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

    Western Esotericism in and from Latin America

    9-11 August 2021

    For more information please download this English brochure

    or consult the multi-lingual conference website:

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

    The Theosophical Movement and Globalism

    Interconnections, Innovations, and Comparisons 

    Online via zoom 8-10 October 2021 

    We live in a time in which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. A steady growing number of people from all around the globe directly participate in this by travelling to faraway destinations, meeting people from various cultures, by using the various media platforms, which the internet has made available, or by following global news. This interconnectedness does, however, not only take place by our current population becoming geographically closer but also manifests itself through time. Historical awareness also brings the past into the present. Increased historical study of the great variety of cultures from around the world and their histories thus facilitate a global interconnectedness through time. Global history, as a relatively new approach to world history, for example, seeks to cultivate the richness of past, present, and cross-cultural perspectives by taking the globe as the point of departure.

    The Theosophical Society (est. 1875) and the many groups, events, and cultural dynamics that make up the broader “Theosophical Movement” has almost from the outset been globally oriented.

    Primary spokespersons of the Theosophical Society have for example been keen on combining ideas and concepts from a wide variety of cultures and from different time-periods. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s works are for example figuratively speaking tightly woven textual carpets build of numerous references to ancient Egypt, India, Tibet, China, Greece and to traditions such as Platonism, Hermetism, spiritualism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Modern philosophers and scholars of various scientific disciplines are also a part of this texture. There is interconnectedness and an attempt to synthesize the global cultural heritage in Theosophy.  In a certain respect, Theosophy is a reflection of global history and modern globalism.

    This global tendency of the Theosophical Society also has a more contemporary geographical dimension. Blavatsky (born in Russia) was by nature already a world-citizen having travelled extensively and having become an American citizen. The global outlook was a part of her awareness and together with Henry S. Olcott, she singled out India as the right place for the headquarters of the society. Due to this early global outlook, the Theosophical Society has members from many different countries and thereby now has a global history. The Theosophical Society has likewise influenced global politics, as is well known in relation to the independence of India and has been instrumental as a carrier of cultural elements both from Europe and America to Asia as well as from Asia to Europe and America.

    This thematic focus on the Theosophical movement in relation to globalism, therefore, welcomes a global array of papers from an equally broad array of disciplines. Some theoretical keywords are interconnections, innovations, differences, comparisons, ideologies and entanglements; and some of the central questions that we want to address are:

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

    Keynote Speakers

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

    Paper Proposals

    Any person may submit a paper to the conference committee on any aspect of the subject. Summaries of no more than 200 words and 50 words biography should be sent to the secretary of the ITHC Erica Georgiades via email ( All paper proposals will be evaluated by our scientific conference committee prior to acceptance.


    Suggested presentation time 30 minutes including questions and answers.

    Important Dates 

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

    Registration & Fees

    The conference is free of charge and everyone is welcome.

    The online registration to the 2021 ITHC will open when the programme is released. The conference zoom link will be announced alongside the programme. For more information, please send an email to


    Online – Zoom Platform. 

    Date 8-10 October 2021

    The conference schedule will be based on different time zones. Specifics will be available when the full programme is released.

    Conference Committee 

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

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

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

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

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

  • 2021-03-11 12:17 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices

    Call for Papers

    2021 Meeting of the European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE): 29 September-1 October 2021 on Zoom

    The European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE) invites proposals for its 2021 meeting, to be held on Zoom 29 September-1 October 2021. The theme for the meeting is “Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices.”

    Religious studies, and especially the study of esotericism, tend to focus on text production and ideas. Societies, politics, practices—and also economics, social forms, and the material—are often neglected in the study of esotericism, partly due to methodological challenges. We would therefore like to invite scholars to submit proposals focusing on these dimensions of Islam and esotericism, of esotericism and Islam, and of Islamic esotericism.

    We especially invite proposals from sociologists and anthropologists, as well as other scholars. The chronological scope stretches from medieval to contemporary times.

    We invite papers that engage with these aims, but—as usual—proposals relating to Islam and Esotericism that do not relate to the meeting theme are also welcome.

    The meeting will be held over successive afternoons to make it possible for both European scholars and scholars in American time zones to participate.

    There is no fee for attending the meeting.


    The meeting is being held in 2021 rather than 2022 (when it would normally be held, following ENSIE’s standard practice) because the 2021 meeting of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), of which ENSIE is a thematic network, has moved its 2021 conference to 2022 because of Covid, and ENSIE’s 2022 meeting will therefore be part of ESSWE’s 2022 conference.


