Correspondences has a new Editor! Dr. Manon Hedenborg White will be joining the team as we continue to provide a forum for insightful, field-defining research in esotericism studies. Manon holds a PhD in the History of Religion from Uppsala University. She is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Södertörn University. From 2018–2020, she is a guest researcher at the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. She is the author of The Eloquent Blood: The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism (OUP, 2019), and co-founder of the Esotericism, Gender, and Sexuality Network. Welcome to the team, Manon!
We’ve just released our special issue on Islamic Esotericism. The issue features seven articles on a range of intersections between Islam and esotericism. The issue is guest edited by Liana Saif, whose introduction, “What is Islamic Esotericism?,” is followed by articles from W. Sasson Chahanovich, Keith Cantú, Michael Muhammad Knight, Biko Gray, Francesco Piraino, and Mark Sedgwick.
You can find the introduction and the articles in Volume 7, no. 1 (2019).
We’ve just published Hannu Poutiainen’s article Tractatus Logico-Magicus: A Definition of Magic in Three Throws of the Die. The article can be found in advance form in Volume 7, no. 2 (2019).
The title of this essay matches its ambition: its purpose is nothing less than to define magic in modern philosophical terms. Yet the Wittgensteinianism of the title also reflects the irony of this ambition: through the metaphor of a thrice thrown die, the essay foregrounds the aleatoriness of its argument and the elusiveness of its object. Magic, it will be argued here, is a quality that is ascribed to a given object, and it is in that ascription, in the predicative assertion that a thing possesses magic, that its logic must be sought. However, rather than scan the history of esoteric or occult thought for such assertions, the essay will draw upon Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions to argue that magic is not so much a quality in itself as it is the emotional transformation of a pre-existing quality. Following Sartre’s view that emotion effects a magical transformation upon the world, the essay will conclude by arguing that the ascription of magic to a thing is true only if the very act of assertion transforms its ascriptive logic — emotionally, and, therefore, magically.
As Correspondences continues to expand its network and increase publication frequency, we are very pleased to welcome a new Associate Editor to our team. Tommy Cowan has a B.A. (2013) in “Anthropology” from C.S.U. Sacramento, and an M.A. (2019) in “Religious Studies” from the University of Amsterdam where he specialized in esotericism, writing his thesis on American icon William Burroughs. Tommy loves boxing, novels, and all things “mystical.” No doubt all of these passions will come in handy in his new position!
We’ve just published G. J. Wheeler’s article The Finding of Hidden Texts in Esoteric and Other Religious Traditions: Some Notes on “Discovery Narrative” . The article can be found in advance form in Volume 7, no. 2 (2019).
This article deals with a motif that appears repeatedly in the history of the Western traditions of esotericism and alternative spirituality. The motif is an essentially simple one: a person claims to have discovered an older, previously hidden text containing sacred knowledge, and he then duly circulates that knowledge to the world. The term “discovery narrative” may be used to describe this phenomenon. Perhaps surprisingly, discovery narratives have generally been neglected by scholars of esotericism. This article traces occurrences of the motif through history and examines both the drivers behind its usage and the tensions which appear to be inherent within it.