The 2012 Seattle Esoteric Book Conference panel discussion, entitled “Eastern Thought in the Western Occult World,” was recorded on Sunday, September 16, 2012. Craig Williams and Gordan Djurdjevic were the participants and the discussion was moderated by Greg Kaminsky, the host and producer of Occult of Personality podcast. In addition, this recording was made possible by two of the hosts of the Esoteric Book Conference – William Kiesel of Ouroboros Press and Catamara Rosarium of Rosarium Blends.
Most of the key historical figures of the Western esoteric tradition, including the Knights Templar, the mythical Brother C.R.C., Helena Blavatsky, Albert Pike, and Aleister Crowley have found both inspiration and instruction from Eastern sources. The journey to the East has always held a place of tremendous importance for those interested in esotericism and this trend continues today. Almost every practitioner and teacher of Western esotericism that I know of has very deep roots in Eastern tradition(s). Most books on the subject employ Sanskrit terms to relate ideas because readers are already more familiar with words that come from a foreign culture. What are some of the deeper implications of these facts? In this panel discussion, our intention was to examine some of the pervasive Eastern influence in Western esotericism with the hope of gaining greater understanding. It is our hope that a deeper grasp of the historical and cultural influences from the East leads to a greater appreciation of the Western esoteric tradition, inspiring further attainment and realization by its practitioners.
During the 90 minute discussion, the panel explored some of the manifestations of Eastern philosophies and practices that inform and enliven the Western esoteric tradition, including the allure of the exotic, Tantra and misconceptions, the influence of Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, Aleister Crowley’s syncretic approach to magick, the integration of Eastern philosophy and practice in the West, and views of attainment and accomplishment of the sages from the East versus the West.
Craig Williams is a student of David Beth and an ordained Gnostic priest within the Ecclesia Gnostica Aeterna. Craig is one of the few westerners to receive the “Vedakovid” title from David Frawley and the American Institute of Vedic Studies recognizing initiatic study in Yoga, Ayurveda, Tantra, Jyotish and Vedanta. With undergraduate degrees in Religious Studies, Philosophy and English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine, Craig lives in Austin, Texas where he has a private medical practice specializing in Ayurveda, Yoga, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. He is a licensed acupuncturist and a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and National Ayurvedic Medical Association. His writings have appeared in a number of anthologies and journals. Most recently his article “Beyond the Paths of Frustration: Daath Gnosis” is included in the upcoming CLAVIS Journal.
Gordan Djurdjevic holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is the author of Masters of Magical Powers: The Nāth Yogis in the Light of Esoteric Notions, “The Great Beast as a Tantric Hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley’s Magick” published in Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, and the forthcoming India and the Occult: The Influence of South Asian Spirituality on 20th Century British Occultism.
It was an honor for me to moderate this panel discussion and I’m so grateful to William Kiesel and Catamara Rosarium for the invitation, as well as Craig Williams and Gordan Djurdjevic for an educational and lively discussion. The experience and insight the two of them expressed in their responses to the questions was both illuminating and entertaining. They also articulated a significant desire for the growth and further development of Western esotericism. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to participate. Thanks again to everyone who worked on the panel discussion and the 2012 Seattle Esoteric Book Conference! I was glad I went, and look forward to returning.
“Return to the Cave of the Heart” by Craig Williams
Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, which contains “The Great Beast as a Tantric Hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley’s Magick” by Gordan Djurdjevic
Masters of Magical Powers: The Nāth Yogis in the Light of Esoteric Notions by Gordan Djurdjevic
“The Western Quest for ‘Secret Tibet’” by Harry Oldmeadow
Rosarium Blends – Alchemical Concoctions to Enliven the Senses!
outro music – “Kirvani” by Simone Angele and Amir Kalhor