Symbols of the Occult: A Directory of over 500 Signs, Symbols, and Icons

Eric Chaline. Thames and Hudson, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-500-02403-4
Editor Chaline (The Book of Gods and Goddesses) packs this lushly illustrated guide to the occult with a miscellany of intriguing if haphazardly organized facts. Bringing together ancient magical traditions, astronomy, demonology, and witchcraft symbols into one volume, Chaline bites off more than he can chew in attempting to catalog all iconography related to occult practices. He categorizes his material into broad topics such as “The Natural World,” “Occult Sciences,” and “White Magic and Cartomancy,” but placement decisions can sometimes feel random, such as putting the Greek classical elements in the section on astrology. Some illustrations, like that of the Sigillum Dei or the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, are reproduced too small to be readable. Other symbols, however, get plenty of page space but lack guidance on how to use them: the section on Egyptian hieroglyphics, for instance, omits information on how to read them phonetically. Neopagan readers will be disappointed to have their traditions mostly mashed into a symbolically confusing graphic of the Wheel of the Year and a short final section titled “The New Age” that combines Wiccan signs with Slavic god-glyphs and Satanic iconography. This may work as a flip-through coffee-table book, but readers will need to look elsewhere for a comprehensive occult resource. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/22/2021
Release date: 09/21/2021
Genre: Religion
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