Archive for hermeticism

The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2017 by Gary Lachman

Floris Books has posted the cover art for my new book, The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination, which is due out in October of this year. Amazon has it listed as coming out in January 2017, but this is inaccurate. I’ll be posting excerpts from the book closer to publication, but for now let me say that it is a kind of distillation of some of the main themes of The Secret Teachers of the Western World and also of Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin WilsonThe central idea is that of imagination as a cognitive faculty; that is, not as something concerned with ‘make believe’ but with a deeper perception, grasp, and understanding of reality. Oddly enough, as I was writing the book the whole question of ‘reality’ became a hot news item, with our descent into a ‘post-truth’ world make of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’. And soon after finishing it I was commissioned to do a new book about precisely that, about how ‘reality’ seems to have become peculiarly flexible and pliable these days, and subject to the influence of – the imagination. Some kind of sychronicity seems to be at work – or am I letting my imagination get the better of me? You can find out some time next year when Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump sees the light of day.

Occult Politics in Spain

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2017 by Gary Lachman

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.

Merry Christmas: New Books for a New Year

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by Gary Lachman

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.

Colin Wilson, Radio 3, the British Museum, and To the Best Of Our Knowledge

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2016 by Gary Lachman

Outsiders will have to get their skates on next week. On October 11, I’ll be talking about my new book Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking program. I’ll be speaking with the presenter Matthew Sweet and the writer Suzi Feay, both of whom are fans of Wilson’s work and things off beat in general. The next day I’ll be back in the BBC studios to record an interview for the Wisconsin based talk show To The Best Of Our Knowledge, where I’ll be speaking about Wilson, but also about my work in the history of western esotericism in general. I’m not sure at the moment exactly when that program will be broadcast, but I will post the date when I know. And on the 16th I’ll be talking about Wilson’s time sleeping on Hampstead Heath while writing his first novel Ritual in the Dark at the all-day Folk Horror event being held at the British Museum. Famously, Wilson curled up by night on the Heath in a waterproof sleeping bag , and cycled down to the British Museum in the morning, where he worked on his existential thriller, which is best described as Jack the Ripper meets the Brothers Karamazov. If there is a film to be made of one of Wilson’s’ novels, this is the one.

William Irwin Thompson on our Secret Teachers

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2016 by Gary Lachman

I hope readers will forgive me if I share the historian and cultural critic William Irwin Thompson’s remarks about my book The Secret Teachers of the Western World. In the late 1980s and early ’90s I read Thompson’s books avidly, coming to him, as many readers did, through The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light (1981), Thompson’s study of the rise of human consciousness from its earliest beginnings to the present day. After that I read whatever books of his I could find, and one of the earliest published pieces of my own writing was a review of his The American Replacement of Nature (1991) that I contributed to the Bodhi Tree Book Review, during my tenure at that well-loved but now defunct bookshop. In any case, here’s what he had to say:

“It is no mean feat to make good sense of the Arcana and to cast light on the occult, but Lachman has pulled it off with this most engaging book. THE SECRET TEACHERS OF THE WESTERN WORLD is a very ambitious undertaking most successfully completed.”

Coming from someone whose work I admire this is no small compliment.

Secret Teachers and the Science of Mind

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2016 by Gary Lachman

Here is a review of The Secret Teachers of the Western World that appeared in the March 2016 issue of Science of Mind magazine. Many thanks to Diane Bishop for sending me a copy.


“The breadth  of Gary Lachman’s book is stunning. He argues that esoteric teachers from ancient to modern times have bequeathed us values such as religious freedom and tolerance in addition to profound understandings of spiritual consciousness. The book also serves as a bracing reminder of the historical costs for holding beliefs similar to New Thought. These secret teachers often faced persecution and sometimes martyrdom. Why have these influential teachers been disowned? Lachman turns to current research on the holistic intelligence of the right brain and the rational/logical left brain for answers. At one point, humans relied primarily on the right brain — what the right-wing mystic Rene Schwaller de Lubicz called the “intelligence of the heart.” The right brain is at home with imagination, symbols (think Carl Jung) and mystical awareness of Oneness (think Meister Eckhart). With the advent of left-brain modern consciousness and rational science that believes in only what can be seen and measured, the right brain intelligence of the heart has been disowned. Lachman writes that modern esotericism and the New Age are reactions against the malaise that results from believing reality is found only in the physical world. He says the contemporary spiritual scene is a mix of the shallow sprinkled with the profound. What is needed to address our global problems is an integration of the two sides of our brain — a “Goldilocks” moment akin to the Renaissance where both science and the search for meaning were honored. In this highly recommended, accessible work, Lachman introduces us to the spiritual life of Neanderthals, shamans, Plato, Dante, Jean Gebser (who also influenced Integral theorist Ken Wilber) and many lesser known, but equally fascinating, teachers throughout history.” — HARVEY BISHOP

Jeffrey J. Kripal asks me all about our Secret Teachers

Posted in Introduction, Notebook with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2016 by Gary Lachman

I recently had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Jeffrey J. Kripal about my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World for the Reality Sandwich website. For those of you who don’t know, Jeffrey is one of the most exciting and thought provoking academic thinkers working in the ‘alternative’ milieu today; among his many books are Mutants and MysticsAuthors of the Impossible and most recently, The Super Natural, co-written with Whitley Strieber. I am flattered and honored that Jeff took the time to read and think about my book and to ask the kinds of questions writers like to answer. Here’s a link to the interview.