Past Esoteric Quest Conferences
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.
2013: An Esoteric Quest for Ancient Arabic and Medieval Sicily
This Quest took us to medieval Sicily, a brilliant center of Arabic culture with its poets, geographers and mosques. In the 12th century, the incoming Norman impulse created the most tolerant, multicultural and radiant land of its time, a place where Catholics, Byzantines, Jews, and Muslims all co-existed and flourished. It was an island where esoteric knowledge flowed through philosophers, Sufis, Neo-Platonic troubadours, Kabbalists and alchemists, and seekers of The Grail.
2012: An Esoteric Quest for Ancient Alexandria
This journey explored “The Mysteries and Philosophy of Antiquity” that thrived in Alexandria, Egypt. Our conference vividly brought to life this most influential center of culture and esoteric wisdom in antiquity, the authentic birthplace of the Western mind.
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, 17th century Alchemists, Freemasons and Founding Fathers, Transcendentalists, early Feminists, and Spiritualists. We also honored numerous 20th 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.
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 traveled to Delphi, Eleusis, and other evocative mystery centers of mainland Greece. Finally, we traveled to Ephesus, Didyma, and Miletus, exploring oracles and sacred sites from early Christianity.
2007: An Esoteric Quest for the Golden Age of Andalusia: Sufis, Kabbalists and Christian Philosophers in Medieval Spain
This conference took place in Granada, Spain, the 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‘.
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 15th 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 15th century Florence.
1998: The Grail: Arthurian Mysteries and the Grail Quest
This conference, held in Lampeter, Wales, brought alive the Celtic background of the Grail stories and explored the roots and meaning of the Arthurian legends.
1997: Prague, Alchemy and the Hermetic Tradition
Taking place 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 alchemy, Cesky Krumlov. It was named after Frances Yates’ pioneering work, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.