Peter Levenda, a native of the Bronx, New York City, has an MA in Religious Studies and has published over 20 books, mostly in the area of hermeticism and the occult, and a trilogy of books concerning Nazism and postwar Nazism, as well as a book on China trade. He is most known for Unholy Alliance, which has a foreword by Norman Mailer and which has been translated into a dozen foreign languages, and Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft. He has also published his study of the Asian alchemical influences in the work of Thomas Vaughan, and the influence of Lovecraft on the work of Kenneth Grant.

This is a warm November welcome to Season 10 Episode 11 of Thoth-Hermes Podcast. Today’s show brings us into conversation with American writer Peter Levenda. Peter has authored a range of titles on histories of American occultism, Nazi occultism, and the dynamics of conspiracy theory. After successfully pursuing an international business career Information Technology, Peter attained an MA in Religious Studies and Asian Studies. Peter is a member of the American Academy of Religion, several societies, and a member of AFIO (the Association of Former Intelligence Officers).

Peter is careful to distinguish his expertise as around the context and content of conspiracy, rather than their promulgator. Repeatedly in the interview, he stresses the importance of listeners self-educating on the factors that make populations generally- and occultists specifically- vulnerable to conspiracy content. Peter also clearly notes that he is a “left-leaning” political “independent” capable of engaging with a variety of worldviews. Peter also offers the Adorno “Fascism Scale” as a resource for study.

Peter shares formative childhood experiences- rejecting his childhood Catholicism, while retaining the seed of mysticism. A fearful encounter on a mountain in 1963 cemented his personal conviction on the presence of More. High school found Peter conducting seances, reading Crowley and the Tao Te Ching. All of this is reported with a combination of good humor and lasting reverence.

A selection of Peter Levenda’s published books

Rudolf and Peter explore his writing, some of it based around his premise that “America is a haunted house” of unceded territory carrying the displaced and disregarded practices of the First Nations people. Additionally, the influence of encroaching European settlers’ own occult traditions and folkways. Turning to the West at large, Peter and Rudolf distinguish between the “traditionalist” and “surrealist” edges of esotericism; one edge flirting with the Authoritarian Right and the other edge liable to persecution from the former. Peter describes the use of “fiction” as parallel to Surrealism in the ability to analogize “truths” that cannot be proven as “non-fiction”, in the midst of grey area on both. Peter suggests this wisdom is present in many Holy Books.

Peter identifies “magic” as situated in a space between Science and Religion, with the Shadow of conspiracy theory. A comprehensive take-down of conspiracy mindedness in the contemporary United States follows, including: “longstanding” inadequacy of news media, a population demotivated to learn context for theories, and the dearth of “tik-tok enlightenment”. Peter further names related internal difficulties within occult groups, including sections of the contemporary Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) and the leadership of the late James Wasserman; the New York-based Wasserman and Levenda were aquaintances for decades.

While not an OTO member, Peter suggests that Chapter 3 of The Book of the Law is a “cri de coeur” of colonized and oppressed spiritualities, while naming Crowley as a member of the “Victorian drawing room” British colonial system unable to acknowledge that facet of his prophecy. Peter invites the necessity and potency of African, Afro-Carribean, South American and Asian practices into modern Esotericism: “the Law is in front of us all”.

Music played in this episode

Thoth Hermes listener Karl YOUNG has provided us with his music here today! 

After spending some time as a jazz tenor saxophone player Karl Young embarked on a ​​career as a physicist and chose to satisfy his musical yearnings with an intensive study of the shakuhachi or Japanese bamboo flute. Over the past 20 years he has studied with a number of teachers; his primary sensei are Kaoru Kakizakai and Riley Lee, both masters in the dokyoku tradition and students of Katsuya Yokoyama. While his focus has been on the traditional solo honkyoku repertoire or ‘original pieces’ in the dokyoku tradition he also plays sankyoku or traditional ensemble music with shamisen and koto in addition to minyo or Japanese folk music. He is co-founder of the group Ensohza formed in 2006, specializing in traditional minyo and Japanese folk dance, in which he plays the shinobue or transverse bamboo flute as well as the shakuhachi.

Find out more about him by clicking here
Find Karl’s music on Bandcamp 


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Intro and Outro Music
especially written and recorded for the Thoth-Hermes Podcast by Chris Roberts

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