The New York Open Center Presents
Esoteric Quest
A Virtual Exploration of the Spiritual History of the West
October 23rd - 27th, 2020
Early Bird Registration Rates are available through October 5, 2020

The Esoteric Quest has, for quarter of a century, been one of the world’s outstanding events on the deeper, often half-forgotten, aspects of Western Spirituality. We have created and produced many international conferences and journeys in highly evocative locations on such themes as the Rosicrucian Enlightenment in Renaissance Bohemia, the Golden Age of Andalusia, and the world of Ancient Alexandria, to name just a few.

However, this year’s celebration of 25 years of the Esoteric Quest has taken an unexpected turn as the coronavirus has of course required us to rethink our travel plans. We will not be able to journey to Portugal and Galicia as we had intended, but instead, we are excited to offer for the first time a Virtual Quest, one that will revisit key themes from our rich history, look forward to the future, and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. We hope this will enable more participants to join us and, of course, it does allow us to draw on an outstanding group of presenters who can speak to us from their homes around the world.

We will be able to reproduce most of the alchemical ingredients that have made the Quests work so well for so long. The quality of the learning will remain untouched, we will enjoy musical and cultural events, and we will experience plenty of conviviality, meeting other participants in regular breakout sessions and even having a daily happy hour! Of course, we will not be able to reproduce the physical ambience of the western Ibernian Peninsula. That will have to wait until next year.

We are very conscious that participants have no desire to sit at a computer screen for eight hours a day. Consequently, there will be 60 to 90 minute morning, mid-day and late afternoon sessions with plenty of time in between them. All sessions will also be recorded so if the time zone or other commitments prevent you from experiencing sessions live, they can be easily accessed later.

We are delighted that many of our finest presenters from the last quarter century will be joining us online, including Christopher McIntosh, Yuri Stoyanov, Leonard George, Marjorie Roth, Alastair McIntosh, Haraldur Erlendsson, Ellen Goldberg and Scott Olsen, and musicians from Iceland to Occitania. Joscelyn Godwin is also contributing a special article about the Quest for our 25th celebration that will be sent to all registrants.

For complete information about our presenters, schedule, and daily themes for the Virtual Quest, and to register, visit our conference website. Any questions? Contact registration director Andrea Lomanto at

About The Quest

The Esoteric Quest is an ongoing conference and travel series engaged with the rediscovery of the lost or half-forgotten spiritual history of the West. It brings together scholars, writers, artists, and performers deeply versed in the Western Esoteric Tradition and offers some of the leading events in the world on this profound topic. While this year’s Quest will be a virtual one, we look forward to resuming our travels once it is safe to do so.
The Quest began in 1995 in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, the Southern Bohemian mecca of alchemists, with the conference entitled “The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited” (an “esoteric Woodstock” as it was described at the time by Gnosis magazine). It has now continued for 25 years and has addressed such themes as The Italian Renaissance and the Esoteric Traditions in Florence, Italy; the Golden Age of Andalusia in Granada, Spain; the Cathars and Troubadours in 12th century Languedoc in France; and the world of Ancient Alexandria in Egypt.

Produced by the New York Open Center, the city’s leading institution of holistic learning for over thirty-six years, The Esoteric Quest is more than a study of spiritual history. It seeks to find the relevance of these traditions to our circumstances in the present day and foster deep interest in the wisdom of different cultures and epochs. The speakers and locations are carefully chosen to offer memorable and convivial experiences that enrich our sense of wonder and open us to fresh ways of seeing the world. Its prime ingredients are high-quality learning, an evocative ambiance, and a program that includes the arts and a strong emphasis on building warm community.

Click HERE to see website
2019: An Esoteric Quest in Bulgaria: At the Crossroads of the Mysteries

Our 15th Esoteric Quest took place in Plovdiv, Europe’s oldest living city, inhabited for over 6,000 years. We returned to our esoteric roots in Eastern Europe, exploring the many mystery traditions that have crossed paths over the centuries in this fascinating place.


