosophical – animated or rationalized – then poetic – at length moral – and finally religious.

In the bosom of the heavenly bride, Sophia, the birth of the Christ Spirit comes to pass within the human soul.

One finds what one loves everywhere, and sees similarities everywhere. The greater the love the more extensive and manifold is this similar world. My beloved is the abbreviation of the universe, the universe is the extension of my beloved. To the lover of learning, all its branches offer garlands and remembrances for his beloved.

Space is the external condition, time the inner condition, of sense perception, or of feeling.

If the philosopher merely orders and arranges everything, the poet dissolves all bonds.  His words are not commonplace signs – they are tones – magic words that set lovely groups into motion around themselves.  Just as the saints’ clothes have retained a miraculous power, so has many a word become sacred and itself a poem through some elevated memory. Language is never too poor for the poet, but always too commonplace. He must often employ words that have become repetitious and played-out from use. His world is simple, as is his instrument – but just as inexhaustible in melodies.

My Faith and Love rests upon representative faith. Thus, my assertion – eternal peace is already here – God is among us – America is here or nowhere – the Golden age has arrived – we are magicians – we are moral.

The first step is a glance inward – an isolating inspection of our self – whoever remains here only half succeeds. The second step must be an effective glance outward – an autonomous, sustained observation of the outer world.

Poesy is the authentically, absolutely real. This is the kernel of my philosophy. The more poetic, the more true.

An illusion is as essential to truth, as the body is to the soul – error is the necessary instrument of truth – out of error I make truth – complete use of error – complete ownership of truth.

The sense for poesy has much in common with the sense for mysticism. It is the sense for the unique, personal, unknown, secret, too revealing, the necessarily accidental. It presents the unpresentable. It sees the invisible, feels the unfeelable.

Within the glowing blood of stone,

A sign, a riddle, is deeply honed.

With likeness to a heart it’s blessed,

Wherein the unknown’s image rests.

In this stone, a thousand sparks can glow,

In this heart, a wave of light can flow,

The light of luster was engraved in stone,

For this – is the heart of hearts a home?

In every work of art, chaos must shimmer through the regular veil of order.

Poesy, too, must be directly and genuinely reasonable – artistic – contrived – Fantastic!

The poet has to do only with concepts. He borrows descriptions, etc. only as concept-signs.

It is utterly comprehensible why everything becomes, in the end, poesy. – Is not the world, in the end, feeling?

All poesy interrupts the usual situation – common life, almost, like sleep, in order to renew us – and thus always to keep our feeling of life intense.

The art of estranging in a pleasing way, of making an object strange and yet familiar and attractive – that is romantic poetics.

Poetry is altogether a matter of the soul, and as those other artists delight the outer senses with pleasurable sensations, so the poet fills the inner sanctuary of the spirit with new, wonderful, and pleasing thoughts. He knows how to stir those secret powers in us at will, and by means of words he enables us to perceive a glorious unknown world.  Within us as out of deep caverns there rise ancient and future times, countless people, marvelous regions, and the strangest occurrences, snatching us away from the familiar present. One hears alien words and yet knows what they are intended to mean. The sayings of poets exert a magical power; they make even common words take on enticing sounds and intoxicate the spell-bound listener.

The poets are supposed to have been at once prophets and priests, lawgivers and doctors, and by their magical arts drew from the sky even the higher beings who instructed them in the secrets of the future and revealed to them the symmetry and natural disposition of all things and the inner virtues and healing powers of numbers, plants, and all creatures.

The very blurring of the contours of content belongs to the nature of Romantic poetry.  The dynamics, for which fixed relations no longer are valid, are the “beautiful.” Chance production calls forth its own, new structure of work.

Ordinary life is full of similar chance occurrences. They constitute a game that, like all play, amounts to surprise and deception.

Do not God and nature play as well?

True communication takes place only among those who are like-minded, like-thinking.

Non-rule is the rule of fantasy – arbitrary rule – chance-rule – miracle-rule.

Raising is the most excellent means I know for escaping at once from awkward collisions. Thus, the general raising of all mankind to the status of mobility – the raising of all human beings to beings of genius – the raising of all phenomena to miracles – of matter to spirit – of human beings to God, of all time to the Golden Age.

All chance is miraculous – the touch of a higher being – a problem datum of the active religious sense.

About our ego – as the flame of the body in the soul.  Similarity of the soul to oxygen.  Oxygen as an irritability process. All synthesis is a flame – or spark – or an analog of them.

All poetry interrupts the usual state of affairs – the common life, almost, like sleep, in order to renew – and thus to keep alert our feeling for life.

Whoever has the proper sense for chance can use everything that is by chance to determine an unknown chance event – he can look for destiny with equal luck in the formations of the stars, in grains of sand, the flight of birds, and in configurations.

Rhythmic sense is genius.

There poetry came to be, daughter of the most noble impetuosity of the most sublime and strongest sensations and passions, who, it is true, later, like a chameleon, changed herself according to the organization of the various regions, times, and characters, but who in her original meaning, for her greatest strength, magic, and effect on the mind, still stands in need of her mother, sublime inspiration. But all I have said here is mainly valid only for the Orient, the proper homeland of mankind, language, poetry, and, therefore, also inspiration, from which, as from the original root, everything actually was propagated into and grafted onto the remaining regions and zones of the Earth.

Therefore, true to the essential laws of its nature – poetry becomes, as it were, an organic being – whose entire structure betrays its rise from the fluid element, its original elastic nature, its unlimitedness, its omnipotence.

Could it be that the bodies and figures are nouns – the forces, verbs – and natural philosophy – the art of deciphering.

Everything divine has a history, and should not nature, this singular whole with which man can compare himself, be involved, just like man, in a history or, which is the same, have spirit? Nature would not be nature if she had no spirit, if she were not this singular counter-image of mankind, if she were not the indispensable answer to this mysterious question or the question to this infinite answer.

What is man? A perfect trope of spirit. All true communication therefore is symbolic.

Love, by means of absolute will, can become religion. We become worthy of the highest Being only through death. Death of atonement.

We seek the plan for the world – this plan we are ourselves – What are we?  Personified omnipotent points. But the execution, as image of the plan, must also be equal to its freedom of action and its reflexivity – and vice versa.

A fairy-tale is actually like a dream-image – without coherence – an assemblage of miraculous things and events – for instance a musical phantasy – the harmonious sequences of an aeolian harp – nature herself.

A play of clouds – a natural play exceedingly poetical.  Nature is an Aeolian harp – she is a musical instrument – whose tones are in turn the keys of higher strings in us.

Future doctrine of life. Our life is not a dream – but it shall, and maybe will, become one.

On the present moment – or the perpetual solidification process of earthly time – it has an unusual life-flame. Time also creates everything, just as it destroys – binds – and separates everything.

Wherever eternal, unalterable laws hold sway – there is antiquity, there is the past. The process of history is a combustion. Mathematical nature consumes the immeasurable.

Speaking and hearing are fertilizing and conceiving.

True innocence is the absolute elasticity not of overpower.

Cramp and inflammation ought to be constantly uniting and alternating within the human body – in distinct proportions. The determinations of these proportions create the individual temperaments and constitutions.

Wisdom is a moral science and art.

True patience exhibits great elasticity.

Every virtue corresponds to a specific innocence. Innocence is moral instinct.

Oxygen – basis of the mineral world

Hydrogen – basis of the metal kingdom

Carbon – basis of the vegetable kingdom

Nitrogen – basis of the animal kingdom

There possibly comes into being – 4 chemistries – 2 chemical philosophies. The one from nitrogen downward – to oxygen – the other, in the opposite direction. To one, Nature is an infinitely modified oxygen – to the other, an infinitely modified nitrogen. Pure atmosphere. Meteorological physics or chemistry – this would also be opposed to a geological chemistry – both united, galvanic chemistry. Oxygen and hydrogen on the one side – carbon and nitrogen on the other – inorganic and organic chemistry.

If we work this through we can find the following associations:                                                                                                                                                                                                             Nitrogen – basis of the animal kingdom

Carbon – basis of the vegetable kingdom

Hydrogen – basis of the metal kingdom

Oxygen – basis of the mineral world

 Thus, we can see a non-standard arrangement of the ethers that might explain their continuous dynamic exchange between warmth/light (levity) and sound/life (gravity).

Everything perfected does not express itself alone – it also expresses an entire co-related world. Thus, the veil of the eternal Virgin floats around perfection of every kind – dissolving under the slightest touch into a magic fragrance, to become the celestial chariot of the seer. It is not antiquities alone that we behold – it is at once heaven, the telescope – and the fixed star – and therefore a genuine revelation of a higher world.

The philosophy of Fichte was like lightning; it appeared only for a moment but it kindled a fire that will burn forever.

It is possible that Fichte is the inventor of an entirely new mode of thinking for which language has not yet found a name.

Fichte’s demand for simultaneous thought, action and observation is the ideal of philosophizing; if I fulfil this demand, I begin to realize the ideal.

According to Fichte, ‘I am’ is the result of the universe. In order to state ‘I am,’ I must presuppose the whole universe; vice versa, the absolute statement of the ‘I am’ is at the same time the statement of the universe.

The system of morality must become one with the system of Nature. We must become magicians in order to be truly moral. The more moral we are, the more we are in harmony with God, the more united to God. Only through the moral sense does God become audible to us. The moral sense is the sense of existence — not affected from without — the sense of union, of the highest harmony, of a life freely chosen and yet within fellowship; it is true sense of divination.

The moral sense is a sense of the absolute creative power, the generative freedom, the infinite personality, the singular divinity within us.

The individual soul must be understood as being in harmony with the cosmic soul. What is Nature? An encyclopaedic, systematic index or plan of our Spirit. Why should we rest content with the mere enumeration of our treasures? Let us investigate them, elaborate them and put them to manifold use. The destiny which oppresses us is the indolence of our Spirit. By expanding and developing our activity, we will transform our own selves into destiny.

The world is at all events the result of an interaction between me and the Godhead. All that is, all that becomes, proceeds from spiritual contact.

We shall understand the world when we understand ourselves for the world and we are integrating halves. We are God’s children, divine seeds. What our Father is, that we shall sometime be.

Sophie is my religion now — not merely my love.

Yet away I turn myself to the holy, ineffable, mysterious Night. Afar lies the world, sunk in a deep vault below; desert and solitary is its place. Deep sadness breathes through the chords of the breast. In drops of dew will I sink down and mingle with the dusk. The depths of memory, the wishes of youth, the dreams of childhood, the short joys and vain hopes of the whole span of life, come forth in grey robes, like the evening mist after the setting of the sun. In other regions of space Light hath pitched its cheerful tents. What if it should never come again to its children who wait for it with the faith of innocence?

And now what springs there up at once so full of presentiment beneath the heart and swallows up the soft air of sadness? Dost thou also take pleasure in us, dusky Night? What hidest thou under thy mantle that comes invisibly but in strength, to the soul? Precious balsam drips from thy hand, from the bunch of poppies it holds. Thou raisest again the heavy wings of the soul. Darkly and unutterably we feel ourselves moved. Terrified, I behold an earnest face which bends to me softly and devoutly and beneath infinitely tangled locks it shows a Mother’s dear youth.

How poor and childish does the light seem to me now! How gladdening and blessed the departure of day! Is it only because the Night draws thy servants away that thou didst sow in the wide fields of space the gleaming spheres to announce, during the hours of thy absence, thy omnipotence and thy return. More heavenly still than those flashing orbs seem to us the infinite eyes which Night hath opened within us. They see farther than the palest of those numberless hosts; unneedful of the light they glance through the depths of a loving heart which fills a higher space with unutterable delight. Praised then be the Queen of the world, the high revealer of holy worlds, the guardian of blissful love — she sends me to thee — tender Beloved, lovely Sun of the Night. Now I wake, for I am thine and mine; thou hast proclaimed Night to be Life; thou hast made me man. Consume my body with Spirit-glow, that air-like I may commune with thee closer and closer and the bridal Night last evermore.

All things lead me back into myself. I rejoice in the wonderful collections and figures in the study halls; it seems to me as though they were only symbols, veils, decorations, enshrouding a Divine Being; and this is ever in my thoughts. I do not seek for them, but I often seek in them. It is as though they might show me the path to a place, where, slumbering, lies the Virgin for whom my spirit yearns. How much longer I shall stay here, I know not. It seems as though I should remain forever. I scarcely dare to admit it to myself, but the conviction forces itself only too deeply upon me. One day I shall find here what incessantly moves me; she is present. When I go about here in this belief, everything induces a higher semblance, a new order, and all is directed towards One Goal. Each object then becomes to me so intimate, so dear, and what yet appears to me as curious and strange, suddenly becomes like a household word.

Only the poets have felt what Nature can be to man, and one might well say that in them Humanity finds its most complete expression and therefore each impression is transmitted unsullied in all its endless modifications, towards all sides, through the crystal clearness and activity of their spirits. Does not all Nature, even as the countenance and the gestures, the pulse and the colour, express the condition of that superior, wonderful being we call Man? Does not the rock become individual when I address it? And what else am I than the river when I gaze with melancholy in its waves and my thoughts are lost in its course? Only a serene exuberant spirit can understand the plant-world, and animals are only to be known by a merry child or a savage. Whether anyone has yet understood the stones or the stars, I know not, but such a one must certainly have been a gifted being.

To understand Nature, we must let Nature evolve to the fullest in us. For this enterprise, we must make up our mind to be determined solely by divine aspirations towards beings that resemble us and to distinguish their essential characteristics. For verily all Nature is only comprehensible as the instrument and medium of the intelligence of a reasonable Being. A thoughtful man turns to the primary functions of his being, to the creative speculation, back to the point where production and knowledge exist together in the most wonderful state of flux, to that generative moment of peculiar bliss, of inward auto-conception. If he be absolutely sunk in the contemplation of this original phenomenon there spreads out before him, like some unlimited pageant of rising seasons and places, a history of Nature’s evolution and each point that establishes itself in the boundless fluidity will be a new revelation to him of the Genius of Love, a new volume of the Thou and the I. The punctilious description of this inner world history is the true theory of Nature. Through the inter-coherence of his own world of thought and its harmony with the universe, a system of thought arises spontaneously as the true image and formula of the Universe. But the art of peaceful Meditation, of generative cosmic speculation is difficult.

Strange, that the innermost of man has up to the present received such scant consideration and a treatment so devoid of spirit. The so-called psychology is one of the masks which have taken the place of the true images of the gods in the sanctuaries. How inadequately man has made use of physics for the study of the inner life and, vice versa, of the inner life for the study of the outer world!

Man is the higher Sense of our planet, the star which connects it with the upper world, the eye which it turns towards Heaven.

Man is a sun; his senses are the planets.

There is only one temple in the world and this is the human body. Nothing is holier than his sublime form. Bowing before men is an act of homage to this revelation in the flesh. One touches heaven when one touches the body of man.

All our affections seem to be nothing but practical religion. The heart appears to be as it were the religious organ. Perhaps the higher product of the creative heart is none other than Heaven.

More sacred books can be written than those we already possess. One thing only is needed: that the spring of religion be quickened within us again. Prayer, which in the religious domain is the equivalent of thought in philosophy, must glow again till it seeks an outlet in speech — and that will be a true sermon.

There is no religion which is not Christianity.

It is among men that one must seek God. In human happenings, in human thoughts and feelings, the spirit of heaven reveals itself most clearly of all. Martyrs are spiritual heroes. Every human being has his years of martyrdom. Christ was the greatest martyr of the human race. Through Him, martyrdom has received a significance of infinite depths and holiness.

Nature is an Aeolian harp, a musical instrument the sounds of which are keys of higher strings within us. All method is rhythm; if one has grasped the rhythm of the world, one has comprehended the world. Every human being has his own individual rhythm. … Every sickness is a musical problem, and the cure is the musical solution. The briefer and more perfect the solution, the greater the musical gift of the physician.

I have noticed that it is evidently not my destiny that I should achieve anything here. While still in my blossom I must detach myself from all. Only at the very end I must learn to know the best in the well-known and familiar — myself too. Now I learn to know myself and to enjoy this — that is why I must go now.

I am thou.

Our whole life is an act of worship.

In ordinary life, we serve like priests at the altar.

There is only one Temple in the world and that is the human body.  There is nothing more sacred than this higher form.

Anyone who views life other than as an illusion that consumes itself is still entangled in life. Life should not be a novel given to us, but one written by us.

No religion exists yet. If you believe religion to be possible, it must be made and brought forth out of the union of several individuals.

How do we see physically? No differently than we do in our consciousness – means of the productive power of imagination. Consciousness is the eye and ear, the sense of inner and outer meaning.

Only through religion do people become one.

We will understand the world once we understand ourselves, since we and it are integral halves of the same whole. We are God’s children, divine seeds.  At some point, we will become as our father is. 

The imagination places the world of the future either far above us, or far below, or in a relation of metempsychosis to ourselves. We dream of traveling through the universe – but is not the universe within ourselves? The depths of our spirit are unknown to us – the mysterious way leads inwards. Eternity with its worlds – the past and future – is in ourselves or nowhere. The external world is the world of shadows – it throws its shadow into the realm of light. At present this realm certainly seems to us so dark inside, lonely, shapeless. But how entirely different it will seem to us – when this gloom is past, and the body of shadows has moved away. We will experience greater enjoyment than ever, for our spirit has been deprived.

How can a person have a sense of something if he does not have the germ of it within himself. What I am to understand must develop organically within me–and what I seem to learn is only nourishment – stimulation of the organism.

Everything that we experience is a communication. In fact, so is the world also a communication — the revelation of spirit. The time is gone when the spirit of God was comprehensible to us. The meaning of the world has been lost to us. We have seen only its letters. We have lost that which is appearing behind the appearance.”

When numbers and figures
Are no longer the keys to all creatures,
When those who sing or kiss
Know more than the deeply educated,
When the world returns itself
To free life and [true] world,
When light and shadow once more
Give birth to true clarity,
When we recognize in tales and poems
The true story of the world,
Then the whole false-turned core of things
Will fly away before one mysterious Word

Henreich von Afterdingen

Ostensibly this novel of Novalis’ is an answer to the disappointment that he felt with Goethe’s novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. For Novalis a novel that addresses the question of real love is an opportunity to touch true revelation. Henreich von Afterdingen is such a revelation. From the first lines, which describe the life-long yearning of the central character, this novel takes the reader to a place more spiritual than physical.

The driving motivation of a life of searching for truth and love is depicted in the dream of the blue flower; which has subsequently became the leading image of the Romantic Movement. The words that seem to describe earthly physical places take the reader to a place that is removed from time and space – a fairy-land. This dream-like quality of the story creates a transparent veil that both hides and yet indicates the nature of life. The blue flower is an analogy that is at once real and unreal, tangible and yet ethereal.  Contact is made with the core of the motivation of life. Love is played out as the meaning of eternity. Truly there is no better image than the blue flower to encompass the longing of nature and the drive of humanity to find its place in nature.

The author will never forget the first time that someone read this short selection to him aloud. He was overwhelmed with the feelings that arose spontaneously and so tangibly that the spring-fed cave and the blue flower where there before him as his own personal desire. The wall that seems to separate the observer from sense perceptible phenomena melted and all things became possible, real, and present. A new way of perceiving was born. An inward, wise knowing arose that demanded more of the same.

“I was, from that moment on, hooked on Novalis. And now, after thirty years of study and reflection, I read the story again and it is as fresh and relevant as the first time it was read to me. Of course now, I am that person who reads it aloud to others so that they may have the benefit of these profound, life-changing perceptions that evolve our view of the world.”

Below are selections from The Blue Flower. 

