We Salute You, Our Half Inflated Dark Lord.
January 23, 2012 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Where can I learn more about the 1970s New York City occult scene?

There was an article in the New York Press -- The Doom that Came to Chelsea -- about the occult scene in 1970s NYC and its overlap with the queer and punk scenes. I'd like to find out more about the Simon Necronomicon and the contemporary history of occult movements and Magick-with-a-'k', etc.
posted by modernserf to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to try contacting someone through the Magickal Childe's website. As the article mentions, they were the hub of occult NYC during that period.
posted by cazoo at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Terry Iacuzzo was a psychic/medium in NYC around that time. Her book, Small Mediums at Large, is a very entertaining read. You could drop her a line through her site and see if she has any information or contacts for you.
posted by vickyverky at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Peter Levenda is widely believed to be the Simon who wrote the version of the Necronomicon the article refers to. He writes about that era in his 3-volume political occult conspiracy treatise, Sinister Forces, which would feeds your hunger for this type of material for a long time.
posted by ljshapiro at 5:27 PM on January 23, 2012

Whoa. The Magical Childe Website does not appear to have been updated in the last 15 years. However, it looks like they've got a contact link. And a facebook page!
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:59 PM on January 23, 2012

From Mr. vitabellosi:

Since 1996, Philadelphia's Thelesis Lodge (O.T.O.) have been publishing a zine called "Behutet: Modern Thelemic Magick and Culture" It is a great resource on modern Magick, with many interviews of various folks in the Magick community.

In issues number 16 and 17 (sold out, but could be on offer through online booksellers or ebay), there is a newer (2002) interview with "Simon" by Inominandum (himself an author of two books on Magick). The interview has not been published elsewhere.

In issues 10 and 11 there is a 2-part article about Herman Slater and the Magickal Childe. There are also reprints of hard-to-find interviews with Alan Moore, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and numerous others of interest in the magickal community sprinkled among their 50 issues (and still going).
posted by vitabellosi at 5:31 AM on January 24, 2012

Best answer: After going through a few dozen related books I would say there is not a single good source pertinent to your question. Occult is by definition "hidden" and in practice the documentation is almost always unreliable. Aleister Crowley wrote as much as Balzac or Aquinas and his work is littered from page one to page twenty thousand with blinds, deliberate misinformation to deceive and distract the unwary, the unwise, the insincere, and the impatient.

With that disclaimer, there are two books which would best serve as entry points to the best factual information you could find. The first is Drawing Down the Moon which was a history and overview of part of the occult scene (especially Wicca and Paganism) in the United States in the 1970's. Adler is a practitioner and a journalist and a New Yorker and she included a small amount of specifically New York stuff. I don't recall anything in her book specifically dealing with Golden Dawn, OTO, AMORC, or BOTA.

The second book is Modern Occult Rhetoric which is a study in communications in occult organizations in the United States throughout the 20th century. Gunn is a communications professor and his book contains a wealth of historical details and tons of footnotes.

Either of those authors would probably be receptive to questions that their book raised for you which are more specific to your topic of interest. One of Gunn's theses, which he argues quite well even though it is unfalsifiable and unprovable, is that the decline of the occult in the United States through the 20th century was the by-product of the National Enquirer and People magazine and their ilk. What the occult markets is secret stuff, and there is little point to spending a lot of money to belong to an occult brotherhood when you can get such juicy secrets as Michael Jackson's addiction and Madonna's nymphomania and Britney Spears' psychiatric disorders for pennies, or even for free in the cover headlines on the mags in your face while you wait to buy your groceries.
posted by bukvich at 8:13 AM on January 24, 2012

Ugh, the Simon "Necronomicon" is such a load of hogwash, even for a genre of books that are hogwash by definition. Whilst claiming association with the Lovecraftian mythos of occult lore, it is in actuality a bunch of cobbled-together Babylonian (and similar) legends and the barest hint of 'Ktulu' name-checking, spackled together with ritual that's cribbed from other sources entirely when not made up out of whole cloth. And even WORSE, the entire grimoire is fixated around the whole 'Good Ancient Beings vs. Evil Elder Gods' structure, which was a bunch of anthropomorphizing garbage Derleth shoehorned into the mythos concept while serving as steward to the Lovecraftian literary estate back in the day.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good Lovecraftian hoax document as much as the next guy, but this thing is neither 'good' nor 'lovecraftian'. And nothing grates more than hearing someone say 'Oh yeah, I got a copy of that 'Necronomicon' thing at Barnes and Noble! Spooooooky!'
posted by FatherDagon at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2012

« Older Does TVP come in different colours?   |   Vacation in Mannheim Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.