Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 30, No 3 (2017)

Esoteric Themes in David Icke’s Conspiracy Theories

Tara Blue Moon Smith
Issued Date: 31 May 2018


What do the lizard illuminati and esotericism have in common? At firstglance, perhaps, very little. The former belongs in the world of David Ickeand a myriad of other conspiracy theorists, whilst the other is a fluid termnormally used to designate a distinct way of thinking in a context confinedto early fifteenth-century Europe until the twentieth century. However, oncloser inspection and by using Antoine Faivre’s six-point typology ofesotericism (with the addition of a seventh criterion, gnosis), this articleplaces Icke’s seemingly strange and random discourse within an esotericframework. Despite the warning from Antoine Faivre twenty-five years agothat New Religious Movements (NRMs) do not sit well within his typology, Ilocate Icke’s conspiracy theories within the context of Esotericism becausewhen Faivre wrote Access to Western Esotericism (1994) both NRMs andthe New Age were not yet ‘seated at the table’ of the academic study ofreligion. Twenty-five years on they are firmly within the purview of religiousstudies scholarship. It is useful to view Icke as an esotericist rather thanmerely a conspiracy theorist as his beliefs so clearly reflect an individualinfluenced by New Age discourses. Through the application of Faivre’smethodology, Icke’s theories are re-contextualised and examined within anesoteric context, enabling them to take on a religious meaning rather thanjust a conspiracist one. Drawing on Joseph Dan’s approach to esotericismas a way of viewing the world, rather than a term prescribed and inscribedby history, I seek to bring both Faivre and his indicia into conversation withthe study of NRMs. Using Faivre’s six-point typology and his definition ofgnosis this article places Icke’s conspiracy-based discourses within anesoteric framework.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/jasr.35289


Asprem, Egil. 2015. Intermediary Beings. In The Occult World, edited by Christopher Partridge, 646-58. Routledge, New York.

Barkun, Michael. 2015a. Conspiracy Theories and the Occult. In The Occult World, edited by Christopher Partridge, 701-709. Routledge, New York.

Barkun, Michael. 2015b. A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Dan, Joseph. 1998. Christian Kabbalah: From Mysticism to Esotericism. In Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion: Selected Papers presented at the 17th Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, edited by Antoine Faivre and Wouter J. Hanegraaff, 117-31. Peeters, Belgium.

Dyrendal, Asbjørn. 2013. Hidden Knowledge, Hidden Powers: Esotericism and Conspiracy Culture. In Contemporary Esotericism, edited by Egil Asperm and Kennet Granholm, 200-225. Equinox Publishing, Shefeld.

Faivre, Antoine. 1994. Access to Western Esotericism. State University of New York Press, New York. Doi:

Hanegraaff, Wouter J. 1996. New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. E.J. Brill, Leiden.

Hanegraaff, Wouter J. 1999. New Age Spiritualities as Secular Religion. Social Compass 46(2): 145-60. Doi:

Hanegraaff, Wouter J. 2006. Introduction. In Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Antoine Faivre, Roelof van den Broek and Jean-Pierre Brach, i-iv. Brill, Boston.

Icke, David. 1991. Truth Vibrations. Aquarian Press, London.

Icke, David. 1992. Love Changes Everything. Aquarian Press, London.

Icke, David. 1993a. In the Light of Experience: The Autobiography of David Icke. Green Print, London.

Icke, David. 1993b. Days of Decision. Jon Carpenter Publishing, London.

Icke, David. 1994. The Robots' Rebellion: The Story of Spiritual Renaissance. Gill Books and Macmillan, Dublin.

Icke, David. 1996. I Am Me I Am Free: The Robots’ Guide to Freedom. Bridge of Love, Newark.

Icke, David. 1999. The Biggest Secret. Bridge of Love Publications, Scottsdale, AZ.

Icke, David. 2001. Children of the Matrix. Bridge of Love Publications, Wildwood.

Icke, David. 2003. Tales from the Time Loop: The Most Comprehensive Expose of the Global Conspiracy Ever Written and All You Need to Know to Be Truly Free. Bridge of Love Publications, Wildwood, MO.

Icke, David. 2004. And the Truth Shall Set You Free. Bridge of Love Publications, Scottsdale, AZ.

Icke, David. 2014. Heal the World: A Do it Yourself Guide to Human and Planetary Transformation. Gill Books, Dublin.

Jonas, Hans. 1952. Gnosticism and Modern Nihilism. Social Research 19(4): 430-52.

Lewis, Tyson, and Richard Kahn. 2005. The Reptoid Hypothesis: Utopian and Dystopian Representational Motifs in David Icke's Alien Conspiracy Theory. Utopian Studies 16(1): 45-74. Online:

Melton, Gordon J. 2001. David Icke. In Encyclopaedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, vol. 1, edited by J. Gordon Melton, 776. 5th ed. Gale, Detroit.

Pearson, Birger A. 2007. Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature. Fortress Press, Minneapolis.

Robertson, David G. 2016. UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New Age: Millennial Conspiracism. Bloomsbury, London.

Robertson, David G. 2013. ‘David Icke’s Reptilian Thesis and the Development of New Age Theodicy’. International Journal for the Study of New Religions 4(1): 27-47. Doi:

Sitchin, Zecharia

1978 [1976]. The 12th Planet. Harper Collins, New York.

Williams, Michael. 1996. Rethinking ‘Gnosticism’: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.




TheManInTheDarkness, David Icke on Wogan. YouTube. Published 12/02/2016. Originally aired 29/4/1991. Online:
 (accessed 26 January 17).

Disclosure Discovery, David Icke What Is the Reptilian Agenda? YouTube. Published 6/4/2016. Online: (accessed 26 January 17).


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy