Richard Tennant Cooper, 1910. Image © source

Pseudomonarchia Daemonum

Johann Weyer

Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, also known as the False Hierarchy of Demons , is a great compendium from the 16 th century dictating the names of sixty-nine demons.  The title itself indicates that the demonic monarchy depicted in the text is false, in many ways an insult to those who determinedly believe in the demons of hell.  The list initially appeared as an appendix to Johann Weyer's first book about demonology and witchcraft, De Praestigiis Daemonum et Incantationibus ac Venificiisi, and was said by the author himself to have been inspired by an earlier text discussing spirits and demons.  Yet, it is Weyer's work—not his predecessor's—that came to be known by renowned psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud as "one of the ten most significant books of all time." – Ryan Stone


Magical Alphabets

Nigel Pennick

Pennick provides a detailed overview of alphabets that have been associated with magical practices in the West, particularly Hebrew, Greek, runes and Celtic oghams. He outlines the symbolic significance of each of the letters, their numeric attributions and ways they were employed in various gematria or numerology. For example, each Hebrew letter, being also a number, allows scripture to be appreciated from a mathematically symbolic point of view, sort of like a biblical Brandenburg Concerto. Along with Hebrew and Greek, Pennick might have also chosen to examine Arabicas well. Its absence lends a notable gap in this otherwise lucidly written and well-researched book. Also examined in the book are magical, alchemical and invented alphabets. The lack of material on Dr. John Dee’s Enochian language is a notable omission in this section. Although the book is narrower in its scope than it could be, it provides an intriguing look at the uses of alphabets in numerology and other symbolic systems. It is illustrated with tables of alphabets, magic squares and historical applications. MM

Publisher: Weiser
Paperback: 256 pages

The Meaning of Love

Vladimir Solovyov

For a philosopher intent on illuminating the godliness inherent in each of us, Solovyov sure spends a lot of time talking about sex. “There is only one power which can from within undermine egoism at the root, and really does undermine it, namely love, and chiefly sexual love.” Arguing that, at least in lower forms, sexual love is not necessary to reproduction, and, in any case, that sexual love between humans does not necessarily result in procreation, Solovyov determines that sexual love exists primarily as a touchstone for cosmic integration.
His approach is scientific. Observing that the whole of biological evolution is toward more individualized organisms, he likewise notes the tendency toward the increasing association of romantic passion with sexual union. He theorizes that since neither “romance” nor “passion” is necessary for successful reproduction, perhaps they are to be seen as an end in themselves. Perhaps they are expressions of the divine in the human sphere. Recognizing our failure to achieve “unity of the all” consciousness, he nonetheless views sexual love as an avenue toward this ideal. “The meaning and worth of love, as a feeling, is that it really forces us, with all our being, to acknowledge for another the same absolute central significance which, because of the power of our egoism, we are conscious of only in our own selves.” Solovyov’s ideal is the transformation of the world through love, starting with sexual love and continuing outward and resulting in syzygy, the correlation of the individual with the all. JTW

Publisher: Lindisfarne
Paperback: 121 pages

Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World

Jeffrey Burton Russell

God has one book [the Bible), and the devil has five in this colorful series on the philosophy, theology, art, literature and popular culture of Christian demonology. “This series constitutes the most complete historical study ever made of the figure called the second most famous personage in Christianity.” GR

Publisher: Cornell University
Paperback: 333 pages

The Mystery of the Seven Vowels: In Theory and Practice

Joscelyn Godwin

“The seven vowels, which we use every day in speech, are truly mysterious things. Analysis shows that vowels depend on the phenomenon of harmonics, which is at the very basis of music, while our sensitivity to them proves that the human ear is naturally attuned to harmony. When we hear vowels, we are hearing the laws of harmony which are ultimately the laws of numbers that are said to govern the universe… This is the first book on the subject ever to appear in English, and it is unusual in bringing together a number of fields not usually connected: linguistics, harmony, musicology, mythology, the history of religions, esoteric and occult philosophy, vocal exercises and meditational practices. The author discusses systems relating the vowels to planets, tones and colors; he writes of ancient and modern vowel-songs in Gnosticism and ancient magic.”

