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Author Archives: Wouter Hanegraaff

Wouter Hanegraaff

Blogger W.J. Hanegraaff

Wouter J. Hanegraaff (1961) is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam. He studied music (classical guitar) at the Municipal Conservatory of Zwolle, and Cultural History at the University of Utrecht, where he specialized in the study of alternative spiritual movements during the twentieth century. From 1992 to 1996 he did his PhD research at the Department for Study of Religion of the University of Utrecht, where he defended his dissertation cum laude in 1995. After three years of postdoctoral research and a period spent in Paris, in 1999 he was appointed full professor at the University of Amsterdam, and director of the new center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents. Since 2005 he is President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (E.S.S.W.E.), and in 2006 he was elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (K.N.A.W.). Since the mid-1990s, Hanegraaff has been active at the forefront of the academic study of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents, also known as “Western Esotericism”. His dissertation New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Brill 1996/State University of New York Press 1998) was the first study that placed contemporary “esoteric” religion in the broader context of Hermetic and related currents since the Renaissance, and is considered a standard work in the field. His monographic treatment and text edition Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & studies 2005, with R.M. Bouthoorn) is the most comprehensive study of a seminal but previously neglected Italian poet and religious philosopher, whose Crater Hermetis is among the most profound products of Renaissance Hermetism. In his recent monograph Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (Cambridge University Press 2012), Hanegraaff’s provides a history of how intellectuals and scholars since the fifteenth century have tried to come to terms with the religious, philosophical, and scientific traditions known by terms such as Hermeticism or Occult Philosophy. Hanegraaff is editor of seven collective volumes, including the 1200-page Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Brill 2005) and, most recently, a volume titled Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (Brill 2008 / Fordham University Press 2011, with J.J.Kripal). He is currently working on an introductory textbook Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum Press, forthcoming 2012).

Infinite Fire Webinar VI – The Theosophical System of Jacob Böhme

August 20th, 2013

The two previous webinars (“The Revival of Platonic Orientalism” and “The Real Hermetic Tradition”) were concerned with important forms of esoteric speculation that developed during the Renaissance in a Roman Catholic context. In all these cases, the notion of Tradition was crucial: in their search for truth, authors such as Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della […]

Infinite Fire Webinar IV – The Revival of Platonic Orientalism

February 27th, 2013

Infinite Fire Webinar IV – The Revival of Platonic Orientalism Welcome to Prof.dr. Wouter J. Hanegraaff’s first webinar in the Infinite Fire series, devoted to “The Revival of Platonic Orientalism”. Hanegraaff explains that the Hermetic philosophy of the Renaissance was part of a larger development that has had an enormous impact on early modern thought. […]

Hermetic Literature

March 30th, 2012

Last week I re-read Helmut Krausser’s novel Melodien (Melodies, 1993), and realized once again that the “hermetic” dimension of modern literature is a highly important but seriously under-investigated topic. Krausser’s book is a masterpiece of modern German literature, and as far as I’m concerned it should be on the standard reading list of anybody interested […]

Per Aspera ad Fontes

December 19th, 2011

December 16, 2011 was an important day for the study of Hermeticism and related currents. After a year of disaster, in which the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica came close to extinction, the library re-opened its doors to the public and celebrated that event with a new exhibition, Infinite Fire. It was an honour for me to […]