Guide The Tessera of Antilia: Utopian Brotherhoods & Secret Societies in the Early Seventeenth Century

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Who wrote them? A common scholarly conclusion is that the Fama was written by more than one person, while the Confessio was written by still another. This is Johann Valentin Andreae , who is known to have written the third Rosicrucian document, the Chymische Hochzeit , the main subject of this paper. When Johann Valentin was fifteen years old, his father, a Lutheran clergyman, died suddenly, leaving his family impoverished, since he had spent his income on alchemical attempts to manufacture gold. Johann Valentin thus had more than a theoretical experience with alchemy.

Although he had an off-and-on intention of entering the clergy, he took a wide range of courses beyond his major. He received his AB in and his MA in In Andreae was temporarily rusticated for a pasquinade against a faculty member. For the next six or seven years he spent intermittent Wanderjahre in France, present-day Switzerland, Austria, and Belgium. A visit to Italy in seems to have been especially fruitful.

In he passed his ordination examinations, whereupon he received an appointment as pastor in the small town of Vaihingen, later in Calw. During the Thirty Years War that broke out in he experienced great hardships, on occasion being forced to hide in the woods to escape death.

Johannes Valentinus Andreae - Wikipedia

His house and possessions were twice destroyed. Nevertheless, he continued his pastoral work, showing great ability in organizing support organizations for the victims of the war. A Stift foundation that he set up was still in existence in the twentieth century. Although there were occasional questions about his orthodoxy, he enjoyed support from influential noblemen and was court preacher and konsistorialrat [councillor of the consistory] in Stuttgart, Abbot of Bebenhausen, Generalsuperintendent [bishop] in , and shortly before his death received the honorary position of Abbot of Adelberg.

He died in As a young man he delighted in the plays given by traveling English dramatic companies and wrote several plays on the English model. He was a prolific writer, with over one hundred works to his credit. These included elegies, satirical pieces, religious works, collections of epigrams, and utopias. Andreae also corresponded regularly with Johannes Kepler.

Johann Comenius consulted him about new educational techniques. Today, Andreae is recognized as one of the most important German writers of his century. Unfortunately, most of his work was written in a difficult, fluid, rich Latin, filled with rhetorical devices. At the moment, his collected works are being republished with Latin text and a modern German translation on facing pages.

The question whether Johann Valentin was the author of the Fama and the Confessio has been debated since during his lifetime, for several of his contemporaries believed that he wrote the manifestoes, though no real evidence was ever cited. The majority modern opinion is that he was involved in some way but was not the actual writer of the documents.

He was a far more polished writer than the authors of the manifestoes, and the German-language Fama is written in a dialect different from his. From on he attacked the Rosicrucian phenomenon strongly—even devoting one satirical book, Turris Babel to it. Anno , which was published anonymously in It may have circulated in manuscript in a small way a year or so earlier. If so, he must have revised the work greatly, since the present version as will be discussed below is heavily based on Italian prototypes and Andreae did not learn Italian until about see Schick 94, Frey-Jaun Chymische Hochzeit is in part a quest novel, in part a fanciful alchemical procedure, in part a satire, in part a spiritual statement, and in part simply a description of colorful things.

The sustaining motifs are a mixture of Classical, Judeo-Christian, hermetic, and alchemical.

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While we usually think of these as separate cultural strands, for Andreae as for others of his time, they were mingled, blended, and cross-identified. As becomes obvious from various interpretations of Chymische Hochzeit , the weakness and also the strength of symbolic statement is its multivalence. In both Italian works the sustaining strategy is a somewhat melancholy peregrination with frustrated eroticism through surviving or shattered marble works of antiquity.

This element is present in Chymische Hochzeit. Onto him the events are offset. He moves in the foreground, experiencing, spectating, commenting, and assisting, while the important events take place sometimes away and apart from him. There is no indication that he understands what is going on about him. In modern criticism he has been interpreted, what with his bhakti and askesis, as a saint in the making or as a selfish man concerned only with himself.

Both characterizations can be argued. Rosenkreutz of the manifestoes has acquired a gnosis in the East and is active in the world, heading a research organization and performing charitable work. Yet, as will appear later, Andreae does seem to identify the two men, though it is a bad match. It has been suggested that Andreae was redirecting the message of the Fama and Confessio away from occult esotericism into orthodoxy.

