Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, the occult – this book has it all. James Wasserman gives his autobiographical account of the New York City occult scene during the 60s and 70s, including encounters with musician, liberal drug abuse and a marriage or three. All these events circled around his own spiritual core, anchored in his work with the Order Templi Orientis. At times reading like Jack Kerouac, Wasserman rivets with naked honesty rare in occult memoirs.

While much of Wasserman’s book centers on an extended lawsuit regarding what papers from Aleistar Crowley belonged to whom, a second theme documents Wasserman’s years of drug addiction. At certain points throughout his life, his magical practice helps him gain freedom from it – but that he also uses at times to enable his habit. In a short, hilarious disclosure in an early chapter, Wasserman shares how pot saves him from Scientology. While most of his relationship with drugs alarms rather than amuses, the careful and honest documentation of a habit’s progression without a preaching accompaniment is rare.

Wasserman does not attempt to keep the reader’s sympathy. He shares moments of synchronistic magic and enlightenment and discloses infidelities with an even hand. In one passage he describes an altercation within his magical lodge where no one walks away looking good that leads to a fascinating passage on why he now advocates 2nd amendment rights.

It’s not possible for any autobiography to be unbiased. Wasserman makes an effort to be fair to everyone and provides an excellent, entertaining read.

Highly recommended.

~ Diana Rajchel

Author: James Wasserman
Ibis Press, 2012
pp.308, $35.00

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