The Sociology Of Esotericism

Kennet Granholm

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 The Sociology Of Esotericism

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Among spiritual developments that overlap with Spiritualities of Life and are of growing interest is that of esotericism. This article examines the changing relationship between esotericism and Christianity from the nineteenth century. Under the impact of secularisation, this relationship changed from one in which esotericists identified themselves as Christians and made use of Christian symbolism and terminology to one in which many esotericists, influenced by secular modes of thinking and eventually free to express themselves as they saw fit, sought to expound their philosophy and beliefs in ‘scientific’ language. The historical study of Western esotericism would be greatly enriched by sociological studies; and sociological studies of New Age spirituality, neo-paganism, contemporary magic, New Religious Movements, and so forth, would be greatly enriched by making use of the insights gained in the historical study of Western esotericism.

Keywords: Western esotericism; Spiritualities of Life; Christianity; secularisation; New Religious Movements; New Age spirituality

Article.  7282 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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