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This week’s interview is with the definitively pre-eminent hermetic scholar, Wouter J. Hanegraaff. Wouter outlines his pioneering path to Department Chair of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. The interview explores the 1990s milestones towards academic recognition of esoteric history and practice. While not personally a practitioner, sub rosa or otherwise, Hanegraaff warmly engages on the questions surrounding practitioner-as-scholar status.
This interview is replete with the naming of Rejected Knowledge. A Calvinist minister’s son, Wouter both respectfully and assertively notes areas of understudied “history” within Hermeticism and the Early Church. Wouter notes the unnamed role of Egyptian, Persian and North African Hermetic thinkers, and calls out the difficulty of philhellenism. He describes the “narrow bottleneck of transmission” within early conversion of hermetic texts into Christo-centered language and analogy, followed by a “millenia” of basic silence before snippets of manuscripts re-emerged in the 14th Century.
Wouter denotes several basic truths of Hermetic spirituality (not solely “philosophy”). The first theme is of “reverence” and gratitude for basic reality of Life granted to us. Another is the necessity of our self-liberation from worldly sources of addictive illusion; ignorance, not “sin”, being our behavioral obstacle to growth. Wouter describes the challenge of return to our clear, full consciousness as spiritual beings. He invites the possibility of conceptually unlearning vestigial Christocenteric dogma, into receptivity of the Source, the unknowable, and engagement with the Nous: “the total Mystery at the heart of reality”.
How does a non-practitioner find such respect for these concepts? Perhaps some hint is found in his blog essay, Esotericism and Democracy, in which he writes: “never forget that in studying esotericism, we are ultimately studying people”.

Click on the imgage to be brought to the ESSWE website, the organisation co-founded by Wouter J. Hanegraaff. The website is a great resource for a lot of interesting material!

Wouter J. Hanegraaff about himself:
“As long as I can remember I have been an avid reader. Books for me are travel vehicles that allow me to visit other times and places, imaginary or real, and with my publications I hope to introduce my readers to new and unfamiliar worlds and ideas. The most consistent red thread that runs through my life and work is a deep curiosity for neglected or rejected ideas, traditions, and dimensions of reality – anything that others are not looking at or are not taking seriously – and a conviction that precisely what tends to be overlooked by mainstream society and culture is most likely to expand our perspectives, stimulate our creativity, and enrich our understanding.”
continue to read this highly informative self-description by clicking here

Wouter J Hanegraaff’s homepage
Wouter’s essay, Imagining the future study of religion and spirituality (2020)
Wouter’s blogs
“Esotericism and Democray”-a great lecture! (in English in spite of the first appearence of this German website

Music played in this episode

I found out – and he tells us more about it in the interview – that Wouter had initially trained as a classical musician. So today you hear music that he suggested – at least the two first tracks.
The third one is the return of Master Wilbur Burchette on the podcast – a perfect mix, in my view, of Esotericism in music and Wouter’s initial instrument, the guitar!