Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed

Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed➵ [Read] ➱ Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed By Wouter J. Hanegraaff ➿ – Oaklandjobs.co.uk 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 Western esotericism has been a pervasive presence in A Guide Epub Þ Western culture from late antiquity to the present day, Western Esotericism: PDF or but until recently it was largely ignored by scholars and surrounded by misconceptions and prejudice This accessible guide Esotericism: A Guide eBook ↠ 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. This is an introductory textbook, aimed primarily at university students As such it takes a thoroughly outsider position on the practices of magick, hermeticism, esotericism, etc That was precisely why I read it to get a different viewpoint on a field where I m a practitioner I found it interesting and often refreshing.Chief among the book s refreshing aspects is its historicism Indeed, this is the main thrust of Hanegraaff s argument throughout While he is concerned to establish Western e This is an introductory textbook, aimed primarily at university students As such it takes a thoroughly outsider position on the practices of magick, hermeticism, esotericism, etc That was precisely why I read it to get a different viewpoint on a field where I m a practitioner I found it interesting and often refreshing.Chief among the book s refreshing aspects is its historicism Indeed, this is the main thrust of Hanegraaff s argument throughout While he is concerned to establish Western esotericism as a focus for interdisciplinary research, he explicitly insists that all scholars, in whatever discipline, should take a historicist approach I found this particularly refreshing because I am constantly exasperated on my blog here, for example by some practitioners wild and silly claims about the ancientness of recently invented practices and the continuity of traditions that have none Hanegraaff paints compelling portraits of the historical emergence of specific traditions, and even of the idea of the esoteric as a whole.That being said, the book has some shortcomings Given its length, it can t help but be very schematic It attempts to compensate by devoting the final chapter to an annotated bibliography for the reader to follow up particular topics for herself but bibliographies inevitably go out of date sooner or later More seriously, the book is extremely badly written, with the usual academic ese why can so few academics write well compounded by the facts that a English is not the author s first language and b it seems not to have been proofread properly I don t mind if I have to reread a sentence several times because it contains new concepts or complex ideas I do mind having to reread a sentence that just doesn t make sense because it uses the wrong prepositions.I picked up the book after hearing Hanegraaff being interviewed on an early episode of SHWEP I m glad I did, but I ll stick with SHWEP rather than going in search of anyof his books for now This was a good overview of the subject, building on the many articles Hanegraaf has put out over the years He is very prolific The book is unapologetically polemical Hanegraaff wants to introduce and defend a relatively new field of study, that of Western esotericism, which he admits is kind of a grab bag of topics, from Renaissance Hermeticism to NeaoPlatonism to Crowleyian magic to parts of science fiction.Part of Hanegraaff s point is to explain exactly why the field is a grab bag In This was a good overview of the subject, building on the many articles Hanegraaf has put out over the years He is very prolific The book is unapologetically polemical Hanegraaff wants to introduce and defend a relatively new field of study, that of Western esotericism, which he admits is kind of a grab bag of topics, from Renaissance Hermeticism to NeaoPlatonism to Crowleyian magic to parts of science fiction.Part of Hanegraaff s point is to explain exactly why the field is a grab bag In his telling, there s a grand narrative to Western religion early Christianity defined itself against Paganism the Reformation defined itself against Paganism, and the infusions of Paganism in earlier Christian cultures and the Enlightenment defined itself against the superstitious elements it found within Christianity not necessarily against Christianity itself These things that comprised the other in each confrontation, these became varieties of esotericism Though Hanegraaff admits that term is limited, and not really descriptive of the many practices, it is the term scholars have agreed upon It isn t that people stopped believing in and practicing these various forms of esotericism they just became neglected as the academic disciplines congealed in the 18th and 19th centuries Looking at these subjects was considered bad form it was all superstition, the worst impulses of human culture It was neglected, or forgotten knowledge As it happened, official dismissals of these various ideas helped to make them eventempting to some people no fruit tastes as good as the forbidden one Eventually, by the mid 20th century some scholars did start to turn their attention to these subjects, particularly Frances A Yates Hanegraaff doesn t spend much time on her, dismissing her work as riddled with errors As he sees it, though, the motivating factor of these early researches was ahistorical what he calls religionist The authors argued that there was a transcendent religious impulse in humanity that explained the pull toward esotericism This explanation especially made sense in the 1960s and 1970s, when scholars were puzzling over why the secularization thesis had not worked out why religion had not died away and, indeed was seeing a revival, both in terms of fundamentalism but also what was called the occult revival Hanegraaff is surprisingly positive about