Cultural Day

An invitation to 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students, along with adult family members and friends

The Cultural Day is an opportunity to take part in three different workshops drawn from many offerings spanning the arts and sciences. Each workshop runs for one and a quarter hours. No prior knowledge or experience is required.

The presenters are all fellow students of philosophy with a love of their subject. The fee for the day is $80 per person, and includes lunch and refreshments. The event is held twice yearly, at the School's Hawthorn Campus, located at 1 Through St, Hawthorn.

The next Cultural Day will be held on Sunday 24th March, 2019.

The programme for the most recent Cultural Day is shown below.

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Sunday 11th November, 2018 Programme

Arrival on the day is from 8.00 am, with the opening address commencing at 8.30 am in the Erasmus School Hall. There will be three workshop sessions during the day, followed by the special presentation.  The day will conclude at 4.00 pm.

A wholesome, vegetarian buffet lunch will be served in the grounds, and morning and afternoon refreshments will be served in the Hawthorn tearoom.

  • 8.00 am:Arrival
  • 8.30 am:Opening Address
  • 9.00 am:Workshop Session 1
  • 10.15 am:Refreshments (Hawthorn Tea Room)
  • 10.45 am:Workshop Session 2
  • 12.00 pm:Buffet Lunch (Erasmus Grounds)
  • 1.00 pm:Workshop Session 3
  • 2.15 pm:Refreshments (Hawthorn Tea Room)
  • 2.45 pm:Special Presentation
  • 3.45 pm:Closing address
  • 4.00 pm:Close

Special Presentation

Taking the long view of friendship

by Mrs. Valery Rees

Ficino’s letters to his friends show a healthy curiosity into the meaning of friendship. He drew on many sources to explore the lifelong bonds of loyalty and the sense of mutual support inherent in true friendship. He explains what it entails, warns against what it precludes, and develops a broad and generous view of friendship which he then exemplified in his own dealings with people. This talk will explore what we can learn from Ficino’s approach in relation to our own experience of friendship.

Bring Cultural Day to a close by letting the honour and dignity Ficino affords friendship - that longed-for connection and bond in our own generation - nourish your heart and mind.

Mrs Valery Rees is a world-renowned scholar and international author and presenter on Marsilio Ficino, the Renaissance Platonic philosopher. Giving depth to her engagement in all things Ficinian, is Valery’s long-standing connection with the School of Philosophy in London. Over many years, Valery has immersed herself in translating Ficino’s letters and his commentary on St. Paul, studied and presented at universities and conferences in Europe, Israel and the UK on Ficino and all things Renaissance, as well as edited numerous books on Ficino, his philosophy and influence, and has written an acclaimed book on angels, and numerous articles including The Care of the Soul:  States of Consciousness in the Writings of Marsilio Ficino.

Workshop Details

  1. Abhinaya the dance

    Movement, connecting with the senses, expression and Freedom are some of the art of Abhinaya. An ancient form of Dance which means ‘leading the audience towards’ the experience of Abhinaya. Join me to experience such a wonderful art and for me to share with you why I love this form of dance. No dance experience needed. Dress for comfort.

    (Miss Fua Evile) Session 2

  2. Aristotle's Poetics - Drama meets Philosophy

    Aristotle’s Poetics is the oldest surviving text on literary criticism and its main focus is an analysis of Greek Tragedy. Its influence has been profound; referenced by renaissance dramatists and contemporary screenwriters alike. In this session, using film drama as an example, we look at the key concepts of Aristotle’s work and explore the interconnection between drama, emotion and philosophy.

    (Mr. George Tosi) Session 2

  3. Calligraphy - an exercise in Mindfulness

    It’s a magic moment the first time you see ink flow onto the paper from a broad-edged pen. Come and experience this for yourself as you engage your senses through pen, ink and paper. After initial exercises mindfully exploring the use of the pen, a simple script with be taught. No prior experience in calligraphy is necessary - just a willingness to be present!

    (Mrs. Deirdre Hassed) Session 1

  4. Creative Expression and Self Discovery

    Come and explore the intersection of philosophy, transpersonal psychology and art therapy through creative expression and self-enquiry. No artistic experience necessary.

    (Mrs. Michele Hutchins) Session 3

  5. Dialectic - Discourse that Uplifts and Enlightens

    How many of our waking hours are spent in conversation? How much of that conversation is uplifting and enlightening? How might that proportion be increased? The art of discourse or conversation is one that can be greatly improved by guidance and practice. In this session we will learn some basic principles that we can follow and we will also gain some practice that will help us to spot the pitfalls that can so easily hinder the development of an uplifting discussion.

