- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; 2nd Printing edition (October 8, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1567183360
- ISBN-13: 978-1567183368
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.4 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The New Encyclopedia of the Occult Paperback – October 8, 2003
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From the Publisher
From "Aarab Zereq" to "Zos Kia Cultus," this is the most up-to-date, comprehensive guide to the history, philosophies, and personalities of Western occultism.
The New Encyclopedia of the Occult is an invaluable reference guide to magic, alchemy, astrology, divination, Tarot, palmistry, and geomancy; magical orders such as the Golden Dawn and Rosicrucians; important occultists; and religions and spiritual traditions associated with occultism such as Wicca, Thelema, Theosophy, and the modern Pagan movement.
In his introduction, Greer states that his book is the first written by an "occult practitioner" who has consulted the scholarly texts that have recently been written about the history of occult traditions. This combination has produced a reference work that is sympathetic to the arcane lore but avoids many of the common errors found in occult literature. The volume arranges its 1,500 entries in alphabetical order. Topics include magic, Tarot, astrology, and other forms of divination; magical orders such as the Golden Dawn; biographies of significant individuals; and spiritual movements such as Wicca, Theosophy, and the modern Pagans. Where appropriate, entries contain see references to other entries and to books found in the extensive bibliography. Illustrations include charts, diagrams, and photographs.
The essays are clearly written and are very informative. The book is useful for the practitioner as well as for the curious because the contents are factual and concise. The author promises that as new information becomes available on topics, he will publish a revised edition to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the volume. This is an important source for libraries to have in their collections to assist anyone seeking information about the many aspects of occult traditions. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Greer delivers a well researched, informative, and unbiased encyclopedia... Highly recommended for all public libraries and where interest merits."―Library Journal
"This beautifully executed encyclopedia stands out as a valuable addition to anyone's library and an exclusive gift for all people interested in the occult, history, or metaphysics or who just have curious minds."―New Age Retailer
"This is an important source for libraries to have in their collections to assist anyone seeking information about the many aspects of occult traditions."―Booklist
"A very useful source book and reference guide to magic, alchemy, astrology, divination, tarot, palmistry, geomancy and magical orders...Recommended."―Pagan Dawn Book Reviews
"A must for the bookshelf of everyone from the serious student to the casually curious. Five pentacles out of five."―Diva Digest
"...worth reading from cover to cover...a valuable resource for having all the information collected in one place."―The Wiccan/Pagan Times
"A comprehensive reference book...History, folklore, philosophies, and practices blend in a fine and absorbing reference."―Midwest Book Review
"It is a very useful reference book and is recommended."―The Cauldron
"History, folklore, philosophies, and practices blend in a fine and absorbing reference."―The Bookwatch
"A major reference for any serious student of the occult as a part of history and religion."―The Small Press Book Review
"This is a very insightful, well-researched, educational, and comprehensive guide for practitioners everywhere."―Magickal Ancient Realms
"If you have only one occult reference book in your library, this should certainly be it....It is a brilliant reference guide on alchemy, astrology, divination, magic, and much, much more. What makes it even more valuable is that it points out errors in previous writings....The only drawback to owning this book is that it's addictive! You won't want to put it down."―Psychic Quarterly
"This is an excellent reference book...It certainly is extensive and...definitely a bargain at the price. Top recommendation for any good (or organizational) library."―The Unicorn
"I found his definitions on target each and every time. I believe he has brought a new and legitimate perspective to this type of book, which in the past has been mediocre at best...I can say without reservation that all students of the occult should avail themselves of this work. It will be an excellent addition and resource for the occult library."―Occult World Ledger
"…By dispelling much of the misinformation associated with the occult and citing major grimoires, this work can help readers develop a basic understanding of the occult and guide them in pursuing further research on arcane subjects. Essential."―Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
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I see this kind of defamation at the hands of both pagans (not very much for pagans) and atheists. Most do not read the Bible and at least develop a doctrinal understanding before making false or erroneous statements. Mr. Greer does none of that before jumping right in and lumping in Christianity with Rosicrucianism and other clearly occult religions and practices. Christianity based on the Bible, has no room for any occult practices including magic. And while the author might like to attribute Jesus's healings as being magic it clearly is not, given the available information known.
Now as a reference book I found it lacking in sufficient external source references (NO FOOTNOTES JUST A BIBLIOGRAPHY!!!). Many definitions make conclusions without any real notes, to external sources to justify a particular conclusion. A careful review will turn over lots of these.
If you want incorrect information just watch the movie Zeitgeist and save your money.
