Tag Archives: Peter Bebergal

AA and D&D, art and reality, conspiracy and curation: Listen to me, esoteric scholar Peter Bebergal + countercultural pastor Barry Taylor talk about the uses of fantasy!

6 Dec

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The world accumulates new fantasies about itself, and as it does, it changes. We develop these fantasies, we curate them, alter them, cling to them, and mark what counts as “reality” by them. Reality is an aggregate of fantasies.

So…what fantasies serve us? How? And who are the best curators?

Well, I’d say two I know are my guests on this episode.

First, occult scholar Peter Bebergal, editor of Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons and Dragons and author of Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural (which we talked about extensively the last time Peter was on the show – back on AEWCH 112 ).

Second, countercultural pastor and artist, Barry Taylor, who is also the author of Sex, God, and Rock ‘n’ Roll: Catastrophes, Epiphanies, and Sacred Anarchies. I met Barry through my friend and frequent AEWCH guest, Peter Rollins. Ive been wanting to have Barry on for a long time, and finally, needing to have discussion of art and fantasy and reality and religion, knew that this was the exact right moment.

We go all over the place in this one. From Dungeons & Dragons to Alcoholics Anonymous, from the problems with Graham Hancock to our acid trips. This is a great episode friends.


I can’t say I’ve read Susanna Clarke’s epic British magic fantasy, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but I trust Peter’s curatorial sense. Since he recommends it, I may go read it now. Let me know if you read it too! If you want a book I’ve read on some of the themes here, read Grant Morrison’s excellent nonfiction book, Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human.

AEWCH 47 features the psychoanalytic philosopher we talk about quite a bit throughout the show, Todd McGowan!

Peter is also the author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. And here’s another interview with Peter, on RPGs and Appendix N.

Support Barry’s work via his Patreon! Here’s Barry’s website (you can also get his book from there if it’s sold out on bookshop.org), and a short profile of him in the Guardian. And do follow Barry’s Instagram – @UKBloke – for the great collages he makes and posts almost every day.

Until next time, enjoy your quest!

Why we need occult technology now. I talk with Peter Bebergal on AEWCH 112.

7 Jun

Against Everyone With Conner Habib · AEWCH 112: PETER BEBERGAL or OCCULT TECHNOLOGY

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Thank you so, so much. Want to buy books mentioned on this ep? Go to my booklist for AEWCH 112 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.


As the coming technological innovations face us and threaten us, can we reconsider what technology is, what role it has in our lives, and how we can encounter (as well as build it) spiritually? What is the morality of technology; not just the morality of building new technologies, but the I asked writer and theologian Peter Bebergal to talk about just that.

Peter is the author of the entrancing book, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural as well as two other books and an upcoming anthology about the inspirations for Dungeons & Dragons. His work always confronts and investigates the connections between the spiritual, the artistic, and the seemingly everyday.

I am experiencing all of these topics with a sense of increasing urgency, so I’m so happy to be able to share this conversation with you.


  • That time I saw a skeleton walking down the road
  • Why repeatability in science is dehumanizing and how to liberate ourselves from it
  • Why we need to understand technology as enchanted
  • Mapmaking through the enchanted
  • The uses and problems of seeing information, not individuals, in medicine
  • When (and why) ayahuasca doesn’t work
  • Magic for frivolous uses versus magic that we need
  • How spiritualism dissolved our fear of hell
  • There are no unaltered states of consciousness
  • Why religions are not the same and how art reveals this
  • How to use magic to hack technology
  • The failures of wonder
  • Using technology to mediate the presence of dangerous spirits


• For more on Peter, here’s a great episode of Other Side podcast with him, and here’s a conversation between he and Jeffrey Kripal. And here’s his website, which is outdated, but has links to tons of articles he’s written.

• I talk about some of the issues of morality and technology on AEWCH 105 with Mark O’Connell.

• I do love Thomas Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, whether or not it made me want to send Thomas an email and be like, “Just read occult stuff!”

• Want to read up on the Keely machine?

• I have yet to read Umberto Eco’s classic novel, Foucault’s Pendulum. But I’ll get to it soon enough.

• “As long as humans can misuse technology, we will never be slaves to it.” – Erkki Kurenniemi

• Peter talks about Gareth Branwyn, a trailblazer in the maker movement.

MAM• Anyone else remember Mazes & Monsters? I actually never saw the film (with Tom Hanks) but I did read the novel.

• Here’s a summary of the work of philosopher and theologian, Rudolf Otto.

• “One way of torturing the dead, one way of failing to show them love, is to participate in spiritualist seances. For this forces them to manifest in a particular language. The dead person is expected to speak a particular language, for even with table-rapping the signs have to refer to a particular language. What is done to the dead by forcing them to express themselves in a particular language might very well be compared with pinching someone living in the flesh with red-hot tongs. So painful for the dead are spiritualist seances which expect them to express themselves in a particular language. For in their normal life the dead are striving to free themselves from the differentiations between languages.” – Rudolf Steiner

• A great, easy-to-read explanation of the Galileo stuff I mention is in Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry by Owen Barfield.

The Cottingley fairies are a lovely and beautiful hoax (although there is a little bit of CFcontention over one of the images, all these years later).

• Here’s Peter channeling Arthur Machen for an interview.

• If you haven’t read James Merrill’s channeled, beautiful book of poetry, The Changing Light At Sandover, you really should.

My Friend Dahmer is, in my opinion, a far superior graphic novel than film. So get it and read it.

• Here’s “Errormancy” by Kim Cascone.

Thanks friends, I’ll contact you again through your devices soon!