Peter Bebergal

Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll

Published by Tarcher/Penuin

Feb 12, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In the introduction to his nuanced examination of how the occult influenced rock and roll from its inception to present day, Peter Bebergal defines occult as this: "the popular term for a wide range of spiritual believes and activities concerned with supernatural, Gnostic, magical, and mystical ideas." It is important to note, not just for the fact that operationalizing a definition is important for any serious study, but also to clear up any misconception that Bebergal's examination of the occult does not constrain itself to the nefarious and devil-worshipping. Sure, there is plenty of that here, along with a generous helping of Aleister Crowley, but it does not define the be all and end all of Bebergal's investigation.

Bebergal traces the usual suspects-Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin-but Season of the Witch also explores a wide range of mystically-charged artists from The Beatles to Arthur Brown, King Crimson, and even Elvis. At times, the connections may seem, on their surface, tenuous, but Bebergal's book will convert you in the end. If anything, it begs for more in-depth analyses of occult influences in individual artists, Bowie and Arthur Brown being some of the most worthy. Bebergal also notes how the occult not only has driven the emergence and rise of rock and roll music, but also how interest in the occult has been mirrored in the culture at large through different decades.

By the end, Bebergal shows how occult imagery and possible influence can be found even in places where one might not think to look, like Jay-Z videos or Madonna's 2012 Super Bowl halftime show. Once you finish Season of the Witch, you'll find yourself questioning the mystical and magical in places you never thought you would. ( (



Author rating: 7/10

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