Occult Books for sincere seekers after Truth and Wisdom
We review and recommend more than 50 books on occult, philosophical and religious subjects, many of which are almost completely unknown.
We have not reviewed any books containing magic spells, the fantasies of conspiracy theorists or the speculations of psychics. If that is what you're looking for you will not find it here. If, on the other hand, you are looking for books on Ancient Wisdom and Occult Truth, you are in the right place. To view our book reviews, browse the categories below. To learn more about our aims and ethos, read the Occult Books note in the sidebar, or visit our About page.
Occult book reviews
Our occult book reviews are listed under the following separate categories:
Occult books that do not fall into any specific category.
The best classic occult fiction books.
Occult biographies containing many occult truths.
Dr Michaud's books describe and explain the true laws and principles of Occult Science.
Blavatsky's books are essential reading if you wish to learn the Ancient Wisdom.
Classic Hermetic books that should be in every occult student's library.
These five books accurately describe the inhabitants of the Elemental Kingdoms.
We review and recommend three books for the serious student of Astrology.
We review seven books that discuss Atlantis in a scientific manner.
Occult books for beginners
We are often asked to suggest the 'best' occult books for beginners. Our invariable answer is that the 'best' books are those that teach us the most. For this reason we suggest that if you know little or nothing about the occult sciences, you start off by reading the following two articles we have published:
- Occult FAQ. Questions about the occult answered simply and clearly
- Why study Occult Science? How to learn the plan and meaning of Life
Then, if you wish to learn more, The Secret Teachings of All Ages is a readable and comprehensive introduction to the occult sciences for those who know little or nothing about them. Those who prefer to read the personal experiences of seekers, should enjoy The White Brother. Written expressly for seekers by a seeker who drew on his own personal experience, this book deals in a clear, no-nonsense way with the search for a genuine spiritual teacher. Both books are reviewed on this website and can be read in full online.
In addition, we would also recommend In Tune with the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine. Although not an 'occult' book in the strict sense, it presents the Eternal Truths of life with great clarity and simplicity.
Finally, we recommend that you read Astral Conversations—a series of articles which tackle many subjects of interest to beginners.
General occult Books
We hope that one or more of the books we review below will strongly appeal to you. If this happens it often means that there exists a special link between you and the thoughts and teachings of the author; and it is always wise to follow up such intuitions.
The Upanishads—translations from the Sanskrit by Juan Mascaro
Penguin books 1965. Re-printed by Penguin Classics 2005.
ISBN 978-0140441635. Softcover, 144pp. Price new £7.99.
Also available second-hand from as little as £0.01
AVAILABLE FROM Amazon.co.uk and other booksellers
Read an abstract adapted from the Introduction to the book.
The Upanishads have rightly been described as the 'Himalayas of the Soul' and we regard this selection from them by Juan Mascaro as the finest and most accurate translations ever rendered into English. Readers who are unfamiliar with these sublime spiritual treatises on Man, God and the Universe are advised to read our abstract adapted from the translator's introduction to the book.
Born in Majorca of Spanish parents in 1897, Juan Mascaro's own search for Truth began at the tender age of 13 when he studied a book on occultism. This led to his discovery of an inferior English translation of the Bhagavad Gita which inspired him to learn Sanskrit by himself. He went on to study and teach at Cambridge University, in England, where he lectured on the spiritual values in the Bible and Spanish mysticism. He died in Cambridge in 1987 at the ripe old age of 90, having left the world some of the finest translations of the sacred texts of Hinduism ever written.
Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Bengali poet wrote in a letter to Mascaro that he had "caught from those great words the inner voice that goes beyond the boundaries of words." We agree and do not doubt that Mascaro's early occult studies greatly helped him to imbue his masterly translation with the fire of true inspiration which shines from every page of this book. For this is an occult book in the best and highest sense of that much misunderstood word, which contains some of the most elevated spiritual truths ever composed by the hand of man.
These timeless treatises upon Truth are as far removed from the dry and dusty curiosities of religious scholarship as the Sun is removed from a guttering candle in a dark cellar filled with bemused bats. H. P. Blavatsky tells us that upa-ni-shad is a compound word meaning "the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret, spiritual knowledge." Mascaro confirms this in his introduction where he says that Upanishad means to "sit at the feet of the Master", which means the same and is the same, for one cannot learn the true occult sciences without a spiritual Master as we point out in many of our articles. The Upanishads are to the Vedas what the Qabbalah is to the Jewish Bible. They treat of and expound the secret meaning of the Vedic texts and the occult sciences.
Scholars usually date the Upanishads to between 800 to 400 B.C. This is clearly nonsense as the same scholars believe the Vedas to be at least 1000 years older than this. One does wait a thousand years to write a commentary! So we may safely discount the speculations of such 'authorities' and say that no one knows when the Upanishads were first composed, but it must have been long ago, for the themes in them take us back to the wisdom teachings of Atlantis and possibly even earlier. Every sincere seeker who truly longs to scale the mountain of Truth should read the Upanishads, for in few other sacred texts can we find such clear and simple instructions to guide the feet of the traveller on the path to the Light.
In Tune with the Infinite—by Ralph Waldo Trine
Wilder Publications 2008. ISBN 978-1604590388. Softcover, 128pp.
Price new from £4.99. Also available as a Kindle edition, and second-hand in various editions from as little as £1.00.
AVAILABLE FROM Amazon.co.uk and other booksellers
ALSO AVAILABLE TO READ ONLINE AT SACRED TEXTS
Ralph Waldo Trine presents the eternal Spiritual and material truths of Life in a clear and simple manner which all can understand. It requires no great intellect or education to apply the very simple laws which he so beautifully reveals in this inspired book. In the degree that you do so you will change sadness into joy, failure into success and weakness into strength.
Although claimed by many as a pioneer of 'New Age' teaching, there is nothing in Trine's message that was not known and taught thousands of years ago. We hear the same truths from the immortal lips of inspired teachers like Jesus, Buddha and Krishna. Trine's great accomplishment was to re-state these truths in simple words that even a child can understand and to make them accessible to millions. This is no accident; for the truth is always simple if we are simple enough to recognise it when it is presented to us. Sadly, so many seekers desire mystery, glamour and complexity. Such will turn away from the simplicity of this book. But the simple in mind and heart will recognise the Truth within its luminous pages.
It will remind them in no uncertain manner that the keys to health, happiness and success are to be found within and not without. As the Author says in his Prelude: "THE optimist is right. The pessimist is right. The one differs from the other as the light from the dark. Yet both are right. Each is right from their own particular point of view, and this point of view is the determining factor in the life of each. It determines as to whether it is a life of power or of impotence...of success or of failure."
How true these words are! Do we not all know seekers whose 'glass is always half-empty'?—who fear the worst and anticipate disaster and disappointment at every turn? And is it not also true that such people often live lives of sorrow, confusion, ill-health and failure? But it needn't be like this. In US lies the power to change our own individual lives for the better. And in the degree that we do so we shall change the lives of others around us and the world in general. This is the simple way to bring peace and light into this sorely-troubled world. It needs no 'occult powers' nor special training to do so. All it requires is an understanding of the TRUE LAWS of Life and a willingness to put them into practise in our daily lives. This is the SIMPLE message which Ralph Waldo Trine gave to the world over 100 years ago.
Serpent in the Sky—by John Anthony West
The high wisdom of Ancient Egypt
1st UK Edition, Wildwood House, London 1979. Hardcover 253pp.
ISBN 07045 02690. Illustrated with 140 photographs and line drawings.
Price from £20.00 second-hand. New paperback edition 266pp, Quest Books, USA 1996. ISBN 978-0835606912. Price £21.00.
AVAILABLE NEW FROM Amazon.co.uk and other booksellers
Also available second-hand from Abe books and other booksellers
We first read John Anthony West's groundbreaking reinterpretation of the science and civilisation of Egypt more than 30 years ago and were deeply impressed by it. We remain impressed today, for what he has to say about the wisdom of ancient Egypt has rarely been expressed more clearly or completely by any other popular author. West challenged the prevailing dogmas about ancient Egypt for the very first time, providing a generation of readers with information which had either been suppressed, ignored or misinterpreted by orthodox archaeologists and Egyptologists.
The service West has rendered to scholars and ordinary readers alike cannot be underestimated. By summarising and extending the work of the philosopher and mathematician, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, he has not only made the ancient Egyptian sciences of art, architecture, mathematics, geometry and philosophy comprehensible to the lay reader who knows little or nothing about these subjects, but provided the serious occult student with a wealth of hitherto scarce and invaluable information on the hidden wisdom of ancient Egypt.
While we would recommend Schwaller de Lubicz's own books to those who wish to delve more deeply into the sacred sciences of ancient Egypt, his magnum opus—The Temple of Man—runs to over 1,000 pages and is not cheap at nearly £170 for the hardcover edition published by Inner Traditions in 1998. For most readers, Serpent in the Sky covers the same ground as de Lubicz, and is considerably easier to read.
West is no New Age apologist promoting the weirder speculations of conspiracy theorists, but a conscientious and accomplished scholar who has the advantage over most orthodox Egyptologists in that he writes with great clarity, acuity and humour, dispelling the many popular misconceptions which surround the subject of ancient Egypt and its civilisation with rapier-like wit and inescapable logic. If you are fascinated by ancient Egypt (and we know few seekers after truth who are not) you will not be disappointed by this book.
NOTE: The revised paperback edition published in 1996 includes an update on the author's dating of the Sphinx.
Secrets of the Great Pyramid—by Peter Tompkins
Penguin Books, London 1978. ISBN 0140051082. Softcover, 416pp.
Price secondhand from £1.00 in the UK.
AVAILABLE FROM Abebooks.co.uk and other booksellers
Although written over 40 years ago, this lavishly illustrated book remains the most comprehensive compendium of accurate facts and data about the Great Pyramid we know. As secondhand copies of the 1978 softcover edition (shown at right) are readily available in the UK and USA from just £1.00 there has never been a better time to add this book to your occult library. Many contemporary writers about Egypt, such as Graham Hancock, John Anthony West (see previous review) and Robert Bauval, have drawn much of their material from the enormous amount of data Tompkins collected together for his book.
The book contains over 300 illustrations from sources ranging from the twenty-volume survey of Egypt commissioned by Napoleon to the first photographs taken inside the Pyramid in 1865; and an appendix by Professor Stecchini on the relations of ancient measures to the Great Pyramid. From the first Arabian investigations in the 8th century, to the latest theories and explanations, this book relates the complete history of the exploration of the Great Pyramid. Peter Tompkins recounts the explorations and adventures of the archaeologists, treasure-hunters, soldiers, scientists and eccentrics who have tunnelled into and studied the Pyramid over many centuries. He analyses the various theories as to how and why the Pyramid was built, and its relation to other monumental structures of antiquity, including Stonehenge and the ziggurats of Babylon.
Whilst we would not necessarily endorse all the author's conclusions about the purpose and function of the Great Pyramid, we know of no other book in which so many different theories have been presented in such a thoroughly sensible and scientific manner. This is in sharp contrast to many newer books on the subject, which, we are sorry to say, promote the most improbable fantasies based on variations of the same crackpot theories Tompkins demolishes in this book.
Several chapters in the book will be of great interest to occult students, not least those which explore the many astronomical, astrological and mystical aspects of this mysterious monument, whose primary purpose was a Temple of Initiation into the ancient Mysteries, as many of our readers will know. For these reasons alone we highly recommend this book. Nor has there been a better time to snap it up with secondhand copies available for as little as £1.00!
Numbers: Their Occult Power and Mystic Virtues
—by W Wynn Westcott
Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1890, 1902, 1911 and 1973.
1973 4th edition, hardcover, 120pps, ISBN 0722950276.
Price from £15.00 second-hand.
