A Goethean Conversation Practice

This is the format of the Goethean Conversation that I’ve been practicing with two other participants since January, which I thought is high time to share with others.  Originally started as a one-on-one conversation technique, we have now added a third participant.

  1. Invitation to the spirit – we each speak the same verse, allowing us to both experience the verse speaking it and listening to the verse being spoken
  2. We will have selected something in advance as the conversation topic, whether a verse, a sentence, a thought, a paragraph
  3. Each of us takes 15 minutes to speak “Where in your body do you feel these words” regarding the selection in #2.  The other person / people listen attentively.  When a natural stopping point occurs, the other person(s) listening repeats the question, giving the speaker the opportunity to work deeper into the experience of either the words of the topic or his/her own words.
  4. After each of us has had the opportunity to speak for 15 min, we go into 2 minute “rounds”, speaking of again “where in your body do you feel these words”, which can be further reflection of the topic or reflection on how we felt the words of the other speaker(s).  During each two minutes, everyone else listens.  We usually loop about 3 times, allowing for a kind of “listen & response” format.  Occasionally, for clarity, the speaker may ask a question which the listener(s) can answer, but briefly, as this is on the speaker’s time.
  5. We conclude with an informal but still structured (trying to be aware of time) discussion of “What was your experience of this process?” and/or “What self-awareness did you experience in this process?”
  6. Closing blessing / verse.

With three of us, the first 15 minute round in #3 would take 45 minutes, if we do 3 2-minute rounds each for #4, that would be another 20 minutes (yes, I know, it’s actually 18, but it’s good to give things a little space!) and the opening and closing verses are a couple minutes, so, including the informal review, we’re looking at about 90 minutes total for the whole conversation.

The verses the we speak at the beginning are, from Marjorie Spock’s essay:

“One has only to be active and to keep the way clear, knowing that ‘where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of you.’ The hope for that presence can be strengthened by listening to one another in exactly the way one would listen to the spiritual world, evocatively, with reverence, refraining from any trace of reaction, making one’s own soul a seed bed for others’ germinal ideas.”

And from a children’s verse practiced by some Waldorf schools:

“The song of the stars resounds in the heavens,
The song of the sun awakens the day,
The song of my heart is the sun in my soul,
And I’ll listen, and listen, to what it can say.”

For the closing verse, we we say what God spoke to Jesus at his baptism found in all three synoptic gospels:

“You are my Son, the Beloved, in you I have willed the good.”

If you choose to practice this conversation technique, I would love to hear your feedback!


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