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Lead(e), Jane

(1,936 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Lead(e), Jane, * 1623 (Norfolk), † 19 Aug 1704 (London) Lead was born as Jane Ward in – according to her own account – a reasonably wealthy upper-class family. She and her family lived a good life, and she received a fine education. When she was fifteen, on a Christmas eve, she was dancing and celebrating with her family and friends, but heard a voice that told her ‘Cease from this, I have another Dance to lead thee in, for this is Vanity’. For three years she lived in melancholy isolation, occasionally r…

Bourignon, Antoinette

(1,196 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Bourignon, Antoinette, * 13 Jan 1616 (Lisle (Flanders)), † 1680 (Franeker (Netherlands)) Bourignon was born to wealthy Catholic parents. Even as a child she spent much time in prayer and reclusion, and at four asked her parents in what country Christians lived, so that she might travel there, since she thought Christians lived in poverty and were not interested in worldly things. Although her father wanted her to marry a rich merchant, she left home in 1636, and spent some time in a convent. As she grew older, she mortified herself for seven years, wearing a shirt of horsehair and s…

Ziegler, Leopold

(845 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Ziegler, Leopold, * 30 Apr 1881 (Karlsruhe (Germany)), † 25 Jan 1958 (Überlingen (Germany))…

Pordage, John

(3,244 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Pordage, John, * 1607 / 1608 (London), † 10 Jan 1681 (London) The son of a London merchant, Pordage was born in 1607 or 1608 and entered Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1623. It is possible that he obtained a diploma of doctor of medicine at Oxford in 1640, but some scholars doubt this (Hutin 1960, 82). In any case, he was not destined to practice medicine, but to be an exemplar of homo religiosus. Pordage entered the order of the Anglican Church and was made vicar of the church of St Lawrence's at Reading in 1644. Soon, under the auspices of → Elias Ashmole, he was made rector of the rather wealthy parish at Bradfield, a position he held until 1654. At Bradfield, Pordage's wife, Mary Freeman, an especially pious and spiritual woman whom he married for that reason, began to have visionary experiences. Soon Pordage himself was experiencing remarkable phenomena as well, including angelic apparitions, and these were also witnessed by oth…

Poiret, Pierre

(806 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Poiret, Pierre, * 1646 (Metz), † 21 May 1719 (Rheynsburg) Known as a “Quietist” mystic, Poiret drew upon the theosophy of → Boehme more explicitly than either of the other major figures of this movement, Guyon and → Bourignon, whose works he was instrumental in publishing. Poiret was a Calvinist pastor who preached in Heidelberg until he was converted to the → mysticism of Tauler by Bourignon, and was persecuted by local church officials. By 1676, he was forced to live in Amsterdam, where he met → Johann Gichtel, the “hermit of Amsterdam” and founder of the

Gichtel, Johann Georg

(2,282 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Gichtel, Johann Georg, * 4 Mar 1638 (Ratisbon (Germany)), † 21 Jan 1710 (Amsterdam) Gichtel's life can be divided into three primary sections: from 1638 to 1664, when he had problems with the clerical authorities in Ratisbon; from 1665 through 1667, when he moved about, staying for a time with Friedrich Breckling (1629-1711); and from 1668 to his death in 1710, the time during which he lived, wrote, and taught in Amsterdam. Much of our information comes from this last period, during which he established his community of the “Brethren of the Angelic Life”, the Engelsbrüder, or “Angelic Brethren”, and became more well known as a theosopher. Gichtel's family was pious, his father was a pharmacist, and Gichtel went to study law at Strasburg. During this time he came to know → Knorr von Rosenroth, the Christian Kabbalist, and studied under Johann Schmidt, Heinrich Böckler, and Philipp Jacob Spener, all re…

Law, William

(1,436 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Law, William, * 1686 (King's Cliffe), † 9 Apr 1761 (King's Cliffe) Law was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1711. His personal history is somewhat parallel to that of → John Pordage. Like Pordage, Law refused to take the oath of al…

Baader, Benedict Franz Xaver von

(5,224 words)

Author(s): Versluis, Arthur
Baader, Benedict Franz Xaver von, * 27 Mar 1765 (Munich), † 23 May 1841 (Munich) Undoubtedly → Christian theosophy's greatest 19th-century German exponent, Baader is a grand unifying figure, joining in his writings the domains of science, religion, and literature, as well as the three main traditions of Christianity (Protestantism [particularly theosophy], Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy). A peerless aphorist, Baader is intellectually among the most stimulating, profound, and difficult of the theosoph…


(2,104 words)

Author(s): Hanegraaff, Wouter J. | Versluis, Arthur
Novalis, (ps. of Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg), * 2 May 1772 (Oberwiederstedt), † 25 Mar 1801 (Weissenfels) A jurist, philosopher, mining engineer and famo…