The Great Tree of Pagan Superstition, 2020
The Great Tree of Pagan Superstition depicts a narrative. A polemic that comes from the book Historia Critica Philosophiae (1742-45). Instigated in antiquity and developed over time, the purpose of this narrative was to demonize and thus exclude a broad range of ideas and practices that threatened the power structures of the developing Christian Church. The problem is that although the church has long ceased to be dominant in secular Western culture, the narrative of The Great Tree of Pagan Superstition is still powerfully at work. For before the church lost its hegemony, it was re-deployed in the founding of Enlightenment ideology. In particular it was used in the founding of the discipline of ‘rational’ philosophy. Pious Lutheran, Johan Jacob Brucker, used the narrative in order to separate his (now familiar) history of ‘true’ philosophy from that of philosophical error. What was previously branded as demonic is now recast as simply irrational foolishness. In other words, the narrative of The Great Tree of Pagan Superstition and everything it stands for are in fact the invisible ‘Other’ against which our modern viewpoint was crafted.
- Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture, Wouter Hanegraaff (Cambridge University Press, 2014)