When the mystic, occult magician, poet, and founder of the religious philosophy of Thelema, Aleister Crowley–a.k.a. “the Great Beast,” “the Wickedest Man in the World,” and “the Word of the Aeon”–died in an obscure boarding house in Hastings, England, on December 5 1947, at the age of 72, few knew he was to become one of the most enduring pop culture figures of the next hundred years.
In this definitive work on the life and legacy of the “great beast,” Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (Tarcher Books, $17.95, May 15, 2014), author Gary Lachman traces both the arc of the occultist’s strange and controversial life, and his influence on rock-and-roll giants from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, to Black Sabbath and Blondie, of which Lachman was a founding member.
Twenty years after his death, in the middle of the Swinging Sixties, Crowley was more popular than he ever was in his lifetime. In 1967, the Beatles put him on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Rolling Stones became, for a time, serious devotees, their music and image being groomed by one of Crowley’s most influential disciples, the avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger. Today, his face is practically as well known as that of Elvis, Marilyn, or Che. His libertarian philosophies informed generations of notable heavy metal groups like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Metallica, and others, while these same beliefs form the subject of scholarly theses. His image hangs in goth rock bars, occult temples, and college dorm rooms alike, and he’s turned up as a character in pop cultural environments from Batman comic books to Playstation video games.
But ALEISTER CROWLEY is more than just a biography of this continually compelling and divisive figure–it’s also a portrait of his influence on modern pop culture and rock music, from one who knows firsthand. Before he was the acclaimed religious historian behind books like MADAME BLAVATSKY and JUNG THE MYSTIC, Gary Lachman was Gary Valentine, a young New York City punk rocker who immersed himself in occult study when he wasn’t busy playing bass with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Blondie. Lachman experimented with Crowley’s life philosophies as a young man, coming to understand their allure and power–as well as how they were, ultimately, spiritual dead ends.
Decades later, as a religious scholar, Lachman returned to Crowley, fusing his own personal experiences with meticulous research and sharp-eyed cultural observation, to paint the first truly thorough portrait of one of the most famous occult figures of all time. ALEISTER CROWLEY show readers not only who “The Great Beast” was and where he came from, but also why he’s still on our minds nearly one hundred years later.
Read an excerpt HERE
Praise for ALEISTER CROWLEY:
“Clocking in at 394 pages jam-packed with in-depth information, factoids, anecdotes and insights from the first sentence to the last. A historical biography through and through, Lachman’s book is meticulously researched and it is quite easy to believe that the author, like a professor well-versed in their subject, could analyze and extrapolate at much greater lengths. The oft touted declaration of Crowley as the Wickedest Man in the World, may well have been overblown in it’s own time, but he’s certainly not an individual with whom it is easy to empathize. As detestable as he is, there is undeniable a fascination in his exploits, and Lachman seems the perfect man to deliver them.”
Welcome to Tarcher Features Week! Each day this week we will highlight one major Tarcher theme, collecting some of our favorite titles and authors for you to enjoy.
In celebration of today being Occult Day, we asked Mitch Horowitz, author and Tarcher Editor-in-Chief, to list his top ten occult classics. In addition to his terrific titles, we suggest also checking out a few of our own: Jung the Mystic, Madame Blavatsky, The Kybalion, or The Book of Love and Creation.
Contemporary Occult Classics: A Top-Ten List
By Mitch Horowitz
The term “occult” should not be seen as sinister. It is simply an English-language rendering of the Latin word occulta – meaning secret – which Renaissance scholars used to label the spiritual philosophies of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Scholars of Florence and other centers of the Renaissance were enthralled with the rediscovery of these ideas. Below is a list of ten contemporary classics in understanding the Western occult tradition.
1. The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall (1928) – This is the encyclopedia arcana of our time – it is the essential codex to myth, lore, mystery religions, and ancient symbols. Since its republication in 2003 a handy (and affordable) Tarcher/Penguin “reader’s edition” (see all his books here) the unabridged text has probably reached more readers than it did throughout the twentieth century. Strange but true fact: The esoteric scholar Hall produced this book when he was just 27 years of age.
2. Al-Kemi by Andre VandenBroeck (1987) A window into the intellectual and spiritual world of esoteric Egyptologist RA Schwaller de Lubicz, with an appreciative foreword by Saul Bellow. Posits intriguing ideas about the connections between Ancient Egyptian philosophy and the modern West – and also exposes the ethical failings of this brilliant intellect.
3. The Tarot by Robert M. Place (2005) This Tarcher/Penguin work is perhaps the sole guide to Tarot that synthesizes a comprehensive and reliable historical exploration of Tarot’s roots in the Middle Ages with an understanding of the mystical allegory of its images.
4. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972) and The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (1979) by Frances A. Yates These complementary works are probably the most authoritative books ever written on the occult mood of Europe in the late Renaissance period. Yates was a world-class historian, a tireless scholar, and a uniquely empathic observer of religious/philosophical movements. She demonstrates how occult beliefs impacted Enlightenment and Modernist viewpoints.
5. Alchemy by Titus Burckhardt (1967) A uniquely sensitive, subtle, and compact survey of the misunderstood history and ideas behind this ancient spiritual art by a scholar of religious traditions.
6. Early Mormonism and the Magic World View by D. Michael Quinn (1987) The historical scholar Quinn rigorously reveals the occult and esoteric influences on the life of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. A brave, thoughtful, and irreplaceable exploration of how occult ideas underscore many modern faiths.
7. Women of the Golden Dawn by Mary K. Greer (1994) As fast-moving a work of history as you’ll ever read, Greer’s brilliant account abounds with fascinating detail on the life and work of the women who shaped the 19th and 20th century occult culture in America and Europe
8. Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton (2000) A comprehensive and meticulous history of
the rebirth of Wiccan and neo-pagan traditions in the modern era.
9. Hidden Wisdom by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney (1999, 2006) A 360-degree survey of modern esoteric beliefs by the editors of the legendary Gnosis magazine (the most fondly missed journal on the planet). Their tone is unfailingly judicious, thoughtful, and shrewd.
10. Turn Off Your Mind by Gary Lachman (2002) Combining winning writing with historical breadth, Lachman surveys the reemergence of occult philosophies and the pre-history of the New Age in the 1960s.
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Mitch Horowitz is the author of the forthcoming One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown, Jan 2014). His previous book, Occult America (Bantam), received the 2010 PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. Mitch is vice-president and editor-in-chief at Tarcher/Penguin. He is on Twitter @MitchHorowitz; and on Facebook at Mitch Horowitz. He and his wife raise two sons in New York City.
Here at Tarcher we are proud to publish authors writing from all corners of the globe. This post is dedicated to the celebration of these international writers, and the incredible books they have brought us.
David C.M. Carter (@davidcmcarter) – United Kingdom
Currently residing in London, David C.M. Carter is the author of BREAKTHROUGH, where you can learn the secrets of the world’s leading mentor and become the best you can be. After mentoring numerous CEOs, entrepreneurs, celebrities and philanthropists, Carter has distilled his knowledge and advice into this new title, which provides practical advice on how to become a more successful and happier you. With simple, easy-to-action tips in every chapter, BREAKTHROUGH helps you envision goals, achieve them, and ultimately realize your best self.
Derek Lin – Taiwan
Derek Lin was born in Taiwan, and uses his background of fluency in both Chinese and English to bring Eastern teachings to a Western audience. In THE TAO OF JOY EVERYDAY: 365 Days of Tao Living, Derek Lin provides a simple, manageable way to practice the teachings of the Tao on a daily basis. With a Taoist lesson on each page, The Tao of Joy Every Day makes it easy to open yourself to spiritual enlightenment.
Bikram Choudhury (@BikramC_LAHQ) – India
Bikram Choudhury is an Indian yoga guru, best known as the the founder of Bikram Yoga, a form of hot yoga performed in a series of 26 hatha yoga postures performed in an environment upwards of 105 degrees Fahrenheit. He is the author of BIKRAM’S BEGINNING YOGA CLASS, which contains suggestions for maintaining proper yoga practice, a section on the medical benefits of yoga, notes from Bikram’s students, and a good dose of Bikram humor and philosophy.
Barry Eaton – Australia
Most widely known as an Australian TV and radio personality, Barry Eaton discovered that the universe had different plans for him. While studying astrology, Eaton was led to develop his psychic and clairvoyant skills. In his new book, AFTERLIFE: Uncovering the Secrets of Life After Death Eaton discusses his own contact with the spirit world, his many interviews with people who have had Near Death Experiences (NDEs) as well as what he has learned through his experience as a medium.
Joseph Emet, heralding from Canada, is the author of BUDDHA’S BOOK OF SLEEP: Sleep Better in Seven Weeks with Mindful Meditation, recent recipient of the COVR Best Book of the Year award. This new title is the first book to treat sleep disorders from the perspective of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has already proven effective for other psychological issues like stress, depression and anxiety–the very issues that cause sleep difficulties.
Order on Amazon, Barnes&Noble or Indiebound!
Gary Lachman – United Kingdom
Gary Lachman of the United Kingdom is one of the most respected authors on occult themes and a founding member of the legendary rock group Blondie!). In Jung the Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings, Lachman assesses renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s life and work from the viewpoint of the Western esoteric tradition, classifying him with figures like Emmanuel Swedenborg and G.I. Gurdjieff, and examining his life-long fascination with the supernatural, otherworldly aspects of human experience.
Penelope Quest from the United Kingdom and is a highly respected Reiki author and trainer. She has published a multitude of books on the subject, most recently LIVING THE REIKI WAY: Step-by-Step Guide to Healing with Reiki teaches readers how to live with Reiki Principles in today’s chaotic society, and how these principles can help them on their personal journey to long-term happiness and contentment.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal (@DoctorNorman) – South Africa
Dr. Norman Rosenthal was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and went on to become one of America’s top psychiatrists and pioneered the study and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. His New York Times best seller TRANSCENDENCE offers a definitive case for why Transcendental Meditation (TM) works, complete with a review of the recent scientific research showing its wide-ranging health benefits. His latest book, THE GIFT OF ADVERSITY: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections explores how life’s disappointments and difficulties provide us with the lessons we need to become better, bigger, and more resilient human beings.
@RMSmithAuthorRebecca Smith () – United Kingdom
Raised in rural Surrey, Rebecca Smith is the author of MISS JANE AUSTEN’S GUIDE TO MODERN LIFE’S DILEMMAS: Answers to Your Most Burning Questions About Life, Love, Happiness (and What to Wear) from the Great Novelist Herself, and also the great-great-great-great grand niece of Jane Austen herself. This collection of advice is derived with meticulous detail from Austen’s letters, novels, and unpublished writings, and covers a wide range of pressing concerns.
Serdar Özkan (@TheMissingRose) – Turkey
Turkist novelist Serdar Özkan brings the international bestseller THE MISSING ROSE, which has been translated into 44 languages in more than 65 countries. This book tells a profound modern-day parable about love, self-discovery, and the importance of following one’s dreams.
Born in France, Jacques Vallee is venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, ufologist and former astronomer. His book, WONDERS IN THE SKY: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Time, Vallee and co-author Chris Aubeck follow the stories of real-life encounters with alien life and weave together connections that can send shivers down the spines of die-hard alien fans.
It seems like no matter where we turn these days, we’re reading about (or coming down with) the flu. Whether this season’s outbreak is of epidemic proportions is still up for debate, but one thing’s for certain: nothing is as miserable as being home sick.
Here are some books that’ll help distract you from cold sweats—and one that may help you avoid them in the future!
THE MISSING ROSE
When Diana Olivera’s mother makes a deathbed confession about a twin sister Diana never knew she had, she sets out on a journey to find her. In the process, she discovers more about herself and her dreams than she could have imagined. A tale of chance encounters, magical garden, and vibrant cityscapes, THE MISSING ROSE is a profound modern-day parable about the wisdom of the heart.
JUNG THE MYSTIC
Often called the “founding father of the New Age,” legendary Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung took great lengths to distance himself from any association with mysticism or the Occult. But in biographer Gary Lachman’s JUNG THE MYSTIC, he turns an intense focus onto these aspects of Jung’s life–his participation in seances, incorporation of astrology into his therapeutic work, and his support of ESP researcher J.B. Rhine, among other paranormal experiences.
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.
LITTLE BOOK OF ENERGY MEDICINE
Chock full of simple exercises you can perform anywhere, anytime to feel rejuvenated, happier, more alert and less anxious, this book is a user-friendly guide to one of the most powerful alternative health practices: energy medicine.
Although he is often called the “founding father of the New Age,” renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung sought to avoid any public association with mysticism or the occult for fear that his work would be discredited by his contemporaries. But Jung’s wide popularity within today’s alternative spiritual culture, and the recent release of his immensely compelling dream-inspired Red Book, have stoked a broad interest in the celebrated psychiatrist’s esoteric beliefs. Indeed, those beliefs – ranging from his inquiries into after-death survival, his interest in clairvoyance, and his theory of synchronicity – have formed the most lasting and influential core of his work, at least in the public mind .
In his bold and compact new biography, Gary Lachman–one of today’s most respected authors on occult themes (and a founding member of the legendary rock group Blondie!)–shines light on this frequently misunderstood facet of Jung’s personality and career. In Jung the Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings, Lachman assesses Jung’s life and work from the viewpoint of the Western esoteric tradition, classifying him with figures like Emmanuel Swedenborg and G.I. Gurdjieff, and examining his life-long fascination with the supernatural, otherworldly aspects of human experience. From Jung’s own near-death experiences to his incorporation of astrology into his therapeutic work, Lachman analyzes the central role that mystical ideas, practices, and experiences played in the career of the pioneering psychologist.
