Passion of the People – 1.3.2

 Religion and Esotericism – the Challenge of Drawing Boundaries

Religion is a system of beliefs and practices that often involves the worship of one or more deities, and is mostly based on a shared set of texts or teachings. In many ancient cultures, the stars were seen as powerful deities or as symbols of the gods.

Esotericism is a broad term that refers to any knowledge or practices that are intended for or likely to be understood by only a small group of people with a specialized knowledge or interest. In some cases, certain religious practices or beliefs may be considered esoteric, but not all esotericism is religious in nature. In esotericism, stars can have a mystical meaning, special powers were attributed to them.
How to sort out the spiritual wilderness of esotericism, mysticism, exotericism, occultism and many other spiritual directions? The boundaries between religion and esotericism can be quite fluid and can vary depending on the specific context or tradition. Generally, religion is considered to be a more organized and institutionalized system of beliefs and practices, often with a defined doctrine or set of texts, and a community of followers. Esotericism, on the other hand, is often more individualistic and can encompass a wide range of practices and beliefs, from spiritual or mystical traditions to occult or supernatural beliefs.
That said, there are many religious traditions that incorporate elements of esotericism, such as secret teachings or mystical practices. Additionally, some forms of esotericism may be considered a sub-set of a specific religion and therefore share many similarities with it. This also applies to dealing with the stars.
In summary, the distinction between religion and esotericism is not always clear-cut, and can overlap in many ways. The high esteem in which the stars are held, however, unites both areas and there are numerous overlaps in content, in symbols and names.

Esotericism – Image by ARCPixabay
Stone circle – Image by Ulrich DreglerPixabay
Tarot cards with star symbols – Image by Daniel AlbanyPixabay

Further Resources

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SPACETIME: Religion & Astronomie – Wie viel Göttlichkeit steckt im Universum? | WELT Doku

 Esoterik und Religion – Zwei Seiten derselben Medaille?

Andrea Pellegrino – Esoterismo: origini, storia e implicazioni moderne – Anima TV

Esoterismo ed Essoterismo – Pietas

Online Resources

Esoterik – Das Geschäft mit der Spiritualität


Esoterismo: origini, pratiche, storia e significato – Accademia di Scienze Noetiche

Further Readings

 Western Esotericism and the Science of Religions (Faivre, A., & Voss, K.-C.)

Storia dell’esoterismo e storia delle religioni. Mappatura di un campo di ricerca e prospettive teoriche – 2022, Egeria. Rivista di Scienze Religiose/Journal of Religious Studies

Il posto dell’esoterismo nella storia della cultura occidentale – Alessandro Grossato

Teaching Material

For Kids