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Lectorium Rosicrucianum

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.

De Triomf Van De Universele Gnosis * Antonin Gadal (isbn 907160814X)

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!

Als Een Bovenaardse Rivier * Peter Huijs (isbn 906732261)

Peter Huijs is a member of the Dutch (but very international) Rosicrucian organisation Lectorium Rosicrucianum writing for their magazine and booklets. I think this is his first book released by the Rosicrucians themselves, but aiming for a wider audience. It claims to describe the history of the gnosis and the title says: “As An Upstream River – The Hidden Barrage Of The Gnosis In Europe”. I thought that I would quickly read it to see if it is well-written. I have read my share of books about the gnosis, so…

Huijs proves to have a nice writing style and the good thing about this book is that he does not only describe the history of the gnosis, but gives a lot of hints and ideas of gnostic ideas and thinking along the way making this still fairly small book a very nice introduction for laymen, but also a deepening for those not entirely ignorant of gnosticism. Still the book is written very much in the lane of the Lectorium, mostly giving an idea of how the philosophy of this school developped and where the sources are than an all embracing history of the gnosis, so do not expect to know it all after reading this book.

Big pro though: Huijs gives original and in depth information on some subjects, like Paracelsus, Jacob Böhme and the founders of the Lectorium. Not the everyday info you can read everywhere.

A suggestion for everyone interested and able to read Dutch.

The Egyptian Arch-Gnosis * Jan van Rijckenborgh

The Dutchman Jan van Rijckenborgh (1896-1968) is one of the founders of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. Before these subjects got popular, he wrote about gnosticism and hermetism. The present work is a series of four books with different Hermetic texts and extensive commentaries. They have the Tabula Smaragdina and 17 treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum. The last is a bit of a puzzle, because Van Rijckenborgh has much more chapter than there are treatises and the order the the treatises don’t fit with the ‘official’ order. You can read more about this in my article about Hermetic scriptures. In the four books you can read in interesting translation with interesting commentaries resulting in a fairly integral reproduction of Van Rijckenborghs (and the Lectoriums?) ideas about spiritual matters and things in everyday life. The series are fairly expensive (four times $30,-), but worth the money and available in Dutch and English. One thing though, Van Rijckenborghs ideas are more gnostic than Hermetic!

The Chinese Gnosis * Jan van Rijckenborgh and Catharosa de Petri (isbn 9067321834)

Jan van Rijckenborgh and Catharosa de Petri are two outstanding writers from the Dutch modern Rosicrucian movement (the Lectorium Rosicrucianum). I was happily surprised when I saw at Amazon how many of their works are also available in the English language and also my “De Chinese Gnosis” seems to have an English counterpart. The cover is of my Dutch version and my copy is released by “Rozekruis Pers”, which is the publisher of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. I don’t know if the English versions are printed by ‘independant’ publishers.
“The Chinese Gnosis” has as subtitle (almost unreadable in the picture) “commentaries on the Tao Teh King”, which immediately proves that this book is not the average Rosicrucian work. Western esoteric knowledge (“gnosis”) is essayed and compared with the ancient Chinese knowledge of Lao Tse, which results in an extremely interesting mix of western and eastern teachings.
The book is divided in 33 short chapters which are the chapters of the Tao Teh King (Tao Teh Ching, …) which are first given in translation and then explained and commented by the writers. The writers use biblical quotes to make things clearer, gnostic writings such as the Pistis Sophia, Rosicrucian books such as the “Chemical Wedding of Christian Rozenkreuz” (or however the exact title is in English) and they are also familiar with other eastern writings. Being a Rosicrucian work, it all has a rather ‘Christian’ sauce of course.
The writing style of Van Rijckenborgh and De Petri is very direct and clear, but rather old-fashioned. I don’t know if translaters took over this old-fashioned style, but it seems that it is rather typical for Dutch Rosicrucian writings. It is not irritating or difficult in any way though.
All in all I can recommand this book to anyone who is interested in reading a Rosicrucian work, but of course also to everyone who is open for a different interpretation of the Tao Teh King, because the commentaries are of course very different from the usual translations of ‘experts of the east’. And be sure to look out for other books of these writers, because they make a good representation of modern Rosicrucianity.