- by Louise (Ineke) Rosch
The Whitehorse Conference in 2009 helped to open a path for me to see anthroposophy in a new light, a path to spirituality that was particularly suited for me. As a consequence of attending the Whitehorse conference, and through a case of mistaken identity, I received an email with a personal invitation and information on the ‘Wanderseminar in Iceland’, long before anyone I knew was aware of the conference. I was immediately hooked and felt very strongly that it was my destiny to be present in Iceland.
To be able to be a part of this experience has had a changing effect on my personal life. The positive, open and true spiritual presence that developed in the group had a great deal to do with this.
Upon arrival in Iceland the participants met at the Waldorf School, founded and run by our hosts, Gudjon Arnason and Kerstin Anderson. The School is located a 15-minute ride outside Reykjavik in a beautiful peaceful valley of flowers and trees (a rarity in Iceland). Here we could already feel that this was a special place, holding an amazingly deep warmth, far deeper than a physical warm.
We ‘camped’ out on mattresses on the floor in the classrooms. Breakfast was prepared and served by Kerstin and her daughters. In addition, bread and cheese, and coffee or tea were provided so we could prepare our own lunches, for the adventure trip of the day. Gudjon drove us to our destination in the school’s bus and Kerstin provided us with the legends and descriptions of the places we saw along the way. Each bus trip ended in a hike or walk into the wonderful landscape. We experienced the forces of nature as we encountered the rivers (to be crossed without the benefit of bridges), waterfalls, mountains to be scaled, hot springs, geysers, glaciers, old lava flows, basalt columns, obsidian formations, and signs of volcanic activity. Everywhere you could see how grasses and flowers pushed vigorously through the newly fallen volcanic ash. We became aware that this island was a ‘young’ formation, constantly changing as the fiery lava, flowing so near the surface melted the glaciers from below, heating the water to create hot springs, rivers, and waterfalls.
In the evening, after a delicious dinner (often prepared by Solveig), Gudjon provided us with a talk on the Edda and the Norse Gods and how they relate to the hierarchical beings. These were long and wonderful days. Time seemed to lose any meaning in the far northern late summer daylight and our energy levels remained high.
Conference at Solheimar July 7 to July 14
The week of the conference we lived in great comfort. We had beds with sheets and showers available to us. These were luxuries everyone had done without and never a negative word was spoken. The most important thing was that in the previous week we had become comrades. We had developed spiritual ties as we experienced each other, Iceland and the ancient gods, under the loving guidance of Gudjon and Kerstin on our many adventures.
We started each morning with a talk by Nick Thomas on the Spiritual hierarchies - motives and reflections. Only on July 10, Nick Thomas changed his topic spontaneously to ‘Mysteries of how Christ incarnated into the Human form’; this was to clarify a question that had arisen during a previous talk. This amazed me! It was such a great talk coming from the soul.
Nick Thomas’ talk was followed by breakfast. This wasn’t so much because a full tummy doesn’t study well; it was more a matter of logistics, giving the girls time to prepare our breakfast without having to get up at 4 in the morning. After breakfast, we participated in singing led by Magne Skrede and his student Robin Sondergaard.
This was followed by an hour-long lecture. Hartwig Schiller from Denmark spoke on how the Goths contributed to the rebirth of European culture using Theoderic’s mosaic as one example. Harald Haakstad from Norway spoke about Thor as the giver of the ‘I’ and the strongest and mightiest angel. (closer to the human soul than Odin), Frode Barkved from Norway spoke about Baldur, a divining of the coming Christ, Fritz Burger from the Netherlands studied ancient languages and how they relate to the old myths such as the Edda, and on Friday Oscar B. Hansen from Denmark talked about the meaning of “The Mission of the Folk Souls’ for us today.
Then to our individual workshops: I participated in a ‘clowning’ workshop lead by Dawn Nilo. This was an excellent workshop for me. I grew in self confidence and learned the value of being aware of and sensitized to my surroundings in a way I have never experienced before. I am able to carry what I learned into my daily life.
In the afternoon we had an optional conversation group to reflect on the morning lectures. In the evening we had various gatherings, short trips or cultural activities.
Coffee breaks, lunch and supper constituted a welcome between the activities. These were always a wonderful creation by Solveig, Gudjon or Kerstin.
An important part of a conference is the exchange of ideas and thoughts, especial in a spiritual way with others who have a common anthroposophical background. There was plenty of time during coffee breaks, meals, bus trips and hikes to exchange ideas. These exchanges have been of great help and some have put me onto the right path for me to continue my own search for spiritual truths.
We were kept very busy and the time to reflect on all we experienced continues even today. I want to express my deep gratitude to the Anthroposophists of Iceland, a group of only 20 members, for having organized for us such a well planned and rich conference.