Eros and Sexuality in the History
of Western Esotericism
edited with Jeffrey J. Kripal
Brill: Leiden / Boston 2008.
Fordham University Press: New York 2011.
xxii + 544 pp.
Brill ISBN: 978-90-04-16873-2 (hb)
Fordham IBN: 978-0-8232-3341-0 (pb)
From Rumors about Gnostic orgies in antiquity to the explicit erotic symbolism of alchemical texts, from the subtly coded eroticism of medieval Kabbalah to the sexual magic practiced by contemporary occultists and countercultural translations of Asian Tantra, the history of Western esotericism is rich in references to the domain of eros and sexuality. This volume, which brings together an impressive array of top-level specialists, is the first to analyse the eroticism of the esoteric on the basis of expert scholarship and attention to textual and historical detail.
While there are few domains in which the imagination can so easily run wild, the various contributions seek to distinguish fact from fiction - only to find that historical realities are sometimes even stranger than fantasies. In doing so, they reveal the outlines of a largely unknown history spanning more than twenty centuries.
Contributions by Roelof van den Broek, Allison P. Coudert, April D. DeConick, John Patrick Deveney, Antoine Faivre, Claire Fanger, Gathy Gutierrez, Hans Thomas Hakl, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Moshe Idel, Jeffrey J. Kripal, Pierry Lory, Marco Pasi, Lawrence M. Principe, Hugh B. Urban, Arthur Versluis, and Elliot R. Wolfson.