Amsterdam, Netherlands

Visions of The Occult: Introduction to Western Esotericism

online course
when 19 January 2021 - 29 January 2021
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 4 EC
fee EUR 750

The goal of Visions of the Occult is to offer an introductory overview of the study of Western esotericism. In this two-week online winter course, we will investigate the key thematic aspects of Western esotericism, as they have manifested themselves historically within currents such as gnosticism, astrology, alchemy, magic, kabbalah, witchcraft, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Freemasonry, spiritualism, occultism, conspiracy theories, meditation, yoga, the New Age, and psychedelic culture.

Course leader

Dr. Marco Pasi & Dr. J Christian Greer

Target group

For current university students (advanced Bachelors, Masters, Postgraduate) and professionals from any discipline. A general interest in the humanities and social sciences and an open mind are necessary.

Course aim

During online sessions and in guided-self study, classes, students will make use of primary sources, as well as secondary literature that clarify the way in which esoteric ideas have circulated and continue to circulate in both mainstream culture and more marginal contexts. Having completed this online winter programme, students will have acquired a solid overview of the main moments and movements related to the study of Western esotericism, both thematically and historically.

Our investigation into representations of the esoteric and the occult will go beyond the written word to include film, music, and graphic novels, as we explore together the important movements in esotericism in the past and reflect on how it manifests itself today, in the present.
Each class will consist of three elements. In the morning, there will be a daily lecture (2.5 hours) and seminar discussion, after which there will be lunch (1 hour). We will pick back up with the afternoon session (2.5 – 4 hours), which includes student presentations, lectures, debates, and mini-conferences. This will also be the time in which individual research appointments can be made.

There will also be excursions to local landmarks that play a special role in the on-going development of Western esotericism. Our aim is to pair readings with localities, such as the world famous Embassy of the Free Mind (also known as Ritman Library), which hosts a vast collection of books, artworks, and material culture related to Western esotericism. Likewise, our investigation into representations of the esoteric and the occult will go beyond the written word to include film, music, and graphic novels.

Fee info

EUR 750: Tuition fee. Including all course materials and access to the University's digital learning environment and library.