The Blue Flower

“It’s not the treasures I care about,” he said to himself, “such coveting is miles from my mind, but I long to see the blue flower. I can’t get rid of the idea, it haunts me. I never felt like this before, it’s as if I dreamed of it years ago, or had a vision of it in another world, for who would be so concerned about a flower in this world? And I’ve never heard of anyone being in love with a flower. Where did this stranger come from? None of us had ever seen anyone like him. I don’t know why his words impacted on me so deeply, the others heard him, and they didn’t produce the same effect on their minds. I can’t even express the strange state I’m in. Sometimes rapt in delight……but when I forget about the blue flower, a nameless longing takes possession of me, no one can understand this. I’d think I was mad, if it were not for the fact that my thoughts are so clear and connected, and I understand so many new things. I’ve heard it said that in the olden days, animals, rocks, and flowers all spoke to humans. I’m haunted by the idea that they have something to tell me, and I feel as if I could comprehend their speech. I used to be devoted to dancing, now I love music.

Eventually the young man lost himself in his sweet contemplation, and fell asleep. He dreamt of strange far off lands, wild, unknown regions. He seemed to float across vast expanses of oceans, saw marvelous animals, lived with the diverse tribes of humanity, sometimes in scenes of war and riot, sometimes in peaceful huts. He lived a life of ever changing pleasures, died, came alive again, was passionately in love, and then separated from the one he loved for ever. Finally, toward morning, at the break of dawn, a calmness overtook him, and his thoughts became more clear and definite. He seemed to be wandering alone through a gloomy forest. Only the occasional ray of light broke through the tangled green canopy above him.

After some time, he reached a little meadow on the slope of the hill. Above it towered a cliff, and at its base he saw a small opening leading into a rock hewn passage. He hurried along it for a time until he reached a wider space, guided by a faint, glimmering light. As he entered the grotto he was dazed by a shaft of light, bright as gold, which sprang up like a fountain, almost touching the high vaulted roof, showering down countless sparks into a great marble pool. No sound broke the silence. He approached the pool, which trembled and quivered with every color of the rainbow. The walls of the grotto were clothed in light, which gave off a pale blue luster, but no heat. He dipped his hand in the pool and touched his lips, and as he did he felt a thrill of energy pervade his whole being. An irresistible impulse led him to take off his clothes and bathe in this mystic element. It was a sensation of sunset clouds flowing around him, a sacred feeling flooded his inner being with heartfelt yearning, and a rush of quickened thought and feeling called up new and amazing images and pictures, which like waves of this beautiful element pressed against him like a delicate breast. It seemed as he gazed no fantasy, but reality. The very element grew transformed into beautiful maidens, each embodying herself against him momentarily.

Though each impression intoxicated him with delight, he consciously swam along the luminous stream which flowed out of the basin into the cavern. Deep, sweet sleep overpowered him. When he woke he was lying on the soft floor of a valley at the edge of a well. At a little distance, hazy blue cliffs rose with gleaming veins of gold shining through their sides. All around him was a soft mellow light, and the sky above was blue and cloudless. What most attracted him was a lovely blue flower growing at the edge of the well. Its large glossy green leaves overshadowed him. The air was perfumed by the fragrance of flowers of every color, but he cared for none of them but the blue flower, at which he gazed in tender adoration. As he stood to examine it more closely, it seemed to move and change, the glossy leaves bent down at the stalk and the blossom lent towards him, the petals slowly opened and he saw a lovely, tender face. Amazed at this sight, he was about to speak when he was aroused by his mother’s voice, and he found himself in his own room, the golden light of early day streaming through the casement…

“But father, why are you so opposed to dreams, when by their strange changes and tender influence, they awaken reflection? Isn’t every dream, even the most confused, a curious cleft in the mysterious curtain which veils our inner life? In the wisest books you find countless dreams of trustworthy men…..dreams are a relief from the monotony of life….Were it not for dreams, we would grow old sooner….cheerful companions in life’s journey from the cradle to the grave. Certainly, my last night’s dream was no chance occurrence in my life; it was as if a great wheel raised my soul in its tremendous gyrations.”

“Do you remember telling me in those days of a strange dream you had in Rome” said the mother, “a dream which, you assured me led to Augsburg to court me?”

“It warms my heart even now to think of the talk, which lasted far into the night. At last he showed me into a bedroom as it was too late to return to town. I soon fell asleep…”

“There were flowers and streams in all direction, and amongst all the flowers one particularly charmed me.”

“Oh Father, tell me what was its color?” Heinrich asked excitedly.

“I cannot remember.”

“Was it blue?”

“Maybe,” continued his father without noticing Heinrich’s emotion “but I do remember that it awoke inexpressible sensations in my mind. I turned around and saw my gentle guide smiling at me… ‘You have seen the wonder of the world’ he said ‘It depends on yourself to be the happiest man in the world and to achieve honor. Heed my words, if you return here on the eve of St. John, and pray to God to enlighten you as to the dream, you may have the highest earthly life. Mark a little blue flower which you will see on your way. Pick it and humbly await divine guidance.’ Then my dream led me among the noblest forms of men, and endless ages passed with their bewildering changes before my eyes. My tongue seemed unloosed. What I said sounded like sweetest music.

Then I looked up and saw your mother, with a friendly blushing face. She held a beauteous child in her arms, which she placed in mine. The child seemed suddenly to grow and expand. A dazzling white light enfolded it as it unfolded snow white wings and rose into the air. It flew and soared higher and higher, until the earth lay beneath us like a golden ball. I woke took a friendly farewell of my host who begged me to return. I should have done so, but a sudden impulse made me leave Rome, and hurry home to Augsburg as I longed intensely to meet your mother.” 

“Clouds are echoes of a primitive inhuman nature, but also summoning voices of a higher nature, of heavenly conscience in us.  The mortal part rumbles in its deeps; the immortal begins to shine brighter and comes to know itself.”

“When,” asked Henry, “will the need for all fear, all pain, all want, and all evil be removed from the universe?”

“When there is only one power – the power of conscience –When nature has become modest and moral. There is only one cause of evil – common weakness; and this weakness is nothing but meager ethical receptivity, and lack of charm, in freedom.”

“Do please make the nature of conscience comprehensible to me.”

“If I could do that, I would be God, for conscience arises in the very act of understanding it. Can you make the nature of poetry understandable to me?”

“One can never fully explain matters of a personal nature.”

“How much less, then, the nature of the highest indivisibility. Can music be explained to the deaf?”

“Would that imply that the mind is part of the world it reveals and that we must have a thing to understand it?”

“The universe breaks down into an infinite number of worlds, each in turn contained by larger ones. In the end, all minds are one mind. One mind like one world gradually leads to all worlds, but everything has its own time and its own manner. Only the universe as person can understand the relation of our world. It is hard to tell whether within the sensory limitations of our bodies we can really augment our world with new worlds, our sense with new senses, or whether every growth of knowledge, every addition to our capacities, only serves for the development of our present world-mind.”

“Perhaps both are the same thing,” Henry suggested. “I only know that for me fable is the all-purpose tool of my present world. Even conscience, this power which generates the universe and meaning, this germ of all personality, appears to me to be like the spirit of the world poem, like the accident of the eternal, romantic confluence of the endlessly changeable totality of life.”

“Worthy pilgrim,” Sylvester replied, “conscience appears in every serious completion, in every embodied truth. Every inclination and skill which reflection turns into a world-image becomes a phenomenon, a transmutation of conscience. Indeed, all development leads to what can only be called freedom, regardless of the fact that thereby not simply a mere concept but the creative basis of all existence is to be designated. This freedom is mastery. The master exercises unfettered power in a purposeful, definite, and deliberate manner. The objects of his art are his and subject to his pleasure, and they do not shackle or cramp him. And precisely this all-embracing freedom, mastery, or sovereignty is the essence, the drive of conscience. In him is revealed the holy peculiarity, the immediate creativity of personality, and every act of the master is at the same time a proclamation of the lofty, simple, uncomplicated world – God’s word.”

“Therefore, that which formerly, it seems to me, was called the doctrine of virtue, is it perhaps only religion as science, so-called theology in its proper sense? Only a code of laws related to the worship of God as nature is related to Him? A system of words, a sequence of thoughts, which characterizes and presents the upper world and stands for it on a certain cultural level? Religion for our faculties of insight and judgment? A court judgment, the law of the solution and determination of all possible relationships of a personal life?”

“Conscience, to be sure,” Sylvester responded, “is the inborn mediator of every human being. It is the vicar of God on earth and hence for so many the highest and the ultimate. But how far removed was that former science, which we called ethics or moral doctrine, from the pure form of this sublime, comprehensive personal thought. Conscience is man’s most peculiar essence in full transfiguration, the divine primal man. It is not just this or that; its throne is not set on general maxims, nor does it consist of single virtues. There is only one virtue: the pure earnest will which at the moment of decision resolves and chooses without mediation. In living, peculiar indivisibility it inhabits and animates the delicate symbol of the human body and is able to put all the spiritual members into the truest activity.”

“O excellent father,” Henry interrupted, “with what joy am I filled by the light which emanates from your words! Then the true spirit of fable is a smiling disguise of the spirit of virtue, and the real purpose of a subordinated poetry is to set astir the highest and most characteristic existence. There is a startling similarity between a genuine song and a noble deed. Conscience at ease in a smooth, non-resisting world turns into fascinating conversation, into fable telling everything. In the meadows and halls of this primal world the poet dwells, and virtue is the spirit of his earthly movements and influence.  Like virtue, fable too is the godhead immediately operative among men and the wonderful reflection of the higher world. With what an assurance a poet can follow the promptings of his inspiration, or, if he is also possessed of a higher super-mundane sense, follow higher beings and surrender to his calling with childlike humility. From his lips also comes the higher voice of the universe calling with enchanting sayings into more cheerful, more familiar worlds. As virtue is to religion so inspiration is to the doctrine of fable; and if the accounts of revelation are contained in sacred writings, so in fable’s teachings the life of a higher world is variously presented in poetic works originating in a wondrous manner. Fable and history go most intimately together on the most involved paths and in the strangest disguises, and the Bible and the precepts of fable are constellations with one and the same orbit.”

“Your words are perfectly true,” said Sylvester, “and now you will probably understand that only by the spirit of virtue is all nature preserved and destined to become increasingly stable. This spirit is the light kindling and quickening all things within earthly compass. From the starry sky, that exalted dome of the jeweled realm, to the frilly carpet of flowery meadows, everything is maintained by it, linked with us, and made intelligible to us; it conducts the endless history of nature on the unknown path that leads to transfiguration.”

“Yes, and a moment ago you so beautifully joined virtue with religion for me.  Everything that touches on experience and earthly effectiveness makes up the domain of conscience, which unites this world with higher worlds. With the higher mental powers, religion comes into being; and what had before appeared as incomprehensible necessity of our innermost nature, a universal law without definite content, now turns into a marvelous, native, infinitely varied, and wholly satisfying world, into an incomprehensibly intimate communion of all the blessed with God, and into a perceptible deifying presence of the most personal being, or of its will, its love, within our deepest selves.”

“The innocence of your heart makes you a prophet,” replied Sylvester. “All things will become intelligible to you, and the world and its history will become Holy Scripture for you, just as in Holy Writ you have the great example of how simple words and stories can reveal the universe, if not directly, at least immediately through the rousing and waking of our higher senses.” 

 Hymns to the Night 

Hymns to the Night is the most well-known of Novalis’ writings. There have been many translations of this work and its importance in literature is acknowledged by literary critics world-wide. These hymns were quite popular in Novalis’ day.

Hymns to the Night break new ground in the realm of poetry pointing to the misunderstood and unappreciated realms of sleep, night, and death. No other author has taken the sting from the unknowingness of these realms. With fearless courage and love he tells us of the primal nature of sleep and death and embraces them like a lover or a mother. Darkness breeds a new light of soul that was yet unborn until the veils hiding her lines and contours were lifted. And lo, what was revealed but another hidden side of humanity that has been lost and forgotten for ages.

Again, the great seer Rudolf Steiner indicates that Novalis could describe the beings that he does in these hymns because he personally knew them. The Madonna is wholly embraced as if she were his own mother and the vision of hope and love that emanate from her he directly experienced, and now has as soul capacity.

There are still many mysteries to unravel in these hymns that will surely enrich the reader who gives themselves over to the moving pictures of purity and innocence found in them. There seems to be no end to the wealth of wisdom that others have found herein. To embrace that unrecognized and unknown part of ourselves is tantamount to Pysche bringing to Venus the hidden beauty of Persephone. Beware of the opening of this box of virtues that can birth your higher self.

Below are selected passages from Hymns to the Night where in the virtues still hidden in the box of Persephone can be found in the realm of sleep and death.

Hymns to the Night by Novalis

Now I know when will come the last morning — when the Light no more scares away Night and Love — when sleep shall be without waking, and but one continuous dream. I feel in me a celestial exhaustion. Long and weariful was my pilgrimage to the holy grave, and crushing was the cross. The crystal wave, which, imperceptible to the ordinary sense, springs in the dark bosom of the mound against whose foot breaks the flood of the world, he who has tasted it, he who has stood on the mountain frontier of the world, and looked across into the new land, into the abode of the Night — truly he turns not again into the tumult of the world, into the land where dwells the Light in ceaseless unrest.

On those heights, he builds for himself tabernacles — tabernacles of peace, there longs and loves and gazes across, until the welcomest of all hours draws him down into the waters of the spring — afloat above remains what is earthly, and is swept back in storms, but what became holy by the touch of love, runs free through hidden ways to the region beyond, where, like fragrances, it mingles with love asleep.

Still wakest thou, cheerful Light, that weary man to his labor — and into me pourest joyous life — but thou willest me not away from Memory’s moss-grown monument. Gladly will I stir busy hands, everywhere behold where thou hast need of me — praise the luster of thy splendor — pursue unwearied the lovely harmonies of thy skilled handicraft — gladly contemplate the clever pace of thy mighty, luminous clock — explore the balance of the forces and the laws of the wondrous play of countless worlds and their seasons. But true to the Night remains my secret heart, and to creative Love, her daughter. Canst thou show me a heart eternally true? Has thy sun friendly eyes that know me? do thy stars lay hold of my longing hand? and return me the tender pressure and the caressing word? was it thou did adorn them with colors and a flickering outline — or was it she who gave to thy jewels a higher, a dearer weight? What delight, what pleasure offers thy life, to outweigh the transports of Death? Wears not everything that inspires us the color of the Night? She sustains thee mother-like, and to her thou owest all thy glory.

Thou wouldst vanish into thyself — in boundless space thou wouldst dissolve, if she did not hold thee fast, if she swaddled thee not, so that thou grewest warm, and flaming, begot the universe. Truly I was, before thou wast — the mother sent me with my brothers and sisters to inhabit thy world, to hallow it with love that it might be an ever-present memorial — to plant it with flowers unfading. As yet they have not ripened, these thoughts divine — as yet is there small trace of our coming revelation — One day thy clock will point to the end of time, and then thou shalt be as one of us, and shalt, full of ardent longing, be extinguished and die. I feel in me the close of thy activity — heavenly freedom, and blessed return. With wild pangs I recognize thy distance from our home, thy resistance against the ancient, glorious heaven. Thy rage and thy raving are in vain. Unscorchable stands the cross — victory-banner of our breed.

The old world began to decline. The pleasure-garden of the young race withered away — up into more open, desolate regions, forsaking his childhood, struggled the growing man. The gods vanished with their retinue — Nature stood alone and lifeless. Dry Number and rigid Measure bound it with iron chains. Into dust and air the priceless blossoms of life fell away in words obscure. Gone was wonder-working Faith, and its all-transforming, all-uniting angel-comrade, the Imagination. A cold north wind blew unkindly over the rigid plain, and the rigid wonderland first froze, then evaporated into ether. The far depths of heaven filled with glowing worlds. Into the deeper sanctuary, into the more exalted region of feeling, the soul of the world retired with all its earthly powers, there to rule until the dawn should break of universal Glory. No longer was the Light the abode of the gods, and the heavenly token of their presence — they drew over themselves the veil of the Night. The Night became the mighty womb of revelations — into it the gods went back — and fell asleep, to go abroad in new and more glorious shapes over the transfigured world. Among the people who too early were become of all the most scornful and insolently estranged from the blessed innocence of youth, appeared the New World with a face never seen before — in the poverty of a poetic shelter — a son of the first virgin and mother — the eternal fruit of mysterious embrace.

The foreboding, rich-blossoming wisdom of the East at once recognized the beginning of the new age — A star showed the way to the humble cradle of the king. In the name of the distant future, they did him homage with luster and fragrance, the highest wonders of Nature. In solitude, the heavenly heart unfolded to a flower-chalice of almighty love — upturned toward the supreme face of the father, and resting on the bliss-foreboding bosom of the sweetly solemn mother. With deifying fervor, the prophetic eye of the blooming child beheld the years to come, foresaw, untroubled over the earthly lot of his own days, the beloved offspring of his divine stem. Ere long the most childlike souls, by true love marvelously possessed, gathered about him. Like flowers sprang up a strange new life in his presence. Words inexhaustible and the most joyful tidings fell like sparks of a divine spirit from his friendly lips. From a far shore, born under the clear sky of Hellas, came a singer to Palestine, and gave up his whole heart to the wonder-child:

The youth thou art who ages long hast stood
Upon our graves, so deeply lost in thought;
A sign of comfort in the dusky gloom
For high humanity, a joyful start.
What dropped us all into abysmal woe,
Pulls us forward with sweet yearning now.
In everlasting life death found its goal,
For thou art Death who at last makes us whole.

Thou, soul of Night, heavenly Slumber, didst come upon me; the region gently unheaved itself, and over it hovered my unbound, newborn spirit. The hillock became a cloud of dust, and through the cloud I saw the glorified face of my beloved.  In her eyes eternity reposed. I laid hold of her hands, and the tears became a sparkling chain that could not be broken. Into the distance swept by, like a tempest, thousands of years. On her neck, I welcomed the new life with ecstatic tears. Never was such another dream; then first and ever since I hold fast an eternal, unchangeable faith in the heaven of the Night, and its sun, the Beloved.

More heavenly than those glittering stars we hold the eternal eyes which the Night hath opened within us. Farther they see than the palest of those countless hosts.  Needing no aid from the light, they penetrate the depths of a loving soul that fills a loftier region with bliss ineffable. Glory to the queen of the world, to the great prophetess of holier worlds, to the foster-mother of blissful love! She sends thee to me, thou tenderly beloved, the gracious sun of the Night. Now am I awake, for now am I thine and mine. Thou hast made me know the Night, and brought her to me to be my life; thou hast made of me a man. Consume my body with the ardor of my soul, that I, turned to finer air, may mingle more closely with thee, and then our bridal-night endure forever.

So, come then you too, all and receive the fraternal kiss, brush the gray net aside and gaze with young love at the wondrous splendor of nature, history, and humanity. I want to conduct you to a brother who will talk with you so that your hearts rejoice and you gird your beloved, expired sensation with a new body, you once again embrace and recognize what you envisioned, and what ponderous, mortal understanding was indeed not able to seize from you.

This brother is the heartbeat of the new age, whoever has felt his presence does not doubt any more that it will come, and he too steps out from the crowd with sweet pride in being a contemporary to join the new band of disciples. He has made a new veil for the Holy Virgin which caresses her body, betraying the heavenly shape of her limbs, and yet covers her more chastely than any other. The veil is for the Virgin what the spirit is for the body, her indispensable instrument whose folds are the letters of her sweet Annunciation; the infinite play of the folds is a music of numbers, for language is too wooden and too impudent for the Virgin, her lips open only to sing. For me her singing is nothing but the ceremonial call to a new foundation gathering, the mighty beating of the wings of an angelic herald who is passing. They are the first birth-pangs, let everyone prepare for the birth! 

The Novices of Sais

Novalis unfinished novel, The Novices of Sais is essentially a clarion call to awaken the ‘moment of perception’ wherein nature becomes a revelation and union with higher beings. In no other story can we find the “All” described in such tangible ways, as though a portrait were being painted before our eyes. The color, detail, and substance of the simplest things in nature become a bible of perception.

The observer is taught to approach nature again and again until a living, breathing being is there before the reader awakening new organs of perception that can see the All in each separate One. The marvel of stones and crystals to speak of their creator is made commonplace and natural. The striving for wisdom from the outside of oneself is placed back on the self that can look anew at everything in the world. If the divine is not perceived, then the perceiver needs to refocus the lens.

