Contemporary Esotericism, 19-20


IV. Leaving Margins

19. Entheogenic Esotericism

Wouter J. Hanegraaff


p. 394 a fundamental delusion in materialism

p. 394

"In our experience as human beings we know no such thing as "pure" spiritual activity ... unconnected with the body and the brain;

{In actuality, in our experience as human beings we have abundant spiritual activity unconnected with the material body, including several hours every night when we are absent from the material plane altogether (including, of course, absence from the material body) during dreaming.}

if it did exist, we would be incapable of experiencing its effects!"

{False! Because ever living person is fact engaged in experiencing these effects for several hours every night in dreams, the author's remark is absurd.}

p. 394, fn. 8

"Some critics might point to out-of-body experiences as counter-evidence, but any account of such experiences is communicated to us after the fact, that is, after the subject has ... "returned" to his or her body."

{Wrong! The aitheric-double hath often been witnessed (seen, heard, etc.) by living outside observers while the projection is in progress; historical records of this phainomenon are also abundant, extending many centuries into the past, on a worldwide scale.}

{These errors by Hanegraaff are among the numerous fallacies of materialism which have so often been disproven in laboratory tests at universities and other research facilities.}

p. 395 are entheogenic drugs generally regarded as "bizarre"?

"that entheogens might have a normal and legitimate function in some religious contexts is bound to sound bizarre to the general public."

{Entheogenic drugs are traditional in Hindu religion (the soma drug being highly recommended in the Veda), in Taoist and in Bodish religions; as well as in African religions (Bwiti cult of Kamerun and of Gbon) and in AmerIndian religions (peyote among North American Indians, teonacatl among Meso-American Indians, ayahuasca among South American Indians). Apparently, none of these nationalities (half the population of the world) are included in Hanegraaff's "general public".}

pp. 396-7 Fritjof Capra

p. 396 "The Tao of Physics (1975) begins with an oft-quoted description of the experience ... . Capra described ... :

[p. 396. quoted from Capra 1975, p. 11] "I "saw" cascades of energy coming down from outer space ...; I "saw" the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in this cosmic dance of energy; I felt its rhythm and I "heard" its sound, and at that moment I knew that this was the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers {Narta-rajan} worshipped by the Hindus."

p. 396 "the description is of such a nature that ...

[p. 397] we may safely assume that it occurred under the influence of LSD or some other psychedelic substance."

p. 397, fn. 13 "Capra does ... mention ... the powerful impact of his experiences with unspecified "power plants" (see ibid., 12)."

Capra 1975 = Fritjof Capra : The Tao of Physics : an Exploration of the Parallels beween Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism.

pp. 398-9 why clandestine ingesters psychedelic drugs typically omit mention of those drugs from their memoir-autobiographies

p. 398

"if you wish to convince a general readership that

the universe revealed its true nature to you, that

you found yourself communicating with superior spiritual entities on other planes of reality, or

saw spectacular visions of other worlds,

it just does not help your credibility to tell them that it all happened while you were tripping on [lysergic] acid!"

{Many devotees of psychedelics do, however, regard ingesting of these "entheogens" as holy communion of the sacramental eucharist, transporting (albeit temporarily) the soul to supernal divine realms; and are incredulous, instead, of any spiritual experience achieved without such "eucharist"!}

"J. Gordon Melton's New Age Encyclopedia from 1990 and

Christoph Bochinger's 700-page monograph on the New Age (1994) made no reference at all to "drugs" or "psychedelics"; ... and

they are entirely absent from Daren Kemp and James R. Lewis's recent multi-author Handbook of the New Age (2007). ...

p. 399

But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and ... it stretches credulity to assume that the entire 1960s generation that created the foundations of New Age religion would suddenly have become so obedient to authority as to have stopped using them privately as a means to explore spiritual realities."

[quoted from Sutcliffe 2003, p. 235, n.9, citing Bloom 1993, p. 65 :] "At the very least you should know about ["psychedelic drugs"], for they are -- albeit secretly -- a portal of change and illumination for many people."

Sutcliffe 2003 = Steven J. Sutcliffe : Children of the New Age : a History of Spiritual Practices. London : Routledge.

Bloom 1993 = William Bloom : First Steps : an Introduction to Spiritual Practice. Forres : Findhorn Pr.

p. 400 the 3 phases in the "modern spiritual psychedelic revolution" (Partridge 2004/5, vol. 2, pp. 82-134)


from Albert Hofmann's discovery of LSD in 1938 to the end of the 1950s, with Aldous Huxley as the central figure;


the psychedelic era from the 1960s to 1976, with Timothy Leary at the centre; and


the development of rave culture since the mid-1980s."

pp. 401-8 literature of entheogenic esotericism, culminating in the New Edge movement

p. 401

"Kocku von Stuckrad even calls Castan[~]eda's Teachings of Don Juan the "foundational document of modern Western Shamanism"".

