Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism

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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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(1,662 words)

Author(s): Rousse-Lacordaire, Jérôme
‘Like the sphinx of old, mysticism remains the point where one meets with an enigma. It can be located but it cannot be categorized’ (De Certeau 1977). This is doubtless one reason why the term is so ambiguous, and so often lends itself to confusion with other forms of apprehending reality, such as → esotericism. Etymologically, the semantic field of mysticism is close to that of esotericism: mu refers to the closed mouth, hence muô, to be closed (especially the eyes and the mouth); mustēs means the “mystes”, the initiated one, he who keeps his lips sealed; mustērion refers to the initiatio…