The anthropocentric tendency that during Humanism had stolen the drawing pencil from God to put it in the hands of man, and which has variously crossed every age taking the name of enlightenment, positivism, determinism and rationalism, is showing its limits. What lives under the radar, that is, the dark mass of forces transcendent mankind, comes out into the open with the growing need for esotericism. Today, his imagination is fascinating, so ancient, vast and complex that it dominates those who approach it. Yet it is possible to make it intelligible. Make him a friend. And maybe systematize it in an encyclopedic work (therefore, basically, Enlightenment). It is the bet of a great publisher like Taschen, whose recent series The Library of Esoterica it is indeed a happy synthesis between pop container and content for initiates. Waiting for the Italian edition of the first two volumes, Tarot is Astrology (distributed in July), which will follow Witchcraft is Plant Magic, we talk about it with the Los Angeles scholar Jessica Hundley, wanted by Benedikt Taschen to take care of the collection.
OLIVIA M. HEALY, “TEMPERANCE”, 2019.
© COURTESY TASCHEN.
Why did you decide to create The Library of Esoterica?
As a person interested in the occult, I had found very few publications that dealt with these topics in an inclusive and journalistic, non-dogmatic way. And none of them told how these traditions were expressed through art. The aim of the series, therefore, is to present the vast and fascinating history behind these traditions and to show the incredible visual artists who have been drawn to esotericism, throughout the ages and from all over the world.
So is the visual apparatus of esotericism the fil rouge between the volumes?
Yes, because esoteric practices go beyond verbal language, they use iconography to communicate ideas. Symbols, in particular, have long been man’s way of expressing his connection with the spiritual world: a key to knowledge. So the visual aspect of these traditions is very important – not to mention how beautiful and exciting the works of art produced are.
Because the first book in the series is dedicated to tarot cards?
Tarot is expressed almost entirely through a system of symbols, an iconography inherent in the practice. We wanted to create visual encyclopedias, so where to start if not from the visual language par excellence, that of tarot cards?
(Keep it going)
Opening: RACHEL HOWE, “SMALL SPELLS”, 2016.