This instruction manual to the wise can birth a new self that sees the connecting threads that bind the world around us. In the past, it was called the “breastplate of instruction” or the “tales of the wise” which have come down to us as Aesop’s Fables, or The Instruction of Princes.  All readers should be ready to face that reticent part of oneself that resists inheriting the responsibility of the care and nurturing of nature. Nature is our mother, part of our higher self, our source of a brighter future. But nature must be seen now for who she is without any veil or darkening.

One can see that this fairy-tale affected many writers profoundly as they attempted to do what Novalis does seemingly effortlessly. The writings of Herman Hesse, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, David Lindsay, and many others owe much to this fairy-tale. The striving to find the “teacher” is so adroitly presented in this story that the reader feels like they have personally met the teacher. We all identify with the novices who long for someone else to help them develop the new eyes necessary to commune with nature. The descriptions of the young man who made the teacher feel inferior are prophetic descriptions of the birth of our higher self.  These factors only become conscious to the reader after hearing the tale many times.

There are few stories wherein the words used become elevated and transparent to the reader’s understanding by some magical process of absorption. In this fairy tale, spiritual instruction comes naturally. The path is well trodden and the reluctant traveler walks further than they may have ever walked before. The doubting mind becomes a believer through experience stimulated by “mere words.” No other writer has this capacity because no other writer has Novalis’ wealth of experience. Though he died at age 28, his wisdom is eternal and stems from the roots of humanity’s experience of spiritual development.

Below are selections from The Novices of Sais which present a modern rendition of the spiritual initiation rites of soul.  

The Novice 

Various are the roads of man. He who follows and compares them will see strange figures emerge, figures which seem to belong to that great cipher which we discern written everywhere, in wings, eggshells, clouds and snow, in crystals and in stone formations, on ice-covered waters, on the inside and outside of mountains, of plants, beasts and men, in the lights of heaven, on scored disks of pitch or glass or in iron filings round a magnet, and in strange conjunctures of chance. In them we suspect a key to the magic writing, even a grammar, but our surmise takes on no definite forms and seems unwilling to become a higher key. It is as though an alkahest had been poured over the senses of man. Only at moments do their desires and thoughts seem to solidify. Thus, arise their presentiment, but after a short time everything swims again before their eyes.

I heard a voice say from afar that the incomprehensible is solely the result of incomprehension, which seeks what it has and therefore can never make further discoveries. We do not understand speech, because speech does not understand itself, nor wish to; the true Sanskrit would speak in order to speak, because speech is its delight and essence.

A little later, there was one who said; “The holy scripture needs no explanation.  He who speaks true, is full of eternal life, his written word seems wondrously akin to the mysteries, for it is a chord taken from the symphony of the universe.”

Surely the voice was speaking of our teacher, for he knows how to gather together the traits that are scattered everywhere. A unique light is kindled in his eyes when he lays down the sacred rune before us and peers into our eyes to see whether in us the light is risen that makes the figure visible and intelligible. If he sees that we are sorrowful because the night does not recede, he comforts us and promises future happiness to the assiduous, faithful seer. Often, he has told us how when he was a child, the desire to practice, to busy, and to fulfill his senses left him no peace. He looked up at the stars and copied their paths and positions in the sand. Unremittingly he observed the heavens, and never wearied of contemplating their clarity, their movements, their clouds, their lights. He gathered stones, flowers, insects of all sorts, and arranged them in rows of many different kinds. He turned his mind to men and beasts, he sat on the seashore and looked for shells. He listened closely to his spirit and his thoughts.  He knew not whither his yearnings drew him. When he grew older, he roamed the earth, saw distant lands and seas, new skies, strange stars, unknown plants, beasts, men, went down into caverns, saw how the earth was built in shelves and multicolored layers, and pressed clay into strange rock forms.

Everywhere he found the familiar, only strangely mixed and coupled, and thus strange things often ordered themselves within him. Soon he became attentive to the connections that are everywhere, to meetings and encounters. It was not long before he ceased to see anything by itself, – The perceptions of his senses crowded into great colorful images; he heard, saw, touched and thought at once.  He delighted in bringing strangers together. Sometimes the stars were men for him and sometime men were stars, sometimes the stones were beasts, the clouds plants; he played with forces and phenomena, he knew where and how he could find this and that, or make this and that manifest itself; he himself plucked the strings in search of chords and melodies.

What became of him after that, he does not reveal. He tells us that, led by him and our own inclination, we shall find out what happened within him. Several of our number have left him. They have gone back to their parents and taken up a trade. Some he has sent off on missions, we know not whither. He elected them; some had been with him only a short time, others longer. One he sent was still a child, no sooner had he come than the teacher wished to make him the teacher. He had great dark eyes with sky-blue whites, his skin gleamed like lilies and his hair like little sunlit clouds at evening. His voice melted our hearts, we would gladly have given him our flowers, stones, feathers, everything. He smiled with infinite earnestness, and when we were with him, we felt strangely happy. “One day he will come back,” said the teacher, “and live with us again. Then our studies will be ended.” – With him our teacher sent another, one who often grieved us. He always looked sad, he had been with us for many years, nothing that he touched prospered.

When we looked for crystals or flowers, it was hard for him to find them.  He could not see well into the distance, or lay varicolored rows. Everything broke under his hands. Yet no one had his desire, or his delight in seeing and hearing. But on day – before the child entered into our circle – something befell, and suddenly he became gay and deft.  One day he went out sad, night came and he did not return. We were in great sorrow; then the dawn came, and all at once we heard his voice in the copse. He was singing an exalted, happy song; we were all amazed. The teacher gazed eastward with a look such as I shall never see again. Soon the novice stepped into our midst with ineffable joy in his face; he was carrying a humble little stone, of a strange shape. The teacher took it in his hand and kissed it a long, long while, then he looked at us with tears in his eyes and laid the little stone in an empty space among other stones, where many rows came together like spokes.

Never shall I forget those moments. It was as though our souls had known a bright and fugitive presentiment of this wondrous world.

I too am more awkward than the others, and nature’s treasures seem less willing to let me find them. Yet the teacher is devoted to me and lets me sit thinking when the others go out to search. With me it has never been as with the teacher. Everything leads me back into myself. I well understood those words of the second voice. I take delight in the strange mounds and figures in the halls, but to me it seems as though they were only shapes, cloaks, ornaments, gathered round a divine, miraculous image, and this is always in my thought. I do not search for them, but within them I often search. It is as though they might show me the way to where in deep slumber lies the maiden for whom my spirit yearns. The teacher has never spoken of it to me, and I cannot confide in him, it seems to me an inviolable secret. I would gladly have asked that child, in his features I found kinship; and near him, everything within me seemed to grow clearer. If he had stayed longer, I would surely have learned more within myself. And in the end perhaps, my heart would have opened, my tongue been set free. I would gladly have gone with him. It was not to be. How long I shall remain here, I do not know. It seems to me, as if I might stay forever. I scarcely dare admit it to myself, but so fervent grows the faith in me that here I shall some day find the thing that I long for everlastingly; that it is present. When with this faith I look around me here, everything converges into a higher image, a new design; and all my companions are moving towards one place. Then everything becomes so familiar, so dear to me; and what before seemed strange and foreign, becomes all at once like a household utensil.

It is above all this strangeness that is strange to me, and that is why this collection has always both repelled and attracted me. I cannot and will not understand the teacher. He is dear to me in the measure of my not understanding. I know that he understands me, he has never spoken against my feeling or my desire. He wants us rather to go our own way, because every new road goes through new countries and each in the end leads anew to these dwellings, to this sacred home. I, too, then will inscribe my figure and if according to the inscription, no mortal can lift the veil, we must seek to become immortal; he who does not seek to lift it, is no true novice of Sais.


It must have been a long time before men thought of giving a common name to the manifold objects of their senses, and of placing themselves in opposition to them.  Through practice developments were furthered, and in all developments occur separations and divisions that may well be compared with the splitting of a ray of light. It was only gradually that our inwardness split into such various forces, and with continued practice this splitting will increase. Perhaps it is only the sickly predisposition of later men that makes them lose the power to mix again the scattered colors of their spirit and at will restore the old, simple, natural state, or bring about new and varied relations between the colors. The more united they are, the more united, complete and personal will every natural object, every phenomenon enter into them; for to the nature of the sense corresponds the nature of the impression, and therefore to those earlier men, everything seemed human, familiar, and companionable, there was freshness and originality in all their perceptions, each one of their utterances was a true product of nature, their ideas could not help but accord with the world around them and express it faithfully.   We can therefore regard the ideas of our forefathers concerning the things of this world as a necessary product, a self-portrait of the state of earthly nature at that time, and from these ideas, considered as the most fitting instruments for observing the universe, we can assuredly take the main relation, the relation between the world and its inhabitants. We find that the noblest questions of all first occupied their attention and that they sought the key to the wondrous edifice, sometimes in a common measure of real things, and sometimes in the fancied object of an unknown sense. This key, it is known, was generally divined in the liquid, the vaporous, the shapeless.  The inertia and helplessness of solid bodies gave rise, no doubt, to a not unmeaningful belief in their baseness and dependence. But soon a pondering mind encountered the difficulty of deriving forms from forces and oceans without form. He attempted to loose the knot by a kind of combination; making the first beginnings into solid particles definitely shaped but minute beyond conception, and from this sea of dust, he believed that he could complete the immense edifice, though not without the help of ideal fictions of attracting and repellent forces. Earlier still we find, instead of scientific explanations, myths and poems full of marvelous imagery, of men, gods and beasts all building together, and it is here that the genesis of the world is most naturally described.

Here at least we find certainty as to an accidental, handicraft origin, and even for those who despise the uncontrolled outpourings of the imagination, this conception is full of meaning. To treat the history of the universe as a history of mankind, to find only human happenings and relations everywhere, is a continuous idea, reappearing at the most widely separate epochs, always in a new form and this conception seems to have excelled all others in miraculous effect and persuasiveness. Moreover, the capriciousness of nature seems of itself to fall in with the idea of human personality, which is apparently best grasped in the form of a human creature. That is why poetry has been the favorite instrument of true friends of nature, and the spirit of nature has shone most radiantly in poems.

When we read and hear true poems, we feel the movement of nature’s inner reason and like its celestial embodiment, we dwell in it and hover over it at once. Scientists and poets have, by speaking one language, always shown themselves to be one people. What the scientists have gathered and arranged in huge, well-ordered stores, has been made by the poets into the daily food and consolation of human hearts; the poets have broken up the one, great, immeasurable nature and molded it into various small, amenable natures. Poets have lightheartedly pursued the liquid and fugitive, while scientists have cut into the inner structure and sought after the relations between its members.

Under their hands friendly nature died, leaving behind only dead, quivering remnants, while the poet inspired her like a heady wine till she uttered the blithest, most god-like fancies, till, lifted out of her everyday life, she soared to heaven, danced and prophesied, bade everyone welcome, and squandered her treasures with a happy heart. Thus, she enjoyed heavenly hours with the poet and called the scientist only when she was sick and bowed down with conscience. On these occasions, she answered each one of his questions and treated the stern man with reverence. Those who would know her spirit truly must therefore seek it in the company of poets, where she is free and pours forth her wondrous heart. But those who do not love her from the bottom of their hearts, who only admire this and that in her and wish to learn this and that about her, must visit her sickroom, her charnel-house.

Our relations with nature are as inscrutably various as with men; to the child she shows herself childlike, pressing fondly to his childlike heart, and to the god she discloses herself divine, in accord with his exalted spirit. It is bombast to speak of one nature, and all striving after truth in discourse about nature only removes us farther from the natural. Great is the gain when the striving to understand nature completely, is ennobled to yearning, a tender, diffident yearning that gladly accepts the strange, cold creature, in the hope that she will some day become more familiar. Within us there lies a mysterious force that tends in all directions, spreading from a center hidden in infinite depths.

If wondrous nature, the nature of the senses and the nature that is not of the senses, surrounds us, we believe this force to be an attraction of nature, an effect of our sympathy wither; but behind these blue, distant shapes one man will seek a home that they withhold, a beloved of his youth, mother and father, brothers and sisters, old friends, cherished times past; to another it seems that out there unknown glories await him, a radiant future is hidden, and he stretches forth his hand in quest of a new world.   A few stand calmly in this glorious abode, seeking only to embrace it in its plenitude and enchainment; no detail makes them forget the glittering thread that joins the links in rows to form the holy candelabrum, and they find beatitude in the contemplation of this living ornament hovering over the depths of night. The ways of contemplating nature are innumerable; at one extreme, the sentiment of nature becomes a jocose fancy, a banquet, while at the other it develops into the most devout religion, giving to a whole life direction, principle, meaning.

Even among the childlike peoples there were grave men, for whom nature was the face of a godhead, while other, merry hearts only prayed to her at table; the air was to them a soothing drink, the stars were a light to dance by, plants and beasts were merely delectable fare, nature to them was not a wondrous, silent temple, but a jolly kitchen and pantry.   In between, there were other, more contemplative souls, who found in the nature before them only large but neglected gardens, and busied themselves creating prototypes of a nobler nature. For this great work they broke into companionable groups, some sought to awaken the spent and lost tones in the air and in the forests, others fixed their presentiments and images on more beautiful races in bronze and stone, fashioned more beautiful rocks and made them into dwellings, brought back to light the treasures hidden in the crypts of the earth; tamed unruly streams, populated the inhospitable sea, restored noble plants and beasts to desert regions, dammed the forest floods and cultivated the nobler flowers and herbs, opened the earth to the touch of the fructifying air and the kindling light, taught the colors to mingle and order themselves into charming shapes, taught wood and meadow, springs and crags to join again in pleasant gardens, breathed tones into living things, that they might unfold and move in joyous rhythms, took under their protection those poor forsaken beasts amenable to human ways, and cleansed the woods of savage monsters, the misbegotten creatures of a degenerate fantasy.

Soon nature learned friendlier ways again, she became gentler and more amiable, more prone to favor the desires of man.  Little by little her heart learned human emotions, her fantasies became more joyful, she became companionable, responding gladly to the friendly questioner, and thus little by little she seems to have brought back the old golden age, in which she was man’s friend, consoler, priestess and enchantress, when she lived among men and divine association made men immortal. Then once more the constellations will visit the earth that they looked upon so angrily in those days of darkness; then the sun will lay down her harsh scepter, becoming again a star among stars, and all the races of the world will come together after long separation.  Families orphaned of old will be reunited, and each day will see new greetings, new embraces; then the former inhabitants of the earth will return, on every hill embers will be rekindled; everywhere the flames of life will blaze up, old dwelling places will be rebuilt, old times renewed, and history will become the dream of an infinite, everlasting present.

He who belongs to this race and this faith and wishes to contribute his part towards the taming of nature, frequents the workshops of artists, gives ear to the poetry that bursts forth unawares in every walk of life, never wearies of contemplating nature and conversing with her, follows all her beckonings, finds no journey too arduous if it is she who calls, even should it take him into the dank bowels of the earth: surely he will find ineffable treasures, in the end his candle will come to rest, and then who knows into what heavenly mysteries a charming subterranean sprite may initiate him. Surely no one strays farther from the goal than he who imagines that he already knows the strange realm, that he can explain its structure in few words and everywhere find the right path. No one who tears himself loose and makes himself an island arrives at understanding without pains. Only to children or childlike people, ignorant of what they are doing, can this happen.

Attentiveness to subtle signs and traits, and inward poetic life, practiced senses, a simple, God-fearing heart – these are the basic requisites for a true friend of nature, and without them his striving will not prosper. Without full, flowering humanity, the striving to understand a human world does not seem wise. Not one of the senses must slumber, and even if all are not equally awake, all must be stimulated and not repressed or neglected. As we see the future painter in the boy who covers every wall and every level stretch of sand with his drawings, who combines bright colors into figures, we see the future philosopher in him who untiringly pursues and inquires into all things in nature, who turns his mind to everything, gathers whatever is noteworthy and is happy if he has made himself the master and possessor of a new phenomenon, a new force and knowledge.

Now to some it seems not worth the trouble to pursue the infinite divisions of nature, and moreover, they find it a dangerous undertaking without fruit or issue. Never can we find the smallest grain or the simplest fiber of a solid body, since all magnitude loses itself forwards and backwards in infinity and the same applies to the varieties of bodies and forces; we encounter forever new species, new combinations, new phenomena, and so on to infinity. They seem to stand still only when our fervor wanes; we waste the precious time in vain study and tedious enumeration, and this in the end becomes a true madness, a fatal vertigo over the horrid abyss. And nature, they say, remains wherever we turn a terrible mill of death: everywhere monstrous change, indissoluble endless chain, realm of voracity and mad luxuriance, incommensurable and fraught with disaster; the few bright points, they say, only serve to illumine a night that is all the more terrifying, filled with all manner of specters that frighten the beholder into insensibility.

Death stands like a savior by the side of unfortunate mankind, for without death the madman would be the happiest among creatures. The effort to fathom the giant mechanism is in itself a move towards the abyss, a beginning of madness: for every lure seems an expanding vortex, which soon takes full possession of the unfortunate and carries him away through a night of terrors. Here, they say, is the insidious pitfall of human reason, which nature looks upon as her worst enemy and everywhere seeks to destroy. Praised be the childlike ignorance and innocence of men, which leaves them unaware of the terrible dangers which everywhere like awesome storm clouds surround their peaceful dwelling places, threatening at every instant to break over them. Only the inner disunity of nature’s forces has preserved man up to now, but inexorably the great moment will come when all mankind by common resolve will save itself from this intolerable lot, will wrench itself free from this hideous prison, when through voluntary renunciation of their earthly possessions men will redeem their race forever from this misery, and escape to a happier world, to the home of their ancient father.

Thus, men would end in a manner worthy of them, thus they would anticipate their inevitable extermination or even more terrible degeneration into beasts through gradual destruction of the mind, through madness. Association with the forces of nature, with beasts, plants, rocks, storms and waves, must inevitably make men resemble these things, and this adaptation, transformation, dissolution of the divine and human into uncontrolled forces is, they say, the spirit of the awful, devouring power that is nature: and is not indeed everything we see a rape of heaven, a desolation of former glories, the remnant of a hideous feast?

“Very well,” say some who are more courageous, “let our race carry on a slow, well-conceived war of annihilation with nature! We must seek to lay her low with insidious poisons. The scientist is a noble hero, who leaps into the open abyss in order to save his fellow citizens. Artists have dealt her many covert blows: continue along this road, possess yourselves of the secret threads, and make her lust after herself. Exploit her strife to bend her to your will, like the fire-spewing bull.  She must be made to serve you.  Patience and faith befit the children of mankind. Distant brothers are united with us for one purpose, the starry wheel will become the spinning wheel of our life, and then with the help of our slaves we shall build ourselves a new Djinnistan. With inward triumph let us behold her devastations, her tumults, she shall sell herself to us, and bitterly atone for every violent deed. With a rapturous sentiment of our freedom let us live and die; here rises the stream that will someday submerge and quell her, let us bathe in it and gather courage for new heroic deeds. The monster’s rage cannot reach us, a drop of freedom is enough to lame it forever, and put an end to its devastation.”

“They are right,” say some; “here or nowhere lies the talisman. We sit by the source of freedom and look; it is the great magic mirror, in which all creation is disclosed clear and pure, in it bathe the tender spirits and images of every kind of nature, and here every chamber is open to us. What need to journey wearily through the dismal world of visible things: For the purer world lies in us, in this source. Here lies the true meaning of the great, varicolored, confused pageant; and if, full of these perceptions we go out into nature, everything is familiar to us, and with a certainty we know every shape. We need not inquire at length; an easy comparison, a few lines in the sand are enough, and we shall understand. Thus, all things are a great manuscript to which we hold the key, and nothing comes unexpected because we know the motion of the great clockwork in advance. We alone enjoy nature with all our senses, because it does not destroy our senses, because we are not frightened by night-mares but bright awareness makes us confident and calm.”

