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BeetleMilk's Top Favorite Occult Reference Books (In No Particular Order)
We've all been there, little homie.
You're coming into your own as a Seeker, trying to unravel the most ancient of Mysteries. You're ready to learn about the Occult and see if any of those belief systems line up with your own unique beliefs.
I feel you. There's so much info out there, but YouTube, which is arguably light on true Occult classes or philosophers, isn't doing it for you. You need materials, real materials.
I've got you covered. However, before we go into this list, I do have to offer the disclaimer that every journey is different. The thoughts and ideas that attract you might be different from mine, just as in mainstream religion or politics, and that's fine. These books I'm listing here have helped me in my own ongoing quest for knowledge, and might help you. Others might as well - this world, of the ancient Mysteries and even more contemporary belief systems, is vast, and the materials available to you on any given subject are vast. With that said, consider this a primer.
1. The Holy Bible (and the Apocrypha, for extra credit) - I know what you're thinking. "Pope, everyone knows about the Bible. Many of us are taught about it from the time we're born." Be that as it may, although we all know about the Bible, not many people have read the Bible. I'm talking about sitting down and reading it cover to cover. The Bible overlaps significantly with the Occult. There are many examples of divination (John the Baptist foreseeing Jesus' arrival), sacrifice (Abraham and Issac comes to mind), Alchemy and Necromancy (Jesus did both), and other occult ideas such as demonology (Lilith in the Apocrypha). In the same breath, the Bible also denounces these practices, in keeping with their attempted extermination of Paganism when Constantine converted. Any true Occult education starts with the Bible, and I'll die on this hill. This isn't to say that the Bible is an Occult book, however. Occult means hidden, and this book sure as shit isn't hidden, at least in our modern age. If you go buy a Bible, buy a nice one. Bibles are usually bound very well and intended for years of study, so it really looks great on the shelf, as well as being invaluable insight into the thought processes of ancient people.
2. The Lesser Key of Solomon (Or, the Ars Goetia), by Aleister Crowley and Others - This isn't so much a "Snuggle into a nice blankie and read for hours" type book. It's a reference book on demonology, and part of a larger series that also focuses on angels. In it, you will find references to nearly every "non-fictional" demon you've ever heard of, exempting Baphomet. This book was thrown into the spotlight recently with the release of the film "Hereditary", which was based on the idea of the demon Paimon trying to bring himself to Earth. Paimon is a very real demon referenced in numerous Occult books, so it was surprising to see them pull from that pool of knowledge. The book also outlines how to summon these entities, something I do not recommend unless in the presence of an Adept. And no, I've never tried because fuck that on every level, but hit up Reddit and you can find many accounts of people who claim they have. As you don't piss into the wind, also be cautious with these forces.
3. The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall - This absolute UNIT of a book is a great place to start on many subjects. Manly wrote this book in his twenties, pulling from Occult Texts in numerous libraries across America. It goes into Hermetics, the Tarot, philosophy, and a million other subjects. It's a dense read, but worthwhile (Mitch Horowitz also has a companion book that condenses and updates the info). Hell, I'm still working on it myself. But for many people, it's considered the de facto ultimate reference on the occult. It's clear to see why. Almost every sentence can be researched individually.
4. The Spiritual Athiest's Guide to Mystical Experiences (and how to have them), by Soren Sorensen - Soren is a nice guy. I've had the honor of talking to him on a few occasions, and he was kind enough to send me his books after we talked. That's not why he's on this list, though. He's on this list because this book in particular is a gem. Soren takes the tact of a Seeker who doesn't really label any "god". Can people like that still have mystical experiences? Of course. The laws and energies that cause this are universal. Not only do I really dig this angle, but a lot of his method is a great guide for mental health. Meditation, forgiving those who have wronged you... Soren hits on it all and does it well. This book isn't so much Occult (although he knows that stuff) as it is a focus on transcending your own self using principles from Hermetics and New Age Thought (Which borrowed from Hermetics, but still). Read it. Soren did not ask me for this plug, but check out more info on him and his work at www.SorenSorensen.com.
5. The Satanic Bible, by Anton LaVey - There are two distinct flavors of Satanism, and I think both deserve to be explored and understood. Especially today, when you hear talk of "Satanic Cabals that sacrifice kids and control the world". What they are referring to, erroneously, is Luciferianism, or theistic Satanism. I don't believe any of that for a minute, even when dealing with theistic Satanists, but it drives my point home on the point of education. The Satanic Bible delves into atheistic Satanism. Essentially, Satan isn't a real being but a construct, a straw man to blame the world's ills on. I dig this interpretation because Satanism is all about your own power. Similar to Soren's book, the idea is for you to take the steps for your own health and happiness, as opposed to waiting for a God to do it for you. LaVey had a much harder edge, though, and his book is often violent, but if you look at the overall picture, it makes sense. You are your own best God. I'm here for it, and consider this book essential reading - even for non-Satanists or people with no interest in becoming Satanists. Especially Christians, who can have some of their views challenged very well by LaVey. He isn't going to convert anyone, but thinking on these subjects never hurts.
6. The Demonology of King James (By King James I), and the Malleus Malificarum (by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger) - I lumped these two together because they serve basically the same purpose. King James is the King James I of Scotland, and later, England. As in The King James Bible. When he wasn't curating Bibles, James was an incredibly superstitious man. I've heard a few different stories on how exactly he went from somebody interested in witches and the Occult to an outright zealot, but the general idea seems to be that somebody told him that his wife would be killed by witches, and then there was a storm on the ocean that took her life (The person that predicted this was executed). This book is one of the results, but the other was a persecution of witches that tore throughout England and Europe and set the stage for the American version, which we all know from the events in Salem, Massachusetts. Similarly, The Malleus Malificarum (Better known today as "The Witch Hammer"), laid out for audiences exactly what a witch was, what their crime was (Heresy, basically), and exactly how to defeat (Read: torture, maim, and eventually kill) them. While much of James' book was theory, presented as a conversation, Malleus was a guidebook. Both of them are brutal, feature some of the absolute worst ideas on the subject for their time, and directly contributed to thousands of deaths. The reason it is on this list is for a few reasons. Firstly, the witch hunts are a masterclass in mass hysteria. It also happened in the '40's with communism. Secondly, these books informed many of the perceptions of those we call witches even to this day, and understanding historical precedent can be helpful. Lastly, there have been theories put forth that some of the people executed were, in fact, practicing witches. If that's the case then some of the info would be helpful for modern practice. With all of that said, avoid if you have a weak stomach.
7. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, by Rossel Hope Robbins - This is my go - to when researching new designs for BeetleMilk. The focus is more on witchcraft (Which is often tied in with demonology due to the idea that witches derived their powers from demonic forces), but it is still an essential reference. As the title states, it is an encyclopedia, so you can look up entries as you see fit. I like to flip to a random page to get started on some interesting subject, and do outside research if I want to delve in further.
Alright! That's it for today! There are more books I could go into, but this blog is already getting hella long, so I'm going to cut it off here and pick it back up in a future blog. The world of Occult books is virtually endless, and there is so much to get into! For example, go to Archive.org and type in "demon", then sort by text (I did it for you at the link). The sheer amount of writings on the subject from the 1800's on is just insane. There's a lot out there for you to find, and please accept my hope that you find the answers that you seek. Next week, I'm going to go into my top favorite movies that delve into Occult subjects. You know, to lighten the mood. See you then!