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date: 20 August 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The study of Western esotericism is a comparatively new field of research that covers a wide range of currents, notions and practices from late antiquity to the present. Esotericism is often understood as the “rejected knowledge” of Western culture, which often centers on claims of absolute knowledge or gnosis. This chapter discusses four discourses that can be found in many esoteric NRMs, namely “secrecy and unveiling”, “initiation and progress”, “the higher self”, and “Secret Masters”. In the second part of the chapter four examples of esoteric NRMs are briefly discussed, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Thelema, and Wicca.

Keywords: Western Esotericism, Occultism, New Religious Movements, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Theosophical Society, Thelema, Aleister Crowley, Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, Gerald Gardner

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