American Gurus & the Search for Enlightenment: An Interview with Arthur Versluis

By RICHARD SMOLEY Until recently the academic world paid almost no attention to the Western mystical and esoteric traditions. If any scholars strayed into these areas, they did so gingerly and apologetically, often feeling the need to sneer at these currents as a way of safeguarding their reputations. This situation began to change in the 1980s. A small group of academic scholars in mainstream universities began to pay serious attention to esotericism as a formative part of the Western … [Read more...]

The Mystique of the Manor: Australia’s Occult Centre Revealed

By PAUL YOUNG Pilgrims have been drawn to the other-worldly auras of hallowed sites, both natural and man-made, all around the globe since antiquity. One such sanctuary sits right in the heart of Sydney and, although it has slipped from prominence today, it played a significant role in Australia’s spiritual and esoteric history. While its narrative has primarily been expressed through the descriptions of the characters who have occupied it, the magnetism of the building and the ground it … [Read more...]

What Happened to the New Age? Sorting Truth from Nonsense

By RICHARD SMOLEY Not long ago I was walking through the aisles of a New Age fair in the suburbs of Chicago. All the usual suspects were there: booths for Baha’i and Eckankar; ladies selling essences and fragrances; bodyworkers offering ten minutes of chair massage; psychics inspecting the etheric fields of their subjects. Like most New Age events I have gone to over the past decade, the fair had a tired quality to it. I could simply be jaded. I’ve been going to such gatherings for over … [Read more...]

Will Thinking Make It So? An Interview With Mitch Horowitz

By RICHARD SMOLEY Much of today’s writing about spirituality is loaded with nonsense. Often it consists of little more than wild speculation, shoddy reasoning, and the repetition of a few stale truisms. A very small number of writers and editors have climbed above this morass to combine spiritual depth with intellectual acumen and literary polish. Mitch Horowitz is one of them. A writer and publisher of many years’ experience with a lifelong interest in man’s search for meaning, he is … [Read more...]

Ritual Magic in Theory & Practice

By RICHARD SMOLEY Several years ago I decided to do an evening-long introduction to ritual magic at the New York Open Center, one of the city’s best-known gathering places for mind, body, and spirit activities. Soon before it was about to start I told myself, with some surprise, “My God! I’m about to do ritual magic with a bunch of people who have walked in off the streets of New York!” Despite my apprehensions, the evening went off well. Power was raised, channelled in a certain direction, … [Read more...]

The New World Order Vs. The New Age: Separating Truth from Falsehood

By DR KR BOLTON There are numerous difficulties in trying to discern what among the proliferation of new or revived faiths might be regarded as working to usher forth a New Age based on eternal values, and those that work to establish the rule of malignant, matter-bound forces. The problem is that there are often superficial resemblances that occur between them. Even within the same occult orders, such as Freemasonry, there are a range of views that might be in opposition but are mistaken as … [Read more...]