the work of James Webb We are now entering a third era in the study of esotericism, the one that Hanegraaff defends and defines That is seeing esotericism not as a transcendent impulse, but as a historical category, a set of ideas and practices that change over time in relationship to the wider culture Thus esotericism renovates in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the development of professional science in the 19th century, and the triumph of instrumental reason in the 20th The book, in part, charts these changes.It is a short book, so many of these changes are just glossed There are also some confusions of terminology with Hanegraaff applying the categories Theosophy and naturphilosophie to much older traditions than I am used to seeing He is very learned, and ranges across a wide array of cultural changes over a long term, and some of that ranging makes me nervous it is often difficult to accept that dynamics laid down in the sixteenth century are still playing themselves out three hundred years later, for example Nonetheless, it is all interesting and worth pondering.Hanegraaff has a very categorical mind it s what makes him easy to read, and his papers easy to follow And this is shown in the second part of the book, chapters four through seven The chapters themselves take up various themes, and these are broken down by category Thus, in chapter four, he looks at world views inherent to esotericism there are the two types of radicalism, monistic and dualistic, the second of which iscommon Then there are the ideas about what mediates between the dual spheres of the material and spiritual realms, NeoPlatonic sense that humans exist on a Great Chain of Being, between the animalistic and the divine and the alchemical sense that transformation can bring the human closer to the divine These various world views, of course, change over time.He then turns to the various ways knowledge is created which is arecent innovation in scholarship, coming in these last thirty years, allowing that esotericists have defined methods of knowledge making, even if they are not widely accepted The methods are reason not something exclusive to science faith which is also part of science, since many scientific principles are accepted on faith and gnosis, which involves access to realms beyond the ability of humans to communicate and often rely on alterations in consciousness to reach.Practices he divides into eight categories 1 Control 2 Knowledge 3 Amplification 4 Healing 5 Progress 6 Contact 7 Unity 8 Pleasure.The penultimate chapter represents a third section of the book, taking these various structural elements and showing how they change over time in a process he calls modernization but which dates to the Enlightenment The Enlightenment, for Hanegraaff, is a major dividing line He again divides the chapter into various categories The first is correspondences, and he argues here, as he has in some of his papers, that while the theory of correspondences was held together by a belief in a central divine figure in pre Enlightenment times, it isarbitrary in later forms of esotericism I would have liked to see him engage with Alex Owen s work here, but it is never referenced A second transformation deals with the expanding horizons of religion, which in the past he has somewhat associated with secularism by his lights, secularization means that Christianity becomes one of many different religious options, and in terms of this category he looks at how esotericists, especially in the 19th century, turned to other religions, especially those in the East He does not mention that many of these so called religions, such as Buddhism, were not understood as religions within their own cultures Evolution also becomes important the 18th century bequeathed to us moderns the ideas that there could be spiritual progress and development Evolution, as an idea, of course gets worked into esotericism in many ways think of the Theosophists with their seven root races, for example The development of psychology also plays a huge role in the history of Western esoteric traditions, as the interior or the mind becomes a place to explore, and the self something to realize He ends this section with the idea of the religious supermarket that in the current environment, we are all free to choose are own religion, and shape it in ways we want He offers some defintiional guides to understanding these practices, and makes some references to the most current forms of esotericism which completely negate the division between fact and fiction.A final section is a useful, but incomplete, review of literature on the various topics he has covered The annotated bibliography is heavy on European scholars of earlier periods, and light on research ofrecent forms of esotericism Which may reflect Hanegraaff s idea, implied in the book, that the fragmentation of esotericism the supermarket of faiths means the the study of the phenomena needs to be taken up by various and separate disciplines All in all, a good guide As the vulgata apocrypha attributed to some twentieth century occultist I m perplexed. 18 18 18 18 Very short, concise and to the point Scholarly If you are looking for something sensational, stay away Very much a work of academia Talks almost as much about the study of esotericism as esotericism itself Yeah, I guess it sof a study guide In that sense it does work as a primer before diving in. As an introduction to the field of esotericism, this works fine However, it is fairly heavy reading an requires a bit of background knowledge in sociology and anthropology This is an academic piece of writing despite the inviting title Maybe a littleacademic than I was expecting, focusing on trends in scholarship, etc but I m glad I read it. Probably one of the best overviews of the subject Looking forward to readingby the author. One of the most informative books I ve read on this subject Very clear and helpful.

Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed PDF/EPUB
    Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed PDF/EPUB 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. This is an introductory textbook, aimed primarily at university students As such it takes a thoroughly outsider position on the practices of magick, hermeticism, esotericism, etc That was precisely why I read it to get a different viewpoint on a field where I m a practitioner I found it interesting and often refreshing.Chief among the book s refreshing aspects is its historicism Indeed, this is the main thrust of Hanegraaff s argument throughout While he is concerned to establish Western e This is an introductory textbook, aimed primarily at university students As such it takes a thoroughly outsider position on the practices of magick, hermeticism, esotericism, etc That was precisely why I read it to get a different viewpoint on a field where I m a practitioner I found it interesting and often refreshing.Chief among the book s refreshing aspects is its historicism Indeed, this is the main thrust of Hanegraaff s argument throughout While he is concerned to establish Western esotericism as a focus for interdisciplinary research, he explicitly insists that all scholars, in whatever discipline, should take a historicist approach I found this particularly refreshing because I am constantly exasperated on my blog here, for example by some practitioners wild and silly claims about the ancientness of recently invented practices and the continuity of traditions that have none Hanegraaff paints compelling portraits of the historical emergence of specific traditions, and even of the idea of the esoteric as a whole.That being said, the book has some shortcomings Given its length, it can t help but be very schematic It attempts to compensate by devoting the final chapter to an annotated bibliography for the reader to follow up particular topics for herself but bibliographies inevitably go out of date sooner or later More seriously, the book is extremely badly written, with the usual academic ese why can so few academics write well compounded by the facts that a English is not the author s first language and b it seems not to have been proofread properly I don t mind if I have to reread a sentence several times because it contains new concepts or complex ideas I do mind having to reread a sentence that just doesn t make sense because it uses the wrong prepositions.I picked up the book after hearing Hanegraaff being interviewed on an early episode of SHWEP I m glad I did, but I ll stick with SHWEP rather than going in search of anyof his books for now This was a good overview of the subject, building on the many articles Hanegraaf has put out over the years He is very prolific The book is unapologetically polemical Hanegraaff wants to introduce and defend a relatively new field of study, that of Western esotericism, which he admits is kind of a grab bag of topics, from Renaissance Hermeticism to NeaoPlatonism to Crowleyian magic to parts of science fiction.Part of Hanegraaff s point is to explain exactly why the field is a grab bag In This was a good overview of the subject, building on the many articles Hanegraaf has put out over the years He is very prolific The book is unapologetically polemical Hanegraaff wants to introduce and defend a relatively new field of study, that of Western esotericism, which he admits is kind of a grab bag of topics, from Renaissance Hermeticism to NeaoPlatonism to Crowleyian magic to parts of science fiction.Part of Hanegraaff s point is to explain exactly why the field is a grab bag In his telling, there s a grand narrative to Western religion early Christianity defined itself against Paganism the Reformation defined itself against Paganism, and the infusions of Paganism in earlier Christian cultures and the Enlightenment defined itself against the superstitious elements it found within Christianity not necessarily against Christianity itself These things that comprised the other in each confrontation, these became varieties of esotericism Though Hanegraaff admits that term is limited, and not really descriptive of the many practices, it is the term scholars have agreed upon It isn t that people stopped believing in and practicing these various forms of esotericism they just became neglected as the academic disciplines congealed in the 18th and 19th centuries Looking at these subjects was considered bad form it was all superstition, the worst impulses of human culture It was neglected, or forgotten knowledge As it happened, official dismissals of these various ideas helped to make them eventempting to some people no fruit tastes as good as the forbidden one Eventually, by the mid 20th century some scholars did start to turn their attention to these subjects, particularly Frances A Yates Hanegraaff doesn t spend much time on her, dismissing her work as riddled with errors As he sees it, though, the motivating factor of these early researches was ahistorical what he calls religionist The authors argued that there was a transcendent religious impulse in humanity that explained the pull toward esotericism This explanation especially made sense in the 1960s and 1970s, when scholars were puzzling over why the secularization thesis had not worked out why religion had not died away and, indeed was seeing a revival, both in terms of fundamentalism but also what was called the occult revival Hanegraaff is surprisingly positive about the work of James Webb We are now entering a third era in the study of esotericism, the one that Hanegraaff defends and defines That is seeing esotericism not as a transcendent impulse, but as a historical category, a set of ideas and practices that change over time in relationship to the wider