Joost Ritman, founder of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam, got acquainted with the Dutch Rosiciacian Society Lectorium Rosicrucianum and the “last patriarch of the old Gnostic school” at a very early age and this acquaintance is even the direct source of him starting to collect esoteric books in the first place, but so far the BPH has been the springboard for scientific investigations of the Western esoteric systems and schools. Ritman has been member of the Lectorium for many, many years, but as far as I know, this never proved in the publications that he helped to appear. Even in the library itself, there is only a fairly small Rosicrucian section of which a small part are publications of the Lectorium. Nowadays Ritman isn’t even the director of his library anymore, but obviously his voice is still of a great importance.
Ritman was only 16 when he wrote to the Frenchman Gadal (1877-1962 if my interpretation of the text is correct), “the patriarch of the Cathar brotherhood” and for only five more years Gadal had lived. Still, these five years with many letters and several meetings, haved spelled the course of the rest of Ritman’s life. This book can only be seen as Ritman’s ode to his teacher.
What is said on the cover and above this short text is actually a bit misleading. This is not really a book by Gadal, not even a compilation of texts of his hand, it is actually much more. The first article is from the hand of Joost Ritman. He clearly shows how he sees things and how he came to these ideas, Gadal has left his mark. Other articles are by J.C. Karres, someone who I hadn’t heard off before, but he was an early member of the young Lectorium Rosicrucianum, went to French to find a real Cathar, ‘accidentally’ met Gadal and brought the founders of the Lectorium and Gadal together, resulting in the most fruitfull collaboration. Gadal was from then on called the last of the ‘old brotherhood’ (stemming from the Cathars) and Jan van Rijckenborgh and Catharosa de Petri the first of the “young Gnostic brotherhood”. So quite naturally we also get articles from Van Rijckenborgh and De Petri and we can read how they met with Gadal, what they did in these early days, their visits to the Cathar caves and virtually how the philosophy of the Lectorium came into being. Not that Van Rijckenborgh and De Petri completely copied the ideas of Gadal, but to a large extent, the two parties were on the same line. This proves in articles by Gadal, which are of course the most in this book. This book is devided in two parts. The first part gives ‘the meeting’ from different views and the early days of the cooperation. The second part are ‘esoteric teachings’ by Gadal. Where the first part is very much historical or biographical, the second part is wonderfully esoteric. Gadal has some wonderfull ideas about Gnosticism, Christianity, he explains symbols and rites, speaks about the Cathar life, ideas, etc. Here and there his ideas conflict with my own, but Gadals writings are a pleasure to read.
In both ways (historical on a personal level and esoteric teachings) are quite far from the other -purely scientific- books in the series of the publisher “In De Pelikaan” of the Ritman library, but like I said, there must have been other reasons for Ritman to have this book published in the same marvelous fashion as the other books. The usual beautiful and minimal layout with a linen cover with a picture in it (excuse my scan, my scanner hates orange…), printed on thick paper and with the most extraordinary colour plates in it. Now you only have to learn Dutch!