Re: Foss on China, Thunder Rites, etc.

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Thu, 12 Oct 1995 23:47:30 -0400

There was a most interesting "Letter from Bohemia" in the book review
section of the Washington Post, l0/8.Here's an excerpt: "There is
another, deeper, more serious connection between artisticBohemia and
freethinking, one that goes back to the late middle ages and is known
principally as theRosicrucian Enlightenment of the l7th century. The
study of this occult movement -- strongly rooted in Central Europe and
especially in the historical Bohemia -- was the life's work of the
remarkable scholar Dame Frances A. Yates, reader in the History of the
Renaissance at the University of London, fellow of the British Academy,
fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, honorary fellow of the Warburg
Institute and of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Almost single-handedly
Yates recovered for English scholarship the underground stream of
philosophy, religion, science and magic that begins in the syncretic
period of late antiquity and matures during the 'transition from the
Renaissance to the l7th century which is one of the fundame ntal turning
points in the historyof thought..' Yates called this bewildering
tradition 'the occult philosophy' and viewed it primarily as a
religious movement with the aim of reconciling and perhaps unifying
Judaism, Islam and Christianity in a profound synthesis. It was this
'reformation of the whole wide world' that was announced by one Christian
Rosenkreutz in a mysterious document titled *Fama* published in l6l2. In
it Rosenkreutz, or Rose+Cross, heralds the dawn of a new age and
encourages those of like hope to join the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross
in transferring this vision from the imaginal realm to the actual world.
The core doctrine is simple: Cure the sick for free; heal the individual
sufferer through compassion with his suffering; heal the living earth for
it too has a soul. Love, he emphasizes, shall be the only sign and its
temple is the heart of man. All these aspects ofBohemia, like elements
in a crucible, were heated together in 'The Rosicrucian Englightenment
Revisited,' a conference held, from 9/7-l4, in the small town of
Cesky-Krumlov in Southern Boehmia to honor Frances Yates and to reflect
upon the significance of the Rosicrucian Enlightenment and its relevance
to the present time.Sponsors included the New York Open Centeer, Gnosis
maazine and OIBIBIO, an Amsterdam holistic group; among the attendees
were several historians of the Renaissance and Reformation, a fes
spiritual alchemists, a wiccan witch from East Hampton, a hand healer
from Texas, a memb er of a contemporary Rosicrucian order,
representatives from the Findhorn Society (a modern version of the
Knights Templar), a Swedish princess, some poets and musicians, and a
Danish descendant of a painter who belonged to the Rose+Cross Salon of
Paris, l890." There's much more and it gets more interesting, and I
cannot even criticise the use of words like "brotherhood". But I've been
meaning to read Frances Yates for a long time. She is very highly
regarded in England, anyway, and her presence at this
fascinating-sounding conference confers legitimacy on it. Maybe I'll
xerox lots of copies of this page and bring it with me to the Hilton.
Ruby Rohrlich