Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek ἐσωτερικός (esôterikos), a compound of ἔσω (esô): "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward", mystic. Its antonym is "exoteric".

The term can also refer to the academic study of esoteric religious movements and philosophies, or more generally of alternative or marginalized religious movements or philosophies whose proponents distinguish their beliefs, practices, and experiences from mainstream institutionalized traditions.

Examples of esoteric religious movements and philosophies include Alchemy, Astrology, Anthroposophy, early Christian mysticism, Gnosticism, Magic, Mesmerism, Rosicrucianism, Taoism, Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism, the Alawites, the Christian Theosophy of Jacob Böhme and his followers, and the Theosophical currents associated with Helena Blavatsky and her followers. There are competing views regarding the common traits uniting these currents, not all of which involve "inwardness", mystery, occultism or secrecy as a crucial trait.

Read more about EsotericEtymology, Definition, History, Methodology

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Famous quotes containing the word esoteric:

    My esoteric doctrine, is that if you entertain any doubt, it is safest to take the unpopular side in the first instance. Transit from the unpopular, is easy ... but from the popular to the unpopular is so steep and rugged that it is impossible to maintain it.
    William Lamb Melbourne, 2nd Viscount (1779–1848)

    It is an esoteric doctrine of society that a little wickedness is good to make muscle; as if conscience were not good for hands and legs.
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