It is very difficult to gauge an estimate of how many people outside of Scandinavia are familiar with Martinus’s works – and it is even more difficult to find out what any of those people think about those works. Still, I put out a short survey asking people about how Martinus’s works and ideas had impacted on their lives and in this short article for the general reader I share what I found.
In short, respondents talked about how ‘invaluable’ Martinus Cosmology was for them, and how it simplified their spiritual journey.
Whilst this was only an informal study conducted for this website, its results suggest interesting avenues for further, more formal research.
Current literature on Martinus’s influence
Whilst the academic research literature into Martinus Cosmology is very small, it does provide some indication of how many people have been interested in this work and what might account for the relatively small size of that interest up to now.
One study explicitly talks about the numbers of people showing up as interested or at least aware of Martinus’s works. Bertelsen describes how difficult it is to estimate numbers, but highlights how around 400 people attended Martinus’s 70th birthday celebration, 1200 people his 90th, and how about 1400 people attended his funeral in 1981 (2016). Hammer (2009) also affirms the 90th birthday and funeral attendance figures. Bertelsen also quotes a Danish newspaper estimate from 2005 that about ‘2,000 people at that time participated in study groups based on Martinus Cosmology’ (2016).
In terms of wider interest, Hammer speaks of Martinus as having gained some ‘celebrity’ in Denmark and as being ‘so well known in his own country that his name is a household word among “spiritual seekers”‘ (2009). Martinus Cosmology also shows up on the radar of the Danish Pluralism Project, a collective research project which was launched in 2002 at Aarhus University. This perhaps gives a further indication of what Hammer writes about Martinus Cosmology, how ‘From the 1970s and beyond, Martinus Cosmology has entered into the common cultural pool of resources from which modern “spiritual seekers” can pick and choose’ (2015).
We can conclude from these studies that interest in and awareness of Martinus Cosmology is very likely to be much bigger than extant studies have been able to record, but that further research and data collection is needed before anything reliable can be said about it.
A number of reasons for the lack of data about interest in Martinus Cosmology have been suggested. First, as noted by Bertelsen (2016), because Martinus Cosmology does not involve any kind of membership, it is not possible to estimate the size of interest via this route.
Second, as also noted by Bertelsen, ‘Martinus wished that his person or work should not be made into an object of any association, new religion, sect, or global organisation’, which contributes to his work maintaining a relative anonymity.
Third, it may well be that the issue of language presents as a factor. As Hammer points out, Martinus’s analytic style ‘makes few concessions to the more casual reader’ (2015). Certainly, when placed next to some of the more popular forms of contemporary spirituality found in mainstream bookstores, Martinus’s texts present a more challenging read.
Given this context of few studies into the issue and the possible reasons for low exposure outside of Scandinavia, it is perhaps particularly difficult at this time to expect large respondent numbers to any survey on the impact of Martinus Cosmology.
Study Method and Results
The study centred around asking four basic questions:
1. Generally, how important or valuable has Martinus’s work been to you?
2. Can you think of examples of any personal problems or issues or concerns you had that reading Martinus’s works helped with?
3. How have Martinus’s ideas influenced you in your life or your spiritual journey?
4. Is there anything else you can think of or that you’d like to add about how valuable or useful Martinus’s works have been to you personally?
Using a strategy of convenience and snowball sampling (which involves asking people you know for participation), and messaging via Facebook, two respondents provided written responses. Results were anonymised for this report.
Importance and value
Responses indicated the very high value (‘It is absolutely invaluable to me’) and importance that Martinus’s work had for people. Martinus’s work was considered to help make sense of life and to provide hope. One respondent wrote how ‘I dread to think of life without it’. It was also seen to possibly help ‘save people from falling into depression and despair’.
In terms of what personal support respondents felt it provided to them, a key theme was that Martinus Cosmology provided inspiration and courage to deal with the most challenging situations in life through forgiveness. Particular support in the areas of helping to understand sexuality, relationships and marriage, as well as parenthood, also emerged.
Influence on the spiritual journey
Both respondents talked about how Martinus Cosmology helped them connect with prayer and connection to a higher power. Respondents also talk about how, in using Martinus Cosmology, there is felt to be little need to rely on special meditation techniques. Instead, acquiring a simpler, but also broader understanding of what is ‘good’ or ‘right’ through Martinus Cosmology seems to have helped respondents gain a simple focus for their spiritual life.
Both respondents emphasized that Martinus Cosmology helped them gain a greater awareness of how they behaved with regard to what Martinus calls the microcosmos, in addition to the mesocosmos and microcosmos. In other words, how they behaved with reference to their own bodies, their fellow beings and the world around them. Tolerance as a behaviour featured prominently in their responses, and one respondent mentioned how Martinus’s analyses helped validate adopting a vegetarian diet.
Whilst this study had only a few respondents, such that it is not possible to make any general claims for its results, it does show how, for those that did respond, Martinus Cosmology offers a highly valuable resource for making sense of the world and one’s own life in it.
Further research is needed to investigate more into what that value could consist of, and how prevalent it is amongst groups of people interested in Martinus’s teachings as well as society at large.
Bertelsen, H. (2016) ‘Chapter 32: Martinus Cosmology’, in Bogdan, H. and Hammer, O. (eds) Western Esotericism in Scandinavia. Boston: BRILL, pp. 254–263.
Hammer, O. (2009) Danish Esotericism in the 20th Century: The Case of Martinus, Hermes in the Academy: Ten Years’ Study of Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. Edited by W. Hanegraaff and J. Pijnenburg. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Hammer, O. (2015) ‘Martinus Cosmology’, in Handbook of Nordic New Religions. Leiden, The Netherlands: BRILL, pp. 58–61.