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Magi and Maggidim

THE KABBALAH IN BRITISH OCCULTISM 1840-1930

by Liz Greene

ISBN 13: 978-1-907767-02-9

Paperback: 558 pages

Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches

Description

The growth of the occult ‘underground’ is one of the most fascinating features of late 19th and early 20th century British society. After decades of neglect, a growing body of scholarship is now dedicated to various aspects of Victorian and Edwardian magical practices and personalities, in an effort to understand why such a powerful cultural current could emerge simultaneously with the rise of modern science, and why it continues to exercise such a pervasive influence in many contemporary spiritualities.

The books, articles, letters, and diaries produced by major figures in the occult revival, such as Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune, reveal the centrality of the Jewish Kabbalah in occultist thought and practice. However, the ways in which these individuals, and the secret societies they founded, sourced and utilised Jewish esoteric lore are largely ignored in current research. Current scholarship generally assumes that ‘occultist’ Kabbalah is a modernreinvention of older traditions,with little relationship to its Jewish roots. This assumption ignores the documented contributions of Jewish scholars and Kabbalists to the occultists’ work, and there is little, if any, in-depth comparison of the ideas expressed by British occultists and the Jewish Kabbalistic literature of the medieval and early modern periods. And why was the Jewish Kabbalah was so compellingly attractive to non-Jewish occultists at a time of turbulent social and scientific change, when religious, political, and racial antisemitism constituted a normative attitude in many circles of British society?

This book provides a new, exciting, and penetrating analysis of how and why the Jewish Kabbalah was adopted and integrated, rather than reinvented or recreated, by important figures in the British occult revival, and why it remains a dominant theme in the spiritual currents of the twenty-first century.

Reviews

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

List of Illustrations

CHAPTER ONE

  • Introduction
  • The case of the missing Kabbalah
  • Methodologies, monomyths, and metanarratives
  • Literature review
  • Definitions of terms

CHAPTER TWO

  • The ‘Great Secret’: Éliphas Lévi and the Hebrew Roots of the Victorian Occult Revival
  • A visit to a magus
  • ‘Le petit romantique’
  • Rescuing the divine sparks: the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria
  • Lévi’s Kabbalah and the alchemical opus
  • The ‘psychologisation of the sacred’
  • The power of the letters
  • Lévi and the Jews
  • How the Kabbalah crossed the Channel

CHAPTER THREE

  • Masonic Mysteries: William Wynn Westcott and his ‘Rosicrucian’ Kabbalah
  • The rhizome and the flower
  • The creation of the SRIA
  • The Kabbalah and the Craft
  • The Kabbalah and the ‘Rosie Cross’
  • Hermes and the Jews
  • John Dee and his Jewish angels
  • Westcott and the goddesses: the Kabbalahs of Anna Kingsford and H. P. Blavatsky
  • The ‘Magical Mason’ and his Kabbalah
  • Westcott and the Ashkenazi

CHAPTER FOUR

  • In the Name of Yhvh: Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and the Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn
  • A meeting at the museum
  • The name of the rose
  • Mathers and the grimoires
  • The astral magic of the Golden Dawn
  • Close encounters of the elemental kind
  • The Jewish scholars and the occultists
  • The Kabbalah according to L. MacGregor Mathers

CHAPTER FIVE

  • Arthwait and the Beast: Mysticism and the Sexual ‘Magick’ in British Occultism
  • The mystic and the magus
  • Waite’s Kabbalistic ‘mysticism’
  • Waite’s ‘Mystery of Sex’
  • The Kabbalah according to A. E. Waite
  • The Kabbalah according to Aleister Crowley
  • Sex, ‘magick’, and the Jewish messiahs
  • The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor
  • The ‘man with two souls’
  • Crowley’s maggid and The Book of the Law
  • The battle of the Tarots

CHAPTER SIX

  • When She was ‘Jung and Easily Freudened’: Dion Fortune’s ‘Psychological’ Kabbalah
  • Between the wars
  • The occult psychologist
  • Freud, the Hasidim, and the Lurianic Kabbalah
  • Fortune’s Jungian archetypes
  • The Kabbalah according to Dion Fortune
  • Fortune’s ‘occult novels’
  • Fortune’s Kabbalistic legacy

CHAPTER SEVEN

  • Conclusion
  • ‘Is Kabbalah Jewish?’
  • Defining the Kabbalah
  • he ‘pluralistic hermeneutic’

Glossary of Hebrew Words

Bibliography

Index

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