Skip to main content

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

  • 183 Accesses

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 89.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 89.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, revised and expanded edition (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2010), 296.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Aleister Crowley, The Complete Astrological Writings (London: W. H. Allen, 1987), 90–91.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, paperback edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 227, 247.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Paul Heelas, “Introduction: On Differentiation and Dedifferentiation,” in Religion, Modernity, and Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), 8.

    Google Scholar 

  5. John Patrick Deveney, Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, ed. Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 1077–1079.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Eliphas Lévi, Dogme et ritual de la haute magie, in Secrets de la magie, edited by Francis Lacassin (1856; reprint, Paris: Robert Laffont, 2000), 205–215.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Maria Carlson, “No Religion Higher Than Truth”: A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia, 1875–1922 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 29.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Antoine Faivre, Access to Western Esotericism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 37.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Arthur Versluis, The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 4.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, 2nd ed. (1889; reprint, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1995), http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/key/key-hp.htm.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Michèle M. Schlehofer, Allen M. Omoto, and Janice R. Adelman, “How do ‘Religion’ and ‘Spirituality’ Differ? Lay Definitions among Older Adults,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 47 (2008): 412.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Eileen Barker, “New Religions and New Religiosity,” in New Religions and New Religiosity, ed. Eileen Barker (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1998), 16 (emphasis in the original).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Michèle M. Schlehofer, Allen M. Omoto, and Janice R. Adelman, “How do ‘Religion’ and ‘Spirituality’ Differ? Lay Definitions among Older Adults” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 47 (2008): 413.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Robert Lima, Stages of Evil: Occultism in Western Theatre and Drama (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005).

    Google Scholar 

  15. Daniel Gerould, “The Symbolist Legacy,” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 31 (January 2009): 81.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Frantisek Deak, Symbolist Theater: Formation of an Avant-Garde, PAJ Books Series (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 48.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragical in Everyday Life,” in Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski, ed. Bernard F. Dukore (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1974), 730.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lance Gharavi, Western Esotericism in Russian Silver Age Drama: Aleksandr Blok’s The Rose and the Cross (Saint Paul, MN: New Grail, 2008), 4.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Daniel Gerould and Jadwiga Kosicka, “Drama of the Unseen—Turn-of-the-Century Paradigms for Occult Drama,” in The Occult in Language and Literature, edited by Hermine F. Riffaterre (New York: New York Literary Forum, 1980), 6.

    Google Scholar 

  20. See Deak, Symbolist Theater; Gharavi, Western Esotericism; and Gerould and Kosicka, “Drama of the Unseen.” See also Daniel Gerould, Doubles, Demons, and Dreamers: An International Collection of Symbolist Drama (New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1985);

    Google Scholar 

  21. and Sadakichi Hartmann, Buddha, Confucius, Christ: Three Prophetic Plays (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971).

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ray Stannard Baker, “An Extraordinary Experiment in Brotherhood: The Theosophical Institution at Point Loma, California,” American Magazine 63 (January 1907): 235. Paul Kagan Utopian Communities Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Robb Creese, “Anthroposophical Performance,” Drama Review 22 (June 1978): 47–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. J. L. Bracelin, Gerald Gardner: Witch (London: Octagon Press, 1960), 186.

    Google Scholar 

  25. R. Andrew White, “Radiation and Transmission of Energy: From Stanislavsky to Michael Chekhov,” Performance and Spirituality 1 (2009): 23–46.

    Google Scholar 

  26. R. Andrew White. “Stanislavsky and Ramacharaka: The Influence of Yoga and Turn-of-the-Century Occultism on the System,” Theatre Survey 47 (May 2006): 73–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Franc Chamberlain, Michael Chekhov (London: Routledge, 2004).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  28. Anita Hammer, Between Play and Prayer: The Variety of Theatricals in Spiritual Performance (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  29. Wouter J. Hanegraaff Antoine Faivre, Roelof van den Broek, and Jean-Pierre Brach, ed., Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005).

    Google Scholar 

  30. Victoria Nelson, The Secret Life of Puppets (Cambridge: Harvard, 2001), vii.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Copyright information

© 2014 Edmund B. Lingan

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Lingan, E.B. (2014). Introduction. In: The Theatre of the Occult Revival. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137448613_1

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics