Thursday, 20 June 2013

Correspondences: An Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism

The peer-reviewed journal is the lifeblood of academia, allowing scholars to present research to their fellows and propelling the cause of scholarship ever forward. It plays a vital role in every discipline, whether science, social science, or humanity, and remains the repository for some of the most important advancements in human knowledge. This being so, it is tragic that the overwhelming majority of such journals are protected behind off-puttingly high pay-walls, being available only to the wealthy and those fortunate enough to have university access subscriptions.

For years, there has only been one solitary peer-reviewed journal devoted to the academic study of Western esotericism, the aptly named Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism. Its an excellent journal, and has allowed for the publication of much important research, but its monopoly of the field was near total, and at 58 euros for an annual subscription, it didn't come cheap. Though scholars were able to offer their work for publication in a number of other related journals - Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft, The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, or the now sadly defunct Journal for the Academic Study of Magic - Aries was alone in being devoted 100% to Western esotericism. This week, that monopoly was broken in an important step for the ongoing diversification of the field.

Correspondences: An Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism is the brainchild of two postgraduates at the University of Amsterdam, Jimmy Elwing and Aren Roukema. Perceiving the need for a new, more inclusive scholarly outlet for their field, they devised the journal with the support of various specialists in the subject, many of whom agreed to sit on the publication's editorial board. Here at Albion Calling, we'll be undertaking an interview with Elwing and Roukema in the coming weeks to find out more about how this project came to fruition, so watch this space!

For me personally, Correspondences marks an important step in my academic career, because it is the second peer-reviewed journal in which my own work has seen publication. In my latest article, "An Elusive Roebuck: Luciferianism and Paganism in Robert Cochrane's Witchcraft", I continue with my research into the beliefs and praxes of Robert Cochrane. Well known among the "Traditional Witchcraft" community as something of a tutelary figurehead, Cochrane (1931-1966) was the founder and Magister of the Clan of Tubal Cain, and formulated his own magico-religious tradition in the early 1960s, prior to his ritual suicide. I find him a fascinating historical figure, and consider him one of the most enigmatic esotericists of twentieth-century Britain. Whereas my former paper on the subject, "Robert Cochrane and the Gardnerian Craft: Feuds, Secrets and Mysteries in Contemporary British Witchcraft" was published by The Pomegranate, and can only be accessed through a £14.00 pay-wall (for which I don't see a penny, it should be noted), the structure of Correspondences means that this new offering is entirely free and downloadable as a PDF. So, if it sounds like your cup of tea, please be my guest and give it a read! I hope that it encourages constructive dialogue and debate on what is a much neglected aspect of occult and contemporary Pagan history.

My thanks go out to the Correspondences team for their promising new venture, and I thoroughly look forward to what they have to offer us in future issues!