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Kripal, Jeffrey J.

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Hidden Intercourse

Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism

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Wouter J. Hanegraaff and Jeffrey Kripal

From rumours 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 domains of eros and sexuality. This volume, which brings together an impressive array of top-level specialists, is the first to analyze the eroticism of the esoteric without sensationalism or cheap generalizations, but on the basis of expert scholarship and attention to textual and historical detail. While there are few other domains where the imagination may so easily run wild, the various contributions seek to distinguish fact from fiction--only to find that historical realities are sometimes even stranger than the fantasies. In doing so, they reveal the outlines of a largely unknown history spanning more than twenty centuries.
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Series:

Jeffrey J. Kripal and Wouter J. Hanegraaff

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Jeffrey J. Kripal

Abstract

After relating a dramatic near-death experience of a Houston woman named Elizabeth Krohn, this essay explores some of the themes of her near-death experience, particularly the invisible presence of a being of unconditional love in a paradisiacal garden and various direct transmissions of some traditional religious convictions. The essay then discusses some of the obvious New Age contexts and features of the visionary event and of the subsequent convictions, after which it calls into question these same assumed modern influences with a simple thought experiment. The essay then addresses some of the metaphysical complexities of the soul and soul-time in modern kabbalah as explicated by the contemporary historian of modern kabbalah Jonathan Garb and ends with another final intervention. The result, overall, is a comparative reflection that affirms and performs the traditional phenomenological and historical methods of the study of religion but also calls into serious question the adequacy of these methods and the limiting, even blinding, nature of their philosophical assumptions.