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  • 1.
    Hedenborg White, Manon
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, History of Religions.
    The Eloquent Blood: The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism2017Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The study analyses the changing construction of femininities and feminine sexuality in interpretations of the goddess Babalon, a central deity in Aleister Crowley’s (1875–1947) esoteric religion Thelema. Femininity has occupied a problematic position in feminist theory, frequently associated with lack, artifice, and restriction. However, this study assumes that femininities are multiple, neither exclusively heterosexual nor limited to women, and can be constructed in ways that challenge the existing gender system. Based on historical and contemporary written sources, qualitative interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork in the Anglo-American esoteric milieu, the study utilises Mimi Schippers’ model of multiple femininities to analyse the Babalon discourse from the fin-de-siècle until today, against the background of shifting perceptions of femininity and feminine sexuality. Inspired by Luce Irigaray’s theorisation of sexual difference, Rosi Braidotti’s concept of feminist figurations, and Catherine Waldby’s notion of erotic destruction, a central question is whether Babalon can function as a figuration enabling new ways of articulating and inhabiting femininities. Reworking the negative feminine stereotype of the femme fatale, Crowley connected Babalon to an initiatory imperative of ego-annihilation, epitomising both feminine, erotic otherness and a feminised receptive modality required of all seekers. Crowley also linked Babalon with liberated female sexuality. Babalon has subsequently been interpreted by other esotericists, including John W. Parsons (1914–1952), who constructed the goddess as a feminist revolutionary; and Kenneth Grant (1924–2011), who equated Babalon with the sex magical priestess and notions of non-dual void preceding manifest creation, linking femininity to the dissolution of stable meaning. Growing awareness of feminism and LGBTQ issues in Anglo-American esotericism from the 1990s on has coincided with the increased visibility of female esotericists as ideology producers within the Babalon discourse. The contemporary Babalon discourse emphasises the feminine, desiring subject as sacred, and connected to the simultaneous threat and promise of the undoing of bounded subjectivity. The study shows how a previously derogatory feminine stereotype is reworked over time in ways that both reproduce and challenge hegemonic notions of femininity, arguing that Babalon functions as a situated and contingent figuration supporting the articulation of alternative ways of doing femininity and feminine sexuality.

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  • 2.
    Hedenborg White, Manon
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, History of Religions.
    To Him the Winged Secret Flame, To Her the Stooping Starlight: The Social Construction of Gender in Contemporary Ordo Templi Orientis2013In: The Pomegranate, ISSN 1528-0268, E-ISSN 1743-1735, Vol. 15, no 1-2, p. 102-121Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Based on fieldwork in the United States, the article analyses the social construction of gender in contemporary OTO. The article addresses an important and often neglected area of study in research on Western esotericism, and discusses how the notion of binary gender is both created and challenged in interactions between OTO members. Thelemic divinity as presented in Liber AL is envisioned as consisting of a divine father, Hadit, mother Nuit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit, their divine offspring. Despite the gender polarity constructed thus, contemporary OTO members stretch the boundaries of binary gender through a plethora of deities, personal gender performances and acceptance of different sexual orientations and lifestyles. The creativity and innovation of contemporary OTO members' gender constructions demonstrates the necessity of greater methodological diversity in research on Western esotericism, in order to allow an understanding of esoteric traditions as lived religions.

  • 3.
    Hedenborg White, Manon
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, History of Religions.
    Gregorius, Fredrik
    Linkoping Univ, Dept Culture & Commun IKK Arts & Humanities KVA, S-58183 Linkoping, Sweden.
    The Scythe and the Pentagram: Santa Muerte from Folk Catholicism to Occultism2017In: Religions, ISSN 2077-1444, E-ISSN 2077-1444, Vol. 8, no 1, article id 1Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Santa Muerte is establishing a presence among practitioners of contemporary occultism in Europe and North America. The occult milieu is highly different from the Mexican cult of Santa Muerte, having a strong heritage of secrecy and tradition as social capital and being mostly middle-class in orientation. Nonetheless, this Catholic folk saint with a mostly pragmatic, popular, and grassroots cult is becoming increasingly popular among occultists. Based on a survey of three recent books on Santa Muerte geared towards an Anglophone, occult audience, it is therefore the aim of this article to understand how and why the Skeleton Saint is attracting adherents in the occult milieu, by analyzing the underlying causes of this growing trend, as well as the conditions shaping it. It is the overall argument of this article that the beginning reception of Santa Muerte in occultism is a result of perceived needs and demands specific to the occult milieu rather than characteristics inherent in the symbol itself, and that an analysis of the ways in which she is spreading outside of her original sociocultural context must be guided by an understanding of the novel one she is integrated in.

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  • 4.
    Hedenborg-White, Manon
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, History of Religions.
    Asbjorn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, & Jesper Aa. Petersen (eds). The Invention of Satanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Reviewed by Manon Hedenborg-White2017In: Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, ISSN 1567-9896, E-ISSN 1570-0593, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 141-144Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Hedenborg-White, Manon
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, History of Religions.
    Tollefsen, Inga Bardsen
    Introduction: Gender in Contemporary Paganism and Esotericism2013In: The Pomegranate, ISSN 1528-0268, E-ISSN 1743-1735, Vol. 15, no 1-2, p. 7-11Article in journal (Other academic)
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