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An in-depth examination of the work of this important medieval woman mystic. This first book-length study of Marguerite Porete’s important mystical text, The Mirror of Simple Souls, examines Porete’s esoteric and optimistic doctrine of annihilation—the complete transformative union of the soul into God—in its philosophical and historical contexts. Porete was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in 1310. Her theological treatise survived the flames, but it circulated anonymously or under male pseudonyms until 1946, and her message endures as testament to a distinctive form of medieval spirituality. Robinson begins by focusing on traditional speculations regarding the origin, nature, limitations, and destiny of humankind. She then examines Porete’s work in its more immediate historical and literary contexts, focusing on the ways in which Porete conceptualizes and expresses her radical doctrine of annihilation through contemporary metaphors of lineage and nobility.
Late Medieval Mysticism and the Modern Western Self
Do we have to conceive of ourselves as isolated individuals, inevitably distanced from other people and from whatever we might mean when we use the word "God"? On Becoming God offers an innovative approach to the history of the modern Western self by looking at human identity as something people do together rather than on their own, as a way of managing and keeping at bay the impulses and experiences associated with the word "God." The "self" is a way of doing things, or of not doing things, with "God." The book draws on phenomenology (Heidegger), gender studies (Beauvoir, Butler), and contemporary neuroscience. It surveys existing approaches to modern selfhood (Foucault, Charles Taylor) and proposes an alternative account by investigating late medieval mysticism, in particular texts written in Germany by Meister Eckhart and others. It concludes by exploring the parallel between late medieval confessors and their spiritual charges, and late-nineteenth-century psychoanalysts and their patients, in search of a vocabulary for acknowledging and nurturing our everyday commitments to others and to our spiritual longings.
The Verticality of Religious Experience
Exploring the first-person narratives of three figures from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic mystical traditions -- St. Teresa of Avila, Rabbi Dov Baer, and Rūzbihān Baqlī -- Anthony J. Steinbock provides a complete phenomenology of mysticism based in the Abrahamic religious traditions. He relates a broad range of religious experiences, or verticality, to philosophical problems of evidence, selfhood, and otherness. From this philosophical description of vertical experience, Steinbock develops a social and cultural critique in terms of idolatry -- as pride, secularism, and fundamentalism -- and suggests that contemporary understandings of human experience must come from a fuller, more open view of religious experience.
Aspects of His Authorship and Focuses of His Spirituality
Through a meticulous reading of his writing, one can discover Francis the Mystic. The authors pay full attention to what Francis has to say and pay special attention to texts from the liturgy of Francis’s time. It is undeniable that at least some of his texts were subject to deliberate composition techniques. By bringing these to light, the "coordinates" or "power lines" of his spirituality become visible.
Western Esotericism, Literature, Art, and Consciousness
Focusing on how spiritual initiation takes place in Western esoteric religious, literary, and artistic traditions from antiquity to the present, Restoring Paradise provides an introduction to Western esotericism, including early modern esoteric movements like alchemy, Christian theosophy, and Rosicrucianism. The author argues that European and American literature and art often entail a written transmission of spiritual knowledge in which writing itself works to transmute consciousness, to generate, provoke, or convey spiritual awakening. He focuses on several important figures whose work has not received the attention it deserves, including American writer and Imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) and British painter Cecil Collins, among others. While Arthur Versluis presents a new way of understanding Western esotericism in a contemporary light, above all he has crafted a book about knowing, and about how we come to know, and what “knowing” by way of literature and language actually means.
Eighteenth-Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment
Examines the relationship between diverse iterations of Rosicrucianism and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. This new edition of Christopher McIntosh's classic book on the Golden and Rosy Cross order is eagerly awaited. The order stands out as one of the most fascinating and influential of the high-degree masonic and illuminist groups that mushroomed in Europe from the 18th century onward. Active mainly in the German-speaking lands, it recast the original Rosicrucian vision and gave it renewed vitality. At one point it became politically influential when the Prussian King, Frederick William II, was a member of the order. Historians have often perceived the Golden and Rosy Cross as having had a conservative, anti-Enlightenment agenda, but this study – drawing on rare German sources – shows that the matter was more complex. The members of the order practiced alchemy and operated a degree system that was later imitated by later orders such as the Golden Dawn. Like the latter, the Golden and Rosy Cross exerted a wide and enduring cultural influence. Both the alchemy of the order and its powerful ritual system are insightfully described in Christopher McIntosh's clear and compelling style.
There was a passion, an intense energy of love that drove Francis to center his entire life in Christ. Christ was, indeed, the teacher of his heart. This book concentrates on the Christological dimension of Francis’s thought seen through the prism of his writings and against the background of the world in which he lived.
A Concise History
A survey of Western esoteric currents since late antiquity, with an emphasis on the last six centuries. Widely received in France, this brief, comprehensive introduction to Western esotericism by the founder of the field is at last available in English. A historical and pedagogical guide, the book is written primarily for students and novices. In clear, precise language, author Antoine Faivre provides an overview of Western esoteric currents since late antiquity. The bulk of the book is laid out chronologically, from ancient and medieval sources (Alexandrian hermetism, gnosticism, neoplatonism), through the Renaissance up to the present time. Its coverage includes spiritual alchemy, Jewish and Christian Kabbalah, Christian theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Illuminism, ‘mystical’ Free-Masonry, the Occultist current, Theosophical and Anthroposophical Societies, the Traditionalist School, and ‘esotericism’ in contemporary initiatic societies and in New Religious Movements. Faivre explores how these currents are connected, and refers to where they appear in art and literature. The book concludes with an annotated bibliography, which makes it an essential resource for beginners and scholars alike.
The Teachings of Rabbi Ya'akov of Izbica-Radzyn
"In this fascinating book, Ora Wiskind-Elper introduces us to a figure who was ahead of his time: the Hasidic leader Rabbi Ya‘akov Leiner of Izbica-Radzyn. Her translations and interpretation of his writings present the Rabbi’s central ideas in a compelling form to modern readers. Though Rabbi Ya‘akov lived a full century and a half ago, his teaching weaves midrash, medieval commentary, Kabbalah, and Hasidic thought together to create an innovative perspective on long-established Jewish concepts. His works, known as the Beit Ya‘akov fill four large volumes of commentary on the weekly Torah portions and the cycle of Jewish festivals—the traditional genre known as derashot. In exploring the diversity of the sources Rabbi Ya‘akov used for his reflections on Jewish life and spirituality, the author suggests he devoted uncommon attention to emotion, human, relationships, and gender issues. Thus, in many ways, Rabbi Ya‘akov’s thought was extraordinary for its time and even for ours. Wiskind-Elper’s insights touch readers on many different levels—intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically. "