With the Adepts
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Pages (PDF): 100
Publication Date: 1910
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This, the third of Hartmann's books, and the first with a fictional setting, begins with a journey in the Alps. The narrator meets a mysterious dwarf. The dwarf takes him to an Adept who resides in a hidden Rosicrucian colony high in the mountains. This Adept proceeds to expound on the Rosicrucian way, including Alchemy, Elementals and the acquisition of psychic powers. There is a demonstration of the transmutation of silver into gold using a red powder. The narrator also meets some of other residents, including two mysterious women who have vivid memories of their past lives, and the doppelganger of the Adept, who sends the narrator on a hallucinogenic night journey to the Indian ocean where he consorts with water spirits.
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I AM penning these lines in a little village in the Alpine mountains, in Southern Bavaria, and only a short distance from the Austrian frontier. The impressions I received yesterday are still fresh in my mind; the experiences which caused them were as real to me as any other experience caused by the events of every-day life; nevertheless, they were of such an extraordinary character that I cannot persuade myself that they were more than a dream.
Having finished the long and tedious labour of investigating the history of the Rosicrucians, and studying old worm-eaten books, mouldy manuscripts hardly legible from age, passing days and parts of night in convent libraries and antiquarian shops, collecting and copying everything that seemed to be of any value for my object in view, and having at last finished my task, I made up my mind to grant to myself a few holidays, and to spend them among the sublime scenery of the Tyrolian Alps.
The mountains were not yet free from snow, although the spring had advanced; but I was anxious to escape the turmoil and noise of the city, to breathe once more the pure and exhilarating air of the mountain heights, to see the shining glaciers glistening like vast mirrors in the light of the rising sun, and to share the feeling of the poet Byron when he wrote the following verses:--
"He who ascends to mountain tops shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapp’d in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind
Must look down on the hate of those below;
Though high above the sun of glory glow,
And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to these summits led."
Boarding the train, I soon arrived at the foot of the hills. Thence I wandered on foot, highly enjoying the change from the smoky atmosphere of the crowded streets to the fresh air of the country, pregnant with the odour of the pines and the daisies, the latter of which were appearing in places from which the snow was gone. The road led up through the valley of the river, and, as I advanced, the valley grew narrower and the sides of the mountain steeper. Here and there were clusters of farmhouses, and some rustic cottages clinging to the projecting rocks of the mountains as if seeking protection against the storms which often blow through these valleys. The sun was sinking down below the western horizon, and gilded the snowy peaks of the mountains and the brazen cross on the top of the spire of the little village church, from which tolled the curfew, or, as it is here called, the Ave Maria, when I arrived at the place selected as a starting-point for my excursions into the mountains.
Finding a hospitable reception in the village inn, I soon retired to rest, and awoke early in the morning, having been aroused from my sleep by the tinkling of little bells hanging around the necks of the goats which were sent out to their pasturage. I arose and stepped to the window. The shadows of night were fleeing before the approach of the coming sun; the dawn had begun, and before me in sublime array stood the grand old peaks of the mountains, reminding me of Edwin Arnold's description of the view to be had from the windows of Prince Siddârtha's palace, Vishramvan. There the grand mountains stood:--
"Ranged in white ranks against the blue-untrod
Infinite, wonderful--whose uplands vast,
And lifted universe of crest and crag,
Shoulder and shelf, green slope and icy horn,
Riven ravine and splintered precipice,
Led climbing thought higher and higher, until
It seemed to stand in heaven and speak with gods."
Soon I was on the way, and wandered farther up through the valley along the river-bed; but the river was here merely a small stream, rushing and dancing wildly over the rocks, while farther down, where it had grown big, it flowed in tranquil majesty through the plains. The valley through which I wandered seemed to cut through long ranges of mountains, and other valleys opened into this. Some of these valleys were known to me, for I had roamed through them and explored their mysterious recesses, caves, and forests some twenty years ago; but there was one mysterious valley which had not yet been explored by me, and which led towards a high, bifurcated mountain peak, whose summit was said to be inaccessible, and upon which the foot of no mortal had ever trod. Towards this valley I seemed to be attracted by some invisible but irresistible power. I felt as if, in its unexplored depths at the foot of this inaccessible mountain, the secret and undefined longings of my heart were to be satisfied; as if there a mystery was to be revealed to me, whose solution could not be found in books.
The sun had not yet risen above the horizon, and the dark woods to the right and left were of a uniform colour. As I entered the narrow, mysterious valley, the path rose gradually, leading through a dark forest along the side of a mountain. Slowly and almost imperceptibly it ascended; at first it was near the rushing stream, but as I progressed the roar of the torrent sounded more and more distant; the foaming stream itself seemed to sink farther down. At last the forest became thinner, and the dark woods were now far below me; but before me and above the intervening trees rose the naked cliffs of the inaccessible mountain. Still the path led up higher. Soon the distant noise of a waterfall was heard, and I approached again the bed of the mountain stream, which, however, now seemed to be a mass of rocks, split into pieces by some giant power, lying about in wild confusion, while the white foam of the water danced between the cliffs.
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