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    Western Esotericism

    SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
    —————
    David Appelbaum, editor

    Western Esotericism
    A Concise History

    Antoine Faivre
    translated by

    Christine Rhone

    Originally published in French as L’Ésotérisme. © Presses Universitaires de
    France, 1992. 6. avenue Reille. 75014 Paris
    Cover art: A picture by Dionysius Andreas Freher, in The Works of Jacob
    Behmen, The Teutonic Philosopher, edited by William Law, vol. 3, 1764.
    Private collection of the author.
    Published by State University of New York Press, Albany
    © 2010 State University of New York
    All rights reserved
    Printed in the United States of America
    No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever
    without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a
    retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including
    electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording,
    or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
    For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY
    www.sunypress.edu
    Production by Eileen Meehan
    Marketing by Anne M. Valentine
    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
    Faivre, Antoine, 1934–
    [Accès de l’ésotérisme occidental. English]
    Western esotericism : a concise history / Antoine Faivre ; Christine
    Rhone, translator.
    p. cm. — (Suny series in Western esoteric traditions)
    Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
    ISBN 978-1-4384-3377-6 (hardcover : alk. paper)
    ISBN 978-1-4384-3378-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)
    1. Occultism--History. I. Rhone, Christine. II. Title.
    BF1412.F313 2010
    135'.4—dc22

    2010015998
    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    Chapter 2
    Esotericism in the Heart of the Renaissance and the
    Flames of the Baroque
    I.
    A Discovery of Humanism: Philosophia perennis
    1. Re-emergence and Success of the Corpus
    Hermeticum
    2. Christian Kabbalah
    3. Homo Universalis: Activity, Dignity, and Synthesis
    II. The Germanic contribution: Nature Philosophy
    and Theosophy
    1. Paracelsism
    2. Jacob Boehme and the Theosophical Current
    3. The First Rosy-Cross
    III. Readings of the World and of Myths
    1. Philosophia Occulta
    2. Alchemy: Science of Humanity, Nature,
    and Myths
    3. A Hermetico-Emblematic Art
    Chapter 3
    Esotericism in the Shadow of the Enlightenment
    I.
    Sunburst of Theosophy
    1. At the Dawn of Illuminism
    2. The Great Theosophers
    3. Faces of Illuminism
    II. From the Arts of Reading to the Art of Subtle Fluids
    1. Continuity of the Occult Sciences
    2. Alchemy, Shadow Side of the Enlightenment,
    and Light of Mythology
    3. Animal Magnetism
    III. A Century of Initiations
    1. Strict Observance and Rectified
    Scottish Rite
    2. Other Masonic and Paramasonic Systems
    3. Initiation in Art

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    CONTENTS

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    III. Arts and Humanities
    1. Arts and Literature
    2. Psychology and the Humanities
    3. Historiography of Western Esotericism

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    108

    Bibliography

    111

    Index of Names

    119

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    CONTENTS

    Introduction

    I

    n 2010, historian Monika Neugebauer-Wölk showed that the noun
    esotericism occurs as early as 1792. In that year, it appeared in
    German: Esoterik,1 in the context of debates concerning the secret
    teachings of Pythagoras against a background of Freemasonry. In a
    context with affinities to Romanticism, it first appeared in French in
    1828 in Histoire critique du Gnosticisme et de son influence by Jacques
    Matter (as Jean-Pierre Laurant pointed out in 1992). The term has
    since revealed itself, in English and in other languages, as semantically expandable and permeable as one likes.
    To question its etymology (eso refers to the idea of interiority,
    and ter evokes an opposition) is hardly productive and often stems from
    a need to discover what “esotericism” in “itself” would be (its “true”
    nature). In fact, there is no such thing, although those who claim the
    contrary are many—these individuals approaching it according to their
    own definitions, in function of their own interests or ideological presuppositions. It seems more productive to us to begin by inventorying the
    various meanings that it takes according to the speakers.

    I. Five Meanings of the Word Esotericism
    1. Meaning 1: A Disparate Grouping
    In this meaning, which is the most current, esotericism appears, for
    example, as the title of sections in bookshops and in much media
    1. About that first know occurrence, see Monika Neugebauer-Wölk’s ground-breaking
    article (in Aries 10:1, 2010). As she explains, that term Esoterik was from the pen
    of Johann Philipp Gabler, who used it in his edition of Johann Gottfried Eichhorn’s
    Urgeschichte (1792).

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    discourse to refer to almost everything that exudes a scent of mystery.
    Oriental wisdom traditions, yoga, mysterious Egypt, ufology, astrology
    and all sorts of divinatory arts, parapsychology, various “Kabbalahs,”
    alchemy, practical magic, Freemasonry, Tarot, New Age, New Religious
    Movements, and channeling are found thus placed side by side (in
    English, the label used in the bookshops is often Occult or Metaphysics).
    This nebula often includes all sorts of images, themes, and motifs, such
    as ontological androgyny, the Philosopher’s Stone, the lost Word, the
    Soul of the World, sacred geography, the magic book, and so on.

    2. Meaning 2: Teachings or Facts That Are “Secret” Because
    They Are Deliberately Hidden
    This is for example the “discipline of the arcane,” the strict distinction between the initiated and the profane. Thus, “esoteric” often is
    employed as a synonym of “initiatic,” including by certain historians
    treating doctrines that would have been kept secret, for example,
    among the first Christians. For the wider public, it also refers to
    the idea that secrets would have been jealously guarded during the
    course of centuries by the church magisterium, such as the secret life
    of Christ, his close relationship with Mary Magdalene—or that important messages would have been surreptitiously slipped into a work by
    their author. Novels like the parodical Il Pendolo di Foucault (1988)
    by Umberto Eco and the mystery-mongering The Da Vinci Code (2003)
    by Dan Brown skillfully take advantage of the taste of a broad audience
    for what belongs to the so-called “conspiracy theories.”

    3. Meaning 3: A Mystery Is Inherent in Things Themselves
    Nature would be full of occult “signatures”; there would exist invisible
    relationships between stars, metals, and plants; human History would
    also be “secret,” not because people would have wanted to hide certain
    events, but because it would contain meanings to which the “profane”
    historian would not have access. Occult philosophy, a term widely used
    in the Renaissance, is in its diverse forms an endeavor to decipher
    such mysteries. Similarly, some call the “hidden God” the “esoteric
    God” (the one not entirely revealed.)
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    4. Meaning 4: “Gnosis,” Understood as a Mode of Knowledge
    Emphasizing the “Experiential,” the Mythical, the Symbolic, Rather
    Than Forms of Expression of a Dogmatic and Discursive Order
    The ways enabling one to gain this “way of knowledge” vary according to the schools; it is the subject of initiatic teachings given forth
    in groups claiming to possess it, but sometimes it is also considered
    as accessible without them. Understood in this way, esotericism often
    is associated with the notion of “religious marginality” for those who
    intend to make a distinction between the various forms of gnosis, and
    the established traditions or the constituted religions.

    5. Meaning 5: The Quest for the “Primordial Tradition”
    The existence of a “primordial Tradition” is posited, of which the
    various traditions and religions spread throughout the world would be
    only fragmented and more or less “authentic” pieces. Here, esotericism
    is the teaching of the ways that would permit attaining knowledge of
    this Tradition or contributing to restore it. Nowadays, this teaching is
    principally that of the “Traditionalist School,” also known as “perennialism” (chapter 5, section II), whose English-speaking representatives
    readily use the word esoterism to distinguish themselves from most of
    the other meanings of esotericism.
    Despite certain relationships of proximity, these five meanings
    evidently differ from one another. It is a matter of knowing which
    one we are dealing with when someone employs this “portmanteau
    word” (the same goes for other words, such as “religion,” “sacred,”
    “magic,” “spirituality,” “mysticism,” etc.). Taken in the first sense, it
    can refer to almost anything. Let us take the example of “mysterious Egypt”; still today, many authors take pleasure in uncovering an
    “esotericism” in ancient Egypt present in the form of initiations and
    sublime knowledge. Yet these practices scarcely existed in Ancient
    Egypt, except in their own modern imaginaire2; and even supposing
    2. In this context, imaginaire does not mean “belief in things that are false or unreal”
    but refers to the “representations” that consciously or unconsciously underlie and/or
    permeate a discourse, a conversation, a literary or artistic work, a current of thought, a
    political or philosophical trend, and so forth. Thus understood, this term is sometimes
    translated as “the imaginary” or “the imaginary world” (German: Weltbild), but in the
    present book we keep the original French [Translator’s note].

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    that they are partly right (which it is permitted to doubt), it would
    never be a matter there of more than a form of religiosity present
    in many religious systems, which it would be sufficient to call, for
    example, “sacred mysteries.” It is no less legitimate and interesting,
    for the historian, to study the various forms of egyptomania proper
    to the Western esoteric currents because they are often part of their
    thematic repertory. Furthermore, through intellectual laziness, people
    often use the term esoteric to qualify particular images, themes, or
    motifs that they readily lump together under the heading “esoteric”
    (cf. infra, section I on the “unicorn” and similar notions).
    The second sense encompasses both too much and too little
    (besides the fact that, when there are secrets, they are generally open
    ones). It includes too much, because the idea of “deliberately hidden
    things” is universal. It includes too little, because it would be false to
    call “secrets” a number of currents or traditions, as for example—to
    limit ourselves to the period from the fifteenth to the seventeenth
    century—alchemy, neo-Alexandrian Hermetism, theosophy, Rosicrucianism. In fact, for its greater part, alchemy (both material and “spiritual”) is not secret because it has never ceased to make itself known
    through abundant publications supplied to a wide public. Renaissance
    Hermetism (see infra, section II) is never more than one of the manifestations of the humanist current, which addressed all the literate.
    The theosophical writings have always circulated in the most varied
    milieux, Christian and other. Rosicrucianism of the seventeenth century is mostly a sort of politico-religious program.
    The idea according to which the “real” would be in great part
    “hidden” by its very nature—third meaning—is present in all cultures,
    and, as it assumes various connotations in them, it is preferable to find
    a more precise term to define each one of them. Similarly, concerning
    the fourth meaning—“esotericism” as a synonym of “gnosis”—it can
    seem pointless to complicate matters by not remaining content with this
    second word. Certainly, a number of those who intend to speak of “esotericism in itself” attempt to find equivalent terms in cultures distinct
    from ours (in India, in the Far East, etc.); but the point is not convincing because the terms thus employed do not possess the same semantic
    charge and refer to very different meanings. The fifth meaning, finally,
    also designates something relatively precise (a rather specific current of

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    thought); at that point, it would be enough for the exterior observer
    to employ the term perennialism rather than esotericism (although those
    connected with this current have, of course, the right to use the second
    term). Notwithstanding, and as we have seen, they themselves prefer,
    in English, to speak of esoterism rather than esotericism.
    For these various reasons, esotericism is understood (especially
    since about the beginning of the 1990s; cf. infra, sections II, IV, and
    V) in a sixth meaning for the majority of historians.

    II. Sixth Meaning:
    A Group of Specific Historical Currents
    Indeed, these historians, as we did in our first works on the notion
    of esotericism at the beginning of the 1990s (infra, section IV), have
    preserved the word through sheer convenience (it had the merit of
    already existing) to refer to the “history of Western esoteric currents.”
    These currents, as we shall see, present strong similarities and are
    found to have historical interconnections.
    Western here refers to a West—a West permeated by Christian
    culture and “visited” by Jewish or Muslim religious traditions, or even
    Far Eastern ones, with which it cohabited but that are not identical
    with it; in this understanding, Jewish Kabbalah does not belong to
    this “Western esotericism,” whereas the so-called Christian Kabbalah
    does. Of course, this choice, which is purely methodological, does not
    imply any judgmental position whatsoever.
    Among the currents that illustrate this “Western esotericism”
    (in the sixth meaning) appear notably, for late Antiquity and the
    Middle Ages, the following ones: Alexandrian Hermetism (the Greek
    writings attributed to the legendary Hermes Trismegistus, second and
    third centuries of our era); Christian Gnosticism, various forms of
    neo-Pythagoreanism, speculative astrology, and alchemy. And for the
    so-called modern period, let us cite especially, in the Renaissance, neoAlexandrian Hermetism, Christian Kabbalah (corpus of interpretations
    of Jewish Kabbalah intending to harmonize it with Christianity), the
    philosophia occulta, the so-called Paracelsian current (from the name
    of the philosopher Paracelsus), and some of its derivatives. After the

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    Renaissance, we have Rosicrucianism and its variants, as well as Christian theosophy, the “Illuminism” of the eighteenth century, a part of
    romantic Naturphilosophie, the so-called “occultist” current (from the
    mid-nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth). According
    to some representatives of this specialty, “Western esotericism” extends
    over this vast field, from late Antiquity to the present (broad meaning).
    According to other representatives of this same specialty, it is preferable
    to understand it in a more restricted sense by limiting it to the so-called
    “modern” period (from the Renaissance until today); they then speak
    of a “modern Western esotericism” (restricted meaning).
    This short book follows the second approach (restricted meaning), although the first chapter deals with the ancient and medieval
    sources of the modern Western esoteric currents, that is to say, the first
    fifteen centuries of our era. The reason for this choice is that starting
    from the end of the fifteenth century new currents appeared, in a very
    innovative fashion in the sense that they found themselves intrinsically connected with nascent modernity, to the point of constituting
    a specific product. They in fact reappropriated, in a Christian light
    but in original ways, elements having belonged to late Antiquity and
    to the Middle Ages (such as Stoicism, Gnosticism, Hermetism, neoPythagoreanism). Indeed, only at the beginning of the Renaissance
    did people begin to want to collect a variety of antique and medieval
    materials of the type that concerns us, in the belief that they could
    constitute a homogenous group. Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and others (chapter 2, section I) undertook to consider them
    as mutually complementary, to seek their common denominators, as
    far as postulating the existence of a philosophia perennis (a “perennial
    philosophy”). Real or mythical, the representatives of the latter were
    considered the links in a chain illustrated by Moses, Zoroaster, Hermes
    Trismegistus, Plato, Orpheus, the Sibyls, and sometimes also by other
    characters. Thus, for example, after the expulsion of the Jews from
    Spain in 1492, Jewish Kabbalah penetrated into the Christian milieu
    to find itself interpreted in the light of traditions (Alexandrian Hermetism, alchemy, Pythagoreanism, etc.) that were not Jewish.
    Reasons of a theological order account, largely, for such a need to
    have recourse to ancient traditions. For a long time, indeed, Christian-

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    ity had preserved within it certain forms of “knowledge” that entered
    into the field of theology (or theologies) and related to the connection between metaphysical principles and cosmology (the Aristotelian
    “second causes”). But after theology had, little by little, discarded cosmology, that is to say, part of itself, then this vast field found itself
    appropriated, reinterpreted “from the outside” (outside the theological
    field) by an extra-theological attempt to connect the universal to the
    particular—to occupy the interface between metaphysics and cosmology. Many thinkers of the Renaissance tried to justify such an attempt
    by resorting to certain traditions of the past.
    To that attempt is added, as a corollary, the idea of “revelations possible from within Revelation itself” (to employ the felicitous
    expression suggested by the historian Jean-Pierre Brach). In other
    terms, believers who adhered to the teaching of their Church could
    nevertheless benefit from a “revelation” not dispensed by the official
    catechism (“Revelation” as it is taught), but which by its very nature
    would be consistent with deepening the meaning and the content
    of this catechism. Those who exploited the certitude of this “inner
    revelation” tended rather to impersonal discourse, either by exhibiting a tradition to which they would have had access, a transmission
    of which they would be the repositories, or by affirming themselves
    graced with an inspiration come directly from on high. This idea is
    very present, certainly, in the three great religions of the Book (where
    it often finds itself challenged by the existing orthodoxies), but in the
    Renaissance era it is also a means of enriching an official teaching felt
    as impoverished—and it would remain very present in the history of
    modern esoteric currents.
    Finally, these three areas of discourse (the search for a perennial philosophy, the autonomization of an extra-theological discourse
    in the subject of cosmology, and the idea of possible revelation from
    within Revelation) constitute, particularly the first two, an essential
    aspect of nascent modernity. For the latter, which then finds itself
    confronted with itself, it is a matter of answering questions posed by
    its own advent—and not, as is too often believed, the response of a
    sort of “counter-culture” directed against modernity. This remark is just
    as applicable, as we shall see, to the subsequent esoteric currents.

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    III. From the Religionist and Universalist Approach
    to the Historico-Critical Approach
    To treat esotericism understood in this sixth sense (supra, section II)
    comes within a historico-critical mode of approach. We will return
    (infra, sections IV, V) to the ways in which it is declined; but, before
    that, it seems necessary to introduce another one, followed by many
    authors who also intend to treat the history of “esotericism.” This
    introduction will permit us, at the same time, to bring out some of
    the implications with which meanings one to five are charged.
    This second mode of approach rests either on a “religionist”
    position, or on a “universalist” position, or again on both at the same
    time. The first consists in positing that, to validly study a religion, a
    tradition, a spiritual trend, and so on—and, consequently, “esotericism”—it is necessary to be a member of it oneself on pain of not
    understanding very much about it—hence the proselytizing tendency
    frequently evinced by the supporters of this position. The second consists in postulating the existence of a “universal esotericism” of which
    it would be a matter of discovering, of explicating the “true” nature;
    we can remark that, in this type of discourse, esotericism is most of
    the time synonymous with “sacred” in general, indeed of “religion”
    understood sub specie aeternitatis.
    The simultaneously religionist and universalist position is represented principally by the perennialist current evoked in section I,
    which spread in most of the Western countries especially from the
    mid-twentieth century. It will be (chapter 5, section II) the subject
    of a specific discussion. The following are two examples of scholarly
    religionists. In France, Robert Amadou, whose work is abundant; his
    first significant work is entitled L’occultisme. Esquisse d’un monde vivant
    (1950). “Occultism” is here synonymous with “esotericism” understood
    in the second, third, and fourth meanings at once; despite his somewhat universalizing bent, Amadou distinguishes himself strongly, let us
    note, from perennialism (fifth meaning). In Germany, Gerhard Wehr,
    who limits his field to the Western world and attempts, throughout
    a series of high-quality monographs, to find concordances between
    Rudolf Steiner, Carl Gustav Jung, Novalis, Jacob Boehme, and the
    like, and who occasionally paints a picture of what is according to

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    him Christian esotericism (Esoterisches Christentum, 1975 and 1995).
    An example of a universalist is the academic Pierre Riffard, who
    has posited (in L’ésotérisme: Qu’est-ce que l’ésotérisme? Anthologie de
    l’ésotérisme, 1990) the existence of a “universal esotericism” composed,
    according to him, of eight invariables:
    1.
    2.
    3.
    4.
    5.
    6.
    7.
    8.

    The impersonality of the authors;
    The opposition between the profane and the initiates;
    The subtle;
    Correspondences;
    Numbers;
    The occult sciences;
    The occult arts; and
    Initiation.

    Although admitting that this construction could lend itself to
    an inquiry of an anthropological and/or philosophical type, it would
    not be of much use to the historian.
    In the intellectual climate of the 1960s and 1970s, scholarly
    philosophers and historians tended to see in the esoteric currents (as
    well as in various forms of “spirituality”) of the past a sort of “counter-culture” that would have been generally beneficial to humanity
    and from which it would be in the best interests of our disenchanted
    era to learn. Belonging to this movement are a certain number of
    personalities connected with the Eranos group, such as Carl Gustav
    Jung, Mircea Eliade, Henry Corbin, Ernst Benz, Gilbert Durand, or
    Joseph Campbell. Certainly, the Eranos Conferences held at Anscona
    (Switzerland) from 1933 to 1984, of which all the Proceedings have
    been published, have contributed to stimulate the interest of a good
    part of the academic world, as much for comparativism in the history
    of religions as for various forms of esotericism. However, because of
    their mainly apologetic orientation, they have not failed to give rise
    to reservations on the part of researchers of a more strictly historical
    orientation, notably of those whose works bear on esotericism understood in the sixth sense of the term. This is also the period when
    Frances A. Yates (infra) described the Renaissance magus as a rebel
    opposed to the dogmas of the established Churches and, later, to the

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    pretentions of mechanistic science (although Yate’s purpose was not
    apologetic in character).
    Among the historians of esotericism understood in the sixth
    sense, it is appropriate to distinguish two categories. On the one hand,
    those who, very numerous, work on currents (movements, societies)
    or particular authors; their aim is not (which is certainly their right)
    to question the existence or the nature of the considered specialty
    as such; this is discussed in chapter 5, section II. And, on the other
    hand, the “generalists,” who intend to study “esotericism” as a whole
    (of course, “universalists” like Riffard are in their manner generalists, but here we consider only those who adopt a historico-critical
    approach). They study it considering it either lato sensu, or stricto
    sensu (the twenty centuries of our era, or only the so-called “modern”
    period, which begins at the Renaissance; cf. section II). Most of the
    “generalists” adopt (following the example of the “nongeneralists”)
    an empirical approach of a historico-critical type; at that point, it is
    not surprising that they prove to have a real methodological concern.
    In any event, they intend to distinguish themselves from the many
    works of a religionist character, including those whose importance
    they nevertheless recognize at least with regard to the “origins” of
    their specialty—thus, it is undeniable that the Eranos Conferences
    (cf. supra), for example, have contributed to stimulate the interest of
    the academic world in this same specialty.
    The book (of a nonreligionist and nonuniversalist orientation)
    of Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, published
    in 1964, prepared the way for the academic recognition of this field of
    study understood in the sixth sense. With respect to this work, it has
    been possible to speak of a “Yates paradigm,” which rests on two ideas:
    a) there would have existed from the fifteenth to the seventeenth
    century a “Hermetic tradition” opposing the dominant traditions of
    Christianity and rationality; b) it would have paradoxically constituted
    an important positive factor in the development of the scientific revolution. These two propositions are debatable, but the Giordano Bruno
    has nonetheless stimulated the lively interest of many researchers in
    this notion of the “Hermetic tradition” applied not only to the period
    of the Renaissance (studied by Yates), but also to those that followed
    it and that preceded it. In fact, her “paradigm” found itself supplanted

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    by another, introduced by the author of these lines (in 1992 notably,
    in the first edition of this little book; cf. infra, section IV).

    IV. A New Manner of Constructing the Object
    In examining the possibility of founding a new paradigm, we decided
    from the outset to differentiate ourselves from what “esotericists” or
    their adversaries, and even from what historians however not ideologically engaged, could have understood by “esotericism” (or, like Yates,
    “Hermetic tradition”). In fact, most of them have the tendency thus to
    refer to an “ideal type” (other examples of ideal types: “reason,” “faith,”
    “sacred,” “magic,” “gnosis,” “mysticism,” etc.), which they adopt at first
    as an a priori and to which they strive, in a second phase, to make
    particular phenomena correspond. Therefore, it was not a matter of
    constructing or reconstructing a hypothetical “esoteric doctrine,” for
    example, but of beginning by observing empirically (without an essentialist or apologetic presupposition) a dense series of varied materials taken in a historical period and a geographical area (the modern
    period in the West). It was then a matter of asking ourselves if some of
    these materials would have sufficient common characteristics (hence,
    in the plural) so that, as a whole, they could be considered a specific field. For this to have been, it seemed essential to us that there
    should be several characteristics—a single one would have ineluctably
    conferred a universal scope on the constructed object, which it was
    precisely a matter of avoiding.
    In fact, a certain number of characteristics emerged from this
    observation. Taken as a whole, they constitute a construct (a working
    model)—that of the object “Modern Western Esotericism” (as it has
    been called at our suggestion). This object would be identifiable by the
    simultaneous presence of a certain number of components distributed
    according to variable proportions (in a text, in an author, in a trend,
    even though obviously a discourse is never only “esoteric”). Four are
    intrinsic (fundamental), in the sense that their simultaneous presence
    suffices to identify the object. Two others are “secondary,” in the sense
    that they appear only frequently, but they nonetheless confer a greater
    flexibility on this construct.

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    The four fundamental characteristics are as follows:
    1. The idea of universal correspondences. Non-“causal” correspondences operate between all the levels of reality of the universe, which
    is a sort of theater of mirrors inhabited and animated by invisible
    forces. For example, there would exist relationships between the heavens (macrocosm) and the human being (microcosm), between the
    planets and the parts of the human body, between the revealed texts
    of religions (the Bible, principally) and what Nature shows us, between
    these texts and the History of humanity.
    2. The idea of living Nature. The cosmos is not only a series of
    correspondences. Permeated with invisible but active forces, the whole
    of Nature, considered as a living organism, as a person, has a history,
    connected with that of the human being and of the divine world. To
    that are often added interpretations, heavy with implications, of the
    passage from Romans 7:19–22 according to which suffering Nature,
    subject to the exile and to vanity, also awaits its deliverance.
    3. The role of mediations and of the imagination. These two notions
    are mutually complementary. Rituals, symbols charged with multiple
    meanings (mandala, Tarot cards, biblical verse, etc.), and intermediary
    spirits (hence, angels) appear as so many mediations. These have the
    capacity to provide passages between different levels of reality, when
    the “active” imagination (the “creative” or “magical” imagination—a
    specific, but generally dormant faculty of the human mind), exercised
    on these mediations, makes them a tool of knowledge (gnosis), indeed,
    of “magical action on the real.”
    4. The experience of transmutation. This characteristic comes to
    complete the three preceding ones by conferring an “experiential”
    character on them. It is the transformation of oneself, which can be
    a “second birth”; and as a corollary that of a part of Nature (e.g., in
    a number of alchemical texts).
    As far as the two so-called secondary characteristics are concerned, they are, on the one hand, a practice of concordance: It is a
    matter of positing a priori that common denominators can exist among
    several different traditions, indeed among all of them, and then of
    undertaking to compare them with a view to finding a higher truth that
    overhangs them. And it is, on the other hand, the emphasis put on
    the idea of transmission: Widespread in these esoteric currents especially

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    since the eighteenth century, it consists in insisting on the importance
    of “channels of transmission”; for example, “transmission” from master
    to disciple, from the initiator to the “initiable” (self-initiation is not
    possible). To be valuable or valid, this transmission is often considered
    necessarily to belong to an affiliation whose authenticity (“regularity”)
    is considered genuine. This aspect concerns the Western esoteric currents especially starting at the time when they began to give birth to
    initiatic societies (i.e., starting from the mid-eighteenth century).
    This model amounted, in fact, to constructing the very object of
    a specialty for which no theoretical construct (at least, of an empiricocritical character) had yet been proposed. It often has been employed
    by other researchers, even though, like any working model, it has been
    the object of some criticism relative to some of its implications. As
    Wouter J. Hanegraaff, for example, has remarked, it would not sufficiently account for the importance of movements like the pietism of
    the seventeenth century, or for the process of secularization undergone
    by the esoteric currents of the nineteenth and the twentieth. Anyhow,
    it is an acknowledged fact that no construct should be considered as
    a “truth” by its proponent; actually, it is nothing but a provisional
    heuristic tool meant to revive fresh methodological thinking. To wit,
    a number of scholars have contributed, subsequently, to refine our
    working tool (infra, section V).
    It seemed to us that the expression “form of thought” (however
    debatable the choice of this expression may be) could be applied to
    this modern Western esotericism thus defined. Perhaps it could be
    claimed—which is not our purpose—that it appears in other cultures
    or periods as well. Still it would be appropriate to confine ourselves to
    the empirical observation of the facts; that is, not to hypostatize this
    expression with a view to legitimating the idea according to which
    there would exist a sort of “universal esotericism.” Just as there is a
    form of thought of an esoteric type, so there exist forms of thought of
    a scientific, mystical, theological, and utopian type, for example (with
    the proviso that each of them be understood within its specific historical, cultural context, and not sub specie aeternitatis). The specificity of
    each consists of the simultaneous presence of a certain number of fundamental characteristics or components, a same component obviously
    being able to belong to several forms of thought. Each brings its own

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    approaches and procedures into play, its various manners of arranging
    its components, of connecting them. In doing so, it constitutes for
    itself a corpus of references, a culture.
    Certain components can be common to several forms of thought;
    for example, both to “mysticism” and to “esotericism.” With the latter, the “scientific” maintains complex and ambiguous relationships
    of which certain Nature philosophies are the stake. It is especially
    interesting to observe the oppositions, the rejections; they not only
    are due to incompatible components between two forms of thought,
    but also can result from an epistemological break within one of them.
    Thus, before theology discarded (section II) its symbolic richness still
    present in the Middle Ages, for example in the School of Chartres,
    in that of Oxford, or in the case of a Saint Bonaventure (chapter 1,
    section II), it was still close to what we here call modern Western
    esotericism.
    The first five of the six characteristics or components enumerated
    above are not, let it be noted, of a doctrinal order. They appear much
    rather as receptacles where various forms of the imaginaire can find a
    place. For example, in the matter of “correspondences” we are dealing
    as much with hierarchies of a Neoplatonic type (the above is placed
    hierarchically higher than the below) as with more “democratic” views
    (God is found as much in a seed as anywhere else; heliocentrism
    changes nothing essential, etc.); in the matter of “transmutation,” as
    much with that of Nature as with that of only humanity; in the matter of cosmogony, with schemes as much emanationist (God creates
    the universe by emanation of Himself) as creationist (the universe
    was created ex nihilo); in the matter of reincarnation, as much with a
    defense as with a rejection of this idea; in the matter of attitude to
    modernity, some easily integrate it, others reject all its values, and so
    forth. In fact, for most of the representatives of this form of thought, it
    is less a question of believing than of knowing (gnosis) and of “seeing”
    (by the exercise of active, creative imagination—third component).
    Thus, to approach the studied field as a series of receptacles for the
    imaginaire appears to us more in accordance with its very nature than
    to attempt to define it starting from what would be a matter of particular explicit beliefs, professions of faith, doctrines—an attempt that,
    according to us, could only lead to a dead end. This procedure has,

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    moreover, the advantage of favoring the methodological approaches
    of the pluri- and transdisciplinary type that permit situating our field
    within the context of the humanities in general and the history of
    religions in particular.

    V. State of Research and Institutionalization
    On this methodological plane, precisely, a number of “generalists” (section III), whose major contributions are quoted in the bibliography
    appended to this book, have greatly contributed to establish the specialty on solid bases. In the first place, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, as much
    by his major work, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism
    in the Mirror of Secular Thought (1996), as by an impressive series
    of articles subsequently published, all of fundamental importance.
    He currently stands out as the main scholar among the “generalists”
    of our specialty—besides the fact that he has also authored various
    cogent studies on specific authors and currents. Comparable in his
    approach is Marco Pasi; his scholarly works have hitherto focused
    principally on the so-called “occultist” current, but he has completed
    them with very pertinent working models to treat notions such as
    “occultism” and “magic” in the context of modern Western esotericism
    (cf. especially his thesis, La notion de magie dans le courant occultiste
    en Angleterre [1875–1947], 2004). Let us also cite Jean-Pierre Brach
    for his survey examinations of the historical characteristics proper to
    esoteric currents, as they manifest themselves in the European cultural
    arena from the end of the fifteenth century; Andreas Kilcher, who,
    in studying the various usages of the polysemous term “Kabbalah” in
    the modern West, has shed new light on the migrations and derivations of modern esoteric currents (Die Sprachtheorie der Kabbala als
    ästhetisches Paradigma, 1998); Olav Hammer, one of whose works has
    the title, evocative for our purpose: Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of
    Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age (2001). Noteworthy too
    is Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s excellent introduction to our field (The
    Western Esoteric Traditions. A Historical Introduction; 2008).
    Still other “generalists” are situated within this body of theoretical thoughts that all rest on a solid work of texts. Among them

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    are Arthur Versluis, by his articles published in his review Esoterica
    and by a number of his works; and Monika Neugebauer-Wölk, who
    attempts, in particular, to elucidate conceptually and historically the
    nature of the relationships between esotericism and Christianity. The
    recent works of Kocku von Stuckrad, notably his book Was ist Esoterik?
    (2005), introduce a model of orientation that is just as “historian,”
    rather different nevertheless from the preceding ones; its application
    can, in our view, appear problematic as to the specificity of our field—
    but it is no less stimulating.
    This list of “generalists” concerned with methodology is not
    exhaustive, but rather suggests that the specialty, understood as
    much lato sensu as stricto sensu (twenty centuries, or only five), could
    already have been a subject of academic institutionalization. The process began in 1964. We owe to the Religious Sciences section of the
    École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris, Sorbonne) the merit of having, that year, been the first university institution to create within
    itself a position entitled Directeur d’Études [Professor] (that of François
    Secret) of the History of Christian Esotericism. The name changed
    in 1979 (with Antoine Faivre) to the History of Esoteric and Mystical Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe (when Jean-Pierre
    Brach took over, in 2002, the term mystical was deleted from that
    chair title). At the University of Amsterdam, a Center for History of
    Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (actually, for the History
    of Western Esotericism as we understand it here) was created in 1999.
    It has a specific chair (held by Wouter J. Hanegraaff), flanked by two
    Assistant Professorships [Br: Senior lecturers], a secretary and two PhD
    lecturers; it thus offers its students a complete academic trajectory. At
    the University of Lampeter (United Kingdom), a Centre for Western
    Esotericism saw the light of day in 2002; and in 2006, at that of Exeter
    (United Kingdom), a chair entitled Western Esotericism, occupied by
    Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, forms the basis of the “Exeter Center for
    the Study of Esotericism” (EXECESO). It too, like the Center in
    Amsterdam, offers its students a complete academic trajectory. The
    close collaboration established between Exeter, Amsterdam, and Paris,
    and of these three with other institutions, is part of a development
    with considerable impact on scholarship internationally.

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    Besides these creations properly speaking, several initiatives were
    taken. For example, at the University of Lausanne (Département interfacultaire d’Histoire et Sciences des Religions), a biannual program
    was established in 2003 (by Silvia Mancini), dedicated to an introduction to the field of this specialty. In Germany, at the University Martin
    Luther of Halle-Wittenberg, research programs were created (notably
    by Monika Neugebauer-Wölk), dedicated to the esoteric currents of
    the period of the Enlightenment as well as to the “hermetico-esoteric
    movements” of the beginning of Modern Times. At Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Hereward Tilton led from 2004 to 2006 a
    seminar called “Introduction to the History of Western Esotericism.”
    We could give many more examples.
    To these initiatives, we may add various symposia, colloquia,
    and associations.
    In the United States, the American Academy of Religion—the
    largest association of religious sciences in the world—a program unit
    “Modern Western Esotericism” was instituted for the annual congress
    of 1980. Several others followed it, among which was “Esotericism” in
    1986. It ceased to function in 1993 because of the perennialist orientation of its organizers, strongly criticized by several of the participants.
    It then made way, starting in 1994, for programs of a historico-critical
    type directed by James Santucci; first, under the title “Theosophy and
    Theosophic Thought,” then in 1999 under that of “Western Esotericism since the Early Modern Period.” Since 2004 this program unit
    has become “Western Esotericism”; under the direction of Allison
    Coudert, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, and Cathy Guttierez. It also follows
    a strictly historian orientation. Let us note that these last reformulations (from 1994 to 2004) coincided with the revival of the process
    of institutionalization and professionalization in several countries (cf.
    supra), begun in the wake of the creation of the Parisian chair in
    1964. Still in the United States, new associations of an international
    character saw the light of day, which work in this same spirit. Thus,
    the Association for the Study of Esotericism created in 2002, directed
    by Arthur Versluis and Allison Coudert; among the conferences that
    it has organized appears notably Esotericism, Art and Imagination
    (University of Davis, California, 2006).

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    Besides these properly American initiatives, in the context of
    the International Association for the History of Religion (which holds
    its congress every five years), a workshop Western Esotericism and the
    Science of Religion (Proceedings published, cf. bibliography) was created in 1995 in Mexico City. Two other workshops followed it: Western Esotericism and Jewish Mysticism (Durban, 2000) and Western
    Esotericism and Polemics (Tokyo, 2005). The Association for International Research on Esotericism and of the Religious Sciences section
    of the École Pratique des Hautes Études held the conference Autour
    de l’oeuvre de Frances A. Yates (1899–1981): Du réveil de la tradition hermétique à la naissance de la science moderne (Paris, 2001).
    At Esalen (California), a program of four symposia was established:
    The Varieties of Esoteric Experience (2004), Hidden Intercourse: Eros
    and Sexuality in Western Esotericism (Proceedings published in 2008),
    Hidden Truths, Novel Truths (2006), Western Esotericism and Altered
    States of Consciousness (2007). In such a context are situated one of
    the nine sessions of the international conference Religious History of
    Europe and Asia of September 2006 at Bucharest, whose theme was
    “Hermetic and Esoteric Currents,” and the international conference
    Forms and Currents of Western Esotericism of October 2007 at Venice
    (Proceedings published in 2008).
    Let us mention finally the European Society for the Study of
    Western Esotericism (http://www.esswe.org/), created in 2002. This
    place of exchange and information brings together many researchers
    from the whole world and has already organized two international conferences: Constructing Tradition, Means and Myths of Transmission
    in Western Esotericism (University of Tübingen, 2007, Proceedings
    forthcoming), and Capitals of European Esotericism and Transcultural
    Dialogue (University of Strasbourg, 2009, Proceedings forthcoming).
    The list would be long of all the collective works, articles of a
    methodological and philological nature, and so on, which are of interest to the generalist and which have seen the light of day in various
    countries for about fifteen years. To some of the publications already
    mentioned, it is appropriate especially to mention the Dictionary of
    Gnosis and Western Esotericism, published in 2005. Its two volumes
    comprise some four hundred articles written by about one hundred
    and eighty collaborators and cover the field of Western esotericism

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    from Late Antiquity until today; cf. in cauda the bibliography, which
    also includes a list of specialized libraries and journals (not least the
    biannual Aries. Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, published
    since 2002). And because the bibliography does not include the titles
    of articles but only of books, it seems appropriate to mention here the
    copious annual rubric entitled “Bulletin d’histoire des ésotérismes,”
    held by the “generalist” Jerôme Rousse-Lacordaire since 1996 in the
    Revue des Sciences philologiques et théologiques (his book reviews gathered in this “Bulletin” already constitute a wealth of information).

    VI. Past and Present Obstacles to the
    Recognition of This Specific Field
    Hence, after a long period of marginalization, this specific field is
    increasingly the subject of official recognition. However, four obstacles
    have delayed this recognition, more or less continuing to slow its
    development.
    The first obstacle is the existence of approaches of a religionist/
    universalist character. This has been sufficiently discussed in section
    III for it to be superfluous to insist on the necessity, for historians,
    to distinguish themselves clearly from such approaches—which, obviously, does not imply for as much that they should refrain from making
    a statement about their philosophical pertinence.
    The second obstacle is the “confusionism” favored by the first
    of the meanings discussed in section I. We often see even serious
    people, specialists of particular disciplines, employ “esotericism” as a
    portmanteau (or “blanket”) word for lack of anything better, with
    the complicity of their readers and publishers, to refer to some of
    the areas they treat (such as imaginaire, initiatic or fantasy literature,
    religious symbolism, artistic works associated with some aura of mystery, etc.) This tendency is due to the more or less implicit adoption
    of a “received idea” that spread little by little in the West, especially
    since the nineteenth century. It consists in positing the existence of
    a sort of counter-culture, vaguely understood as the whole of what is
    covered by the first of the six meanings of “esotericism.” And by the
    effect of a curious reversal, it happens that this word no longer refers

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    to that whole, but is found summoned to refer strangely to a single
    aspect of “magic” and/or “occult sciences.” For example, in the Dictionnaire historique de la magie et des sciences occultes (2006), directed by
    Jean-Michel Sallmann, appears the entry “Western esotericism.” Thus,
    for Sallmann, “Western esotericism” is one of the aspects of what he
    understands by “magic” and “occult sciences,” on the same level as
    “Miracles,” “Cult of saints,” “Unicorn,” “Fairies,” and so on—entries,
    among so many others of the same type, presented in this dictionary.
    In addition, just as we fail to understand why an image, a theme or a
    motif would be “esoteric” (cf. supra, section I, the remarks concerning the first meaning), so it appears to us at least strange to posit
    that miracles, the cult of saints, the unicorn, fairies (so many images,
    themes or motifs) come under “magic” and “occult knowledge.”
    The third obstacle is due to the residual influence of theological
    models or presuppositions in the study of religions in general and that
    of Christianity in particular. Even though the History of Religions
    had begun, since the nineteenth century, to emancipate itself from
    Christian theology, people had nonetheless long continued to adopt
    insufficiently critical (mainly crypto-Catholic) views. They saw the
    esoteric currents as no more than marginal heresies or more or less
    “condemnable” superstitions—although in fact they generally appear
    to be much less “marginal” than “transversal.” To start from doctrinal elements only perpetuates misunderstandings; with the aid of bits
    and pieces of theology or metaphysics taken here and there, one can
    construct a heresy that does not exist and then have a good time
    criticizing it. Now, even granted that the discourses we here qualify
    as esoteric sometimes contain heretical propositions with regard to
    religious institutions, this is in no way what defines these discourses
    as “esoteric.” Indeed, a heresy, in order to be considered as such, must
    be formulated in terms of concepts incompatible with other concepts
    that constitute a dogma. Now, esoteric discourses are generally much
    less of the order of the concept than of the image, and more generally
    of mythical thought.
    Moreover, this form of thought—as springs out from the following chapters—frequently penetrates most of the established religions.
    Catholicism obviously does not escape it. Contrary to what many

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    works on ecclesiological history would suggest (often only addressing
    oppositions of the Churches/sect or orthodoxy/heresy type), during
    the first three centuries of the so-called modern period and until the
    early eighteenth century, these currents were still part, as in previous centuries, of the general history of Christendom. They constitute,
    let us recall (supra, section II), a dimension—unfortunately too long
    neglected by historical research—of the Christian culture “visited” by
    Islam or Judaism. They did not then appear as a counter-culture or a
    “counter-tradition” that would, by its very nature, have opposed the
    religious powers in place (it is obviously necessary, however, to study
    the complex relationships that they maintained with established institutions); nor was this the case for a number of them in the course of
    the last three centuries. Hence, for the eighteenth century, a “pivotal”
    period, we cannot talk about an “esoteric front” opposing the defenders of “reason,” because, there again, examination of the facts comes
    to contradict overly simplistic schemes.
    Let us add that this idea of “counter-culture” sometimes takes on
    a distinctly negative connotation, due to the appropriation, by movements of the far right, of certain themes present in the literature of
    esoteric currents. Now, if Nazi or near-Nazi theoreticians, for example,
    have made use of such themes, it was in a very limited manner and
    in distorting them; but this was sufficient to produce an amalgamation in many minds (cf. for example, the fine analysis by Nicholas
    Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism, 1985). And if, on the
    other hand, it is true that thinkers of the extreme right, such as Julius
    Evola, can feel affinities with perennialism (chapter 5, section II), this
    does not necessarily mean (as the example of René Guénon is enough
    to show) that, by its nature, this current would belong with similar
    forms of extremism. Finally, it bears repeating once again that in the
    nineteenth century, for example, many representatives of the esoteric
    currents were politically oriented in a very different direction, indeed,
    towards forms of socialism.
    The fourth obstacle, finally, is connected with the very history
    of the academic specialties of which the discipline History of Religions is composed. In fact, if this discipline had long since already
    accepted specialties such as the Gnosticism of Late Antiquity, Jewish

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    theosophies (Jewish Kabbalah, notably), and Muslim theosophies, or
    again Christian mysticism, it is necessary to say in return that the
    Western esoteric currents, in particular those of the modern period,
    have been greatly delayed in entering it fully. Two reasons have contributed this delay: on the one hand, many scholars preferred to concentrate on non-Western religions, thus abandoning the history of
    Christianity, even understood in a broad sense, to the historiography
    of the Churches; on the other hand, many tended to identify this field
    with “mysticism” in general (a portmanteau word, as noted above). In
    addition, the existence of the aforementioned currents of the modern
    era found itself, under the influence of theological discourse, eclipsed
    by the debate initiated under rationalist thought and religion. Then,
    when new types of rationality emerged, these currents found themselves despite everything relegated to the back shelves of historiography, because they came to disturb or complicate the idea that the
    history of scientific ideas is reducible to that of a science progressively
    emancipating itself from the religious. Hence, the esoteric currents
    long failed to be approached from the angle of their specificity.
    Similarly, we note that over the last three decades scholars—mostly sociologists—working on the “New Age” and the New
    Religious Movements (of which many are, unfortunately, qualified as
    “sects” by the media and the public authorities) are occasionally prone
    to call their vast domain “esotericism.” This gives rise to the idea that
    no grounds exist to consider Western esotericism as a specific field of
    research, because it never does more than relate to objects with which
    these scholars are already preoccupied. In reality, it intersects theirs
    only to the extent that the discourses of the “New Age” and the New
    Religious Movements sometimes come to draw their inspiration from
    those of the Western esoteric currents of the past.

    VII. Perspectives: Throwing New Light on Old Questions
    From the account of these factors of delay, in particular the last two,
    it emerges that the study of this field of research is of a nature to
    throw new light on old questions, notably by revealing certain “missing links” that the traditional boundaries established between various

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    other specialties could have eclipsed. It incites us to revisit, according
    to new perspectives, important aspects of the history of religions in
    the West, in the manner, for example, that Gershom Scholem, in his
    works on Jewish Kabbalah, could illuminate our perception of Jewish
    thought with a new day. A comment of Paul Oskar Kristeller seems
    pertinent here, who wrote, in 1976:
    thanks to the work of Thorndike, of Miss Yates and others,
    we are no longer terrified when we encounter strange scientific ideas or astrological, alchemical or magical conceptions among the thinkers of past centuries. If we discover
    ideas of this type in the work of Ficino, we do not reproach
    him for it, but we simply place him in a vast intellectual
    tradition that had been too long neglected and avoided by
    the historians, and which is represented by an extensive
    and difficult literature, which still needs . . . a great effort
    of study and exploration. (“L’état présent des études sur
    Marsile Ficin,” in Platon et Aristote à la Renaissance, Paris,
    J. Vrin, 1976)
    Indeed, the History of Religions can now take advantage of these
    updates even better as the general decline in the belief in the “grand
    narratives” of modernity goes hand in hand with interest in ways of
    thought that a normative conception of historiography had long discounted. Moreover, a “History of the Western Esoteric Currents” is of
    a nature to question a certain number of prejudices that are still very
    current; here are two examples.
    The first is that of the relationships maintained, in the West,
    between religious phenomena and the processes of modernization/secularization. The incompatibility between the former and the latter,
    which modernist discourse stipulated, already appears contradicted,
    all concurring to show that the modern esoteric currents (Christian
    or not), in particular, have proved to have an astonishing capacity
    of survival by adapting and assimilating themselves. Bound as they
    were to this general process of religious secularization, they represent
    a dimension—still often poorly understood—of this society become
    pluralist. Their study, attentive to a constant interaction of various

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    discourses and to historical discontinuities, thus indeed seems to be of
    a nature to lie within the project of a revision of the history of the relationships between “religion” and “secularization,” which appear much
    more complex than current modernist views suggested still recently.
    The second example is the interest presented by the historicization of the discourses of an “anti-esoterical” character. Indeed, a
    serious study of these currents properly speaking necessarily implies,
    by the same token, that of the discourses “for” and “against” them, for
    or against their representatives, as much in the Christian context as
    in the secular one (cf. e.g., the collective work Polemical Encounters,
    2008, infra, bibliography). This aspect of historiographical research can
    only contribute to clarify the emergence and the transformations of
    concepts like “magic,” “occult,” and the like, which, for better and for
    worse, were founding elements as much for the History of Religions
    as for Anthropology, to the point of becoming an integral part of our
    ways of thought. It is advisable never to forget, indeed, that Westerners
    applied similar concepts, still often charged with negative implications, to non-European cultures only after applying them to themselves
    in a spirit directed, in fact, against their own “inner demons.”
    Our task is always to re-interrogate these concepts by historicizing them; to question some of the “great paradigms” that often
    continue to rule our understanding of history; and to make some of
    the ideological mechanisms still at work in the theoretical heritage
    of the History of religions subject to an ever-renewed problematicization. The latter has the responsibility to address, notably, the rhetoric
    of exclusions and the “great taboos” by which the object that we
    are studying, and others situated in its vicinity, could find themselves
    relegated to the status of “Other,” of the “religiously other.”

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    1

    Ancient and Medieval Sources
    of the Modern Western
    Esoteric Currents
    I. The First Eleven Centuries
    1. Alexandrian Hermetism

    S

    cattered works, partly lost, written in Greek in the region of Alexandria, constitute a heterogeneous mass known as the Hermetica.
    Composed over several centuries at the dawn of our era, these treatises
    deal with astrology, alchemy, the philosophy of Nature, cosmology,
    and theurgy. A collection dating from the second and third centuries
    stands out within this body of works, the Corpus Hermeticum (CH).
    It brings together seventeen short treatises. Also part of that body
    are the Asclepius and the “Fragments” attributed to Stobaeus. Their
    author or legendary inspirer is Hermes Trismegistus, the “thrice great,”
    whom many mythical and contradictory genealogies associate with
    the name Thoth and the Greek Hermes. He would have lived in the
    time of Moses, and the Egyptians would have been indebted to him
    for their laws and their knowledge. The Middle Ages did not know
    the CH, rediscovered at the Renaissance, but only the Asclepius (in
    its Latin translation).
    Despite the speculative aspect of the CH, we should not seek
    a unified doctrine in it. As we move from one treatise to the next,
    we find contradictions and discrepancies, because they are the work

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    of different authors. The most famous treatise is the Poimandres, or
    Pimander, always published as the first in the series of those comprising
    the CH. It develops a cosmogony and an anthropology on a mode of
    illumination and revelation. Among the prominent themes are those
    of the fall and the reintegration, and of memory in its relationships
    with a form of “magical” imagination.
    The CH itself does not treat alchemy strictly speaking. It seems
    that, unknown to Pharaonic Egypt, it developed as an extension of
    Hermeticist astrology, in particular starting from the notion of sympathy linking each planet to its corresponding metal (until about the
    second century b.c., alchemy remained a technique associated with
    the practice of goldsmithing). With Bolos of Mendes, in the second
    century b.c., it took a philosophical turn and sometimes presented
    itself in a light of revelation—as a “revealed” science. Zozimus of
    Panapolis (third or early fourth century), of whom twenty-eight treatises have been preserved, developed a visionary alchemy, followed in
    this by Synesius (fourth century), Olympiodorus (sixth century), and
    Stephanos of Alexandria (seventh century) in whom alchemy is also
    considered a spiritual exercise.

    2. Other Non-Christian Currents
    To Alexandrian Hermetism, four other non-Christian currents are
    added, important in the genesis of modern esotericism. These currents
    are, to begin with, the neo-Pythagoreanism of the two first centuries
    of our era; it would never cease to reappear subsequently under different forms of arithmosophy. Then we have Stoicism, which extended
    over nearly two centuries, one aspect of which bears on the universe
    understood as an organic totality guaranteeing harmony between terrestrial and celestial matters. Third, we have Neoplatonism that, from
    Plotinus (205–270) to the fifth century, taught methods that permit
    gaining access to a supersensible reality, constructing or describing
    this reality in its structure. Porphyry (273–305), Iamblichus (On the
    Egyptian Mysteries, toward 300), and Proclus (412–486) appear among
    the most visible Neoplatonists in later esoteric literature. In the fifth
    or the sixth century, a cosmological text of a few pages was drawn
    up, Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Creation), a prefiguration of what would

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    be the medieval Kabbalah proper (it contains notably the first-known
    introduction of the famous so-called Tree of the Sephiroth).
    Added to this was an intense intellectual activity in the Arab
    world, connected with the rapid expansion of Islam. The Arabic
    Epistles of the “Sincere Brethern” (ninth century) contain many
    speculations of a cosmological nature. Starting in this same century,
    Neoplatonic texts and the Hermetica were translated into Arabic. They
    gave rise to the appearance of original works (Theology of Aristotle,
    ninth century; Picatrix [tenth century], an encyclopedia of magical
    knowledge partly of Greek origin; Turba Philosophorum [Assembly of
    the Philosophers], a compilation of discourses on alchemy; “Book of the
    Secrets of Creation,” ca. 825, which contains the first version of the
    famous text of the Emerald Tablet).

    3. In Christian Thought of the First Eleven Centuries
    Was there a “Christian esotericism” understood as a more or less secret
    set of teachings delivered by Jesus to his disciples, and was this teaching of an essentially Jewish type: These are questions still debated.
    In his Stromateis (“Miscellanies”), Clement of Alexandria (160–215),
    whose Hellenistic Christianity is tinged with Jewish mysticism, emphasized the importance of gnosis understood as “knowledge” that supports
    and transcends faith. Origen (185–254) advocated a constant effort of
    interpretation, on several levels, of the texts of the Holy Scriptures in
    order to pass from faith to this gnosis.
    Marginal to the more or less official Christianity that both represent, Gnosticism is a vast current that takes different forms. Their
    common theme is deliverance from evil through the destruction of our
    universe and the elevation of our soul toward the celestial spheres.
    Unlike Basilides and Valentinus, other Gnostics of the second century,
    like Marcion, taught a dualist conception (Evil is ontologically equal
    to Good) of humankind and the world. We find it again in another
    form in the so-called Manichaean current issued from Mani (second
    century). A metaphysical pessimism marks the thinking—very rich,
    all permeated with a luxuriant imaginaire—of Gnosticism, which was
    a source of Bulgarian Bogomilism in the tenth century and hence
    of Catharism. In the following period, three names stand out. First

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    is Pseudo-Dionysius (Dionysius Aeropagita), whose three main works
    (Mystical Theology, Divine Names, and Celestial Hierarchy), written in
    Greek in the sixth century and partly inspired by the ideas of Proclus,
    are devoted to angelology and would remain a standard reference on
    the subject. Second is Maximus the Confessor who, one century later,
    explained the works of Pseudo-Dionysius. And third, in the ninth
    century, is the Irish monk Johannes Scottus Eriugena, author of the
    Periphyseon (On the Division of Nature). The latter is one of the most
    important intellectual constructions of the Middle Ages, which would
    ensure the transmission of a sort of “dynamized” Platonism in many
    ways close to the Jewish Kabbalah soon to flourish in Spain (section
    III, 1).

    II. In Medieval Thought
    1. Aspects of Theology
    The twelfth century discovered Nature in a light of analogy. Only
    recently accessible to the West, Arabian knowledge favored this orientation. In the School of Chartres, especially in Bernardus Silvestris (De mundi universitate, 1147) and William of Conches (toward
    1080–1145), there was still no hiatus between metaphysical principles
    and cosmology. The period saw the birth of the masterpiece of Alain
    de Lille (1128–1203), De planctu naturae; the dazzling and we could
    say proto-theosophical illustrated texts of Hildegard of Bingen (1098–
    1179), particularly her Scivias. Appearing also were the Clavis Physicae
    and the Elucidarium of Honorius Augustodunensis (Honoré d’Autun),
    besides many other similar creations.
    If, in this Romanesque period, correspondences, symbolic
    imagination, Nature and ways of spiritual transformation occupy an
    important place, the Franciscan spirit that emerged in the thirteenth
    century came, by its love of Nature, to reinforce this tendency. The
    School of Oxford contributed much to it (the theology of light in
    Robert Grosseteste, alchemy and astrology in Roger Bacon [see section II, 3], etc.), as well as the work of the Italian Saint Bonaventure
    (1217–1274) whose theological work develops a theory of the “coin-

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    cidence of opposites” prefiguring that of Nicholas of Cusa (section
    II, 2).
    When, toward 1300, the penetration of Arabic texts into Latinity was practically completed, we witness the triumph of Latin Averroism in Christian theology—that is to say, of the thought of the Arab
    Averroes (1126–1198), interpreter of Aristotle—to the detriment of
    the influence of the Persian Avicenna (980–1037). Whence, a form
    of rationality appeared in theology, which would deeply mark Western
    minds. Thus, the Christian and Islamic twelfth century increasingly
    “theologized” the Aristotelian “secondary causes” (especially cosmology) in a metaphysical direction, which would render problematic the
    relationship between metaphysical principles and Nature. This problematization would favor, in the Renaissance, the emergence of the
    esoteric currents proper (cf. Introduction, section II).

    2. “Sums” and Universal Syntheses
    Many summae are compendia of marvels and observations about the
    “powers” operant in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. They
    adumbrate the philosophia occulta of the Renaissance (this is the case,
    e.g., of the Speculum naturale of Vincent of Beauvais, 1245, or the De
    proprietatibus rerum of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, ca. 1230). However,
    there also are “sums” appearing as systems of thought, as grand philosophical syntheses. Not all of them are part of this tendency, as for
    example, that of Thomas Aquinas.
    The work of the Calabrian abbot Joachim da Fiore (ca. 1135–
    1202), who distinguishes three great periods of Universal History (the
    reign of the Father, that of the Son, and that—yet to come—of the
    Holy Spirit), would enjoy a considerable vogue in modern times, in
    particular by the use that philosophers of History would make of it.
    Let us cite further the Ars Magna of Raymundus Lullus (Ramon Llull,
    toward 1232/3–1310; section II, 3): a combinatory “art” with universal
    pretentions, marked by medieval Neoplatonism such as Johannes Scottus Eriugena had transmitted it (section I,3). At the end of the Middle
    Ages, Nicholas of Cusa heralded the Hermetism of the Renaissance
    through his idea of a fundamental unity of the religions (De pace fidei,
    1453) and put forth a world system, a theory of “opposites” in which

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    the infinitely great coincides with the infinitely small—a “total” science, encompassing astrology as well.

    3. Hermetism, Astrology, and Alchemy
    Many were the works of magic, like the Picatrix (of Arabian origin, as
    we have seen [section II, 2], which became the object of Latin translations and of adaptations) or those belonging to Ars notoria, the art
    of invoking angels. The CH was lost until the Renaissance, but the
    Asclepius was available in a Latin version and other texts circulated in
    Alexandrian Hermetist milieux. One of the most widely known, the
    Liber XXIV philosophorum, dates from the twelfth century, while the
    names Roger of Hereford and John of Sevilla were prominent in astrology. However, this system of knowledge was not essential in a world
    still imbued with the divine: Dante placed two of the great astrologers
    of the thirteenth century in his hell: Michael Scot and Guido Bonatti.
    At the beginning of the fourteenth, Ramon Llull (section II, 2) made
    an important place for astrology in his Ars Magna, as did Peter of
    Abano in his Conciliator (1303). Cecco d’Ascoli (1269–1327), another
    famous astrologer, was burnt at the stake in Florence. Pierre d’Ailly
    (1350–1420) wanted to elevate astrology to the level of a “natural
    theology” supposed to illustrate its complex relationships with Christian knowledge and thought.
    As for alchemy, it practically did not reappear in Europe before
    the twelfth century; Islam reintroduced it there through the intermediary of Spain. The end of the thirteenth saw two alchemical texts circulating in Latin, from which much inspiration would subsequently be
    drawn: the Turba Philosophorum, of Arabian origin, which has ancient
    alchemists in dialogue; the Summa, a body of writings attributed to the
    Arabian Geber; and the speculations of Roger Bacon (Opus tertium,
    1267). The Aurora consurgens is attributed by legend to Thomas Aquinas. Let us cite further the works attributed to the Catalan Arnau de
    Vilanova (ca. 1235–1311), in particular his Rosarium Philosophorum.
    Alchemical literature then began to proliferate rapidly, remaining abundant until at least the seventeenth century. It was notably
    represented by many treatises attributed to Ramon Llull starting in

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    the fourteenth century, and which are not by him; by John Dastin,
    Petrus Bonus (Pretiosa inargarita novella, ca. 1330), and Nicolas Flamel
    (1330–1417). With Flamel are associated legends that continue to
    cause much ink to flow. George Ripley then followed (The Compound
    of Alchemy, 1470; Medulla alchimiae, 1476) and Bernardus Trevisanus
    (1406–1490). As in the late Hellenistic period, certain forms of alchemy, in the Middle Ages, already give the impression of unfolding on
    two planes: operative and spiritual.

    III. Initiatic Quests and Arts
    1. Jewish Kabbalah
    The influence of the Kabbalah in the Latin world would be considerable from the Renaissance onwards (chapter II, section I, 2).
    Succeeding the Sepher Yetsirah (section I, 2), a compilation of Kabbalistic materials made in Provence in the twelfth century comes to
    constitute the first exposition of the Kabbalah properly speaking, the
    Bahir, which orientates the latter in the double direction of a gnosis of
    Eastern origin and of a form of Neoplatonism. Numbers and letters of
    the Old Testament are there the object of a hermeneutics capable of
    procuring knowledge of the relationships between the world and God,
    according to an interpretative method that suggests seeing in each
    word and letter of the Torah a meaning with multiple ramifications.
    Kabbalistic literature was then enriched with what would remain its
    fundamental book, the Sepher ha-Zohar (“Book of Splendor”), appearing in Spain shortly after 1275. Compilation probably due to Moses
    of Leon, it represents the summit of Jewish Kabbalah, that is to say, of
    a speculative mysticism applied to the knowledge and to the description of the mysterious works of God. The Zohar considerably extended
    the Talmudic dimension relative to the tasks or rites for developing
    a divino-cosmic mythology from which Renaissance thought would
    profit. Finally, the great mystic Abraham Abulafia (1240–1291), born
    in Saragossa, taught a meditation technique of an initiatic and symbolic nature that also included physical exercises.

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    2. Chivalry and Initiatic Societies
    The art of the church builders was transmitted in lodges to which
    modern Freemasonry would often claim to be the heir. Obligations,
    or “duties,” of the masons constitute the Old Charges, of which the
    texts that have come down to us (the Regius, toward 1390, and the
    Cooke, toward 1410) discuss geometry as a script of God that arose
    simultaneously with the origins of the world.
    Also initiatic is chivalry in some of its aspects—to which
    Templar sites, such as Tomar, in Portugal, seem to bear testimony.
    However, we must take care not to confuse history and fiction; the
    destruction of the Order of the Temple in 1312 gave rise to a Templar
    myth that does not correspond to the facts, just as the Crusade led
    against the Albigensians in 1207 gave rise to all sorts of legends concerning their alleged “esotericism.” In reality, the latter is found much
    less in these Orders or these movements properly speaking than in the
    inspired discourses of which they were subsequently the subject, especially starting in the Enlightenment. Thus, the symbols of the Order
    of the Golden Fleece founded in 1429 by Philip the Good would
    serve to revive the myth of Jason in the Western imaginaire, notably
    in alchemical literature and, from the second half of the eighteenth
    century onward, in certain Higher Grades of Freemasonry (chapter
    III, section III, 1, 2). Let us cite finally the Brethren of the Free
    Spirit (of Amalric of Bene, also called Amalric of Chartres), starting
    about 1206; and especially the Friends of God gathered around the
    layperson Rulman Merswin (1307–1382) in their Alsatian cloister
    called the Green Island.

