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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.


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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. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Ancient Hellenistic Sources of Western Esotericism2. Italian Renaissance Magic and Cabala3. Planetary and Angel Magic in the Renaissance4. 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 stretched across 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 thinkers like 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 the definitive account of Western esotericism. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages.

The Western Esoteric Traditions : A Historical Introduction

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The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

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Magic in Western Esoteric Traditions

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 21, Katharine Kerr rated it really liked it Shelves: magical-studies. A very good, if somewhat dry in spots, historical overview of the Western "esoteric" tradition, that is, of magic systems, magical studies, and their background in historical philosophy and mysticism. The most important portion of the book is its introduction, where Goodrick-Clarke, a respected academic, admits that the subject is worth studying.

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

He points out that the downgrading of magical studies to "nonsense and superstition" is a very recent stance in Western thought, part of the Enlightenm A very good, if somewhat dry in spots, historical overview of the Western "esoteric" tradition, that is, of magic systems, magical studies, and their background in historical philosophy and mysticism. He points out that the downgrading of magical studies to "nonsense and superstition" is a very recent stance in Western thought, part of the Enlightenment that privileges Reason and Science above all else.

What follows is indeed an overview, a brisk trot through several thousand years of intellectual history. The book reads like a textbook meant as a guide to further reading, and as such, it's admirably done. Anyone wanting colorful anecdotes, scandals, gossip about famous magicians, and the like had best look elsewhere.

Oct 29, Christopher Plaisance rated it it was amazing Shelves: western-esotericism. This book serves as a perfect example of how to introduce Western Esotericism by means of charting its origins in the ancient Hellenic world and various manifestations throughout European history, relying principally on the ideas presented in primary texts of seminal figures in the field. Goodrick-Clarke's work shines in the completeness and concision with which the whole history of Western Esotericism is presented.

In the span of roughly pages, he manages to distill the key figures and doct This book serves as a perfect example of how to introduce Western Esotericism by means of charting its origins in the ancient Hellenic world and various manifestations throughout European history, relying principally on the ideas presented in primary texts of seminal figures in the field. In the span of roughly pages, he manages to distill the key figures and doctrines in such a manner that it is easily digestible by the novice scholar.

My only real criticism of the book is that it places, perhaps, too much emphasis on 17th and 18th century manifestations and too little on the Greek origins. For, while the system of Emmanual Swedenborg is given its own chapter, Hellenistic Orphism, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism and Hermetism are crammed into a single, similarly sized chapter.

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This detriment aside, I can hardly think of a better scholarly introduction to the subject. Stuckrad, K. The Academic Study of Western Esotericism. Copenhagen: H. Hanegraaff, W. Esotericism and the academy, rejected knowledge in western culture.

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