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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Blavatsky & Annie Besant 2


This is our final post covering 2017. In 2017, Annie Besant received a lot of attention, and so ironically Blavatsky received a lot of press in relation to both Nazism and Indian Independence. The year also saw a new publication concerning the Coulomb/Hodgson affair by Daniel Caldwell and many interesting academic publications. There was also the return of the Theosophical History journal, notably featuring a long letter by Blavatsky to Ralston Skinner. Another eventful year.

This is also most likely the final dense thematic post that I'll be doing. I've covered three years of news and it's clear that interest in Blavatsky remains strong and seems to be growing. I'm most impressed by the diversity of subjects that have been assembled, but I'd like to get away from the regular, systematic format. In the future, I'd like to focus more on original writing, with occasional posts on various topics.

Annie Besant And Her Dauntless Legacy Of Resistance
Ruchira Ghosh - April 6, 2018
Annie Besant was a noted philosopher, social reformer, women’s rights activist, besides being a prolific writer and orator. Her name remains inextricably linked with India’s struggle for freedom. She figures among world famous personalities who made India their home for good.
Annie Besant: An inconvenient woman
Manu S. Pillai Oct 06 2017
One of the founders of Banares Hindu University, the scene of a woman’s agitation today, Annie Besant lived unconventionally, defiant of social norms, well before she came to India
Gandhi Learned Hinduism From Blavatsky’s Occult Theosophy
Feb. 1st, 2018
Though the extent to which the occult Theosophical movement influenced Gandhi and Indian independence is not commonly known, it is well documented. It could also be said that the widespread influence of Eastern spirituality on Western culture that is so prominent today can be attributed largely to Blavatsky and Theosophy. Had she and her followers not taken the steps to influence Indian independence and the revivification of Hinduism, Indian history may have been different.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Blavatsky & The Morning of the Magicans (Pauwels/Bergier)


As covered fairly extensively in our May 2018 posts, due probably to the current socio-political realities (i.e. the rise of right-wing nationalistic politics with xenophobic agendas due to refugee problems), there has been a recent upswing in interest in the relation of politics and the occult, including the influence of the theosophical movement on Nazism.
It didn’t take long for people to develop an occult mythology around Nazism. In Lewis Spence’s 1940 Occult Causes of the Present War, you already have the anti-occult, satanistic mythologizing of Nazism, but he opposes it against a Christian worldview instead of a scientific one. René Guénon’s 1949 Letter to Julius Evola discusses Aleister Crowley’s role as a black magician connected to Nazism, and the Nazi regime was amply mythologized in the popular culture of the wartime period. These ideas coalesced into an opulent conspiracy theory in 1960, spawning something of a cottage industry in books on Nazism and the occult. This outgrowth caught the attention of more academic historians around 1976 and has been something of a cottage industry in that field as well ever since (Goodrich-Clarke, pp. 219-225).
For this post, I thought I would add my own small contribution to this question by looking at the mothership that started it all in 1960, Pauwell and Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians, a rather funky book that became a surprise bestseller in France and the caught on with the English market a few years later just in time for the counter-culture movement.Where to begin in describing this curious work? Basically one could say that, besides spawning the whole occult Nazism mythology, it also spawned the whole Eric Von Daniken – Chariot of the Gods UFO/Ancient Civilization mythology. Moreover, there is also a pre-X-Men-like notion of a future breed of super-powered mutants spawned from experiments in nuclear energy.
Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society get mentioned a few times, and so how is she portrayed in all of this? They basically take the theosophical White Magic/Black Magic concept and turn it around. Blavatsky and the TS are said to have “opened the door to a luciferian East”, ( Pauwels & Bergier, 446) meaning that they are somehow connected to a hidden lodge of black magicians which act as a secret governing power behind Hitler and the  Nazi regime. He relies on Guénon’s 1921 Théosophisme, histoire d’une pseudo-religion to discredit Theosophy, implying that Hitler is an anti-Christ figure, although Guénon gets lumped into the occult Nazi-inspirer camp as well.
René Guénon
Now it seems that Pauwels had a mystic bent, so it looks like a case of a would-be mystic, disgruntled with bad experiences with a Gurdjieff group, wrote this book to settle a score with the occult scene, and set up his own esoteric current. (Lachman, 1). Therefore Blavatsky, René Guénon, Aleister Crowley, the Golden Dawn and Gurdjieff all get shot down at one point (Rudolf Steiner somehow gets spared, perhaps because he was a conspicuous target of Nazi persecution and possibly due to his Christian bent, Pauwels having had a Roman Catholic upbringing).

