Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation

I’ve received word of the recent publication of a new book – an historical exploration of masonic rituals of initiation – by Henrik Bogdan, compiler of the definitive Kenneth Grant bibliography.

Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation

$65.00 Hardcover – 235 pages
Release Date: April 2007

Read on for full details.

Historical exploration of masonic rituals of initiation.

For more than three hundred years the practice of Masonic rituals of initiation has been part of Western culture, spreading far beyond the boundaries of traditional Freemasonry. Henrik Bogdan explores the historical development of these rituals and their relationship with Western esotericism. Beginning with the Craft degrees of Freemasonry—the blueprints, as it were, of all later Masonic rituals of initiation—Bogdan examines the development of the Masonic High Degrees, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—the most influential of all nineteenth-century occultist initiatory societies—and Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft movement of the 1950s, one of the first large-scale Western esoteric New Religions Movements.

“This is truly an original work on an important subject. The most significant thing is probably the definition of ‘ritual.’ The field of Western esotericism is a young one, and while some of its terminology is now a matter of common consent, ritual has never been subjected to scrutiny in this context. Bogdan also shows how different rituals convey different elements of the Western esoteric tradition: some Freemasonic ritual teaches alchemy; the Golden Dawn teaches Kabbalah; and witchcraft teaches principles of sexual magic. The entire book has an earnestness about it that makes the reader take these rituals seriously.” — Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Real Rule of Four

Henrik Bogdan teaches in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Göteborg University in Sweden.

Table Of Contents

List of Tables

1. Western Esotericism

The Delimitation of a Field of Research
The Research Paradigms of Western Esotericism
Western Esotericism in Theory and Practice
Western Esoteric Currents
Western Esoteric Rituals of Initiation
Concluding Remarks

2. Rituals of Initiation, Secret Societies, and Masonic Initiatory Societies

Ritual as a Field of Research
Rites de Passage
Rites of Initiation
Secret Societies
Secrecy and Masonic Initiatory Societies
Masonic Initiatory Societies
Masonic Rituals of Initiation
Eighteenth-Century Masonic Terminology
Concluding Remarks

3. Historical Background

Ancient and Medieval Sources
The “New Platonic Academy” of Florence
The Spread of Western Esotericism Across Europe
The Esoteric Missions of Giordano Bruno and John Dee
Christian Rosencreutz and the Rosicrucian Manifestos
Concluding Remarks

4. The Craft Degrees of Freemasonry

The Emergence of Freemasonry
Early Freemasonry and Western Esotericism
The Pre-1730 Ritual Evidence
The Master Mason Degree and the Ritual Enactment of the Hiramic Legend
Concluding Remarks

5. High or Additional Degrees of Freemasonry

Templar and Ecossais Rites
Egyptian Rites
“Esoteric” Freemasonry
True Mason, or Académie des Vrais Maçons
Concluding Remarks

6. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

A Note on Sources
Description of the Neophyte Ritual
Analysis of the Neophyte Ritual
Concluding Remarks

7. Modern Pagan Witchcraft or Wicca

Gerald Gardner and the Birth of Wicca
The Crowley Connection
Gardner and the Witchcraft Rituals of Initiation
First Degree: Witch and Priest/Priestess
The First Degree Initiation
Second Degree: High Priest/Priestess
Third Degree: High Priest/Priestess
Concluding Remarks

8. Conclusions


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