The Counterculture and the Occult

Authored by: Erik Davis

The Occult World

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415695961
eBook ISBN: 9781315745916
Adobe ISBN: 9781317596769

10.4324/9781315745916.ch63

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Abstract

Perhaps the single most important vector for the popularization of occult spirituality in the twentieth century is the countercultural explosion associated with ‘the Sixties’—an era whose political and culture dynamics hardly fit within the boundaries of that particular decade. A more useful term was coined by the Berkeley social critic Theodore Roszak, who used the word ‘counterculture’ to describe a mass youth culture whose utopianism and hedonic psycho-social experimentation were wedded to a generalized critique of rationalism, technocracy, and established religious and social institutions. As such, the counterculture significantly overlapped, though also sometimes resisted, the parallel rise of the New Left and its ideological and occasionally violent struggle against more-or-less the same ‘System.’ Within a few short years after its emergence in the middle of the 1960s, the counterculture had transformed social forms, creative production, personal lifestyles, and religious experience across the globe. Though the counterculture was a global phenomenon, its origins and many of its essential dynamics lie in America, which will be the focus of this chapter.

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