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International Conference: Western Esotericism and Deviance

MOSAICO

 

 

 

Sixth International ESSWE Conference, Western Esotericism and Deviance, organized by the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism, in cooperation with the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies

 

(University of Erfurt, Germany, 1-3 June 2017).

 

 

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

 

 

   

SESSION 6: ESOTERICISM, DEVIANCE and REPRESSION: A CASE STUDY of THE MOVEMENT FOR SPIRITUAL INTEGRATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE (MISA)

  

Abstract Dr Raffaella Di Marzio

MISA, the Anti-Cult Movement and the Courts: The Legal Repression of an Esoteric MovementR 10

From Communist to post-Communist Romania, the founder of MISA Grigorian Bivolaru has been repeatedly arrested and convicted. His teachings on sexuality have often created suspicions of immorality and abuse. He has been granted political asylum in Sweden in 2006, but arrested again in France upon a request by Romanian authorities in 2016. The paper reconstructs the legal cases involving Bivolaru and MISA and raises the question of how an anti-esoteric prejudice may have influenced their developments and outcome.R 8

 

Abstract Dr PierLuigi Zoccatelli

Esotericism, Deviance, and Repression: An Introduction to the History of MISA

In 2016, the leader of MISA, Grigorian Bivolaru was arrested in France and extradited to Romania, where he had been sentenced to six years in jail for an alleged sexual relationship with a seventeen year old girl believed to be his student, despite the opposition of Sweden, who had granted him political asylum in 2006. While technical questions about the legality of the extradition are a matter for legal scholars, the cultural climate in which the extradition trial took place is of great interest to scholars of esotericism. The paper, based on a survey of printed and electronic media in France and Romania, examines how the legal battle about Bivolaru's extradition became a trial of esotericism, "cults," and what degree of deviance could actually be tolerated when esoteric movements are associated in their public image with antinomian sexual practices. Parallels with the situation in Italy will also be proposed. There, MISA was raided in 2012 although no charges were eventually filed, and some Italian media in reporting the incident used "esotericism" as synonymous with "operating a destructive cult" and associated it with "violent sex." The paper concludes by examining the aftermath and implications of the 2016 extradition for international controversies where "esoteric cults" or "occult groups" are increasingly depicted as something particularly sinister and dangerous.

 

Abstract Dr Massimo Introvigne

Sex, Movies, and Deviance: The Strange Case of Carmen Enache

In accusations of deviance against MISA, a central role is played by movies directed by Carmen Enache, a member of the movement, and featuring other MISA students as actors. Although the movies were produced by individual MISA members rather than by the movement, the fact that some were X-rated and distributed through the adult circuit sustained accusations of pornography. The paper discusses how the movies, quite anomalous in the adult genre as they also featured lengthy explanations about esotericism, were perceived as plain pornography by opponents and as a form of "objective art" by Enache and MISA. The paper also explores larger questions about the role of movies in general in MISA's aesthetics, and argues that what MISA proposes is a "radical aesthetic," based inter alia on ideas about sexual magic that have a long tradition in Western esotericism but are at odds with commonly held notions of boundaries between spirituality, sexuality and the body, whose transgression does not go unpunished. Enache has recently moved to non-adult movies, still focused on MISA's sacred eroticism but not X-rated, which have proved less controversial and received even some positive reviews. The paper analyzes, in particular, the 2016 movie by Enache "Continuamente amando" (Continuously loving) and reactions to it in Latin America, where it has been produced and distributed, discussing whether movies (erotic or not) may really function as a tool to propagate complicate esoteric ideas.

 

COPERTINA