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A Primary Reading List

Posted by Richard Grossinger on June 24, 2010

When I was twenty, the poet Robert Kelly presented my wife Lindy and me with a reading list to get us started, so to speak, in life. He was concerned that the traditional education that we were receiving at Amherst and Smith Colleges was missing a lot of important things, like what the universe is, what it means to be human, the history of the non-Western Earth, how the gods have been named, and so on. I may still have that original Kelly list somewhere in a file, but I can’t find it. I do remember that his curriculum included The Sufis, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Magick in Theory and Practice, and a few other books that I have carried over to this list, which is my current and expanded version of the Kelly “life” list.

My categories are fluid and informal and are provided here mostly to help organize the titles. Most of these books could easily slot into more than one category.

Originally I was just going to list the books, as Kelly did, but then that seemed spartan for this website era. Once I began composing descriptions, I realized that the nature of the books themselves as well as my present relationship to their content led me to have more—and different—things to say about them now than when I first read them. On a second pass I decided to add quotes from some (but not all) of the texts to give at least a taste of the author’s actual words.

A shorter description usually means that I have covered the book so thoroughly elsewhere in my writing that I don’t have the enthusiasm to repeat myself here. It sometimes means that I have forgotten too much of the detail in the book to do it full justice. In fact, I have forgotten some books almost completely, so I wasn’t able to describe them without looking back at them again to refresh my memory. In all cases, though, the books themselves had a huge impact—subtle or charismatic—that cannot be encapsulated. That is why I was able to forget the entire contents of some texts and still be influenced by them.

I have listed most translators, especially of contemporary books. Older works with multiple acceptable translations belong to the planet as is. They have entered the metaphorical noosphere and are already bouncing back out the Akashic Record (metaphorical or real).

1. The Form and Operation of the Part of the Universe That is Invisible to Us

In Search of the Miraculous by P. D. Ouspensky

The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P. D. Ouspensky

The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Theory of Celestial Influence by Rodney Collin

The Theory of Conscious Harmony by Rodney Collin

The Seth Material by Jane Roberts

Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul by Jane Roberts

Level 1 Meditation Class by John Friedlander

The Seven Planes of Consciousness: An Exploration of the Energy Frequencies of Human Awareness by John Friedlander

2. The Esoteric Tradition in the West

The Tarot by Paul Foster Case.

The Zodiac: A Life Epitome by Walter H. Sampson

The Planetarization of Consciousness: From the Individual to the Whole by Dane Rudhyar

The Astrology of Personality by Dane Rudhyar

Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition by Frances A. Yates

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances A. Yates

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment; and Theatre of the World by Frances A. Yates

Magick in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley

An Outline of Occult Science by Rudolf Steiner

Cosmic Memory: Atlantis and Lemuria by Rudolf Steiner

The Nature of Substance by Rudolf Hauschka, translated by Mary T. Richards and Marjorie Spock

“The Theatre of Terrestrial Astronomy” by Edward Kelley

Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield

Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry by Owen Barfield

History in English Words by Owen Barfield.

3. The Nature of Our Body-Minds

The Primacy of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty translated by James Edie

Signs by Maurice Merleau-Ponty translated by Richard C. McCleary.

Man on His Nature by Sir Charles Sherrington

Process and Reality by Alfred North Whitehead

Of Grammatology by Jacques Derrida, translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness by Donna Haraway

Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors That Shape Embryos by Donna Haraway

Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates by Slavoj Zizek

The Gutenberg Galaxy by Marshall McLuhan

Migraine by Oliver Sacks

Metaphors of Vision by Stan Brakhage

Language, Thought, & Reality by Benjamin Lee Whorf

4. Psychology, Psychosomatic Healing, and Parapsychology

The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

Thalassa: A Theory of Genitality by Sandor Ferenczi

The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma by Edward C. Whitmont

Living Your Dying by Stanley Keleman

Sexuality, Self & Survival by Stanley Keleman

The Fifty-Minute Hour by Robert Lindner

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck

Psychology and Alchemy by C. G. Jung

Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious by C. G. Jung

Symbols of Transformation by C. G. Jung

Civilization in Transition by C. G. Jung

The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, & The Origins of Culture by William Irwin Thompson

The Myth of Analysis by James Hillman

Revisioning Psychology by James Hillman

Working the Soul by Charles Poncé

The Archetype of the Unconscious and the Transfiguration of Therapy by Charles Poncé

Freud & Man’s Soul by Bruno Bettelheim

Ether, God, and Devil/Cosmic Superimposition by Wilhelm Reich

Character Analysis by Wilhelm Reich

The Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich

Paranormal Foreknowledge by Jule Eisenbud

5. The Search for the Divine and Modes of Love and Ascension

Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi by Henri Corbin

The Sufis by Idries Shah

The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi by Andrew Harvey

The Holy Kabbalah by A. E. Waite

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Stones of the New Consciousness: Healing, Awakening, & Co-Creating with Crystals, Minerals, & Gems by Robert Simmons

6. Culture, Language, and Symbol

The Savage Mind by Claude Lévi-Strauss

Totemism by Claude Lévi-Strauss

The Raw and the Cooked by Claude Lévi-Strauss

Structural Anthropology by Claude Lévi-Strauss

The White Goddess by Robert Graves

Les Mots et Les Choses by Michel Foucault

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, translated by Maria Jolas

Navaho Religion: A Study in Symbolism by Gladys Reichard

7. Science as a Path to Meaning

On Growth and Form by D’arcy Thompson

The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science and Philosophy by Guy Murchie

Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan

Forerunners of Darwin: 1754-1859 edited by Bentley Glass, Owsei Temkin, and William Strauss, Jr.

