Sunday, September 16, 2007

Caucasian Esotericism

As someone currently researching esotericism in the Caucasus I often wonder where Western esotericism is supposed to 'end.' That esotericism in the Caucasus exists needs little proof. Just take the Armenian Hermetic texts or the Georgian neo-Platonic school founded at the Gelati monastery in the 11th/12th century by Ioan Petritsi.

Contemporary examples of Caucasian esotericists are Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the Orthodox-Christian Anthroposophist who was also Georgia's first post-Communist president, and Khozh-Akhmed Noukhaev,the Chechen nationalist who turned to Traditionalism and the neo-Eurasianism of Aleksandr Dugin. These two examples especially arefairly unproblematic, since both men openly adopted and adapted esoteric currents with clear Western-European backgrounds. They are simply examples of Western esotericism imported to the Caucasus.

Petritsi's neo-Platonism is already much more difficult to judge -- if only because of the language barrier. Petritsi was a student at Psellus' academy before returning to Georgia. His translation of Proclus was a landmark in Georgian literary culture and gave rise towhat is called the Georgian Renaissance.

How should the Georgian neo-Platonic school be treated? As a priori part of Western esotericism? And why? Because it is Christian? Because it is neo-Platonic? Or perhaps for some other reason? (NB: Interestingly, Zviad Gamsakhurdia drew his inspiration not only from Steiner, but also from Petritsi.)

Ward ten Houten
[Posted by Kocku von Stuckrad for Ward ten Houten]

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