“The others speak falsely,” said a grave man to these last. “Do they not recognize in nature the true copy of themselves?  They devour themselves in wild heedlessness. They do not know that their nature is a game played by their thoughts, a wild dream fantasy. To them indeed, nature is a terrible beast, a strange, adventurous mask of their own desires.  The man who is awake sees without trembling this brood of his uncontrolled fancy, for he knows they are immaterial ghosts of his own weakness. He feels that he is lord of the universe, his self soars all-powerful over the abyss, and for all eternity it will soar exalted over this world of everlasting change. His heart strives to proclaim and diffuse harmony. As he moves into the infinite, he becomes more and more at one with himself and his creation round him, and at every step he sees the eternal, all embracing efficacy of a high, ethical world system, the citadel of his self, emerge more clearly.  The meaning of the world is reason: for the sake of reason the world exists; at first it is the battleground of a childlike bourgeoning reason, but some day it will be the divine image of reason’s workings, a true cathedral. Until then, let man honor it as the symbol of his spirit, which is ennobled as he is ennobled, in uncharted stages. Therefore, let him who would gain knowledge of nature, practice his ethical sense, let him act and mould according to the noble core of his inwardness, and nature will freely reveal herself to him. Ethical action is the one great experiment by which all the mysteries of the most manifold phenomena are solved.  He who understands this experiment and closely reasoning can break it into its parts, is the eternal master of nature.”

Anxiously, the novice listened to the crisscrossing voices. Each seemed to him right, and a strange confusion overcame his spirit. Little by little the inward tumult subsided, and a spirit of peace seemed to soar over the crashing dark waves, bringing new courage and contemplative serenity to the young man’s heart.

A merry youth with roses and ivy on his brow came leaping to the spot and saw him as he sat huddled in thought. “Why must you sulk and ponder?” He cried. “You are on the wrong track and will get nowhere. What matters is a joyous mood. Is nature morose?  You are still young. Do you not feel the commandments of youth in every vein? Do not love and yearning fill your breast? How then can you sit alone? Does nature sit alone?  Joy and desire shun the recluse: and without desire, of what avail is nature?  Only among men is the home of the spirit, which invades every one of your senses with a thousand bright colors and embraces you like an unseen beloved. At our banquets its tongue is unloosed, it sits on high and strikes up songs of life at its happiest. You have not yet loved, poor fellow; at the first kiss a new world will open before you, and life like a thousand arrows will flash through your entranced heart.  I shall tell you a story.”

“Listen well: Long ago, there lived far to the west a very young man, good, but extremely odd. He tormented himself continually about this nothing and that nothing, always walked in silence and straight before him, sat down alone when the others were at their sports and merry-makings, and brooded over strange things. Caves and woods were his dearest haunts; and there he talked on and on with beasts and birds, with trees and rocks–of course not one rational word, but mere idiotic stuff, to make one laugh to death.” “He continued, however, always moody and serious, in spite of the utmost pains that the squirrel, the monkey, the parrot, and the bullfinch could take to divert him, and set him in the right way. The goose told stories, the brook jingled a ballad between, a great thick stone cut ridiculous capers, the rose stole lovingly about him from behind and crept through his locks, while the ivy stroked his troubled brow. But his melancholy and gravity were stubborn. His parents were much troubled, and did not know what to do. He was in good health, and ate well enough; they had never caused him any offence; and, until a few years ago, he had been the liveliest and merriest of them all, foremost in all their games, and a favorite with all the maidens.

He was very handsome, looked like a picture, and danced like an angel.” “Amongst the maidens was one, a charming and beautiful creature, who looked like wax, had hair like golden silk, and cherry-red lips, was a doll for size, and had coal-black, yes, raven-black eyes. Whoever saw her was ready to swoon, she was so lovely. Now Rosebud, for that was her name, was heartily fond of the handsome Hyacinth, for that was his name, and he loved her fit to die. The other children knew nothing of it. A violet told them of it first. The little house-cats had been quite aware of it, for the houses of their parents lay near each other. So, when Hyacinth stood at night by his window, and Rosebud at hers, and the cats ran past mouse-hunting, they saw the two standing there, and often laughed and tittered so loud that they heard it and were offended.

The violet told it in confidence to the strawberry, and she told it to her friend, the raspberry, who never ceased rasping when Hyacinth came along; so that by and by the whole garden and wood were in the secret, and when Hyacinth went out, he heard on all sides the cry: “Little Rosy is my posy!” This vexed him; but the next moment he could not help laughing from the bottom of his heart, when the little lizard came slipping along, sat down on a warm stone, waggled his tail, and sang” — “Little Rosebud, good and wise,All at once has lost her eyes:Taking Hyacinth for her mother,Round his neck her arms she flings;Then perceiving ’tis another–Starts with terror?–no, but clings–Think of that!–fast as before,Only kissing all the more!” “Alas, how soon was the grand time over! There came a man out of strange lands, who had traveled wondrous far and wide, had a long beard, deep eyes, frightful eyebrows, and a strange garment with many folds, and inwoven with curious figures. He seated himself before the house of Hyacinth’s parents. Hyacinth at once became very inquisitive, and sat down beside him, and brought him bread and wine. Then parted he his white beard, and told stories deep into the night; and Hyacinth never stirred or tired of listening. This much they learned afterward, that he talked a great deal about strange lands, unknown countries, and amazingly wonderful things; stopped there three days, and crept with Hyacinth down into deep shafts. Little Rosebud cursed the old sorcerer pretty thoroughly, for Hyacinth was altogether absorbed in his conversation, and paid no heed to anything else, hardly even to the swallowing of a mouthful of food.

At length the man took his departure, but left with Hyacinth a little book which no man could read.” “Hyacinth gave him fruit, and bread, and wine to take with him, and accompanied him a long way. Then he came back sunk in thought, and thereafter took up a quite new mode of life. Rosebud was in a very sad way about him, for from that time forward he made little of her, and kept himself always to himself. But it came to pass that one day he came home, and was like one born again. He fell on his parents’ neck and wept.”  “I must away to a foreign land!” he said: “the strange old woman in the wood has told me what I must do to get well; she has thrown the book into the fire, and has made me come to you to ask your blessing.

Perhaps I shall be back soon, perhaps never more. Say good-bye to Rosebud for me. I should have been glad to have a talk with her; I do not know what has come to me: I must go! When I would think to recall old times, immediately come thoughts more potent in between; my rest is gone, and my heart and love with it; and I must go find them! I would gladly tell you whither, but do not myself know; it is where dwells the mother of things, the virgin with the veil; for her my spirit is on fire. Farewell!”  “He tore himself from them, and went out. His parents lamented and shed tears. Rosebud kept her chamber, and wept bitterly.”

“Hyacinth now ran, as fast as he could, through valleys and wildernesses, over mountains and streams, toward the land of mystery. Everywhere he inquired–of men and beasts, of rocks and trees — after the sacred goddess Isis. Many laughed, many held their peace; nowhere did he get an answer. At first, he passed through a rugged wild country; mists and clouds threw themselves in his way, but he rushed on impetuously. Then he came to boundless deserts of sand–mere glowing dust; and as he went his mood changed also; the time became tedious to him, and his inward unrest abated; he grew gentler, and the stormy impulse in him passed by degrees into a mild yet powerful attraction, wherein his whole spirit was dissolved. It seemed as if many years lay behind him.”

“And now the country became again richer and more varied, the air soft and the way smoother. Green bushes enticed him with their pleasant shadows, but he did not understand their speech; they seemed indeed not to speak, and yet they filled his heart with their green hues, and their cool, still presence. Ever higher in him waxed that same sweet longing, and ever broader and juicier grew the leaves, ever louder and more jocund the birds and beasts, balmier the fruits, darker the heavenly blue, warmer the air, and more ardent his love. The time went ever faster, as if it knew itself near the goal.”

“One day he met a crystal rivulet, and a multitude of flowers, coming down into a valley between dark, columnar cliffs. They greeted him friendly, with familiar words.”  “Dear country-folk,” said he, “where shall I find the sacred dwelling of Isis? Hereabouts it must be, and here, I guess, you are more at home than I.”

“We also are but passing through,” replied the flowers; “a spirit-family is on its travels, and we are preparing for them their road and quarters. A little way back, however, we passed through a country where we heard her name mentioned. Only go up, where we came down, and thou wilt soon learn more.”

“The flowers and the brook smiled as they said it, offered him a cool draught, and went on their way. Hyacinth followed their counsel, kept asking, and came at last to that dwelling he had sought so long, which lay hid among palms and other rare plants. His heart beat with an infinite longing, and the sweetest apprehension thrilled him in this abode of the eternal seasons. Amid heavenly odors he fell asleep, for Dream alone could lead him into the holy of holies. In marvelous mode Dream conducted him through endless rooms full of strange things, by means of melodious sounds and changing harmonies.  All seemed to him so familiar, and yet strange with an unknown splendor; then vanished the last film of the perishable as if melted into air, and he stood before the celestial virgin. Then he lifted the thin glistening veil, and — Rosebud sank into his arms. A far-off music surrounded the mysteries of love’s reunion and the outpouring of their longings, and shut out from the scene of their rapture everything alien to it.”

“Hyacinth lived a long time after with Rosebud and his happy parents and old playmates; and numberless grandchildren thanked the wonderful old wise woman for her counsel and her uprousing; for in those days people had as many children as they pleased.”

“The novices embraced one another and departed.  The broad, echoing halls stood empty and bright, and the wondrous conversation continued in innumerable languages among the thousandfold natures, which had been gathered together in these halls and arranged in various orders.  Their inner forces play one against the other.  They strove back towards their freedom, their old relations.  Some few stayed in their proper place and calmly watched the multiform stirrings about them.  The others complained of dire pains and torments and bemoaned the glorious old life in the heart of nature, where a common freedom joined them together and each spontaneously obtained what he needed.”

“Oh, if only man,” they said, “could understand the inner music of nature, if only he had a sense for outward harmonies. But he scarcely knows that we belong together and that none of us can exist without the others. He cannot leave anything in place, tyrannically he parts us, and plucks at our dissonances. How happy he could be if he treated us amiably and entered into our great covenant, as he did in the good old days, rightly so named. In those days he understood us, as we understood him. His desire to become God has separated him from us, he seeks what he cannot know or divine, and since then he has ceased to be a harmonizing voice, a companion movement. He senses, to be sure, the infinite delight, the eternal pleasure in us, and that is why he has so wondrous a love for some among us. The magic of gold, the secrets of colors, the joys of water are not alien to him, he surmises the wonder of ancient stones, and yet he lacks the sweet passion for nature’s weavings, the eye for our entrancing mysteries. Will he ever learn to feel? This divine, this most natural of all senses is little known to him: feeling would bring back the old time, the time we yearn for; the element of feeling is an inward light that breaks into stronger, more beautiful colors.  Then the stars would rise within him, he would learn to feel the whole world, and his feeling would be richer and clearer than the limits and surfaces that his eye now discloses. Master of an endless dance, he would forget all his insensate strivings in joy everlasting, nourishing itself and forever growing. Thought is only a dream of feeling, a dead feeling, a pale-gray feeble life.”

“As they spoke, the sun shone through the lofty windows, and the sound of their words was lost in a gentle murmur; an infinite understanding permeated every shape, a tender warmth spread over them all, and a wondrous song of nature rose from the deepest silence. Human voices were heard nearby, the great folding doors leading in from the garden were opened, and a few travelers sat down on the steps of the broad staircase, in the shadow of the building. The charming landscape lay in a lovely radiance before them, and in the background the eye lost itself in blue mountain heights. Friendly children brought all manner of food and drink, and soon a lively discourse began amongst the travelers.”

“To everything that man undertakes,” said one of them finally, “he must give his undivided attention, his self; once he has done this, miraculously thoughts arise, or a new kind of perception, which appear to be nothing more than delicate, abrupt movements of a colored pencil, or strange contractions and figurations of an elastic liquid. From the point where he has transfixed the impression, they spread in all directions with a living mobility and carry his self with them. Often, he can stop this movement at the outset by dividing his attention or letting it wander at random, for thought seems to be nothing other than emanations and effects which the self induces all around it in that elastic medium, or the refractions of the self in that medium, or in general a strange game that the waves of this ocean play with the rigidity of concentration.

Strange to say, it is only through this play that man becomes aware of his uniqueness, his specific freedom; it seems to him then as though he were waking from a deep sleep, as though he had just begun to be at home in the universe, as though the light of day had just broken in upon his inner world. It seems to him the highest achievement if, without disturbing this play, he can carry on the ordinary business of the senses, if he can feel and think at once. Thereby both types of perception gain: the outerworld becomes transparent and the inner world becomes varied and meaningful; thus man finds himself in an ardent, living state between two worlds, enjoying the most perfect freedom and the most joyous sense of power.”

“It is natural that man should attempt to perpetuate this state and extend it to the whole sum of his impressions; that he does not grow weary of pursuing these associations between the two worlds and delving into their laws, their sympathies and their antipathies. The epitome of what stirs our feeling is called nature, hence nature stands in an immediate relation to the functions of our body that we call senses. Unknown and mysterious relations within our body cause us to surmise unknown and mysterious states in nature; nature is a community of the marvelous, into which we are initiated by our body, and which we learn to know in the measure of our body’s faculties and abilities. The question arises, whether we can learn to understand the nature of natures through this specific nature, and to what degree our ideas and the intensity of our attention are determined by it, or else determine it, thus snatching it away from nature and perhaps destroying its delicate flexibility. Clearly, these inner relations, these faculties of our body must first of all be studied, before we can hope to answer this question and penetrate the nature of things.

It might also be thought; however, that we must needs have extensive practice in thinking, before trying our mettle on the inner structure of our body and applying its intellect to an understanding of nature; and indeed, once we had this practice, nothing would be more natural than to call on every possible process of thought, to acquire nimbleness and lightness in this craft, to pass from one process to another, to combine them and subdivide them in innumerable ways. To this end, we should have to scrutinize all our impressions, and closely observe the play of thoughts thus engendered, and should this in turn give rise to more new thoughts, examine them too.  Thus, little by little we should learn their mechanism and, through frequent repetition, learn to distinguish and remember the processes that are consistently bound up with each impression. Once we had evolved thought processes to serve as nature’s code, the deciphering would become increasingly simple, and our power over the movement and generation of thoughts, would enable us to produce natural ideas and natural compositions even without any preceding real impression, and then the ultimate end would be attained.”

“It seems venturesome,” said another, “to attempt to compose nature from its outward forces and manifestations, to represent it now as a gigantic fire, now as a wonderfully constructed waterfall, now as a duality or a triad, or as some other weird force. More conceivably, it is the product of an inscrutable harmony among infinitely various essences, a miraculous bond with the spirit world, the point at which innumerable worlds touch and are joined.”“Let it be venturesome,” said a third; “the more haphazardly the daring fisherman’s net is woven, the better his catch. Let us merely encourage each man to go as far as he can, and praise each man who spins a mesh of new fantasy around things. Is it not the well-constructed systems that will give the future natural geographer the bearings for his great map of nature? He will compare these systems, and it is this comparison that will give us our first knowledge of the strange country. The knowledge of nature, however, will still be an infinitely different thing from its interpretation. The true decipherer will perhaps succeed in setting several natural forces in motion at once to produce beautiful and useful phenomena; he will know how to improvise on nature as on a great instrument, and nevertheless, he will not understand nature.”

“This is the gift of the historian of nature and knowing the universe, this higher theatre of natural history, perceives nature’s meanings and heralds them in prophecy. This province is still unknown, a holy field. Only divine emissaries have let fall disjointed words concerning this highest of sciences, and the surprising thing is that these prescient minds have allowed this understanding to escape them and have debased nature to the level of a uniform machine, without past and future.  Everything divine has a history; can it be that nature, the one totality by which man can measure himself, should not be bound together in a history, or – and this is the same thing – that it should have no spirit? Nature would not be nature if it had no spirit, it would not be the unique counterpart to mankind, not the indispensable answer to this mysterious question, or the question to this never-ending answer.”

“Only the poets have felt what nature can be to mankind,” began a handsome youth, “and in this connection, it can once more be said that the humanity in them is in the most perfect diffusion, and that consequently through their mirrored clarity and mobility each impression is communicated on all sides in its infinite variations. They find everything in nature. To them alone its soul remains no stranger, and not in vain do they seek all the ecstasies of the golden age in its presence. For them nature has all the variety of an infinite soul, and more than the cleverest, most alive of men, it astounds us with ingenious turns and fancies, with correspondences and deviations, with grandiose ideas and trifling whimsies.

So inexhaustible is nature’s fantasy, that no one will seek its company in vain. It was power to beautify, animate, confirm, and even though an unconscious, unmeaning mechanism seems to govern the part, the eye that looks deeper discerns a wonderful sympathy with the human heart in concurrences and in the sequence of isolated accidents.”

“The wind is a movement of the air; it can spring from various outward causes, but is it not more to the lonely, yearning heart when it comes murmuring, blowing from places beloved, when with a thousand dark, melancholy sounds it seems to melt a silent grief into a deep, melodious sigh? And in the youthful, unassuming green of meadows in spring, does the young lover not see his whole flowery heart expressed with enchanting truth? And has the luxuriance of a spirit seeking contentment in wine, ever appeared with greater joy and vigor than in a glistening, full-blown cluster of grapes, hiding amid broad leaves?

Poets are accused of exaggeration and at best forgiven for their unreal images; without looking closer, people ascribe to poet’s fancy the miraculous nature that sees and hears things which others do not hear and see, whose tender madness governs the real world at will; but to me it seems that the poets do not exaggerate nearly enough, since they content themselves with darkly understanding the magic of nature’s language and with playing on fancy as a child might play with his father’s magic wand. They do not know what forces they have as vassals, what worlds are bound to obey them.  Is it not true that stones and words are obedient to music that under the spell of music they serve man’s will like house-pets?  Is it not true that the loveliest flowers bloom for the beloved, and delight in adorning her? Does the sky not grow blue for her and the sea turn smooth?

Is it not true that all nature, as well as face and gesture color and pulse, expresses the emotion of each one of the wonderful higher beings we call men? Does the cliff not become a unique Thou, whenever I speak to it? And what am I but the stream, when I look sadly down into its waters and lose my thoughts in its flow? Only a tranquil, sensuous spirit will understand the world of plants, only a high-spirited child or a savage will understand beasts.”

“Whether anyone has ever understood the stones and the stars, I do not know, but if so, he must surely have been a noble creature. Only those statues that have come down to us from a lost age of mankind’s glory, are illumined by so deep a spirit, so rare an understanding of the stone world; they cover the sensitive beholder with a rind of stone that seems to grow inward. The sublime has power to petrify, hence we should not be surprised at the sublime in nature or its influence, or fail to know where to seek it.  Might nature not have turned to stone at the sight of God? Or from fear at the advent of man?”

“At these words, the first speaker sank into deep thoughts, the distant mountains took color, and a soft, familiar evening descended upon the countryside.  After a long silence he was heard to say: “In order to understand nature, we must allow nature to be born inwardly in its full sequence. In this undertaking, we must be led entirely by the divine yearning for beings that are like us, we must seek out the conditions under which it is possible to question them, for truly, all nature is intelligible only as an instrument and medium for the communication of rational beings.

The thinking man returns to the original function of his existence, to creative contemplation, to the point, where knowledge and creation were united in a wondrous mutual tie, to that creative moment of true enjoyment, of inward self-conception. If he immerses himself entirely in the contemplation of this primeval phenomenon, the history of the creation of nature unfolds before him in newly emerging times and spaces like a tale that never ends, and the fixed point that crystallizes in the infinite fluid becomes for him a new revelation of the genius of love, a new bond between the Thou and the I.

A meticulous account of this inward universal history is the true theory of nature. The relations within his thought world and its harmony with the universe will give rise to a philosophical system that will be the faithful picture and formula of the universe. But the art of pure contemplation, of creative metaphysics, is difficult, requiring earnest, unremitting thought and strict self-discipline, and the reward will not be the applause of his trouble-shunning contemporaries, but only the joy of knowing and being awake, a closer contact with the universe.”

