From the beginning of the Christian era, the Christian-Hermetic body of thought collected by the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica has played a role in the West alongside the institutionalized religions, encouraging man to explore the secrets of nature and his place within creation, thereby attaining knowledge of God and himself. As an ‘unofficial religion’, followers of the Hermetic movement named after the legendary Egyptian philosopher and wisdom teacher Hermes Trismegistus were, at best, dismissed. At worst, they were accused of magical practices, persecuted as heretics and their books were banned or burnt. Nevertheless, the ancient Hermetic writings have never ceased to attract and inspire new generations of people. Its infinite and unquenchable fire, drawn from the heart of the collection of the de Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, is now presented to you in this exhibition.
One of the highlights in the exhibition ‘Infinite Fire’ is a magnificent edition of the works of the German mystic Jacob Böhme (1575-1624), published by William Law at the end of the eighteenth century. Included in this four-volume work are three hand-coloured tables originally devised by Dionysius Andreas Freher (1649-1728), a follower of Böhme. These figures visualize the relationship between God, cosmos and man as well as the connection between the macrocosmos and the microcosmos – man as the little world epitomizing the great world. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to discover these worlds by exploring the reproductions of Freher’s remarkable ‘pop-ups’, which open up to reveal deeper layers of Böhme’s theosophical insights. The explanations to the figures, provided by Freher himself, have been recreated in a stunning multimedia presentation.