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The Occult in Victorian Britain. Victorian crisis of faith Darwinism, physics, chemistry Darwinism, physics, chemistry There is only this life (scientific.

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Presentation on theme: "The Occult in Victorian Britain. Victorian crisis of faith Darwinism, physics, chemistry Darwinism, physics, chemistry There is only this life (scientific."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Occult in Victorian Britain

2 Victorian crisis of faith Darwinism, physics, chemistry Darwinism, physics, chemistry There is only this life (scientific materialism) There is only this life (scientific materialism) Why be good? Why be good?

3 Victorian occult Spiritualism, theosophy, psychical research Spiritualism, theosophy, psychical research Animal magnetism (mesmerism) Animal magnetism (mesmerism) Telepathy, hypnosis Telepathy, hypnosis Fairies Fairies

4 spiritualist séance

5 spirit photograph

6 Spirit photograph

7 Ouija board with a planchette

8 ectoplasm

9 ectoplasm

10 Spiritualism 1848 John Fox and his family 1848 John Fox and his family Daniel Dunglas Home Daniel Dunglas Home Florence Cook and ‘Katie King’ (Annie Owen Morgan) Florence Cook and ‘Katie King’ (Annie Owen Morgan)

11 Spiritualism Attempt to synthesise science and religion Attempt to synthesise science and religion Spiritualism „is that platform in which alone religion and science can meet” Spiritualism „is that platform in which alone religion and science can meet” Spiritualism is standing „midway between the opposing schools [of faith and science], giving to the one a scientific basis for the divine things of old, whilst it restores to the other the much needed evidence of its expressed faith in the duality and continuity of life” (J.S. Fraser, editor of Light) Spiritualism is standing „midway between the opposing schools [of faith and science], giving to the one a scientific basis for the divine things of old, whilst it restores to the other the much needed evidence of its expressed faith in the duality and continuity of life” (J.S. Fraser, editor of Light)

12 Spiritualism Unorganised for long Unorganised for long More than 200 organisations More than 200 organisations British National Association of Spiritualists (1870s) British National Association of Spiritualists (1870s) Spiritualists’ National Federation (1891) Spiritualists’ National Federation (1891) by 1915: 141 societies by 1915: 141 societies The Spiritual Magazine; Medium and daybreak; The Spiritualist Newspaper; Light; Two Worlds The Spiritual Magazine; Medium and daybreak; The Spiritualist Newspaper; Light; Two Worlds

13 The politics of spiritualism Often progressive (Robert Owen’s utopian socialism) Often progressive (Robert Owen’s utopian socialism) Social reformism, broadly democratic slant Social reformism, broadly democratic slant Brought spiritual matters into everyday life Brought spiritual matters into everyday life

14 Daniel Dunglas Home

15 Politics of spiritualism ‘domestic’ spiritualism vs professional stage magicians ‘domestic’ spiritualism vs professional stage magicians (by midcentury: magic was secular entertainment) Gender and class issues Sexual subtext Threatening female occult power

16 Joanna Southcott ( )

17 Florence and Katie

18 Katie King and Sir William Crooks

19 Katie King

20

21 2. Psychical research Society of Psychical Research, 1882 Society of Psychical Research, 1882 Henry Sidgwick (prof of moral philosophy) Henry Sidgwick (prof of moral philosophy) Proceedings of the SPR Proceedings of the SPR 1886: Phantasms of the Living (Myers, Gurney, Podmore) 1400 pages, 800 cases 1886: Phantasms of the Living (Myers, Gurney, Podmore) 1400 pages, 800 cases telepathy telepathy Relabelling the supernatural as supranormal Relabelling the supernatural as supranormal

22 Theosophy Theosophical Society (1875) Theosophical Society (1875) Mme Blavatsky (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky): Isis Unveiled (1878) Mme Blavatsky (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky): Isis Unveiled (1878) Colonel Henry Steel Olcott Colonel Henry Steel Olcott Annie Besant and Anna Kigsford Annie Besant and Anna Kigsford Astral plane, reincarnation, adepts (Buddhism, Cabbalism, Rosicrucianism, hermetism etc.) Astral plane, reincarnation, adepts (Buddhism, Cabbalism, Rosicrucianism, hermetism etc.)

23 Mme Blavatsky

24 Mme Blavatsky and Olcott

25 Annie Besant (and J. Krishnamurty)

26 theosophy Genuine occultism Genuine occultism elitism elitism adepts adepts „occult phenomena must not be confused with the phenomenon of spiritualism. THe latterm whatever they may be, are manifestations which amedium can neither control nor understand” (A. P. Sinnett) „occult phenomena must not be confused with the phenomenon of spiritualism. THe latterm whatever they may be, are manifestations which amedium can neither control nor understand” (A. P. Sinnett)

27 Aims of theosophy Universal brotherhood of humanity Universal brotherhood of humanity „ushering in a new epoch for science and religion” „ushering in a new epoch for science and religion” „occult science invests its adepts with a control of natural forces superior to that enjoyed by physicists of the ordinary type... Modern science has discovered the circulation of the blood; occult science understands the circulation of the life-principle” (A. P. Sinnett) „occult science invests its adepts with a control of natural forces superior to that enjoyed by physicists of the ordinary type... Modern science has discovered the circulation of the blood; occult science understands the circulation of the life-principle” (A. P. Sinnett)

28 Late 19th century: occult revival Late 19th century: occult revival Cabalists, Rosicrutians, Hermeticists Cabalists, Rosicrutians, Hermeticists The Hermetic order of the giolden Dawn The Hermetic order of the giolden Dawn Astrology, magic, palmistry Astrology, magic, palmistry Oriental(ist) slant Oriental(ist) slant

29 Mesmer’s baquet

30 Mesmerism

31 Magnetism (Mesmerism) exposed

32 Animal magnetism (cartoon)

33 Animal magnetism

34 Svengali and Trilby

35 John Anster Fitzgerald: The Chase of the White Mouse

36 Arthur Rackham: Come, now aroundel

37 John Grimshaw: Spirit of the Night

38 Edward Robert Hughes: Midsummer’s Eve Edward Robert Hughes: Midsummer’s Eve

39 Richard Dadd: The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke

40 Richard Dadd: Titania Asleep

41 Fairies on a Toadstool

42 Fitzgerald: The Captive Robin

43 Noel Paton: The Fairy raid

44 John Atkinson Grimshaw: Iris

45 Amelia Murray: The Moth fairy

46 Gnome in Cottingley

47 Cottingley photo

48

49 Cottingley Cottingley


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