Παρασκευή, 8 Ιουλίου 2016

Robert Fludd's Spiritual Task by Adam McLean


Robert Fludd's Spiritual Task by Adam McLean

Robert Fludd was one of the most important Rosicrucian commentators of the early decades of the seventeenth century. His name has been made known to many people in recent times, through the esoterically remarkable and artistically attractive engravings made by Theodor Pe Bry to illustrate his works, and which have been reprinted as illustrations in many popular books on the occult. However, Fludd's own writings remain obscure, very little being available in Print at present.

Over the period of about twenty years from 1617, Fludd issued - Utriusque Cosmi Historia a massive tome or collection of treatises), Anatomiae Amphitheatnun 1623, Philosophia Sacra 1626, Nedicina Catholics 1629, Integrum Morbum hlysterium 1631, Clavis Philosophae et Alchemiae 1633, and the Philosophia Moysaica 1638, and other smaller works - a vast body of writings of which regrettably only the Mosaical Philosophy was translated into English.
Locked up in the ponderous difficult Latin of these volumes, lies a vast system of ideas, a gathering together of the various fragments of esoteric wisdom, woven into an all embracing philosophical system.

Robed Fludds works are the encapsulation of the hermetic philosophy that lay at the heart of the Rosicrucian movement. He laid the philosophical foundations of an esoteric science in his great works, and it may well be that for our future spiritual development and evolution, we shall have to return again and encounter the breadth and depth of Flud's philosophical foundation of metaphysical science.
It is in this spirit that we issue this extract from the only major work of Fludd to be translated. Fludd's volumes are so vast, often being collections of various independent treatises under the one general plan or structure, that one suspects that it is most unlikely for any of them ever to be translated and reprinted in their entirety.
However, hopefully extracts will be translated and made available over the next years.


His life

Robert Fludd (1574 - 1637) was a child of the Elizabethan Age, with its freedom of thought and scholarship, and its impulse to explore and investigate the world. Little is known of his early life, except that he cam from a relatively well off family, being the son of Sir Thomas Fludd. He was given a good education which culminated in his attending,at age 18, St John's College, Oxford, where he obtained the, Master of Arts degree.

After completing his university studies, he went traveling around Europe, supporting himself by private tutoring.
These travels took him to, France, Spain, Italy and Germany, and when he returned in 1604 to live in London, he began to practice medicine.
His revolutionary medical opinions, for which he drew heavily from Paracelsus, took a while to be accepted by the establishment, but after an initial struggle he eventually achieved a high reputation as a healer. The practice. of healing was of prime import to him, and references to healing about throughout his works, and a large part of his output consisted of medical textbooks, expounding his particular philosophy and vision of the human organism.

Most of his works were published abroad in Oppenheim and Frankfurt, and he does not seem to have been well known in his own country.
He was remarkably open to new ideas, and performed numerous experiments with magnetic forces, investigated in great depth the dynamics of the human pulse, even inventing a weatherglass or barometer, and as an example of his openness, he was one of the first Physicians to access enthusiastically Wlilliam Harvey's discover of the circulation of the blood. 
Indeed Fludd exhibits in his writings a scientific curiosity and interest in the facts and ideas about the outer world, which in many ways complements the metaphysical basis to his thinking.
Fludd in this had his feet on the ground, and although he soared to great heights in his speculative philosophy, he remained rooted in reality. Little, however, is known of Fludd's life, of his acquaintances and contacts in the society of the time, and one can only speculate upon his connections with esoteric orders such as the Rosicrucians.

Robert Fludd Task

If we read between the lines of outer history, which rarely records the true forces and impulses working behind a particular era or individual, we have to come to see Robert Fludd as an essential part of the Rosicrucian movement. Though he denied being a member of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, it is obvious, when we examine the impulse working through his writings, that he had some role to play in the weaving of the Rosicrucian wisdom into the outer world.

The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, emerged into the outer public sphere in 1614, through the publication of their manifestos, the Fama Fraternitatis in 1614, the Confessio in 1615, and the Mystery allegory, the Chymical Vedding of Christian Rosencreutz in 1616.
This Brotherhood revealed that they had achieved a synthesis of the sum total of esoteric Knowledge of the west into a coherent living philosophy, into which they sought to initiate the learned of Europe, and so transform the basis of society and raise man to a more noble condition, by revealing the full potentialities of his inner spiritual being.


