History and Occulture

Biographies, history, and cultural criticism.

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

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William Blake's Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith SchuchardWilliam Blake's Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith SchuchardWilliam Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Martha Keith Schuchard
Inner Traditions, 9781594772115, 415 pp., 2006, 2008

This is the first US edition of a book originally published in 2006 in the UK. 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 William Blake and his works.

As I have commented in previous  reviews of books issued by Inner Traditions, this is not a book for the casual reader. It presupposes a certain level of familiarity with the general topic right from the outset. If you know nothing about William Blake or the esoteric milieu of his time, you will find yourself playing catch-up from the start. Continue reading


Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition, by Marjorie G Jones

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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

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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

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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


The Morning of the Magicians, by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier

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The Morning of the Magicians: Secret Societies, Conspiracies, and Vanished Civilizations, by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier
Destiny Books, 9781594772313, 414 pp, 1960, 2009

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to get out of this book when I picked it up, and must say the introduction already had me very concerned when the authors said “so as not to weigh down the book too much, we have avoided a multiplicity of references, footnotes, and bibliographies.” It should be pointed out that a “multiplicity” of bibliographies means not including any bibliography, multiplicity of references and footnotes refers to a sparse inclusion that information was taken from somewhere, but rarely stated where.

In general a lack of sources has me a bit worried about a book, but this book really supported that worry, for it wasn’t common knowledge, or acceptable stories, but it was wildly “out there” stories as fact, with no backing. Pauwels and Bergier felt that science was too constraining, and that people should open themselves up to the reality of other possibilities. A notion I can agree with, but a quick look at Continue reading


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