Browse our members' publications
Conference and publication discouts. Learn more >>
Read Aries online
Donate online or obtain our bank account and PayPal details. More information >>
The historiographers of religious studies have written the history of this discipline primarily as a rationalization of ideological, most prominently theological and phenomenological ideas: first through the establishment of comparative, philological and sociological methods and secondly through the demand for intentional neutrality. This interpretation caused important roots in occult-esoteric traditions to be repressed.
This process of “purification” (Latour) is not to be equated with the origin of the academic studies. De facto, the elimination of idealistic theories took time and only happened later. One example concerning the early entanglement is Tibetology, where many researchers and respected chair holders were influenced by theosophical ideas or were even members of the Theosophical Society. Similarly, the emergence of comparatistics cannot be understood without taking into account perennialist ideas of esoteric provenance, which hold that all religions have a common origin.
In this perspective, it is not only the history of religious studies which must be revisited, but also the partial shaping of religious studies by these traditions, insofar as it saw itself as a counter-model to occult ideas.
To download please visit the publisher's website:
Aesthetic and Scientific Epistemologies of the Occult in the XIX Century
ETH Online Lecture Series, Spring 2021
We invite you to the Spring 2021 edition of our ongoing lecture series, as we continue our enquiry into aesthetic and scientific epistemologies of the occult during the long nineteenth century. On Tuesday evenings in May, through our second online series, we present approaches to the subject that combine methodologies drawn from art history, religious studies, media theory, anthropology and science studies. In our first lecture, anthropologist, Ehler Voss will take a look at the opposing views of two Californian magicians by relating them to nineteenth-century debates surrounding the credibility of magical practices. In the second lecture, with an approach similarly grounded in religious anthropology, Erin Yerby will investigate the role of the body as medium in the American Spiritualist tradition, which she contextualizes within broader Protestant-inflected iconoclastic tradition. In our third lecture, art historian, Victoria Ferentinou will explore the influence of esoteric discourses on artistic theory and practice of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her focus will be on the painting and theory of the Greek symbolist, Frixos Aristeus (1879-1951). Finally, in the fourth lecture, historian of religion, Marco Pasi will consider the presence of occult-related themes in the oeuvre of the late contemporary artist, Chiara Fumai (1978-2017).
Please register by mail at email@example.com
Registration is mandatory for participants.
Event website: lit.ethz.ch/occultism
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Prof. Dr. Ehler Voss, University of Bremen
“Magic Tipping Points. On Deceptions and Detections.”
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Dr. Erin Yerby, Rice University
“The Body as Spectral Shape: Spiritualist Mediumship and Anglo-American Iconoclasm.”
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Prof. Dr. Victoria Ferentinou, University of Ioannina
“‘Colours are Things’: The Visionary Art of Frixos Aristeus.”
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Prof. Dr. Marco Pasi, University of Amsterdam
“‘Witchcraft with Capital W’: The Magical Art of Chiara Fumai.”
The lecture series is organized by Chloë Sugden, Jonas Stähelin and Andreas Kilcher as part of the SNSF project "Scientification and Aestheticization of 'Esotericism' in the long 19th century".
Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in cooperation with
Czech Association for Social Anthropology - Anthropology of Religion, Magic and Supernatural Network
European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism - The Central and Eastern European Network
CALL FOR PAPERS
for the 4th CEENASWE conference
OCCULTISM AND POLITICS IN EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE
27 – 29 September 2021, Prague
Since the nineteenth century, East-Central Europe has experienced rapid social, political, and economic changes, which caused transformation and transformations in local societies. Rising nationalism culminating in the Revolutionary year 1848, echoes of the Romantic movement, ongoing industrialisation, First World War, the emergence of national states and disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later followed by the World War Two and establishment of the socialist regimes represent some of the key milestones the region went through. New sciences emerged, and local intellectuals also tried to cope with the impetuses from the discoveries in the Orient. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the rise of occultism and its further spread throughout Europe represented a peculiar reaction to some mentioned milestones. Local states dealt with these occult and esoteric movements differently, from suppression to silent support, and the movements themselves had various ideas about the meaning and aims of nations. We wish to investigate the links between the state, power, and occult and esoteric ideas, movements, and key figures more closely in this conference.