Rudolf Steiner
Later on, Blavatsky is credited with the notion of primitive gigantic human beings, which they adapt (470-71). The actual language is so evasive and ambiguous that is difficult to tell how they feel about occult philosophy, but basically they’re implying that all esoteric groups more or less partake of black magic, although their occult doctrines of ancient giants and evolutionary processes are correct, and the white magicians are represented by modern technological society, with Pauwells and Bergier giving the correct explanations of occult concepts, albeit in a more materialistic bent.
Charles Fort
Ironically, one can notice the theosophical influence in their approach, with the spiritual aspect being replaced with atomic-age science and UFOs, a kind of materialistic, space-age version of Isis Unveiled, if you will (with a Charles Fort influence as well). Therefore one could posit that this book is very much concerned with appropriations of theosophical concepts while rejecting the esoteric philosophy in favor of materialistic, albeit fantastic explanations. The Ancient Astronaut/UFO genre has even been studied as part of the Theosophical Current; Rothstein posits how George King’s Aetherius Society could be considered a precursor to linking theosophy-inspired themes with UFOs. Strangely, this type of material has apparently been considered in communist Russia as excellent anti-theistic, pro-materialism propaganda (Colavito).
Sadly, this demonizing portrayal certainly didn’t help Blavatsky’s beleaguered reputation at the onset of the counter-culture revolution. This book is surely the main source for a lot of strange conspiracy theories concerning Blavatsky that can be found on the internet. Fortunately, more recent academic works on Nazism & the Occult treat Blavatsky with a more cautious, respectful neutrality of sorts (simply positioning her as the formulator of an esoteric racial theory). Lachman has a positive ‘there is no bad publicity’ take on this issue, citing Mircea Eliade, he points out how it inspired counter-culture optimism and how it put Blavatsky’s name out there for a whole new audience (8). I think that the book does serve as a good example of how influential Theosophy has been in popular culture.
How did Blavatsky’s mainstream reputation survive this negative portrayal? Briefly, one can point to a few things. Goodrich-Clarke’s 1985 The Occult Roots of Nazism, succinctly points out the largely spurious nature of the Morning of the Magicians Nazi mythology, although Blavatsky does not fare very well in that book, either (218-221). Lachman (8), May (107) and Kripal (180) have further pointed out the book’s various problems of historical credibility. Rather remarkably, Goodrich-Clarke himself does a dramatic about-face and devotes a positive ground-breaking 2004 study of Blavatsky in his Western Esoteric Masters series, giving her a much needed boost to her reputation. Also, Antoine Faivre in works such as Access to Western Esotericism (1994), bucked the trend of the largely Guénon -inspired negative approach to Theosophy in French publishing and presented Theosophy in a more articulate and positive light. Furthermore, William Quinn's 1997 The Only Tradition convincingly pointed out the salient problems of historical accuracy in Guénon’s 1921 Théosophisme (111-114). Sadly, all this did not stop a publisher from featuring a portrait of Blavatsky on the cover of a recent edition of Morning of the Magicians.

Bergier and  Pauwels
That is not to say that Pauwels and Bergier did not have credentials. Pauwels was a successful novelist, journalist and editor and went on to have a successful career playing off the baby-boomer trends of the period. (Pauwels, Wikipedia). Bergier was a resistance fighter who was interned in a Nazi prisoner camp. He had a scientific background as well as an avid interest in science-fiction, helping to popularize H.P. Lovecraft in France. He went on to write many books on the supernatural and alternative science (Bergier, Wikipedia). Both were quite successful at using controversy and sensationalism in the mass media to promote their interest in the supernatural and paranormal investigation.

