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

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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Albertus Magnus

(2,962 words)

Author(s): Fanger, Claire
Magnus, Albertus, * ca. 1200 (near Lauingen), † 15 Jan 1280 (Cologne) 1. Life German philosopher and theologian, one of the most influential Aristotelian [→ Aristotelianism] synthesizers of the 13th century, Dominican friar, teacher of Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274). Albert was born into a Swabian family of knights and joined the Dominican order when he was a student at Padua, receiving the habit from Jordan of Saxony in 1223. It seems likely that he was sent to Cologne to make his novitiate and study theology from the local lector. Later, probably in the early 1240s, he was sent to…


(36,686 words)

Author(s): Principe, Lawrence M. | Haage, Bernard D. | Buntz, Herwig | Coudert, Allison P. | Caron, Richard
Alchemy I: Introduction Alchemy is a subject of enormous intrinsic interest but one which has long proven difficult to grasp properly. The last thirty years, however, have witnessed a remarkable florescence of scholarly work on the subject, which has shed much new light on this obscure subject and brought forth significant revisions and advances in our understanding of it. Whereas it was common just half a century ago for historians of science to dismiss alchemy out-of-hand as a “pseudo-science” or to deploy it merely as a foil against which to set the …


(9,486 words)

Author(s): Kotansky, Roy
1. Introduction Amulets (Lat. amuletum; Gk. phylaktērion) are small devices usually worn on or attached to the body for protection and a variety of other purposes. In the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly during the later Roman Empire (ca. 2nd-5th cent. C.E.), a widespread industry of amulets proliferated. Amulets were comprised largely of inscribed texts written on a number of more or less permanent media (papyrus, metal strips, semiprecious gemstones, and occasionally organic materials). The…

Andreae, Johann Valentin

(3,247 words)

Author(s): Edighoffer, Roland
Andreae, Johann Valentin, * 17 Aug 1586 (Herrenberg (Württemberg)), † 27 Jun 1654 (Stuttgart) Johann Valentin Andreae was the fifth son of a dean of the Lutheran Church. His grandfather was Jakob Andreae, Chancellor of the University of Tübingen and one of the principal authors of the Formula of Concord, which was to become the doctrinal basis of Lutheran orthodoxy. After losing his father at age 15, the young Andreae began a brilliant career as a student at Tübingen, became Magister artium in 1605, and following in his ancestors' footsteps, studied theology. During this tim…

Animal Magnetism/Mesmerism

(5,280 words)

Author(s): Meheust, Bertrand
The cultural movements covered by the terms “mesmerism” and “animal magnetism” are so complex that a long treatise would be required to cover them fully. Here we shall only outline the main cultural currents, and describe the directions they have taken in France, Germany, the British Isles, and the United States of America. 1. Franz Anton Mesmer Mesmer's major accomplishments are fairly well known. He was born on May 23, 1734 in Iznang, near Lake Constance. He studied theology and medicine, and in 1766 defended a thesis in which he asserted the influe…


(5,921 words)

Author(s): Leijenhorst, Cees
The term anthroposophy has been used by various hermetic and philosophical authors in the modern era, the earliest one being the English alchemist → Thomas Vaughan (1622-1666). In the 19th century the title was used by, among others, the philosopher Immanuel Hermann Fichte (1797-1879), son of the famous Johann Gottlob Fichte, and Robert Zimmermann (1824-1898), professor of philosophy at the university of Vienna. One of his students was → Rudolf Steiner, with whom the term anthroposophy is now us…