The revival of the occult philosophy : cabalistic magic and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Butler, Alison L. (2000) The revival of the occult philosophy : cabalistic magic and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

It is essential that we include the history of the western magical tradition in any study of intellectual history. The belief in and practice of magic is part of an interpretation of existence with a long history. That humanity continues to turn to magic for answers about the universe, human beings, and their interaction with the world demonstrates that it is not a mode of thinking which can be dated to a certain time period. The history of the western magical tradition defied the existence of a world process of rationalisation. This thesis will show how the tradition did so in the Renaissance and continued to do so in a revival of that same magical system in nineteenth-century England. Specifically, in this study we will focus on the establishment and development of cabalistic magic and how it provided the ideal system in which many currents of esotericism could be assimilated. We will show how this synthesis began in the Renaissance by scholars such as Pico della Mirandola, Johannes Reuchlin and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, and we will show how the process was concluded by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, a co-founder of a nineteenth-century English magical society, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Along the way we will discuss the contributions of various scholars and occultists and demonstrate their roles in either maintaining and, or expanding the system of cabalistic magic. -- This dissertation builds upon the work of Dame Frances Yates and her study of cabalistic magic in her book, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. The conclusion reached in this thesis is that the revival of cabalistic magic in nineteenth-century England was not merely a restatement of the theories and ritual formulated by the Renaissance magi but was also a restatement of their intellectual processes. The members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn took the magical material passed down through the ages and applied the same process of synthesis, thus expanding the magical tradition and fulfilling the potential of the cabalistic magical system. This revival and expansion of the western magical tradition in an era of scientific advancement and secularisation is but one example of the eternal relevance of magic to intellectual history as a valid and popular interpretation of the world in which we exist.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1538
Item ID: 1538
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 132-136.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 2000
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; Magic--Religious aspects; Cabala and Christianity; Hermetism

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