Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Wyrmfang »

pp.63-67
III - A Century of Initiations


1. Strict Observance and Rectified Scottish Rite
Particularly the higher grades of Masonic orders were associated with esotericism. Two of the most important rites in the 18th century were Strict Observance created by Baron Karl von Hund and Rectified Scottish Rite created by theosopher Jean-Baptiste Willermoz. In the 1770s the two Masonic lines held an important convention in which the myth Templars was discarded.

2. Other Masonic and Paramasonic Systems
Masonic orders can be roughly distinguished between Christian ones (such as the two discussed above) and neo-pagan "Egyptian" ones. Of the latter type the most famous were African Architects (1767), Egyptian Rite (1784), Rite of Misraïm, Rite of Memphis, and Magi of Memphis.

3. During the period, many works of fiction were closely associated with the esoteric. This includes novels, poetry, and music alike (the most famous examples are probably works of Novalis, William Blake´s Marriage, and Mozart´s Magic Flute).

Apologies for a delayed and a very scarce presentation. I have had a terrible rush with work, and this chapter was somehow particularly boring and confusing.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Kenazis »

Faivre
pages 69 -

From Romantic Knowledge to Occultist Programs

1. The Era of Naturphilosophie and the Great Syntheses

a. Nature Philosophy in the Romantic Era (1790-1847)

Naturphilosophie in its general form attempted to bring to light Nature, the part that Christianity repressed. Three factors contributed the dawning of Naturphilosophie. First is the persistence of the idea of magia. The second factor is the influence of certain philosophers: French Naturalism (Georges-Louis de Buffon, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert) Immanuel Kant and Baruch Spinoza. The Third factor is proper atmosphere which favoured the ideas of animal magnetism, galvanism and electricity among others.

Three fundamental tenets seem to characterize Naturphilosophie:

1) The “identity” of Spirit and Nature
2) Nature is a living net of correspondences to be deciphered and integrated into holistic worldview
3) Naturphilosophie is multidisciplinary
The major contribution of Naturphilosophie to the science of the nineteenth century was the discovery of the unconscious (Die Symbolik des Traums, 1814, by Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert).

b. Main Representatives of this Current

The Catholic (also physician, mining engineer and professor of philosophy) Franz von Baader’s (1765-1841) two essays – Beiträge zur Elementarphysiologie (1797) & Ueber das pythagoräische Quadrat in der Natur (1798) – were very influential for the rise of Naturphilosophie in Germanic countries. Also Friedrich W,J. Schelling (1775-1854)and Carl August von Eschenmayer (1758-1862) were influential. After these fellows Faivre mentions many many more that participated in a way or another to the current of Naturphilosophie.


c. Naturphilosophie and Animal Magnetism

“Biggest names” of animal magnetism – Eschenmayer, Kerner and Baader – saw that magnetic ecstacy enables the subject momentary to achieve the “state before the original fall” and contact the imaginary world of celestial spheres. For example In France, G.P.Billot magnetized Marie-Thérèse Mathieu, that entered into contact with her guardian angel. Animal magnetism wasn’t reserved for the Naturphilosophie alone, but was more widely spread collection of practises used in Western world during this period.

d. Esotericism on the Edge of Naturphilosophie (1815-1857)
-

e. Esotericism in Art (1815-1847)
-

Next one can continue from “Esotericism on the edge of Naturphilosophie” or “II. Universal Tradition and Occultism”. Onward with this never ending project!
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

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4. Esotericism on the Edge of Naturphilosophie (1815–1857)page 74-76
Faivre gives example on esotericism currents in Germany and France
Relationship between esotericism and socialist utopias mentioned.
Books about alchemy becomes popular among "traditional scientists":
( A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery (1850), by Mary Ann Atwood; and Alchemy and the Alchemists (1857), by Ethan Allen Hitchcock.)
Also this was time when Swedenborgianism got influenced by humanitarian prophesy, as in the illuminated socialism of a Louis Lucas (Une Révolution dans la musique, 1849), of a Jean-Marie Ragon de Bettignies (Orthodoxie maçonnique and Maçonnerie occulte,1853.


