The Disenchanted World You Live in is More Enchanted than You Realize
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The Roots of Entertainment
The curse of disenchantment, also known as the Age of Reason, may have achieved only a confusion of the sacred and profane, but the fact is that all popular entertainments and media have their roots in shamanism, ritual, and divination. The origins of theater can be traced very deeply into the past, to the religious rites of the earliest communities. Regardless of the obscurity of this knowledge to the public, this fact is well known in academia. Phyllis Hartnoll’s A Concise History of the Theater (1971) acknowledges this: “The origins of the theater go back far into the past, to the religious rites of the earliest communities. Throughout the history of mankind, traces of songs and dances in honor of a god, performed by priests and worshippers dressed in animal skins, portray the birth, death, and resurrection”. The reality that theater originated in sorcery is of significant importance for the understanding of how it influenced other forms of media.
The Occult Influence on Media
From theater to film, photography to television, the influence of the occult on media never waned, up until the modern era. Notable figures such as sexual magician Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875) and influential author and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) were as much entertainers as they were masters of the arcane. The occult continues to lurk beneath the surface of mainstream media, not through coded symbols, but rather through memetic engineering, an indefinably powerful yet paramount aspect of the alchemical psychotronic order, Reality, Inc.
The Occult Revival
The Occult Revival was a movement that emerged in the mid-19th century, characterized by a renewed interest in spiritualism, necromancy, and ceremonial magic. It was also a hotbed of modernist religion, valuing creative expression and spiritual experience as much as adherence to specific religious texts. Notable figures associated with The Occult Revival include Kate and Maggie Fox, Eliphas Lévi, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Katherine Tingle, Rudolf and Marie Steiner, Aleister Crowley, and Gerald Gardner.
Occultism in Theatre and Film
The influence of occultism found its way into theatre and film through playwrights such as W.B. Yeats and August Strindberg, who aimed to penetrate the mystical and esoteric in their works. Occult psychodrama and trance were interwoven into the cinematographic works of Kenneth Anger, a devoted adherent to the teachings of Crowley and personally entwined with such entities as Anton LaVey, Timothy Leary, Ordo Templi Orientis, the Process Church, and Charles Manson.
Legacy of Aleister Crowley in Popular Culture
Crowley had a significant impact on popular culture, as his ideas found their way into popular culture through comic books featuring superheroes. Modern comic book heroes are a continuation of ancient archetypes and stories, updated for contemporary audiences.
The Influence of Edward Gordon Craig in Theater
Edward Gordon Craig, a highly influential English theater designer and director, envisioned a future theater that would be different from the theater as a psychological entity. He elaborated that the ‘über-marionette’ would be the ideal representation of the character and would not compete with life but go beyond it. Renowned English director Peter Brook described Craig’s influence as reaching across the world, “into every theater with any pretensions to serious work”.
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