Newsletter December 2012 1


The Ritman LIbrary Newsletter







 It is true, without a lie,

  certain and most true,
  that which is below is as that which is above,
and that which is above is as that which is below,
to perform the miracles of the one thing.

(Hermes Trismegistus,
Tabula Smaragdina)





Exactly twelve months after the festive reopening of The Ritman Library we are looking back with great satisfaction to a very dynamic and productive year in which we were able to launch a great many new projects. To ensure the continuity of the BPH as a scholarly research library, to offer digital access to the collection and to extend the role of the library as a forum for the world of art, culture and spirituality in the digital domain, the library initiated the pilot phase of its ‘Hermetically Open’ project in the autumn of 2012. This project, which is carried out in close cooperation with the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents of the University Library of Amsterdam, will be formally launched in 2013.
The first contours of a ‘Global Hermetic Circle’ are beginning to emerge… so far, more than 2,350 people have already subscribed to our digital newsletter, while our 
Facebook page has 800+ likes. Naturally we wish our budding community to continue to expand in 2013 so please forward this newsletter to all your friends, relatives and acquaintances! Read more…



Alchemy on the Amstel meets Leyden’s Luxuriance and the Bibliotheca Pharmacia.
On 19 November some 65 people attended an afternoon devoted to 3 related exhibitions currently showing in Leiden and in Amsterdam. Ritman Library director & librarian Esther Oosterwijk-Ritman, who introduced the afternoon’s speakers, emphasized what she said in her preface to Alchemy on the Amstel, the guide to the exhibition: ‘The exhibitions in Leiden and in Amsterdam complement each other, and it is our hope that visitors to any of these 3 exhibitions may be inspired to visit the other two.’ Read more…


The logo of Alchemy on the Amstel comes from a manuscript called the Tractatus artis notoriae et expositiones eius quas Apollonius flores aureos appellavit, and it’s magic! Although the manuscript was written in the middle of the 17th century, the work itself is one of the pseudo-Solomonic magical works that can roughly be dated to the 13th-14th centuries. Apollonius of Tyana, to whom the work is attributed, was a neopythagorean philosopher and theurgist, and a contemporary of Jesus. In fact Philostratus (c. 170-c. 250), the biographer of Apollonius, saw similarities between the miracles worked by Apollonius and those performed by Jesus. Read more…

A guided tour in the library by exhibition curator Cis van Heertum will be offered on 10 January at 14.30h and every 2nd Thursday of the month. Reservations can be made at A few places are still available for next month’s tour.
‘Alchemy on the Amstel’ will be running from October 15 2012 through May 17 2013 in conjunction with Leyden’s Luxuriance, Green Discoveries in the Golden Age, on show in Museum Boerhaave from October 11 2012 through May 5 2013. ‘Alchemy on the Amstel’ and ‘Leyden’s Luxuriance’ run parallel to an exhibition about the history of Pharmacy on show in de Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden from October 5 2012 through December 31 2012. The exhibition deals with rare books on botany, pharmacopeia and books on the Swiss physician and alchemist Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim or Paracelsus. The library will be closed from Friday 21 December 2012 untill Sunday 6 January 2013.


De Echo, 28 November 2012
Translation of an article by Hans Tulleners which earlier appeared in De Echo, a local Dutch paper.
Some libraries – the chronicler has been taking a close look at yet another library – come into existence in rather special ways. Take the story of businessman Joost Ritman, whose parents ran a polishing wax firm on Bloemgracht. They were also members of a Rosicrucian society. Joost Ritman inherited two things from his parents, which is their firm, called De Ster, and their interest in things mystical. He began collecting at a young age after his mother had presented him with an antiquarian work by a renowned German mystic.
With the income from the company that flourished under his leadership – polishing wax having been replaced by plastic disposables for the catering industry – he put together a collection in the field of Western spirituality of the past 2,000 years.
 Read more…



Koorddanser year 29 – no. 302 – DECEMBER 2012
Translation of a brief notice in Koorddanser

