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Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation

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Table of Contents

List of Tables Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Western Esotericism Introduction The Delimitation of a Field of Research The Research Paradigms of Western Esotericism Western Esotericism in Theory and Practice Western Esoteric Currents Western Esoteric Rituals of Initiation Concluding Remarks 2. Rituals of Initiation, Secret Societies, and Masonic Initiatory Societies Ritual as a Field of Research Rites de Passage Rites of Initiation Secret Societies Secrecy and Masonic Initiatory Societies Masonic Initiatory Societies Masonic Rituals of Initiation Eighteenth-Century Masonic Terminology Concluding Remarks 3. Historical Background Ancient and Medieval Sources The "New Platonic Academy" of Florence The Spread of Western Esotericism Across Europe The Esoteric Missions of Giordano Bruno and John Dee Christian Rosencreutz and the Rosicrucian Manifestos Concluding Remarks 4. The Craft Degrees of Freemasonry The Emergence of Freemasonry Early Freemasonry and Western Esotericism The Pre-1730 Ritual Evidence The Master Mason Degree and the Ritual Enactment of the Hiramic Legend Concluding Remarks 5. High or Additional Degrees of Freemasonry Introduction Templar and Ecossais Rites Egyptian Rites "Esoteric" Freemasonry True Mason, or Academie des Vrais Macons Concluding Remarks 6. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Introduction History A Note on Sources Description of the Neophyte Ritual Analysis of the Neophyte Ritual Concluding Remarks 7. Modern Pagan Witchcraft or Wicca Gerald Gardner and the Birth of Wicca The Crowley Connection Gardner and the Witchcraft Rituals of Initiation First Degree: Witch and Priest/Priestess The First Degree Initiation Second Degree: High Priest/Priestess Third Degree: High Priest/Priestess Concluding Remarks 8. Conclusions Appendix Notes References Index

About the Author

Henrik Bogdan teaches in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Goteborg University in Sweden.


"...Bogdan's book is a valuable contribution to the developing academic discipline of Western Esotericism and new religions ... this book will provide an important linguistic and historical step forward in a previously unrecognized field that appears to be-finally-coming into its own." - Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review "Bogdan's book offers a useful brief primer on the history of Freemasonry and scholarship on Western esotericism, presenting considerable bibliographic information for interested scholars new to the fields. For that alone its value is assured. But Bodgan's work also illustrates important tensions within the study of Western esotericism and the connected field of Pagan Studies." - The Pomegranate "...offers a very promising new take on the question of esotericism and its historical continuity." - Journal of Religion "This is truly an original work on an important subject. The most significant thing is probably the definition of 'ritual.' The field of Western esotericism is a young one, and while some of its terminology is now a matter of common consent, ritual has never been subjected to scrutiny in this context. Bogdan also shows how different rituals convey different elements of the Western esoteric tradition: some Freemasonic ritual teaches alchemy; the Golden Dawn teaches Kabbalah; and witchcraft teaches principles of sexual magic. The entire book has an earnestness about it that makes the reader take these rituals seriously." - Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Real Rule of Four

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