Restoring Paradise: Western Esotericism, Literature, Art, and Consciousness

Front Cover
SUNY Press, Feb 1, 2012 - Religion - 196 pages
Explores European and American esoteric traditions as reflected in literature and in art.

Focusing on how spiritual initiation takes place in Western esoteric religious, literary, and artistic traditions from antiquity to the present, Restoring Paradise provides an introduction to Western esotericism, including early modern esoteric movements like alchemy, Christian theosophy, and Rosicrucianism. The author argues that European and American literature and art often entail a written transmission of spiritual knowledge in which writing itself works to transmute consciousness, to generate, provoke, or convey spiritual awakening. He focuses on several important figures whose work has not received the attention it deserves, including American writer and Imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) and British painter Cecil Collins, among others. While Arthur Versluis presents a new way of understanding Western esotericism in a contemporary light, above all he has crafted a book about knowing, and about how we come to know, and what “knowing” by way of literature and language actually means.

Arthur Versluis is Professor of American Thought and Language at Michigan State University and the author of many books, including Wisdom’s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition, also published by SUNY Press. He is also the editor of the journal Esoterica.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages

Contents

Origins
17
Historical Currents
35
Modern Implications
87
Notes
159
INDEX
169
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 23 - AFTER this I looked,, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven : and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
Page 23 - And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
Page 87 - tis true, I must be here confined by you, Or sent to Naples. Let me not, Since I have my dukedom got, And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell In this bare island by your spell ; But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands. Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill, or else my project fails, Which was to please. Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant ; And my ending is despair Unless I be relieved by prayer ; Which pierces so, that it assaults Mercy itself, and frees all faults....
Page 87 - Now my charms are all o'erthrown, And what strength I have's mine own, Which is most faint. Now 'tis true, I must be here confin'd by you, Or sent to Naples. Let me not, Since I have my dukedom got, And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell In this bare island by your spell; But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands.
Page 92 - Les autres, les voleurs de douleur et de joie, de science et d'amour, n'entendront rien à ces choses. Pour les entendre, il est nécessaire de connaître les objets désignés par certains mots essentiels Tels que pain, sel, sang, soleil, terre, eau, lumière, ténèbres, ainsi que par tous les noms de métaux. Car ces noms ne sont ni les frères, ni les fils, mais bien les pères des objets sensibles. Avec ces objets et le prince de leur substance, ils ont été précipités du monde immobile des...
Page 83 - ... tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of...
Page 74 - Even in such manner, although we might enrich the whole World, and endue them with Learning, and might release it from innumerable miseries, yet shall we never be manifested and made known unto any man, without the especial pleasure of God ; yea, it shall be so far from him whosoever thinks to get the benefit, and be Partaker of our Riches and...
Page 83 - God and Religion. A Mason is oblig'd, by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law ; and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that...
Page 121 - It was fiery, sharp, bright and ruthless, ready to kill, ready to die, outspeeding light: it was Charity, not as mortals imagine it, not even as it has been humanised for them since the Incarnation of the Word, but the translunary virtue, fallen upon them direct from the Third Heaven, unmitigated. They were blinded, scorched, deafened. They thought it would burn their bones. They could not bear that it...

About the author (2012)

Arthur Versluis is Professor of American Thought and Language at Michigan State University and the author of many books, including Wisdom s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition, also published by SUNY Press. He is also the editor of the journal Esoterica.

Bibliographic information