H.P. Lovecraft
I think part of what made the book so successful is the literary savvy. Both authors are very familiar with supernatural fiction and the perception of Nazism in popular culture and deftly use a lot of the dramatic techniques of supernatural fiction in presenting something akin to a pulp science-fiction thriller; the addition of more specific historical references and alternative science is simply an extension of the feeling of believability that the supernatural literary techniques strive to instill.
Jack Kirby's Eternals
The book actually reminds me of something out of a Jack Kirby comic book. Kirby, who was also influenced by American pulp science-fiction of the thirties and forties (although Chris Knowles has a more mystical take on Kirby’s inspiration), has explored similar themes throughout his career; for example, see his take on the whole Chariot of the Gods concept, in his Eternals series. Conclusion: as an imaginative pop culture literary influence addressing the hopes and fears of post-war industrial society, the book has a certain interest, as an experimental, intuitive alternative historical essay, it suffers from a woeful proliferation of inaccurate and sketchy information.
Nazi concern with super-soldier experiment in Kirby's Captain America
PS. Note that Blavatsky herself was precisely opposing the type of Satanistic world-view and demonizing tendencies of the monotheistic religions that she is being targeted with. Her critique of religion is mainly against what we would now term fundamentalism, which she described as a materializing and anthropomorphicizing of spiritual concepts. Hence, she considered the religious portrayal of the devil to be a myth, a superstition. Isis Uveiled, vol.2, chap. 10 is a very focused, well-researched essay on this question:
https://nexus.universaltheosophy.com/articles/unveiling-isis-2-part-10/
References:
Colavito, Jason. The Strange Case of "Morning of the Magicians" in Soviet Russia
Goodrich-Clarke, Nicholas. The Occult Roots of Nazism (1985)
Guenon, Rene, Letters from Guenon to Evola (X) http://www.gornahoor.net/?p=4693.
Kripal, Jeffrey J.  Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (2011)
Knowles, Chris. Mind Bomb Propheices of a Pop Astrognostic. https://secretsun.blogspot.com/2012/01/mindbomb-prophecies-of-pop-astrognostic.html
Lachman, Gary.  Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of the Age of Aquarius (2001)
May, Andrew. Pseudoscience and Science Fiction (2017)
Pauwels, Louis & Jacques Bergier Le Matin des Magiciens (1960)
Quinn, William. The Only Tradition (1997)
Rothstein, Mikael. Mahatmas in Space: The Ufological Turn and Mythological Materiality of Post-World War II Theosophy,  pp. 217–236 in Handbook of the Theosophical Current (2013)
Spence , Lewis.  Occult Causes of the Present War,(1940)

See also Gary Lachman’s interview with Antoine Faivre:




Monday, 11 June 2018

Blavastky & New Age Spirituality

Prayer beyond praying
Dr. Satish K. Kapoor
Prayer awakens the sixth sense-Faculty X-and shows one the path to success in whatever field one wants to operate. Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, wrote (Isis Unveiled, I): Prayer is desire, and desire develops into will.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/life-style/gyan-zone/prayer-beyond-praying/399967.html

Where the author got this Blavatsky anecdote, I do not know:
Joy of Sharing
Saturday, May 13, 2017
https://www.assamtimes.org/node/19023

Stop Studying Success Gurus. Do This Instead.
Michael Schein
Yet Blavatsky is responsible for the popularization of Eastern spirituality in the West, which led to mass interest in activities such as yoga and meditation. Today everyone from professional athletes to Silicon Valley billionaires to neuroscientists vouch for the benefits of these practices.
https://www.inc.com/michael-schein/stop-studying-success-gurus-do-this-instead.html

Blind Faith Has No Place In Witchcraft
May 4, 2017 by Mat Auryn
While I do not blindly believe in many of the things that she taught, Helena Blavatsky once wrote that "I speak ‘with absolute certainty’ only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith."
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/matauryn/2017/05/04/blind-faith-no-place-witchcraft/#PAyyWZaxKFspoOxy.99

Faith Healer insipired by Theosophy
https://goodmenproject.com/arts/dad-was-normal-then-he-punched-a-hole-in-a-cloud-with-his-mind-wcz/

Manly Hall gets a mainstream biography:
"Master of the Mysteries: New Revelations…" Review & Interview with Author Louis Sahagun
Tenebrous Kate June 14, 2016
https://heathenharvest.org/2016/07/29/master-of-the-mysteries-new-revelations-review-interview-with-author-louis-sahagun/

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Blavatsky Biographical 2


The Sylvia Cranston bio is now available online:
 
Blavatsky's Influence on Occult America with Mitch Horowitz
S10:Ep51 hr, 3 minsDecember 7, 2017Guest: Mitch Horowitz
https://www.gaia.com/video/blavatskys-influence-occult-america-mitch-horowitz

K. Paul Johnson bio in The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers (pp. 249-254):
 
If you want a good, solid short HPB bio, here's one:
[The sketch below of Madame Blavatsky’s life has been adapted (with additions and deletions) from a biographical article on H.P.B. written by Boris de Zirkoff and published in Theosophia (Los Angeles, California), Summer 1968, pp. 3-8.]
 
an old radio show transcript
Esoteric Masters: Part Two - Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy
She was a big cigar smoking impoverished Russian, who claimed a noble family background and travelled the world giving clairvoyant demonstrations. Yet Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was destined to become the founder of an international esoteric movement, which drew to its bosom a galaxy of influential men and women.
 
