I’ve recently heard from Javier Sierra, author of the bestselling The Secret Supper, that the Spanish edition of Politics and the Occult will be released in May. Javier is responsible for having the book come out with Planeta, and for arranging for me to take part in the International Symposium for Occulture that will take place in Madrid and Leon in October. I’ve been reading Javier’s latest work, The Master of the Prado, about the hidden influence of occult ideas on much of western art, and am finding it fascinating. Oddly enough, I’ve also recently heard that the Spanish edition of The Caretakers of the Cosmos has also just come out, with IAO Arte Editorial. With Ediciones Atalanta publishing Spanish editions of my Rudolf Steiner and A Secret History of Consciousness, it looks like I am fairly well represented in the Spanish speaking world.
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 Steiner, The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus, and The Caretakers of the Cosmos. The 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.
Here is a review of The Secret Teachers of the Western World from the Library Journal:
Lachman (Evolution of Consciousness, California Inst. of Integral Studies; Politics of the Occult) presents this work as “a serious study of our ‘rejected knowledge’ and an engagement with some of the people pursuing it today” and successfully achieves his first goal of a scholarly study of the “rejected” knowledge of the Western esoteric tradition. This comprehensive history engagingly traces a way of thinking and living that was often at the margins of accepted Western society. While it would be easy to sensationalize such a past, Lachman deftly navigates between the extremes of presenting a unified “conspiracy” behind hermeticism and a polemical attack on its opponents. It is an academic work, not a practitioner’s guide, which ranges from discussions on Plato to Carl Jung and onto the New Age as well as current explorations in alternative spiritual traditions. Lachman further briefly considers important mystics from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions who informed the esoteric tradition. VERDICT This solid introduction to occult and esoteric history provides a sensible foundation for any reader who finds appeal in the current interest in participatory spirituality as distinct from simply holding specific religious beliefs.—Daniel Wigner, South Plains Coll., Lubbock, TX
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
Here’s a link to an interview I did recently with Chris Flisher at his Turning the Wheel website. We discuss some of the basic ideas of my new book, The Secret Teachers of the Western World, how the history of western consciousness has been informed by an often fierce rivalry between the two sides of the brain and what this has meant for the western esoteric tradition. Chris brings in the cosmic aspect, but I try to keep the conversation focussed on what is going on inside our heads and what this might mean for our future.
And if anyone feels inspired to disagree with the first review of the book on amazon, I won’t stop you. Evidently the reader was expecting something different.
And not to forget: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
I’ve uploaded an essay, “Mystical Experience and the Evolution of Consciousness: 21st Century Gnosis” to the Academia.edu website, where you can download it. It’s the text to a talk I gave at the 2014 Engelsberg Seminar held in Avesta, Sweden. Other contributors included Elaine Pagels, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Marco Pasi, and A. N. Wilson, to mention a few. The seminars are presented by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, a wonderfully open-minded philanthropic establishment.
The talk links recent developments in split-brain research with the experience of gnosis and the evolution of consciousness. It presents more or less the basic idea that I develop at greater length in The Secret Teachers of the Western World.