History of the collection: Apart from an older section on witchcraft, the collection was gradually built up after c. 1900.
Size: The collection comprises about 6,000 titles.
Accessibility: The books are listed in the online public catalogue. Except for a few early and valuable books, the rest of the books can be taken out on loan.
More information: Anna Rademakers 070-3140780
Balthasar Bekker, De betoverde weereld. Amsterdam, 1691. Title page. Shelf mark: 389 D 12.
J.B. Ulrich, Het nieuw waarzeggend heidinnetje. Rotterdam. Title page. Shelf mark: 897 F 58.
Emblem of the Netherlands Theosophical Society.
Although the province of the occult sciences is difficult to delineate or define, a closer definition might be based on the fact that since the earliest times there have been people or groups who claimed to be in possession of knowledge revealed or accessible to them alone that far transcended generally recognized reality. In addition to being in possession of divine and cosmic secrets, they attempted to apply their acquired knowledge to practical situations, as in the form of magic.
Although these activities are usually dismissed by the official sciences as pseudo-science, it cannot be denied that they have had a profound effect on human thought and action throughout the centuries. In Europe there has been a renewed interest in various forms of esoteric knowledge since the Romantic period, often as a reaction to an increase in materialism in the sciences, which are experienced as 'cold' and 'intellectualistic'.
The Koninklijke Bibliotheek pays special attention to the occult sciences from a cultural-historical point of view. The collection comprises about 6,000 titles in the realm of parapsychology and spiritualism, magic and witchcraft (including a collection of writings by and about Balthasar Bekker, 1634-1698, author of De betoverde wereld, 1691, and one of the first to challenge the persecution of witches), astrology and other forms of predicting the future, Freemasonry, theosophy and anthroposophy. The collection was greatly enhanced in recent years with the acquisition of the library of the well-known student of parapsychology GAM Zorab (1898-1990), donated in 1990, and through a loan agreement made with the Netherlands Theosophical Society. Approximately fifteen metres of books were received from the Order of the Freemasons in 1991, taken from the general section of the Order's library. In earlier years the Order had donated a number of periodicals.
In all these areas there has been a virtually complete representation of works in the Dutch language since the establishment of the Deposit Library in the seventies.
'R.A. Reddingius, ophthalmologist 1866-1939. G.A.M. Zorab, parapsychologist 1898-1990'. In: Collectors and collections. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1789-1998. Zwolle : Waanders, 1998, p. 102-103.