HRVB0104EU CANCELLED, The Emergence of Spirituality in the Modern World

Volume 2019/2020

Studieordning for det centrale fag på bachelorniveau i Religionsvidenskab, 2015

Studieordning for det gymnasierettede tilvalg på bachelorniveau i Religionsvidenskab, 2015

Fagstudieodning for BA tilvalg i Religionsvidenskab, 2019

Fagstudieordning for KA tilvalg i Religionsvidenskab, 2019



Spirituality as a concept and as a way of life has today become widespread and to many people it means something fundamentally different from religion. Today it is, for example, not surprising when people say that they believe in some form of higher energy that unites everything; reincarnation; karma; human potential, clairvoyance, communication with spirits, or that they have experienced something extraordinary—even out of the body and at the same time don’t see themselves as religious. How did this come about?

This course will discuss the meaning of spirituality as a cultural, social, and historical phenomenon.  In so doing the centerpiece will be a case study of the work of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), as most of the characteristics of what many identify as modern spirituality either originate directly with her or from contexts related to her.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a highly unusual woman of her time. She was of Russian noble decent and already as a child displayed what was regarded as paranormal abilities. After being married she fled and embarked on worldwide travelling to India, Egypt, Europe and the Americas in search of authentic spiritual knowledge. In the 1870s she settled in New York and became a US citizen and a co-founded of the Theosophical Society, a society formed to investigate spiritualistic phenomena and ancient wisdom. In 1877 she published her first comprehensive work in two volumes entitled Isis Unveiled dealing with occult knowledge, theology and modern science – a work which, she claimed, was written telepathically in corporation with hidden masters residing in Tibet. In 1879 she settled in India and embraced Eastern religions and became one of the first Western Buddhists. Blavatsky also attracted both negative and positive international attention for her many paranormal phenomena. In 1888 she published her second major work The Secret Doctrine, which is supposed to be a commentary on the world’s oldest book, the Book of Dzyan and a synthesis of religion, philosophy and science. In 1891, at age 59, she died as perhaps the first person famous for being famous.

Scholars have compared her influence to Martin Luther or Saint Paul and research is currently moving forward in fast pace examining her ideas and impact. Her work, which combines a number of traditions and forms of knowledge, includes the development of a complete comprehensive spiritual cosmology that incorporates the evolution of races, lost continents and life on other planets, karma, reincarnation, and the development occult powers. Combining science, Eastern religions, and alternative Western traditions with a focus on undiscovered individual potential, consciousness evolution, and the unity in all life, she faces the burgeoning religious crises and sets the framework for the emergence of a new form of spirituality—later popularized as New Age Religion in the latter half of the 20th century.

Blavatsky’s life and work will be studied historically in connection with the concept of spirituality by relating this: (1) to historical changes such as secularization, rationalization, modernization, re-enchantment, individualism and new social structures; (2) discourse theory, and (3) the history of ideas. The course will thus provide detailed knowledge and skills for working with modern religious changes, religion and science, esoteric ideas, and relevant theoretical approaches.

This international course is in English and will be available online as well as in real-time. It allows you to write an essay in a variety of relevant topics and addresses students at all levels.

Distance learning participation is possible. Writing your exam essays in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and English is also possible.

Learning Outcome

BA 2015-studieordning:
Valgfrit område (aktivitetskode HRVB00061E)
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB00081E)
Bachelorprojekt (aktivitetskode HRVB00091E)

BA Gymnasierettet tilvalg, 2015-ordning:
Valgfrit område med sprogudprøvning (aktivitetskode HRVB10121E)

BA Tilvalg 2019-studieordning
Valgfrit område (aktiviteskode HRVB10231E)

KA Tilvalg 2019-studieordning
Frit valgt emne (aktivitetskode HRVK13001E)

Course literature will be available online in Absalon and at the Royal Danish Library.

The course is composed of classes, lectures, discussions, supervision, source-work.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 328,5
  • Total
  • 412,5
Type of assessment