Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism

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From rumors about gnostic orgies in antiquity to the explicit erotic symbolism of alchemical texts, from the subtly coded eroticism of medieval kabbalah to the sexual magic practiced by contemporary occultists and countercultural translations of Asian Tantra, the history of Western esotericism is rich in references to the domains of eros and sexuality. This volume, which brings together an impressive array of top-level specialists, is the first to analyze the eroticism of the esoteric without sensationalism or cheap generalizations, but on the basis of expert scholarship and attention to textual and historical detail. While there are few domains where the imagination may so easily run wild, the various contributions seek to distinguish fact from fiction-only to find that historical realities are sometimes even stranger than the fantasies. In doing so, they reveal the outlines of a largely unknown history spanning more than twenty centuries.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Hidden Intercourse is a book that turns people's heads around, so thatthey can never think of sex the same way again.-Joscelyn Godwin

A collection of essays addressing a doubly fascinating topic, namely, theintersection of the erotic and the esoteric in western culture from ancient Greece to contemporary California—where west meets east, as the American counterculture supplements its already eclectic garb with the mantle of a refashioned Asian Tantra.-Virginia Burrus

A thoughtful, well-written, and extremely wide-ranging text that examines the crucial role of eros/sexuality in the western esoteric tradition.-G. William Barnard

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823233410
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 568
  • Sales rank: 1,372,698
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, and a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his many publications is the two-volume Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism.

Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University, where he is also the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He is the author of numerous books, including Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred and Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Things We Do Not Talk About Jeffrey J. Kripal Wouter J. Hanegraaff ix

Sexuality and Sexual Symbolism in Hermetic and Gnostic Thought and Practice (Second-Fourth Centuries) Roelof Van Den Broek 1

Conceiving Spirits: The Mystery of Valentinian Sex April D. DeConick 23

Sexual Intercourse Between Humans and Demons in the Islamic Tradition Pierre Lory 49

Murmuring Secrets: Eroticism and Esotericism in Medieval Kabbalah Elliot R. Wolfson 65

Ta'anug: Erotic Delights from Kabbalah to Hasidism Moshe Idel 111

Complications of Eros: The Song of Songs in John of Morigny's Liber florum celestis Doctrine Claire Fanger 153

Under the Mantle of Love: The Mystical Eroticisms of Marsilio Ficino and Giordano Bruno Wouter J. Hanegraaff 175

Revealing Analogies: The Descriptive and Deceptive Roles of Sexuality and Gender in Latin Alchemy Lawrence M. Principe 209

Probing Women and Penetrating Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe Allison P. Coudert 231

Sensuous Relation with Sophia in Christian Theosophy Antoine Faivre 281

Deadly Dates: Bodies and Sex in Spiritualist Heavens Cathy Gutierrez 309

Sexual Mysticisms in Nineteenth Century America: John Humphrey Noyes, Thomas Lake Harris, and Alice Bunker Stockham Arthur Versluis 333

Paschal Beverly Randolph and Sexual Magic John Patrick Deveney 335

The Knight of Spermatophagy: Penetrating the Mysteries of Georges Le Clément de Saint-Marcq Marco Pasi 369

The Yoga of Sex: Tantra, Orientalism, and Sex Magic in the Ordo Templi Orientis Hugh Urban 401

The Theory and Practice of Sexual Magic, Exemplified by Four Magical Groups in the Early Twentieth Century Hans Thomas Hakl 445

The Roar of Awakening: The Eros of Esalen and the Western Transmission of Tantra Jeffrey J. Kripal 479

List of Contributors 521

Index of Persons 529

Index of Subjects 540

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