I am always looking for new information about Franz Farwerck or a new look on information that I already have. A while ago I was reading some texts that I have had for some time and when I was reading a text from another author who wrote in the same journal as Farwerck, I wondered: “would he have been the source for Farwerck’s interest in the Teutonic past?”
The author was Jos. Raemaekers and like Farwerck he wrote about a variety of subjects and he often refers to North-Western folklore and similar subjects. Looking back I found a text of Raemaekers from 1908 with a lot references similar to how Farwerck would make them decades later. This article, Oude Symbolen (‘old symbols’) can be found in three issues of the periodical De Vrijmetselaar (‘the Freemason’) published by the Grand Orient of the Netherlands in 1908.
When, actually, did Farwerck make his first references to Germans? I started to read the material that I found so far in chronological order and I made a timeline of when these texts were published and wove Farwerck’s life and other possibly notable events through it. This results in a few interesting findings.
Farwerck was born in 1889. The earliest text that I have is from 1922, age 33. Farwerck was initiated into a co-Masonic lodge in 1911. In the year that he got his 33º (at age 33), the first of his writings known to me is published in the internal periodical Bulletin and is about Kabbalah and Freemasonry. It is a well-written article, but I have not yet found earlier writings wherein he ‘practiced’ his writing skills.
Working through the Masonic degree system can be quite a job, but if the lodge is just trying to get some ’33-ers’ to fill gaps in the organisational top, it need not be difficult to get through them. Especially the 33º is ‘only’ an honorary degree. I do not know when Farwerck got his 32º, but I do know that in 1918 he received his 31º.
Would the 33º have made time for other things that trying to get through the degrees, like for writing? That does not sound too likely, since a year later (1923) Farwerck was appointed Grand Commandor, the head of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain and I doubt that would have given him more time to write than before.
So did the degree then somehow made him feel obliged to expose his knowledge? Did he only then feel up to the task? A fact remains (at least, for the time being) that it was not his initiation into Freemasonry that triggered his writing, but his reaching the highest ‘rank’.
Farwerck put different names under his work. His oldest writings (in the Bulletin of Le Droit Humain 1922 and later) were signed “F.E.F.”. The first time he used another signature was when he published his first book in 1927. He used the pseudonym “B.J. van der Zuylen”, an obvious reference to the two pillars (“zuilen” in contemporary Dutch) used in Freemasonry. He would use this pseudonym up until 1953, mostly for Masonic writings, which makes sense.
In the periodical Bouwsteenen he used all three pseudonyms. The titles or content of these writings do not give a clue for the reason.
When Farwerck was Grand Commander he signed his official announcements in the Bulletin as “F.E. Farwerck” and most writings that were published as articles as “F.E.F.”. Also this makes sense.
He was a bit inconsistent with his pseudonyms. Not all Masonic writings were signed with Van der Zuylen, for example. Also he sticked to his Masonic pseudonym decades after he left the lodge. This is of course his good right, but noticable.
In 1953 Farwerck published a book as B.J. van der Zuylen, but he dedicated the book to his brother C.W. Farwerck, so should anybody have had doubts about the man behind the name, that was over after that. It was the last time he used that pseudonym too. The next book carries his own name and it is dedicated to his brother’s wife, Johanna Borrius.
Then there is this other strange thing. After Farwerck had left both Le Droit Humain and the National Socialist Party, he did not publish anything for over a decade. In 1953/5, though, he published three books, none of them large. The publishing house is “Thule” which, in his biography, I list as his own publishing house. That is quite obvious, because Thule has Farwerck’s home address, but at one time another address on the other end of Hilversum, the place where he used to live, is mentioned. I also noticed an advertorial for one of these books, saying that the book can be obtained from the publisher, using the feminine version of the word! So why, and to whom, did he temporarily move his publishing house? See the answer to that question here.
What is also of note in this regard, is that the periodical Nehalennia was also published by Thule, but Farwerck was not a member of the editorial staff.
Three books were published in 1953/5, two look like they were typed on an electrical typewriter, photocopied and stitched, the smallest one is a nicely published book with a hardcover. The difference could be that the little book was meant for the general audience, while the other two were for a select audience. One of them, at least, was for not meant for regular sales. The other one, though, is referred to in the small, good-looking book, so the thought of a limited audience may not be entirely correct, because why refer your audience to a book it cannot buy?