Focusing on the occultism and esotericism in East-Central Europe since the mid-nineteenth-century till now, we invite scholars to share their research which addresses the following topics:
• Tensions between or calls for nationalism and/or transnationalism in the occult and esoteric movements;
• Attitudes of various state bodies (republics, empires or totalitarian regimes) to occultism and esotericism, from suppression to support;
• Practising occultism or esotericism under socialist regimes;
• Case studies of influential movements, persons, or ideas either originating or being adopted in East-Central Europe;
• Critical reflection of the scholarship concerning occultism and esotericism in East-Central Europe.
We accept both individual papers (20min presentation + 10 mins for discussion) and panels of three scholars maximum (90mins altogether, open panel’s format: from standard closely-related papers presentation to a discussion table – negotiable with organisers).
250 words abstract, together with institutional affiliation and contact details.
250 words for the panel description and 150 words for each paper
250 words description of the panel and 250–400 words detailed description of the proposed questions, topics, and course of
Please, kindly submit your papers or panel via this https://forms.gle/rUSFr9AhLj7GqBzc9
There is no registration fee; however, the limiting number of participants is between
20–25, hence, please, make sure your presentation is related to the CEE region and fits the general theme well.
• Keynote lecture by Associate Prof Dr Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam)
• Conference dinner
• CEENASWE board meeting
• Magical Prague trip (after the conference on 30 September)
The conference will take place at the representative residence of the Czech Academy of Sciences – Vila Lanna in the centre of Prague.
We do hope that the pandemic situation will get better during the summer, and together with ongoing vaccination and covid passes, we will be able to meet in person in Prague. In case it will not be possible, the organizers would reserve their right to turn the conference into an online form. Let us keep our fingers crossed!
SUBMISSION DEADLINE 30 July 2021
NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE 5 August 2021
DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION 15 August 2021
Dr Pavel Horák, Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences
Dr Karolina Maria Hess, Institute of Sociology, University of Silesia in Katowice
For general queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The conference is kindly sponsored by the Czech Academy of Sciences by Strategy AV21 Programme “Europe and the State between civilisation and barbarism” http://statav21.cz
Western Esotericism in and from Latin America
9-11 August 2021
For more information please download this English brochure
or consult the multi-lingual conference website:
The Theosophical Movement and Globalism
Interconnections, Innovations, and Comparisons
Online via zoom 8-10 October 2021
We live in a time in which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. A steady growing number of people from all around the globe directly participate in this by travelling to faraway destinations, meeting people from various cultures, by using the various media platforms, which the internet has made available, or by following global news. This interconnectedness does, however, not only take place by our current population becoming geographically closer but also manifests itself through time. Historical awareness also brings the past into the present. Increased historical study of the great variety of cultures from around the world and their histories thus facilitate a global interconnectedness through time. Global history, as a relatively new approach to world history, for example, seeks to cultivate the richness of past, present, and cross-cultural perspectives by taking the globe as the point of departure.
The Theosophical Society (est. 1875) and the many groups, events, and cultural dynamics that make up the broader “Theosophical Movement” has almost from the outset been globally oriented.
Primary spokespersons of the Theosophical Society have for example been keen on combining ideas and concepts from a wide variety of cultures and from different time-periods. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s works are for example figuratively speaking tightly woven textual carpets build of numerous references to ancient Egypt, India, Tibet, China, Greece and to traditions such as Platonism, Hermetism, spiritualism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Modern philosophers and scholars of various scientific disciplines are also a part of this texture. There is interconnectedness and an attempt to synthesize the global cultural heritage in Theosophy. In a certain respect, Theosophy is a reflection of global history and modern globalism.
This global tendency of the Theosophical Society also has a more contemporary geographical dimension. Blavatsky (born in Russia) was by nature already a world-citizen having travelled extensively and having become an American citizen. The global outlook was a part of her awareness and together with Henry S. Olcott, she singled out India as the right place for the headquarters of the society. Due to this early global outlook, the Theosophical Society has members from many different countries and thereby now has a global history. The Theosophical Society has likewise influenced global politics, as is well known in relation to the independence of India and has been instrumental as a carrier of cultural elements both from Europe and America to Asia as well as from Asia to Europe and America.
This thematic focus on the Theosophical movement in relation to globalism, therefore, welcomes a global array of papers from an equally broad array of disciplines. Some theoretical keywords are interconnections, innovations, differences, comparisons, ideologies and entanglements; and some of the central questions that we want to address are:
Karl Baier (Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna, Austria).
