Review: The Candle and the Crossroads & The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians
Orion Foxwood’s The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root Work surprised me. What I had assumed was a treatise outside of my wheelhouse instead struck very much close to home for me, at least in part. Those parts that spoke to me, did so in a very profound way. I should draw attention to the fact that quite a bit of The Candle and the Crossroads is influenced by the Christian faith. Yeah, I know, not exactly the Kool-Aid I drink from, but there are some real insights to be found within these pages that followers of any esoteric path can draw from as long as you keep your mind wide open.
This was a great read, for starters. Foxwood’s writing is crisp and heartfelt, presenting the material with a reverent tone while bringing these oral traditions to light. I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite authors, Manly Wade Wellman, as I dissected Foxwood’s work. I was thrust right back to my childhood when I was captivated by Wellman’s tales of John the Balladeer.
It’s all here — conjuring, faith healing, spirit sight, and more. For those not familiar with Appalachian folk magic, this is an ideal primer.
Of particular interest were chapter 8: Ancestral Spirits and Graveyard Magic, and chapter 9: Gates into the Spirit World and Encountering the Dark Rider. In a word, spectacular. Talk about feeding my muse? As a writer of occult fiction, I was entranced and not only ready to work this into my own stories, but also to put some of this to use in my private arsenal of magical operation.
I have no doubt at all that you will find something that speaks to you in this book for it is filled with magic, mystery, and the promise of esoteric adventure. This is soulful stuff and will stir your imagination and fuel your own pursuits by taking something from the heartland of this Traditional American Folkway and bringing it out of the shadows, reminding us that it is a living, breathing, and evolving belief system that still has purpose and importance.
I also was blessed to spend some quality time with another book, this one from one of my favorite esotericists, William Walker Atkinson. Writing as Magus Incognito, Atkinson’s The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians is weighty stuff. Bringing a veritable cornucopia of occult beliefs — such as alchemy, astral projection, auras, mysticism, reincarnation, and more — under one esoteric umbrella, Atkinson was nothing if not ambitious.
In Clint Marsh’s well written and reasonable introduction the novice reader is let in on “the secret” that much of what was to be found within the Secret Doctrine’s pages was pure invention. This comes as no news to students of Atkinson’s writings, nor to anyone who has studied any of the so-called “secret societies” that flourished at the close of the nineteenth century and the birth of the twentieth.
That they all developed fanciful provenances and elaborate histories to give themselves a bit of caché via theatrical flair was a sign of the times, but it does not lessen the impact of the mysteries unveiled. In fact, it enhances and enriches them.
As a storyteller, I understand the importance of set dressing and Atkinson was a master storyteller and a genius and innovative occultist.
A pioneer of the New Thought movement, Atkinson is largely forgotten now, primarily due to his perchance for writing under various and sundry aliases. That his works have remained in print all of these years is a testament to a masterful style and his flair for the dramatic.
Reading The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians is a captivating experience, presenting an enlightened world-view and a thirst to become one with something larger than ourselves.
I cannot recommend either work highly enough and both Orion Foxwood’s The Candle and the Crossroads and William Walker Atkinson’s The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians would make excellent additions to your personal occult library or as gifts for those loved ones with a thirst for esoteric knowledge.