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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. "
Laura Holloway-Langford and Late Victorian Spirituality
This biography of an unconventional woman in late 19th-century America is a study of a search for individual autonomy and spiritual growth. Laura Holloway-Langford, a "rebel girl" from Tennessee, moved to New York City, where she supported her family as a journalist. She soon became famous as the author of Ladies of the White House, which secured her financial independence. Promoted to associate editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, she gave readings and lectures and became involved in progressive women's causes, the temperance movement, and theosophy—even traveling to Europe to meet Madame Blavatsky, the movement's leader, and writing for the theosophist newspaper The Word. In the early 1870s, she began a correspondence with Eldress Anna White of the Mount Lebanon, New York, Shaker community, with whom she shared belief in pacifism, feminism, vegetarianism, and cremation. Attracted by the simplicity of Shaker life, she eventually bought a farm from the Canaan Shakers, where she lived and continued to write until her death in 1930. In tracing the life of this spiritual seeker, Diane Sasson underscores the significant role played by cultural mediators like Holloway-Langford in bringing new religious ideas to the American public and contributing to a growing interest in eastern religions and alternative approaches to health and spirituality that would alter the cultural landscape of the nation.