Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

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The Open University, Milton Keynes – 15-16 May 2013

What is the relevance of research on historical and contemporary religion for today? How might such research inform current debates on religion, and the practice and self-understanding of religious groups and practitioners? What might historical perspective bring to research on contemporary religion? This conference will address such issues under the broad theme of ‘contemporary religion and historical perspective’. There will be two parallel streams. The first is ‘engaging with the past to inform the present’ and the relevance of religious history for the contemporary context. The second is ‘the public value of research on contemporary religion’; here papers on cross-cultural identities and new religions and popular spiritualities are particularly welcomed.

The backdrop for this conference is the growing acknowledgement that Religious Studies and other disciplines must engage with the wider society. Public ‘engagement’ takes many forms – from extensive projects to ad hoc engagement and involving diverse activities such as media work, lectures, workshops and online engagement. This conference will include practitioner perspectives on different themes, and reflect also on the ways in which academic research on religion might engage with communities of interest and place and private; interact with public and third sector institutions and organisations; and influence public discourse and the social, cultural and environmental well-being of society.

We invite paper and panel proposals for either stream. Papers could include case studies of previous or ongoing outreach, knowledge exchange or public engagement. Topics discussed might include (but are not limited to):

  • integrating ‘religious history’ and contemporary religious practitioners;
  • the relevance of historical research on religion for contemporary debates on religion; and for present-day religious groups, organisations and institutions;
  • intersections between research on contemporary religion and present-day contemporary understanding and practice of religion;
  • the idea of ‘applied’ or ‘public’ Religious Studies;
  • methodological, theoretical and ethical issues relating to Religious Studies and knowledge exchange;
  • relationships between academic and practitioner, or academic institution(s) and non-academic ‘partner’ and their implications and challenges.

Confirmed speakers include Ronald Hutton (Bristol), Steven Sutcliffe (Edinburgh), David Voas (Essex) and John Wolffe (Open University).

The conference is organised by the Open University’s Religious Studies Department.

Cost: £20 per day + £20 for conference dinner on the evening of 15 May. Lunch and refreshments (except conference dinner) are included in the day cost; but we ask attendees to book/fund their own accommodation (advice on local hotels and B&Bs available on request).

Please send proposals to Dr John Maiden ( by 25 January 2013. To book, please contact Taj Bilkhu ( by 23 March 2013.

Esthetics and Spirituality: Places of Interiority: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – Belgium: call for papers

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Deadline: 1 December 2012


Esthetics and Spirituality: Places of Interiority

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

16 – 17 – 18 May 2013

In the contemporary Western European world traditional, institutionalized religions are losing ground, while alternative religions, literature and the arts, film and media, as well as commercial enterprises are offering alternatives. Old concepts, symbols and rituals are translated into new forms. This is a recurrent phenomenon: as sensitivities change throughout the ages, the ways to express this changed “interiority” change and result in new manifestations of spirituality.

This multi- and interdisciplinary Conference on Aesthetics and Spirituality looks at how, both in the past and the present, people devise(d) new ways of conceiving and manifesting interiority. In order to look at the forms “interiority” has received throughout the ages we use different approaches: literature, cultural studies, theology, art (iconography/iconology), history (of ideas) and architecture, anthropology, political sciences/sociology, psychology, philosophy…

How do exteriority and interiority relate? What does it mean to be in a place, to be at home in the world or with oneself (cf Pierre Nora,Les lieux de mémoire)? How can urban planning, public and private buildings, furniture and other material things, clothes, prescribed attitudes, etc. be conducive to interiorization (conscious or unconscious reflections, contemplation)? Or, conversely, how can material factors repress interiority (cf repressive political systems)? In order to imagine a topology of interiority that would draw on an inter-disciplinary field of studies and research we invite papers on the different kinds of language which translate outside to inside and vice versa.

If interiority is a question of presence and orientation we need to look at

(a) Bodily expressions: a religious community prescribed a certain body language which could bring about a spirituality (cf. nineteenth-century feminine congregations focusing on nursing, weaving and embroidering); manifold forms of biblical spirituality (Schneider et al) inspire the body, while psychology of religion and psychoanalysis develop ways of reading religious bodies (Vergote, Lacan, Vasse, Moyaert et al).

