Kepler is one of the most admired astronomers who ever lived. In 1615, when Kepler was at the height of his career, his mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft in a Lutheran town in Germany (in-part due to Kepler himself claiming her to be a witch in his book the Somnium). The proceedings led to a criminal trial, with Kepler conducting his mother’s defence to fight for legal justice.
Kepler’s Trial responds to Paul Hindemith’s Opera Harmony of the World and other accounts which present Katharina Kepler as deranged, witch-like woman. The opera is based on Ulinka Rublack’s book The Astronomer & the Witch.
Read more about the opera at the http://keplers-trial.com/ website. Including…
“Kepler is often seen as a champion of rational thinking that mechanized the universe. In fact, our neat distinctions between religion and magic, the rational and irrational obscure how knowledge about nature and humans mattered to him.
This in turn explains connections between some of his ideas and those of his mother. Both saw the earth as alive and the micro- and macrocosm as interlinked. What happened to a living tree or star, might register in your body.
Above all, the world was always God’s creation, and Kepler was inspired by the belief that nature could reveal traces of God as its maker. Humans were created in God’s image. Musical octaves even touched ‘ignorant folk’, and dance-steps followed geometrical patterns.
The world was something far more fascinating than a mechanical clock-work, and Kepler’s interest in music was related to his fascination both with regularity as well as surprise, creativity and renewal.
In contrast to many at the time, Kepler wrote nothing about the devil as a force. Instead he politically championed the possibilities of religious peace and social advances through new learning.
The accusation that he might have been raised by a woman bound to the devil was particularly shocking for him in this sense.
Read extracts of Kepler’s defence here.