Wouter J. Hanegraaff

Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination: Altered States of Knowledge of Late Antiquity

On Saturday, July 16th, Wouter J. Hanegraaff will release his latest book, Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination: Altered States of Knowledge in Late Antiquity, and you are cordially invited to celebrate with him here on that day with our special IMAGINE Feature.

In Egypt during the first centuries CE, men and women would meet discreetly in their homes, in temple sanctuaries, or insolitary places to learn a powerful practice of spiritual liberation. They thought of themselves as followers of Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary master of ancient wisdom. While many of their writings are lost, those that survived have been interpreted primarily as philosophical treatises about theological topics. Wouter J. Hanegraaff challenges this dominant narrative by demonstrating that Hermetic literature was concerned with experiential practices intended for healing the soul from mental delusion. The Way of Hermes involved radical alterations of consciousness in which practitioners claimed to perceive the true nature of reality behind the hallucinatory veil of appearances. Hanegraaff explores how practitioners went through a training regime that involved luminous visions, exorcism, spiritual rebirth, cosmic consciousness, and union with the divine beauty of universal goodness and truth to attain the salvational knowledge known as gnôsis.


Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at University of Amsterdam, who served as the first President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism, publishes a personal blog, and is the author of books including, Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed and his brand new, Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination: Altered States of Knowledge in Late Antiquity.

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