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  • 2022-03-21 19:10 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    In the 17th century Amsterdam became a hotbed of religious exchange, as religious exiles from all over the continent flocked to the Netherlands and especially its capital city because of relatively lax laws on religious expression and publishing. One center of such exchange was the so-called House with the Heads on Keizersgracht, the home of Louis de Gheer and later his son Laurens. Both men acted as patrons to a variety of religious free thinkers and reformers. Figures such as Jan Comenius, Friedrich Breckling and Christian Hoburg gathered in the de Gheer home to discuss their ideas. Today, the House with the Heads is home to the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica and its associated museum, the Embassy of the Free Mind. In the Autumn of 2022, we will present an exhibition on the history of the House with the Heads. In conjunction with this exhibition, we are hosting a conference 11-12 November 2022 on the role of Amsterdam as a haven for religious refugees.

    We invite proposals (by 22 April 2022) of up to 500 words for papers exploring different groups’ or individuals’ experiences (Quakers, Radical Pietists, Huguenots, etc.), the role of publishing in the city, patronage, conflicts between groups, urban versus rural strategies for survival, the role of war in the era and other related topics. The conference is planned to take place on-site, but can accommodate speakers from afar through digital connection. Speakers without institutional support may apply for a travel subsidy. A conference publication is planned.

    Proposals should be sent to Dr. Lucinda Martin, Director of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica and Ritman Research Institute:

  • 2022-03-10 20:56 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    A travel bursary will be available for the ESSWE8 conference, up to €300 per bursary. Priority is given to student members and members from economically disadvantaged countries. The deadline to apply for burasaries is May 2, 2022. Please read here for more information on how to apply.

  • 2022-03-07 13:21 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    The Eranos circle originated from the meetings organized by Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn (1881-1962) on Lake Maggiore in Ascona, Switzerland, from 1933 on. These meetings focused on spirituality, mysticism, myth, symbolism, and brought together some of the greatest scholars of the time. The influence of Eranos has been pervasive on twentieth-century culture, and it has gone beyond the boundaries of academic scholarship in a strict sense. This conference has two main purposes. The first is to understand how the legacy of Eranos has had an impact on the humanities and the social sciences: we will discuss the question of universals in religious phenomena, the value and usefulness of comparative approaches, the importance given to myths and symbols, the role of historicism, and the similarities between Eranos and contemporary developments such as the ontological turn in anthropology. The second goal is to explore the influence or the echoes of Eranos on the performing and figurative arts, in particular on music, dance, theatre, and painting.

    Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities

    Detailed information:


    Person in charge:

    Francesco Piraino


    Tel : +39 041 2710228

  • 2022-01-22 13:08 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    Arcana Naturae is an annual journal published by Agorà & Co (Italy), that follows a double-blind peer review process. It deals with all “secret” disciplines, namely magic, astrology, alchemy, illusionism, divination, etc. In particular, the journal welcomes papers devoted to the historical study of fundamental notions of those disciplines, such as “secret”, “occult” or “wonder”. Arcana Naturae publishes original research contributions, as well as documented essays on specific points. The journal also publishes editions and critical commented translations, critical reviews, and book reviews ; the official working languages are French, English and Italian. Arcana Naturae is directed by Donato Verardi (University of London) assisted by Thibault Rioult (École Nationale Supérieure of Paris), with the support of the Association Francophone pour l'Étude Universitaire des Courants Ésotériques (FRÉSO).

  • 2021-12-14 12:42 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    New esotericism-related Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Kollegforschungsgruppe) at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany): call for applications

    The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) has recently approved the foundation of a Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Kollegforschungsgruppe) on the topic ‘Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices from a Global Perspective’ at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. The Centre’s main goal is to compare the interpretation, rationalisation and legimitisation strategies of esoteric practices from a global perspective, and to carve out why they are successful in different cultural and regional contexts. A mid-term goal is the development of a cultural theory of esoteric practices, which seeks to explain their resilience, their typological similarities across a large number of cases, and their different, culture-bound evaluations. The research group adopts a heuristic working definition of ‘esoteric practices’, which includes a variety of aspects such as contingency management, specialisation, opaque efficacy as well as social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion.

    DFG-funded Centres for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences are interdisciplinary research groups with an excellent international reputation. They have a funding period of four years, with the possibility of prolongation for a second funding period, and combine an international fellowship programme with local high-profile research, whereby a large number of leading experts have the possibility to convene and explore an innovative research topic over a long period of time. With a local staff of at least eight employees, and available funding for up to seven fellowships per year, the Centre will be one of the biggest esotericism-focused research projects in the world in the years to come.

    Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) is seeking to appoint a postdoctoral researcher for the scientific coordination of this research group. The salary is based on the German collective agreement for public servants (TVL), level E14 (100 %). The duration of the position is bound to the approved funding period of four years. The preferred starting date is 1 April 2022. One of the main requirements for the position is fieldwork experience with a focus on esoteric practices in African contexts.

    More details on this call for applications can be found here:

    For further details about the position, please contact Dr. Bernd-Christian Otto:

  • 2021-10-13 19:02 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    The 2021 Summer Newsletter (Vol.12/Summer) is out. Please download it from here:

  • 2021-10-12 21:10 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    Deadline October 31, 2021

    Place: Tagungszentrum Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland

    Organisation: Andreas Kilcher, Jonas Stähelin, Chloe Sugden; (ETH Zürich)

    We invite applications for a PhD Workshop from January 20 – 23, 2022 in Ascona, Switzerland. Since the early twentieth century, Ascona has inspired and fostered a variety of alternative cultures of knowledge, art, and living, such as Monte Verità and the Eranos Circle.

    This workshop is an interdisciplinary event that brings together graduate students from the fields of history of science and technology, anthropology, history of religions, and art history. The workshop seeks to explore scientific and aesthetic approaches to the occult through manifold lenses, working against familiar disenchantment narratives that scientific reasoning and Enlightenment worldviews alienated modernity from occult practices, the natural world and the divine. For this workshop, the terms "occultism" or "the occult" are viewed in an expanded manner, as an effort to produce and interrogate knowledge of “invisible” realities. Analyses of occultism are thus not restricted to religious traditions, practices and phenomena; they also concern the wider aesthetic and scientific formation and transformation of modernity.

    Proposals by PhD students are encouraged to investigate the epistemic tensions and uncertainties arising from scientific and aesthetic explorations of such invisible realities. We also welcome extra- European, global perspectives, and approaches that consider occultism in relation to the gendered nature of scientific and artistic practices in previous centuries.

    During the workshop, participants will have the chance to discuss these questions with renowned senior scholars. Excursions to Monte Verità and the Eranos Foundation will also be included in the workshop.

    The following keynote speakers will be present:

    Professor Christine Ferguson, Chair in English Studies, University of Stirling

    Professor Beate Fricke, Chair of Pre- Modern Art History, Institute of Art History, University of Bern

    Professor Yossef Schwartz, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Intellectual History, Tel Aviv University; currently Visiting Professor, LMU München


    Proposals (approx. 300 words) and CV must be submitted by October 31, 2021 to: We will accept up to 20 proposals. Accommodation, including breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks will be financed. Participants must fund their own travel expenses to Ascona and dinners (resp. their universities). Please note that there is an option to apply for travel bursaries provided by ESSWE.

    Please visit our website for further information.

    Organized by:

    ESSWE – The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism
    ZGW – Zentrum für Geschichte des Wissens (ETH / UZH)
    Chair for Literature and Cultural Studies of ETH Zurich as
    part of the SNSF project “Scientification and Aestheticization
    of ‘Esotericism’ in the long 19th century”.

  • 2021-08-13 20:50 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    According to a long‐standing belief, exceptional life‐changing experiences are beyond the individual’s control—they ‘simply happen.’ However, individuals actively search for transformative experiences, inducing consciousness‐alterations through practices and reflecting critically on the long process as ‘experientialist philosophers.’ The conference will devote itself primarily to theoretical questions involving these intentional practices that result in actively induced experiential states. As such, the aim is to add to our understanding of intentional transformative experiences.

    For a detailed schedule, please download the below PDF: 


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

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

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

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

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

    For more information please click here:

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




    12th international conference

    Mystical and Esoteric Teachings in Theory and Practice:

    Esotericism in Philosophy, Literature, and Art

    February 3 – 5, 2022


    First Call for Papers

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

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

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

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

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

    Suggested topics:

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

    Languages of the conference: Russian and English.

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

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

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

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

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

    The organizing committee does not provide funding for conference participants.

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

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

    Organizing committee:

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

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

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

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

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

    Dr. S. Panin (USA, Houston)

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

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