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Occultism

(564 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
From Lat. occultus, “secret, hidden,” the term “occult” has reference to phenomena, processes, and practices in nature, the spiritual world, or the extraterrestrial sphere that point to hidden forces that escape both normal sensory observation and the knowledge that rests on it. From the end of the 19th century, the term “occultism” came into use primarily for practical or theoretical dealings with transcendental phenomena of this kind. Today it is usually related to the occult worldview that is b…

Anthroposophy

(1,001 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
T. Vaughan first introduced the term “anthroposophy” at the beginning of the 18th century in the title of a book. Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) adopted it to advance his Adyar theosophy. 1. Development Steiner was born on February 27, 1861, in Kraljevec, which was then in Austria, near the Hungarian-Croatian border. Early in life he had spiritist and occult experiences. He was also attracted by the solemnity of Roman Catholic worship and by the exact sciences. As a student of nature and literature at Vienna, he developed his ment…

Astrology

(600 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
In contrast to astronomy, which operates mechanistically, astrology rests on the conviction that the character and destiny (Fate and [Good] Fortune) of people can be decisively affected by the position of the stars at the moment of their birth. Only heavenly bodies that may be seen with the naked eye are relevant: the sun, the moon, the planets, and the “houses” to which these belong in the zodiac. Fixed stars outside the zodiac may figure in the calculations in a supplementary capacity. The demonstrable physical influence of heavenly bodies (esp. the sun) on terrestrial processes,…

Esotericism

(555 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
In antiquity the word “esoteric” was used for knowledge that was imparted only to an inner circle of fully initiated students, while “exoteric” denoted that which in principle was accessible to everybody. In a broader sense the esoteric soon became anything that is entrusted only to a select group on the basis of certain qualities. In contrast to secret societies, whose very existence is meant to be secret, such a circle is a nonsecret order or group that guards a secret. We find such circles in all cultures in the cultic field, as well as philosophical and, increasingly, political fields. Whe…

Alchemy

(669 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
Since the ninth and tenth centuries the Gk.-Arab. word alchēmeia has denoted the attempt to change base metals into silver and gold. This effort has been more than a mere curiosity in the history of science and technology, however, for in alchemy the smelting, alloying, and tinting of metals have been linked with the belief that one can help what is thought of as living nature achieve its quickest possible development and fulfillment. It was probably in Alexandria in the second century b.c. that popul…

Spiritism

(702 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
Contrasting with animism, spiritism (or spiritualism) believes that all things have spirits, or souls, that the dead and other spiritual beings have fellowship with each other, and that humans can make contact with the souls of the dead and with spiritual beings. Spiritists believe that the spirits of the dead can cause noises or make things disappear, give answers to questions about the hereafter, explore the other world, and offer information as to the future. 1. We can distinguish the various kinds of spiritism according to the media by which these messages are tran…

Mountains, Holy

(279 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] Holy mountains play a major role in many religious traditions. Little is known of the origins of this phenomenon and the real reasons for it – whether specific mountains were holy from the outset or came to be considered holy after the example of others. Apparently, though, neither Olympus, Kailas, Fuji, nor the mountains of Yahweh – not to mention the high places with sanctuaries of Canaanite and Germanic deities – owe their holiness simply to their physiogeographic features. As …

Firmicus Maternus, Julius

(173 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] Firmicus Maternus, Julius, member of a respected Sicilian family. Trained in both Latin and Greek, toward the end of this career as a lawyer c. 335 he composed the most comprehensive Latin handbook of astrology, the Matheseos libri VII (ed. Kroll-Skutsch, 1897–1913, repr. 1968; ET: Astrology Theory and Practice: Matheseos Libri VIII, 2005). He converted to Christianity, probably from philosophically excessive astral beliefs; then in De errore profanarum religionum (ed. Turcan, 1982) he was the first Christian (c. 350) to summon the emperors Consta…

Typology of Religion

(1,039 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] Typology of religion groups religions according to shared features. Unlike the phenomenology of religion, which studies variations of particular phenomena in religions, typology of religion studies religions as totalities to determine common features. I. Typical Singularities G. Mensching was one of the few notable students of religion who followed F.D.E. Schleiermacher in treating type as “ambiguous: on the one hand . . . a common feature within different religious organisms, on the other, what is ‘typically’ singular and peculiar …

Seelenvogel

(156 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[English Version] . Das flüchtige Wesen Seele wird in vielfältigen Formen bildlich dargestellt. So zeigen späte vornehmlich röm. Sarkophage, wie Prometheus (Kulturbringer/Kulturheros) den Menschen als kleine Statue formt, die Athene mit einem Schmetterling (griech. ψυχη´/psychē´) ausstattet. Häufig wird die Seele als Vogel verbildlicht. Der S. selbst jedoch entstammt altäg. Vorstellungen. In ältester Zeit galt eine storchen-, später falkengestaltige Vogelart als Verkörperung göttlicher, »ba« genannter Kräfte. Wahrscheinlich auf …

