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Rozekruis Pers

The Labyrinth Of The World and The Paradise Of The Heart * John Comenius (1663)

This review is based on a Dutch translation from the hand of R. Oosterhuis from 1925 that was slightly revised and republished in 1983. It was published by Rozekruis Pers, the publishing house of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. Involved in the Lectorium is Joost Ritman, the founder of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, who published Comenenius’ most famous book Via Lucis which was how I came to know Comenius many years ago.

The present book is a very amusing read, much easier than Comenius’ other titles. It is somewhat of a novel and an autobiography, but then put in the form of a pilgrimage, a popular way of writing in Comenius’ days (compare, for example, the Chymical Wedding of Christiaan Rosencreutz by Comenius’ acquaintence Johann Valentin Andreae.

The book starts with a pilgrim who wants to discover the world. He gets company of two guides and from the start it is clear that this is not a pilgrimage through the ‘normal’ world. The pilgrim sees the world from a distance and reports what he sees and what he thinks about it. It appears to be the guides’ task to find a fitting place in the world for the pilgrim. Starting his journey, the pilgrim gets a couple of glasses, apparently to see the world in a certain way, but he can look underneath the glasses to see how things are ‘in reality’. First the pilgrim sees the world from above in the form of a labyrinthic city. On entering the city, everybody is assigned a group. The pilgrim gets the priviledge of looking around. He sees groups such as married people, philosophers, Rosicrucians, judges, knights, the rich and the poor, the lucky and the unlucky.
Every time the pilgrim has something to complain, driving his guides insane. Even when the pilgrim is allowed to visit the tower of Fortuna and the castle of Wisdom, he is not pleased. He proves to be right in his criticism, leaves the world and then the book goes over into “the paradise of the heart” in which the pilgrim meets Christ and even God.

The pilgrims observations are recognisable and humorous and Comenius describes events from his own life with similar irony. The book makes a nice outsiders look of the world. The beginning of the ‘paradise of the heart’ part reads like a big vision, but towards the end of the book, Comenius returns to his lengthy and moralistic writing style.

This amusing book is a good start to get acquainted with the writer Jan Amos Komensky and a good read in general.

1663 / 1997 Paulist Press, isbn 0809137399

Symposionreeks 16 J.A. Comenius (2007)

  • history

I even managed to miss the Comenius “symposion” of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum on 7 October 2006… The booklet is almost sold out as well, but can still be ordered here and there. From the publisher for one.

Since the Lectorium Rosicrucianum is a modern Rosicrucian society, this little book mostly focusses on Comenius’ connections to the original Rosicrucians and the ideas that the two has incommon. Comenius was in his early twenties when the manifestoes were published and apparently they inspired them greatly. So much even, that later in his life Comenius got in contact with the author of the manifestoes, Johann Valentin Andrea, who shared Comenius’ ideas of a worldwide, yet reformed, Church of Christ.

The speakers were Hans Knevel (about Comenius’ spiritual path), Hanneke van Alderwegen (on his educational writings), Peter Huijs (about the Christian group that Comenius came from and of which he would be the last bishop) and Rachel Ritman (about the Rosicrucian connections). Of course the Ritman library brought some original printed books, the texts of the exhibition as -as always- included.

Another nice little book in the continuing “symposion” series of Rozekruis Pers.

2007 Rozekruis Pers, isbn 9789067323321

Symposionreeks 18 De Wijsheid van Hermes (2007)

There was a time that I visited the Lectorium Rosicrucianum every now and then and especially I went when they had an interesting “symposion”. Somehow this watered down, I dropped off the newsletter mailing list and now I see that I missed a couple of symposia that I would have liked to attend… I will have to confine with just buying the little booklets that are still available.

This “Wisdom of Hermes” symposion was held at 12 May 2007. How time flies! Speakers were no less than Roelof van den Broek and Joost Ritman (among others). The first translated all known Hermetic texts to Dutch and he wrote other titles about the subject. Some of his works are published by In De Pelikaan, the publishing house of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica founded by the second named speaker. Both are getting of age, so should they speak somewhere again some time, I better not miss it.

The symposia of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum consist of several lectures. These are printed in the booklets that visitors get and that the less fortunate can buy later. They are usually around 80 pages, as is this one. Roelof van den Broek spoke about the message of Hermetism. A nice text with many quotes nicely put in perspective. Anneke Stokman and Peter Huijs speak about The Definitions Of Hermes a (then) recently discovered text which is also printed in the booklet (and available in Van den Broek’s Hermes Trismegistus). Next up is Ritman who puts Hermetism in a larger cadre of modern science and Eastern thought. What follows then is a text of Jean-Pierre Mahé (was he a speaker? damn) on hymns in Hermetic texts. To close off follow the earlier mentioned Definitions and the texts that accompanied the exhibition. Ritman always brings a few pieces from his library.

It has been a while since I read Hermetic texts and I must say that they still inspire me greatly. Perhaps I should pick up the subject again.

2007 Rozekruis Pers, isbn 9067323381

De Rozenkruisers In Nederland * Govert Snoek (1997)

This impressive book has a complete title which goes (translated) “The Rosicrucians in the Netherlands, particularly in the first half of the 17th century, an inventarisation”. It is written in Dutch, but has a summery in French. The book was initiatlly written as a master’s thesis in 1989 (in the same year Peter Huijs wrote his at another university, both have published books through the publishing house of the contemporary Rosicrucian organisation Lectorium Rosicrucianum) studying history. Later the thesis was expanded for a PHD thesis in theology (1998). Actually, the book is more the work of an archivarist. Snoek ploughed through a gigantic amount of works (his bibliography is 100 pages!), but not just primary and secondary works, he tried to find each and every reference to the Rosicrucians in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Therefor he read a great number of writings of many many religious apostates (and there were many of them), but also he studied auction lists to see who possessed Rosicrucian books. You will read about the Family of Love (actually the House of Love), David Joris, Hiël, chiliasts, (ana)baptists and whatever there was in those days. People who spend time in the Netherlands or had contacts here bring famous names as Tycho Brahe, John Dee, Jacob Böhme, Thomas à Kempis and many more. Within our own country almost anybody who made some name seems to have has some kind of interest in the Rosicrucians, scientists (Cornelis Drebbel), painters (Pieter Paul Rubens), poets (P.C. Hooft) everybody gets a background investigation. Interesting webs are uncovered, unexpected links made and ‘maybe’s of earlier investigators are proved or disproved. Yes, the book is almost purely historical, factual and purely informative, but interesting. Snoek mostly manages to present his dry information well enough and here and there says a few things about the ideas of the people discussed which makes things even more interesting. Yes, finally I found a book that looks into all the links and contacts of this highly interesting. Old acquintances and people I had never heard of, Snoek has it all.
1997 Rozekruis Pers, isbn 9067323241

Marsilio Ficino Essays

A while ago I ran into this book in an antiquarian bookshop on one of the Dutch islands. It costed only 4 euros. I knew about this publication, the local library has/had two of these, one with translated letters, one with essays. The special thing about these translations is that they are hand written. I have not been able to find out in what year these books were published, but many years later, the Rosicrucian society Lectorium Rosicricianum published a little book also hand written by ‘members of the school of philosophy of Amsterdam’. The book contains Ficino’s five keys to Platonic wisdom and the ‘introduction to the Platonic theology’, quite like the 2005 Dutch translation published by the same publisher as the little commemoration book, but the translations differ obviously. The handwriting is done by different people. This is not visible in the written characters, but it is in line-endings. One writer managed to create filled-out lines, while another writer’s right side of the text is more wobbly. The publication is beautiful and the translations inspiring. When you can read Dutch and wanted to read something of Ficino anyway, I suggest you try to find one of these beautiful books. They are not too hard to find nowadays it seems. Somehow it is often listed as “uit het brievenboek van Marsilio Ficino” (“from the letterbook of Marsilio Ficino”). I do not know where that title comes from, but perhaps it has something to do with the other book with letters. Strangely enough it seems that there are no English translation of Ficino’s five keys and introduction, while there are complete translations of Ficino’s Platonic works and several other publications.
Uitgeverij de Driehoek, isbn 9060302907

Paracelsus symposion booklet (isbn isbn 9067322660)

Another coverage of a Lectorium Rosicrucianum “symposion”, this time about Theophrastus Bombastus of Hohenheim. A nice article about his life and another few articles telling about the ideas and medicine of Paracelsus. A nice little piece of information again and now also with discount.

symposion booklet Karl von Eckartshausen: Hoe De Reden Ons God Verklaart (2006 * isbn 9067323276)

I don’t go to every quarterly ‘symposion’ of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum, but when I heard that there was one about the German occultist Karl von Eckartshausen (1752-1803), I again went to one of these pleasent days. After about half a year, you always get a booklet with the texts of the lectures and some extras. Rozekruis Pers, the publishing brand of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum has published a few Dutch translations of Eckartshausen texts. Some of them are reviewed elsewhere. For more information about the man, I want to refer to these reviews. At the symposion there were lectures by Eckartshausen and his time, his teachings and how he fits in the larger picture of Western esotericism. As always the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica took care of a nice display of genuine books by Eckarthausen and contemporaries and information screens. The (accompanying) texts of both can be found in the nice booklet too.
The design of the symposion-series has changed with this publication, but the content remains the same: informative, easy to read and about interesting persons from the past; also many images you will find in the booklet. The price is always nice too: E 11,-. Other symposion booklets are reviewed too.

De Alkmaarder Cornelis Drebbel (2005)

In 2004 the Dutch city of Alkmaar celebrated its 750th year of existence. The organisation asked the Rosicrucian society ‘Lectorium Rosicrucianum’ to organise a symposion about the famous Alkmarian inventor Cornelis Drebbel (1572-1633). There was more about Drebbel than science. He was asked to join the court of the Hermetic emperor Rudolf II of Prague, he has Rosicrucian friends and his famous booklet about his Perpetuum Mobili (on the cover of this booklet) was followed by the first Dutch translation of the Corpus Hermeticum.

So on 19 september 2004 we drove to the Alkmaar library to attend this interesting symposium (or ‘symposion’ in Lectorian words). There were two lectures and afterwards the audience was asked if it was interested in the texts of these lecture. Of course we were! So after almost a year it proves that the Lectorium Rosicrucianum decided to make a complete symposion-bundle like they do with their own symposions. Because there were only two lectures (Lectorium symposions take a whole day, this Drebbel symposion only a few hours), not only a Drebbel chronology was added, but also a fascimile printing of the famous text about the Perpetuum Mobile with the first Dutch translation of the Corpus Hermeticum!! This not only makes this bundle the thickest thusfar (128 pages), but I also got myself another translation of the Corpus! Much recommended!
2005 Lectorium Rosicrucianum, isbn 9067323160

symposionreeks Bruno “een komeet raasde over Europa” (isbn 9067322679)

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. So far we had Spinoza, Ficino (see elsewhere), Jacob Boehme, Paracelcus, Terug Naar De Bron (Back To The Source) and this one.

There are six articles in this 70 page booklet. Not exclusively on Bruno and naturally with a very Rosicrucian touch, but especially the article of Peter Huijs (of who I reviewed a book as well) is a very nice introduction in the person and the teachings of this late-Renaissance heretic. Get in touch with the Lectorium to get it, for E 11,- and p+p it is yours.

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.