Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918), or Sâr Merodack as he preferred to be known, was a key figure in the inception and development of fin-de-siècle French Symbolism, as well as in the overt marriage of art and occult symbolism during the French occult revival. His Salon de la Rose et Croix, though short-lived, was perhaps one of the most ambitious artistic undertakings the French art world has seen, featuring unique exhibitions and productions seeking to unite the arts into a revival of initiatory drama, with a philosophical underpinning rooted in the Western esoteric traditions, and with the ultimate goal of the spiritual regeneration of society. Central to Péladan’s vision was his conception of the artist as initiate; select individuals who could bring a small part of the divine into the mundane sphere.
This is the focus of this project, which traces the influences behind the man, his vision, his ‘esoteric-aesthetic curriculum,’ and its legacy on their own terms within the context of the history of esoteric philosophy and practice. The main questions that need to be asked are outwardly straightforward, yet in practice remain unanswered. Who was this self-styled Babylonian Mage who for six short years stunned fin-de siècle Paris with magical, mystical presentations of mythical landscapes and cryptozoic, androgynous figures that his writings inspired the artists of his time to paint? How was he able to influence other artists, poets and musicians to put their talent to the service of the Mysteries, under the banner of the Ordre de la Rose-Croix Catholique et esthétique du Temple et du Graal? In short: What was Péladan attempting to achieve, and what was the measure of his success?
This is Sasha’s doctoral research diary, packed with fresh information about this curious figure, and frequently updated with snippets and discoveries made along the way.
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