Chapter

Introduction

Hugh B. Urban

in Magia Sexualis

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247765
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932883 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247765.003.0002
Introduction

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This introductory chapter explains the theme of this book, which is about the rise of sexual magic in America and Europe since the mid-nineteenth century. The book traces the transmission of magia sexualis from the United States to Europe as it was passed on through such authors as Paschal Beverly Randolph, Theodor Reuss, and Aleister Crowley. It examines the impact of Indian traditions like Hindu and Buddhist Tantra, which by the early twentieth century had come to be increasingly fused with Western sexual magic, and analyzes the profound transformation of sexual magic from a terrifying medieval nightmare of heresy and social subversion into a modern ideal of personal empowerment and social liberation. The book argues that the literature on sexual magic has, from its origins, been plagued by a deep tension and ambivalence: The tension between liberation and exploitation.

Keywords: sexual magic; America; Europe; magia sexualis; Paschal Beverly Randolph; Theodor Reuss; Aleister Crowley; Hindu Tantra; Buddhist Tantra; personal empowerment

Chapter.  8767 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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