American Metaphysical Religion: Esoteric and Mystical Traditions of the New World (Paperback)

American Metaphysical Religion: Esoteric and Mystical Traditions of the New World By Ronnie Pontiac Cover Image
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An in-depth exploration of four centuries of American occult and spiritual history, from colonial-era alchemists to 20th-century teachers

• Details how, from the very beginning, America was a vibrant blend of beliefs from all four corners of the world

• Looks at well-known figures such as Manly P. Hall and offers riveting portraits of many lesser known esoteric luminaries such as the Pagan Pilgrim, Tom Morton

• Reveals the Rosicrucians among the first settlers from England, the spiritual influence of enslaved people, the work of mystical abolitionists, and how Native Americans and Latinx people helped shape contemporary spirituality

Most Americans believe the United States was founded by pious Christians. However, as Ronnie Pontiac reveals, from the very beginning America was a vibrant blend of beliefs from all four corners of the world.

Based on the latest research, with the assistance of leading scholars, this in-depth exploration of four centuries of American occult and spiritual history looks at everything from colonial-era alchemists, astrologers, and early spiritual collectives to Edgar Cayce, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, and St. Germain on Mount Shasta. Pontiac shows that Rosicrucians were among the first settlers from England and explores how young women of the Shaker community fell into trances and gave messages from the dead. He details the spiritual influence of the African diaspora, the work of mystical abolitionists, and how Indigenous groups and Latinx people played a large role in the shaping of contemporary spirituality and healing practices.

The author looks at well-known figures such as Manly P. Hall and lesser known esoteric luminaries such as the Pagan Pilgrim, Tom Morton. He examines the Aquarian Gospel, the Sekhmet Revival, A Course in Miracles, the School of Ageless Wisdom, and mediumship in the early 20th century. He explores the profound influence of the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in Los Angeles and looks at the evolution of female roles in spirituality across the centuries. He also examines the right wing of American metaphysics from the Silver Legion to QAnon.

Revealing the diverse streams that run through America’s metaphysical landscape, Pontiac offers an encyclopedic examination of occult teachers, esotericists, and spiritual collectives almost no one has heard of but who were profoundly influential.

About the Author

Ronnie Pontiac worked as Manly P. Hall’s research assistant, screener, and designated substitute lecturer for seven years. He is an award-winning documentary producer, and has written for Invisible College Magazine, Newtopia, Metapsychosis, Occult of Personality, and Reality Sandwich. He lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…

“Ronnie Pontiac has produced one of the finest, most comprehensive works of independent scholarship that we possess on the mystical currents of American religion. Like a journey down a wild, winding, and uncharted river, this book takes us through byways and inlets that few historians know. Surprises emerge on nearly every page.”
— Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award–winning author of Uncertain Places

“A lucid tour through the Wild West of American-style spirituality. Pontiac drives us through landscapes peopled by odd characters that some have deemed ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’ but whose burning arrows have ignited things in our psyches whether we knew it or not. I was constantly delighted by the new, luminous insights into characters and events that I thought I knew everything about but clearly didn’t.”
— Alan Richardson, author of Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune

“Scholarly yet eminently readable, this is a must for the bookshelf of any reader interested in the sociology of religion, the history of psychical development, and the psychology of sacred feeling. Highly recommended.”
— Tod Davies, author of The History of Arcadia visionary fiction series

“Ronnie Pontiac does his readers an inestimable service, surveying and summarizing an immense amount of academic material. Pontiac makes a strong argument that America has always had a religious consciousness, separation of church and state notwithstanding. Thomas Edison, William James, Timothy Leary, Carlos Castaneda, and Terence McKenna are only some of the figures Pontiac takes on in this detailed, thorough, and readable account of the often wildly disparate beliefs held by that ‘one nation under God.’”
— Gary Lachman, author of The Return of Holy Russia

“Ronnie Pontiac’s book is a full engagement with these deep currents and a wild map of the ocean they form. The reader sets the book down with a sense of the endless nature of those waters but also with the conviction that, below the waves, ‘America’ is fundamentally an esoteric idea and a mystical ideal and always has been.”
— Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Reali

“The most fascinating book I have read in decades. Hollywood may have written its own history of cowboys and cattle, but kindly allow Ronnie Pontiac to enchant you with a different story. This is an especially long book, over 600 pages, but the work never loses pace, not a word is wasted, every sentence is packed with information. An illuminating journey into the eternal spiritual quest of human nature set free in a new land.”
— Naomi Ozaniec, author of Becoming a Garment of Isis

“This book is much closer to the mainstream psyche than academics would have us believe. Ronnie Pontiac’s book is a lively, engaging, thoughtful, and insightful introduction to this dazzling world.”
— Richard Smoley, author of A Theology of Love

“Pontiac’s ambitious and inclusive book is an important contribution to our understanding of the culturally and philosophically diverse influences that have, from the very beginning, impacted the character of American spiritual thought and experience. This book is a critical project that shows us the contours and multitudes of cultural and historical influence that converge to produce a uniquely American esotericism.”
— Amy Hale, author of Ithell Colquhoun

“I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a storybook concerning a multi-formed religion that lies just below the surface of American awareness yet plays a significant part in the beliefs and inspirations that characterize our psyche. Its ‘metaphysical’ ideas reach everyone, from presidents to heads of corporations as well as major figures in the arts and sciences and the average citizen. We can see them as people struggling to make sense of life, the world, and other realities. Prepare to be amazed.”
— Mary K. Greer, author of Women of the Golden Dawn

“Permanently unseats the lingering myth that the United States is (or was) an exclusively Christian nation. Read this book: I guarantee you will encounter a character who helps you locate your own lineage in the tangled skein of American metaphysical religion.”
— Thea Wirsching, author of The American Renaissance Tarot

“Especially valuable for me is the groundbreaking discussion of the Platonic enthusiasts Thomas Moore Johnson, Alexander Wilder, and Hiram K. Jones. Well researched, relevant, and revelatory.”
— K. Paul Johnson, author of Edgar Cayce in Context

“It’s a wild ride filled with so many familiar metaphysical names and intriguing connections and events to follow up on. Gems on every page. I didn’t want to put it down.”
— Normandi Ellis, author of The Ancient Tradition of Angels

“A never-ending gold-hearted gossip column and a vast erudite history of American arcana. Every page is filled with illuminating morsels—manna for the seeker, a feast for all.”
— Matt Marble, author of Buddhist Bubblegum

“Ronnie Pontiac has written a most useful and readable overview of American Metaphysical Religion from Colonial times to the present, including contributions of European immigrants; from the 18th century Enlightenment’s occult underground through the 19th century’s ‘occult explosion’ and right up to the present. He has consulted all the sources and scholarship. His own personal experiences and friendships with significant practitioners add a hands-on touch.”
— Jay Bregman, coeditor of Platonic Traditions in American Thought

“From the margins and the deeper streams of mainstream culture Pontiac pulls threads of history that are often left obscure. An able guide, this book opens the readers to the potentials that still lie waiting for those who seek more than a mega church initiation.”
— David Metcalfe, scholar in virtual residence at the Windbridge Institute

Product Details
ISBN: 9781644115589
ISBN-10: 1644115581
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Publication Date: January 31st, 2023
Pages: 608
Language: English