5. Esotericism in Art (1815–1847) page 76-77
In the 17th century there happened a symbosis with baroque imaginaire and theosophic literature. The Same symbosis happened with romanticism, but this "relationship" was more evident at Germanic countries.
Faivre claims that the myth fall and reintegration is shown in romanticism.
He also claims according to many historians that this use of myth was against the most production of literary and philosophical during that era.
In France a certain number of authors continued to fill in the trend that was once created by illuminism.
Faivre gives examples of books that were directly influenced by Illuminism.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Pages 77-83
II Universal Tradition and Occultism

1. From the Romantic East to the India of the Theosophical Society
During the Romantic era Indian thought and culture became increasingly popular in the West. The romantic mindset also gave birth to the revival of teh Rennaissance idea of philosophia perennis, which was now conceived in a universal context (applying also to India) in contrast to its original appearance in which it was limited to Mediterranean area. At the same period "esotericism" as substantive appeared the first time, which means it began to be conceived largely in the same sense as still today. The era also gave rise to extensive interest to claims about mysteries of the Great Pyramid and Drudism as the primordial religion. Blavatsky´s theosophical society had an enormous impact on the popularity of these themes.

2. Advent of Spiritualism and Occultism
The idea of animal magnetism, discussed earlier, was a great inspirer to what became known as the Spiritualist movement. Alleged contacts with deceased people spread from the US and became a highly popular cultural phenomenon. According to Faivre, Spiritualism is not an esoteric doctrine in the strict sense, but it was very influential and forced esotericists to form opinions about it. Faivre also distinguishes the Occultist current which emerged at the time with Eliphas Levi as its most influential figure. Faivre does not really explain how occultism differs from esotericism in general, and I was a bit puzzled at this point.

3. Growth of Occultism in the Era of Scientism and Continuity of Theosophy
The rise of reductionist scientific mentality and occultism emerged simultaneously, and occultists did not conceive themselves as opposing the new scientific findings but addressed them as one-sided insights into nature. Faivre sees here a connection with German Naturphilosophie, but, according to him, occultism was more practically oriented and seeked empirical proofs. The Society for Psychical Research was founded, and occultism spread wider, for example to Russia and Netherlands. Aleister Crowley and Rudolf Steiner presented their profilic ideas and became new type of highly influential esotericists.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Kenazis »

pages 84 - 88

Esotericism in Initiatic Societies and in Art (1848-1914)

1. Masonic or Paramasonic Societies

Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875) founded the most ancient Rosicrucian group in the United States, the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, in 1868.
1876, the Swedenborgian Rite (known as Illuminated Theosophists) returned from America to Europe.
Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) of distinctly Christian orientation branching from regular English Freemasonry born 1876 and founded occultists Robert Wentworth Little (1840-1918) and Kenneth R.H. Mackenzie (1833-1886). Willian Wynn Westcott was its Supreme Magus from 1891 to 1925, and Bulwer-Lytton and Éliphas Lévi were honorary members.

in the year 1888 saw the birth three orders, Rose-Croix Kabbalistique in France, Fraternitas in Germany, and the Order of the Golden Dawn (GD) in England. Westcott, William Robert Woodman and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers were the founders of Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn also accepted women as their members. Famous members of the Golden Dawn include writer William Butler Yeats, Aleister Crowley and Arthur Waite. 1891, Martinist Order was born, who also accepted women as their members.

Between 1906 and 1910 Theodor Reuss established the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). OTO was more anti-christian and its rites were more sexual-oriented than the ones in the Order of the Golden Dawn. These emphases was mainly coming from Aleister Crowley, who also created parallel order Astrum Argentinum in 1909.

2. The Theosophical Society

Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 in New York by Helena Petrovan Blavatsky (1831-1891), Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge. Even the “Theosophism” does not set forth a “doctrine”, the book Secret Doctrine (by Blavastky) serves as a reference for the theosophists.
(At its foundation in 1875) Theosophical Society fixed a triple goal for itself, respected by the branches issued from it.

