Contemporary Esotericism

IV. Leaving Margins

15. Esoteric Public

Kennet Granholm


16. Psychic Enchantments

Egil Asprem


17. Indigo Children

Daniel Kline


18. Esotericism Debate

Liselotte Frisk


19. Entheogenic Esotericism

Wouter J. Hanegraaff


20. Gendre & Esotericism

Jay Johnson




IV. Leaving Margins

15. Esoteric Public

Kennet Granholm


pp. 309, 313 delusions of sociology

p. 309

"From the very birth of sociology in the mid-nineteenth century, the eventual demise of religion was seen as inevitable."

{Anthropology hath not, however, generally made such a praediction : for anthropologists (in accordance with the understandings by shamans) tend to derive religion from dreaming-experience, and dreaming could hardly be perceived as having its "demise" "inevitable".}

p. 313

"[Sociology's] understanding of "magic" as referring to "folk beliefs" and assorted "superstitions" ... is problematic both in according representative primacy to official religious institutions and religious professionals rather than to the large masses of religious people and in its simplistic understanding of "magic"." [fn. 26 : "For the inherent problems in ... understandings of magic see Lehrich [2003], 3-11; Pasi [2005]."]

{The reason why sociologists accord primacy to "official" {read "imposed by the capitalist political state"} religious institutions and to "religious professionals" {read "deceitfully materialism-promoting agents of the capitalist class"}, and why sociologists disregard (i.e., despise) "the large masses of ... people", is simply that sociology is a fallacious propaganda-scheme concocted by capitalist-hireling stooges intent on trickery and ruination of the working-class. [written July 21 2014]}

Lehrich 2003 = Christopher Lehrich : The Language of Demons and Angels. Leiden : Brill.

Pasi 2005 = Marco Pasi : "Magic". In :- Kocku von Stuckrad (ed.) : The Brill Dictionary of Religion. Leiden : Brill. pp. 1134-9.

p. 314 pluralism (i.e., mutual hostilities among religious orders, and mutual hostilities among religion-allied political parties) in mediaeval Europe

"one should not forget the considerable internal pluralism of Christianity, even before the Reformation."

{Not only were there various Christian denominations (such as, Cathar and Patarene), but also within the Catholic Church there were such rivalries as to provoke efforts to murder heads of rivals religious orders (e.g., St. John of the Cross narrowly escaped being murdered by treachery by a rival Catholic religious order), and rival nationals within Catholic Europe would accuse each other of hairesy and of witchcraft (e.g., Joan of Arc, while regarded as a saint in France, was burned at the stake as a witch in England).}

p. 315 Christians' exaggerated claims to primacy of belief

"First, "belief" is a central factor in Christianity in ways that it simply is not in many other religions, and even in Christianity the primacy of of belief could be claimed to be an issue {i.e., smug fakery} of theological discourse {i.e., of hypocritical praetense}.

{Christian exaggerated claims to "belief" are well-known to be almost entirely hypocritical. This is correlated with the praevalence of false swearing (including by Christian politicians) of oaths not intended to be upheld (instances include such incidents as Pizarro's swearing to set the Inca free when the ransom would be paid).}

Orthopraxy would seem to be more common than orthodoxy in most religions."

{Likewise in most social situations, what is ritualistically performed is regarded as more significant than proffering personal explanations of one's motive for following social convention.}

p. 316 post-saecularity

"there is thus a risk that "post-secular" will amount to little more than a new trend {faddish} word with little actual theoretical content, much as was the case with the term "postmodern" in the 1980s and 1990s. [cf. Moberg & Granholm 2012] ... Since then the academic discussion on the theme has ... collected volumes such as [Molendijk et al. 2010]. ... . ... the term post-secular saw some prior use in philosophy of religion". [fn. 45 : e.g. Blond [1998]; Smith & Whistler [2010]]

Moberg & Granholm 2012 = Marcus Moberg & Kennet Granholm : "Concept of the Post-Secular and the Contemporary Nexus ... ". In :- Peter Nyna:s; Mika Lassander; Terhi Utriainen (edd.) : Post-Secular Society. New Brunswick (NJ) : Transaction Publ. pp. 95-127.

Molendijk Molendijk et al. 2010 = Arie Molendijk; Justin Beaumont; & Christoph Jedan (edd.) : Exploring the Postsecular. Leiden : Brill.

Blond 1998 = Philip Blond (ed.) : Post-Secular Philosophy. London : Routledge.

