Inner Awareness

News from YIP – November 2023

Photo by Wieland Witzel

Dear Friends of YIP,

We hope this newsletter finds you well. 

After some rainy gray weeks, the winter and coldness have fully found us here on campus, and the earth is covered in a thick layer of snow. Sunset comes already around 3pm bringing a cold and bright night full of stars. When we’re lucky, wild animals come across our walking paths to leave their traces behind in the fresh snow. Even birds are coming very close whenever there is a glimpse of food.

While nature is turning inward, YIP16 has also started looking to their inner world, trying to reveal hidden aspects of themselves. They recalled elements of their own biographies and shared them with others during Biography Week. In the week afterward, they looked into the development of a human being, sexual development, and life and death from the anthroposophical perspective. That same week, in the afternoons, they formed heads out of clay. Two weeks ago, they created a self-portrait with acrylic paint and practiced giving constructive and honest feedback.

Written by Yander Fabri

In this newsletter you will find: 
– An Inquiry into Self: Biography Week written by Mika Cassingham-Tourell
– Anthroposophical Anthropology written by Mika Cassingham-Tourell
– The Art of Sculpture written by Roseanna Holbrook
– Portrait Painting written by Deja Defilippis

– Message from YIP

– YIP-Alumni Project written by Irene Fernandez and Johannes Seeberger (YIP15)

An Inquiry into Self: Biography Week

– With Annie Meijer and Leonora Meier Nielsen –

Photo by Lidewey Huybrechts

The week with Annie and Leonora was a deep dive into our biographies, the stories we’ve lived, heard, taught ourselves and have been taught. Like on the first day where we walked a spiral of postcards so we crawled back along our own spiral of existence all the way to the beginning, thinking of our earliest memories and childhood.

This week for me was the first time I had, with all my consciousness, thought about my past. On Monday I felt as if remembering my 9 year old self was impossible, but things began to unravel quickly; I felt I was introduced to my past selves for the first time and at the end of the week I reflected how the biography work was a week of me sewing my hearts over the years into a whole picture, a beating image.

Pre-fika Annie would talk about the evolution of a life, often an anthroposophical view, like the development of the ‘I,’ the role struggle plays in one’s life and mirroring stages of life. I found it fascinating and I feel so grateful to now have these ideas with me.

When we spoke in our smaller groups, telling each other stories from our lives, we practiced deep listening. As we were not expected to respond I found I could be fully present, or at at least a lot more than when in dialogue, as my only purpose was to hear and see the person. It felt so freeing to not be expected to verbalize opinions or criticisms or additions.

By the end of the week I felt more in touch with younger Mika and I enjoyed all the silliness and simplicity that came with it. Although this feeling did not correspond with a lightness, it was a heavy week for most people and I was left with a lot to think about, probably for the rest of my life – I am all the more happy for it.

Written by Mika Cassingham-Tourell

Photo by Yander Fabri

Anthroposophical Anthropology

– With Luc Vandecasteele –

Photo by Yander Fabri

From gender and sexual orientation to birth and death to the spiritual realm, Luc shared an anthroposophical view on LIFE. It was a fascinating week and the first proper introduction to Steiner and his writings for a few of us. The week as much as being intellectually stimulating, really inspired through a more artistic appreciation of symbols and diagrams and their importance. The lemniscate’s capacity to represent so many concepts (or realities?!) was incredible to see: the spiritual realm to the earth, head to body, thought to will- one eternally flowing into the other.

Learning about the corresponding sexes to the four bodies was very new to me.

I, no sex

Astral, male and female

Etheric,  opposite of physical

Physical,  male or female

It felt super exciting to hear something unlike anything else I’d heard before. Specifically, that our thinking resides under the opposite sex of our physical one; for example, a female person would have a male working mind. Whether I agree with this or not, it was an interesting thing to reflect on. I think a lot of us struggled with the binary of male/female and Luc understood the failings of such black and white thinking but was explaining the medical and biological importance of such categorisation.

It felt really lovely to discuss spiritual ideas (e.g. what is within the spiritual realm) in a classroom setting, talking about it like it’s more than just an academic exploration. To think of children as coming from where the angels reside, carrying with them something more constant into this new life on earth. I was filled with appreciation and wonder for the weirdness and bluntness of children, a wisdom that seems to fade. Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ chimed clearly.

