Stanislav Panin

a scholar on a quest for understanding

About me

I am a scholar of religion and esotericism. I have received a degree of candidate of sciences in philosophy at Moscow State University (Russia) in 2015. My dissertation focused on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and attempted to represent its doctrines in the context of fin de siècle European philosophy. Since 2018 I continue my research as a doctoral student at Rice University (Houston, TX). I also serve as a board member of the Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism, a non-profit scholarly organization created to promote development of esoteric studies in post-Soviet region.

My primary field of expertise is the study of modern and contemporary Western esoteric currents. Topics that I have addressed before include Wicca, Thelema, Theosophy, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. My current research, however, deals primarily with the history of esoteric groups in the Soviet Union, especially during the late-Soviet period (1953 – 1991).

I am also interested in a wide gamut of theoretical problems related to the study of esotericism such as psychological dimension of esoteric practices and historical interactions between philosophy, science, and esotericism. On a more practical level, I am interested in mechanisms of construction of ideologies, issues of freedom of religion and belief, conspiracy theories, and religious fundamentalism.


Philosophy is a way to ask big questions about human existence and the universe. Who we are? Wheat is the meaning of our life? Why we are here? Philosophy is a strategy to question reality itself that is foundational for critical thinking; at the same time it provides instruments to create a holistic image of reality and opens a possibility of inner transformation.


Religion is a form of worldview, based on faith, traditions, and religious authority. Two poles of religious life are constituted by religious experience one one side and traditions, communities, and authories on the other. Religion is, therefore, foundational for stability of society, but, at the same time, allows an opening to shift our view of reality.


Esotericism is a sphere of deepest experience that transcends a usual perception of reality. In modern Western culture esotericism assumes a medium position between religion and science serving as one possible way to bridge the gap between spirituality and modern-day knowledge.


Science is based on empirical research that rests on rigorous collection and analysis of data. Two poles of science are defined by scientific intuition and established scientific procedures, something that Thomas Kuhn would call normal science as opposed to scientific revolutions.