Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll

How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll
How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll

When author and critic Peter Bebergal first explored his older brother’s record collection at age 11, he discovered what so many of us have found in rock and roll: magic. Riddled with occult and mystical images and ideas—from Aleister Crowley’s portrait on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the occult missive “Do what thou wilt” etched into the vinyl of Led Zeppelin III—rock music has always appealed to our unconventional and illicit cultural threads. Why have so many musicians covered their albums with occult symbols, laced lyrics with the stuff of myth and legend, and performed in the personas of gods and demons?

In SEASON OF THE WITCH: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, Peter Bebergal explores the deep and nuanced connection between rock and roll and the mysterious world of the occult. Drawing on key developmental moments in rock history, from its origins in slave song to the rise of electronic instruments in the ‘80s, Bebergal creates a rich narrative analysis of the genre and its mystical ties. The book examines the occult influence on numerous musical giants including:

  • Elvis
  • David Bowie
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Black Sabbath
  • Jay-Z


“A fascinating thesis reflecting the time when everyone seemed to give rock and roll the status of, if not a religion, then certainly that of a spiritual belief system. Peter Bebergal’s SEASON OF THE WITCH brought it all back. It’s an absorbing read deserving an important place in rock literature.”
—Michael Moorcock

“This book is a glorious headlong rush into the dark, full of the electricity of the arcane. I loved it.”
–Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine and Transmetropolitan

“From grimoires to topographic oceans, from heavy metal to hip-hop, Peter Bebergal tracks the Mysteries through half a century of popular music (and some underground noise as well). At once an overview of rock’s mystic rebellions and a handy primer on modern esoterica, Season of the Witch suggests that we may need to round out the trinity of sex, drugs, and rock’ n’ roll with an additional deity: the occult, another primal portal to a re-enchanted world.”
–Erik Davisauthor of Led Zeppelin IV and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica

“This sharply written narrative illuminates the centrality of the occult imagination at the heart of rock and roll.”
—Library Journal (starred review) 

“Told with clear-eyed scholarship and delectable anecdotes, Peter Bebergal’s mind-expanding occult history opened my third eye to Rock & Roll’s awesome power over human behavior. Rock & Roll will never sound the same to me again, and I’m glad about it.”
—Mark Frauenfelder, founder of Boing Boing

“Bebergal displays an intelligent understanding of the interaction between religion and culture when he argues that the “occult imagination is the vital force of rock-and-roll culture.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Kudos to Bebergal for taming the wily spirits of rock long enough to capture their essence in this fascinating book. Perhaps more impressive is the book’s comprehensiveness—from Delta blues to beatnik bluster to acid evangelists to metal overlords, Season of the Witch puts the hellfire in highbrow.”



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