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The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture

by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal

Buy the book: Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal. The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture

Release Date: June, 1997

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal. The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture


Russian and Soviet Occultism and Esoterica.

_The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture_ is a compilation of essays written by various scholars on the various underground and occult aspects of Russian culture and later of the culture of the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks who created the Soviet Union did much to portray Russian culture under the Tsars as backward and the Russian peasant as illiterate and prone to superstition; however, as one sees by reading this book many individuals within the Soviet Union themselves had elaborate occult and esoteric beliefs. While the Soviet Union tried to ban writers and intellectuals and suppress all religion or "irrational" developments of the human spirit, this effort largely failed due to the very creative nature of man (so misunderstood by Marxists). Russian culture has always been influenced by surviving pagan beliefs and through the Christian tradition preserved in the Russian Orthodox Church; however, influences from freemasonry, Swedenborgianism and spiritism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Eastern religions, and other occultists such as Gurdjieff and his interpreter Ouspensky have also played an important role in shaping the occult underground culture in Russia. In addition, various German philosophical idealists such as Kant, Schelling, and Hegel came to play an important part in the development of Russian thought along with iconoclasts such as Nietzsche and romantics and anarchists. This book includes a brief introduction to the occult culture in Russian and Soviet thought and various essays, followed by a conclusion dealing with modern developments in Russian culture. Essays included are an essay on folk magic and divination among the Russian peasantry with emphasis on the survival of paganism and the role of the Russian Orthodox Church; an essay on the role of the peasant and the occult in Russian literature with reference to the authors Ivan Turgenev, Andrei Bely, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; an essay on the role of the Jewish Kabbalah in Russian occultism including reference to Christian Sophiologists including the theologians Vladimir Solovyov, Pavel Florensky, and Sergei Bulgakov; an essay on the role of Satanism with emphasis on the role of Satan in the Orthodox Churches and Russian tradition as well as mention of the novels of Andrei Bely; an essay on "fashionable occultism" including reference to the Theosophical and Anthroposophical societies, spiritualism, and freemasonry; an essay on the thought of Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov; an essay on Russian cosmism which included ideas on space exploration and immortality with reference to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Biocosmist and panpsychist; an essay on technology and the role of the Soviet engineer; an essay on occult socialist realism (interestingly occult ideas based upon the Christian veneration of saints were behind the Soviet action taken in preserving Lenin's body); an essay on the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and the role of the occult and gnosticism in his thinking; an essay on Vsevolod Ivanov; an essay on Daniil Andreev famous mystic and writer who combined world religions in what he termed "The Rose of the World"; and a concluding essay on the role of occultism in politics which mentions various Russian Rightist groups including the Traditionalist thought of Aleksandr Dugin and the role of the infamous antisemitic tract, _Protocols of the Elders of Zion_. In sum, this book constitutes an enormous compendium of material on various occultists, writers and groups, as well as a useful bibliography including details about various obscure journals and rare books, and will prove invaluable to the researcher in esoteric thought. Many in America are largely ignorant of the alternative belief systems which exist among the Russians and which existed under the Soviet tyranny, and hopefully this book will prove a useful tool to alleviating that ignorance. For all those interested in alternative modes of perceiving reality and in discarded belief systems, the ideas presented in this book will prove to be a fascinating look at the deep recesses of the Russian (and Soviet) psyche.

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