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  • 2021-08-04 19:32 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    The East Asian cultural sphere has figured prominently in recent collections of research on new religious movements (e.g. Pokorny and Winter 2018, Clart, Ownby and Wang 2020), Theosophy (e.g. Rudbog and Sand 2020, Krämer and Strube 2020) and global therapeutic cultures (e.g. Nehring et al. 2020, Harrington 2008), while it continues to attract the attention of scholars working on civil society (e.g. Read and Pekkanen 2009) and self-help movements (e.g. Cliff et al. 2017, Palmer 2007).

    But, although we are often aware of the complex entanglements between these seemingly separate areas of interest, we seldom have the opportunity to discuss such entanglements in and beyond East Asia.

    At the same time, in the last twenty years, significant scholarship has been published in East Asia on this topic (recent books include Yoshinaga et al. 2019, Ichiyanagi 2020, Imura and Hamano 2021 in Japan, Zheng 2018, Zhang 2020 in China and Cheon Myeong-soo 2009, Park Seung-gil et al. 2019 in South Korea).

    This conference aims to offer such a chance by inviting academic contributions to reflect on the intertwined relationship between spirituality, healthcare and social movements in East Asia from a trans-national/local/cultural perspective. As a time of unprecedented changes and accelerated global interactions, our focus lies on the period between the nineteenth to the twentieth-first centuries.

    For more information please click here:

  • 2021-07-06 12:11 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)




    12th international conference

    Mystical and Esoteric Teachings in Theory and Practice:

    Esotericism in Philosophy, Literature, and Art

    February 3 – 5, 2022


    First Call for Papers

    Esoteric doctrines existed throughout history, but they were especially prominent during the collapse of established and creation of new systems of spiritual values reflecting a desire to reform daily life, social structure, and paradigms of knowledge. Historical periods that were full of creativity were also marked by a turn to mysticism and esotericism.

    Art is not limited by logic. It receives inspiration from many sources, including mysticism, magic, sacred rituals. European theater begins with a cult of Dionysus and Eleusinian Mysteries. Poetry is close to ancient hymns and spells. Music, dance, singing were parts of esoteric practices. Drawing developed in part because of a belief that images can affect animals. History of architecture is also full of unsolved mysteries. Literature incorporated sacred knowledge of Gnosticism, hermeticism, and other esoteric currents. Esotericism is present in esthetics of Romanticism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. In the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries cinema, TV, and the Internet became new mediums for esoteric ideas. Intersections between philosophy and esotericism are also deep and worth of exploration.

    The goal of the conference is to explicate mystical and esoteric elements in literature and art, to reflect on previously neglected new aspects in the history of the “secret knowledge,” to discuss possible implications of the study of esotericism to art history and literary history, to analyze social and psychological reasons for the popularity of movies, TV-shows, and literature about witches, vampires, magicians, and so on.

    We invite art historians, scholars interested in the history of literature, philosophers, historians, culturologists, specialists in religious studies, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars of esotericism.

    Conference will take place in dual format (online and offline).

    Suggested topics:

    • intersections between languages of poetry and magic;
    • alchemical and philosophical reflections in literature and art;
    • Freemasonry in literature and art;
    • esoteric metalanguage and traditions in literature and art;
    • mysteries and the origins of theatre arts;
    • magical codes of musical harmony;
    • Theosophic and Anthroposophical influence in literature and art;
    • historical transformations of esoteric art;
    • mystical and esoteric images in contemporary art;
    • philosophical analysis of esoteric tendencies in literature and art;
    • postmodernism and occultism;
    • esotericism in cinema and television.

    Languages of the conference: Russian and English.

    Applications should be sent to Deadline for participants from Russia is December 25, 2021. Deadline for international participants is November 30, 2021. An application should be filled in Russian and English for participants presenting in Russian and in English for participants presenting in English.

    1. Full name
    2. Degree
    3. City and country
    4. Affiliation
    5. Position
    6. E-mail
    7. Do you need an official invitation?
    8. Do you need a certificate of participation?
    9. Do you need a projector?
    10. Title
    11. Summary
    12. Language
    13. A photo up to 2 Mb in size

    An organizing committee will make a decision concerning an application in a week after its submission. The decision will be communicated to an applicant via e-mail. The organizing committee reserves a right to reject an application. Unfortunately, we cannot provide written reviews for applicants whose applications were rejected.

    A program of the conference will be prepared and distributed by the beginning of the conference.

    We are planning to publish a collection of conference papers. Participants can submit papers up to 25.000 characters before March 5, 2022. Author guidelines will be distributed after the conference among the speakers.

    The organizing committee does not provide funding for conference participants.

