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Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll Paperback – October 13, 2015
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“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.”
"Rather than turning in either a fanboyish rhapsody or a scholarly dissertation, he treads the line between those approaches. The result is passionate, informed, gripping and at times wonderfully lyrical."
--Library Journal (starred review)
"A thoroughly researched, absorbing, entertaining ride for anyone who’s ever played the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ backwards.”
--Andrea Shea, WBUR/ NPR
“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.”
"Skillfully woven...will delight any music fan and music historian in equal measure.”
--Spirituality Today (5/5 stars)
“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 Davis, author of Led Zeppelin IV and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica
“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.' "
“Peter Bebergal has written of his own searching, reconciling spiritual aspirations and personal background, in The Faith Between Us and Too Much To Dream. Both are on my bookshelves. Here, in Season Of The Witch, Peter presents an overview of one “alternative influence” at work on some of those intending to change the world.
The world they hoped to change was a dangerous mess.
Now, half a century later…”
“Unfussy but thoroughly documented…establishes the occult as a phenomenon above and beyond its debatable status of mere fad in the history of contemporary music.”--Ralph Elawani, Exclaim!
“Anyone seeking shocking tales of demonic rock’n’roll would be best served looking elsewhere, but for someone interested in the interplay between music, culture and spirituality, Season Of The Witch is a revelatory and fascinating grimoire.” --Record Collector
“A must-read for anyone who prefers their music loud, riff-driven, and loaded with lyrics about Satan, wizards, and mystical quests.” --Cheryl Eddy, io9.com
“Bebergal, a Dungeons & Dragons playing rock fanboy and graduate of Harvard Divinity School has exactly the right pedigree for this line of work, infusing what could be a dry litany of rumors, hearsay, and matter-of-facts with a genuine love for the source material.” --Cooper Berkmoyer, Flavorpill
About the Author
Peter Bebergal writes widely on the speculative and slightly fringe. His recent essays and reviews have appeared in NewYorker.com,The Times Literary Supplement, Boing Boing, The Believer, and The Quietus. He is the author of Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood and The Faith Between Us: A Jew and a Catholic Search for the Meaning of God (with Scott Korb). Bebergal studied religion and culture at Harvard Divinity School, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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The authority of this thesis for me lies mainly in his persuasive connection of the softer hippie side of the occult with its darker side. "It's in the Dionysian, intoxicating madness that the human drive for creative freedom was born and from which rock would one day derive its essential vitality."
This book also has a great sense of fact, rooted in formidable historical research, which adds considerable authority to his astute observations and judgments. I can't believe this book won't soon become definitive on this subject.