Skip to content

From Theosophy to co-Masonry?

A thought occurred to me. When Farwerck was initiated into the lodge Christiaan Rosenkreuz on 23 April 1911, he not only was barely 20 years old, but he most likely came straight from school. Not only that, he lived in Rotterdam and was initiated, passed and raised in Laren. How would that have come about?

If my deduction is correct, Farwerck remained in Rotterdam until 1914, age 25. He probably moved from the Rotterdam briket factory that his father and business partner Kemper owned, to the carpet factory his father had just taken into business.

Why didn’t Farwerck join a lodge closer by? The Dutch Grand Orient had several lodges in Rotterdam. He could have picked any of these. My guess is that he was already involved in Theosophy and that is why he was directed towards a mixed gender lodge. Also there he had options closer to Rotterdam. The Rotterdam lodge Pythagoras was only founded in 1915, but he could have opted for the lodge Rakoczy, that was founded in The Hague in 1911 (both lodges still exist by the way).

When the very first lodge Cazotte was founded in Amsterdam in 1905, he may have been a little young, 16. He did live in Amsterdam at the time though.

Also perhaps, the same could be said about Theosophy. Amsterdam is where it all started in the Netherlands. Around medium “Piet” Meuleman-Van Ginkel the Theosophical Society was hatched in Amsterdam. It appears that in Meuleman’s house there was not only the administrative seat of the Dutch society (of one lodge), but also its library and some sort of community. Several people, often young, lived at Amsteldijk 79 in Amsterdam. Interesting names too!

Could this be the same Kerdijk that shared Farwercks “mureed“ship and membership of mixed gender Freemasonry? Kerdijk, de wife of the Jew Stephan Schlesinger who designed Farwercks Masonic ex libris and the cover of his first book?

And Henri van Ginkel? The man who initiated Farwerck into Freemasonry in 1911 and who was a nephew of Meuleman?

Denier van der Gon is probably the “regular” Freemason and prolific writer to whom Farwerck refers a lot in his later work. More about that here.

So here we already have a few persons who would influence Farwercks life (greatly). A coincidence?

I have found no clues that Farwerck was in any way involved in that Theosophical group at that time. He would have younger than 20 when he did, as at that age he moved to Rotterdam. Too young? I don’t know. I also used a schooltrip to The Hague to visit a Theosophical lodge at 20. Besides, it seems that more 19-year-olds temporarily lived in the Amsterdam community.

Or would Farwerck have become active in Theosophy when he lived in Rotterdam? This is not impossible, as there has been a Rotterdam lodge since 1897.

It is tempting to think that he met Van Ginkel and Van Ginkel convinced him to become a Freemason. I have found nothing to place Van Ginkel in Rotterdam around that time. In 1907 he supposedly lived in Nijmegen, all the way across the country. From 1908 in Laren, where he would found the the lodge in which he initiated Farwerck. Van Ginkel lectured, but I have found no lecture in Rotterdam.

Let us theorise that Farwerck was acquainted with the Amsterdam group. His family stayed in Amsterdam until 1914, so he was probably in the city a lot. Perhaps his (dawning) interest in Theosophy drew him to Amsteldijk 79. Maybe even to the Cazotte lodge for a chat (but not yet initiation). My guess is that he was mostly influenced by Henri van Ginkel who was nine years his senior. Maybe him being initiated in the first non-Theosophical lodge was not as much a considered decision but just how things went. He chose the Laren lodge over The Hague either because he knew he would move to Hilversum eventually or because he was on better terms with Van Ginkel than with the people in The Hague. He did follow Van Ginkel in the idea that Theosophy and Freemasonry should not mix, so my guess is that Van Ginkels influence was considerable.

Another thought. In most (all?) Masonic lodges a candidate is supposed to be mature, many have a minimum age of 21 years old. Members should have some life experience. In 1910 Farwerck reached that age, a year later he was initiated. A suggestion I rose is that at the time he knew both Van Ginkel and Denier van der Gon. The former was a co-Mason, the latter member of a men-only lodge. If these Theosophical contacts are what led Farwerck to Freemasonry, he listened more to Van Ginkel than to Denier.

Speaking of whom. Van Ginkel was born in 1880. At age 25 he was a known Theosophist who joined forces to found the first mixed gender lodge in the Netherlands. In 1906 (26 years old) he published an article in the internal periodical of the Grand Orient of the Netherlands (was he involved there too or was this Denier van der Gons doing?). In 1911 (31) he had been working on revising the rituals of his Grand Lodge for some time). He had been writing, translating and publishing books since at least 1905 (age 25). A busy man indeed and I can fully understand him having a lot of influence on the people around him, including Farwerck.

So, did Farwerck go from Theosophy to co-Masonry or the other way around? In 1917 he led a Theosophical lodge in Hilversum, so he had probably been a member for a while. Since before or after 1911?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.