Hermetic Spirituality and The Historical Imagination, Altered States Of Knowledge - Wouter Hanegraaf


Conversation starts @ 5:47

Hermes Trismegistus was believed to be one of the sages of his time, and a study of his texts reveals, not a general philosophy, but a spiritual path for initiates who seek to achieve gnosis by direct acquaintance of the nature of reality as we experience it. Dr. Wouter Hanegraaff begins this analysis by guiding us into the four-core dimension of his book, Hermeticism, spirituality, historical imagination, and altered states of knowledge. All of this knowledge circulated through small groups of people beginning in the first century A.D.

Wouter explains how he landed a position as The University of Amsterdam chair of Hermeticism, and then began to “map” the field of esoterism, the two poles of his academic interests are Hermeticism and esotericism. We discuss the nature of esotericism, rejected forms of knowledge, monotheism and exclusion, the shadow of the collective, Isaac Newton’s heresy, Western exclusion, nonduality, the experiential nature of spiritual practice, Diotima - the female visionary who taught Socrates, drugs in the ancient world, The East and the irrational, academic ideological orientation to Greek as rational, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of antiquity, gender, the spiritual nature of rebirth, life and death, immortality and “The Flip,” shoutout to Miles Neale and Jeff Kripal, music and the cosmos, tones and chanting, initiation, apprenticeship, magic, therapy, and more.


Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as past President and now honorary member of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism. Alongside numerous articles, he is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden 1996/Albany 1998); Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (Tempe 2005; with Ruud M. Bouthoorn); Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on
the Secrets of Heaven (West Chester 2007); Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (Cambridge 2012); and Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (London 2013). He has (co)edited eight collective volumes, including the 1200-page Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Leiden 2005) and Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (New York 2011; with Jeffrey J. Kripal). His most recent monograph Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination: Altered States of Knowledge in Late
Antiquity is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2022. His current projects are focused on the history of consciousness in German Idealism and Romanticism, and the role of the imagination in Western culture.


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