Rausch

(326 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[English Version] Rausch, religionswissenschaftlich. Unter R. wird vielfach der Zustand verstanden, den Euphorica auslösen. Dies ist irreführend, denn bei unangenehmem Set, psychomentaler Grundvoraussetzung des Konsumenten, wird nicht Euphorie, sondern werden Angstzustände (Angst) und Depressionen induziert. Deshalb empfiehlt es sich, in Religions- und Kulturgesch. unter R. gesteigerte Erregungen zu verstehen, die durch psychoaktive Drogen (neben Euphorica bes. Inebriantia, Exitantia und Halluzinog…

Religionstypologie

(917 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[English Version] Religionstypologie, religionswissenschaftlich R. faßt Rel. nach gemeinsamen Merkmalen zus. Anders als die Religionsphänomenologie Abwandlungen einzelner Phänomene in Rel. untersucht, untersucht die R. Rel. als Ganzheiten auf Gemeinsamkeiten. I. Typische Einmaligkeiten G. Mensching ist einer der wenigen namhaften Religionsforscher, für den »Typus«, auf der Linie F. Schleiermachers, »doppeldeutig ist: einerseits… ein Gemeinsames innerhalb verschiedener Religionsorganismen, andererseits aber auch das ›typisch‹ Einmali…

Foundation Deposits

(294 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] Virtually all over the world and among the most varied cultures, excavators of temples, fortifications, dikes, and other significant structures have found human and animal skeletons and vessels with vegetables, household objects, money, or decorations beneath foundations. In the case of human remains, it is often difficult to determine whether the remains simply belong to a resident who was interred there; often enough, injuries or wounds, e.g. to the skull, though also the arrangement of the ac…

Intoxication

(413 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] In religious studies, intoxication is often understood as the state that is induced through the intake of euphoric substances. This is misleading because in an unfavorable setting or basic psycho- mental disposition of the consumer, it is not euphoria but states of anxiety (Anxiety and Fear) and depression that are induced. For this reason, it is preferable, in the history of religion and culture, to define intoxication as a state of enhanced emotionality induced by psychoactive d…

Hair

(343 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] The care and style of one's hair is governed by the conventions prevailing at any one time, and a full head of hair is regarded everywhere as a sign of health, while its loss through violence or age is seen as dishonor or as powerlessness and decreasing vitality. This has resulted in hair being ascribed with a fairly constant symbolic and magical significance. As the hair (and nails) also continue growing shortly after death, they are seen as bearing the power to maintain and r…

Soul Bird

(169 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
[German Version] The fugitive soul is represented pictorially in many forms. Late, principally Roman sarcophagi depict Prometheus (Culture hero) forming a human being as a statuette, to which Athena adds a butterfly (Gk ψυχή/ psychḗ ). Frequently the soul is represented as a bird. The soul bird itself comes from ancient Egypt. In the earliest period, a bird resembling a stork, later a falcon, was considered the embodiment of divine powers called

Firmicus Maternus, Iulius

(341 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl (Bonn)
[German version] Came from a respected family, not necessarily of senatorial rank, probably from Syracuse, his later place of residence. Educated in Latin as well as Greek, he gave up work as an attorney in Rome during his work on the Matheseos libri VIII. Written between the end of AD 334 and the beginning of 337 for his friend Lollianus Mavortius, governor of Campania and proconsul of Africa, it represents the most comprehensive astrological handbook in Latin. In bk. 1, which is Neoplatonically inspired, F. defends astro…

Theosophy

(1,357 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl | Mynarek, Hubertus
In distinction from …

Firmicus Maternus, Iulius

(317 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl (Bonn)
[English version] Entstammte einer angesehenen Familie, nicht unbedingt senatorischen Ranges, wahrscheinlich aus seinem späteren Wohnort Syracus. Lat. wie griech. gebildet, gab er eine Anwaltstätigkeit in Rom während der Arbeit an den Matheseos libri VIII auf. Zwischen Ende 334 n.Chr. und Anfang 337 für seinen Freund Lollianus Mavortius, Statthalter Campaniens und Proconsul von Africa, abgefaßt, stellt es das umfangreichste astrologische Handbuch lat. Sprache dar. In dem neuplatonisch inspirierten B. 1 verteidigt F. die Astrolo…

Prostitution

(1,583 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl | Kirchhoff, Renate
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Prostitution, the “oldest profession,” is a form of surrendering one’s own body, tendentially at will, to other people for sex. It can have various motivations, but here we shall consider primarily its religious context. Sacral prostitutes, male and female, have often been associated with temples. The pheno…
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