Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed
Western esotericism has been a pervasive presence in Western culture from late antiquity to the present day, but until recently it was largely ignored by scholars and surrounded by misconceptions and prejudice. This accessible guide provides readers with the basic knowledge and tools that will allow them to find their way in this bewildering but fascinating field.
What is it that unites phenomena as diverse as ancient gnosticism and hermetism, the "occult sciences" of astrology, alchemy, and magic, rosicrucianism, as well as Christian theosophy, occultism, spiritualism, and the contemporary New Age spiritualities? What can the study of them teach us about our common cultural and intellectual heritage, and what is it that makes them relevant to contemporary concerns? How do we distinguish reliable historical knowledge from legends and fictions about esoteric traditions? These and many other questions are answered clearly and succinctly, so that the reader can find his way into the labyrinth of Western esotericism and out of it again.
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academic Albany alchemy Aleister Crowley ancient wisdom angels Antoine Faivre astrology authors Brill Cambridge University Press Chapter Christian theosophy Church claims consciousness context Corpus Hermeticum deﬁnition demonic developed dimension divine doctrine domain early modern eighteenth century Emanuel Swedenborg Enlightenment esoteric example famous Ficino ﬁeld ﬁgures ﬁnal ﬁnally ﬁnd ﬁrst ﬂourished forms Freemasonry German Giordano Bruno gnosis gnostic heresy Hermetic Hermetica history of Western human ideas inﬂuence inﬂuential intellectual Islamic John Dee Joscelyn Godwin kabbalah late antiquity Leiden/Boston literature magic Marsilio Ficino means medieval Mesmerism modern and contemporary mysticism narratives nature occult occultist ofthe one’s original pagan Paracelsus perspective philosophy polemical popular practices psychological radical reality referred reﬂected rejected knowledge religion religious Renaissance ritual Romantic Rosicrucian scholars scholarship scientiﬁc somnambulism soul sources speciﬁc spiritual study of Western SUNY Press Swedenborg tericism Thomasius tion tradition true Western culture Western esotericism worldview Wouter Hanegraaff York