Madame Blavatsky: Esoteric Philosopher with Gary Lachman
Thursday, May 3 at 6:30 PM 2018 - 8:30 PM
 
Less than accurate, but well-meaning theatrical piece:
Review: Deviant Women: Madame Blavatsky
Deviant Women: Madam Blavatsky was a perfect blend of dark and comedic, of the spooky and the playful. It was a night any Victorian lady or gentleman would be proud of.
 
Cool Russian Documentary - English dubbing
H P Blavatsky Biography Part 1.of 5 - Jan 13, 2010
This powerful and informative Drama Documentary made for Russian Television in 1991 presented Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (The founder of Modern Theosophy) to the Russian public after details of her life and work had been suppressed for decades under Communism. English subtitles and voiceover. This film is recommended as an introduction to H P Blavatsky by Cardiff Theosophical Society, Wales, UK.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Blavatsky - Responses to recent racism allegations


The occult and politics relation is a theme that has garnered quite an interest lately and so Blavatsky's name comes up in this context. Fortunately, Blavatsky has her defenders, who are capable of giving well-researched, articulate and thoughtful responses, thank you very much:
SCHOCKING NEW CAMPAIGN AGAINST THEOSOPHY?
Steven Otto - October 2017
Roy Eckardt (leading scholar of Christian-Jewish relations and former chairman emeritus of religion studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem) has asserted that the foundation of antisemitism and responsibility for the Holocaust lies ultimately in the New Testament, That's a truth we don't read about, but from such horrific and stupid lies, that the Third Reich was an occult or pagan state and that Theosophy, a doctrine of philanthropy, common sense, unity, was a base of such a contemptible system.
 
Here’s an older article, very good:
Liar, Racist, Antisemite, Satanist and Nazi!
 
Good basic overview of the question:
From the Editor's Desk: Was H.P. Blavatsky a Nazi?
Printed in the Summer issue of Quest magazine. 2015
In any event, neither HPB nor her followers have ever, to my knowledge, taught or practiced racial discrimination. As we've just seen, she herself rejected the notion of superior and inferior races. And the Society's First Object is "to form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color" an ideal that Theosophy, as far I can see, has always tried to fulfill. Neither Blavatsky nor Theosophy is above criticism. No one is. But they are entitled to an appraisal that is fair and honest. To call them racist is neither.
Citation: Smoley, Richard."From the Editor’s Desk: Was H.P. Blavatsky a Nazi?" Quest 103.3 (Summer 2015): pg. 82.
 
Former Academician Theosophical now American Minervan does not shy away from these questions:
New York Times Profiles Tony Hovater: H.P. Blavatsky, an Anti-Semitic influence on Nazis?
Dominique Johnson - 19 Dec. 2017
Researchers not familiar with Theosophical History are most likely to check for sources likely in such places, despite those sources admitting that “spirit guides” exist, by claiming H.P. Blavatsky was a mere medium, madwoman, or both. Historian, Ronald Hutton described Blavatsky as “one of the century’s truly international figures,” whose ideas gained “considerable popularity.”
 
Theosophy, Aryans and Zurvanism: Concerning Nazi Aryanism and Remnants of Indic Civilization
Dominique Johnson - 9 May 2018
“If to-morrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to re-emerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about a hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations. And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some one island, without any means of crossing the new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery. Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into SUPERIOR and INFERIOR races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, p. 425)
Adolf Hitler’s Religion and Ideological Influences in National Socialism
Dominique Johnson  - May 22 2018
 
Fascism and the Occult: Is There a Connection?
Mitch Horowitz - November 2 2016
Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society combined the symbol with other religious images – including the Egyptian ankh, the star of the David, and the Sanskrit character “om” – to design its organizational insignia. For Theosophy, the swastika represented karma and rebirth; its inclusion among the other symbols was intended to express the unity of all faiths.
http://www.unboundworlds.com/2016/11/fascism-occult-connection/
check out the nice online support for this piece:
Gary Lachman: There's absolutely no evidence that HPB was fascist - in fact, fascism as a political movement didn't exist during her lifetime. There is absolutely no evidence that she in any way nurtured or abetted the rise of Nazism. As Mitch makes clear, some of her ideas were misappropriated by some racial minded 'occultists' and mythographers and used for dubious purposes. But she had as much to do with this as Jesus had with the Inquisition - and readers of The Brothers Karamazov know that if Jesus came back during the Inquisition, he would have been burned at the stake. HPB here suffered the same fate as Nietzsche, another architect of the modern world whose ideas were misappropriated by the Nazis - who soon dropped him when it was clear that reading him would turn young Germans against the Fuhrer. There is evidence that HPB was progressive-minded, not conservative, and I suspect that the only reason she has not been appropriated by feminists is because of the occult connection. She was democratic by nature - unlike Crowley - abjuring her aristocratic inheritance and embracing a variety of people of all walks and ways of life. Unlike H P Lovecraft, who wrote dismissively of Theosophy, she was in no way racist, living happily among the Jews, Italians, and other immigrants - of which she herself was one - on the Lower East Side that Lovecraft despised as he made his way among them during his few years in NYC.
https://www.facebook.com/mitch.horowitz.1/posts/10154180184206701
 
Article on the history of the Swastika:
Stop the outrage: India doesn’t have a monopoly on the symbol used to protest Modi’s UK visit – Ranjit Hoskote – November 15, 2015
Another source for the revival of the swastika in European popular culture was the Theosophical Society, established in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, and William Quan Judge. The Theosophists generated a persuasive world religion compounded from Hindu and Buddhist ideas, as well as occultist and utopian themes that they distilled from the fertile and febrile neo-religious imagination of late 19th-century Europe and North America. At its highest point, Theosophy counted many thousands of individuals across the world among its believers, and with its transreligious appeal, seemed well placed to rival the more established forms of belief.
http://scroll.in/article/769058/stop-the-outrage-india-doesnt-have-a-monopoly-on-the-symbol-used-to-protest-modis-uk-visit

Was Blavatsky a plagiarist and devil-worshipping racist? March 20 2017
When, just before her death, Blavatsky was asked to write a book in question and answer format that would answer the many occult and philosophical questions put to her over the years, her followers suggested that she adopt the title 'Master' for her answers. She was both horrified and angered in equal measure by this suggestion, for she had never claimed to be anything more than a student of the Mysteries she taught. Nor would she accept the accreditation 'teacher' either, much less 'guru'. Finally, it was agreed that she be identified simply by the word 'Theosophist' and her questioner as 'Enquirer' as you may read in the published book—The Key to Theosophy. In the same book Blavatsky was asked: "What do you consider as due to humanity at large?" The answer she gave was: "Full recognition of equal rights and privileges for all, and without distinction of race, colour, social position, or birth (The Key to Theosophy p. 230-231). Are these the words of a plagiarist and devil-worshipping racist? You decide!
http://www.occult-mysteries.org/blavatsky-plagiarist.html

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Blavatsky, the Occult & Racism



If I had to read every strange conspiracy theory article that mentions Blavatsky and Nazism, I would probably go a little batty. Nonetheless, 2017 saw a lot of these notions appear in more mainstream platforms, so here is a sampling of some the debates that are currently out there. The truth is out there. Trust no one.  

A good article on mystical influences in US politics
Steve Bannon and the occult: The right wing’s long, strange love affair with New Age mysticism
Mitch Horowitz - Apr 23, 2017
Generations of occult writers echoed Blavatsky’s theme of America as a Holy Grail among nations, possessed of a “secret destiny,” as Manly P. Hall put it, and thus married esoteric spirituality to patriotic ideals. This partnership has flourished out of view of most mainstream observers—and significantly impacted American culture, including the look of our currency.
 


An article on Julius Evola :
Meet The Philosopher Who’s A Favorite Of Steve Bannon And Mussolini
Jake Romm - February 10, 2017 
 
Article contends Blavatsky supported Darwin, whereas she was actually highly critical of his racial theories:
THE REAL RACISTS
The true leftist identity of the so-called 'far right'
Exclusive: Scott Lively stresses Darwin's role in legitimizing 'Aryan supremacy'
 
We don't really know what Tony Hovater thinks of Blavatsky, because the reporter openly admits to not having asked him:
Racists Are Threatening to Take Over Paganism
Blavatskys work is also admired by modern racists like Tony Hovater, the Nazi sympathizer next door,who was profiled by the New York Times in 2017 and worked as an organizer for the recently disbanded Traditionalist Worker Party.
 
