The Occult Jew, pt. 8

The final post in the series (though I will return to the topic). In the 1990s the occult returned to fantasy literature. An increasing number of works of fantasy, including many of that decade’s most accomplished, feature secret societies, ritual magic, arcane academies, motifs and ideas drawn from Renaissance hermeticism, and historical and urban environments … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 8

The Occult Jew, pt. 7

The most welcome appearance of the Occult Jew during the period of the fantasy genre's consolidation occurs in John Bellairs’ The Face in the Frost (1969). One of my favorite fantasy novels, this book mixes Tolkienian fantasy and occult motifs. Its two heroes, both good-natured wizards, bear names that index, not norse eddas or fairytales, … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 7

The Occult Jew, pt. 6

In the second half of the twentieth century, the occult migrated to the horror genre where, especially following the success of Ira Levin’s canny Rosemary’s Baby (1967), it narrowed to a concern with satanism. (One of Levin’s satanists is Jewish, but this is because the book portrays a 1960s New York City where the occult, … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 6

The Occult Jew, pt. 5

The great contrast to Lewis and Tolkien, in both his enthusiastic embrace of the occult and his extensive use of the trope of the Occult Jew, was their friend Charles Williams. Williams was a poet, a popular speaker on literature, the author of works on Christian theology and witchcraft, a religious dramatist, and an influential … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 5

The Occult Jew, pt. 4

J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous essay “On Fairy Stories,” first delivered as a lecture in 1939, is a pioneering text in the definition of the fantasy genre. It is notable that Tolkien takes pains here to distinguish between what he means by fantasy literature, which displays the benevolent quality he calls “enchantment,” and another sort … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 4

The Occult Jew, pt. 3

The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of a modern occult that featured its own mystifications of Jews. England’s preeminent occult society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, was founded in the 1880s and known for its dramatic rituals, celebrity membership, and penchant for bitter schisms. Initiates of the order were required to learn … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 3

The Occult Jew, pt. 1

As millions of readers know, the first book in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series turns on a search for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone. This artifact grants immortality and was created by the alchemist Nicholas Flamel, an old associate of Harry’s wizarding school headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. But unlike Harry, Dumbledore, and the other characters in … Continue reading The Occult Jew, pt. 1