p. 402

There were "William Burroughs's participation in ayahuasca ceremonies in the Amazon [Basin] in 1953, and similar explorations by his friend Allen Ginsberg in 1960, resulting in a classic of psychedelic counterculture known as The Yage Letters (1963)." [revised edition as Burroughs & Ginsberg 2006]

p. 403

"Terence McKenna (1946-2000) ... his intense entheogenic experiences in the Colombian rainforest in 1971, together with his brother Dennis .., inspired him to develop a radical spiritual worldview [McKenna & McKenna 1975] ... . ...

p. 404

McKenna is referring ... to Western esotericism ... in a series of unpublished "Lectures on Alchemy" delivered at Esalen, Californian, ... available online {"LA"} ... . ... McKenna ... was making a valiant effort to introduce his audience to Frances Yates's classic Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964)..., and even [to] a wide collection of original hermetic and alchemical texts, next to some of his favourite philosophers such as Plato, Plotinus, Bergson and Whitehead. During

p. 405

the course of his lectures, he read and discussed long passages from the Corpus Hermeticum, the Asclepius, and the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum."

p. 406

"[The] participants in the contemporary subculture of entheogenic neo-shamanism ...

share a rejection of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, emphasizing instead that the world is co-eternal

{Rejection of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is especially characteristic of the Bharatiya (Astika, Jaina, and Bauddha) religions.}

with God.

{more actually, with the gods and with the goddess; for despotic monotheism of a single "God" is also rejected}

This basic principle ... commonly ... has taken the shape of a "cosmotheism" in which the divine is present is present in the visible world of creation without being identical with it."

{More adequately, this doctrine is designated /pan-entheism/ (or /cosm-entheism/) -- rather than /cosmo-theism/ (or /pan-theism/) which would mean, literally, that the world (or the all) is itself divine.}

p. 407

"Daniel ... Pinchbeck, for his part, actually converted from existentialist despair to entheogenic esotericism. ... . ... he made the radical step of travelling to the African country Gabon to participate in a ritual with the Bwiti people, who used a famous psychoactive substance known as Iboga. This ... he describes, in his Breaking Open the Head (2002), as an initiation ... that cured him of existential ennui and despair. Pinchbeck now stands at the centre of a new movement that has been referred to by various terms, including ... "new edge" {a play on the term "new age"}. ...

p. 408

In its stronger versions,

{that is, its communistic versions}

global capitalist consumer society

{i.e., the worldwide capitalist-class : for, although the parasitic capitalist-class is not a producer of anything, it is the consumer of most of what the working-class is continually producing (such consumption being in the form of pretious metal, jewels, mansions, and other frivolous, though very expensive, trinkets sought by the superrich -- along also with extremely expensive war-materials, stockpiled with the intent of devastating the world for the idle amusement of jaded ploutokrats).}

is perceived as a huge, ... demonic system of dominance and control, with politicians {capitalist-stooge politicians} and the media {capitalist-controlled media} hypnotizing the population into tacit submission and enslavement ... . In that context, Native ...cultures and their shamanic spirituality are seen as preservers of a traditional wisdom that Western {read "capitalism-dominated", not "Western"} society has tragically lost... .

Entheogenic sacraments

{combined, of course, with esoteric metaphysics, and sustained by appropriate music and art}

are credited with the capacity of breaking mainstream society's {read "capitalism's", not "mainstream society's"} spell of mental domination and restoring us {membres of the working- and producing-class} ... to our original state of free {set free from from capitalism} and autonomous spiritual beings : ... they {most especially iboga} open the participants' eyes ... and introduce them to a wider, more meaningful universe of spiritual truth, love and light."

Burroughs & Ginsberg 2006 = William Burroughs & Allen Ginsberg (ed. by Oliver Harris) : The Yage Letters Redux. San Francisco : City Lights Bks.

McKenna & McKenna 1975 = Terence McKenna & Dennis McKenna : The Invisible Landscape. NY :Seabury Pr.

"LA" = Terence McKenna : Lectures on Alchemy.

Other writings also by Terence McKenna :

Daniel Pinchbeck : Breaking Open the Head.

Other writings also by Daniel Pinchbeck :


20. Gendre & Esotericism

Jay Johnson


p. 413 (Kripal & Hanegraaff) "the secret"

"content that addresses sex, desire and the erotic in a multiplicity of ways ... is well illustrated in volumes such as Kripal and Hanegraaff's Hidden Intercourse : Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism :

[quoted from Kripal & Hanegraaff 2008, p. xiv :] ... in the depths of human sexuality lies the secret of religion, occultism, magical power, spirituality, transcendence, life, ... Being itself.

{The reason for this is that the deities' favorite entertainment is erotic-sexual; so that when humans entertain the deities (during caerimonies which those deities are invited to attend) with erotic-sexual shows and performances, those deities are so greatly gratified as to be willing to grant, to the humans involved, transcendence and magical powers.}

This astonishing connection ... is not metaphorical ..., or symbolic, as some [commentators] would prefer to have it."

