Tag Archives | Book Review

Alchemical Traditions: An interview with Dr. Aaron Cheak

560246_10151325152677217_1973970626_n

I’ve known Dr. Cheak for a while now. I’ve never met anyone with such a broad understanding of alchemy, magic, or religious studies in general. He’s truly a gem of the modern scholarly crowd. His new book is fast establishing him as one of the foremost authorities in the world on alchemy. I had the chance to interview him at my home in Los Angeles over a bottle of wine. Awesome conversation ensued.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966 – 1989

Occult memoirs are uncommon, interesting ones even moreso.  With In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966 – 1989 (Ibis Press, 2012), author James Wasserman has added to the small canon of the latter.

Wasserman will be known to many of the Disinformed as the gent with enviable facial hair who has written and edited dozens of books (and regularly appears in documentaries) on Freemasonry, the Templars, Aleister Crowley, and other such esoterica.  He is also a long-time practicing magician and member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, and was a key player in some of the events which have led to the O.T.O.–currently celebrating its one hundredth anniversary–still going strong today.

The years covered in this memoir begin with him as a freewheeling hippie, dabbling with decreasing commitment in political activism, and with increasing zeal in the occult (and, separately, drugs).  Against the backdrop of late-sixties and early-seventies New York City, Wasserman chronicles his winding path through the occult with stops including yoga, Voodoo, and other, more obscure practices.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic

stealing-fire-from-heaven-the-rise-of-modern-western-magicIn Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic, author Nevill Drury attempts to chronicle and contextualize contemporary magical practices and practitioners.  For the most part he succeeds, and offers the, um, uninitiated an introduction to current magical thought.  He covers ground from the (relatively) well-known to the fairly obscure, stopping along the way to probe a little deeper into some of the philosophies and personalities involved.  It is only as his history approaches the current day that his choice of subjects begins to appear arbitrary and his arguments unsupported, almost as if he wrote his conclusions prior to seeking any evidence to support them.

Drury’s focus is on the “Western esoteric tradition in the twentieth century,”  but of necessity begins with a crash course in the overall history of western magic.  This includes primers on kabbalah, alchemy, and tarot, as well as introductions to some of the key players, such as Eliphas Lévi and MacGregor Mathers.  This is perhaps the strongest portion of the book, with balanced discussions of magical theory and its practitioners, resulting in a solid introduction to Western magic.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Fresh Angles On John Dee’s Angels

EnochianThe good people at Destiny Books/Inner Traditions recently sent on a new volume that finds some of magic’s most mysterious writings collected in one book for the very first time. With Decoding the Enochian Secrets: God’s Most Holy Book to Mankind as Received by Dr. John Dee from Angelic Messengers, author John DeSalvo, Ph.D. offers up the complete writings and Tables of Enoch that Dee and Edward Kelley received from the angels.

If you’re already confused, this book isn’t for you. This is not a biography of John Dee or an in-depth examination of the events that found the 16th-century mathematician, scientist, occultist, and the astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I seemingly contacting angels and receiving what may be the most important divinely-channeled communication of all time.  If you are interested in finding out more about Enochian Magic, start with Benjamin Woolley’s excellent tome The Queen’s Conjurer: The Science and Magic of Dr.Read the rest

Continue Reading

Don’t Wake Up. It’s Not Worth It.

conspiracy-aganst-the-human-raceGrim Blogger reviews horror author Thomas Ligotti’s nonfiction The Conspiracy Against the Human Race:

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror is many things, but it is definitely well worth the wait. It emanates a black power longtime readers of Ligotti’s fiction will recognize, yet it is not an old comforting horror story. Instead, the book is a history, a philosophy, and a V.I.P. pass to the backstage of Ligotti’s many talented puppet shows. On the way to get behind the curtain, though, you find yourself trapped in a dimly lit elevator. Rather than the fireside chat with Thomas Ligotti you expected, you end up listening to his dark observations about this universe and about your existence–many of which make you want to scream and cry and laugh at once–as they pour in over a piercing intercom.

In Conspiracy, Thomas Ligotti successfully balances the multiple authorial roles integral to the book.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

After Punk: The Story of What Came Next

Simon Reynold’s acclaimed first volume of post-punk memory sifting — Rip it Up and Start Again — went a long way toward exploring and explaining the various flowerings that bloomed from the bruised and bloodied blossom that was ’70s punk rock. If you thought one volume of exhaustive, evocative reconstructing of the period would suffice, you would be wrong, and Reynolds proves this point with Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews. The project is a bookend to the first volume and it completes an impressive cartography of that time and that music. Totally Wired is largely an oral biography; the story of a place, a time and a music told by the people who listened to it, created it and lived through it. Serving up 32 interviews with everyone from David Byrne to Jah Wobble to James Chance, Totally’ (Along with Rip’) must certainly qualify Reynolds as the definitive chronicler of the period. The later chapters of the book practically constitute a project unto themselves, allowing Totally’ to deliver an even clearer, deeper explanation of just what came after punk. The interviews begin with Ari Up, the lead singer of The Slits. The delightful miss Up is a fantastic storyteller and her remembrances of being the only dread-headed white girl step-dancing at Reggae parties are spellbinding — as are her recollections of a time when Punks, Rastas, Sticksmen, John-Travolta-disco-sadists and neo-Teddy Boys all collided on the street and on the stage as a new music attempted to rise from the ashes of punk.
Continue Reading

Discover ‘Hidden Wisdom’ with Tim Wallace-Murphy

Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition. Painting by Cristiano Banti (1857).

Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition. Painting by Cristiano Banti (1857).

Chris Orapello writes on The Infinite and The Beyond:

Tim Wallace-Murphy, co author of Rosslyn, The Knights of the Holy Grail, and other books dealing with the Knights Templar and the Freemasons, presents humankind’s pursuit to enlightenment with his new release Hidden Wisdom, Secrets of the Western Esoteric Tradition.

In this book Tim Wallace-Murphy takes a look into the evolution of human spirituality and its relationship as a species to divinity and the manifested world throughout the periods of civilization. Starting with the dawn of time and continuing up to the present day, he provides a historical commentary on the growth of thought and through his focus establishes a chain of understanding while revealing some of the pivotal relationships that exist between the faiths, theologies, philosophies as well as the political, social, industrial and technological elements of human growth that have developed over the continuance of human history.

Read the rest
Continue Reading