Sylvia Plath and the Occult Revival Essay

Sylvia Plath and the Occult Revival Essay

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The 1950s and 1960s were viewed as the start of not just the age of “hippies” but also an age of different revivals and movements that Sylvia Plath involved herself in; one of them being the most underground of the revivals – the occult revival.. The occult revival was seen as a back seat to many of the other movements happening during the ‘50s and 60s and some even say Plath just used it as a metaphor in her poetry. However, by looking at her poems, such as “Lady Lazarus,” “The Kolossus,” and “Daddy,” Sylvia Plath pulls the occult into them as way to communicate her feelings to the living and deceased.
In the 1960s the revival for the occult was beginning. One of the prominent forms of the occult was the creation of neo-paganism and Wicca, created by Gerald Gardener. These religions held heavy belief systems in the use of magic and myth. This was an age, as Margot Adler, author on the evolution of Paganism, puts it, which was a “ferment of ideas and ideals and of creative risk-taking” (Guiley 3). Society was no longer in a stage of “hissing” at the idea of the supernatural and were accepting of the use of supernatural objects such as Ouija boards, tarot decks, and horoscopes. This gave way for more creative thoughts and could incorporate the supernatural for Plath not as a depiction of fantasy but what traversed through her mind in the natural world.
Though not directly involved with the movement, Plath seems influenced by it, especially in her poem “Ouija,” which spoke of summoning a god of some sort. Living with Ted Hughes, Plath would use a Ouija board to ask questions such as the title of their next poem or the name of their children. She would constantly refer to the spirit within the board as Pan whose “family god was nam...


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...al Elements In Sylvia Plath's Poetry." Indian Streams Research Journal 2.3 (2012): 414-419. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
Materer, T. "Occultism As Source And Symptom In Sylvia Plath's `Dialogue Over A Ouija Board.'." Twentieth Century Literature 37.2 (1991): 131. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
"Ouija by Sylvia Plath." Ouija, a poem by Sylvia Plath. poets love Poem at allpoetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. .
Plath, Sylvia. The unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. Print.
"Sylvia Plath's Spirit Guide." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2013. .
Vendler, Helen. Poems, poets, poetry: an introduction and anthology. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1997. Print.

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