Bart JongsmaConcealed Knowledge: Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism
Esotericism for practical purposes
'For me, Concealed Knowledge wasn't always the obvious choice. My interests have always been very eclectic, which was what originally drew me towards Religious Studies. When the time came to specialize, however, this eclecticism became somewhat problematic. My solution was to combine hobby with study. In my case the hobby was medieval European martial arts.
I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on the esoteric elements in a fifteenth-century German fencing manual; this research opened my eyes to what I found truly interesting, and is what brought me to the Concealed Knowledge Master’s programme. What the Master’s programme has offered me so far that I find most useful is a change in perspective. When people hear the topics ‘Gnosticism, esotericism, mysticism’, the assumption can often be that the material is very transcendental, far removed from the realities of daily life. What I found is that the people who practised esotericism – and continue to do so today – often had very practical purposes in mind. In the specific field that I’m interested in, fifteenth-century esotericism, it was definitely seen as just another way of coming to terms with everyday problems...