The Great Chain of Being by Arthur O. Lovejoy

Ontogeny and Phylogeny by Stephen Jay Gould

Investigations by Stuart Kauffman

The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler

The Roots of Coincidence: An Excursion into Parapsychology by Arthur Koestler

The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers by Carl L. Becker

Physics and Philosophy by Werner Heisenberg

Physics and Beyond by Werner Heisenberg

Across the Frontiers by Werner Heisenberg

The Nature of Time, edited by Thomas Gold

8. Lost Civilizations, The Sources of Western Thought, and the Discovery of the Americas

The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans by G.J. Sawyer, Viktor Deak, Esteban Sarmiento, and Richard Milner

The Roots of Civilization by Alexander Marshack

Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth & The Fame of Time by Giorgi de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age by Charles Hapgood

The Presocratics edited by Philip Wheelwright

The Timaeus by Plato

The Enneads by Plotinus

Land to the West: St. Brendan’s Voyage to America by Geoffrey Ashe

The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations by Cyrus H. Gordon

The Beothuk Saga by Bernard Assiniwi, translated by Wayne Grady

Westviking: The Ancient Norse in Greenland and North America by Farley Mowat

Northern Mists by Carl Sauer

Land and Life by Carl Sauer

The Early Spanish Main by Carl Sauer

Sixteenth-Century North America by Carl Sauer

Seventeeth-Century North America by Carl Sauer

Plants, Man, and Life by Edgar Anderson

9. Non-Western World-Views and Critique of the West

The Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos by Knud Rasmussen

Mambu: A Study of Melanesian Cargo Movements and Their Social and Ideological Background by Kenelm Burridge

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda

A Separate Reality; Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda

The Eagle’s Gift by Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda

Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins

The World of Primitive Man by Paul Radin

The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology by Paul Radin

Primitive Man as Philosopher by Paul Radin

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Ogalala Sioux by John G. Neihardt

Sun Chief: The Autobiography of a Hopi Indian, edited by Leo W. Simmons

The Lost Universe: The Way of Life of the Pawnee by Gene Weltfish

The Toe Bone and the Tooth: An Ancient Mayan Story Relived in Modern Times (Stealing Benefacio’s Roses) by Martín Prechtel

Long Life, Honey in the Heart by Martín Prechtel

10. Practicing Mortality, Life, and Death

The Supreme Source: The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde Kunjed Gyalpo by Chogyal Namkhaf Norum and Adriano Clemente

Carefree Dignity: Discourses on Training in the Nature of Mind Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche

Fearless Simplicity: The Dzogchen Way of Living Freely in a Complex World by Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa

The Myth of Freedom by Chögyam Trungpa

Transcending Madness by Chögyam Trungpa

The Lion’s Roar by Chögyam Trungpa

Crazy Wisdom by Chögyam Trungpa

Easy Death: Spiritual Wisdom on the Ultimate Transcending of Death and Everything Else by Da Free John

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo: A new translation with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chögyam Trungpa

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated by W. Y. Evans-Wentz

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

Richard Grossinger graduated from Amherst College and has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan. He is the co-founder and publisher of North Atlantic Books (with his wife, Lindy Hough). Books he has authored include: Planet Medicine; The Night Sky; Embryogenesis: Species, Gender, and Identity; Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life; On the Integration of Nature; and The Bardo of Waking Life. He has studied t’ai chi ch’uan with Paul Pitchford, Martin Inn, and Peter Ralston and craniosacral therapy with Randy Cherner and John Upledger. He and Lindy Hough live alternately in Berkeley, California, and Manset, Maine; they have two children: Robin Grossinger, an environmental biologist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and Miranda July, a writer, film-maker, and performance artist.

Read more about Richard Grossinger

Comments (2)
  • This is an interesting list, with much to explore. I’m wondering why authors like Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Thomas Merton, Howard Thurman, The Cloud of Unknowing, The Philokalia, etc. are not included. With the exception of Teilhard, you have ignored the Christian mystical tradition. Is that intentional, or merely an oversight?

    — Carl McColman on October 9, 2010

  • You need to go to my website, for the actual list and the text that goes with it.  This was meant only to be a list of MY path, how I got to these topics.  It was not meant to be exhaustive, just autobiographical.

    — Richard Grossinger on October 9, 2010

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24 June 2010

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