Merry Christmas: New Books for a New Year

I’m sure you all have much better things to do today than to read this, but when you get a chance I’d like to mention that I’ve just finished my twentieth book. It’s called The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination and it will be published by Floris Books in spring 2017. Floris publishes three of my books in the UK:  Rudolf SteinerThe Quest for Hermes Trismegistus, and The Caretakers of the CosmosThe Lost Knowledge of the Imagination develops an idea that runs throughout The Secret Teachers of the Western World, namely that the imagination is not, as we tend to believe it is, a means of evading reality and of entering a world of ‘make believe’, but a faculty first and foremost of knowing and influencing reality. I try to bring this message across by looking at the work of Goethe, Owen Barfield, Henry Corbin, Kathleen Raine, Ernst Junger, and others who understood that the imagination is a unique faculty we possess that enables us to reach ‘inside’ reality and know it from within. I will post an excerpt as we get closer to the publication date.

I’ve also just received a commission from my US publisher, Tarcher Penguin, now Tarcher Perigee, for Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump. The book will look at the influence ‘mental science’ and ‘positive thinking’ has had on Trump’s rise to power, and will explore the links between the new ‘alt.right’ movement within the political far right and the political philosophy of the Italian esotericist Julius Evola. I will also look at the influence Alexandr Dugin, a radical political theorist influenced by Evola, ‘chaos magick’ and Martin Heidegger,has on the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In different ways both Trump and Putin seek to destabilize the west and reshape the political and economic map of Europe. With this in mind I will look at the possible connection – if any – between the European Union and a strange political philosophy that began in the late nineteenth century and according to some reports had a hidden but effective influence on European politics. This is what is known as Synarchy, the complete opposite of anarchy. Anarchy means no government; Synarchy means total government. I write about Synarchy in Politics and the Occult  and Dark Star Rising will pick up my account of the occult influence on modern politics from where I left it in 2008.

And speaking of Politics and the Occult, I’ve recently heard from Javier Sierra, author of the bestselling  The Secret Supper that the Spanish publisher Planeta has bought the translation rights to that book! I’ve learned that Javier is a reader of my books, and he is sending me a copy of his latest, The Master of the Prado, which I look forward to reading in the new year.

And let me say a very big Thank You to the people who make writing a worthwhile, even necessary occupation: You. The Secret Teachers of the Western World has done very well in the year it has been out. Not a bestseller, but a decent one and a book, I hope, that people will go to if they want to get a good idea of the esoteric history of the west. And I have to thank my editor Mitch Horowitz, author of One Simple Idea and other books, for taking a chance on Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, a book that is very important to me and which it was an honor and pleasure to write. All the best for the time ahead.

35 thoughts on “Merry Christmas: New Books for a New Year

  1. Hey Gary,
    I have recently bought — and enjoying — your book: The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus.
    It sounds like your new book will be on my wish list too.
    Is there going to be anyway to preorder the book?

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Once the books are up on amazon, you can pre-order them. The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination I imagine will be pre-orderable – to coin a barbaric term – sometime in Spring. Best, G.

  2. Gary,
    I am currently reading “The Secret Teachers of the Western World” (asked for it as a Christmas present). What a great book! Reading this book has helped me change my outlook on the world. Thank you for writing it. Look forward to reading much more of your work.

    Happy New Year from Central New York !

  3. Looks promising! I think you should check out Adam Curtis documentaries especially the latest called hyper normalisation which covers a lot of the Putin and trump thing and hats behind it
    His other documentaries are just as good and give a good overview of the modern world and situation
    Also would suggest looking into Neville Godard ,there’s a lot of his stuff on YouTube also the audioenlightenment audio book channel and resource on YouTube is worth a look for all the new thought stuff
    Been reading Ernest Holmes creative mind and other books which are free to download science of mind etc
    Also Robert Colliers secret of the ages
    All that new thought ,imagination creates reality stuff is riveting
    Been reading the secret teachers and it’s just what I’ve been looking for..great work
    Good to see someone on a similar wavelength or sympathy with all this stuff, my own book ideas on similar to your work
    Anyway looking forward to going deeper down the rabbit hole with all this, your work is great!
    Hope it goes From strength to strength
    Onward and upward with your magnum opus!
    Also been reading Dave fidelers restoring the soul of the world which is very similar to your work,also don’t know if you’ve got secret history of the world by Jonathan black in a similar vein
    Anyway have a good new year and looking forward, thanks for your great work!