AVAILABLE FROM Abebooks.co.uk and other booksellers
Also available to read online at Sacred Texts
We feel compelled to begin this review with an apology. Numerology cannot be picked up piecemeal in an idle hour or two. Nor can it be used to tell 'fortunes' as many people have been led to believe. If that is your desire, we suggest that you take up reading tea-leaves or the Tarot! As we point out in our article on symbolism, the students of Pythagoras spent seven years learning the basic principles of this science. Consequently, Westcott's book should be regarded as an introduction to this vast and complex subject, not a complete course of instruction in the science of numbers, which cannot be condensed down into a slim volume of just 120 pages.
The book was first published in 1890 as volume IX of Collectanea Hermetica, a series of 9 books on the occult sciences issued under the imprimatur of the Theosophical Society with Westcott as editor. Westcott expanded and revised the book in 1902 and 1911. A 4th edition was published in 1974, which is the edition shown at right that we have used for this review. Those who judiciously study this book will gain a first-rate understanding of the main principles of the hidden properties and meaning of numbers.
Westcott drew on an immense number of ancient Greek, Roman, Chaldean, Hebraic, Egyptian, Chinese and Sanskrit sources for this book, as well as the writings of Eliphas Levi, the Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge, Thomas Taylor, Godfrey Higgins, Michael Maier, Gerald Massey and H. P. Blavatsky. But Westcott's main source, and the reason that this book is of such value to the serious occult student, are the teachings of Pythagoras himself, which the author has collected together from the fragmentary remains of the writings of the Sage's pupils.
The science of numbers is one of the most important keys that unlocks the secrets of man and the universe. As H. P. Blavatsky said so truly: "Everything in the Universe was framed according to the eternal proportions and combinations of numbers—God geometrises—and numbers and numerals are the fundamental basis of all systems of mysticism, philosophy, and religion." Pythagoras stated that the Monad or unity, emanated the Dyad, and thus formed the spiritual trinity, from which is derived the quaternary, or the mystic four, the number of the material world. These numbers comprise the totality of the forces of Nature and the principles of man, both of which are seven in number.
IMPORTANT NOTE! There are several print-on-demand and Kindle editions of this book available from Amazon and other booksellers. These are best avoided as almost all are badly typeset and contain innumerable errors and omissions. If you want a printed copy our advice is to obtain the edition shown above, published by Theosophical Publishing Society, 1974,
ISBN: 9780722950272. Otherwise, read the free e-text at the Sacred Text Archive, which so far as we can tell, is verbatim with the 3rd edition of 1911.
Egyptian Magic—by Florence Farr
The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, UK, 1982. Softcover, 85pps.
ISBN 0850302773. Price from £7.00 second-hand.
AVAILABLE FROM Abebooks.co.uk and other booksellers
This rare book on the metaphysical doctrines, religion and magical practises of ancient Egypt was first published as volume VIII of Collectanea Hermetica (see above review), in 1896. Although the book was written at a time when the science of Egyptology was in its infancy, this in no way negates the invaluable esoteric lore the author has collected from the translations of Egyptian papyri available to her in the 19th century, which remain as much of an enigma to modern scholars as they were to Egyptologists in Farr's time.
Understandably, she draws heavily on the books of E. A. Wallis Budge, now sadly out of favour among Egyptologists for reasons of political correctness rather than scholarship in which he vastly exceeded all his modern contemporaries put together. The book includes a detailed examination and discussion of reincarnation, initiation, evolution and the afterlife which is in complete accord with the true laws and principles of occult science as expounded in many of our articles.
Farr correctly deduced that the principles of Egyptian magic were based on an elaborate series of correspondences derived from the fact that material and spiritual evolution follow the same Hermetic law of 'As above; so below', and that matter and spirit are the opposite states of the one Universal Substance, or Prima Materia.
The book begins with a dissertation upon the seven principles of man as they were known in ancient Egypt, explaining how they enter into the body at birth, what happens to them at death, and the manner in which they are connected. Later chapters include several so-called 'spells' taken from the Book of the Dead, which are nothing of the kind, for all these exhortations and prayers are nothing more nor less than allegorical representations of the various transformations the Higher Self undergoes during life and after death.