To consider the narrative: it covers the events of seven days in a timeless, placeless situation, perhaps contemporary Germany supernaturalized.


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The seven days are obviously symbolic of the seven days of Creation, the seven days of the week, seven alchemical stages, seven planets, or other exemplars of seven. Here, as elsewhere in the document, Classical numerical symbolism is at work. Within this week, the first three days for the most part describe ordeals and trials that winnow out undesirable parties and condition successful aspirants.

Fantastic dreams also enter. Frightened, turning around, he sees a young woman whose wings are covered with eyes. Along with a large horn, she holds a bundle of letters, one of which she extracts for him. Two points may be isolated from this summons. First, the winged person is Fama, so illustrated in contemporary emblem books. A marginal note calls her Praeconissa, which is clear in meaning, if not a Classical Latin word: an announcer, someone who lets you know. She is not an angel, as is sometimes stated. Second, an element of humor is present. An open invitation, not personal, it carries the threat that unworthy men had better stay away.

If you are born to this, Elected by God for joy, You may go up the mountain, Where three temples stand, And there watch what happens. But beware! This introduces a tension that pervades the novel between legitimate attendance and gate-crashing, worthiness and unworthiness, and rewards and punishments.


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The message is general, but only the elite should accept it. This parallels the invitation in the manifestoes: many may apply, but only a few will be chosen. In the margin of the page illustrating this cross is a complex astrological sign: a crescent moon cusps up on top, intersecting a dotted circle for the sun, below which is a cross, on the bottom of which are two half circles, one on each side, like the zodiacal sign for Aries.

This symbol had several values in the occult systems of the time. First, it was the Hieroglyphic Monad of John Dee , the English mathematician and occultist, from which sign he geometrically derived the cosmos, although the symbol antedates his work. Fourth, it was considered by some to be the emblem of Paracelsus. Fifth, it was the sign for Hermes Trismegistos, indicating the importance that Hermes Trismegistos will have in the basic concept of the novel.

He is in a deep, dark pit with a multitude of men, all scrambling madly about. Two soteric figures above, opening a trapdoor, lower a rope seven times. Those who can hold firmly to the rope are drawn out. This presages his later fate. Who are the figures in this harrowing of a minor hell? Possibly St. Peter and the Church? He dresses in white, with red bands across his chest and four red roses in his hat. This symbolic statement creates both a certainty and a problem.

The certainty is that a white field with red bands silver field with saltire gules and roses in the interstices is the Andreae armorial bearings, obtained by his grandfather. The problem is: what has this heraldry to do with the similar cross and roses of Rosenkreutz of the manifestoes? The resemblance bears on the authorship of the two earlier documents.

There is a short, rocky way; a longer, smoother way, for which one needs a compass; a royal way; and a fourth path so covered with fire that he hesitates before it. These choices, which at first glance seem fairytale motifs, correspond to the four ways of traditional hermeneutics: literal, allegorical, anagogic, and tropological mystical.

He hesitates.

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His dilemma is solved by a device with both folkloristic and biblical relevance: while chasing a raven that is harassing a dove, he is blown on his way by a wind of enormous force. This wind probably symbolizes ruach , or the Spirit of God. His gifts are alchemically significant: bread, salt, and water—the essentials of life, which Paracelsus stressed.

He then follows a trail of lanterns and arrives at a most impressive castle. The beautiful young woman who controls the lights will play a considerable part in what follows. Boasters proclaim all sorts of impossible abilities. I saw one man who heard the roar of the heavens. There were also not a few perpetual motionists. One individual claims that he can see the invisible men who are serving the guests at the banquet.

For this lie he receives a blow on the mouth from an invisible hand. As mentioned above, the Confessio states that the Brethren could not be seen, which invisibility Andreae is mocking. Preceded by a tumult of martial music and a dazzling army of lights, the Jungfraw now enters on a self-propelled throne, which is her usual conveyance throughout the story.