  4. Gary,

    I am just getting into BEYOND THE ROBOT, and I can’t thank you enough for it and your continued work. It is such a pleasure to see that the same passion for real-life, practical, spiritual knowledge and empathy with those who can’t empathize with “trivialities” is being kept alive past Colin Wilson’s lifetime. It is truly a rare and precious find.

    I also read THE SECRET TEACHERS OF THE WESTERN WORLD a while back, and though I regret that I can’t summarize or retain everything about it that I appreciated, I wanted to also thank you for such an expansive, insightful, and informative work. It also recommended to me the fascinating A SUGGESTIVE INQUIRY INTO THE HERMETIC MYSTERY work, which I’ve already tried valiantly to tackle at least twice.

    What I value you most in your work, as well as Colin’s, is the sense of a writer who has actual experiential knowledge of what they’re writing, and a desire to put it into practice, in the same way as the Fourth Way or Theosophical texts did of the early 20th century. As Gurdjieff would have described it: a result in expansion of both knowledge and being simultaneously.

    So, thank you for your continued efforts and I look forward to reading much more of your writing in the coming year!


    1. Dear Alex, many thanks for your message. What can I say except that I am very happy that you are enjoying my work? I’m aiming to reach people like yourself, who grasp the need for both a theoretical and practical understanding of these ideas. And I am flattered that you feel I am carrying on Colin Wilson’s work. That is more than a compliment. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but its a brief account of my time in the Gurdjieff work many years ago. All the best and keep in touch, Gary

      1. Gary,

        Thank you very much for your reply and for sharing with me that article. I would say that I agree with much of your impression of the “work”, and have had my own concerns with it, though I have not been a part of any official group.

        I actually found myself feeling very pessimistic after years of reading and attempting to assimilate Gurdjieff’s ideas, and it was only after reading Colin’s biography of Gurdjieff that it occurred to me that G’s declaration that everyone is acting mechanically and no one can “do” anything is more rhetorical than literal. I see it as the same motivation he detailed to Ouspensky when asked about reincarnation (what Ouspensky called reoccurence) and he told him it did happen, but he wouldn’t tell that to students because then they wouldn’t work so hard if they knew that they had more lifetimes with which to work. So it seems likely that he would tell his student’s all their actions were mechanical because if he said “most actions are mechanical” it would give them leave to make excuses (utilize buffers, perhaps) to label a mechanical action conscious and thereby lead themselves astray. Realizing this may not have helped me “awaken” myself as much, but at least it’s made me less pessimistic about existence.

        Of course his optimism is another reason why I was so pleased to come across Colin only a couple years ago through a combination of the Fourth Way and Lovecraft. I also have not yet read his (or your) biography of Ouspensky, which I intend to do as I find myself drawn more to his writings and personality than Gurdjieff’s.

        I am definitely going to be keeping up with your work, and filling in the blanks in my Colin reading, and I find it helps my outlook to know that there are still people living and working at such a caliber as it gives me hope for future generations. Seeing as how my favorite musicians are Bowie and Cohen, I can use some continued good news for 2017!


  5. Dear Gary,

    I’ve read a number of your books now and wanted to say thank you. Your writing has been thought provoking and inspirational for me. I started off with Secret Teachers last year and rapidly worked my way through the rest–still a few more to go until I’m fully up to speed, but getting there.

    I’ve been inspired to revisit some “spiritual” articles that I wrote a few years ago and trying to build up the courage now to get them published. I feel like that’s the hardest part… so I’m reading more of your books to put it off.

