The Recurring Nightmare, the Elusive Secret

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:
The Recurring Nightmare, the Elusive Secret

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This chapter provides a brief overview of the background of sexual magic in the West, both in its imaginary forms and in its more concrete historical roots. It explains that since at least the time of the Gnostic heresies, there has been a recurring fear throughout Western history which links illicit sexuality with black magic and social subversion. The chapter discusses the more credible historical roots of modern sexual magic in ancient Greek love magic, the sexual symbolism of the Jewish Kabbalah and Renaissance magic, and the erotic mysticism of Emanuel Swedenborg, and also analyzes the relevant works of P. B. Randolph, Theodor Reuss, and Aleister Crowley.

Keywords: sexual magic; illicit sexuality; black magic; social subversion; Greek love magic; sexual symbolism; Jewish Kabbalah; Renaissance magic; erotic mysticism; Emanuel Swedenborg

Chapter.  14155 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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