The profound dissatisfaction with the world of today which is felt by so many people has its roots in a distrust of science, in the impression that man's increased knowledge of nature and his ability to use that knowledge as power, has not led him in the right directions. He has become imprisoned in technologies, reduced in status as a human being, enslaved by the unforeseen results of applied science. This dissatisfaction has given rise to a widespread search for religious values, an interest in the hidden or the 'esoteric' in the hope that this may lead back to a lost sense of purpose or meaning in the world.

New approaches to the history of science have revealed that the scientific advances of the Renaissance and early modern period arose in the context of a tremendous movement of religious interest in the world of nature as a manifestation of the divine, a movement in which influences which today would be labelled 'Hermetic' or 'esoteric' played a part.

The word 'renaissance' means 'rebirth' and it is expressive of the way the movement was understood by the scholars and thinkers who created it. They believed themselves to be reviving, or returning to, earlier and better times, not abandoning the past for the future, but seeing the future as a child of the past.

 

Frances A. Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Paladin, 1975.

 

"They dreamed of a universal synthesis, and combining profound contemplation with keen observant faculties, the experimental with a priori methods, they sought to arrive at those realities which underlie phenomena, 'in more common but emblematic words', they sought for the substance which is at the base of the vulgar metals."

H. Hesse.