This book will blow your mind, and I mean that almost literally. Despite what the title and cover might lead you to believe, this is not a lies-my-teacher-told-me volume about the Pagan and occult world. It is, instead, a wild and wonderful grimoire of a sort that explores chaos magic, entheogens, secret societies and other edgy subjects. You might be familiar with The Disinformation Company from the BBC TV series Disinformation or the website, a popular online alternative news and underground culture destination; that’s where the word ‘disinformation’ in the title comes from. Their avowed aim is to break boundaries and display what’s really out there as opposed to what we all want to think is there. This book fits well within that paradigm.

This anthology is an updated and revised version of the 2003 edition, which became something of a cult classic soon after its publication and the new version lives up to its reputation. Some of the articles are recent contributions by current authors and others are reprints of fascinating writing by well-known names such as Terence McKenna. With 38 entries plus a preface and introduction, it’s a hefty volume, and none of it is fluff.  All together, the collection offers a window into an out-of-the-box view of the occult world. In other words, if you’re looking for Wicca 101 or unicorns farting rainbows, this is not your book.

Chapter titles such as ‘Scarlet Women,’ ‘The Great Beast 666’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ give an accurate view of the irreverence of the contents. There is a lot of focus on Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare and their cronies, both from a biographical standpoint and in terms of working magic using their methods. These are essays with deep concepts but they are approachable for anyone who is willing to take the time to read carefully. I did find the tiny print, broken up on every page by large bold quotations from within the text, to be a bit difficult to read. Whether the designer did that on purpose is, of course, a question, given the general attitude of the work.

A few of my favorite entries in this anthology include Grant Morrison’s painfully pragmatic – but effective – instructions on how to do magic. All traditions teach that it really happens in your mind; Morrison starts at that point so there’s really nothing to strip away. I was fascinated by Boyd Rice’s treatise on the connections between the Annunaki, Nephilim, Merovigian kings and the Grail. Honestly, I expected to be turned off by conspiracy theories and tenuous associations, but instead I was gratified by a well-researched list of facts and a collection of conclusions that made sense based on those facts. The interview with Anton Lavey is predictably wide-ranging and edgy, and Terence McKenna’s article about tryptamine hallucinogens is penetrating and insightful.

Taken together, the essays in this collection paint a colorful picture of the edgier side of the magical and occult world. It’s not a quick read, but for those who are interested in this aspect of life, it’s well worth it.

~review by Laura Perry

Editor: Richard Metzger
Disinformation Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, 2014
pp. 352, $21.95