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The present volume offers an interdisciplinary collection of twenty-four studies to readers interested in the religious, philosophical and artistic aspects of initiation. In itself, the concept of initiation presupposes that there is an initiator, someone to be initiated, and secret rite or knoweledge-in short, a mystery-into which the elect few would be admitted and which must not be revealed to the rest. Initiation is thus very personal, as it encompasses-in Christian theology at least-an encounter with God but also involves a communal experience.
While in European context, initiation is an essentially Christian idea, not all the papers of the present volume turn to the Christian tradition for sources. Hermetism, Neoplatonism, pre-Christian paganism and Renaissance esotericism also find a place among the studies published here. Religion and philosophy are not the only viewpoints adopted by our authors, however; the section on art and litterature discusses initiation as it appears on stage, in novels, short stories, and drama as well as poetry, especially in modern European literature.