In 1960 Thule published a book of Farwerck and between 1953 and 1961 Thule published the periodical Nehalennia. Both the book and the last issue of the periodical announced titles that never seem to have been published. Would the early 1960’ies have been a (financially) difficult period for Farwerck? It would take a decade and a big publishing house for the next publication. This was the massive final work.
A little more about Nehalennia. As I mentioned, Farwerck is not mentioned as member of the editorial staff, but his address is the editorial address and of course the publisher can ben contacted through his address.
The editors of Nehalennia were: Mr. L. Boer, Dr. F.C. Bursch, Ir. F. de Fremery (who also shot two of the photo’s in Farwerck’s ‘magnum opus’), Dr. F.S. Sixma Baron van Heemstra (a little book of whom appeared on Thule in 1959) and Dr. F. Wiersma-Verschaffelt.
Here we have a group of people that closely worked with Farwerck. More about this group here.
As I said, the first text that I know is about Kabbalah and Freemasonry. The second is also somewhat Kabbalistic. Then follow some strictly Masonic texts, of them referring to initiations (1923). This is mostly in the Bulletin. From 1926 on, there are texts in Bouwsteenen. Again the subjects vary, from initiation to letter symbolism, to Nostrodamus and more Kabbalah.
In that period (1927) the first book appears, Mysteriën en Inwijdingen in de Oudheid (‘mysteries and initiations in antiquity’). After a remarkably personal introduction, Farwerck guides his readers though the many mysteries and initiation systems of the world. He proves himself extremely well-read. The Secret Doctrine of Blavatsky is mentioned in the bibliography (so a Theosophical leaning after all?), but I cannot find the reference to it in the book.
A few things that do catch my attention is that he refers to… Jos. Raemaekers in De Vrijmetselaar (but only recent issues), so he definitely was aware of Raemaeker’s writings. Shortly mentioned are Celtic and Germanic mysteries.
The basic theory in this first book seems to be that the highly developed Aryans brought the mysteries to places all around the world. Interesting is that Semitic mysteries also belong to this group according to Farwerck.
But when was this the first mention of Germans? That would be the very book discussed above. Like I said, he mentions them shortly and he says that there are indications that there have been Celtic and Germanic mysteries, but no certainty.
A little step back to Raemaekers. In Bouwsteenen there is an article by him about children’s games. Raemaekers mentions the twelve nights between the winter solstice and Epiphany, disguises and other such things that Farwerck would write about at length later. He definitely must have known the article, since he published in the same periodical himself. This is a good indication that it may very well have been Raemaekers who got him on track. Perhaps the article in Bouwsteenen led Farwerck to look for other texts of Raemaekers which he found in De Vrijmetselaar which he could apparently get too, since some article from this periodical are referred to in his first book. (It was an internal Masonic publication of an organisation of which Farwerck was no member.)
In 1929 texts in Bouwsteenen Farwerck sometimes mentions Teutonic mysteries, but there is also a text about mysteries without mentioning them. Obviously it took a while before he really ‘got into’ the subject.
As a matter of fact, him joining the National Socialist party seems to have been a jumpstart. Not an unlogical one of course, because there were “folkish” elements within that current. Yet, Farwerck already had the name of being “folkish” by that time, even though he did not seem to write much about that. He cooperated to Wolfangel (a periodical, 1936), Der Vaderen Erfdeel (a folkish organisation, periodical and publishing house, 1937) and in 1938 he published his first ‘full-blown’ Germanic book called Levend Verleden (‘living past’) about folk-symbolism that can be traced back to Germanic ancestors. By that time he is very well read in the myths, the sagas, scholarly literature, etc.
After his short-lived career in the National Socialist Party, another decade without publications follows and in 1953 and 1955 the three mentioned books on Thule see the light of day. Two of them are about Northern European mysteries. One in general, the other linking them to Freemasonry.
Symbol of life
Here is an example that may show something of the development of Farwerck’s thinking. In 1929 Farwerck published an article in Bousteenen called “Het Teeken des Levens” (‘the symbol of life’). Even though the text shortly mentions Walhalla, the symbol of life is the Vesica Pictis, the almond shape form that you get from two interlacing circles. He even explains the difference between the upstanding and the laying versions of the symbol.
