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About Us

Hieros Institute is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to develop our shared understanding of the sacred in both theory and practice.

We recognize that the sacred is not quantifiable, and is not identifiable only with monotheistic or non-monotheistic texts, but rather emerges from what has been termed numinous or mystical experience. Such experiences may occur in dreams or in other ways, and are central to many esoteric practices. For instance, in the Greco-Roman Mystery traditions at Samothrace and Eleusis, there were secrets imparted directly to the initiates, and those were not accessible to the uninitiated public. It is our goal to explore and develop a more robust understanding of the sacred through sponsoring lectures, podcasts, conversations, and events dedicated to unveiling a wide range of ancient and modern traditions.

We understand that inspirations and intuitions of the sacred enliven literature, theater, and art. We are deeply interested in what is sometimes termed mythology, that is, hieratic stories, songs, poems, philosophy, buildings, and works of art. We recognize that the heart of the humanities is rooted in the hieratic, revealed in experiences of the sublime, and the transcendence of the subject–object distinction.

We encourage forms of education and encounter that recognize the sacred as inspirational presence that unites both culture and nature.   We are interested in what may be termed initiatory pedagogies, that is, in understanding how the sacred is revealed in the classical humanities, in the context of particular landscapes and sacred sites, in unexpected urban manifestations, and in wilderness.

We seek to understand the higher and deeper dimensions of human consciousness as expressed through cultural forms, art, literature, philosophy, architecture, and cultural integration with landscape and water.

Hieros Board

Kingsley L. Dennis, Ph.D., is a full-time writer and researcher. Before becoming an ‘ex-academic,’ he previously worked in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, UK. He is the author of numerous articles on social futures; technology; global affairs; consciousness studies; and metaphysics. He has travelled widely and worked and lived overseas, spending many years in Istanbul, Turkey, and recently in Andalusia, Spain. He is the author of over twenty-five books including Life in the Continuum; UNIFIED: Cosmos, Life, Purpose; Hijacking Reality; Healing the Wounded Mind; The Modern Seeker; Bardo Times; Breaking the Spell; New Consciousness for a New World, and the celebrated Dawn of the Akashic Age (with Ervin Laszlo). Kingsley also runs his own publishing imprint, Beautiful Traitor Books (, where he has published essays, science-fiction, children’s books, and poetry. Kingsley has now returned to the UK where he continues to work on new ideas, research, write, grow his own vegetables, and contemplate life’s mysteries. His website is:  

Dr. Lee Irwin is Professor Emeritus at the Religious Studies Department at the College of Charleston where he taught world religions with an emphasis on Native American traditions, western esotericism, hermeticism, contemporary spirituality, mystical cosmology, and transpersonal religious experience as related to dreams and visions. He served as the Vice President of the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE), a board member of the Sophia Institute, and a Guiding Voice for the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom. He has been a workshop leader and group facilitator for over twenty-five years, particularly in the areas of visionary cosmology and the development of the sacred human. He is the author of many books and articles, including The Dream Seekers; Visionary Worlds; Awakening to Spirit: On Life, Illumination, and Being; The Alchemy of Soul; Coming Down From Above: Prophecy, Resistance, and Renewal in Native American Religions; and Reincarnation in America: An Esoteric History. Here’s a link to a video conversation on his book Dreams Beyond Time.

Dr. Christopher McIntosh is an unusual combination of scholar, fiction writer, artist, gardener and connoisseur of the bizarre and the other-worldly. He was born in England in 1943 and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and German at London University, later returning to Oxford to take a doctorate in history with a dissertation on the Rosicrucian revival in the context of the German Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment. After working in London in journalism and publishing he spent four years in New York as an information officer with the United Nations Development Programme, then moved to Germany to work for UNESCO. In parallel he has pursued a career as a writer and researcher specialising in the esoteric traditions. His books include The Astrologers and their Creed(1969); Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival(1972); The Rosicrucians(latest edition 1997); The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason(1992), based on his D.Phil. dissertation; The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria(latest edition 2003); and Gardens of the Gods(2005). His fictional work includes the occult novel Return of the Tetrad(2013), the spy thriller The Lebensborn Spy(2017) and the short story collections Master of the Starlit Grove(2014), The Wyrde Garden(2015) and The Sorceress of Agartha(2017). With his wife, Dr. Donate McIntosh, he produced a new translation of the Rosicrucian Fama Fraternitatis(2014). He has a long-standing interest in nature-oriented belief systems and in gardens as places filled with symbolic meaning, as described in his book Gardens of the Gods, and has created several such gardens of his own. He has lectured widely and was on the faculty of the distance M.A. programme in Western Esotericism at the University of Exeter, England, now sadly discontinued. His home is in North Germany.

Dr. Arthur Versluis, Professor of Department of Religious Studies in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University, holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has published numerous books and articles.  Among his books are Magic and Mysticism: An Introduction to Western Esotericism (Rowman Littlefield, 2007), The New Inquisitions: Heretic-hunting and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Totalitarianism (Oxford UP, 2006), Restoring Paradise: Esoteric Transmission through Literature and Art (SUNY: 2004); The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance (Oxford UP: 2001); Wisdom’s Book: The Sophia Anthology, (Paragon House, 2000); Island Farm (MSU Press, 2000); Wisdom’s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition (SUNY: 1999); and American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions-(Oxford UP, 1993).  His family has owned a commercial farm in West Michigan for several generations, and so he also published a book called Island Farm about the family farm, and about family farming in the modern era.  Versluis was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Germany, and is the founding editor of Esoterica, as well as current editor of JSR: Journal for the Study of Radicalism.  He is the founding President of Hieros Institute.

James Cowan (1942-2018) was author of a number of internationally acclaimed books, including The Painted Shore, A Troubadour’s Testament and Letters from A Wild State. In 1998 he was awarded the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal for his novel, A Mapmaker’s Dream. His work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. A ten-year study of indigenous cultures led him to work, research, and finally live among Aborigines in the Center, the Far North and the Kimberly region of Australia. This resulted in a series of books that explored Aboriginal themes: Mysteries of the Dreaming, Myths of Dreaming, Sacred Places, The Aboriginal Tradition, Two Men Dreaming and finally Messengers of the Gods. He has also worked with the Iban people of Borneo and the Miriam people of the Torres Strait. Toward the end of his life, James Cowan drew inspiration from cultural perspectives lying at the heart of Early Christianity and ancient Greek thinking. Books such as Desert Father, Francis, and Fleeing Herod, explored the revolutionary nature of Christianity as a vehicle for transformation. His studies of the pre-Socratic philosophers allowed him to render a modern translation of Parmenides’ poem, The Way of Truth. Myth, and the importance of sacred landscapes, lie at the heart of his work. He and Arthur Versluis explore these themes in a final work, Timelessness: Conversations on Life, Literature, Spirituality, and Culture (New Cultures Press, 2020).

Spirituality of the Land Videos Now Available at

We are making available the audio and videos of the symposium Spirituality of the Land, held at Oxford University, and featuring John and Caitlín Matthews, Christopher Mcintosh, John Carey, Kresimir Vukovic, and Arthur Versluis, with a tribute to James G. Cowan.  To help subvent the cost of this event and to sponsor future events, there is a modest fee for accessing these audio and video files, which are available here:

Support Hieros and enjoy these lectures, available now!