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Teach me: Occultism

Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Reading Lovecraft and unusuccessfully trying to get my friends to play a Cthulu RPG has gotten me interested in learning about real, bonified occultism. Yeah, I'm well aware this encompasses a very broad specrum of heresies, and I'd like to ease myself in toes-first.

I'm open to any good source materials, be it tomes of e-tomes. I have a gift card to Borders so, yeah, cost is of no concern*.

*Up to $50 dollars.

Richard_Dastardly on

Posts

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »

    Should I thank you or feel insulted?

    Either way I will hex you after I read this book.

    Richard_Dastardly on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Just messing with ya. Unless you really are asking for a book on how to be a Wiccan or something, then I'm seriously making fun of you.

    What kind of reading are you looking to do? A history of occultism? A history of belief in magic? A history of religious cults? Heresies within the Catholic church? All of those are very, very broad topics in and of themselves. Or are you actually asking for a book to guide you in casting spells and cursing your parents when they make you clean your room?

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Just messing with ya. Unless you really are asking for a book on how to be a Wiccan or something, then I'm seriously making fun of you.

    What kind of reading are you looking to do? A history of occultism? A history of belief in magic? A history of religious cults? Heresies within the Catholic church? All of those are very, very broad topics in and of themselves. Or are you actually asking for a book to guide you in casting spells and cursing your parents when they make you clean your room?

    Ah. ;) I shoulda specified. No. No Wicca crap.

    I'm talking about alchemy, magic, demonology. Pretty much anything listed on the wikipedia here.. I'd like to understand the history, practices, theory, etc.

    I've looked on Google books, but a lot of the public domain stuff seems a bit thick. I'd like to ease myself in first.

    Richard_Dastardly on
  • MisterGrokMisterGrok Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Aleister Crowley. Read his stuff.

    That's probably going to be your best bet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/777_and_other_Qabalistic_writings is probably the best one to start with.

    MisterGrok on
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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Ugh. I wouldn't want to slog through Crowley, even if I was trying to sleep. I took a couple of classes on the history of science and the occult. I had to read stuff, I wouldn't recommend you do the same. That said, Crowley and Blavatsky are what you'd want to read, and 777 is the best one to start with.

    There's a big difference here between primary texts and secondary sources. I'd stick with secondary sources out of a respect for your time, and you can always pick something up later.

    The Hermetic / Theosophic traditions are what we think of as modern occultism. There are lots of strands intertwining this with renaissance and post-renaissance efforts to replace scholasticism with something else. This is best exemplified by Giordano Bruno, who is worth reading about - starting with his Wiki is a good idea. "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition" is the classic text, but "Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science" is good too.

    Reading about John Dee would be agood idea too - there are a lot of academic texts about him, like Bruno; http://www.amazon.com/John-Dees-Occultism-Exaltation-Traditions/dp/0791462234/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250524822&sr=8-8 is one example.

    The problem is that Crowley and Blavatsky have less historical impact and get less attention from real historians, so you get a mixture of books and texts that speak to new-agey types wanting enlightenment or pulp reading for the reader seeking titillation.

    kaliyama on
    fwKS7.png?1
  • FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Fantasma on
    Hear my warnings, unbelievers. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our gods. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Put down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos!
  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Crowley is a little dense, especially if you're new in the field.

    I went through a huge occultism phase awhile back, and the best book to sum up the theory of magic I've found is this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Liber-Null-Psychonaut-Introduction-Chaos/dp/0877286396

    Basically, it strips away most of the ceremony and trappings that magic has in various traditions and boils it down to the raw theory behind it. I'm only interested in the subject, I've never actually tried to exercise anything in the field, but it was far and above the most intriguing book on the subject that I've read.

    Raiden333 on
    There was a steam sig here. It's gone now.
  • Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Fantasma wrote: »
    Hi,
    Hello.

    Thanks for the ideas, people. With all your help I'll be casting METEO in no time. I promise I'll use my powers responsibly.

    Is Anton Lavey of any significance? I read the Satanic Bible when I was a teenager, but I wonder if he was maybe the Ringo of the occult world.

    Richard_Dastardly on
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Fantasma wrote: »
    Hi,
    Hello.

    Thanks for the ideas, people. With all your help I'll be casting METEO in no time. I promise I'll use my powers responsibly.

    Is Anton Lavey of any significance? I read the Satanic Bible when I was a teenager, but I wonder if he was maybe the Ringo of the occult world.

    LaVey isn't exactly a respected figure but he's no less significant than any other 'occult' figure; i.e. he also plagiarized a bunch of earlier ideas that he only half-understood and cobbled them together into a bunch of mystick gobbeldegook and then led a very sad, powerless life.

    Hachface on
  • mightyspacepopemightyspacepope Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I find the freaky monsters/entities/creatures/beings part of occultism to be the most interesting.

    Brad Steiger releases books which are essentially collected accounts of interactions with weird phenomena. This is a good start: http://www.amazon.com/Out-Dark-Complete-Beings-Beyond/dp/1575668963/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250545766&sr=8-8

    You can find more by looking around amazon a bit.

    I think John Keel posits some interesting ideas that link occultism with UFOs and other weird events. The Mothman Prophecies is a good place to start and is nothing like the movie.
    http://www.amazon.com/Mothman-Prophecies-John-Keel/dp/0765341972/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250545961&sr=8-2

    This might also be a good place to start:
    http://www.amazon.com/Book-Lies-Disinformation-Magick-Occult/dp/097139427X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250546030&sr=1-1

    mightyspacepope on
  • CreepyCreepy Tucson, AzRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Keel's closer to Fortean but still he's really good reading.

    J.G. Frazier's The Golden Bough is kind of dry but overall pretty interesting.

    Colin Wilson's The Occult was really interesting.

    Couple of years ago I read Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur and that was pretty good too.

    I'm with MSP though. The creatures/entities make for the best reading.

    Creepy on
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  • PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    If you don't mind a little dry and archaic (it was written in 1531) definitely pick up Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy (http://www.amazon.com/Three-Occult-Philosophy-Llewellyns-Sourcebook/dp/0875428320/)

    It's not exactly something you'll read straight through, but it's a great reference tool.

    PlushyCthulhu on
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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Demonlogy And Devil-Lore.

    It's circa 1879 I think? Fun stuff. I actually saw an original two volume set when I lived in Providence, RI, but it was $750.

    Esh on
  • RazielRaziel Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You guys are talking about occultism and you haven't mentioned The Lesser Key of Solomon? You know how people always die in Call of Cthulhu when they read the fucking book?

    This is the fucking book.

    Raziel on
    Read the mad blog-rantings of a manic hack writer here.

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  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    The problem with trying to learn about "the occult" in general is that it's not really a sort of organized thing. It's a whole bunch of barely-connected belief groups with all sorts of...interesting ideas.

    An entertaining free read is The Black Lodge of Santa Cruz, a sort of autobiographical account of one contemporary person's involvement with a particular occult group. This one, the OTO, combines Crowley-style occultism with Freemason traditions and a bit of Thelemic "magick" thrown in. It's a sort of Dan Brown trifecta.

    This particular account is so wonderful because it is so well-placed. When dealing with modern occultism, you're likely to get people on the spectrum from merely weird to Gene Ray Timecube-style crazy. The author here is a rare blend: both extremely coherent and also a true believer. So you get exacting practical details about rituals, beliefs, and people, combined with this sort of suspended-disbelief accounting of exactly which demons were summoned through which interdimensional portals.

    What's interesting is that the delusion is so fully integrated into ordinary, mundane life. They drive their Hondas and Toyotas up to the temple, have a Black Mass, summon a few demons and open a few portals, and then go home and make spaghetti. They might get hassled by the phone company over a late payment and then do a quick ritual to fix it up. There's also heavy helpings of interpersonal drama of the nerdy kind - the sort you find in WoW guilds, tight-knit SCA cliques, LARPing groups, and other sorts of endeavors where relationships rise and fall based entirely on fictitious events.

    DrFrylock on
  • FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Raziel wrote: »
    You guys are talking about occultism and you haven't mentioned The Lesser Key of Solomon? You know how people always die in Call of Cthulhu when they read the fucking book?

    This is the fucking book.

    I have provided links to this and other books, but if you didn't see it, here you are:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/lks/index.htm

    Fantasma on
    Hear my warnings, unbelievers. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our gods. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Put down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos!
  • Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Creepy wrote: »
    J.G. Frazier's The Golden Bough is kind of dry but overall pretty interesting.
    Reading this now on Google books. Man, Indians are dicks. What with their roadside small-pox bombs.

    Edit: +1 for casual early 20th century racism!

    Richard_Dastardly on
  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    If you like Giordano Bruno and John Dee, you should totally check out John Crowley's fiction series Aegypt. Just saying.

    Mahnmut on
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