Jacob Bohme's Biography (Photos)
Jacob Bohme (Boehme, Bohm, Behmen, Bome, Beme, etc.) may be considered as the central figure of Christian Mysticism. He was born 1575 at Old Seidenberg, two miles from Gorlitz, near the Bavarian border, in what was then German Prussia. Parents were poor peasants. His first experience was retirement into a cave, in the rock called Land's Crown, where he discovered a large wooden vessel full of money, from which he precipitately fled without touching it, as though it were something diabolical.
He told his companions, but when they attempted to find the spot, there was no cave to be found. Bohme had little schooling and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. One day a benevolent appearing man entered the shop, and beckoning Bohme aside said, "Jacob, thou art as yet but little; nevertheless, the time will come when thou shalt be great, and the world shall marvel at thee. Therefore, be pious, fear God, and reverence the Word. Read the Holy Scriptures diligently; in these thou shalt have comfort and instruction through the misery, poverty, and persecution which are in store for thee. Be courageous and persevere; God loves thee and is gracious unto thee." The stranger then disappeared leaving Bohme with the determination to be more studious and pious then ever.
In 1594 Bohme married the daughter of a tradesman, by whom he had four children. In 1598 he had his first real ecstasy, surrounded by the divine light, and beholding the nature and virtue of the vegetable world. A similar experience occurred in 1600 when he passed into the hypnotic state by accidentally fixing his eye on a burnished pewter dish. Ten years later his psychic visions had become much clearer and more tangible. From 1619 to 1624 he produced the "Mysterium Magnun" and the "Signatura Rerum." In 1624 he was attacked by fever at the house of a friend in Silesia, was carried at his own request to his hometown, and on the 22nd November expired in a semi-ecstatic condition. The following lines appear in the "Lives of Alchymistical Philosophers":
"Whate'er the Eastern Magi sought, Or Orpheus sung, or Hermes taught, Whate'er Confucius could inspire, Or Zoroaster's mystic fire;
The symbols that Pythagoras drew, The wisdom God-like Plato knew;
What Socrates debating proved, Or Epictetus lived and loved;
The sacred fire of saint and sage Through every clime, in every age, In Bohmen's wondrous page we view Discovered and revealed anew.
'Aurora' dawned the coming day;
Succeeding books meridian light display Ten thousand depths his works explore, Ten thousand truths unknown before, Through all his books profound we trace, The abyss of nature, God and Grace;
The seals are broke, the mystery's past, And all is now revealed at last, The trumpet sounds, the Spirit's given, And Bohmen is the voice from Heaven."