Written by Mika Cassingham-Tourell

Poem by William Blake

The Art of Sculpture

– With Barbara Schneltzer –

Photo by Yander Fabri

Situated after a week of profound exploration into biographical development (and a peek into our own biographies) and before the execution of our winter Light Festival, the Yippies gathered together every afternoon for one week with Barbara to create, mould and traverse clay from a smallish grey lump into an erect and life-like sculpted head. 

The invitation to pick up our hands, allowing the clay to take shape while letting our fluttering minds rest from the morning course was warmly welcomed. It felt wonderful to move our fingers and design, from what we saw and felt around us, a character, using only the innate capabilities and wisdom of our own hands. We were encouraged to move through the room, to view our own creations from alternative angles and depths and to sense into and take inspiration from other Yippies’ processes and developments. 

For many it was their first time sculpting a bust, and for some, even their first time working with clay at all. There was a palpable excitement and curiosity in the room because of this variation in people’s history with the material. Over the week this curiosity took on strands of frustration, hiccups of doubt and even moments of stagnancy as we worked and reworked the clay, adding here a piece to give more warmth or taking away here to accent the jaw and, in the end, flourished into wonder, surprise and satisfaction at the final (if unfinished) figure head that sat before each of us. 

We each started by moulding a sizable sphere from the fresh clay. This we then passed from neighbour to neighbour around the circle, allowing each sphere to travel through the hands of every Yippie in the room. As the spheres passed through your fingers, you could, with eyes closed, detect variation in temperature, size, compactness, shape, surface texture, weight and even encounter some of the individual energy moulded in by the spheres’ creator. From this moment on, usual constructs that we tend to measure ourselves and each other by, such as judgement, melted from the room, and continued to drip away as we went deeper into the journey.  Shapes lost their connotations and became neutral in this new context of seeing. There was no right or wrong way about it, only raw beauty in the simplicity of every crease, fold, bump and edge of surface from the features that we meet and interact with every day. It commanded us to look with curious and gentle gaze at each other, allowing us to sink through the layers of sociological analysis from the morning course and settle peacefully with the clay. 

This course was run in parallel with Anthroposophical Anthropology (brought by Luc Vandecasteele) in this inner awareness block, where we spent the mornings delving deep into our spiritual and physical being, opening our hearts and aligning our thoughts and will with our actions. Working the clay came as a natural integration, an inspiring process-oriented exercise to feel into what our bodies and hands are capable of. It feels so rare in today’s hectic and outcome focused society to have a dedicated time to loosen the creative creature that lives within us all, to think with our hands how to make a head and have the headspace to digest the mornings uncoverings!

Written by Roseanna Holbrook

Photo by Yander Fabri

Portrait Painting

– With Rachel Ingvad –

Photo by Yander Fabri

We started off the week walking into the Hive covered in an unmarked layer of paper covering every surface insight. Intimating white canvases stood before us waiting in inception to be given life. I have had some experience painting in my life but this week I painted in a way I’d never touched on before. I stood in front of my blank canvas expecting the end result to be one of little joy, something I didn’t resonate with, not looking forward to putting paint on canvas. I felt trapped. At that moment I told myself that all I could do was just try, so I took a breath and started the journey.

Rachel, our wonderful contributor for the week, had us all put whatever colour called to us on the canvas, to be messy and have fun with it. I found myself picking as many colours as I could, opting to use my hands to paint rather than the brush, diving straight in. The end result being a big mess of colour, texture, and my emotions. It felt a bit revealing to paint so freely, but I felt safe to share in the space especially with Rachael there as an anchor. 

Each day we would have a chance to get feedback from the group to help our progress. I remember the first day feeling too intimidated to partake but I knew it was something I wanted to try. Rachel gave us our second instruction which was to paint all the light and shadow we saw in our picture. That first day was for sure the hardest for myself. I kept painting myself over and over but nothing looked right. By the end of the day I had no face and it felt like nowhere to go. I felt so stuck and defeated I had no clue how I was going to dig myself out of my hole. Rachel suggested maybe I could be the first to receive feedback from the group the next day, so I let myself be open to the process. The feedback on my painting allowed me to have a fresh pair of eyes when mine felt foggy.

This week I think I might have re-done my Painting more than 100000000 times, at least it felt like that. In doing so I learnt that nothing is written in stone and sometimes by not changing something you don’t allow it to become something that is better. So my painting changed again and again, becoming more me by the day. I started to emerge from this once blank canvas in colour and expression. I found it intriguing that how I painted was so heavily influenced by my mood. I remember stepping back from my painting and feeling this surge of excitement, there I was! Not perfect but still there staring back at me.  

