History & Occulture

Biographies, history, and cultural criticism.

Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic, by Vere Chappell

By Psyche | December 9, 2010 | 1 comment

Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic: The Essential Ida Craddock, by Vere Chappell, with an introduction by Mary K. Greer
Weiser Books, 978157863476, 258 pp. (incl. appendix and references), 2010

Described as an anthology embedded in a biography, Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic contains most of Ida Craddock’s published writings edited, annotated and placed in context by Vere Chappell.

Ida Craddock was a nineteenth century American sexologist, feminist and mystic who was persecuted by Anthony Comstock’s Society for the Suppression of Vice. Her contribution to conventional sex reform, and her mystical writings on sex with spiritual beings are exceptional for the period. Continue reading


William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Martha Keith Schuchard

By Mike Gleason | May 11, 2010 | Leave a comment

William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Martha Keith Schuchard
Inner Traditions, 9781594772115, 415 pp., 2008

This is the first paperback issue in this country of a book originally published in 2006 in the U.K. It had its origin in scholarly research but has been diminished in size and complexity, although not in quality, to produce a book more likely to appeal to a non-academic audience.

There is a large amount of background data provided on the subject of 18th and 19th century esoterica. This is important to provide a solid base for the understanding of Blake and his works.

As I have commented in previous Continue reading


Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition, by Marjorie G Jones

By Psyche | March 13, 2010 | 2 comments

Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition, by Marjorie G. Jones
Ibis Press, 9780892541331, 262 pp. (incl. end notes, bibliography and index), 2008

Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition is the first full-length biography of Frances Yates, who was among the first wave of late Victorian female historians. Notes were compiled for an autobiography, but it remained incomplete at her death, though she did leave instructions for future biographers.

The account of Yates’ early years are taken in part from the unfinished autobiography, and the journal her father kept about her growth and progress from birth to a young child, with notes on her character and conduct.

Jones traces her personal and scholastic interests through Continue reading


Aleister Crowley, by John Moore

By Psyche | February 12, 2010 | 1 comment

Aleister Crowley: A Modern Master, by John Moore
Mandrake of Oxford, 97801906958002, 215 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2009

A Modern Master aims to present itself as a cultural examination of Crowley, yet Moore does not seem quite up to the task.

Moore wries that one of his goals in writing this book was “to make excuses for him, defending what has been criticised as a more contemptible side of his character”. This is severely misguided. Crowley was who he was, excuses are rather moot at this point. (Do we excuse Baudelaire? Rimbaud? Berber?) Rather than attempt to shine up the unsavoury bits Moore would have done better to explore them in context and describe how they influenced his work.

Continuing, he writes: Continue reading


Fire Child, by Maxine Sanders

By Mike Gleason | February 1, 2010 | Leave a comment

Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’, by Maxine Sanders
Mandrake, 9781869928780, 309 pp., 2008

I have been waiting for this book to be written for years, if not decades. As I have said in previous reviews, we need more autobiographies (as well as biographies) concerning those people who helped to bring our religion out of the broom closet. We already had Gerald Gardner: Witch and King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders as well as several books relating the life and works of George Pickingill, Doreen Valiente, Sybil Leek, and more modern practitioners such as Fiona Horne. The Internet has made it easy to find out about individuals’ actions. Their motivations, however, may not be so easily determined.

One of the things I enjoyed Continue reading


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