Western Esotericism In Religious Studies

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It is the purpose of this essay to explore what Western Esotericism is, through its seemingly debated definitions, in specific reference to its place within the study of Religion. It will be argued that Western Esotericism should be studied within Religious Studies due to the fact that it provides a re-conception of religious study from a sociological, psychological and philosophical lens. Through the exploration of repressed and censored esoteric features marginalised throughout history, we see a promotion of personal faith and religious experience explored through a new-found abandonment of scripture and ritual. This essay will feature works by Faivre, Stuckrad, Bergunder and Hanegraff as the main forms of literature which will support…show more content…
In comprehending why Esotericism should be studied as part of Religious Studies, it is essential to explore the concept of Transmutation, which is prominently seen to emphasise individual experience in attaining self- empowerment through achieving inner-knowledge. This also coherently links to the Esoteric concept of Gnosticism, with a focus on tradition/transmission paralleling the master/teacher relationship commonly seen within religious practice. This opinion is supported to through the growth of New Age Activities in Western society, for example meditation, in which the concept of Philosophia Perrenis is commonly seen to be explored. Similarly, another parallel between religion and esotericism is the combined beliefs of the Esoteric and the religious thinker, supported through the example of Jung, with his concept of the Self “principium individuationis,” (1944)) coherently connecting individual religious experience with elements of…show more content…
In order to discredit this opinion religion focuses primarily on things that are hidden, emphasising the idea of faith, and believing in something, not necessarily proven to be empirically valid. Religion acts as a personal connection to something bigger therefore, Esotericism compliments the idea efficiently. This is supported by the evidence that traditionally many religions have been seen to have mystical elements. There is a significant prominence of the connection between religion and culture. In order to support this idea, in early primordial beliefs according to Freud as presented by Anthony Storr (1989), through the concept of Totemism we see supernatural belief defining “ritual” and “social relationships” showing prominent ideas of attachment catalysed by esoteric beliefs ultimately emphasising religious

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