Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Student Community

Amsterdam is known for its vibrant student life, and the HHP Centre is situated right at the heart of it. Our students do not sit and wait for things to happen, instead they go out and create their own opportunities.

We are blessed with an active, international, and lively student community, rich in initiative and extra-curricular activities. The result is a diversity of student-created conferences, workshops, study trips, magazines, an academic journal. In 2020 the HHP Student Association was founded.  Below you can read about some of the initiatives that have sprung out of the student community surrounding the HHP Centre and the religious studies programme at the UvA.

The HHP Student Association

The HHP Student Association functions as a community network for students (BA, MA, PhD), alumni, prospective students, instructors, and other interested parties.
This group serves as a place to organize and share events and meet-ups (e.g., museum visits, film screenings, study sessions, field trips, Viva Voces), resources, esotericism-related information, ask questions, and connect with one another.
In the age of virtual communication, fostering community both online and in the flesh is of paramount importance. This platform aims to function as a site where we can connect and create community, in its myriad forms and across networks.
While the student representatives will act as leaders and administrators, we encourage all members to take initiative in organizing events and engagements.

Ars Notoria

Ars Notoria is the student organization for Religious Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Active since 2008, it organizes monthly events for students (films, short excursions, dinners). For more information about some of these activities, see below.

History of Hermetic Philosophy Amsterdam

Workshops and Conferences

Central to the study of esotericism are the occult sciences which typically include astrology, magic (natural, astral, and ceremonial), alchemy, and divination (geomancy, physiognomy, dream interpretation, etc.). To many esoteric currents the occult sciences are considered to be the application of esoteric wisdom. Hermes Trismegistus in particular has come to symbolize the intersection of the esoteric and the occult in the pursuit of self-divinization.

ESSWE 7​

In 2019 the HHP Centre hosted ESSWE 7, the seventh biannual conference of  the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). Many students played an important role by helping organize the conference, with RMA student Stephanie Shea at the head of the group. RMA Student Andrea Franchetto made the design and layout for the conference programme. Several students presented a paper which could give them credit in their studies. This proved to be a great occasion for students to meet, talk, and form new friendships with other students and scholars from numerous countries.

Reading Groups

During the early spring of 2020 Dr. Stephen Clucas (University of London) and Dr. Peter Forshaw (University of Amsterdam and Head of the Ritman Research), held a reading group at the Embassy of the Free Mind, for our students and members of the public. They worked through the intricacies of John Dee’s enigmatic Monas Hieroglyphica (1564), which Dee himself claims to have “Mathematically, Magically, Cabalistically and Anagogically explained.” The group examined Dee’s introductory letter to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and then looked closely at the 24 Theorems of the text itself, including discussion of the curious diagrams. Other reading groups will be organized in the future.

Mini student conference “Nature and the Supernatural”

On 14 December 2018 Research MA students from the University of Amsterdam held a day-long conference based on their research for the course ‘Nature and the Supernatural.’ The conference took place in the Grote Sael at the Embassy of the Free Mind. Each student gave a presentation of approximately 15–20 minutes about such themes as ritual magic, myths from various cultures, and virtual beings.
In the picture RMA student Andrea Franchetto is giving a presentation on the topography of magical space. 

On 11 December 2020 a new cohort of Research MA students held their conference in the Phoenix Room at the Embassy of the Free Mind. 

SHAC Workshop: Rosicrucians and Alchemy, November 2021

This year Research MA student Corey Andrews is co-organizing (with Peter Forshaw) a one-day workshop, funded by the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC) on Rosicrucians and Alchemy, to be held at the Embassy of the Free Mind. 

Internships and Honorary Researcher Positions at the Embassy of the Free Mind

In 2021, for the first time, the Embassy of the Free Mind had two interns from the ‘Nature and the Supernatural’ course. Pauline Duijndam and Kelly Willersen created a Virtual Alchemical Treasure Hunt, which is now available online. Together with other MA and RMA students (most notably Corey Andrews and Jason Hooijberg) they have also recorded and edited videos to promote this project. 

Since 2018 BA, MA, and RMA students, supervised by Peter Forshaw as Head of Ritman Research, have been acting as Honorary Researchers at the Embassy of the Free Mind, helping design exhibitions, giving guided tours, participating in Museum Night, and preparing short videos on material in the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica collection. 

Publishing Activities

De Hermet and Notorious

Between 2010 and 2012 a group of our BA and MA students got together and published the magazine De Hermet. In 2012, this has been absorbed into the student magazine Notorious, published by the Ars Notoria student organization. The content is a mix of student-related news and opinion, papers by students, poetry, and fiction. Some is in Dutch, some in English.

Correspondences: An Online Journal for the Academic Study of Esotericism

Correspondences is a fully peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to the academic study of esotericism. The first issue appeared in June 2013, consisting of research articles by established scholars as well as younger scholars. The journal is an independent academic publication with editorial board members from eight different countries, but the initiative originally grew out of the HHP student community. The founders and first editors-in-chief, Jimmy Elwing and Aren Roukema, both studied at HHP. The current co-editor in chief, Manon Hedenborg White, has held a position as visiting research fellow at the HHP Centre  between 2019 and 2021. More than just a student initiative, Correspondences is an exciting new project and a welcome addition to the publication networks in our field.

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