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The esoteric traditions of the West: part IV: Gnosticism

As most articles about the subject, I will start to say that “Gnosis” (say, “no sis” as if your little sister is not allowed to do something) is a Greek word meaning “opinion”, “view”, knowledge”. Most of the time the word is used for deep, ‘direct’ knowledge as in a revelation. However the word “Gnosis” can therefor be used in all times and for every tradition, it is mostly known for a pre-Christian movement that has also existed after the start of our counting of years. It is this movement or tradition that I will speak about in this article. Nowadays it is mostly recognised that the gnostic movement came forth from the Jewish mystery-tradition a few hundred years BC. This does not fully explain the many different kinds of Gnosticism though. Some seem more aligned with the Egyptian tradition, which of course may give you the idea that I… Read More »The esoteric traditions of the West: part IV: Gnosticism

The esoteric traditions of the West: part V: Kabbalah

In the article about Alchemy I wrote that the upcoming religion of the Islam brought a saveguard for many western occultist that had to flee the rage of Christianity. After the destruction of Alexandria and in particular it’s libraries, many alchemists, hermeticists, gnostics, Jews, etc. fled to the regions where soon the prophet Mohammed would start his quest. The ‘pre-Muslims’ and later the Muslims treated the immigrants with respect and both parties learned a lot from eachother. When the Muslims reigned southern Europe a fruitfull environment for mysticism and occultism existed in Spain. Muslims brought alchemical and hermetic texts that had come to them by the fleeing occultists of 1000 years earlier and translated them (back) in western languages. There were also many Jews in Spain and the Jewish alchemist Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204 better known as Maimonides) compiled the text that we now know as the Mishnàh. This word… Read More »The esoteric traditions of the West: part V: Kabbalah

Etz chayyim

Some searchengines give up highly of Sententia (note 17/5/07, “Sententia” was the name of my website ‘two names back’) when you search for “Kabbalah”, but so far there isn’t more about the subject than one book review. I have read various books about the subject in my time, but I definately don’t regard myself an expert. As a matter of fact, there is more that I don’t understand than what I do. Somehow Kabbalism keeps tickling my imagination, so I am again reading a book about it, called The Secret Doctrine Of The Kabbalah by Leonora Leet. In this article I want to tell a few things about the Etz Chayyim or Tree Of Life. “Etz Chayyim” is actually the title of the 1959 book by Vital Chayyim (“vital life”?) and is quoted often in Leet’s book. I will start with a version of the tree of life with which… Read More »Etz chayyim

Christian Cabala

a word of advice: you may want to read my articles about “the philosophical renaissance in italy” and “the occult renaissance” first to put things in a wider perspective and for background information. also i have more articles about the jewish kabbalah which you may want to read first. Never had I consulted so much literature for one article. First I thought that there was hardly any information about the Christian Cabala, but digging deeper I found out that there is quite some literature about the subject. Often as a (small) part of another investigation (such as Renaissance magic or Jewish Kabbala) but also as a separate subject. Unfortunately these books are not always too good and mostly virtually unavailable. Most literature I had to get from different libraries throughout the country and of course the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam. At the bottom of this article you will find… Read More »Christian Cabala

Angel magic

a word of advice: you may want to read my articles about “the philosophical renaissance in italy”, “the occult renaissance” and “the christian cabala” first to put things in a wider perspective and for background information. also i have more articles about the kabbalah which you may want to read first. In my article about the Occult Renaissance I spoke about angel magic in the short pieces about Johannes Trithemius and John Dee. I wanted a deeper investigation of the subject to place these two in a wider context. The subject of angel magic proved to be more complicated than I thought. There seems to be a tradition, but on the other hand, many things seem to stand on their own and however there must be an ongoing tradition from times long past onward, there are gaps in the history as it came to us. Of course more recent happenings… Read More »Angel magic

