Theories and approaches

The aim of this module is to broaden academic discourse and understanding of the fields of mythopoeic imagination, esoteric philosophy, Enlightenment thought, depth psychology and spiritual hermeneutics. It investigates appropriate theories and approaches for the analysis and understanding of sacred and symbolic texts and traditions, philosophical and spiritual traditions and ritual practices in both historical and contemporary contexts.It draws on and integrates approaches from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, classics, history, consciousness studies, psychology, religious studies and cultural studies, and introduces a variety of methodologies in the field. The module encourages students to think about the relationship between reflexivity, creativity and interpretation, particularly in relation to their own work, and an important focus will be exploring Jeffrey Kripal’s formulation of ‘the third classroom’ as a comparative and hermeneutic approach. Overall, the module will address the legacy of postEnlightenment discourse in academic practice, and the possibility of developing new ways of incorporating a full spectrum of ways of knowing: critical, intuitive, imaginative and creative. Students will be expected to locate their own understanding, experience or practice within this wider framework.

Papers on this topic.

'The Paranormal as Text' - Simão Cortês

When discussing methodological approaches to any academic subject, I like to refer to Donna Haraway’s thought on methodologies applied to her feminist scholarship. According to her own words ‘I think you can actually do interesting work with these tools, but I want to hear them making noise, I want to feel the friction, I do not want to increase the transparency’ (2004, p. 336). What this passage means is that human knowledge, and academic knowledge in particular, does not exist in a vacuum. It is informed by all kinds of social and historical mythologies, and these mythologies are also present in our methodologies. As such, we need to remember that a methodology is, above all, a tool that allows us to analyse, think and explore data at the same time that it actively creates these data. This is something that has been relatively clear since the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (1962). We cannot separate methods from results and this is why Haraway suggests we need to make the methods as explicit as possible.


Read ‘The Paranormal as Text’

What are the implications of C.G. Jung's theories for the study of myth and the sacred? - Alice Winborn

In writing this essay I am hoping to discuss not only the considerable influence that C.G. Jung’s theories have had on the study of myth and the sacred during the second half of the twentieth century, but also the implications of these theories for my own search for knowledge and understanding. Taking into account that Jung produced a huge body of highly complex work, I wish to focus principally on his theory of individuation and the split between the sacred and the secular in our human nature. I also hope to demonstrate that, although working within the realm of science and empiricism, Jung’s theories often reflect a deeply personal psychology and as such must be considered within this context. Indeed, I would ask to what extent the study of the sacred or search for the divine must always be a personal endeavour. In view of this question I hope, too, to be able to enrich the reader’s understanding of Jung through my own connection to the material.


Continue reading: ‘What are the implications of C.G. Jung’s theories for the study of myth and the sacred?’

Mutual Hospitality: Implications from C. G. Jung's Theories for the Study of Myth and the Sacred- Stone Fitzgerald

This essay will focus on the implications of Jung’s theories in relation to the academic study of myth and those extraordinary sacred experiences. The significant impact of Jung’s theories on the study of myth and the sacred in the broadest definition of these terms is likely demonstrable. A project of this type, however, would include a highly eclectic range of discussions stretching from Egyptian to Chinese traditions, each giving an account for any phenomena regarded as sacred or mythic. Therefore, for the purposes of maintaining a clear parameter in this essay I will be discussing the elements of myth and the sacred encompassed and delimited by the term ‘esoteric’, specifically in relation to western esotercism and with a
focus on the symbolic image.

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