Esotericism and New Religious Movements: An Overview

Sept. 1998: Esotericism, Freemasonry, and Conspiracy

Virtually all the main aspects of Western esoteric traditions have their foundations in antiquity and, in fact, make direct or indirect reference to their ori­gins there. Nevertheless, many scholars have abandoned earlier concepts which characterized the esoteric in the sense of the Greek meaning for ‘inner’ or/and ‘secret’, whereby others see it as a particular worldview.


Case Study: From Numerology to Magic and Esoteric Christianity


Constructing Tradition: Hermetic Alchemy and Zosimus of Panopolis and Iamblichus P.1.

Constructing Tradition: Hermetic Alchemy and Zosimus of Panopolis and Iamblichus P.2.

Constructing Tradition: Hermetic Alchemy and Zosimus of Panopolis and Iamblichus P.3.

Of equal importance is the little researched Arabic Hermetica:


New History of the Hermetica P.1: Hermes Times Three

Hermetica were in circulation when the Greek Herractica appeared in Western Europe. It is already clear that the some of the Latin Hermetica are translations from Arabic, so that the reception of the Greek Hermetica in the fifteenth century and later will involve the reception of Arabic Hermetica that had entered circulation in Latin some centuries earlier.


New History of the Hermetica P.2: The Sabian Myth

The name Hermes legitimized astrology, magic, alchemy, and the use of talismans as well as the propitiation of planetary spirits by means of sacrifices, incenses, rituals, and words of power. And while the Iranian pagans identified themselves with the above, poorly understood groups like the Buddhists and ancient Egyptians were also called 'Sabian' with the same understanding.


New History of the Hermetica P.3: Middle East Disporea

After the 1 e century, Hermes figured at the head of Arabic histories of science. Beginning in the late 12th century, Arabic Hermetica began to be translated into Latin. These were among the earliest translations from Arabic to Latin. Arabic manuscripts of works attributed to Hermes continued to be copied at least until the 19 th century.

One of the most striking future areas for investigation lies in comparative studies. Many Western esoteric traditions parallel Asian religious traditions in various ways-there are, for instance, Asian alchemical tradi­tions that correspond strikingly to some forms of European alchemy. These are all comparative fields that remain largely unexamined and that could shed much light on the traditions concerned. But investigations of this nature require great sophistication of knowledge in a range of fields and languages, as well as extensive general knowledge of various eras.

Of importance to the birth of the Western Esoteric as a “tradition” was a work of fiction: The Rosicrucians.

Later Western esoteric rituals of initiation; reflect the esoteric currents and notions, which are in vogue at the time when the rituals where written. (Henrik Bogdan, Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation, 2008, p.171.)

In their classic study The Invention of Tradition, Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger remind us that some of the best-known" ancient customs" are, in fact, quite recent innovations. The supposedly traditional Highland kilt was invented in the 1730s by an English Quaker from Lancashire. The tartan patterns, supposedly symbols of clan affiliation with roots in earliest recorded Celtic history, were created around the turn of the nineteenth century, and so on. An analogous situation however, we find in the domain of religion, where historically verifiable traditions coexist with recent innovations whose origins are spuriously projected back into time. See also Steven Engler; Gregory P. Grieve, Historicizing "Tradition" in the Study of Religion, 2005.

The Occult Revival in America P.1

The Occult Revival in America P.2.

Alleged New Age Religions.



While running the Theosophical Society in Germany Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) starting in 1910, wrote four, what he called Mystery Dramas to be performed in what at the time was termed a Hermetic Academy (renamed Goetheanum since then). Enter:

Harry Potter 6 and Gnosis: The Search for the Higher Self

It is known that adults are a significant part of the huge Harry Potter fan base. In the United Kingdom, Potter publisher Bloomsbury even packages an edition with a more mature cover design. Where it was unusual for the Inquisition to take much interest in elite magicians like Trithemius (unless as with Giordano Bruno they were preaching what they termed ‘heresy’) he was able to write extensively about "the seven planetary spirits" who as he explained in his famous book “Steganographia” (if his instructions were followed) could “communicate” with the “soul of man” (Noel Brann Trithemius and Magical Theology). It was however Eliphas Levi who mixed such ideas with that of an ‘Astral Light’ (called ‘Animal Magnetism’ by F.A. Mesmer before) now claimed to be  "practical occultism" who inspired the later “seven bodies of Man” and the ‘higher Self’. Thus when Rowling in Vol 6 details how the "soul" of  wizard- Voldemort is divided into seven parts, making it impossible to kill him unless six, of those can  be found before final confrontation with his ‘real self’- she shows herself to obtain her inspiration from the  literature of the late 19th century “Occult Revival”.

Enter the (Scientology) War of the Worlds:

Also, while watching “War of The Worlds” one couldn’t help noticing Plato’s Demiurg (called ‘Xenu’ by the Scientologists who advised Spielberg) when the ‘invader’ are portraited as magnetic/lightning, arising from ‘below the surface of the earth’! Iamblichus following Plotinus (who inspired "De Celestia Hierarchia") the most important figure in Neo-Platonism, is credited with popularizing esoteric occultism called “Magic”. C.Agrippa in his 16th Century bestseller “Occult Philosophy” explained how by calling on the spirit/angel of the ‘seven planets’ the magician (theurgist), could help ‘clear’ this planet. In Scientology today, the ‘Xenu’/work, is revealed in ‘O.T.III, and from there to O.T.VIII, the ‘human potential’ of the scientologist is said to ‘increase’. And although the attempt by the founder of Scientology L.R. Hubbard to create a 'moonchild' by means of 'Magic' should not be overblown in importance, however this is the first ever history of this idea rooted as it is, in Paracelsian Magic.

Reincarnation: The Invention of a Modern Myth

Paradoxically, the turn to science and the triumph of evolution in the nineteenth century produced an explosion of occultism, increasing its power as a kind of super-science. Gothic, fantastic, and supernatural fiction flourished, while Spiritualism emerged as a serious inquiry into the possibility of contacting the dead. Disciplines had not yet hardened, and the borders were as yet undefined between parapsychology and psychology, between mythology and anthropology. Mesmerism became hypnotism, and the subconscious came to be recognized as more than a medium's stomping ground. This web exclusive first ever detailed study describes the growth and meandering path of the occult tradition over the past five hundred years, and shows how the esoteric world view fits together. 

Above Theosophical Society Headquarters built by the followers of Rudolf Steiner first intended as an “Hermetic Academy” and later in order to perform Steiner’s Mystery Dramas and to perform the rituals of his Memphis-Mizraim- Rite. 

New Age or Emerging Religions?


The 1920's Vinland Map

A Legend is Born



Alternative History books:


The Nazi Occult Myth

Foto with what in ancient India were called ‘vimanas’ (charcoal balloons made out of rice-paper) taken on February 24, 2005. Still a custom today in Burma, Thailand and parts of Tibet, in ancient ‘India’a donation could have one send up via a temple site with for good luck, name was dully listed. Ancient astronauts instead claimed those must have been the names of pilots who around two thousand B.C. (and before..) thus were flying large man-made UFO’s…

ABC News UFO's: The Day After

UFO's as Conspiracy Theory

From Esotericism to Pop Culture

From Esotericism to Pop Culture P.2

True History

Update February 4, 2005: From Aleister Crowley to Scientology

“L.Ron Hubbard absorbed enough of Aleister Crowley’s ideas to use them as a foundation for his Church of Scientology” (A Dark Muse, 2005, p. 266). Today we would like to start by commenting on the above quote from Gary Lachman’s new book. Click to Enter:

Febr. 23, 2008: Case Study New Religious Movements. Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Schools P.1 of 2.

We successfully questioned the term "Gnostic" and "Gnosticism" as referring to among others oriental sources but also the re-invented Gnoticism of Jules Doinel.  Yet ever since the Da Vinci Code of Dan Brown’s book last year commentators have derived new currency from 'Gnostic'. If anything Dan Brown's two recent books are based on stories popularized by the ‘Occult Revival” at the turn of the previous century rather than having anything to do with what Christians commentators like Professor Bart D. Ehrman repeat mistaken notions by Elaine Pagels during the 1980's and others, about the ‘Gnostic‘ gospels Dan Brown supposed to have referred to.


Case Study New Religious Movements. With John Edward and James Van Praagh popular TV celebrities today, it is surprising that few people know about the religious background they come from. Spiritualism P.1.

Case Study New Religious Movements. A mix of Hermeticism, Swedenborgianism, Fourierism, and TranscendentalismSpiritualism P.2.

Case Study New Religious Movements. The Spiritualist; ascetic, martyrological, and evangelical mode.  Spiritualism P.3.


Case Study New Religious Movements. Competitive Environment. Spiritualism P.4.

Case Study New Religious Movements. Sex and Local Politics. Spiritualism P.5.

New Religious Movements. Spiritualism P.6.

The Occult Revival 1889-2005

The Universal Exposition of 1889 is justly celebrated for giving Paris the Eiffel Tower; it is less well known for having inspired a Congres Spirite et Spiritualiste International, 40,000 believers the world over signed petitions in support of the gathering. Considering that the world population was only about one quarter of what it is now, this was a lot.


