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Douzetemps, Melchior

(1,596 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Douzetemps (or Douz[e]aidans), Melchior, * 1668 / 1669 (place unknown), † after 1738 probably Offenbach am Main Very little is known about Douzetemps's life: even his first name was not documented until 1984 (by R. Breymayer). This French Lutheran settled in Germany early in his life as a consequence of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. His book (see below) gives the impression that he associated with people shaped by the spirituality of Quietism and → Pietism. He is reported to have met, in Aachen …

Schlag, Oscar Rudolf

(1,178 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Schlag, Oscar (or Oskar) Rudolf, * 22 Mar 1907 (Osterhofen (Bavaria)), † (Zurich) 29 Jan 1990 Already as a teenager, Schlag was held to possess mediumnistic faculties. In 1927, Albert Schrenck-Notzing, a dominant figure in continental parapsychology at the time, recruited him as a test subject in the laboratory he had set up in Landshut (the association lasted no more than a few months). Two years later, Schlag settled in Luzern, where he worked as a philatelist. In 1930 he moved on to Zurich where he was to re…

Cazotte, Jacques

(1,856 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Cazotte, Jacques, * 17 Jan 1719 (Dijon), † 25 Sep 1792 (Paris) A Catholic all his life, Cazotte was educated at a Jesuit school in Dijon. He went on to study Law, and went to Paris in 1740, where he took up a position in the Administration of the French Fleet. In 1741 he published some original fairy tales ( La patte du Chat), and in 1742 a number of fantastic “oriental” tales such as Les Mille et une fadaises, inspired by the French translation (by Galland, 1704) of the Arabian Nights (in French, Les Mille et une nuits). His professional duties obliged him to sojourn in various French harbo…

Ritter, Johann Wilhelm

(1,951 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Ritter, Johann Wilhelm, * 16 Jan 1776 (Samitz (Silesia, now in Poland)), † 23 Jan 1810 (Munich) After studying pharmacology and chemistry in Liegnitz from 1791 to 1796, Ritter enrolled at the University of Iena where he presented in 1797 a ‘Demonstration that in the animal kingdom a constant galvanism accompanies the process of life’. This paper's publication the following year stirred a flurry of debate. After its publication, Ritter occupied two more or less overlapping positions within Germany's intellectual world at the turn of the century, namely, that of a Naturphilosoph [→ Natu…

Fictuld, Hermann

(2,134 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Fictuld, Hermann, * 14 Jan 1700 (?) (place unknown), † 1777 (?) (place unknown) Hermann Fictuld is the pen name used by an individual whose identity is disputed. In 1879 the historian of → Freemasonry Nettelbladt (Nettelbladt, 766, n. 625) quoted a manuscript he had found (he did not say where), written by the freemason Baron Ernst Werner von Raven and partly devoted to the latter's relationship with Fictuld in the years 1768-1769. ‘According to this manuscript’, writes Nettelbladt, Fictuld's ‘real name was J…

Mouravieff, Boris

(1,550 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Mouravieff, Boris, * 8 Mar 1890 (Cronstadt (Russia)), † 28 Sep 1969 (Geneva) Early in his life, Mouravieff came under the spiritual influence of his great uncle Andrei Mouravieff, the founder of an important orthodox monastery at Mount Athos. He became an officer in the Higher Military School in 1910 and in this capacity served in the Russian Imperial Navy during World War I. After the abdication of the tsar in March 1917, he became part of the Cabinet of Minister Alexandre Kerensky until October 1918. From …

Asiatic Brethren

(1,745 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Hans Heinrich von Ecker und Eckhoffen (1750-1790), a Bavarian Officer, established two of the various so-called “fringe-masonic” (in German: “winkel-maurerischen”) Orders (or Systems) which flourished in the second half of the 18th century. The first, called the Ordo Rotae et Aureae Crucis (The Order of the Wheel and of the Golden Cross) was founded in 1776. When Adam Weishaupt had the idea of founding his famous Order of the → Illuminaten shortly afterwards, it was partly as a reaction against …

