Egbert Smedes

Quite by accident I ran into a possibly interesting person: Egbert Jacob Smedes. Smedes was born in 1889 in Assen, Netherlands and he passed away in 1975 in Haarlem, Netherlands. He was a teacher and clerk, “modern Humanist” and wrote several books.

When I was looking for something non-Farwerck related I ran into a fairly long article by Smedes in the Indisch Maçonniek Tijdschrift (‘Indian Masonic Periodical’) 1938/9. The text has the catching title Is Onze Loge een Directe Voorzetting van de Oud-Germaansche Gilde? (‘Is our lodge a direct continuation of the old-Germanic guild?’).

1938/9, By that time Farwerck had published about initiations, but not about Germanic ones. In 1938 he did publish his first ‘full-blown Germanic book’ Levend Verleden (‘Living past’).

Smedes opens his article saying: “Last April, I bumped into the old-Germanic guild, of which I knew nothing until then.”
He uses the phrase as if ‘the old-Germanic guild’ as some organisation that he just hadn’t heard of. Looking to see if it was perhaps a group that I could find more information about, I only ran into another article of Smedes and an announcement in a newspaper of a lecture of Smedes himself (see below). I haven’t been able to find out what he exactly refers to.

In 1884 George F. Fort (1809-1872) published his The Early History and Antiquities of Freemasonry: As Connected with Ancient Norse Guilds, and the Oriental and Mediæval Building Fraternities. Judging the similarities in title, it seems likely that Smedes has used Fort for his text. He doesn’t refer to Fort in his article, but he does so when he replies to a reader’s comment. He is much apposed to Fort’s approach. Also Smedes refers to information that is newer than Fort’s book, including Jan de Vries and Otto Höffler. Both suggest that Smedes actually did his own investigations.

The other text that I found is called De Vrijmetselaarsloge (‘The Freemasons Lodge’) and was published in 1939 in the general spiritual periodical Mensch en Kosmos (‘Man and Kosmos’) in two parts. Interesting, this periodical was published by Kluwer who would publish Farwerck’s final book in 1970. Farwerck knew some people of the Kluwer family by the way.

When I went to see if Smedes and Farwerck can be connected, I noticed two things. The first is that Farwerck refers to the Mensch en Kosmos article, but also to another text of Smedes in the same periodical. The other article is called Germaanse inwijdingen (‘Germanic initiations’)! I haven’t found that article yet. Farwerck has the text listed as being published in 1940. Perhaps it was published in the fourth volume.

The other thing is that both Farwerck and Smedes have published in the small archaeological periodical Westerheem years along the line (1954). This makes it quite likely that the two knew each other.

Smedes was an almost exact contemporary to Farwerck. He wasn’t a ‘likely’ acquaintance, a ‘mere’ teacher and clerk, but he is a likely source of inspiration for Farwerck. The period in which he published his texts fits amazingly well, perhaps even better so than Raemaeker’s articles, especially when we consider that Farwerck often used very recent information.

Mensch en Kosmos we ran into before too. One of the Nehalennia editors published in this periodical too and it is a very likely publication for Farwerck to know. Very broad spiritual / esoteric subjects including Rosicrucians and Freemasonry.

Farwerck was aware of Smedes’ writings. Smedes and Willy Farwerck were both members of “Amstelodamum” (which says little of course, perhaps members did meet). Smedes was, like both Farwercks, a Freemason (initiated after 1930), but I think not of Le Droit Humain, but of the men-only Grand Orient of the Netherlands. Farwerck knew more GON-members though.

I have checked if Smedes also published in the GON periodicals of his time, but this is not the case. Him having been born and died in the Netherlands makes it somewhat strange that he published in a Masonic publication in a Dutch colony, but I guess the contacts between India and the Netherlands were good, also, or especially, Masonically. The periodical seems to be quite respectable, also having texts of authors such as Jesper. There at least is an interesting variety in subjects and they were open enough for new theories such as those of Smedes.

That is it for now. Smedes published books with varying subjects. In one he seems to align to the political current of his time (that also Farwerck followed, another reason why they may have met), but this didn’t make him interesting enough to provide for much information.

It is intriguing that he is a likely candidate for inspiring Farwerck to start writing about Teutonic mysteries and their traces to Freemasonry though.

Het Vaderland – 2 June 1940

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