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Palgrave Macmillan

India and the Occult

The Influence of South Asian Spirituality on Modern Western Occultism

ISBN 9781137404985
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in New Religions and Alternative Spiritualities

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Indian Yoga and Tantra become attractive to some major exponents of Western occultism. In a gesture typical of the syncretic tendency in Esotericism, Yoga is by these Westerners often identified as an Eastern form of magic: the two disciplines were considered to share similar theoretical perspective, the difference in their methods notwithstanding. India and the Occult explores the reception of Indian spirituality among Western occultists through several case studies. Unlike existing works focusing on the activities of Theosophical Society, it looks at the 'hard-core' occultism, in particular the British twentieth century currents associated with Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Kenneth Grant, and related individuals and groups. Without denying the specificity of its Western historical manifestation, it suggests that esotericism is a category that may be applied as a conceptual tool in order to interpret aspects of non-Western religious thought and practice.

Gordan Djurdjevic is Sessional Instructor in the Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University, Canada. He is the author of Masters of Magical Powers: The Nāth Yogis in the Light of Esoteric Notions (2008) and co-editor, with Henrik Bogdan, of Occultism in a Global Perspective (2013).

Introduction: The Idea of India in the Imaginary of Western Occultism
1. A Web of Relations: Interpreting Indian Yoga and Tantra as Forms of Esotericism
2. The Great Beast as a Tantric Hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley's Magick
3. Solve et Coagula: Attitudes toward the Ambrosial Aspects of Human Seed in Certain Yogic Traditions and in Sexual Magick of Aleister Crowley
4. Dion Fortune: The Shakti of the Age
5. Secrets of Typhonian Tantra: Kenneth Grant and Western Occult Interpretations of Indian Esotericism
6. When Yoga Becomes Magick: Dadaji Mahendranath,His Disciples, and the East-West Order


"It's about time. At last we have a serious, nuanced, and thoughtful book on the central role that India and Indian Tantra have played in the history of Western esotericism, occultism, and magic. Djurdjevic hits all the right notes. He celebrates comparison as essential to any such historical enterprise. He takes up the role of the imagination and the ideal object as keys to any and all human reality posits. He does not dismiss western forms of Tantra and yoga as somehow illegitimate or unimportant. And he focuses, without blinking, on the explicitly sexual dimensions of these practices and figures that have come to shape and define that century and a half long Tantric transmission." - Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
"Djurdjievic's book is of enormous interest for all scholars and readers who want to understand modern developments in the history of western esotericism, especially from a comparative, cross-cultural perspective. It casts new light on movements and groups that had been very little - if at all - studied before, such as Kenneth Grant's Thyphonian OTO, Dadaji Mahendranath's East-West Order, and Mike Magee's AMOOKOS. It also offers new insight on classic authors such as Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune, and their relationship with Indian spiritual traditions. Djurdjevic's expertise in both western and Indian sources makes this comparative study essential reading for all persons who want to understand phenomena of acculturation and globalization in modern western esotericism." - Marco Pasi, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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