Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Esoteric Religions

This category houses topics relating to a wide variety of religions that might be considered esoteric, eclectic, syncretic, or occult.

Few, if any, of these religions, have close associations with one another. In some respects then, this category might be considered to be a miscellaneous category. In other respects, some religions that might fit within one of these categories are placed elsewhere in the directory, such as Eastern Religions, Christianity, or another category.

Esoteric religions may also be known as mystery traditions. This refers to a range of religious ideas and movements that may be only loosely related, generally originating in the West, and are distinct from orthodox Judeo-Christian religions, although some of them may have developed from Christian traditions.

During the European Renaissance, various groups arose, combining pagan philosophies with the Jewish Kabbalah traditions and Christianity, creating Christian theosophy, then Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. The Age of Enlightenment, in Europe and North America, brought new forms of esoteric philosophy, and later centuries yielded various occult practices, Wicca, modern paganism, and New Age movements, many of which exist in various forms today, including the Druze religion.

Eclecticism is an approach that doesn't hold firmly to a single paradigm, but draws upon a multitude of theories, styles, or ideas. Eclecticism in religion is also known as syncretism.

Similar to esoteric religion, religious syncretism blends two or more religious beliefs into a new faith. Commonly, this occurs in areas where a religion comes in on top of a longstanding culture. Often, the religion absorbs part of the surrounding culture as new converts don't shred all of their former beliefs and traditions.

When the resulting religion is simply another form of the larger faith, we would categorize it within one or the other of the faiths making it up. For example, Messianic Judaism combines the beliefs of Christianity, largely that Jesus is the Messiah, with elements of Judaism and Jewish traditions and rituals. Rather than placing it here, however, we have elected to place it within the Judaism category. It could have also been placed within the Christianity category. It was not placed in this category, although it is a syncretic religion, because, in all of its elements, it remains an Abrahamic religion. For similar reasons, we have elected to place Rastafarianism within the Christianity section.

However, while the New Age movements have origins in Christianity, the emphasis is not necessarily on Christianity, and many of their practitioners do not consider themselves to be Christian at all. Certainly, there are New Age Christian churches, but including a New Age category here and another in the Christianity section would be confusing.

Lastly, we will deal with the Occult religions, which is a reference to those whose beliefs are based on a secret knowledge of the paranormal. Historically, the occult has included topics such as astrology, alchemy, and magic, and there are religions that incorporate these elements today, such as Theosophy and some of the New Age or Spiritualist religions. Others include Mysticism and Satanism.

The Scientology and Urantia religions are here because they don't fit into any other category. Scientology is a blend of humanism, the paranormal, the occult, and its own understanding of science, while Urantia is based on The Urantia Book, which contains elements of spirituality, philosophy, and science, which are used to discuss the origin and meaning of life, the life of Jesus, and the relationship between God and his people.

As you can see, this category includes a wide variety of religious topics, largely churches and religious organizations that don't belong anywhere else, or that couldn't be more appropriately placed in another of the World Religions categories.

Directly under the Faith & Spirituality category, we have a subcategory for Cults, but that category is for the discussion of cults in general, and not for churches or other religious bodies. It's not for us to determine whether a church is a cult, so we would list sites representing the religious body within whichever of the World Religions subcategories that would be the most appropriate.

Sites representing a church or religious bodies that are esoteric, eclectic, syncretic, or occult in nature are appropriate for this category, or one of its subcategories unless a category for that religious body exists elsewhere in the World Religions section of the directory.




Golden Dawn


New Age

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