The term esotericism conjures many meanings. Lexical definitions tend to stay close to its etymological roots in the Greek esōterikos, denoting that which is within and contrasted with that which is outside (exōterikos). The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective esoteric as something “intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interests.” In current academic work, however, the noun esotericism has a more specific usage, referring to a historiographic category that covers a great variety of religious, intellectual, and artistic currents, from antiquity to the present day. In this sense, it includes, notably, the occult sciences (alchemy, astrology, and magic), hermetic and Neoplatonic cosmologies, Rosicrucian initiatory societies, aspects of Romantic Naturphilosophie, 19th-century occultism, and ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles