Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Wouter J. Hanegraaff, in collaboration with Antoine Faivre, Roelof van den Broek and Jean-Pierre Brach

Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism Online is the comprehensive reference work to cover the entire domain of “Gnosis and Western Esotericism” from the period of Late Antiquity to the present. Containing around 400 articles by over 180 international specialists, Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism Online provides critical overviews discussing the nature and historical development of all its important currents and manifestations, from Gnosticism and Hermetism to Astrology, Alchemy and Magic, from the Hermetic Tradition of the Renaissance to Rosicrucianism and Christian Theosophy, and from Freemasonry and Illuminism to 19thcentury Occultism and the contemporary New Age movement. Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism Online also contains articles about the life and work of all the major personalities in the history of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, discussing their ideas, significance, and historical influence.

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(5,310 words)

Author(s): Neugebauer-Wölk, Monika
1. Survey of the Order's History The foundation of the secret society of the Illuminaten is related to the conflict between the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the Enlightenment in Bavaria. Although the suppression of the Jesuit order in 1773 had destroyed the external organisation of the Society of Jesus, the advocates of Enlightenment, above all Adam von Ickstatt (1706-1776), rector of Ingolstadt University, feared the influence of “ex-Jesuits”, who still held important offices in education. In 177…

Illuminés d'Avignon

(2,532 words)

Author(s): Snoek, Jan A.M.
This group of esotericists has its origins not in Avignon but in Berlin, probably in 1778. Its first members were Prince Henry of Prussia (the brother of king Frederick the Great), Jacques Pernety (older brother of → Dom Antoine-Joseph Pernety), and Claude Etienne le Baud de Nans (an actor). Possibly, they met at Prince Henry's small court of Rheinsberg near Berlin, where Jacques Pernety was a tax inspector, and which was also frequented by Le Baud de Nans. They were soon joined by three more pe…


(4,875 words)

Author(s): Bergé, Christine
The complex intellectual and spiritual movement known as “Illuminism” is an integral part of modern Western esotericism in Europe. Chronologically it covers the last third (or even the second half) of the 18th century and the first third of the 19th. In the history of ideas and of literature, it has profound affinities with pre-Romanticism and → Romanticism. The emergence of Illuminism shows that the century of the philosophers of the Enlightenment was in fact a century of contrasts; but nevertheless, it would be a simplification to oppose the two move…


(8,671 words)

Author(s): Van den Doel, Marieke J.E. | Hanegraaff, Wouter J.
According to a tradition derived from Aristotle, the imagination (Greek phantasia; Latin: imaginatio) is a faculty of knowledge intermediary between the senses and the intellect or rational intelligence. Together with the “common sense” ( to krinon or sensus communis) and the memory it belongs to the so-called “interior senses”; but one also sometimes encounters it as equivalent to these different senses taken together. Aristotle says that phantasia derives from φῶς (light, or glow) and is primarily visually oriented. Its function is to transform sensory impre…

Intermediary Beings

(12,281 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den | Fanger, Claire | Brach, Jean-Pierre | Hanegraaff, Wouter J.
Intermediary Beings I: Antiquity 1. Introduction The belief in angels, demons and other intermediary beings has become an important aspect of Western religious thought and imagination, in mainstream Christianity as well as in esoteric currents. Its emergence was mainly the result of the combination of Greek and Jewish ideas about good and evil spirits that have a direct influence on human life. Sometimes these beings are individually distinguished by name, but often they are thought to operate as name…