    3. The Arts
    In the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries, churches and cathedrals
    deploy a visionary theology full of theophanies and metamorphoses.
    Their symbolism rests on a subtle knowledge of the relationships uniting God, humankind, and the universe. However, let us not attribute
    to their architects and builders more intentions than they had, despite
    a few possible references to alchemy (thus, on the bas-reliefs of the
    central portal of Notre Dame de Paris) or to astrology (tower of the

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    Sun and the Moon in the cathedral of Chartres, signs of the zodiac
    in that of Antwerp, etc.).
    Alchemy reappeared in the fourteenth century in the form of
    beautiful illuminated manuscripts, such as that of Constantinus and
    at the beginning of the fifteenth the Aurora consurgens, the “Book of
    the Holy Trinity,” and so on. In architecture, some twentieth-century
    observers wish to see a true “philosophical dwelling” (“demeure philosophale”; chapter V, section I, 1) in the palace of Jacques Coeur at
    Bourges (first half of the fifteenth century). Astrology was present in
    art in the very widespread form of plates representing the “children of
    the planets”; and playing cards, which appeared toward 1375, began
    from the early fifteenth century to serve as symbolic systems in relationship to gods and planets.
    Initiation, secrecy, love, and illuminated knowledge blended in a
    chivalrous imaginaire of which the first great literary expression developed around the legendary King Arthur; this is the Matter of Britain,
    whose heroes are Arthur, Perceval, Lancelot, and the Fisher King.
    Initiatic and symbolic scenarios are even more characteristic of Grail
    literature properly speaking. Emerging somewhere around 1180 with
    the book of Chrétien de Troyes and Robert de Boron, it associates
    Western traditions of a chivalrous type with Celtic and Druidic elements (thus, the Vita Merlini in the twelfth century), and a form of
    Christianity, notably the virtues of Christ’s blood collected by Joseph
    of Arimathea. Then, between 1200 and 1210, Wolfram von Eschenbach devoted to the Grail and to Chivalry his Parzival, in which
    certain elements of alchemy and Hermetism are identifiable.
    If not always alchemical, at least initiatic, is the Grail quest told
    in Der Junge Titurel by Albrecht von Scharfenberg, a long epic written
    soon after 1260. It contains a striking evocation of the image of the
    Temple of Solomon and the Heavenly Jerusalem (let us note here that
    the Grail theme would be practically absent from the thematic range
    of modern Western esoteric currents until the late nineteenth century). Finally, alchemical connotations are not lacking in the Roman
    de la Rose, begun by Guillaume de Lorris, continued by Jean de Meung
    and whose writing extends from 1230 to 1285; we see there displayed
    a rich symbolic universe, which miniatures and illuminations would
    come to further embellish.

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    2

    Esotericism in the Heart
    of the Renaissance and the
    Flames of the Baroque
    I. A Discovery of Humanism: Philosophia Perennis
    1. Re-emergence and Success of the Corpus Hermeticum

    T

    oward 1450, in Florence, Cosimo de Medici entrusted Marsilio
    Ficino (1433–1499; section I, 3) to create a Platonic Academy,
    and about a decade later he asked him to translate, even before any
    of the works of Plato, the Corpus Hermeticum (CH, see chapter 1,
    section I, 1) of which a certain number of treatises had just been discovered in Macedonia. Published in 1471, this Latin translation went
    through no less than twenty-five editions until 1641, to which those
    of other translations may be added. Common to many commentators
    of the period—starting with Ficino himself—was the assumption that
    these treatises, and their “author” Hermes Trismegistus, belonged to a
    very remote period, that of Moses. Many considered the treatises an
    adumbration of Christianity and thought they detected in them the
    presence of a teaching that would be an expression of a philosophia
    perennis, or “eternal philosophy,” in which this Hermes would have
    been one of the links in a chain of prestigious names.
    In the Renaissance, this characteristic represents one of the
    ways in which several modern esoteric currents would orientate their
    obsessive quest for origins. Hence, the rediscovery of Alexandrian

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    Hermetism contributed to give rise to a form of religious universalism previously espoused by Nicholas of Cusa (chapter 1, section II, 2).
    As a result, Hermetism would subsequently flourish best in periods of
    tolerance (it was to find itself stifled in England; for example, during
    the Puritan period, under Edward VI and under Mary Tudor).
    Among the main exegetes and editors of the CH in the sixteenth century, we find, besides the name of Ficino, those of Lodovico
    Lazzarelli (1447–1500; Diffinitiones Asclepii, 1482, Crater Hermetis,
    composed in 1492–1494; section III, 2); François Foix-Candale (1512–
    1594; Pimander, 1579), Hannibal Rossel (Pymander, 1585–1590),
    Symphorien Champier (1471–1538; Liber de quadruplici vita, 1507);
    Francesco Giorgi (1466–1540; De Harmonia mundi, 1525; infra, 2, and
    section III, 1), Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535; De occulta
    philosophia, 1533; Oratio in praelectionem Trismesgisti, 1535; section I,
    2), Philippe du Plessis-Mornay (1549–1623; De la vérité de la religion
    chrétienne, 1582) and Francesco Patrizi (1529–1597). The purpose of
    the latter, like that of Giordano Bruno (1548–1600; section III, 1),
    was to restore true Christianity by incorporating the Hermetic writings and the Zoroastrian oracles with it (Nova de universis philosophia,
    1591). This neo-Alexandrian Hermetism also tinges the work of John
    Dee (1527–1609; Monas Hieroglyphica, 1554; section III, 1).
    In 1614, a famous Genevan philologist, Isaac Casaubon, demonstrated that the texts of the CH date from no earlier than the
    very first centuries of our era (let us mention, however, that other
    exegetes had noted this a few years before). Thus suspected of being
    much more recent than formerly believed, they found fewer admirers
    and commentators. Some Hermetists became aware of this discovery
    only little by little, while others ignored it deliberately. An English
    translation by John Everard (1650–1657) of the CH was published
    in 1650 and remained influential (it was based on Ficino’s Latin
    translation). Robert Fludd (1574–1637) made the CH one of the
    foundations of his theosophy (Utriusque cosmic historia, 1617–1621;
    section III, 1), and Ralph Cudworth (The True Intellectual System of
    the Universe, 1678) used it to support his metaphysics. Athanasius
    Kircher, who studied its relationship with ancient Egyptian traditions
    (Oedipus aegyptiacus 1652–1654), contributed to reinforcing the wave
    of egyptophilia of modern times. Finally, this Hermetism also found

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    its way into scientific discourses—thus, in Copernicus, who mentions
    the Trismegistus in his De Revolutionibus of 1543, in Johannes Kepler
    (Harmonices Mundi, 1619, section III, 1, 2)—and in the humanist
    Richard Burton (Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621).

    2. Christian Kabbalah
    The ancient Jewish Kabbalah had placed greater emphasis on theogony
    and cosmogony than on the history of salvation and messianism. This
    second aspect took precedence over the first after the diaspora consecutive to the decree of 1492 that expulsed the Jews from Spain and
    entailed a cultural exodus especially directed toward Italy. Thus, Isaac
    Luria (1534–1572) orientated the reading of Kabbalah in this new
    direction that would later gain widespread acceptance in the Jewish
    tradition. This diaspora greatly contributed to make Jewish Kabbalah
    known and to stimulate the development of its reading in a Christian
    sense—a reading that did not begin with the Florentine Giovanni Pico
    della Mirandola (1463–1494; section I, 3), but it really emerged with
    him. Pico did not attempt a Christian interpretation of Jewish Kabbalah but instead developed a hermeneutics of Christianity by using methods that the Jews employed to discover hidden truths in the revealed
    texts. In this, his “theses” (Conclusiones, introduced in 1486) mark the
    beginning of this current; in them he asserted that the Judaism of the
    Kabbalah is identifiable with Christianity and that “no science proves
    the divinity of Christ better than Kabbalah and magic.”
    At this moment (1492–1494), Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples wrote
    De magia naturali, in which he deals with magic and Kabbalah.
    Johannes Reuchlin wrote De Verbo mirifico (1494, followed by his De
    arte cabbalistica in 1517), and the converted Jew Paulus Ricius submitted his translations of Hebrew texts into Latin (Porta lucis, 1515) to
    those curious about arithmosophy, theosophical exegesis, and divine
    names. Kabbalah, magic, Hermetism, and alchemy are interwoven to
    some extent in the daring and celebrated synthesis (in fact, a vast
    compilation) of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535; section I,
    1), De Occulta philosophia, written in 1510 and published in 1533,
    which would remain one of the great “classics” of modern Western
    esotericism until today. Celebrated also in its period is the De arcanis

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    catholicae veritatis (1518) of the Franciscan Pietro Galatino. Other
    Franciscans practiced a Christian Kabbalah, such as Jehan Thenaud,
    who wrote at the request of François I or especially Francesco Giorgio
    (or Zorzi; section I, 1), who dedicated his De Harmonia mundi (1525)
    to Clement VII. That book was translated into French (1578) under
    the title De l’Harmonie du Monde, by Guy Le Fèvre de La Boderie
    (section I, 1), and was followed in 1536 by Giorgio’s Problemata.
    The monumental work of Francesco Giorgio must not make us
    overlook the writings of Cardinal Aegidius of Viterbo, a genius of
    universal culture (Libellus, 1517; Scechinah, 1530). The most famous
    French representative of this current is Guillaume Postel (1510–1581),
    excluded from the Company of Jesus in 1545. In 1553, he gave an
    annotated translation of the Zohar, followed in 1548 by an Interprétation du candélabre de Moyse; many other books, including the first
    Latin translation of the Sepher Yetzirah, are to the credit of this prolific
    genius. Christian Kabbalah was implanted in England predominantly
    in the seventeenth century, with James Bonaventure Hepburn (Virga
    aurea, 1616) and Robert Fludd (Summum Bonum, 1629; section III,
    1). Father Marin Mersenne attempted (Observationes, 1632), in refuting Francesco Giorgio, Fludd, and Postel, to combat what had almost
    become a fashion. Finally, the Cabala denudata (1677–1684), of Knorr
    von Rosenroth, contains a partial translation of the Zohar into Latin,
    abounds in theosophical considerations and texts, picks up the torch
    of Reuchlin, Postel and their like, and would serve as a standard reference to many subsequent kabbalizing theosophers.

    3. Homo Universalis: Activity, Dignity, and Synthesis
    Thanks to thinkers such as Pico and Ficino, the Renaissance, at its
    beginnings, discovered original horizons, like Hermetism and Jewish Kabbalah. Ways of stepping back from the cultural and spiritual
    fields inherited from the Middle Ages, philosophia perennis and Christian Kabbalah further expressed the need to practice a “concordance”
    of various traditions worldwide and favored the tendency to imagine corespondences at play on all levels of reality. This attitude was
    accompanied by an exaltation of human labor and human activities.

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    Thus, in the case of Ficino, Hermetism and Platonism served to extol
    the greatness of humanity and to construct a cosmosophy (Theologia
    platonica, 1469–1474; De vita coelitus comparanda, 1489; section I, 1;
    section III, 1).
    Pico, a multitalented polymath, intended to create a harmonious
    synthesis of Plato, Artistotle, and Christianity, but also to reinterpret
    the latter through “Kabbalah and magic” (section I, 2). Whereas Kabbalah relates to the “initial causes,” magic, which acts on the “second”
    or “intermediary causes”—for example, on the stars—brings together
    the natural and the religious, and places the branches of knowledge
    and of religion on a common trunk. However, despite the visionary cosmology that he presents in his Heptaplus, the very eclectic
    curiosities of Pico have little bearing on either Nature philosophy or
    mathematics. His spirited critique of deterministic astrology reminds
    individuals that they are free. Moreover, in his Oratio de dignitate hominis (1486), he declares that we are not only a microcosm reflecting a
    macrocosm, but also beings endowed with the faculty of making decisions about our destiny and about the place we are to occupy within
    the hierarchy of beings.

    II. The Germanic Contribution:
    Nature Philosophy and Theosophy
    1. Paracelsism
    In the Germanic countries of the sixteenth century, Lutheranism
    tended to dampen the reception of Neoplatonism, neo-Alexandrian
    Hermetism, and Kabbalah. But this was compensated for by a “magical” vision of the world, very widespread in the Europe of those times,
    and notably by the appearance and the development of a Nature philosophy of which Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, known
    as Paracelsus (1493/1494–1541), is the most illustrious representative.
    This Swiss spent his life traveling through Europe, studying Nature,
    caring for the sick, and writing. Appointed professor at the Academy
    of Medicine of Basel in 1527, he did not remain there for long, having caused offense by his proposals of reform. Besides, he did not use

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    Latin but German, and, to make it worse, he attacked the authority
    of the Ancients (like that of Galen), which he aimed to replace with
    “experience”—in the sense of “practical experimentation.” In dying,
    he left a considerable body of work (Volumen paramirum, Philosophia
    Sagax, and many other titles) of which only a small part was published
    in his lifetime. Not until the publication of the Huser edition (1589)
    had most of his works got into print.
    While in the Neoplatonic tradition we pass from the first divine
    principle to matter through a series of degrees, Nature, according to
    Paracelsus, is founded directly on divine omnipotence. Nature is an
    epiphany. Moreover, Paracelsus is comparable to the Neoplatonists
    Plotinus and Proclus by his qualitative concept of time, “which
    flows in a thousand ways,” each individual thing possessing its own
    rhythm. Although not practicing alchemy, he conceived the universe
    in “chemical” terms; everything, including the stars, has been created
    “chemically” and hence continues to evolve—furthermore, Western
    alchemy initiated a turning point under his influence. An instrument
    of the knowledge of the world, of humanity, of the very Creator, it
    would increasingly become a totalizing vision. By the same token,
    this “science of Hermes” found itself connected as though organically
    to astrology, which Paracelsus did not conceive as a system of influences or physical determinations, but rather as a blueprint of universal
    interdependences, the stars finding themselves at least as much inside
    human beings as outside them.
    A principle of knowledge, an organ of our soul, called the
    “Light of Nature,” reveals the magnalia Dei or the correlations between
    humanity, the Earth, the stars, the metals, and the chemical elements.
    Just as our physical body takes nourishment from the elements, so
    our invisible sidereal body takes nourishment by letting the Gestirn
    (the spirit of the stars) act in it. The task not only of “Doctors”
    (physicians), but also of people in general, is to learn how to receive
    this “light of Nature” in themselves. Like Pico and Ficino (section I,
    3), Paracelsus understood human existence in a dynamic perspective,
    as a task to accomplish. Hence, emphasis was placed on individual
    responsibility, whereas in the Middle Ages human beings instead felt
    immersed within the flow of a preordained community.

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    The influence of this thought was considerable. It radiated
    throughout several branches of knowledge, especially starting at the
    end of the century. The esoteric currents are not the only ones concerned; what would little by little become chemistry in the modern
    sense is, too, as is medicine—and this despite strong oppositions (e.g.,
    that of Thomas Erastus, Disputationes, 1572–1573). Most of the great
    continuators of Paracelsus, notably Gérard Dorn (Congeries Paracelsicae, 1581; section II, 2; section III, 2), contributed to make him known
    in the second half of the sixteenth century and inherited from him
    his idea of the complementarities of the two “Books,” namely, the
    Bible and Nature. Among other very numerous names appearing in
    his wake are Oswald Croll (Basilica chymica, 1609) and Jan Baptista
    van Helmont (Ortus mediciniae, 1648).

    2. Jacob Boehme and the Theosophical Current
    By the accent put on the “Light of Nature,” Paracelsism already heralds the great Christian theosophical current. It is again in Germany
    that the latter appeared. It is prefigured by such persons as Agrippa,
    Francesco Giorgio, and Guillaume Postel, whom we have already met;
    by Lambert Daneau (Physice christiana, 1575); by speculative alchemists such as Gérard Dorn (Clavis totius philosophiae, 1567; section II,
    1; section III, 2); by Heinrich Khunrath whose Amphithatrum Sapientiae
    Aeternae (1595 and 1609) is illustrated by a series of plates become
    famous; and by Valentin Weigel (Der Güldene Griff, 1578; Dialogus de
    Christianismo, 1584), who strove to weave together the Rheno-Flemish
    mystical tradition and a concrete thought of a Paracelsian type (cf.
    also infra, 3, on Arndt).
    Christian theosophy shares the characteristics enumerated above
    (introduction, section IV) with the other modern Western esoteric
    currents. It nevertheless possesses certain characteristics that, taken
    together, serve to specify its originality within this esoteric landscape
    and that, so it seems to us, come down to three.
    1. The God–Humanity–Nature triangle: Theosophical speculation pertains simultaneously to God, the nature of God (notably the
    intra-divine processes), Nature (external, intellectual, or material) and

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    human beings (their origin, their place in the universe, and in the
    economy of salvation).
    2. Direct access to higher worlds and this, by virtue of a “creative
    imagination” (introduction, section IV) that can lead to a specific
    experience, Zentralschau or “central vision.” The Zentralschau, a type
    of altered state of consciousness, is illuminative; it permits embracing
    in one stroke, as though intuitively, the totality of what constitutes
    the “triangle” mentioned above; the theosophers that do not have the
    direct experience themselves always refer to those of their predecessors
    who were gratified with it.
    3. The primacy of the mythical: Theosophers practice a permanent
    and creative hermeneutic of the “texts of origin” (those of the Bible),
    which serve them as supports for meditation. They achieve this by
    privileging the mythical elements (that is to say, stories in images) of
    these texts (e.g., those that we find in Genesis, the vision of Ezekiel,
    and the Apocalypse).
    The first great representative of the theosophical current properly speaking is Jacob Boehme (1575–1624). A shoemaker of Goerlitz,
    in Silesia, he had an experience of Zentralschau in 1610, triggered by
    the contemplation of sunlight on a pewter vessel. This determined his
    spiritual vocation and as an author. Aurora (1612), the first book that
    this illumination had inspired in him, circulated in manuscript and
    caused him trouble with the Protestant authorities. His following writings had the same effect. Only Der Weg zu Christo was printed during
    his lifetime, in 1624, and the first almost complete edition (by Johann
    Georg Gichtel, cf. infra) of his books came out in 1682. From this
    prolific work, one of the most impressive in German baroque prose,
    let us cite (only the titles are in Latin) De Tribus Principiis (1619), De
    signatura rerum (1621), Mysterium Magnum (1623).
    Boehme is not a humanist and, if he is dependent on influences, it is those of Paracelsus, alchemy, and a little bit of Kabbalah.
    In contrast to a medieval and even Neoplatonic conception of God,
    he does not conceive of the latter as static but as the place of a passionate struggle of opposing principles. Before Being, there “was” the
    Ungrund—that is to say, the “fathomless” Godhead that ontologically
    ‘precedes’ Divinity (God) proper. It is not Reason but a principle, an
    obscure Will, which finds itself at the foundation of Being. Boehme

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    therefore does not recognize as a supreme entity the deitas such as
    Meister Eckhart conceived it, and which escaped any becoming.
    Instead, he views it as a fire of a Heraclitean type, a principle that is
    never in esse but always in fieri, which “sees” in its living mirror, in
    the divine Wisdom or Sophia, the potential world. Thus, created by
    this vision, the divine image then desires, magically engenders, the
    temporal image.
    In the West, sophiology, in other words, the discourses inspired
    by this character in the Old Testament (see Book of Wisdom, Proverbs,
    etc.), had not yet become the subject of so many speculations, but the
    Amphitheatrum of Khunrath, published in 1595 (cf. supra), could have
    set Boehme on this path. Sophia is almost everywhere present on the
    great spans of this baroque cathedral that is the work of the Silesian
    shoemaker. She finds herself associated there with the themes of the
    fall of Lucifer and of Adam, with the spiritual corporeity of the angels,
    with the idea that all exterior form is language or Figur, and with grandiose evocations of the seven Quellgeister or “source-spirits” structuring
    the relationships between God, humanity, and the universe.
    This “prince of Christian theosophy,” as he has often been called,
    enjoyed a certain success in the general turmoil of seventeenth-century Germany. But in other countries, too, theosophy would continue
    to flourish, irrigated by the thought of Boehme, with Johann Georg
    Gichtel (1638–1710; Theosophia practica, published only in 1722; section III, 3), Gottfried Arnold (Das Geheimniss der göttlichen Weissheit
    oder Sophia, 1700; section III, I, 1), Pierre Poiret (L’Économie divine
    ou Système universel, 1687), Antoinette Bourignon (Oeuvres published
    by Poiret, 1679–1684), John Pordage (Sophia, 1675; Theologia mystica,
    1683), Jane Leade (A Fountain of Gardens, 1700)—and many others. Besides theosophy properly speaking, various authors and currents
    were receptive to Boehme and to Paracelsus, whose teachings seemed
    to favor a union of faith and knowledge.

    3. The First Rosy-Cross
    The first Rosicrucian text appeared in 1614, at Cassel (Germany). It
    was an anonymous manifesto of thirty-eight pages in German, titled
    Fama Fraternitatis “of the praiseworthy order of the Rose Cross,”

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    addressed to “all the scholars of Europe” (but this text had already
    circulated for about four years in manuscript form). We find in it a
    critique of the spiritual situation of Europe, accompanied by considerations on a possible redemption owing not to the Churches but to
    a spiritual science in which heart and knowledge would find union.
    Added to hints of Christian Kabbalah and Pythagoreanism, as well as
    a strong stamp of Paracelsism, is the biography of a mythical character,
    C.R.C., a great traveler who would have sojourned in Arabia, in Egypt,
    and then returned home to Germany to found the said Fraternity
    there. One hundred and twenty years after his death, in 1604 according to this text, his tomb containing magical formulas and secrets of
    life would have been found.
    In 1615, the Fama Fraternitatis was republished in Frankfurt
    with another text, also anonymous, the Confessio Fraternitatis, whose
    authors observe that the age has entered the sign of Mercury, the “Lord
    of the Word.” They suggest that they are about to reveal part of the
    Adamic language by means of which people can discover the hidden
    meanings of the Bible and, at the same time, of creation because the
    Scriptures are “the Compendium and the quintessence of the whole
    world.” The third text, Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz Anno
    1459 (The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz in the Year
    1459), published in 1616 and also anonymous, is an initiatic novel
    whose hero, Christian Rosenkreutz, undertakes a journey in which the
    hierogamy of Christ and of His Church, of God with His creation, are
    described in alchemical metaphors. This fine baroque novel has never
    ceased to stimulate new works of exegesis.
    The first two of these three texts were the work of several authors
    at this time of great crisis that led to the Thirty Years War. Among
    them were, in all likelihood, Tobias Hess (1568–1614) and Johann
    Valentin Andreae (1586–1654). Hess was known as a medical doctor.
    Andreae (1586–1654), who belonged to an important dynasty of Swabian Lutheranism, is the undisputed author of the novel published in
    1616. He left at his death a rather considerable body of work. In his
    lifetime, he found himself prey to a great deal of harassment because
    the Protestant authorities strongly suspected him of being the source
    of the Rosicrucian myth that, with the publication of the two manifestoes (the Fama and the Confessio), enjoyed overwhelming success.

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    Indeed, a great many writings either favorable to the contents
    of these two texts or directed against them immediately appeared in
    various countries. We count more than two hundred of them between
    1614 and 1620, and about nine hundred up to the beginning of
    the nineteenth century. Among the most important authors having
    immediately defended and spread the “Rosicrucian” ideas, were Robert Fludd (Apologia [Rosae Crucis], 1516; section III, 1), Theophilus
    Schweighart (Speculum Sophicum Rhodo Stauroticum, 1618), and Jan
    Amos Comenius (Christianiae societatis imago, 1620). With Comenius,
    the irenic project of Andreae, which did not go beyond Germany
    and the Lutheran confession, “took on planetary dimensions and heralded the humanitarianism of Freemasonry” (R. Edighoffer). In fact,
    the ideas sown by Comenius took shape in 1660 with the founding of
    the Royal Society of London (indeed the English, like the Germans,
    then proved more receptive than did the French to the introduction
    of Rosicrucian ideas).
    The Society with which we are dealing in the two manifestoes is only a literary myth, but we can probably consider that the
    multiplication of initiatic societies starting in the eighteenth century
    finds one of its direct origins there (chapter 3, section III). Furthermore, the Rosicrucian current largely contributed to favor the interest
    of the period for speculations of a theosophical character related to
    Nature, in the Paracelsian wake. This interest was shared, notably,
    by Aegidius Gutman (Offenbahrung göttlicher Majesteit; published in
    1619, this work had circulated since its completion, probably as early
    as 1575); by Simon Studion (whose Naometria of the same period,
    although still unpublished, was also in circulation); and by Johann
    Arndt (1555–1621).
    In his Vier Bücher vom wahren Christenthum (principally in the
    last of the four volumes, published in 1610), Arndt develops and
    specifies what, beginning with him, would be called—in his own
    terms—“mystical theology.” The latter was an attempt to integrate
    medieval mysticism, the neo-Paracelsian heritage, and alchemy, with
    theology—an integration possibly due, according to him, to a faculty
    attributed to the individual to achieve a “second birth,” understood
    as the acquisition of a new body in the elected soul. It might seem
    permissible to see in this mystical theology a subtle link between the

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    Rosicrucian manifestoes and the Chemical Wedding of Andreae, but
    also one of the reasons for the vogue of the theosophical current.

    III. Readings of the World and of Myths
    1. Philosophia Occulta
    From the end of the fifteenth century to that of the seventeenth, the
    currents hitherto mentioned all more or less belong to the so-called
    philosophia occulta, understood as a “magical” conception of the world
    where everything acts upon and reflects everything else analogically.
    Witchcraft and its spells, black magic, pacts with the Devil, and goety
    (goetia, invocation of angels or demons) are only very indirectly connected with these currents, but they represent like the dark side of this
    philosophia occulta and constitute an important sector of the imaginaire
    of those days.
    Magia naturalis is a premodern form of natural science; it is the
    knowledge and the use of forces and occult virtues (powers) considered
    as “natural” because objectively present in nature (cf. e.g., Magiae
    naturalis libri viginti, 1589, of Giovanni Battista della Porta). It is hardly
    distinguishable from an experimental science still in its infancy and it
    often appears as a form of naturalism tainted with atheism. However,
    this ambiguous expression can also refer to a magia understood as an
    attempt to unify Nature and religion. To this magia belongs white
    magic or theurgy, which uses names, rites, and incantations with a
    view to establishing a personal link with entities not belonging to
    the world of physical creation. The two aspects of magia naturalis (the
    naturalist type, and white magic) are sometimes combined; thus, in
    “celestial” or “astronomical” magic, the stars are considered from a
    double viewpoint: as much their physical and natural influence as
    their “will” (cf. e.g., De Vita coelitus comparanda, 1489, by Ficino; De
    occulta philosophia, 1533, by Agrippa; section I, 1).
    To these very representative names of “occult philosophy” let us
    add six of the principle ones (Fludd, Paracelsus; a number of others,
    cited supra, are obviously connected with it). Johannes Trithemius
    (1462–1516), abbot of Spanhein, is the author of a Steganographia

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    that remained unpublished until 1606, and his De Septem Secundeis
    (1522) treats of the seven angels or intelligences animating the
    celestial orbs and the history of the world. Jacques Gohory (alias Leo
    Suavius, 1520–1576), musicologist, neo-Paracelsian, has left notably
    a De usu et mysteriis notarum liber (1550). To invoke the angels, the
    Elizabethan magus John Dee (1527–1609; section I, 1) combined Kabbalistic operations with the angelic hierarchies of Pseudo-Dionysius (A
    True and Faithful Relation, published in 1659). The Dominican Tommaso Campanella (1568–1639) is one of the last great philosophers
    of the Renaissance in the Ficinian tradition (De sensu rerum et magia,
    1620). To these names should be added, of course, those of Francis
    Bacon (1561–1626; Novum Organum, 1620; Sylva silvarum, 1627); and
    Giordano Bruno (1548–1600; section I, 1), a Copernican marked by
    Alexandrian Hermetism and champion of a religious irenicism. In his
    occult philosophy of Nature, Bruno makes little room for the angelic
    world; and it was not his books of magic (Sigillus sigillorum, 1583;
    De Imaginum . . . compositione, 1591, etc.) that got him burned at the
    stake of the Inquisition, but rather his anti-Trinitarian and cosmological views (of an infinite universe, notably).
    A celestial arithmetic and music is constant underpinning to
    these forms of “universal magic.” Henceforth, and more than ever,
    astrology would take on the role of “queen of sciences.” It lends itself
    well to this in its Paracelsian aspect, but in the seventeenth century,
    it also tended to assume a different one. The two famous theoreticians Placido Titi (Physiomathematica, 1650) and Jean-Baptiste Morin
    (Astrologia Gallica, 1661) aimed to tie it to the cosmologies of Aristotle
    and Ptolemy, at the very time when these cosmologies were definitively undermined by the discoveries in astronomy and by the new
    celestial mechanics. It nonetheless remains that in the sixteenth and
    the seventeenth centuries intermediary spirits, stars, and things of our
    Earth continued to “correspond” in the sense of interconnections that
    Ficino, for example, saw as occurring via the spiritus mundi, a vehicle
    of stellar influx. It is not the world of the medieval Picatrix that was
    changed; it is instead the role of humanity that was perceived differently, as less passive.
    The main faculty—essentially “active”—that permits penetrating
    the world of correspondences is, as we have seen, the imagination—

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    the vis imaginativa—supposed to produce effects on our own body as
    on the outside of the latter, at the same time as it is an instrument of
    knowledge, of gnosis. Connected to this idea was the famous “Art of
    memory” inherited from procedures of medieval mnemotechnique and
    inspired by Alexandrian Hermetism. It consists in making enter, in
    some manner, into our mind—into our mens—human history, Nature,
    and all available knowledge, by associating mental images with mythological and planetary referents (cf. especially Giulio Camillo, L’idea del
    teatro, 1550, and various writings of Bruno and Fludd).
    The arithmology of the neo-Pythagorean tradition made its
    presence felt in this whole in a manner that was usually obvious. It
    was the subject of specific treatment by Josse Clichtove (De mystica
    numerorum significationae, 1513), a disciple of Lefèvre d’Étaples around
    whom the arithmosophers Charles de Bovelles and Germain de Ganay
    also worked—or by Petrus Bungus (Numerorum mysteria, 1588). It was
    present in the cosmology of Johannes Kepler himself (Mysterium cosmographicum, 1596; section I, 1), who was also an astrologer. Numbers and mathematics were for Robert Fludd (Utriusque cosmic historia,
    1617–1619; section III, 3) a privileged tool enabling study of the entire
    structure of the visible and invisible universe in its unity. He associated
    them intimately with music, just as Francesco Giorgi (section I, 1, 2)
    before him and Fabio Paolini (Hebdomades, 1589), or again Michael
    Maier in his Atalanta fugiens (1618; section III, 3).
    The sixteenth century also witnessed the appearance of historical figures that posterity would cloak with an aura of mystery. Thus,
    Michel de Nostre-Dame (alias Nostradamus, 1503–1566), who practiced theurgy and wrote “prognostications” in verses, which relate to
    future history (his Centuries and his Prophecies have gone through a
    great number of re-editions.) In addition, Georg Faust, who lived from
    1480 to about 1540, would have signed a pact with the Devil. Faust’s
    sulfurous adventure was recounted in a German Volksbuch printed in
    1587 (it has inspired countless works of fiction). Let us note finally
    that, in the form of dissertationes and disputationes, the universities of
    the seventeenth century, in Germany perhaps still more than elsewhere, bear witness to a lively interest in the occult. Moreover, in
    Spain and in Portugal a strong Islamic stamp created fertile ground
    for interest in philosophia occulta. To wit, De Medendis corporis malis

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    (1605), by Bravo Chamisso, a medical doctor from Louvain; and
    Demonologia sive de magia, (1623), by Francisco Torreblanca, a jurist
    from Cordova.

