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The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic

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A visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology and otherworldly experiences. Mystical beliefs and practices have existed for millennia, but why do we still chase the esoteric? From the beginning of human creativity itself, image-makers have been drawn to these unknown spheres and have created curious artworks th A visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology and otherworldly experiences. Mystical beliefs and practices have existed for millennia, but why do we still chase the esoteric? From the beginning of human creativity itself, image-makers have been drawn to these unknown spheres and have created curious artworks that transcend time and place – but what is it that attracts artists to these magical realms? From theosophy and kabbalah, to the zodiac and alchemy; spiritualism and ceremonial magic, to the elements and sacred geometry – The Art of the Occult introduces major occult themes and showcases the artists who have been influenced and led by them. Discover the symbolic and mythical images of the Pre-Raphaelites; the automatic drawing of Hilma af Klint and Madge Gill; Leonora Carrington's surrealist interpretation of myth, alchemy and kabbalah; and much more. Featuring prominent, marginalised and little-known artists, The Art of the Occult crosses mystical spheres in a bid to inspire and delight. Divided into thematic chapters (The Cosmos, Higher Beings, Practitioners), the book acts as an entertaining introduction to the art of mysticism – with essays examining each practice and over 175 artworks to discover. The art of the occult has always existed in the margins but inspired the masses, and this book will spark curiosity in all fans of magic, mysticism and the mysterious.


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A visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology and otherworldly experiences. Mystical beliefs and practices have existed for millennia, but why do we still chase the esoteric? From the beginning of human creativity itself, image-makers have been drawn to these unknown spheres and have created curious artworks th A visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology and otherworldly experiences. Mystical beliefs and practices have existed for millennia, but why do we still chase the esoteric? From the beginning of human creativity itself, image-makers have been drawn to these unknown spheres and have created curious artworks that transcend time and place – but what is it that attracts artists to these magical realms? From theosophy and kabbalah, to the zodiac and alchemy; spiritualism and ceremonial magic, to the elements and sacred geometry – The Art of the Occult introduces major occult themes and showcases the artists who have been influenced and led by them. Discover the symbolic and mythical images of the Pre-Raphaelites; the automatic drawing of Hilma af Klint and Madge Gill; Leonora Carrington's surrealist interpretation of myth, alchemy and kabbalah; and much more. Featuring prominent, marginalised and little-known artists, The Art of the Occult crosses mystical spheres in a bid to inspire and delight. Divided into thematic chapters (The Cosmos, Higher Beings, Practitioners), the book acts as an entertaining introduction to the art of mysticism – with essays examining each practice and over 175 artworks to discover. The art of the occult has always existed in the margins but inspired the masses, and this book will spark curiosity in all fans of magic, mysticism and the mysterious.

30 review for The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Basile

    “For those willing to look, a vital key to unlocking the cryptic mysteries of magical history and occult philosophy can be found in the many artistic depictions of the enigmatic entities who engage in the practice of mystical endeavors.....There is transformative magic present in both the creative artistic process in the participatory active observing an artistic creation. Both sides of the coin stem from the need to better understand the world around us, and in doing so to connect when is famil “For those willing to look, a vital key to unlocking the cryptic mysteries of magical history and occult philosophy can be found in the many artistic depictions of the enigmatic entities who engage in the practice of mystical endeavors.....There is transformative magic present in both the creative artistic process in the participatory active observing an artistic creation. Both sides of the coin stem from the need to better understand the world around us, and in doing so to connect when is familiar and what we know to be true with glimpses from the world of the unknown,” writes S. Elizabeth in The Art of the Occult. This is one of those books that brings me back to my childhood — long hours spent flung over my bedside in a flurry of books, up too late thumbing through books and the worlds contained within, as though I were looking through a peephole into history and possibility. Worlds of gods and faeries and secrets and under realms. I’d spend hours taking notes and notes of everything I wanted to — needed to! — learn more about. The kind of curiosity that makes you feel like you want to live forever — for how can we not know everything, investigate everything, explore everything this massive wild magical world has to offer?! This book takes you on that same hungry journey, so thoughtfully curated, its offerings prompting us to explore the mysteries within & outside of ourselves through the art it presents — from astrology to witchcraft, and potions to divinations. I It’s so beautiful and so magical and it’s teaching me so much. I am spending time with it nightly, falling into each caption and image — and desiring to know everything, every color, every story, all the secrets contained within. What a gift!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Art of the Occult! if you're someone who is even slightly interested in the interconnection of artistic and magical practices, this is an incredible book for you. the information is nuanced but approachable for anyone. the art depicted inside ranges from more well-known artists to some that i'd never encountered before. i think the discussions about different areas of the occult that tie to artistic movements are fascinating and thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Art of the Occult! if you're someone who is even slightly interested in the interconnection of artistic and magical practices, this is an incredible book for you. the information is nuanced but approachable for anyone. the art depicted inside ranges from more well-known artists to some that i'd never encountered before. i think the discussions about different areas of the occult that tie to artistic movements are fascinating and well researched. this is a super interesting and inspiring book that i'll be referencing for my own work in the future!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ioana

    Well, this has been an interesting journey! I approached this book with curiosity, not knowing exactly what I would find inside. This is a collection of art work full on occult or inspired by different facets of the occult world and thought. This is by no means an dictionary or a glossary but a curation of visual art pieces who represent various aspects of the occult thought, from ancient pages to contemporary painting. It's a great gift for people interested in this subject, it's a great conversa Well, this has been an interesting journey! I approached this book with curiosity, not knowing exactly what I would find inside. This is a collection of art work full on occult or inspired by different facets of the occult world and thought. This is by no means an dictionary or a glossary but a curation of visual art pieces who represent various aspects of the occult thought, from ancient pages to contemporary painting. It's a great gift for people interested in this subject, it's a great conversation and research starter. I particularly liked the last artwork chosen, such a perfect mix of modern life and ancient traditions we bring into our every day life in different degrees. Just what this book seems to convey. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Gorgeous and lush book showcasing art curated by different areas of mysticism. This was the closest thing to going to a gallery show. Very well written

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    An amazing collection of artwork, beautifully depicted. With a wealth of knowledge surrounding each piece of art. A must-have for any art lover, and lover of the mystical. A truly unique book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Fantastic collection or art.

  7. 4 out of 5

    J Earl

    The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic by S. Elizabeth is a visually stunning and mentally thought-provoking work. I mainly came to this book because of an interest in the art and how much of it makes me think and feel. I was not disappointed in this, and I was pleasantly surprised by the very interesting text in each chapter. I think a sentence in the Introduction sums it up nicely: Art-making, then, is magic-making. Good art, and especially good art with occult themes The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic by S. Elizabeth is a visually stunning and mentally thought-provoking work. I mainly came to this book because of an interest in the art and how much of it makes me think and feel. I was not disappointed in this, and I was pleasantly surprised by the very interesting text in each chapter. I think a sentence in the Introduction sums it up nicely: Art-making, then, is magic-making. Good art, and especially good art with occult themes and/or symbolism, leads the viewer to ponder the nuances of life, the things that we know are but we can't explain why they are. Whether it is something as simple as love or as complex as the meaning of our existence, art offers us an avenue into understanding. Not that we will understand, not fully, but we have a way into the conversation. The art represented here does this very well. From the many well known artists and works to the lesser known, we are presented with multiple ways to think about what we know, what we don't know, and what we know we don't know. I just finished reading the theosophical classic Thought-Forms (new edition from Dover Publications that includes all of the wonderful illustrations) so was particularly interested in that chapter, which includes an image from Thought-Forms. I love when my reading interacts like that. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the occult or mysticism as well as art lovers. Take each image and sit with it for a while, see if it speaks to you. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    Gorgeously assembled and intriguing, this overview of occult art drifts around various eras and artists to create an inspiring magical experience. Some of the written passages by S. Elizabeth feature distracting alliteration and whimsy, but for the most part the book is well-researched, full of wonder and mystery. Put it on your coffee table, and it’s sure to start some interesting conversations when friends and family come over.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Xiomara A

