How not to write occult history

| | Comments (12)

The history of the occult is an interesting topic, especially for scholars of Rudolf Steiner. To someone new to esotericism who encounters Rudolf Steiner first, it may seem as if he originated everything. This is not to undervalue Steiner's substantial original contributions; however Steiner himself was the first to acknowledge that he was working in a tradition with a long history. And Steiner made many references to earlier concepts – as often to disagree with them as to declare them correct. Steiner took individual positions on literally thousands of different points within the occult tradition, which poses a considerable challenge to anyone who would like to easily pigeonhole him into an easy category of this or that type of occultist. And one path that will almost invariably go wrong is to identify one position that Steiner held, compare it to one position another occultist held, and if it is similar, subsequently conclude that they therefore must have held identical positions on every other question of major or minor significance.

Occultism is by definition an obscure topic, and one that has a long history of sensationalist publicity. When pursued as a historical subject, it demands at least the same level or rigor in sources as any other area of history. Writing rigorous, carefully documented history is tedious, but the tedium is what separates history from, say, the sensationalism of an outlet like the Weekly World News.

Now if there is one common tendency in occultism (both the legitimate and fraudulent kind) it is that of obscuring sources. The mysterious, secret source of wisdom is a common trend in most all occult revelations. And in many instances, when a careful investigator meticulously researches the claims, they can discover fraud of some sort or other. Some frauds are essentially a form of plagiarism, where one "teacher" is discovered to be teaching almost verbatim the teachings of an unrelated obscure mystic when they claim to have invented or discovered the teachings themselves. Other times gurus invent biographies, saying they were studying in Tibet during an earlier period of their lives when in fact they were studying at a Midwestern community college. In fact, Steiner is almost unique in that his biography in all its details is verifiable, and he is nothing more or less than he claims to be. Steiner is further unusual in that he repeatedly claimed that his source for his occult knowledge was only his own insight, his own clairvoyance, and no teacher, guru, master, or Great White Lodge had instructed him in either teachings or tasks. He alone assumed responsibility for everything he said and did.

When occult history is written, it is often either hagiography or exposé. The hagiographies tend to be poorly documented, the exposés meticulously so. (The one curious reversal of this trend seems to be Steiner, whose hagiographies are meticulously documented, by whose investigative exposés tend to be missing any real documentation.) A neutral history, if it is really a history, needs to be meticulously documented, because that is what is required of a historian.

This discussion brings us to an interesting website that I discovered recently, http://www.sociologyesoscience.com/esoterica/. At first glance it appears to be a goldmine of information on occult movements and trends. It ranges broadly over personalities and trends, and mentions virtually anyone of any significance. Steiner even merits a few paragraphs. And most of it seems pretty accurate. As I read through, I eagerly bookmarked it. Then I came across a point that I decided I would like to look into, and came across the problem: No footnotes! I clicked through a dozen or more articles, tens of thousands of words. No footnotes. No citations. None. In vain I looked for a references page, a list of works consulted. From a historical perspective, the site is useless. Because without citations, you can't trust a single thing the author says.

Out of curiosity I poked around until I found the author's name: Eric P. Wijnants. Clicking around some more, I found even more articles. One in particular caught my eye. It was an article on the connection between Alistair Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard, at http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html. Because I had previously read something on the subject, I looked it over. Sure enough the story was quite familiar. Substantial portions were taken from Russell Miller's Bare Faced Messiah. The source pages are even on the web, at http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm. Did Eric give any acknowledgement to where he got his information? No, not a word.

The irony is immense. For someone who purports to unearth the hidden truth about the occult, he is behaving exactly like the occultists he exposes. Mountains of secret truth are revealed, and all must be taken on faith, faith that Eric P. Wijnants has properly understood and presented the information that he posts in semi-anonymity (none of the occult pages have his name on them). And faith it must be, because there is no way to verify any of it.

Further, there is no way any of these articles would be accepted in an academic context, because without sources, they are all essentially plagiarized.

And finally, the probably unauthorized use of several professional quality photographs of the interior of Steiner's second Goetheanum to illustrate his esoterica page is another indication of how much respect Eric P. Wijnants has for other people's work. Neither the photographer, nor the architect, nor the place is mentioned! They are just used out of any context for the mood they convey. (See: http://www.epwijnants-lectures.com/rosen.html). How like a fraudulent occultist!

