Category Archives: rosicrucianity

De Brieven Van Marsilio Ficino – deel 1 + Geef Vrijelijk Wat Vrijelijk Ontvangen Is – brieven deel 2

Letters of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) have been available ever since he died. Ficino wrote with a lot of people all across the world and held copies of every single letter he wrote. A few years before he died he even wrote an introduction to his combined letters himself! Soon after his death the first publishing of his letters was a fact. Being such a high amount, the letters were made available in 12 parts!

Also in English many letters of Ficino are available and I discovered translations in Dutch which are actually handwritten and published by a group of philosophers from Amsterdam. This book is no longer available it seems. Anyway, the Dutch Rosicrucian society Lectorium Rosicrucianum has two books with letters of Ficino and a nice introduction, which are the two titles here.

Besides letters Ficino wrote essays and a massive amount of books. Some are available in other languages than latin, others are yet unpublished in any way. A nice thing about the letters is that they are arranged by subject so you can read Ficino’s short explanation on a wide variety of subjects, going from everyday life to highly spiritual subjects.

For some reason these little books are not available from regular booksellers, while other books by “Rozekruis Pers” are, so you will have to contact them. I don’t know other available translations in Dutch, and for English ones you can of course check Amazon.

Marsilio Ficino; 500 jaar later (isbn 9067322318)

The local library has only two books by/from Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499). One contains translations (Dutch) of a few letters of Ficino, the other translated essays. The books are handwritten by ‘a group of philosophy students from Amsterdam” and released a few decades ago and no longer available. More letters have been rereleased in two books by the Lectorium Rosicrucianum.
This little book with a strange format was released by the same Lectorium to celebrate Ficino’s 500th year of death. It contains one letter and two essays, also handwritten by “members of the Academy Marsilio Ficino Amsterdam”. I didn’t know this little book until I saw it on a “symposion” of the Lectorium a few weeks ago. Nice, because the older handwritten prints are not available for the common man.

symposionreeks Ficino: brug naar de hermetische gnosis (isbn 9067322504)

This little booklet is from the ‘symposion-series’ of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. This is a very gnostic Rosicrucian movement that was founded in the Netherlands in the previous century, but has grown very international over the years. Very often there are symposia for members and since a short time, also for non-members. Every now and then there is a big symposion. The texts of the readers on the big symposia are always released in very nice-looking small booklets. Before this one came Spinoza and after Ficino it was time for Jacob Boehme, Paracelcus, Terug Naar De Bron (Back To The Source) and this Bruno (see elsewhere).

There three somewhat longer articles in this 56 page booklet. Not as fitting for ‘novices’ as the Bruno booklet. You are expected to have some background on the Renaissance and the person Ficino and especially the second article uses Ficino as a very thin basis to write about the Hermetic tradition. Maybe not something for people who want to have something in their personal library, but for those more familiar with Ficino, a nice expansion. Please notice another book on Ficino called “Friend To Mankind” and also a review of two books with letters of the man in Dutch “Brieven van Marsilio Ficino” and “Geef vrijelijk wat vrijelijk ontvangen is”.
Get in touch with the Lectorium to get it, for E 11,- and p+p it is yours.

Fludd symposion booklet (isbn 9067323020)

When I heard that the Dutch Rosicrucian society ‘Lectorium Rosicrucianum’ would have a ‘symposion’ about Robert Fludd I was delighted. Fludd (1574-1637) was an English late-Renaissance philosopher who tried to combine Hermetism with the upcoming science of his time and who also admired the young Rosicrucian movement that started in Germany with the publication of two manifests and a story. I have known Fludd for quite some time. He caught my interest with the beautiful engravings that decorate his books and the title plate of his Utriusque Cosmi… has hanged on my wall for years.

On a nice day in late 2003 we drove off again to the conference-resort ‘Renova’ and listened to the lectures of Esther Oosterwijk, Peter Huijs and Anneke Stokman. The first lecture is about Fludd and the Rosicrucian movement, the second a wonderfull and visual account of creation. The last is about Fludd and alchemy. Then this booklet is completed with a nice introduction, a biography and a bibliography by Carlos Gilly.

Surely a nice booklet and especially when you know that there is not too much about Fludd available, most publishings have run out of print.

Terug Naar De Bron – symposion booklet (isbn 9067322660)

Here we have the most interesting booklet in the Lectorium Rosicrucianum “symposion”-series. First the Kabbalah Philo of Alexandria of Henk Spierenburg, then the home Sancti Spiritus ((pre-)Rosicrucian organisations) by Frans Smit, a magistral article by Jacob Slavenburg about the Hermetic path of initiation based on the Nag Hammadi text “The 8th and 9th (Celestial) Spheres” and information from the “Corpus Hermeticum”. The last article is of Rachel Ritman in which she speakes about the gnostic foundation of Christianity.

The Hermetic Museum – Alchemy & Mysticism * Alexander Roob (isbn 382288653X)

This is really a magnificent collection of ‘occult art’. If you like what you see in the occult art section of the artpages of Sententia, you definately have to get this book. It counts over 700 pages and is stuffed with Hermetic, Kabbalistic, philosophical, religious, occult and mystic art, forming a wonderfull overview of pieces full of symbolism. From well known artists such as Athanasius Kircher and William Blake, to title pages of ancient occult works and magical diagrams.
Roob managed to divide the book in sections, so the pieces are not in order of artist. These sections are explained and elucidated and most pieces are explained as well.

Between the pictures and accompanying them, you will also read many quotes from alchemical texts, explanations and history.

