The Essenes were a sect of Second Temple Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. They were fewer in number than the Pharisees and the Sadducees (the major Jewish sects at the time). They were vegetarian, ecologists, into both the Father and Mother aspects of God, saw women as equal with men. They were Master Healers, Herbalists and Alchemists and could heal with the touch of their hands as well as with food and herbs, had an average life span of 125 years, and were the teachers of Jesus, John the Beloved and John the Baptist.
Many separate but related religious groups of that era shared similar mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs. These groups are collectively referred to by various scholars as the “Essenes.” The Essenes lived in various cities and congregated in communal life dedicated to asceticism, voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and abstinence from worldly pleasures. The historian, Josephus records that Essenes existed in large numbers, and thousands lived throughout Roman Judæa.
According to a Jewish legend, one of the Essenes, named Menachem, passed mystical knowledge to the Talmudic mystic Nehunya ben HaKanah, to whom Kabbalistic tradition attributes Sefer HaBahir. Some Essene rituals, such as daily immersion in the mikveh, coincide with contemporary Hasidic practices; some historians had also suggested, that name “Essene” is a Hellenized form of the word “Hasidim” or “Hasid” (“pious ones”).
The Essenes gained fame in Modern times as a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946. These documents include untouched copies of the Hebrew Bible dating to 300 BCE.
More on the connection of Jesus to the Essenes may be found here: