In 1919, a Canadian teenager with a sixth-grade education arrived by train to the wilds of Los Angeles. Within a decade he had transformed himself into a world-renowned luminary and occult scholar. His name was Manly Palmer Hall, author of the landmark encyclopedia The Secret Teachings of All Ages and the 20th century’s most prolific writer and speaker on ancient philosophies, mysticism, and magic.

Hall revealed to thousands how universal wisdom could be found in the myths and symbols of the ancient Western mystery teachings. He amassed the largest occult library west of the Mississippi and founded The Philosophical Research Society in 1934 for the purpose of providing seekers rare access to the world’s wisdom literature. He became a confidante and friend to celebrities and politicians. In 1990, he died (some say he was killed) in what remains an open-ended Hollywood murder mystery.

This dramatic story of Hall’s life and death provides a panorama of twentieth century mysticism and an insider’s view into a subculture that continues to have a profound influence on movies, television, music, books, art, and thought.

Author Louis Sahagun is a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. He contributed to a Times series on Latinos in Southern California that won a Pulitzer Prize. His work ranges from religion and the environment to crime and politics. He lives with his wife and daughter in California.

“An engrossing and informative work. This book vividly illuminates a remarkable individual who was almost larger than life in every sense of the word, and also an era in the history of Los Angeles, a place where people have always felt free to set conventionalism aside and try new spiritual paths.” — Robert Ellwood

 

Read/Download a PDF excerpt below:

Download (PDF, 361KB)