Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival

By Christopher McIntosh

Subjects: Esotericism And Gnosticism, Mysticism, French Studies, Spirituality
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9781438435565, 240 pages, January 2011
Hardcover : 9781438435572, 240 pages, January 2011

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Table of contents

Part I. The Age of Reason

1. The Rebirth of Magic
2. The Occult and the Revolution
3. Revolutionary Cults
4. The Beginnings of Popular Occultism
5. Magnetisers and Mediums
6. The Holy King
Part II. Eliphas Lėvi
7 The Early Years
8. The Radical
9. Enter Eliphas Lėvi
10. The Magician
11. The Pundit
12. The Last Years
13. Eliphas Lėvi: an Assessment

Part III. Towards the Kingdom of the Paraclete
14. The Heirs of Eliphas Lėvi
15. The War of the Roses
16. The Magical Quest of J. -K Huysmans
17. Writers and the Occult
18. Satanists and Anti-Satanists
19. The Indian Summer of Occultism

Appendix A
Appendix B

Select Bibliography

A searching study of Eliphas Lévi and the French occult revival.


This classic study of the French magician Eliphas Lévi and the occult revival in France is at last available again after being out of print and highly sought after for many years. Its central focus is Lévi himself (1810-1875), would-be priest, revolutionary socialist, utopian visionary, artist, poet and, above all, author of a number of seminal books on magic and occultism. It is largely thanks to Lévi, for example, that the Tarot is so widely used today as a divinatory method and a system of esoteric symbolism. The magicians of the Golden Dawn were strongly influenced by him, and Aleister Crowley even believed himself to be Lévi's reincarnation. The book is not only about Lévi, however, but also covers the era of which he was a part and the remarkable figures who preceded and followed him – the esoteric Freemasons and Illuminati of the late 18th century, and later figures such as the Rosicrucian magus Joséphin Péladan, the occultist Papus (Gérard Encausse), the Counter-Pope Eugène Vintras, and the writer J. -K. Huysmans, whose work drew strongly on occult themes. These people were avatars of a set of traditions which are now seen as an important part of the western heritage and which are gaining increasing attention in the academy. Christopher McIntosh's vivid account of this richly fascinating era in the history of occultism remains as fresh and compelling as ever.

Christopher McIntosh is a faculty member at the Centre of the Study of Esotericism, University of Exeter, England. He is the author of The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason: Eighteenth-Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment, also published by SUNY Press.


". ..one of the best English sources of information on this fascinating milieu. " — Heathen Harvest