History of the Happy Hours

The Happy Hour, now a traditional conference of historians, religionists, ethnologists, librarians, (...) and generally those interested in hermetic topics, originated from the initiative of the librarian of the National Museum Library and the agile member of Universalia, PhDr. Luboš Antonín (*1952 - †2016). From the beginning, it was a symposium that, in addition to lectures and publication outputs, also focused on mutual meetings, exchange of experiences and inspiration. In this regard, the Happy Hours follows up on the tradition of home seminars from the Socialist era. Last but not least, the venue itself played and continues to play an important role. It usually takes place in a castle or a palace, or at a historical site with a strong genius loci.

The first Happy Hour, titled "Intellectual Trends in the Circles of Moravian Nobility in the 17th and 18th Century," took place on October 5th and 6th, 1994, at the castles of Rájec nad Svitavou and Mikulov. Thematically, it followed the successful exhibition "Regnum alchymiae”, connected to the topic of Freemasonry.

The Happy Hour II, titled "Hermetic Tradition in the Mansions of Southern Moravia in the 17th – 19th century," took place on October 23rd to October 25th, 1995, at Vranov nad Dyjí Castle and Buchlov Castle.

The Happy Hour III focused on mining, metallurgical, and alchemical traditions of Kutná Hora and their imprint on architecture and visual arts. It took place on May 10th and May 11th, 2000. The venue for the event was the Sankturinovský House in Kutná Hora, but the highlight for the participants remains the descent into the flooded mining gallery of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The Happy Hour IV was dedicated to the interest in ancient Egyptian mysteries in European Romantic literature. It also explored the ironworking activities in the Czech-German borderlands through the lens of Novalis's “magical idealism”. It was held on October 18th and October 19th, 2001, with the hosting venue being Kynžvart State Castle. As a part of the second day of the seminar, an excursion was organized to the youngest Czech volcano, Komorní Hůrka.

The Happy Hour V, focusing on cultural, hermetic, and numinous influences in the history of Bečov nad Teplou, took place on October 18th and October 19th, 2010, at Bečov nad Teplou State Castle.

The Happy Hour VI, titled “The Dance of the Amygdala on Taufelsberg”, was, as an exception, held within a single afternoon on October 15th, 2016, served as a solemn remembrance of the prematurely deceased Luboš Antonín. It took place at the Carpet Diem café near Flóra in Prague.

The Happy Hour VII took place on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the revival of Czech hermetics initiated by Baron Adolf France Leonhardi (*1856 - †1908) - an imperial deputy, a friend of T. G. Masaryk, a Freemason, and a Martinist. The conference was held at the former ancestral castle of the Leonhardi family, Stráž nad Nežárkou Castle, on August 27th and August 28th, 2022.

The seventh conference was different in many aspects. For the first time, the Documentation Center of Czech Hermeticism took patronage over the conference. The conference continued the tradition of the original Happy Hours but also took up an extinct tradition of conferences of religious studies at HTF CUNI, which focused on esotericism and alternative spirituality. This made it much broader and more diverse in its topics than usual. Both days of the conference were filled with lectures by renowned authors, such as Jakub Hlaváček, Pavel Horák, Petr Kalač, Libor Koudela, Adam Kretschmer, Pavel Krummer, Petr Lisý, Martin Stejskal, Jan Ševčík, and Samuel Zajíček. The historical hall resonated with the sound of Martin Křehnáč's baroque guitar.

A few fragments from the history of the Happy Hours...