Western mystics

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  1. Leonard Cohen

    Leonard Cohen


    Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (born 21 September 1934) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work has explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honor. In 2011, Cohen received a Prince of Asturias Award for literature.

  2. Aleister Crowley

    Aleister Crowley


    Aleister Crowley (ˈkrli; born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion and philosophy of Thelema, in which role he identified himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century.

  3. John Cage

    John Cage


    John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.

  4. Aldous Huxley

    Aldous Huxley


    Aldous Leonard Huxley /ˈhʌksli/ (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer, philosopher and a prominent member of the Huxley family.

  5. Hermann Hesse

    Hermann Hesse


    Hermann Karl Hesse (2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

  6. Alexander Scriabin

    Alexander Scriabin


    Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (skriˈɑːbɪn; Russian: Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Скря́бин, 6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Scriabin, who was influenced by Frédéric Chopin, composed early works that are characterised by tonal language. Later in his career, independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system, which accorded with his personal brand of mysticism. Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colors with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale, while his color-coded circle of fifths was also influenced by theosophy. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.

  7. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Ralph Waldo Emerson


    Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

  8. Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo


    Victor Marie Hugo (ˈhjɡ; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the acclaimed novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). He also produced more than 4,000 drawings, which have since been admired for their beauty, and earned widespread respect as a campaigner for social causes such as the abolition of the death penalty.

  9. Arthur Conan Doyle

    Arthur Conan Doyle


    Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KStJ, DL (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a Scottish writer and physician, most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.

  10. Robert Anton Wilson

    Robert Anton Wilson


    Robert Anton Wilson (born Robert Edward Wilson; January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) was an American author, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, psychologist, and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos, Pope, and saint of Discordianism, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings and interviews.

  11. Arthur Koestler

    Arthur Koestler


    Arthur Koestler, (/ˈkɛstlər, ˈkɛslər/; Hungarian: Kösztler Artúr; 5 September 1905 – 1 March 1983) was a Hungarian-British author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. In 1931 Koestler joined the Communist Party of Germany until, disillusioned by Stalinism, he resigned in 1938. In 1940 he published his novel Darkness at Noon, an anti-totalitarian work, which gained him international fame. Over the next 43 years from his residence in Great Britain, Koestler espoused many political causes and wrote novels, memoirs, biographies, and numerous essays. In 1968, he was awarded the Sonning Prize "for outstanding contribution to European culture" and, in 1972, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1976, Koestler was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and, in 1979, with terminal leukaemia. In 1983 he and his wife killed themselves at home in London.

  12. Erwin Schrödinger

    Erwin Schrödinger


    Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961), sometimes written as Erwin Schrodinger or Erwin Schroedinger, was a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist who developed a number of fundamental results in the field of quantum theory, which formed the basis of wave mechanics: he formulated the wave equation (stationary and time-dependent Schrödinger equation) and revealed the identity of his development of the formalism and matrix mechanics. Schrödinger proposed an original interpretation of the physical meaning of the wave function.

  13. Carl Jung

    Carl Jung


    Carl Gustav Jung (/jʊŋ/; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), often referred to as C. G. Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies. He was a prolific writer, though many of his works were not published until after his death.

  14. Alan Watts

    Alan Watts


    Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master's degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest in 1945, then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

  15. Walt Whitman

    Walt Whitman


    Walter "Walt" Whitman (ˈhwɪtmən; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

  16. Joseph Campbell

    Joseph Campbell


    Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: "Follow your bliss."

  17. Terence McKenna

    Terence McKenna


    Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, and author who spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, philosophy, culture, technology, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He was called the "Timothy Leary of the '90s", "one of the leading authorities on the ontological foundations of shamanism", and the "intellectual voice of rave culture".

  18. George Gurdjieff

    George Gurdjieff


    George Ivanovich Gurdjieff ˈɡɜriˌɛf (January 13, 1866–1877? - October 29, 1949), also commonly referred to as Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff and G. I. Gurdjieff, was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff developed a method for doing so, calling his discipline "The Work" (connoting "work on oneself") or "the Method". According to his principles and instructions, Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness is different from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, so his discipline is also called (originally) the "Fourth Way". At one point, he described his teaching as being "esoteric Christianity".

  19. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (ˈhɡəl; August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher who was a major figure in German idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and was influential to Continental philosophy, Marxism and historism.

  20. Brian Cleeve

    Brian Cleeve


    Brian Brendon Talbot Cleeve (22 November 1921 – 11 March 2003) was a prolific writer, whose published works include twenty-one novels and over a hundred short stories. He was also an award-winning broadcaster on RTÉ television. Son of an Irish father and English mother, he was born and raised in England. He lived in South Africa during the early years of National Party rule and was expelled from the country because of his opposition to apartheid. In his early thirties he moved to Ireland where he lived for the remainder of his life. In late middle age he underwent a profound spiritual experience, which led him to embrace mysticism. He developed a model for the spiritual life based on the principle of obedience to the will of God.

  21. Carl Jung

    Carl Jung


    Carl Gustav Jung (German: 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and symbolization. While he was a fully involved and practicing clinician, much of his life's work was spent exploring tangential areas, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts.

  22. Caroline Myss

    Caroline Myss


    Caroline Myss (pronounced mace; born 1952) is an American author of numerous books and audio tapes, including five New York Times Best Sellers: Anatomy of the Spirit (1996), Why People Don't Heal and How They Can (1998), Sacred Contracts (2002), Invisible Acts of Power (2004), Entering The Castle (2007), and Defy Gravity (2009). Her most recent book, Archetypes: Who Are You? was published in 2013. She describes herself as a medical intuitive and a mystic.

  23. Giordano Bruno

    Giordano Bruno


    Giordano Bruno (1548 – February 17, 1600), born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in proposing that the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. He was burned at the stake by civil authorities in 1600 after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy for his pantheism and turned him over to the state, which at that time considered heresy illegal. After his death he gained considerable fame; in the 19th and early 20th centuries, commentators focusing on his astronomical beliefs regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas.

  24. Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola

    Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola


    Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (24 February 1463 – 17 November 1494) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher. He is famed for the events of 1486, when at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the famous Oration on the Dignity of Man which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance", and a key text of Renaissance humanism and of what has been called the “Hermetic Reformation."

  25. Colin Wilson

    Colin Wilson


    Colin Henry Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013), a prolific English writer, first came to prominence as a philosopher and as a novelist. He also wrote widely on true crime, mysticism and the paranormal. Wilson called his philosophy "new existentialism" or "phenomenological existentialism", and maintained his life work was "that of a philosopher, and (his) purpose to create a new and optimistic existentialism".

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