It’s impossible to dive into horror without at some point crossing into occult territory. God, the devil, angels, demons, ceremonial magick, pagan rituals—the eternal fight of good vs. evil—it’s all linked together with a history as long as mankind, and more diverse than you can imagine. Intertwined with religion and spirituality, the occult forms the basis of how we interact with the supernatural realms. With every variation of religion, there’s typically a corresponding occult culture that matches it step by step, sometimes at polar opposites, other times walking directly beside it. Though there have been many scholars through the years that have written extensively on the subject, perhaps none have followed the trail down the rabbit hole as thoroughly as Colin Wilson.
With his massive reference guide, The Occult, Wilson attempts a pragmatic approach to the subject, viewing it from a scientific yet philosophical angle while acknowledging some phenomena cannot be so easily explained by science. It’s hard to determine if he was a full believer based on his works, though it appears that may have been the case, especially concerning his infatuation with psychic mediums such as Uri Geller, who often came under fire as a fraud for not being to display his abilities under strict research conditions. Believer or not, Wilson expressed a fascination for the subject that allowed him to explore it in detail, giving us one of the most comprehensive books on the occult, still read and revered today.
Taking us through history, Wilson dives deep into the origins of magic, and he does all of this without boggling your mind with heavy scientific jargon. Magic and the occult is the exploration of man’s latent talents, something we all possess, just some of us are more aware of it than others. Broken into three parts, the book explores how the occult shapes us today, the history of magic through the ages, including our preoccupation with the Beast Himself, then ventures into Witchcraft and Lycanthropy, Spirits, and other physic phenomenon.
Over 700 pages of pure occult study, written in Wilson’s easy to read prose, with tons of horror story prompts at your disposal … what else could you want?
Author of other classics as The Outsider, Beyond the Occult, as well as fiction such as Ritual in the Dark, The Mind Parasites, and The Space Vampires (loosely adapted by Tobe Hooper as Lifeforce), Wilson’s career displays a deep knowledge of the world, both known and unknown, informed by years of study as well as psychological reflection, which makes his work personal and intimate without coming off as preachy or overbearing. Though The Occult was written nearly fifty years ago and may seem to be a little far-fetched and dated by today’s standards, it remains one the most comprehensive and accessible guides for the paranormal available today, making it a must have for writers and fans of horror and the supernatural.
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