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

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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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(1,623 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Papus, (ps. of Gérard-Anaclet-Vincent Encausse), * 13 Jul 1865 (La Corogne (Spain)), † 25 Jan 1916 (Paris) His father Louis, a self-taught man originally from the South of France, had married a Spanish woman, Iñes Perrez-Vierra, and at the time of Gérard's birth was trying to sell a medical apparatus of his own invention to the physicians of the Basque region: the “Encausse Generator”, a bath allowing the cutaneous absorption of medicaments. A lack of success impelled Encausse Sr. to settle in Paris, near Montma…


(5,280 words)

Author(s): Moran, Bruce T.
Treating Paracelsianism as a set of ideas or as an intellectual tradition in some way linked to the thinking of → Paracelsus presupposes a non-existent conformity of opinion about what those ideas actually are and about the extent to which Paracelsus himself can be considered the legitimate author of them. Recent commentators have observed the frequency with which Paracelsus expropriated notions found in earlier authors and have discerned both medieval and Renaissance traditions represented in “…


(7,500 words)

Author(s): Benzenhöfer, Udo | Gantenbein, Urs Leo
Paracelsus (ps. of Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim), * 1493 or 1494 (Einsiedeln), † 24 Sep 1541 (Salzburg) 1. Life Paracelsus was the son of the physician Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim and an unnamed bondswoman of Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland. The meaning of the name “Paracelsus”, first attributed in the 1520s, is not certain, but could have arisen through the Latinisation of “Hohenheim”; the sense of “beyond or surpassing Celsus” is unlikely. About 1502 Paracelsus moved with his father to Villach (Carinthia…

Pasqually, Martines de

(4,201 words)

Author(s): Var, Jean-François
Pasqually, Martines de, * 1709 or 1726 / 1727 (Grenoble), † 20/21 Sep 1774 (Port-au-Prince) It has been well said of Martines de Pasqually that he was a “living enigma”. The mystery begins with his surname. Gérard van Rijnberk, in his work on Pasqually, takes two pages (I, 14-15) to list the variations of his name, whose diversity far exceeds the loose orthography of the time (it was only at the French Revolution that the registration of names was normalized and fixed). However, from comparison of official doc…

Patrizi, Francesco

(1,771 words)

Author(s): Brach, Jean-Pierre
Patrizi, Francesco (Frane Petric'), * 25 04 1529 (Cherso d'Istria), † 6 02 1597 (Rome) An original case of a (partly self-taught) scholar, with an unconventional career and adventurous existence, Patrizi was born in the borderland between the Venetian Republic and what would nowadays be Croatia. During the first half of the 1550s, he studied at Ingolstadt and Padua and probably became acquainted there with both the peripatetic and neoplatonic philosophical traditions, including the writings of → Ficino. The en…

Péladan, Joseph-Aimé (Joséphin)

(785 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Péladan, Joseph-Aimé (Joséphin), 28 Mar 1858 (Lyon (Rhône)), † 27 Jun 1918 (Neuilly-sur-Seine) Descending from a Protestant family of the Cévennes that had converted to Catholicism, Joséphin grew up in Lyons in the zealous atmosphere of recent converts. His father, Louis-Adrien (1815-1890) was a publicist in the legitimist newspapers, specializing in the interpretation of prophecies that linked the return of the king, the Grand Monarque, to the secret of the end of time. His writing of a rejoinder to Renan's (1823-1893) Life of Jesus earned him a papal decoration and the right…


(987 words)

Author(s): Löhr, Winrich A.
The Perates are a gnostic group whose name is first mentioned by → Clement of Alexandria ( Stromateis, VII, 108, 2). Hippolytus identifies two otherwise unknown persons as their founders ( Refutatio, V, 13, 9): Akembes (IV, 2, 1; Kelbes: V, 13, 9; Ademes: X, 10, 1), who is called ho Karystios (Karystos is a town in Euboia), and Euphrates, who is called ho Peratikos (also mentioned by Origen, Contra Celsum VI, 28 as a teacher of the → Ophites). Clement opines that the name Perates is derived from their place of origin. Different suggestions have been discussed: Eub…

Pernety, Antoine-Joseph

(1,945 words)

Author(s): Snoek, Jan A.M.
Pernety, Dom Antoine-Joseph, * 13 Feb 1716 (Roanne), † 16 Jan 1796 (Paris) Little is known about Pernety's early life. In 1732 he entered the Benedictine Order, and from 1746 onwards he lived in the monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris. His first publication, a translation of a German book on mathematics, appeared in 1743. It was followed shortly after by some pious treatises, including a Manuel bénédictin (1755, containing a.o. a commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict), and a Dictionnaire portatif de peinture, de sculpture et de gravure (Portable Dictionary of Painting, Sc…

Pessoa, Fernando

(1,403 words)

Author(s): Binet, Ana Maria
Pessoa, Fernando, * 13 Jun 1888 (Lisbon), † 30 Jan 1935 (Lisbon) Portuguese poet and esotericist. After the death of his father when he was five years old, Pessoa's mother took him with her to Durban, South Africa, where she settled with her new husband, the Portuguese Consul of that town. After high school, Pessoa returned to Portugal, where he soon began to work as a commercial correspondent in English and French. He became involved in the Portuguese modernist literary movement, publishing a considerable …

Peter of Abano

(2,764 words)

Author(s): Vescovini, Graziella Federici
Peter of Abano (Pietro de Sclavione), * ca. 1250 (Padua), † after 1315 (place unknown) Pietro de Sclavione, son of Costanzo de Sclavione, Notary of the Seal of the Commune of Padua, was born circa 1250. Nothing of him is known after 1315. His fame as a physician and astrologer alternates between fact and legend. The legendary part is due to authors of the 15th-17th century (→ Agrippa, → Trithemius, Gianfrancesco Pico, → Symphorien Champier, and others), who created a false image of him as a magus and necromanc…

Petric', Frane

(6 words)

→ Patrizi, Francesco