Alchemy on the Amstel
Amsterdam –The Ritman Library is currently showing an exhibition on unique occult medical works mainly from the collection of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica which runs until 17 May 2013. Most of these books were printed in the Golden Age and deal with hermetic medicine. The exhibition has been organized in conjunction with Leyden’s Luxcuriance: Green Discoveries in the Golden Age, in Museum Boerhaave. In addition, the University Library of Leiden is showing an exhibition on the history of pharmacology until 31 December 2012, showing amongst other works pharmacopeia, rare botanical works and works on the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (1493-1541). Unlike modern science, the science of the early modern period was actively concerned with spirituality and the occult. Read more…




The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica has gone through some difficult times recently, but it never lost sight of the reason for its existence, to collect and make available to scholars important source material and to promote wider interest in hermetic philosophy. So it was a great delight to me to see that they were organizing an exhibition on alchemy and in particular focusing on the ways in which alchemy manifested historically in Amsterdam. In the exhibition ‘Alchemy on the Amstel‘ are around 60 items on display from the 15th through to the 18th century.
The exhibition asks us to explore alchemy as the basis for a hermetic medicine, and gathers together some source material documenting this aspect of alchemy. Thus we are presented with a key work of
Apollonius of Tyana, which helped to inform the development of hermetic medicine. The library also points our attention to the importance of H. Cornelius Agrippa’sDe occulta philosophia‘ which focused on the medicinal aspects of plants and minerals when seen through the macrocosmic/microcosmic correspondences. Read more…


„Ich breite die Arme aus“

Der weiße Dominikaner

„Breite die Arme aus, Aufrechtstehender!“
Ich breitete die Arme waagrecht.

Der Engel vom westlichen Fenster


Erwin Tintner’s cover illustration for Der weiße Dominikaner (1921)

In 1890 a significant turn of events changed the life of the struggling banker Gustav Meyer (1868-1932). Already before his bankruptcy and a brief span in a Prague prison Meyer had begun to occupy himself increasingly with theosophy, magic and occultism. At the same time the young dandy began moving in artistic circles in Prague, and later also in Vienna and Munich. The literary career of Gustav Meyrink, as he now styled himself, was launched with the publication of a series of successful satirical and occult short stories for the well-known cultural-satirical journal Simplicissimus. Meyrink was much interested in the modern art scene, the dramatic arts, dance, music, pantomime, puppet theatre, wax museums and cinema and all these interests can be traced in the stories. Contemporary relations with artists and illustrators stem mostly from a year spent in Vienna (1904), when Meyrink worked as chief editor of Der liebe Augustin, a magazine filled with short stories, poems and art work similar to Simplicissimus. Contacts with artists who contributed to both periodicals lasted for a lifetime. Hugo Steiner-Prag illustrated Meyrink’s bestseller Der Golem with a now famous series of lithographs which were also published independently. Fritz Schwimbeck illustrated both Der Golem and Das grüne Gesicht and Emil Preetorius was responsible for most of Meyrink’s book designs published by Kurt Wolff Verlag, from Der Golem to Walpurgisnacht and the Gesammelte Werke. At the outset of his writing career Meyrink became friends with the artist Alfred Kubin, possibly through the author Oscar A.H. Schmitz who married Kubin’s sister and stimulated Meyrink to pursue an artistic career. Mutual artist friends inspired Meyrink to write stories incorporating some of their more remarkable character traits. Thus amongst others Alfred Kubin, Richard Teschner and Franz Sedlacek figure in several of Meyrink’s novels and stories. A number of Sedlacek’s fantastical paintings appear to have been inspired in turn by Meyrink’s stories. Read more…





In 2008 Joost R. Ritman donated his private collection of Meyrinkiana to the BPH. This collection, which contains many wonderful items, amongst which the autograph copy of Der Weisse Dominikaner, film scripts and artefacts and many first editions, has been expertly described by Theodor Harmsen in Der magische Schriftsteller Gustav Meyrink and is now available as an e-book.

The Ritman Library’s publishing house In de Pelikaan proudly presents an online webstore including Paypal options. Recent additions are:

New books:

New e-books:


  • Silent Language: (English)

Also available:

  1. Books published by In de Pelikaan such as: King Arthur in the Netherlands by M. Meuwese (2005) or Philosophia Symbolica: Johann Reuchlin and the Kabbalah by Cis van Heertum (2005).
  2. E-books compatible with a wide range of e-readers.
  3. Other now available: 7 postcards of images with envelopes from the Splendor Solis Series designed by artist Laurie Lipton visualizing the alchemical stages.

JULIUS SPERBER | Kabbalisticae Praecationes, das ist ausserlesene schöne Gebet, aus des Autoris lateinischem Exemplar ins Teutsche versetzt. 

Amsterdam, ‘für gute Freunde’ [s.n.], 1707

New acquisition: An extremely rare Amsterdam edition

Julius Sperber, Kabalisticae praecationes, das ist ausserlesene schöne Gebet, aus des Autoris lateinischem Exemplar ins Teutsche versetzt. Amsterdam, ‘für gute Freunde’ [s.n.], 1707
Although Julius Sperber (ca. 1540-1616) wrote works with a theological and mystical slant he was not a professional theologian: he acted as physician and counsellor to the court of Christian von Anhalt in Dessau. He is now best remembered for his association with the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Writing under the pseudonym of Julianis de Campis, he threw himself into the controversy surrounding the publication of the Rosicrucian Manifestoes in 1614-1616. He presented himself as a true Rosicrucian and even went so far as to call himself the spiritual father of Rosicrucian thought: 18 years before the Rosicrucian Manifestoes were published, he already wrote a treatise calling for the foundation of a brotherhood to foster the ideals espoused by the Rosicrucians. (Here he probably alluded to his Ein geheimer Tractatus von den dreyen Seculis oder Haupt-Zeiten, von Anfang biss zum Ende der Welt , a treatise which he wrote in 1596, but which was only published for the first time in 1660). Read more…



The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica brings together manuscripts and printed works in the field of the Hermetic tradition, more specifically the ‘Christian-Hermetic’ tradition. Following the ‘ad fontes’ principle, the library tries to collect the oldest instances of works which fall within its sphere of interest, that is to say: manuscripts or first and early editions, without, however, ignoring subsequent written and printed sources. To date, the library holds more than 23,000 volumes: ca. 4,500 manuscripts and printed books before 1800, ca. 17,000 books (primary and secondary sources) printed after 1900, unique archival collections and a collection of prints and engravings. Read more…

A single person, a single donation, can make a world of difference. From a one-off donation to a lifetime involvement as a friend, a patron, or an ambassador, from private to corporate sponsorship, from financial investment to investment on another basis: there are many ways to support the library and start a relation of trust and reciprocity with us. The Ritman Library is an institution cherished by many, an embassy of the free spirit, a home to the world’s wisdom and knowledge, but it is also a charity depending on the donations, patronage and support of those who subscribe to the aims of the BPH Foundation. You can make a difference to help protect and develop the field of wisdom and knowledge preserved by the Ritman Library, that of the living tradition, man’s journey to the heart. Read more…

For further information and possibilities please contact Mirjam Duivenvoorden, the chairman of the board of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica Foundation, directly via email at or give us a call on +31 20 625 8079. 

ADDRESS Bloemstraat 13-19, 1016 KV Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Telephone +31 20 625 8079
OPENING HOURS Monday-Friday, 10:00-12:30 and 13:30-17:00 For special request please send an email to
ADMISSION FEE  Day Pass € 5,- Annual Pass € 30,- Annual Student Pass € 17,50
GUIDED TOURS € 7,50 every 2nd Thursday of the month 
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One thought on “Newsletter December 2012

  • Gustav

    In 2008 Joost R. Ritman donated his private collection of Meyrinkiana to the BPH. This collection, which contains many wonderful items, amongst which the autograph copy of Der Weisse Dominikaner, film scripts and artefacts and many first editions, has been expertly described by Theodor Harmsen in Der magische Schriftsteller Gustav Meyrink and is now available as an e-book.