Between 1875 and 1947, a period bookended, respectively, by the founding of the Theosophical Society and the death of notorious occultist celebrity Aleister Crowley, Britain experienced an unparalleled efflorescence of engagement with unusual occult schema and supernatural phenomena such as astral travel, ritual magic, and reincarnationism. Reflecting the signal array of responses by authors, artists, actors, impresarios and popular entertainers to questions of esoteric spirituality and belief, this interdisciplinary collection demonstrates the enormous interest in the occult during a time typically associated with the rise of secularization and scientific innovation. The contributors describe how the occult realm functions as a turbulent conceptual and affective space, shifting between poles of faith and doubt, the sacrosanct and the profane, the endemic and the exotic, the forensic and the fetishistic. Here, occultism emerges as a practice and epistemology that decisively shapes the literary enterprises of writers such as Dion Fortune and Arthur Machen, artists such as Pamela Colman Smith, and revivalists such as Rolf Gardiner

chapter |19 pages


part |53 pages

Occulture beyond the metropole

chapter 1|20 pages

Theosophy in Scotland

Oriental occultism and national identity

chapter 2|17 pages

The everyday occult on stage

The plays of Lord Dunsany

chapter 3|16 pages

“A very perfect form of discipline”

Rolf Gardiner, folk dance and occult landscapes

part |54 pages

Occulting the public sphere

chapter 4|19 pages

“Under a glamour”

Annie Besant, Charles Leadbeater and Neo-Theosophy

chapter 6|19 pages

Stemming the black tide of mud

Psychoanalysis and the occult periodical

part |52 pages

Women’s occulture

chapter 7|17 pages

Egyptosophy in the British Museum

Florence Farr, the Egyptian Adept and the Ka

chapter 9|16 pages

Anxieties of mystic influence

Dion Fortune’s The Winged Bull and Aleister Crowley

part |62 pages

Art, fiction and occult intermediation

chapter 10|25 pages

Naturalists in Ghost Land

Victorian occultism and science fiction 1

chapter 11|21 pages

Painting the masters in Britain

From Schmiechen to Scott

chapter 12|16 pages

“Beating on your heart”

Occultism and neo-romanticism in the fiction of David Lindsay