12 Comments

Daniel got it right about Eric Wijnants and blatant plagerisms. Some authors such as myself and Robert Bauvelt have been victimized by Wijnants for several years. If we attempt to publicaly take him on, he retliates by posting liable articles against us, such as refering to me as an "international fraudster"who tricked people out of thousands of dollars....

My first awareness of Wijnants came when he presented himslef as a professor at the University of Vienna. His web pages supported this, and so did his email address.He agreed to do a critique and help edit my upcoming book, so I sent the files to him, including my own hand made maps that never appeared in print before. Suddenly entire sections of my unpublished book and maps appeared at his website, but not my name or any form of acknowledgement. He presented the material as original and as his own.

I was deeply shocked and hurt that my trust was broken so visciously.Desperately I begged him to remove the material, but over the course of several weeks, he became nmore and more antagonistic. I studied internet law regarding such cases. I contacted his server in Thailand and told them of the infringments. But Eric also contacted them and said I was an international fraudster (?) out to get him! They didn't remove the material.

About this time he came to the attention of several authors he plagerized, including Robert Bauvelt. We banded together and battled Wijnants. I contacted the University of Vienna about the legal infringements of one of their professors, but lo and behold, he was not in any way associated with them! His girlfriend and web mistress was a bookkeeper in one of their departments and it was through her he built up the great lecturer-professor falsehoods. When the University realized what he was doing in "their name" it was through their demands that he removed all reference to them, stopped using their employee email addies, and brought other pessures on him that led to him b

When the University realized what he was doing in "their name" it was through their demands that he removed all reference to them, stopped using their employee email addies, and brought other pessures on him that led to him being forced to rescind many of the plagerized web pages. Eric is apparently from Poland, and is an unemployeed drifter who makes occassional money from "lectures" he can drum up...lectures based on the material he has stolen from others.


I thought the aweful days of Eric Wijnants were finally over, until last week I came across yet another page he posted about me...which I am in the process of battling all over again..I have filed a DMCA complaint, based in part upon the information Daniel provided (Thank you Daniel).That wont directly help the page of liable about me excpet indirectly if we can get the entire web site shut down. That's not my decision.

How sad that I have to go through this at all, or that anyone else does..

I see on his web pages he now adds that he has worked for the United Nations for past fifteen years (oh my, what happened to his University of Vienna professorship? Did he have to hold down two jobs?) Thank God someone here is alert. Thanks, Daniel.Without help from people like you, the public is being misled.

About the only thing Eric Wijnants has proven himself adept at is his ability to cut and paste and live in his own fantasy world, and the internet becomes a sort of "therapy"laboratory for troubled people like Wijnants, at the expense of innocent people. Daniel has acquired a new respect,and a new friend.

Robert Anton Wilson posted a very liableeous and false article about me: however it is part of Eric Wijnat's server and all links go back to Wijnants......just an example of Eric's n talent to assume many personas..

Suzanne Olsson said:

Suzanne Olsson on Robert Anton Wilson aka Eric Wijnants

Robert Anton Wilson posted a very liableeous and false article about me: however it is part of Eric Wijnat's server and all links go back to Wijnants......just an example of Eric's n talent to assume many personas..

Jacob said:

I'd like to see Eric Wijnants get all the attention he deserves for his repeated blatant plagiarism. FYI, while he has registered his domain names to a Thailand address, he currently is using US-based web hosts.

kreta said:

Very interesting articel, but not everything is right. Eric is not from Poland. He was born in Belgium and he was a talented sculptor. When I met him, he was an Eurythmist in Dornach on the stage and also a gifted pianist.
I know it for sure because he is the father of my son, born 1971 in Belgium. I am stil in touch with his mother in Belgium.
Regards
Kreta

It is completely untrue that parts of the article about L. Ron Hubbard on http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html where taken from (Russell Miller's Bare Faced Messiah) http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm anybody can see this when comparing the text (completely unchanged to date): http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html Plus just the opposite, from having published her book as his own (where is the evidence for that??) see ( “Dr.Holt”alias Suzanne Olsson?))http://www.jesusinkashmir.com/FATImedia/scoffer4.htm
See also: http://sociologyesoscience.com

It is not a word-for-word plagiarism, but as a PhD you ought to know that plagiarism is also the unattributed use of other peoples ideas. As a high school history teacher, such a paper would get an F. Are you really a PhD, or is this Eric under a pseudonym?