“Yes,” said the second, “nothing is so marvelous as the great simultaneity of nature.  Everywhere nature seems wholly present. In the flame of a lamp all natural forces are active, and thus it manifests itself and transforms itself everywhere, gathers together leaves, blossoms and fruits, and in the midst of time it is present, past and future at once; who knows towards what unique kind of distance it also tends, and whether this system of nature is not merely a sun in the universe, connected with it by bands, by a light, by an attraction and influences, which first become more clearly perceptible in our spirit and then, gathering from it, diffuse the spirit of the universe over this nature and distribute the spirit of this nature among other systems of nature?”

“If the thinker,” spoke the third, “rightly turns artist and takes the active road, if by adroit use of his spiritual movements he endeavors to reduce the universe to a simple, apparently enigmatic figure, if, as one might say, he lets nature dance and copies its movements in words, the lover of nature cannot but admire this bold undertaking and delight in the flowering of this human gift. It is fitting that the artist should set activity uppermost, for his essence is to act and create with knowledge and will, and his art is ability to use his instrument for every purpose, to reproduce the world in his own way; therefore, the principle of his world is activity and his world is his art. Here again nature can be seen in new glory and only the unthinking man casts away with contempt the illegible, strangely mixed words.  Thankfully, the priest lays this exalted new instrument of measurement on the altar beside the magnetic needle, which never goes astray and has guided innumerable ships across the pathless ocean to the coasts and harbors of home.

Aside from the thinker, however, there remain other friends of knowledge, who are not eminently devoted to creation through thought and hence, having no vocation for this art, prefer to become pupils of nature, who find their joy in learning rather than in teaching, in experiencing rather than in making, in receiving rather than in giving.   Some are industrious, confident in the omnipresence and bosom kinship of nature; hence convinced in advance of the imperfection and continuity of all separate things, they closely examine some random phenomenon with steady gaze they hold fast its spirit as it undergoes transformations into a thousand shapes; holding by this thread, they penetrate every secret nook and cranny of the secret workshop, in order to map the labyrinthine ways in their entirety. By the time they complete this arduous labor, a higher spirit has come over them unawares, and then it is an easy matter for them to discus the map as it lies before them and plot a path for every seeker.”

“Immeasurable gain blesses their painstaking labor, and the outline of their map will coincide surprisingly with the system of the thinker, whom they will involuntarily have consoled, it would seem, with living proof of his abstract theorems. The idlest among them live in childlike expectation, waiting to receive the knowledge of nature that is useful to them from higher beings whom they fervidly venerate. In this short life, they have no desire to devote their time and attention to work that would take them away from the service of love. Living in piety, they strive only to win life and impart love, unconcerned over the great drama of forces, calmly resigned to their destiny in this realm of power, for they are devoutly aware that they cannot be parted from the beings they love, and nature stirs them only as an image and property of those beings. What need have these happy souls to know?

They have chosen the better part, they are pure flames of love; in this earthly world they abide only on the pinnacles of the temples, or else, on battered ships at sea, they are blazing symbols of heaven’s superabundant fire. Often in blessed hours these loving children perceive glorious secrets of nature and reveal them in unknowing simplicity. The scientist follows their steps and gathers every treasure they have let fall in their innocence and joy, the poet, filled with sympathy, does homage to their love, and seeks in his songs to transplant this love, this germ of the golden age, into other times and lands.”

“Whose heart does not leap with joy,” cried the youth with glittering eye, “when the innermost life of nature invades him in all its fullness! When the overpowering emotion for which language has no other name than love, expands within him like an all-dissolving vapor and, trembling with sweet fear, he sinks into the dark, alluring heart of nature, consumes his poor personality in the crashing waves of lust, and nothing remains but a focus of infinite procreative force, a yawning vortex in an immense ocean? What is the flame that is manifested everywhere? A fervent embrace, whose sweet fruits fall like sensuous dew.

Water, first-born child of airy fusions, cannot deny its voluptuous origin and reveals itself an element of love, and of its mixture with divine omnipotence on earth. Not without truth have ancient sages sought the origin of things in water, and indeed, they spoke of a water more exalted than sea and well water. A water in which only primal fluidity is manifested, as it is manifested in liquid metal; therefore, should men revere it always as divine. How few up to now have immersed themselves in the mysteries of fluidity, and there are some in whose drunken soul this surmise of the highest enjoyment and the highest life has never wakened. In thirst this world soul is revealed, this immense longing for liquefaction.  The intoxicated feel only too well the celestial delight of the liquid element, and ultimately all pleasant sensations are multiform flowings and stirrings of those primeval waters in us. Even sleep is nothing but the high tide of that invisible world sea, and waking is the ebb tide.

How many men stand by the rivers that make drunk and fail to hear the lullaby of the motherly waters or to enjoy the entrancing play of their never-ending waves! In the golden age we lived like these waves; in variegated clouds, those floating seas and springs of life on earth, the generation of mankind loved and procreated in never-ending games, they were visited by the children of heaven, and only in that great event which holy sagas call the deluge, was this flowering world submerged; a hostile being hurled down the earth, and a few men were left in the alien world, washed up on the crags of the new mountains.”

“How strange that precisely the most sacred and charming manifestations of nature should be in the hands of such dead men as scientists incline to be. These phenomena whose potency calls forth nature’s creation, phenomena which should be a secret of lovers, a mystery of higher mankind, are shamelessly and senselessly evoked by unfeeling minds, which will never know what miracles their retorts contain.  Only poets should deal in the fluid element and be empowered to speak of it to ardent youth; then laboratories would be temples, and with new love men would honor and take pride in their flame and their rivers. How fortunate would cities bathed by the ocean or a great river once more call themselves, and every source would again be a sanctuary of love, an abode of learned, sagacious men. That is why nothing holds greater lure for children than fire and water; every stream promises to carry them into the flowery distance, into places more beautiful than home. It is not mere reflection if the sky lies in the water, it is useless to teach and preach nature.

A man born blind cannot learn to see, though you may speak to him forever of colors and lights and distant shapes. No one will fathom nature who possesses no sense of nature, no inward organ for creating and dividing nature, who does not, as though spontaneously, recognize and distinguish nature everywhere, who does not with an inborn creative joy, a rich and fervent kinship with all things, mingle with all of nature’s creatures through the medium of feeling, who does not feel his way into them.”

“He who has a sound and practiced sense of nature enjoys nature by studying it, and takes, delight in its infinite variety, its inexhaustible joy, and has no need to be disturbed in his pleasures by useless words. It seems to him rather that a man cannot be too much alone with nature, cannot speak of her tenderly enough, cannot be attentive and undisturbed enough in his contemplation of her. In nature he feels as though in the arms of his chaste bride, and only to her does he confide the intuitions to which he has attained in sweet hours of intimacy. Happy I call this son, this darling of nature, whom she permits to behold her in her duality. As a power that engenders and bears, and in her unity, as an endless, ever-lasting marriage. His life will be a plentitude of all pleasures, a voluptuous chain, and his religion will be the real, the true naturalism.”

“During this last discourse, the teacher with his novices had approached the company.  The travelers stood up and greeted him reverently. A cool freshness issued from the dark arbors, spreading over the open space and the stairs. The teacher sent for one of those rare glittering stones called rubies, and a bright red light was diffused over faces and garments.  Soon a friendly communication was woven among them. While music was heard from the distance and a cooling flame from crystal goblets poured into the lips of the company, the strangers related strange memories of their travels.

Filled with yearning and with thirst for knowledge, they had gone out to seek traces of that lost primeval race, whose degenerate and barbarous remnants the men of the present appear to be, and to whose lofty learning they seem to owe their most important knowledge and implements. They had been lured above all by that sacred language that had been the glittering bond between those kingly men and the inhabitants of the regions above the earth, and some precious words of which, according to countless legends, were known to a few fortunate sages among our ancestors.”

“Their speech was a wondrous song, its irresistible tones penetrated deep into the inwardness of nature and split it apart. Each of their names seemed to be the key to the soul of each thing in nature. With creative power, these vibrations called forth all images of the world’s phenomena, and the life of the universe can rightly be said to have been an eternal dialogue of a thousand voices; for in the language of those men all forces, all modes of action seemed miraculously united.  To seek out the ruins of this language, or at least all reports concerning it, had been one of the main purposes of their journey, and the call of antiquity had drawn them also to Sais. Here, from the learned clerks of the temple archives, they hoped to obtain important reports, and perhaps even to find indications in the great collections of every kind. They asked the teacher for leave to spend the night in the temple and to attend his classes for several days. Their request was granted, and they were filled with delight at how, from the treasure of his knowledge, the teacher accompanied their tales with various remarks, and spun out a number of graceful and instructive little stories and recollections.

At last they proceeded to the craft of his old age, to arouse, exercise and sharpen a differentiated sense of nature in young minds, to combine it with other gifts and produce higher blossoms and fruits.”

“To be a prophet of nature is a sacred and beautiful office,” said the teacher. “Not the mere breadth and system of knowledge, not the gift of relating this knowledge easily and purely to familiar concepts and experience and of exchanging the peculiar, strange-sounding words for common expressions, not even the skill of a rich imagination at ordering the manifestations of nature into easily understood, apt and illuminating pictures which either strain and satisfy the senses by charm of composition and richness of content, or delight the spirit with profound meaning, – all this is not the essential requirement of a prophet of nature. For him who is concerned with something other than nature, this is perhaps enough; but he who is filled with profound yearning for nature.

Who seeks everything in nature and is, in a manner of speaking, a sensitive instrument of its secret action, will take for his teacher and guide to nature only the man who speaks of her with worship and faith, whose discourse has the wondrous, inimitable penetration and inherency by which true gospels, true prophecies are known. The inborn talent of this natural soul must be sustained and developed from childhood by unremitting toil, by solitude and silence (for excess of speech is not compatible with unremitting alertness), by a childlike nature and indefatigable patience.   No one can tell how long it will take a man to learn nature’s secrets.  Some fortunates have attained this knowledge early, some in advanced old age. A true inquirer never grows old, every eternal yearning lies outside the term of life, and the more the outer husk fades, the righter, clearer and richer grows the kernel. Nor does this gift attach to outward beauty or strength or intelligence or any human quality. In every walk of life, among all ages and races, in all epochs and under every reach of heaven, there have been men selected by nature as her favorites, and endowed with inner conception.”

“Often these men seemed simpler and more awkward than others and spent their whole life covered by the darkness of the herd. Indeed, it is a great rarity to find true understanding of nature accompanied by great eloquence, cleverness and a noble bearing, since commonly it goes hand in hand with simple words, and upright mind, and an unassuming character. This sense seems to develop most easily and frequently in the workshops of artisans and artists, and in those occupations, such as farming, sea-faring, cattle-breeding, mining, in which men are in constant contact and struggle with nature.

Every art demands an understanding of the means needed to achieve a desired end, to produce a given effect and phenomenon, and in skill at selecting and handling these means; therefore, he who feels an inner calling to impart the understanding of nature to other men, to develop and cultivate this gift in men, must first give careful regard to the natural causes of this development and endeavor to learn the elements of this art from nature. Having thus gained an insight he will devise a system based on experiment, analysis and comparison whereby these means may be applied by any individual; this system will become like second nature to him and then he will embark with enthusiasm upon his rewarding task. Only such a man can rightly be called a teacher of nature, since every other mere naturalist will, like some natural event, only awaken a sense of nature by accident and sympathy.”

The Tale of Eros and Fable

This fairy tale is Novalis’ answer to Goethe’s fairy tale The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Both Goethe and Novalis believed that fairy tales contained the most succinct wisdom found in literature. Goethe was inspired by Schiller’s, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, for his fairy tale. In other words, these fairy tales are created for the instruction of the aesthetic education of humanity. They are parables for the future.

They are the currency of wisdom enchanted into images that will never fade. Truly they are gifts to the hopeful future of mankind.

Novalis has revisited the myth of Cupid and Psyche that is embedded in The Golden Ass, The Metamorphosis of Apuleius. This ancient story stands somewhere between myth and mystery wisdom and holds keys to the human psyche that are very instructive to the modern reader. The normal view of Cupid as an innocence, blindfolded baby with wings who shoots his arrows wherever his mother, Venus, tells him too is left behind in a world of youthful innocence.

In the story, Cupid is Eros — a young man of tremendous beauty and grace who chooses a lover but cannot reveal his true form to her. Psyche, who doubts her nightly lover, betrays his trust and must earn back the devotion of her husband by completing three challenges and then take the path to Hades to bring back to Venus the beauty of Persephone, the Queen of the underworld. This story is the hero’s (heroine’s) journey of faithful love, the same story that Novalis has reworked and raised to a new level.

C.S. Lewis wrote his own version of the story in the book Until We Have Faces.  This theme is truly a basis for a psychological study of love and relationships that merit study of the subject. It stands more in the German Romantic Movement as a fairy-tale (Marchen) than a Greek myth about Olympian destiny.

Fairy tales defy definition or literary critique and speak from an ever-present place of timelessness. Out of the night, ancient mankind found moral instruction in their commonly shared dreams. These dreams became tradition and their meanings have almost been totally lost. Novalis reawakens in us the ability to interpret these dream-like images as forces of our own soul nature. Each character is a part of us that needs to be found again. The plot is nothing less than the redemption of mankind by their own hand. The hero is our higher self who comes to birth through understanding our lower, “dark” self that is at home in night and dreams. These are unearthly events that are “at home” in our inner being.

No amount of analysis can reveal all that Novalis has implanted in these images as seeds that will someday come to fruition. We must simply water the seeds and watch the growth.

As Novalis said about this fairy tale: The antipathy of light and shadow, the yearning for the clear, hot, penetrating ether, the unknown sanctity, the Vesta in Sophia, the mixture of the romantic elements of all ages, petrifying and petrified intellect, Arcturus. . .  the spirit of life, single features as mere arabesques – it is in this light that my tale should be seen. More than just a political allegory, Klingsor’s Fairy Tale is a philosophical allegory of universal renewal whose encyclopedic scope of allusion bears upon the entire ‘mental system of the world.’

Offered below are selections from the Tale of Eros and Fable taken from Novalis’ novel, Heinrich von Afterdingen, which seems to have been his answer to Goethe’s, Conversations of German Refugees, Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years, wherein we find Goethe’s fairy tale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. 

The Tale by Novalis

Synopsis of the Plot 

Sophia, doomed to separation from her divine spouse, seeks ultimately to be reunited with Arcturus forever. To bring about the return of the Golden Age, Eros must be redeemed from the Realm of the Moon to awaken Freya, daughter of the gods; Fable must vanquish the Scribe, the Underworld, and the Spiders, before she can sing her song of praise to heavenly Sophia. Fable’s Mother must die and her ashes mixed with the sacred water from the altar vessel to make a healing potion for all to drink.  Thus, the tale tells how Eros became the power of pure love and Fable develops the force of divine poetry, in order that Sophia, reunited with Arcturus, may become the everlasting priestess of the heart. 

Cast of Characters

Ginnistan – the chaotic force of imagination

Scribe – the petrified intellect

Sophia – the woman like unto the goddess of wisdom

Freya – the princess of peace

Eros – the being of love

Fable – the being of poetry (Beauty)

Arcturus – the King of the North Realm (Spirit)

Moon – father of Ginnistan

Mother – Fable’s mother

Father – Fable’s father

The Old Hero – gives Eros his iron sword

Perseus – gives Fable the distaff

The Sphinx – lives in the Underworld questioning Fable

The Tale

The long night had just commenced.

The aged Hero struck his shield so that it sounded far and wide through the empty city streets. Three times he did the same, signaling: at which the lofty stained-glass windows of the palace began to brighten from within, and the figures on them moved.

Their movements quickened as the fiery light grew in strength and spread onto the streets. The great pillars and walls were also illumined gradually, standing forth, at the last, in the purest milk-blue shimmer shot through with subtle colors.

The whole region was now visible, and the reflection of the figures… the melee of lances and swords, shields and helmets, bowing down on every side to the crowns which appeared here and there, and which in turn finally withdrew and retreated before a simple green wreath, to form a wide circle around it… all this was mirrored in the frozen sea encircling the mountain on which the city stood.

The distant chain of mountains that enclosed the sea was also bathed to its roots in the soft glow. Nothing could be discerned clearly, but a strange noise echoed through the peaks as if from a far off mighty forge.

The city, by contrast, appeared bright and clear. The gorgeous rays reflected from its smooth glass-like walls and discovered the laudable symmetry and noble design of all the buildings and their pleasant allocation. Set before each window stood a fine earthenware vase filled with blossoms of snow and ice which glittered enchantingly.

Prominent above all else in splendor was the garden in the great square before the palace; a garden wrought with metal trees and crystal plants, and scattered with flower and fruit of jewel. The diversity and elegance of these forms, and the richness of light and color, created the most sumptuous spectacle; its magnificence crowned by a lofty fountain frozen to ice at the centre of the garden. Slowly, the aged Hero passed in front of the palace gate. A voice from within called his name. He pushed against the gate, which opened with a gentle ringing sound, and stepped into the hall, holding his shield before his eyes.

“Have you discovered nothing yet?” said the beautiful daughter of Arcturus in an anguished voice. She lay against silken cushions, upon a throne fashioned skillfully from one huge sulphur crystal, while her delicate limbs, which seemed as if they blended together the whiteness of milk with the crimson of roses, were massaged thoroughly by several maids-in-waiting. A brilliance radiated from beneath their hands, and a sweet-smelling breeze wafted through the hall.

The Hero was silent.

“Let me touch your shield,” she said, softly.

He moved towards the throne and stood upon the costly carpet. She took his hand, pressed it tenderly to her heavenly breast, and touched his shield. His armor rang, and a pervasive strength re-vitalized his body. His eyes flashed, and his heart could be heard as it beat against his breastplate. The beautiful Freya seemed happier, and the light streaming from her grew more intense.

“The King approaches!” cried a splendid bird, perched in a recess of the throne. The handmaidens drew a sky-blue coverlet around the princess, arranging it above her breast. The Hero lowered his shield and looked toward the dome, from which a broad staircase wound to each side of the hall. Soft music preceded the King, who appeared soon after in the dome and descended with a numerous retinue. The splendid bird spread its dazzling wings, stirred them gently, and sang to the King as if with a thousand voices:

Soon will the noble stranger come, and Time

His endless reign begins: The warmth returns!

The Queen will waken from the sway of Dream

When Earth and Sea, enjoined by Love, are one.

Once Fable has her ancient right reclaimed

The cold of Night from all this realm will leave:

In Freya’s womb, the World awake enflamed,

And every lover chance upon his love.

The King embraced his daughter tenderly. The spirits of the constellations grouped themselves around the throne, and the Hero took his place among them. An infinite multitude of stars filled the hall in decorative clusters. The maids-in-waiting carried in a table and a casket holding several cards which bore holy and profound symbols formed entirely from patterns of stars.

The King kissed the cards with reverence, shuffled them carefully, and handed a part of them to his daughter. The rest he withheld for himself. The princess drew them forth, one after another, and laid them on the table. Then the King studied his own, and made his selection with great care before adding one to those others. At times, he seemed compelled to choose a certain card: but often his delight was quite apparent when, by virtue of some happy circumstance, he was able to arrange the signs and symbols in a beauteous harmony.

As play began the spectators showed signs of a deep involvement and, as if each one held some invisible instrument in his hand, wielding it excitedly, they made the strangest movements and gesticulations. At the same time, a soft but soul-stirring music carried on the air; the seeming product of the stars interweaving wondrously in the hall and the other strange activities. The stars flew by, now slowly, now swiftly, in ever-changing patterns and, in keeping with the rhythms of the music, they conformed to the figures on the cards in the most skillful fashion.

The music, like the symbols on the table, was in continual flux; but, despite the frequently exotic and complex transitions, a simple theme lent it the effect of unity. With astonishing grace the stars flew, echoing the patterns: Now they were all together in a dense constellation: Now disposed in beauteous clusters: Now the long processional scattered, like a beam of light, into countless sparks: Now, as they formed into smaller groups and concentrations, a vast over-all design would suddenly emerge.

