Novalis, a legendary Romantic poet and philospher. "Novalis" means "one who opens up new lands", and was the pen name of one Friedrich von Hardenberg as well as the name of a German prog rock band of the Seventies. Von Hardenberg was born in 1772 and was an active member of the German philosophical community of his time. As a protest against the long, discursive polemics that constituted traditional philosophy, Novalis followed the style of his cohort of German Romantic philosophers by writing "fragments": short, largely self-contained thoughts.

I was introduce to Novalis the band by a naked, green fairy on the cover of one of their albums, "Summerauben", when I was in highschool, and so when I saw the name when I was looking for some Nietzsche at a bookstore, I just had to open the book. The following quotes are from Novalis: Philosophical Writings translated and edited by Margaret Mahony Stoljar:

50. Every beloved object is the center of a paradise.

100. The wisdom of story telling contains the history of the archetypal world - it embraces times past present and future. The human world is the common instrument of the gods. Poetry unites them as it does us.

- From Miscellaneous Observations

30. Writing poetry is creating. Each work of literature must be a living individual. What an inexhaustible amount of materials for new individual combinations is lying about! Anyone who has once guessed this secret - needs nothing more than to decide to renounce endless variety and the mere enjoyment of it and to start somewhere - but this decision is at the expense of the free feeling of an infinite world - and demands restriction to a single appearance of it. Ought we perhaps to attribute our earthly existence to a similar decision?

I can't tell you how much my souls resonate to that thought.

40. Poetry dissolves the being of others in its own.

47. In the ancient world religion already was to a certain extent what it will be for us - practical poetry.

69. Magic is the art of using the world of the senses at will.

70. We have two sense systems which, however different they appear, are yet entwined extremely closely with one another. One system is called the body, one the soul. The former is dependent on extgernal stimuli, whose essence we call nature or the external world. The latter originally is dependent in the essence of inner stimuli that we call spirit, or the world of spirits. Usually this last system stands in a nexus of association with the other system - and is affected by it. Nevertheless frequent traces of a converse relation are to be found, and one soon notices that both systems ought actually to stand in a perfect reciprocal relation to one another, in which, while each of them is affected by its world, they should create harmony, not a monotone. In short, both worlds, like both systems, are to create free harmony, not disharmony or monotony. The transition from monotony to harmony certainly will pass through disharmony - and only in the end will harmony ensue. In the age of magic the body serves the soul or the world of spirits. Madness - enthusiasm. Communal madness ceases to be madness and becomes magic. Madness governed by rules and in full consciousness. All arts and sciences rest on partial harmonies. Poets, madmen, saints, prophets.

71. We shall understand the world when we understand ourselves, because we and it are integral halves, We are God's children, divine seeds. One day we shall be what our Father is.

87. To become a human being is an art.

90. The perfect person should be a beautiful satire, capable of giving anything any desired form, of filling each form with the most diverse life and moving it.

92. Everything must become food. The art of drawing life out of everthing. To vivify everthing is the goal of life. Pleasure is life. The absence of pleasure is a way to pleasure, as death is a way to life.

100. Everything is seed.

- From Logological Fragments I

3. It is only because of the weakness of our organs and of our contact with ourselves that we do not discover ourselves to be in a fairy world. All fairy tales are only dreams of that familiar world of home which is everywhere and nowhere. The higher powers in us, which one day will carry out our will like genies, are now muses that refresh us with sweet memories along this arduous path."

7. Every spiritual touch is like the touch of a magic wand. Everything can become the tool of magic. But whoever thinks the effects of such touch are so fabulous, whoever finds the effects of a magic spell so marvelous, need only remind himself of the first touch of his beloved's hand, her first meaningful glance, where the magic wand is the detached beam of light, the first kiss, the first word of love, and ask himself whether the spell and magic of these moments is not also fabulous and wondrous, indissoluble and eternal?

-From Logological Fragments II

Novalis died at the age of 29.

