Aries Book Series: Texts and Studies in Western Esotericism is the first professional academic book series specifically devoted to a long-neglected but now rapidly developing domain of research in the humanities, usually referred to as “Western Esotericism”. This field covers a variety of “alternative” currents in western religious history, including so-called “hermetic philosophy” and related currents in the early modern period; alchemy, paracelsianism and rosicrucianism; Jewish and Christian kabbalah and its later developments; theosophical and illuminist currents; and various occultist and related developments during the 19th and 20th centuries, up to and including popular contemporary currents such as the New Age movement.
The so-called world religions and other religious traditions are not, and have never been, homogenous, nor have they formed or evolved in isolation. Trying to overcome cultural stereotypes and their ideological misuse, the Dynamics in the History of Religions book series focuses on the crucial role of mutual encounters in the origins, development, and internal differentiation of the major religious traditions. The primary thesis of the series consists in the assumption that interconnections of self-perception and perception by the other, and of adaptation and demarcation are crucial factors for historical dynamics within the religious field.
The series includes exemplary and comparative studies on the formation of the major religious traditions via diachronic and synchronic cultural contact, on interactions essential to the process of institutionalization and spread of religions, on interreligious encounters under the condition of colonialism and globalization, and on the stimulus provided by such contacts to the development of basic religious notions.
Presenting studies on such contact-driven dynamics of the history of religions and of its reflection, including case studies as well as those using a comparative perspective, the series creates systematic points of references which allow for the integration of diachronically and synchronically heterogenous material in a general history of religions. Theories and concepts are developed abductively in an interplay of hypothetical conceptualization and empirical studies, of object language and meta language. By bridging and reconciling scientific meta-discourse on religion with religious discourses and religious self-descriptions, both unempirical scientism and un-theoretical positivism can be avoided.
The series has published an average of one volume per year over the last 5 years.