In an outer sense, the Rosicrucian Movement of the early 17th century was linked with a particular political strategy, which sought to establish Bohemia, in the heart of Europe, as a center of enlightenment under the guidance of esoteric knowledge.
In 1611, Michael Maier the other great Rosicrucian apologist, came to London as an ambassador for the movement, which was at this time still unrevealed, and there he met with Robert Fludd.
What passed between these two great figures one cannot know, but it is surely of the greatest relevance that once the Rosicrucians had declared themselves, in 1614-1616, both Fludd and Maier simultaneously released vast volumes of their writings, almost on cue.

It seems unlikely that these vast works were written just before publication, indeed there are a number of internal references in Fludd's work, which suggest that some treatises in the History of the Macrocosm and Microcosm were written during his travels in Europe before 1604. Perhaps even then Fludd had made contact with the representatives of the Rosy Cross.


Both Fludd and Maier were set the task of unfolding to the outer world the philosophical basis of the esotericism of the Rosicrucians, and indeed much of Flud's work is an attempt to establish these ideas, by connecting them with the sayings of scripture and the established and respected ancient philosophers.
Perhaps Fludd's long, intricate, often repetitive statement of his ideas, comparing and contrasting with Biblical and classical references, should be seen not as long windedness and prolixity, but rather as his conscientious attempt to examine each idea he introduces from various facets and relating it to other writers and ideas.


Fludd was in no sense a popularizer. His works were for the learned of Europe. It was through enlightening the learned of Europe, and having them work together, that the Rosicrucians saw their movement having an effect on outer society. What fired the Rosicrucian Movement was the spiritual realization that without a new synthesis and outer expression of esoteric philosophy, the Mystery wisdom of the west which had been slowly gained over the centuries, would be entirely lost as an impulse in history.
Those who have studied the history of Science and Ideas will recognize the opening decades of the 17th century as the time when a certain philosophical step was taken, which transformed man's picture of the relation of his being to the cosmos. 

Part of this philosophical step was the establishment of the attitude of man as the Observer, standing outside of the processes in nature and the Cosmos, and it was upon this inner attitude, this step of separating oneself off from the living interrelationship of spiritual forces in the Cosmos, that was the foundation for the whole edifice of materialistic science. 
Thus at this time the Copernican picture of the Cosmos became accepted through the work of Kepler, which profoundly affected man's sense of his place in the scheme of things. Galileo pointed his telescope at the stars and saw only the physical body of the Cosmos, stripping it of its spiritual forces and beings, Descartes philosophically isolated man in his thinking from the Cosmic Intelligence.

Robed Fludd was profoundly aware of these forces that were working behind the outer realities of his day, preparing to cut man off from an awareness of the metaphysical. Thus he spiritually allied himself with the Rosicrucians and began to publish his vast tomes. His most important work was the History of Both Worlds - Of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm. 

Here he revealed in great detail the foundations of a spiritual science. Fludd tried to grasp in thought, ideas that could enable people to encounter the spiritual. He showed that in the idea of the Celestial Harmony, the Harmony of the Spheres, the inner structure of the Cosmos revealed the working of spiritual forces and beings, and if Man worked in his own realm to establish the forms of this Archetype, then he stood within his spiritual task, and his life and outer circumstances would take on this harmonious and creative spirit.

The world failed to respond to this spiritual impulse and Europe was plunged into the Thirty Years War. In Britain, puritanism cast a shadow over the freedom of thought and expression that had so characterized the early decades of the seventeenth century. However, Rosicrucianisn was not dead, but rather found new ways of working in the world, and in the works of Robert Fludd we have the encapsulation of a profound philosophy that still has its part to play in the evolution of the human soul. Rosicrucianism still exerts its influence today, and indeed has a special relevance to our present age, in that the impulse that gave rise to Rosicrucianism, and the forces that lead to the foundation of materialistic Science, both had their roots in the spiritual struggle that was worked out in the early seventeenth century.

This article was extracted from the Introduction by Adam McLean to the recently issued Mosaical Philosophy - Cabala by Robert Fludd, (Magnum Opus, Edinburgh 1979) From the The Hermetic Journal - Number 6, Winter 1979

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