Esoteric Energy: Technology, Metaphor and Late Modernity
This paper places esoteric idea of ‘energy’ in a social context. It examines its nature – historically and phenomenologically - and offers a cultural explanation for it. ‘Energy’ has been noted by almost every scholar who has studied contemporary esotericism; it is near ubiquitous in its presence within discourses and practices as diverse as magic, alternative or complementary healing, neo-shamanism and popular occulture; ‘energy’ however is also amorphous, elusive and ambiguous at both emic and etic level. From a historical perspective, it would appear that esoteric energy is a relatively recent notion, one engendered by a modern understanding of electro-magnetism and the cultural impact of resultant technologies.
From a social constructionist angle, wherever it might have originated from, esoteric energy is now a social fact, a cultural concept. Does it have a deeper function or a meaning? Could it be an idiom integral to contemporary social life and cultural consciousness, even perhaps a product of such experiences? Drawing on the work of Alvin Toffler, Zygmunt Bauman and Michel Serres, this paper will suggest that in all probability, this is precisely what it is.