Petersburg, Valentin Tomberg made contact at an early age with idealistic communities engaged in Rosicrucian, Martinistic and Hermetic teachings. After the Bolshevistic Revolution in which he lost both his parents and brother, he moved to Estonia in to study comparative religion and philology. Among other things, he earned his living by working as a farmhand, teacher, artist, pharmacist and post office clerk. In he joined the Theosophical Society. He then turned his attention to the fundamental works of Rudolf Steiner.
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Yet, as we saw in the conversion of Rene Guenon , such a move cannot be understood in the conventional sense as the rejection of one thing and the adoption of another. Nevertheless, there are those who are convinced that Tomberg rejected so-called New Age teachings to become a Catholic, and therefore attempt to follow him in that path. As a matter of fact, it seems that the Internet is replete with converts or reverts who are quite enthusiastic in promoting their new-found faith, usually to excess.
The way of Hermeticism, solitary and intimate as it is, comprises authentic experiences from which it follows that the Roman Catholic Church is, in fact, a depository of Christian spiritual truth, and the more one advances on the way of free research for this truth, the more one approaches the Church.
Sooner or later one inevitably experiences that spiritual reality corresponds—with an astonishing exactitude —to what the Church teaches. He then lists several specific teachings: There are guardian angels There are saints who participate actively in our lives The Blessed Virgin is real, as she is understood, worshipped, and portrayed The sacraments are effective and there are seven of them The three sacred vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty constitute the very essence of all authentic spirituality Prayer is a powerful means of charity The ecclesiastical hierarchy reflects the celestial hierarchical order The Holy See and the papacy represent a mystery of divine magic Hell, purgatory, and heaven are realities The Master himself abides with his Church The Master is always findable and meetable there The Common Believer Any cursory reading of the Meditations shows that it is replete with references to ideas, systems, books, and people that are certainly precursors to the New Age teachings of today.
Yet Tomberg did not reject them in toto, not at all. The reasons for this must be explored in what follows. But first of all, note that Tomberg does not claim any sort of superiority; rather, he acknowledges a solidarity with common believers, as expressed in Letter IV. For the Hermetic-philosophical sense has more in common with the plain and sincere faith of simple people than abstract metaphysics has.
For the common believer, God lives; likewise for the Hermeticist. The believer addresses himself to saints and Angels; for the Hermeticist they are real. The believer believes in miracles; the Hermeticist lives in the presence of miracles.
The believer prays for the living and the dead; the Hermeticist dedicates all his efforts in the domain of sacred magic to the good of the living and the dead. The believer esteems all that which is traditional; the Hermeticist does likewise.
Rejection of Alternatives In the Introduction to Inner Development, we are informed that Tomberg initially tried to align himself with the Christian Community and then with Russian Orthodoxy. However, dogmas are not an affront to free will as the Community claims, but rather they are living symbols of a higher spiritual reality as Tomberg came to realize. Typically, organisations that reject dogmas tend to converge to liberalism. Tomberg attempted to work with the Christian Community by introducing a cult of Mary-Sophia.
Orthodoxy lacks a complete hierarchy, in particular, the papacy which Tomberg regards as a mystery of divine magic. From the esoteric perspective, this is a caricature of the true teaching, whose real source is suspect.
Most of the early popes came from the East; they were more aware of the celestial hierarchy and divine magic. Someday, there will be a Russian pope ruling in the first Rome. The Blessed Virgin Tomberg insists that the Blessed Virgin is real, as she is understood, worshipped, and portrayed in the Church. This means that he accepts the four Marian dogmas, not as beliefs but as a personal experience.
We would be given scapulars or medals. Tomberg describes the esoteric meaning of these promises: Every Hermeticist who truly seeks authentic spiritual reality will sooner or later meet the Blessed Virgin.
This meeting signifies, apart from the illumination and consolation that it comprises, protection against a very serious spiritual danger. This zone surrounds the earth as a belt of illusory mirages. The soul and the queen of this zone is in fact Babylon, the great prostitute, who is the adversary of the Virgin.
Mary is celebrated as the Queen of Heaven. Tomberg has a deeper insight that takes that teaching much further. In Letter XI, he asserts: The day when it is achieved will be the day of a new festival — the festival of the coronation of the Virgin on earth.
