Joscelyn Godwin on The Secret Teachers of the Western World

I have to share this warm and encouraging endorsement of my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World from the veteran esoteric historian Joscelyn Godwin. Joscelyn is the author of numerous very readable, thoroughly researched and intellectually stimulating books on a variety of esoteric topics, from The Theosophical Enlightenment and Arktos: The Polar Myth to Music, Mysticism, and Magic and my own favorite, The Golden Thread. We have corresponded over the years and Joscelyn’s advice has always been helpful. Many thanks for this generous appraisal!


Of all the surveys of the Western Esoteric Tradition, this is the most readable. Like a Colin Wilson for the new century, Gary Lachman has universal curiosity and a generosity towards every character, on many of whom he has already written books. He believes in the vital importance of the subject, but thankfully does not play favorites, nor impose an academic theory. His guiding thread through the tangle of teachings is the holistic consciousness that was once the human birthright. Those familiar with this field will enjoy a fresh-minded walk through it; those new to it may be spurred to a lifetime’s quest. –Joscelyn Godwin

5 thoughts on “Joscelyn Godwin on The Secret Teachers of the Western World

  1. Hi, Gary.

    I recently purchased Secret Teachers, and am looking forward to reading it. In many ways, it strikes me as an update of and “companion piece” to my favorite book of yours, A Secret History of Consciousness.

    I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. First, what is your view of Austin Osman Spare and the Chaos magic group? I don’t recall your ever mentioning them. They fall within your ambit, I think, because of their preoccupation with “gnosis”. Spare would be a worthy subject of a separate monograph, I think.

    Second, during your years in New York City and involvement with the Fourth Way, did you ever meet Robert Fripp, and, if so, what was your impression? If you have mentioned this in another of your publications, then of course feel free to refer me to it, in lieu of a reply here.

    Best wishes for the new year, and hope to see/hear you speak in NYC soon.

    1. Hello Kevin. I did contribute to a collection of essays about Austin Osman Spare a few years back, Refractions, which came out of the Spare exhibition Fallen Visionary at the Cuming Museum in London in 2010. My contribution was based on a talk I gave about Spare use of hypnagogia, the strange state of consciousness in between sleeping and waking, in his work. I should also mention that Phil Baker, who wrote a biography of Spare, is a friend. I have to admit I haven’t looked into chaoas magick that much, although I did review a book about it some years ago. I hope you like my Secret Teachers. All the best, Gary

      1. That’s great that you’re friends with Phil Baker. I’ve read his biography of Spare, and it is the best thing by far I’ve read on him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s