Western Esotericism by Stuckrad
I’m reading Kocku von Stuckrad’s Western Esotericism for both my independent study (even though I didn’t know about it when I made my bibliography) and for pleasure. It’s a well written (and well translated) book by one of the professors of the Institute for the History of Hermetic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. I wish I could go to Amsterdam to check out the school, the libraries associated with it, and meet the professors and students.
From the text:
Knowledge as understanding is a key work of Hermetism. Already in the first treatise of the Corpus Hermeticum (CH), also known as Poimandres, we find the apodictic words: 'Holy is god who wishes to be known and is known by his own people' (CH I,31). The perceptive capacity of the believer is again inseparably bound up with the specifically Hermetic conception of the soul, whose Platonic origins are plainly evident. It is a basic Hermetic assumption that the soul, which still always carries within itself a divine spark, incarnates on Earth by descending through the heavenly spheres and is there subject to the laws of the archons, and thus to heimarmene (fate), from which it can liberate itself through the knowledge (gnosis) of its condition. The redemption of man from the shackles of matter and his reascent into the home of light proceeds in tandem with ethical demands which the adept must accept.
Cool stuff. Though largely known by me, it is well put together.