Enchanted Modernities in Amsterdam

Enchanted Modernities

Enchanted Modernities: A conference in Amsterdam

An exciting three-day conference opened its doors in Amsterdam this morning (September 25, 2013). Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the Arts in the Modern World is the first conference of a new research network coordinated from the University of York and sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust. The conference in Amsterdam is hosted by the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, with the collaboration of the Ritman Library and the Theosophical Library – both places hosting exhibitions as part of the programme.

The focus of the conference is on Theosophy and art – not an unfamiliar topic, of course, but one which is now starting to see more systematic and interdisciplinary attention. From the conference website:

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“Varieties of Magical Experience” – a new article on Crowley, magic, and psychologisation

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (Penn Press)

The November issue of Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft ran an article by my colleague Marco Pasi, titled ”Varieties of Magical Experience: Aleister Crowley’s Views on Occult Practice”. It may safely be characterised as the most complete academic treatment of Crowley’s magical thought and practice that has so far been published in a peer-reviewed journal. It also ties in neatly with a discussion here at Heterodoxology and a couple of other blogs earlier this year (Tyromanteia and Invocatio), namely the question of the “psychologisation of magic”. A review is definitely in order.

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On “Scientific Illuminism” and the Psychologisation of Magic

There is a post up at the tyromanteia blog, which offers a nice criticism of my article on Aleister Crowley’s negotiation of magic with science and psychology (“Magic Naturalized?”, published in Aries back in 2008). Tyromanteia draws on the work of Alex Owen (which I briefly reviewed last year) to place three 20th century magicians, Crowley, Israel Regardie, and Dion Fortune, within a broader “crisis of subjectivity” and a process of psychologisation. In this connection, the author finds opportunity to deal with my criticism of the “psychologisation thesis” on the survival of magic. I largely performed this criticism on the basis of Crowley, arguing that in this case, an attempted naturalisation of magic is more important than psychologisation. To this, Tyromanteia objects that Crowley largely anticipated the psychological and even psychotherapeutic interpretations which Regardie and Fortune later emphasised in their teachings. As I think this criticism points out an ambiguity in the original article, I will take this opportunity to make a brief response.

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British magic after Crowley: review

Although Aleister Crowley has become the icon of modern ritual magic and occultism, magic did not end with his death in 1947. While approximately a dozen books have been devoted to Crowley, surprisingly little has been written about his legacy in contemporary occultism. His impact on later currents such as contemporary witchcraft, Satanism, and various pagan groups has often been mentioned, but vast areas still remain uncharted, from Chaos Magic and cyber paganism to the recent history of the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Golden Dawn, and Crowley’s A\A\. The result is that a relatively broad range of contemporary western esotericism remains essentially unstudied. Below follows my review of Dave Evans’ contribution to this field of study, recently published in Aries 10.2. Hyperlinked for the occasion.

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