An Enthralling History of the People, Ideas, and Practices that Shaped Today's Occult
In his most sweeping historical work, occult scholar and widely known voice of esoteric ideas Mitch Horowitz presents a lively, intellectually serious historical exploration of modern occultism, from astrology and alchemy to the dawn of Theosophy and modern witchcraft, and the spiritual revolutions that followed. In this erudite, vibrant, and full-circle history, Mitch explores:
- The roots of "hidden wisdom" in the late-ancient philosophy of Hermeticism, a marriage of classical Egyptian and Hellenic thought.
- The rebirth of pre-Christian spiritual ideas during the Renaissance, along with variations of Kabbalah, alchemy, gnosticism, and other esoteric traditions--and the backlash culminating in the Thirty Years' War.
- The rise of the modern "secret society" including the Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Illuminati, and Enlightenment-age Royal Society.
- The migration of religious radicals to the New World ranging from Shakers to Pietists to Mesmerists--and how enslaved people devised the syncretic magickal system of hoodoo.
- The new wave of Western occultism ignited by Romantic poets and dramatists, French mage Eliphas Levi, and African American magick worker PB Randolph.
- How globe-travelling occult explorer Madame HP Blavatsky revolutionized the world through Theosophy.
- Transcendentalism and the growth of New Thought and mind metaphysics.
- How late-19th and early-20th century scientists devised clinical protocols to study the supernatural, giving rise to parapsychology.
- Questions of occult influences on fascistic movements (a historically fraught topic rife with misunderstanding); the marriage between esoteric and progressive movements.
- Remarkable and diffuse figures, including Manly P. Hall, Aleister Crowley, Rudolf Steiner, Edgar Cayce, Gerald Gardner, and G.I. Gurdjieff.
- How socially rebellious movements, including the Beats and the Woodstock Generation, helped popularize psychedelia, Zen, yoga, and Eastern religious expressions.
- New understandings of interdimensional mechanics that are loosening the hold of materialism on modernist thought today.
Each chapter is rounded out with key terms and supplemental readings for a full-360 tour of modernist arcana and a historical journey that leaves your experience of esoterica forever changed.
"I admire Mitch Horowitz enormously. He has struggled virtually single-handedly to get the American intelligentsia to give occult and esoteric currents the serious attention they deserve."--Richard Smoley, author of Hidden Christianity
"In many ways, Horowitz is the perfect mix of Manly P. Hall, Joseph Campbell, and Prometheus, eloquently carrying the torch of mythic and spiritual illumination into the 21st century."--Carl Abrahamsson, author of Occulture
"The New Age has always been gnostic, by which I mean the movement has often been both fiercely critical of society and deeply rooted in transcendent experience. Whenever I am asked about it, I reply: 'Go read Mitch Horowitz. You will see'."--Jeffrey J. Kripal, Associate Dean of the Humanities, Rice University
About the Author
A widely known voice of esoteric ideas, Mitch Horowitz is a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library, lecturer-in-residence at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and the PEN Award-winning author of books including Occult America; One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; and The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality. Mitch introduces and edits G&D Media's line of Condensed Classics and is the author of the Napoleon Hill Success Course series, including The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim, The Power of the Master Mind, and Secrets of Self-Mastery. Visit him at MitchHorowitz.com. Mitch resides in New York.