Le Compagnonnage

Some of you may have read my book review of René Guénon’s Aperçus sur l’Initiation (“Perspectives on Initiation”) in which I wrote about Guénon’s opinion that there are only two authentic initiative orders in the west: Freemasonry and the Compagnonnage. It was not the first time that I heard about the Compagnonnage, but I never really gave it a second thought. Since I didn’t know what it was exactly, I couldn’t remember the name of this group, so in the end I looked around a bit to get a better idea. It is a not too well known esoteric movement it seems! It is closely related to Freemasonry (as I expected), but almost exclusively French. This is the reason that I hardly found any texts about it in English and all but one who are, are only short mentions of the Compagnonnage in articles about Freemasonry. So, I have tested… Read More »Le Compagnonnage

Traditionalism

Modern civilization appears in history as a veritable anomaly: of all known civilizations, it is the only one to have developed in a purely material direction, and the only one not based on any principle of a higher order. This is how the English translation of René Guénon’s book Symbols Of Sacred Science opens. This is why the famous Traditionalist book titles are The Crisis Of The Modern World (Guénon), Revolt Against The Modern World (Evola) and Against The Modern World (Sedgwick). Modern society develops towards an a-religious world, purely material and without Tradition. “Traditionalism” is a current that nowadays seems to enjoy a growing attention, ‘even’ from the scholarly world. I read ‘Traditionalist’ books in the past without really understanding the background. Now Traditionalism is smacked around my ears so frequently that it was impossible to no longer pay attention. “Did any of you read the works of the… Read More »Traditionalism

Asatru and Hinduism

Often there is spoken about the fact that Asatru and Hinduism are family religions in the ‘Indo-European branch’. The prechristian religion of Northern Europe that is now often called “Asatru” (“true to the Aesir”) has a broken link with the past and limited information about the religion, worldview, practises, mythology, etc. is available. The fact that Hinduism is the oldest still living Indo-European religion and also the best documented has lead people to conclude that the study of Hinduism can shed light on -for example- the prechristian religion of Northern Europe. I share this opinion. More even, I wouldn’t limit myself to the Indo-European family, since I agree on many points with so-called “Traditionalists” who think that there is one source. I find it strange that (as far as I know) there is no “Traditionalist” writing about Asatru, no work that compares the prechristian Northern European myths and religion with… Read More »Asatru and Hinduism

Christian mysticism

A while ago I noticed a book in Dutch called Laat Heb Ik Je Lief Gehad – Christelijke Mystiek van Jezus tot nu by Boris Todoroff (2002 Davidsfonds – isbn 9058261832). The title means “late have i loved you – Christian mysticism from Jesus to the present day”. The first is a quote from Augustine (see later), but the Dutch version is more beautiful. “Liefhebben” is in a way the same as “houden van”, but not exactly. In English I don’t know of another expression than “to love”. “Je”/”you” refers to “God”. Another note about my native language though. “Je” is for people ‘on the same plane’, “U” you say against ‘higher’ people or strangers. It is notable that Augustine chose “je”. In Latin you can see this by the way the words in a sentence ends, English -again- makes no difference. Todoroff wrote a 480 pages history of Christian… Read More »Christian mysticism

Some information about Mithraism

There is plenty information about the cult of Mithras on the internet, but I was writing this short article in Dutch anyway, so why not translate it to English and put it here as well? My aim was a very general and short article, so I do not go into things too deeply. There is no longer scientific agreement on the origin of religion of Mithras. Actually I find the term “religion” not too suitable. The cult of Mithras was more like the mysteries of Eleusis, Isis, Bachus or Cybele than a religion such as Christianity. On the other hand, Mithraism may be more of a religion than the mysteries that I named. Mithraism was an initiation cult that had its peak in the Roman empire under soldiers and tradesmen. It didn’t originate in the Roman empire though. About 100 years ago, the Belgian scholar Franz Cumont (1868-1947) was the… Read More »Some information about Mithraism