Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism

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

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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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Hahn, Michael

(1,063 words)

Author(s): Fabry, Jacques
Hahn, Michael, * 2 Feb 1758 (Altdorf), † 20 Jan 1819 (Sindlingen) Hahn came from a family of Pietists [→ Pietism]. He felt the presence of God within him as early as the age of twelve. Toward 1777, he received the grace of an illumination that he himself called a Zentralschau (Central Vision). He compensated for a neglected education by much reading. In 1784, a second illumination confirmed him in his desire to center his whole life on God and to preach his kingdom. Through his zeal and piety, he attracted to himself crowds of believers eager to hear him. His disciples, the Michelianer, would end…

Halatophilus Irenaeus

(7 words)

→ Oetinger, Friedrich Christoph

Hall, Manly Palmer

(942 words)

Author(s): Godwin, Joscelyn
Hall, Manly Palmer, * 18 Mar 1901 (Peterborough), Ontario, † 29 Aug 1990 (Los Angeles) Writer, Collector, Lecturer. Hall was raised by his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Arthur Whitney Palmer, and spent a wandering childhood in San Diego, Washington, New York, Sioux Falls, and other cities of the United States. Apart from a short spell at a military school, he was without formal education. In California he came under the influence of the → Theosophical Society. He began his public career in 1920 in Santa Monica, g…

Hamvas, Béla

(1,209 words)

Author(s): Szőnyi, György E.
Hamvas, Béla, * 23 Mar 1897 (Eperjes (today Presov in Slovakia)), † 7 Jan 1968 (Budapest) Hungarian philosopher, and one of the most comprehensive gnostic thinkers of the 20th century. Hamvas was born in a family of Lutheran pastors serving in Upper Hungary, today's Slovakia. After World War I the family moved to Budapest, where Hamvas studied classical languages, read German and Hungarian at the university, and received his MA in 1923. He started working as a journalist, but soon settled as a librarian at the …

Hartmann, Franz

(1,175 words)

Author(s): Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas
Hartmann, Franz, * 22 Jan 1838 (Donauwörth), † 7 Aug 1912 (Kempten) German physician, author, and leading German Theosophist. Hartmann first worked as a pharmacy assistant in Kempten. In 1859 he was enlisted as a volunteer in the 1st Artillery Regiment of Bavaria during the Austrian-Italian War. In 1860 he commenced studies in pharmacy (receiving his state qualification in 1862) and medicine at Munich University. In July 1865 he took passage as a ship's doctor on a vessel bound from Le Havre to New York and…

Haslmayr, Adam

(1,304 words)

Author(s): Edighoffer, Roland
Haslmayr (or Haselmayer), Adam, * ca. 1560 (Bolzano), † 1630 (Augsburg) (?) Haslmayr was born around 1560 in Bolzano, South Tyrol. By 1588 he was the organist in a Cordelier convent, while teaching Latin and fulfilling the duties of an imperial secretary ( Notarius Caesareus). In 1593, Archduke Ferdinand of the Tyrol granted him a patent of nobility. According to Haslmayr's own account, in the following year he began to discover the works of → Paracelsus. It was the latter's belief that God reveals himself to mankind both through his Word…

Haugwitz, Christian Heinrich

(1,101 words)

Author(s): Dachez, Roger
Haugwitz, Christian (August?) (Karl?) Heinrich (Curt?), * 11 Jun 1752 (Peucke bei Oels) (?), † 9 Feb 1832 (Venice) (?) Christian Karl Heinrich, first Baron (Freiherr) and later Count (Graf) of Haugwitz, is known as a statesman whose political career with the Prussian government in Berlin culminated in his becoming President of the Province of Silesia, Ambassador to Vienna, then, in 1791, Minister of State and member of the Cabinet. Simultaneously, he played an active and lifelong role in the world of European → Fre…

Heindel, Max

(1,522 words)

Author(s): Hakl, Hans Thomas
Heindel, Max (ps. of Carl Louis Fredrik Grasshof), * 23 Jul 1865 (Aarhus (Denmark)), † 6 Jan 1919 (Oceanside (California)) According to the biography written by his second wife Frau Augusta Foss, née Voß (1865-1949) which has been taken over by almost all later authors, Heindel was a member of the aristocracy. However, according to the church register and the baptismal certificate issued at Aarhus on 15.10.1865, Heindel was the son of an immigrant baker from Germany, Frantz Ludvig Grasshof and his Danish wife, Anne…

