To access video or audio for each item, click on the image.
Hermetica in Amsterdam, the City of Dissent
This is a short promotional video made at the occasion of the 15th anniversary (2014) of the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. Guest appearances by Sybolt Noorda (former President of the University of Amsterdam), Tessel Bauduin (former PhD student at HHP) and myself.
Reasonably Irrational: Theurgy and the Pathologization of Entheogenic Experience
In this online lecture at the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, I argue that if we deny or marginalise the clear evidence for entheogenic practice in late antique theurgy, it is hard to avoid traditional pathologizing interpretations of experiential practices that can in fact be rationally accounted for.
On August 31 I gave the opening lecture for the new Master program "Spirituality and Religion" at the University of Amsterdam. I talk about why "spirituality" should be taken seriously as a scholarly topic next to "religion," and illustrate this by going into a specific phenomenon: the Hermetic spiritual movement of Roman Anquity.
On 13 september 2019 I gave the opening keynote lecture at the 2nd Trans-States conference organised by Cavan McLaughlin at the University of Northampton.
Revisiting my first love, music, I spoke about the great German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, trying to explain his unique musical language and the spiritual worldview that inspired him. Many thanks to my friend Jeff Kripal for the wonderful introduction.
The best interview I ever gave about what the study of Western esotericism is all about can be found here at the Swedish channel Axess TV. Much of the credits must go to the truly excellent interviewer Thomas Gür, who asked exactly the right questions at the right moments. The interview was done in 2013, during a conference about Hilma af Klint organized by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation.
A few days before the big ESSWE7 conference in Amsterdam, July 2019, Franck Agier of the French channel Baglis TV interviewed me about the study of Western esotericism. I was quite exhausted at the time, and that's visible enough, but thanks to some smart editing by Baglis TV I think the final result is good enough.
This is the first out of three "Infinite Fire" webinars that were made possible by the renowned Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam.
In this first one, I speak about the meaning and history of Platonic Orientalism (not to be confused with Edward Said), and why it is central to the history of Western esotericism.
Second in the series of three "Infinite Fire" webinars that were made possible by the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam.
In this one I explain why new research about previously ignored figures such as Lodovico Lazzarelli leads to a completely new perspective on Frances Yates' famous concept of The Hermetic Tradition of the Renaissance.
Earl Fontainelle's continually expanding series "The Secret History of Western Esotericism" (SHWEP) is easily the best podcast introduction to the study of Western esotericism. Having just launched this new initiative, Earl did a long interview with me (including background music provided by local builders plus a guest appearance of my cat Pillows).
In this short interview I speak about how I first got interested in the study of Western esotericism, about the center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, and most of all our collaboration with the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. Having gone through a difficult period, the BPH has now moved to a new location, the "House with the Heads" and is known as the Embassy of the Free Mind.
Alternatives to Monotheism.
A lecture I gave in 2009 at the Instituto Cervantes, Utrecht, as part of a program on Post-Secularism. I have always been fascinated by the history of the battle of exclusive monotheism against "idolatry." Here are some of my thoughts on that topic as I saw it at the time. Eventually this line of argument became important to my Esotericism and the Academy.
This lecture got published in Egil Asprem & Kennet Granholm, Contemporary Esotericism (2012), who organised this excellent conference in Stockholm.
I argue that the role of psychoactive "entheogenic" substances in the history of esotericism has been seriously neglected and needs to be recovered.
Carl Gustav Jung and the Eranos Circle
In this lecture at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel, I talked about the central role that Carl Gustav Jung played in the Eranos circle, and the enormous impact that the latter had (and still has) over common perceptions of "Western esotericism" in and outside the academy.
Astral Daguerrotyping: Photography and the Theosophical Imagination. This lecture got published as "The Theosophical Imagination". I gave it twice: once at a conference about Theosophy at Columbia University (2015), en then under a different title here at the 8th international conference of the ASEM in St. Petersburg (2016). It is really all about the forgotten "science" of psychometry (photo: pioneer William Denton).
Magic, Trance & Agnosticism
The Dutch scholar Jan Platvoet has been a decisive influence on my thinking about religion, including my insistence on methodological agnosticism. I gave this lecture at a conference about Platvoet at the University of Leiden (9 june 2015), in Jan's honour at the occasion of his 80th birthday. In attempt to latinize his name, I pronounced myself a Planopedian scholar of religion.
The Role of Gnosis in Western Esotericism
I gave this opening keynote lecture at the International Symposium Ways of Gnosis: Mystical and Esoteric Traditions from Antiquity to the Present Time (co-organized by the ASEM) at the Rudomino-All Russian State Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow, 10 April 2013.
Thanks are due to Ekaterina Genevieva and the Ritman family.