Saturday, May 14, 2016

Western Mysticism, Esotericism, and Traditionalism

Cambridge University Press has just published The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism, edited by Glenn Alexander Magee. This allows an interesting view of Traditionalism in its widest possible context. The Handbook is unusual for putting mysticism and esotericism together but, as Magee argues, "the roots of esotericism almost always lead back to mystical traditions, while the work of mystics was bound up with esoteric or occult preoccupations."

The Handbook is organized chronologically, starting with Antiquity, moving through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and Early Modernity, and ending in the Nineteenth Century and Beyond. Traditionalism (Mark Sedgwick, “René Guénon and Traditionalism) is one of ten chapters in this last section, along with Blavatsky and Gurdjieff and C. G. Jung. Then there is a final section on seven "Common Threads," which include alchemy and gnosis, but not perennialism. I suppose there had to be some limit to the number of common threads.

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