(b) Expressions through things, images (iconology), words:

-changes in the attitude to relics, books, icons, devotional cards, rosaries, …

-different links between theology, art and literature produce different forms: the “bondieuserie” in France (1850s) differed from Pre-Raphaelite depictions of the divine (criticized by Dickens), or from the Pilgrim’s Movement in Flanders; after the Great War Benedictine spirituality was revived, while Franciscan spirituality brought a new attention for nature and animals in literature; 21st-century ecocriticism brings a new attitude to representations of nature, as do gender studies to aspects of spirituality …

(c) Changes in Ritual, as a means to link physical and metaphysical aspects of experience: which forms of ritual are depicted, developed, in contemporaryl iterature, to mark forgiveness, reconciliation, or other transitions (to adulthood, married life, divorce, healing from sickness, death,…) Which theories of performativity are used in liturgy these days? Which kind of poetics are used in contemporary prayer? How do contemporary political symbols (fail to) develop? (Cf. prevalence of Christian symbols in commemorations of British army casualties et al). Can ritual help in conflict situations, and how are new rituals validated? How do religious institutions relate to the secularization?

(d) Contributions relating to or focusing on Irish topics will be especially welcomed.

Are Celtic symbols still known, used, adapted? How does Irish urbanization, architecture, make space for interiority? How is “interiority” conceived at all in contemporary art and philosophy? Which places, moments, figures, phenomena, concepts, does contemporary film, drama, poetry, fiction, art, hold in special reverence? Does nature (stone, plant, animal) still harbour something sacred, and if so, how? Do angels still figure?

Are there still references to the Jewish, Greek, Christian stories? Is twentiethcentury and contemporary art, literature and film reacting or indifferent to this tradition, does it translate archaic symbols (animals and trees, food and drink, textile and books, home and travel, …) into new forms, or does it divest these old icons of their symbolism?

The conference is hosted by the KU Leuven, the Faculties of the Arts, Theology and KADOC (Interfaculty Institute of the KU Leuven for Documentation and Research for Religion, Culture and Society) in cooperation with the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies (LCIS).

It will take place in the newly refurbished Irish college in Leuven (the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe). The Scientific Committee consists of Barbara Baert (KU Leuven, Arts), Reimund Bieringer (KU Leuven, Theology), Ralph De Koninck (Université Catholique de Louvain, Arts), Jan De Maeyer (KADOC, KU Leuven, History/Heritage), Borbala Farago (Central European University Budapest, Gender Studies), Veerle Fraeters (U Antwerpen, Literature), Christine Göttler (Universität Bern, Arts), Hedwig Schwall (KU Leuven/Kortrijk, Literature), Paul Vandenbroeck (KU Leuven/ Anthropology/Social sciences), Henrik von Aachen (University of Bergen, Norway, Arts)

Papers should not exceed 2500-3000 words (20 minutes’ delivery). Proposals for papers (250 words) and a short biography should be sent by e-mail to

Hedwig Schwall ,

You will be notified by 20 December.

More information about the conference will be posted on

Shakespeare and the Mysteries: Conference: Shakespearean Authorship Trust & Brunel University


Sunday 18 November 2012

The Shakespearean Authorship Trust,

in collaboration with Brunel University, presents

Shakespeare and the Mysteries The are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy

What are the implications for the Authorship Question of Shakespeare’s profound knowledge of Renaissance Neoplatonic and Hermetic traditions? These are present not only in passing allusions but also in the deep structure of his dramas, open to interpretation as allegories of initiation, transformation and regeneration.



Ros Barber (The Marlowe Papers)

Julia Cleave (Trustee of the SAT)

Peter Dawkins (The Shakespeare Enigma)

Mark Rylance (Chairman of the SAT)

Susan Sheridan (The Merry Wife of Wilton)

Earl Showerman (President of the Shakespeare Fellowship)

Claire van Kampen (Shakespeare’s Globe Special Advisor on Early Modern Music)


Date: Sunday 18 November 2012

Time: 11:00 – 18:00 (Tea and coffee available from 10:30) Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe, The Sackler Studios*, on the corner of Bear Gardens and Park Street, Bankside, London, SE1.

Tickets: £35 (including tea and coffee) Booking: Shakespeare’s Globe


Box Office Booking opens: 22 October**

*Note change of venue in 2012 due to building of the new indoor Jacobean theatre at the Globe.

**Early booking advised as places are limited


Draft Programme Schedule


10:30 Arrivals & Coffee


11:00 Introduction by Mark Rylance

Shakespeare’s Globe as Sacred Theatre and Cosmic Stage


11:30 Peter Dawkins

The Lost Word and Swan Song: Rosicrucian and Baconian Themes in Shakespeare’s comedies and romances.


12:15 Julia Cleave

Initiations, Transmutations and Resurrection Fables: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony & Cleopatra and All’s Well that Ends Well


13:00 Lunch


14:15 Earl Showerman

Shakespeare’s Physic: Hermetic and Alchemical Magic in The Winter’s Tale, Pericles and All’s Well that Ends Well.


