Religious Movements

ANTHROPOSOPHY (Religious Movement)

Anthroposophy is the name given to the ‘spiritual science’ developed by Austrian Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). In Steiner’s view, the natural world was guided by cosmic rhythms and he created anthroposophy with the aim of investigating the spiritual world without the partial and limited approaches of either science or mysticism alone. The basic tenets of anthroposophy […]


The founder of ATOM (Ancient Teachings of the Masters) was Darwin Gross, who in 1971 received the ‘Rod of Power’ from Paul Twitchell (1908-71), the founder of Eckankar. Darwin Gross claims the title of 972nd Bourchakoum Master, the current heir to a line that includes a number of mysterious individuals. In 1983, after more than […]


Mata Amritanandamayi (Mother of Immortal Bliss)—affectionately called Amma or Ammachi (mother)—is a prominent contemporary religious leader, attracting devotees of all ages, races, religions, and walks of life. Known as the ‘Hugging Saint’ since she has literally embraced millions of devotees across the globe, Ammachi is regarded by her devotees as the embodiment of the Divine […]

AMORC (Religious Movement)

Founder: Harvey Spencer Lewis Country of origin: USA AMORC, the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, is the largest among several organizations which claim a genealogy dating back to the Rosicrucian movement of the seventeenth century. It insists that it is not a religion, and that it comprises members (‘students’) from several different religious backgrounds. […]

ARYA SAMAJ (Religious Movement)

The Arya Samaj is a Hindu revivalist movement with its origins in north India in the nineteenth century, but with a global presence and purpose in the twenty-first. With its message of ‘Back to the Veda’, it has sought to purify Hindu practices, ideas, and institutions by rejecting what it sees as superstitious and superfluous […]

ARMSTRONG, HERBERT W. (b. 1892; d. 1996) (Religious Movement)

Founder of the Worldwide Church of God Born in Des Moines, Iowa of Quaker stock, Herbert W.Armstrong (the W was an invented middle initial) became the founder and leader of a distinctively American heterodox Christian sect (see Worldwide Church of God) and its massive worldwide publishing and broadcasting effort. In his two-volume Autobiography he describes […]

ARCHEOSOPHY (Religious Movement)

Following the esoteric revival promoted by the Theosophical sphere, a variety of Christian movements were created that expressed interest in esoteric subjects. These movements, critical of such a sphere, were nevertheless subjected to its influence. The Lotus+Cross Esoteric Order and the Archeosophic Association, both founded by Tommaso Palamidessi (1915-83) and each with original aspects, are […]


The Arcanum Nama Shivaya Hindu Mission (ANSHM) is a Saivite mission, founded by a Ghanaian in Ghana, West Africa with branches in the Ivory Coast and the Republic of Togo. The mission combines various features of Hinduism, Traditional Religion and Christianity. Its leader also practises esoteric and herbal healing. Rev. Guru Janakananda Ramachandra Amankwa is […]

AZUSA STREET REVIVAL (Religious Movement)

The Azusa Street Revival in 1906-9, regarded by historians of religions as marking the beginning of twentieth-century Pentecostalism, has exercised a profound influence in the United States and beyond. William Joseph Seymour (1870-1922), the central figure of the Revival was born to a family of emancipated slaves and grew up in the midst of violent […]

AUROBINDO, SRI (Religious Movement)

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was the co-founder of Auroville, which has become one of the most famous and highly regarded ashrams in India. He is also remembered for his teachings on yoga and a distinctive existential philosophy. Closely associated with him is Mira Richard (nee Alfassa) (1878-1973), a Frenchwoman who became his disciple, co-founder and co-director […]