    2. Alchemy: Science of Humanity, Nature, and Myths
    Still at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the alchemical writings circulated mainly in manuscript form; thus, a treatise of Lodovico
    Lazzarelli (section I, 1), or the De Auro of Gianfrancesco Pico della
    Mirandola (written in 1527, published in 1586). Among the most
    widely known of the printed publications are the poem Chrisopoeia
    (1515) by G. A. Augurello, Ars transmutationis (1518) by J. A. Pantheus, and Coelum philosophorum (1525) by Philip Ulstad. To these
    works are added several anthologies of various treatises, such as De
    Alchemia in 1541 (which contains the first printed version of the
    famous text The Emerald Tablet), or Verae alchemiae . . . (1561) edited
    by Gulielmo Gratarolo.
    Starting from the end of the century, an important part of
    alchemical literature fits into the Paracelsian wake and often appears
    as a proto-theosophy, as with Dorn and Khunrath (section II, 2). It
    further makes itself distinctly theosophizing in the case of Thomas
    Vaughan (Magia adamica, 1650). In England, Elias Ashmole, one of
    the founders of the Royal Society, contributed to its influence, and it
    was the purpose of the “Invisible College” of Samuel Hartlib to bring
    together all chemical and alchemical knowledge.
    Besides this pansophic tendency, let us note three characteristic
    traits of seventeenth-century alchemy:
    1. An interest in mythology, considered as a system of keys hiding the secrets of the Great Work under allegories (thus, in the case
    of Clovis Hesteau de Nuysement, Traictez du vray Sel, 1621; or Willem
    Mennens, Aurei Velleris libri tres, 1604). This tendency goes back to
    the High Middle Ages.
    2. A taste for fine illustrations (infra, 3).
    3. Editions of encyclopedias, anthologies, and sometimes voluminous compilations: Theatrum Chemicum, 1602 (edited by Eberhard
    Zetzner) several re-editions, including the one in six large volumes
    (1659–1661); Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, introduced by Elias

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    Ashmole, 1652; Musaeum Hermeticum, 1678; Bibliotheca chemica curiosa, edited by Jean-Jacques Manget (1702, 2 in-fol.).
    Alchemy was patronized by German emperors (Rudolf II of
    Prague especially, but also Ferdinand II) and many princes, because
    they thought of gaining riches through the transmutations of metals.
    Some of the learned founders of modern science did not disdain it.
    Isaac Newton devoted a considerable time to it (most of the many
    alchemical writings that he has left date from the seven or eight years
    that followed the appearance of his Principia of 1686). Finally, we could
    not overemphasize that, in a general manner over the course of this
    long period, the alchemists clearly strove to do “scientific” work and
    not—contrary to what is too easily believed today—to oppose who
    knows what “official science” of their time.

    3. A Hermetico-Emblematic Art
    A hermeticizing art is present in Renaissance Italy. Either a character
    like the Trismegistus himself appears in the figures (thus, in 1488, on
    the pavement of the cathedral of Sienna), or zodiacal signs, mythical
    characters and hermetic symbols are associated to create frescoes or
    paintings (Borgia apartments in the Vatican, the Primavera of Botticelli in 1478, etc). With the first plates of his De Mundi aetatibus
    imagines (1545–1573), the Portuguese Francesco de Holanda proved
    himself a brilliant precursor of Jacob Boehme and of William Blake.
    From the end of the sixteenth century and for about thirty years,
    we see the flowering of many works in which the importance of the
    engravings is equal to or greater than that of the text itself. Mostly
    alchemical, the engravings are in the line of the emblematic tradition born with Andrea Alciati’s Emblemata (1551). These include,
    for example, Cabala (1616) of Stephan Michelspacher, Opus medicochymicus and Philosophia reformata (1622) of J. D. Mylius, De lapide
    philosophico of Lampsprinck (1625), the anthology of Ashmole (supra,
    2), the Mutus liber (1677, without text) or again the celebrated Atalanta fugiens (1618, section III, 1) of Michael Maier, in which each
    of the fifty emblematic plates is accompanied by a text and a musical
    score. Not essentially alchemical but instead theosophical are certain
    works that are admirably illustrated, such as the Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (section II, 2; section III, 2) of Heinrich Khunrath,
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    the Utriusque Cosmi historia (1617–1621) of Robert Fludd—or again
    the almost complete edition (1682) of Boehme’s works, in Amsterdam,
    presented by Johann Georg Gichtel (section II, 2).
    Literature, too, also maintained fruitful relationships with esotericism. The Hypnerotomachia (or Dream of Poliphile, 1499) by Francesco
    Colonna, the Cinquième Livre (1564) by François Rabelais, and the
    Voyage des Princes fortunés (1610) by Beroalde de Verville belong to
    a “literary esotericism” in some ways comparable to that of Andreae’s
    Rosicrucian novel (1616; section II, 3). Mannerism and occult sciences got along harmoniously in the works of Maurice Scève (Microcosme, 1562), Guy Lefèvre de la Boderie (La Gaillade, 1578), Fabio
    Paolini (Hebdomades, 1589; section II, 2), Edmund Spencer (The Fairie
    Queene, 1596), Torquato Tasso (Mondo creato, 1607), and Giambattista Marino (Dicerie Sacre, 1614). Dramatists brought this same science onto the Elizabethan stage, whether their plays are permeated
    with it (William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1610) or are concerned
    with mocking it (Ben Jonson, The Alchemist, 1610). But such works
    are countless, from the baroque and theosophical collection of poems
    Cherubinischer Wandersmann (1675) of Johann Scheffler (alias Angelus Silesius) to the explicitly alchemical theater of Christian Knorr
    von Rosenroth (Conjugium Phoebis et Palladis, 1677), and including
    the very popular Comte de Gabalis ou entretiens sur les sciences secrètes
    (1670) of Montfaucon de Villars.
    The paintings of Jerome Bosch (“The Garden of Delights,”
    toward 1510) and of Peter Breughel the elder (Dulle Griet, 1562)
    have not yet revealed all their mysteries. Two pictorial works of the
    seventeenth century merit particular attention. One is the anonymous
    painting La Vierge alchimique, visible in the Saint-Rémy Museum of
    Reims, of Hermetist and arithmosophical connotations, a work probably sponsored by the Jesuits and dating from the beginning of the seventeenth century. The other is the Kabbalistic altarpiece Turris Antonia
    (or “didactic tablet of the princess Antonia de Wurtemberg”), painted
    at Bad Teinach, near Stuttgart (1663–1673). Both are still located in
    their place of origin. The examples are many. For instance, one of
    the engravings of the Icones Biblicae of Matthieu Merian (reproduced
    in the Lutheran Bible of Strasbourg, 1623) represents the Wedding
    at Cana in a setting that seems to allude to both the Rosicrucian
    teachings and the alchemical transmutation.
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    3

    Esotericism in the Shadow
    of the Enlightenment
    I. Sunburst of Theosophy
    1. At the Dawn of Illuminism

    T

    ranslated into German in 1706 (with a Paracelsian commentary),
    the Corpus Hermeticum (CH) also was the subject of scholarly
    presentations in late Germanic humanism (Bibliotheca Graeca of J. A.
    Fabricius, 1708–1727). However, it also had recently been the subject, along with the neo-Alexandrian current, Rosicrucianism, and
    theosophy, of a refutation by Daniel Ehregott Colberg, a Lutheran
    theologian. His voluminous work Das platonisch-hermetisches [sic] Christenthum (1690–1691), as hostile as it may have been, nevertheless represents the first “history” ever written of the modern esoteric currents
    (until the end of the seventeenth century). It was soon followed by a
    monumental work by Gottfried Arnold, a theosopher and sophiologist
    (chapter 2, section II, 2), who devoted a copious historical work to
    them (and to a good number of “mystical” authors) (Unpartheyische
    Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie, 1699–1700). A little later came long and
    very critical developments by Jacob Brucker, a Protestant historian of
    philosophy, on Kabbalah, Pythagoreanism, and theosophy, in his Historia critica philosophiae (vols. II and IV, 1743)—a compendium widely
    read throughout the time of the Enlightenment and even later.
    In England, in the 1720s, Dionysius Andreas Freher wrote
    many commentaries on the works of Boehme (they would remain
    unpublished but would circulate in various milieux open to receiving
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    them), and William Law (The Way to Divine Knowledge, 1752) contributed to the continuity of the theosophical current. In Switzerland,
    the famous “Berleburg Bible” (1726–1742) also made a contribution,
    by introducing it into the pietist milieux. It was again at Berleburg
    that Hector de Saint-Georges de Marsais published his works (such
    as Explication de la Genèse, 1738), influenced—as much as this Bible
    is—by Boehme, Mme Guyon, and Pierre Poiret. Le Mystère de la Croix
    (1732), a work signed by Douzetemps, is an example of an interpenetration of mysticism, pietism, and theosophy.
    On the edge of this tendency orientated toward a certain form
    of “mysticism” another one appeared, by which the initiatic societies
    of the second half of the eighteenth century would draw inspiration,
    and which lies in a more Paracelsian wake. It is represented especially
    by three major works of a theosophical type, written in German and
    reprinted several times. These are, first, Theo-Philosophia Theoretico
    practica (1711) by Samuel Richter (alias Sincerus Renatus); second,
    Aurea catena Homeri (1723) by A. J. Kirchweger; and third, Opus
    mago cabbalisticum et theosophicum (1719) by Georg von Welling (alias
    Salwigt), a book that would long be deeply influential—not least on
    the young Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
    Freemasonry as it is usually understood (i.e., “speculative Freemasonry”), appeared in London in 1717. Toward 1730, it introduced
    into its rituals the myth of the death and the resurrection of Hiram.
    This would favor the appearance—but essentially on the continent—
    starting from the 1750s, of masonic or paramasonic Rites (also sometimes called Systems, or Orders) with Higher Grades (or “Degrees”),
    that is, above the three grades of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft,
    and Master Mason, which constitute what is called “blue” or Craft
    Masonry. The creators of certain neo-Rosicrucian Higher Grades in
    the second half of the century drew upon the three works in German
    above (see also section III, 1, 2).

    2. The Great Theosophers
    The years from 1770 to about 1815 correspond to what it is commonly
    called the period of Illuminism (section I, 3). Theosophy then shone
    again in all its brilliance.

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    The Swede Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), a reputed scientist, interrupted his properly scientific activities in 1745 following dreams that had suddenly come to transform his inner life. He
    immersed himself then in the study of the Bible and wrote his Arcana
    coelestia (1747–1758), followed by many other works.
    Swedenborg presented his visions using images and figures that
    constitute a type of descriptive, even realistic, geography of the celestial spheres, of the “spiritual” worlds. His work greatly contributed to
    disseminate to a wide audience the idea of universal correspondences
    that, from Nature to humanity and from humanity to God, appear as
    an indefinite series of intermediaries. In the natural world, any object,
    even the most minor, “corresponds” to something that partakes of a
    higher order of reality, without solution of continuity. A sometimes
    colorful but generally rather flat style is off-putting to many readers,
    but the fame of this visionary spread quickly as early as the 1770s,
    notably by means of many translations and abridgements. They penetrated into various intellectual milieux. Immanuel Kant devoted a
    whole treatise to Swedenborg (Träume eines Geistersehers, 1766; translated as Dreams of a Spirit Seer). Moreover, no theosopher has exerted a
    more significant influence on literature than he has. Most of the other
    great theosophers did not value Swedenborg highly, whose Christology
    appeared suspicious to them and whose cosmology left little room for
    Nature. However, “Swedenborgianism” inspired some masonic Rites
    and, in 1787, even incited Anglican ecclesiastics to create a little
    Church, the New Church, still flourishing today.
    The Swabian Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702–1782; section
    II, 3), Lutheran pastor, Nature philosopher, and alchemist, nourished
    by Boehme and the Kabbalah, exegete of Swedenborg from whom he
    nevertheless strongly distanced himself, represents a form of eclectic
    and erudite esotericism. Magia, the highest of sciences, is for him a
    method of knowledge in the search for connections between terrestrial and celestial physics. Everything, for him, is “physical”—however
    “subtle” it may be. There are no such things as pure spirits (“Corporeality is the end [the goal] of the works of God,” was one of his
    mottos). To practice a “superior physics” and a permanent hermeneutic
    (nourished by Kabbalah and alchemy) can furnish us with keys to
    knowledege about the relationships between Nature and the Bible.

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    Among his principal works appeared Biblisches und emblematisches
    Wörterbuch (1776), and Oeffentliches Denckmal der Princessen Antonia
    (1763; the latter consists of a commentary on the Turris Antonia, cf.
    chapter 2, section III, 3). Through an essay on the Kabbalah of Isaac
    Luria (chapter 2, section I, 2), Oetinger contributed to make known
    to the German pietists the Hassidism that is spiritually so close to
    pietism.
    Less a physicist and less a Kabbalist, Michael Hahn (1758–1819)
    is, however, a great theosopher in the lineage of Boehme. His writings
    on androgyny and the Sophia remain classics of the genre. More celebrated, more popular by his writings, only little influenced by Boehme,
    is Karl von Eckartshausen (1752–1803; section III, 3), of Munich. His
    work (which includes Zahlenlehre der Natur [1794] and the famous
    Die Wolke über dem Heiligthum—1802, translated as The Cloud upon
    the Sanctuary) is exceedingly rich. His major books, translated and
    republished in several languages (many in Russian, notably), have to
    date never ceased to find a hearing. It is also in German that the Alsatian Frédéric R. Saltzmann wrote, in the first years of the nineteenth
    century, a theosophical work in the Boehmean wake, but with a more
    limited reception (Es wird alles neu werden, 1802–1810).
    The Traité de la Réintégration des êtres, by Martines de Pasqually
    (1727–1774; section III, 1)—the founder of the theurgical Order of the
    Élus-Coëns—is one of the masterpieces of modern theosophy. Under
    its influence, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin (1743–1803; chapter 4,
    section I, 2), who would call himself “the Unknown Philosopher,”
    composed his first two works, Des Erreurs et de la vérité (1775) and
    Tableau naturel des rapports qui existent entre Dieu, l’homme et l’univers
    (1781). During a sojourn in Strasbourg (1788–1791), he befriended
    Frédéric R. Saltzmann (cf. supra) who had him discover Boehme.
    Henceforth strongly under Boehme’s spell, he produced other master
    works of theosophy, including L’Homme de désir (1790), Le Nouvel
    homme and Ecce Homo (1792), Le Ministère de l’Homme-Esprit and De
    l’Esprit des choses (1802).
    Saint-Martin was not simply an emulator of Pasqually and of
    Boehme, but was especially the most important theosopher of his time
    as well as one of the principal representatives of preromantic literature
    in France. His influence, as much direct as diffuse, has never ceased

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    to make itself felt. He has left behind interesting correspondence with
    masons or Élus-Coëns such as Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (1730–1824;
    section II, 3; section III, 1), as well as with personalities spiritually
    still closer to him, such as the Bernese Niklaus Anton Kirchberger
    (1739–1799).
    In this gallery of famous theosophers, another Swiss has his
    place, Jean-Philippe Dutoit-Membrini (1721–1793), author of a Philosophie divine (1793) that also appears among the important works
    produced by this current. Finally, the last years of the century and
    the period of the Empire saw the emergence, especially in Germany,
    of a Nature philosophy (a Naturphilosophie) often strongly tinged with
    theosophy (infra, section III).

    3. Faces of Illuminism
    As recalled earlier, Illuminism is the term used to refer to a general
    orientation of thought that flourished from the 1760s to the beginning of the nineteenth century. If it is especially represented by the
    theosophers, it is also by all those who found themselves more or less
    in affinity with them, and by a number of initiatic societies (infra, section III). Accordingly, won over generally to theosophy but marked by
    forms of devotional esotericism or notable singularities as well, various
    characters compose this gallery.
    First is the engaging Johann Caspar Lavater (1741–1801). A
    Lutheran minister in Zurich, curious about supernatural phenomena,
    he did not scorn theurgy, practiced animal magnetism occasionally,
    and developed ideas impregnated with a form of naturalistic Christology (Aussichten in die Ewigkeit, 1768–1778), but posterity sees in
    him especially the first great modern theoretician of physiognomony
    (Physiognomische Fragmente, 1775–1778). Probably few German-speaking thinkers since Luther maintained a correspondence as monumental
    as his.
    Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling (1740–1817; section III, 3) resembled him by the magnitude of his correspondence and his researches in
    “metapsychical” phenomena (Theorie der Geisterkunde, 1807). Communications with the spirit world were also a focal point for Jean Frederic
    Oberlin (1740–1826), a Protestant minister in Steinthal (Alsace). In

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    Russia, Ivan Vladimirovich Lopukhin (1775–1815; section III, 1) has
    left a short work that met with long-standing success: Quelques traits
    de l’Église intérieure (Some Characteristics of the Interior Church),
    written in Russian in 1791, published in French in 1798, several times
    translated and republished, close to Hesychasm by the techniques of
    prayer that are taught in it. This prominent figure of Russian Freemasonry translated into his language, and published, texts by Boehme,
    Swedenborg, Eckartshausen, and Jung-Stilling.
    Besides these avenues of Christian spirituality, Illuminism included other figures, of a neo-pagan orientation. If Antoine Fabre d’Olivet
    wrote La Langue hebraïque restituée (1810, published in 1816–1817;
    section II, 4), it was not by Christian zeal but rather by a concern
    to discover the origin of language. His Vers dorés de Pythagore (1813)
    attempt to demonstrate the existence of a lost but universal Tradition.
    Less philosophical, and mainly encyclopedic, is the great survey realized by Antoine Court de Gébelin, Le Monde primitif (1773–1784), one
    of the first attempts to find, through the exploration of various known
    traditions, something that resembles what would later be called the
    “primordial Tradition” (chapter 5, section II, 1, 2). Moreover, the egyptophilian trend of that time inspired many discourses and practices
    replete with initiatic frameworks—from the novel by Abbot Terrasson
    (Sethos, 1731) to Nouvelles recherches sur l’origine et la destination des
    pyramides d’Egypte (1812) by A. P. J. de Vismes, including “Egyptian
    Masonries” (section III, 2) like The Magic Flute (Mozart’s opera, 1791)
    and Kostis Reise (1795, a short novel by Eckartshausen).

    II. From the Art of Reading to the Art of Subtle Fluids
    1. Continuity of the Occult Sciences
    Thanks to some learned treatises, interest in Christian Kabbalah had
    not yet entirely abated in the second half of the century. Thus, initiated by the Christian Kabbalist Christian Fende and by the Jewish
    Kabbalist Koppel Hecht, Oetinger (section I, 2) wrote his famous
    Lehrtafel (“Didactic tablet,” 1763), an interpretation of an altarpiece
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    Bad Teinach (chapter 2, section III, 3). Pythagoreanism and Hermetism pursued their virtually uninterrupted course (to wit, many
    neo-Pythagorean writings, such as Les Voyages de Pythagore en Egypte,
    by Sylvain Maréchal, 1799; and a new German translation of the
    Pimander, 1781).
    In the less learned context of the salons and the street corners, the era of Illuminism was hospitable to the career of characters
    expert in exploiting the taste for the marvelous, such as the Count of
    Saint Germain (?–1784) and Joseph Balsamo (alias Cagliostro (1743
    [?]–1795; section II, 2). The powers that credulous contemporaries
    attributed to them reflect a general taste for the so-called occult sciences, as witnessed notably by the editions of books of popular magic
    (like the Grand Albert and the Petit Albert), by heated debates on
    vampirism (especially from 1732 to the Traité sur les apparitions [1746]
    of Dom Calmet), and witchcraft. Noteworthy too is the widespread
    interest evinced at that time for automata and entertaining experiments in physics.
    An engaging and disconcerting character incarnates rather well
    the different forms of this state of mind on the eve of the Revolution. This was the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alliette (alias Etteilla),
    a combination of charlatan and theosopher, and an alchemist as well
    (Les Sept Nuances de l’oeuvre philosophique, 1786). One of his claims
    to glory is to have been practically the first to spread the idea that
    the Tarot cards, so-called of Marseille, would go back to ancient Egypt
    and would contain sublime mysteries. A little later, more in the wake
    of Agrippa’s De Occulta philosophia (chapter 2, section I, 1; chapter
    2, section III, 1), a compilation destined for great success prefigures
    the editorial production of the occultist current that would flourish
    starting in the middle of the nineteenth century. This is The Magus
    (1801), by Francis Barrett (besides whom we may also cite Karl Joseph
    Windischmann, author of Untersuchungen über Astrologie, Alchemie und
    Magie, 1813).
    Music was the subject of esoteric speculations, not least with
    regard to synesthesia: an ocular (color-liquid) clavichord or “color
    piano” (it displayed colors supposed to be in harmony with the notes)
    was described notably by the Jesuit Louis-Bertrand Castel around
    1740—and later more extensively by Eckartshausen (section I, 2;

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    section III, 3) in his Aufschlüsse zur Magie (1788). But Saint-Martin
    (section I, 2) was perhaps the only one of the century to integrate
    perfectly an elaborate speculation about music into a theosophical
    discourse (especially in Des Erreurs et de la Vérité, 1775, and De l’Esprit
    des choses, 1802). However, A. P. J. de Vismes also appeared on this
    terrain (Essai sur l’homme, ou l’homme microcosme, 1805) and Fabre
    d’Olivet, with his first researches (section I, 3). Finally, it was a period
    of intense activity for illuminated prophets: Suzette Labrousse and
    Catherine Théot in revolutionary France; on the eve of the Empire,
    Mademoiselle Lenormand; in England, Richard Brothers; in Germany,
    Thomas Poeschl—and many others a bit everywhere.

    2. Alchemy, Shadow Side of the Enlightenment and
    Light of Mythology
    The progress of chemistry, which definitively acquired its status of
    a scientific discipline, already heralded the irremediable decline of
    operative alchemy. However, interest remained lively and the literature abundant, even after the publication of the works of Lavoisier. In
    the Encyclopedia of Diderot, the articles “Alchemy” and “Alchemist”
    by Maloin were not testimony to hostility toward this “science.” This
    is because scholars believed to read in it a poorly explored area of
    investigation. The common people saw in it a source of immediate
    wealth, the unconditional rationalists a practice of charlatans, and for
    part of the public it was an aspect among others of the marvelous. This
    concerned especially the manufacturing of material gold (the alchemy
    called “operative”), but, as in the preceding periods, it is not always
    easy to distinguish “operative” and “spiritual” alchemy—the latter, as
    we have seen, often being considered as a form of sublime knowledge.
    From a still considerable editorial production (but from which the
    tradition of fine illustrations had unfortunately disappeared), let us
    highlight three aspects of which the first two were situated in the
    extension of what we have mentioned supra (chapter 2, section III,
    2), but took renewed forms.
    The first aspect is illustrated by the vogue that the compilations
    of treatises continued to enjoy. Whereas the anthology of Jean-Jacques
    Manget (chapter 3, section III, 2) was in Latin, there now appeared,

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    in the vernacular, the Deutsches Theatrum Chemicum (1728) of Friedrich Roth-Scholtz, the Neue Alchymistische Bibliothek (1772) of F. J.
    W. Schröder, and others like them. As a corollary, there was a public demand for historiographical presentations: hence the publication
    of works such as the Bibliotheca chemica (1727) of Roth-Scholtz, the
    Histoire de la philosophie hermétique (1742) of Nicolas Lenglet-Dufresnoy, and the Dictionnaire mytho-hermétique (1758) of the Benedictine
    Antoine Joseph Pernety (section III, 2).
    The second aspect is characterized (as previously, chapter 2, section III, 2) by the tendency to give stories of Greek and Egyptian
    mythology an alchemical reading. This was achieved by reducing the
    antique “Fables” to an allegorical discourse, whose sole purpose would
    have been the encrypted description of procedures of transmutation
    (typical in this regard are the Fables égyptiennes et grecques dévoilées,
    1758, by Antoine Dom Pernety). Alternatively, it was accomplished
    by interpreting this mythology on several levels, in a nonreductionist
    manner, following a hermeneutic of a theosophical type (thus proceeded Hermann Fictuld, Aureum Vellus, 1749; Ehrd de Naxagoras,
    Aureum Vellus, 1753, both in German; or again Anselmo Caetano,
    Ennoea, 1732–1733, in Portuguese).
    The third aspect of alchemy at the time of the Enlightenment
    was its diffuse but obvious presence among scientists and Nature philosophers more or less won over to Paracelsism such as Johann Juncker
    (Conspectus chemiae theoretico-practicae, 1730) and, later of course, Oetinger. This characteristic prefigured Romantic Naturphilosophie (section
    IV, 1, 2).

    3. Animal Magnetism
    According to one of the most widespread ideas in alchemical thought,
    matter contains a light or an invisible fire whose nature is that of
    the Word who created Light on the first Day. This igneous principle, halfway between the natural and the supersensible, also occupies
    an important place in many cosmological discourses of the West. It
    has served to interpret the Platonic idea of the World Soul and has
    diversified into countless themes and motifs. Spread in the eighteenth
    century, the tendency to mix experimental research and speculative

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    thought favored the reappearance of this principle under new forms.
    In the seventeenth century, Rudolf Göckel and Athanasius Kircher
    (chapter 2, section I, 1) were passionately interested in phenomena
    of a magnetic and electric nature.
    At the time of the Enlightenment, some Nature philosophers
    close to Oetinger (section I, 2) developed a “theology of electricity.” These were especially J. L. Fricker, G. F. Rösler, Prokop Divisch
    (Theorie der meterologischen Elektrizität, 1765). Their speculations were
    clad in a light of religiosity, but those of the Swabian doctor Franz
    Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) were not—he was a materialist. Mesmerism, however, soon became a source of inspiration to most of the
    representatives of the esoteric currents of that time.
    As early as 1766, in his doctoral thesis, De influx planetarum in
    corpus humanum, Mesmer had postulated the existence of an invisible
    fluid spread everywhere. It would serve as a vehicle for the mutual
    influence that the celestial bodies would exert between themselves,
    the Earth and animate bodies—whence the expression “animal magnetism” generally employed to refer to this theory and the practices
    connected with it. Having first cared for his patients by the application of magnets (a procedure later readopted by Jean-Martin Charcot),
    then by the laying on of hands, he developed a therapy that consisted
    in having people sit next to one another around a tub—the famous
    baquet—containing water, iron filings, and sand. They communicated
    with the tub by means of iron rods or ropes and thus formed a “chain”
    in order to transmit into the bodies of the sick patients the “magnetism” of the healthy subjects. Established in Paris in 1778, Mesmer
    enjoyed great success there but also came up against the incomprehension of official medicine. Nicolas Bergasse attempted to develop a
    doctrine of magnetism (Théorie du monde et des êtres organisés, 1784)
    that was to prove influential for many decades.
    Although a convinced materialist, Mesmer himself gave his
    activities an “initiatic” character by creating in 1783 a Society of
    Harmony of which a number of symbols were inspired by the masonic
    style. And, in 1785, he wrote that “we are endowed with an internal sense that is in relationship with the whole of the entire universe”—an idea that would not fail to create many repercussions in
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    notion of “internal sense,” widespread in that period, assumed different meanings there. Whereas according to Kant this notion resembles
    an impoverishment, in the case of Mesmer it can signify on the contrary a deployment of the possibilities of our being. Anyhow, far from
    spreading in the specific form that Mesmer had attempted to confer
    on it, animal magnetism could soon be seen operating in several
    directions.
    Notably, whereas Mesmer had conceived the practice for an
    essentially therapeutic purpose, as early as 1784, in France, the Marquis Armand Marie Jacques de Chastenet de Puységur (1727–1807),
    who “magnetized” his subjects by sending them into a state of consciousness close to sleep, believed he had discovered the possibility
    of nonverbal control exercised on them by the magnetizer. He was
    one of the first to consider the material supports used by Mesmer
    (such as magnets, tubs, etc.) as nonessential. He was also among
    the first, in the history of animal magnetism, to attempt to show
    that a magnetized person can sometimes be capable of “clairvoyance,”
    that is, seeing objects that are hidden or situated in distant places,
    predicting things in the future, diagnosing illnesses and indicating
    their remedies, and so on. Thus, open to the “paranormal,” animal
    magnetism could even be considered by many as a means to establish
    contacts with the beyond; for example, by Jean-Baptiste Willermoz,
    in Lyons, and by some of the principal representatives of Naturphilosophie in Germany (chapter 4, section I, 3). Let us also recall that
    animal magnetism was not merely a fashion or an isolated episode,
    but represented a most important cultural trend at the twilight of
    the Enlightenment, in romantic thought in the broad sense, and in
    the history of dynamic psychiatry until the time of Sigmund Freud
    inclusively.

    III. A Century of Initiations
    1. Strict Observance and Rectified Scottish Rite
    Much more than the first three Grades (Entered Apprentice, Fellow
    Craft, Master Mason) of Freemasonry, it was, we have seen (chapter

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    3, section I, 1), the Higher Grades of certain Rites that drew from the
    thematic corpus of the esoteric currents. Before reviewing the principle
    ones of these Rites, let us first introduce two of the most famous. The
    first, called Strict Observance (SO), created by the Baron Karl von
    Hund toward 1750, presented itself as a direct descendant (so at least
    it claimed to be) of the Order of the Temple destroyed by Philip IV the
    Fair. SO remained the most important masonic Rite in Germany for
    about thirty years. The second was the Rectified Scottish Rite (RER),
    which included the so-called Order of the Knights Beneficient of the
    Holy City (Chevaliers Bienfasants de la Cité Sainte [CBCS])—from
    the name of the sixth grade of the RER. This Rite, whose principal
    architect was the theosopher from Lyons Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (section I, 2; section III, 1), was not of a theurgic character although it
    was inspired from the Order of the Élus-Coëns founded in France some
    time around 1754 by the theosopher Martines de Pasqually (chapter
    3, section I, 2).
    At the end of the 1770s, two of the principal personalities of
    the SO, Duke Ferdinand von Brunswick and Prince Karl von Hessen-Cassel, decided to assemble the representatives of European Freemasonry in a great Masonic Convention responsible for reflecting
    on the origin, the nature, the reason for being of this institution.
    With this in mind, Ferdinand sent out circulars to various personalities (Joseph de Maistre, initiated into the RER, responded with his
    famous Mémoire of 1780). The Convention met at Wilhelmsbad in
    July–August 1782. There, the myth of Templar filiation was discarded,
    and the orientation represented by the RER became an object of
    global acceptance.
    This Convention was an important event of the era because
    we can see two categories of Masons confronted there. Some were
    attracted to various forms of “esotericism”; others instead staunchly
    adhered to the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Under the name
    “Martinism” (from the names of Saint-Martin and de Pasqually), the
    RER quickly gained footing in Russia where the Golden Rosy-Cross
    (infra, 2) had also penetrated and where the masons Lopukhin (section
    I, 3) and Nicolay Ivanovich Novikov stood out as two of the principle
    representatives of this orientation.

