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Mithraism in Northern Europe

Again an article about the time of the beginning of our era. Mithraism has been a subject of articles within these pages more often recently, every time in another context. This time I want to speak about the German and Celtic tribes and their lives with the Romans, working towards interesting similarities in symbology of different convictions. The native peoples had strange relationships with the Roman empire. In 387 BCE the Celts managed to shortly conquer Rome. The Germans fought Rome a lot and the Bastarnae -for example- allied with the Cilician kings Perseus and later different kings Mithridates (I to IV) against Rome around 168 BCE. Teutons and Ambrones (German tribes) fought against Rome as well, but on the other hand Caesar writes in his ‘Bello Gallico’ that some German tribes helped him to fight the Celts. This friendly/hostile relationship-changes continued until the fall of the Roman empire. It… Read More »Mithraism in Northern Europe

The Renaissance in national context

by Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich (editors) (1992 cambridge university press * isbn 0521361818) Cambridge like the Dutch publisher Brill is one of these publishers publishing books by and for scholars. The books are usually extremely expensive, hard to get and only available via your library. Yet, sometimes interesting investigations come forth from the world of universities and it is worthwhile to try and locate such books (not too hard if you know your ways) and read them. Instead of just reviewing this book, I decided that there is information in it that deserves to be written about at length, so the review became an article. As the title suggests, the book is about the Renaissance in different countries, not about the Renaissance as a whole. This interests me, because I am still looking for information about what happened during the Renaissance in Northern Europe. The book consists of essays… Read More »The Renaissance in national context

The origins of old Germanic studies in the Low Countries

Cornelis Dekker (1961-) has something with Latinised names, just like during the period he wrote about. He writes about Dutchmen, but almost every single one of them is named with a Latin name so even a fellow Dutchman like myself sometimes has to think who Dekker writes about. But this is of course not what I am writing aout. Dekker made a superb study of the study of Germanic languages during the Renaissance, a subject that highly interests me. When I was writing my article about the Northern Renaissance I have been looking for a book like this, but it came too late. Well… never too late! It is almost incredible how much information Dekker compiled about people interested in native history and especially native and old languages. There is so enormously much information in this book that I decided not to rewrite my Northern Renaissance article, but just make… Read More »The origins of old Germanic studies in the Low Countries

The order of the treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum

Another problem that I ran into is the order of the treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum. I thought that this order had long been fixed and agreed upon, but even fairly recent editions of the text, have different orders and different treatises even! I may have to let you down admitting that I own only two version of the text, which are the Dutch translation by Roelof van den Broek and Gilles Quispel (1990) who use the ‘official counting’ of I-XIV and XVI-XVIII, which I will explain lateron and the four books of Jan van Rijckenborgh (see below). Further, the internet, information of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica by email (thank you Cis), the small library of the local temple of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum and later a book by Frank van Lamoen (see bookreviews section), have made me able to compare four other versions: Van Beyerland (1643), Everard (1650), Mead (1906),… Read More »The order of the treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum

What are the Hermetic texts?

This article comes forth from a lack of (easily findable) information that I have been looking for and is the result of a series of adaptations and investigations during november 2003. There may still be changes still, but I think the information is fairly complete now. I had two ‘problems’ with Hermetic scriptures. Nowhere could I find a list with books ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus and second, the order of the ‘libelli’ and the content of the Corpus Hermeticum differs from translation to translation. In this article I have looked into the first problem, what are the Hermetic texts? This means, writings that we nowadays believe to be genuinely ‘Hermetic’ (this does not mean: written by Hermes). Because I could’t find this list either in my personal library or on the internet, I started to make one myself. Later I ran into such a list on the internet AND on… Read More »What are the Hermetic texts?

Hermetic concepts

Hermetism is becoming more and more popular. But how many people will be able to say much about what are the ideas that can be found within the Hermetic texts? I decided to take a few subjects and work them out with quotes from different texts. These texts are not by one author or one group of authors, so they may contradict eachother. This does not matter, because the underlying philosophy is always the same. For this comparison of concepts I used the Corpus Hermeticum, the Asclepius, the Hermetic texts from the Nag Hammadi library, the Stobaeus and Tertulianus fragments and De Castigatione Animae. For more information about Hermetic texts see my article on this subject. Of most the texts I have Dutch translations, and of almost all I also have English translations. For the quotes I mostly used the very literal translation of Walter Scott (1855-1925), sometimes I prefered… Read More »Hermetic concepts

The philosophical Renaissance in Italy

What we usually hear about the Renaissance is that it was a period in history that came after the Middle Ages with a growing economy, early investigations of the universe and an upliving (“rebirth”) of the classical antiquitiy in art and literature. The invention of bookprinting also resulted in a much faster spreading of new ideas to a wider audience. About these ideas many people don’t know much though. In academic circles there have been available writings of or about for example Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) or Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), but it was mainly Frances Amelia Yates (1890-1981) who also wrote for a larger audience. Subjects of Yates include the early Christian Cabala, the Hermetic tradition, the named thinkers or “the occult philosophy in the Elizabethan age”. Later also writers such as Michael Baigent (1948-) and Richard Leigh (1943-2007) picked up such subjects, but they had a much more populistic approach.… Read More »The philosophical Renaissance in Italy

The occult Renaissance

a word of advice: you may want to read my article about “the philosophical renaissance in italy” first to put things in a wider perspective and for background information. In my article “The Philosophical Renaissance In Italy” I have written about the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy focussing on the philosophical side. In this article I will leave Italy and since especially in other countries there came a more esoteric side, I will speak some more about that. In the mentioned article I told about the humanist tradition as starting-point for Renaissance-thinking. Ironically enough, humanism outside Italy has brought forth two very opposital movements. One is the more occult movement, the other led to the reformation and the coming up of Protestantism. Initially the two weren’t too hostile towards each other, but later there came friction and when the Catholics started to win back territory (the so-called counter-reformation) occultism… Read More »The occult Renaissance

Steganographia vs Theurgia/Goetia

In my article about Angel Magic I very shortly compared the Steganographia of Trithemius with the second book of the Lemegeton: Theurgia/Goetia (T/G). In this article I will make a slightly closer investigation of the differences and the similarities of the two writings. For this purpose I used the Latin Steganographia and the English T/G from and the translation of the T/G by S.L. MacGregor Mathers that can be found online on several pages. Later I also checked the English translation of the Steganographia by Adam McLean (it is still available, but very expensive, so I went to the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica to see it). Comparing the two writings it becomes very clear that Trithemius used the older writing as basis for his own work. Not only the names of the angels, dukes, etc. are almost always roughly the same, but even the order corresponds mostly. Both books speak… Read More »Steganographia vs Theurgia/Goetia

The Monas Hieroglyphica of John Dee (1527-1608)

However the best-known work of Dee, his Monas Hieroglypica is by far his most mysterious and difficult one. Other writings are accounts of his conversations with angels, the Monas was written through direct inspiration by God in a trance-like state. In a preface and 24 ‘theorems’ Dee wants to “revolutionize astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, linguistics, mechanics, music, optics, magic, and adeptship” to quote Joe Peterson in the short intro of his online version of the text. Dee starts to explain that the circle and the line are the first forms in creation and therefor come back in the hieroglyph. The point in the circle is the earth and the circle the sun (a circle with a point is also the Egyptian symbol for the sun), the crescent is of course the moon and adds to the idea of the sun. Together they are day and night, the first day of creation… Read More »The Monas Hieroglyphica of John Dee (1527-1608)