Eckartshausen, Karl von (1752-1803)

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Eckartshausen, Karl von (1752-1803)

Author of Der Wolke vor dem Heiligthume (1802), a classic work of Roman Catholic mysticism, translated into English as The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary. Eckartshausen, by nature and education an intensely religious man, began his writing career with several small books of devotion that had great vogue in France and Germany. He later turned his attention to larger works of a more profound character.

According to Eckartshausen, the requisite faculty of true communion with the "interior church" is the inward conception of things spiritual; this sense makes possible the beginning of regeneration understood as the process of gradually eliminating Original Sin. His consideration of the interior church proceeds at two levels, beginning with an elucidation of his doctrine and moving to a series of assertions derived therefrom.

Isabelle de Steiger's translated The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary, which was first published in 1895 in The Unknown World was edited by Arthur Edward Waite. It was later issued in book form. The English version was soon adopted not only by spiritual seekers but also by many occultists. It had some influence on the development of the modern occult revival, finding some favor among the leadership of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The book also impressed magician Aleister Crowley, who was attracted to its idea of the mystical interior church. Crowley was eventually consecrated into an independent Gnostic tradition, and he wrote a Gnostic mass for the church he founded as an auxiliary organization to the magical order he led.


Eckartshausen, Karl von. The Cloud upon the Sanctuary. Translated by Isabel de Steiger. Introduction by Arthur E. Waite. London: Philip Wellby, 1903.