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    2. Other Masonic and Paramasonic Systems
    Let us distinguish between, on the one hand, the Christian Rites (of
    which SO and RER are part), of a medieval “chivalrous” type, having
    the Holy Land, Jerusalem, as their “Orient” of reference; and, on the
    other hand, the rather neo-pagan or “Egyptian” Rites. Between them,
    however, the frontier was fluid and, of course, the same person could
    appear simultaneously in several of these Rites. An Order that called
    itself “Rosicrucian,” constituted in the 1770s in Germany, achieved
    the cohesion of its Lodges or “Circles” in 1777 by naming itself the
    Gold- und Rosenkreutzer Älteren Systems (Golden Rosicrucians of the
    Ancient System), and by endowing itself with nine grades very marked
    by alchemical symbolism. With the advent (1786) of the new King of
    Prussia Frederick William II, who had taken initiation into that Order,
    the latter entered into definitive dormancy without having been for
    as much forbidden. Its editorial activities constituted a non-negligible
    aspect of production of an esoteric type at the end of the century (cf.
    e.g., the Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer, 1785–1788, a collection of
    plates and texts that would often be reproduced and interpreted).
    Pernety (section II, 2) may have known Golden Rosicrucians in
    Berlin where he found himself from 1767 to 1782 in the position of
    curator of the Royal Library of Frederick II. He left this city in 1783,
    went to Avignon, established not far from there his (non-masonic)
    society known as the Illuminés d’Avignon, and engaged in oracular
    practices of interrogating a “Sainte Parole” (“Holy Word”), a sort of
    hypostasis of the Supreme Intelligence. The Polish staroste Thaddeus
    Leszczyc Grabianka, a member of this Society, created a dissident
    group in this city, called The New Israel, whose head was Ottavio
    Cappelli, a gardener believed to be receiving communications from the
    archangel Raphael. The revolutionary upheaval scattered the Illuminés d’Avignon, of which many personalities of Europe were part.
    Let us cite eleven other initiatic societies of a Christian character. The Swedish Rite was established toward 1750 by Karl Friedrich
    Eckleff. The Ordre de l’Étoile Flamboyante was founded by Théodore
    Henri de Tschoudy (1766). The Rite of Johann Wilhelm Zinnendorf
    (1770) was inspired by the Swedish Rite. The Klerikat (Clericate) was

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    the creation of Johann August Starck toward 1767. The Society of the
    Philalethes came to birth in 1773; this Society, which was probably the
    first institute of research into Freemasonry, had Charles Pierre Savalette
    de Langes among its foremost members. In Paris, in 1785 and 1787,
    it organized two international interobediential Conventions meant to
    put all the possible documents and archives in common with a view to
    discovering or rediscovering the true principles on which Freemasonry
    should rest. The Brethren of the Cross was a Rite founded by Christian
    Heinrich Haugwitz toward 1777. The Asiatic Brethren, in Austria and
    in south Germany especially, was the creation of Hans Heinrich von
    Ecker- und Eckhoffen in 1781. François Marie Chefdebien d’Armissan
    and his father founded The Primitive Rite of the Philadelphians in
    1780. The Illuminated Theosophists, of Swedenborgian type, important
    in England and in the United States was a Rite born toward 1783
    under the impetus of Benedict Chastanier. The Ancient and Accepted
    Scottish Rite (REAA) came to birth in France around 1801. The Order
    of the Orient was founded in 1804 and organized in 1806 by BernardRaymond Fabré-Palaprat, under the denomination of the Johannite
    Church of Primitive Christians, which is a neo-Templar organization.
    With the three systems cited in the preceding section (SO, ElectCohens, and RER), we count here fourteen of them.
    As for the “neo-pagan” Rites, of “Egyptian” character for the
    most part, they were principally the five following: the African Architects, creation of Friedrich von Köppen toward 1767; the Egyptian
    Rite created by Cagliostro (section II, 1), which dates from 1784; at
    the beginning of the French Empire appeared in Italy the Rite of Misraïm (although not very “Egyptian” in character), which was imported
    into France by the Bédarride brothers, and followed in 1815 by the
    Rite of Memphis—to which it is fitting to add that of the so-called
    Magi of Memphis, created at the end of the eighteenth century and
    that refers explicitly to Hermes Trismegistus. But this list of nineteen
    Rites does not claim to be exhaustive.

    3. Initiation in Art
    The eighteenth century saw a proliferation of works of fiction replete
    with mysteries. Witnesses to this were first a French translation of the

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    Arabian Nights (“Les Mille et une Nuits”) by Antoine Galand (1704),
    of re-editions and translations of the Comte de Gabalis (chapter 2,
    section III, 3), or again a collection of imposing dimensions such as
    the Voyages imaginaires (cf. notably volume XIV, Relation du Monde de
    Mercure). Then, fruitful relationships were sealed between eighteenthcentury Illuminism and literature. In Le Diable amoureux (1772) of
    Jacques Cazotte (a well-known “Illuminé”), we can detect one of the
    direct origins of the specific type of writing that would flourish starting in the mid-nineteenth century and that would be known as the
    classical ‘fantastic’ genre in literature of fiction.
    In the period of Illuminism, works of fiction were sometimes of a
    humorous (Mouhy, Lamekis, 1737) or parodic (F. H. von Hippel, Kruezund Querzüge, 1793) bent, sometimes more serious—notably starting in
    the last ten years of the eighteenth century, especially in Germany; in
    which case it was illustrated by novelists such as Jean Paul (Die Unsichtbare Loge, 1793), Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling (Heimweh, 1794; section
    I, 3), Eckartshausen (Kostis Reise, 1795; section I, 2), Saint-Martin (Le
    Crocodile, 1799), Novalis (Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Die Lehrlinge zu
    Sais, 1802), Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (Der golden Topf, 1813),
    and even by Goethe (cf. the tale “Das Märchen,” 1795 [translated into
    English under the title The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily]; his poem
    “Das Geheimnisse,” 1785; certain passages in Faust Part One).
    The opera of Mozart The Magic Flute (1791) and the drama of
    Zacharias Werner Die Söhne des Thals (1802–1804) remain two of the
    most well known works in the performing arts. William Blake, poet,
    engraver, bard of the creative imagination (The Marriage of Heaven
    and Earth, 1793; Visions of the Daughter of Albion, 1793), transmuted
    contributions from many currents, among which Swedenborgism, in
    the alchemical furnace of his genius. We could cite many other authors
    in the English domain, such as James Thomson, of which The Seasons
    (1726–1730) revealed deep tinges of Hermetism. More than all the
    other painters of German romanticism, Philipp Otto Runge (chapter
    2, section I, 5) was close to theosophy, especially to that of Boehme
    (cf. his painting of “Morning,” 1808). Finally, in Italy, we owe Prince
    Raimondo di Sangro di San Severo, from whom Cagliostro received
    teachings, the astonishing “Hermetic monument” preserved in the San
    Severo Chapel in Naples.

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    4

    From Romantic Knowledge
    to Occultist Programs
    I. The Era of Naturphilosophie and the Great Syntheses
    1. Nature Philosophy in the Romantic Era (1790–1847)

    I

    n the last decade of the eighteenth century, a new manner of
    approaching the study of Nature emerged, which lasted about fifty
    years and barely reappeared thereafter. This is Naturphilosophie, which
    is especially part of German romanticism in the broad sense. In several
    of its representatives, it takes an aspect that pairs it directly with the
    theosophical current. In its most general form, it is, as Friedrich W.
    J. von Schelling describes it, an attempt to bring to light that which
    Christianity had always repressed—namely, Nature. Three factors contributed to this dawning.
    First is the persistence of the idea of magia among chemist-physicists such as Oetinger (chapter 3, section I, 2). The second factor is the
    influence exerted by certain philosophers: French naturalism (GeorgesLouis de Buffon, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert), not lacking in speculations on the life of matter; Immanuel Kant, who appeared to see in
    the universe a product of the imagination, of the synthesizing and
    spontaneous activity of the mind; Baruch Spinoza, in whom people
    believed they then discovered that Nature is something spiritual and
    that the whole of the finite world proceeds from a Spirit, a focus of
    energy. The third factor is the atmosphere proper to the preromantic
    period, which has a taste for animal magnetism, galvanism, electricity
    (experiments of Galvani in 1789, Volta battery in 1800), and which
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    sees the publication of bold syntheses developed by great Kulturphilosophen such as Johann Gottfried Herder. Now, three fundamental tenets
    seem to characterize Naturphilosophie:
    1. The “identity” of Spirit and Nature, considered as the two seeds
    of a single common root. Nature rests on a spiritual principle: a Spirit
    inhabits it, speaks through it (a natura naturans is hidden behind the
    natura naturata), and she has a history: She is, like the Spirit, engaged
    in a process of a highly dramatic character.
    2. Nature is a living net of correspondences to be deciphered and
    integrated into a holistic worldview. It is full of symbolic implications
    and its true meaning escapes merely empirical examination. Consequently, rigorous experimentation is never more than a necessary first
    step towards a comprehensive, holistic knowledge of both visible and
    invisible processes.
    3. Naturphilosophie is by definition multidisciplinary. Its representatives are all more or less specialists (chemists, physicists, physicians,
    geologists, and engineers), but their thinking extends to eclectic syntheses striving to encompass, in its complexity, a polymorphous universe made of different degrees of reality. The compartmentalization
    of Nature into strictly distinct subjects here gives way to the attempt
    to grasp a Whole animated by dynamic polarities.
    These three characteristics imply that the knowledge of Nature
    and the knowledge of oneself must go together, that a scientific fact
    must be perceived as a sign, that the signs correspond with one another, and that concepts borrowed from chemistry are transposable to
    astronomy or to human feelings. Little wonder that animal magnetism
    (cf. infra, section I, 3) is, in this philosophical current, a subject of
    avid interest.
    The major contribution of Naturphilosophie to the science of the
    nineteenth century was the discovery of the unconscious—by the works,
    notably, of Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert (Die Symbolik des Traums,
    1814). In this very romanticism, in fact, psychoanalysis has deep roots,
    which began to develop with Eduard von Hartmann (Philosophie des
    Unbewussten, 1869). In this context, too, modern homeopathy came
    to birth with Samuel Hahnemann. Furthermore, it is not surprising
    that Christian theosophy, because of its own characteristics (chapter
    2, section II, 2), could have inspired many Naturphilosophen.

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    Moreover, the foundation myth underpinning a number of their
    discourses is that of the “Redeemed Redeemer”—in other words,
    the theosophico-romantic narrative of a captured Light, captive but
    capable of being awakened (“redeemed”) by another Light that had
    remained free. Hence the frequent use of the two terms “light” and
    “gravity” (Licht and Schwere) in such discourses—“gravity” rather than
    “darkness—the latter understood as something by which the primitive
    energies had originally been engulfed, but from which they tend to
    re-emerge. Here, the relationship with alchemy is obvious. As the historian of philosophy Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron recently mentioned,
    Naturphilosophie is “the redemption of Nature through the thought of
    humankind, who alone reintegrates her into the absolute.”

    2. Main Representatives of This Current
    The Catholic Franz von Baader (1765–1841), physician, mining engineer, and professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, greatly
    contributed to the emergence of Naturphilosophie in the Germanic countries. Let us mention in this regard especially his two essays, Beiträge zur
    Elementarphysiologie (1797) and Ueber das pythagoräische Quadrat in der
    Natur (1798). At the same time, Friedrich W. J. Schelling (1775–1854)
    and Carl August von Eschenmayer (1758–1862; section I, 3) also added
    to this impetus, the first with Von der Weltseele (1798), and the second
    with Sätze aus der Naturmetaphysik (1797).
    In the history of philosophy, Baader occupies a position rich in
    fertile tensions between Schelling and Georg W. F. Hegel (1770–1831),
    as distant from the “naturalism” of the former as from the “idealism”
    of the latter. Above all, he is the most important Christian theosopher of the nineteenth century. This Böhmius redivivus, as he has been
    called, takes his place among the great hermeneuts of the thought of
    Boehme and of Saint-Martin, while simultaneously marking Christian
    theosophy with his own thought. He picks up the principal themes
    dear to the two latter (such as the Sophia, the ontological androgeneity of humanity, celestial objects, the successive falls, love, etc.) and
    reinterprets them in an original fashion while integrating the science
    of his time with them—notably speculations about animal magnetism. Although lacking the prophetic voice so characteristic of the

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    theosophers of the baroque period (and still echoing in Saint-Martin),
    Baader’s philosophical language is nonetheless strewn with dazzling
    insights (cf. e.g., one of his most inspired works: the Fermenta cognitionis, 1822–1825; French translation published in 1985). Additionally,
    Baader was with Julie de Krüdener one of the direct inspirers of the
    original project of the Holy Alliance, in the period when Tsar Alexander I was leaning toward certain forms of mysticism, and his voice
    long made itself heard in the liberal Catholic milieux of Europe.
    Let us mention (in alphabetical order) some of the other
    Naturphilosophen whose thought is more or less characterized by theosophy or, at least, by an orientation of a pansophic type:
    Joseph Ennemoser (1787–1854; Der Magnetismus in Verhältnis zur
    Natur und Religion, 1842); Joseph von Görres (1776–1848; Aphorismen,
    1802; section I, 4; section II, 1); Justinus Kerner (1786–1852; Eine
    Erscheinung aus dem Nachtgebiete der Natur, 1836); Johann Friedrich
    von Meyer (1772–1849; cf. especially his articles published in Blätter
    für höhere Wahrheit, 1818–1832); Novalis (pseudonym of Friedrich von
    Hardenberg, 1772–1801; Das Allgemeine Brouillon 1798–1799); Hans
    Christian Oersted (1777–1851; Der Geist der Natur, 1850–1851); Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert (1780–1860; Ansichten uüber die Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft, 1808); Johann Wilhelm Ritter (1776–1810;
    Fragmente aus dem Nachlass eines jungen Physikers, 1810); Henrik Steffens (1773–1845; Grundzüge der philosophischen Naturwissenschaften,
    1806); Ignaz Troxler (1780–1866; Uber das Leben und sein Problem,
    1806); and Johann Jakob Wagner (1766–1834; Organon der menschlichen Erkenntnis, 1830).
    Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–1887; Zend Avesta, 1851; section I, 4) and Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869; Psyche, 1848; Natur
    und Idee, 1862) are situated in the extension of this movement that
    was already on the wane. Let us note that Johann Wolfgang von
    Goethe (1749–1832) has no real connection with it, with the possible
    exception of some of his scientific works, like Uber die Spiraltendenz
    (1831), and his essays on the metamorphosis of plants and on colors
    (Zur Farbenlehre, 1810).
    Notwithstanding, this movement is not limited to the Germanic
    world. Part of the work of Saint-Martin (chapter 3, section I, 2) can be
    related to it; especially, his work De l’Esprit des choses, 1802); and for

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    the English domain we could cite William Paley (1743–1805; Natural
    Theology, 1892), as well as Sir Humphrey Davy (1778–1829; Consolations in Travel, 1830).

    3. Naturphilosophie and Animal Magnetism
    One of the many publications by Justinus Kerner about animal magnetism is his famous work Die Seherin von Prevorst (1829, translated as
    The Seeress of Prevorst, 1855). This is an account of the visions of a
    young woman, Friederike Hauffe, whom he had magnetized over the
    course of several months. During her trances, she had held conversations about the worlds of the beyond, to which this state gave her
    access. Carl August von Eschenmayer, co-founder of the journal Archiv
    für den thierischen Magnetismus (1817–1826; section I, 2), commented
    on the visions of this woman and of others similarly magnetized. He
    is the author, among several works and essays relevant to this area,
    of Mysterien des inneren Lebens (1830), one of the most interesting
    publications of the period on the faculties of clairvoyance induced by
    animal magnetism.
    Eschenmayer, Kerner, and many others (including Baader) held
    that magnetic ecstasy enables the subject to recover for a few moments
    the state that was ours before the original fall. They also believed that
    they could rediscover in the descriptions of journeys made through
    the celestial spheres (the “imaginal world,” to employ the expression
    dear to Henry Corbin [chapter 5; section I, 2]) many elements of a
    nature to confirm the authenticity of the visions. Seventeenth-century theosophers such as Boehme, Gichtel, Lead, or Pordage (chapter
    2, section II, 2), for example, had been graced with similar visions
    without resorting to animal magnetism (which had not yet been discovered, anyhow).
    In France, Marie-Thérèse Mathieu, magnetized by G. P. Billot
    in the 1820s, entered into contact with her guardian angel. In his
    book Arcanes de la vie future dévoilée (1848–1860, three volumes [The
    Celestial Telegraph. Or, Secrets of the Life to Come, 1851]), the magnetizer Louis-Alphonse Cahagnet (1805–1885) relates the descriptions
    that his subjects Bruno Binet and Adèle Maginot gave of the celestial
    spaces through which they traveled. The most famous case in the

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    United States is that of Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1810), who,
    magnetized for the first time in 1843 (in New York state), was immediately gratified with visions and revelations obtained in the course
    of his rambles in other worlds, and of which he later gave a detailed
    narrative in The Magic Staff (1857). This book, along with his first
    work, The Principles of Nature: Her Divine Revelations (1847), greatly
    contributed to his fame.
    Animal magnetism was obviously not reserved for the Naturphilosophen alone, but was a set of practices and discourses widely disseminated in the Western world during this period. It thus entered
    into the common stock of ideas from which many took their religious
    bearings on life.

    4. Esotericism on the Edge of Naturphilosophie (1815–1857)
    In the Germany of this period appeared translations of books by SaintMartin (G. H. von Schubert [supra, 3] is the author of one of them).
    The theosopher from Frankfurt Johann Friedrich von Meyer (supra,
    3), of subtle and varied works, the first translator into German of the
    Sepher Yetzirah (chapter 1, section III, 1) and especially the author of
    a new German translation of the Bible, touched on almost all the sciences known as “occult.” His review Blätter für höhere Wahrheit (“Pages
    for a Higher Truth,” 1818–1832; supra, section III, 1), of which he
    was the main contributor, constitutes in this aspect one of the most
    interesting documents of the period. Again in Germany, three works
    appeared that sketched a history of “magic”: Geschichte der Magie
    (1822), by Joseph Ennemoser, Zauberbibliothek (1821–1826) by Georg
    Konrad Horst, and the last part of Christliche Mystik (1836–1842) by
    Joseph Görres (section I, 2; section II, 1).
    In France, Antoine Fabre d’Olivet (chapter 3, section I, 3) pursued his pagan-oriented work; his Histoire philosophique du genre humain
    (1822–1824), a vast fresco with an ambitious purpose, would be highly
    prized by the “occultists” of the end of the century. The book of Ferdinand Davis, Tableau des sciences occultes (1830), and the first writings
    of Cahagnet (section I, 3), are already a prefiguration of what would
    become the occultist current with Éliphas Lévi (section II, 2). After
    Philosophie de l’infini (1814) and Messianisme (1831–1839) of the Pole

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    Hoëné-Wronski (section II, 2), there was no dearth of researchers of
    universal keys, such as Giovanni Malfatti di Montereggio’s Studien über
    Anarchie und Hierarchie des Wissens 1845). Simultaneously conservative and close to socalist utopias, Pierre-Simon Ballanche, influenced
    by the Illuminist current, occupies a respectable place in the landscape
    of the political philosophy of his period (Essais de palingénésie sociale,
    1827; La Vision d’Hébal, 1831). The abbot Paul François Gaspard Lacuria, author of Harmonies de l’Être exprimées par les nombres (1847),
    found in theosophy the key to music and arithmology. Hortensius
    Flamel (who is perhaps Éliphas Lévi), author of a Livre d’or and a Livre
    rouge (1842), attempted to combine Fourierism and Hermetism.
    One of the representatives of swedenborgian theosophy was
    Jean-Jacques Bernard who, in his work Opuscules théosophiques (1822),
    attempted to reconcile the theosophies of Saint-Martin and of Swedenborg. Edouard Richer and, especially, Jacques F. E. Le Boys des
    Guays actively propagated the teachings of the same Swedenborg. A
    messianism introduced in France by the Poles Adam Mickiewcz and
    André Towianki in the 1840s would greatly influence Éliphas Lévi
    (section II, 2), just as Hoëné-Wronski would do directly (cf. supra).
    Let us note finally that, in the course of this period extending to
    1847, alchemical production seems moribund despite—at least, for
    France—a Hermès dévoilé (1832) by Cyliani (a little book that was
    to enjoy a lasting success), and a Cours de philosophie hermétique (1843)
    signed by Cambriel.
    Ambiguous relationships were cultivated between the esoteric
    currents and the most picturesque of the socialist utopias, perceptible
    in Alphonse Esquiros (De la Vie future du point de vue socialiste, 1850)
    or in Jean Reynaud’s Druidism (Terre et Ciel, 1854). These relationships clearly intertwined in Charles Fourier, the “Ariosto of the utopians,” not so much by the content as by the style of the discourse (see
    his Théorie des quatre mouvements, 1807) His descriptions occasionally
    bear some resemblance to certain visionary narratives of Swedenborg,
    of which they sometimes seem an involuntary parody.
    After 1848, even more than hitherto, Swedenborgianism was
    tinged by humanitarian prophesy, as in the illuminated socialism of a
    Louis Lucas (Une Révolution dans la musique, 1849), of a Jean-Marie
    Ragon de Bettignies (Orthodoxie maçonnique and Maçonnerie occulte,

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    1853) or of a Henri Delaage (Le Monde occulte, 1851). Also marking
    these years, two substantial essays on alchemy would remain great
    classics in the eyes of many adepts of this “traditional science”: A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery (1850), by Mary Ann Atwood;
    and Alchemy and the Alchemists (1857), by Ethan Allen Hitchcock.
    These years were marked, finally, by the fine book of Frédéric Portal,
    Les Couleurs symboliques (1857), the Zend-Avesta (1851) of Gustav
    Theodor Fechner (section I, 2) and the first great anthology of texts
    of Christian theosophy (Stimmen aus dem Heiligthum der christlichen
    Theosophie, 1851), collected and edited by Julius Hamberger, a close
    disciple of Baader.

    5. Esotericism in Art (1815–1847)
    In the seventeenth century, a natural symbiosis occurred between the
    baroque imaginaire and theosophical literature. The same was true of
    the latter and romanticism, although this relationship is more evident
    in Germanic countries than elsewhere. If we grant that the synthetic
    spirit (the taste for global approaches) and the suffering related to the
    limited human condition comprise the two major characteristics of
    European romanticism (and of many forms of gnosis), then we better
    understand that the theosophical discourses related to the myth of the
    fall and the reintegration could find a hearing among many romantics.
    Some historians (like Léon Cellier) could even claim, and rightly so,
    that this myth largely subtends most literary and philosophical productions of that movement.
    In France, a certain number of authors, and not the least of
    them, continued to respond to public taste for these great themes
    that Illuminism had developed. Thus, regarding novels, Honoré de
    Balzac was open to inspiration from Saint-Martin and Swedenborg
    (Louis Lambert, 1832; Séraphita and Le Livre mystique, 1835). A similar
    inspiration runs through Consuelo (1845) by George Sand. The purpose is more didactic and explicit in Le Magicien (1836) by Alphonse
    Esquiros, or in England Zanoni (1842) by Sir Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
    (section II, 2). This Rosicrucian novel has continued, until today, to
    inspire many dreams and exegeses of all sorts.
    This period also saw Goethe, shortly before his demise in 1832,

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    give his Faust the final touches. Theosophy tinges, sometimes deeply,
    the Carnets (Notebooks) of Joseph Joubert, kept assiduously from 1786
    to his death in 1824. The posthumous writings of the painter Philipp
    Otto Runge (chapter 3, section III, 3), published in 1840–1841, are
    saturated with thoughts of a theosophical type bearing on art. Of
    course, magnetism is the subject of many literary adaptations, like
    Der Magnetiseur (1817), by Ernst T. A. Hoffmann, Mesmeric Revelation (1844) and The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar (1845), by
    Edgar Allen Poe—all works heralding a genre of writing (the classic
    “fantastic” literature”) that would flourish starting in the middle of
    the century.

    II. Universal Tradition and Occultism
    1. From the Romantic East to the India of the
    Theosophical Society
    At the end of the eighteenth century, images of India had begun
    deeply to penetrate the Western imaginaire. However, the East was
    especially a discovery of romanticism; compare, for example, the writings of Joseph Görres (section I, 2, 4) on Asian myths (Mythengeschichte des asiatischen Welt, 1810) and of Friedrich Schlegel on India
    (Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Inder, 1808). These publications,
    like the general interest in the fairy tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen,
    1812–1815, published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm), myths, and legends of Europe, belong to the romantic quest for the One. This quest
    would contribute to revive the idea of philosophia perennis, progressively
    spread to all the traditions of the world, no longer limited to those of
    the Mediterranean universe, as was still the case in the Renaissance
    (chapter 2, section I, 1).
    The word “Tradition” appears in the German title of a book
    that would stand out in history, that of Franz Joseph Molitor on Kabbalah (Philosophie der Geschichte oder über die Tradition, 1827), followed
    by La Kabbale of Adolphe Franck (1843). In another scholarly work
    (Jacques Matter, Histoire du gnosticisme, 1828) appears the first use
    found hitherto of the substantive “esotericism” (cf. supra, beginning

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    of the introduction). To this, we may add two obsessive themes: that
    of the mysteries of the Great Pyramid (John Taylor, The Great Pyramid, 1858) and that of Druidism interpreted as the mother religion
    of humanity. The speculations on the Great Pyramid understandably
    went together with something like a return of the Hermetist current. For example, in the collection Das Kloster, which he directed
    in Stuttgart from 1849 to 1860, Johann Scheible put into circulation,
    alongside works by Agrippa and many treatises on magic, a German
    translation of the Corpus Hermeticum (CH; according to the 1706
    edition; chapter 3, section I, 1). In 1866, Louis Ménard published
    Hermès Trismégiste (his translation of major texts of the CH, preceded
    by an introduction). The book would stimulate new translations and
    glosses (section II, 3), mostly works by personalities connected with
    the Theosophical Society or with neo-Rosicrucian Orders.
    Founded in 1875, the Theosophical Society (TS) favored the success of this idea of a “universal Tradition” that, at the beginning of the
    twentieth century, would be labeled “primordial”—the better to define
    it as the mother of all the others (chapter 5, section II, 1). Helena
    Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1991; section III, 2), the principal founder
    (chapter 4, section II, 2) of the TS, contributed much to it herself
    through her own works, destined for a lasting success (Isis Unveiled,
    1877; The Secret Doctrine, 1888). Edouard Schuré defended the existence of a Primordial Tradition in his book Les Grands Initiés (1889),
    a bestseller often translated and republished. In it we find again (as in
    the Renaissance, chapter 2, section1, 1) a list—a chain—of ancient
    “Sages” of the philosophia perennis, but now flanked with other more
    exotic names (his list is composed of Rama, Krishna, Hermes, Moses,
    Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, and Jesus). At the end of the century, the
    emergence of a science of comparative religions and the assembly of
    a great Parliament of Religions in Chicago (1893) contributed to the
    dissemination of the expression “Primordial Tradition.”

    2. Advent of Spiritualism and Occultism (1847–1860)
    During the first half of the century, animal magnetism had met (section I, 3) with wonderful success, one of the original forms that it had
    taken being narratives, by “magnetized” subjects, bearing on questions

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    about the supernatural world. Now, in 1848, in the United States
    (one year after the publication of the book by Andrew Jackson Davis
    quoted supra, section I, 3), the spiritualist movement emerged. The
    sisters Margaretta and Catherine Fox, in Hydesville, New York, heard
    a mysterious repeated knocking in the house on the night of March 31,
    1848. Thinking it might be a message of some sort, they worked out
    a code that might enable them to respond and ask questions of their
    own. The belief that the knocking entity was the spirit of a deceased
    person soon followed. Thus, a new practice of communication with
    spirits had come to birth, called Spiritualism, which quickly spread
    through the United States and then through the rest of the Western
    world. As we have seen, in the preceding decades, the subjects of animal magnetism entered into relationship with entities—not only with
    non-human, but also with deceased people. However, in Spiritualism
    it is essentially with the latter that spiritualists would henceforth try
    to establish rapport.
    Spiritualism does not pertain directly to the history of esoteric
    currents properly speaking, but it has connections with them by the
    influence that it exerted everywhere and by the problems that it posed
    to esotericists of all kinds. Its blossoming and the quasi-simultaneous
    appearance of the literary genre known as the “fantastic,” in its classical form (section I, 5), coincide with the triumph of the industrial
    revolution (Karl Marx’s Manifesto dates from 1847), which is not by
    happenstance. One of the first outstanding theoricians of Spiritualism
    in the United States was Andrew Jackson Davis (cf. supra), who first
    looked askance at this new trend but eventually became won over
    to it. In France Denizard Hyppolyte Léon Rivail (alias Allen Kardec,
    1804–1869, Le Monde des esprits, 1857) aimed to make Spiritualism
    into a “religion” tinged with sentimentalism and rationalism. Kardec
    elevated to the rank of an actual dogma the idea of reincarnation. Less
    frequently adopted by the English-speaking spiritualists of that time,
    this idea harmonized well with the egalitarian, socialist, and utopian
    tendencies of the era (section I, 4).
    It was also in the mid-nineteenth century that Occultism (in the
    sense of “the occultist current”) emerged. One of its first outstanding
    representatives was a man whose youth had been dedicated to utopian
    and humanitarian ideas (he was even sentenced as a revolutionary)—

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    namely, Alphonse-Louis Constant (alias Éliphas Lévi, 1810–1875). He
    may have been influenced by Hoëné Wronski (section I, 4), whom
    he met in 1852. Keenly interested in practical magic and theurgy, he
    would have evoked the spirit of Apollonius of Tyana in 1854. An
    unmethodical compiler but a gifted synthesizer, this magus inspired
    conviction and his appearance was timely. His works Dogme et ritual
    de la Haute magie (1854–1856), Histoire de la magie (1860), and La
    Clef des Grands Mystères (1861)—to cite only a few of them—would
    mark the whole occultist current. The year 1860, moreover, saw the
    publication, at the same time as his Histoire de la magie, of two other
    works (not “esoterically” committed): Histoire du merveilleux by Louis
    Figuier, and La Magie et l’astrologie by Alfred Maury.

    3. Growth of Occultism in the Era of Scienticism and
    Continuity of Theosophy (1860–1914)
    The rise of scienticism (the claim that science is the only means of
    knowledge and that there is no other reality than that based on ordinary perception) was eroding faith in spiritual matters. Facing it was
    the occultist current (Occultism), an extension of what had begun to
    be known shortly before as the “occult sciences” (cf. Ferdinand Denis,
    section I, 4). This current appeared as an alternative solution—or,
    rather, as a new response from modernity confronted with itself, more
    than as a response to modernity proper (cf. introduction, section II,
    last paragraph). In fact, the occultists were not opposed to modernity
    and did not consider scientific progress as noxious; they sought instead
    to integrate them into a global vision capable of bringing out the
    vacuity of materialism. We recognize here something resembling an
    echo of the program of the Naturphilosophen. However, the occultists
    are distinguished from them by a more marked taste for “pragmatic
    evidence” (“scientific proofs”) related to the reality of certain “phenomena” appearing to prove the existence of several orders of reality, and often for various forms of practical “magic”—in a world that
    seemed definitively disenchanted. Occultism is linked by affinity to the
    symbolist current in literature and in the arts (section III, 1), just as
    Naturphilosophie was to romanticism.