15:00 Susan Sheridan

Shaking the Spear: The Hermetic interests of the Sidney/Pembroke Circle with special reference to Cymbeline.


15:35 Ros Barber

Death’s A Great Disguiser: Resurrecting Shakespeare.


16:15 Tea & Cake



16:45 Claire van Kampen

Shakespeare & Divine Proportion: The Tempest & the Music of the Spheres


17:30 Forum/Q&A


18:00 Ends






Tenth AnnualConference



Saturday 23-Sunday 24 June 2012

Bath Royal Literary and ScientificInstitute, 16-19 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN




8.30     Registration and Refreshments

9.20     Welcome

9.30     Bernadette Brady (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

Aristotle’s idea of ‘place’ within contemporary astrology.

10.00               Gustav-Adolf Schoener (Leibniz University ofHanover)

The Difference between Methods of Natural Sciences and Methods of Religious Studies on Modern Astrology.

10.30   Johann Hasler (Departamento deMúsica, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia)

The sounding zodiacs in Westernmusical theory: an overview of proposals for musical interpretation ofastrological data from Ptolemy to the late 20th century.




11.30   Charles Burnett

(Professor of the History of Islamic Influences at the Warburg Institute of the University of London)

Johannes Borotin as student and teacher of the science of the stars in fifteenth-century Prague.


2.00     David Pankenier (Department of Modern Languages & Literature,Lehigh University)

On Chinese Astrology’s Impermeability to Western Influences.

3.00     Kristina Buhrman (University of Southern California)

Ptolemy and Sima Qian in 11thCentury Japan:Combining Disparate Astrologies in Practice.




4.00     Ulla Koch (Carsten NiebuhrInstitute, University of Copenhagen)

The Meaning of Time: Calendar Divination.

4.30     Michael Grofe (Maya Exploration Centre)

Eternity in an Hour: the astronomical symbolism of the Era as the Maya agricultural year.

5.00     Christel Mattheeuws (Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen)

The Journey of Calendars, Wind and Life in the Indian Ocean.



9.30     Micah Ross and DorianGieseler Greenbaum (Kyōto Sangyō University; University of WalesTrinity Saint David)

Various renderings of pinaxin Greek and Demotic in the Medînet Mâdi ostraca.

10.00   Helen R. Jacobus (University College London)

The Zodiac Calendar in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q318) in relation to Babylonian Horoscopes.

10.30    David W. Kim (University of Edinburgh)

A Sethian Iconography: The Astrology of Tchacos Judas.




11.30   Micah Ross (Kyōto Sangyō University)

A Study in the Early Iconography of Gemini.

12.00   Matthew Kosuta (College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University, Thailand)

The relationship between Theravada Buddhism and astrology with an emphasis on the modern period and Thailand.


12.30   LUNCH


2.00     Mario Friscia (University of  LaSapienza, Rome)

Astrology and its ritual applications:Propitiation of the planet Saturn within the Sun temple at Suriyanar Koyil (Tamil Nadu, India). A case-study from contemporary Tamil Shaivism.

2.30     Audrius Benorius (Director of the Center of Oriental Studies,Vilnius University, Lithuania)

Transformations of theSocial and Religious Status  of the Indian Astrologer at the Royal Court.

3.00     Michael York (Former Professor of Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Bath Spa University)

Religion versus Science: Science versus Religion:Whither Astrology: Whithersoever?

4.00     CLOSE



May 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm


The Lady of Shalott 1888: John William Waterhouse 1849-1917




There has been a neglect of critical appreciation of representational art well out of proportion to its quality and significance; it is that neglect that this conference seeks to address. By its nature, 21st century representational art is not to be thought of as simply a return to 19th century realism, but as an open-ended exploration of possible new directions. The conference is planned as a focused but non-doctrinaire event, of serious academic standards. What is the role of representational art in the twenty-first century? What are its sources and directions? How might it shape the art world?

TRAC2012 keynote speakers are: Jed Perl and John Nava.


CLU invites artists, critics and academics to join us to celebrate and explore the direction of representational art in the 21st century. We are particularly interested in papers that explore the positive possibilities of representational art. We encourage inclusivity and diverse perspectives. We welcome papers that explore a variety of topics, including the following:

Meaning in 21st Century Representational art

Representation and imagination

The roots of the 21st century representational art movement

Approaches to beauty in contemporary representation


Politics, artists and collectors

Understanding emotional responses to representational art

Breaking the boundaries of style

Gender and sexuality in 21st Century representational art

The place of representational art in a postmodern world

Tradition and revolution – the avant garde atelier

Representational art and new technology

Papers investigating the role of esotericism in representational art of the present and in its roots.

