Magic, Mystery, and Science: The Occult in Western Civilization

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Indiana University Press, 2004 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 390 pages
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"[P.D. Ouspensky's] yearning for a transcendent, timeless reality—one that cancels out physical disintegration and death—figures into science at some fundamental level.

Einstein found solace in his theory of relativity, which suggested to him that events are ever-present in the space-time continuum. When his friend Michele Besso passed on shortly before his own death, he wrote: 'For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one.'" —from Magic, Mystery, and Science

The triumph of science would appear to have routed all other explanations of reality. No longer does astrology or alchemy or magic have the power to explain the world to us. Yet at one time each of these systems of belief, like religion, helped shed light on what was dark to our understanding. Nor have the occult arts disappeared. We humans have a need for mystery and a sense of the infinite.

Magic, Mystery, and Science presents the occult as a "third stream" of belief, as important to the shaping of Western civilization as Greek rationalism or Judeo-Christianity. The occult seeks explanations in a world that is living and intelligent—quite unlike the one supposed by science. By taking these beliefs seriously, while keeping an eye on science, this book aims to capture some of the power of the occult. Readers will discover that the occult has a long history that reaches back to Babylonia and ancient Egypt. It proceeds alongside, and frequently mingles with, religion and science. From the Egyptian Book of the Dead to New Age beliefs, from Plato to Adolf Hitler, occult ways of knowing have been used—and hideously abused—to explain a world that still tempts us with the knowledge of its dark secrets.

 

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Magic, mystery, and science: the occult in Western civilization

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In the past, humankind looked to the occult for answers to the world's mysteries, whereas today we usually look to science. But even in a world full of science, people embrace the New Age movement ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
EGYPTIANS AND THE OCCULT
8
I
15
NUMEROLOGY THE CABALA AND ALCHEMY
60
THE STARRY HEAVENS ABOVE
87
ANCIENT EVIL
112
SATAN DEMONS AND JINN
127
WITCHES AND WITCHHUNTS IN THE WEST
149
ESP AND PSI PHENOMENA
237
NAZISM AND ANCESTRAL GERMAN MEMORIES
259
UFOs AND ALIEN ABDUCTIONS
271
GNOSTICISM OLD AND NEW
290
NDEs NEW AGE AND NEW PHYSICS
311
NOTES
329
ILLUSTRATION CREDITS
377
INDEX
381

SPIRITS SCIENCE AND PSEUDOSCIENCE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
183
UP THE GARDEN PATH?
208

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About the author (2004)

Dan Burton is Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at the University of North Alabama. He lives in Florence, Alabama.

David Grandy is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brigham Young University. He earned a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science at Indiana University. He resides in Orem, Utah.

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