Date of Award

6-2000

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Comparative Religion

First Advisor

Dr. Brian Wilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Francis Gross

Third Advisor

Dr. Rudolf Siebert

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

The present study is a textual analysis of Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism (1972), a significant work of twentieth-century Western esotericism written by the Russian-born, apostate Anthroposophist Valentin Tomberg (1900-1973). In his key work, Tomberg draws spiritual insights from a variety of Eastern and Western sources and fuses them into a larger Hermetic/Christian cosmology. However, three intellectual sources for Meditations on the Tarot are particularly salient. These influences are the nineteenth-century French occult tradition, epitomized in the work of the French tarot theorist Eliphas Levi (1810- 1875), Rudolf Steiner"s (1861-1925) esoteric movement of Anthroposophy, and a curious Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox/Russian mystical blend, which alternately conforms to and diverges_from standard Catholic doctrine. To highlight the connection between these sources and Tomberg's work, I have compared elements of Tomberg's cosmology with central ideas from each. This eclectic quality distinguishing Meditations on the Tarot simultaneously reflects modernity's religious and intellectual fragmentation and traditional esotericism's tendency towards syncretism.

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