James Wasserman’s In the Center of Fire, a Memoir of the Occult, 1966-1989 came out the last year via Ibis Press. The book tells about Ordo Templi Orientis’ history in the States from a very personal angle.
There are many interesting threads in this ball of yarn: Wasserman’s personal story of getting into teachings of Crowley and the O.T.O., Weiser Bookstore’s early days, Karl Germer’s library, Marcelo Motta, Grady McMurtry, lawsuits dealing with rights to Crowley’s books and the official status of the O.T.O., Magickal Childe bookstore, Simon’s Necronomicon, formation of New York City’s Tahuti Lodge in 1979, heyday of Manhattan esoteric community, breach between Argentium Astrum and the O.T.O., and so on. There’s a good deal of hippie culture, sex, drugs and rock and roll in the mix.
Wasserman does not simply chronicle what happened during the years but tells how his own quest weaves into all of it, where he was and what he did, what he experienced, what kind of highlights, setbacks, challenges and troubles were involved, both order related and personal. He has based his text on his memories, personal diaries, multiple interviews, court transcripts, witness depositions, trial evidence and extensive correspondence. All in all, the book is a fascinating record.
If you have read Gary Lachman‘s Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius and enjoyed it, you might want to read this too. Wasserman’s book is of course much more specific and personal in its subject matter.
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