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


Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England

T.M. Luhrmann

“They strip off their clothes to dance pagan revelry, or don austere robes to garner ‘power’ and direct it to particular ends. Yet nearly all who profess to be magicians or witches are in every other respect normal, educated, middle-class people—scientists, teachers, computer analysts and many senior civil servants.”

Publisher: Harvard University
Paperback: 382 pages

The Phallus: Sacred Symbol of Male Creative Power

Alain Daniélou

Worship of the male member in ancient cultures, from the Hindus to the Greeks to the Celts. “The phallus is really the image of the creator in mankind, and we rediscover the worship of it at the origin of every religion.” The cult of the cock is traced from Neolithic amulets and stones still standing in Europe to the many fertility gods of world mythology. “Contempt for this sacred emblem, as well as degradation and debasement of it, pushes man from the divine reality. It provokes the anger of the gods and leads to the decline of the species!” GR

Publisher: Inner Traditions
Paperback: 128 pages

The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History

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: 288 pages

Recovery From Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse

Edited by Michael D. Langone

Having myself been deemed notorious, and occasionally despicable by one of the rather less-than-objective or deductive segments of the ignorance-aligned “vociferous minority” (I presume that’s the opposite of a silent majority, please correct me if I am wrong), I approached this tome with a decidedly voracious appetite.
My own personal crime had been to experiment “for its own sake” with the generically agreed upon dynamics of a “cult” by the simple strategy of reversal of each implicit common quality normally proposed by analysts, commentators, survivors and vested-interest right-wing (often fundamentalist Christian) “cult” groups in their profitable protestations. The research and conclusions that I later reaped from my foundation of an “anti-cult” clearly confirmed the ease with which even an existential surrealist can rapidly attract a devoted and compliant group to an admittedly sexy idea.
Unfortunately, what it demonstrated even more vividly was that being a part of, or administrating, or feeling obliged to constantly feed the group mythology is incredibly time-consuming and boring. The majority of those attracted to any “cult” or “anti-cult” are basically emotional cripples. Which is in no way a denigration, for I would insist that we are all equally crippled, and lost seeking a means to con ourselves into feeling life is innately benign and worthwhile. Equally distressing is the discovery that those who aspire to be part of any “superior” alpha or omega hierarchy are measly dullards with delusions of their own grandeur pretty much without exception.
These observations are not so surprising to most of us. Much more surprising, however, is the apparently universal conviction that the “divine” essence of the “cult” or “anti-cult,” initially followed with absolute allegiance in a highly submissive manner, comes to be perceived later by the more neurotic, devout “members” as in fact a privately inspired and unique product of their own process of spiritual and moral epiphany.
A deep confusion and psychotic resentment can build up if the original “leader” chooses to amend, adapt or in any way change and evolve the original teaching or texts of revelation and salvation. It is fanatically believed, because of the very success of its limitless integration into the personality of the devout “member,” to have become their property. Their holy mission. Their immutable and infallible philosophy of life and immortality. All self-esteem and peer-group status come to rest entirely upon the unassailable and unalterable original source.
This leaves everyone in a double-bind, only if, of course, they truly do seek after wisdom; after compassion; after creativity; after truth; after a new, improved yet individually separate identity fulfilling their most laudable and altruistic aspirations; after fun, laughter, respite and having a good time in the bargain. These real seekers after inspired religious speculation and neo-moral dialogue are confronted with an insoluble problem.
Being “in charge” is the worst nightmare possible and contradictory to any liberating and radical idea or agenda. Being “a disciple” is equally the worst nightmare possible of self-subjugation to a radical idea or agenda that by the very nature of this beast can only atrophy and stagnate by mindless repetition and the dogmatism of the weaker willed.
So you are damned if you do live the “cult” life and damned if you don’t. Everyone else outside your personal “cult” is damned too. Schisms, suicides, murders, confrontations with other “cults” ensue, and misery and existential helplessness engulf all.
Recovery From Cults could have looked at the pros and cons of all cults. Instead it simply trots out the same old, same old lists. A cult is only a cult if it has this or that specific list of attributes. All psychotherapists are either good (i.e. anti-cult) or bad (i.e., not educated in the authors’ and contributors’ rigid and inarguably correct view of the dastardly phenomenon). “Cults” are assumed to be localized aberrations. Christians are good and understand. Christian cults are not Christian cults at all and, of course, “Satanic” cults probably don’t exist, but we’ll allude to their nonexistence as much as we can to play down the vicious, sadistic, warped and foul Christian cults. You see, dogmatism and lack of self-esteem are the same monkey whatever they wear, and whilst I am sure there really are cases of indescribable, altruistic self-effacement and service to the greater good, hey, as the old joke goes:
What is the name of the “cult” where the members have to shave off their hair; give up their clothes; take a number instead of a name; be physically abused and beaten daily; suffer forced marches; have their food controlled; be trained to murder even their own family for their leader without thought or question; use a “cult” slang; be numbed with sleep deprivation and so on and so on? The U.S. Marines, of course.
None of this ambiguity or institutionalized “cultism” is addressed at all. This is, after all, a society where control is violently enforced with deep conviction by state “policing cults.” Where other more unsavory intelligence cults, or even actual cult cults are mobilized, exploited and franchised according to opportunism and the “greater GOoD.” Where even this abomination of depersonalization and sacrifice of individuality is overtly and covertly countenanced only to maintain the illusion of a “bogey-man.” A bogey-man whose nature is so apocalyptically terrible and terrorizing that suspension of disbelief and veracity of perception are voluntarily surrendered to the societal “cult.”
America is the most successful “cult” ever. It is comprised socially, politically, economically and religiously by layer upon layer of “cults.” Not surprising when one considers that the first settlers were themselves fanatical “cultists” escaping disapproval and persecution. The biggest and best “cults,” like the Mormons, the Democrats, the Jesuits, Death Row Records, Bloods and Crips, sports teams, the Nation, etc. poach members from each other, and all unify in reviling the smallest or the weirdest. Often, accessing money is paraded as proof of corruption and bad intention by rivals and newcomers. Most of them will use force, political clout, even assassination to attain and sustain their preeminence. A cult is a cult is a cult. Show me the child and I’ll show you the cultist.
So what can we conclude? No thanks to this book. Well, let’s concede: sad fucked-up lives are sad, and fucked up. Emotional cripples abound and lots of them are lonely and vulnerable to strong pseudo-parental authority. Usually parents bemoan their lost, confused and maliciously misled children, oblivious to themselves as the cause of the alienation. The ultimate, archaic “cult” of the filial family imposes its will above all else, demanding the return of those who have “accidentally” gone astray or run away. Just bear in mind, refugees flee tyranny, famine (emotional as well as literal), isolation, violence, occupation and fear.
Let everyone flee back and forth like headless chickens to join any “cult” they want, I say. It’s unavoidable. For the redundant sleeping masses there can be no life after “cults.” There can be no life outside “cults.” If they want to squabble over possessing certain people, so be it. If they can “retrieve” and “deprogram” or reprogram each other to suit their own ends, so be it. If this process is relentless, unstoppable, cruel, painful and endless for them. If the strongest win. If the omnipotent “cult” of bureaucracy and governmental control reigns supreme… What did you expect ? I have no sympathy for any of them.
For myself, I took apart a “cult” like you would take apart a model engine, to see how it worked. It was never my intention to put it back together again to make it work. My intention was a skeptical act of self-conscious rebellion so that I could detoxify my SELF of the omnipresent and oppressive “cult” pathogen. It was an abjurative act of scornful personality inoculation. A disdainful declaration of infinite and unspecific flux and the repudiation of any tainting of my character by, or experiential vulnerability to, any and all manifestations or interpretations of all possible and impossible forms of inherited “cult” systems. So there! GPO

Publisher: Norton
Paperback: 410 pages

Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and Marlowe, Johnson and Shakespeare

John S. Mebane

“You, like a judge appointed for being honorable, are the molder and maker of yourself; you may sculpt yourself into whatever shape you prefer.”—Pico della Mirandola
Positing that philosophical occultism may be read as the logical extension of Renaissance humanists’ “affirmation of the power of human beings to control both their own personalities and the world around them,” Mebane provides in-depth analyses of philosopher-magicians Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Cornelius Agrippa, each an example of how “magic became the most powerful manifestation of the growing conviction that humankind should act out its potential in the free exercise of its powers on the social and natural environment.” Because Johnson, Marlowe and Shakespeare were “thoroughly familiar with the philosophical, social and political implications of Hermetic/Kabbalistic magic, as well as with the claims of particular occult philosophers,” the later chapters examine how Dr. Faustus, The Alchemist, and The Tempest reflect each playwright’s response to the centrality of magic in both humanist thought and everyday life. Throughout, Mebane weaves a rigorous symbiosis of history, philosophy and literary criticism, offering readers an intelligent re-evaluation of the importance of the occult tradition to the thought and literature of the Renaissance. HS

Publisher: University of Nebraska
Paperback: 317 pages

Return of the Furies: An Investigation Into Recovered-Memory Therapy

Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager

The authors of this book assess the horrific costs recovered-memory therapists have heaped upon the American public in many ways: billions of dollars thrown away by the justice system, families torn apart in the most painful way possible, a loss of trust in the judicial system, an overtaxed child protective system threatened by junk science, distrust and “the most virulent and violent antisexuality the world has known since the days of Tertullian in the second century.”
Co-author Ralph Underwager first found himself intervening on behalf of an abused child when he was a Lutheran pastor in 1952. He and co-author Hollida Wakefield, both psychologists, continued to work with incest victims, but in the late ‘70s, they began to see early examples of false accusations and were often consulted as experts in court cases. In 1992, they helped to form the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
This comprehensive book answers every imaginable question about false-memory syndrome. It explains how “memories” can be implanted by therapists through hypnotherapy, guided imagery and survivor’s groups, and examines the social, legal and therapeutic milieu that has created a situation in which people accused of bizarre, unspeakable crimes bear the burden of proving themselves innocent. The authors provide accounts from retractors and lay out the devastating consequences of false accusations to the accusers and accused alike. They painstakingly examine different theories of memory and forgetting, dissect research on theories of repression and dissociation, and scrutinize such commonly used concepts as traumatic amnesia, post-traumatic stress disorder, splitting, multiple personality disorder and body memories. MH

Publisher: Open Court
Paperback: 431 pages

The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World

Gilles Kepel

“Examines religious revivalism in Islam, Christianity (both Catholicism and North American Protestantism) and Judaism. As such, it is almost unique and sorely needed. Arguing that the simultaneity of these revivals is not coincidental, Kepel suggests that they are reflections of widespread and profound disquiet with modernity… It is especially interesting to read the impressions that Kepel, a French scholar of Islam, has of Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts and others!”

Publisher: Penn State
Paperback: 215 pages

Revolt Against the Modern World

Julius Evola

“Evola’s career was many-sided: As a philosopher he belongs among the leading representatives of Italian Idealism; as a painter and poet he is counted as one of the founders of Italian Dadaism; as a cultural historian and critic of our times… he also translated Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West… as a patron of literature he was the publisher and translator of Ernst Jünger and Gustav Meyrink, whom he introduced into Italy; to some he might appear as an éminence grise in politics, for Mussolini apparently wanted to implement some of Evola’s ideas to create more freedom from the restrictions of National Socialism… many of his books testify to his understanding of alchemy and magic, and it is reported that Mussolini stood in considerable awe of Evola’s ‘magical powers.’”
“At turns prophetic and provocative, Revolt Against the Modern World outlines a profound metaphysics of history, and demonstrates how and why we have lost contact with the transcendent dimension of being… he attempts to trace in space and time the remote causes and processes that have exercised a corrosive influence on what he considers to be the higher values, ideals, beliefs and codes of conduct—the world of Tradition—that are at the foundation of Western civilization and described in the myths and sacred literature of the Indo-Europeans.”

Publisher: Inner Traditions
Hardback: 375 pages

Rhythmajik: Practical Uses of Number, Rhythm and Sound


The first complete guide to the use of number and sound—to be used with virtually any ritual or healing system, includes extensive numerological dictionaries, plus the keys needed to create a rhythm for any purpose. AK

Publisher: Temple
Paperback: 206 pages

Sacred Geometry: Symbolism and Purpose in Religious Structures

Nigel Pennick

“Geometry underlies the structure of all things—from galaxies to molecules. Despite our separation from the natural world, human beings are still bound by the laws of the universe… Sacred Geometry traces the rise and fall of this transcendent art from megalithic stone circles to Art Nouveau and reveals how buildings that conform to its timeless principles mirror the geometry of the cosmos.”

Publisher: Holmes
Paperback: 190 pages