“Method—Science, Purpose—Religion”: The Ideas of an Occult Religious Alternative in Genetic Terms Cover Image

„Metodą — nauka, celem — religia”: Idee okultystycznej alternatywy religijnej w ujęciu genetycznym
“Method—Science, Purpose—Religion”: The Ideas of an Occult Religious Alternative in Genetic Terms

Author(s): Maciej B. Stępień
Subject(s): Philosophy, Special Branches of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Philosophy of Religion, Sociology of Religion
Published by: Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL & Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II
Keywords: the history of ideas; western esotericism; occultism; magic

Summary/Abstract: This paper discusses the origins of occultism as a current of Western esotericism based on recent academic studies on Gnosis and esoteric traditions in Western culture. Such studies are now carried out from the standpoint of a new approach to this interdisciplinary field of research, formulated in the last decade of the 20th century. It is argued that E.A. Tiryakyan’s sociological apprehension of occultism as ‘practice’ of that which is ‘esoteric’ is outdated, and needs to be replaced with a new one, taking into account the most recent, source-based studies on western esotericism: occultism was both theory and practice, and constituted a distinct, spiritual (and magical) alternative to Christianity, conceived and developed in the late 19th century in the West as a response to mesmerism and spiritualism. The origins of occultism are explained in terms of the ideas that gave birth to it (mesmerism, Swedenborgianism, romanticism). Next, the main concepts of occultism are presented, and three of the key figures (P.B. Randolph, É. Lévi, and A. Crowley) are characterized to showcase what the essential content of occultist doctrines was. Styled as a ‘system’ and ‘a science’ occultism sought to formulate a coherent teaching regarding the training of intuitive powers of its adepts, and set as their end-purpose an open chance of entering higher, spiritual worlds and dimensions personally and freely, without hypnotic trances and mediations from the ‘mediums’ of the day. Occultists were also promised the possibility of joining higher cosmic hierarchies, believed by them to be the custodians and guardians of humankind, intervening in the history to ensure human progress and promote ever new candidates (that is, the occultists themselves) to the status of godlike entities, equal members of these cosmic, exclusive circles.

  • Issue Year: 8/2017
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 69-91
  • Page Count: 23
  • Language: Polish