Publisher: Phanes
Paperback: 120 pages

The Necromantic Ritual Book

Leilah Wendell

A black-and-silver gothic pamphlet with spooky Grim Reaper woodcuts printed in an annoying, hard-to-read, black-letter typeface. The book reminds me of a high school print-shop project by a Propaganda magazine reader. Wendell describes rituals intended to understand, revere and love Azrael, the Angel of Death. That includes “love” in the physical sense of necrophilia (“At this point, do not supress your desires. Give into them and follow their lead”). While there is much talk about purity of heart, sanctity of the “catalyst”/corpse, etc., the ritual involves disinterring a corpse, stuffing an amethyst inside (“If the body is sufficiently decomposed… “), holding its hand, and making love to the corpse if it “makes the first move”! Pray to the angel Mikael for support if your friends don’t understand your elevated desires. Wendell tells us that “the Death energy is meant to be savored slowly like a fine wine, not guzzled like a six-pack of Bud!” Wendell recommends Taylor’s Tawny Port Wine instead. RP

Publisher: Westgate
Paperback: 50 pages

The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple

Malcolm Barber

The rise and fall of red-crossed Knights Templar crusaders. The origins, the flourishing, the suppression and the afterlife. “The Order of the Temple, founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims around Jerusalem, developed into one of the most influential corporations in the medieval world. It has retained its hold on the modern imagination, thanks to the dramatic events of the Templars’ trial and abolition 200 years later, and has been invoked in historical mysteries from Masonic conspiracy to the survival of the Turin shroud.” GR

Publisher: Cambridge University
Paperback: 441 pages

The Occult Underground

James Webb

“Just when it seemed that Science and Reason had scored their greatest triumphs, the mid-19th century witnessed an astonishing rebirth of occultism and anti-rationalism… A secret tradition of knowledge rejected by the Christian or scientific establishments suddenly became emboldened to seek publicity and converts. Webb’s painstaking researches carry him into the undergrowth inhabited by such illuminated personages as Mme. Blavatsky, the Rev. Leadbeater, the Brotherhood of Luxor, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti, Swami Vivekenanda, Spiritualists, Rosicrucians, Vegetarians, Mithraic cults, and all manner of occult propagandists.”

Publisher: Open Court
Paperback: 535 pages

Oriental Magic

Idries Shah

Noted Afghani Sufi scholar Shah investigates magical rituals and beliefs in the East. Includes Jewish, Iranian, Arabian, Indian and Egyptian Magic; the occult in Babylonia; Ju-ju Land of the Twin Niles; the fakirs and their doctrines; wonder-workers of Tibet; Indian Alchemy today, legends of the sorcerers and more.

Publisher: Octagon
Hardback: 206 pages

Our Pagan Christmas

R.J. Condon

Published by the American Atheist Press, this pamphlet traces the origins of Christmas back to its original pagan roots. Yes, the word Christmas, is, of course, Christian, but it was unknown until the 11th century! Many unknown facts are revealed for the edification of the reader, along with a number of illustrations. JB

Publisher: American Atheist
Pamphlet: 20 pages

The Pagan Book of Days: A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions and Sacred Days of the Year

Nigel Pennick

What is a favorable time for divination by fire? On which days can I expect the portals of the underworld to open? Written by a native practitioner of East Anglican pagan traditions, this calendar focuses primarily on classical and northern European earth religions, but also includes significant dates from Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian, Jewish, and medieval Christian cultures. Tracks dates from the Celtic tree calendar, “Goddess Days” of the moon, medieval “stations of the year,” significant birthdays, as well as runic and zodiacal highlights. Beyond the calendar there are brief essays on folklore surrounding the days of the week, and months, the celestial and tidal movements, as well as some interesting remarks on the syncretism of pagan and Christian celebrations. Lavishly illustrated with etchings, woodcuts, petroglyphs, etc. RA

Publisher: Destiny
Paperback: 160 pages