Davinci Code Matrix: The Esoteric-Occult Revival in France, Germany, England



P.1: The Making of Spiritism

TV celebrities like James Van Praag and John Edward with Crossing Over, Spiritism (talking to alleged spirits of the dead) has been in the news again as per April 2003. In The book of the Spririts 1857 (Le Livre des Esprits), Allan Kardec who changed on advice from a medium his name from Hippolyte Rivall, elaborated a metaphysical system based on communications with the beyond.


P.3: To England Now

When Holbrook Jackson published his classic account of fin-de-siecle ideas in 1913, he drew attention to the 1890’s as the years during which "the beginning of the revival of mysticism" got under way. Just before the outbreak of war in 1914, those with a finger on the cultural pulse of the nation acknowledged that a general "spiritual renaissance" and "mystical revival" were part of the general milieu and a mark of the times.


P.5: Taming the Wild Spirits

Even in the regulated atmosphere Spirit Societies sought to create, mediums as intermediaries, exerted a unique and multifaceted form of power. In his 1861 Livre des Mediums, Kardec presented a detailed collection of instructions, for the conduct of seances, the behavior of mediums, and the evaluation of spirit communications. 


P.7: Text Related Occult Conversions

The term occult derives from the Latin verb occulere, meaning to hide, or conceal. It is somewhat ironic, therefore, that although French, Germans and British were cer­tainly fascinated by forces concealed from human sight or reason, in spite of its many quasi-secret ‘Orders’, there was nothing particularly hidden about the occult movement itself. 


P.11: Nazis and The Occult

That occult and volkisch texts emanated in some cases from the same presses makes it tempting to overplay the importance of the occult-volkisch publishing enterprise a subject that has been milked by a number of authors making occult claims about National Socialism.


P.13: The Esoteric

After the split with Olcott, Gaboriau bitterly declared; all the Theosophical Society had to offer were "hatreds, personal ambitions, calumnies, feminine gossip" and "national jealousies," particularly among English Theosophists, who considered themselves superior to adepts from all other countries.


P.15: Psychic Androginity

The "new" occultism emerged concurrently with a range of "new" movements and social identities that characterized the final years of the old century. - A "new" occultism underpinned by an emphasis on practical magic had recourse to a masculine persona that appealed to men and women alike.

P.2: Christian Spiritist Conversion

Despite his lofty pronouncements, in practice Kardec's exposition could often seem closer to old-fashioned metaphysical deduction, for example, did Kardec's assertion of the irrefutable truth of reincarnation differ from a Catholic's assertion of the reality of transubstantiation? Some "spirits" argued for reincarnation, while others especially those who spoke to Anglo-Saxons - argued against it.


P.4: Occult Orders

Orders of The Da Vinci Code - At the secret heart of the occult revival lay the revitalized practice of ritual magic as taught to an initiated elect in the Magical Orders of the day, and for England that was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The short history of the Golden Dawn before its fracturing, replicates in intensified and dramatic detail some of the salient features of its more visible and outwardly successful rival, the Theosophical Society.


P.6: Revelation of the Revelation

In August of 1866 Roustaing succeeded in publishing three thick volumes, the communications that made up the Quatre Evangiles, in other words, were in fact revelations from God himself. The new "revelation of the revelation," Roustaing explained with a typical combination of legalistic circuitousness and visionary typographical exuberance, that Christ, did not have a body in the human sense.


P.8: An Occult Sociological Profile

So gradually the occult became also in Germany the core of a mass movement similar to England, France and the USA, not just because individual men and women found it efficacious but also because it adapted itself very quickly to the exigen­cies of modern consumer culture.


P.9: Phenomena on Trial

In spite of the Hodgson/SPR report showing the "Mahatma Letters" did not just appear on paper, or that H.P. Blavatsky could not materialize cups, saucers and vases as is claimed today, Dr. James Santucci, Professor at the University of California, writes in the current, Spring 2003 "Theosophical History" Journal, published by the same University, that the Hodgson/S.P.R. report claiming the above is wrong.


P.10: Theosophical Fights

As far as the President of the Spiritist trial was concerned, "hallucinations" had no place in the law. In his closing statement, Dubols summarized the President's treatment of the Spiritist witnesses: He opposed their testimony to the competing truth of the documents in the trial. The witnesses may have thought their images were authentic, but by asserting that authenticity in the face of palpable evidence of fraud, they seemed to be in the grip of a powerful delusion. To choose to believe in the reality.