Smith & Whistler 2010 = Anthony Paul Smith & Daniel Whistler (edd.) : After the Postsecular and the Postmodern. Newcastle-upon-Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Publ.

p. 324 shift to esoteric culture : taking esotericism into the public sphaire

"Christopher Partridge has even proposed [2004/5, vol. 1, p. 187] that we are witnessing a shift from a Christian culture to one that is greatly informed by the esoteric and occult.

Popular culture is an arena in which the requirements for "seriousness of belief" and notions of religion as dealing with "ultimate concerns" must be abandoned ... . ...

{So-called "seriousness of belief" is not a defining factor of "religion" in the more esoteric cultures : cf., e.g., the extensive jokery in Aleister Crowley's Thelema, and the AmerIndian frequent customary stylized response to their own ritualistic recounting of their myths with their own public laughter. [written July 21 2014]}

In conjunction with this ..., the Habermasian understanding of "the pubic sphere" must be broadened. It needs to include more than conventional religious institutions, and more than the (official {i.e., capitalist-stooge}) political sphere. "The public sphere" should encompass such phenomena as mass-mediated communication and popular culture."

Partridge 2004/5 = Christopher Partridge : The Re-enchantment of the West. London : T. & T. Clark Internat.

{So-called "seriousness of belief" is all-too-often simply an indication that an afflicted (socio-politically oppressed) populace is "brought to its senses" by its recognition that harsh and severe punishment will be inflicted on it by lackey-stooges of the capitalist-class (including by employers firing from jobs, by landlords evicting from tenements, etc.) if it should dare to deny loyalty to the capitalist-imposed system of Christianity-fantasy (including the brutally-imposed fantasy that employers and landlords have a God-given right to enforce the hardship of workers' being dominated by a vicious and rapacious capitalist ruling-class. The "ultimate concerns" alluded to are essentially the workers' dread of being fired, evicted, and immured in an insane asylum for any perceptible resistance to being oppressed by the system of capitalism-cum-Christianity. [written July 21 2014]}

pp. 325-8 science-fiction as a praeview of future world-religion

p. 325

"The fantastic setting itself allows for dealing with subjects that might to controversial to deal with in other forms".

p. 326

"As described in the Stargate Wiki-page on the subject,

"Ascension is a process that allows beings to be able to separate from their physical bodies and to live eternally as pure energy in a superior plane with a greater amount of knowledge and power."

{This is the process wherein, according to the Qabbalah, Hn.o^k and >eliyah were transmuted, respectively, into^n and Sandalpo^n.}

With ascension come a number supernatural abilities, such as ... telekinesis and telepathy, ... possession {occupation by one's soul of the material body of another person} of non-ascended beings, the manipulation of the perception of others, and perhaps most interestingly ..., the ability to evolve other beings to the level where they can ascend. ...

[fn. 90 : "It should be noted that this list of abilities is almost a straight description of Siddhi[-]s (supernatural powers) in Tantra."]

Multiple levels of "higher existence" are posited, and each subsequent level comes with increased knowledge and extended powers."

{Such levels include, e.g., the bhumi-s of a bodhi-sattva.}

p. 327

"The movie Avatar (2009) is ... another interesting example of the intersection between the esoteric and popular culture ... . First, Avatar is the top-grossing movie of all time, ... this strongly suggests that the esoteric has entered the mainstream, and that esoteric notions resonate with large numbers of

p. 328

contemporary Westerners (and beyond). ... Potential post-secularist influences are demonstrated in the conflict between the

technologically inclined

{read "capitalism-dominated"}

humans and the

holistic world-view

{read "communism-orientation"}

of the Na>vi. ...

{This name may be from Strong's 5000 /na>weh/ 'suitable, seemly'.}

Thus the Na>vi's victory over the humans is also the victory of a spiritually informed secularism over a purely capitalist-materialist one."

{The main defect (from the esoteric-transcendentalist perspective) of the movie Avatar is that in it the Na>vi nai:vely rely on a merely "bio-botanical network" for intercommunication (which would be local merely to a single planet or set of planets in physical contact) instead of relying on the limitlessly universe-encompassing telepathic intercommunication-system experienced (by certain flying-saucer contactees) to be already (and to have always been) in place.}


IV. Leaving Margins

16. Psychic Enchantments

Egil Asprem


p. 330 the reasonable

[quoted from Harris 2004, p. 43] "it is time we realized that we need not be unreasonable to suffuse our lives with love, compassion, ecstasy and awe;

{Indeed, it would be quite unreasonable to reject and to dread "love, campassion, ecstasy and awe" (though the world-domineering greed-madness of capitalism may reject all such sentiments).}

nor must we renounce all forms of spirituality or mysticism to be good terms with reason."