Over half the book is taken up with extracts from a Gnostic papyrus entitled The Book of Knowledge of the Invisible God, which forms part of the Bruce codex found in Upper Egypt in 1769, and now preserved in the Bodleian Library, in Oxford. This luminous text is reminiscent of the Pistis Sophia in parts and consists of some of the esoteric teachings Jesus imparted to his disciples after his resurrection. These alone make this little book well worth studying. You can read about the hidden meaning of the resurrection in our article about the esoteric meaning of Easter.
The Secret Teachings of All Ages—by Manly P. Hall
An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy. Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories, and Mysteries of all Ages.
Originally printed for the author by H. S. Crocker Company Inc.,
San Francisco, USA., 1928. 200pps.
AVAILABLE TO READ ONLINE AT Sacred Texts
There cannot be many readers interested in the occult who have not heard of this book. Manly P. Hall self-published this monumental survey of the ancient wisdom and the occult sciences at his own expense in 1928. The only reason we have not reviewed it before is that until recently it was both scarce and expensive. Fortunately, an affordable paperback edition is now available as well as an excellent e-text at Sacred Texts which is freely available for all to read online. So far as we have been able to ascertain this e-text is an exact facsimile of the original edition complete with all the black and white illustrations found in the printed book, though the colour illustrations which fronted each chapter have been omitted for reasons of economy and copyright.
Those who study this book in its entirety will gain a broad understanding of such varied subjects as the Qabbalah, Alchemy, Magic, Astrology, Neo-Platonism, Egyptian Hermetic Philosophy, Pythagorean mathematics, Native American myths, the esotericism of the Shakespearean dramas, the various Mystery Religions and ancient Mystery Schools of Greece and Egypt, and their modern offshoots of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry.
The number of ancient and modern sources Hall drew upon for his magnum opus is quite extraordinary. Aside from the works of Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Iamblichus, he cites translations of the Gnostic, Nicene, and Hermetic literature, the writings of Paracelsus, Ptolemy, Roger Bacon, Basil Valentine, Cornelius Agrippa, Eliphas Levi and H. P. Blavatsky, to name just a few of the most well-known writers on the ancient wisdom and occult sciences.
This is not to say that the book does not contain several errors. Among these may be mentioned Hall's contention that the Roma or Gypsies came from Egypt, a view which was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. We now know this to be incorrect. He also contends that the Tarot may be traced back to the religious symbolism of the ancient Egyptians, when in fact it was the product of the Rosicrucians of the 18th century who drew upon the Jewish mysticism of the Qabbalah for its symbolism, not the ancient Egyptian Wisdom teachings. But these shortcomings in no way spoil what is one of the most comprehensive surveys of the ancient Wisdom and occult sciences ever compiled, and that is the reason we recommend Manly P Hall's book to our readers.
In his conclusion, the author writes: "The criers of the Mysteries speak again, bidding all men welcome to the House of Light. The great institution of materiality has failed. The false civilization built by man has turned, and like the monster of Frankenstein, is destroying its creator. Religion wanders aimlessly in the maze of theological speculation. Science batters itself impotently against the barriers of the unknown. Only transcendental philosophy knows the path. Only the illumined reason can carry the understanding part of man upward to the light. Only philosophy can teach man to be born well, to live well, to die well, and in perfect measure be born again." These are fine words and true, and as such we commend them and this book to all those who wish to know more of the Wisdom of the Ages.
IMPORTANT NOTE! There are now several editions of this book available including various 'print-on-demand' and Kindle versions which are badly typeset and omit many or all of the illustrations of the original. So far as we have been able to ascertain, the most complete edition was the hardcover University Edition published by the Philosophical Research Society (PRS) in 2008, but at $225 this is very expensive. The "Reduced Size Paperback" published in 1978 and reprinted in 1988 and 2000 by the PRS, costs from $30 second-hand or $65 new. It includes 54 symbolic colour plates, foldouts and an overlay as well as 200 black and white illustrations, an extensive bibliography and complete index. ISBN 10: 0-89314-830-X and ISBN 13: 9780893148300.
Qabbalah: The Philosophical Writings of Solomon Ben Yehudah Ibn Gebirol, or Avicebron—by Isaac Myer
First published Philadelphia 1888. Reprinted by Samuel Weiser Inc, New York, 1970 (1st Ed.) & 1972 (2nd Ed). Hardcover, 497pp inc 26pp index.
ISBN 0-87728-008-8. Copiously illustrated with monochrome plates throughout. Price second-hand from £25.00.
There is also a paperback edition published by Elibron Classics in 2001, which is a photographic (facsimile) reprint of the 1888 edition, available from Amazon.co.uk, price new £9.99—see direct link below.
AVAILABLE FROM Amazon.co.uk 532pp, ISBN 978-1402185038
The Qabbalah (also written "Kabbalah", "Cabala", etc), which word means "doctrines received by tradition"—is a system of Jewish theosophy that played an important part in the establishment of the Christian Church. As such, it is a valuable work for the study of the origin of religions and their philosophy in general, and the origin of the formulations, dogmas and doctrines of early Christianity in particular. We would add that Isaac Meyer's book has nothing whatsoever to do with the fashionable craze of 'kabbalah' popularised by various Hollywood celebrities in recent years!
First published at the author's own expense in 1888, Meyer's Qabbalah remains the most accessible and readable summary of these important Hebrew writings that we know of. The book includes a short account of the life and writings of the philosopher, Solomon ben Yehudah Ibn Gebirol or Avicebron; some parts of the Qabbalistic philosophy, quotations from the Zoharic books, explanations of many New Testament passages, the basic element in Religions, and extracts from the so-called "Pagan" writers on the Invisible and Visible and the Ideal and Real. In addition, the book contains Qabbalistic accounts of the Creation which should be of interest to every seeker, for it is only by carefully comparing the various accounts to be found in the sacred books of all times that the diligent student may arrive at a true conception of the origins of Man and the Universe. The book also contains important discussions upon the nature of illusion, sound, colour and rhythm, and an interesting article on an Ancient Lodge of Initiates.
For those interested in making a deeper study of Jewish Mysticism it is important to get as close as possible to the original sources upon which the early philosophers erected the doctrine and teaching of the Kabbalah. For this reason we also recommend two further classic books on this system of Jewish theosophy. These are: The Kabbalah: its Doctrines, Development, and Literature by Christian David Ginsburg, published by G Routledge & Sons, London, 1920 and The Kabbalah or the Religious Philosophy of the Hebrews by Adolphe Franck (translated by I. Sossnitz) 1926. This latter book is available to read online in HTML format at the Internet Sacred Text Archive. We review this superb compendium of sacred and occult texts on our Links page.
NOTE. We recommend the edition published by Weiser Books in 1970/72 (ISBN 0-87728-008-8), OR the photographic reprint by Elibron Classics published by Adamant Media Corporation in 2001 (ISBN 978-1402185038). We do not recommend the Kindle and other electronic editions sold by Amazon and other sellers, as these often suffer from missing or blurred pages, missing or poorly scanned pictures, and other imperfections that make such ebooks virtually unreadable.
The Occult and the Curative Powers of Precious Stones
by William T. Fernie M.D.
Originally published in 1907 under the title Precious Stones: For Curative Wear; and other Remedial Uses; Likewise The Nobler Metals.
HarperCollins; 1981. Softcover, 486pps. Price second-hand from £5.00.
AVAILABLE FROM Amazon.co.uk and other booksellers
Although it was first published more than 100 years ago, W. T. Fernie's seminal source book on the various occult, alchemical, historical, mythological and magical lore and properties associated with precious stones and minerals has never been equalled. The book is a virtual encyclopedia of invaluable information about stones and metals, and copiously enlivened with anecdotes and historical information on how precious and semi-precious stones and metals were used in the past.
Given the present-day fascination with "crystals" and the very many uses (and we may say many more "abuses") to which they are now put, the serious student of occultism will find this book indispensable if he or she wishes to learn real facts rather than the fanciful speculations of New Age "crystal healers", many of whom have little or no understanding of the true properties of the materials they employ with such enthusiasm.
NOTE. Several editions of this book have been issued, notably by Rudolf Steiner Publications, so it should not be difficult for the interested reader to obtain a copy at a modest price.
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