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“Each man is a memory to himself.” — William Wordsworth
This study presents the first in-depth exploration of the famous 18th century occult order of the Asiatic Brethren in English language. It provides detailed background on the influences on this order from both Sabbatianism and Frankism, an overview on its magical and kabbalistic teachings as well as the lives of its founding fathers. Sources are extensively quoted and material for further study is provided at the end.
Much has been written about this order and many have hailed it as a critical link between late Renaissance magic and our modern occult traditions in the West. Due to the rarity of the original order's German-language documents and because they were never meant for publication most of them have been almost completely inaccessible to scholars until the advent of the digital age. Even today collations of folio pages of the original documents are traded for thousands of Dollars on the antique book-market.
As a native German speaker I began my own research into the order's original materials as well as more recent publications on them in 2013. To my surprise what I found were two things above all: (1) Much of the authentic material of the order had never been published or even partially translated into English. (2) However, many of the online sources commenting on the order and interpreting their impact and influence were written by English speakers who quoted other English speakers as their reference.
As I dug deeper into the fascinating past of this order and its intriguing connections to other heretic currents of the 17th and 18th century, I began to organise the material for my own use. Finally I decided to summarise much of what I had learned and to publish it as an essay online - including as much reference, translated quotes and first-hand analysis of the genuine sources as possible.
Looking back most of all this work taught me two things: First, that most stories as legendary and mythical as they might sound initially still contain at least a small grain of truth. And secondly, often this grain of truth has no resemblance whatsoever to the stories we tell ourselves or call 'our tradition'.
Before we start out, let me emphasise that this essay is flawed. It is flawed because I am not an academic student of religious history and because I could only piece this work together during rare private time. It is also flawed because I don't speak Hebrew - a fact in itself that should disqualify me for much of this work. On the other hand, however, at least I am a native German and thus was able to explore all the first-hand sources of the Asiatic Brethren as far as I had access to them. Finally - and maybe most importantly - what might give me some permission to do this work is being unbiased: I don't hold any occult agenda or affiliation. I am not part of any occult order and have no interest in occult lineages.
What drives me is to better understand what drove the occult practitioners before us. If we are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, it would be good to understand where these giants came from? And wether it's worthwhile being passively carried around by them? Or wether it could be more adventurous to jump off these ancient shoulders - break free from assumed traditions - and find our own paths? After all, for the last two millennial magic has been the discipline of heresy.We might want to be careful with acknowledging any orthodoxy; especially when it comes to our own occult past.
May the serpent bite its tail.
Note: This eBook was first published in 2014 as a study on theomagica.com. For the best reading experience I recommend to access the online version of the articles linked below - as these feature plenty of additional images and background information that could not be integrated into the static PDF-eBook.
or continue to read online…
1. Introduction: A Curious Theory about Collective Memory
2. Prelude: Getting to know the Asiatic Brethren
3.1 Excursus 1: On Sabbatianism
3.1.1. An Abbreviated Overview
3.1.2 On the Treatise of Dragons
3.2 Excursus 2: On Frankism
3.2.1 The Early Years
3.2.2 The Female God
3.2.3 The Asiatic Connection
4. On the Founding Fathers of the Asiatic Brethren
5. On the Teachings of the Asiatic Brethren
5.1 On the Order's Titles and Grades
5.2 On the Content of their Teachings
5.3 The Asiatic Brethren as a Theosophic Order
5.4 The Asiatic Brethren's Magical Teachings
5.5. The Asiatic Brethren's Kabbalistic Teachings
6. General Conclusions