    This is such an incredibly fantastic book. Sarah gives you the perfect introduction to the relation of art and science and skillfully categorizes each route both artists and scientists had taken. Let Sarah guide you on this historically artful journey because it will surely encourage you to jump into every rabbit hole and find more connections for yourself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to Quarto Publishing Group - White Lion for a temporary digital edition via NetGalley of ‘The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic’ by S. Elizabeth in exchange for an honest review. I have since ordered its hardback edition. I felt that S. Elizabeth brought together a very exciting collection. It is a lavish book containing reproductions of artworks representing a variety of esoteric and occult subjects. Accompanying the art S. Elizabeth has written an informati My thanks to Quarto Publishing Group - White Lion for a temporary digital edition via NetGalley of ‘The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic’ by S. Elizabeth in exchange for an honest review. I have since ordered its hardback edition. I felt that S. Elizabeth brought together a very exciting collection. It is a lavish book containing reproductions of artworks representing a variety of esoteric and occult subjects. Accompanying the art S. Elizabeth has written an informative Introduction and twelve thematic chapters grouped under three categories: The Cosmos, Higher Beings, and Practitioners. I was impressed with the range of artists included. I was already familiar with many of these including classic artists such as Goya and Dürer, the Pre-Raphaelites, modern abstract artists such as Mondrian and Kandinsky, and many Surrealists. However, quite a few of the more recent artists were unknown to me and I found their work inspiring. It’s a book that is likely to appeal to art lovers as well as those interested in the occult. S. Elizabeth also includes suggestions for further reading, an index and of course picture credits. Overall, a cornucopia of occult images and ideas. It’s a book that I am delighted to add to my library.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Juli Rahel

    Those who know me, will not be surprised that I was intrigued by this book. Not only do I have a fondness for a good Coffee Table Book and for art, I have a major love for anything occult. Give me everything about the alchemists, show me artistic interpretations of the elements, I want to see all of it. Thankfully S. Elizabeth was happy to do so. Thanks to White Lion Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am a fan of magic, mysticism Those who know me, will not be surprised that I was intrigued by this book. Not only do I have a fondness for a good Coffee Table Book and for art, I have a major love for anything occult. Give me everything about the alchemists, show me artistic interpretations of the elements, I want to see all of it. Thankfully S. Elizabeth was happy to do so. Thanks to White Lion Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am a fan of magic, mysticism and the mysterious, so I have always been looking for books about all three. As a kid I did so by reading fairytales and folklore, avidly climbing trees and looking for fairy circles in the forest. As I got older I began digging in a different way. Sure, the Harry Potter books helped keep the flame alive, but I was quickly using the ideas from those books to look beyond. I was fascinated to find that basilisks had been around for ages and that some of the most renowned scientists and philosophers had also been alchemists. Nicholas Flamel who? For me, visual representations of the occult have always had a lot of power and visualization is a big part of most modern-day magical practices. S. Elizabeth states in the Introduction that 'Art-making, then, is magic-making' and once you've read The Art of the Occult you couldn't agree more. The word to describe The Art of the Occult is lavish. It is a beautiful book, filled with stunning images and objects spanning centuries. S. Elizabeth curates an excellent collection under the headings of thematic chapters, focusing on 'The Cosmos', 'Practitioners' and everything in between. Each chapter is introduced by S. Elizabeth in clear and knowledgeable writing. This way, once you're looking at the images, you have a background knowledge to them and are able to appreciate them more. Many of the older artists will be familiar to most readers, but S. Elizabeth also includes many contemporary artists that were new to me. It was a joy to discover their work and I often found myself pondering over a painting, looking at the details and imagining the person who made it. I spent some glorious evenings this way and will definitely revisit The Art of the Occult in the future. As mentioned above, S. Elizabeth wrote an introduction for each chapter. Initially I found myself first looking at the images and then reading it, but quickly I began really reading and considering the introductions. They are very well written and show a lot of knowledge. They truly enhanced the experience of viewing the art, so definitely don't skip them, even you find yourself hungry to see the art. The Art of the Occult is not a reference work or a glossary. It is a collection that is meant to inspire interest. The art works collected are exemplars of their topic, showing the wide range of art that has been inspired by the occult. If anything, S. Elizabeth's book will inspire a desire to dig deeper yourself, find works that speak to your own interests or ideas of the occult. The Art of the Occult is a great book to read, but also a great book to occasionally peak at to re-view a certain picture or re-read a sentence. I'm definitely on the lookout for a physical copy to display with pride. The Art of the Occult does exactly what it says it will do. S. Elizabeth guides the reader through various themes and time periods with ease, informing and entertaining along the way. I would recommend this to any lover of art or the Occult.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Oh where to start with this lovely gem of a book. I've been following the author's blog, unquietthings.com, for a number of years and I have been in awe of her writing style and curatorial skills. The artists, music, books, and movies, she writes about have expanded my own interests and this book does the exact same thing. With her informative chapter introductions and art notes, S. Elizabeth gives great context about the history or the art pieces and why she chose to feature them. There were a Oh where to start with this lovely gem of a book. I've been following the author's blog, unquietthings.com, for a number of years and I have been in awe of her writing style and curatorial skills. The artists, music, books, and movies, she writes about have expanded my own interests and this book does the exact same thing. With her informative chapter introductions and art notes, S. Elizabeth gives great context about the history or the art pieces and why she chose to feature them. There were a number of artworks that took my breath away. There is a fantastic range of images from a variety of cultures, time periods, mediums, and faiths that will entice a reader who is interested in the occult as a visual medium or as a spiritual/religious practice.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Elson

