Despite the dramatic expansion of modern technology, which defines and dominates many aspects of contemporary life and thought, the Western magical traditions are currently undergoing an international resurgence. How can we account for this widespread interest in ancient magical belief systems?
In historical terms, Gnosticism and the Hermetica, the medieval Kabbalah, Tarot and Alchemy, and more recently, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, collectively laid the basis for the modern magical revival, which first began to gather momentum in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Modern Western magic has since become increasingly eclectic, drawing on such diverse sources as classical Greco-Roman mythology, Celtic cosmology, Kundalini yoga and Tantra, shamanism, chaos theory, and the various spiritual traditions associated in many different cultures with the Universal Goddess.
In this overview of the modern occult revival, Nevill Drury traces the rise of various forms of magical belief and practice, from the influential Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to the emergence of Wicca and Goddess worship as expressions of contemporary feminine spirituality. He also explores Chaos Magick and the occult practices of the so-called Left-Hand Path, as well as twenty-first-century magical forays into cyberspace.
Drury believes that the rise of modern Western magic stems essentially from the quest for personal spiritual transformation and the direct experience of the sacred--a quest which the trance occultist and visionary artist Austin Osman Spare once referred to as "stealing fire from heaven." Considered in this light, modern Western magic can be regarded as a form of alternative spirituality in which the practitioners seek direct engagement with the mythic realm.
About the Author
Author, publisher and lecturer Nevill Drury is one of Australia?s leading writers in the field of esoteric non-fiction, specialising in such subject areas as the Western magical tradition, shamanism and the history of New Age spirituality. He has also written a number of books on contemporary Australian art and holistic health, and has illustrated books for young children. Nevill?s books have been released in 25 countries and published in 18 languages.
Nevill?s most recent publications in the field of esoteric non-fiction include Sacred Encounters: Shamanism and Magical Journeys of the Spirit (Watkins, London 2003); Magic and Witchcraft: from Shamanism to the Technopagans (Thames & Hudson, London and New York 2003); The New Age: the History of a Movement (Thames & Hudson, London and New York, 2004) and Homage to Pan: the life, art and sex magic of Rosaleen Norton (Creation Books, London 2009). Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic ? which Nevill regards as perhaps his most significant book to date - will be published in March 2011 by Oxford University Press, New York.
Born in Hastings, England in 1947, Nevill has lived in Australia since he was nine. He attended Sydney University in the late 1960s and later earned his Master of Arts (honours) degree in anthropology from Macquarie University. He received his PhD from the University of Newcastle in 2008 for a dissertation on the visionary art and magical beliefs of Rosaleen Norton.
Back in the mid-1970s Nevill began what would become a long editorial career in book publishing. He worked for Harper & Row and Doubleday before co-founding Craftsman House in 1981? a company that in due course would become Australia's leading publisher in the field of contemporary visual arts. He remained publishing manager of this company until December 1999 and then worked for a few years as a secondary school teacher. Nevill is now a full-time writer and lecturer, and lives on the NSW south coast
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