{Indeed, we have every reason to uphold spirituality and mysticism (as opposed to capitalism, which we have no conceivable reason to uphold).}

Harris 2004 = Sam Harris : The End of Faith. NY : W. W. Norton.

p. 330 desaecularization & re-enchantment of Occidental culture

"Peter Berger noted [1999, p. 10] that there were really only two exception to what he called an ongoing and increasing desecularization of the world : European societies ..., and "an international subculture composed of people with Western-type higher education"."

[But even these two supposed exceptions are shewn (infra, pp. 332-3) to be unreal.]

"scholars of new religious movements started ... arguing that a process of re-enchantment is sweeping through Western culture." [fn. 3 : The term "re-enchantment" ... entered academic discourse primarily through ... Berman [1981]".]

Berger 1999 = Peter L Berger : Desecularization of the World. Grand Rapids (MI) : Eerdmans Publ Co.

Berman 1981 = Morris Berman : The Reenchantment of the World. Ithaca (NY) : Cornell Univ Pr.

pp. 331-2 resurgence of magical understandings of the nature of reality (quoted from Partridge 2004/5, vol. 1, p. 40)

p. 331

"the deteriorating/secularized Christian culture is being replaced by a cultic milieu ... . ... Increasingly, the


{i.e. capitalist-imposed}

definitions of reality

{viz., in terms of strict materialism}

are being challenged by a new subculture

p. 332

..., we are witnessing a return to a form of magical culture -- what I will call "occulture" {occult-culture}."

Partridge 2004/5 = Christopher Partridge : The Re-enchantment of the West. London : T. & T. Clark Internat.

pp. 332-3 occultism is engulfing the mainstream : it hath already become the secret religion of the educated classes

p. 332

"whereas the cultic milieu was largely defined in terms of its opposition to "orthodox" ... religion, "occulture is ordinary". Even ... the broader occultural environment, as such, is becoming so ordinary as to engulf the mainstream. This is particularly emphasized by the place of popular culture in occultural production and dissemination; that is, the formation of a popular occulture manifesting itself in widely distributed products of literature, film and music." (vide Partridge 2004/5, vol. 1, pp. 119-84)

p. 333

"Could it be that Berger's international subculture of the academically educated is itself touched by occulture, or even to some extent implicated in its production? ... Following the traces of central paranormal concepts and themes, dissecting their discursive formation and tracing their dissemination, we find that occulture in fact has vital nerve centres inside universities and academic subcultures. ...

But there is also evidence that certain paranormal ideas remain part of a vital mode of re-enchantment among what may, perhaps, be seen as the highly educated echelons of contemporary occulture."

[p. 332, fn. 7 : "For a more systematic discussion ..., see ... Colin Campbell [1978]."]

Campbell 1978 = Colin Campbell : "The Secret Religion of the Educated Classes". SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS 39.2:146-56.

pp. 335-9 results of polls & of surveys on belief in the paranormal

p. 335

"A Gallup poll conducted in 2001 indicated a general increase among the American public in paranormal beliefs since 1990. Among the types of belief polled for ghosts, haunted houses, demonic possession, ... and extraterrestrial visitors, but also ... clairvoyance and telepathy."

p. 336, fn. 20

"[Every] medical doctor who, with basis in countless controlled medical tests considers the placebo effect to be ... well-documented ... would qualify as having a "paranormal belief".

{This is simply similar to all other evidence on the paranormal : as is well-known, all paranormal phainomena (which are quite impossible by the rules of materialism) have been confirmed by countless controlled scientific tests, clearly demonstrating that strict materialism is therewith proven to be an utterly invalid and a discredited hypothesis, unworthy of further serious consideration by scientists.}

However, belief in the reality of placebos should hardly classify as paranormal in this context."

{Placebos function praeternaturally by inducing the spirit-guide to understand that a remedy is needed, so that spirit-guide (together with the spirit-guide's spirit-helpers) acteth accordingly, curing the ailment. [written July 23 2014]}

p. 337

"every third American with post graduate education believes in demonic possession".

p. 338

"For telepathy (which also correlated positively with education) we even notice a negative correlation with the expressed importance of {conventional and official, i.e., political-state-recommended} religion".

p. 339

"science majors are much more likely to believe in paranormal phenomena than majors in psychology".

