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Introduction: Spiritual Science and the Modern Occult Revival

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter presents an overview of the key concepts sicussed in this Between Occultism and Nazism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era. The book examines anthroposophy in the fascist era as a microcosm of larger historical dynamics whose relevance extends well beyond the occult milieu. For those whose primary concern is anthroposophy's past or its present reputation, a historically contextualized account forestalls both guilt-by-association reasoning and ex post facto apologetics. Understanding anthroposophy means taking conflicting internal and external standpoints into account. Steiner promoted anthroposophy as a "spiritual science", a comprehensive esoteric alternative to mainstream science. Anthroposophy's race doctrines center on a theory of racial evolution directly correlated to spiritual evolution. Adopting theosophical ideas about karma and reincarnation, anthroposophists view the physical body as a transitory form, a sheath for the eternal spiritual essence of each person.

Keywords: anthroposophy; fascist era; microcosm; reincarnation; spiritual science; Steiner



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