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Old 02-04-2006, 01:15 AM
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Please recommend your favorite non-tinfoil hat books about historical Occult weirdos

I've always found these guys fascinating, but there's so much writing about them out there, and so much of it is dominated by tinfoil hatters and other new age weirdos that it's really hard to sift through all the muck and find some good reading.

Here's what I want: books to cover the gamut of Occult/Magick/Theosophy/Hermeticism/Gnosticism/Alchemical thought/etc. thinkers and practicioners that are as objective, rational, historical, and clear-headed as possible. John Dee, Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, Helena Blavatsky, Robert Fludd, and so on - if it's interesting and weird, I want to read it!

I don't need them to be completely rational or objective - I'd probably enjoy reading writing about Magick or Gnosticism (and their practicioners) by someone who's personally invested in that world - but I want to steer away from people working a personal agenda or people that are just-plain off the rails. In other words, I really want to read about the weird theories connecting Jack Parsons' "Babylon Working" experiments to the first appearance of UFO's, but I don't want a book that then tries to connect that to 9/11, Michael Jackson, and the Illuminati, if you catch my drift.

I'd definitely be open to some sort of reader, compendium, or anthology that brings a bunch of this stuff together in one place, if such a thing exists.

Lay it on me! Help me cut through all the crap!
Old 02-04-2006, 01:47 AM
HPL is offline
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I don't know how much of a scholar he is, but Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke wrote a rarher interesting book called "The Occult Roots of Nazism". It uses a lot of citiations from what look to be primary sources, and the book did a good job of not setting off my BS detector. In fact, in the later chapters he goes out of his way to disprove the whole "Hitler and the Spear of Destiny" legend that's so popular.(I hate the Spear of Destiny. It's such a fricken cliche for occult fiction).
"I've worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty"
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Old 02-04-2006, 07:10 AM
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John Carter, Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons.
Michael Howard, The Occult Conspiracy.
James Webb, The Occult Underground and The Occult Establishment.
Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger.
Frances Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. (Also see The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited, ed. by Ralph White. Sort of a Yates Festschrift.)
Old 02-04-2006, 08:42 AM
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Edgar Leoni The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus

AT 832 pages, it is very extensive and quite a read.
Old 02-04-2006, 10:03 AM
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Lawrence Sutin's DO WHAT THOU WILT: A Life of Aleister Crowley


IN ADVANCE OF THE LANDING: FOLK CONCEPTS OF OUTER SPACE - a photo-travelogue of US Contactee culture

Has anyone read Blanche Barton's bio of Anton LaVey?

(Or, as ROLLING STONE Magazine revealed him to be- Howard Stanton Levey.)
Old 02-04-2006, 10:13 AM
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I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for or not, but several of Martin Gardner's books (like this one or this one) describe weirdos, quacks, and pseudoscientific theories.
Old 02-04-2006, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by VCO3
Helena Blavatsky
It's not quite the truly detailed picking apart of her myths about herself that someone ought to try to write, but Peter Washington's Madame Blavatsky's Baboon at least usefully fills the niche of being a popular history of Theosophy that doesn't take those claims at face value.
Old 02-04-2006, 11:35 AM
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Full of weirdoes, history, and it compares the magic of many cultures:

The encyclopedia of Magic & Witchcraft

The book begins with an introduction to shamanism and other early magical beliefs from which all others would evolve over thousands of years. It highlights magic in the anicent and classical worlds, particularly Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Celtic, and Northern European beliefs. It investigates the role of magic and witchraft in the rise of ancient and modern religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddism, Hinduism, and Shintoism, as well as the role of witch doctors and magic healers throughout history, well into modern times.


The last few chapters of the book deal with modern magic and witchcraft history and beliefs, particularly Neo-Paganism and Wicca, but also address other issues as Satanism, Druidry, and modern shamanism.

The book is objective in its history and does not succumb to the polemic pitfalls of many other histories of this kind. Though this is only a lightly treated intro to this subject, it is one that I highly recommend.
Like the reviewer said, and I had to do a double take when I found out that Jayne Mansfield was a Satanist!
Old 02-05-2006, 09:19 AM
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People dealt with-

John Wilson & Edward Hines- the main prophets of Anglo-Israelism

Ignatius Donnelly- populist politician & crackpot theorist extraordinairre!
(Atlantis especially but also Shakespeare=Bacon!)

The British trepannation cult.

The 1700's Druidic revivalists.

And my personal favorite- Nesta Webster- She-Scourge of the Illuminati!!!!
(who took an unfortunate side-trip with British Fascism & The Protocols.)
Old 02-05-2006, 03:01 PM
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Spirits, Stars and Spells: The Profits and Perils of Magic, by L. Sprague de Camp, is just exactly what the OP is looking for. Erudite, entertaining, literate, and in no way credulous. Read all about Helena Blavatsky, the medieval alchemists and astrologers, the crimes of Gilles de Rais and Elizabeth Bathory, etc., etc.

For a good fictional treatment, try Robert Anton Wilson's "Historical Illuminatus" novels -- The Earth Will Shake, The Widow's Son, and Nature's God. Casanova and Count Cagliostro play minor roles, and there's a lot about Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. Also, try Masks of the Illuminati, which features Aleister Crowley as a central character.

Speaking of Crowley -- Avram Davidson's collection of essays, Adventures in Unhistory, includes an utterly delicious (in prose style) account of his life.


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