Francois Martinet said:

Not single idea in http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html has been taken from http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm.
Proof me wrong if you can.

Rather as is clear from anybody who compares the ‘ideas’ the *original source* http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html in this case is clearly the mentioned article published by The Sunday Times in * December 1969*.(The source of Russell Miller himself published long before his book). Other sources (all different from what http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm. used) are
mentioned in http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html

Furthermore, and I read the article twice to double check this (I think you never even once compared the text sentence for sentence, otherwise show your proof that there is something copied here pls!) some sources used in http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html apparently even are archival sources not published anywhere, and certainly not mentioned in http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm. which is solely based on the Dec.1969 Sunday Times report the *original source.* In contrast http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html goes much further ads obviously *original* research *not* published in Russell Miller's Bare Faced Messiah or anywhere else. Again proof me wrong if you can.
Thanks,
Francois (PhD)

Daniel Hindes Author Profile Page said:

Well, we can speculate about the sources, but that is precicely the problem. Eric has not documented any sources! So who knows where he got it from. I think you are being generous in suggesting extensive archival research on the part of Eric. But regardless of whether or not Eric retold "Bare Faced Messiah" or spent extensive time in various archives, he CITED NOTHING, and that is poor scholarship. If we can only speculate on where he may or may not have gotten his ideas, that itself is a huge problem.

C.Wong said:

Yes, sources are documented in the text in the form what normally would be footnotes. Your claim that there are no footnotes therefore is misleading, because it is completely legitimate to include what otherwise are footnotes, IN the text as is the case with: http://sociologyesoscience.com/crowleyscientology.html

Plus if there is any truth at all to what you write, and NO “Substantial portions” were taken from http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm in fact noting at was taken from http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm07.htm

Rather when we saw last year you where trying to trash the internet with your unproven claims, it seemed you where just tying to get even for the equally well researched article about Rudolf Steiner on:

http://www.epwijnants-lectures.com/esotericagoingmainstream.html

”Starting in 1910, wrote four, what he called Mystery Dramas to be performed in what at the time was termed a Hermetic Academy (renamed Goetheanum since then).”

Daniel Hindes Author Profile Page said:

Eric/Francois/Wong,
Glad to see that you have belatedly added some references, some two years after I wrote this. Now how about adding them to the rest of your site?

Daniel

P.S. "C. Wong" posted from the same IP address as "PhD Francois", which seems to me an incredible coincidence.

C.Wong said:

Daniel-Suzanne,
Reg. you wrote "Glad to see that you have belatedly added some references, some two years after I wrote this."

The references have not been added belatedly the essay has been completely, unchanged from the start! I know that for shure, because I was the webmaster who uploaded the article at the time, and I can say that the essay (in fact a lecture transcript) that you refer to at the start of this tread was from the start uploaded the internet 100% the same way as is still standing there now. I hope you where not on drugs as a wreason for not being able to perceive what you belatedly admit to perceive-- more then a year later and only after it had been pointed out to you twice?

I would therefore think that your critique was to say the least an invention or, an excuse to attack the site as such becouse at the time (the Goetheanum picture was a left-over from that article)there was a critical article about Steiner on it.

Reg."Now how about adding them to the rest of your site?"

Apart from a limited amount of lecture transcripts and essays, the majority of all articles on the site contain EXTENSIVE lists of references, more so then average internet sites or/and blog EVERYBODY (except for Daniel/Olsson apparently on purpose) can see that:

I took some time to investigate the Olsson article you wrote (or however 'Olsson' is in real life) and none of the claims in it are true making this a pointless discussion .

Furthermore, you have ( whatever your true motive) attempted to attack it, by using a known tactick, that is by picking on one single essay with hundreds of other articles on the site at the time-- and even there your critique has been proven unjust.
In spite of the fact that I am not connected anymore as a webmaster http://www.epwijnants-lectures.com still seems impeccable to me.

This was further evidenced by the fact that shortly after you placed your initial attack, McAfee investigated the site and concluded a

Daniel Hindes Author Profile Page said:

Um... Whatever. What I have written withstands scrutiny. Once a liar, always a liar, and you are just spinning BS here. If anyone wants to believe you, they must be incredibly gullible.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on April 16, 2005 2:17 PM.

Peter Staudenmaier Mistranslations was the previous entry in this blog.

Racism vs Racialism is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.01