    I know you do talks and lectures but wondered if you had any plans to promote your new book at literature festivals ? I live in Ilkley which has a Literature Festival in October each year. I helped out with it last year and know that their programme of authors is still to be set for 2017. They seem to have all subjects covered except spiritual/esoteric- I think they’ve clearly missed a trick there so I suggested to them that you would be a fantastic addition to their programme. Not sure if you would be interested in this at all but here’s the link just in case

    Looking forward to reading your next book.Kind regards,

    1. Dear Adele, thank you for your message. I’d be happy to hear more about the Ilkley festival. I did the Oxford Literary Festival some years ago. I’d be happy to speak if the arrangements can suit. Good luck with getting your articles together. Its true, it is a hard step to take, but its the one that makes possible all the others. Cheers, Gary

      1. Dear Gary, thank you for responding and for your words of encouragement for my own writing. Yes, it does feel like a leap of faith but I will give it a go this year.
        So pleased to hear you’d be happy to find out more about Ilkley Festival. I will certainly let the organisers know that you might be interested. I’m not sure how they set up their programme for the year- is it best to reach you through your website or do you have another preferred contact method for arranging events? All the best, Adele

  6. Gary – I have read 8 of your books and I am currently reading your book on Colin Wilson which I want to say is your best in my humble opinion; yet the description of your new book seems even better and I will look forward to it. What interests me so much about Colin Wilson is that he was an existential optimist which seems as if it is an oxymoron. Although I avidly read Heidegger in my youth, I found Sartre’s Nausea to be deeply disturbing. Hermann Hesse and William Blake were my University idols. I have been researching a book for years based upon the premise that Imagination and not Feeling should have been the fourth cardinal direction of Jung’s quaternary of personality. Thinking, Sensing, Intuiting, Imagining seem more relevant to me as four ways of Knowing the world and ourselves. Emotion accompanies us in each and every one of these. Jung’s Active Imagination for me is much more than a therapeutic technique. And so I look forward to your new book. Your writing style is accessible and readable and yet you delve into the most esoteric philosophy. I often feel as if we are conversing over coffee. I was born in 1950 in Paterson, NJ and so perhaps we are of the same generation, the same terroir as the winemakers say. I thank you for your wonderful books, so necessary in this time of cognitive dissonance and existential despair. Colin Wilson’s story and his optimism are heartening and motivating. I look forward with great enthusiasm to your upcoming book on the Imagination! Keep writing! Raymond Harrison

    1. Dear Raymond, thanks for your message. I was born in Bayonne, NJ, in 1955 so we are more or less in the same ball park. I liked your remarks about Jung and I think replacing Feeling with Imagination in his four functions is a brilliant idea. I think Jung had a somewhat contradictory relationship with the imagination; in one sense he based his life’s work on it, but in another he was distrustful of it, especially in its relationship to art, with which he struggled. I look forward to any comments you might have on the CW book. All the best, Gary

  7. Gary – There is so much to say about your book on Colin Wilson. Perhaps because we are only two days before the inauguration of the quintessential ‘Right Man’, this quotation seems a biographical description of the president-elect: “A type of person…who under no circumstances can accept that he is wrong. His need for self-esteem is so great and his grasp of it is so tenuous that the slightest contradiction sends him into a rage. His belief in the absolute correctness of all of his actions is so unshakable – like the pope, he enjoys infallibility – that he treats any question of it as a personal betrayal.” (p. 223) A few pages earlier you write that “in essence there is no difference between our vision of the outer world and that of our inner one.” I would say that there is no difference between the Consciousness that sees the outer world and the Consciousness that sees the inner one. And on the prior page you write “that what we take as the external world originates in us.” I would say that both we and the external world originate within Consciousness itself; not our egoic and individual consciousness but the pure essential Consciousness that resides ‘behind’ our persona. This of course is an old idea. In the West we like to think that consciousness arises from matter, while in the Eastern traditions it is precisely the reverse: matter arises from Consciousness. I favor the Eastern view. I could write a book of responses to this book that would be equal in length to your wonderful book. I think it is much more than just an intellectual biography of the ideas of Colin Wilson. Raymond Harrison

