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Western Esotericism and New Religious Movements

Chapter in book
Authors Henrik Bogdan
Published in The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements (Vol. II). Edited by James R. Lewis & Inga B. Tøllefsen
Pages 455-468
ISBN 978-0-19-046617-6
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 455-468
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190...
Keywords Nya religiösa rörelser, västerländsk esoterism, teosofi, spiritualism, thelema
Subject categories Philosophy, Ethics and Religion

Abstract

The study of Western esotericism is a comparatively new field of research that covers a wide range of currents, notions and practices from late antiquity to the present. Esotericism is often understood as the “rejected knowledge” of Western culture, which often centers on claims of absolute knowledge or gnosis. This chapter discusses four discourses that can be found in many esoteric NRMs, namely “secrecy and unveiling”, “initiation and progress”, “the higher self”, and “Secret Masters”. In the second part of the chapter four examples of esoteric NRMs are briefly discussed, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Thelema, and Wicca.

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