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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(8 words)

→ Schwaller de Lubicz, René Adolphe


(1,343 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den
The Archontics were adherents of a Christian Gnostic sect [→ Gnosticism] of the 4th century, named after the archons, the rulers of the seven heavens, who played an important role in their system. The sect is only known through the refutation by its staunch opponent from the beginning, bishop Epiphanius of Salamis ( Panarion, 40, to which the references below refer), from whom all information in later authors derives. Since it is not likely that these Gnostics called themselves after the evil planetary rulers they abhorred, their name may have bee…

Areopagite, Pseudo-Dionysius the

(8 words)

→ Dionysius Areopagita (Pseudo-)


(5,245 words)

Author(s): Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas
A dualistic-gnostic racial religion which attracted followers in Austria and Germany during the first half of the 20th century. The term “Ariosophy”, meaning esoteric wisdom of the Aryan race, was first coined by → Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels in 1915. He earlier used the terms “theozoology” and “Ario-Christianity” and founded the Ordo Novi Templi (ONT) at Vienna in 1900 as a Christian gnostic order to celebrate an Aryan cult of pure race. → Guido von List, whose ideas on the occult heritage of the …


(3,407 words)

Author(s): Leijenhorst, Cees
From the second half of the 12th century the Latin West witnessed an enormous wave of translations of Aristotle's works from Arabic and Greek, which reached its peak around the middle of the 13th century with William of Moerbeke. As a consequence, philosophers and theologians were faced with the formidable task of reconciling this new influx of pagan wisdom with Christian faith. They did so in the institutional context of one of the most enduring inventions of the Middle Ages, namely the university. These new institutions developed curricula dominated by the Corpus Aristotelicum. Just …


(5 words)

→ Number Symbolism

Arnau de Vilanova

(1,365 words)

Author(s): Calvet, Antoine
de Vilanova, Arnau, * ca. 1240 (Daroca (Lower Aragon)), † 6 Sep 1311 (Genoa) Vilanova was one of the most extraordinary figures of the Latin Middle Ages. Many questions on his personality remain unanswered even today, so much has legend and hearsay intermingled with reality. Arnau de Vilanova was born in Lower Aragon toward 1240. He became a Master of medicine and married in the 1260s. He then entered into the service of Peter III of Aragon as a doctor. During his years of intellectual formation, he took cour…

Arnold, Gottfried

(1,793 words)

Author(s): Deghaye, Pierre
Arnold, Gottfried, * 1666 (Annaberg (Saxony)), † 1714 (Perleberg (Brandenburg)) Arnold studied theology in Wittenberg and afterwards worked as a private tutor in Dresden. In 1697 he became professor at the University of Giessen, where he stayed only one year. He then tutored in Quedlinburg (Saxony). From 1701 until his death, he exercised the pastoral ministry. Arnold died as a church inspector, but his work as a historian of Christianity has made him a major figure of German → pietism. Arnold long hesitated about becoming a pastor, because he was reluctant to swear on the …

Ashmole, Elias

(1,057 words)

Author(s): Godwin, Joscelyn
Ashmole, Elias, * 23 May 1617 (Lichfield), † 18/19 May 1692 (Lambeth) Antiquary. Son of Simon Ashmole, a saddler and soldier, and Anne Bowyer. Educated at Lichfield Grammar School, then privately in London, where he qualified as an attorney (1640). After the sudden death of his first wife, Eleanor Manwaring (1603-1641) and the growing threats of civil war, he left London for Cheshire, the home of his in-laws. In 1644 Ashmole was appointed an army officer and Commissioner of Excise (taxes and customs collect…

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 …


(25,236 words)

Author(s): Bara, Joelle-Frédérique | Stuckrad, Kocku von | Faracovi, Ornella Pompeo | Hammer, Olav
Astrology I: Introduction Astrology presupposes a relation between the positions and movements of the planets, stars and celestial orbs and zones on the one hand, and earthly events and/or human life on the other, and claims to explain this relation and predict future events in terms of the properties and relative positions of these heavenly agents. The most general idea behind this is expressed in the Emerald Tablet as “as above, so below”. The questions why such a relation should exist, how it works, how we can know it, and of what use it might be to human beings h…


(877 words)

Author(s): Bee, Guido
The Audians were adherents of a Christian sect, which flourished in the 4th century. Only a limited historical and geographical account of their activities can be gleaned from typically marginal references in the available sources (detailed survey in Puech 910/911). The scantness of concrete information is already apparent in the varying names for the group (Gk. Audianoi, Odianoi; Lat. Haeresis Audiana) as well as their founder (Gk. Audios, Audaios; Lat. Audeus; Syr. Audi, Odi). Moreover, no original documents of the Audians have survived. All information about the s…


(845 words)

Author(s): Oort, Johannes van
Augustine, (Augustinus of Hippo), * 13 Jan 354 (Thagaste), † 28 08 430 (Hippo Regius) Life and work of Augustinus of Hippo, the most influential Father of the Catholic Church in the West, were inextricably connected with the gnosis of → Manichaeism. In 373, as a young student of rhetoric in Carthage, he made his sudden change to the “religion of Light”, which at that time was very attractive to intellectual circles both in Roman North Africa and, for example, Italy. From his nineteenth up to and even beyond his twenty-eighth year, Augustinus was a Manichaean Hearer ( auditor). In the writing…

Auvergne, William of

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→ William of Auvergne