Hermetically Open

It has always been my goal to connect this treasure house with the community at large and make the texts – the sources – available to a wide audience. From the moment the library opened its doors, it was not only a collection of historically important books, but primarily a living institute, and ‘hermetically open’ to all.

Joost R. Ritman, founder of The Ritman Library

What is the Hermetically Open Project?
The Hermetically Open project is an initiative of Esther Ritman, director of The Ritman Library, which has been set up to share the contents of the library and its field of thought online and make it more accessible to all.


The Hermetically Open project involves several aspects and targets:

1. Global Hermetic Circle
Since the launching of the Hermetically Open Project, our Global Hermetic Circle has been growing steadily. This part of our online communication project addresses an audience worldwide that is interested in exploring and sharing the transformative nature of Hermetic wisdom and its influence in all areas of art, science and religion in the Western tradition.

We have just reached more than 10,000 likes on our Facebook page, which features popular series such as the Pearls of Wisdom, Hermetic Reads, Hermetic Gallery, Hermetic Holiday Trip Advisors and of course Inside the Ritman Library, bringing the latest news about the library. We are also present on other social media such as YouTubeTwitter, Pinterest, and Google+. Our website includes a blog where we regularly report in greater detail on visits, or provide a forum for short essays written by scholars or students interested in topics that are relevant to the library. We also post a monthly newsletter containing the latest news about the library, including videos, events, etc.

Since 2012 our educational projects included collaborations with educational partners and partner libraries and collections. Thus we invited students from art academies and children from primary schools to take part in workshops as part of the project ‘And there was Light!’, a corollary of the exhibition ‘Beauty as the Imprint of the Cosmos’, a collaborative project undertaken with Dr. M. Pasi in the context of the ‘Enchanted Modernities’ project.

‘And there was Light!’ – Visit from the Minerva Academy

For more information about other collaborative projects over the past years, see:

– Exhibition Alchemy on the Amstel
– Exhibition A Curious Tsar: Peter the Great

2. Scholarly Hermetic Circle
Traditionally, The Ritman Library has been a ‘knowledge hub’ for all topics related to the library’s collecting areas, to name the most important: Hermetica, Alchemy, Mysticism, Rosicrucians, Gnosis & Western Esotericism and Comparative Religion. The Hermetically Open project offers a scope for education and development in the widest sense by sharing not only the contents of The Ritman Library’s unique collection, but also the expertise that has been developed in The Ritman Research Institute in the past 30 years, the results of which have been published in The Ritman Library’s publishing house In the Pelikaan. We engage in ‘co-creative’ partnerships with organizations, institutions and initiatives to build an international ‘Scholarly Hermetic Circle’.


3. Virtual Hermetic Library & Gallery
This part of the Hermetically Open Projects is aimed at digitizing the available sources in the library, both text and image. Part of the added value of this project lies in the online availability of works that are not generally accessible, easy to find or share, and are exclusively kept in a physical form. In the following years, the online catalogue of The Ritman Library will be upgraded, and all digitized content will be made available via our online catalogue.

4. Collaboration with the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy
In 2012 we launched, in close collaboration with the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, the Infinite Fire Webinar & Interview Series, which addresses not only our global community but also offers important references for our international online community of academics, artists, authors and students.

The Infinite Fire Webinar Series was co-created with Prof. dr. W.J. Hanegraaff and his colleagues Dr. P.J. Forshaw and Dr. M. Pasi, and co-financed by the HHP Center. This series is followed by the Interview Series, the first of which was dedicated to Fernando Pessoa followed by several interviews at the international interdisciplinary conference ‘Around 1600. Constellations between Schulmetaphysic, confessionalisation and Hermetic speculation’ in München in November 2014. We hope that many will follow with specialists from all over the world. Written sources are transferred by living voices, wisdom meets knowledge, ancient tradition meets contemporary thought: together they create a new story for all of us to share.

Volunteers and sponsors are invited!
We welcome your support in realizing this ambitious project. This summer, we have created an internship to update the contents of our Virtual Hermetic Library & Gallery. We invite volunteers and sponsors to help make this project a success. Send an email to bph@ritmanlibrary.nl. You can subscribe to our newsletter, at the bottom of the page, if you wish to remain informed about all aspects of our Hermetically Open project.