I would probably not have known David Goddard if he wasn’t brought specifically under my attention. And still it took two missed workout weekends and a long time before I first laid my hand on a book by this Englishman. Quite by accident actually, I wasn’t looking for it, but when I saw this title in a shop in Utrecht (Netherlands). I decided to buy it and see what Goddard is all about.
Goddard is a student of several esoteric schools. After having been under the care of the Kabbalist Halevi from England (kabbalahsociety.org) and studied alchemy, hermetism, tarot, Grail legends, Keltic mythology, (vajrayana) yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism and more, he founded his own school called “The Pharos”. In close relation with his students, Goddard says to teach them the oral esoteric tradition. This is done by summercamps in England and weekends and lectures all around the world. A lot of practical instructions and teachings are given and Goddards methods include meditations and visualisations. I have never been to any of his classes, but probably still will some time.
“The Tower Of Alchemy” is Goddards best-known title. It is a practical guide divided in 17 chapters. Each chapter opens with a theoretical basis of things to follow. The book is supposed to be a step-by-step beginners book and begins fairly simple. In the theoretical parts Goddard very nicely interweaves various Western and Eastern knowledge, compares traditions and symbols and makes several very interesting links. After this follows a practical part with a meditation often involving a visualisation. After a couple of these it became clear to me that this isn’t really my cup of tea, at least not from the book. I started to skip the practical parts. After these parts you always get a ‘contemplation’ section, which is a long quote from different texts that refer to the practise you just conducted.
This book really is for people who want something else than just plain theory or absorbing information. If Goddards method appeals to you, you have the big advantage that you can easily contact ‘the master’ himself and attend a lecture or visit him in his centre in England. See www.davidgoddard.com for more information.
Karl von Eckhartshausen (1782-1803) was a German esotericist who for some reason is not very well-known. The fouder of the Dutch Rosicrucian society Lectorium Rosicrucianum, Jan van Rijckenborgh (1896-1968) found his texts interesting enough, so he translated them to Dutch. Meanwhile the publisher of the Lectorium has four books of Von Eckhartshausen. There isn’t too much information about the man on the internet. I noticed that some of the originally German books are translated into French and Spanish and there seems to be an English translation of the book under review here by noone less than Samuel MacGregor Mathers with an introduction by Waite. Also an English translation by madame Isabel de Steiger can be found online completely.
“The Cloud Upon The Sanctuary” is a compilation of six letters. The Dutch translation (at least my 1977 printing) has no introduction of any kind. The writer keeps refering to “our secret society/school”, but you won’t learn which school that is. The other Dutch translation that I have has an introduction by Antoine Faivre. Faivre says that Von Eckhartshausen knew Adam Weishaupt (1748-1811) who founded the order of the Illuminati and was initiated himself, so this may be the order the writer refers to. On the other hand, it is known that the Illuminati were very anti-Christian (or anti-Catholic?) in the higher degrees but the letters are full of love for Christ.
I can see why Van Rijckenborgh liked the texts of Von Eckhartshausen. They are nice, spiritual, nicely written, easy to understand and the ideas come close to those of Van Rijckenborgh himself.
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.
“No hocus-pocus here. Nothing to do with religious dogma, the ideas in this book are earth-shattering and yet so simple.”
Yes, this book is by Madonna’s spiritual master and the quote is from Madonna. The Dutch translation -that was just released- has a little red rope on the cover, probably on of these “Kabbalah armbands” that Madonna gave to her little boy. I am sure that there will be people who are pulled over the line of reading a book like this now. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Yehuda Berg wrote a nice and very well-readable book showing some spiritual thruths to the ignorant housewifes and other interested. However Berg puts himself in the line of Kabbalists who bring the thruth to the common man, there are hardly any references to the traditional Kabbalists and Kabbalah in this book. Instead you get a spiritual book with spiritual guidelines for daily life, loosely fitted on ‘the Kabbalah’. The book is a comparable with “The Key” of Yehuda’s brother Michael that I reviewed earlier. The book is mostly meant for beginners, but if you are used to reading books about the beard of God, Notaricon and Temura, Sephirothic trees and the like, you can regard youself a beginner in this more spiritual side of the subject. A nice read, but be aware that this is ‘another kind of Kabbalah’ than you usually get in these pages.
However the cover is almost the same, in Dutch this book is called “De Sleutel” (“The Key”). The writer was brought up a Kabbalist and mostly appreciated the teachings of Yehuda Ashlag (1885-1967). Berg gives a spiritual guide for everyday life in this little book. This may be based on the Kabbalah, but don’t expect to read about Sephiroth, anpins or Hebrew letters. Many stress is put on developing the ability to share, but you will get a quite whole spiritual worldview.
At the end of the book Berg proves to be the brother of the famous Kabbalist Yehuda (Philip) Berg of the Kabbalah Centre (kabbalah.com) of who Madonna (for example) is member.
All in all a nice little book that shows another side of the Kabbalah than the one you usually read about.