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment * Frances Amelia Yates (isbn 0415267692)

This book is part of a ‘series’ by Yates including “The Art Of Memory”, “Giordano Bruno And The Hermetic Tradition” and “Theatre Of The World”. The last one is the only book by Yates which I haven’t read, the others are reviewed on these pages somewhere. “The Rosicrucian Enlightenment” is purely historical again and in the time Yates wrote this book several things were unclear or even unknown. She did some groundbreaking investigations though. The Rosicrucian manifests were not written by a Rosicrucian society, since this was non-existant and a “ludibrium” (‘joke’ is not the best translation, but still) according to the writer of the manifests Johann Valentin Andrea. Yates does think that there was at least something behind the ideas, but on the other hand, the manifests breathe the occult traditions of the Renaissance. The writer tells us about the influence of the English occultist John Dee on the Rosicrucian writings, the most prominent people who associated themselves with the invisable Rosicrucian society the German alchemist Michael Maier and the Brittish Paracelsian doctor Robert Fludd. When Rosicrucianity became something you didn’t want to be associated with Andrea more severely took distance from his earlier writings, but did found a real Christian society. Anyway, a nice history of the Rosicrucian history, but I think you do have to read a more recent one too.

Rose Cross Over The Baltic * Susanna Åkerman (9004110305 * 1998)

Brill is a Dutch publisher that mostly publishes scholarly books in low editions. A book like this costs about $ 100,-. You can understand that I didn’t buy it. These kinds of books are mostly meant to be bought by university libraries and the like. Still these kinds of books are essential when you want to seriously investigate certain subjects. I lent the copy of the University of Amterdam. When you have a way of finding out where you can find this kind of literature they can usually be ordered through your local library, but a way into the scholarly milieu is also very helpfull.

Anyway, the subtitle for this book is clearer than the main title: “The spread of Rosicrucianism in Northern Europe”. Åkerman is a Swedish investigator and with “Baltic” she means the Baltic of the 17th century, the countries around the Baltic Sea. The book is mostly about Scandinavia, but also the Netherlands, Denmark and a little bit of England and Germany is written about.

Åkerman is part of the ‘new’ school of scientists investigating esotericism. Like most of them, Åkerman is very critical towards the groundbreaking (but old and therefor sometimes flawed) investigation of Frances Yates. However popular the books of Yates still are, recent findings sometimes prove her wrong and of course new facts came up. Still the serious recent scholarly works are not available for the common man and like this one, you have to either reach deep into your wallet or look for a copy to lend. Åkerman roughly gives a more recent version of the history of early Rosicrucianism. After this she focusses on her own environment and much pages are dedicated to Johannes Bureus (who was the reason for me reading this book). Scandinavia seems to have been active in the early Rosicrucian history and Åkerman also has some information that was new to me about my own country in these times. Of course this book is about the Rosicrucians, so I did not exactly find the information I was looking for, but a few nice hints and suggestions. And I am always interested to read of recent findings of that time, because the Renaissance keeps me interested. Sometimes I think that Åkerman is a bit rapid with her conclusions and here and there I believe her to be a bit sloppy and of course the book is seven years old and there are even more recent findings, but this book is good read, especially because there is not that much information about Scandinavia in the Renaissance. And about Bureus, his diary was (I believe) in Swedish and some of his works are too, so we need a Swede to investigate him. Hopefully Åkerman will continue to do so and especially: keep writing in English!
For articles about Bureus see here.

The Rosicrucians, Past and Present, At Home And Abroad * William Wynn Westcott

“It is well time to consider our status as Rosicrucians” opens this text, ourselves (as I asume) refering to the Golden Dawn.

A short text from Westcott speaking about the Rosicrucian history, dating it back to “Chaldean magi, Egyptian priests, […] Hermetists of Alexandria […] the Jewish Kabalists and […] Christian Kabalists”, in short, the western esoteric tradition. He regards the (probably mythical) Christian Rosencreutz from the early Rosicrucian texts (reviewed elsewhere) as the founder of the order.

Further you can read about some old and no-longer-existent and recent Rosicrucian orders from different parts of the world. Especially online a nice read.

Available online from the Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn page.

Fama Fraternitatis + Confessio Fraternitatis + The Chemical Wedding Of Christian Rosenkruetz * all three supposedly by Basilius Valentinus

These three manuscripts that ‘rang in’ the Rosicrucian movement. They appeared in Germany in Kassel and Strassburg between 1614 and 1616 and are all available online in English translations on the page of the Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn.

The “Fama” is a not too long text that gives a (made up) history of the “Fraternity of the most laudable order of the Rosy Cross”. Names are given in abbreviation, big names from history are not and the writer tried to make look things more interesting by strange texts in latin and references to all kinds of occult arts.
A funny read.

The “Confessio” is “written to all the learned in Europe” and also quite short. As the title suggests it is a confession or declaration of the “laudable fraternity of the most honorable order of the Rosy Cross”.
Also a funny read.

The “Chemical Wedding” is the best known of the three texts. It is relatively long and actually a book in a way. I suppose you know the story? Well in short then. Christian Rosencreutz (the (mythical?) founder of the Rosicrucian order) is invited to go to a wedding. On his way to it and on the wedding himself he has some strange experiences and adventures. The text is an allegory for the way of initiation, but personally I find it quite hard to get through the heavily layered symbolism of this text. Just go to the mentioned page and have a look yourself.

All in all an easy and cheap way to get your hands on readable versions of these classic texts. All texts come with a short introduction and some notes.