Revealing fascinating details of Jung’s early life, inner struggles, and human relationships, Jung the Mystic portrays a complex individual whose groundbreaking work was informed as much by his love of science as his fascination with the paranormal. Beautifully written and carefully researched, this engaging biography lays bare a critical but frequently misunderstood aspect of one of the greatest thinkers of our modern era.
Gary Lachman is one of today’s most widely read and respected writers on esoteric and occult themes. His writing has been published in national journals on philosophy, esotericism, and modern culture. His books – including Rudolf Steiner; Politics and the Occult; Turn off Your Mind; and a Secret History of Consciousness – have been published to acclaim in America and Europe. Lachman was a founding member of the pioneering rock band Blondie and in 2006, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was born in New Jersey and currently lives in London.
Read the first chapter of “Jung the Mystic” HERE.
Quest magazine called Jung the Mystic: “Outstanding… Lifts the curtain on one of the most impiortant aspects of his remarkable life… Fair and objective.”
Dell Horoscope called it: “Fascinating… Fully engaging from beginning to end.”
We have some great titles coming up this winter at Tarcher! Check out our full catalog here.
It features new authors like Moses Gates, who regales readers with tales of risky urban exploration in HIDDEN CITIES, and beloved returning authors like Jim Steinmeyer, who turns his keen investigative eye on Bram Stoker’s legendary character in WHO WAS DRACULA?
Julia Cameron also makes an appearance in our catalog with a highly anticipated paperback reprint of her most recent book THE PROSPEROUS HEART, as well as an exciting new card deck called BLESSINGS Gratitude Cards, based on her cherished prayer book of the same name.
In addition to BLESSINGS, we’re also happy to present TALK TO ME LIKE I’M SOMEONE YOU LOVE: Flashcards for Real Life, which offer the practical advice found in Nancy Dreyfus’ prized relationship book in an easy-to-use format. They make a perfect companion to the all-new revised and updated edition of TALK TO ME LIKE I’M SOMEONE YOU LOVE, also out this winter!
And, of course, no Tarcher catalog would be complete without a helpful parenting guide. This winter, we’re adding Caitlin and Andrew Friedman’s FAMILY INC: Office-Inspired Solutions for Reducing the Chaos in Your Home—and Saving Your Sanity to our list of revolutionary parenting titles. Inspired by office management, the Friedman’s teach parents how to apply business principles to help them organize and run their households as smoothly as a Fortune 500 company.
Pioneer. Visionary. Mystic. Provocateur. Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky—mystic, occult writer, child of Russian aristocrats, spiritual seeker who traveled five continents, and co-founder (with Henry Steel Olcott) of the Theosophical Society—is still being hailed as an icon and scorned as a fraud more than 120 years after her death. But despite perennial interest in her life, writings, and philosophy, no single biography has examined the controversy and legacy of this influential thinker who helped define modern alternative spirituality—until now with Gary Lachman’s Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality (Tarcher)
Gary Lachman, the acclaimed spiritual biographer behind volumes like Rudolf Steiner and Jung the Mystic, brings us an in-depth look at Blavatsky, objectively exploring her unique and singular contributions towards introducing Eastern and esoteric spiritual ideas to the West during the 19th century, as well as the controversies that continue to color the discussions of her life and work (that includes writing THE SECRET DOCTRINE–thought by many to be the most influential occult book ever written).
“The Founding Mother of Occult in America.”–Kurt Vonnegut
Read an excerpt HERE.
You can order a copy of this paperback original at
We asked Gary Lachman, author of Jung the Mystic, what inspired him to write a new biography of legendary psychologist Carl Jung
I first read Jung in my early teens, around the same time as I was reading Hermann Hesse, Tolkien, Kerouac, Alan Watts, and other counterculture icons. I found his work inspiring and the idea of “becoming who you are” – that I also encountered in Nietzsche – was a guiding light that helped me over quite a few hurdles. However, over the years, while I still found Jung an important thinker, I also became increasingly exasperated with the obscurity of his writing. He had something important to say, but he seemed to have difficulty saying it clearly. I’ve found that the best way to understand what a thinker is saying is to write a book about it, and after writing biographical studies of Rudolf Steiner, P.D. Ouspensky, and Emaunel Swedenborg – all of whom share common concerns with Jung – I thought it was time to tackle Jung. I had recently written about him in my Politics and the Occult and welcomed the chance to do a full length study.