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W. B. Yeats's A VisionExplications and Contexts$
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Neil Mann, Matthew Gibson, and Claire Nally

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780983533924

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780983533924.001.0001

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Esotericism and Escape

Esotericism and Escape

(p.307) Esotericism and Escape
W. B. Yeats's A Vision

C. Nicholas Serra

Liverpool University Press

This essay provides an overview of W. B. Yeats’s involvement with mystical, magical, and pseudo-scientific societies over the course of his lifetime, with emphasis on the goals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn  (and, more generally, fringe-Masonry, Rosicrucianism, and the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia). It explores the progression of stories and poems explicitly and implicitly related to Yeats’s magical activities, contextualizing the aims, genesis, and final form of A Vision within the pragmatic goals of a Golden Dawn adept: as an example of Yeats’s personal cabala. Furthermore, this treatment highlights the limitations of the canonical sources commonly employed by Yeatsians to elucidate Yeats’s esoteric interests, Israel Regardie’s works in particular, and proposes an exegetical methodology for reading based upon the “heretical” primary works produced by Yeats’s erstwhile colleague Aleister Crowley (arguably the only source of original, pre-1900 Golden Dawn information written for the uninformed or uninitiated reader).

Keywords:   Aleister Crowley, cabala, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Israel Regardie, pseudo scientific societies, Rosicrucianism, Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, W B Yeats

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