    By 15 May 2021, please send to

    • The title and abstract (250 words maximum) of your proposed paper.
    • Your name, institution, academic position, a brief bio
    • A short CV.

    Scientific committee

    The meeting is organised by

    • Mark Sedgwick, Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies, Aarhus University, and Convener of ENSIE
    • Liana Saif, assistant professor in the History of Western Esotericism in The Middle Ages, University of Amsterdam
    • Francesco Piraino, Postdoc, Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and Fondazione Giorgio Cini
    • Michele Petrone, Adjunct professor, Università di Milano

    Updates at

  • 2021-02-15 13:29 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    A. State of Research and Conception of the Conference

    The relationship between hermeticism and esotericism (or what has received these labels since the last quarter of the 20th century) and Catholic traditions is largely unexplored. This is partly due to a deficit in the research on this topic: The relationship between “religion”/denomination and esotericism has been systematically reflected upon mainly with regard to Protestantism. In the fundamental and most important publication on the genesis of the hermetic-esoteric field in Europe, Wouter Hanegraaff’s Esotericism and the Academy (2012), he focussed strongly on a debate in protestantism (Jacob Thomasius, Ehregott Daniel Colberg), in which theologians began to label a “hermetic” tradition as a “heretical” one. I still consider Hanegraaff’s perspective to be valid. But there was no systematic reflection on the relationship between esotericism and the Catholic Church, even Hanegraaff includes some of its representatives. To be fair, one cannot explore everything at once; Hanegraaff’s important book remains the central reference for questions on the genesis of (occidental) esotericism.

    This deficit is furthermore and probably due to three reasons, among others: (1.) The conflicts between the hegemonic Catholic theology and hermetic/esoteric positions were far less sharp than in the Protestant churches; this depends partly on different theological concepts, which are to be discussed in the conference. (2.) The Catholic Church had a different social structure, in which plurality was established more through internal differentiation than, like Protestantism, through external segmentation (formation of separate congregations or “sects”). (3.) Finally, a last reason for research lies in the high barriers that the extensive research in the filed of church history has created. Expertise on Christian Denominations at eye level can be found in the sociology of religion, but hardly in religious studies.

    Two minory remarks: Esotericism is to be defined in a working definition within the framework of a polythetic model (Zander: What is Esotericism?, 2021, forthcoming). – In terms of disciplines at the university, the background of this conference is the conviction that the relatively isolated research on esotericism in a discipline of its own and the resulting separation from research in literary studies, philosophy or theology, for example, follows a discipline-political tradition and should be abolished.

    In view of the unmanageable lack of knowledge, the conference can only be a door opener into this field of research. It is intended, and this is decisive, to discuss systematic questions on the basis of exemplary objects (see B below). It is not primarily a matter of collecting objects from a possible history of Catholic esotericism; this is probably an unmanageable undertaking, not only in view of the weak current state of research. Rather, each object should contribute to answering a systematic question. The assignment of the following examples to specific systematic topics is not obligatory; evidently, many examples fit into several categories. – Interdisciplinary cooperation is particularly desirable in order to release esoteric research from its disciplinary restriction.

    B. Systematic Fields: Options

    I. Catholic conditions of possibility for the interpretation of hermeticism and esotericism

    1. Setting of the Catholic course: Melchior Cano

    2. Theology: sacrament, magic and the "objectivity" of religious perception

    3. Gender issues: women, revelations, mediums, and esotericism

    4. Sociology of Catholicism: internal differentiation

    II. Non-hegemonic perceptions and practices and their integration

    Early Modern Period

    5. Catholic Hermeticism: Agostino Steuco’s Philosophia perennis, 1542

    6. Criticism in Giovanni Baptista Crispo: De ethnicis philosophis caute legendis, 1594

    7. Athanasius Kircher

    8. (Religious) experience in the time of enlightenment: Prospero Lambertini’s De servorum Dei beatificatione et de beatorum canonizatione, 1734-1738

    9. Freemasons, Martinists, Fourierists

    The 19th and 20th centuries: experience, visions, new revelations

    10. Catholic mesmerism

    11. Catholic Romanticism in Germany and France in the early 19th century (in France circles around: Guénon, Massignon, Université Saint Jean de Jérusalem, Huysmans)

    12. Maria von Mörl, Catharina Emmerick, Therese von Konnersreuth

    13. “Deutschlatholiken”

