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Ariosophy (in the Netherlands)

Armanism and Ariosophy are esoteric ideological systems that were largely developed by Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels respectively, in Austria between 1890 and 1930. The term ‘Ariosophy’, which means the wisdom of the Aryans, was invented by Lanz von Liebenfels in 1915, and during the 1920s, it became the name of his doctrine. […] the term ‘Ariosophy’ is generically used to describe the Aryan/esoteric theories which constituted a subset of the ‘Völkische Bewegung’. (1)

Thus says Wikipedia. The current was there before the World Wars. Perhaps it can be seen as a somewhat more Western version of Blavatsky’s “Theosophy”, but of course the term “Aryan” refers to Indo-European culture, so Ariosophy is not entirely Western. There is more focus on Western elements such as runes and Norse mythology, but as it comes to the runes, the (in)famous “rune-Yoga” of Von List is -of course- not a very Western thing.

The first organisation for Ariosophy (very broadly used) seems to be the “Guido von List Society” from 1908. According to the German Wikipedia (2) (translated):

In 1908, friends and followers of List founded the Guido von List Gesellschaft to promote his “research” and publications, members included the industrialist Friedrich Wannieck, his son Oskar, the ariosophist Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels and Vienna’s mayor Karl Lueger. […] List himself founded the High Armanen Order (HAO) in 1911 as an inner circle of the List Society, but it comprised only a few members and disintegrated after a few years.

There was also a ‘proto-Ariosophic’ organisation founded by the mentioned Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, the “Ordo Novi Templi”, founded in 1900 in Wien/Vienna, Austria. These new Templars existed until they were forbidden in 1930. As we saw, Liebenfels was also active in the Von List Society.

Be that as it may, the movement started in German speaking countries and was biggest in these countries too. Does Farwerck fit into that picture somehow? He usually refers to scholarly publications. The only Ariosophist that is an exception to this is Herman Wirth. Then again, the German Wikipedia (Wirth was a Dutchman, but lived in Germany most of his life) does not mention Ariosophy (3), the Dutch Wikipedia (4), on the other hand, does. The latter is more in the vein ‘some of his ideas were similar to those of the Ariosophists, so let’s call him an Ariosophist’. Is the term used too broadly, to stain the name of Wirth or was there really some sort of Ariosophic movement in the Netherlands that Wirth was part of? The Dutch Wikipedia also calls archaeologist Bellen an Ariosophist and also the poet Heyting, both Farwerck certainly knew as all three were (for a few days) involved in the “Ario-Germaansch Genootschap“.

Farwerck certainly was “Völkisch”, but the folkish movement is not the same as the Ariosophic one. There sure was overlap, but the two are not to be equated. Still, we meet folkish people with a background in Theosophy and for Ariosophy this is logical as well. It does not immediately seem that the Folkish circle around Farwerck, such as the Der Vaderen Erfdeel group was (largely) involved in Ariosophy.

In Der Vaderen Erfdeel we meet people such as Hermannus Reydon (1896-1943), Evert Jan Roskam (1892-1974), Jan Coenraad Nachenius (1890-1987), Herman Johan van Houten (1906-1996), Reinier van Houten (1908-1983), Johannes Hendrik Feldmeijer (1910-1945), Nicolaas (Nico) de Haas (1907-1995), Johannes (Johan) Theunisz (1900-1979), Geerto Aeilko Sebo Snijder (1896-1992), all of which seem to have been more interested in archaeology, folklore and history than in things esoteric.

With the “Ario-Germaansch Genootschap” we come closer to our subject. According to Henk Luning (5), the “Ario-Germaansch Genootschap” (‘Ario-Germanic Society’) was closely connected to the “Edda-Gesellschaft” (‘Edda Society’) of Rudolf John Gorsleben (1883-1930), who was a known Ariosophist. Unfortunately there seems to be no information of what this connection really was. Did some Dutchman hear of the “Edda-Gesellschaft” and decide to start a local branch, or an organisation inspired by it, or was one actually involved in Germany and took the ideas (back) to the Netherlands?

On the left, you can see the announcement of the society in the newspaper Het Vaderland (‘fatherland’). 9 Days later the same newspaper announced the resignation of a few members. A few names stand out. Hendrik Joseph Bellen (1884–1961) was an early Dutch amateur archaeologist. August Heyting (1879-1949) was a Dutch poet. Both appear to have been interested in the ideas of Guido Karl Anton Paul (von) List (1848-1919). Does that say anything about the other people involved in this initiative?