The influence of tarot and alchemical imagery in particular

Paper presentations are limited to forty-five minutes, with ten minutes for questions and answers.

First consideration will be given to abstracts received before May 21st, 2012.


TRAC2012 includes keynote speakers and panel discussions about the major issues, foundation narratives, and philosophical underpinning of representational art in the 21st Century. Studio demonstrations of painting, drawing, sculpture and mosaic techniques will also be presented.


Academic Studio Artists

Art Historians

Professional Studio Artists

Art Students


Gallery Professionals

Art Collectors

Museum Professionals

NATURE & THE POPULAR IMAGINATION: International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture

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 Pepperdine University, Malibu, California

Nature & the Popular Imagination’

The Fifth International Conference of the

International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture

8-11 August 2012, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California (USA)

pleased to announce its next conference in Malibu, California at Pepperdine University in August 2012. The conference theme will be “Nature and the Popular Imagination.”

Malibu is located on the Pacific Ocean, just minutes from Hollywood, that archetypal place of imagination and dreams, the backyard and playground for practitioners of the cinematic arts. For generations, the interconnections between religion and nature have been expressed, promoted, and contested through the incubator of popular culture, and sometimes even in films produced in Malibu itself or the Santa Monica Mountains above it. As a global, symbolic center, both reflecting and inventing nature/religion representations, Malibu and its environs provide an ideal venue for critical reflection on the religion/nature nexus in the popular imagination.

The ISSRNC cordially invites creative proposals including but not limited to papers, panels, film screenings, and forums with “cultural creatives” from this region and beyond, to illuminate the conference theme.

Specific proposals, for example, might explore:

Apocalypticism (Abrahamic, Mayan, Scientific, etc.).

Documentary film: nature faking and realism

Theatrical film and nature spiritualities

Nature in cartoons and animated films

Malibu (and/or California) as sacred, imperiled, and desecrated places.

The spiritualities of celebrities, including as animal and/or environmental activists

As always, while we encourage proposals focused on the conference’s theme, we welcome proposals from all areas (regional and historical) and from all disciplinary perspectives that explore the complex relationships between religious beliefs and practices (however defined and understood), cultural traditions and productions, and the earth’s diverse ecological systems. We encourage proposals that emphasize dialogue and discussion, promote collaborative research, and are unusual in terms of format and structure. Individual paper and session proposals, as are typical with most scholarly associations, are also welcome.

Presenters will be encouraged to submit their work for possible publication in the peer reviewed Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, which is the official journal of the ISSRNC, and has been published quarterly since 2007.

Given the ISSRNC’s commitment to internationality financial assistance will be available for a number of scholars from outside of North America. We anticipate being able to provide travel grants to at least ten international scholars.

Submitting Proposals

Proposals for individual paper presentations, sessions, panels, and posters should be submitted directly to Sarah Pike at It is not necessary to be an ISSRNC member to submit a proposal. Individual paper proposals should include, in a single, attached word or rich text document, the name and email of the presenter(s), title, a 250-300 word abstract, and a brief, 150 word biography (including highest degree earned and current institutional affiliation, if any). Proposals for entire sessions must include a title and abstract for the session as a whole as well as for each individual paper. Proposers should also provide information about ideal and acceptable lengths for proposed sessions, and whether any technology, such as data projectors, are desired.

Most paper presentations will be scheduled at 15-20 minutes and a premium will be placed on discussion in all sessions. Proposals will be evaluated anonymously by the Scientific Committee, but conference directors will be aware of proposers’ identities in order to select for diversity in terms of geographical area and career stage. Student proposals are welcome.

Requests for assistance with invitations to assist with visa processes must be included with proposals.

Requests for financial aid from scholars outside of North America must also be included with proposals, and provide a clear statement as to whether such aid is essential for attendance, the needed amount, and an explanation of supplemental travel resources that will be available to the proposer. Decisions on travel grants will be made by the ISSRNC Board of Directors based on recommendations from the conference directors and scientific committee.

The deadline for proposals is 1 April 2012.

for full details see:






Call for papers
The International Society for Neoplatonic Studies Conference

Krakow, Poland, June 18 – 21, 2009.