    14. Josef Görres, Die christliche Mystik, 1836-1842

    15. Catholic spiritualism, Marian apparitions

    16. The reactions of the Sanctum Officium

    17. Occultism around 1900: Vienna, Johannes Maria Verweyen, Anglo-Saxon / French Catholicism

    18. Gerda Walther

    19. Hans Urs von Balthasar/Adrienne von Speyr

    20. Joseph Ratzinger

    The limits of hegemonic theology

    21. Popular piety

    22. Arts


    Esotericism and politics

    C. Keywords

    Subjects not covered should be listed in an appendix of lexical keywords containing basic (biographical) data, reference to esotericism and basic literature (on the relationship between esotericism and Catholicism, in the case of people also basic writings). Short keywords should not exceed one printed page (max. 3000 characters including spaces), longer keywords should not exceed 9000 characters (including spaces).

    D. Practical matters

    Conference date: 28-30 October 2021, in Fribourg. Should this time slot not be possible due to Corona, the replacement date would be 5-7 May 2022. The conference will be a face-to-face event; hotel costs will be covered for the speakers. – Please propose topics by 15 March 2021.

    Contributions in German, English and French are welcome; passive knowledge at least of German and English is necessary. – The contributions will be published.

    Please send proposals by March, 31st, to Helmut Zander ( and Moritz Bauer (

  • 2020-12-08 15:59 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    Resilient esotericism

    Call for Papers for a special panel at the 18th Annual Conference of the EASR at the University of Pisa, August 30 – September 3, 2021.

    Organised by Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam) and Henrik Bogdan (University of Gothenburg)

    Western esotericism has often been described as a religious and philosophical phenomenon that has had a difficult relationship with mainstream culture and institutions for large parts of its history. Perceived as being based on forms of “rejected knowledge”, it is not difficult to find historical examples of marginalisation or even persecution of esoteric ideas and practices. With the Enlightenment, esotericism was often equated with superstition, quackery and misguided enthusiasm, and it was given for granted that eventually the progress of reason and science would have dispelled the dreams of spiritual visionaries and the secrets of self-styled initiates. However, esotericism has been able to survive marginalisation and has proven the predictions of Enlightenment thinkers wrong. It is very much alive in our societies today and it has travelled far and wide. Its pervasive presence in popular culture has been described with the term of occulture, and its participation in the entangled history of globalisation has led some scholars to reject the idea that esotericism is a “Western” phenomenon at all. Esotericism has therefore proven resilient in many ways and in different periods of its history. It has endured all sorts of challenges and difficulties and has reacted to them by adapting to new situations and taking on ever-changing forms. In this panel, we welcome paper proposals that focus on any aspect of esotericism’s resilience, both from a historical and a sociological perspective. Papers may be proposed on any current, author or group in the long history of Western esotericism, from Late Antiquity up to our contemporary globalised societies.

    Submission guidelines:

    Please send your paper abstract (150 words max.) and a short bio to the following email addresses: and

    Deadline for submission is January 10, 2020. We will not be able to accommodate papers in our panel whose abstract has been sent after that date.

  • 2020-11-01 16:32 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    This is to let you know that the deadline for submitting paper proposals to ESSWE8 (5-7 July, 2021, University College Cork, Ireland), has been extended to 15 December, 2020.

    All questions and inquiries should be directed to

  • 2020-10-26 10:07 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)


    Nominations are invited for the seventh biennial ESSWE PhD Thesis prize, awarded by the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism.


    The prize will be given for an outstanding PhD. thesis defended in 2019-2020 on any aspect of Western Esotericism. Candidates for the prize must be members of the ESSWE. The thesis must have been approved formally by the nominee’s thesis committee, but the degree need not have been formally awarded. The prize will not be awarded if no submissions are deemed qualified.

    Notification & Certification

    The prize-winner will be notified in April 2021 and will receive an award of €500 and a certificate, to be presented at the ESSWE conference in Cork, Ireland 5-7 July 2021. The ESSWE will also make a substantial contribution to travel expenses and lodging costs, and the conference fee will be waived.


    The thesis will also be recommended for publication in the ARIES Book Series, though the final decision on publication will be taken by the ARIES Book Series editorial board.


    Nominations must be made by email to the Chair of the Prize Committee, Boaz Huss (University of Southern Denmark, by 1 January 2021. The nominator must be a faculty member at the institution that awards the nominee’s PhD degree, or a member of the nominee’s thesis committee. Each nominator may make only one nomination.

