Policy and structure

Mission and Vision

The aims of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica foundation are:

To manage and run the library and to raise funds to form a platform of communication in the BPH’s recognized field of specialization, the Christian Hermetic gnosis, using innovative digitization and online communication technology to offer a new frame of reference for the 21st century. To engage in strategic alliances with libraries, museums and other public and educational institutions to develop the public and dialogue functions of the BPH. Concurrently to continue to expand the collection and the accumulated expertise within the BPH – as a specialized research library with its own publishing house and research institute – and lodge it within the public domain.

The Ritman Institute

The Ritman Institute is the independent research institute of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. The Ritman Institute aims to describe and make available the printed and manuscript sources of the Christian-Hermetic and Gnostic traditions in Western culture from the beginnings of the Common Era to today. It conducts historical, philological and bibliographical research in the collecting areas of the library. Research subjects are taken from the wider European cultural-historical context. Research results are published in descriptive thematic catalogues of the library’s holdings as well as in exhibition catalogues, bibliographies, conference proceedings and monographs. These appear in the Pimander, the Hermes and in the Asclepius series. Textual editions in the Dutch language of core texts are published in the Pimander series.
The Ritman Institute also develops research, education and exhibition projects in cooperation with other research institutes (libraries, archives, universities) in order to realize publications, conferences, seminars, and exhibitions. It facilitates and/or finances research by individual scholars (independent or affiliated) working in its areas of interest and using the library’s resources. For the library’s areas of interest see ‘collections’ or click for a free download of the guide Hermetically Open.

In de Pelikaan

The library’s publishing house is named In de Pelikaan (In the Pelican), after the symbol which has been associated with the library since its foundation. When the library began its activities as a public institute in 1984, a small publishing house was simultaneously set up to issue the catalogues accompanying the exhibitions organised by the library, as well as conference proceedings, text editions and special studies. In all, In de Pelikaan has brought out more than 30 works to date.
The library’s publications range from fairly modest productions to more ambitious projects involving renowned Dutch printing houses and book designers, such as the late Charles Jongejans, who designed the first part of the BPH’s incunable catalogue, which came out in 1990 (2 volumes, in a slipcase). The library’s attention to careful book production was awarded in 2001, when From Poimandres to Jacob Böhme (2000) was selected by the jury of the Best Dutch Book Designs as one of that year’s best-produced books. The jury report praised book designer Tessa van der Waals: ‘this classically styled book has actually been given a real contemporary twist – yet without disturbing the balance.’ Compliments also for printer Calff & Meischke in Amsterdam and bookbinder van Waarden in Zaandam: ‘Printing and binding are first-class’. Book designer Chang Chi Lan-Ying designed Valentinus de gnosticus en zijn Evangelie der Waarheid, which was one of the Best Book Designs for 2003. This time the jury observed in a glowing report that the book was ‘made according to the rules of the art’ a scholarly edition is imbued with the quality of a literary text which is what the author of this (Gilles Quispel) book deserves’.