Throughout this time the figures in the stained-glass windows remained still. The bird displayed his coat of dazzling feathers with endless invention. Hitherto, the aged Hero had been busy with his own, unseen work, when suddenly the King cried out in joy:

“All will be well! Iron, cast your sword into the world, that it may know where peace is to be found.” The Hero freed the sword at his side, held it pointing toward the sky, then took and hurled it through the open window, beyond the city and beyond the sea of ice. It sped through the air like a comet, and seemed to shatter against the circle of mountains, for it rang distantly and fell in a glitter of sparks.

At this same time, the handsome boy Eros slept peacefully in his cradle while Ginnistan, his nurse, rocked him and gave the breast to his foster-sister Fable. So that the glare of the brightly burning lamp which the Scribe had set before himself might not disturb the baby boy, she had spread her gaily colored shawl over the cradle. The Scribe wrote tirelessly, glancing sourly at the children once in a while, and scowling darkly at the nurse. She smiled back pleasantly and kept silent.

The Father of the children came in and out continually, looking over to the babes each time, and nodding amiably to Ginnistan. He always had something to tell the Scribe who, listening with a keen attention, would note it down and then hand the pages to a noble, almost divine, woman who reclined against an altar. A dark bowl of water stood there into which she dipped the pages every time, glancing down with a contented smile. If, upon drawing them out, she perceived that certain passages held fast and shone brightly, she would give the page back to the Scribe to be fastened in a large book. Often, should his labors prove fruitless and all be washed away, he would seem disgruntled.

At times, the woman would turn to Ginnistan and the children, dip her finger in the bowl, and sprinkle several droplets over them. As soon as they touched the nurse, the baby, or the cradle, they dispelled in a blue mist which contained a thousand intriguing visions, always changing and hovering at hand. If a droplet chanced to hit the Scribe a cascade of numbers and geometrical figures poured to the ground. Laboriously, he strung them on a thread and hung them round his neck by way of adornment.

The boy’s Mother, the very incarnation of grace and charm, came in frequently. She was invariably busy and always left with some article of the household furnishings. If the suspicious Scribe, who perused her with prying glances, should chance to remark this, he started on a lengthy harangue, to which no-one paid the slightest attention. They were all, it appeared, quite accustomed to his pointless objections.

Once in a while, the Mother took little Fable to her breast, but soon she would be called away once again and Ginnistan took back the child, who seemed to prefer to suck at the nurse’s breast. Suddenly, the Father brought in a slender rod of iron which he had found in the courtyard. The Scribe examined it, turning it over in his hands with great excitement, and soon discovered that if suspended by a thread at its point of balance, it pointed North of its own accord. Ginnistan also took it in her hand, bent it, shaped it, breathed on it and, in a short while, fashioned it like a snake surprised in the act of biting its own tail. The Scribe soon wearied of his investigation, but recorded the facts precisely and proposed in great detail the uses this discovery might yield. How mortified he was when his entire script failed to stand the test and the page emerged blank from the bowl.

The nurse went on playing, sometimes touching the cradle with the snake. The boy would waken then, throwing back his covers, and reach with one hand for the light and with the other for the serpent. Once able to grasp it, he leapt vigorously from the cradle so that Ginnistan was startled and the Scribe almost slipped from his stool in terror. Covered only by long golden hair he stood there in the room and, delighted beyond words, gazed on the prize as it strained to the North in his hands and shook him, so it seemed, to the core of his being. He grew visibly.

“Sophia,” he said to the woman in a touching voice, “Let me drink from the bowl.”

She handed it to him on the instant and he drank without halt while the bowl seemed to keep itself replenished. Finally, he returned it and embraced the noble woman fervently. Hugging Ginnistan, he begged of her the brightly colored shawl and tied it modestly around his hips. He took up little Fable in his arms. She appeared to take a great delight in his company and began to prattle. Ginnistan fussed about him. She looked exceedingly charming and alluring, and drew him to her with the eagerness of a bride. With a whispered word she led him to the chamber door, but Sophia motioned urgently and pointed to the snake. And then his Mother entered and he ran to her at once with scalding tears of welcome. The Scribe had left in a fury.

The Father came in, and when he saw mother and son in their silent embrace he passed behind them toward the seductive Ginnistan and caressed her. Sophia climbed the stair. Little Fable took up the Scribe’s pen and began to write. Mother and son were deep in whispered conversation, and the Father stole away to a chamber with Ginnistan, to restore himself in her arms after the day’s labor. At length Sophia returned, and the Scribe entered. The Father left the chamber and went back to his work. Ginnistan came in with flushed cheeks. In a torrent of abuse the Scribe drove little Fable from the stool, and found that it took some time to put his effects in order. He handed the leaves that Fable had written to Sophia, thinking to get them back quite clean, but flared at once into high dudgeon when Sophia retrieved the pages from the bowl and laid them before him shining and unscathed. Fable held close to her Mother, who comforted her and then swept out the room, opened the windows, let in fresh air and began to prepare an appetizing meal.

Through the windows one could contemplate the finest of views, and a clear sky stretching over the earth. In the courtyard, the Father worked busily. Whenever he tired he looked up to the casement where Ginnistan stood throwing all manner of sweetmeats down to him. The Mother and son assisted everywhere, making their preparations for the plan they had conceived. The Scribe scratched away with his pen, grimacing sourly if ever he needed recourse to Ginnistan, whose memory was exceptional and retained all that had happened.

Presently Eros arrived, clad in superb armor, with the gaily colored shawl tied round it like a sash, and asked for Sophia’s advice concerning how and when he should embark upon his journey. The Scribe interposed at once and hurriedly offered a detailed itinerary, but his proposals were ignored.

“You may start your journey immediately, with Ginnistan for a companion,” said Sophia. “She is acquainted with the road and well-known everywhere. She will assume the semblance of your Mother, in order to keep you from temptation. If you find the King, think of me and I will come to help you.”

Ginnistan and the Mother exchanged forms, thus giving, it seemed, great pleasure to the Father. The Scribe was happy that the pair were leaving, especially as Ginnistan made him a farewell gift of her pocket-book in which the history of the house was recorded in detail. Only little Fable remained as a thorn in his flesh; for the sake of peace and quiet he could have wished for nothing better than to number her among those departing. Sophia spoke a blessing as they knelt before her and gave them a vessel filled with water from the bowl to carry on their journey.

The Mother was extremely anxious. Little Fable wished to go as well; but the Father, too involved outside the house, took little interest in the leave-taking. It was night, and the moon was overhead, when they left on their travels.

“Dear Eros,” said Ginnistan, “we must hurry to reach my father; it is a long time since he saw me last, and he has searched for me tirelessly across the face of the earth. Do you see his pale face lined with grief? Your testimony will make me known to him in this unfamiliar body.”

Eros took the paths of night

By the pallid Moon espied:

All in rarest gem bedight

The realm of Shadow opened wide.

Covered with a mist of blue.

Hemmed with a golden seam,

He followed Fancy as she drew

Him over land and stream.

Courage filled the panting breast;

The youthful heart, desire:

Future joy upon him pressed

And fed his growing fire.

Yearning wept, all unaware

That Love came on apace:

Lines of tearfulness and care

Deepened on her face.

The little snake was true and firm

And pointed to the North.

They followed, with no fear of harm,

The guide that led them forth.

Through desert and the clouds’ demesne

The cheerless path of Eros ran,

‘Til he before the Moon was seen,

Hand in hand with Ginnistan.

The Moon sat on his silver throne,

Torn by grief, and set apart:

But when his daughter’s voice was known

He drew her to his heart.

Eros stood by, deeply touched at their affectionate embraces. The old man, profoundly shaken, finally recollected himself and welcomed his guest. He seized a great horn and blew upon it with all his might, sounding a tremendous call throughout the primeval castle. The pointed towers, with their glistening gargoyles and steep black roofs, trembled. The castle came to rest; for it had passed over to the mountains beyond the sea. Servants swept in from every side. Their strange appearance and attire did not unnerve brave Eros, and to Ginnistan they were a source of great delight. She greeted her old acquaintances and they assembled before her with fresh heart, each, in accord with its nature, exulting.

The boisterous spirit of High Tide followed on gentle Ebb. Ancient Hurricanes lay down on the throbbing breasts of fiery, passionate Earthquakes. Showers of fine Rain searched for the many-colored Rainbow who stood there paling, away from the Sun which holds a greater attraction for him. Berating the foolishness of young Lightnings, Thunder growled from behind innumerable Clouds which hovered in thousandfold charm and urged on the fiery youngsters.

The two lovely sisters, Morning and Eve, took especial joy in the arrival of the two visitors and wept quietly as they embraced them. Words could not convey the spectacle of this strange retinue. The old king did not tire of gazing on his daughter. She felt a tenfold happiness in her father’s castle, and never wearied of watching the familiar marvels and rarities. When the king gave her the key to his Treasure House, and granted her permission to arrange an entertainment for Eros, to divert him until the signal was given to retire, her joy was inexpressible.

The Treasure House was an extensive garden which, in variety and wealth, defied description. Among the imposing weather-trees stood countless fantastical castles of awesome design, each one surpassing the last. Everywhere there roamed large flocks of sheep with silver-white, golden and rose-colored fleece, and the strangest creatures peopled the grove. Remarkable tableaux stood here and there and the attention was caught constantly by festive processions and strange vehicles which appeared everywhere.

The flower-beds were full of the brightest blossoms, and the buildings piled high with all manner of weaponry; filled with the richest of rugs and tapestries; curtains, drinking bowls and every type of utensil and tool in an endless array. From a height, they looked out upon a romantic country studded with cities and castles, temples and sepulchers: All the charm of inhabited plains offered alongside the fearful attraction of wastes and towering mountains. The most beautiful colors were shown in the happiest blends. The mountain peaks flared like beacons in their caps of snow and ice. The plains rejoiced in freshest green. The distance was clothed in every shade of blue, and on the dark face of the sea there fluttered multi-colored pennants from innumerable fleets.

Here, in the background, a shipwreck could be seen, and in the foreground jovial peasants intent on a rustic meal: There, the sublime eruption of a volcano and the ravages of an earthquake: Here, lovers caressing fondly in the shade of trees. On one side, a fearsome battle, and below it an arena filled with absurd masqueraders: In another quarter of the foreground, an inconsolable lover gripping the corpse of a youth on a bier, with the weeping parents close by: In the distance, a fond mother with a baby at her breast and angels sitting at her feet or gazing down from the branches overhead.

The scenes changed continually and finally transformed into one vast mystic spectacle. Heaven and Earth were reduced to Chaos. All horrors had broken loose. A mighty voice gave the alarm. Ghastly multitudes of skeletons with black banners came down like a storm from the dark mountains and attacked Life which, in youthful congregations, was involved in joyous festivity on the plain, foreseeing no attack. An awful confusion raged: The Earth trembled: The storm roared, and the night was lit by the glare of frightful meteors. With unimaginable cruelty, the army of specters tore the young limbs of the living apart. A funeral pyre was erected and, amid the most fearful lamentations, the children of Life were consumed by the flames.

Suddenly, from the heap of black ash, a milky-blue stream sprang forth in all directions. The specters made to flee, but the flood grew visibly and engulfed the hideous brood. Soon each horror was destroyed. Heaven and Earth commingled in sweet music. A beautiful, wondrous flower gleamed and floated on the gentle waves. A shining bow arched over the waters, peopled on either side with god-like beings seated on resplendent thrones. At the zenith sat Sophia holding the bowl in her hand and, beside her, a forceful man with a wreath of oak-leaves in his hair and a palm of peace carried in place of a scepter in his right hand. A lily leaf dipped over the calyx of the floating flower and upon it sat little Fable singing the sweetest songs to the accompaniment of her harp. In the bowl of the flower lay Eros himself, bent over a beautiful, sleeping maiden who held him tightly in her arms. A smaller blossom closed over them, so that below the waist they appeared transformed into a flower.

The enraptured Eros thanked Ginnistan profusely. He took her lovingly in his arms, and she returned his caresses. Exhausted by the rigors of the journey and the great variety of the scenes he had witnessed, he longed for comfort and rest. Ginnistan, who felt warmly attracted to the handsome youth, was careful to make no mention of the water Sophia had given him to carry. She led him to a distant bathing place, took off his armor, and arrayed herself in a night-gown in which she looked mysterious and seductive. Eros plunged into the stormy waves and emerged exultant. Ginnistan dried him and rubbed his strong limbs which were taut with youthful freshness. In the heat of desire, he recalled his beloved and, in sweet delusion, embraced the alluring Ginnistan. Without further thought he succumbed to a heedless passion and at last, after the most voluptuous delights, he fell asleep on her enchanting breast.

During this time, a sad transformation had come about at home. The Scribe had enlisted the servants in a dangerous conspiracy. His hostile mind had long sought the opportunity to take control of the household management and to relieve himself of his burdens. He had discovered it. Firstly, his underlings seized the Mother and put her in chains of iron. The Father was held likewise, kept on bread and water. Little Fable heard the uproar in the room. She crept behind the altar and, discovering a secret door in its rear side, managed with great skill to open it and find a stairway leading down inside.

She pulled the door closed behind her and climbed down the steps in darkness. The Scribe burst violently into the chamber to revenge himself on little Fable and to take Sophia captive. Neither was to be found. The bowl was also missing. In his fury, he shattered the altar in a thousand pieces without, however, remarking the secret stairway.

Little Fable descended for quite some time. Finally, she emerged into an open courtyard enclosed by a majestic colonnade and shut off by a huge gate. Everything was dark here. The air was like a monstrous shadow: Black rays beamed from a body in the sky. All the forms were clearly distinguishable, since each object presented a different shade of black and cast a faint radiance behind. It seemed that light and shade had reversed their roles here. Fable was delighted to be in this novel world. She examined everything with childlike curiosity. At last she came to the gate before which, on a massy pedestal, there lay a beautiful Sphinx.

“What is it you seek?” said the Sphinx.

“My own inheritance,” replied Fable.

“Where do you come from?”

“From ancient times.”

“You are still a child.”

“And shall stay a child forever.”

“Who will stand by you?”

“I stand alone. Where are the Sisters?” asked Fable.

“Everywhere and nowhere,” answered the Sphinx.

“Do you know me?”

“Not yet.”

“Where is Love?”

“In the imagination.”

“And Sophia?”

The Sphinx muttered inaudibly to herself and rustled her wings.

“Sophia and Love!” cried Fable triumphantly, and passed through the gate.

She stepped into an awesome cavern and went cheerfully towards the ancient Sisters who plied at their mysterious labor by the miserly light of a lamp which gave forth darkness.

They pretended ignorance of their small visitor, who moved busily from one to another with sweet endearments. Finally, one of them, eyeing her asquint, croaked in a harsh voice:

“What do you want here, you n’er-do-well? Who lets you in? Your childish prancing disturbs this steady flame and the oil is used up to no purpose. Can you not be seated and find some work?”

“Dear kinswoman,” said Fable, “It matters little to me if I am idle. I really had to laugh at your doorkeeper. She would have liked to hug me to her breast, but she must have eaten too much: She was unable to stand. Let me sit beyond the door and give me something to spin: I cannot see very well here and, what is more, I need leave to sing and chatter, and that might disturb you in your profound meditations.”

“You shall not go outside, but, in the side room a ray of light from the upper world breaks through a crack in the rocks. You may spin there if you have skill enough. There are great heaps of scraps and oddments here. Twist them together. But be wary; if you are lackadaisical, or if the thread snaps, then the twine will bind you and strangle you.”

The old woman chuckled maliciously and continued her spinning. Fable gathered an armful of threads, took a distaff and spindle, and skipped singing into the side room. She looked through the crevice and saw the constellation of Phoenix. Pleased with this good omen she began to spin joyfully and, with the door left ajar, sang in a quiet voice:

Children of the past,

Within your cells awake:

Leave the beds of rest,

For soon the dawn will break.

I weave your threads of life

Into one web alone!

Farewell, the years of strife:

Your being shall be one!

Each in the other dwell

And, in the one, live all:

One heart within you swell:

One breath arise and fall.

Sorcery and Dream

And things of Spirit yet,

Into the cavern stream:

The holy Sisters fret!

The spindle whirled with unbelievable proficiency between her little feet while she twisted the slender thread with both hands. As she sang, numerous tiny flames appeared slipping through the opening in the door and swarming through the cavern in the semblance of hideous specters. The old crones meanwhile, had kept on with their spinning in a bad temper, waiting for the abject cries of little Fable; how terrified they were when, without warning, a monstrous nose peered over their shoulders and, on looking around, they saw the entire cavern filled with grotesque beings bent on every kind of mischief. The Sisters clung to each other, wailing in fearful chorus, and would have turned to stone from sheer fright had not the Scribe entered the cavern at this moment bearing a mandrake root. The tiny flames withdrew into the cleft in the rock and, because the black lamp had been overturned in the confusion and extinguished, the cavern itself became bright.

The old hags were pleased when they heard the Scribe approaching, but filled with hatred for little Fable. They called her forth, snarled fiercely at her, and forbade her to spin anymore. The Scribe sneered complacently because he thought that little Fable was now in his power and he said:

“It is fortunate that you are here and can be put to work. I hope that there will be no lack of punishments. Your good genius guided you here. I wish you long life and great satisfaction.”

“I thank you for your good wishes,” said Fable. “It seems apparent that the day is yours. All you require is an hourglass and scythe to look just like the brother of my kinswomen here. If you should ever have need of goose-quills, just pluck a handful of that soft down from your cheeks.”

The Scribe seemed on the point of attacking her, but she smiled and said: “If you value that fine heads of hair and your bright eyes, be careful and consider my nails; you have little else to lose.”

Suppressing his rage, he turned to the Sisters who were wiping their eyes and groping for their distaffs; for, since the lamp had been extinguished, they could find nothing and so heaped insults on Fable.

“Give her leave to catch Tarantulas for the preparation of your oil,” he said cunningly. “I am happy to tell you, by way of consolation, that Eros flies about ceaselessly and will keep your shears in good use. His Mother, who so often forced you to spin the threads longer, will fall a prey to the flames tomorrow.”

When he saw that Fable shed a few tears at this news, he tickled himself to induce laughter and, handing part of the root to the old crones, he walked away with his nose in the air. With angry voices, the Sisters ordered Fable to search out Tarantulas, albeit they kept a store of oil, and she hurried away. She pretended to open the gate but, instead, slammed it shut noisily and slipped silently to the back of the cavern where a ladder hung down. She climbed it rapidly and soon reached a trapdoor which opened on the chamber of Arcturus.

The King sat surrounded by his counselors when Fable appeared. The Northern Crown graced his head. In his left hand he held the Lily, in his right hand the Scales. The Eagle and the Lion sat at his feet.

“Monarch,” said Fable, as she bowed to him respectfully: “Hail to your well-founded throne! Glad news for your suffering heart! A speedy return of Wisdom! An eternal awakening to peace! Rest to restless love! Transfiguration of the heart! Long life to antiquity and form to futurity!”

The King touched her with the Lily on her guileless brow.

“Whatever you ask will be granted you.”

“I will ask three times. When the fourth time comes, Love will be at the door. Now, give me the Lyre.”

“Eridanus! Bring it here!” cried the King.

Eridanus streamed from the ceiling with a rushing sound, and Fable drew the Lyre from his sparkling waters.

Several times Fable sounded the Lyre prophetically. The King ordered a goblet to be passed to her. She drank a little from it and then, with many expressions of thanks, hastened away. She glided across the sea of ice in beautiful curves and sweeps, invoking a joyous music from the strings. Beneath her feet the ice gave forth the most glorious sounds. The Rock of Grief took them for the voices of his returning children searching out their way and answered with a thousand-fold echo.

Fable soon arrived at the shore. She met with her mother, who looked haggard and wan, and had become thin and solemn, revealing in her noble features traces of hopeless sorrow and touching faith.

