Lecture series on freemasonry at the Leiden University

[Update 5-9-2009: Please note that this lecture series has been postponed.]

The chair for the History of Freemasonry as an Intellectual Current and Socio-cultural Phenomenon at the Leiden University will offer a lecture series after the summer: Freemasonry: Its History of Ideas and Cultural Heritage . The lectures are presented by prof. dr. Malcolm Davies and will this time be offered in the English language in order to allow international students can participate. The program is as follows:

- 11 September: Introduction: What is freemasonry? A short history;
- 18 September: Symbols in freemasonry; an explanation of the most well-known symbols;
- 25 September: The rituals of freemasonry, origin, form and content;
- 2 October: Music and freemasonry; the music of Naumann, Nicolaï, Sibelius, Pijper and others;
- 9 October: The poetry of freemasonry, songs and short poems for lodge use. The longer (celebratory) poems and cantatas;
- 16 October: Plays with freemasonry as a topic; actors and musicians;
- 23 October: Freemasonry in literature, from Telemachus via the ‘Bildungsroman’ to Dutch literature in the 20th century;
- 30 October: Freemasonry and esotericism in art. The tableau. The exhibitions of the ‘Ordre de la Rose-Croix Catholique, de Temple et du Gral’;
- 6 November: Freemasonry and the esoteric in architecture;
- 13 November: Mozart and freemasonry, his cantatas, funeral music and opera;
- 20 November: The history of ideas in freemasonry (1);
- 27 November: The history of ideas in freemasonry (2).

This lecture series is open to both regular students and listeners. On completion students are aware of the structure, symbolism and cultural heritage of freemasonry as an important social phenomenon. They will be aware of the role of freemasonry and related esoteric currents in European society. They have investigated the forms of ritual, writings, music, drama and art of freemasonry from primary sources. In the case of ritual and drama the investigation will include an element of re-creation. Students will gain a knowledge of the most important secondary sources. For assessment students will have the choice of a written examination or a research paper.

Registration is obligatory, participation costs are (for non-students) € 175, -. For further information or to apply please contact the Institute of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities: Mrs. Dr. J.G. Mooi, by email j.g.mooi@let.leidenuniv.nl, or by phone: + 31 71 5272570.

Decision on Dutch masonic heritage postponed

The planned move of the Cultural Masonic Centre from The Hague has (fortunately) been postponed!
As mentioned earlier on this blog, the Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands is planning to move its offices and historical collections to a lodge building elsewhere in the Netherlands. This plan has caused concerns in both masonic and academic circles. Not only because this would sever the nearly 300-year old cultural and historical ties between the collections and The Hague, but would also mean a physical separation from related museum and archive collections, as well as nearby University Chairs for the field of study. The fact that the criteria for proposals to be submitted for the new housing did not include clear guidelines to ensure professional, museum standard facilities for this internationally renowned collection, was especially worrysome.
At the yearly meeting of lodges in 2008 members voted on proposals for the new housing as submitted by delegates of various provinces. The plans from the lodges in Bilthoven and Arnhem were selected to be explored further. Since then, the Grand Lodge has studied these concepts and decided that new facts and changed circumstances were a reason to advice its members to vote against these plans in the yearly meeting of 2009. In June the plans were indeed rejected. Instead, it was decided to form a committee which will take a fresh look at the criteria for the new housing. More importantly, the committee will consider if it is really necessary to house the collection at the same location at the Order's offices, as both have very different needs.
Since the plan was first introduced, the OVN Foundation has made a plea for the cultural and historical importance of the collection, as well as the unbreakable ties with The Hague and the physical needs of this unique Dutch heritage to be the foundation of the decisions process. The OVN is therefore delighted at the news, although the postponement does not take away any of the concerns for the future of the collection. Hopefully the committee will not be limited to include the usual knowleadgable members of the Order, but will also invite independent specialists from the (profane) museum and heritage sector to provide expert advice. Perhaps then the scenario of a looming cultural disaster can still be avoided.

Conference: Hermes in the Academy

How time flies! It is already ten years ago that the Chair for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents was founded at the University of Amsterdam. During the last decade, the chair has made a considerable contribution to the field of study by setting up a BA- and MA-trajectory on the history of Western Esotericism, by publishing the succesfull Aries journal and book series in cooperation with Brill Academic Publishers, by organizing numerous conferences and by stimulating the foundation of ESSWE. Not to mention the many publications produced by the chair's research team... The chair also supported and joined the activities of the OVN during this time.
To mark this milestone, the chair will host a conference on the theme of Hermes in the Academy on 28th August 2009 in Amsterdam, and will also present a book on the subject.
More information and the full program are available at the chair's website. Please note that early registration is required.