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Now, in Occult of Personality podcast episode 202, Michael Martin joins us to discuss this recent version of The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz which features two of his essays that recontextualize and add a much greater depth of meaning to the story. To put it briefly, my interpretation of Martin’s assertion is that the actual intention of the text was to allow readers to see through the attachments to pride, recognition, and knowledge, whether esoteric or mundane and gather themselves around a simpler spirituality that endeavors to see and understand the vast mystery of reality beyond any classification or even languaging.
The story is full of jokes, puzzles, satires, and red herrings—mostly at the expense of academic pride and the pretentions of occultists. Adding to the humor of The Chymical Wedding, most of the commentary written over the last five hundred years in hopes of probing its secrets has been of exactly the sort Andreae was pranking in the first place—which is why he described the book’s reception as “a game which was evaluated and foolishly explicated with subtle ingenuity and which proves the stupidity of the curios.” Indeed, some people don’t know a good joke when it’s played on them.
It is my contention that the playful construction of The Chymical Wedding is evidence of Andreae’s intention to apply physic to the soul of the reader. The text, that is, serves as what Stanley Fish (one of the great readers of seventeenth-century literature before he turned to law and the life of a public intellectual) has called “a self-consuming artifact,” which, as he further explains, “signifies most successfully when it fails, when it points away from itself to something its forms cannot capture. If this is not anti-art, it is surely anti-art-for-art’s sake because it is concerned less with the making of better poems than with the making of better persons.” As a self-consuming artifact, The Chymical Wedding—reveling in the high comedy of intellectual hubris, revealing its own “mysteries” despite its occult paraphernalia, and ever again reminding the reader to not rely on learning or the discovery of the secrets of nature as surrogates for salvation—tries to enact a transformation on the soul of the reader by destabilizing the reader’s preconceptions of what a “chemical wedding” is—or, for that matter, what a “Rosicrucian” is. The Chymical Wedding succeeds when it fails (the sham “lost ending” certainly supports this supposition) because if it had succeeded as an occult text it would have surely failed as physic for the soul. Herein lies the brilliance of Andreae’s ludibrium. That so many have missed what is so obvious only proves his point the more. – Michael Martin, Introduction: “So unlooked for an adventure,” The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, The Ezekiel Foxcroft Translation, revised, and with two new essays by Michael Martin, 2019
I think Martin’s work here is crucial and I am really thrilled to be able to talk to him about it and share that conversation with you! Although I wish I’d encountered Martin years ago when I first became interested in Rosicrucianism, but it seems fitting that it has taken until now. I would dare to say that his analysis is worth your time and consideration. It may even bring about new insights and different ways of appreciating western magick and esotericism. Related to Rosicrucianism, Michael also talks about Sophiology, a radical way of seeing and feeling the world as the deepest mystery of reality. A form of western nonduality if you will. Our conversation here only touches the tip of the iceberg of scholarship and mysticism that lay beneath…
Michael Martin, Ph.D. is a philosopher, poet, musician, songwriter, editor, and biodynamic farmer. He spent sixteen years as a Waldorf teacher and Master Teacher and taught at the university and college level for over seventeen years. He began biodynamic farming in 1990 and currently raises dairy goats, bees, and other animals while managing a market garden with his wife and some of his nine children. His poetry and scholarship have appeared in many journals and he is the editor of Jesus the Imagination: A Journal of Spiritual Revolution.
The intro music is “Awakening” by Paul Avgerinos (https://magnatune.com/artists/albums/avgerinos-gnosis?song=3) and the outro music is “Wild Rose” by Barry Sulkin (https://magnatune.com/artists/albums/barrysulkin-isleofelba?song=11)
In the Chamber of Reflection, author Allen Blackwell joins me to discuss his magical book of short stories, 26 Gates! Listen to that exclusive recording at https://chamberofreflection.com or at our Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/occultofpersonality.
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Thanks for listening and until next time . . .