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Please welcome my guest of this week, scholar and visual artist Sasha Chaitow who takes us on a journey to France during the 2nd half of the 19th century where quite a few mesmerizing persona of the occult revival era can be found, Gérard Encausse (“Papus”), Stanislas de Guaita and also the main protagonist of our episode, almost forgotten Joséphin Péladan.
Sasha studied art, communication and English literature in Athens and after completing her Master in Western Esotericism at the University of Exeter she did her PhD on Joséphin Péladan. Actually it was her interest in French symbolism that got her the idea to do some research on Péladan who was a prolific author with more than 100 books and influenced artists and writers of his time alike. Luckily for us all, Sasha’s book on Péladan based on her PhD will be published by Theion Publishing late June or July this year and Péladan as a colourful and controversial figure as well as his work will be the main topic of our conversation.
We will be talking about Péladan and his role as part of the occult revival and Sasha will point out what was different about him compared to his fellow occultists back then and how he soon found himself at odds with his colleagues due to his clear vision to de-occult occultism itself.
From the Theion Publishing website (www.theionpublishing.com)
With great joy we announce the forthcoming publication of Son of Prometheus by Sasha Chaitow. Based on her PhD thesis this ground-breaking in-depth study of the life and works of French esotericist Joséphin Péladan will precede her trilogy on Peladan’s esoteric work and art to be released by Theion in the coming years.
This book is the first scholarly study of the life and work of Joséphin Péladan that succeeds in placing it in the context of the history of Western Esotericism while also providing a clear roadmap to the entirety of Péladan’s initiatory teachings and philosophy of the esoteric power of art. Responding to multiple cultural shifts in fin-de-siècle French society, Péladan authored over a hundred novels and monographs in an attempt to bring about the spiritual regeneration of society through mythopoetic art underpinned by esoteric thought.
Sasha will explain how Péladan was viewed as ‘difficult’ and ridiculed during his lifetime getting bad publicity. Although some fellow occultists such as Papus seemed to understand him, others like Oswald Wirth strongly opposed him and Aleister Crowley borrowed some of his ideas but at the same time wrote negatively about him. While he was almost forgotten and only briefly mentioned here and there, certain mid-20th-century Martinist and Rosicrucian groups claimed his work in order to establish their lineages.
On our journey Sasha will be our guide not only through the maze of French occult societies but also through Péladan’s worldview which was Neoplatonist in essence as he believed that the Late Antiquity split between religion and occultism had led to paradoxes and misunderstandings.
We will also talk about the connection between Péladan and Stanislas de Guaita as Péladan acted as a mentor to de Guaita and was introduced by him to certain occult circles in the late 1880s. Eventually the two of them decided to create an initiatory Hermetic school organised in a quasi-Masonic style ultimately leading to the founding of the Cabbalistic Order of the Rosicrucian as well as to a front-page occult war in the newspapers.
Sasha will give us wonderful insights into Péladan’s ideas in detail and all the influences that merged within his work and point out several great projects that should be subject to further research. Furthermore, she will offer excellent advice on how anyone interested in Péladan’s concepts could start out working with them as a system for self-initiation.
Music played in this episode
Chris Roberts has contributed to this podcast with his wonderful INTRO/OUTRO music that we play since we started Season 3!
And very recently he has been so kind to make the jingles for our new KEIKOBAD RADIO for me – Thank you Chris!
So it is about time to feature him here on this episode with three musical settings for the texts from The Book of Tokens, spoken by three good friends of mine and former guests of this show. Enjoy!
And if you need any energetic, esoteric, & practical help with making, mixing & mastering music, vocals, podcasts, jingles etc. do get in touch and I will point you towards Chris Roberts!
1) KEY SIXTEEN – THE MEDITATION ON AYIN – THE DEVIL
read by Greg Kaminsky
(Track starts at [8:40])
2) KEY ONE – THE MEDITATION ON BETH – THE MAGICIAN
read by Nick Farrell
(Track starts at [56:06])
3) KEY FOUR – THE MEDITATION ON HEH – THE EMPEROR
read by Angel Millar
(Track starts at [1:42:40])
Having participated as a student in Dr. Sasha Chaitow’s introductory self-initiation course based on Péladan’s worldview, I am looking forward to her publication titled Son of Prometheus. I feel it will be both a reinforcement and continuation of the illumination process – to make one a better human being by reaching for the gods. I’m sure it will be a valuable resource for both beginner and advanced initiates.