At the beginning of the week I felt like I was battling the paint but as I learnt to relax and enjoy the process I felt like I finally had a breakthrough and the turbulence I once felt turned to playfulness, then calm. When I would leave my painting for the night I remember feeling like a little piece of me was still there waiting to be finished. I’d leave the Hive feeling like I just ran a marathon, colours mixing and forming in my mind. But maybe that’s what happens when you paint for 8hr a day. 

The last day of the process I felt the clock bearing down on me. We all felt it. Everyone was in the groove finishing up little details or adding their last few strokes. I looked around the room and not one painting looked the same as it did at the beginning of the week. We hung all our paintings on the wall where we eat every day, whatever state of finish they were in. There we were, 21 of us, YIP 16! I’m so proud of the work that was done this week, internally and on canvas. We all trusted the process and without Rachel there to guide the way I do not believe I could have come to the place I arrived at as I stood in front of my painting. It was a week I will hold dear for the foreseeable future.

Written by Deja Defilippis 

Photo by Yander Fabri

Message from YIP

Deadline for Applications Round One YIP17

We’re enjoying seeing applications for YIP17 begin to come in. Due to high levels of interest, we would like to let those considering joining YIP that we have an initial deadline of the 15th of March 2024. We strongly encourage potential participants to apply before this time, as we will only extend the deadline if there are still places available after this point. We greatly look forward to receiving and reading your applications!

To apply, click here.

To get more information, send an email to or click here.

YIP Alumni Project: Work and Self-Study at Andreashof

YIP is a social entrepreneurship program, and each year the alumni network expands and a lot of projects are worked on. We are curious to see what these projects are that YIP alumni are working on, so we decided to include each month an article written by an alumnus in which they can explain their work and experience.

This month we hear from Irene and Johannes (YIP15 alumni) about their work and self-study at Andreashof:

Photo by Irene Fernandez

Here we are! It’s Sunday morning, we are sitting in a greenhouse turned into a café. The whole place outside is covered in snow, from where you can see Lake Constance with the Alps in the background. This café is not just any café, people come here to eat sea buckthorn cake, buy artemisia tea, calendula oil and all sorts of things.

“A nice way to start the advent time, right?”. “Yeah, sitting in the warmth, writing a text for Yand… well, for YIP, and drinking a cappuccino with Lichtyam” 

Licht… what?

“OK, maybe we should start from the beginning”.

We, Johannes and Irene finished our YIP year this summer. Actually, thinking about it we are not completely sure how we ended up here, probably it was something to do with our shared interest in education and the motivation we felt to create our own one. We started looking for a place where we could work with our hands and also have time to spend for studying other interests. 

Through Johannes’ sister we got to know about Andreashof (website). Andreashof is a place that runs a café, a garden but people mostly know it for it’s work with the Lichtyam. The Lichtyam (also Lichtwurzel= Light root), is a plant that is originally grown in China, used as food and for its healing benefits. Here in Europe, it’s mostly known in the anthroposophical world. The harvest of the Lichtyam happens every November and December and we decided to come and help. 

We spend three days per week digging one-meter long “roots” out of the soil. It’s a very interesting and meditative work to do, because without enough attention you break them very easily. And you might not know but it really doesn’t feel good to break one! Sometimes they are grown in ditches, often in boxes and in some weird cases even in gutters.

The other days of the week we spend studying, together and individually. Reading books about Anthroposophy, Biography work, playing cello, nature drawing, taking pictures and also having a lot of conversations about life and all its forms.

We are very grateful to have this opportunity of spending these two months here and with this, getting to know the work that Andreashof is doing and planning to do. With new people that came, new ideas are being created for the future of this place. Ideas of combining agriculture, education and medicine in a healing and alive way. Half a year ago the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) started to run and every Friday people come to pick up their boxes full of vegetables. Kids are playing around in the kindergarten that is in its beginnings. Therapies and workshops about plant healing are hosted regularly. And many more initiatives are about to come.

We are looking forward to come back in the future and see how these ideas take form and shape this place!

Written by Irene Fernandez and Johannes Seeberger (YIP15 alumni)

Photo by Irene Fernandez

In the next Newsletter you will find…

– Light Festival Prep Week

– Reflection of the Light Festival

– Personal Initiative and Self Designed Curriculum Kickstart
– The Art of Storytelling

– YIP16 Internship Video

– YIP-Alumni Project

Newsletter composed by Yander Fabri and Naomi Richards