    This review originally appeared on The Magical Buffet's website on 01/20/2021. Since the beginning of time art has been used to convey everything from simple human emotion to historic events. With that in mind, it should surprise no one that art has been a medium to illustrate magical practices for just as long. Anyone interested in witchcraft and/or the occult is sure to have seen the iconic witch-centric art of John William Waterhouse or classic alchemical illustrations. In walks “The Art of the This review originally appeared on The Magical Buffet's website on 01/20/2021. Since the beginning of time art has been used to convey everything from simple human emotion to historic events. With that in mind, it should surprise no one that art has been a medium to illustrate magical practices for just as long. Anyone interested in witchcraft and/or the occult is sure to have seen the iconic witch-centric art of John William Waterhouse or classic alchemical illustrations. In walks “The Art of the Occult” by S. Elizabeth, a wonderful book for art and magic lovers. By no means a complete overview of all art influenced by the occult, “The Art of the Occult” has over 175 full color reproductions of art from the 15th century and earlier right up to modern times. Each work is accompanied with insightful commentary. Each individual finds different art appeals to them, just the way each person finds a specific magical style that suits them. I guarantee no matter who you are, you will find something in this book for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Philippa

    I really enjoyed going through the artworks listed in this book. I discovered quite a few new names that I can now look into on my own. I also thought that the structure of the book was well done. Where I felt that the book was lacking was in the information given. Most of the chapters had a short introduction, and I felt that the images themselves were usually accompanied by little more than a brief biography. As another reviewer has said, I would have liked a little more detail on the artists, I really enjoyed going through the artworks listed in this book. I discovered quite a few new names that I can now look into on my own. I also thought that the structure of the book was well done. Where I felt that the book was lacking was in the information given. Most of the chapters had a short introduction, and I felt that the images themselves were usually accompanied by little more than a brief biography. As another reviewer has said, I would have liked a little more detail on the artists, the work in particular, and their relation to the occult.

  15. 4 out of 5

    April Gray

    A very interesting and informative book that acts as an introduction into mysticism and the occult, and is filled with fascinating, beautiful artworks. A number of aspects of occultism are covered- kabbalah, the zodiac, sacred geometry, and much more- and the information is engaging, never dry and boring. A lovely book! #TheArtoftheOccult #NetGalley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andreea

    Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange of my honest opinion. I enjoyed reading this book because I am a little bit fascinated by the occult and the magnifying mystery of it, and I am, of course, interested in art and art history in general (seeing how I went to Uni for that). This book combines the two and looks for connections. I liked the presentation, but it left me wanting more in depth details regarding some artists and their relationships with the art of the occult. How did th Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange of my honest opinion. I enjoyed reading this book because I am a little bit fascinated by the occult and the magnifying mystery of it, and I am, of course, interested in art and art history in general (seeing how I went to Uni for that). This book combines the two and looks for connections. I liked the presentation, but it left me wanting more in depth details regarding some artists and their relationships with the art of the occult. How did they start, how it shows in their art and so on. But overall, the book does a great job highlighting the connection between the occult and some art works.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    I've been slowly working my way through this gorgeous book over the last few months, and I'm sad that the journey is over! The art and commentary within is thought-provoking, and has directed me towards many new artworks, books, spiritual/philosophical movements, and artists I haven't heard of before. My enjoyment of the book is only increased by my love of the author's writing as Ghoul Next Door on Instagram and Haute Macabre, not to mention her amazing perfume reviews on YouTube and TikTok. I I've been slowly working my way through this gorgeous book over the last few months, and I'm sad that the journey is over! The art and commentary within is thought-provoking, and has directed me towards many new artworks, books, spiritual/philosophical movements, and artists I haven't heard of before. My enjoyment of the book is only increased by my love of the author's writing as Ghoul Next Door on Instagram and Haute Macabre, not to mention her amazing perfume reviews on YouTube and TikTok. I love her work and would buy anything she produces!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zac Hawkins

