Aleister Crowley’s “scientific” approach to yoga

Crowley Hat Aleister Crowleys scientific approach to yogaFirst associations with Aleister Crowley usually go between satanist and weird occultist, less people know him as one of fathers of modern magic and New Age, still less know that Crowley studied and practices yoga, and was one of first western practitioners who tried to do it rationally and methodologically.

When I first met this connection Crowley and yoga, I was surprised because we, religious studies, philosophy people usually don’t really care about all those occultists, magicians, and people like…

Crowley amused me with his Scientific or at least scientific-like approach to the discipline. (more…)

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Neo-paganism and Russian Orthodoxy – an explosive mix of religion and ideology

32 Neo paganism and Russian Orthodoxy – an explosive mix of religion and ideologyXXIst century witnesses a strange phenomenon – Orthodox Christianity cooperating with its two thousand year old enemy – paganism. Though co-existence, symbiosis, and cooperation of Christianity with paganism seems theologically impossible, or, at least, contradicting to common sense and logic, it does develop in Russia, though the leaders of Moscow Patriarchy condemn and deny it ex cathedra.


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“Sacred dietetics” theories of Russian neopaganism

1395933781 1 Sacred dietetics theories of Russian neopaganism

Neo-pagan guru Vedaman Trehlebov is the founder of one of most hilarious “dietetics evolution” theories ever made

Esoteric and religious systems have always paid strong attention to sacred physiology, “thin level” body practices, and food regulations; New Age and neo-paganism are not exception, but rarely in the history of humanity had these disciplines achieved such burlesque and ugly forms as in modern Russian neo-paganism.

Historically, Russian sectarian movements have always been eager to all kinds of  self-mutilations like skoptsi or flagellants and other extreme body-damaging practices.

Modern Russian neo-paganas are as eager to body experiments as their ancestors have been two, three, or four centuries ago. Self-flagellation hurts and it has lost its charm after rationalism and communism eras; and with their pretensions for the Vedic heritage, and knowledge of Ultimate Truth derived from ancient Arians, Russian neo-pagans focus their body-experimentation vigor (thus providing unlimited number of lols for Internet community) in the sphere of sacred physiology and the achievement of healthy and happy life via food regulation and what can be called “sacred dietetics” – a number of “hypothesises” or “sacred truthes” on proper dietetics for spiritual growth.

The nineties have witnessed a thrive of all kinds of body cleaning (chistka) and “thin body cleaning” procedures, urinotherapy, hypnosis-from-TV healers and the like. Still, the real boom of sacred dietology has sprung in late 2000s. (more…)

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Russian Orthodox Extremism

img 54b6827cd247d Russian Orthodox Extremism

Unfortunately, it’s not a joke – there’s a strong movement in Russian Orthodoxy dreaming of the “holy Orthodox tsar”. Putin is the best candidate at the moment.

Russian-Ukrainian war is showing new mass manipulation tools and the most interesting among them for researchers of religion is Russian Orthodox Extremism (ROE) ideology. Mass media attention concentrates on Islamic extremism, and pays little attention to this new type of religious extremism, which is much more dangerous due to couple reasons:

  • Russians have nukes
  • Russians fight much better than Jihaddists

When in late 2000s the Russian Orthodox Church communities began creating military and patriotic groups providing youth with combat sports and martial arts education, no foreign observer could predict where this trend could lead.

To understand what this youth has being training for years we need to read the catechism of “Eurasian Youth Union”, which says: “we are the empire-builders of newest type, and we don’t agree for anything less than the power over the world”.

In their revanchism attempts Russian powers actively try to draw religious factor (more…)

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ISCKON’s inculturation in the West and its epic fail

img 54aa5ea36536d ISCKONs inculturation in the West and its epic fail We cannot precisely tell if ISCKON is shrinking or growing because of India where everything is so difficult to count, and even if counted, is hardly worth relying. For the purposes of religious studies we assume the number of ISKCON devotees being either at standstill or slightly moving in any way. A problem of much greater interest is profound loss of ISKCON’s positions in the West, ISKCON’s failure to inculturate into Western civilization.

On one hand, it looks like ISKCON is slowly growing due to new converts flow in India and post-USSR countries and this growth is powerful enough to substitute the losses in USA and Europe.

Another thing we can say for sure — ISKCON hasn’t passed the test of inculturation into Western World. The Hare Krishna movement’s fast rise in USA and Europe was co-working great with the 60-s’ and 70-s thrive for spirituality and counterculture, but since that times lots of ISKCON temples in USA have been closed and many will soon transform into India’s cultural and religious centers, sometimes moving far from original ISKCON theology and organization.

Globally, after its popularity peak in early seventies Hare Krishna movement becomes more and more marginal, comprehended more like a bright and recognizable cultural phenomenon with current spiritual and religious influence on global society close, but not equal to zero. (more…)

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Aggressive neo-paganism of modern Russia and its threats

1414238420 konflikt v ukrane proizoshel ot fashizma Aggressive neo paganism of modern Russia and its threats

“Русь” = “Russia” in the reality of Stepan Komarov, a neo-pagan Russian marine, whose shooting in the Orthodox church of Yuzhno-Sahalinsk took two lives 

Russia’s attempts to establish neo-paganism and/or its blend with Russian Orthodox Christianity as a political religion constitutes a great danger for all Russia’s neighbors, both for post-USSR ones and, as the annexation of Crimea has shown, for European countries with great Russian-speaking population.

The signs that Russian powers had been building an aggressive ethnic-oriented pseudoreligion appeared in the early nineties.

Serious researchers didn’t pay attention to laughable ideology of imperial paganism (more…)

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How many ISKCON devotees are there?

IMG 1353 300x225 How many ISKCON devotees are there?

How many ISKCON vaishnavas are there worldwide? (Photo credit

So, how many people actually follow Krishna consciousness via ISCKON? A researcher who decides to go beyond usual ISKCON’s answer of “hundreds of millions people follow Krishna” has first to face the problem of whom to count – those who follow “4 regulative principles”? How strictly? Those who are initiated? Those who repeat mahamantra? Those, who repeat 16 rounds of japa daily? Or those who have pranama?

Or should we use common method used in religious studies and try to count “active believers” – those who visit ISKCON temples at least once a week (as researchers of religion usually count believers in most Christian countries) and repeat mahamantra from time to time.

English-language Internet keeps silence on the membership stats. One of the numbers easily available in  the  Internet is (more…)

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