The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction

Hardcover | October 28, 2008

byNicholas Goodrick-clarke

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Western esotericism has now emerged as an academic study in its own right, combining spirituality with an empirical observation of the natural world while also relating the humanity to the universe through a harmonious celestial order. This introduction to the Western esoteric traditionsoffers a concise overview of their historical development. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke explores these traditions, from their roots in Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism, and Gnosticism in the early Christian era up to their reverberations in today's scientific paradigms. While the study of Western esotericism is usually confined to the history of ideas,Goodrick-Clarke examines the phenomenon much more broadly. He demonstrates that, far from being a strictly intellectual movement, the spread of esotericism owes a great deal to geopolitics and globalization. In Hellenistic culture, for example, the empire of Alexander the Great, which stretchedacross Egypt and Western Asia to provinces in India, facilitated a mixing of Eastern and Western cultures. As the Greeks absorbed ideas from Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia, they gave rise to the first esoteric movements. From the late sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, post-Reformation spirituality found expression in theosophy, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. Similarly, in the modern era, dissatisfaction with the hegemony of science in Western culture and a lack of faith in traditional Christianity led thinkerslike Madame Blavatsky to look East for spiritual inspiration. Goodrick-Clarke further examines Modern esoteric thought in the light of new scientific and medical paradigms along with the analytical psychology of Carl Gustav Jung. This book traces the complete history of these movements and is thedefinitive account of Western esotericism.

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Western esotericism has now emerged as an academic study in its own right, combining spirituality with an empirical observation of the natural world while also relating the humanity to the universe through a harmonious celestial order. This introduction to the Western esoteric traditionsoffers a concise overview of their historical dev...

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is Chair of Western Esotericism and Director of the Centre for the Study of Western Esotericism at the University of Exeter

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 6.1 × 9.21 × 1.1 inPublished:October 28, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195320999

ISBN - 13:9780195320992

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Ancient Hellenistic Sources of Western Esotericism2. Italian Renaissance Magic and Cabala3. Planetary and Angel Magic in the Renaissance4. Alchemy, Paracelsus, and German Naturphilosophie5. Jacob Boehme and Theosophy6. Rosicrucianism7. High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century8. Emanuel Swedenborg9. Mesmerism and Spiritualism10. Ritual Magic from 1850 to the Present11. Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society12. Modern Esotericism and New ParadigmsNotesIndex