THE MODERN MAGICAL REVIVAL

The modern magical revival has been unfolding for over a century. As a spiritual movement committed to the resurgence of esoteric knowledge or gnosis in the West, it first began to gather momentum in the final a decade of the 19th century and has since seeded itself around the world in fascinating ways, spawning divergent esoteric groups and organizations.

In terms of actual historical beginnings, however, the story of the 20th-century magical revival commences with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, arguably the most influential esoteric organization in modern history. All modern occult perspectives—including Wicca, Goddess spirituality and the Thelemic magick of Aleister Crowley—owe
a debt to the Golden Dawn for gathering together the threads of the Western esoteric tradition and initiating a transformative process that continues in the 21st century. This chapter explores the principal sources of the Western esoteric tradition that helped generate the revival of magical thought and practice in the modern era.

Established in England in 1888, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn drew on a range of ancient and medieval cosmologies and incorporated them into a body of ceremonial practices and ritual grades centered on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, an important motif within the Jewish mystical tradition which, as a unified but nevertheless complex the symbol represents the sacred ‘emanations’ of the Godhead. In addition to the Kabbalah, which occupied a central position in the cosmology of the Golden Dawn, the organization also drew on the Hermetic tradition which had its roots in Neoplatonism and underwent a revival during the Renaissance. Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and the medieval Tarot were also significant elements.