Jakob Böhme Crash Course – BPH/HHP Webinar

There is another webinar out from the collaboration between the BPH and the HHP in Amsterdam. This time, Wouter Hanegraaff gives a one-hour crash course on the wonderfully obscure and fascinating German Silesian Christian theosophist/mystic/pietist (or however one wants to label him) Jakob Böhme (1575-1624). This cobbler from Görlitz was the author of some fairly heterodox theological texts, written in unsystematic, poetic, highly symbolic and mythologizing style. In this webinar, Hanegraaff focuses mostly on Böhme’s cosmogony – or rather, his theogony. In stark contrast to Christian orthodoxy, Böhme held that God was not eternal nor really transcendent, and certainly not immaterial or purely “spiritual”. To the contrary, he was obsessed with “the birth of God” from an original, primeval, unknowable chaos, the Ungrund (“un-ground”). Materiality and corporeality are always highlighted.

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Physics, Psychology, and a 20th Century Esoteric Concept

Carl Gustav Jung

Last week in the MA course we are currently running on “Esotericism and modern science” (I’ve written about previous classes here, here, here, here and here) we talked about the encounter between two influential thinkers of very different impact: psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) and theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958). Two men who led at the surface very different careers; one a disciple of Freud and crown-prince of psychoanalysis, the other a student of Bohr and a co-creator of quantum mechanics. While Pauli gave name to the exclusion principle, Jung developed concepts of psychological archetypes and the collective unconscious, established his own school of “analytic psychology”, and arguably founded a charismatic cult of personality which still greatly influences new age religion, pagan spirituality and other occultural belief systems.

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Magic in the desert – and more misplaced psychologisms

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) is a hot name for heterodoxologists. He is also the most famous English occultist to have lived, his life having been told in about a dozen biographies. Today I taught a class on Crowley, magic, modernity and psychology, drawing on a chapter from Alex Owen’s book, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (2004).

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Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 10:36 pm  Comments (9)  
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Writing Mesmeria – comments on psycho-centrism

I’m not all done with Mesmerism yet. Besides providing a series of historical episodes that are interesting in their own right, Mesmerism also provokes some difficulties of interpretation for scholars who write about it. I’d like to draw attention to a methodological problem which arise in parts of the secondary literature.

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