I am always on the hunt for new leads on Farwerck and so I once again bumped into the name “Jos. Raemaekers”. I connect the name to a writer with similar subjects as Farwerck (from folklore to esotericism), but never really looked into the man. Then I was rereading Bouwsteenen a Masonic periodical that also published texts by Farwerck and my eye fell on two texts of Raemaekers in a volume from 1928. One is called “Kinderspelen” (‘children’s games’), the other “Citroen” (‘lemon’). Especially the first is quite Farwerck-like. Many, many details, going from folklore to mythology and he even mentions guilds. Could Raemaekers be a/the inspiration for Farwerck?
I wrote this article in 2013/4 for an upcoming issue of Northern Traditions that I doubt will ever appear after all these years, so I decided to publish it here.
When the Christianisation, at least the external, of the German tribes was completed, the proceedings of the men-bonds were initially continued. They could be divided into two groups, rites of initiation, which were more or less secret and the public proceedings, which sprang from views that were grounded in the initiations. Of these initiations, […] we find only traces in later periods, enough though to determine their existence. We mostly know the public proceedings because of ecclesiastic prohibitions, but also from many remnants that have survived in folkways. (2)
My last two articles were about Masonic Traditionalism. One was based on a book by Mark Sedgewick about René Guénon, the other inspired by the books of the contemporary Masonic Traditionalist Fabio Venzi. Even though I had not, and have not, really been looking into the subject, I once again return to it.
I recently ran into Christian Guidice’s thesis about Arturo Reghini. Reghini was a Freemason and a Traditionalist. There is an interesting twist to the story.
Reghini’s story is in some regards similar to that of René Guénon. The two were contemporaries. Reghini was born in 1878, Guénon in 1886. Reghini passed away in 1946, Guénon in 1951.
I recently read the book Studies On Traditional Freemasonry by Fabio Venzi. This is a very Traditionalistic book and I wanted to see if that is just the author or if that author is part of some sort of current. Unfortunately it does not seem to be easy to find much information.
Fabio Venzi was born in 1961 in Rome. He is a sociologist who publishes on a variety of subjects. I have not been able to find out when he was initiated, but I do know that since 2001 Venzi has been the Grand Master of the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, or Regular Grand Lodge of Italy.
I was aware that Guénon had shortly been a Freemason and that in his earlier works, he saw Freemasonry as one of the two only genuine Western initiatic orders. Later in his life he changed his mind. Things are not quite so simple it seems.
The first connection between Guénon and Freemasonry occurs on page 47/8:
In 1906 Guénon entered Encausse’s Free School of Hermetic Sciences (as the Independent Group for Esoteric Studies has been renamed) and joined the neo-Masonic Martinist Order and an irregular Masonic body called Humanidad (Humanity), located in France but licensed by a Spanish rather than a French Obedience.
“Encausse” is Gérard Encause, better known as “Papus” who founded the Martinist Order and a whole range of pseudo Masonic groups.
I had already heard that Guénon used to belong to an “irregular” lodge, but on page 67 Sedgewick says something that I did not yet know:
In 1912 Guénon received his sixth and final initiation, into the regular Masonic lodge Thébah. He was introduced to this lodge by Oswald Wirth, a central figure in the history of Masonic Traditionalism. Wirth, the single most important figure in twentieth-century French Masonry, had earlier made the same journey from occultism to respectability that Guénon would make under Catholic auspices.
I have worked through a book in a language that I do not master. Since Norwegian is a Germanic language like my own, some words are recognisable from my own language, other words from another language that I do master. Sometimes the words looked like nothing and I used Google translator which I installed on my phone. I figured that if I would understand a few words from every sentence, I would have a rough idea of what it is all about. I am familiar with both subjects in the book, so recognising a few names and keywords would give an idea of the context. I made notes of points that seemed interesting enough to look at better and after finishing the initial reading I have been typing over passages in translation software. I am sure I missed many nuances, subtleties or even interesting information that did not seem groundbreaking when seeing them written in Norwegian, but I think I got enough to be able to give you an idea of the book. Too many points for a book review even, so I have turned this into an article.
Let me start with the part that just may be most interesting for you. If you go to Iceland with a ‘heathen interest’ there are things to consider visiting. I had to search high and low for information about some of these things, so when you read this before you go, you may not have to (or less so).
As you may know, in Iceland the prechristian faith is an acknowledged religion. There is one organisation: Ásatrúarfélagið (‘Asatru association’), and it has around 3000 members. This may not sound much, but when you realise that the whole of Iceland has 300.000 inhabitants, that gives a bit of perspective. Also, in my own 18 milion inhabitants country, we do not come anywhere near the Icelandic figure.
For some reason the Icelanders managed to stay in one organisation without splitting up, people starting their own groups, etc. They find that perfectly logical themselves. The Ásatrúarfélagið is not a very ‘strict’ organisation. Its members include people who just like to walk around in Viking cloths to “Goðar” (around 30) and everything in between.
The man Franz Eduard Farwerck (1889-1969) somehow fascinates me. His first name is often spelled Frans, but his obituary has “Franz”, as do records in online genealogy websites. Before I had heard of the man I ‘accidentally’ ran into his major work Noord-Europese Mysteriën en Hun Sporen Tot Heden (‘Northern European Mysteries and their Traces to the Present’ 1970) at the perfect moment (2002/3). The amount of information, details and photos in this book is staggering and the red thread thought-provoking: In the Teutonic past there have been mystery-religions in Northern Europe just like there were mysteries around the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere in the world. However they changed in form, especially when Christianity came to those parts, they survived to our present day as one of the origins of Masonic symbolism. Elsewhere on this website you can read more about this and how this idea fits into ‘my own scheme’. I am not going to talk about that now, since Farwerck himself is the topic of this article (mostly see Traditionalistic Asatru) .
Recently I was reading a little book which had a text of a Dutch Shinto master. He had a few things that made me think of ‘heathen concepts’, a couple of remarkable correspondences. To look a little further I dove into my library. I indeed own a little book about Shinto which had a slightly different approach, but did confirm some of the concepts that caught my eye. Time to have a bit of a closer look at Shinto ‘from a heathen perspective’.
A little bit of background
“Shinto” (or “kami-no-michi”) is a bit of a generic term. Nowadays there are many forms of Shinto. When you are going to look up information you may notice that some people will say that Shinto is a religion, others will say it is not. I have the idea that people who see Shinto as a religion, look at it through ‘Western eyeglasses’. They will speak about “Gods” and “holy texts”, while neither really seems to be the case. Perhaps it is better to see Shinto as a ‘worldview’ or even a ‘way of life’. There are texts of importance to Shinto, by the way, but they are more like chronicles than Divinely inspired texts to have to be followed.
Shinto does not have a ‘start date’ or an ‘inventor’. It is regarded the original religion of Japan, that of the indigenous people (the Jômon). Ironically, the term “Shinto” is actually Chinese. It consists of two symbols and means something along the lines of ‘way of the kami’. The term was only invented in the 15th century, probably to tell it apart of other religions that had entered Japan. The lesser used Japanese term is “kami-no-michi”.