Presenting a lecture “Dürer’s Enigma: A Kabbalistic Revelation in Melencolia §I”

This lecture took place on April 2nd, 2019, hosted by the Philosophical Research Society:

According to Panofsky’s widely-accepted theory, the subject of Albrecht Dürer’s engraving Melencolia §I (1514) was intended as a feminine personification of the liberal art Geometry and the temperament Melancholy. However, we argue that this synthesized personification is a façade. This formulaic veneer was meant to camouflage a layer of meaning that was only accessible to those who were familiar with the writings of the Christian Cabalists Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Johannes Reuchlin. The symbolism of Melencolia §I, like that of its counterpart engraving Saint Jerome in his Study (1514), was influenced by Dürer’s interest in Christian Hebraism. Our research findings show that this image can best be understood as a visual interpretation of Pico’s Humanist manifesto Oratio (1486). Viewed from this perspective the main character of Dürer’s Melencolia §I transcends the bounds of the formulaic personification of Melancholy perceived by Panofsky, and transforms into an important figure in Pico’s Oratio, the high angel of Jewish mysticism, Metatron.

Project AWE is happy to ANNOUNCE a release of a new book by AWE scholar C. McIntosh

In Beyond the North Wind, Vikings, runes, Norse religion, and Greek mythology — are just some of the topics Christopher McIntosh weaves together in his fascinating exploration of the mystical concept of “the North.” “The North” is simultaneously a location, a direction, and a mystical notion, and although the concept has ancient roots, it continues to resonate today. McIntosh leads readers through the magical and spiritual history of the North, as well as its modern manifestations. This mythic conception of a unique, powerful and mysterious Northern civilization was known to the Greeks as Hyperborea — the “Land Beyond the North Wind.” In addition, McIntosh discusses Russian Hyperboreanism, which he describes as being among “the most influential of the new religious and quasi-religious movements that have sprung up in Russia since the fall of Communism.” Christopher McIntosh is the author of many books in various esoteric traditions. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in history from Oxford, a degree in German from London University, and a diploma in Russian from the United Nations Language School.

To read a related blog by the author click here…
To attend a book launch
click here…

Like the runes he explores, Christopher McIntosh’s use of language contains ‘capsules of magical power.’ His shamanistic journey to Hyperborea leads the reader through myths, place names, folk tales, star lore, and intriguing and outlandish archaeological traces. In Beyond the North Wind, McIntosh takes us back in time to a civilization older than Atlantis and called the origin of all primal tradition.
— Mark Booth, author of The Secret History of the World
An amazing and deeply original book; a work of immense erudition written in an elegant, approachable, and luminously intelligible style. Its quiet wit tempers its awe-inspiring and sometimes terrifying perspectives. I have been educated and delighted by this book.
— Frederick Turner, Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas

Announcing Project Awe’s partnership with The Representational Art ConferencE

Project Awe has formed an exciting partnership with The Representational Art Conference 2019, taking place in Ventura, California 31st March – 4th April 2019.

Image: Hans Holbein, Portrait of Erasmus (detail), 1523, Musée du Louvre


Project Awe is sponsoring a session of academic papers at the conference with a focus upon esoteric art. The principle theme of this year’s TRAC is the relationship between imagination and representational art. The papers may be on any aspect of esoteric art including allegorical symbolism, alchemical symbolism, magical art, esoteric art history, tarot, and so on. In esoteric art the imaginative decisions of the artist guide viewers toward secrets or private meanings. Allegorical imagery is both an imaginative and practical solution to conveying hidden meaning. Consequently, we are especially interested in papers that examine esoteric imagery within representational art. Project Awe’s presence as a partner with The Representational Art Conference 2019 (TRAC) helps to bring us deeper into the academic art world.

TRAC is the premier international scholarly event focused on cutting-edge representational art in the 21st century. There are very few academic venues providing space for the discussion of esoteric art. TRAC seeks to address this lack and to provide a place where papers examining this fertile and exciting area are treated with respect and encouragement.

Scholars who are interested in submitting a paper may find more information at The Representational Art Conference website.

Deadline for submissions: January 15th 2019

project AWE is affiliated with The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism

Project AWE was named an affiliated society of the The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). ESSWE is Europe's only scholarly society for the study of Western esotericism. Founded in 2005, the society promotes academic study of the various manifestations of Western esotericism from late antiquity to the present, and works to secure the future development of the field.

Among the overlapping activities of the ESSWE and AWE are:

  • Encouraging the appreciation of the cultural, historical, and intellectual significance of Western esotericism by research institutions and the general public;

  • Promoting scholarly publications and conferences;

  • Promoting academic debate, interdisciplinary and critical approaches, and the application of a variety of scholarly methods;

  • Co-operating with other scholarly associations in and beyond Europe.


Call for Papers for the session, Occult Performances and Reflections: The Everyday Occult in Visual Culture
at the Association for Art History annual conference  (4-6 April 2019) at the University of Brighton and University of Sussex next year.


The occult – the hidden – has been prevalent in various art forms for centuries. Christopher Partridge coined the term ‘occulture’ in 2004 in an effort to recognize the occult in the everyday, theorizing the processes involved when popular culture disseminates occult ideas and beliefs to a wider audience. These occult and esoteric traditions are no longer hidden; instead the culture in which they are embedded has become familiar – they are ordinary and everyday.

Visual culture, as part of a broader popular culture, represents a fertile vehicle for the occult to enter everyday consciousness, even when the esoteric origins of those ideas remain unknown to the receiver. This is in opposition to secretive practices of a cultic milieu, when the occult was intended for an exclusive audience privileged with sacred and mysterious knowledge, such as, for example, ritual performances by and for adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

This session proposes to investigate the reflection and representation of occult ideas, beliefs and practices that manifest in everyday and popular forms of art from the 1870s to the present day. Focusing particularly on performance art, such as theater and dance, as well as film, photography and print, this session would invite papers to explore occult currents in visual culture from any geographical location. In addition to academic papers, this session would welcome interdisciplinary approaches from performers and artists.