P.12: Cults of the Self

In June 1914, as nationalist sentiments presaging the outbreak of war rose across Europe, Hubbe-Schleiden specu­lated, German Theosophists would now have to find ways to induce their com­patriots to reject petty nationalism and embrace "world civilization" (Welt­kultur) instead.


P.14: The Never Ending Mystery?

As for Spiritism, Gabriel Delanne and Leon Dents became key figures, and the tensions between them would play a crucial role in shaping Spiritism's development after the First World War.

P.16: Cosmological Searches

Esoteric-occultism as the Da Vinci Code Movie and book is an outgrowth of laid great stress on an esoteric understanding of "the constitution of man," which emphasized interiority and was underwritten by a highly structured account of human consciousness.

Comment: The Forgotten Monarchy Discovered

Royal Pretenders have been around for hundreds of years, however no later than the turn of the previous century, it has permeated the occult tradition.

From Robert Anton Wilson to the Da Vinci Code Prank: The Californian Illuminati

CNN May 19, 2004: Dan Brown said that when he wrote TheDa Vinci Code, he considered including material alleging that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion:

Introducing H.P. Blavatsky

H.P.Blavatsky and her 'MASTERS' of the Theosophical Society

Search For Astral Projection: The Investigation

The Hodgson Report

The Hodgson Report P.2

The Hodgson Report P.3

August 1877 Blavatsky had been admitted by Yarker as "Arch Auditor" of the Sat Bhai. The Sat Bhai, Royal Order of Sikha, and the Order of Light all carried oriental (Indian) influences through the earlier involvement of Maurice Vidal Portmann, and Capt. James Archer of the Indian Army. The degrees contained Vedic terms and the incarnation of Vishnu, it allowed women as members. In 1880 Portman returned back to India by moving to the Andaman islands (opposite to Tibet) seen on the picture below.

Finding the Theosophical Masters and Mahatmas

Blavatsky's Final Work

After Blavatsky P.1: Krishnamurti, the Fashioning of a Mahatma

After Blavatsky P.2: Fashioning the Future Race

Race and Literary Nationalism

Apart from ‘positive thinking’ no other new religious movement coming from the USA has received so much attention as Scientology. Here a complete expose including an update about the signposts for reincarnated Scientologists who come from outer space plus 'could Belgium Bring Down Scientology?' and a review of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief. Enter Scientology:

17 Sept. 2008: Investigating, UFOs Seeing is Believing?



"There is no science that better confirms the divinity of Christ than magic and kabbalah" (Pico de la Mirandolla, 900 Thesis, 1486)

The Secret of the Cabalah/ Qabbalah


New History of Jewish Kabbalism

The Kabbalah eroded the traditional sense of what constitutes an authoritative text in Judaism; and the conversos had formed a living conduit between the Jewish and Christian worlds. Nathan of Gaza, Abraham Miguel Cardoso, and Shabbatai Zevi, all rabbis, were in the throes of powerful ideological crises concerning the Torah.

Establishing the Christian Kabbalah, P.1: Rewriting Frances A. Yates

Between 1959 and 1964, Francis A. Yates developed her theory based on the German work by Panofsky and Sax published  in  1923, that the final period of renaissance culture should be seen in the light of what they called a ‘hermetic core’. Teaching a class on this in 1959 and 1960 she drew the attention of both upcoming academics plus authors during the New Age fashion shortly thereafter invigorated by musical called ‘Hair’. This second style of books however drew less from Yates then they did from the invented tradition earlier proposed in books like Madame Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled. And in the wake of the Da Vinci Code success it is the second genre, evidenced by for example  evidenced by a book released last week, end Mai 2004 ‘Talisman’ by Hancock/Bauval plus several others to come. This makes it appropriate to start this fourth of our five part ‘Esoterica 2004’ by also correcting the outdated Yates thesis.

Establishing the Christian Kabbalah, P.3: F.M. van Helmont

An influence of Lurian Kabbalism also took place via Henry More and Francis Mercurius van Helmont. In this context a little known episode is worthy of telling in some detail, and hereby also present a brief overview of philosemitism during the Reformationi. It involves the Kabbala Denudate and the conversion from a Christian named Johann Peter Spath (Speath), taking on the name Moses Germanus, as a reaction against Helmont’s kabbalistic philosophy.

Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch

The Solomon Key of Eliphas Lévi

Eliphas Lévi was also the first to separate the pentagram into good and evil applications.He incorporated a goat headed Baphomet of the  Knights Templar according to him, into the inverted pentagram attributing the qualities of evil to the  symbol that later became the Tarot card for the Devil.

