Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism

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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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Poiret, Pierre

(806 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Poiret, Pierre, * 1646 (Metz), † 21 May 1719 (Rheynsburg) Known as a “Quietist” mystic, Poiret drew upon the theosophy of → Boehme more explicitly than either of the other major figures of this movement, Guyon and → Bourignon, whose works he was instrumental in publishing. Poiret was a Calvinist pastor who preached in Heidelberg until he was converted to the → mysticism of Tauler by Bourignon, and was persecuted by local church officials. By 1676, he was forced to live in Amsterdam, where he met → Johann Gichtel, the “hermit of Amsterdam” and founder of the Engelsbrüder, or angelic brethren…

Politics and Esotericism

(2,318 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
The difficulties inherent in the potentially unlimited field of politics, combined with the complexity of the definition of → esotericism, requires a definition of the method of approach used here. It includes both a reflection on institutions from the point of view of political philosophy, which opens up the question of the legal status of esoteric groups, and an anthropology of politics including its fields of representation and their variations in space and time. Another serious difficulty li…

Pordage, John

(3,244 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Pordage, John, * 1607 / 1608 (London), † 10 Jan 1681 (London) The son of a London merchant, Pordage was born in 1607 or 1608 and entered Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1623. It is possible that he obtained a diploma of doctor of medicine at Oxford in 1640, but some scholars doubt this (Hutin 1960, 82). In any case, he was not destined to practice medicine, but to be an exemplar of homo religiosus. Pordage entered the order of the Anglican Church and was made vicar of the church of St Lawrence's at Reading in 1644. Soon, under the auspices of → Elias Ashmole, he was mad…

Postel, Guillaume

(3,521 words)

Author(s): Brach, Jean-Pierre
Postel, Guillaume, * 1510 (La Dolerie), † 6 Sep 1581 (Paris) Born in Normandy, to a family of humble tillermen, he came to Paris early at his parents' death. Moved by a passionate desire to acquire instruction and learning, he began by mainly teaching himself in the Liberal Arts and oriental languages, while attending lessons at the Colleges of Sainte Barbe and Cardinal Lemoine; working there as a servant to pay for his education, he is likely to have met some of the foremost representatives of the so-called “Pré-Réforme catholique”, who were precisely teaching at these schools, the milieu o…


(9 words)

→ Hymns and Prayers (Gnostic and Hermetic)


(957 words)

Author(s): Broek, Roelof van den
Prodicus, 2nd cent. Prodicus was a Gnostic teacher [→ Gnosticism] of whose life nothing is known. → Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, who are our primary sources (both about 200 A.D.), almost exclusively speak about the ‘followers of Prodicus’, and when they mention his name it is only as the representative of the movement that was called after him. This might be an indication that Prodicus was not their contemporary but that he had lived earlier in the 2nd century. According to Clement, Stromateis, III, 30, 1 and VII, 41, 3, the followers of Prodicus called themselves “Gn…

Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita

(7 words)

→ Dionysius Areopagita, Pseudo-