For then the principle of opposition will be replaced on earth by that of collaboration. This will be the triumph of life over electricity. Of course, this is confirmed in the Dogmatic Constitution, which calls Mary the Queen of the Universe.
The triumph of life over electricity refers to the Hermetic teaching of electricity, or electro-magnetism, arising from lower forces. Just as a reminder, Tomberg explains: The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil — the fruit of the polarity of opposites — is therefore electricity; and electricity entails fatigue, exhaustion.
Death is the price that is paid for the knowledge of good and evil, i. For it is electricity — physical, psychic and mental — which was introduced into the being of Adam-Eve. And it is thus that death entered into the domain of life-endowed Nature.
Therefore, the next dogma will be Mary as Co-Redemptrix. Way, Truth, and Life Tomberg rejected Anthroposophy although not Steiner himself , describing it as a movement for cultural reform art, education, medicine, agriculture deprived of living esotericism, i.
In other words, it has Truth but not the Life. It is locked in concepts, meaning that one learns the concepts first, then tries to have the experience, whereas it should be vice versa. Tomberg explained this in a letter to Bernhard Martin: First they [i.
And the spiritual world speaks in symbols—i. In other words, it is necessary to treat the concepts as symbols, as the symbol is understood in the Meditations. It is an invitation to a personal meditation, not a univocal concept to be learned. Thereby the third aspect of the indivisible threefoldness of the Way, the Truth, and the Life—namely Life—was not given enough attention.
For the scientific form into which the logic of the Logos had to be cast, and by which it was limited, left little room for pure mysticism and spiritual magic, that is, for Life.
So there is in Anthroposophy a magnificent achievement of thought and will—which is, however, unmystical and unmagical, i. Rudolf Steiner himself was conscious of this essential lack. Therefore, it was with a certain amount of hope that he indicated the necessary appearance of a successor the Bodhisattva , who would remedy this lack and would bring the trinity of the Way, the Truth, and the Life to full fruition.
Knowledge as Intuition Tomberg is trying to get us out of our heads in order to experience a higher type of knowledge. However, it does not count in the slightest way as knowledge let alone as the highest form of knowledge for the scientific disciplines—which, as such, lay claim to being of general validity. For the scientific approach is not to strive simply for the truth, but rather to strive for that brand of truth which is of general validity, i.
A scientific discipline—whether a spiritual-scientific or a natural-scientific discipline—does not want to, and is not able to, address itself only to those people who are capable of the concentration and inner deepening necessary for intuition. Were it to do so, it would then not be scientific, i.
Direct spiritual knowledge achieved through intuition is personal—never general or universal, i. That is why Hermetism is not one philosophical system among many systems, nor one scientific theory among other competing views, nor the foundation of a new religion.
In other words, it is not expansive in the horizontal sense, but rather a matter of depth, i.
Yet, as we saw in the conversion of Rene Guenon , such a move cannot be understood in the conventional sense as the rejection of one thing and the adoption of another. Nevertheless, there are those who are convinced that Tomberg rejected so-called New Age teachings to become a Catholic, and therefore attempt to follow him in that path. As a matter of fact, it seems that the Internet is replete with converts or reverts who are quite enthusiastic in promoting their new-found faith, usually to excess. The way of Hermeticism, solitary and intimate as it is, comprises authentic experiences from which it follows that the Roman Catholic Church is, in fact, a depository of Christian spiritual truth, and the more one advances on the way of free research for this truth, the more one approaches the Church. Sooner or later one inevitably experiences that spiritual reality corresponds—with an astonishing exactitude —to what the Church teaches.
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Petersburg, Russia. His parents were Lutheran , the mother was a Russian and the father an Estonian of German origin, he was an official in the Tsarist government. As an adolescent, Tomberg was drawn to Theosophy and the mystical practices of Eastern Orthodoxy. In he was initiated into Hermetic Martinism by Prof. He also discovered the works of Rudolf Steiner. In , Tomberg fled with his family to Tallinn in Estonia , where, searching for his mother who had left the house, he discovered her with her dog tied to a tree, both shot by Communist revolutionaries. Tomberg worked as a nurse at a hospital, in a pharmacy, on a farm and in the Tallinn Central Post Office.