Georg Philipp Friedrich, Freiherr von Hardenberg, was born in Schloß Oberwiederstedt in Prussian Saxony on 2 May 1772. The name Novalis came from an old family name de Novali. He stressed it on the first syllable. You see other variants of his forenames: the ones I give are the ones used by the International Novalis Society.

He studied law at Jena in 1790-1 and at Wittenberg in 1793. Later he studied mining at Freiberg and worked as an auditor and assessor in a salt works at Weißenfels near Leipzig.

In March 1795 he met and loved the beautiful Sophie von Kühn, and her death from consumption on 19 March 1797, two days after her fifteenth birthday, deeply affected him. To her he dedicated his finest poetic work, the Hymnen an die Nacht (Hymns to the Night). This was published in 1800 in Athenaeum, a literary magazine edited by August Wilhelm Schlegel and Friedrich Schlegel.

He became engaged to Julie von Charpentier in 1798. He himself died of consumption in Weißenfels on 25 March 1801. (His bicentenary is being celebrated in Germany next month.)

Other works by Novalis are the incomplete novels Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Die Lehringe zu Sais. His work was very influential in the nineteenth century: on Heine, De Quincey, Nietzsche, George MacDonald, Swinburne, Rilke among others.

Hymnen an die Nacht is seventeen pages long, in six sections, mainly prose-poem with some verse. He begins by saying how everyone loves the light; then he turns away to the night: Abwärts wend ich mich zu der heiligen, unaussprechlichen, geheimnisvollen Nacht. Fernab liegt die Welt -- in eine tiefe Gruft versenkt -- wüst und einsam ist ihre Stelle. "Away I turn to the holy, inexpressible, mysterious Night. Faraway lies the world -- sunk in a deep tomb -- waste and lonely is its place."

In the third section he recalls when all his hope was lost in tears, light fled, and Night brought him dream: Zur Staubwolke wurde der Hügel -- durch die Wolke sah ich die verklärten Züge der Geliebten. In ihren Augen ruhte die Ewigkeit -- ich faßte ihre Hände, und die Tränen wurden ein funkelndes, unzerreißliches Band. "The hill turned to a cloud of dust -- through the cloud I saw the radiant features of my Beloved. In her eyes rested eternity -- I grasped her hands, and my tears became a glittering, untearable bond."

The poem Hinüber wall ich from the fourth section was set as the song Nachthymne by Schubert.


Novalis's birthplace at Oberwiederstedt now houses the International Novalis Society, the Novalis Museum, and the Early Romantic Research Institute: see www.uni-leipzig.de/~angl/novalis/.
Novalis, Archangel of Flowers

A character in Steve Jackson Games' adaptation of In Nomine. In Nomine is a Role-Playing Game in which players are soldiers in the war between Heaven and Hell. Much attention has been paid by the studio to create facinating Superiors, the Archangels and Demon Princes that give the player their agendas. Each Superior embodies a single concept and uses his or her minions to further that concept in the world. This sets the entire tone of the game, be it comedy, conflict, or compassion.

Novalis' word is Flowers, a concept she has neatly expanded to warrant Archangel status. As the Archangel of Flowers, she is responsible for romance, kindness, compassion, healing, and of course, gardening. By looping all these bright, hopefull ideals into one Word, she has developed a very interesting agenda.

Players serving Novalis must accept her restrictions on their behavior; in addition to whatever Divine rules they already play by, they cannot kill a human, for any reason. This makes this Archangel a 'gimme' for PCs of the Mercurian choir, as they already have that limitation.

As with all the Archangels, Novalis grants special abilities to angels in her service, based on the Choir. These include an aura of peace that calms the violent, the ability to take another's wounds upon oneself, and the ability to dissapear into a plant and reappear from another.

Novalis and her angels are the nicest group in the game, and would be Humanity's best hope, if it wasn't for the constant interference of the demons. Excellent choice in any game that is not combat-intensive.

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