Dictionary of Contemporary Esotericism (in preparation)

Edited by Egil Asprem, Stockholm University

At a glance

  • Ca. 400 entries by established and emerging scholars.
  • Comprehensive overview of esoteric currents, groups, and related individuals.
  • Discusses the presence of esotericism in popular culture, politics, online.
  • Cutting-edge discussions of methods and theories in the study of contemporary esotericism.
  • Part of the new Brill Esotericism Reference Library.


The Dictionary of Contemporary Esotericism aims to be the state-of-the-art reference work on esotericism in contemporary society. It will consist of approximately 400 entries by established and emerging scholars in the field, which together provide a comprehensive overview of concepts, groups, and individuals shaping contemporary esotericism. In addition, the Dictionary will include up to date discussions of the most important methods and theories that help us access and explain the contemporary esoteric. The Dictionary of Contemporary Esotericism will serve both as an introduction to the field for students and as a critical tool for researchers.


The historical focus of the Dictionary of Contemprary Esotericism is on twenty-first century developments, but some important late-twentieth century figures will also be included. Geographically, the focus is on global trends that are disseminated worldwide via trans-spatial media and communication networks, rather than on specific regions. In addition to an overview of specific currents and groups, it will include entries on the impact of esotericism in more ephemeral cultural locations, such as popular culture and politics. In contrast with a traditional dictionary, the book will also provide the tools and the theoretical frameworks necessary for understanding the highly amorphous, rapidly changing landscape of contemporary esotericism. Since a snapshot of the landscape anno 2018 may already be outdated in 2022, it is important to provide a deeper understanding of the social, technological, economic, and cultural mechanisms that drive innovation, and the tools necessary for accessing contemporary esotericism in its new locations.

From Describing to Explaining Contemporary Esotericism

In line with these general aims, the volume will include articles that address not only the what, who, and where of contemporary esotericism, but also the why and how questions. The volume is therefore divided into four separate categories of entries: 1) empirically driven entries that map and document the key individuals, groups, currents, and concepts (what and who); 2) articles dealing with the new cultural locations of esotericism, e.g., in popular culture, new media, politics, and education (where); 3) theoretically driven articles that explain the key social and technological processes that are driving the major trends of contemporary esotericism (why); 4) articles on the methods and disciplinary perspectives that are required for accessing these new locations, e.g. media studies, anthropology, digital humanities, netnography, critical theory (how). Articles in the first category will aim to give an empirical survey of the field through short and concise entries. These provide the traditional reference aspect of the volume. Articles in the second, third, and fourth categories will be fewer, but more substantial in length. Together, these four parts create a balance between mapping and documenting the field and discussing explanations and methodological innovations required for the study of contemporary esotericism.

Can’t wait? Have a sneak peak of preprints from the book on ContERN’s self-archiving platform CRESARCH.