Welcome back to Aquarium Drunkard Transmissions. Here’s hoping your autumnal drift toward Halloween is rolling along nicely. This week on the show, we’re chatting once again with Mitch Horowitz, occult scholar, practitioner, and historian. We’ve had Mitch on a number of times—once a year or so for the last few years. What can we say? We just love listening to the guy riff.
His latest is book is Modern Occultism: History, Theory, and Practice. A sprawling secret history in the same vein as his 2009 book Occult America (The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped our Nation), the book explores how wisdom and philosophies gleaned from the Hermetica, gnostic gospels, Kabbalah, and other esoteric systems made its way from ancient and often fragmented pasts to profoundly inform the modern age, illuminating how it fueled secret societies and motivated renegade thinkers.Transmissions :: Mitch Horowitz
Our talk? Well, it’s all over the place, covering many of the figures who appear in the book, like Jack Parsons, the pioneering father of modern rocketry—who was also a practicing magician, one-time Marxist, and famously died at 37 in a fiery explosion. Beyond that, we get into notions of radical self-reliance via Ayn Rand and comics artist Steve Ditko, UFOs, and the necessary path of following one’s own innate proclivities. Arthur Miller once said something along the lines of, “An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.” Perhaps that’s at the core of this chat: in our hyper-individualized moment, how we can think about the communal and the individual in less binary or dualistic terms? Horowitz is a frequent guest on Coast to Coast AM, so think of this as one of those Transmissions episodes that leans into that feel.
Transmissions is a part of the Talkhouse Podcast Network. Visit the Talkhouse for more interviews, fascinating reads, and podcasts.
Next week on Transmissions? Next week on the show, Buck Meek.