Summer time has been upon me and Heterodoxology has been dead silent for a while. Unfortunately, when I look at the pile of things to do these coming months I fear it may stay that way. This is nevertheless an honest attempt at getting things rolling again. I’ll just kick off with some whimsically chosen (perhaps relevant) news:
First off, Aries 10.2 has just been published. This time it features articles by some established and senior specialists in the field of esotericism. Two of them consists the ongoing theoretical discussions in the field, and the uses of history for looking at the emergence of the term and its use. My supervisor Wouter J. Hanegraaff presents his developing thesis on “The Birth of Esotericism form the Spirit of Protestantism”, which argues that “esotericism” as a category (i.e. not to be confused with the various things usually contained by that category, nor the actual word) is the product of a highly polemical protestant discourse in 17th century Germany.
Interestingly, Hanegraaff’s article is followed by Monika Neugebauer-Wölk’s contribution (“Der Esoteriker und die Esoterik: Wie das Esoterische im 18. Jahrhundert zum Begriff wird und seinen Weg in die Moderne findet”), which documents a new early occurrence of the words “esotericist” and “esotericism” (“Esoteriker”, “Esoterik”), in 18th century Germany. This forces us to rewrite the early history of the use of this term, since:
The standard view in the study of esotericism, according to which the term esotericism first appeared in Jacques Matter’s study of gnosticism of 1828, must therefore be revised: the concept Esoterik was born in the Late Enlightenment, not in the 19th century.
Additionally, Stephen Clucas writes about “Pythagorean Number Symbolism, Alchemy, and the Disciplina Noua of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica”; my colleague down the hall Peter J. Forshaw has an article on “Oratorium—Auditorium—Laboratorium: Early Modern Improvisations on Cabala, Music, and Alchemy”; and Gérard Gendet writes about “A Jesus Figure in Christian Theosophy at the End of the Eighteenth Century: The Treatise on the Two Natures, by Jean-Baptiste Willermoz”.
In the reviews section, there is my own review of Dave Evans’ History of British Magic after Crowley (2007; which I might post here in its entirety later), and my good friend and colleague Kennet Granholm’s review of Henry Bogdan, Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation (2007). There are also two notable reviews by senior specialists in the field, namely Antoine Faivre’s review of the latest English language introduction to the field (Goodrick-Clarke, Western Esoteric Traditions: An Introduction, 2008), and Arthur Versluis’ review of the important anthology Polemical Encounters: Western Esotericism and Its Others (2007), edited by Olav Hammer and Kocku von Stuckrad.
That was Aries for now. In other news, I am getting ready for departure for Toronto in a couple of weeks, where Tessel Bauduin and I will host a panel on Seduced by Science: The culture of science and religion in the early 20th century at the IAHR world congress. An update on the papers and speakers will follow shortly.
Finally, Heterodoxology has been invited by Thony C over at the Renaissance Mathematicus to host an issue of the monthly history of science blog carnival, The Giant’s Shoulders. That’s an honour, and we are now scheduled for November 2010. It was also a reminder to add Giant’s Shoulders to the blog roll. Done.