- The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction
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The spreading of secret teachings and magic practices found enthusiastic adherents in the chaos of Germany during the interwar years.
Notable writers such as Guido von List spread neo-pagan, nationalist ideas, based on Wotanism and the Kabbalah. Many influential and wealthy Germans were drawn to secret societies such as the Thule Society. By , Wiligut was "forcibly retired from the SS" due to being institutionalised for insanity. The leaders of the lodge emigrated in order to avoid imprisonment, but in the course of the war Eugen Grosche , one of their main leaders, was arrested for a year by the Nazi government. In the s and s, esotericism came to be increasingly associated with the growing counter-culture in the West , whose adherents understood themselves in participating in a spiritual revolution that would mark the Age of Aquarius.
The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction
This trend was accompanied by the increased growth of modern Paganism , a movement initially dominated by Wicca , the religion propagated by Gerald Gardner. In , Asprem and Granholm highlighted that "contemporary esotericism is intimately, and increasingly, connected with popular culture and new media. Granholm noted that esoteric ideas and images could be found in many aspects of Western popular media, citing such examples as Buffy the Vampire Slayer , Avatar , Hellblazer , and His Dark Materials. Writers interested in occult themes have adopted three different strategies for dealing with the subject: those who are knowledgeable on the subject including attractive images of the occult and occultists in their work, those who disguise occultism within "a web of intertextuality", and those who oppose it and seek to deconstruct it.
The academic study of Western esotericism was pioneered in the early 20th century by historians of the ancient world and the European Renaissance, who came to recognise that — although it had been ignored by previous scholarship — the effect which pre-Christian and non-rational schools of thought had exerted on European society and culture was worthy of academic attention. Walker began arguing that esoteric thought had had a greater effect on Renaissance culture than had been previously accepted. Faivre noted that there were two significant obstacles to establishing the field.
One was that there was an engrained prejudice towards esotericism within academia, resulting in the widespread perception that the history of esotericism was not worthy of academic research. In , the U. McDermott as an outlet for American scholars interested in Western esotericism. In , the University of Amsterdam established a chair in the "History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents", which was occupied by Hanegraaff,  while in the University of Exeter created a chair in "Western Esotericism", which was taken by Goodrick-Clarke, who headed the Exeter Center for the Study of Esotericism.
Asprem and Granholm noted that the study of esotericism had been dominated by historians and thus lacked the perspective of social scientists examining contemporary forms of esotericism, a situation that they were attempting to correct through building links with scholars operating in Pagan studies and the study of new religious movements.
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The emic approach is that of the alchemist or theosopher as an alchemist or theosopher. The etic approach is that of the scholar as an historian, a researcher, with a critical view. On the part of the researcher, the reconstruction of this emic perspective requires an attitude of empathy which excludes personal biases as far as possible. Scholarly discourse about religion, on the other hand, is not emic but etic. Scholars may introduce their own terminology and make theoretical distinctions which are different from those of the believers themselves.
Esotericism, given all its varied forms and its inherently multidimensional nature, cannot be conveyed without going beyond purely historical information: at minimum, the study of esotericism, and in particular mysticism, requires some degree of imaginative participation in what one is studying. Many scholars of esotericism have come to be regarded as respected intellectual authorities by practitioners of various esoteric traditions.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Range of related philosophical ideas and movements that have developed in the Western world. For other uses, see Arcane disambiguation and Esoteric disambiguation. In short, 'Western esotericism' is a modern scholarly construct, not an autonomous tradition that already existed out there and merely needed to be discovered by historians. Somewhat crudely, esotericism can be described as a Western form of spirituality that stresses the importance of the individual effort to gain spiritual knowledge, or gnosis , whereby man is confronted with the divine aspect of existence.
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Academic study of Western esotericism. Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed.
Guides for the Perplexed.
London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved The adjective 'esoteric' first appeared in the second century CE [ The adjective 'esoteric' first appeared in the second century CE, but the substantive is of relatively recent date: it seems to have been coined in German Esoterik in , migrated to French scholarship l'estoterisme by and appeared in English in Some Modern Controversies on the Historiography of Alchemy".
Anales de historia antigua, medieval y moderna 49 : 79— Victorian Review. London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks , p.
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Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. St Paul, MN: Llewellyn, pp. Oxford University Press. Chaos magick and the legitimacy of innovation". Egil Asprem and Kennet Granholm eds. Contemporary esotericism. Equinox Publishing. Asprem, Egil Asprem, Egil; Granholm, Kennet Contemporary Esotericism. Egil Asprem and Kennet Granholm editors.
Durham: Acumen. Asprem, Egil; Granholm, Kennet b. Bergunder, Michael Kenneth Fleming translator. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. Bogdan, Henrik Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation.
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Occultism in a Global Perspective. Henrik Bogdan and Gordan Djurdjevic editors. European Journal of English Studies. Faivre, Antoine Access to Western Esotericism. Faivre, Antoine; Voss, Karen-Claire Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas Add to Registry.
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So What is Western Esotericism, Anyway? Hi Earl, thank you so much for this exciting project!