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Götisk kabbala och runisk alkemi: Johannes Bureus och den götiska esoterismen
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies.
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Gothic kabbalah and runic alchemy : Johannes Bureus and the gothic esotericism (English)
Abstract [en]

Gothicism in general, and the Swedish Gothicism in particular, had a close connection to the esoteric currents that were flourishing all over Europe in the Early Modern Period. Apocalyptic predictions and prophecies useful to Gothic propaganda were derived from contemporary esoteric streams, but alongside these came Hermetic and Neo-Platonic speculations of a more individual character that emphasized man’s gradual ascension toward a higher state. The foremost representative for this union of Gothicism and Esotericism was Johannes Bureus (1568-1652). Although a pioneer of runology and Swedish grammatical studies, Bureus felt he made his greatest contributions in the sphere of mysticism. Influenced by the concept of a Philosophia Perennis, Bureus believed this eternal philosophy was not only expressed by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Hebrews, but also by the ancient Norse. Bureus represents what could be termed an Esoteric Gothicism. In his work, the ideal of Gothicism melds with Esotericism in the form of Alchemy, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Astrology, and Magic. Bureus himself called his esoteric system a Nordic Kabbalah, a “Notaricon Suethica,” or a “Kabala Upsalica.” Bureus’s Esotericism is explicated primarily in his manuscripts such as the Cabbalistica, Antiquitates Scanziana, and especially Adulruna Rediviva (the latter produced in seven versions over a forty-year period), but also in his major opus, dedicated to his pupil Queen Christina, the printed apocalyptic book Nordlanda Lejonsens Rytande. In examining Esoteric Gothicism we can discern a further tendency within Gothicism beyond the national chauvinism typically seen as exemplifying the movement. In Bureus’s work, Gothic motifs are combined with runes and Old Norse themes in an imaginative manner, but most characteristic of Bureus is how he uses the results to describe a highly individual path of initiation which leads to unity with God. Bureus’s ideas may seem eccentric to a modern reader, but properly situating them in their historical context reveals the role he played in an influential current in European intellectual and spiritual history, a current often referred to by scholars as Western Esotericism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för etnologi, religionshistoria och genusstudier, Stockholms universitet , 2010. , 292 p.
Keyword [en]
Western Esotericism, Gothicism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, The Swedish Great Power period, Millennialism
National Category
History of Religions
Research subject
History of Religion
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-37152ISBN: 978-91-628-8030-9 (print)OAI: diva2:293693
Public defence
2010-03-26, Hörsal 4, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-03-04 Created: 2010-02-12 Last updated: 2010-02-15Bibliographically approved

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