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  1. 2008 reading: Occultism in history

    Here’s a few quick capsule reviews of some the books I read last year:

    Joy Dixon’s Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England (John Hopkins University Press, 2001) is a fascinating study of the relationship between the Theosophical Society and emerging feminist politics from the 1890s to the 1930s. Dixon shows how the relationship between personal transformation and political/ethical change became inextricably linked during this period, and looks at the tensions produced by these debates – both within the TS itself and the wider culture. Also, anyone with an interest in occult gender politics will probably find this book useful, as Dixon reviews the emerging conceptions of sexuality & gender during this period and how they clashed – from the all-too-familiar idea of masculinity as “positive” and femininity as “negative” to the challenges to this position found in the writings of Francis Swiney and Susan E. Gay, for example. She also discusses nascent occult theories of homosexuality, such as the “Uranian” as a spiritually advanced being whose emergence was a “sign of the times”. Some of these debates are still going on today in the contemporary occult scene – and some of the justifications are pretty much the same too. Continue reading »

  2. Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur

    At the British Museum, 28 May – 11 October 2009 / Room 35 / £8
    Exhibition Overview

    Maria & I visited this fantastic exhibition – 56 paintings from India, none of which have been displayed before in Europe recently, and I’d urge everyone who has an interest in precolonial India or Tantra to go if you get the chance. The show draws on 10 years of research by the art historian Debra Diamond. Continue reading »