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The Occult Revival and Its Theatrical Impulses

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The Theatre of the Occult Revival

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

Abstract

From the spiritualist mediums who apparently secreted ghostly ectoplasms from their bodies to members of secret societies who practiced ceremonial magic with pentagrams, candles, and swords, theatricality was central to the Occult Revival that flourished in Europe and the United States between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The boundaries between occultism and theatre blurred during the Occult Revival. During this time ritual, theatre and other forms of performance came to be viewed as part of a sacred tradition of mystery dramatics through which esoteric wisdom had been passed down to initiates for centuries. It was that idealized tradition of esoteric theatre that many spiritual leaders of the Occult Revival claimed to be reviving. This rise of interest in theatre during the occult revival was no random occurrence: it was a response to ideas about theatre and occultism that were incorporated into the teachings of some of the most famous leaders of the Occult Revival. In particular, Eliphas Lévi, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and Edouard Schuré did much to promote the idea of a sacred tradition of occult theatre that could be revived for the spiritual benefit of human beings.

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Notes

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© 2014 Edmund B. Lingan

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Lingan, E.B. (2014). The Occult Revival and Its Theatrical Impulses. In: The Theatre of the Occult Revival. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137448613_2

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