“What has happened to you, dear mother?” said Fable. “You appear to have changed completely. But for my intuition I would not have recognized you. I had hoped to refresh myself once again at your breast. I have pined a long time for you.”

“I thought from the first,” she said, “that the Scribe would not catch you. The sight of you restores me. My circumstances are wretched and poor enough but I shall soon find consolation. Perhaps a moment of rest will fall to me. Eros is close by: If he sees you and you distract him with idle conversation perhaps he will stay for a while. In the meantime, you may come to my breast. I will give you what I have.”

She took the little one upon her lap, gave her the breast and, as she smiled down on the child enjoying her refreshment, continued:

“It is I who am to blame for the wildness and inconstancy of Eros. Yet I cannot regret it, for the hours that I spent in his arms have made me immortal. I thought I would melt away beneath his fiery caresses. Like a god-like brigand it seemed as if he wished to destroy me cruelly and to triumph proudly over his quivering prey. We awoke late from our forbidden frenzy in a state of curious transformation. Long silver-white wings covered his pale shoulders and hid the delicious fullness and curves of his body. The power which had surged to speed his growth from boy to youth seemed to have passed into those splendid wings, as he had become a boy again. The constant ardor of his face was transformed into the wayward fire of a will-of-the-wisp, his profound earnestness into artful roguery, his thoughtful calm into childish whimsicality, his noble poise into clownish restlessness.”

“I was drawn irresistibly to this willful boy by a powerful compulsion, and felt keenly his mocking smiles and indifference to my pitiable entreaties. I saw my aspect change. My carefree contentment disappeared and gave way to a sad affliction, a sensitive timidity. I would have preferred to conceal myself with Eros from the eyes of the world. I did not have the courage to meet his quizzical gaze and felt horribly shamed and humiliated. I thought of nothing but him and would have sacrificed my life to deliver him from his hurtful ways. Yet I could only adore him, however deeply he might wound my feelings.”

“Since the time when he arose and deserted me, however touchingly I called on him with burning tears to remain, I have followed him everywhere. He seems fully determined to torment me. Hardly do I catch up with him when away he flies, maliciously. His bow plants confusion everywhere. Although in need of comfort myself I can do nothing but comfort the unhappy ones. The voices which cry to me point out his way and their woeful lamentation when I am forced to leave them cuts me to the heart. The Scribe pursues us in a terrible fury and vents his spite on the wretched stricken ones.”

“The fruit of that strange night was a host of mysterious children who resemble their grandfather and who take their name from him. Winged like their father they accompany him constantly and torment the poor creatures who are struck by his arrows.”

“But here comes the procession of the happy ones. I must leave. Farewell, sweet child. His nearness fires my passion. May you prosper in your undertaking.”

Eros swept by without so much as a friendly glance for Ginnistan, who hastened towards him. But he turned to Fable amiably and his small companions danced happily around her. Fable was delighted to see her foster-brother again and sang a merry song to the accomplishment of her Lyre. Eros seemed to verge upon reflection and let fall his bow. The little ones fell asleep on the grass. Ginnistan was able to hold him, and he suffered her tender caresses. Finally, Eros himself began to sway, nestled in Ginnistan’s lap, and drifted into slumber, covering her with his wings. The weary Ginnistan was filled with joy and never took her eyes away from the handsome sleeper.

During the singing, Tarantulas appeared on every side, drawing a glittering net over the blades of grass and moving nimbly along their threads in time to the rhythm. At this point Fable comforted her mother and promised her help soon. The music echoed softly from the cliff: A lullaby for those who slept. Ginnistan sprinkled a few droplets from the closely guarded vessel and the sweetest dreams descended on them. Fable took the vial and proceeded on her journey. The strings of her Lyre were never stilled and the Tarantulas followed the enchanting sounds on hastily spun thread.

Presently she saw the leaping flames of the funeral pyre in the distance, towering above the green forest. Sadly, she looked up to the sky and was heartened to catch a sight of Sophia’s blue veil which floated and swirled over the earth, covering the vast depths eternally.

The Sun hung in the sky, fiery red with anger; but the powerful flame sucked at the light and stole it and, however hard the Sun tried to hold its own, it grew paler and more flecked. The conflagration became white and intense as the Sun went into its decline. It drew off the light with increasing power and soon the glory of the daystar was consumed and it remained merely as a faint glowing disc whose every convulsion of envy and rage hastened the flight of the escaping rays of light. Finally, nothing was left of the sun but a black, burnt-out cinder, which fell into the sea. The flame had become brilliant beyond words. The funeral pyre was consumed. The flame lifted slowly and moved towards the North.

Fable went into the courtyard, which looked desolate: The house, also, was fallen into ruin. Briars grew from the cracks in the window ledges and all manner of vermin swarmed over the fallen stairways. In the chamber, she heard a fearful uproar. The Scribe and his followers had been gloating over the Mother’s death in the flames, but were now in an awful panic witnessing the destruction of the Sun.

They had striven in vain to quell the flame and had not escaped without injury from their enterprise. Pain and fear drew fearsome curses and lamentations from them. Their terror increased when Fable stepped into the room and they rushed at her with cries of rage in order to vent their fury on her. Fable slipped behind the cradle and her pursuers rushed blindly into the web of the Tarantulas, which took vengeance on them with countless bites. The whole assembly began at once to dance wildly; at which Fable played a sprightly tune. Laughing roundly at their ludicrous antics she walked to the altar and cleared the ruins to uncover the hidden stairway, down which she passed with her retinue of Tarantulas.

The Sphinx asked: “What strikes more suddenly than lightning?”

“Vengeance,” said Fable.

“What is most transitory?”

“Wrongful possession.”

“Who knows the world?”

“He who knows himself.”

“What is the eternal mystery?”


“With whom does it reside?”

“With Sophia.”

The Sphinx drew back abjectly and Fable entered the cavern.

“I have brought Tarantulas for you,” she said to the old Sisters, who had lit their lamp again and were very busy at their work. They started with fear, and one of them ran to her to stab her with the shears. Inadvertently, she stepped on a Tarantula which stung her in the foot. She screamed piteously. The others attempted to help her and were likewise stung by the enraged Tarantulas. Hereafter they could not lay hands upon Fable, but sprang about wildly.

“Spin us light dancing clothes at once,” they cried furiously to the little girl. “We cannot move in these stiff skirts and we are stifling in the heat. But be sure to soak the thread in spider-juice so that it will not snap. And weave into it flowers that have grown in fire, otherwise your life is forfeit.”

“Gladly,” said Fable, and stepped into the side room.

“I will bring you three choice flies,” she said to the garden spiders which had fastened their delicate webs all around the ceiling and walls. “But first you must spin me three light and pretty dresses. I will fetch the flowers that are to be woven into them at once.”

The garden spiders were willing and began to weave rapidly. Fable stole across to the ladder and made her way to Arcturus.

“Monarch,” she said. “The wicked are dancing and the good rest. Has the flame arrived?”

“It has arrived,” said the King. “The night is passed and the ice is melting. My consort can be seen in the distance: She who was my enemy is burned. Everything begins to live. I may not show myself yet, for by myself I am no King. Ask what you will.”

“I need,” said Fable, “flowers that have grown in fire. I understand you have a skillful gardener who knows how to grow them.”

“Zinc!” cried the King. “Give us flowers!”

The flower gardener came forward from the ranks, brought a pot full of fire, and sowed it with gleaming pollen. In a short while the flowers sprang up. Fable gathered them in her apron and started back. The spiders had worked hard and nothing remained but to fasten on the flowers; a task which they undertook at once with taste and skill. Fable was careful not to snap the ends of the threads which still held to the weavers.

She carried the dresses through to the exhausted dancers, who had collapsed, dripping with perspiration, to recover awhile from their novel exertions. With great dexterity, she undressed the scrawny beauties, who were not without abuse for their little handmaid, and clothed them in the new garments which were neatly made and fitted perfectly. While thus occupied, she praised the charm and sweet disposition of her mistresses, and the crones were well pleased with her flattery and the daintiness of the dresses. They had found their breath again, meanwhile, and inspired by a fresh desire to dance they whirled around jauntily, artfully promising the young child a long life and great reward.

Fable went into the side room and addressed the garden spiders: “You may now feast on the flies I have put into your webs.”

The spiders were already impatience with the pulling and tugging, for the ends of the threads were still inside them and the old crones leapt about wildly, so they ran out and fell upon the dancers. The old women looked to defend themselves with their shears but Fable had silently made away with them. As a result, they succumbed to their hungry fellow-craftsmen, who had not tasted such delicious fare for a long time and sucked them to the very marrow. Fable looked up through the cleft in the rock and caught sight of Perseus with his mighty iron shield. The shears flew to the shield of their own accord, and Fable requested him to clip Eros’ wings with them, and then to immortalize the Sisters with his shield and so finish his great work. She then left the subterranean realm and ascended joyously to the palace of Arcturus.

“The Flax is spun: The lifeless is again without Life: The living will rule, shaping and using the lifeless: The inward will be revealed and the outward hidden: The curtain will rise soon and the play commence. I shall petition you once more, and then spin days of eternity.”

“Blessed child,” said the Monarch, touched. “You are our liberator.”

“I am merely the godchild of Sophia,” said the little girl. “Grant that Turmaline, the flower gardener, and Gold may accompany me. I must gather up the ashes of my foster-mother, and the ancient Bearer must rise again so that the Earth may float and not lie upon Chaos.”

The King summoned all three and commanded them to attend on little Fable. The city was bright and the streets were bustling. The sea broke with a roar against the hollow crags and Fable traveled across in the Kings’ chariot with her companions. Turmaline gathered the flying ashes carefully. They circled the Earth until they reached the old Giant, down whose shoulders they climbed. He seemed to be paralyzed by a stroke and could not move a limb. Gold placed a coin in his mouth and the flower gardener thrust a bowl below his loins. Fable touched his eyes and emptied her small jug on his brow. As soon as the water had flowed over his eyes, into his mouth, and down his body into the bowl, a spark of life quivered through all his muscles. He opened his eyes and drew himself up vigorously. Fable sprang back to join her companions on the rising Earth and bade him a friendly good morning.

“Are you here once again, dear child?” said the old Giant. “I have dreamed of you time and again. I had always thought you would appear before the Earth and my eyes grew too heavy for me. I must have been sleeping for a long time.”

“The Earth is light again, as it always has been for the good,” said Fable. “The ancient times are returning. Soon you will be amongst old acquaintances. I shall spin happy days for you, and you will not be without a helper, moreover, so that you may sometimes share in our joys, and breathe youth and strength in the arms of a lover. Where are our old, generous friends, the Hesperides?”

“At Sophia’s side. Soon their garden will bloom again and the golden fruits send forth their fragrance. Even now they move about and gather the drooping plants.”

Fable departed and hurried to the house. It had fallen into complete ruin. Ivy grew over the walls. High bushes cast their shade on the former courtyard and soft moss cushioned the ancient stairways. She entered the room. Sophia was standing by the resurrected altar. Eros lay at her feet in full armor, looking grave and nobler than ever before.

A magnificent chandelier hung from the ceiling. The floor was paved with a variety of stone, and a wide circle, consisting entirely of noble and apposite figures, was inlaid around the altar. Ginnistan was bending over a bier on which the Father lay, apparently in deep sleep. She was weeping. Her bloom of sweetness was infinitely enhanced by this evidence of devotion and love. Fable offered the urn, in which the ashes were collected, to the holy Sophia who took it tenderly in her arms.

“Sweet child,” she said. “Your zeal and loyalty have won a place for you among the eternal stars. You chose that part of you which is immortal. The Phoenix belongs to you. You will be the soul to our life. Rouse the bridegroom now. The herald will call and Eros must seek out Freya and awaken her.”

Fable was indescribably happy to hear these words. She called her companions, Gold and Zinc, and approached the bier. Ginnistan followed their actions expectantly. Gold melted a coin and filled the hollow in which the father lay with a glittering flood. Zinc wound a chain around Ginnistan’s breast. The body floated on the shimmering waves.

“Bend down, dear mother,” said Fable, “and lay your hand on the heart of your beloved.”

Ginnistan leant forward. She saw her reflection multiplied many times. The chain touched the waves, her hand his heart.

He awoke and drew the enraptured bride to his bosom. The metal was becalmed and became a bright mirror. The Father rose, his eyes flashed and, handsome and regular as his form was, his whole body seemed nonetheless to be an exquisite infinitely mobile liquid which revealed each impression by the most sensitive movements.

The happy pair approached Sophia who pronounced blessing over them and admonished them to take due counsel of the mirror, which reflected everything in its true state, destroyed all illusion and held fast eternally to the primal archetypes. She then took up the urn and emptied the ashes into the bowl on the altar. A gentle turbulence signaled their dissolution and a light breeze ruffled the garments and tresses of the bystanders.

Sophia handed the bowl to Eros, who passed it to the others. All partook of the divine drink and, with ineffable joy, were inwardly aware of the Mother’s friendly greeting. She was there in all, and here mysterious presence seemed to transfigure everyone.

Their expectation was fulfilled and surpassed. They perceived what hitherto they had lacked, and the room became an assembly of the blessed. Sophia said: “The great mystery has been revealed to all, and yet remains eternally unfathomed. The new world is born from suffering and the ashes are dissolved in tears to become the drink of eternal life. The heavenly Mother dwells in everyone, in order that each child be born eternally. Do you feel the sweet birth in the beating of your hearts?”

She poured the remnants in the bowl down into the altar. The Earth quaked in its depths. Sophia said: “Eros, hasten with your sister to your beloved. You will see me again presently.”

Fable and Eros hurried away with their companions.

A mighty springtime had spread across the Earth. Everything rose up and stirred. The Earth floated closer beneath the veil. The moon and clouds moved Northwards in joyful turmoil. The castle of the King shone with radiant splendor over the sea, and the King stood at the parapet with his retainers in all his magnificence. Everywhere they could see whirlwinds of dust in which familiar figures seemed to be forming. They met numerous bands of youths and maidens who streamed to the castle and welcomed them with shouts of delight. On many a hill sat a happy, newly-risen couple in a long-awaited embrace, taking the new world for a dream and ceaselessly reassuring themselves of the beautiful truth.

The flowers and trees grew, putting forth greenery with all their might. Everything was renewed in spirit. Everyone talked and sang. Fable greeted old acquaintances everywhere. Animals drew near to the awakened humans in friendly deference, and plants waited on them with fruit and fragrance, adorning them most prettily. No stone lay any longer on human hearts, and every burden fell away to form a solid footing.

Fable and Eros came to the sea. A barque of polished steel was moored by the shore. They went on board and slipped the rope. The prow turned itself to the North, and the vessel cut through the dallying waves as if it were flying. Whispering reeds checked the headlong flight, and it touched gently ashore.

They hurried up the broad steps. Eros marveled at the regal city and its treasures. The fountain, come to life again, played in the courtyard: The grove murmured with the sweetest music, and a wondrous life seemed to wake and pulse through its ardent stems and leaves, its fruits and brilliant flowers. The aged Hero received them at the gates of the palace.

“Venerable ancient,” said Fable. “Eros has need of your sword. Gold has given him a chain, one end of which reaches down to the sea, whilst the other winds about his heart. Take hold of it with me, and lead us into the hall where the princess rests.”

Eros took the sword from the Hero’s hand, placed the hilt against his breast, and set the point forward. The double doors of the hall flew open and Eros approached the sleeping Freya in ecstasy. Suddenly there was a crash of thunder. A glowing spark leapt from the princess to the sword; the sword and chain grew bright. The Hero caught up little Fable, who was close to fainting. The plume of Eros’ helmet waved erect.

“Cast down the sword,” cried Fable, “and awaken your beloved.”

Eros let the sword fall, flew to the princess, and kissed her sweet lips passionately. She opened her large, dark eyes and recognized her beloved. A long kiss sealed the eternal union.

The King descended from the dome, leading Sophia by the hand. The constellations and the spirits of Nature followed in glittering ranks. Inexpressibly bright daylight filled the hall, the palace, the city, and the sky. A countless throng crowded into the wide, royal hall and in silent reverence watched the lovers kneel before the King and Queen, who blessed them solemnly. The King took from his head a diadem and set it on the golden locks of Eros. The aged Hero dismantled Eros’ armor and the King wrapped his cloak around him. Then he placed the Lily in his left hand and Sophia fastened a rich bracelet over the clasped hands of the lovers. At the same time, she set her crown to Freya’s brown hair.

“Hail to our sovereigns of old!” the people cried: “They dwelt among us always, and we did not know them! Blessings upon us! They will reign over us forever! Bless us also!”

Sophia said to the new Queen: “Cast the bracelet of your union into the air so that the people and the world may remain united with you.”

The bracelet dissolved on the air, and presently, circlets of light could be seen around every head, and a shining aureole formed over the city and the sea and the Earth, which celebrated an eternal festival of spring.

Perseus entered, carrying a spindle and a small basket. He presented the basket to the new King. “Here,” he said, “are the remains of your enemies.” Within it lay a slab of stone, in squares of black and white, and beside it a number of figures of alabaster and black marble.

“It is a chess set,” said Sophia. “All war is conjured onto this board and into these pieces. It is a memorial of the past, fraught times.”

Perseus turned to Fable and gave her the spindle.

“In your hands, this spindle will delight us for ever, and from your own being you will spin an unbreakable golden thread for us.”

The Phoenix flew with a melodious sound to her feet and spread its wings before her, whereupon Fable mounted and it soared with her above the throne and hovered there. She sang a heavenly song and began to spin: thread which seemingly unwound from her own breast. The people succumbed to further ecstasy and all eyes fastened on the sweet child. A fresh shout of joy came from those by the door. The old Moon entered with his strange retinue, and behind him the people bore Ginnistan and her bridegroom in a triumphal entry.

They were garlanded with flowers. The regal family received them with the most heartfelt tenderness, and the new royal couple proclaimed them their regents on Earth.

“Grant me,” said the Moon, “the realm of the Fates, whose strange dwellings are at this moment newly risen in the courtyard of the palace. There I will delight you with festivities, in which Fable shall aid me.”

The King granted his request; Fable nodded her assent; and the people looked forward with pleasure to the odd and entertaining diversions.

The Hesperides congratulated the new monarchs on their accession and asked for protection in their gardens. The King made them welcome, and countless joyful ambassadors came likewise in their turn. At the same time, the throne had changed imperceptibly into a magnificent bridal bed, over whose canopy hovered the Phoenix with little Fable. Three caryatids of dark porphyry held up the rear, whilst the front was borne on a sphinx of basalt.

The King embraced his blushing beloved, and the people, following the King’s example, embraced each other. Nothing could be heard but sweet endearments and the whisper of kisses.

Finally, Sophia said: “The Mother is among us. Her presence will gladden us for ever. Follow us into our dwelling: There, in the temple, we shall dwell eternally and guard the mystery of the world.”

The kingdom of eternity is founded,

By love and peace all strife has been impounded,

The dreams of pain are gone, to plague us never,

Sophia is priestess of all hearts forever.

Novalis’ Cosmology

Novalis felt that thinking was a gift of the divine that could understanding anything it focused on because all things were essentially created by thoughts. He believed that a universal understanding could be aided by compiling all knowledge in one comprehensive encyclopedic effort. He dreamed of all knowledge being at the fingertips of the reader, with accompanying commentary, experimentation, and application.

This mission reflected the efforts of Johann Amos Comenius, who was the Bohemian Unity Brethren bishop who had made encyclopedias the rage of Europe in 1620 through his book, The World in Pictures.  A sort of universal reformation of science, art, and religion was behind Novalis’ striving to begin a comprehensive cataloguing of everything.  Every mineral, animal, tree or philosophic thought would have a section that would collectively compile the effort of all thinkers, scientists, and poets into one grand worldview.

Novalis’ efforts were broad and covered every topic he could think of.  We have selected just a few and presented them below to show an example of the all-encompassing purview of his brilliant mind.

Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia

What stimulus is to the soul, beauty is to the spirit.