Helmont, Franciscus Mercurius van

(3,516 words)

Author(s): Coudert, Allison P.
Helmont, Franciscus Mercurius van, * 20 Jan 1614 (Vilvorde), † Jan 1698 (Ter Borg) Son of → Joan Baptista van Helmont. Adviser to Prince Karl Ludwig, Elector of the Palatine (1617-1680), and Prince Christian August of Sulzbach (1622-1708). Granted patent of nobility and title of Baron by Emperor Leopold I for conciliation efforts among German princes. Imprisoned by the Roman Inquisition on the charge of “Judaizing” (1661-1663), but freed on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Famous as an alchemist, Kabbali…

Helmont, Joan Baptista van

(4,651 words)

Author(s): Roodnat, Albert
Helmont, Joan Baptista van, * 12 Jan 1579 (Brussels), † 30 Jan 1644 (Brussels) 1. Life Joan Baptista van Helmont was the youngest child of Marie de Stassart and Christian van Helmont, who died one year after his son's birth. Van Helmont's education was considered of prime importance. At an early age he began his studies in philosophy and classics at the University of Leuven, but both the academic climate and the subjects taught left him deeply disappointed. Frustrated, he turned to astronomy, algebra and Euclid…

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 Brotherhood of Luxor

(832 words)

Author(s): Deveney, John Patrick
A short-lived secret organization devoted to practical occult work, active in England, France and the United States in the mid-1880s but possessing an influence far greater than its size and duration might suggest. It came to public notice in late 1884 in the form of a notice appended to Robert H. Fryar's republication of The Divine Pymander, that advised searchers after the truth and Theosophists disillusioned with “Hindoo Mahatmas'” willingness to dispense wisdom, to contact “Theon” in care of Fryar. The public propaganda continued in the pages of a journal published by the order, The …

Hermeticism and Hermetic Societies

(6,259 words)

Author(s): Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas
1. Hermeticism By the 18th century, Hermeticism had expanded well beyond its Renaissance focus on → Hermes Trismegistus and his revelation of a prisca theologia [→ Tradition]. Contemporary interest in encyclopaedias, universal histories, and comparative mythology created an eclectic current in which “Hermetic” denoted a wider field including → Egyptomany, Orphic mysteries, Pythagoreanism, Kabbalah [→ Jewish Influences], → Paracelsianism, → alchemy, and → Rosicrucianism. Several Enlightenment historians included an acco…

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 …

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

(5,369 words)

Author(s): Gilbert, Robert A.
The foremost esoteric, and later magical, initiatic Order of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was founded in March 1888 but its roots lie in the plethora of fringe masonic Orders and quasi-masonic societies that flourished from the 1860s onwards. Both the administrative structure of the Order and the form of its ceremonies were masonic, but the symbolism and doctrinal content of the rituals were drawn almost exclusively from Western esoteric sources, and in its essentials the Golden Da…

Hermetic Society

(8 words)

→ Hermeticism and Hermetic Societies


(10,432 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den
1. The Unity of the Universe The term “Hermetism” is used here to indicate the specific religious worldview of the so-called philosophical Hermetica [→ Hermetic Literature I]. Its most characteristic feature is the idea of an indissoluble interrelationship between God, the cosmos and man, which implies the unity of the universe. Its final aim is to lead its adepts to the worship of the supreme God as the source of being and eventually to union with him. However, the hermetic writings show a great dive…

Heydon, John

(661 words)

Author(s): Willard, Thomas
Heydon, John (Eugenius Theodidactus), * 1626 (England), † ca. 1665 (London)? Under this name, some of the most luminous prose of late Renaissance Hermeticism was published. Passages worthy of English writers like → Elias Ashmole, → Francis Bacon, → Henry More, Walter Raleigh, and → Thomas Vaughan and of Continental masters like → Agrippa, → Ficino, → Paracelsus, and even → Hermes Trismegistus appeared under Heydon's name or his pseudonym Eugenius Theodidactus (i.e., a gentleman taught by God) between 1655 …