I define the occult as the exploration of unseen dimensions whose forces act upon us and through us — it is simply a study of extra-physicality and nonlocal intelligence. As a writer, reader, and publisher of occult literature, I offer up those titles that touched me as a seeker. Like every list, so much is missing — but these works and writers left an indelible mark on my search over the past decade.
2012 by Daniel Pinchbeck
I know what you’re thinking: the world didn’t end in 2012. He never said it would. Pinchbeck, a literary journalist, combined a journey of self-awakening with esoteric Mayan calendrics to produce one of the most startling and compulsively readable memoirs of the search since work of Somerset Maugham. (Disclosure: I published it back in the day, and would again.)
John Dee and the Empire of Angels by Jason Luov
The best book recommendation from a writer is one that he is jealous he didn’t write himself. Luov’s research, completeness, and stylistic writing make this the definitive work on the Elizabethan mage Dee. It will never be surpassed.
Waking the Witch by Pam Grossman
If Betty Friedan were a witch, this is the book she would’ve written. If you expect a spellbook you’re in for a surprise: this is a profoundly moving memoir of discovering oneself as a feminist and creative being through the revival of nature-based religion.
Dark Star Rising by Gary Lachman
If you want to understand the dark spiritual dynamics behind the rise of American authoritarianism, Lachman provides a codex that helps us grasp what has happened to our nation in ways that you won’t find in the news media. A master historian and underground guide, he unpacks many misunderstood facets of rightwing New Age culture.
Mutants and Mystics by Jeffrey J. Kripal
The scholar of religion Kripal uses pop culture as a lens to describe the dramatic shifts in human consciousness, awareness, and potential over the past several generations. He explores how we effectively wrote our own future through comics and pop culture.
Quantum Enigma by by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner
These authors are scientists not occultists (though once upon a time the two categories weren’t so different). This meticulously written book is, hands down, the most reliable work to describe the metaphysical implications of quantum theory.
Real Magic by Dean Radin
Another scientist-not-occultist, Radin takes the journey further by showing us how advances in serious psychical research affirm the possibilities of extra-physicality in a manner that reveals our world as much stranger than we think it is.
Occulture by Carl Abrahamsson
Abrahamsson has inaugurated a serious new intellectual revolution in the study of the left-hand path spirituality, Satanism, and so-called “dark side” spirituality. No serious consideration of occult culture is complete without passing through his work.
High Weirdness by Erik Davis
The culture critic Davis reveals how the seventies culture of yoga, psychedelics, and ceremonial magick — before it gave way to commercialized mall and digital versions — inaugurated an underground revolution in American life.
Infinite Tuesday by Michael Nesmith
The former Monkee produced not only one of the finest celeb memoirs of our era but combined themes of Christian Science, esoteric philosophy, and personal recovery from the confounding weirdness of celebrity into a compelling story of one seeker’s journey through life. I’m a believer.