chapter  6
16 Pages

Mrs Atwood and the Utopian Tradition: A Nineteenth-Century Alchemist as Utopian Theorist

In the middle of the nineteenth century, a remarkable woman, Mary Anne South, later Mary Anne Atwood (1817-1910), published a book which was to change the study of the occult forever. Originally published anonymously, A Suggestive Inquiry Into the Hermetic Mystery, with a Dissertation on the More Celebrated of the Alchemical Philosophers being an Attempt towards the Recovery of the Ancient Experiment of Nature,2 has had a dramatic impact upon how we think about occult studies: especially the spiritual aspects of alchemy and related forms of mysticism. The Suggestive Inquiry has been a key formative influence on occult groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,3 Theosophical

Society,4 and Anthroposophical Society5-these organizations continue to exist in the twenty-first century with international membership, periodicals, and a strong internet presence.