How to Use this Guide to the History of Esoteric Thought through the lives of its Practitioners:
Start at http://chuckfurnace.com/opus/index.php?title=Special:PrefixIndex and choose a familiar name (there is more than one page of names, look in the upper right to continue the selection). From there, you can follow those who influenced that Philosopher - Magician and whom they influenced. You may also search by Time or Country to get a flavor of the major forces of opinion during different ages, using the Guide to locate members of organizations such as the Freemasons or Golden Dawn over time. Specialty Pages ( Alchemy; The Ancients; Freemason; Qabalist; Royal Society; Golden and Rosy Cross; Golden Dawn; Order of the Asiatic Brethren; Elus Cohens; Transcendental Club so far) have essays to assist in starting your journey on certain subjects of interest, and where possible this guide will lead to free, on-line versions of those works out of copyright and often out of print. As a side note, in the time this project has been researched and constructed, WIKIPEDIA has grown by leaps and bounds. Like all great strengths, it has the corresponding weakness, that of informational overload. WIKIPEDIA is a great first stop for more information on each Practitioner, as are the authors' own books and those previously written about them. Indeed, just discovered an excellent List of Occultists which may supplement this WIKI at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Occultists. Let the WIKI of Esoteric Thought be a map, but do not mistake it for a full picture of the landscape. It is the Alpha, not the Omega of your research.
The purpose is to help trace the evolution of esoteric and occult thought from the beginnings of human endeavor to the present. It will always, therefore, be a WORK in progress.
Like all Great WORKs, it will continue its growth long after mortal life for the individuals categorized or authors end.
By tracing these influences throughout the ages we discover various expressions of the same TRUTH, which is experiential rather than intellectual. Study of this Truth from different angles helps eliminate the extraneous and leads to the kernel of gold buried in guarded hints and the mountain of Occult and Philosophic literature.
The trickiest parts are before 1600 and post 1920. Before 1600 we have highlights, but not a lot of practitioners daring to leave much of a record. By 1920 so many people are writing memoirs our written records explode with detail. Latter entries for people currently alive can be influenced by personality clashes and open the door to libel or useless Witch Wars. Please limit comments to polite information rather than subjective opinion on the worth of the Practitioner's contribution.
Naturally, we all see Truth through our own, unique perspective, and must agree to a willingness to learn in order to make proper use of the Guide. Thus while dates, times and known acquaintances can be know from facts, relationships and discoveries may be more subjective. New information or opinions can be included in parenthesis as an alternative theory, at least at 1st, so discerning minds can decide.
This Guide is offered under the OpenSource license and philosophy, use it as you will except for commercial purposes, give to it freely, we are all anonymous. It is amazing what we can accomplish if we release ourselves from taking credit.
Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software.