When a Stone Begins to Roll

Notes of an Adventurer, Diplomat & Mystic: Extracts from Episodes in a Life of Adventure

Laurence Oliphant; Edited by T.H. Meyer

Out of print

Quick Look

  • An intriguing account of the life and work of an important cultural figure

An account of the life of an important personality who Rudolf Steiner linked to Ovid.

204 x 126 mm
Lindisfarne Books
Mind, Body, Spirit; Art & Literature
160 pages
Publication date:
28 Apr 2011


Laurence Oliphant is one of the great unknown personalities of the nineteenth century, and indeed of recent cultural history at large. He was born in Cape Town in 1829 and died near London in 1888. He left behind some twenty books, including novels, travel accounts, and mystical spiritual writings. He was diplomat, traveler, adventurer, writer, and mystic.

At the beginning of the 1860s, the period of Oliphant's great spiritual transition began when he met the Swedenborgian Thomas Lake Harris. It was Oliphant's last works, Sympneumata and Scientific Religion, that prompted Rudolf Steiner to pursue karmic research on Oliphant. As a result, Steiner revealed the karmic relationship between the lives of Oliphant and the Roman poet Ovid. In an August 24, 1924, lecture in London, Steiner commented that Oliphant's individuality is significant not only because of the previous Ovid incarnation, but because of its activity in the interval between the two incarnations. Looked at in the light of spiritual research on the subject, Oliphant's life assumes dimensions of world-historical interest.

When a Stone Begins to Roll contains extensive selections from Oliphant's autobiographical book, Episodes in a Life of Adventure; or, Moss from a Rolling Stone (1887). In addition to the insightful commentary of T.H. Meyer, the book also offers a generous sampling of Oliphant's complex and compelling work, as well as hitherto unpublished material and the satire 'The Sisters of Tibet'.


Laurence Oliphant (1829–1888) was a writer and traveller, Christian mystic, and active supporter of the return of the Jews to Israel. He traveled widely and, from 1865 to 1867, was a member of parliament. During the Russo-Turkish War (1878) he began to take an interest in the Holy Land and Jewish settlement there, in a blending of political, economical and mystical religious considerations. Oliphant eventually settled in Haifa, where he engaged in religious and mystic contemplation. His writings include Land of Gilead (1880) and Haifa, or Life in Modern Palestine (1887).

T.H. Meyer was born in Switzerland in 1950. He is the founder of Perseus Verlag, Basel, and is editor of the monthly journal Der Europäer. He has written numerous articles and is the author of several books, including Reality, Truth, and Evil (2005) and major biographies of D.N. Dunlop and Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz. He also edited Light for the New Millennium (1997) describing Rudolf Steiner's association with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke.

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