And there was Light! (En er was Licht!) is an educational project by the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in collaboration with the Jan van Rijckenborgh School, the Hanzehogeschool Academie Minerva and the Theosophical Library Amsterdam, made possible through a grant from the Iona Foundation.
And the Elohim said, let there be Light! And there was Light…
On Friday May 9th, the second part of our educational project *And there was Light!* (En er was Licht!) took place when 18 students of the Hanzehogeschool Academie Minerva visited the library together with their teachers. The project was closely connected to the exhibition Beauty as the Imprint of the Cosmos which ran until May 23rd 2014 and showed anthroposophical and theosophical literary works and artworks. The first part of *And there was Light!* took place in April when young pupils of the Jan van Rijckenborgh School visited the library. For this second part, a three-part programme was set up to introduce the students of Minerva Academy to the exhibition Beauty as the Imprint of the Cosmos and the library’s collections. The program was largely identical to the first part of the project, including an introduction by Eline Bochem, library project manager of *And there was Light!*, as well as a tour through of the rare books room by director Esther Ritman. Here, she showed the students in great enthusiasm a selection of rare and visually appealing sources. The programme also offered the students a tour through the exhibition given by library curator Cis van Heertum, while Rachel Ritman offered a workshop on colours in nature. Thereafter, Amsterdam artist Evelien Nijeboer explained how the trinity of light, colour and darkness can be considered a phenomenological primal law present in all life forms in a specially designed workshop involving prism experiments and a drawing assignment under the title *Create Your Own Thought-Form*.
Evelien explained all life forms consist of a polarity of opposites – light and dark – which give birth to an independent centre, when the opposites work together in their own uniqueness, creating a ‘living whole’. She illustrated this by elaborating on the presence of light and dark in the heavens: in our atmosphere, a large half transparent gas mass, light and darkness merge in various interplays. On a beautiful summer day the sky is blue, because the atmosphere is relatively dense causing the appearance of (much) light. Light is the active component with darkness ‘behind its back’ being ‘silently’ present at higher areas of the heavens. In these higher areas of the sky there is less light and the dark cosmic universe appears. Because of this interaction between light and dark, blue becomes visible in the sky. Blue then, represents the activity of light against a dark (passive) background. On the other hand, at sunset on a warm summer evening, daylight becomes passive, making place for the nocturnal. A reddish hue becomes visible in the sky and the setting sun first turns orange, then red.
An optimal balance between light and darkness becomes visible in the six-pointed star or ‘Seal of Solomon’. This sacred geometric symbol shows a perfect interplay between the two forces and consists of an upward pointing triangle symbolizing light (often associated with the masculine force) and an downward pointing triangle symbolizing darkness (often associated with the feminine force). Besides discussing the workings of light, darkness and colours as present in Nature, Evelien also discussed their occurrence in the human body, such as the ‘chakra’s’. See for more elaboration on the chakra’s the first report of *En er was Licht!*.
The final part of the programme involved a drawing assignment for the students based on the theosophical phenomenon of ‘Thought-Forms’, which was introduced by a brief silent meditation during which they were asked to focus on a strong emotion relating to an impactful experience in their life. After that, the students began visually translating their memories and emotions into their personal ‘Thought-Forms’, resulting in colourful abstract artworks. For this visit, The Theosophical Library provided the imagery from their edition of Leadbeater’s and Besant’s Thought-Forms (first printed in 1901) in which abstract representations of auras are discussed including the meaning of every colour, shape and outline.
At the Enchanted Modernities Conference that took place in Amsterdam 2013, prof. Raphael Rosenberg of the University of Vienna related the concept of ‘Thought-Forms’ as formulated by theosophists Annie Besant (1847 – 1933) and later Charles W. Leadbeater (1854 – 1934), including its series of abstract auric images, to the phenomenon of ‘synaesthesia’ in his presentation Mapping the Aura in the Spirit of Art and Art Theory: Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Besant, and Steiner. Madame Blavatsky (1831 – 1891) likewise discussed the phenomenon of synaesthesia, which around 1880 also attracted the attention of psychologists. According to Blavatsky, who regarded theosophy as superior as it allowed man to see with the ‘Naked Eye’ beyond the natural or physical world (a form of perception she felt regular science did not have access to) explained synaesthesia as a form of higher perception and clairvoyance. It was synaesthesia, therefore, which proved there indeed existed a world beyond the physical realm. Blavatsky connected the phenomenon with the aura, claiming that the colours seen by people susceptible to synaesthesia were auratic. People with this ability can ‘see’ an oval extra-sensory aura surrounding every human being which reveal their feelings, moods and also their nature.
We would like to thank all partner institutions, teachers, students and children who took part in *And there was Light!*, our first educational project aimed at connecting the library’s sources to primary and higher (art) education.
Have a look here for the report of the first part of *And there was Light!* and watch the video below for an atmospheric impression of the project.