Messianism, Nationalism and Modern Western Esotericism

May 28, 2015 - 17:30 - 19:00
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Popper Room
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Open to the Public
Marco Pasi
Center for Religious Studies
CEU contact person: 
Esther Holbrook
+36 1 327-3000 ex 2170
Messianism, Nationalism and Modern Western Esotericism

The Center for Religious Studies invites you to a Special Lecture by

Marco Pasi
(University of Amsterdam)

Messianism, Nationalism and Modern Western Esotericism

Thursday, May 28, 2015
5:30 PM

CEU, Nador utca 9
Popper Room
Reception to follow


Abstract: For specialists in the history of Western esotericism, the relationship between esotericism and politics has always been an interesting subject, especially with regard to the modern period. In spite of such interest, certain aspects remain relatively unexplored. One of these is the relationship between western esotericism and identitarian political discourses such as nationalism. In the context of esotericism, these discourses often have their roots in forms of messianism or in variations on the trope of the elected people. Esotericism usually shows two characteristics that may at first seem contradictory: universalism (primordial wisdom, being one and immutable in its essence, concerns the whole of humanity), and elitism (only a select group of persons, being initiated, have access to this wisdom). In other words, one can identify, in the history of Western esoteric currents, a comprehensive, expansive trend, and a restrictive, limiting trend. The way in which the tension between these two trends actually manifests itself within esotericism depends of course on the historical context. In my lecture I will focus on a number of authors who can be taken as significant examples of such discourses in a European context between the 19th and the 20th centuries: Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), and Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).

Marco Pasi is an associate professor in the History of Hermetic philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam. He holds a laurea degree in philosophy from the University of Milan, a DEA and a PhD in Religious Studies from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris Sorbonne). He has published extensively on the history of modern Western esotericism, especially in relation to magic, art, and politics. He is one of the founding members of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) and is presently the General Secretary of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR).