Wouter Hanegraaff

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Wouter Jacobus Hanegraaff
Born (1961-04-10)10 April 1961
Nationality Dutch
Ethnicity Caucasian
Citizenship Netherlands
Alma mater University of Utrecht
Occupation Professor
Employer University of Amsterdam

Wouter Jacobus Hanegraaff (born 1961) is full professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He served as the first President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) from 2005 to 2013.


Hanegraaff originally studied classical guitar at the Municipal Conservatory at Zwolle from 1982 to 1987, and cultural history at the University of Utrecht from 1986 to 1990. From 1992 to 1996 he was a Research Fellow at the department for the Study of Religions at the University of Utrecht.

From 1996 to 1999 Hanegraaff held a postdoctoral fellowship from the Dutch Association for Scientific Research (NWO), during which time he spent a period working in Paris. In 1999 he became professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. From 2002 to 2006 he has been president of the Dutch Society for the Study of Religion, and, from 2005 to 2013, president of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism. In 2006 he was elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie voor Wetenschappen, KNAW).


His dissertation New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought was published by Brill in 1996. Two years later it was taken up by SUNY Press. This work constitutes one of the first non-polemical academic reviews of the New Age movement, presenting an analysis on the basis of its important texts. It covers important authors, themes, aspects of New Age belief, and finally looks at the New Age in the context of traditional Western esotericism. It has helped pave the way for a number of further studies that have appeared in various journals, concerning the New Age phenomenon[citation needed].

Other works are Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (Tempe 2005; with Ruud M. Bouthoorn), Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven (West Chester 2007), and numerous articles in academic journals and collective volumes. He is the main editor of the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Brill: Leiden 2005), editor of Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism and the “Aries Book Series: Texts and Studies in Western Esotericism” (both Brill), as well as of four collective volumes on the study of religions and the history Western esotericism. He is member of the editorial board of the journals Religion, Numen, Religion Compass and Esoterica, and on the advisory board of Journal of Contemporary Religion and Nova Religio.

Hanegraaff has written a book on the Renaissance hermetist Lodovico Lazzarelli (with Ruud M. Bouthoorn). Lazzarelli was treated by Frances A. Yates as a secondary figure. The Hanegraaff-Bouthoorn book argues that Yates's "grand narrative" of the Hermetic Tradition needs to be revised. It seeks to restore Lazzarelli's place in the history of Renaissance hermetism and contains critical annotated editions and translations of Lazzarelli's hermetic writings, plus several related documents such as the previously unpublished biography of Lazzarelli by his brother, and texts by his spiritual master Giovanni da Correggio.

Hanegraaff's small book on Swedenborg, Oetinger and Kant is based upon an analysis of Emanuel Swedenborg's magnum opus Secrets of Heaven, and explores the history of its reception by the Swabian Christian theosopher/kabbalist and theologian Friedrich Christoph Oetinger and by Immanuel Kant, the last of whose pre-critical writings was devoted to Swedenborg.

Partial bibliography[edit]


  • New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Brill, Leiden 1996, State University of New York Press, Albany 1998. ISBN 978-90-04-10696-3; ISBN 0-7914-3854-6.
  • ----- and R.M. Bouthoorn Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Tempe, 2005.
  • -----Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven, The Swedenborg Foundation, West Chester, Pennsylvania 2007 (Swedenborg Studies Series, no. 18) ISBN 978-0-87785-321-3.
  • -----Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2012, ISBN 9780521196215.

Edited volumes[edit]

  • (ed., with Ria Kloppenborg), Female Stereotypes in Religious Traditions. Brill, Leiden 1995, ISBN 978-90-04-10290-3.
  • (ed., with Roelof van den Broek), Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times. State University of New York Press, Albany 1998.
  • (ed., with Antoine Faivre), Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion, Peeters, Louvain 1998.
  • (ed., with Richard Caron, Joscelyn Godwin & Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron), Ésotérisme, gnoses & imaginaire symbolique: Mélanges offerts à Antoine Faivre, Peeters, Louvain 2001.
  • (ed. in collaboration with Antoine Faivre, Roelof van den Broek, Jean-Pierre Brach, Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, Brill, Leiden 2005. ISBN 978-90-04-15231-1.
  • (ed. with Jeffrey J. Kripal), Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism. Brill, Leiden 2008.

External links[edit]