It is very useful to have a comprehensive list of occult subjects in one place, as in this encyclopedia. But it should be called ``A' New Encyclopedia of the Occult', not ``The' New Encyclopaedia of the Occult'. Different occult groups have different ideas about the subjects discussed. So it is extremely biased to present one perspective on a subject as `the' perspective.
For example, in the article entitled `Initiation' on p. 242, it says that spiritual, as opposed to physical ritualistic initiation, "has very little to do with the reality of initiation as actually practiced by magical lodge organizations". But this is biased because in certain significant magical lodge organizations, initiation is actually considered to be a spiritual transformation, not a physical ritual. An example is explained in Chapter II of "A Compendium of Occult Laws" by the Rosicrucian Grand Master, Dr. R. S. Clymer, entitled "The Philosophy of Occult Initiation" (1966).
I would also like to pick up on the article "Randolph, Paschal Beverly", beginning on p. 389. This is an extremely offensive article, which can incite hate between occult groups. For example, it says on p. 390, "Unfortunately Randolph's considerable creativity and intelligence were more than overbalanced by his arrogance, egotism, and uncontrolled temper". This is bad history. It is bad because it does not corroborate different primary sources before concluding what Randolph's character was actually like. Arthur Marwick, a professor of History at the Open University, explained that even the most accurate history is only about 80% true. History is a representation of the past. It cannot be considered identical with the past.
Randolph is highly respected by Modern Rosicrucian orders, and his teachings are used by them as the foundation. For example, referring to the preface of "Compendium of Occult Laws", by the Rosicrucian Grand Master Dr. R. S. Clymer, he says, "The second section, "The Philosophy of Occult Initiation", is based almost exclusively upon the secret writings of those versed in Hermetic Science and Alchemical Processes, notably Dr. P.B. Randolph ..."
`The New Encyclopedia of the Occult' even contradicts itself concerning the character of Paschal Beverly Randolph. For example, on p. 390 it says, "[Randolph] ... travelled on the anti-Spiritualist lecture circuit, attacking Spiritualism as earnestly as he had praised it a few years earlier." But as is explained in the article "New Age Movement" in the same Encyclopaedia, page 330, paragraph 2, "...occultists of the Victorian period shook their heads at the excesses and follies of the mesmerist and spiritualist movements ..." So Randolph's actions were in harmony with the Victorian occultism zeitgeist.
Randolph also explained that his intention was not to attack spiritualism. Randolph states, for example, in his book, "Soul, The Soul World," Chapter 8, Paragraph 21, in which he outlines Rosicrucian philosophy, "The sole business of this book is not to controvert any current system of philosophy . . . but to give forth what I know to be the truth." This of course means that Randolph's intention was not to attack spiritualism, but simply to express his Rosicrucian philosophy. When defining one thought system, it is necessary to contrast it against others that are different. This is the way that academic argumentation works. Such argumentation and contrasting does not constitute attacking e.g. explaining how chemistry is not biology is not an attack upon biology by chemistry. Randolph also explains: "much herein given necessarily antagonizes a few of the popular Spiritual theories" ("Soul, The Soul World," Chapter 8, Paragraph 21). Explaining that the Rosicrucian view of the Soul World is hierarchical, necessarily antagonises spiritualism, because it is impossible to describe the soul hierarchy without saying that certain souls are lower in the hierarchy than others. There would be no Masters if there were no apprentices.
Further regarding Randolph's abandonment of the spiritualist worldview. Bryan Magee says in his text `The Great Philosophers' (1987), Oxford, Oxford University Press, p. 66, that the abandonment of one's beliefs that are shown to be flawed in the light of new knowledge is part of what constitutes intellectual advance.
"There is no justice in the world's censorious eyes. They will not wait to learn a man's true character. Though no wrong has been done them, one look - and they hate". - From Medea by Euripides, Lines 18-21 (431 BCE)
So, if you want to know about occultism, `The New Encyclopedia of the Occult' is not the place to start. The information it presents is not trustworthy. And the articles require corroboration with other sources, preferably direct (e.g. what occult orders actually say about themselves), primary, and several secondary sources about a particular subject.
A much more thorough and less biased way to learn about the occultism is through the up to date leading academic research on the subject. This can be found through `The Association for the Study of Esotericism'. URL: [...]
Another useful academic resource on occultism is `Esoterica: The Journal of Esoteric Studies'. URL: [...]
It is very well written and researched, and it is clear to see how much of an effort went into compiling this large volume.
Easily a 5 star rating.