ESSWE Online Lecture Series 2021

The ESSWE Online Lecture Series explores new approaches and topics of general interest in the interdisciplinary field of the study of esotericism. The aim of the online lectures is to create a new digital forum for a broad discussion of research questions on esotericism. The series starts in the spring semester 2021 and continues in the fall semester 2021 with two online lectures per semester. The series shall be continued thereafter as integral part of the activities of ESSWE.

Participation in the lecture series is free of charge, but prior registration is mandatory.

Please register by mail at [email protected]

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dr. Susan Jean Palmer
McGill University, Concordia University

Children of Chiliasm:
Concepts of the “Child” in Contemporary Spiritual Movements, Questions of Identity, Symbolism and Ownership

What is the “Child” in new religious movements? This lecture explores the esoteric identities (Hanegraaff 2013) ascribed to children in NRMs, ranging from world saviour, endtime warrior, reincarnated saint, to alien hybrid babies.
Based on archival and qualitative research, this study offers an analyses of the mythopoeic models and the symbolism associated with children in spiritual communes and apocalyptic sects. It is proposed that the pure, androgynous body of the child might recall a lost Eden (Olson 2015); represent a “perfect vessel” resistant to external contamination and assimilation (Douglas 1970); or become a symbol of hope and salvation for the new millennium (Duymaer Van Twist 2015).

This study is part of the Children in Sectarian Religions and State Control research project supported by the Social Science and the Humanities Research Council of Canada (