The Sacred Grove: Natural Space and the Numinous

S y d n e y T r a d s

Caspar David Friedrich - Monastery Graveyard in Snow (1819) Caspar David Friedrich, “Monastery Graveyard in Snow” (1819)


A pervasive interest in the association of natural space with the sacred is a noticeable tendency in the work of some important Traditionalists. Tolkien, for instance, epitomises this tendency, from specific references that root his landscape in place and time, to his elaborated Ent-lore. One thinks also of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Monastery Graveyard in Snow (1819), with its haunting representation of a ruined, lone Gothic arch in the dead of winter, assimilated into a primeval natural landscape of mighty, ancient oaks, their haggard branches reaching to the heavens in reverence. Something is activated in the makeup of a certain kind of traditionalist by the association of natural space and the numinous, which is embodied by the sacred grove. Aesthetically, it initiates a form that encompasses, in living yet solid actuality, the complicated feeling or tone – well beyond mere emotion…

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