Kirchberger, Niklaus Anton

(757 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Kirchberger, Niklaus Anton Baron von Liebisdorf, * 13 Jan 1739 (Bern), † 27 Sep 1799 (Bern) Member of the Grand Council of Bern from 1776 until his death and simultaneously officer in the Swiss army. Member of several academic societies and Government Committees. Well-read in classical and contemporary philosophy and literature, in science (mostly agriculture), and particularly in spirituality and western esoteric traditions. Theosophical essays of his, notably on → Jacob Boehme, originally meant for publicatio…

Foix-Candale, François

(1,721 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Foix-Candale (= Foix de Candale), François, * August 1512 (Bordeaux), † 5 Feb 1594 (Bordeaux) Foix-Candale belonged to a family of the old Catholic nobility which provided some of the most ardent leaders of resistance to the Huguenots in the Southwest. He succeeded his brother as Bishop of Aire-sur-l'Adour near Bordeaux in 1570. Although that post remained merely formal, he was made Cardinal in 1587. Well versed in geometry, he acquired a reputation as a specialist in instruments of measurement. He used his ca…

Egyptomany

(1,117 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
In modern times, ancient Egypt has inspired many works of literature, → music, and art. There are two distinct characteristics to Egypt in this context. First, it differs widely from the common European heritage of Greco-Roman culture, thus readily lending itself to mystery and appealing to a taste for exoticism. Second, its antiquity has caused it to appear in the Western imagination as the cradle or depository of a buried primordial or “traditional” knowledge; this applies especially to the Re…

Welling, Georg von

(1,949 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Welling, Georg von, * Summer 1655 (Kassel), † 28 Feb 1727 (Bockenheim) Before the publication of Petra Jungmayr's dissertation on von Welling in 1990, almost nothing was known about his life. He occasionally presented himself as Baron von Welling, but whether he was actually granted this title cannot be confirmed. He served as captain in the army (1683-1685) and participated in the defense of Vienna against the Turks. The following years he seems to have spent as a riding master (Hofjunker). From 1705 until…

Lopukhin, Ivan Vladimirovich

(2,335 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Lopukhin (also Lopuchin, or Lopushin), Ivan Vladimirovich, * 24 Feb 1756 (Retjashi (Orel, Russia)), † 22 Jun 1816 (Retjashi) After a short military career in the Russian army, Lopukhin retired as early as 1782 with the rank of colonel. He was appointed at the Criminal Court of Moscow, becoming its President in 1785, and served in the military criminal courts under Katherine II, Paul I (who made him a State Secretary and Senator), and Alexander I. Socially and politically, he is remembered as a philanthropist – fir…

Etteilla

(1,481 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Etteilla, (ps. of Jean-Baptiste Alliette), * 1 Mar 1738 (Paris)?, † 13 Jan 1791 (Paris)? According to a long but spurious tradition, later refuted by Decker, Alliette was a barber and wigmaker. The truth of the matter is that, at least until 1768, he was a seed and grain merchant, like all the rest of his family members; and from 1768-1769 he was a print seller. In one of his books (1789) he refers to himself as a ‘Professeur d'Algèbre’, but this fancy title, although “confirmed” by his burial certificate, pro…

Tomberg, Valentin

(1,944 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Tomberg, Valentin, * 26 Feb 1900 (Saint Petersburg), † 20 Feb 1973 (Majorca) A Russian-Baltic Lutheran by birth, already as a young man Tomberg began to move in the esoteric circles of Saint Petersburg, joining the → Theosophical Society in 1917. The Bolshevik Revolution having taken a heavy toll on his family, he fled in 1918 to Tallin (Reval, in Estonia). There he married in 1922, held (after several other jobs) a position at the Estonian postal administration, and in 1925 was elected to the Vice-Presidenc…

Naturphilosophie (end 18th-first half of 19th century)

