Dutch article about the Silent Listener: the life and works of JHW Eldermans

Dutch article about the Silent Listener: the life and works of JHW Eldermans

Many thanks to Wilmar Taal for sharing this article and for the translation.  The article can be read in English below or in Dutch here: 

Haagse ‘magiër’ herleeft in Britse huis voor hekserij



The Silent Listener. The Life and Works of J.H.W. Eldermans – being the title of a book about Johannes Hendrik Willem Eldermans (1904-1985) from The Hague, which has been launched yesterday in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle (United Kingdom). Eldermans was a probation officer in The Hague and lived in the Van Reesstraat in Bezuidenhout and became postumously known thanks to a donation of thousands of drawings, manuscripts and sketches and some 150 sculptures to the British museum for Witchcraft. The collection amazed experts in the field of Hermetic sciences like Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol) and Wouter Hanegraaff (University of Amsterdam). The new book is written in English for the reason that Eldermans is better known abroad than in his own former homestead The Hague.

Although some publications appeared in 1986 and 1989 with drawings by Eldermans (Greet Buchner’s Witches herbs and Henriëtte Gorter’s To see gnomes is to look in a different way) Johannes Hendrik Willem Eldermans (190-1985) became known after the year 2000 in circles of witchcraft and esoterics. That year a bequest of Bob Laurentius Richel is donated to the Museum of Witchcraft, in which many works by Eldermans. Professor Ronald Hutton thought the collection to be of great importance and Dr. Wouter Hanegraaff sent student Tessel Bauduin to Boscastle to help catalogue this collection. In 2010 a book about Eldermans appears from Three hands Press, titled The Occult Reliquary and in 2012 Eldermans becomes better known due to his involvement with the research on the Round House near Nunspeet. In 2014 Wilmar Taal MA starts with a research into Eldermans’ life and works. This research will lead him to archives from Leeuwarden to Tilburg and from Rotterdam to Almelo. The research even crosses the countries boundaries as collections in Switzerland, Austria, France and Great Britain need to be studied.

414 pages

This resulted in the new book by Wilmar Taal consisting of 414 pages. Many stories about the life of Eldermans have been thoroughly researched and placed in a correct perspective. Where many thought him to be a top civil servant he appeared to be a simple probation officer. Who thought he was a member of secret societies will find out his spare time was mostly filled with drawing and writing. And those who think he was a magician might be disappointed he only studied magic and didn’t practice it. His heritage is mildly spoken impressive. Of his enormous collection of drawings, sketches, manuscripts and objects are around 6000 pages recovered. Part of it is in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, another substantial part is in the Zentralbibliothek in Zürich, Switzerland, a thousand pages are in private property in Austria and there are many more smaller collectors and museums who own some works by Eldermans. And then the family had kept some of his things. An oversight is given in the second part of the book. In the last part the legacy of Eldermans is the subject: the stories that go around and his importance for esoterics.

W.B.J. Taal MA (1969) studied Cultural Studies at the Open University The Netherlands and graduated in 2004 specialized in History, Literature and Philosophy.

The book is available from the Museum’s online shop:

The Silent Listener Paperback

The Silent Listener Hardback


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