{Bodish commentators (on the Tantra-s) commonly regard the deities (together with their erotic and other praedilections) as metaphoric of abstract metaphysical principles.}

Kripal & Hanegraaff 2008 = Kripal & Hanegraaff : "Introduction". In :- Wouter J. Hanegraaff & Jeffrey J. Kripal (edd.) : Hidden Intercourse. Leiden : Brill.

pp. 413-4 sexuality in the occult

p. 413

"Hugh Urban's Magia Sexualis Sex, Magic and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism provides a particularly erudite account of the positioning of sexuality in occult thought from the nineteenth-century sex magic of Paschal Beverly Randolph to contemporary Chaos Magick. ... Indeed, Urban

p. 414

identifies the discourses on sex magic as significant elements in the nineteenth century's proliferating discourses on sexuality :

[quoted from Urban 2006, p. 1 :] ... the nineteenth century witnessed an unprecedented explosion of discourse about sex,

{This "explosion" had occurred some seven to eight centuries earlier, with the Kaula literature, in Bharata; and centuries earlier yet in Han (where highly erotic novels continued to be written into the praesent epoch).}

which was now categorized, classified, debated, and discussed in titillating detail. A key part of this discourse ... was

the new literature on sexual magic, which spread throughout the United States, England, and Western Europe from the mid-nineteeth century onward."

{Actually this literature was by no means "new", but rather was imported from the Orient (mainly India) by English and American seafarers (such as P. B. Randolph).}

Urban 2006 = Hugh B. Urban : Magia Sexualis : Sex, Magic, and Liberation ... . Los Angeles : Univ of CA Pr.

pp. 415-6 books about women in occultism

p. 415

Alex Owen : The Darkened Room : Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England. [Univ of Chicago Pr,] 1990.

Cynthia Eller : Living in the Lap of the Goddess. 1993.

Margot Adler : Drawing Down the Moon. 1979.

Jeffrey J. Kripal : Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom : Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism. [Univ of Chicago Pr, 2001.]

p. 416

Alexandra Heidle & Jan A. M. Snoek (edd.) : Women's Agency and Rituals in Mixed and Female Masonic Orders. [Leiden : Brill, 2008.]

Ma`ire Fedelma Cross (ed.) : Gender and Fraternal Orders in Europe, 1300-2000. [Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.]

Mary K. Greer : Women of the Golden Dawn [: Rebels and Priestesses. Rochester (VT) : Park St. Pr, 1995].

p. 417 books about human feminine psychology

Diane Stein : Women's Psychic Lives. [St Paul (MN) : Llewellyn,] 1995.

fn. 20 : Aileen Moreton-Robinson : Talkin' Up to the White Woman. [St Lucia : Univ of Queensland Pr,] 2000.

p. 418 double sexual gendre in most plants and in many invertebrates reflected in the description of "Otherkin"

"the general assumption that shamanic practice involves the capacity for embodied transformation across gender-binary ... species ... is clearly evident in contemporary Otherkin ..., where for some practitioners part of the appeal is the potential for gender ambiguity that their non-human self imparts ... .

{In classic shamanry, howbeit, self-transmutation in dreaming is never into any species (such as a plant or a worm or a shellfish) where double-gendre of a single individual is usual. All recorded self-transmutation during dreaming in standard shamanry hath been into a single-gendre individual (such as mammal, bird, or non-cichlid fish).}

Lupa [2007, p. 26] ... argues that with an Otherkin identity dimorphic gender distinction[s] become ... inept ... ."

{A single individual is always double-gendred in most species of plants; whereas in some invertebrates (worms, shellfish, etc.) an individual is at least annually shifting from being of one sexual gendre to being of the opposite sexual gendre.}

Lupa 2007 = Lupa : A Field Guide to Otherkin. Stafford : Megalithica Bks.

p. 419 sexual gendre in individual's spirits of (and in species's spirits controlling/governing) double-gendred plants and/or double-gendred invertebrates

"This is especially acute when the non-human element is a metaphysical {alias dictus 'divine'} being ... with ambiguous or unstable gender attribution".

{It would be more "acute" (in the sense of 'knowing' and/or of 'remembring') for spirits of such plants or of such animals, because such spirit would ordinarily retain either such an awareness of being double-gendred, or such a conscious memory of having been a year before of the opposite gendre from one's current gendre; in contrast to the ordinary plant or animal which likely would be vague in such aware awareness or in such memory.}

p. 420 sexual-gendre difference is reflected in subtle bodies [ kaya]

"It may be that Theosophists referred to the "spiritual bodies of man" for example, as a supposedly "neutral" ... subjectivity (something feminist philosopher Luce Irigay would argue [1974] is not possible)".

{Perhaps any Theosophist's use of the term "neutral" in regard to the subtle bodies was intended to allude to some other function of those bodies other than strictly sexual-gendre. For example, the allusion may be to a gear-shift being put into neutral, and likening that to a process of subjecting one's self to shifting among one's different subtle bodies.}

Irigay 1974 = Luce Irigay : Speculum of the Other Women. Ithaca (NY) : Cornell Univ Pr.


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