A Gathering of Long Lost Friends

Regular readers will be aware that many of last year’s posts on this blog were devoted to what we might call the history of American magic, or perhaps the magical history of America—the part of the history of the United States that deals with the rise, flourishing, and (most recently) neglect and collective erasure of…

The Grand Mutation: An Astrological Interlude

Over the last year, and especially over the last month, I’ve fielded a flurry of questions about the astrological meaning of the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that took place on Monday. I’ve been intrigued to note that quite a few of those questions have come from people who admit they don’t know much about…

Theosophy: The Golden Age

At the end of our last exploration of America’s magical history two months back, the fledgling Theosophical Society had apparently breathed its last.  Its original branch in New York City had stopped meeting, the handful of lodges elsewhere were struggling, and its two most important and knowledgeable members—Emma Hardinge Britten and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky—had both…

Theosophy: The Dog and the Wolf

In last month’s discussion of America’s magical history, we explored the nineteenth-century transformations of alchemy into a system (or more precisely several systems) of spiritual transformation that had little or nothing to do with furnaces, retorts, and chemicals. It’s a nice bit of synchronicity that the story we’ll be discussing this month is best framed…

The Secret of the Alchemists

Most of the figures we’ve discussed in our survey of America’s magical history came from very humble backgrounds, and there’s a reason for that.  While social mobility has been an American ideal for a very long time, it’s always been subject to sharp though unmentionable limits, mostly rooted in the desire of those already prosperous…

The Flame and the Crucible

Our journey through the hidden history of American occultism has focused so far entirely on traditions brought here from elsewhere—the German Rosicrucian and Pietist traditions studied by Johannes Kelpius, the classic tradition of English astrology practiced by Joseph Stafford, and the varying traditions of folk magic that crossed the Atlantic with captive Africans from the…