They are escorted to a sleeping chamber, where they are bound and left for the evening. On the third day the guests are forced by the Jungfraw to undergo an ordeal in which their share of the seven vices can weigh them down. This is done with a giant scale and weights. The Jungfraw carries out the judgment on those who have failed the ordeals. The fate of those losers who are fraudulent alchemists and quacks is harsh: death. Their gullible victims are also punished, but less severely: they are expelled, memories expunged. As a social factor, sovereigns and nobles are treated much more leniently than commoners; they usually are released with a fine.

This situation may be interpreted in two ways. In the usage of the day, differential treatment by rank was common enough. He also enjoyed subsidies from noble sponsors, to whom respect was due. On a brief tour, he sees scientific wonders, including a gigantic, hollow globe of the world, into which one can enter.

There is a historic prototype for this. He also sees a book explaining all the wonders of the world, an obvious memory of the manifestoes or, again, of Paracelsus. At this point, Andreae breaks the serious ordering of events and offers an entertaining diversion. The stories may be exemplars of the power of love i. Scattered through the text have been small mathematical diversions such as Pythagorean numerical blocks and spatial arrangements. Now, in an interesting puzzle, Andreae shifts to a quasi-algebraic situation.

He finally musters up enough courage to ask her. She does not resent the question, but smilingly says:. My name contains five and fifty, and yet hath only eight Letters, the third is the third part of the fifth, which added to the sixth will produce a Number, whose root shall exceed the third itself by just the first, and it is the half of the fourth. Now tell me, my Lord, how am I called? Her hint is not necessary for solving the problem, but it makes solution easier. This small problem seems to have given readers trouble, for incorrect solutions have been printed, possibly because Andreae inserted a subtle misdirection.

Even so, it is not difficult. The present writer, who is no mathematician, worked it out in two or three minutes and will not insult the intelligence of his readers by providing an answer here, although one is given below, following the notes. The identity of the Jungfraw established, in further pageantry she makes obeisance to a superior woman, who is probably Theology, the Queen of the Sciences.

During the third day, supernatural and alchemical elements had begun to appear, mostly as throwaways. On the fourth day they appear in strength and rule the story. Let him who is able drink from me. Let him bathe who wishes. Let him roil my waters who dares! Drink, brothers, and live! This plaque serves multiple purposes. After the documents were brought to Italy, and translated by Marcello Ficino in the sixteenth century, they were highly regarded as an alternate, anticipatory revelation parallel to the Mosaic, perhaps contemporary with Moses, perhaps older.

For Andreae to bring Hermes into a Christian picture was thus not too offensive or heretical. The reference to Hermes also invokes alchemy, and is an announcement of the alchemical process to follow. Mercury either the element mercury or whatever secret preparation the alchemist called mercury was often considered the living principle, the source of life.

The fountain, a strong alchemical symbol, heals, it will be noted, rather than forming a step in gold-making. Such a medical focus is in accord with the Paracelsian interpretation of physical alchemy. The inscription is followed by a line of symbols that constitute a very clever chronogram permitting two solutions, depending upon how one separates the elements. The significance of this association of dates is not clear, but it might be taken to equate Andreae and Rosenkreutz of the manifestoes, as a statement of authorship. In the throne room are three thrones, each occupied by two persons: an old king with a young queen, a black king with an old queen, and a young king and queen.

The symbolism of the triple monarchy and the apportionment of consorts is arguable, although in general king and queen may be equivalent to male and female, sun and moon, gold and silver, unio oppositorum, and a stage in the alchemical process. While one should probably reject the obvious equation of the kings with the Trinity since Andreae elsewhere denounces the use of sacred symbols in alchemical literature , there are related possibilities.

The three kings may represent the religious composition of man: body the black king , soul the old king , and spirit the young king , elements now separated that must be brought into a unity. As a further factor, black is usually the symbolic color for the alchemical stage of mortification or putrefaction, in which forms are broken down before assembly in a new form. Andreae probably expected multiple interpretations of the situation, with the common factor that three elements must be fused together, as will happen later.

Multiple interpretations are possible and probably expected.

The Tessera of Antilia: Utopian Brotherhoods & Secret Societies in the Early Seventeenth Century

An erotic note now enters, at times dominating the narrative. Praz shows emblems where Amor is associated with alchemical distillation. Alchemically, the cupid can be a symbol for vitriol. On another level the cupid has been interpreted as indicating sexuality as the driving force of the beginning alchemical operation, which is about to begin, or as the power of love, divine and secular. What do you think? This leads into a mathematical amusement.