    If you have any questions, please, e-mail to

    The conference will take place at Russian Institute of Theatre Arts – GITIS. Address: Moscow, Maly Kislovsky Lane, 6 (map:

    Organizing committee:

    Dr. V. I. Krasikov (Russia, Moscow)

    Dr. E. V. Shakhmatova (Russia, Moscow)

    Dr. A. L. Yastrebov (Russia, Moscow)

    Dr. S. V. Pakhomov (Russia, Saint Petersburg)

    Dr. D. D. Galtsin (Russia, Saint Petersburg)

    Dr. S. Panin (USA, Houston)

    Dr. Prof. B. Menzel (Germany, Karlsruhe – Meinz)

  • 2021-06-21 19:52 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    Internationale Tagung des Forschungszentrums Gotha in Kooperation mit der Erhard-Weigel-Gesellschaft e.V.,organisiert von Martin Mulsow und Stefan Kratochwil

    Der Jenaer Naturwissenschaftler und Universalgelehrte Erhard Weigel (1625-1699) ist als Metaphysiker und Lehrer von Leibniz bekannt, auch als Erfinder und Mathematiker. Bisher kaum erforscht ist hingegen seine Beschäftigung mit hermetischen und esoterischen Wissenschaften wie der Astrologie, der Alchemie oder der Iatromathematik. Welche Quellen benutzte Weigel dabei und welche Rolle spielte das intellektuelle Umfeld der Universität Jena? Wie ist Weigels „Pythagoreische Gesellschaft“ im Licht der esoterischen Wissenschaften zu verstehen? Die Tagung möchte solche Fragen beantworten und die Weigel-Forschung mit der Forschung zum „Western Esotericism“ zusammenführen.

    Vorschläge für Referate werden mit Kurzexposé und CV bis zum 1.7. erbeten an

  • 2021-06-03 12:05 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    Edited by: Yves Mühlematter and Helmut Zander

    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:

  • 2021-04-29 15:33 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    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

    Registration is mandatory for participants.

    Event website:


    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".

  • 2021-04-28 12:29 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    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



    for the 4th CEENASWE conference


    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.

    Submission Guidelines

    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


    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.

    Preliminary Programme

    • 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.

    Pandemic Considerations

    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!

    Important Dates




    Organizing Team

    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

    The conference is kindly sponsored by the Czech Academy of Sciences by Strategy AV21 Programme “Europe and the State between civilisation and barbarism”

  • 2021-03-31 19:40 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    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:

  • 2021-03-30 12:45 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    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:

    • How do Theosophists deal with, approach, use, or portray different traditions or ideas from around the world or from different time periods, and why? Are such traditions or ideas seen as fundamentally interconnected with or different from Theosophy? Are all traditions and ideas equal in value and applicability? Does Theosophy reinterpret them and thereby innovate upon established traditions and their meanings? Are differences or similarities highlighted? Is the use of such varying traditions entangled with a number of sources (such as translations of texts from the traditions by non-theosophists) or perspectives (from different world-views or ideological backgrounds)?
    • What has the role of Theosophical Society been in the formulation of so-called ‘modern Buddhism’ and ‘neo-Hinduism’?
    • Is Theosophy or Theosophical literature global? Are there many voices in Theosophical literature from around the globe or has it primarily a European or American voice?
    • Is the Theosophical Society a global society? Why, why not, and how?
    • How is the Theosophical movement related to globalization and globalism?
    • Is Theosophy a part of “Western esotericism”. How and why? Does the terms “Western” “esotericism” help in the classification and understanding of the Theosophical movement?
    • What is the role of India in the Theosophical movement? India is the home of the Adyar headquarters and many other Theosophical centres. India holds a central place in Theosophical history and India is, to many people within the Theosophical movement, a place of special ideological and occult significance. Why and how?
    • Do the perspectives on Theosophy vary in different parts of the world? Is Theosophy viewed differently today than it was in its early years? Why and how?
    • How does the Theosophical movement relate to traditional cultures? Is there a tension between globalism and traditional cultures in the Theosophical movement?
    • Has the Theosophical movement produced perspectives on the globe, cultural centres, our current time- or previous time-periods and are these reflected in modern processes of globalization?
    • Why and how has the Theosophical movement promoted world peace, universal brotherhood, vegetarianism and ecology?
    • Has the global tendency of Theosophy influenced the modern arts (such as visual or textual)? Has Theosophy influenced Asian or European literature by for example introducing “foreign concepts”, such as the “Western” notion of “the occult” in Asia or the “Eastern” idea of karma in Europe and the US? Do we find depictions of Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, and Buddha in Europe or elsewhere due to Theosophy or of Pythagoras and Christ in Asia because of Theosophy?

    Keynote Speakers

    Karl Baier (Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna, Austria).

    Paper Proposals

    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 ( All paper proposals will be evaluated by our scientific conference committee prior to acceptance.


    Suggested presentation time 30 minutes including questions and answers.

    Important Dates 

    • Deadline for submission of a paper: 1 June 2021
    • Notification of acceptance: 1 July 2021

    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


    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.

    Conference Committee 

    • Conference Chair: Prof. Tim Rudbøg (Associate professor, Science of Religion, director of the Copenhagen Centre for the Study of Theosophy and Esotericism, University of Copenhagen)
    • Prof. James Santucci (Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at California State University, Fullerton.)
    • Erica Georgiades (MRes Religious Experience Cand, University of Wales Trinity Saint David; PgD Merit Ancient Religions UWTSD; BA, Hons, Philosophy and Psychological Studies OU)..

  • 2021-03-23 16:33 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    The most recent ESSWE newsletter is now available for download: ESSWE-Newsletter-Vol-12-Winter-Spring-2021.pdf

  • 2021-03-21 20:31 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    The ESSWE8 conference has been postponed until the same dates next year, 5-7 July 2022.

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