It is the world famous but little-understood religious movement adopted by 21st century celebrities from Madonna to Mick Jagger. What do devotees of Kabbalah believe, and why?

Rosanne Barr, Lindsey Lohan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell: a list of Kabbalah followers reads like the Who’s Who of 21st century popular culture. But why is this ancient Jewish mystical system – adopted by Renaissance magicians and allied to the alchemical and occult sciences – so popular?

In this talk, religious historian Harry Freedman will tell us the true story of Kabbalah: from the visions of second century mystics to the modern day metaphysics beloved by rock stars.

We’ll travel across the world to discover its influences, from the penitent and pessimistic German Pietists to the ecstatic Judaism of thirteenth century Egypt, which took its practices of singing and dancing from early Islamic Sufism.

We’ll meet the visionaries who visited the divine realms in an attempt to explain the relationship between heaven and earth, and hear about the unexpected arrival of a book in Spain that was concealed for over a thousand years.

We’ll learn Kabbalah’s philosophical development through the renaissance in Florence and its brushes with Christian Cabbala, allied to magic, alchemy and the occult sciences.

And we’ll meet the New Agers who adopted Kabbalah and helped it rise to fame, scandal and disrepute.




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