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Arthur Versluis is Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Michigan State University. He is author of numerous books, including Magic and Mysticism, The New Inquisitions, Restoring Paradise, The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance, Wisdom s Children, and American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions. He has published articles on topics ranging from comparative federalism to Christian esotericism. Editor of the journal Esoterica, he is also co-editor of JSR: Journal for the Study of Radicalism.
Lee Irwin is Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He has studied world religions intensively, with an emphasis on Native American religions, Western esotericism, transpersonal psychology, and contemporary spirituality particularly in the area of dreams and visions. Among his many published works are: The Dream Seekers: Native American Visionary Traditions of the Great Plains, Visionary Worlds, The Making and Unmaking of Reality, Awakening to Spirit: On Life, Illumination, and Being, and Alchemy of Soul: The Art of Spiritual Transformation.
I have a life-long interest in religion, spirituality, and comparative phenomenology. In pursuit of that interest, I have studied the world religions intensively with a strong emphasis on religious experience, such as visions and dreams, and comparative myth and ritual. My areas of specialization are comparative religions of Native North American (including Maya and Aztec) and shamanism of Asia and Siberia. I also have a strong interest in eastern religions (MA thesis on Daoism) and in Islamic Sufism. As a psychic researcher, I am interested in studying the phenomenology of altered states, trance, mystical visions, OOBE, NDE and other non-ordinary perceptions. My most recent research has been in the area of Western Esotericism and contemporary Hermetic spirituality in relation to transpersonal theory. Interdisciplinary PhD,teach in Religious Studies Department, College of Charleston,
Sixteen essays disclose esotericism in the range of Western art, from theater to fiction to the visual arts and others. The four editors are from the fields of arts and letters, religious studies, sociology and philosophy, and humanities. The fields of the essays' authors are not given, and one assumes they are from the same or similar interdisciplinary fields.
The earliest work of art is the play Bacchae by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides. Though esotericism in Western culture preceded the play in the Greek mystery religions. The essays do not treat general themes though. They bring out the esotericism in individual works of art or esoteric beliefs in particular artists. Among the diverse artists are Blake, H. P. Lovecraft, Homer, and Dan Brown; and the psychologists Freud and Jung. Philip Pullman is a contemporary novelist of popular fiction based on the esoteric notion that "[b]efore our present world was created, some of the [already existing] angels, followers of wisdom, rebelled against the [duplicitous] Authority and were cast down...[but] continued to work for his downfall and for the opening of the minds he sought to close." This is not simply an idea for antagonistic, epic fiction, but a version of the belief held by some esoterics of an anthropomorphic reality exerting its will or nature on the cosmos, including individual lives; with the corresponding belief that the movement to know this reality as much as this is possible is the substance of individual lives.
The modernist arts of photography and film are covered too. These are tied in with older esoteric beliefs as appropriate. Some saw these art forms as modern-day means of expressing esoteric ideas which believers of previous eras would have expressed by incantation or ritual.Read more ›
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