The New Spirituality and the Modern Religious Crises

Course content

The New Spirituality and Modern Religious Crises: Blavatsky’s synthesis of ancient traditions and modern science:

This course will on the one hand analyze the work of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) in details and on the other hand, on this basis, discuss the emergence of a new form of alternative spirituality in the modern climate.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a highly unusual woman of her time. She was of Russian noble decent and already as a child displayed what was regarded as paranormal abilities. After being married she fled and embarked on worldwide travelling to Siberia, India, Egypt, Europe and the Americas in search of authentic spiritual knowledge. In the 1870s she settled in New York and became a US citizen and a co-founded of the influential Theosophical Society, a society formed to investigate spiritualistic phenomena and ancient wisdom. In 1877 she published her first comprehensive work in two volumes entitled Isis Unveiled dealing with occult knowledge, theology and modern science – a work which, she claimed, was written telepathically in corporation with spiritual masters residing in Tibet. In 1879 she settled in India and embraced Eastern religions and became one of the first Western Buddhists. Blavatsky also attracted both negative and positive international attention for her many paranormal phenomena. In 1888 she published her second major work The Secret Doctrine, which is supposed to be a commentary on the world’s oldest book, the Book of Dzyan and a synthesis of religion, philosophy and science. In 1891, at age 59, she died as perhaps the first person famous for being famous.

Scholars have compared her influence to Martin Luther or Saint Paul and research is currently moving forward in fast pace examining her ideas and impact. Her work, which combines a number of traditions and forms of knowledge, includes the development of a complete comprehensive spiritual cosmology that incorporates the evolution of races, lost continents and life on other planets, karma, reincarnation, and the development occult powers. Combining science, Eastern religions, and alternative Western traditions with a focus on undiscovered individual potential, consciousness evolution, and the unity in all life, she faces the burgeoning religious crises and sets the framework for the emergence of a new form of spirituality later popularized as New Age Religion in the latter half of the 20th century.

Blavatsky’s life and work will be studied historically by relating her ideas to: (1) historical changes such as secularization, rationalization, re-enchantment, individualism and new social structures; (2) discourse theory, and (3) the history of ideas. The course will thus provide detailed knowledge and skills for working with modern religious changes, esoteric ideas, and relevant theoretical approaches.

Education

BA-studieordning for det centrale fag i Religionsvidenskab, 2015

BA-studieordning for det centrale fag i Religionsvidenskab, 2010

BA tilvalg-studieordning i Religionsvidenskab, 2016

BA gymnasierettede tilvalg i Religionsvidenskab, 2015

KA- studieordning i Religionshistori, 2008

KA-studieordning i Religionssociologi, 2008

KA-sidefaget i Religionsvidenskab, 2008

Learning outcome

BA 2015-studieordning:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HRVB00061E)

Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HRVB00081E)
Bachelorprojekt (fagelementkode HRVB00091E)

BA 2010-studieordning:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HREB00311E)
Bachelorprojekt (fagelementkode HREB00351E)

BA tilvalg 2016-studieordning:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HRVB10181E)

BA tilvalg, gymnasierettet, 2015-studieordning
Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HRVB10121E)

KA Religionshistorie 2008-studieordning:
Speciel Religionshistorie valgfag A (fagelementkode HRHK03661E )
Speciel Religionshistorie valgfag B (fagelementkode HRHK03671E )

KA Religionssociologi 2008-studieordning:
Særligt studeret område 1 (HRSK03431E)
Særligt studeret område 2 (HRSK03491E)
Særlig studeret område: religion og politik: (fagelementkode HRSK03441E)
Særlig studeret område: regional religionssociologi (fagelementkode HRSK03481E)
Formidling (fagelementkode HRSK03471E)

KA-sidefag i religionsvidenskab 2008-studieordning
Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HREK03031E)

Lectures and discussion

Course literature will be available online in Absalon and the Royal Danish Library

The course will be available online as well as in real-time and can thereby be followed as a distance learning course or in class.

ECTS
15 ECTS
Type of assessment
Other
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 328,5
  • Lectures
  • 84
  • English
  • 412,5