Consciously Illicit : Transgression in Western Esotericism

6-7 June 2018 𐤀 Brno 𐤏 Czech Republic

The conference will research a particular aspect of the Western Esoteric Tradition, where groups or individuals are willing to violate or break taboos, transgressing social and religious boundaries or values as part of their practices and beliefs. We will investigate whether the followers of illicit esoteric practices consider themselves to be effectively dissident, whether they wish to keep their practices public, private and what their objectives and motivations are for transgressing. However, the conference will not exclude societal or external perceptions since transgression maintains reactionary characteristics, generally in opposition to a perceived overpowering majoritarian presence. Finally, another key aspect will rest on historic investigation as the conceptualization of transgression is necessarily different within the context of Antiquity as opposed to the Renaissance or the Contemporary era.


  • We would like to cordially invite you to join our conference, Consciously Illicit, to exchange ideas and scholarly experience in Brno, Czech Republic.

Confirmed Keyspeakers

  • Marco Pasi, Associate Professor in the study of Western Esotericism, from the University of Amsterdam.
  • Jean-Pierre Brach, director of studies of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, expert in Hermetism, Kabala and in the intersection of esoteric movements with the paradigmatics of philosophy and science.

Organizing bodies

Department for the Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University

Czech Association for the Study of Religions

Important dates

  • Date: 6-7 June 2018
    Registration is open.

    Abstract submission extended deadline: 28 February
    See the call for papers for a more detailed overview.
    Deadline for passive participants: 19 May

Proceedings of conference

Selected conference papers will be considered for publication in a thematic section of the international journal of CASR Religio: Revue pro religionistiku.

Information about Brno, transportation, accommodation

See the Practical information section for maps, useful links and details about travelling and accommodation. We advise participants to book their accommodation early.

Call for papers

The traditions and ideas which are part of what in the academic sphere is currently defined as Western Esotericism, have operated on the fringe of mainstream religious thinking. These were sometimes integrated but depending on the era either more in opposition with the predominant religious current or simply tolerated. Most of its fascination for the public is drawn from a basic concoction of mystery, exclusivity and the forbidden. This has generated reactions which have ranged from violent to relentless attraction, an unyielding call towards that which is considered as a spiritual taboo, a renegade and possibly for this reason more in line with a perceived authentic extramundane. It is exactly this last sentiment that our conference will address, the men, women and traditions which in time have willingly opposed societal and religious or spiritual conformity.

Selected conference papers will be considered for publication in a thematic section of the international journal of CASR Religio: Revue pro religionistiku.

Registration info

Registration for the conference is open.
Extended deadline for sumbission of abstracts: 28th February 2018.
Deadline for passive participants: 19th May 2018.

If you have any questions or any issues with registration, please contact organizers via the conference’s e-mail,


Conference program

The following is an abridged version. For the full version of the program click here.

Wednesday, 6 June: First day of Conference

9:30-10:30Keynote lecture I.
11:00-12:30Attacking the Order: Satanism and Direct Transgression
13:45-15:15Approaching the Ego: Ritual Practices in Addressing the Self
15:45-17:45Occult in the heart of Europe: Insight Into Czech Esotericism

18:00-22:00Conference dinner and fire in Open Garden

Thursday, 7 June: Second day of Conference

9:00-10:00Keynote lecture II.
10:30-12:30The Illicit in the Past: Historical Roots of Transgression in Western Spiritual Traditions
13:45-15:15Social and Cultural Transgression: Identities and Behaviors
15:45-17:15Portraits of Transgression: Consciously illicit in literature and visual art

17:15-17:30Closing ceremony
17:30-??:??Short sightseeing tour: A view over Brno from Špilberg Castle

Practical information

Registration fee

There is no fee for the conference. We have organized a conference barbecue and social event which will take place at the end of the first day. The cost will be 20 €. Participation is not obligatory.


We have a list of recommended hotels with a special discount for the conference participants. If, however, you wish to find a different accommodation there is a list of hotels on the Brno: official website.

Conference venue

Open Gardens, 33 Údolní street, Brno

Travelling to Brno

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. You can reach it by plane, car, train or bus. The nearest international airports are in Prague (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria) and Bratislava (Slovak Republic). Brno does have an international airport; however, it has few international flights.

Getting to Brno from the nearest international airports is also very simple. We will provide you with some recommendations, but you will find your way to Brno without problem even if you do not follow them precisely.


Conference e-mail

If you have any questions, please contact the organizers via the conference’s e-mail,


If you have any problems with this website, with the registration interface or if you wish to report any errors, please contact the webmaster, Zdenko Vozár.


Department for the Study of Religions
Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University
Arna Nováka 1
602 00 Brno
Czech Republic