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    After Éliphas Lévi (section II, 2), a few strong personalities
    dominate a rather disparate crowd. In France, Gérard Encausse (alias
    Papus; 1865–1915; section III, 1), a physician, nicknamed “the Balzac of Occultism” (his work is prolific), is considered still today by a
    great many admirers as a magus, a true “initiate.” His Traité de science
    occulte appeared in 1888, as did the first number of his periodical
    L’Initiation. The Society for Psychical Research was founded in London
    in 1882 and several important initiatic associations would see the light
    of day (infra, section II). In company with his friend Anthelme-Nizier
    Philippe (known as “Maître Philippe of Lyons”), Papus went to Saint
    Petersburg to visit Nicholas II and the Tsarina on two occasions; he
    introduced them, they claim, to Martinism.
    One of those that Papus called his spiritual masters was Joseph
    Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, inventor toward 1900 of a “magical Archeometer” (a key revealing the correspondences among many
    domains of knowledge) and author of penetrating studies on musical
    esotericism. Also close to Papus by his purpose and by his work was
    Stanislas de Guaita (1861–1897; Essais de Sciences maudites; 1886; Le
    Temple de Satan, 1891; section II, I), one of the most famous authors
    of this current. Let us cite again Josephin Péladan (section III, 1, 3) in
    whom Occultism takes an artistic and literary form, as well as Charles
    Henry (1859–1926) and especially Albert Faucheux (alias FrançoisCharles Barlet; L’Occultisme, 1909)—one of the principal figures, in
    France, of this same current. Paul Vulliaud was not an occultist, but
    the journal Les Entretiens idéalistes that he founded in 1906, and the
    artistic and literary movement that he motivated, are nevertheless
    part of this landscape.
    Among the Russians appears in first place Piotr Dem’ianovich
    Ouspensky (chapter 5, section II, 3), the author, notably, of Tertium
    Organum (Russian edition in 1912, English in 1920), which presents
    an interesting philosophy of Nature, considerations on the Tarot,
    dreams, etc. In Prague, several esoterically oriented centers were active
    around 1900. In the Netherlands, Occultism is represented notably
    by Fredéric Van Eeden (Het Hypnotisme en de Wonderen, 1887), in
    Germany by Carl du Prel (Studien aus dem Gebiete der Geheimwissenschaften, 1894–1895) and especially Franz Hartmann (1838–1912;

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    Magic White and Black, 1886; Cosmology or Universal Science, 1888;
    section III, 1, 2, 3). A discussion of certain representatives of this
    occultist current in England, including Aleister Crowley, follows infra
    and section III. Let us add finally that astrology experienced a new
    vogue in the years between 1880 and 1914; it occupied a prominent
    place in occultist literature and several specialized works (e.g., those
    of William Frederick Allan, alias Alan Leo, 1860–1917) attempt to
    confer greater credibility on it.
    After the publications already mentioned (section II, 1), which
    come within the extension of neo-Alexandrian Hermetism, let us
    cite a few of those of the occultist period properly speaking, also
    matched with very “hermeticizing” commentaries. They are the editions provided by the two famous “Rosicrucians” Hargrave Jennings
    and Pachal Beverly Randolph (section III, 1)—respectively in Madras
    in 1884 and in Toledo, Ohio, in 1889—and by Anna Bonus Kingsford
    (also author of several works, including The Perfect Way (1881; section III, 1, 2) and Edward Maitland, under the title The Virgin of the
    World, 1885. The most erudite of all, due to George Robert Stowe
    Mead (Corpus Hermeticum, 1906), would long be authoritative, even
    in academia.
    In fact, unlike many commentators of the CH in his period,
    Mead is the author not only of many publications belonging to occultist thought (thus, Quests New and Old, 1913), but also of scholarly
    works pertaining to esoteric currents. It is the same for the works
    of another Englishman, Sir Arthur Edward Waite (1857–1942; section III, 1), a very important author whose works are resolutely in
    the line of the occultist movement of his period but that are not
    without scholarly merits (he wrote many works on the history of
    Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, alchemy, Christian theosophy, etc.).
    William Wynn Westcott (section III, 1), another notable figure of
    this milieu in England, also strove—but with much less effectiveness
    and scope than Waite—to make known the riches of the Western
    esoteric currents of the past (thus, through his series Collectanea Hermetica, 1993–1902).
    Between theosophers and occultists, the frontier is sometimes
    fluid, either because some of the latter (such as François-Charles

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    Barlet; section II, 3) were also, in a certain manner, theosophers,
    or because they published earlier writings belonging to this current.
    Thus, Papus edited the letters of Martines de Pasqually and of SaintMartin, and René Philipon, who signed as “Chevalier de la Rose
    Croissante,” provided in 1899 the very first edition of the Traité de
    la Réintégration des Êtres by this same Pasqually (chapter 3, section I,
    2). Nevertheless closer to this current was, for example, the Russian
    Vladimir Solovyov, Nature philosopher and sophiologist (in Russian:
    Lectures on Theanthropy, 1877–1881; The Beauty of Nature, 1889; The
    Meaning of Love, 1892–1894). We could not say that Rudolf Steiner
    (1861–1925), Nature philosopher and prolific author, is very closely
    connected with it.
    Starting in his student years in Vienna, Steiner was concerned
    with natural sciences and physics, in the wake of Goethe, whose scientific works he co-edited (1883–1897). Thenceforth, he would never
    cease to meditate on the “esoteric” meaning of the teachings of the
    genius of Weimar (Goethe als Theosoph, 1904; his essays on Goethe’s
    Faust and Märchen date from 1918). His production includes many
    essays, various treatises (Theosophie, 1904; Die Geheimwissenschaft in
    Umriss, 1910), innumerable lectures (most of them are published),
    and a few dramas (section III, 3).
    In line with the Christocentric evolutionism that characterizes
    his thought, he insisted on the necessity of fully assuming the knowledge of the spiritual history of the West in view of its transmutation, and not relying on a Primordial Tradition from which we would
    passively expect manifestations in the form of new divine avatars.
    Therefore, the introduction, by the TS, of the young Krishnamurti as
    a Christ come back to earth caused Steiner to break away from this
    Society in 1913. Humanity on its journey must always, he held, work
    to find balance between two poles, the cosmic forces of expansion
    (opening of the being, aspiration toward the heights, but also egocentrism) and the forces of concentration (hardening, materialization).
    Reincarnation and “karma” play the role of instruments of liberation.
    To distinguish it firmly from the teachings of the TS, Steiner called
    his system “Anthroposophy,” and gave this name to the Society that
    he founded in 1913 (the Anthroposophical Society).

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    III. Esotericism in Initiatic Societies and in Art (1848–1914)
    1. Masonic or Paramasonic Societies
    In Masonry, it is especially (cf. chapter 3, section I, 1) the Higher
    Grade Systems that draw inspiration from the esoteric currents. After
    the Revolution, the Rectified Scottish Rite continued in Switzerland;
    the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite remained alive, too—as well
    as a part of “Egyptian” Masonry, notably through the presence of the
    Rites of Memphis and of Mishraim. At the end of the nineteenth
    century, we can observe the same phenomenon as about a hundred
    years earlier—namely, the creation and the proliferation of new Societies of this type.
    In 1868, Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825–1875; section II, 3)
    founded the most ancient Rosicrucian group in the United States,
    the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis. Thereafter, in 1876, the Swedenborgian
    Rite known as the Illuminated Theosophists (chapter 3, section III,
    2) returned from America to Europe. Of a distinctly Christian orientation, the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), branching from
    regular English Freemasonry, includes Higher Grades inspired by those
    of the Gold- und Rosenkreuzer of the eighteenth century (chapter 3,
    section III, 2). Born in London in 1867, it is the creation of learned
    occultists such as Robert Wentworth Little (1840–1918) and Kenneth
    R. H. Mackenzie (1833–1886). Bulwer-Lytton (section I, 1; section II,
    2) and Éliphas Lévi were honorary members; William Wynn Westcott
    (section II, 3) was its Supremus Magus from 1891 to 1925.
    The year 1888 saw the birth in France of a Rose-Croix Kabbalistique, founded by Guaïta (section II, 2) and Péladan (section III,
    3), which would go through many fragmentations and estrangements.
    The year 1891 saw the birth of the Martinist Order, a creation of
    Papus (the adjective refers to the names Martines de Pasqually and
    Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin), which, from its incipience, has always
    accepted women as members. We have seen (section II, 3) that Nicolas II—open to the “occult” as were the last Romanovs—would have
    been a member. The year 1888 saw the emergence of the Fraternitas
    (a creation of Franz Hartmann (section II, 3; section III, 2, 3) in Germany, and of the Order of the Golden Dawn (GD) in England, which

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    also accepted women (it was an outgrowth of the SRIA). Created by
    Westcott (cf. supra), William Robert Woodman and Samuel Liddell
    MacGregor Mathers, the GD drew inspiration from the Kabbalah as
    well as the Tarot; it gave an important place to ceremonial magic
    (which is not the case of the SRIA).
    An English translation, by Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers, of
    The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage (a theurgic ritual
    in Latin, from an old manuscript of uncertain prevenance and period)
    was published in 1898, and then circulated in the form of a Rite
    known to the members of the GD. The celebrated writer William
    Butler Yeats, who was initiated into the GD in 1888, directed it for
    several months. Aleister Crowley (1875–1947; chapter 5, section I, 1;
    section III, 1)—probably the most famous figure of the whole occultist movement in England—after joining in 1898, remained a member
    for only eighteen months. Waite (section II, 3) was a member starting in 1891. The Stella Matutina created in 1903 is a branch of it.
    Between 1906 and 1910, the occultist Theodor Reuss established the
    Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), a Lodge for research in secret sciences
    whose destiny was also directed by Aleister Crowley. The latter further
    organized its rituals, endowing them with a more pronounced sexual
    and anti-Christian aspect. He created in parallel, in 1909, an Astrum
    Argentinum that is founded on the teachings of the GD. Rudolf
    Steiner, who probably was never a member of the OTO, created his
    own Anthroposophical Society in Dornach, near Basel (section II,
    3), which is not of a masonic type. Another important organization
    is the Rosicrucian Fellowship, creation of Carl Louis von Grasshoff
    (alias Max Heindel) in 1907 and whose world center is located in
    Oceanside, California.
    There existed other circles, associations, and movements. Thus,
    the Mouvement Cosmique, founded around 1900 by Max Théon—
    continuation of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor—produced starting in 1903 an enormous body of work entitled Tradition cosmique,
    dedicated to the “original tradition.” Some of these movements assembled Christians; this is the case for the Hermetic Academy of Anna
    Bonus Kingsford (section II, 3; section III, 2). In France, Yvon Le Loup
    (alias Paul Sédir, 1871–1926), collaborator of Papus, led the group
    known as Les Amitiés Spirituelles. The Jesuit Victor Drevon and Alexis

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    de Sarachaga created in 1873 a center of esoteric studies at Parayle-Monial, the Hieron. This list is partial; it does not include many
    groupings and associations that exceed the limits of our purpose, as for
    example the Gnostic Church founded in 1890 by Jules Doinel.

    2. The Theosophical Society
    Founded in 1875 in New York by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (“H.
    P.B.,” 1831–1891; section II, 1), Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan
    Judge, the TS—which is not masonic in character—went through
    various forms and ramifications in the course of its history but that
    have preserved the same common denominators. “Theosophism,” a
    generic term used to describe its orientation, does not set forth a
    “doctrine” properly speaking, although the title of the book of H.P.B.,
    The Secret Doctrine (1888; preceded by Isis Unveiled, 1877) customarily serves as a reference for the theosophists (in English, this term
    distinguishes them from the theosophers of the “classical” Christian
    theosophical current).
    At its foundation in 1875, the TS fixed a triple goal for itself,
    respected by the branches issued from it. These were, first, to form
    the nucleus of a universal fellowship; second, to encourage the study
    of all the religions, of philosophy, and of science; and third, to study
    the laws of Nature as well as the psychical and spiritual powers of the
    human being. By its content and its inspiration, it is largely dependent
    on Eastern spiritualities, especially Hindu; in this, it well reflects the
    cultural climate in which it was born. H.P.B. and her Society never
    tired of affirming the unity of all the religions in their “esoteric” foundations, and of trying to develop, among those people who had the
    desire for it, the faculty of becoming “true theosophists.” In its beginnings especially, the TS devoted a good share of its activities to the
    “psychical” or “metaphysical,” areas that were objects of vivid interest
    at the time. Departed for India in 1878, H.P.B. founded there in 1879
    her journal The Theosophist and established, there too, in 1883 (at
    Adyar, near Madras, India) the official seat of her Society. The latter
    was well accepted by the natives of the country, more especially in
    view of the climate of tolerance that reigned within this movement.
    H.P.B. returned to Europe in 1885.

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    The history of the branches of the TS after the death of its
    founder in 1891 is rich and complex; let us mention notably the creation in 1909, by Robert Crosbie, of the United Lodge of Theosophists.
    Three factors favored the influence of this movement, implanted in
    most Western countries.
    The first is the presence of significant personalities, such as
    Annie Besant (1847–1933), its president starting in 1907, Franz Hartmann (founder of a German branch in 1886; section II, 3; III, 1, 2),
    and Rudolf Steiner (general secretary of the German section in 1902).
    Steiner broke away from the TS in 1913 (chapter 4, section III, 2), of
    which the inclination for Eastern traditions seemed to him irreconcilable with the Christian and Western character of his own orientation. Before him and for this same reason, Anna Bonus Kingsford, an
    influential figure of a feminine and Christian Occultism in the years
    1870 and 1880 (section II, 3; section III, 1), broke away from it to
    establish a Hermetic Society penetrated by Christianity. However, in
    creating their own organizations, personalities like Steiner, and to a
    lesser degree Anna Kingsford, contributed to spread, even in a modified form, teachings issued from their mother Society.
    The second factor comprises the many links that the various
    branches have maintained with most of the other Societies of this
    type. Thus, the international Spiritist and Spiritualist Congress of
    1889 and the Masonic and Spiritualist Congress of 1908, which met
    in Paris, represent a good example of this crossroads of ideas and of
    tendencies. Moreover, the frontiers differentiating most of these movements from one another were rather permeable; it is instead inside
    each one of them that oppositions were enacted, that people fulminated “excommunications.”
    The third factor, finally, is obviously the great number of artists
    having manifestly undergone the influence of the TS—a point that
    is the subject of part of the following section.

    3. Esoteric Arts and Literature
    Among the great French writers that drew from the referential corpus
    of the esoteric currents appears Gérard de Nerval (Voyage en Orient,
    1851; Les Illuminés, 1852; Les Chimères, 1854). The sonnet by Charles

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    Baudelaire (“Correspondances,” around 1857) has become a sort of
    poetic Emerald Tablet, and the texts of this author on the notion of
    creative imagination are not without affinities with what is one of the
    components of the esoteric “form of thought” (cf. introduction, section
    IV). The thematic range in Contemplations (1856) of Victor Hugo is
    close to that of the most classical Christian theosophy (let us also
    recall that between 1853 and 1855, in Jersey and in Guernsey, Hugo
    the spiritualist conversed with Dante and Shakespeare). In Villiers de
    L’Isle-Adam, Occultism found one of its best authors of fiction (Isis,
    1862; Axël, 1888); it is also present in Saint-Pol-Roux (Les Reposoirs de
    la Procession, 1893), and for Josephin Péladan (section II, 3; section III,
    1) it inspired an impressive saga (L’Éthopée, 1886–1907). In Paris, the
    exhibitions of the Salons de la Rose-Croix, connected with the Order
    founded by Péladan (section II, 3), are one of the most aesthetically
    fertile episodes in the occultist current; from 1893 to 1898, one could
    admire there the works of Félicien Rops; Georges Rouault and Erik
    Satie took part in it. In the same period, a few works of “Rosicrucian”
    fiction also appeared in the wake of Bulwer-Lytton’s Zanoni (section I,
    5). Examples are the novel by Franz Hartmann, An Adventure among
    the Rosicrucians (1887; section II, 3; section III, 1, 2) and one by
    Emma Hardinge Britten, Ghostland, or Researches into the Mysteries of
    Occultism (1876)—one of the principal works of fiction inspired by
    the occultist current and animal magnetism.
    The musical production work of Richard Wagner, from 1843
    to 1882, incarnated for the Belle Époque the idea of music elevated
    to the rank of religion. Both his texts and scores remain a privileged
    place of hermeneutics. However, the existence of any “esotericism”
    in his work is mostly in the minds of certain readers and listeners.
    This remark would also apply to the reception of the work of painters such as Arnold Böcklin or Gustave Moreau. Like Wagner in
    Bayreuth, Rudolf Steiner created at Dornach (near Basel), the seat
    of his Anthroposophical Society, a Gesamtkunstwerk (a “total artistic
    work” like Wagner’s project, of a very Germanic nature). It was the
    “Goethanum” (chapter 5, section III, 1), a building meant to reflect
    the very spirit of the Society and to be a site appropriate for the
    performance of dramas (principally of those that he authored: Die
    Pforte der Einweihung, 1910; Die Prüfung der Seele, 1911; Der Hüter der
    Schwelle, 1912; Der Seelen Erwachen, 1913).
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    5

    Esotericisms of the
    Twentieth Century
    I. Gnoses in the Wake of the Western “Tradition”
    1. “Traditional Sciences,” Christian Theosophy, and
    New Forms of Gnosis

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    urviving in the form of activities as much speculative as operative, practiced inside initiatic associations or by individuals, the
    so-called “traditional” sciences (i.e., especially astrology, alchemy, and
    “magic”) directly touched a broad public. The most popular is evidently astrology, “queen” of the divinatory Arts. What big bookstore
    does not dedicate entire bookshelves to it, taking over most of the
    “esoteric” or “occult” section? What media does not have its column
    of daily or weekly advice? In its most widespread aspect—simplistic
    predictions, flat utilitarianism—it answers the more or less conscious
    need to rediscover in our world, which many consider too uncentered
    and fragmented, the Unus mundus, the unity of the universe and of
    humanity, through a language founded on the principle of universal correspondences. When this need leads to a concept of astrology
    that does not reduce it to a mere “mancy” (just an instrument of
    divination), but that induces the practice of a form of hermeneutics
    of “signs,” then we can see in it a form of gnosis that connects it
    with esoteric currents properly speaking. After Alan Leo (chapter 4,
    section II, 3), many in the twentieth century, from Karl BrandlerPracht (1864–1945) to André Barbault, including Daniel Chennevière (alias Dane Rudhyar, 1895–1985), have considered it as such and
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    contributed, more or less successfully, to confer on it a status in its
    own right in the humanities.
    Since Alliette (chapters 1–3), the Tarot has become another
    esoteric current in its own right, composed of an ever-increasing referential corpus. The Tarot serves not only to tell fortunes, but also
    to practice a form of gnosis drawing from other traditions, like Kabbalah—thus, with Aleister Crowley (The Book of Thoth, 1944; section
    III, 1; chapter 4, section III, 1). Among other exegetes of the Tarot,
    let us cite Marc Haven (Le Tarot, 1937), Gérard Van Rijnberk (Le
    Tarot, 1946), Paul Marteau (Le Tarot de Marseille, 1949), and Valentin
    Tomberg (Meditationen, 1972; infra, 2).
    As in the past, the alchemical domain is divided between the
    “blowers” (souffleurs, a French epithet for alchemists whose goal is
    almost solely for material gain) and the “Philosophers” (those who
    pursue a spiritual goal, in addition to being “operative”). Some of
    these occasionally have organizations, like the Paracelsus Research
    Society, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then in Australia, directed by
    Albert Richard Riedel (alias Frater Albertus, 1911–1984). Likewise,
    the Soluna laboratories, in Bavaria, were created by a notable neoParacelsian alchemist, Alexander von Bernus (1880–1965), who also
    was the author of a relatively abundant work in the tradition of German Romanticism. Outside of such associations, alchemical practice
    rather preserved the character of a private religion that it always has
    the tendency to assume.
    Rare are the “Philosophers” of the twentieth century having left
    interesting written work. This explains in part the success of those who
    produced one, such as Eugène Léon Canseliet (1899–1982), whose
    reputation also owes much to the mystery surrounding his master Fulcanelli. This master, whose biography remains unknown, has left a
    Mystère des cathédrales (1926; The Mystery of the Cathedrals) as well
    as Les Demeures philosophales (1930; The Dwellings of the Philosophers,
    1999). His disciple Canseliet has authored a few various works, among
    which were Deux logis alchimiques (1945) and Alchimie (1964). Both
    were as concerned with detecting the “alchemical signatures” on the
    stones of certain buildings as with seeking the Philosopher’s Stone.
    Other authors involved with this “science” dealt with its spiritual or initiatic aspects without necessarily being working practitioners

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    (thus Julius Evola, La Tradizione ermetica, 1931; section II, 1). Alchemy
    has continued to occupy a good place in contemporary Western culture. Reprints and facsimile reproductions (texts and images) became
    easily available especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, many
    historians have written about it (section III, 2). “Magic” belongs to the
    esoteric currents of the twentieth century insofar as it is viewed as not
    just a practice to procure material gratifications. On this understanding, we find it spread especially within societies and various groupings.
    The historian Massimo Introvigne (section III, 3) has put forward a
    distinction, debatable but convenient, between two categories: ceremonial magic and initiatic magic. The first would emphasize knowledge and/or powers, the effectiveness of rites. The second would stress
    the legitimacy of initiatic filiation, the condition of an “authentic”
    transformation of the member elect. Both “magics” were practiced in
    the hothouses of secret societies, of which several produced a rather
    abundant literature (this was the case of several of the works cited
    in this chapter 5). As for the first category, one of its most famous
    representatives was Aleister Crowley, already mentioned regarding the
    occultist current (section III, 2; chapter 4, section III, 1) and whose
    work and “initiatic” activities were manifold (The Equinox of the Gods,
    1936) until the 1940s (section III, 1).
    If the current of Christian Kabbalah had since long run dry,
    Jewish Kabbalah and, notably, the Sephirotic tree continued nonetheless to inspire many researchers in quest of a key to gnosis, but often
    by cutting them from the original Hebraic cultural terrain; (Ramon
    Llull and Giordano Bruno had already done the same). It is tempting,
    indeed, to use this tree as a support of meditation, a tool of thought.
    Taking this approach was Raymond Abellio (1907–1986; section III, 1;
    La Bible, document chiffré, 1950; La Fin de l’ésotérisme, 1973). In fact,
    for minds not rooted in the Jewish tradition, the corpus of Greek and
    Latin references lends itself more easily to a hermeneutic of a spiritual
    order. For that matter, the neo-Alexandrian current (chapter 4, section III, 1, 3) did not run dry in the twentieth century, as persistent
    interest in the Corpus Hermeticum bears testimony, notably several
    new editions completed by exegetic commentaries (of a neo-Rosicrucian character, in particular). Among these are the publications of the
    Shrine of Wisdom in 1923, the book by Duncan Greenless (The Gospel

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    of Hermes, 1949), and that by Jan van Rijckenborgh (De Egyptische
    oergnosis, 1960–1965; section II, 2).

    2. Presence of Christian Theosophy
    The main representatives of a properly Christian theosophy were
    mostly German, Russian, and French. Rudolf Steiner continued his
    personal work (Mein Lebensgang, autobiography published in 1925;
    study on the Chymische Hochzeit of Andreae, 1917–1918), marked
    less by this current properly speaking than by certain aspects of the
    Naturphilosophie of the preceding century. The influence of Leopold
    Ziegler (1881–1958; Ueberlieferung and Menschwerdung, 1948; Gestaltwandel der Götter, 1922) was more subtle. This sage residing on the
    shores of Lake Constance shared with René Guénon (section II, 1)
    the idea of a primordial Tradition that was fragmented, eclipsed, and
    forgotten. If he scrutinized myths and studied religions, however, it was
    more as a disciple of Boehme and of Baader, as a theosopher attentive
    to the symbolism of the phases of alchemical transmutation. Thus he
    placed Sophia at the very heart of his gnosis, associating her with a
    philosophy of Nature inseparable from a philosophy of History—itself
    conceived as a whole, as much biological as spiritual.
    The Orthodox Church, which dedicated to Sophia the celebrated Cathedrals of Saint Sophia in Constantinople and Kiev, generally
    made this personage a real, central figure, contrary to what happened
    in Western Christianity, where she was never very present except
    in the Christian theosophical current. However, Sophia being one
    theme among others in the repertory of great images, the fact of
    integrating her into a theology does not necessarily imply that one is
    “theosophizing.” This remark obtains regarding Father Paul Florensky
    (La Colonne et le fondement de la vérité, 1914 [The Pillar and Ground
    of the Truth, 2004]), and Father Sergei Bulgakov (La Sagesse de Dieu,
    1936 [Sophia: the Wisdom of God, 1993], Du verbe incarné, 1943; Le
    Paraclet, 1946). Inspired not only by Vladimir Solovyov but also by
    Florensky, Tommaso Palamidessi founded an initiatic Order in Turin
    in 1948, Loto + Croce, which became the Associazione Archeosofica
    in 1968. Closer to Germanic theosophy than Florensky or Bulgakov,
    we find Nicholas Berdiaev (1874–1948; Le Sens de la création, 1916

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    [The Meaning of the Creative Act, 1955 [1916 in Russian]; Études sur
    Jacob Boehme, 1930; Spirit and Reality, 1957 [1946 in Russian]), a
    Russian philosopher established in France. Berdiaev, a great admirer
    of Boehme (whom he considered “a summit of the visionary power
    of humanity”) and of Baader, proved critical with regard to what he
    called “occultism.” On the latter, he wrote, in The Meaning of the
    Creative Act, “the great meaning” is nevertheless “to be already turned
    toward the cosmic secret and toward humanity’s part in it.” In the
    same movement, he sharply criticized the teachings of the Theosophcal Society and those of Rudolf Steiner because of the evolutionism
    that is part of their system, and saw in them “a serious symptom of
    the decomposition of the physical plane of Being” (The Meaning of
    Creation).
    If Christian theosophy was but one aspect among others of the
    Berdiaevian work, on the other hand almost the entire voluminous
    book of Boris Mouravieff (1961–1965), Gnôsis. Étude et commentaire
    sur la tradition ésotérique de l’orthodoxie orientale, stood within the pale
    of esotericism. It is a big compendium of “psychosophy” (as he calls it)
    and of a Christian anthroposophy, partly Steinerian in character, that
    this independent thinker, also somewhat influenced by Gurdjieff, presents us in the form of instructions meant for the reader’s illumination
    and inner transformation. All the same, the references to the Western
    corpus are rare in it. The Centre d’Études Chrétiennes Ésotériques
    created in 1961 by Mouravieff has enjoyed a certain success.
    One of the most remarkable books of the twentieth century
    among all those mentioned in this chapter is Méditations sur les 22
    Arcanes majeurs du tarot, written in French; published anonymously,
    first in German in 1972, then in several other languages (Meditations
    on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, 1985). The author,
    Valentin Tomberg (1901–1973), a Russian of Baltic German origin,
    was a professor of law. He was a member of the Anthroposophical
    Society for a few years, but broke from it and spent the last years of
    his life in London where he wrote this work. There may not be a
    better introduction to Christian theosophy and to any philosophical
    reflection on Western esoteric currents. Let us note that despite the
    title, it is hardly a treatise on the Tarot (the author uses the Arcana
    only as a point of departure, a support, for “meditation”).

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    In France, Auguste-Edouard Chauvet, a continuator of Fabre
    d’Olivet amd of Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (chapter 4, section II, 3), scrutinized the book of Moses, taking support from his two predecessors,
    but enriched their contribution with new perspectives; his Ésotérisme
    de la Genèse (1946–1948) was one of the most interesting works of
    Christian theosophy in the twentieth century. Robert Amadou, who
    considered himself the disciple of Chauvet, was his commentator and
    appeared as a Christian theosopher (Occident, Orient: parcours d’une
    tradition, 1987; and cf. supra, introduction, section III).
    The work of the Islamologist Henry Corbin dealt primarily with
    the theosophies of Islam, but occasionally with Christian theosophy,
    marshalled in the context of the three great monotheisms. Translator and commentator of Iranian and Islamic philosophical texts, this
    university scholar attempted to ally scientific rigor with personal commitment to a theosophy whose Christian component takes on, in his
    work, a distinctly docetist hue. Making a plea for the constitution of
    a “comparative esotericism of the Religions of the Book,” he sought
    to bring out the relationships that would connect some Christian
    theosophers (like Swedenborg and Oetinger) with their Shi’ite Islamic
    counterparts (cf. e.g., “Herméneutique spirituelle comparée,” in Eranos
    Jahrbuch, no. 33, 1965). In the work of this exegete, Sophia and the
    angelic world occupy an important position. Prominent too is what
    he called the mundus imaginalis—the imaginal world—or mesocosm,
    an intermediary world situated between the perceptible world and the
    “intelligible” or divine world, a mundus “where spirits become corporealized and bodies become spiritualized.”

    3. Gnosis and Science: Toward a New Pansophy?
    The occultist current had shown itself powerless to stimulate the emergence of a new Nature philosophy comparable to the Naturphilosophie
    of the period of German Romanticism. The twentieth century did
    not really witness a resurgence of this type, despite the work of certain authors already encountered here, such as Rudolf Steiner, Frater
    Albertus, and Alexander von Bernus (section I, 3), who stood to some
    extent within this kind of tradition.

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    It is nevertheless appropriate to make a special place for Gurdjieff
    and for Ouspensky. The Greco-Armenian George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
    (1877–1949; section II, 3), like Boehme but without connecting to
    theosophy of a Christian type, posited the existence of two Natures.
    One is “creatural”; the other is “eternal,” a duality concretely manifested by the appearance of a great many levels of materiality within
    a network of universal interdependence. Structured according to an
    original arithmology, this cosmology, or this cosmosophy, is rich and
    complex. In In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (1949), the Russian Piotr Dem’ianovich Ouspensky (section II, 3)
    explicated this philosophy of Gurdjieff, of which we also find elements
    in the book by the latter, Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson (published
    in 1950). Ouspensky appeared furthermore in a good position beside
    Gurdjieff as a philosopher of Nature, by his book A New Model of the
    Universe (1930–1931, as well as Tertium Organon, 1920–1922, already
    cited in relation to Gurdjieff, chapter 4, section II, 3).
    In the course of the last decades, new reflections were put forward, bearing on this idea of Nature philosophy understood in a light
    of gnosis. This was the case of thinkers such as, first, the perennialist Seyyed Hosseyn Nasr (Man and Nature, 1968; section II, 2) and
    second, the microphysicist Basarab Nicolescu (Nous, la particule et le
    monde, 1985; and this evocative title: La science, le sens et l’évolution:
    essai sur J. Böhme, 1988 [Science, Meaning and Evolution: The Cosmology
    of Jacob Boehme, 1991]). A third example is the philosopher Michel
    Cazenave (La Science et l’Âme de Monde, 1983). At this juncture,
    mention must be made of a great mind of our times, Raymond Abellio
    (1907–1986; section I, 1; III, 1), a graduate of the École Polytechnique.
    Highly educated in both the “hard sciences” and the humanities, this
    philosopher has authored many writings on Kabbalah, on astrology and
    on the Tarot. However, he is mostly renowned for having elaborated
    an “absolute structure” (cf. La Structure absolue, 1965) founded on the
    idea of “universal interdependence” and whose practical application is
    meant to lead to a form of gnosis both experiential and intellectual.
    In the fields of physics, astrophysics, and life sciences, an increasing number of thinkers emerged, proposing models of the universe,
    suggesting hypotheses of meaning. The problem of the origins of

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    the cosmos and that of the relationships between Spirit and Nature,
    were—and continue to be—the subject of passionate and impassioned
    debates. These take the form of many conferences and symposia (of
    the type “Science and Tradition,” “Religion and Science,” etc.), in
    which the names of the representatives of the esoteric currents of the
    past are sometimes convoked. These debates, however, nearly always
    result in considerations privileging the “hard sciences,” even while
    claiming to rejoice in seeing the emergence of new paradigms that
    would free scientific research from the ghetto to which scienticism
    had confined it for many decades. From an esoteric perspective, such
    debates, at their best, tend to produce forms of neo-gnosis very different from those that had previously flourished (to wit, La Gnose de
    Princeton [1974] of Raymond Ruyer, The Tao of Physics [1975] of Fritjof
    Capra, or L’Esprit cet inconnu [1977] of Jean Charon). Indeed, what
    differentiates such neo-gnosis from most gnostic constructions presented
    in the earlier chapters is that the former borrow from the latter only
    some of their “exterior” characteristics, thus failing to be based on a
    “myth of origins.” According to these former constructions, a spiritually conducted hermeneutic would be capable of approaching such a
    myth on a variety of levels of reality.

    II. At the Crossroads of “Tradition”
    1. René Guénon
    To counteract the multiplicity of initiatic Orders connected with the
    occultist current and the aspects of the latter that he deemed doubtful,
    the Frenchman René Guénon (1886–1951) undertook a work of reformation placed under the sign of “Tradition.” He knew these Orders
    well for having been a member of several of them in his youth. He
    had even flirted with spiritualism around 1908. In 1914, he took initiation into the Grand Lodge of France. Within the Gnostic Church
    (chapter 4, section III, 1), he frequented men (Léon Champrenaud
    and Albert de Pouvourville) whose influence on him, added to that
    of the Orientals whom he met in 1908 and 1909, determined his
    vocation as a reformer.

