Recently a discussion came up at the Kairos Center about the way theologians, writers, and public intellectuals brand movements or schools of thought. I raised the example of conservative pundit Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option — the idea that, as conservative Christians have essentially lost the culture war in American life, they should follow the example of St. Benedict of Nursia and withdraw into small, countercultural communities of work, prayer, and contemplation. There, as in the monasteries of the early medieval period, they can weather the storm of the “barbarian takeover” of what remains of Western Christendom, and preserve what is valuable for future (and perhaps more amenable) generations.
The underground status of many esoteric orders, and the religious perspectives of many occultists today, are such that the notion of establishing relationships between the world of esoterica and the mainstream religious world is nonsensical at best, offensive at worst. Yes, many orders do have a religious arm or related esoteric faith that they themselves founded or absorbed — the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica of O.T.O., the Ecclesia Gnostica Spiritualis of the Monastery of the Seven Rays/La Couleuvre Noire, the Liberal Catholic Church and the Theosophical Society, to give but a few examples. As detailed in a previous post, Dion Fortune’s Threefold Way of Western Esotericism especially recognizes the importance of a relationship between the Orange Ray of the Hermetic path and the Purple Ray of mystical devotion, and her own Guild of the Master Jesus’ place in the Society of the Inner Light modeled this understanding for the esoteric community.