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by Carl Abrahamsson
One of the first things I noticed with this book is that the chapter headings have notes below the titles that say each of them was first given at a lecture or printed as an article someplace, so it soon became clear that this is a collection of several years' writings collected by the author into book form for presentation to a new audience. The subject matter is sufficiently different in each to create a nicely balanced volume on occult influence in society and particularly in art.
This is not a book for learning to do magic(k), but is more about modern cultural influences and symbols that enter mainstream consciousness through various mediums of artistic expression. In the Forword written by Gary Lachman, he explains the term 'occulture', occult + culture, coined by Genesis-P-Orridge, a cult figure in certain circles of modern day magicians, then goes on to point out connections between art and the occult and the significance of interpreting one through the other.
The lectures and articles cover a fascinating variety of loosely related topics. They include commentaries on alternative lifestyles and the rise of occult culture through significant periods like the 1960s and 1980s and the British and German groups and personalities who shaped much of modern occult culture.
The reader gets the benefit of a perspective by someone who 'was there' and understands the significance of a variety of cultural influences that still affect the culture today. He speaks of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth as well as about Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey and what he feels were the relevant contributions by controversial groups and personalities.
The perspective is very much about the intellectual side of the occult. No new age or airy-fairy crystal hugging comes into it. As occult history goes, this is an excellent reflection of the later twentieth century developments that built on the legacy of earlier magical Orders and traditions and the effects of an expanding cultural awareness that would shake the foundations of pre-twentieth century European occult study.
The significance of art and creativity is emphasised as is the freedom of social mores from the staid, limiting celibacy of groups like the early Golden Dawn and the cautions required by Medieval magicians to avoid any sniff of scandal that might lead to charges of heresy.
The history of Nazi involvement in the occult is detailed in one of the lectures and makes for interesting reading from a historical perspective as well. That lecture somehow moves from this to beatniks in California, which gives the reader an idea of the broad scope of some of the topics discussed.
This book would be of interest to anyone interested in occult history or in cultural development and the influence of art. It fills in the recent gaps in documented history for those of us who are too young to have been there for the changes in the 1980s and before as these periods are often not addressed in earlier books on the subject.
It also goes into everything from philosophy to conspiracy theories in recent decades and even Pokemon Go! I found all of the articles interesting for different reasons. A real treasure for anyone with interest in magick or the occult.