Gnosis & Esoteric Studies
gno·sis: Pronunciation: 'nO-s&s
Etymology: Greek gnOsis, literally, knowledge, from gignOskein
Date: 1703 : esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth held by the ancient Gnostics to be essential to salvation.
gnos·ti·cism: Pronunciation: 'näs-t&-"si-z&m
Usage: often capitalized
Date: 1664 : the thought and practice especially of various cults of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis.
es·o·ter·ic: Pronunciation: "e-s&-'ter-ik
Etymology: Late Latin esotericus, from Greek esOterikos, from esOterO, comparative of eisO, esO within, from eis into; akin to Greek en in
Date: circa 1660 1 a : designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone b : of or relating to knowledge that is restricted to a small group 2 a : limited to a small circle b : PRIVATE, CONFIDENTIAL
from Merriam-Webster OnLine.
The connotation of 'Gnosis' is usually one principally consisting of personal experience of the Divine, knowledge and conversation, or some other similar concept. There have always been, however, 'studies' which accompanied groups which were considered to be, or called, 'Gnostic'.
Most of these groups contained traditions of esoteric, or even 'occult' knowledge. This knowledge, and the practical usage of this knowledge, was typically transmitted with a strict adherence to oral tradition. The corpus of Hebrew mysticism, referred to frequently by the term 'Kabbalah' - "a traditional, esoteric, occult or secret matter" or "an esoteric doctrine or mysterious art"; also refers to "a system of Jewish theosophy, mysticism and thaumaturgy marked by a belief in creation through emanation and a cipher method of interpreting Scripture." The similarities to Gnosticism are clear - even more so when one considers the predecessor to the 'Tree of Life' version of Kabbalah which consisted of Merkava and Hekhalot Mysticism - and visions of Divinity.
What we have presented to you here are two schools which were closely associated with the French Gnostic Tradition. Each of the individual Initiatic Orders (and also the Church) included certain 'arcana', or teachings, but the two schools of the Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose+Croix and the International College of Esoteric Studies endeavoured to be more all-encompasing, providing not only the opportunity to learn from a wide variety of topics, but also to present works from one's own study and research - much like the presentation of 'architecture' in a Masonic body. Speaking of such things... it is important to mention that there is ALWAYS an education that goes with a Masonic affiliation, particularly an esoteric masonic body like Memphis-Misraïm, or in an initiatic body like Martinism... and it goes without saying that education, both practical and esoteric, accompany working with an ecclesia - like our Eglise Gnostique Apostolique.