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.
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.
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 striking title of the book was the direct reason for me to buy this book quite a couple of years ago. It is always nice to have a book on the shell in which you can quicly find a few things of what a certain group / streaming has to say about certain things and back then I lacked some descent Rosicrucian (is that really Rosycrucian?) literature. This was also my first encounter (I believe) with the excellent writer Jan van Rijckborgh (also see “The Chinese Gnosis” review).
My Dutch copy is already of 1981 and just as “The Chinese Gnosis” printed by “Rozekruis Pers”, the Dutch official Rosicrucian publisher. This relatively small book deals with a lot of interesting subjects such as “the three capacities that have to be awoken”, “the Christushierarchy” (a beloved Rosicrucian concept), “Magic”, “initiation”, “involution – evolution”, “the wheel of birth and death”, reincarnation, spiritism, hypnotism, magnetism, attitude to life (nicotine, alcohol, drugs), politics, the Bible, etc., etc. Very helpfull for a quick overview of Rosicrucian teachings and ways of looking at certain things. Also very nice to read some rather unusual approaches.
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.