Book Review: Occult American by Mitch Horowitz

I know I love a book when I read it at every opportunity – those few moments before I have to walk out of house in the morning to get to work, longer at night than I should because I need to get up early in the morning, if I wake up early on Saturday morning and read in bed until 11 am; those are good books. I am insanely jealous of great books. I was insanely jealous of Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I am insanely jealous of Occult America by Mitch Horowitz.

When I say “insanely jealous” I mean that I wish I had written it. The book either had such a great impact on my life, or it resonated so deeply it was as if it came out of my own subconscious mind, or it simply entertained me so much that I envied the author his or her talent. In the case of Occult America all of the above apply.

Occult America does not delve deeply into any one area the way Christine Wicker’s books do but if you are new to the entire occult genre it will give you a fair history of the occult in America and it will point you in the right direction for further study. That is why I elected to review this book first – it is the book you should read first. Even if you are already well read I can almost guarantee it will show you something you’ve never seen before maybe a personality or a connection between ideas.

His topics are so wide and varied it would be difficult to list them all but to give you a flavor, he covers such notables as Mother Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, Joseph Smith, The Masons (of course), William Morgan, Spiritualism, Andrew Jackson Davis, Franz Anton Mesmer, Henry Steel Olcott, The Eddy Brothers, Madame Blavatsky, and Victoria Woodhull to name a few.

He also devotes an entire chapter to the magnificent Ouija board. Oh and if you’d like to see and get to know Mitch a little bit click here for a vid of him speaking about the origin and use of Ouija. It’s an awesome video.

He traces the origins of the “motivational speaker” movement from Wallace Wattles to Norman Vincent Peale. You might be thinking “motivational speaking is not occult.” If you are thinking that then you might want to read Occult America.

In my opinion the techniques taught by the motivational speakers are not that different that those taught by the seasoned witches of our time. The only difference is that witches aren’t trying to put a shine on the craft so that it appeals corporate America. Aleister Crowley defined magic as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will.” By the way you can download Wattles book for free. It is public domain and it is pretty much the same material as The Secret. Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The wisest man in the history of the world would not kid you about a thing like that.

Mr. Horowitz devotes considerable coverage to a hero of mine Edgar Cayce. If you have not read Edgar’s biography There is a River by Thomas Sugrue please read it as soon as you have finished reading Occult America.

I told you I read a lot. I’m going to toss many book recommendations at you. I won’t get my feelings hurt if you can’t investigate every recommendation I make. I hope one or two will cry out to you and you won’t be able to resist. When you do read one of my recommended books, I hope that the experience will so enrich your life that, though you might never write to say so, you’ll be thinking, “Dave I am sure glad you called my attention to that book. It was a life changer.”

Finally, he traces the origins and development of the New Age Movement. All in one book and I haven’t included in this list even half of what he actually deals with in his brief but brilliant 258 pages.

The book reads like a best-selling supernatural suspense thriller but it is factual, historic, and heavily documented. If you want more information on any given subject or person he will tell you where you can find it.

I don’t believe I have conveyed the true brilliance of the book in this review and I can’t reprint excerpts without making the copyright police really mad. I can only hope that I have inspired you to read it. It is a permanent fixture in my library and I think it should be in the library of every student of the paranormal or the occult.

If this article does inspire you to read it please share your thoughts on the book here in this forum. I would love and appreciate the exchange of ideas and opinions.

Much love and many blessings to you,
David

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