If there’s one thing The Da Vinci Code’s Dan Brown and “The Library of Babel”’s Jorge Luis Borges have in common it is a love for obscure religious and occult books and artifacts. But why do I compare Borges—one of the most highly-regarded, but difficult, of Latin American poets and writers—to a famous American writer of entertaining paperback thrillers? One reason only: despite the vast differences in their styles and registers, Borges would be deeply moved by Brown’s recent act of philanthropy, a donation of €300,000 to Amsterdam’s Ritman Library, also known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica House of Living Books.
The generous gift will enable the Ritman to digitize thousands of “pre-1900 texts on alchemy, astrology, magic, and theosophy,” reports Thu-Huong Ha at Quartz, including the Corpus Hermeticum (1472), “the source work on Hermetic wisdom”; Giordano Bruno’s Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (1584); and “the first printed version of the tree of life (1516): A graphic representation of the sefirot, the 10 virtues of God according to the Kabbalah.”
Brown, the Ritman notes, “is a great admirer of the library and visited on several occasions while writing his novels The Lost Symbol and Inferno.” Now he’s giving back. Some of the revenue generated by his bestselling novels, along with a €15,000 contribution from the Dutch Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, will allow the library’s core collection, “some 3,500 ancient books,” to come online soon in an archive called “Hermetically Open.”
For now, the curious can download the 44-page guide to the collection as a free ebook, and watch the animated video at the top, a breezy explainer of how the books will be transported, digitized, and uploaded. Just above, see a trailer for a documentary about the Ritman, founded by businessman Joost R. Ritman in 1984. The library holds over 20,000 volumes on mysticism, spirituality, religion, alchemy, Gnosticism, and more.
Many a writer, like Brown, has found inspiration among the Ritman’s more accessible works (though, sadly, Borges, who was blind in 1984 and died two years later, could not have appreciated it). Now, thanks to the Da Vinci Code author’s magnanimity, a new generation of scholars will be able to virtually access, for example, the first English translation of the works of 17-century German mystic Jakob Böhme, which librarian and director Esther Ritman describes as “travelling in an entire new world.”
In an introductory essay, the Ritman notes that academic interest in occult and hermetic writing has increased lately among scholars like W.J. Hanegraaff, who tells “the ‘neglected’ story of how the intellectual community since the Renaissance has tried to come to terms with ‘esoteric’ and ‘occult’ currents present in Western culture.” That those currents are as much a part of the culture as the scientific or industrial revolutions need not be in doubt. The Hermetically Open project opens up that history with “an invitation to anyone wishing to consult or study sources belonging to the field of Christian-Hermetic Gnosis for personal, academic or other purposes.” Look for the digitization project to hit the web in the coming months.
Note: You can now see the first texts online. See our follow up post here:
1,600 Occult Books Now Digitized & Put Online, Thanks to the Ritman Library and Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown
1,000-Year-Old Illustrated Guide to the Medicinal Use of Plants Now Digitized & Put Online
The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix
Aleister Crowley Reads Occult Poetry in the Only Known Recordings of His Voice (1920)
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
I wonder if they would have a copy of The Nine Gates of the King of Shadows.
Probably this is an unrelated question. But how do I download the PDF file for the free taste of this magick?
Click on “add to cart”, “go to checkout” & put a fake name* and phone number, and your real email address on their form. They will email you a link too the .pdf. I’ve already got mine!
*or you could use your real name, if you’re not afraid of people using it to do spells with
How do I download this?
3,500 Occult Manuscripts Will Be Digitized & Made Freely Available Online, Thanks to Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown
I am interested for personal use these information.
want to learn ,or read for personal info
i wonder how long it will take them, probably a while
…and add/remove the metamorposis. I dare you, Dan..
Will the Book of Mormon be among the 3500 occult manuscripts? Or the Book of Abraham?
Come on Tom there’s no need to be a dick and politicize everything. All your comment is doing is instigating conflict where it doesn’t exist.
What about the Necronomicon?
I’m very excited for this.
good to see some originals and abscures getting gto the public. i have also always appreciated sacredtexts.org as well for this kind of stuff.
THANK YOU FOR THIS! BLESSINGS!
I’m unable to find the link to access the current digitized works. Can somone help me linking the exact address?
Many thanks in advance.
Borges’s Library of Babel drove users mad and suicidal. Is the comparison a surreptitious warning, or a failure of reading comprehension?
It’s a failure of reading comprehension on your part! I’m only comparing Borges and Brown’s interest in occult literature.
Yes, here: http://embassyofthefreemind.com/en/library/online-catalogue/?mode=gallery&view=horizontal&sort=random%7B1518293518347%7D%20asc&page=1&fq%5B%5D=search_s_digitized_publication:%22Ja%22&reverse=0&filterAction
We are grateful to receive the notice about you digitized occult library. Takes the Internet to the next level. Looking forward to viewing the first printed Tree of Life. Best success to your endeavor.
i need info regarding ” the true principles of all things ” graphic pictured in this article, thank you, in advance, yours, lam
I am looking for a digitised copy of Volume Four of Walter Scott’s Hermetica: The Ancient Greek and Latin Writings which contain Religious or Philosophic Teachings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus. The subtitle and content of Volume Four is (Testimonia, Appendices, and Indices). It was published in London (Oxford) by Clarendon Press (Oxford University Press) in approximately 1927. Archive.org has the first three volumes, but no amount of research has been able to uncover the whereabouts of Volume Four of that particular set of published books. If someone has access to the scan of that particular edition of Volume Four of Hermetica (edited and translated by Walter Scott), please let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
The title of the article is totally misleading. It is printed books only, not one single manuscript. You could go on and correct it.
I am a scholar of theosophy and very Interested in the manuscripts and illustrations . I am currently investigating the fire in the heart .
I should like very much to read this
Links go to dead end and a new website where you buy stuff. Where is the free digitized material?
Yes I would like the occultic Gnosis
Do you Mean “The Nine Gates Of the KINGDOM of Shadow”?
It is a fictitious book and does not exist.
However it is based on many such occult manuals that are considered as MUTUUS LIBER or, “MUTE BOOK”, than actual grimoires or spell books.
Also, there are Alchemical Texts like ATALANTA FUGIENS, that are part of this beautiful tradition, that you may research upon.