Exploring Goethe's Secret

“How do I relate to our world?”

This is the question I am exploring during my master’s programme at Schumacher College. It has been a unique space in my busy life to pause and question my relationship with the world. Together we looked deeply into the nature of perception, and through this, I met Goethe and Phenomenology.

I must admit, I struggled to begin with. I felt bogged down with strange words and theories that were in essence telling me simply how to see. After a frustrating week, I was clearing my head in the vegetable garden and sat looking at a scruffy raspberry plant. Suddenly, I was hit by a sense I had not felt before. It was a feeling of vibrancy, a very strong sense of life, far more than my intellectual understanding or even its visual beauty. Had I just seen what Goethe saw?

I realised for this work to be meaningful, I had to go out and practice it. This was when my project began; painting a sequence of a flower’s metamorphosis from bud to seed.

The process was surprisingly tricky, fighting with the environment and the flower itself to capture its essence. However, through this struggle, a shift in perspective occurred. Again, I felt a profoundly moving, fleeting sense of life, though this time through its transformation.

What did I sense and why does it matter?  I think Goethe’s insight allowed me to see past my conceptual idea of the plant to the true ineffable miracle of the plant itself. This left me with the question what else am I missing? And how differently would I treat something if had I truly felt its miracle?

To read the full story of the paintings, click here.

This blog was written for an article in Transition Consciousness. To see the original article, click here.