centennial

vastmannag

On january 31, 1913, a number of swedish theosophists and anthroposophists-to-be gathered in the apartment of lieutenant-colonel Gustaf Kinell, former general secretary of the Theosophical Society, to form the new Anthroposophical Society; that is, they were theosophists who chose to follow Steiner rather than to remain with theosophy. It was one of the first national societies to be formed. Gustaf Kinell had announced that he wanted to resign from his post in the Theosophical Society already around new year. On january 26, he held a lecture in which he attacked Annie Besant, which upset her fans, who subsequently demanded his resignation as the society’s president. Both Kinell and the Society’s vice president chose to resign after a meeting a couple of days later. They, and the other members, who had chosen to leave, then convened in a meeting at Kinell’s apartment to constitute the Anthroposophical Society in Sweden and at the same time to elect a board of directors (Kinell became its president). 39 members were present at the constitution and by the end of the year, the Anthroposophical Society numbered around 70. The first annual meeting was held in Stockholm that summer, in june, with Steiner present.

In 1926, writing in the Anthroposophical Society’s newsletter about the occurrences of 1912/13 and the split between theosophy and the new anthroposophical movement, Kinell echoed Steiner when he tried to explain the motivations that guided his decision to leave the theosophists behind: ‘What good is it to say: “We are not a sect”, if we behave as though we were a sect.’ He didn’t want to be in a cult, so that was why he chose to leave theosophy, believing, one must assume, that Steiner’s new movement would be something better. Actually, I think he must either be quoting Steiner directly or paraphrasing him strongly. (I took notes from the old magazines for another purpose — a project of which nothing has come so far — and it was long ago, can barely decipher what I’ve written, and the only information I can derive from them is that Kinell included this in an article in 1926! Translation from swedish is my own. It might be appropriate to change ‘sect’ to ‘cult’.) Kinell was an interesting man, who had turned a theosophist in the 1880s; he had a career in the military, he taught mathematics (and wrote books on mathematics and geometry), and was also an activist for incineration. He served many years as a general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society, translated Steiner’s works from german to swedish and wrote articles in the Society’s journal.

If you wonder what the significance of that image is. None, really, except it shows a glimpse of Västmannagatan 69, near Odenplan (Odin’s place!), where Kinell lived, and where the anthroposophists met on january 31, 1913. It used to be something of a headquarters for the Society, and it was its official address, during the early years. The photo was taken today, in rain and dirt, because I had an errand to take care of at Odenplan. I’m looking north on Västmannagatan and if my calculations are correct, number 69 is the second building after Hotel Oden. (There’s first one building clad in multi-coloured bricks, and then we have number 69.) Here’s an old photo, from 1914, of the same street, and to the right is the church I was standing next to while taking my picture today. Now, keep your eyes steady around the fourth floor of that building, on my photo, focus your attention, and you will soon be able to notice some suspicious ghost-like beings hovering outside, above the street and in relentless rain. They look rather haunted, don’t you think? I strongly suspect one of them is Kinell, who keeps chanting, unheard and somewhat desperately by now, ‘you weren’t supposed to make it into a cult!’

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8 comments

  1. Gorgeous picture!

  2. Très bel article Alicia !

  3. ha! Fascinating.

  4. Thank you all!

    Needless to say, although perhaps I should have, Hotel Odin was not there a 100 years ago. Presumably there was some fancy building 1890s building (wouldn’t surprise me if it was similar to the one just to the left on the picture), which must have been demolished and replaced with that ugly monster of a house in the mid 1900s.

  5. Kul uppgifter, var kom dom ifrån – nåt medlemsblad? Och adressen, var det samma som Kristensamfundets pionjär-präst Karl Engqvist med fru Magda bodde på? Mitt minne var att det var en eller två portar söderut, men jag kan ha mints fel. Där både döptes och konfirmerades jag. Med början på 40-talet och något decennium framåt var Engqvists lägenhet samtidigt där Kristensamfundets människovigningens handling utfördes. Kristensamfundet var på den tiden navet för antroposofin i Sverige. Dit kom alla – inte minst Jens Björneboe på den tiden han studerade målning för Isaac Grünewald och hans berömdhet som författare ännu inte hade realiserats.

  6. De kommer från flera olika ställen! Jag plockade dem ur anteckningar jag hade gjort om dels Kinells egna artiklar i Antroposofisk Tidskrift 1926-27, dels Sahlbergs i Antropos 1983. (Artiklar om historiska saker relaterade till sällskapet.) Sedan hade jag också googlat Kinell tidigare och mindes en del om honom. Jag tror att jag fick fram adressen helt enkelt genom att kolla gamla telekataloger hos Stockholmskällan, där Kinell finns på Västmannag och under vissa år är det även Antroposofiska Sällskapets adress. Den framgick nog inte i artiklarna den exakta adressen. Men uppgiften finns med också i Lejons bok. Han hänvisar inte till artiklarna och det är lite dåligt med referenser i hans stycke om saken. Kanske att den också nämndes i Wager-Gunnarssons bok.

    Det låter ju som ett sammanträffande om de skulle bott på exakt samma adress men det borde gå att se efter i Stockholmskällans scannade telefonböcker! Om de sträcker sig så långt in i nutiden (jag har kollat upp saker fram till 30-talet). Jag skulle göra det själv men har stängt av datorn för natten!

    (Jag hade ett lite projekt för mig med Steinerrelaterad Stockholmstrivia. Jag har tänkt återuppta det någon dag.)

  7. Just for the record, porten har nummer 63, såg jag idag. Och märkte att det inte var den port jag då och då klev in igenom då jag läste för Karl Engqvist. Osäker på om det var 61:an eller 59:an. Han bodde i alla fall på första våningen såvitt jag minns.

  8. 63an borde vara det där äldre huset på hörnet vid Karlbergsvägen, mitt emot Hotel Oden. 59an måste vara hörnhuset vid Odengatan? 61an huset i mitten.

    Kinells hus är alltså två hus efter Karlbergsvägen. (Ja, fotot är ju lite dumt, det blev så av tekniska och tidsmässiga skäl.) Adresskalendrarna finns bara publicerade till och med 1925, men då bodde han faktiskt kvar! (http://stockholmskallan.se/PostFiles/SMF/SD/SSMB_0023983_1925_28.pdf) Och 1925 är ju för tidigt, så det ger nog inget svar ang Engqvists. Eller om Kristensamfundet, som ju väl inte fanns i Sverige än vid den tiden.

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