    1. Raymond, thank you these insightful remarks. Yes, we seem to have elected a Right Man – or maybe an ‘alt.right’ one, given the fondness the new, fashionable far righters seem to have for him. I have to say I was stunned when he won and now find it hard to really believe that he is in the White House. On a higher note, I agree that consciousness is primary, and what we call ‘matter’ a product of it. The book I’m researching now will be about how ‘magical’ or ‘occult’ ideas about the ability of consciousness to ‘reach out’ and alter the external world directly, are informing political developments like what we are seeing taking place in the states. Hang in there and keep your head. Gary

      1. Gary – Thank you for your gracious response and for your excellent writing. You mention Leonard Shlain in your book and I wanted to share a passage from his wonderful book on Leonardo DaVinci, Leonardo’s Brain. You speak several times in your book about the more holistic ‘bird’s-eye view’. Shlain proposes that Leonardo had the capacity for ‘remote viewing’. He bases this assertion upon the evidence of cartographic drawings of towns and alpine mountain landscapes which Leonardo drew to exacting detail. Here is the passage: “Biographers fall into the trap of repeating each other’s descriptions of this magnificent aerial map as a ‘bird’s-eye view. The altitude at which he drew this map exceeds 6,000 feet, or more than a mile. No bird flies at this height. Later, Leonardo made maps of areas from much higher altitudes. He re-created the topographical features of the landscape of northern Italy with stunning accuracy; no one would see maps like this again until satellites beamed back high-definition photographs five hundred years later.” Perhaps this capacity to ascend along the vertical axis is related to and also accounts for the rise above the body in near death experiences, the ascension into heaven in Christian sacred writings, and the journeying into the upper world in shamanism. In all cases these are motions of consciousness rather than the material motions of bodies. Satellite cartography just catches up physically with what consciousness has been capable of doing for thousands of years. This would also explain how the vast archeological lines and drawings of animals in South America could have been drawn not by aliens who descended from space, but from mortals whose consciousness ascended along the vertical axis. It could also explain the misinterpretation of ascension in Christianity where it is clearly the body of Christ and not just his consciousness that vacates his tomb and ascends to heaven. It also explains why ascension to the top of a mountain peak as in Dante is considered the path to enlightenment. And it also explains why in both Greek and Tibetan mythologies mountains are mythologically always associated with the realm of the sacred. It also seems that the Egyptian pyramids apart from having been maps of the stars in the sky may also have been places of ascension; the place where heaven and earth meet. I thank you for your writing which has stimulated my thinking about many, many ideas. I look forward to you upcoming book on the Imagination! Raymond Harrison

  8. Gary – Please excuse my frequent and long messages. I have finished Beyond the Robot and also this week read Revolutionaries of the Soul. Yet tonight I began The Secret Teachers of the Western World and I am amazed with the way in which seminal books and writers for me are also central influences in your own thinking. I find this quite thrilling for there are few I know who have even heard of the existence of many of these books and yet for you these texts are essential. If I were to choose the most influential books to my thinking they would be (in the order in which I discovered them) :Eric Neumann – Origin and History of Human Consciousness and The Place of Creation; Carl Jung – Memories, Dreams, Reflections: Kathleen Raine – Defending Ancient Springs and the Inner Journey of the Poet: Leornard Schlain – Art and Physics and Leonardo’s Brain; Jean Gebser – The Ever Present Origin; Ian McGilchrist – The Master and the Emissary; David Bohm – Wholeness and the Implicate Order and On Creativity; Jeremy Naydler – The Future of the Ancient World and Temple of the Cosmos, and Owen Barfield – The Rediscovery of Meaning. There are two other authors I would place in this elite group: David Lewis-Williams – The Mind in the Cave and The Neolithic Mind; and Morris Berman’s excellent trilogy – The Reenchantment of the World, Coming to our Senses, and Wandering God. It is nothing less than thrilling for me to read your writing, not only for its insights and synthesis but also for confirmation that these books, seemingly unknown in our time, hold the keys to a greater understanding of the evolution of human consciousness. I share your explication of the esoteric as ‘rejected knowledge’ yet my own thinking and writing focuses upon the evolution of Visual Art, Literary History, Archeology, Shamanism, Mythology, and Language. I am also keenly interested in the insights of Modern Theoretical Physics and have greatly enjoyed many of David Bohm’s books as well as Werner Heisenberg’s Across the Frontiers as well as a little known book by Menas Kafatos called The Conscious Universe. There are many others but these form the corpus of my reading and research and so it was again nothing less than thrilling to find that these wonderful books also inform and stimulate your own thinking. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell William Blake affirms that “Without contraries there is no progression” and for me the complementarity of the master and the emissary, imagination and thinking, Art and Science, is essential to the further evolution of human consciousness toward omni-science. We are not as the positivists would have us believe at the end of our evolution and this is the cause of my inherent enthusiasm, optimism, and greatest hope. Thank you for your wonderful writing. Raymond Harrison

