Historical exploration of Masonic rituals of initiation.
For more than three hundred years the practice of Masonic rituals of initiation has been part of Western culture, spreading far beyond the boundaries of traditional Freemasonry. Henrik Bogdan explores the historical development of these rituals and their relationship with Western esotericism. Beginning with the Craft degrees of Freemasonry—the blueprints, as it were, of all later Masonic rituals of initiation—Bogdan examines the development of the Masonic High Degrees, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—the most influential of all nineteenth-century occultist initiatory societies—and Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft movement of the 1950s, one of the first large-scale Western esoteric New Religions Movements.
“…Bogdan’s book is a valuable contribution to the developing academic discipline of Western Esotericism and new religions … this book will provide an important linguistic and historical step forward in a previously unrecognized field that appears to be—finally—coming into its own.” — Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review
“Bogdan’s book offers a useful brief primer on the history of Freemasonry and scholarship on Western esotericism, presenting considerable bibliographic information for interested scholars new to the fields. For that alone its value is assured. But Bodgan’s work also illustrates important tensions within the study of Western esotericism and the connected field of Pagan Studies.” — The Pomegranate
“…offers a very promising new take on the question of esotericism and its historical continuity.” — Journal of Religion
“This is truly an original work on an important subject. The most significant thing is probably the definition of ‘ritual.’ The field of Western esotericism is a young one, and while some of its terminology is now a matter of common consent, ritual has never been subjected to scrutiny in this context. Bogdan also shows how different rituals convey different elements of the Western esoteric tradition: some Freemasonic ritual teaches alchemy; the Golden Dawn teaches Kabbalah; and witchcraft teaches principles of sexual magic. The entire book has an earnestness about it that makes the reader take these rituals seriously.” — Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Real Rule of Four
Henrik Bogdan teaches in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Göteborg University in Sweden.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very important contribution to the growing field of scholarly investigation of the Western Esoteric Traditions. This book was earlier published under the title: "From Darkness to Light: Western Esoteric Rituals of Initiation" and represented the doctoral dissertation of the author. In this work Henrik Bogdan initially provides an indepth analysis of the history of the notion of ritual and then considers three different groups and their ritual work: the initial and certain "higher" rites of Freemasonry, the Neophyte ritual found in the workings of the 19th and 20th century "Rosicrucian" group, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the rites of Gerald Gardner's modern expression of witchcraft or Wicca. Mr. Bogdan rightly points out the influence that Freemasonry has had on these later groups as it becomes obvious that much has been borrowed and integrated into different channels. I highly recommend this book for the information and analysis...
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