    A lovely coffee table tome for a broad review of esoteric art, and a reminder I should really read Leonora Carringtons prose at some point. Some odd exclusions however. Ryden but no Anger or Colquhoun?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    Inspiring, and beautifully written too.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Absolutely gorgeous... I find myself paging through it almost every time I pass it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Regan Halas

    A lusciously imaged collection of modern and contemporary artists, representing a fascinating range of styles and approaches to occult imagery. As an artist exploring this topic in my own work, I found a good bit of inspiration and a few ideas.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dora Yang

    An interesting read for sure, and not something I would've normally read. I enjoyed looking through all the mysterious artworks, and reading about the history of an obscure subject. An interesting read for sure, and not something I would've normally read. I enjoyed looking through all the mysterious artworks, and reading about the history of an obscure subject.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    Nice enough introduction to art with occult or esoteric themes, geared towards a non-academic readership. Of course, one would want to have an oversized hardcover, but the editor is hardly at fault for that. The chapter-division is ok, but still somewhat arbitrary. The reader will find nonetheless a plethora of beautiful images from different times, and of different styles. However, as artists I missed the work of David Chaim Smith, Denis Forkas Kostromitin and Jose Alegria Sabogal, maybe David Nice enough introduction to art with occult or esoteric themes, geared towards a non-academic readership. Of course, one would want to have an oversized hardcover, but the editor is hardly at fault for that. The chapter-division is ok, but still somewhat arbitrary. The reader will find nonetheless a plethora of beautiful images from different times, and of different styles. However, as artists I missed the work of David Chaim Smith, Denis Forkas Kostromitin and Jose Alegria Sabogal, maybe David Herrerias, too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maika

    This is exactly the sort of utterly beautiful and bewitching book that would've lit my mind on fire as a kid and sent me off to the library, my book full of scraps of paper marking all the occult traditions, practices, and artists I absolutely had to look up. Which is not to say it's any less inspiring to me now, but that I happily envy those who find this engrossing volume at a formative age. Clearly organized by occult themes, traditions, and practitioners, both the book as a whole and each in This is exactly the sort of utterly beautiful and bewitching book that would've lit my mind on fire as a kid and sent me off to the library, my book full of scraps of paper marking all the occult traditions, practices, and artists I absolutely had to look up. Which is not to say it's any less inspiring to me now, but that I happily envy those who find this engrossing volume at a formative age. Clearly organized by occult themes, traditions, and practitioners, both the book as a whole and each individual section are vividly and thoughtfully introduced by S. Elizabeth, our insightful and lyrical author. And each arresting page is a potential springboard for one's own artistic creativity or to go learn more about these fascinating artists and the varied aspects of the occult that inspired them.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kjerstif

    Liked this a lot! Just wished some of the images were larger and there was a bit more text for each work

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nia Abeni

    so beautiful & inspiring— i loved every second of reading this. learned so many new things!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Tillery

    This is probably one of the most visually stunning & beautiful books I've read. It was a page to page pleasure to read & to view the magnificent magical art of many artists who created mystical works. If you like art & history this is a wonderful resource. This is probably one of the most visually stunning & beautiful books I've read. It was a page to page pleasure to read & to view the magnificent magical art of many artists who created mystical works. If you like art & history this is a wonderful resource.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Lots of visual information

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    An interesting look at mystical, spiritual and magical art through the ages, with blurbs about various topics and the artists themselves. It was a pretty short book, and I would've liked more. An interesting look at mystical, spiritual and magical art through the ages, with blurbs about various topics and the artists themselves. It was a pretty short book, and I would've liked more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ann (Inky Labyrinth)

    Spent most of my autumn perusing this ambitious collection of art related to the occult and enjoyed it immensely. If you are into magic, astrology, ghosts, weird history, alchemy, mythology, or just strange art--you will love this book. A necessary addition to any serious collector of tomes of the occult. Thank you SO much to the author for hosting a giveaway for this gorgeous signed copy, and for the polaroid of a creepy doll!

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