    1. There’s no need to excuse your messages Raymond. I am very glad to hear from a reader who is excited about the books and thinkers I am excited about too. I think Blake’s ‘Opposition is True Friendship’ is a key to understanding the dual/polar nature of consciousness, and I touch on some of this in The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination, which should be coming out in the UK with Floris Books in the spring. It will be available in the states as well, through Lindisfarne or Steiner Books. I have to read Shlain’s book on Leonardo – thanks for reminding me. I think much of what you are mentioning has a shared history. I mean that the history of art can tell us much about the history of consciousness, and vice versa. That was one of the ideas behind Secret Teachers, that this ‘rejected knowledge’ is in many ways rejected only on the surface, and that it enters into our story much more than we are aware of. I will have to check out the books and thinkers in your list that I haven’t got yo yet. I look forward to that. All the best, Gary

  9. Gary,
    I want to thank you so much for your work. I have finished Secret Teachers, Beyond the Robot and Jung the Mystic, and I’m very much looking forward to your new book on the imagination (as well as getting to all your other books). I was in my local bookstore last November looking for Yeats’s A Vision. A “library angel” must have been at work, because while I didn’t find that I was grabbed by the title of your latest book. Aren’t we all, isn’t our entire civilization in fact, trying to get beyond the robot? I knew nothing of Colin Wilson or your work at all, but I couldn’t put it down, and I’m so grateful that you, and Colin, have opened many doors for me. I also knew nothing of Gebser before your introduction. For many years I have been interested in Jung and Heidegger, and while Gebser is generally unknown it seems his ideas should stand as equally important. It strikes me that all three in their later years believed that our civilization is headed for catastrophe, and current events do not seem promising. You did not touch on this in Secret Teachers, but I see similarities between Heidegger’s idea of Gestell as the essence of technology and the mental-rational structure of Gebser. I’m wondering if you agree, as well as your general outlook on Heidegger. I have also been struck by the recurrence of the fourfold (Blake, Jung’s types, Heidegger’s earth/sky/mortals/gods, as well as others: what brought me to Yeats was William Irwin Thompson’s fourfold structures in At the Edge of History). Gebser adds a fifth to this, and from this is see commonality with Thomas Cole’s newly prescient The Course of Empire, which seems to be rooted in Vico. I have also been very influenced by Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies, and I believe that his thesis about the diminishing returns on complexity buttresses Gebser’s ideas about the mental-rational structure’s deficient mode. And, one last question: in your book on Jung you mention his near-death vision of flying over the Earth’s surface and seeing a black monolith. I couldn’t help seeing the connection to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Do you happen to know if Jung’s vision influenced the stargate sequence in the film? Apologies for some perhaps overly-dense questions here, and again, thank you so very much for your work. You are a wise guide to a spiritual wonderland of ideas.
    Ben Edwards

