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Observations placeholder

Novalis – Heinrich von Ofterdingen



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Novalis – Heinrich von Ofterdingen - From The Star Game

‘The King is coming’ cried a splendid bird which was seated behind the throne.  …..  A soft music preceded the king, who shortly appeared in the dome with a large entourage and came down…………

The king embraced his daughter with tenderness.  The spirits of the stars arranged themselves around the throne, and the hero took his place in the row.  Innumerable stars, ornately grouped, filled the hall.  The serving maids brought a mass of cards bearing sacred signs, deep in meaning composed of the pure figures of the constellations.  The king placed a reverent kiss on these cards, mixed them carefully and passed some to his daughter.  The others he himself retained.  The princess drew out a number of her cards from her hand and laid them on the table, then the king examined his own hand and pondered long before he laid down a single card.  At times he seemed compelled to play this card or that; but often one would see that he was pleased when he was able with a well chosen card to create a beautiful harmony of signs and figures.  As the game began, one was aware of signs of the liveliest participation and the strangest expressions and gestures on the part of all the onlookers, just as if they were each working busily with an invisible instrument in their hands.

Simultaneously there was heard in the air a soft but deeply moving music that seemed to stem from the stars in the hall which wove in and out so marvellously and from other strange motions.  The stars moved around now slowly, now faster, in ever varied lines and as the music proceeded they copied most exactly the figures on the cards.  The music changed continuously with the configurations on the table and although often the transitions were quite surprising and abrupt still it seemed that one simple theme bound the whole together.

With incredible agility the stars flew as the cards dictated.  Now they were all in one great labyrinth, now neatly separated into distinct groups; sometimes the whole company dispersed like a beam in countless sparks, then it would form little circles and patterns which would gradually enlarge until, to one’s astonishment, a single design would emerge.  The coloured figures in the windows meanwhile remained stationary.  The bird ceaselessly moved its vesture of magnificent feathers in the most varied ways.

Up till now the aged hero had dutifully pursued his invisible business, when suddenly the king cried out joyously

‘All shall be well.  Iron, cast thy sword into the world, that they may know where peace dwells’

The hero drew his sword from its sheath, held it with its point to the sky, then seized it and hurled it out of the open window, over the town and the frozen sea.  Like a comet it flew through the air until at the encircling mountains it seemed to explode with a loud noise and fall to earth in a mass of sparks

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps