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  1.  (550.1)
    Hi, I was over in Mad Scientist and found a futurist reading list and was wondering if anyone's got some good books on occult topics? Anything from ghosts, to aliens, to black magicks, to whatever your mind might be drawn to that you've read.

    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2008
    Fiction: "Stir of Echoes" by Richard Matheson and "The Hellbound Heart" by Clive Barker are the two best ones I've read recently. Stephen King's "Bag of Bones" had some good moments too, despite being a little long.

    Nonfiction: currently I'm making my way through a bunch of Japanese books with words like "yurei" and "yokai" in the titles. mostly I look at the pictures and painstakingly look up kanji.
    • CommentAuthorNil
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2008
    Not sure if it classifies as occult, but The Psychopath's Bible: For the Extreme Individual by Christopher S. Hyatt & Jack Willis had a huge effect on the way I think about magick and human psychology in general. Not necessarily a good one, mind you, but an effect nonetheless.

    Beyond the Occult by Colin Wilson remains one of my main reference texts when dealing with occult subjects.
  2.  (550.4)
    Prometheus Rising and Cosmic Trigger are two of the best books on the "reality" of what magick practice's goals are.

    Condensed Chaos by Phil Hine and Liber Null & Psychonaut are the best intros to chaos magick I know of.

    And The Book of Lies by old Uncle Al is one of my personal favorites.
  3.  (550.5)
    My favorite book about these weird stuff (ghosts and so on): Dicitionnaire Infernal by Collin de Plancy (with beautiful illustrations by Louis Breton). I dunno if there is some complete edition in English (with ilustrations and whatever). That´s ironic fiction-reality narratives with Voltaire spirit: "Enciclopedie" about supernatural.
    • CommentAuthorhank
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
    Grab Any of Lon Milo Duquette's books, they are insightful and funny (who says all Occult/esoteric reading as to be dry.) I recommend Israel Regardie's stuff too. I am currently working through Agrippa which is another decent resource.
    • CommentAuthorhank
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
    I love Book of Lies. Book of Wisdom and Folly is nice for a stroll for the introspective too.
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
    Richard Cavendish's The Black Arts is the best survey course in esoterica that I can name. The title is misleading, because there are chapters about innocuous topics like numerology & the zodiac, but there's plenty about infernal pacts & demonology too.

    If you can find it, Magick in Theory & Practice is the most engaging & personable Crowley I've read.

    Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough is written from more of an anthropological perspective, but the first couple of chapters on primitive beliefs & sympathetic magic (I think JGF coined the phrase) are enlightening, plus it comes Crowley-recommended.

    And for something more up-to-date, the dinsfo-published Book of Lies anthology is worth a look, as it contains an essay by Grant Morrison, an excerpt from RAW's Cosmic Trigger (which I agree is good), and plenty of succinct, well-written essays on John Dee, Aliester Crowley (of course), Austin Osman Spare, and William S. Burroughs.

    And anyone interested in magic should try Grant Morrison's The Invisibles & Alan Moore's Promethea.
  4.  (550.9)
    The Golden Bough is a wonderful read.
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2008
    I got into The Golden Bough around the same time that I read Robert Graves' The White Goddess, because they're both mentioned early on in Thomas Pynchon's V., aka the best debut novel of all time.

    Graves also translated the 2nd century Latin novel The Golden Ass, which is bawdy & funny, and it's a great book about magic, religion, & social class.
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2008 edited
    I forgot one of my old favorites: "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler. chapters on various and sundry interesting topics; also the book that introduced me to [edit: the amusing concept of] Eris worship.
  5.  (550.12)
    I thought the Golden Bough was a bit dry, although wonderfully informative. It's mission statement isn't to entertain, I suppose.

    I second the recommendation for Phil Hine's stuff. The Book of Lies from Disinfo is really cool as well, very eclectic group of articles.
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2008
    Ditto on Drawing Down the Moon. I started reading The Spiral Dance (by Starhawk), expecting more of the same, but I didn't really like it beyond the introduction. I think it's a little too instructional. It's too 1-2-3, this is what we do on this day of the year & the like. That's my opinion, not having finished it.

    @matt b.
    The Golden Bough is extremely dry, and I honestly lost interest around page 400 (?) where he hashes out all the copious minutiae involving the Mayday festivities. (I can watch the "Safety Dance" video whenever I want.) But the early chapters are whizbang, and it's nice to see a skeptic like JGF come up with some really insightful points, like his law of contagion. And when he writes about dead & resurrected gods, later on, that's good too.

    I do need to read up on my Chaos magic. The Principia Discordia is available on, which is a great place to look for a lot of public domain material without buying into expensive Weiser hardback editions & the like.

    It's a fun place to play.
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2008
    @slybyron-- Starhawk drives me nuts, always have. dunno why.

    thanks for the sacred-texts link-- I don't suppose they have the Book of the Subgenius on there, do they? or anywhere else online? I misplaced my copy.
  6.  (550.15)
    I bought The American Book of the Dead on a whim a couple of years ago and I never really read all the way through. It seems interesting, I just haven't had the time for it.
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2008
    It looks like they've got sections up on, but I don't think they're giving it away.

    There's a funny Bob Dobbs reference in Planet Love, the newest Doom Patrol trade.
    • CommentTimeFeb 17th 2008
    as far as fiction goes, these are very interesting...

    edward bulwer-lytton - zanoni
    the coming race

    arthur machen - the great god pan
    the three impostors
    the hill of dreams
    the great return
    the secret glory

    charles williams - the place of the lion
    many dimensions
    the greater trumps
    war in heaven
    descent into hell
    all hallows' eve (perhaps one of the most important books of the 20th century)

    aleister crowley - moonchild

    algernon blackwood - john silence (another golden dawn member who incorporated a lot from its teachings in his stories)

    gustav meyrink - the golem (one of the major influences on borges and the first book he read in german; excellent novel)
    the angel on the western window (one of the great novels about john dee)
    the geen face
    the white dominican

    j.k. huysmans - la bas

    john cowper powys - a glastonbury romance (a criminally underrated writer. never has pantheism and animism been better expressed)

    angela carter - the passion of new eve

    iain sinclair - lud heat (a collection of poems and prose that centers on the secret history of london; the inspiration for ackroyd's hawksmoor and moore's from hell)
    white chappel, scarlet tracings (a psychogeographical journey into the jack the ripper murders and 19th century london)

    lindsay clarke - the chymical wedding
    parzival and the stone from heaven

    peter ackroyd - hawksmoor
    the house of dr dee
    first light
    dan leno and the limehouse golem
    english music
    the plato papers

    john crowley - the aegypt cycle (4 novels)

    jeanette winterson - sexing the cherry
    gut symmetries

    robertson davies - fifth nusiness
    the cunning man

    alan moore - from hell

    grant morrison - the invisibles

    also, borges, suhrawardi, blake, ibn arabi, nerval, pk dick...

    selected non-fiction in various areas:

    any rawilson

    swedenborg - heaven and hell
    the universal human

    julius evola - the hermetic tradition

    frances yates - giordano bruno and the hermetic tradition
    the art of memory
    the occult philosophy in the elizabethan age
    the rosicrucian enlightenment

    pd walker - spiritual and demonic magic from ficino to campanella

    gershom scholem - kabbalah

    a.e. waite - holy kabbalah
    the hermetic museum

    gurdjieff - beelzebub's tales to his grandson

    henry corbin - swedenborg and esoteric islam
    man of light in iranian sufism
    temple and contemplation

    dion fortune - the mystical qabalah

    hans jonas - the gnostic religion

    joscelyn godwin - harmonies of heaven and earth
    the theosophical enlightnment
    arktos: the polar myth in science, symbolism and nazi survival

    joseph campbell - the masks of god, especially creative mythology

    kocku von stuckrad - western esotericism: a brief history of secret knowledge

    wouter j. hanegraaff - dictionary of gnosis and western esotericism

    alan baker - invisible eagle: the history of nazi occultism

    h.p. blavatsky - the secret doctrine
    isis unveiled

    c.g. harrison - the transcedental universe

    peter j carroll - liber null

    john dee - monas hieroglyphica


    jason colavito - the cult of alien gods: hp lovecraft and extraterrestrial pop culture
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeFeb 17th 2008 edited
    I do need to read up on my Chaos magic. The Principia Discordia is available on, which is a great place to look for a lot of public domain material without buying into expensive Weiser hardback editions & the like.

    The Principia Discordia is awesome. I have the Steve Jackson edition myself.

    There's a book by Robert Anton Wilson called Everything is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-ups that serves as a good reference guide for this kind of stuff.
    • CommentTimeFeb 17th 2008 edited
    Wow, nigredo, that's quite the list. (Love the username, by the way.)

    I second the recommendation of Lon Milo Duquette's books. His Qabalah book is not to be missed, along with THE KEY TO SOLOMON'S KEY. And his autobiography. Other than that, I'd have to know what you're interested in. He has written a very accessible (and authoritative) book on the Crowley Tarot deck. (Also? If you ever get the chance to hear Lon speak, take it.)

    Two other authors I'd recommend for readable yet solid information is John Michael Greer and Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. His LEARNING RITUAL MAGIC is excellent if you're looking for a book to start practicing - it's a 9 month course that was one his tradition's outer court course of study. Very practical, though - it's designed to be worked through. His other reference books are good, too.

    Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki is the head of Servants of the Light, the esoteric school that was founded by W.E. Butler (he was trained by Dion Fortune). I can heartily recommend HIGHWAYS OF THE MIND, which is a classic on pathworking (and astral travel, to a lesser extent).

    Speaking of Dion Fortune, her occult novels are well worth reading, and carry on the tradition of esotericists who codify magical training/knowledge in works of fiction. THE SEA PRIESTESS and MOON MAGIC are the most well-known, but poke around a bit and see if others suit you better. The writing is clunky; nonetheless they're classics. Most are out of print but you can get 'em at the library.

    On the Wiccan side of the fence, I am, of course, a ginormous fan of Doreen Valiente. Again, very readable and entertaining. If you're just looking for some fun stuff to read (ie, not investigating the tradition per se), AN ABC OF WITCHCRAFT is a good one. But all are excellent. Janet and Stewart Fararr's A WITCH'S BIBLE is also geared towards practical work, but there's tons of lore and mythology there too.

    Robert Graves' THE WHITE GODDESS is a trippy romantic reconstructionist's dream. Just remember, it's poetry, not fact. :)

    I'll have to think a bit more about occult novels, but one that is very much worth tracking down is Katharine Kurtz's LAMMAS NIGHT. (Shoot for the library, though - it's spendy to buy used.)

    Incidentally, Machen, Blackwood and Bulwer-Lytton (I think) were all members of The Golden Dawn.

    OH! That reminds me: WOMEN OF THE GOLDEN DAWN by Mary K. Greer. Holy smokes, can't believe I almost left that one off the list. This is one of my favorite books of all time. As you can imagine, it shines the lens on, well, the four women who were the backbone of the original order in London, but it's a great view of the order as a whole, too.

    Last but most certainly not least, there's Yeats. I'm currently reading YEATS'S GHOST, a biography focusing on the automatic writing performed by his wife shortly after they were married. (The script from these experiments form a couple of works on their own, Yeats's own A VISION, and the script itself, which was edited back in the 1990's and forms the four volume YEATS'S VISION PAPERS.)

    I think I gave a list of Tarot recommendations in another thread...
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 17th 2008
    I am, of course, a ginormous fan of Doreen Valiente

    Have you seen that one of her long out of print works 'The Rebirth of Witchcraft' has just been republished? I'd thoroughly recommend it.