{This is because "psychology" is a worthless pseudoscience, with no rationality, but based on superstition and on capitalistic delusions.}

p. 341 Rhine & McDougall

"In 1927 Louisa and J. B. Rhine followed the British psychologist and former president of the American Society for Psychical Research, William McDougall (1873-1938), to Duke University. McDougall ... had been professor of psychology at Harvard University since 1920 (the chair previously held by another famous psychical researcher, William James). ... Seven years later, Rhine's book made headlines in the United States and beyond : ... the research team at Duke ... found evidence for a number of ... "psychic" abilities". (vide Mauskopf & McVaughn 1980, pp. 102-50)

Mauskopf & McVaughn 1980 = Seymour H. Mauskopf & Michael R. McVaughn : The Elusive Science : Origins of Experimental Psychical Research. Baltimore : John Hopkins Univ Pr.

p. 343 beginnings of experimentation with parapsychology

"the social and cultural resources the SPR pooled together were crucial for establishing credibility and legitimacy for its pursuit of psychical research." (Asprem 2011)

"Modern experimental parapsychology, in turn, grew out ... of the SPR milieu" (Asprem 2010).

Asprem 2011 = Egil Asprem : "Parapsychology". In : James R. Lewis & Olav Hammer (edd.) : Handbook of Religion and the Authority of Science. Leiden : Brill. pp. 633-70.

Asprem 2010 = Egil Asprem : "A Nice Arrangement of Heterodoxies". J OF THE HISTORY OF THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES 46.2:123-43.

p. 345 source of magical efficacy

"Where the Renaissance magus understood ritual efficacy in terms of interaction with the anima mundi or the intercession of spiritual entities of various kinds,

{Because a "magical" act is a series of instruction couched in linguistic format, it would require an intelligent entity (or at least some intricate computer-like device in the subtle-plane) to understand and to undertake such efficacy.}

the modern "disenchanted" magician would instead refer to"energies" or "forces" ... (often in explicit analogy with electricity ...)".

{There is, of course, no conceivable way that an "energy" or "force" could compraehend, and respond to, the intricate linguistic instructions entailed in the "magical" conjuration.}

{Those persons who regard the intelligent entities who respond to magical conjurations as mere "energy" or "force", surely must likewise regard the entities who pilot and arrive in flying saucers as "energies" or "forces", despite all those entities humanoid appearance and behaviour -- a truly absurd proposition, which could be proposed only by a liar, a cheat, or a raving maniac (-- or, of course, a hireling-stooge of the materialist-capitalist government of greed-maddened hypocrites). Whether such praevaricators could be motivated, instead, by terror of being murdered (by hireling goon-thugs of the brutal capitalist re'gime) if they were not to parrot the capitalist-stooge propaganda-line, is a possibility we have no ready means for assessing; though it would (superficially, at least) seem incongruous that persons who routinely perform magical (praeternatural) feats of unearthy prowess should so intensely dread any merely earthly government. [written July 22 2014]}

p. 347 supernormal or supernatural?

"Myers introduced the word "supernormal" to replace the problematic word "supernatural".

{The word /supernatural/ can be "problematic" only to an arrant atheist. Was Myers a fanatic atheist, a materialist totally denying the existence of purpose and of meaning?}

[quoted from Myers 1903, vol. 1, p. xiii :] "The word supernatural is open to grave objections; it assumes that there is something outside nature, and

{The word /supernatural/, when applied to material bodies, would imply that the material body hath within it something immaterial (soul and/or aspect of divinity) which is superior to the nature of the mere matter. Did Myers doubt the existence of consciousness (which is no part of the material universe)? Did he fatuously deny his own consciousness?}

it has become associated with arbitrary interference with law.

{It is associated with miraculous rescuing of persons from perils, and of societies from perdition. What so-called "law" would oppose rescue, and would demand perdition? Only that of a rabid materialist who can see no purpose nor meaning anywhere in the universe, perhaps.}

Now there is no reason to believe that the psychic phenomena ... are ... less subject to fixed and definite law."

{Now, there is every reason to understand that miraculous abilities are available for rescues above and beyond the capacity of mere matter, and transcend any arbitrary "fixed and definite [finite, i.e., limited and fallible] law". Are we under "The Law", or are we under divine grace?}

Myers 1903 = Frederick W. H. Myers : Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. 2 voll. NY : Longmans, Green & Co.


Egil Asprem & Kennet Granholm (edd.): Contemporary Esotericism. Equinox Publ Ltd, Sheffield, 2013.