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Mircea Eliade

From Magic to Myth


Moshe Idel

Mircea Eliade: From Magic to Myth addresses a series of topics that have been neglected in scholarship. First and foremost, the book looks at the early Romanian background of some of Eliade’s ideas, especially his magical universe, which took on a more mythical nature with his arrival in the West. Other chapters deal with Eliade’s attitude toward Judaism, which is crucial for his phenomenology of religion, and the influences of Kabbalah on his early work. Later chapters address his association with the Romanian extreme right movement known as the Iron Guard and the reverberation of some of the images in the post-war Eliade as well as with the status of Romanian culture in his eyes after World War II. The volume concludes by assessing the impact of Eliade’s personal experiences on the manner in which he presented religion. The book will be useful in classes in the history of religion and the history of Eastern European intellectuals.
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Chapter 2. Androgyne, Totality, and Reintegration


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Androgyne as a Symbol for Wholeness and Perfection

There are few themes in the history of religion that have fascinated so many scholars of religion as the androgyne. Though some studies regard it as an archetype, others do not.1 In two important cases, the androgyne is understood as representing, schematically, the concept or state of wholeness. This is the case, in an accentuated manner, in Eliade’s writings, and in those of Carl G. Jung2 and many of their followers. As towering intellectual figures, both thinkers extended their interests beyond the classical forms of the Judeo-Christian tradition and integrated into their writings and thought the contents of literatures and modes of thought that were marginal in European culture. Jung had progressively developed his theory of archetypes, and as part of it, the androgyne—or the hermaphrodite, as he preferred to designate it—which was understood as referring to the union of opposites, or what he called the conjunction, taking place within the psyche of the individual.3 As part of this understanding of the concept of individual wholeness as the union between the contraries, based most substantially on Chinese philosophy and alchemical texts, later he also adduced several Kabbalistic texts basically extracted from Latin translations, and in a way an interpretation of Kabbalistic texts done by Christian ← 60 | 61 → Kabbalists and published in the late 17th century as the voluminous collection of different texts known as Kabbala Denudata produced by Knorr...

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