culture Thus esotericism renovates in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the development of professional science in the 19th century, and the triumph of instrumental reason in the 20th The book, in part, charts these changes.It is a short book, so many of these changes are just glossed There are also some confusions of terminology with Hanegraaff applying the categories Theosophy and naturphilosophie to much older traditions than I am used to seeing He is very learned, and ranges across a wide array of cultural changes over a long term, and some of that ranging makes me nervous it is often difficult to accept that dynamics laid down in the sixteenth century are still playing themselves out three hundred years later, for example Nonetheless, it is all interesting and worth pondering.Hanegraaff has a very categorical mind it s what makes him easy to read, and his papers easy to follow And this is shown in the second part of the book, chapters four through seven The chapters themselves take up various themes, and these are broken down by category Thus, in chapter four, he looks at world views inherent to esotericism there are the two types of radicalism, monistic and dualistic, the second of which iscommon Then there are the ideas about what mediates between the dual spheres of the material and spiritual realms, NeoPlatonic sense that humans exist on a Great Chain of Being, between the animalistic and the divine and the alchemical sense that transformation can bring the human closer to the divine These various world views, of course, change over time.He then turns to the various ways knowledge is created which is arecent innovation in scholarship, coming in these last thirty years, allowing that esotericists have defined methods of knowledge making, even if they are not widely accepted The methods are reason not something exclusive to science faith which is also part of science, since many scientific principles are accepted on faith and gnosis, which involves access to realms beyond the ability of humans to communicate and often rely on alterations in consciousness to reach.Practices he divides into eight categories 1 Control 2 Knowledge 3 Amplification 4 Healing 5 Progress 6 Contact 7 Unity 8 Pleasure.The penultimate chapter represents a third section of the book, taking these various structural elements and showing how they change over time in a process he calls modernization but which dates to the Enlightenment The Enlightenment, for Hanegraaff, is a major dividing line He again divides the chapter into various categories The first is correspondences, and he argues here, as he has in some of his papers, that while the theory of correspondences was held together by a belief in a central divine figure in pre Enlightenment times, it isarbitrary in later forms of esotericism I would have liked to see him engage with Alex Owen s work here, but it is never referenced A second transformation deals with the expanding horizons of religion, which in the past he has somewhat associated with secularism by his lights, secularization means that Christianity becomes one of many different religious options, and in terms of this category he looks at how esotericists, especially in the 19th century, turned to other religions, especially those in the East He does not mention that many of these so called religions, such as Buddhism, were not understood as religions within their own cultures Evolution also becomes important the 18th century bequeathed to us moderns the ideas that there could be spiritual progress and development Evolution, as an idea, of course gets worked into esotericism in many ways think of the Theosophists with their seven root races, for example The development of psychology also plays a huge role in the history of Western esoteric traditions, as the interior or the mind becomes a place to explore, and the self something to realize He ends this section with the idea of the religious supermarket that in the current environment, we are all free to choose are own religion, and shape it in ways we want He offers some defintiional guides to understanding these practices, and makes some references to the most current forms of esotericism which completely negate the division between fact and fiction.A final section is a useful, but incomplete, review of literature on the various topics he has covered The annotated bibliography is heavy on European scholars of earlier periods, and light on research ofrecent forms of esotericism Which may reflect Hanegraaff s idea, implied in the book, that the fragmentation of esotericism the supermarket of faiths means the the study of the phenomena needs to be taken up by various and separate disciplines All in all, a good guide As the vulgata apocrypha attributed to some twentieth century occultist I m perplexed. 18 18 18 18 Very short, concise and to the point Scholarly If you are looking for something sensational, stay away Very much a work of academia Talks almost as much about the study of esotericism as esotericism itself Yeah, I guess it sof a study guide In that sense it does work as a primer before diving in. As an introduction to the field of esotericism, this works fine However, it is fairly heavy reading an requires a bit of background knowledge in sociology and anthropology This is an academic piece of writing despite the inviting title Maybe a littleacademic than I was expecting, focusing on trends in scholarship, etc but I m glad I read it. Probably one of the best overviews of the subject Looking forward to readingby the author. One of the most informative books I ve read on this subject Very clear and helpful. "/>
  • ebook
  • 192 pages
  • Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed
  • Wouter J. Hanegraaff
  • 08 August 2018
  • 1441146741