Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


In the late nineteenth century a wave of interest in esoteric philosophy and practice, commonly referred to today as the “Occult Revival,” developed within Europe and the United States. The Occult Revival manifested as a variety of alternative spiritual movements, religious organizations, and esoteric societies, which offered methods for acquiring hidden knowledge and perceiving supernatural realms of existence. The leaders of the Occult Revival drew inspiration from old esoteric philosophies and traditions such as alchemy, Hermetic and Rosicrucian literature, spiritual Masonry, Kabbalah, ceremonial magic, astrology, and necromancy. To these esoteric traditions, the enthusiasts of the Occult Revival sometimes connected concepts such as “reincarnation” and “karma,” which were primarily drawn from Buddhist and Hindu traditions. These non-Abrahamic religious traditions had gained visibility in the United States and Europe as a result of increasing interactions with India and parts of Asia. Nineteenth-century occultists also looked to the arts, philosophy, literature, science, psychology, mathematics, history, archeology, and many other disciplines of knowledge as they formulated their worldviews. It was almost universally true that the cosmologies of the Occult Revival were syncretistic in nature. Skeptics viewed the teachings of the Occult Revival as newly constructed theologies, but many occultists countered this critique by asserting that they were in fact carrying on an ancient tradition of esoteric knowledge and magical practice that had been transmitted to the present from the beginning of time by a long line of mages, adepts, and seers.


Spiritual Experience Spiritual Leader Symbolist Play Hindu Tradition Spiritual Consciousness 
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© Edmund B. Lingan 2014

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