Catholic Review of Kurlander book:
We should never forget the Nazis sinister occult roots
Francis Phillips -Tuesday, 22 Aug 2017
 
Christian Fundamentalist article on new age spirituality and Nazism. The passage on Blavatsky is incorrect:
The Blood of the Saints
Ray Yungen May 11, 2017
 
Strange Christian Fundamentalist conspiracy theory quoting from Isis Unveiled:
A BUDAFUL FLOWEROR SOMETHING MORE SINISTER? DO YOU TRUST FACEBOOK?
May 13, 2017 Dianne Marshall

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Blavatsky Book Review: Peter Staudenmaier Between Occultism and Nazism


With works such as these, it is becoming clearer that the Theosophical Movement had a certain social impact during the period of the two world wars and historians are beginning to note the historical importance thereof.
 
There have been some lively exchanges between Staudenmaier and anthroposophists and a full-fledged work appeared a while ago:
Peter Staudenmaier Between Occultism and Nazism
Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era.
Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014. vii + 412 pp.
His knowledge of theosophical historical scholarship seems quite thorough. His knowledge of Blavatsky seems cobbled together from secondary sources. Page eleven has an acceptable analysis of her concept of spiritual evolution but on page 12, there is an quick shift to Annie Besant’s writings. Some would argue that there are considerable differences between the two and that the period between 1895 and 1910 was a critical period when the shift occurred. Unfortunately, Staudenmaier does not give an account of this issue. It is also unfortunate that there is such little research on Franz Hartmann. (Presumably, these issues were not the focus of the book, as he has written elsewhere about all these points, such as Steiner's extensive reworking of Blavatsky's original concepts, so he presents all these points in a rather hyper-compressed first chapter). Overall, it seems a more tempered attitude toward Blavatsky than his earlier "Anthroposophy and Eco-Fascism".
https://brill.com/view/title/24927
 
Review by Stefan Arvidsson:
A critical remark regarding Staudenmaier’s focus on “race” would be that he refrains from providing a comprehensive portrait of Steiner’s esoteric ideas and worldview. Such a picture, even one constructed quickly with broad strokes, would give the reader an idea of the relative importance of the notion of race for Steiner’s thinking, and it would also give the reader a hint about what other issues the anthroposophical and the Nazi imaginations could attract or repel.
 
I might have missed scholarly discussions along Hansson’s lines; in that case, I look forward to taking part of them in the future.1 I also believe this to be an important path to follow because the study of esotericism often tends to isolate itself from the study of modern religion and culture in general; anthroposophy is of course the perfect bridge between the obscure world of occultism and the overarching intellectual and cultural history.
 
The contemporary persona of anthroposophy as an internationalist, humanistic and even “female” movement that experiments with different crops and “eurythmic” dances actually brings anthroposophy back closer to (the persona of) the Theosophical Society that Steiner and his allies disparaged and broke away from to craft a purely Western mysticism on German soil.
 
1 The editor kindly reminds me that Wouter Hanegraaff ’s New Age Religion: Esotericism in the
Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1996) emphasises the importance of Naturphilosophie
for the rise of modern esotericism, and furthermore informs me that this track is followed for
the case of Steiner in Helmut Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland: Theosophische Weltanschauung
und gesellschaftliche Praxis, 1884–1945, 2 vols. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007) and
in Egil Asprem, The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900–
1939 (Leiden: Brill, 2014).
correspondencesjournal.com/ojs/ojs/index.php/home/article/download/20/21
 
Review by Olav Hammer:
For anybody interested in the intersection between religion, race, and politics, this book is a goldmine of information. The author has painstakingly examined immense amounts of published and archival materials and shows how anthroposophical race theories intersected in many and complex ways with extreme right-wing ideologies.
 
Presumably, this article is a tacit response to the reception of the Kurlander book:
The Nazis as occult masters? It’s a good story but not history
Peter Staudenmaier – June 2017
The problem with this alluring image is not just that it is false. The myth of Nazi occultism is more than an amusing curiosity, a testament to the power of cinematic suggestion. It actively detracts from a historical understanding of the very themes it highlights. It yields a distorted view of Nazism and a distorted view of occultism. But it also offers an occasion for critical reflection, a chance to see how we might make better sense of the tangled history of occultism in the Nazi era. It might even help us to understand Nazi evil and the not-so-hidden forces behind it.
 
Another recent historical study on Nazism and the Occult:
Revisiting the "Nazi Occult": Histories, Realities, Legacies
Monica Black, Eric Kurlander
Boydell & Brewer, 2015 - Germany - 297 pages