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The Chymische Hochzeit as Mystification

Project by Prof. Dr. Volkhard Wels

The project focuses on Johann Valentin Andreaes Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosenkreutz Anno 1459 (print 1616). This text – the term ‘novel’ should be avoided due to its ahistorical connotations – is considered in many interpretations as an encrypted representation of religious truths, mystical experiences or even an expression of divine revelations. Already a few years after its publication, the text was interpreted as an encrypted representation of the (al)chemical process leading to the Philosopher’s Stone. In numerous scientific publications it is considered an expression of mysticism or is understood in the sense of spiritualist piety.

The objective of the project however is – in the sense of the research program of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) – to embed the knowledge, displayed is this text, in the literature and chymistry of the time. By the exposition of its historical context, by providing sources and parallels, the Chymische Hochzeit should become visible as a book of riddles, as an expression of a contemporary fascination with every kind of riddles, as a sort of ‘playing around’ (ludibrium) with the visual worlds of chymistry.

The hypothesis is therefore that, regarding the Chymische Hochzeit, we are not dealing with mysticism, but with mystification in the sense, that hiding behind the ciphers of the text is a somehow higher, somehow mysterious knowledge.