In 1937 Levend Verleden extensively informs its readers about the Ing-rune that can be found over many old doors. The rune is, of course, a combination of two V-shaped lines, which can be both angled or bent. The bent version is actually a Vesica Pictis, but Farwerck does not mention this at all. He does refer to the “Hieros Gamos”, the holy marriage between heaven and earth, thus: fertility, and thus: life, but no Vesica Pictis anymore.
1953 Was the year in which the good-looking and well-printed little book Het Teken van Dood en Herleving was published, the symbol of death and resurrection. As with other titles of this time, the book is Germanic. The symbol is the eolh secg / eolhx / elcx / madhr rune.
And the Germans?
Like I said, his first book of 1927 is the first time that I know that Farwerck mentions the German past. In a lecture in 1933 he supposedly said that Venus is the Latin name for Nerthus. In later books he refers to Otto Höffler’s book Kultische Geheimbünde der Germanen (‘cultic secret societies of the Germans’) which was published in 1934. Farwerck extensively used it for Noord-Europese Mysteriën en Inwijdingen in de Oudheid (‘Northern-European mysteries and initiations in antiquity’ 1953).
A thing that I keep noticing is that Farwerck usually has very recent literature in his bibliographies. He obviously followed the fields he was interested in. 1938 Being the year of his first ‘full blown Germanic’ book, could Höffler have triggered that?
Farwerck also uses an older publication about initiations Northern Europe: Altgermanische Jünglingsweihen und Männerbünde (‘ancient German youth initiations and men-bonds’) by Lily Weiser which was published in 1927. As far as I know it was the first book which projected the term “Männerbunde” (‘men-bonds’) to the Teutonic past. The term was first used by Heinrich Schurz in his Altersklassen und Männerbünde (‘classes of age and men-bonds’ 1902) which is about rites of passage in many parts of the world except for Europe. In 1934 Jan de Vries published his first version of Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte (‘history of the religion of the old Germans’) and there were similar publications in these days. The question remains: how did it come that Farwerck started to reach such works.
My guess is that Raemaekers ‘has something to do with it’, but of course there is more.
There is something else. In his texts, Raemaekers sometimes refers to the work of Guido von List, an esoteric / mystical author from Germany who created a strange system with his own runes. It appears he had more followers in the Netherlands. I do not have the idea that Farwerck was one of them, but he at least knew the author. Von List is never mentioned in Farwerck’s bibliographies.
Digging a little further in the (possible) Dutch group / movement / current could be interesting, but that will be something for another time.
The Dutch author August Heyting wrote a lengthy poem called Yggdrasil and three books giving context to his poem. These books are collections of lectures and essays that he mostly presented to the organisation that he founded, the “Kelto-Germaansche Studiekring Yggdrasil”, or ‘Celtic-Germanic studycircle Yggdrasil’ and he does refer to Von List. Heyting and Farwerck must have known each other. Both were founding members of the “Ario-Germaansche Genootschap” (quite a similar name) and both left only days after the foundation when they found the group to be too political. Also, just before Farwerck left Freemasonry, his lodge organised a “Germaansche Midwinter Zonnewendefeest” (‘Germanic midwinter solstice celebration’) together with Heyting. This is too much of a coincidence.
Long have I wondered if Farwerck adhered any faith. Living in the Northern part of the Netherlands, some sort of protestantism would have been logical. Then again, as we see in the biography, he had an interest in ‘things spiritual’. He seems to have been active in Theosophical circles, but does that make him a Theosophist? In his first book he mentions “the beautiful symbolism of the Catholic Church”, which is the sole such reference that I found. In his library we find many early Christian texts, some mystical. Freemasonry is not exactly a belief system. Perhaps this is why he liked it. It provides spirituality and symbolism without fixed meaning. Farwerck could project his scholarly approach to folklore, symbolism, etc. and experience the rituals of Freemasonry without having to adhere to any system.
I have not yet finished my project to reread everything that I have of Farwerck. So far it didn’t really bring up much new, but perhaps some puzzle pieces can be placed better. As my rereading continues, I will update this text if I find anything noteworthy.