While somnambulist ventures like the Course in Miracles have been well researched, having brought a Oct 18, 2007 blog entry to our attention, this is not yet the case with the equally ‘channeled’ Seth Material. We today start with an older encounter, of a seer named Emanuel Swedenborg. Esoteric New Religions P.1.


The Key of Solomon P.1:

Most of the ‘The Key of Solomon’, also known as Liber Clavicula Salominis, is a translation of material on magic from Christian sources. Of course there was also The Sworn Book of Honorius the Magician. The Making of Witchcraft.

The Key of Solomon P.2:

It was only with The True Christian Religion (1771), that the occult tradition found it's recognised place in Europe and beyond. Occult Science.

The Key of Solomon P.3:

American dynamism produced a sort of home-grown Swedenborgian called Transcendentalism, that was all about the correspondences in Nature, and Neoplatonic notions of the human spirit ascending through the heavenly spheres to unite with the 'Over-Soul, within which every man's particular being is contained'. Magical Revival.


Conspiracy Theories P.1

A conspiracist worldview implies a universe governed by design rather than by randomness.  The emphasis on design manifests itself in approximately three principles that can be found in virtually every conspiracy theory: Nothing happens bro accident.


Conspiracy Theories P.2

The September 12, 2001, issue of the London Daily Mail carried a onward headline: "Apocalypse." - Christian evangelicals were not the only ones seeking the hidden significance of September 11, the same was true for devotees of esoteric knowledge.



Conspiracy Questions or Answers? (on a lighter note)

Chandra Levy Case, SARS, Hutton Inquiry, Man in the Iron Mask, Murder of Rudolph Hess, J.F.K. Assassination, The Pentagon, Bilderberger, UFO Abductions; Roswell UFO, Oklahoma Bombing, 9/11.

Just like it is difficult the pin a specific generic name on esoteric tradition and neo-New Age groups today plus related authors, the same is with W.D.Pelley and his Fascist Silver Shirts. The Rise and Fall of the Silver Shirts.

auf Deutsch Towards "a Sociology of Conspiracy Theories" P.1

Traveling two days ago from Amsterdam to Nice and early last night via airplane to Muenich, I noticed various articles published in the popular media the last few days about conspiracy theories, from 9/11 to a "letter from Princess Diana. About ten days ago I spoke in Antwerp about the blood of Christ, Grail, and due to Q/A’s, the Jewish conspiracy myths.

auf Deutsch Towards "a Sociology of Conspiracy Theories" P.2

When as an eight year old child was living 24 km north of Antwerp, someone told me the "Liberalists" in Belgium were controlled by Freemasons.

auf Deutsch Towards "a Sociology of Conspiracy Theories" P.3

Gerald L. Posner in his 2003 book "Why America Slept" correctly suggests that from today’s perspective we have to say that there is an interchangeable overlap between right and left conspiracy theories.

Neoplatonism, Philology and Nationalism

Geschichtliche Entwicklung des Ariermythos

Including sex magic, the Aryan Race, and more-- we investigated: The True Story Behind "The Aquarian Gospel" Movie:


Conspiracy Theories

While on the subject of New Religious Movements and Self Help Books this month, today:  From Invented Witchcraft To The Carlos Castaneda's legacy.

Initially a graduate of Jacques Dalcroz’s who developed his Eurythmics in connection with the Rousseau Institute, following her study in Ascona --Mary Wigman became a leading expressionist dancer. The Monte Verita experiment also paralleled Rudolf Steiner who called his own reinvention, Eurythmiy, German "Eurythmie" (at what is now called the Goetheanum)—and  Isadora Duncan’s dance based on Greek classical art. A leading light of ‘Modern Dance’ Mary Wigman however, became the most influencing European Choreographer of her time. The 'Werdegang' of Mary Wigman:

The 'Werdegang' of Mary Wigman P.2:

Dubbed 'The Fastest Growing Religion in the World', the President of the Mormon Church Died Today. Exclusive: Inventing The Mormon Tradition.

Major Case Study: Paganism and Early Christianity in N. Europe P.2.

As a prime example of "new thought," The Power of Positive Thinking (1952) sold 2 million copies within just a few years. The Positive Thinking Movement P.2.

Following a fairly well researched although overly romantic, book by Erik Sablé, about "Robert Nicolas Maximilian Von Ungern-Sternberg" following an independant Dec. 2007 German publication --Nation Europe next titles Ungern: “The Murdered Hopeful.” Case Study - Ungern, Alleged Asgaard Warrior P.1: The Revolution.

Self Help Books as Popular Culture: Introduction. 

Self Help Books as Popular Culture P.1.

Self Help Books as Popular Culture P.2.





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