1) to form the nucleus of a universal fellowship
2) to encourage the study of all the religions, of philosophy, and of science
3) to study the laws of Nature as well as psychical and spiritual powers of the human being

By content and inspiration TS was largely influenced and dependant on Eastern spirituality, especially Hindu.
After the death of H.P. Blavatsky, there were many new branches and directions born from the original society. Robert Crosbie founded the United Lodge of Theosophists in 1909. Annie Besant (1847-1933) steered the Theosophical Society in her own direction. Influential figure of feminine and Christian occultism, Anna Kingsford parted her ways with the society for she saw personally impossible for herself to unite the Eastern traditions with her Western Christian views. Rudolf Steiner, a member of society, broke away from TS in 1913 for the same reasons than Kingsford, and founded later his Anthropology.


3. Esoteric Art and Literature

Some writers and composers that drew from the referential corpus of the esoteric currents:

Gérard de Nerval – (Voyage en Orient, 1851; Les Illuminés, 1852; Les Chimères, 1854)
Charles Baudelaire – (“Correspondences”, 1857)
Victor Hugo – (Contemplations, 1856)
Villiers de L’Isle-Adam – (Isis, 1862; Axël, 1888)
Bulwer-Lytton – (Zanoni)
Franz Hartmann – (An adventure among the Rosicrucians, 1887)
Emma Hardinge Britten – (Ghostland, or Researches into the Mysteries of Occultism, 1876)
Richard Wagner. musician
Arnold Böcklin, painter
Gustave Moreau, painter
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by obnoxion »

Kenazis wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:49 pm
Gérard de Nerval – (Voyage en Orient, 1851; Les Illuminés, 1852; Les Chimères, 1854)
Charles Baudelaire – (“Correspondences”, 1857)
Victor Hugo – (Contemplations, 1856)
Villiers de L’Isle-Adam – (Isis, 1862; Axël, 1888)
Bulwer-Lytton – (Zanoni)
Franz Hartmann – (An adventure among the Rosicrucians, 1887)
Emma Hardinge Britten – (Ghostland, or Researches into the Mysteries of Occultism, 1876)
Richard Wagner. musician
Arnold Böcklin, painter
Gustave Moreau, painter
A list of paragons that I would almost as such have chiselled in black marble on my wall.

As I happen to be delving into Gerard de Nerval's "Selected Writings" (Penguine Classics, 1999), I should like to share a quote on de Nerval's poetic method, which still holds occultism relevant to poetry (Richard Sieburth's introductory notes from the page 350):

[Nerval insists] that his poems were composed not in the throes of trivial madness but rather in a 'state of supernatural reverie', a state in which (according to Goethe and Heine, among others) the poet's vision turns away from the imitation of the forms of outward nature to contemplate the eidetic images and symbols that emerge from deep within memory theater of the soul.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Kavi »

I tried to write notes several week(s) ago directly to this board and it was bad mistake as I was logged out and I lost my notes.. I try to write them again soon if I have spare time.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Kavi, let´s not give this up, it´s so little left.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Kavi »

Here it is. A bit of a torso but it's sometimes hard to understand the point Faivre tries to make.

I. Gnoses in the Wake of the Western “Tradition”
pp. 89-96

1. “Traditional Sciences,” Christian Theosophy, and New Forms of Gnosis
Certain speculative or operative activities stayed in use for initiatic associations and individuals, but traditional sciences (alchemy, astrology, tarot and magics) got broader public.
The most popular of these was astrology which Faivre gives a title “queen of divinatory arts”.
This conclusion could be made today as Faivre states that astrology is everywhere and popularized.
Tarot became it’s own esoteric current as well. Tarot doesn’t only evolve around itself but tries to find gnosis incorporating elements from other traditions. (i.e Kabbalah)
Faivre uses different examples, but most common of examples would be The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley.
Practitioners of alchemy are divided into two categories: Blowers, those who seek material gain and Philosophers, those who have a spiritual goal while being also operative.
In Faivres view during twentieth century “philosophers” class left nothing interesting written work behind them.
Faivre still picks up one name Eugène Léon Canseliet (1899–1982)
Others were more theoretical and dealt with spiritual and initiatic aspects rather than being practitioner of this “science” (Julius Evola, La Tradizione ermetica,1931).
Alchemy has gained a good ground in Western culture.
Lastly there is Magic and here Faivre thinks that using historian Massimo Introvigne’s distinction of a) Ceremonial magic and b) initiatic magic are convenient to do.
a) is about gaining knowledge/power and about effectiveness of rites while b) is about initiation, legitimacy of filiation and authentic initiation of a member.
Both magics were used in secret societies and there is plenty of literature written on this topic.
One of its famous practitioner was Aleister Crowley and his works are many.
Jewish Kabbalah is hold its ground along with Sephirotic tree but cutting it away from Hebraic cultural terrain.
While not rooted to Jewish tradition, Latin and Greek corpus are used instead due to their hermeneutic nature.
(Corpus Hermeticum)