    The applications should consist of pdf files of the following material:

    1. A one-page description of the thesis and motivation why it is nominated for the prize
    2. The nominee’s thesis
    3. Documentation to show that the thesis has been approved

    Item 1 needs to be in English, whereas items 2 and 3 can be in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

    The Prize Committee consists of: Boaz Huss (Chair), Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Bernd-Christian Otto, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg; Helmut Zander, Université de Fribourg

  • 2020-09-21 22:51 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)

    Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University

    Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism

    11th International Conference



    Images, symbols, and signs

    in mysticism and esotericism

    December 3–5, 2020

    First Call for Papers

    Mystical experience is connected to deep internal states of mind. However, this experience also has an external manifestation; it manifests in external world by certain means of expression. One of the important characteristics of languages of mysticism and esotericism through which subjective experience is communicated to the external world is utilization of images, symbols, visual metaphors and ciphers. Functions of these symbolical languages are manifold – from hiding esoteric knowledge to transmitting experience that is outside of the limits of rationality through artistic means. Rich visual symbolism of mystical and esoteric traditions connected to an atmosphere of mystery was a source of inspiration for many scientists, philosophers, writers, architects, and painters. Elements of esoteric symbolism are present both in classical and in contemporary art, including literature, paintings, architecture, sculpture, design, theater, cinema, and folklore.

    The goal of the conference is to study the plurality of forms of construction, functioning, and interpretation of images, symbols, and signs in mystical and esoteric doctrines, functions of visual symbolic language of mysticism and esotericism, continuity and historical transformations of this language, and semiotic mechanisms that allowed a transmission of these images, symbols, and signs in other spheres of culture.

    Sample topics include but are not limited to the following:

    • methodological problems of academic study of images, symbols, signs in the context of mysticism and esotericism;
    • theological connotations of mystical and esoteric symbols and images;
    • semiotic interpretation of mysticism and esotericism;
    • symbolical language of description of mystical and esoteric teachings;
    • symbolical and imaginary dimension of Eastern and Western mystical and esoteric traditions;
    • mystical and esoteric symbols and images in world artistic culture;
    • visual vocabulary of esoteric art;
    • historical transformations of esoteric symbolism;
    • mystical and esoteric images in contemporary design.

    Working languages: Russian, English

    Applications for the conference are to be sent to the address of the organizing committee by October 24, 2020. Due to possible visa concerns, we request that applications are sent by September 30, 2020. We kindly request participants to provide the following information:

    1. Full name:

    2. Date of birth:

    3. Academic degree (if applicable):

    4. Home address:

    5. Place of work/study (if applicable):

    6. Position:

    7. Telephone number:

    8. E-mail:

    9. Need of an official invitation to receive an entry visa to the Russian Federation (yes/no):

    10. Necessary equipment for your presentation (yes (specify)/no):

    11. Title of paper:

    12. Abstract:

    13. Language of paper:

    The applicants are also required to attach a photo of themselves, no more than 1Mb in size.

    Applications for panels are accepted until October 24, 2020. Panel applications need to follow the general application form outlined above. Additionally, the panel organizer needs to provide the approximate number of panel participants and a preliminary program.

    A completed application does not guarantee acceptance to the conference. The organizing committee reserves the right to ask for additional information from applicants to specify unclear applications. Decisions on applications are made by the organizing committee within a week after the application deadline. Applicants will be informed of the committee’s decision by e-mail.

    Remote participation in the conference is not provided for.

    A conference program including information about participants and their abstracts will be published and provided to the participants before the start of the conference. It will also be available on the ASEM website.

    The conference fee is differentiated according to ASEM membership and geographical location of the participant (see table below):

    Conference participants

    ASEM members

    ASEM non-members

    Post-Soviet countries (excepting the Baltic countries)

    500 roubles

    1000 roubles

    Residents of non-Post-Soviet countries

    10 Euros

    30 Euros

    The conference fee will be used to cover the costs of organizing the conference as well as the publication of conference papers, which is planned after the conference takes place.

    The conference fee does not include transportation, lodging, food or possible additional services (tours, museums, and so on). The organizing committee does not provide lodging for conference participants; however, it will provide information on local options at the request of an accepted participant.

    The organizing committee is open to propositions of material and informational support from interested physical and legal persons.

    Conference address: ul. Bolshaya Sankt-Petersburgskaya, 41, Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University (NovSU), Novgorod the Great.

    All inquiries about the conference are to be directed to:

    Organizing committee:

    Organizing committee chairs: Sergey S. Avanesov, Sergey V. Pakhomov

    Organizing committee members: Daniil E. Krapchunov, Birgit Menzel,

    Evsey G. Berdichevsky, Stanislav Panin

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