Episode 104: Wouter Hanegraaff on the Poimandres

Wouter Hanegraaff has been poring over the text of C.H. I with some attention. Hanegraaff’s reading seeks to penetrate the layers of literary genre and philosophical materials to get at the vision at the heart of the text and the spiritual practices engaged in by the ‘Hermetics’ of antiquity. Cosmogenic myth and philosophical speculation went hand in hand with intensive meditation practices aimed at profound transformations of consciousness. In the Poimandres, Hermes recognises that he himself is part of the universal noetic light, and is sent back into the world at large, forever changed, to preach the teaching imparted to him by the nous.

Interview Bio:

Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam. From 2005 to 2013 he was President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), and in 2006 he was elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Since the mid-1990s, Hanegraaff has been active at the forefront of the academic study of  History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents, also known as “Western Esotericism”.

Check out Wouter’s profile here, and his Creative Reading blog and Western Culture and Counter-culture project are both worth checking out. Wouter is currently hard at work on a major study of Hermetic spirituality in antiquity, forthcoming.

Works Cited in this Episode:

  • A.-J. Festugière. La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste. Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 2014.
  • P. Hadot. Philosophy as a Way of Life. Blackwell, Oxford, 1995. Translated by Michael Chase.
  • Idem. Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique. Études Augustiniennes, Paris, 2nd edition, 1981.
  • Richard Reitzenstein. Poimandres: Studien zur griechisch-aägyptischen und fruhchristlichen Literatur. Teubner, Leipzig, 1904.

Recommended Reading:

  • Christian H. Bull. The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus: the Egyptian Priestly Figure as a Teacher of Hellenized Wisdom. Brill, Leiden, 2018 [pp. 121-131 and 136-154].
  • Garth Fowden. The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986.
  • Ernst Hänchen. Aufbau und Theologie des ‘Poimandres’. Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, 53:149–91, 1956.

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