    (Mrs. Marita Brewster) Session 1

  6. Discovering Your Gifts

    Imagine waking up each morning inspired by the idea that whatever comes your way today will help you to realise your potential and fulfil your purpose in life. Each one of us has a unique set of gifts or talents. One of our challenges in life is to discover our own special gifts and then to decide how we will use them to make a difference in the world and fulfil our purpose. This presentation will start you on the journey of discovering your gifts.

    (Mr. Stephen Abrahams) Session 3

  7. Enhance your Handwriting

    Our handwriting is unique to each of us. During this workshop we will experiment how rhythm, repetition and the tools we write with can add character and interest to our writing. Materials will be provided, but if you have a favourite pen, please bring that along.... and your finest attention!

    (Mrs. Deirdre Hassed) Session 3

  8. Gayatri Mantra

    The Gayatri Mantra originated thousands of years ago in the sacred texts of the east where it was said to be the primordial sound of creation. More recently it has been described as having the power of 1000 nuclear explosions and a famous scientist said that the Gayatri Mantra was so powerful that it should be carved on the door of every science laboratory. Discover the power and beauty of the Gayatri and allow it to awaken your vital energies leading to health, wealth and wisdom. A practical session requiring no singing experience.

    (Mr. Robert Udovicich) Session 1

  9. Is the Universe Intelligent? A dialectic inquiry

    Dialectic is the ancient art of inquiry into a subject using an approach of questions and answers. Its greatest exponent in the Western tradition was Socrates, hence it is also called, 'The Socratic Method'. This interactive workshop will explore the principles of dialectic by applying them to a philosophical inquiry into whether the Universe is random as many scientists think, or intelligent as many philosophical traditions teach.

    (Assoc. Prof. Craig Hassed) Session 2

  10. It is as it is

    Inner non-resistance to what is leads to a life of Harmony, Simplicity, Love and Peace. This practical interactive session will allow you to experience inner non-resistance.

    (Dr. Neil McNab) Session 1

  11. Keeping Your Head - Meeting Adversity

    “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” So begins Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If” which gives magnificent advice on facing adversity. What is adversity? What are the many forms it takes in our daily lives? Can it be avoided? Or do we simply need to be able to meet it head on? Join us for a discussion using the poem “If” as our guide.

    (Mr. Chris Hutchins) Session 2

  12. Learning from Indigenous Cultures

    How much do we know about what underpins the world’s oldest surviving continuous culture? What sort of spirituality and philosophy has been practiced, and is this still alive? What lessons can we learn? We will explore some traditions and practices concerning law, caring for family and land, and living out the truth of the connectedness of all things. Details of a unique opportunity to directly learn more about Aboriginal culture and philosophy will be presented on the day.

    (Mr. Frank Kennedy) Session 1

  13. Let your fingers do the talking

    Touch, tactile, textiles; have you become detached from this delightful sense? Sewing is ‘mindfulness’ for fingers. One simple stitch will open up an entire world of creative needlepoint tapestry and fun. Colourful wools, canvas and a pattern will be supplied.

    (Mrs. Philippa Street) Session 3

  14. Let Your Soul Sing

    The voice is the one musical instrument we are all born with and song is the most powerful medium for communicating words of truth. Join in the restful art of singing in unison and harmony. No prior experience is required for this joyful activity.

    (Mrs. Janet Mason) Session 3

  15. Marsilio Ficino and his place in the world

    Who is he? How is he part of my world? An introduction to this Renaissance thinker opens up new horizons for us today. In his own day he brought back to life traditions of ancient thought that had been lost for centuries. Today he still touches our best yet often hidden self, inspiring something universal and liberating to flourish in each of us.

    (Mrs. Valery Rees) Session 1

  16. The Mindful Labyrinth

    Discover the ancient practice of circling to the centre i.e. your centre. Hear about the history of the labyrinth, its sacred geometry, symbolism and its use as a spiritual tool today. Learn to draw the seven circuit Classical Labyrinth and find out for yourself the truth in the words “the labyrinth meets you where you are”. The session will conclude with a Remembrance Day walk on the labyrinth, serenaded by the four elemental chimes.

    (Mrs. Madonna Rigoni) Session 3

  17. Natural Law

    What is natural law? How does following it lead to freedom and happiness?

    (Mr. Warwick Brewster) Session 3

  18. Perception, perspective and states of consciousness

    It’s not what we are looking at that matters, but where we are looking from. Come and explore perception and the way it shapes, limits or expands, the world we live in.

    (Mrs. Michele Hutchins) Session 2

  19. Philosophy and Minimalism

    Ever wondered how your external environment can impact on your internal peace of mind? Our stuff isn’t just things we own, sometimes they own us; we have to buy, use, clean, maintain, store and dispose of all our things. Minimalism explores the idea of living a more meaningful life with less.

    (Mrs. Belinda Fyffe) Session 2

  20. Philosophy Begins in Wonder

    An introduction to the subject of Philosophy for those Cultural Day guests who might wonder what it’s all about. What is it all about? Intellectual and practical, active and contemplative, Philosophy has been with us since the beginning, whenever and wherever that was. Enjoy a brief insight into the beginnings of several major world philosophies and a few central tenets that underpin them. Come and experience what Philosophy does!

    (Mr. Peter Farago) Session 1 & 2

  21. Philosophy, Love and Relationships

    This practical presentation looks at ways to improve our relationships with partners, family, friends and acquaintances. We will consider some useful psychological models of relationships, practical ways to connect with others, some of the more subtle internal influences we have to contend with, and what the wise say on the subject of Love generally.

    (Mr. Tim Rogers) Session 2

  22. Plato in the Modern World

    Plato, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, wrote his dialogues in the 5th Century BC. He was addressing the issues that the world was facing at that time. What issues do we face in our own modern day world? And how might Plato’s writings assist us in addressing those issues? In this session we will explore some of those issues and examine some words of Plato to see how he might help us.

    (Mrs. Marita Brewster) Session 3

  23. Practical Gratitude, a Pathway to Realisation

    What is Gratitude? Is it just a mental process of acknowledging the past? A useful thing to do occasionally, but without any real practical application? Understood correctly, Gratitude can be used to open up a much larger world in which to live.

    (Mr. Tim Rogers) Session 3

  24. Sacred Art - An Expression of Unity

    Some works of art and architecture immediately uplift us. Their timeless nature speaks of qualities whereby we can discover the sacred in ourselves while contemplating them with beauty, proportion and truth.

    (Mr. Garry Martin) Session 1

  25. Sanskrit: The Journey Home

    Let the sound of this most ancient and sacred language be heard and experienced. Sanskrit speaks directly to the heart and the self within, and takes the student on an unimaginable journey. Come and enjoy the sounds of magic and let the transformation begin.

    (Dr. Barrie Mayall) Session 1

  26. So said Shakespeare: History's most philosophical dramatist

    “To be or not to be. That is the question.” A very good question indeed. What is the answer? Who has it? Who was this man Shakespeare? What/How did he know? “Who wouldst fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life?” Another good question, and poor old Hamlet’s dilemma. So come, seek out a soul-stirring soliloquy or savour a sweet sounding sonnet and…discover your own Shakespeare within.

    (Mr. John Jepsen) Session 2

  27. Spending Our Energy … Wisely!

    Sometimes our lives seem to spin at a maddening pace... at other times there is a transcendent calmness. Why is this? The Bhagavad Gita describes the three-fold energy (guna) that powers the Creation. What is it? How does it affect our daily lives - our feelings, thoughts, actions and interactions? Discover how a fundamental understanding of the guna can help bring balance and measure to our lives, and the secret of work that allows us to spend our energy ... wisely!

    (Mr. Chris Hutchins) Session 3

  28. Surface True Knowledge!

    This interactive and engaging workshop uses the philosophy of dialectic to discover the truth about any topic you wish to discuss. You may be facing difficulties in your present situation or wish to realise your full potential. Whatever the case may be, come along and give it a shot!

    (Mr. Rajesh Bhandari) Session 3

  29. Truly, Madly, Deeply: Marvellous Mystics or Magnificent Misfits?

           “What experience, mystically divine,
           Transcending all concepts of time,
           Made the participants,
           All kinds of miscreants,
           Taste a magic superbly sublime?”
    Particularly Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Rumi, St. Francis of Assisi, Meister Eckhart, and more recently, Eckhart Tolle and Simone Weil. What did they know? What was their secret?

    (Mr. John Jepson) Session 1

  30. Virtue, vice and the pursuit of happiness

    Which is better - Virtue or Vice? Which will make you happy? Philosophy tells us the virtues are your inner compass. They are the higher, better aspect of your soul, and practicing them will make you happy, confident and content.

    (Mr. Peter Stoddart) Session 1

  31. Where is my soul?

    Do I have a soul? If so, what is it? Is it transient or eternal? How do I take care of it? This presentation will use the guidance of the neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus to investigate the inner world of who we think we are.

    (Mr. Peter Stoddart) Session 2


“A beautiful day! I have found some solutions to difficulties in my life, and have a much more expanded perspective—very inspirational!”

“Enlightening, a chance to focus upon ideas, thoughts, and ways of being, that I don't often take time to consider.”

“Excellent and thought provoking. Encourages one to want to learn more.”

Cultural Day logo

During a tea break

A session in progress

Practising fine attention

The glorious buffet lunch

Enjoying good company


The bustling tearoom

Fine results

A session in progress

A session in progress