Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature, Exhibition Goetheanum May 2017April 24, 2017
Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature Exhibition. New stop: Dornach, Switzerland!
5 – 30 May 2017
Now that the exhibition in the Országos Széchényi Könyvtár in Budapest has ended, our exhibition on the Message of the Rosicrucian Manifestoes in the visual language of the 17th century will travel to the Goetheanum in Switzerland! The opening of the exhibition will be accompanied by a conference from 5 – 7 May, organised by the Goetheanum and the Anthroposophical Society from The Netherlands. Several speakers (one of them is our very own director Esther Ritman!) will talk about the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz.
The exhibition Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature wants to introduce the audience to the wisdom contained in and conveyed by these ‘iconotexts’ made at the beginning of the seventeenth century. They are consummate artistic expressions of the conviction that to investigate the Book of Nature is a sacred act, and creation itself proof of Divine Wisdom.
Read more about the event and conference here.
About the exhibition
Divine Wisdom – Divine Nature is a travelling exhibition to celebrate the fourth centenary of the publication of the Rosicrucian Manifestoes, the Fama Fraternitatis, was published in 1614, followed by the Confessio Fraternitatis in 1615 and the Chymische Hochzeit in 1616. The Fama Fraternitatis, or the Call of the Brotherhood of the Laudable Order of the Rosy Cross, written to all the Learned Heads and Rulers of Europe, immediately fired the imagination of its readers. It urged nothing short of a reformation of the ‘whole wide world’. The reformation that was envisaged encouraged man to become aware of his divine origin, to understand that he was a microcosm, and to reconnect him with the macrocosm thanks to the tools offered by alchemy, magic and kabbalah. ‘Man is a great wonder’, according to the Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who thus echoed the hermetic Asclepius. Man occupies a position intermediate between God and nature. By raising his consciousness, man ‘passes into the nature of God as though he were God… He is in the fortunate middle position: he loves those things that are below him and is beloved of the beings above’. The Rosicrucian manifestoes, too, paid tribute to the hermetic tradition. In the Chymische Hochzeit, Hermes is called the principal philosopher, who holds out the promise of restoration and regeneration to mankind:
After so much harm has been inflicted upon the human race,
I, Hermes, being the primordial fount,
flow forth here as a healing remedy,
according to the divine decree
And assisted by the art.
Let him who can, drink of me.
Let him who will, cleanse himself in me.
Let him who dares, stir me.
Drink brothers, and live.
The art referred to here is the alchemical art, which was believed to be able to cure mankind. The healing remedy is the elixir, which the alchemist strove to achieve. The Rosicrucian Manifestoes not only drew on alchemy, specifically the alchemical principles of Theophrastus Paracelsus (1493-1541), who urged alchemists not to make gold, but to make medicines. They also relied on magical and kabbalistic traditions, which had been rediscovered in the Renaissance and promulgated by such scholars as Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) and Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522). The hermetic texts, too, were reintroduced in the Renaissance when what is now known as the Corpus Hermeticum was translated from Greek into Latin. Magic, (Christian) kabbalah and alchemy thus provided the elements for the hermetic reformation espoused by the Rosicrucian Brotherhood.
The exhibition and accompanying publication of the same title focus on the visual language that developed out of this urge to achieve a hermetic reformation of the world and man’s place in it. This visual language is reflected in an extraordinary number of prints that appeared in Germany in the early seventeenth century. They partly originated in the direct environment of the circle in Tübingen that inspired the Rosicrucian Manifestoes, partly they were independent artistic expressions celebrating God and Nature, the macrocosm and the microcosm. The images were included in the works of several authors: Heinrich Khunrath, Daniel Mögling, Stephan Michelspacher, Robert Fludd and Michael Maier. The books themselves were published in several places: Hanau, Frankfurt, Augsburg and Oppenheim. It is probably no coincidence that the majority of the works came out in the years 1616-1618, after the publication of the Rosicrucian Manifestoes. In fact the splendidly illustrated work of Daniel Mögling, Speculum Sophicum Rhodo-Stauroticum, has often been called the ‘fourth Rosicrucian Manifesto’ and definitely came about through the impact of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Three of the other authors, Fludd, Maier and Michelspacher, were advocates of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, while the only work to be published before 1614, Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae, conveys the same message to the careful observer as do the other works.