(3,196 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Not to be confused with “natural philosophy”, considered as the pursuit of an objective knowledge of phenomena, several “philosophies of nature” have adopted a more intuitive approach, as followed by thinkers like Gottfried W. Leibniz, Georg W.F. Hegel or Henri Bergson, but also by those who represent the specific current called Naturphilosophie, which belongs to the Romantic period [→ Romanticism] lato sensu (end of the 18th century and first half of the 19th), particularly in Germany. Among the precursors of Naturphilosophie are, in particular, → Christian Theosophy, “mos…

Christian Theosophy

(7,331 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
For the historian of modern Western esoteric currents, “theosophy” is not to be understood in an essentialist sense, which would be based, for example, on its etymology ( Theo-Sophia, wisdom of God), but in the sense commonly accepted within the academy. As such, it designates either a specific esoteric current in the wake of the emergence of modern Western esotericism from the end of the 15th century onward (e.g., neo-Alexandrian → hermetism, Christian Kabbalah [→ Jewish Influences], → Rosicrucianism, “spiritual” → alchem…

Bô Yin Râ

(1,404 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Yin Râ, Bô (ps. of Joseph Anton Schneider, as of 1920 Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken), * 25 Jan 1876 (Aschaffenburg), † 14 Feb 1943 (Massagno (Switzerland)) Schneider studied at the Städelsche Art Institute in Frankfurt, from which he graduated in 1899, and at the art studios of the Municipal Theatre in Frankfurt (1896-1898). Hans Thoma, one of the leading German artists of the time, accepted him as one of his pupils. Later he also came to benefit from the advice and support of Max Klinger. In 1900-1901, he continued his…

Dutoit-Membrini, Jean-Philippe

(835 words)

Author(s): Faivre, Antoine
Dutoit-Membrini, Jean-Philippe, * 27 Sep 1721 (Moudon near Lausanne), † 21 Jan 1793 (Lausanne) Dutoit-Membrini studied Protestant theology in Lausanne. Later, in 1750, during an illness, he had a mystical experience in which he heard a voice telling him: ‘Thou shalt eat of the flesh of thy Redeemer and drink of His blood’. Shortly after, he vowed never to marry and steeped himself in the writings of Madame Guyon, assisting with the preparation of new editions of her works in forty volumes (1767-1791 [in the M…

Secrecy

(9,856 words)

Author(s): De Jong, Albert | Fanger, Claire | Faivre, Antoine
Secrecy I: Antiquity 1. Introduction The only fruitful way to study secrecy in ancient cultures and religions is to study it as a social phenomenon. The private secrets of individuals, that is knowledge of facts kept hidden from everyone (for example a woman who hides from her husband the fact that the child she is bearing is not his), are not only lost to us forever, but also do not really constitute a subject that could be analysed profitably. That is why, following a lead from the German sociologi…

Hermes Trismegistus

(9,853 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den | Lucentini, Paolo | Faivre, Antoine
Hermes Trismegistus I: Antiquity 1. Thot and Hermes In the later Graeco-Roman world Hermes Trismegistus was seen as an Egyptian sage of remote antiquity whose knowledge of both the material and the spiritual world and their interrelationship were of great help to get some control of the vicissitudes of life and to bring the soul into harmony with its divine origin. Though his name shows that the Greeks saw some correspondences between this sage and their own god Hermes, the figure of Hermes Trismegistus…

Hermetic Literature

(48,072 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den | Lucentini, Paolo | Compagni, Vittoria Perrone | Lory, Pierre | Faivre, Antoine
Hermetic Literature I: Antiquity 1. Introduction The literary works attributed to → Hermes Trismegistus reflect the various activities he was thought to have deployed. In accordance with his function as a teacher of → magic, → astrology, → alchemy and philosophically coloured religious knowledge, there are under his name magical spells, astrological and alchemical treatises and religious-philosophical discourses. In recent scholarship, there has been much discussion about the relationship between the …
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