2. Presence of Christian Theosophy
According to Faivre the main Christian theosophy currents were French, German and Russian.
Rudolf Steiner.
Leopold Ziegler who shared the same idea of René Guénon of primordial Tradition which was forgotten.
Faivre raises Boehme and Baader to be starting point of Christian theosophy.
Sophia wasn’t acknowledged in Western Christianity where as theosophists and orthodox Christians hold it high in value. Although there were more elemenents and figures to it.
(Vladimir Solovyov, Pavel Florensky)

In France islamologist Henry Corbin who dealt with theosophies of Islam but also with Christian theosophy.
Comparative esotericism of religions of the book = Meaning Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
He would try to bring out connections between theosophists like Swedeborg and of Shi’ite Islamic theosophy.
Also in his works Sophia has an important role.
Also mundus imaginalis – the imaginal world (mesocosm):
“where spirits become corporealized and bodies become spiritualized”.
I am not sure but I think works of Ibn Arabi might have influenced some of this.

3. Gnosis and Science: Toward a New Pansophy?
According to Faivre esotericism in twentieth century hasn’t challenged new Nature philosophy and is left powerless.
In academic world different symposiums are organized in themes Science and Tradition and Religion and Science, but always emphasizing “hard sciences”.
Faivre sees that neo-gnosis which is constructed in hermeneutical way could possibly approach “myths on variety of different reality”.
In this chapter Faivre raises Gurdjieff and Ouspensky as one of the occultists who challenged and worked around Nature Philosophy.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Post by Wyrmfang »

pp. 99-104
II At the Crossroads of "Tradition"

1. René Guénon
Guénon who had been a member of several initiatic orders wanted to answer the multiplicity of contrary doctrines by establishing the idea of a primordial tradition behind forms of esotericism. A similar idea was already present in Renaissance and it was also brought forwards by the Theosophical Society, but for Guénon it was the center of his writings. Though only the Tradition contained true esoteric knowledge for Guénon, he preferred the longest established traditions such as Catholicism for formal institutions.

Faivre seems to have some personal relationship to Guénon. In contrast to all other authors and doctrines, Faivre makes some arguments about Guénon. For example, he says that Guénon does not have an adequate theory of the symbol, and that we "can only admire" his abilities in creating a synthesis but that he "threw the baby out with the bathwater".

2. The Perennialist Current

Guénon gave birth to a whole school of "traditionalism" or "perennialism". His immediate successor was Frithjof Schuon, who was later followed by Contant Chevillon, Georges Vallin and most famously, Julius Evola, among others.

3. Initiatic Societies

Several masonic and paramasonic orders survided to the 20th century. Ordo Templi Orientis became much bigger. Antiquus Mysticus Ordo Rosae Crucis was born, which is actually the second largest occult movement after the Theosophical Society. Rudolf Steiner resigned from the TS and began his Anthroposophical Society which became highly influential. Gurjieff had his own circle of followers, which also became influential.

4. "Tradition": A Multifaceted Notion

From the 60s onwards, many esoteric schools began to lose their structure and blended into what Colin Campbell has called the cultic milieu. Another closely associated terms are New Age and New Religious Movements. The phenomenon is accompanied with commerciality - again something Faivre describes in surprisingly pejorative terms.

Now there´s only one chapter left for Kenazis, and then this via dolorosa is finally over. The next books will most certainly be more pleasant to go through.
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