The Jungfraw offers to pair off her maidens with the postulants for the night.

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But she insists that the pairing must be done by chance; otherwise it would not be fair. Arranging the postulants and maidens in a circle, she announces that she will count off by sevens and that each man will have the maiden upon whom the count falls. But as she counts, the result is that none of the men gets a maiden—the clever arrangement is all a mathematical tease. Presumably the reader would try to work out the arrangement. The crowning episode of the fourth day is a play performed before the royal couples in the House of the Sun, with the postulants being allowed to watch.

This play is not given in full, but in act-by-act summary. It may be a remnant of the presumed early, lost version of the Chymische Hochzeit. According to the story-line: a baby girl is found in a basket in the water. Also in the basket are jewelry and a note saying that she is a princess and that the Moorish king has invaded her land and killed her family. The local king rears her, planning later to marry her to his son when she reaches maturity. The Moorish king, again invading, captures her. He treats her abominably, but later takes her as his mistress, to which she responds, degenerating in character.

The young prince persuades his father to rescue her. Despite some backsliding, she reforms and there is an elaborate wedding. The play, which is in seven acts with three elaborate interludes filled with spectacle, may be read in three ways. Literally, it resembles the English plays that Andreae delighted in as a young man. A marginal note referring to the four beasts seen by Daniel gives this interpretation some support see Kienast A third, alchemical reading, is also possible, in which a substance, silver, is treated chemically with repeated operations, as was common in alchemical work.

In this interpretation, the Moor stands for the nigredo phase of the operation. The debasement of the princess represents an acid attack on the silver, with loss of virtue and value. The six royal personages are brought out and decapitated by a black headsman, who in turn is decapitated. The royal bodies are coffined and taken away on seven ships. The Jungfraw has directed the execution. Wandering around the palace with a page assigned to him, he chances to enter an underground chamber.

On a copper door he sees an inscription written in strange characters in a language that seems to be an imitation of Middle High German:. Here lies buried Venus, that beautiful woman, who has brought down many a great man in fortune, honor, blessing, and weal.

A further inscription in strange characters and pseudo-archaic language mentions a symbolic tree and its fruit, a frequent alchemical symbol. A beautiful lyric to Love sends the postulants and others off as they take ship in seven vessels arranged in a pentagonic formation to Olympus Tower, where the resurrection will take place. Olympus Tower is set on a square island surrounded by a strong rampart. The tower itself is a complex of seven round towers, all of which are interconnected and are seven stories high, with the central tower slightly higher than the others.

This strange building incorporates several ranges of thought, all of which signify advancement. What with Olympus and seventh, it invokes the Christian scheme of seven heavens. It also fits into Hermeticism, with the seven stages of advancement described in Sections of the Pymander probably written between A. It also embodies the seven stages of an alchemical process. On the sixth day the regeneration of the monarchs takes place.

Before its final stages, however, the postulants have been moving up the floors of the towers, each level paralleling a step in the alchemical process. In each case they rise in three symbolic ways, with ladders, ropes, or wings, which probably symbolize three different types of alchemy, two kinds of chemical, and one spiritual. While these imitate procedures described in alchemical texts, they are not necessarily performed strictly nor in the usual order. First, the Jungfraw takes the flasks of essences that the postulants have prepared and empties them into a still with four outlets.

The processes involved are distillation and cohobation redistilling with the residues.

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This item qualifies for FREE delivery. Buy Now. Arrives at our Sydney warehouse in weeks and once received will be despatched with online tracking. Please allow additional time for delivery to your address. See the Delivery tab below for more details. Synopsis Product Details Delivery This is a study of the Protestant utopian movement that began in Germany, inspired in large measure by the writings of Johann Valentin Andreae and came to England through the efforts of the emigre Samuel Hartlib.

The first chapters examine Andreae's utopian writings, including the Rosicrucian manifestos, as part of his lifelong commitment to found a Societas Christiana, a spiritual elite that would improve religious and intellectual life. His writings sparked a transnational movement in early modern Europe. The latter chapters consider Hartlib's English circles and various utopian and learned societies in the s.