Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gregory Shaw on Theurgy as "The Tantra of the West"

Scholarship on Iamblichean theurgy has changed profoundly in the last
30 years. No longer dismissed as a distortion of Greek philosophy,
theurgy is now recognized by most scholars as a complement—even
culmination—to the disciplines of rational reflection. Yet resistance
to recognizing the full implications of living in a theurgic cosmos
continues. Although the gods of theurgy penetrate the material realm
and theurgists embodied these gods in ritual and aesthetic experience,
we continue to imagine the goal of theurgy as escaping from matter and
ascending to the noetic fire. A residual and often unconscious dualism
influences our thinking. Theurgists were athletes of divine fire, but
this fire is here, on earth, and the gods are revealed, Iamblichus
says, “by our physical eyes.” Iamblichean theurgy represents a
radically non-dual orientation that incorporates the body into divine
experience. In this sense theurgy closely resembles the tantric
non-dualism of South Asian yoga traditions. Dr Shaw will explore the
consequences of living in a non-dual cosmos and will present Platonic
theurgy as the Tantra of the West.

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