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Alumni Gathering 2023 – What is the future asking of us?

Between 13 and 17 November more than 50 former students, staff and faculty spent five days talking, laughing and creating together, with the lofty theme of ‘’The Future’ as a starting point. At what is often a dark and gloomy time of year, it seemed that a ray of light shone, as those who hold Emerson dear shared memories of times gone by and hopes for the future.

“When the world around us is demanding answers, what can we do?” This theme was addressed in several talks and workshops. John Meeks gave a fascinating talk about Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Spirit of Emerson College whilst Dr Michael Evans, a leader of the English Training for Doctors in Anthroposophical Medicine spoke about the Seeds of a Mystery Medicine 100 years ago and now.  Both speakers also led workshops related to their theme along with eight other local teachers who led workshops from clowning to storytelling, art to eurythmy and creative writing to sacred geometry. 

Accompanying the many talks and workshops there was wonderful food, music, dancing, and a thorough mixing of old and new, young and venerable and people from every facet of Emerson life. Stories and experiences of Emerson were shared, and attendees reflected on the training and lessons from then and now, and how they had been shaped by them.

A highlight of the event was the rededication of the Foundation Stone, an event held on 17 November, an auspicious date being that it was the anniversary of Frances Edmund’s death thirty-three years ago.  Attendees gathered in Ruskin Hall where a circle of chairs had been laid out and, in the centre of the room, a simple earthenware jug holding twelve red roses and one white, alongside a model of a dodecahedron.  Trustee Jeremy Smith gave an inspirational talk, about the foundation stone rituals led by Rudolf Steiner at the Goetheanum one hundred years ago, together with reported memories (from Michael and Roswitha Spence now living in New Zealand) of the foundation stone laid in foundations of the Ruskin building, sixty years ago. 

Daniel Docherty commented on the significance of the dodecahedron used in both foundation rituals and Paulamaria Blaxland-de Lange spoke the Foundation Stone meditation in German and in English. A ritual of dedication and renewal of intention for Emerson’s future was held, inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner with the foundation stone at the Goetheanum. 

Silently turns were taken to place the roses into the earthenware jug, now situated in the entrance hall of the Ruskin building at the spot, marked by a tile, where Emerson’s foundation dodecahedron had been laid under the floor sixty years ago. 

Trustee Annie Blampied read out a list of friends and colleagues  whose ashes are buried in Emerson’s St John’s garden and then a list of those connected to Emerson’s biography, buried elsewhere.  The session ended with a prayer for Emerson led by Sophia Smith.  

All those who came had a wonderful time, including some of the current staff who were delighted to be able to participate in many of the events which took place over the week. 

If you missed this incredible event but would be interested in participating in a future event, please provide your details here.

Thank you to Linda Churnside and Annie Blampied for their contribution to this article.