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Denier van der Gon

Some of the histories of Theosophy in the Netherlands quote a letter of Piet Meuleman, the medium around whom Theosophy in this country set off. Meuleman wrote (translated from Dutch):

Very soon after my arrival at Amsteldijk 76, Mr. J. v. Manen, then 19 years old, joined us, followed by Ms. Dijkgraaf, Mr. Hallo, Ms. Buekers, Ms. Kerdijk, Mr. and Ms. Denier v.d. Gon, Ms. Waller, while Mr. v. Ginkel, first as a trainee of the nautical college, spent his days off and vacations with us and later became a resident of the Headquarters.

We are talking about “very soon” after 1896. This quote is interesting, because it contains a few names of people whom would influence Farwercks life considerably. It did get me thinking though. Meuleman refers to a 19-year-old J. v. Manen en later mentions that other temporary residents were usually young as well. Moreover, one name (or actually two) raised problems.

“Ms. Kerkdijk” almost has to be Anne Kerdijk (1882-1944). Kerdijk joined Farwerck in different spiritual pursuits including Sufism and mixed gender Freemasonry. She was the wife of the Jew Stephan Schlesinger (1896-1944) a graphic designer who designed the cover of Farwercks first book and his Masonic ex-libris. Kerdijk was also the person who wanted Farwerck out off the mixed gender organisation that he headed when Farwerck joined the National Socialist Movement.
“Very soon” after 1896 can in this case not be that soon, because in 1900 Kerdijk was only 18. Let’s say that this anecdote is from about 1900.

“Mr. v. Ginkel” is most likely Piet Meulemans nephew Henri van Ginkel (1880-1954). The quote says that Van Ginkel visited often and only later became resident. Somewhere between 1896 and 1900 Van Ginkel may have been “a trainee of the nautical college”, so again, it’s likely that we are talking 1900.

Then there is the phrase “Mr. and Ms. Denier v.d. Gon”. Without giving it much thought, I took this quote being about the Denier van der Gon that Farwerck quotes frequently.

Willem Herman Denier van der Gon (1858-1938)

That would be a bit weird for two reasons though. If Kerdijk and Van Ginkel would have been around 20, Van der Gon was more around 42 around the year 1900. Not really an age to join some sort of commune. Besides, who would “ms. Denier v.d. Gon” be? As far as I know, Willem Herman wasn’t married and if he was, it wouldn’t have been “Ms.”, but “Mrs.”, not? Unmarried living at the Meuleman address perhaps? Again, at 42? I don’t know.

W.H. was a member of the Dutch Grand Orient of the Netherlands, the biggest and men-only Masonic organisation in the Netherlands. He was a prolific writer with many books and many more articles in a variety of periodicals. He does appear to have been a bit of a late bloomer though. Supposedly he was only initiated in 1898 at the age of 40. For 33 years he was one of the editors of De Vrijmetselaar, the (then) internal publication of the Grand Orient.

W.H. was a known Theosophist and he appears to have been a member of the first mixed gender Masonic lodge in the Netherlands, Cazotte, founded by Annie Besant and seven Dutch Theosophists in 1904. Initially the Grand Orient allowed dual membership, but (probably because of the growing influence of Theosophy within its own ranks) forbade this in 1910. Still Van der Gon appears to have been member of another mixed gender lodge that was only founded in 1921.

Van der Gon was indeed involved in ‘co-Masonic activities’ such as the periodical Bouwsteenen. As I said, he wrote a lot and Farwerck refers to him frequently. Would this be the Van der Gon that had lived in the house of the Netherlands’ first Theosophist? It is stated that he became librarian in 1905 at the Theosophical headquarters.

M.C. Denier van der Gon (1861-1939)

There is another Van der Gon who appears in De Vrijmetselaar. M.C. with an article in two parts about the mysteries of Mithras. The cover of this booklet has the author as “Ma. Ca. Denier van der Gon”. It was quite an ordeal, but I think I have identified this other Van der Gon.

Back wo Willem Herman. W.H.’s father was Hugo Anne Cornelis (1818-1892) who had five sisters and a brother and who had four children (one was stillborn) with Geertruida Johanna Stenfort Kroese (1929-1899). So W.H. had a brother and a sister. For some reason his sister is not always mentioned in genealogies. This sister was called Maria Cornelia which can indeed be abbreviated to Ma. Ca. This would mean that a non member would have published in De Vrijmetselaar.

The same text about Mithras has been published in a little booklet at least twice. One time by F.J. van Paaschen and another time by one of the publishing houses of Henri van Ginkel (the same one that also published Farwerck). What is more, the text can also be found in Theosophia the magazine of the Dutch Theosophical Society. I found a review Theosophia of the ‘Van Ginkel’ publication and it refers to the author using the feminine version of the word. This leaves little doubt that the M.C. or Ma. Ca. Denier van der Gon who is published in De Vrijmetselaar is indeed the sister of Willem Herman.

That -on its turn- makes is more likely that Meulemans “Mr. and Ms. Denier van der Gon” refers not to a couple, but to brother and sister Denier van der Gon who -indeed- appeared to have been somewhat older than other people who lived at the Amsterdam Theosophal lodge.

Also interesting, in Theosophia appeared a few articles that Maria wrote together with Joseph Raemaekers.

Hugo Anne Cornelis Denier van der Gon (1894-1945)

In a magazine about parapsychology I ran into another Hugo Anne Cornelis Denier van der Gon. This H.A.C. is the son of Jan Jacob (1856-1933), the brother of Willem Hendrik. This nephew of W.H. was not only editor of that parapsychological periodical, but he was also an editor for Theosophia. Apparently he got something from his Theosophical uncle. What is also noteworthy, another editor of the parapsychology (not at the same time) was Georges Zorab (1898-1990) who corresponded with Willy Farwerck.

Theosophy

It becomes more and more likely that many things circled around Theosophy. Van der Gon joined Freemasonry before there was mixed gender Freemasonry and when that became ‘available’ he joined it as well. At the Theosophical headquarters he probably met Henri van Ginkel, perhaps even Joseph Raemaekers and it is not unlikely that in this circle also the young Franz Farwerck met people who would remain friends for the rest of his life.

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