The conference and the panel may be of interest to you. Conference registration is open to all; papers may only be submitted by ISNS members, however. Further information on the conference can be found at:

If you wish to submit a proposal to be considered for the panel and you are not yet an ISNS member, membership information can be found at:

“Ecstatic Experience in the Platonic Tradition”
“The greatest of blessings come to us through madness, when it is sent as a gift of the gods” (Phaedrus 244A). Plato’s discussion of mania opened the door to a role for ecstatic experience in the Platonic quest for wisdom. Late Antiquity saw a rising emphasis on ecstatic experience, reflected in aspects of the ‘Platonic underworld’ of Hermetism, Gnosticism, Magic and Theurgy. And in Ficino’s Florence, mania was central to the praxis of the Platonic world view in Natural Magic. I invite papers on ecstatic experience within a broadly Platonic framework from a variety of angles, which might include: interpretations of Platonic mania; ritual and contemplative inductions of ecstatic experience; ancient terminologies for altered states of consciousness; Neoplatonic epiphanies; philosophical vision and ecstatic vision; the fate and legacy of the ‘shamanism’ concept in classical studies; initiatic and oracular experience in Platonism; modern psychological perspectives on ancient ecstatic experience.”

Please submit proposals directly to me: . The submission deadline is Feb 23, 2009.

Leonard George


The CAMBRIDGE CENTRE for the study of WESTERN ESOTERICISM is independent of any academic or esoteric communities, the directors share an interest in the need for a wider dialogue between scholars and practitioners in the field of Western Esotericism and in the establishment of a secular space in which an interdisciplinary network can thrive.. From 2009 CCWE has operated within Lighthouse editions Limited, a small publishing company Directors: Dr Sophia Wellbeloved, Jeremy Cranswick – see


THE THREAT AND ALLURE OF THE MAGICAL in Literature, Language, Philosophy, History and the Arts


13-15 March 2009
“The Threat and Allure of the Magical in Literature, Language, Philosophy, History and the Arts”

17th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference at the University of California, Berkeley March 13-15, 2009

Dating back to the 9th Century Old High German Merseburg Incantations (die Merseburger Zaubersprüche) and their influence on the fairy-tale world of the Brothers Grimm, references to the magical boil forth from a wide range of cultural forms, from Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) in music to Werner Herzog’s Invincible in film. In silent film, modern literature and the arts, magic both heralded and haunted an artistic revolution in which the avant-garde and the occult recurrently intersected. In critical theory, ideology is often described in terms of a spell. Accordingly, this conference presents an opportunity to explore these cultural encounters with the magical and further inquire why this space of radical alterity carries such an allure and/or threat.

Thus, we invite scholars from all disciplines to submit paper proposals in German or English on the questions of the magical and its role in the German-speaking world. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

The magical in art, film, music, pop-culture and history
The occult and the avant-garde
Nazism and the occult
The magical in the language of critical thought
The mesmerizing, magical aspects of ideology
The magical in courtly culture, Renaissance and the Early Modern
Linguistic alchemy
The magical in philosophy (for example, the Veil of Maya in the works of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche)
Magical Realism
Astrology and Alchemy in literature
Magic in fairy tales and folklore
The weird, strange and the other
The living dead/creatures of myth and magic in film and literature
The language of incantations and spells

Please send an abstract of not more than 250 words with a separate cover sheet indicating the proposed title, author’s name, affiliation, and email address to:

Ashwin Manthripragada/Emina Musanovic/Dagmar Theison
Department of German,
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3243




New Expressions of Spirituality
Conference and workshop in Szeged, Hungary, 7-8 November 2008

Focusing on new approaches to the study of the variety of religions in contemporary society and personal experiences of spirituality. We particularly welcome case studies and field research on recent phenomena. Presentations at the conference will be considered by the editors for publication in a special issue of the Journal of ASANAS.

The conference explores themes related, but not limited to, the following:
– Personalised religion, bricolage beliefs
– New Age/Alternative Spirituality, Esotericism, mysticism
– Paganism and Neo-Paganism
– Alternative expressions of major religions
– Popular culture, indigenous religions
– Civil Religion – hidden structures of faith in societies
– Devotion and Media – icons in politics, pop culture and sports
– Virtual Communities

There are two options to participate on the event. First, on the conference a limited number of papers will be presented. Due to time restrictions, just a few lectures will be selected for presentation.
Another special opportunity of the event are the workshops. We invited some of the most renowned scholars of these fields (like Marion Bowman, Graham Harvey, Daren Kemp, Steven Sutcliffe) to hold workshops focusing on the methodology of doing research, and on the interpretation of findings. Attendance at the workshops is limited and active participation is encouraged (by short presentation of research topics and issues).

On-line application deadline for lectures and workshops: 15 July 2008 Early bird registration until: 1 July 2008

Online application and conference official website:

For further information please contact Csongor Sárközy:, +36 62 546384

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