THE ROSICRUCIAN REVOLUTION
Tradition and Renewal
Authors: José Bouman, Cis van Heertum and Natalie Koch
“I wish the world was my school, various countries my teachers, human actions my books, the exchange of thought my alphabet, princely courts my classrooms, and I the touchstone of everything. (…) We are besotted with book learning and pay no attention to the things themselves. We know something is happening, but we have no idea why.” Daniel Mögling (1596-1635)
In 1604 a new, bright star appeared in the sky. At the turbulent beginning of the seventeenth century - Europe was facing a political, religious and social crisis - the phenomenon was regarded as a portent of a great revolution. Around that time a circle of friends gathered around the German Tobias Hess who advocated reform in all areas, in religion, society, arts and science. In three manifestos, the friends presented their ideas in the form of a tale about a mythical seeker of wisdom, Christian Rosencreutz, the founder of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, thereby creating an international furore. Although this Rosicrucian Brotherhood never really existed, the friends’ ideals have proved to be a source of inspiration to the present. How is it that their ideas still appeal to the imagination?
This catalogue traces the history of the Rosicrucians and their thought on the basis of original sources displayed in the exhibition. In addition, five authors offer their views on how the Rosicrucian ideals have influenced Anthroposophy, Theosophy, Freemasonry and modern Rosicrucian societies.
Embassy of the Free Mind
This exhibition catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition The Rosicrucian Revolution. Tradition and Renewal at the Embassy of the Free Mind. The Embassy of the Free Mind is a museum and library dedicated to free thought. It has been located since 2017 in the historical canal house “The House with the Heads”, which was built in 1622.
The Embassy of the Free Mind aims to show that free thought is of all times. The library collection, the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, contains c. 26,500 printed books and manuscripts from the 15th century to the present. They throw light on vibrant spiritual traditions which existed alongside the established religions and are still popular today.
Such traditions as hermetic philosophy, alchemy, gnosis, mysticism, kabbalah and Rosicrucians are part of this spiritual heritage, providing a rich breeding ground for independent reflections on life questions. A central issue in all of these traditions is the research into nature, the cosmos and man, based on the conviction that we are intrinsically connected with the world around us.
Freethinkers who were active in Amsterdam, such as Benedictus de Spinoza, Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert, Adriaan Koerbagh and Jan Amos Comenius, also have a place in the collection.
Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer, manuscript, 1943
This image was originally included in the 1695 edition of Studium universale, a work by Valentin Weigel (1533-1588), and has been copied and coloured many times subsequently. A Lutheran pastor, Weigel secretly wrote spiritualistic texts that were only published after his death. Although all works published under his name were banned by the authorities, their influence reached far. Weigel criticized the churches’ emphasis on dogma, urging an inner experience of the spirit. Most shockingly, he asserted that all human beings are children of God, not just Christians, a view also held by Jacob Böhme. Weigel’s ideas gradually came to be merged with those of Böhme, although there are differences to be noted.
This image relies heavily on images from Böhme’s philosophy. The three large spheres refer to Böhme’s idea of “Three Principles” in the cosmos – light, darkness and nature. The “tree of the soul” is also depicted, another one of Böhme’s concepts according to which it is only in close contact with the Divine (the hand reaching down from heaven) that our “tree of the soul” can thrive and produce good “fruit”.
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