Session Convenors
Dr Michelle Foot, University of Edinburgh
Dr Lucy Weir, University of Edinburgh

Deadline for submissions: Monday 5 November 2018

Please email your paper proposal direct to the session convenors. You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper, your name and institutional affiliation (if any). 

For more information about the conference please see links below:

presenting Kafka & Rembrandt: Hidden Poetics, Alterity in Literature & Art

We are happy to share the recording of the AWE panel which explored hidden layers of literature and paintings. Christian Grusq, President of the American Institute for Levinassian Studies, moderated the discussion between the two speakers: Andreas Kilcher, professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich, a prominent scholar of German-Jewish literature and culture and Zhenya Gershman, an internationally renowned artist and Rembrandt scholar, who has worked for over a decade in the J. Paul Getty Museum and is an alumnae of AJU's Institute for Creativity's Inquiry Fellowship. This event took place on September 7th, 2017 at American Jewish University.

University of Amsterdam SHARES their bright student WITH PROJECT AWE internship program

"My dream is to work with artists, writers and filmmakers and use my knowledge about Western Esotericism to help develop meaningful concepts and illustrate them with historically accurate details" shared Gypsy van Melle Seaton. In order to make this dream a reality she is joining Project AWE’s team as a research assistant for the 2017 spring internship program.  This internship is part of her studies at the the University of Amsterdam (UVA’s) graduate program for a Master of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies: Western Esotericism.

Gypsy discovered her passion for Western Esotericism through her lifelong fascination with art and design. Her particular interest in the junction between art, mathematics and esotericism developed while she was studying Product Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. The creative and technical aspects of her background as a designer have provided her with an original perspective within the academic framework of Western Esotericism. She has recently completed her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies with a minor in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam (UVA).

This internship is made possible with the generous support of the Bekker-La Bastide Fund, the Amsterdam University Fund, and the Horizon Fund.

Young artist program (y.a.p.) student receives presidential scholarship

We are happy to announce the acceptance of project AWE's young artist Joshua Martin to Otis Art Institute, a premier art school. Due to the extraordinary quality of his admissions portfolio Joshua has been awarded a prestigious Presidential Scholarship for four years of his undergraduate studies. It has been a pleasure mentoring this bright young artist and we look forward to following Joshua's achievements in the Arts.

More about project AWE Young Artist Program (Y.A.P.):


Watch a short trailer for this tv pilot series


Follow the clues in the work of great masters where secret magic of art and alchemy is stored and revealed.

Project AWE creates a collaborative public program with the Jewish federation

Thursday, June 18, 7:00 p.m.

The Jewish Federation 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048 (323) 761-8000

About the Program:

Learn about SKIN-4, an innovative art project on a mission to explore and express visual memories of immigrant ancestry, through this compelling conversation between renowned painter Zhenya Gershman, internationally acclaimed photographer Michele Mattei, and Oscar nominated filmmaker Carlos A. Hurtado.

This panel discussion focuses on blurring the accepted boundary between past and present, living and dead, still and animate, 'me' and 'us'.

An art viewing follows the program.

  • FREE Reservations recommended

    Please note: All unclaimed reserved tickets for FREE programs may be released 15 minutes before the event’s scheduled start time and made available to other patrons. We highly recommend arriving early to prevent the loss of your reservation.



Enthralls with Superb Artistry... Not only does the artist possess the physical skills necessary to vault her to the top of the profession, but she has a rare sense of inner beauty which she is able to convey in her playing. Listening and watching Polina Osetinskaya play is like a breath of fresh air.
— Entertainment News & Views

WATCH: Polina Osetinskaya Perform Debussy Suite Bergamasque 


Exclusive piano recital in a Private Home, Encino, CA.
Wednesday, February 25th, 7:30 pm
seating is limited, suggested donation $50 
To RESERVE your tickets please contact
Y.A.P. creates a support system for young talent and aims to raise scholarship funds helping the students transition to Art College - making it possible for their dreams to become a career.
Learn more...



project AWE received a Grant for SKIN-4 from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with Genesis Philanthropy Group and The Jewish Agency for Israel.  To learn more about this exciting project please click here to read...

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"The Secret of the Magic Flute: Western Music & Esotericism"

By Maria Danova (Translator & Independent Scholar), in collaboration with Zhenya Gershman (Artist & Art Historian, co-Founder of project AWE)

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
— Ludwig van Beethoven

This cycle of essays is dedicated to the connections between music and esotericism, concentrating primarily on the Western musical tradition from Antiquity to the present day. It seems to us that this fascinating topic has been underrated by music historians and theoreticians as yet. Our conviction is that works of art, be it in music, literature, or painting, should be examined not only from the sociological or historical points of view, but, perhaps more importantly, from an esoteric one, as a reflection of the eternal human quest for Higher Truth. If we choose the latter method, new depths begin to reveal themselves to us in the works that we previously considered perfectly transparent, and we can witness supreme universal logic where we only used to notice composer's whimsical individuality, however ingenious it might sometimes be. Naturally, this series does not claim to be exhaustive, but we hope that these texts will at least shed some primal light on the path which the reader will then have to walk further independently, with his or her own torch. 
in memory of Leonid Matsikh
click here to read the first article in this series.

Artist, you are a mage: art is the great mystery, it only proves our immortality.
— Joséphin Péladan, L’Art Idealiste et Mystique, 1894

Image, top of the page: Joseph Ducreux, Le Discret (detail), c.1790, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas