On Friday 16 December 2011 the Ritman Library re-opened its doors after having been closed for a year. On this occasion Joost Ritman, the founder of the library, explained: ‘The library is like a ship in a storm, we have always tried to steer it to a safe and vital haven’. Before the library had to close, the staff consisted of seven people, then continued with four, while in the past year both former staff and new people have been contracted on a freelance basis.With a team of around fourteen people, of whom some are more actively involved than others, The Ritman Library is heading to open waters decided to make its treasury available to people all over the world.
Giving body to this mission, from last week the Hermetically Open project is live, aiming to open up sources related to the big questions of existence for anyone wishing to consult or study sources belonging to the field of Christian-Hermetic Gnosis. The library, a house of living books, may well be compared to an organism. It has passed through and will continue to go through various phases of growth always determined to seek its own way. Having encountered heavy winds, every time it has undergone stages of the alchemical process of solve and coagula. It sometimes fell apart, however managed to come together again and every time in an improved formula.
The year 2012 may be characterized as period of preparation, a time to start a new cycle: becoming accessible not only to the academic field, but also to a worldwide audience of practitioners, devotees, younger generations and all who are interested in the library’s field of expertise, the Christian-Hermetic Gnosis. The Ritman Library is ready to share its infinite fire, to open its heart, the symbol which occupies a central place in the tradition of Gnosis. The heart represents the source of sensing, the door to the inner life in which the powers of creation are hidden but are always ready to be unlocked. The aspiration to fathom this source may be considered the hidden motive of man’s life. From the beginning, the Ritman library has always aimed to foster this aspiration by collecting the experiences of people throughout the ages, who have undertaken this journey to the heart.
Focussing on the foundation of a Scholarly Hermetic Circle and a Global Hermetic Circle, the library intends to encourage an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and vivid debate on the living tradition and we invite all to take part in these conversations. In the coming years, we will concentrate especially on education, aiming to establish co-creative projects with universities, higher education institutions, art academies, but also primary schools. The circle in Scholarly Hermetic and Global Hermetic Circle is an apt symbol because it emphasizes infinity, wholeness and unity. It symbolizes a ‘sacred’ space, a place of trust in which learning and development are encouraged and in which there is room for trial and error. The circle is chosen to underline the dynamics of the community in forming and transforming itself. Secondly, it refers to the Gnostic tradition, which visualizes the circle as the Ouroboros, the world serpent that devours its own tail, thereby representing cyclicality and self-sustainability. This symbolism can also be associated with the foundation of a vibrant online and offline community able to operate in an open and free space of trust.
Looking backwards, it has been an enervating but also energizing two years for the library. Without your support, especially during the closing year of 2011, we would never have succeeded to navigate through the heavy storms of time. We would like to extend our warm thanks to all who have demonstrated their support in the past period, also to all academic brave hearts, who signed an online petition to keep the doors of the library open. Our deepest gratitude goes to prof. dr. W.J. Hanegraaff, head of the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (GHF), the initiator of this petition. We are very much looking forward to continuing and deepening the collaboration with the Center and are proud to present the Infinite Fire Webinar Series as a joint initiative. Together with you, academic colleagues, friends, acquaintances, practitioners, supporters, fans and all of you, who may be touched by the library’s treasures in the future, we hope to bring the knowledge related to the big questions of our lives outside the walls of the Ritman library and lighting a spark in the hearts of people all over the world.
Together we aim to contribute to a future in which knowledge can be shared and discussed freely, a future in which everybody will be given the chance to learn, a future in which the world community will become conscious again of its roots. We are entering a new paradigm, an open paradigm in which consciousness, co-creation, communality, sharing, transparency, sustainability and a love for life in all its aspects will come to blossom. It is with great enthusiasm that we are looking forward to facilitating this open paradigm the best way we can and build this living future together with you.