Jan van Rijckenborgh – Rosicrucian and Hermetic Gnostic

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Jan van Rijckenborgh portrait
Jan van Rijckenborgh (1868-1968)

Jan van Rijckenborgh’s real name was Jan Leene (1896-1968). As co-founder and spiritual leader of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum his life’s work was building, together with Catharose de Petri (1902-1990), the International School of the Golden Rosycross.

Jan van Rijckenborgh was born in Haarlem, The Netherlands. Even as a young man, he was seeking for truth and the deep meaning of life. The discrepancy between theory of faith and the actual life which the young Jan Leene recognized very often among theologians and believers, alienated him from the Reformed Church which his parents belonged to. He did not attack the Church of his parents, but he decided for himself to truly practise the life that was preached in theory there.

He found important impulses in the statements of the Reformed preacher Professor Dr. Arnold Hendrik de Hartog (1869-1938). De Hartog built on the ideas of Jacob Boehme, whose hermetic concept of two nature orders also inspired him. These ideas became decisive for his spiritual orientation.

Spiritual roots and decisive encounters

His spiritual search led Jan Leene, together with his brother Zwier Willem (‘Wim’, 1892-1938), to the Rozekruisers Genootschap, the Dutch affiliation of Max Heindel’s Rosicrucian Fellowship of Oceanside, California. He joined this community in 1924, and in 1929 became its director. 1924 also was the year of his marriage to Joan Ames. The couple had a son and a daughter.

During that time, the Leene brothers intensively studied the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Max Heindel and Rudolf Steiner, as well as the Rosicrucian Manifestos and the writings of Comenius and Paracelsus. These spiritual streams, alongside the works of Jacob Boehme, formed the roots of further development.

On Christmas Eve 1930, Henriette Stok-Huizer (1902-1990) met the Leene brothers for the first time and joined them in sharing their ‘methodic pilgrimage’. Later she adopted the spiritual name Catharose de Petri. In 1935, all three of them left the Rosicrucian Fellowship and founded, in Haarlem, the organisation that was later to be called the International School of the Golden Rosycross, Lectorium Rosicrucianum.

In connection with the attitude to their work and their motivation Jan van Rijckenborgh wrote:

“We are undertaking a deliberate, methodical pilgrimage. We do not want to die anymore, and we do not want to live. We do not want to be found anywhere, not in any single sphere of this nature order. … We have found this nature as a nature of death. … So we were obliged to investigate the ancient Tao objectively and not according to instructions from authorities. … The study clearly showed that, apart from this nature order, there is an original kingdom, a kingdom far outside the territory of the Nirvana, a realm which differs very substantially from this nature with its two spheres … ”

This quote very clearly shows the Gnostic message of Jan van Rijckenborgh, which became the core element of the originality of his Rosicrucian teachings in the 20th Century. The definite focus and the clear fire with which he transmitted this message in countless speeches, inspired and stimulated the people who listened to him. He always put the emphasis on the aspect of realization: It’s not the philosophy that is liberating, but the deed alone.

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