    1. Dear Ben, many thanks for your message and for your warm words about my work. I’m so glad a chance look at Beyond the Robot proved beneficial to both of us and that you are finding my other books worthwhile too. Gebser references Heidegger quite a bit in The Ever Present Origin and I think that yes, what Heidegger says about technology fits in well with Gebser’s ideas about the ‘breakdown’ of the mental rational structure. He does mention him many times in the book and I think his reservations about Heidegger’s work are the same as mine, that ultimately it strikes me as too pessimistic for my tastes. Having said that, I certainly have gained much from Heidegger’s thought on language and poetry, and I agree with George Steiner – whose short book on Heidegger is definitely worth reading – that he was one of the most profound readers of the last century. But yes, there is a lot in common between him and Jung and sadly they did agree that some kind of sudden shift was on its way. I have to say that I hope they were wrong, but current events aren’t on my side, as you point out. I read a great deal of W. I. Thompson in the 80s and 90s and recently corresponded with him a bit; The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light was a big book for me some years ago.
      I don’t know Tainter’s and Thomas Cole’s work so will have to look for it. And funnily enough, when writing about Jung’s out-of-the-body near-death experience, I did think of 2001. I’m not sure if Kubrick knew of his account but it does seem curiously similar.
      I’ll be posting more about The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination, which will be out later this year. At the moment I’m researching a book about the kind of ‘occult’ politics that have erupted with Trump and his ascendancy. The idea that his top adviser is name dropping the authoritarian esotericist Julius Evola and speaking portentously about some up-coming battle to save the Judeo-Christian west does not bode well, nor does the fact that Putin has his own esoteric adviser in the shape of the geopolitical theorist Alexsandr Dugin, who seems to be into chaos magick, Traditionalism, Russian expansion and a kind of Bolshevik fascism. But as you say, this just means that more than ever we need to wake up and get beyond the rbobot.
      All the best, Gary

  10. Thanks very much for your reply. I agree about Heidegger, which is probably why one is still left looking for more after reading him. In the end it doesn’t quite satisfy the gnostic impulse. I suppose he thought of it as “post-metaphysical” thinking, but the desire to transcend, I believe, is ultimately part of human nature (or, more specifically, a product itself of the mental rational structure). However, a part of me wonders if a desire for a more optimistic outlook is wishful thinking. My sense is that the imagination has an important role to play here, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you say about that in the next book.
    I did see the article the other day about Bannon and Julius Evola, and I was glad that through your work I knew who he was. Very, very frightening indeed. I look forward to your interpretation of the ongoing story. My hope is that your extensive knowledge and special viewpoint can ultimately reach a wider, more mainstream audience, since we so clearly need it at this moment. Thanks again.

    1. Optimism indeed is at a premium now, but I think we need to avoid the luxury of despair. Certainly it’s no time for Pollyannas. Perhaps the ‘cheerful pessimism’ that the historian Jacques Barzun – who reached 104 – is appropriate? I do think that there is enough going on around us these days to vindicate Gebser’s notion of a ‘breakdown’ of the mental-rational consciousness struture. Gebser believed – hoped – that a new integral structure would arise from this, but he knew the transition wouldn’t be a picnic. It looks like he was right. Cheers.

  11. Hello Gary,

    I recently read your article If Consciousness Is Evolving, Why Aren’t Things Getting Better? in Quest Magazine. Now via your site see news of The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination. I have a great appreciation for the imagination and am delighted to learn of this publication. What I call The Imaginarium emerges from a life-long quest of discovery and adventure. It is envisioned and being designed as a ‘real’ place dedicated to The Imagination. I’m based in CA and searching all over for a space for this project which will manifest an idea whose time has come that aligns with the work you do. I would very much enjoy sharing more details at your earliest convenience. Thanks for your time and consideration.

    Mark Riva

      1. Mark something strange is happening: every time I try to email you, it bounces back as undeliverable. But you can let me know about the Imaginarium here. I imagine other people might be interested too. Cheers.

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