Any person may submit a paper to the conference committee on any aspect of the subject. Summaries of no more than 200 words and 50 words biography should be sent to the secretary of the ITHC Erica Georgiades via email (email@example.com). All paper proposals will be evaluated by our scientific conference committee prior to acceptance.
Suggested presentation time 30 minutes including questions and answers.
Registration & Fees
The conference is free of charge and everyone is welcome.
The online registration to the 2021 ITHC will open when the programme is released. The conference zoom link will be announced alongside the programme. For more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Online – Zoom Platform.
Date 8-10 October 2021
The conference schedule will be based on different time zones. Specifics will be available when the full programme is released.
The most recent ESSWE newsletter is now available for download: ESSWE-Newsletter-Vol-12-Winter-Spring-2021.pdf
The ESSWE8 conference has been postponed until the same dates next year, 5-7 July 2022.
Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices
Call for Papers
2021 Meeting of the European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE): 29 September-1 October 2021 on Zoom
The European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE) invites proposals for its 2021 meeting, to be held on Zoom 29 September-1 October 2021. The theme for the meeting is “Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices.”
Religious studies, and especially the study of esotericism, tend to focus on text production and ideas. Societies, politics, practices—and also economics, social forms, and the material—are often neglected in the study of esotericism, partly due to methodological challenges. We would therefore like to invite scholars to submit proposals focusing on these dimensions of Islam and esotericism, of esotericism and Islam, and of Islamic esotericism.
We especially invite proposals from sociologists and anthropologists, as well as other scholars. The chronological scope stretches from medieval to contemporary times.
We invite papers that engage with these aims, but—as usual—proposals relating to Islam and Esotericism that do not relate to the meeting theme are also welcome.
The meeting will be held over successive afternoons to make it possible for both European scholars and scholars in American time zones to participate.
There is no fee for attending the meeting.
The meeting is being held in 2021 rather than 2022 (when it would normally be held, following ENSIE’s standard practice) because the 2021 meeting of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), of which ENSIE is a thematic network, has moved its 2021 conference to 2022 because of Covid, and ENSIE’s 2022 meeting will therefore be part of ESSWE’s 2022 conference.
By 15 May 2021, please send to email@example.com
The meeting is organised by
Updates at http://ensie.site/conferences.html.
A. State of Research and Conception of the Conference
The relationship between hermeticism and esotericism (or what has received these labels since the last quarter of the 20th century) and Catholic traditions is largely unexplored. This is partly due to a deficit in the research on this topic: The relationship between “religion”/denomination and esotericism has been systematically reflected upon mainly with regard to Protestantism. In the fundamental and most important publication on the genesis of the hermetic-esoteric field in Europe, Wouter Hanegraaff’s Esotericism and the Academy (2012), he focussed strongly on a debate in protestantism (Jacob Thomasius, Ehregott Daniel Colberg), in which theologians began to label a “hermetic” tradition as a “heretical” one. I still consider Hanegraaff’s perspective to be valid. But there was no systematic reflection on the relationship between esotericism and the Catholic Church, even Hanegraaff includes some of its representatives. To be fair, one cannot explore everything at once; Hanegraaff’s important book remains the central reference for questions on the genesis of (occidental) esotericism.
This deficit is furthermore and probably due to three reasons, among others: (1.) The conflicts between the hegemonic Catholic theology and hermetic/esoteric positions were far less sharp than in the Protestant churches; this depends partly on different theological concepts, which are to be discussed in the conference. (2.) The Catholic Church had a different social structure, in which plurality was established more through internal differentiation than, like Protestantism, through external segmentation (formation of separate congregations or “sects”). (3.) Finally, a last reason for research lies in the high barriers that the extensive research in the filed of church history has created. Expertise on Christian Denominations at eye level can be found in the sociology of religion, but hardly in religious studies.
Two minory remarks: Esotericism is to be defined in a working definition within the framework of a polythetic model (Zander: What is Esotericism?, 2021, forthcoming). – In terms of disciplines at the university, the background of this conference is the conviction that the relatively isolated research on esotericism in a discipline of its own and the resulting separation from research in literary studies, philosophy or theology, for example, follows a discipline-political tradition and should be abolished.
In view of the unmanageable lack of knowledge, the conference can only be a door opener into this field of research. It is intended, and this is decisive, to discuss systematic questions on the basis of exemplary objects (see B below). It is not primarily a matter of collecting objects from a possible history of Catholic esotericism; this is probably an unmanageable undertaking, not only in view of the weak current state of research. Rather, each object should contribute to answering a systematic question. The assignment of the following examples to specific systematic topics is not obligatory; evidently, many examples fit into several categories. – Interdisciplinary cooperation is particularly desirable in order to release esoteric research from its disciplinary restriction.
B. Systematic Fields: Options
I. Catholic conditions of possibility for the interpretation of hermeticism and esotericism
1. Setting of the Catholic course: Melchior Cano
2. Theology: sacrament, magic and the "objectivity" of religious perception
3. Gender issues: women, revelations, mediums, and esotericism
4. Sociology of Catholicism: internal differentiation
II. Non-hegemonic perceptions and practices and their integration
Early Modern Period
5. Catholic Hermeticism: Agostino Steuco’s Philosophia perennis, 1542
6. Criticism in Giovanni Baptista Crispo: De ethnicis philosophis caute legendis, 1594
7. Athanasius Kircher
8. (Religious) experience in the time of enlightenment: Prospero Lambertini’s De servorum Dei beatificatione et de beatorum canonizatione, 1734-1738
9. Freemasons, Martinists, Fourierists
The 19th and 20th centuries: experience, visions, new revelations
10. Catholic mesmerism
11. Catholic Romanticism in Germany and France in the early 19th century (in France circles around: Guénon, Massignon, Université Saint Jean de Jérusalem, Huysmans)
12. Maria von Mörl, Catharina Emmerick, Therese von Konnersreuth
14. Josef Görres, Die christliche Mystik, 1836-1842
15. Catholic spiritualism, Marian apparitions
16. The reactions of the Sanctum Officium
17. Occultism around 1900: Vienna, Johannes Maria Verweyen, Anglo-Saxon / French Catholicism
18. Gerda Walther
19. Hans Urs von Balthasar/Adrienne von Speyr
20. Joseph Ratzinger
The limits of hegemonic theology
21. Popular piety
Esotericism and politics
Subjects not covered should be listed in an appendix of lexical keywords containing basic (biographical) data, reference to esotericism and basic literature (on the relationship between esotericism and Catholicism, in the case of people also basic writings). Short keywords should not exceed one printed page (max. 3000 characters including spaces), longer keywords should not exceed 9000 characters (including spaces).
D. Practical matters
Conference date: 28-30 October 2021, in Fribourg. Should this time slot not be possible due to Corona, the replacement date would be 5-7 May 2022. The conference will be a face-to-face event; hotel costs will be covered for the speakers. – Please propose topics by 15 March 2021.
Contributions in German, English and French are welcome; passive knowledge at least of German and English is necessary. – The contributions will be published.
Please send proposals by March, 31st, to Helmut Zander (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Moritz Bauer (email@example.com).
Call for Papers for a special panel at the 18th Annual Conference of the EASR at the University of Pisa, August 30 – September 3, 2021.
Organised by Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam) and Henrik Bogdan (University of Gothenburg)
Western esotericism has often been described as a religious and philosophical phenomenon that has had a difficult relationship with mainstream culture and institutions for large parts of its history. Perceived as being based on forms of “rejected knowledge”, it is not difficult to find historical examples of marginalisation or even persecution of esoteric ideas and practices. With the Enlightenment, esotericism was often equated with superstition, quackery and misguided enthusiasm, and it was given for granted that eventually the progress of reason and science would have dispelled the dreams of spiritual visionaries and the secrets of self-styled initiates. However, esotericism has been able to survive marginalisation and has proven the predictions of Enlightenment thinkers wrong. It is very much alive in our societies today and it has travelled far and wide. Its pervasive presence in popular culture has been described with the term of occulture, and its participation in the entangled history of globalisation has led some scholars to reject the idea that esotericism is a “Western” phenomenon at all. Esotericism has therefore proven resilient in many ways and in different periods of its history. It has endured all sorts of challenges and difficulties and has reacted to them by adapting to new situations and taking on ever-changing forms. In this panel, we welcome paper proposals that focus on any aspect of esotericism’s resilience, both from a historical and a sociological perspective. Papers may be proposed on any current, author or group in the long history of Western esotericism, from Late Antiquity up to our contemporary globalised societies.
Please send your paper abstract (150 words max.) and a short bio to the following email addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Deadline for submission is January 10, 2020. We will not be able to accommodate papers in our panel whose abstract has been sent after that date.
Click here for banner image information.