Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Epoque
During Paris's Belle Epoque (1871-1914), many cultural movements and artistic styles flourished--Symbolism, Impressionism, Art Nouveau, the Decadents--all of which profoundly shaped modern culture. Inseparable from this cultural advancement was the explosion of occult activity taking place in the City of Light at the same time. Exploring the magical, artistic, and intellectual world of the Belle Epoque, Tobias Churton shows how a wide variety of Theosophists, Rosicrucians, Martinists, Freemasons, Gnostics, and neo-Cathars called fin-de-siecle Paris home. He examines the precise interplay of occultists Josephin Peladan, Papus, Stanislas de Guaita, and founder of the modern Gnostic Church Jules Doinel, along with lesser known figures such as Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, Paul Sedir, Charles Barlet, Edmond Bailly, Albert Jounet, Abbe Lacuria, and Lady Caithness. He reveals how the work of many masters of modern culture such as composers Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, writers Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire, and painters Georges Seurat and Alphonse Osbert bear signs of immersion in the esoteric circles that were thriving in Paris at the time. The author demonstrates how the creative hermetic ferment that animated the City of Light in the decades leading up to World War I remains an enduring presence and powerful influence today. Where, he asks, would Aleister Crowley and all the magicians of today be without the Parisian source of so much creativity in this field?