Click HERE to see website
2018: An Esoteric Quest for the Lost World of the Incas and the Living Spirituality of Indigenous Peru and Bolivia: In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu and Cusco
The Open Center’s 14th Esoteric Quest—our first in South America—took place primarily in the tranquil Sacred Valley of the Incas, not far from Cusco, next to the rushing Urubamba River, with its snow-capped mountain vistas.


Click HERE to see website
2017: An Esoteric Quest in the Western Isles of Scotland: Megalithic, Celtic and Norse Cultures in the Outer Hebrides
The thirteenth in a series of conferences on Western spiritual traditions continued our theme from our 2016 Quest in Iceland of exploring the mysteries of the North. We investigated the geometry and alignments of the evocative standing stones, pondered the meeting of Gaelic and Norse cultures, experienced the mystical beauty of these islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, and learned about Scotland’s more recent esoteric traditions. Our home base was Lews Castle overlooking Stornoway harbor, a beautifully restored 19th-century estate.


Click HERE to see website
2016: An Esoteric Quest for the Mysteries of the North in Iceland
The twelfth in the Open Center’s series of conferences on the Esoteric Quest took place on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the West of Iceland, a place long held sacred in Norse Mythology. Its sparkling ocean and long ridge of protective mountains terminate in the Great Snow Mountain Glacier itself, Snæfellsjökull, long seen as a holy place. While Norse mythology itself is filled with fascination and spiritual depth, there also was much more to the Vikings than the familiar stereotype of plunder and mayhem. They were not only warriors and raiders, but also adventurers, artists and shamans who deeply valued the Völvas, seeresses capable of peering into the future. Conference goers were invited to join leading scholars, writers, artists and adventurers to enter the great Mysteries of the North in one of the most magical realms on earth.


Click HERE to see the website
2015: An Esoteric Quest in the South of France
This Esoteric Quest was held in the Languedoc region of France. Long known as a focal point for numerous spiritual streams, this area was at the heart of the high medieval culture of both the Troubadours and the Gnostic Christian Cathars. The Bons Hommes, as the Cathars called themselves, created one of the most remarkable and enigmatic spiritual movements of the Middle Ages, the destruction of which was one of the great tragedies of European religious life. The Troubadours were the first to bring romantic love to the Western world in poetry and song of great elegance and charm that expressed a new merging of the erotic and the mystical.


Click HERE to see website
2013: An Esoteric Quest for Ancient Arabic and Medieval Sicily

This Quest took us to medieval Sicily, a brilliant center of Arabic culture with its poets, geographers and mosques. In the 12th century, the incoming Norman impulse created the most tolerant, multicultural and radiant land of its time, a place where Catholics, Byzantines, Jews, and Muslims all co-existed and flourished. It was an island where esoteric knowledge flowed through philosophers, Sufis, Neo-Platonic troubadours, Kabbalists and alchemists, and seekers of The Grail.


Click HERE to see website
2012: An Esoteric Quest for Ancient Alexandria

This journey explored “The Mysteries and Philosophy of Antiquity” that thrived in Alexandria, Egypt. Our conference vividly brought to life this most influential center of culture and esoteric wisdom in antiquity, the authentic birthplace of the Western mind.


Click HERE to see website
2009: An Esoteric Quest for Inner America

The Open Center’s eighth Esoteric Quest addressed the life-enhancing spiritual impulses that emerged powerfully in America. We brought alive the worldviews of Native Americans, 17th century Alchemists, Freemasons and Founding Fathers, Transcendentalists, early Feminists, and Spiritualists. We also honored numerous 20th century American writers and artists influenced by esotericism, and celebrated the contemporary, multicultural, spiritual explosion. Writers, scholars and performers joined in the beautiful Catskill Mountains at a special moment of rebirth of the American spirit.