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    In 1921, he published Introduction générale à l’étude des doctrines
    hindoues (Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines)1 in which the
    essence of his metaphysics is already expounded. In Le Théosophisme.
    Histoire d’une pseudo-religion (Theosophy, the History of a Pseudo-Religion), published the same year and directed against the Theosophical
    Society (TS), he demonstrated his biting, polemical turn of mind,
    which also animated L’Erreur spirite (1923 [The Spiritist Fallacy]),
    another poisoned arrow, shot this time against Spiritualism. Almost
    all his subsequent works reveal this will to cleanse, to purify, which
    bears not only on the Western esoteric currents (especially the occultist one), but just as much on most Western philosophies (Orient and
    Occident, 1924 [East and West]).
    In 1927, in Le Roi du Monde (King of the World) he affirmed the
    existence of a spiritual center or “geometric space,” guarantor of the
    orthodoxy of the different traditions. In La Crise du Monde moderne
    (1927 [The Crisis of the Modern World]), he compares the Hindu vision
    of the cosmic cycles with our current civilization, identifying the latter with the so-called era of the Kali Yuga, a dark age of degeneration
    coming at the end of one of the “great cycles” or manvantaras. In 1930,
    Guénon traveled to Egypt where he remained until his death, occurring at his home in Cairo. There he wrote Le Symbolisme de la Croix
    (1931 [The Symbolism of the Cross]), Les États multiples de l’Être (1932
    [The Multiple States of the Being]), Le Règne de la quantité et les signes
    des temps (1945 [The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times]), and
    La Grande Triade (1946 [The Great Triad]). His abundant bibliography
    is not limited to these titles. He has always proved furthermore, to
    be a prolific author of articles, an indefatigable correspondent, and a
    polemicist with an acid pen.
    Guénon claimed to possess a complex metaphysical doctrine
    of Hindu origin bearing on the Non-Being (Brahma, the Absolute)
    and the Being—His manifestation—with “multiple states,” to which
    human beings are connected. This metaphysics is absent from the
    Western esoteric currents. Guénon nevertheless occupies an important
    place in their history, for four main reasons. The first is his numerous
    1. All the works cited here were published in English by Sophia Perennis in
    2004/2005.

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    public stands: he attracted much attention by making strong pronouncements. The second is the insistence with which he affirmed
    the existence of a “primordial Tradition” situated beyond all these
    currents and all the traditions and religions of the world. Guénon
    received the heritage of this notion from the Renaissance (philosophia
    perennis), from Romanticism, and from the TS, but he hypostasized
    it more than anyone else hitherto had done. Furthermore, he insisted
    on the need for authentic initiatic filiation in the attempt to gain
    access to this “Tradition,” an insistence well adapted to inciting the
    members of many existing initiatic societies to question this Tradition’s
    value. Third, he produced many writings on symbolism, an area of
    predilection for anyone who feels at home with various forms of “esotericism”—even if the manner in which he theorizes the notion of
    “symbol” can leave demanding readers dissatisfied. Fourth, his writing
    style is remarkably clear and convincing, in harmony with the vigor of
    the purpose (even though the latter lacks historical rigor); this partly
    accounts for the influence he has been exerting from the 1920s until
    today in various milieux—philosophical, literary, and artistic.
    To oppose the proliferation of initiations of his time, which
    he considered false for the most part, Guénon proposed the initiatic regularity of Freemasonry and of the Catholic Church. However,
    this regularity is only a temporary channel; Christianity itself must be
    transcended, because any religion is only a form, a limiting aspect of
    the “supreme intellectuality,” an avatar of the primordial Tradition.
    Guénon represents an impressive voice of intellectual asceticism. No
    one more than he has striven to put us on guard against the confusion between the “mental” and the “spiritual,” and against sentimentality in matters of spirituality. “Esotericism,” or better “esoterism”
    (cf. introduction, section I), often takes, in Guénon, the meaning
    of “metaphysical principles,” whereas “exotericism” covers everything
    that relates to the “individual.”
    It remains, nevertheless, that this “Descartes of esotericism,”
    whose power of synthesis we can only admire, blithely threw the
    baby out with the bathwater. While rejecting Western philosophy,
    he seemed to know precious little about Christian theosophy (the
    Germanic world was alien to him). By mistrust of the adulterated,
    he preserved nothing, or nearly, of the hermetic-alchemical Western

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    tradition and located at the Renaissance the great divorce from metaphysics. Through ignorance of the epistemological breakthroughs of
    his time, he had a false—because outdated—idea of science (indeed,
    he was neither a scientist nor a full-fledged historian). He rejected this
    science, just as he condemned modernity in all its aspects—and loftily
    ignored Nature. The “world of manifestation”—the palpable world—as
    he liked to say, has even less reality than our shadow projected on
    a wall. Because of their lack of interest in Nature and most Western
    esoteric traditions, within the history of the latter, “Guénonism,” and
    perennialism in general, constitute a new phenomenon.

    2. The Perennialist Current
    Perennialism (from the Latin philosophia perennis) serves to designate
    (see also introduction, section I) a religious philosophy that emphasizes the notion of primordial Tradition, mother of all the others and
    understood in a Guénonian sense. If Guénon is, in some way, its
    leader, his principal “successor” was Frithjof Schuon (1907–1999; De
    l’Unité transcendante des religions, 1948 [The Transcendent Unity of Religion, 1953]; L’Ésotérisme comme principe et comme voie, 1978 [Esoterism
    as Principle and as Way, 1981], Sur les traces de la religion pérenne, 1982
    [Echoes of Perennial Wisdom, 1992], etc.). Schuon, a Swiss established
    in the United States in 1981, has exerted and is still exerting an
    influence extending to a very wide audience.
    In the wake of Guénon and of Schuon (but certain notable differences separate them) a few personalities stand out. Among them
    are, in France, Constant Chevillon, an important figure of Martinism
    and of Freemasonry (La Tradition universelle, 1946); Leo Schaya (La
    Création en Dieu, 1983), and the philosopher Georges Vallin (La Perspective métaphysique, 1977). We also find Catholics nevertheless very
    close to Guénonian thought (Louis Charbonneau-Lassay, Le Bestiaire
    du Christ, 1940 [The Bestiary of Christ]), and Jean Borella, Esotérisme
    guénonien et mystère chrétien, 1998 [Guénonian Esoterism and Christian
    Mystery]).
    In Italy, Julius Evola’s (section I, 1) work has been the subject of
    a great many commentaries since the early 1990s. In England, it was
    Martin Lings (The Eleventh Hour, 1987), who was Guénon’s personal

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    secretary. In the United States, we find the academics Ananda K.
    Coomaraswamy (1877–1947), prolific author of writings on various
    religions, Seyyed Hosseyn Nasr (The Encounter of Man and Nature,
    1968; Knowledge and the Sacred, 1981; section I, 3), Huston Smith (The
    Religions of Man, 1958; Forgotten Truth, 1976; Beyond the Post-Modern
    Mind, 1982), and James Cutsinger, author of many articles since the
    1980s and one of the principal commentators of Schuonian thought.
    The differences of orientation among these perennialists go beyond
    the scope of this short presentation (e.g., considerations on Nature
    feature prominently in Nasr’s philosophy). Many journals, associations,
    and study centers also represent this current.

    3. Initiatic Societies
    Among the masonic Rites already mentioned, Rectified Scottish Rite,
    Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and Memphis-Misraïm have survived since World War I. In the paramasonic domain properly speaking,
    Martinism has fragmented into several Orders with a complex history
    and in which, depending on the branch, the ritual of the times of
    Papus, and even the theurgical rite of the Élus Coëns are still practiced.
    The Brethern of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), limited,
    as we have seen (chapters 4, section III, 1), to regular masons, pursue
    an initiatic work of a neo-Rosicrucian type behind the discreet cover of
    their Lodges or so-called “Colleges.” Issued from the SRIA, the Golden
    Dawn (GD) disappeared at the beginning of the century, at least in
    its original form. The Order of the Builders of the Adytum founded
    by Paul Foster Case constitutes a sort of extension of it; Hermeticism,
    Kabbalah, and Tarot are part of its subjects of study. The Ordo Templi
    Orientis (chapter 4, section III, 1) developed greatly, especially in the
    United States, with an important center in California.
    The symbol of the rose and the cross has been, in the twentieth
    century, the object of considerable interest, which broadly exceeded
    the boundaries of paramasonry. Created in 1915 by Harvey Spencer
    Lewis, the Antiquus Mysticus Ordo Rosae Crucis already counted a
    few hundred thousand members at the death of its founder. Quantitatively, it is, after the TS, the second most important movement in the
    history of Western esotericism proper. Open to the outer world and

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    to modernity, it provides its members with a culture (many lectures,
    site visits, libraries, etc.) as well as with an initiatic way. Its headquarters, originally located in the great “Amorcian” center of San José,
    California, moved to Omonville in France in 1990. Very different is
    the Lectorium Rosicrucianum (or International School of the Golden
    Rosycross), founded in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1924 by Jan van
    Rijckenborgh (alias Jan Leene) and of which an important center is
    located in Ussat-les-Bains, France. Its teaching is of a Gnostic (in the
    sense of ancient Gnosticism) and Cathar type, rather difficult to blend
    with traditional Rosicrucianism (of the seventeenth century); this is,
    however, what the thinkers of the Lectorium have been attempting
    to do. Among the many neo-Rosicrucian Orders, let us further mention the Fraternità Terapeutica Magica di Myriam, in Italy, created by
    Ciro Formisano (alias Giuliano Kremmerz; his Corpus Philosophorum
    totius Magiae was published in 1988–1989). This Order has a partly
    therapeutic vocation. It combines Rosicrucianism with egyptophilia
    and, since its founder’s death, has enjoyed a certain success. This list
    of so-called Rosicrucian Orders is not exhaustive (the most complete
    listing is found in the book by Massimo Introvigne, Il Cappello del
    Mago, 1990).
    The Anthroposophical Society (chapter 4, section II, 3), which
    became Allgemeine Anthrosophische Gesellschaft in 1923, has maintained an intense activity undiminished by the death of its founder,
    Rudolf Steiner. Dornach has remained, as before, a high place of culture and a center whose influence was favored by the success of Steiner
    schools for children (the first “Freie Waldorfschule” was created in
    Stuttgart in 1919). The same goes for the TS, whose centers remain
    very active in the countries where it has taken hold. Its branches,
    however, are varied, and some of them separated from it to constitute
    original organizations. One example is the Loge Mystique Chrétienne
    (LMC; close in spirit to Anna Kingsford, cf. chapter, 4, section II, 2),
    founded in 1923 by the psychoanalyst Violet Mary Firth (alias Dion
    Fortune, who came from the GD); this LMC became in 1928 the
    Society of the Inner Light, which practiced various forms of evocatory magic.
    In addition to these formally constituted associations are various
    forms of “Fraternities,” “Fellowships,” and esoteric study groups. Thus,

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    Gurdjieff (section I, 3), established in France in 1922, founded his
    “Priory” in Avon and in 1933 settled definitively in Paris. In 1915,
    he met Ouspensky (section I, 3), to whom we owe a detailed relation
    of the master’s words as well as the “work” practiced in the “Gurdjieff
    groups.” This “work” rests on a sort of pedagogy of “awakening” (cf.
    In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, 1949;
    section I, 3). Gurdjieff groups still operate in various countries.
    The very eclectic Universal Great Brotherhood of Serge Raynaud de la Ferrière, begun in 1947, active especially in Central and
    South America, combines purportedly “pre-Columbian” teachings with
    speculations on the Age of Aquarius. It is a popular movement, like
    the New Acropolis (NA), founded in the 1950s by the Argentinian
    Angel Livraga. Established in many countries, in France by Fernand
    Schwartz, the NA provides courses and publishes periodicals about the
    various religious traditions of humanity, notably their artistic aspects.
    In 1952, the Colombian Samael Aun Weor founded a Gnostic Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies, it too very eclectic,
    which mixes Buddhism, Tantrism, Steinerian anthroposophy, sexual
    alchemy, and the teachings of Gurdjieff. Let us finally mention the
    Atlantis Association and the journal by the same name, founded in
    1927 by Paul Le Cour—one of the first in France to launch the idea
    of an Age of Aquarius. It is characterized by a Christian esotericism of
    an eclectic bent in which, as its name indicates, the myth of Atlantis
    holds an important place.

    4. “Tradition”: A Multifaceted Notion
    To the various associations just discussed, we could add a few more,
    most of which would rather belong to what is called the New Religious Movements (NMR). The NMR represents a phenomenon that
    began to manifest itself in the 1960s. Many are those whose teaching
    contains elements of an esoteric type in the sense that we understand it (e.g., the Universal White Brotherhood of Peter Konstantinov
    Deunov and Mikhaël Omraam Aïvanhov). The same goes for the
    literature of the New Age, which to a certain extent feeds on such
    elements. New Age is the general term for a diffuse movement that
    has prospered from its beginnings in California in the 1970s, and one

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    of whose origins goes back partly to Alice Bailey. This founder of the
    Arcane School in 1923 is also the author of many works of occultist
    content. The supporters of the New Age proclaim the coming of a
    new era, the Age of Aquarius, characterized by a progress of humanity
    placed under the sign of a rediscovered harmony and of an “enlarged
    (extended) consciousness.”
    Part of the panoply of the New Age is the practice of “channeling.” This consists in letting speak, through a medium, entities from
    the beyond, who, unlike what is supposed to happen in Spiritualism,
    are not deceased persons. One of the first examples of channeling is
    that (in the 1930s, in Zurich) of messages coming from an entity giving itself the name Atma. The entity expressed itself during séances
    organized for this purpose (and in which Carl Gustav Jung happened
    to take part), through the voice of a “sleeping” (nonmagneticized)
    subject, Oscar Rudolf Schlag, a person well learned in terms of esoteric
    currents. The speeches of Atma, published in several volumes (Die
    Lehren des A., 1995–2010), contain a wealth of passages in an oracular
    style on alchemy, the tarot, magic, arithmology, mythology, and Hindu
    traditions (on yoga, notably) as well. More recently, channeling has
    been part of the panoply of the New Age.
    On the shores of this oceanic landscape constituted by the New
    Age and the NRM, the esoteric currents properly speaking lose their
    outlines. They also dissolve into what is called the Cultic Milieu (a
    felicitous expression introduced by Colin Campbell in 1972), which
    consists, for example, of “occultist fairs.” These are actual marketplaces, such as the Kohoutek Celebration of Consciousness in San
    Francisco in January 1974, an improbable jumble where all the imaginable fringe sciences were on display in stands and booths. This was
    only one of the first major manifestations of this type, in a long series
    that is ongoing. What is essential here, on the one hand, seems to
    be the need for “transformation” motivating the participants, and, on
    the other hand, the opportunity to discover their good grain under
    the chaff for those who want to sift through it.
    The world of publishing provides group fairs of another type.
    The year 1960 saw the publication in France of a book typical in
    this regard, signed by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier (Le Matin
    des magiciens. [The Morning of the Magicians, 1963]), which quickly

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    appeared in several languages. In this skillful commercial enterprise,
    whose success was extended by the magazine Planète (1961–1968),
    the metaphysical and religious mysteries are presented as scientific
    enigmas, and vice versa.

    III. Arts and Humanities
    1. Arts and Literature
    The prose and poetry of Oscar Vadislas Milosz (Ars Magna, 1924; Les
    Arcanes, 1927) are the work of an “initiate” and a great artist. The
    Russian Alexander Blok (”The Rose and the Cross,” 1915) is close to
    him in many ways. In the work of the Portuguese Fernando Pessoa, elements borrowed from the esoteric currents often mold his poetry and
    short prose pieces (thus, A Hora do Diablo, 1931–1932). The Surrealists (André Breton, Arcane 17, 1947; L’Art magique, 1957) drew from
    the corpus of the “occult sciences.” However, personal involvement is
    more explicit among the young authors of the movement called “Le
    Grand Jeu” and the journal by the same name (1928–1931), which
    in the 1920s flourished around René Daumal (cf. his book Le Mont
    Analogue, 1952, posthumous edition [Mount Analogue, 2004]). They
    drew part of their inspiration from the said currents.
    This involvement is also explicit in a number of works of fiction.
    Thus in the novels of Gustav Meyrink (Der Golem, 1915; Das Grüne
    Gesicht, 1916, etc.) and of Mircea Eliade (infra, 2; his novel Viata
    noua, 1941; his short story The Secret of Dr. Honigberger [1940] was
    published in 1999). Eliade was not only a famous historian of religions
    but also a novelist. Personal commitment is less conspicuous in Hermann Hesse’s Das Glasperlenspiel, 1943 (The Glass Bead Game, 1970).
    The English-speaking world is especially rich in “fantastic” works of
    fiction: the novels of Charles Williams (War in Heaven, 1930; The
    Greater Trumps, 1933) and those of Dion Fortune (The Secrets of Dr.
    Traverner, 1926) also indeed belong to the esoteric currents. Later,
    the Frenchman Raymond Abellio (section I, 1, 3) attempted to communicate the essence of his gnosis in his own novels (e.g., Les Yeux
    d’Ézéchiel sont ouverts, 1949; La Fosse de Babel, 1962).

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    Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003) well reflects the interest of a broad public inclined toward the “conspiracy theories” so
    popular today, whereas Umberto Eco’s Il Pendolo di Foucault (1988),
    which parodies these famous “theories” in a mischievous fashion, is
    not meant to deliver any message whatsoever. In this mischievous
    genre, spiced with a touch of the picaresque, also appeared works of
    fiction by Frederick Tristan, for example, Les Tribulations héroïques de
    Balthasar Kober (1980).
    In the plastic arts, the very figurative paintings in the last manner
    of the Portuguese painter Lima de Frietas suggest possible connections
    with Surrealism. However, they are actually very distinct from this
    current by their elaborately developed neo-Pythagoreanism and their
    explicit references to esoteric themes, for example, to seventeenthcentury Rosicrucianism (“Calmo na falsa morte,” 1985; “O Jardim dos
    Hespérides,” 1986; etc.). The influence of the TS proved deep and
    lasting (cf. the fine retrospective The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890–1985, 1986, and Okkultismus und Avantgarde. Von Munch
    bis Mondrian, 1900–1915, 1995). In the work of the German Joseph
    Anton Schneiderfranken (alias Bô-Yin-Râ), a poet and spiritual master, painting and writing draw their inspiration from an orientalizing
    esotericism (Das Buch der Gespräche, 1920) [The Book of Dialogues].
    In architecture, let us recall that the Goetheanum (chapter 4, section III, 3), at Dornach, near Basle, designed by Rudolf Steiner, was
    reconstructed after the fire of 1922 and that its stained-glass windows
    reflect a very “anthroposophical” symbolism.
    Among the many Tarot decks of the century, several demonstrate an attempt toward figurative renewal in the tradition of
    fin de siècle occultism. Thus, “Cartomancia Lusso”; “Rider-Waite
    Tarot” (1909) of Pamela Coleman Smith; “Thot Tarot,” toward 1940,
    of Frieda Harris, inspired by The Book of Thoth, 1944 of Aleister
    Crowley (section I, 1; chapter 4, section III, 1)—a deck that has
    become one of the most famous Tarots in the world. The art, also
    very figurative, of the color plates and illustrations for Anglo-Saxon
    books where Art Nouveau and neo-Romanticism are combined in an
    original fashion, features a specific genre that deserves study (thus,
    the large in-folio volume by Manly Palmer Hall, The Secret Teachings
    of all Ages, 1928).

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    It would be difficult to discuss musical esotericism other than
    with respect to the theories expounded by composers (but when
    such theories exist, we can expect to find their traces in the scores).
    Examples are Cyril Scott (The Infuence of Music, 1933) or Karlheinz
    Stockhausen (Texte zur Musik, 1970–1977). For the same reason, there
    would be little to say about cinema, which makes use of themes or of
    motifs that, although present in the esoteric currents, are not unique
    to them (cf. introduction, sections I and IV). On the other hand, the
    seventh art lends itself admirably to the genre of fantasy as well as
    to the fantastic. However, cinema sometimes resorts to explicit references to certain characters or traditions—thus, Meetings with Remarkable Men, by Peter Brook (1978), more especially because this feature
    draws inspiration from Gurdjieff.

    2. Psychology and the Humanities
    The thought of Sigmund Freud has deep roots in the romantic
    Naturphilosophie that discovered the existence of the unconscious
    (chapter 4, I, 1), but it goes to the psychologist Herbert Silberer
    to have been the first to suggest a psychoanalytical reading of the
    alchemical texts (Probleme der Mystik und ihrer Symbolik, 1914). It is,
    however, to Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) that is due the title of
    great explorer of some of the “psychological” riches of part of the modern Western alchemical corpus. He wanted to demonstrate (Psychologie
    und Alchemie, 1936–1952; Mysterium Conjunctionis, 1955–1956; etc.)
    that “transmutation” and the symbolism of the stages of its journey
    correspond to a highly positive work of the psyche in search of its own
    edification or harmonization, of its “individuation.” With this in mind,
    he selected from this corpus the titles the most likely to support his
    demonstrations, and in making this choice he underwent the influence
    of the representatives of Occultism—a current from which he was not
    very distant chronologically and with which he was well familiar. Now,
    Jung had tended to present alchemy as a whole as a sort of spiritual
    technique (cf. e.g., M. A. Atwood, in chaper 4, section I, 4), thereby
    underplaying the properly “scientific” aim of most of the alchemists
    (cf. chapter 2, section III, 2). Thus, he contributed to give a partial
    idea of the history of alchemy—but in stimulating public interest in

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    this genre of literature, he simultaneously contributed to “repatriate”
    it into our culture.
    Some philosophers have pursued a rather similar direction, by
    introducing the Western esoteric corpus into the field of their reflections. This pursuit can lead philosophy back to its vocation of a
    spiritual exigency, indeed of a transmutative practice of being (as in
    Françoise Bonardel, Philosophie de l’alchimie. Grand Oeuvre et modernité,
    1993). Alternatively, it can open the classical logics to new approaches
    (thus Jean-Jacques Wunenberger, La Raison contradictoire, 1990). It can
    place the esoteric imaginaire in the perspective of a so-called “traditional” anthropology (Gilbert Durand, Sciences de l’Homme et Tradition,
    1975). Again, it can marry metaphysics, esotericism, and psychology
    (Robert J. W. Evans, Imaginal Body, 1982; The New Gnosis, 1984).
    Indeed, embedded in a universe considered bereft of consciousness and in a human community henceforth lacking any ideologies
    or even ideals, modern men and women often feel as though they
    are confronted with themselves in isolation. They are therefore easily
    tempted to see in certain elements of Western esotericism an approach
    to self-knowledge, which would not depend on previous adherence
    to a system of beliefs or of ethics, but which, they think, might be
    capable of conferring meaning on their life and on the universe. The
    Oratio of Pico della Mirandola on the “dignity of the human being”
    (chapter 2, section I, 3) has thus become topical once again, in the
    sense that it would be our responsibility always to redefine ourselves,
    to find or to rediscover our place in Nature and within a universal
    society and culture.
    If this tendency does indeed lie within the spirit of the New
    Age, it nevertheless goes beyond it, by taking the form of a hitherto
    unparalleled interest in psychology. Since the mid-twentieth century,
    we have been experiencing a “psychological” epoch (i.e., one in which
    people are keenly interested in various forms of psychological techniques). Elements of Western esotericism thus penetrate, accompanied
    by borrowings from various Eastern “wisdoms,” into the general public
    through the channel of therapies, whence the success of a Carl Gustav Jung—or of a John G. Bennett (Gurdjieff: Meeting a New World,
    1973). Bennett could transpose into clear language the abstruse statements of Gurdjieff, whose teachings also belong, after all, to a form

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    of therapy. Whence also, outside the “psychological” field, we witness
    the success of a Mircea Eliade (supra, 1), historian of religions whose
    work responds well to a double demand for culture and universality,
    and who strove to show that the “sacred” is a constitutive element
    of human nature. This idea is debatable, certainly, but it incited him
    to prospect the history of the religious traditions of the world, including—although in a rather limited scope—that of the esoteric currents
    in the West (A History of Religious Ideas, 1976–1983; Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashion, 1976).

    3. Historiography of Western Esotericism
    As stated in the introduction (sections III and IV), it is appropriate to
    distinguish two categories of historians; on the one hand, the “generalists”; on the other hand, those who confine themselves to the study of
    specific authors or currents. Of course, some are both at once.
    For a list of those representatives of the first category who strive
    to refine the methods of approaching the specialty considered as such,
    we simply refer to the introduction. Let us cite here some other “generalists,” whose main purpose is nevertheless not especially in the order
    of methodology proper. Karl R. H. Frick, author of Licht und Finsternis
    and Die Erleuchteten (1973–1978), has been dealing especially with
    esoteric societies. James Webb (The Occult Underground, 1974; The
    Occult Establishment, 1976) has clarified various aspects of the occultist current and its repercussions over the past about one hundred and
    fifty years. J. Gordon Melton has edited a useful encyclopedia (Occultism and Parapsychology, 2001). Massimo Introvigne (a specialist, as is
    Melton, of the NRM) has given the best study of all the “magical”
    (in the broad sense) currents and societies of the West having existed since the middle of the nineteenth century (Il Cappello del Mago,
    1990). Finally yet importantly, Joscelyn Godwin continues to pursue a
    variety of researches. Professor of musicology, Godwin is the author of
    Harmonies of Heaven and Earth (1987), L’Ésotérisme musical en France
    (1991), and so on, and in addition has to his credit a wide range of
    publications on many authors—on Robert Fludd, Athanasius Kircher,
    “fin de siècle” esotericism, and the like (cf. notably his important work
    The Theosophical Enlightenment, 1994).

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    As recalled above, the second category includes (here again,
    since the mid-twentieth century) historians whose works pertain to
    one or several authors. Its representatives are too numerous to be the
    object of a list, even a succinct one; but attention is called to the
    first lines of the bibliography presented in this volume, which refers
    to a bibliography both general and particular.
    Let us add in closing that students of “Western esotericism” are
    aided in their research by the existence of some specialized and richly
    documented periodicals. Their titles appear infra, in the addenda of the
    bibliography. Also included in these addenda are the names of the best
    libraries dedicated to this same specialty.

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    Bibliography
    This bibliography contains only a few titles selected from among historical and critical works of a general character, published since 1964.
    For a detailed bibliography (through 2000) pertaining to particular
    authors or currents, cf. infra, our work Accès de l’ésotérisme occidental,
    vol. 2. pp. 371–414, and addenda in its English translation: Theosophy,
    Imagination, Tradition, pp. 249–259.
    Bogdan Henrik, Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation, Albany
    (NY), State University of New York Press (SUNY Series in
    Western Esoteric Traditions), 2007 (1st ed., 2003, titled From
    Darkness to Light. Western Esoteric Rituals of Initiation). Insightful
    study bearing on the relationships between rites and initiatic
    societies of an esoteric type (modern West). French translation
    2010 (Paris, Edidit).
    Brach Jean-Pierre, La Symbolique des nombres, Paris, Presses
    Universitaires de France (Que Sais-Je?), 1995. Expanded
    version, Il Simbolismo dei numeri, Rome, Aekekios, 1999.
    While presenting the history of arithmosophy in the West, the
    author also furnishes time-pertinent surveys on several esoteric
    currents.
    Bonardel Françoise, L’Hermétisme, Paris, Presses Universitaires de
    France (Que Sais-Je?), 2002 (revised and expanded edition; 1st
    ed., 1985). In fact, by “hermetism” the author means a general
    field extending beyond that of neo-Alexandrian Hermetism
    and that of alchemy. This is a historical albeit rather personal
    approach to the subject.

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    (Le) Défi magique, Massimo Introvigne and Jean Baptiste Martin
    (ed.), vol. 1: Ésotérisme, occultisme, spiritisme, Lyon, Presses
    Universitaires de Lyon I, 1994 (Proceedings of the international
    conference held in Lyons in April 1992). Contains interesting
    contributions, both on specific points and on methodology.
    Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, J. W. Hanegraaff, A.
    Faivre, J.-P. Brach, R. van den Broek (ed.), 2 vol., Leyden, E.
    J. Brill, 2005. This is certainly the most indispensable work of
    the entire list. Written by some 180 collaborators, it covers
    the historical field of Western esotericism from late Antiquity
    to the present.
    Dictionnaire critique de l’ésotérisme, Jean Servier (ed.), Paris, Presses
    Universitaires de France, 1998. The editor intended to devote
    this dictionary to a sort of “universal esotericism,,” dividing it
    into “sectors” of which the whole is supposed to relate to almost
    all the cultures of the world. Let us nevertheless mention the
    presence of the sector “Modern Western esotericism,” whose
    contents correspond, essentially, to the main purpose of the
    present book.
    Epochen der Naturmystik, Antoine Faivre and Rolf Christian
    Zimmermann (ed.), Berlin, Erich Schmidt, 1979. This book
    treats the Nature philosophies in the context of the modern
    Western esoteric currents.
    Ésotérisme, gnoses et imaginaire symbolique (Mélanges offerts à Antoine
    Faivre), Richard Caron, Joscelyn Godwin, Wouter J. Hanegraaff,
    Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron (ed.), Louvain, Peeters (Gnostica.
    Texts and Interpretations), 2001. This collective work is
    recommended as much for its contributions on specific currents
    as for those on questions of methodology.
    Études d’histoire de l’ésotérisme (Mélanges offerts à Jean-Pierre Laurant),
    Jean-Pierre Brach and Jérôme Rousse-Lacordaire (ed.), Paris, Le
    Cerf, 2007. Fine collection of articles.
    Faivre Antoine, Accès de l’ésotérisme occidental, 2 vols., Paris, Gallimard
    (Bibliothèque des sciences humaines), 1996. Contains various

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    historical and methodological studies on the subject, both
    specific and general. English translation: Access to Western
    Esotericism, Albany (NY), State University of New York Press
    (SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions), 1996, for vol. 1;
    and Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition, trans. Christine Rhone,
    (same publisher), 2000, for vol. 2.
    Form e correnti dell’ esoterismo occidentale, Alessandro Grossato (ed.),
    Venice, Medusa /Fundazione Giorgio Cini, 2008. Proceedings
    of the international conference held in Venice in October
    2007. Besides its interest with regard to specific currents, this
    collective work contains important, up-to-date contributions in
    methodology.
    Frick Karl R. H., Die Erleuchteten, 3 vol., Graz, Ak. Druck- und
    Verlagsanstalt, 1973, 1975, 1978. Very well documented
    particularly for what concerns the Western societies (masonic,
    paramasonic, etc.) of an esoteric nature.
    Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times, Roelof Van
    den Broek and Wouter J. Hanegraaff (ed.), Albany (NY),
    State University of New York Press, 1998. Proceedings of the
    international conference held in Amsterdam in August 1994.
    One of the very first important collective works published,
    pertaining specifically to the specialty.
    Godwin Joscelyn, The Theosophical Enlightenment, Albany (NY), State
    University of New York Press (SUNY Series in Western Esoteric
    Traditions), 1994. Fundamental work for what concerns certain
    major representatives of the Western esoteric currents, notably
    of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
    Goodrick-Clarke Nicholas, The Western Esoteric Traditions. A Historical
    Introduction, New York, Oxford University Press, 2008. A most
    valuable presentation of the main Western esoteric currents,
    which keeps abreast with the current state of research.
    Hammer Olav, Claiming Knowledge. Strategies of Epistemology from
    Theosophy to the New Age, Leyden, E. J. Brill (Numen Book
    Series. Studies in the History of Religions), 2001. One of the

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    most recent fundamental works on certain major contemporary
    Western esoteric currents, notably in their relations with the
    “New Age.”
    Hanegraaff Wouter J., New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism
    in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Leyden, E. J. Brill, 1996 (and
    Albany (NY), State University of New York Press, 1998. A
    fundamental work on the historical and methodological levels,
    bearing not only on the relationships between the “New Age”
    and the modern Western esoteric currents, but also on the
    history of both.
    Introvigne Massimo, Il Cappello del mago, Milan, Sugarco, 1990. An
    indispensable mine of information.
    Laurant Jean-Pierre, L’Ésotérisme chrétien en France au XIXe siècle,
    Lausanne, L’Âge d’homme, 1992. A rather complete panorama
    of the question.
    ———, L’Ésotérisme, Paris, Cerf, 1993. An interesting synthetic
    approach.
    Magic, Alchemy and Science, 15th–18th Centuries. The Influence of
    Hermes Trismegistus, Carlos Gilly and Cis van Hertum (ed.),
    2 vol., Amsterdam, Centro Di (Bibliotheca Philosophica
    Hermetica), 2002. Each of the contributions is presented in
    two languages (Italian and English). To an impressive survey
    of scholarship comes to be added one of the best selections of
    illustrations ever presented.
    Miers E. Horst, Lexicon des Geheimwissens, Munich, Wilhelm Goldmann,
    1993. Well documented and very practical little dictionary.
    Modern Esoteric Spirituality, Antoine Faivre and Jacob Needleman (ed.)
    (Associate Editor, Karen Voss), New York, Crossroad, 1992
    (World Spirituality. An Encyclopedic History of the Religious
    Quest). An anthology of contributions each of which concerns
    a particular Western esoteric current.
    Pasi Marco, La Notion de magie dans le courant occultiste en Angleterre
    (1875–1947), 2004 (Thesis in presented at the E.P.H.E., Religious

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    Studies, Sorbonne). Besides a remarkable historical account
    of the said current, this work offers a major methodological
    contribution concerning notions such as “magic,” “occultism,”
    and the like.
    Polemical Encounters. Esoteric Discourse and Its Others, Olav Hammer
    and Kocku von Stuckrad, ed., Leyden/Boston, E. J. Brill
    Academic Publishers (Aries Book Series. Texts and Studies in
    Western Esotericism), 2007. This collective volume engages the
    polemical structures that underlie both the identities within and
    the controversy about esoteric currents in European history.
    Riffard Pierre, L’Ésotérisme, Qu’est-ce que l’ésotérisme? Anthologie
    de l’ésotérisme occidental, Paris, R. Laffont, 1990. Although
    debatable on the methodological level, contains an interesting
    selection of texts.
    Stuckrad Kocku von, Was ist Esoterik? Kleine Geschichte des geheimen
    Wissens, Munich, C. H. Beck, 2004. English edition, Western
    Esotericism. A History of Secret Knowledge, London, Equinox,
    2005. Original approach, interesting by the very nature of the
    author’s methodological positions, which can nevertheless seem
    debatable.
    Webb James, The Occult Underground, La Salle (Ill.), Open Court,
    1974. Important concerning certain trends and major
    representatives of the esoteric currents of the nineteenth and
    twentieth centuries principally.
    ———, The Occult Establishment (same publisher), 1976. Same
    remarks.
    Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion, Antoine Faivre and
    Wouter J. Hanegraaff (ed.), Louvain, Peeters (Gnostika. Texts
    and Interpretations), 1998 (Proceedings of the international
    conference of the International Association for the History of
    Religions (IAHR) held in Mexico City in 1995). This collective
    work is recommended not only for its contributions relating to
    some esoteric currents, but also mostly for those relating to
    questions of methodology.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    O

    115

    Yates Frances A., Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, London,
    Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964. Several re-editions. This
    book still gives rise to many commentaries about the author’s
    interpretations, but it remains fundamental concerning the study
    and the understanding of both the principal esoteric currents
    in the Renaissance era and some of their repercussions. It has
    contributed to the growth of the specialty on the academic
    plane.

    Addenda
    Current Periodicals of a Scholarly Character
    Aries. The Journal of Western Esotericism, Antoine Faivre, Peter
    Forshaw, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke and Wouter J. Hanegraaff
    (ed.). Biannual, in four languages. Leyden, E. J. Brill, since 2001
    (previously, from 1985 to 2000: Aries, issues available from Ed.
    Archè-Edidit, in Paris).
    Esoterica. The Journal of Hermetic Studies, Arthur Versluis (ed.),
    published online only (www.esoteric.msu.edu). Since 1999.
    Presents many contributions of both a general and a particular
    nature.
    Chrysopoeia, Didier Kahn and Sylvain Matton (ed.), Paris, Archè—
    J. C. Bailly. Published irregularly, since 1987, in the form of often
    very copious volumes. This series is devoted to alchemy, but
    many contributions go beyond the scope of that specific field.
    Gnostika, Hans Thomas Hakl (ed.), Sinzheim (Germany), AAWG.
    Quarterly. Published since 1996. Presents, on the one hand,
    rare or hard-to-find texts; on the other hand, a generous section
    dedicated to recent publications, conferences, symposia, and
    various activities relevant to the specialty.
    Politica Hermetica, Jean-Pierre Laurant, Jean-Pierre Brach, etc. (ed.),
    Lausanne, L’Âge d’homme. Annual. Published since 1987. In

    116

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    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    principle dedicated to the relationships between politics and
    esotericism, but its contents extend broadly to other aspects
    of the latter.
    Theosophical History, James A. Santucci (ed.), Fullerton (Cal.),
    California State University. Quarterly. Published since 1985. In
    principle dedicated to the history of the Theosophical Society,
    but its contents go beyond this scope to other currents and
    movements of an esoteric nature.

    Specialized Libraries
    Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, in Amsterdam. Cf. site www.ritman
    library.nl/.
    CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), in Turin. Cf. site
    http://www.cesnur.org/.
    Bibliothek Oscar R. Schlag, in Zurich. Cf., in the site www.zb.unizh.
    ch/, the heading “Spezialsammlungen,” and inside the latter the
    subheading “Bibliothek Oskar R. Schlag.”
    Warburg Institute, in London. Cf. site http://warburg.sas.ac.ub.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    O

    117

    Index of Names
    Abellio, Raymond, 91, 95, 104
    Abulafia, Abraham, 31
    Aegidius of Viterbo, 38
    Agrippa, Henricus Cornelius, 36,
    37, 41, 46, 59,
    Aïvanhov, Mikhaël Omraam, 102
    Alain de Lille, 16
    Alciati, Andrea, 50
    Alembert, Jean Lerond d’ -, 69
    Alexander 1st, 72
    Allan, William Frederick, 82, 89
    Alliette, Jean-Baptiste, 59, 90
    Amadou, Robert, 8, 94
    Amalric of Bene, see Amalric of
    Chartres
    Amalric of Chartres, 32
    Andreae, Johann Valentin, 44, 51
    Angelus Silesius, see Scheffler,
    Johann
    Apollonius of Tyana, 80
    Aristotle, 7, 23, 29, 39, 47
    Arnau de Vilanova, 30
    Arndt, Johann, 45
    Arnold, Gottfried, 53
    Ashmole, Elias, 49, 50
    Atwood, Mary Ann, 76, 106
    Augurello, G. A., 49
    Averroes, 29
    Avicenna, 29

    Baader, Franz von -, 71–73, 76, 92
    Bacon, Francis, 47
    Bacon, Roger, 28, 30
    Bailey, Alice, 103
    Ballanche, Pierre-Simon, 75
    Balsamo, Joseph, 59, 67
    Balzac, Honoré de -, 76
    Barbault, André, 89
    Barlet, François-Charles, see
    Faucheux, Albert
    Barrett, Francis, 59
    Bartholomaeus Anglicus, 29
    Basilides, 27
    Baudelaire, Charles, 87, 88
    Bédarride (brothers and father), 66
    Bennett, John G., 107
    Benz, Ersnt, 9
    Berdiaev, Nicholas, 92
    Bergasse Nicolas, 62
    Bergier Jacques, 103
    Bernard, Jean-Jacques, 75
    Bernardus Silvestris, 28
    Bernardus Trevisanus, 31
    Bernus, Alexander von -, 90, 94
    Beroalde de Verville, 51
    Besant, Annie, 87
    Billot, G. P., 73
    Binet, Bruno, 73
    Blake, William, 50, 67

    119

    Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna, 78, 86
    Blok, Alexander, 104
    Böcklin, Arnold, 88
    Boehme, Jacob, 41–43, 50–53, 55,
    56, 58, 67, 71, 73, 92, 93, 95
    Bogdan, Henrik, 111
    Bolos of Mendes, 26
    Bonardel, Françoise, 107, 111
    Bonatti, Guido, 30
    Bonaventure (Saint), 14, 28
    Borella, Jean, 99
    Botticelli, 50
    Bourignon, Antoinette, 43
    Bovelles, Charles de -, 48
    Bô-Yin-Râ, see Schneiderfranken,
    Anton
    Brach, Jean-Pierre, 7, 16, 111, 112,
    116
    Brandler-Pracht, Karl, 89
    Breton, André, 104
    Britten, Emma Hardinge, 88
    Brook, Peter, 106
    Brook, Rulof van den -, 112, 113
    Brothers, Richard, 60
    Brown, Dan, 2, 105
    Brucker, Jacob, 53
    Bruno, Giordano, 10, 36, 47, 91
    Buffon, Georges-Louis de- , 69
    Bulgakov, Sergei, 92
    Bulwer-Lytton, Edward G., 76, 84,
    88
    Bungus, Petrus, 48
    Burton, Richard, 37
    Caetano, Anselmo, 61
    Cagliostro, see Balsamo, Joseph
    Cahagnet, Louis-Alphonse, 73, 74
    Calmet, Augustin, 59
    Cambriel, 75
    Camillo, Giulio, 48

    120

    O

    NAME INDEX

    Campanella, Tommaso, 4
    Campbell, Colin, 103
    Campbell, Joseph, 9
    Canseliet, Eugène Léon, 90
    Capelli, Ottavio, 65
    Caron, Richard, 112
    Carus, Carl Gustav, 72
    Casaubon, Isaac, 36
    Case, Paul Foster, 100
    Castel, Louis-Bertrand, 59
    Cazenave, Michel, 95
    Cazotte, Jacques, 67
    Cecco d’Ascoli, 30
    Cellier, Léon, 76
    Chamisso, Bravo, 49
    Champier, Symphorien, 36
    Champrenaud, Léon, 96
    Charbonneau-Lassay, Louis, 99
    Charcot, Jean-Martin, 62
    Charles de Hesse-Cassel, see Karl
    von Hessen-Kassel
    Charon, Jean, 96
    Chastanier, Benedict, 66
    Chauvet, Auguste-Edouard, 94
    Chefdebien d’Armissan, François
    Marie, 66
    Chennevière, Daniel, 89
    Chevillon, Constant, 99
    Chrétien de Troyes, 33
    Clement of Alexandria, 27
    Clement VII, 38
    Clichtove, Josse, 48
    Coeur, Jacques, see Jacques Coeur
    Colberg, Daniel Ehregott, 53
    Colonna, Francesco, 51
    Comenius, Jan Amos, 45
    Constant, Alphonse Louis, 74, 75,
    80, 81
    Coomaraswamy, 100
    Copernicus, 37, 47

    Corbin, Henry, 9, 73, 94
    Cosimo de Medici, 35
    Coudert, Allison, 17
    Court de Gébelin, Antoine, 58
    Croll, Oswald, 41
    Crosbie, Robert, 87
    Crowley, Aleister, 82, 85, 90, 91,
    105
    Cudworth, Ralph, 36
    Cutsinger, James, 100
    Cyliani, 75
    Daneau, Lambert, 41
    Dante, see Durante degli Alighieri
    Dastin, John, 31
    Daumal, René, 104
    Davis, Andrew Jackson, 74, 79
    Davis, Ferdinand, 74
    Davy, Humphrey, 73
    Dee, John, 36, 47
    Delaage, Henri, 76
    Denis, Ferdinand, 80
    Deunov, Konstantinov, 102
    Diderot, Denis, 60
    Dion Fortune, see Firth, Violet Mary
    Dionysius Aeropagita, 28, 47
    Divish, Prokop, 62
    Doinel, Jules, 86
    Dorn, Gérard, 41, 49
    Douzetemps, Melchior, 54
    Drevon, Victor, 85
    Durand, Gilbert, 9, 107
    Durante degli Alighieri, 30, 88
    Dutoit-Membrini, Jean-Philippe,
    57
    Eckartshausen, Karl von- , 56, 58,
    59, 67
    Ecker- und Eckhoffen, Hans
    Heinrich, 66

    Eckhart (Meister Eckhart), see
    Hochheim, Eckhart von Eckleff, Karl Friedrich, 65
    Eco, Umberto, 2, 105
    Edighoffer, Roland, 45
    Edward VI, 36
    Eichhorn, Johann Gottfried, 1
    Eliade, Mircea, 9, 104, 108
    Encausse, Gérard, 81, 83–85
    Ennemoser, Joseph, 72, 74
    Erastus, Thomas, 41
    Eschenbach, Wolfram von -, 33
    Eschenmayer, Carl August von -,
    71, 73
    Esquiros, Alphonse, 75, 76
    Etteilla, see Alliette
    Everard, John, 36
    Evans, J. W., 107
    Evola, Julius, 91, 99
    Fabre d’Olivet, Antoine, 58, 60,
    74, 94
    Fabré-Palaprat, Bernard-Raymond,
    66
    Fabricius, Johann Albert, 53
    Faivre, Antoine, 16, 112, 114–116
    Faucheux, Albert, 81
    Faust, Georg, 48
    Fechner, Gustav Theodor, 72, 76
    Fende, Christian, 58
    Ferdinand of Brunswick, see
    Ferdinand von Braunschweig
    Ferdinand von Braunschweig, 64
    Ferdinand II, 50
    Ficino, Marsilio, 6, 23, 35, 38–40,
    46, 47
    Fictuld, Hermann, 61
    Figuier, Louis, 80
    Firth, Violet Mary, 101, 104
    Flamel, Hortensius, 75

    NAME INDEX

    O

    121

    Flamel, Nicolas, 31
    Florensky, Paul, 92
    Fludd, Robert, 36, 38, 45, 46, 48,
    51, 108
    Foix-Candale, François, 36
    Formisano, Giulio, see Kremmerz,
    Giuliano
    Forshaw, Peter, 116
    Fourier, Charles, 75
    Fox, Catherine, 78
    Fox, Margaretta, 78 Franck,
    Adolphe, 77
    François 1st, 38
    Frater Albertus, see Riedel, Albert
    Richard
    Frederick II, 65
    Frederick William II, 65
    Freher, Dioysius Andreas, 53
    Freitas, Lima de -, 105
    Freud, Sigmund, 63, 106
    Frick, Karl R. H., 108, 113
    Fricker, J. L., 62
    Fulcanelli, 90
    Gabler, Johann Philipp, 1
    Galand, Antoine, 67
    Galatino, Pietro, 38
    Galvani, Luigi, 69
    Ganay, Germain de -, 48
    Geber, 30
    George of Venice, see Giorgi,
    Franceso
    Georges de Venise, see Giorgi,
    Franceso
    Gichtel, Johann Georg, 42, 43, 51,
    73
    Gilly, Carlos, 114
    Giorgi (or Giorgio), Francesco, 36,
    38, 41, 48

    122

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    NAME INDEX

    Göckel, Rudolf, 62
    Godwin, Joscelyn, 108, 112, 113
    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von -, 67,
    72, 76, 83
    Gohory, Jacques, 47
    Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas, 15, 21,
    113, 116
    Görres, Joseph von -, 72, 74, 77
    Grabianka, Thaddeus Leszczyc, 65
    Grasshoff, Carl Louis von -, 85
    Gratarolo, Gulielmo, 49
    Greenless, Duncan, 91
    Grimm, Jakob, 77
    Grimm, Wilhelm, 77
    Grossato, Alessandro, 113
    Grosseteste, see Robert Grosseteste
    Guaita, Stanislas de -, 81, 84
    Guénon, René, 21, 92, 96–99
    Guillaume de Lorris, 33
    Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch, 93,
    95, 102, 106, 107
    Gutman, Aegidius, 45
    Guttierez, Cathy, 17
    Guyon (Madame Guyon), see Motte
    Guyon, J. M. B. de la Hahn, Michael, 56
    Hahnemann, Samuel, 70
    Hakl, Hans Thomas, 116
    Hall, Manly Palmer, 105
    Hamberger, Julius, 76
    Hammer, Olav, 15, 113, 115
    Hanegraaff, Wouter J., 13, 16, 17,
    112–116
    Hardenberg, Friedrich von -, 8, 67,
    72
    Harris, Frieda, 105
    Hartlib, Samuel, 49
    Hartmann, Eduard von -, 70

    Hartmann, Franz, 81, 84, 87, 88
    Hauffe, Friederike, 73
    Haugwitz, Christian Heinrich, 66
    Haven Marc, see Lalande,
    Emmanuel
    Hecht, Koppel, 58
    Hegel, Georg W. F., 71
    Heindel, Max, see Grasshoff, Carl
    Louis von Helmont, Jan Baptista van -, 41
    Hepburn, James Bonaventure, 38
    Henry, Charles, 81 Heraclitus, 43
    Herder, Johann Gottried, 70
    Hermes Trismegistus, 5–6, 25, 37,
    50, 66, 78, 114
    Hertum, Cis van -, 114
    Hess, Tobias, 44
    Hesse, Hermann, 104
    Hesteau de Nuysement, Clovis, 49
    Hildegard of Bingen, 28
    Hippel, F. H. von -, 67
    Hitchcock, Ethan Allen, 76
    Hochheim, Eckhart von -, 43
    Hoffmann, Ernst Theodor Amadeus,
    67, 77
    Hohenheim, Theophrastus
    Bombastus von -, 5, 39–41, 43,
    45, 46, 47, 49, 54, 61
    Holanda, Francesco, 50
    Honoré d’Autun, 28
    Honorius Augustodunensis, see
    Honoré d’Autun
    Horst, Johann Konrad, 74
    Horst, Miers E., 114
    Hugo, Victor, 88
    Hund, Karl von -, 64
    Huser, Johann, 40
    Iamblichus, 26

    Introvigne, Massimo, 91, 108, 112,
    114
    Jacques Coeur, 33
    Jean de Meung, 33
    Jean Paul, 67
    Jennings, Hargrave, 81
    Jesus, 78
    Joachim da Fiore, 29
    John of Sevilla, 30
    Jonson, Ben, 51
    Joubert, Joseph, 77
    Judge, William Quinn, 86
    Juncker, Johann, 61
    Jung, Carl Gustav, 8, 9, 103, 106,
    107
    Jung-Stilling, Johann Heinrich, 57,
    58, 67
    Kahn, Didier, 116
    Kant, Immanuel, 55, 63, 69
    Kardec, Allen, 78
    Karl von Hessen-Kassel, 64
    Kepler, Johannes, 37, 48
    Kerner, Justinus, 72, 73
    Khunrath, Heinrich, 41, 43, 49, 50
    Kilcher, Andreas, 16
    Kirchberger, Niklaus Anton, 57
    Kircher, Athanasius, 36, 62, 108
    Kichweger, A. J., 54
    Kingsford, Anna Bonus, 82, 85, 87,
    101
    Knorr von Rosenroth, Christian,
    38, 51
    Köppen, Friedrich von -, 66
    Kremmerz, Giuliano, 101
    Krishna, 78
    Krishnamurti, 83
    Kristeller, Paul Oskar, 23

    NAME INDEX

    O

    123

    Krüdener, Julie de -, 72
    Labrousse, Suzette, 60
    Lacuria, Paul François Gaspard, 75
    La Ferrière, Serge Renaud de -, 102
    Lalande, Emmanuel, 90
    Lampsprinck, 50
    Laurant, Jean-Pierre, 1, 112, 114,
    116
    Lavater, Johann Caspar, 57
    Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent de -, 60
    Law, William, 54
    Lazarelli, Lodovico, 36, 49
    Leade, Jane, 43, 73
    Le Boys des Guays, Jacques F. E., 75
    Le Cour, Paul, 102
    Leene, Jan, 92, 101
    Lefèvre d’Etaples, Jacques, 37, 48
    Lefèvre de La Boderie, Guy, 38, 51
    Leloup, Yvon, 85
    Lenglet-Dufresnoy, Nicolas, 61
    Lenormand, Adélaïde, 60
    Leo, Alan, see Allan, William
    Frederick
    Lévi, Eliphas, see Constant,
    Alphonse Louis
    Lewis, Harvey Spencer, 100
    Lings, Martin, 99
    Little, Robert Wentworth, 84
    Livraga, Angel, 102
    Lopukhin, Ivan Vladimirovitch, 58,
    64
    Lucas, Louis, 75
    Lull, Ramon, 29, 30, 91
    Lullus, Raimundus, see Lull, Ramon
    Luria, Isaac, 37
    Luther, Martin, 57
    Mackenzie, Kenneth R. H., 84
    Maginot, Adèle, 73

    124

    O

    NAME INDEX

    Maier, Michael, 48
    Maistre, Joseph de -, 64
    Maitland, Edward, 82
    Malfatti di Montereggio, Giovanni,
    75
    Maloin, Paul-Jacques, 60
    Manget, Jean-Jacques, 50, 60
    Mani, 27
    Marcion, 27
    Maréchal, Sylvain, 59
    Marino, Giambatista, 51
    Marteau, Paul, 90
    Martin, Jean-Baptiste, 112
    Martinès de Pasqually, 56, 64, 83,
    84
    Mary Magdalene, 2
    Marx, Karl, 78
    Mary Tudor, 36
    Mathers, Samuel Liddell, 85
    MacGregor, 85
    Mathieu, Marie-Thérèse, 73
    Matter, Jacques, 1, 77
    Matton, Sylvain, 116
    Maury, Alfred, 80
    Maximus the Confessor, 28
    Mead, George Robert Stowe, 82
    Melton, J. Gordon, 108
    Ménard, Louis, 78
    Mennens, Willem, 49
    Mersenne, Marin, 38
    Merswin, Rulman, 32
    Mesmer, Franz Anton, 62–63
    Meung, see Jean de Meung
    Meyer, Johann Friedrich von -, 72,
    74
    Meyrink, Gustav, 104
    Michel de Nostre-Dame, 48
    Michelspacher, Stephan, 50
    Mickiewicz, Adam, 75
    Milosz, Oscar Vadislas, 104

    Molitor, Franz Joseph, 77
    Montfaucon de Villars, 51, 67
    Moreau, Gustave, 88
    Morin, Jean-Baptiste, 47
    Mouravieff, Boris, 93
    Moses, 6, 78
    Moses of Leon, 31
    Motte Guyon, Jeanne Marie Bouvier
    de la -, 54
    Mouhy, Charles de Fieux -, 67
    Mozart, Wofgang Amadeus, 58, 67
    Mylius, D., 50
    Nasr, Seyyed Hosseyn, 95, 100
    Naxagoras, Ehrd de - , 61
    Needleman, Jacob, 114
    Neugebauer-Wölk, Monika, 1, 16, 17
    Nerval, Gérard de -, 87
    Newton, Isaac, 50
    Nicholas of Cusa, 29, 36
    Nicholas II, 81
    Nicolescu, Basarab, 95
    Nostradamus, see Michel de NostreDame
    Novalis, see Hardenberg, Friedrich
    von -, 8, 67, 72
    Novikov, Nicolaiy Ivanovich, 64
    Oberlin, Jean Frédéric, 57–58
    Oersted, Hans Christian, 72
    Oetinger, Friedrich Christoph, 55,
    62, 69, 94
    Olcott, Henry Steel, 86
    Olympiodorus, 26
    Origen, 27
    Orpheus, 6, 78
    Ouspensky, Piotr Dem’ianovich, 81,
    95, 102
    Palamidessi, Tomaso, 92

    Paley, William, 73
    Panteo, Giovanni Agostino, 49
    Pantheus, Johannes Antonius, see
    Panteo, Giovanni Agostino
    Paolini, Fabio, 48, 51
    Papus, see Encausse, Gérard
    Paracelsus, see Hohenheim von -,
    Thophrastus Bombastus
    Pasi, Marco, 16, 114
    Pasqually, see Martines de Pasqually
    Patrizi, Francesco, 36
    Paul (Saint), 12
    Pauwels, Louis, 103
    Péladan, Josephin, 81, 84, 88
    Pernety, Antoine-Joseph, 61, 65
    Pessoa, Fernando, 104
    Peter of Abano, see Pietro de
    Abano
    Petrus Bonus, 30
    Philip the Good, 32
    Philip IV the Fair, 64
    Philipon, René, 83
    Philippe, Anthelme-Nizier, 81
    Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, 37,
    38–40, 107
    Pico della Mirandola,
    Gianfrancesco, 6, 49
    Pierre d’Ailly, 30
    Pietro de Abano, 30
    Plato, 6, 23, 39, 61, 78
    Plessis-Mornay, Philippe du -, 36
    Poeschel, Thomas, 60
    Poiret, Pierre, 43, 54
    Pordage, John, 43, 73
    Porta, Giovanni Batista della -, 46
    Portal, Frédéric, 76
    Postel, Guillaume, 38, 41
    Plotinus, 26, 40
    Poe, Edgar Allen, 77
    Porphyry, 26

    NAME INDEX

    O

    125

    Pouvourville, Albert de -, 96
    Prel, Carl du -, 81
    Ptolemy, 47
    Proclus, 40
    Pseudo-Dionysius, see Dionysius
    Aeropagita
    Puységur, A. M. J. de Chastenet
    de -, 63
    Pythagoras, 1, 6, 59, 78
    Rabelais, François, 51
    Ragon de Bettignies, Jean-Marie,
    75
    Raimondo de Sangro di San Severo,
    67
    Rama, 78
    Randolph, Paschal Beverly, 82, 84
    Reuchlin, Johannes, 37, 38
    Reuss, Theodor, 85
    Reynaud, Jean, 75
    Richer, Edouard, 75
    Richter, Samuel, 54
    Ricius, Paulus, 37
    Riedel, Albert Richard, 90, 94
    Riffard, Pierre, 9, 10, 114
    Rijckenborgh, Jan van -, see Leene,
    Jan
    Ripley, George, 31
    Ritter, Johann Wilhelm, 72
    Rivail, Denizard Hyppolyte Léon,
    see Robert de Boron, 33
    Robert Grosseteste, 28
    Roger of Hereford, 30
    Rops, Félicien, 88
    Rösler, G. F., 62
    Rossel, Hannibal, 36
    Roth-Scholtz, Friedrich, 61
    Rouault, Georges, 88
    Rousse-Lacordaire, Jérôme, 19, 112
    Roux, Paul Pierre, 88

    126

    O

    NAME INDEX

    Rudhyar, Dane, see Chennevière,
    Daniel
    Rudolf II, 50
    Runge, Philipp Otto, 67, 77
    Ruyer, Raymond, 96
    Saint-Georges de Marsais, Hector
    de -, 54
    Saint-Germain (‘Comte de-’), 59
    Saint-Martin, Louis-Claude de -, 56,
    57, 60, 64, 67, 71, 72, 74–76,
    83, 84
    Saint-Pol-Roux, see Roux, Paul
    Pierre
    Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, Joseph
    Alexandre, 81, 94
    Sallmann, Jean-Michel, 20
    Saltzmann, Frédéric-Rodolphe, 56
    Sand, George, 76
    Santucci, James A., 17, 117
    Sarachaga, Alexis de, 85, 86
    Satie, Erik, 88
    Savalette de Langes, Charles Pierre,
    66
    Scève, Maurice, 51
    Scharfenberg, Albrecht von -, 33
    Schaya, Leo, 99
    Scheffler, Johann, 51
    Scheible, Johann, 78
    Schelling, Friedrich W. J. von -,
    69, 71
    Schlag, Oscar Rudolf, 103, 117
    Schlegel, Friedrich, 77
    Schneiderfranken, Anton, 105
    Scholem, Gershom, 23
    Schröder, Friedrich Josef Wilhelm,
    61
    Schubert, Gotthilf Heinrich von -,
    70, 72, 74
    Schuon, Frithjof, 99

    Schuré, Edouard, 78
    Schwartz, Fernand, 102
    Schweighart, Theophilus, 45
    Scot, Michael, 30
    Scott, Cyril, 106
    Scotus Eriugena, Johannes, 28, 29
    Secret, François, 16
    Sédir, Paul, see Leloup, Yvon
    Servier, Jean, 112
    Shakespeare, William, 51, 88
    Silberer, Herbert, 106
    Sincere Brethern (The -), 27
    Sincerus Renatus, see Richter,
    Samuel
    Smith, Huston, 100
    Smith, Pamela Coleman, 105
    Solovyov, Vladimir, 83, 92
    Spencer, Edmund, 51
    Spinoza, Baruch, 69
    Starck, Johann August, 66
    Steffens, Henrik, 72
    Steiner, Rudolf, 8, 83, 85, 87, 88,
    92–94, 101, 105
    Stephanos of Alexandria, 26
    Stockhausen, Karl Heinz, 106
    Stobaeus, 25
    Stuckrad, Kocku von -, 16, 115
    Studion, Simon, 45
    Swedenborg, Emanuel, 55–58, 67,
    75, 76, 94
    Synesius, 25
    Tasso, see Torquato Tasso
    Taylor, John, 78
    Terrasson, Jean, 58
    Thenaud, Jehan 38
    Théon, Max, 85
    Théot, Catherine, 60
    Thomas Aquinas, 29, 30
    Thomson, James, 67

    Thorndike, Lynn, 23
    Tilton, Hereward, 17
    Titi, Placido, 47
    Tomberg, Valentin, 90, 93
    Torquato Tasso, 51
    Torreblanca, Francisco, 49
    Towianki, André, 75
    Tristan, Frederick, 105
    Trithemius, Johannes, 46
    Troxler, Ignaz, 72
    Tschoudy, Théodore Henri de -, 65
    Ulstad, Philip, 49
    Valentinus, 27
    Valin, Georges, 99
    Van Eeden, 81
    Van Rijnberk, Gérard, 90
    Vaughan, Thomas, 49
    Versluis, Arthur, 16, 17, 116
    Verville, Beroalde de-, 51
    Vieillard-Baron, Jean-Louis, 71, 112
    Villiers de Lisle-Adam, Auguste
    de -, 88
    Vincent de Beauvais, 29
    Vismes, Anne Pierre Jacques de -,
    58, 60
    Volta, Alessandro, 69
    Voss, Karen, 114
    Vulliaud, Paul, 81
    Wagner, Johann Jacob, 72
    Wagner, Richard, 88
    Waite, Arthur Edward, 82, 85
    Webb, James, 108, 115
    Wehr, Gerhard, 8
    Weigel, Valentin, 41
    Welling, Georg von -, 54
    Weor, Samuel Aun, 102
    Werner, Zacharias, 67

    NAME INDEX

    O

    127

    Westcott, William Winn, 82, 85
    Willermoz, Jean-Baptiste, 57, 63, 65
    William of Conches, 28
    Williams, Charles, 104
    Windischmann, Karl Joseph, 59
    Woodman, William Robert, 85
    Wronski, Hoëné, 75, 89
    Wunenburger, Jean-Jacques, 107
    Yates, Frances A., 9, 10, 23, 18, 116

    128

    O

    NAME INDEX

    Yeats, William Butler, 85
    Zetzner, Eberhard, 49
    Ziegler, Leopold, 92
    Zimmermann, Rolf Christian,
    112
    Zinnendorf, Johann Wilhelm, 65
    Zoroaster, 6
    Zorzi, see Giorgi, Francesco
    Zozimus of Panapolis, 26