Love proceeds like philosophy – it is and will be – each and everything to everyone.  Therefore, love is the ego – the ideal of every endeavor.

The highest wonder is a virtuous deed – an act of free determination.

A person with prefect presence of mind is a seer.

The present moment – or the perpetual solidification process of earthly time has an unusual life-flame.  Time also creates everything, just as it destroys, binds and separates everything.

The highest and the purest is the most common and the most understandable.

Everything perfected does not express itself alone – it also expresses an entire (co)related world.  Thus, the veil of the eternal Virgin floats around perfection of every kind – dissolving under the slightest touch into a magic fragrance, to become the celestial chariot of the seer.  It is not antiquities alone that we behold – it is at once heaven, the telescope – and the fixed star – and therefore a genuine revelation of a higher world.

The theory of thought corresponds to meteorology.

The blossom is the symbol for the mystery of our spirit.

Perhaps solids and fluids are the two elements opposed to fire.

I think I am best able to express my state of soul in fairy tales.

God is a mixed concept – he has arisen from the union of all our soul faculties by means of a moral revelation, a moral centering miracle.

Is sleep – a mating with oneself?

Do colors form the transition from absolute motion of positive and negative light-matter to absolute rest?  Motion joins what rest decomposes, and vice versa.

Therefore imagination, which fashions figurative words, especially deserves the predicate “genius.”

Natural genius belongs to experimenting, that is to say, that wondrous ability to capture the sense of Nature – and to act in her spirit.  The true observer is an artist – he divines the significant, and knows how to sensitively select the most crucial elements from out of the strangest, most fleeting mixture of appearances.

In time, history must become a fairy tale – it shall be once again, as it was in the beginning.

That will be a Golden Age, when all words become – figurative words – myths – and all figures become – linguistic figures – hieroglyphs; when we learn to speak and write figures and learn to perfectly sculpt and make music with words.  Both arts belong together, are indivisibly connected and will become simultaneously perfected.

The magical sciences, according to Hemsterhuis, arise through the application of the moral senses to the other senses – through moralization of the universe and the other sciences.

It seems to me that a grammatical mysticism lies at the basis of everything – which could quite easily call forth the first sense of wonder with regard to language and writing.  The propensity for the miraculous and mysterious is nothing more than a striving – toward nonphysical – spiritual stimuli.  Mysteries are a means of nourishment – inciting potencies.  Explanations are digested mysteries.

A true fairy tale must be at once a prophetic representation – an ideal representation – and an absolutely necessary representation. The true poet of the fairy tale is a seer of the future.

Our alphabet is an art of musical writing, and over and above this, one from an individual instrument: the human organ of speech.

With every touch of perfection the work leaps from the master into far more than the expanses of space – and so with the final touch the master beholds the work that is supposedly his, separated from himself by a chasm of thought – whose breadth he can barely comprehend – and which only the imagination, like the shadow of a giant intelligence, is able to bridge. At the moment when it ought to have become entirely his, it became much more than he, its creator – and he became the unwitting instrument and property of a higher power.  The artist belongs to the work, and not the work to the artist.

The fairy tale is the canon of poesy as it were – everything poetic must be like a fairy tale. The poet worships chance.

Our spirit is a substance of associations – it results from harmony – from the simultaneity of the diverse, which also preserves it.

Human beings are in relation to the moral sense, what air and light are in relation to the ear and eye.

The active use of our organs is nothing more than magical, wonder-working thinking, or the arbitrary use of the physical world – for willing is nothing more than the magical, powerful faculty of thought.

Every virtue corresponds to a specific innocence. Innocence is moral instinct. Virtue is prose. Innocence is poesy.

One could imagine a highly instructive series of specific presentations of the Fichtean and Kantian systems, for example, a poetical, a chemical, a mathematical, a musical, etc.  A presentation, where one studies it as a scientist of philosophical genius – a historical presentation, and so forth. I have a large number of fragments on this.  

Sensual intoxication is to love, what sleep is to life.

Magic – star-like force. Through magic man will become powerful like the stars – on the whole, he is intimately related to the stars. 


I can only understand – compare the world – if I myself have a fully developed world in my mind.

Light, symbol and agent of purity.  Wherever light does not find anything to do – neither something to separate, nor something to join – it passes through.  Whatever cannot be separated or joined – is pure – simple.  Application to an electrical conductor – nonconductor, and semiconductor.

Woman is the highest visible means of nutrition, and forms the transition from the body to the soul.

Metaphysics and astronomy are one and the same science. The sun is to astronomy, what God is to metaphysics. Freedom and immortality are like light and heat.  God, freedom and immortality will one day form the basis of spiritual physics – just as the sun, light and heat form the basis of earthly physics.

The process of nutrition warms – the opposite process, the process of secretion – cools.

Soul and body make contact with one another in the will – chemically – or galvanically – or electrically – or like fire.  The soul eats the body and digests it instantaneously – the body conceives the soul and gives birth to it instantaneously.

Couldn’t every sculptural formation, from crystals up until man, be explained in an acoustic manner by means of arrested motion?

Shouldn’t we be capable of opposing the fermentation of combustion? Positive and negative flame. Hydrogen is perhaps a gaseous metal, rich colors in marshes. Hence water is a liquid metallic lime. Ice is metallic glass through coldness. Hydrogen too is present in the pigment of plants. Perhaps carbon is then the fermentative substance, the substance of reduction – the fermentable is opposed to the combustible. Sulphur is presumably oil – crystallized – or even metal, positive combustible – negative combustible. Fire – positive combustion – fermentation – negative combustion. Fire of the nutrition process – fermentation of the secretion process – process of generation, perhaps both together. In fermentation, what takes the place of light? Perhaps a positive – negative light.

Electricity is perhaps immature fire – just as the northern lights are immature electricity.

The theory of nutrition – the theory of positive combustion – but to be sure, only half of it.  One could perhaps call it – give it the additional name – mineral chemistry – the other half – vegetable chemistry – is the theory of fermentation – both will become united through the theory of generation.

Oxygen – basis of the mineral kingdom.

Hydrogen – basis of the metal kingdom.

Carbon – vegetable basis.

Nitrogen – animal basis.

There possibly comes into being four chemistries – two chemical philosophies. The one from nitrogen downward to oxygen. The other, in the opposite direction. To one, Nature is an infinitely modified oxygen – to the other, an infinitely modified nitrogen. Pure atmosphere.  Meteorological physics or chemistry – this would also be opposed to a geological chemistry – both united galvanic chemistry. Oxygen and hydrogen on the one side – carbon and nitrogen on the other – inorganic and organic chemistry.

Excitability is a force of repulsion; capacity, a force of attraction.

The reproductive force is organic elasticity.

Water is a wet flame.


The developing human being should attempt, in accordance with his powers, to overcome everything that he still finds difficult, in order to be able to rise above it and face it with greater facility – and ability. He then begins to cherish it.  For we are fond of whatever has cost us pain.

Theory of Religion

They are fortunate people, who perceive God everywhere – find God everywhere – these people are truly religious. Religion is morality of the highest dignity.

Music and Rhythmics

The hexameter in periods – on a grand scale. Grand rhythm. In whoever’s mind this grand rhythm, this inner poetic mechanism has become at home, writes altogether unintentionally and in a bewitchingly beautiful fashion. And insofar as the most sublime thoughts are untied with these strange oscillations, and enter into the loftiest and most diverse arrangements, there not only appears their deeper meaning, but also the ancient Orphic legend of the miracle of sound, as the mysterious doctrine of music, as the sculptor and solacer of the universe. Here we are granted a profound and instructive view into the acoustic nature of the soul, and discover at the point where the two oscillations are joined – a fresh affinity between light and thought.


Sadness is a symptom – a mood of secretion – joy, a symptom of enjoyment – of nutrition. The arteries carry out the process of nutrition, and the veins, the process of secretion.

Consciousness is nothing more than a sensation of the (algebraic) sense of comparison – sense of relation. Consciousness is the substance of the senses – consequently its sensations are also substances. Where there is a sense, there is also no consciousness.

True patience exhibits great elasticity.

Pain and anxiety denote the dreamy members of the soul. Bodily pleasure and displeasure are dream products. The soul is only partly awake. It senses pleasure and displeasure there, where it dreams; for example, in the involuntary organs – to which, in a certain respect, the entire body belongs. Pain and longing are sensations of the fettered soul.

Dreams instruct us in a remarkable manner concerning the ease with which our soul penetrates – and instantly transforms itself, into every object.

Laughter is a cramp. Hence the cause of laughter must originate from a sudden discharge of built-up attention – by means of a contrast. Similarity to an electric spark.  Laughter is a cure for hypochondria. Everything that excites our attention but leaves us unsatisfied is comical. Yet only the sudden releasing of our attention is the true laughter-creating operation. Weeping is a sthenic crisis. Whatever moves our heart, is the opposite of the comical. It begins with a release – and suddenly increases in tension.  Whatever is emotionally moving or penetrating, quickly enters into us before we have time to grasp it. It is an over-saturation – a softening – dissolving – melting. The comical is a process of secretion, the emotional, a process of absorption – the former becomes volatile – hence the coldness of the comical. Weeping shapes the arterial system – laughter, the venous system.


Sleep is a mixed state of the body and the soul. The body and soul are chemically united in sleep. The soul is evenly distributed throughout the body in sleep – the human being is neutralized. Waking is a divided – polarized state. While awake the soul is point-like – localized. Sleep is a digestion of the soul; the body digests the soul – withdrawal of the soul-stimulus.Waking is the state in which the soul experiences stimulation – the body relishes the soul.  The bindings of the system are loose in sleep – taut in waking.


Every illness is a musical problem – the cure is a musical solution.

Cramp and inflammation ought to be constantly uniting and alternating within the human body – in distinct proportions. The determinations of these proportions create the individual temperaments and constitutions.

The longer a person remains a child, the older he will live to be.

Theory of Nature

Nature alters itself by leaps. Synthetic operations are leaps – intuitions – resolutions.


Wisdom is harmony.

All effects are nothing else than the effects of one single force – of the World-Soul – which only manifests itself under certain conditions, relations and circumstances – it is everywhere and nowhere.

Wisdom is moral science and art.

Theory of History

Wherever eternal, unalterable laws hold sway – there is antiquity, there is the past. The process of history is a combustion. Mathematical nature consumes the immeasurable.

Theory Art

Words are acoustic configurations of thoughts. The human voice is, as it were, the principle and ideal of instrumental music. What really makes the sound, the body or the air?  Isn’t the elastic fluid the vowel, and the body the consonant – the air, the sun – and the bodies the planets – the former, the first voice – the latter, the second.  Every person has his own individual rhythm. Rhythmical sense is genius.


Philosophy is really homesickness – the desire to be everywhere at home.

Philosophy is the science of the universal sense of divination.

Knowledge is a means of once again acquiring ignorance. Distant philosophy sounds like poesy – for every call in the distance becomes a vowel. Thus in the distance, everything becomes poesy-poem. Distant mountains, distant human beings, distant events all become romantic, hence our archetypal poetic nature is a result of this.  Poesy of night and dusk.

Fichte’s demand of simultaneous thinking, acting and observing is the ideal of philosophizing – I begin to realize this ideal – by attempting to carry it out.

Every science is perhaps only a variation of philosophy. Philosophy is the substance of science as it were – that is sought everywhere – present everywhere, and yet never appears to the seeker. Nonetheless, it should also appear in concrete form, like the philosopher’s stone, and this is the greatest problem.

Theory of the Physical Senses

Speaking and hearing are fertilizing and conceiving.

Theory of the Spirit

True innocence – is the absolute elasticity – not to overpower.

The spiritual world is indeed already revealed to us – it is always manifest.  If we suddenly became as elastic as was necessary, we would see ourselves in its midst.

Spiritual Physics

Our thinking is really nothing more than a galvanization.  It is a contact of the terrestrial spirit – and the spiritual atmosphere – with a heavenly, extraterrestrial spirit.  Therefore, all thinking is itself already a communal activity in a higher sense.

The Theory of Man

Should man be the unity for Nature – the universal? i.e. the differential of the infinitely large Nature, and the integral of the infinitely small Nature – the universal homogenizing principle – the measure of all things – their reciprocal principle of realization – and their organ of contact?

Psychological Theory of the Future

In the future, memory, intellect and imagination will no longer have need of one another – from elements of our spirit they will become, if you like – components, members, and independent spirits. Memory is a direct (positive) sense – Intellect – an indirect (negative) sense. Imagination is the effective principle – it is called fantasy while working on the memory and the power of thought while working on the intellect.  The imagination will become simultaneously an (outward) direct sense, and an (inward) indirect sense. The indirect sense will become a direct sense and self-effective – living, and the direct sense both an indirect sense and self-effective. These three transformations will and must all take place simultaneously – at the same time. The direct, indirect and substantial worlds will become harmonious.  Harmony of poesy, philosophy and scholarship.

Through our future life, we can rescue and ennoble our past life.

We are not an ego at all – however, we can and will become an ego.  We are seeds of an ego. We should transform everything into a “you” – into a second ego – only in this manner do we raise ourselves to the Great Ego – that is both One and All.

Novalis’ Utopia

One of least known works of Novalis is his Christianity or Europe, an expose on the political atmosphere of his time and the dream of what Europe might look like if the true spirit of Christianity were to fill Christians. Novalis harkens back to the time of consciously created spiritual communities in the Roman Catholic church through the various religious orders. Novalis laments that Christians need to become “Christian” and the wars and rumors of wars in Europe and Asia might come to an end. In a way, this treatise is Novalis’ description of a Christian utopia, which was a strong desire of many thinkers in his age. But few others present archetypal imaginations that might have the chance to change the world, if the proper morality could be found to exact those imaginations.

Offered below are selections from that treatise wherein Novalis defines the moral advancement and awareness that a conscious spiritual community can manifest if it keeps focused on the Christianity of Christ and not the church.  His prediction of a New Age is still apropos in our time and his truth is still an accurate map that shows the way to a peaceful world based on morality, selflessness, and true Christianity.

Novalis on Christianity and Europe

Automatically man rises toward heaven when no other ties bind him; the higher organs emerge automatically out of the general, uniform mixture and complete dissolution of all human faculties and powers, as the original seed of human formation. The spirit of God hovers over the water and above the watery waves a heavenly island is the first thing to become visible – the home of a new human race, the river valley of eternal life.

As yet, everything is mere intimation, disconnected, and in the rough, but to the historical eye it betrays universal individuality, a new history; a new humanity; a youthful, startled church, in sweetest embrace with a loving god and sensing in her thousand members the approach of the birth of a new Messiah. Who is not in an expectant mood, like the sweetly blushing bride? The new-born child will be the image of his father, a new golden age with dark eyes of infinite depth; it will be a time of prophesy, of miracles, of healing, a comforting and life-kindling flame; a great age of reconciliation, a savior who like an indigenous, real guardian spirit cannot be seen but is accepted on faith, and under innumerable forms is visible to the believers, consumed as bread and wine, embraced as a lover, breathed as air, perceived as word and song, and is received with heavenly bliss, as death is received, with the greatest pains of love, within the dying body.

This brother is the pulse of the new era; he who has felt it no longer doubts its arrival, but, glad that he is contemporary, steps out from the mass and joins the new group of disciples. He has made a new veil for the holy one, which pliantly betrays her heavenly form and still conceals her more demurely than another. The veil is to the virgin what the spirit is to the body, her indispensable organ, the folds of which are the letters of her sweet gospel; the eternal weaving and folding is a coded music, for speech is too clumsy and harsh for the virgin, only in song does she open her lips. To me it is nothing but the solemn summons to a new first assembly, the powerful wing-strokes of a passing angel-herald.  These are the first pains; let everyone prepare for the birth.

I plunge myself as deeply as possible into the stream of human knowing in order to forget the dream world of fate and destiny, so long as I am submerged in those holy currents. There alone blossom the hopes that I forsake here otherwise – the reversals of this world become steps forward over there – the sword that wounds us here, there becomes an enlivening wand of magic; and the ash of earthly roses is the motherland of heavenly ones.  Is not our evening star the morning star of the antipodes?

O! If the oracles are still at hand, then they speak from the tree of knowledge; thus they sound in us; thus we read them in the Sibylline book of nature. My fantasy rises as my hope is completely sunken and nothing remains but a marker that shows its absence, then my imagination will rise high enough to elevate me to a place where I can find what is lost down here.  Early in life, I’ve learned to feel how precarious is my existence, and perhaps this feeling is the first living experience of the future world.

Thus, must I work from force of will – thus must I learn to transport myself into an intentional state of mind with the effort and enthusiasm of a beginner.

Whoever flees pain no longer wants to love. The lover must feel this gap eternally and keep the wound open always. God grant me to feel eternally this indescribable pain of love – the melancholic remembrance – this courageous longing – the strong resolution and the firm and fast belief. Without my love I am absolutely nothing – With her, everything.

The universe breaks down into an infinite number of worlds, each in turn contained by larger ones. In the end, all minds are one mind. One mind like one world gradually leads to all worlds, but everything has its own time and its own manner. Only the universe as person can understand the relations of our world.

Even conscience, this power which generates the universe and meaning, this germ of all personality, appears to me to be like the spirit of the world poem, like the accident of the eternal, romantic confluence of the endlessly changeable totality of life.

Conscience appears in every serious completion, in every embodied truth. Every inclination and skill which reflection turns into a world-image becomes a phenomenon, a transmutation of conscience. Indeed, all development leads to what can only be called freedom, regardless of the fact that thereby not simply a mere concept but the creative basis of all existence is to be designated. This freedom is mastery. The master exercises unfettered power in a purposeful, definite, and deliberate manner. The objects of his art are his and subject to his pleasure, and they do not shackle or cramp him. And precisely this all-embracing freedom, austery, or sovereignty is the essence, the drive of conscience. In him is revealed the holy peculiarity, the immediate creativity of personality, and every act of the master is at the same time a proclamation of the lofty, simple, uncomplicated world – God’s word.


For more selections from Tyla and Douglas Gabriel, please visit their websites, filled with free e-books and essays, Also enjoy their collection of books for a new age now in print. Additionally, this selection on Novalis is available as a PDF e-book. Click here to download: Spirit Awakening through Novalis






The Gospel of Sophia: The Biographies of the Divine Feminine Trinity

The Gospel of Sophia: A Modern Path of Initiation

The Gospel of Sophia: Sophia Christos Initiation

The Eternal Ethers: A Theory of Everything

Eternal Curriculum for Wisdom Children: Intuitive Learning and the Etheric Body




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Donehower, Bruce. The Birth of Novalis: Friedrich von Hardenberg’s Journal of 1797, With Selected Letters and Documents, State University of New York Press, 2007.

Hiebel, Frederick. Novalis German Poet-European Thinker-Christian Mystic. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1954.

Higgins, Dick. Hymns to the Night, McPherson & Company: 1988.

Hilty, Palmer. Henry von Ofterdingen, Waveland Press, 1990.

Hope, M. J.  Novalis His Life, Thoughts, and Works. Edited and Translated by M. J. Hope.  A. C. McClurg & Co., 1891.

Kneller, Jane. Fichte StudiesCambridge University Press, 200Llanfynydd, Carmarthen. Klingsohr’s Fairy Tale, Unicorn Books, 1974.

MacDonald, George. Hymns to the Night/Spiritual Songs, Temple Lodge Publishing, London, 2001.

Mahoney Stoljar, Margaret. Novalis: Philosophical Writings, State University of New York Press, 1997.

Manheim, Ralph. The Novices of SaisArchipelago Books, 2005.

Neeb, Martin Jacob. Christianity or Europe.  A Translation. Concordia College, Texas, 1937.

Novalis.  Die Christenheit Ober Europa. Phillip Reclam Jun Verlag, 1998.

O’Brien, Wm. Arctander. Novalis, Signs of Revolution.  Duke University Press, London, 1995.

Prefferkorn, Kristin. Novalis, A Romantic’s Theory of Language and Poetry. Yalte Press, London, 1988.

Wood, David W.  Novalis, Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia. State University of New York Press, 2007