Vol 12 No. 1 (2010)

Articles

The main character of this story is Dr. Franz Sättler, born 1884 in Northern Bohemia under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A brilliant but poor student of ancient philology and orientalism at the University of Prague and editor of the first German-Persian dictionary he wanted to become a university professor but was unable to find a paid job at the University. So he started to write adventure novels. Probably in order to finance his travels he then became a spy and ended up in prison. Due to his vast knowledge of oriental languages and culture he always found ways to travel widely in the Near East supposedly to study with esoteric masters. In several volumes Sättler explained then their alleged teachings. 1925 he founded a magical order in Vienna which he pretended to be the German outpost of an oriental secret society. This order worshipped the mythological figures of Adonis and Dido as orgiastic counterparts to the “prudish” Christian creed. A whole intricate mythological cosmos with a fierce antichristian bias and a language of its own was invented by Sättler for this purpose. Very soon however the order’s branches in Germany were closed down by the police because of immoral incidents. Dr. Franz Sättler was also accused for selling quack remedies at high prices. He fled first to Czechoslovakia and then probably to Greece. He also founded a bogus limited company which was to dig up a hidden gold treasure in Greece which Sättler pretended to have found in his early years selling the shares of this company at high prices. Other business scams were invented by him, too. At the same time however he was a typical social reformer, advocating women’s rights and sexual liberty and he even wanted to reform the existent laws of Germany and also German orthography. It is not known when, where and how he died. There are still today followers of his Cult of Adonism.
University of Melbourne, Australia.
PhD Candidate Centre for Classics and Archaeology Old Quadrangle G16 University of Melbourne Victoria 3010, Australia
This article investigates the story of Aleister Crowley’s reception of The Book of the Law in Cairo, Egypt, in 1904, focusing on the question of why it occurred in Egypt. The article contends that Crowley created this foundation narrative, which involved specifically incorporating an Egyptian antiquity from a museum, the “Stèle of Revealing,’” in Egypt because he was working within a conceptual structure that privileged Egypt as a source of Hermetic authority. The article explores Crowley’s synthesis of the romantic and scholarly constructions of Egypt, inherited from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as well as the uses that two prominent members of the Order made of Egyptological collections within museums. The article concludes that these provided Crowley with both a conceptual structure within which to legitimise his reformation of Golden Dawn ritual and cosmology, and a model of how to do so.
Radboud University Nijmegen
Léon van Gulik is a lecturer in psychology at the Department of Social and Cultural Psychology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His scholarly interests range from mysticism, ritual, cultural and ecological psychology, creativity, contemporary Paganism, magical thinking, to cultural transmission and spatial aesthetics.
Post-modern nature religions face the challenge of justifying their practices and theology since there is no unbroken line between the classic and contemporary Paganisms of the Western world. Against the background of progressing historical knowledge, these religions constantly have to reinvent or reconstruct their traditions. At the same time, the present context is entirely different to that of when the classic Paganisms emerged. By discussing their roots in romanticism and expressivism, both the relevancy of the revived nature religions and the challenges they face, are explained. These issues are illustrated by drawing on initial results of content analyses of on-line discussions between Dutch Pagans, yielding imaginative narratives of self-justification and self-identification amidst a continuous tension between traditionalism and eclecticism. Contemporary Paganism as a movement is argued to counterbalance sociohistorical developments by its changing acts of sanctioning, its aim to remain the maverick, and its constant strive for experiential receptivity.

Special Section: Idolatry and Materiality

Colorado State University-Pueblo
Lecturer in English, retired.
Editorial introduction to special section on idolatry, Pomegranate 12, no. 1.
Bath Spa University College
Retired
While paganic aniconic forms of religiosity do flourish, such as we see in Shinto, Balinese Hinduism and Neo-paganism, idolatry is nevertheless a central form of religious expression to both generic paganism and vernacular forms of worship in general. However, thanks to the historically prevailing iconoclastic sentiments of Abrahamic religion, idolatrous worship has been vilified and ignored as a bona fide and authentic venerational response. The counter-argument presented in this essay rests on the contention that the corpo-spiritual fundaments of pagan perception not only allows idolatry but also encourages it as a distinguishing and legitimately affirmative religious approach. Through an emancipated understanding of the dynamics of the tangible, emerging pagan spirituality can flourish despite the biases, ridicule and condemnations inherent in both Abrahamic religion and secular ‘superiority’ as well as in ‘puritanical’ aspirations associated with dharmic orientations
Oxford publisher and independent scholar
CEO of publishers Mandrake of Oxford, author and independent scholar specialising in Ancient Egyptian magic and paganism as well as the South Asian intellectual tradition.
A suggested extension of his thesis taking account of the fact that in the classical world the dialectic concerning “idolatry” occurs very much in an Egyptian context rather than the Hindu sources on which Michael York focuses.
The Open University
PhD candidate
Although Michael York's work on idolatry is important to the study of Paganism, I see the word itself as problematic and provocative. Instead, I opt for the term "materiality" as being more neutral and pointing toward more expansive possibilities.
University of Florida
Professor of Religion and Nature Religion Department
Since nature is the wellspring of all life, I suggest that, in contrast to the Abrahamic view, a type of idolatry of nature is valuable to humanity, even though it need not involve perceptions of or beliefs in non-material divine beings. Indeed, a spirituality that considers nature to be intrinsically valuable and sacred and that advances kinship ethics with non-human organisms and expresses a deep sense of humility about the human place in the biosphere is growing rapidly in the world, largely outside of explicitly Pagan subcultures.