Boissevain was probably Jan Wilhelm Boissevain (1874 – 1959), who published Theosophical and other esoteric books. He was a very early Theosophist. He appears in the periodical Theosophia as early as 1898 as some sort of secretary and treasurer. In the same year there is also a reference in Theosophia to a “well written” text Boissevain published elsewhere. In 1896 he still seemed to have been a student of Law. He kept publishing in Theosophia for years to come and even published a book about Theosophy. Later he appears to have started publishing books and he fought for women’s rights.

Most other names are of people not known enough to have a lot of information about them online. There was a J.H. Dubbink who published in Theosophical magazines in the correct time, which makes sense. The same name appears in Eigen Volk and a vegetarian publication.
D. van Hindeloopen Labberton appears to have been born in the Dutch Indies, but that is all I can find.
Henri C. Hoek was an accountant.
H. von Roesgen von Floss appears in a periodical of a publication of the Dutch order of Freemasons and in Theosophia. He lectured about “Parsival” which fits the theme. He also seems to have been a freethinking Protestant.
P.M. van Walchren seems to have been an illustrator and writer about heraldry. He also appears in the same vegetarian magazine as Dubbink. In 1920 he headed the Theosophical lodge in the place where he lived.
J.R. Haan appears in Eigen Volk and in 1931 he is mentioned as “schriftvoerder” (‘scribe’?) of the Ario-Germaansch Genootschap.
Of J.P.W. Schuurmans I cannot find anything at all.

At least six of the people involved in the Ario-Germaansch Genootschap have connections to Theosophy, Farwerck, Boissevain, Dubbink, Von Roesgen von Floss and Van Walchren. August Heyting moved in artistic circles which included known Theosophists. Some of the people mentioned also published in Nationalistic publications. Here we have a group in which at least some had ‘esoteric’ and Nationalistic interests. An Ariosophic circle? Perhaps that is a bit a too easy conclusion. It were not just Theosophists (and certainly not all) who left the society after a week.

Probably outside the Ario-Germaansch Genootschap circle, we have a Dutch National Socialist interested in Ariosophy: Tjark Eltjo Bontkes (1885-1972). He would have fitted well in the circle as both had a leaning towards Aryan Christianity with a pagan sauce. Bontkes published about Siegrid and Christ. He seems to have been close to Farwerck’s enemy Rost van Toningen though. Bontkes was also interested in the work of Hermann Wirth. I cannot connect him to either Der Vaderen Erfdeel or the Ario-Germaansch Genootschap with any certainty.(6)

Earlier I looked at Joseph Raemaekers. Him and Farwerck moved in similar ‘Theosophical Masonic’ circles, wrote about similar subjects, but contrary to Farwerck, Raemaekers does refer to Von List. I cannot find much information about Raemaekers, so it is hard to say with any certainty that he was involved in some Ariosophic circle or even a Theosophical one.

Some authors speak of an Ariosophic Society, but I cannot find anything that an organised group using such as name was active in the Netherlands. The word “Ariosofie” or “Ariosophie” is hardly mentioned in newspapers or other publications and when they are, always referring to other people or groups. There may have been individuals who read Gorsleben or Wirth, but so far I have not found any indication that this was some sort of current. There have been groups making expositions of works of Fidus, Gorsleben and Wirth (“De Bouwhut” (‘the building hut’) in Haarlem), initiatives such as the Ario-Germaansch Genootschap, but neither can really be called Ariosophic. The former may have had more focus on nationalistic art and the latter on local history and folklore without esoteric explorations.

The conclusion -for now- is that there does not seem to have been organised Ariosophy in the Netherlands. Farwerck may have known about the current, but chose to base himself on more scholarly publications. Hermann Wirth was on the edge of what Farwerck deemed permissible. An open question remains why Farwerck and a few others left the Ario-Germaansch Genootschap so soon. Did it turn out to be too political? Too esoteric perhaps? It would be nice to find more information about that.

(1) Wikipedia, accessed 30 August 2023
(2) Wikipedia, accessed 30 August 2023
(3) Wikipedia, accessed 30 August 2023
(4) Wikipedia, accessed 30 August 2023
(5) Volgens Kapitein Bellen by Henk Luning (2013), chapter 4
(6) More about Bontkes in “Zwanengebroed in het Kloostergoed – Over Oost-Groninger herenboeren en het lot van hun landbouwbedrijf Kloostergoed Dünebroek (1904-1950)” by Arne C. Jansen. Available online here (PDF) (accessed 31 August 2023)

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