Freher’s Paradoxical Emblems

February 8th, 2007

Two emblems from Dionysius Andreas Freher’s Paradoxa Emblemata (71 and 76), written in the early 18th century. Through a sequence of 153 such emblems, Freher (born 1649) illustrates Jakob Böehme‘s mystical cosmology: a progression beginning at a natural unity, differentiating via free will—even rebellion, and finally returning to a more sublime unity.

Perpetuum Mobile

What Thou hast of One yield to that One again, if thou intendest to keep it. Only by doing so canst thou be a perpetuum Mobile.

Although distributed amongst his peers in manuscript form, Paradoxa Emblemata was never published. The emblems here are taken from Adam McLean‘s hand-bound edition, produced in 1983, and based on manuscript 5789 in the British Library.

Out of the Center

From whence is this & that, if not out of the Center?

“When one… begins to use these [emblems] in meditation, as opposed to merely intellectualising over them, one will find that it is difficult to exhaust the implications of each emblem. …The meditator will find the sequence to slowly unfold its beauty of construction and see how each step builds upon the former… to… sense the inner architecture of the emblems…” (McLean introduction, p6).

10 Responses to “Freher’s Paradoxical Emblems”

  1. Guido the Dragonslayer Says:

    While the quoted commentary initially turned me off, I find myself quite enamored with the plates – any chance that I could get a link to the rest of them?

    Didn’t know you were still into the esoteric stuff – that surprised me.

  2. Greg Pass Says:

    Guido —

    You’ll find several of the plates around the web, but not the entire set; a few libraries have the complete manuscript (I can look this up if you like); buying the McLean edition is probably your best option.

    As for the esoterics: yes and no. From the point of view of a philosophia perennis, something of “it” is there.

  3. myspider Says:

    “What thou hast of One yield to that One again, if thou intendest to keep it. Only by so doing canst thou be a Perpetuum Mobile ”

    —Philalethes, Magia Adamica, 1650

  4. Greg Pass Says:

    myspider —

    Like Freher, Thomas Vaughan (a.k.a. Eugenius Philalethes) was influenced by Böehme.

    I can’t find the quote anywhere in Magia Adamica (Google Books has it available as a PDF), or in the other books in the PDF (Anthroposophia Theomagia, etc.). Perhaps your source is incorrect?

  5. Mirco Says:

    Talking of Boehme, quite recently I got interested
    in Ephrata, a mystic community operating in south Pennsylvania around the eighteen century.

    Their leader,Conrad Beissel,was influenced by Boehme
    & the Philadelphian Society. Ephrata developed its own form of calligraphy and emblematic writing, known as Fraktur.Perhaps a few Fraktur samples could enrich your site:

  6. Greg Pass Says:

    Thanks very much, Mirco. I will investigate this further.

  7. Psychology Says:

    The emblems symbolise the natural laws of the universe i.e. Law of divine oneness, law of abundance, law of relativity and cause and effect(the one is capable of both this and that), etc.

  8. Daniel Says:

    I have been researching some of these paradoxical emblems and i might have found something! i will post back with my findings.

  9. Daniel Says:

    this is what i have found so far:

    paradoxical emblems of freher
    D. A. Freher was one of the most important of those who worked and followed in the stream of mysticism initiated by Jacob Boehme. He had a gift for illustrating mystical ideas in pictorial form, and he applied this to Boehme’s work in creating a series of ‘Paradoxical Emblems’, consisting of 153 emblematic diagrams each bearing a short line of text. Though prepared in the early 18th century for publication, regrettably they never appeared in print. These emblems are a coherent integrated system of interior exercises. Each of these focusses on a simple fundamental spiritual statement, of which Freher gives us the essence in a picture for us to meditate upon. The sequence of 153 emblems begins with Emblem 1 the point everywhere in empty space and the maxim of Hermes Trismegistus “The Center of Centres is everywhere, the Circumference is nowhere”, and ends with emblem 152-3 “All things were, are and will Be, out of the One, through One and to One”.

  10. Mothy Says:

    I am about to undertake a study of this text and wonder if you would be interested in my progress, I hope a bit of feedback will help me out as well

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