Click HERE to see website
2008: An Esoteric Quest for the Mysteries and Philosophy of Antiquity: Spiritual Experience, Wisdom and Art in Ancient Greece

This Quest took place on the magical island of Samothrace, Greece, far off the beaten track in the northern Aegean Sea. For a thousand years, the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace was one of the most famous mystery centers of the ancient world, rivaling Delphi in stature and fame. International scholars, writers and artists gathered for the seventh in the Open Center’s series of conferences on the Western Esoteric Tradition. The conference was followed by three optional journeys. One explored the Sufi world of Istanbul; the other traveled to Delphi, Eleusis, and other evocative mystery centers of mainland Greece. Finally, we traveled to Ephesus, Didyma, and Miletus, exploring oracles and sacred sites from early Christianity.


Click HERE to see website
2007: An Esoteric Quest for the Golden Age of Andalusia: Sufis, Kabbalists and Christian Philosophers in Medieval Spain

This conference took place in Granada, Spain, the beautiful city lying below the snowy Sierra Nevada that, alone on the Iberian Peninsula, remained under Muslim control until the fateful year of 1492. Outstanding faculty from Spain, France, Britain and the United States addressed such topics as: the Zohar, the Sufis of Andalusia, Arabic alchemy, Ibn ‘Arabi and Rumi, the knowledge system of Ramon Lull, the troubadours, and the place of Spain and Islam in the Grail stories. Evenings were filled with poetry, flamenco, and music that emerged from the blending of ‘Las Tres Culturas‘.

2006: An Esoteric Quest in Central Europe, From Renaissance Bohemia to Goethe’s Weimar

This eight-day itinerant conference began in the Czech Republic in Kutna Hora and then proceeded to Marianske Lazne (Marienbad) in western Bohemia. It concluded in Weimar, Germany, and followed the Western Esoteric Tradition from 15th century Bohemia to its reemergence in Goethe’s artistic and scientific work.

2000: The Italian Renaissance and the Esoteric Traditions: Hermetic, Cabalistic and Neo-Platonic Philosophers & Their Influence Today

This five-day conference took place in Florence, Italy, and looked at the world of Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and the many other remarkable figures and esoteric impulses that characterized 15th century Florence.

1998: The Grail: Arthurian Mysteries and the Grail Quest

This conference, held in Lampeter, Wales, brought alive the Celtic background of the Grail stories and explored the roots and meaning of the Arthurian legends.

1997: Prague, Alchemy and the Hermetic Tradition

Taking place at the Zofin Palace on an island in the center of Prague, this conference coincided with the Festival of Rudolf II, King of Bohemia and Hungary, and Holy Roman Emperor in 1600, and investigated many aspects of the alchemical world of renaissance Bohemia.

1995: The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited: The Western Mystery Tradition in Bohemia. A Conference in Honor of Frances Yates

The first of the Open Center’s conferences on the Western Esoteric Tradition, this event brought together scholars, researchers and writers in the Southern Bohemian mecca of alchemy, Cesky Krumlov. It was named after Frances Yates’ pioneering work, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.


Video Library

This crowd-funded project makes the audio and video recordings of almost all previous Quests available to the general public. You can view individual lectures and workshops or stream a complete conference for a modest fee.

Digital Library
Supported Devices
There are lots of ways to watch The Esoteric Quest videos on devices other than your computer — to start, Vimeo is available for these popular app platforms and devices:

TV and Set-top Devices
Apple TV (2nd and 3rd Generation, pre-installed)
Apple TV (4th Generation): search for “Vimeo” in the tvOS App Store
Android TV: search for “Vimeo” in the Google Play Store
Amazon Fire TV devices
Samsung TVs (2015 Tizen-powered devices)
Chromecast (via our iOS and Android mobile apps)

If you prefer to take The Esoteric Quest on the go, you can do so with the Vimeo app on the following devices:

Mobile and Tablet
iOS iPhone/iPad
Android phones and tablets
Amazon Fire tablets


For more information, please contact Andrea Lomanto at

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