Iceland is one of the most beautiful and mystical countries on earth. Long forgotten, it has emerged recently as a brilliant destination that offers an endless spectrum of natural wonders in the form of glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes, thermal pools, and ocean side villages, all within a vast setting of silence and grandeur. It is truly the “Land of Fire and Ice.” This August, the twelfth in the Open Center’s series of conferences on the Esoteric Quest will take place on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the West of Iceland, a place long held sacred in Norse Mythology. Its sparkling ocean and long ridge of protective mountains terminate in the Great Snow Mountain Glacier itself, Snæfellsjökull, long seen as a holy place. While Norse mythology itself is filled with fascination and spiritual depth, there also was much more to the Vikings than the familiar stereotype of plunder and mayhem. They were not only warriors and raiders, but also adventurers, artists and shamans who deeply valued the Völvas, seeresses capable of peering into the future. The Icelandic sagas, a major source of inspiration for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, are filled, in the words of Seamus Heaney, with “the poetry of the North Atlantic … testimony to the spirit’s ability not only to endure what fate may send it but to be renewed by the experience.” Once again, we invite you to join leading scholars, writers, artists and adventurers as together we enter the great Mysteries of the North in one of the most magical realms on earth. Download full brochure HERE.

Post-Conference Journey - Westfjords, Iceland

August 29 to Sept. 4, 2016

Our Post-Conference Journey will take us to the pristine Westfjords, the least visited and most mystical part of Iceland, where high cliffs jut into the Greenland Sea and a sense of stillness and awe pervade the landscape.

Pre-Conference Day on the Reykjanes Peninsula

August 23, 2016

This day will include a visit to the legendary geothermal spa of the Blue Lagoon, to a museum of Viking history, and an evening in Reykjavik.

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2015: An Esoteric Quest in the South of France

Last year's Esoteric Quest was held in the Languedoc region of France. Long known as a focal point for numerous spiritual streams, this area was at the heart of the high medieval culture of both the Troubadours and the Gnostic Christian Cathars. The Bons Hommes, as the Cathars called themselves, created one of the most remarkable and enigmatic spiritual movements of the Middle Ages, the destruction of which was one of the great tragedies of European religious life. The Troubadours were the first to bring romantic love to the Western world in poetry and song of great elegance and charm that expressed a new merging of the erotic and the mystical.

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2013: An Esoteric Quest for Ancient Arabic and Medieval Sicily

On this Quest as we followed the golden thread of wisdom,the half- forgotten spiritual history of the West,in our tenth international conference on the Western Esoteric tradition.
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2012: An Esoteric Quest for Ancient Alexandria

This trip explored The Mysteries and Philosophy of Antiquity that thrived in Alexandria, Egypt. Our conference brought vividly to life the most influential center of culture and esoteric wisdom in antiquity, the authentic birthplace of the Western mind.
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2009: An Esoteric Quest for Inner America

The Open Center’s eighth Esoteric Quest addressed the life-enhancing spiritual impulses that emerged powerfully in America. We brought alive the worldviews of Native Americans, seventeenth century Alchemists, Freemasons and Founding Fathers, Transcendentalists, early Feminists, and Spiritualists. We also honored numerous twentieth century American writers and artists influenced by esotericism, and celebrated the contemporary, multicultural, spiritual explosion. Writers, scholars and performers joined in the beautiful Catskill Mountains at a special moment of rebirth of the American spirit.
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2008: An Esoteric Quest for the Mysteries and Philosophy of Antiquity: Spiritual Experience, Wisdom and Art in Ancient Greece

This Quest took place on the magical island of Samothrace, Greece, far off the beaten track in the northern Aegean Sea. For a thousand years, the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace was one of the most famous mystery centers of the ancient world, rivaling Delphi in stature and fame. International scholars, writers and artists gathered for the seventh in the Open Center’s series of conferences on the Western Esoteric Tradition. The conference was followed by three optional journeys. One explored the Sufi world of Istanbul, the other journey traveled to Delphi, Eleusis, and other evocative mystery centers of mainland Greece. Lastly we traveled to Ephesus, Didyma, and Miletus, exploring oracles and sacred sites from early Christianity.
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2007: An Esoteric Quest for the Golden Age of Andalusia: Sufis, Kabbalists and Christian Philosophers in Medieval Spain

This conference took place in Granada, the evocative and beautiful city lying below the snowy Sierra Nevada that, alone on the Iberian Peninsula, remained under Muslim control until the fateful year of 1492. Outstanding faculty from Spain, France, Britain and the United States addressed such topics as: the Zohar, the Sufis of Andalusia, Arabic alchemy, Ibn ‘Arabi and Rumi, the knowledge system of Ramon Lull, the troubadours, and the place of Spain and Islam in the Grail stories. Evenings were filled with poetry, flamenco, and music that emerged from the blending of ‘Las Tres Culturas‘.
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2006: An Esoteric Quest in Central Europe, From Renaissance Bohemia to Goethe’s Weimar

This eight-day itinerant conference began in the Czech Republic in Kutna Hora and then proceeded to Marianske Lazne (Marienbad) in western Bohemia. It concluded in Weimar, Germany, and followed the Western Esoteric Tradition from fifteenth century Bohemia to its reemergence in Goethe’s artistic and scientific work.

2000: The Italian Renaissance and the Esoteric Traditions: Hermetic, Cabalistic and Neo-Platonic Philosophers & Their Influence Today

This five-day conference took place in Florence, Italy, and looked at the world of Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and the many other remarkable figures and esoteric impulses that characterized fifteenth century Florence.

1998: The Grail: Arthurian Mysteries and the Grail Quest

This conference brought alive the Celtic background of the Grail stories and explored the roots and meaning of the Arthurian legends. It was held in Lampeter, Wales.

1997: Prague, Alchemy and the Hermetic Tradition

Held at the Zofin Palace on an island in the center of Prague, this conference coincided with the Festival of Rudolf II, King of Bohemia and Hungary, and Holy Roman Emperor in 1600, and investigated many aspects of the alchemical world of renaissance Bohemia.

1995: The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited: The Western Mystery Tradition in Bohemia. A Conference in Honor of Frances Yates

The first of the Open Center’s conferences on the Western Esoteric Tradition, this event brought together scholars, researchers and writers in the Southern Bohemian mecca of alchemists, Cesky Krumlov. It was named after Frances Yates’ pioneering work, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.