on 19 July 2011
Valentin Tomberg was a dissident Anthroposophist who eventually left the movement founded by Rudolf Steiner and converted to Catholicism. As a Catholic, he attempted to create a synthesis of traditional Christianity and a strand of the Hermetic or "esoteric Christian" tradition, the end result of which was the book "Meditations on the Tarot".
While that book looks interesting (I read parts of it), Tomberg's earlier meditations on the Old and New Testaments, compiled in the volume "Christ and Sophia", sound much more in-house. They were written when the author was still very much under the spell of Steiner's Anthroposophy. While he does attempt to steer an independent course (which led to conflicts within the Anthroposophical Society), "Christ and Sophia" is too dependent on Steiner's system to be of much interest except for those who actually believe in every nook and cranny of this curious new religion. Not being one of the illumined ones, I didn't really get much.
Tomberg follows Steiner's complex, convoluted and frankly conceited cosmology as he reveals the results of his own "spiritual research". Thus, we are once again privy to detailed speculations about the Old Moon incarnation of the Earth, the Sun being Yahweh Elohim, the incarnation of the Zoroaster "I" in the Nathan Jesus, the return of Christ in the etheric, Lucifer and Ahriman, Atlantis and Lemuria, und so weiter. Here and there, the "heresy" of the author becomes obvious, as when he claims that Lucifer is a Janus-faced being who was eventually redeemed by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leaving only Ahriman as a demonic adversary to humankind. Tomberg also writes that there are always three initiates on Earth at the same time. Since Steiner was just one, that leaves two others. Could it be...? Tomberg never says, but perhaps he was referring to himself! Essentially, the meditations on the Old and New Testament are a kind of new revelation. The custodians of Steiner's legacy were not amused.
"Christ and Sophia" also contains an extensive introduction, containing interesting details about Tomberg's early life and activities. He had contacts with several different occultist groups, and was fascinated by Eastern Orthodoxy and the Sophiology of Solovyev and Bulgakov already at an early age. Even as an Anthroposophist, he seems to have been independent-minded and not a little ambitious. Unfortunately, the introductory chapter says very little about Tomberg's later life as a Catholic. One wonders whether he still believed in the teachings contained in this book - esoterically, of course - or whether he entered a different occult stream. Sergei Prokofieff, in his anti-Tomberg missive "The case of Valentin Tomberg" claims the latter. Tomberg's followers in the Sophia Foundation, who are the real publishers of this volume, seem interested in both phases of Tomberg's thinking, perhaps in order to harmonize them?
Personally, I found myself more at home in "Meditations in the Tarot", perhaps because that work is weaving together two established traditions: Catholicism and Hermeticism. "Christ and Sophia" sounds like a sequel to the exotic speculations to Dr. Rudolf Steiner, itself a mutated version of Blavatsky's Theosophy.
Not really recommended.