Endarkenment Reading List   2 comments

moon(Note, March 2017: I no longer maintain this page, but am leaving it on the site for archival purposes.  I am working on an updated Endarkenment Reading List; when it’s ready I will post it on my new site.  You can read some of my more recent writings on sacred endarkenment here.)

“Enlightenment eludes me, but endarkenment: that I know. It is my spiritual condition, a kind of seeing in and by the dark.”
~ George Amoss Jr.


For my fellow bibliophiles and voracious readers, I have put together this eclectic collection of books on the central concept that ties together all the work I do as temple keeper at the Hermitage: endarkenment.

Endarkenment, to me, is about delving deeply into the psychological, philosophical, and esoteric dimensions of darkness, and affirming the value of such efforts.  Decay, death, grief, and darkness are just as essential – and just as sacred – as growth, life, joy, and light, but our culture has lost touch with this fundamental truth.  One of the goals of my work is to do my part to bring about greater awareness and acceptance of the sacred dark, and I have selected this reading material with that in mind.

These resources are loosely organised by theme.  So far, I have read about 2/3 of these; the rest I am including here because they are on my reading list and have been recommended by sources I trust.  If I read something and don’t like it or deem it inappropriate for this list, I will remove it.

I will expand this list as I discover new resources, and fill in full publication details as I have time – for now it is just an outline.  I’d be happy to receive recommendations from readers – feel free to comment if you know of something that you think should be included here.  I appreciate the scholarly, the mystical, and the creative in equal measure.  I enjoy accounts of personal experience written in the first person.  And as a former academic and philosophy student, I appreciate sound reasoning and well-honed critical thinking, and I am always open to revising my ideas in light of new information.  So feel free to recommend all kinds of books!

[Edited to add: I wrote this intro and selected the title Endarkenment for my book about dark ambient music in 2013.  I first heard the term endarkenment used in an essay by Michael Ventura, and later in an eco-feminist piece by Gloria Orenstein, in the 1990s.  In 2015, I discovered some wonderful writings by Molly Meade and Lauren Raine on the concept of endarkenment.  I am delighted to see these, as they are very much aligned with my own thinking.  Happy to see recent writings on this subject that go into much more depth!]


Hermits, Solitude, Silence, and Introversion

1. Colegate, Isabel.  A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses.

2. Rufus, Anneli.  Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto.

3. Cain, Susan.  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

4. Helgoe, Laurie.  Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength.

5. Sardello, Robert.  Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness.


Alchemy, Emotions, Jungian Archetypes, and the Shadow Self

1. Greenspan, Miriam.  Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair.

This extraordinary book receives my highest recommendation.  It helped me more than anything else I read while I was grieving the loss of my 14-year marriage.  It taught me about emotional alchemy, and inspired me to think seriously about using what I had learned – through my own grieving process, as well as through reading this book – to help other grieving people in the future.

2. Zweig, Connie.  Romancing the Shadow: Illuminating the Dark Side of the Soul.Death statue

3. Moore, Thomas.  Dark Nights of the Soul.

4. Marlan, Stanton.  The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness.

5. Dennis, Sandra Lee.  Embrace of the Daimon.

6. Bleakley, Alan.  Earth’s Embrace: Facing the Shadow of the New Age.
(Also released as Earth’s Embrace: Archetypal Psychology’s Challenge to the Growth Movement.)

7. Hillman, James.  The Dream and the Underworld.

8. Woodman, Marion, and Dickson, Elinor.  Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness.

9. Hollis, James.  Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places.

10. Dallett, Janet O.  Saturday’s Child: Encounters with the Dark Gods.

11. MacCoun, Catherine.  On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician.

While this book has a short section of disappointing material that is steeped in regressive gender norms, it’s worth enduring that part because the rest of the book is so outstanding.  The writing style is impressively lucid, and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read on magic, alchemy, and esoteric matters in general.  I wish I’d found it earlier – I learned so much from it!


Spiritual Incubation & Psychomanteum Process

1. Kingsley, Peter.  In the Dark Places of Wisdom.

This is THE book that convinced me to build a dedicated space for incubation purposes at the Hermitage.  It may in fact be the only such book in existence.

2. Ustinova, Yulia.  Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth.

3. Moody, Raymond.  Reunions: Visionary Encounters With Departed Loved Ones.

This book is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in building a psychomanteum.  Pages 65-66 describe the physical set-up of the psychomanteum; the rest of the book focuses on its use.

An Incantation by John British Dixon

An Incantation by John British Dixon, 1773


Dark Paganism, the Underworld, and the Dark Divine

1. Redgrove, Peter.  The Black Goddess and the Unseen Real: Our Unconscious Senses and Their Uncommon Sense.

2. Perera, Sylvia.  Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Intitiation.

3. Coughlin, John.  Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Witchcraft.

I found the writing in this book to be of mediocre quality, but it deserves mention here nonetheless because it was the first book of its kind, at least as far as I am aware.  I got a copy of it when it came out in 1999, and was delighted that it existed – for me its main function was as a source of much-needed affirmation that the dark path I was already following was the right one.

4. Baggs, Sydney and Joan.  The Underworld in Myth, Magic, and Mystery.

5. Orr, Emma Restall.  Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Women.

6. Meredith, Jane. Journey to the Dark Goddess: How to Return to Your Soul.

Jane Meredith – Journey to the Dark Goddess features the author talking about this book.  I’m particularly fond of the tail end of this talk, where she mentions that our culture’s neglect of the darker half of the cycle, and our insistence on over-focusing on the light, plays a part in our horrific treatment of the Earth.


Chthonic Mysteries, Telluric Energies, Stones, Labyrinths, Geomancy

1. Parker, Anne Z. & Susani, Dominique.  Earth Alchemy: Aligning Your Home With Nature’s Energies.

I was skeptical about this book at first, since there is so much lightweight New Age stuff out there on similar subjects that doesn’t impress me at all. But I loved this book. It’s very practical and focused, and as far as I know it’s the only one of its kind. The authors are trying to revive and develop the art of geomancy, with an emphasis on what they are calling the European tradition and the Art of the Master Builders. I will be using what I have learned from this book about telluric energies to help me select the right location to build the Hermitage for the long term. Highly recommended.

2. Greer, John Michael.  The Blood of the Earth.

3. Molyneaux, Bryan Leigh.  Sacred Earth, Sacred Stones.

4. Stewart, R.J.  The Power Within the Land: The Roots of Celtic and Underworld Traditions, Awakening the Sleepers and Regenerating the Earth.

5. Ober, Clinton et al.  Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?

After reading this fascinating book, I decided to spend as much time as possible with my bare feet actually in contact with the earth.

6. Greer, John Michael.  The Art and Practice of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance.

This is the book that got me started in geomantic divination.  I love everything I’ve read by Greer; his erudition and lucid writing style are worthy of high praise, and this book is certainly no exception.  I recommend it highly for those who are interested in learning geomancy.


Dark Pagan Living, Hearth Arts, Sacred Architecture, & Gothic Home Decor

1. Lee, Vinny.  Mood Indigo: Decorating With Rich, Dark Colors.red lanterns

2. Voltaire.  Paint it Black: A Guide to Gothic Homemaking.

3. Marcus, Clare Cooper.  House as a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home.

4. Alexander, Jane.  Spirit of the Home: How to Make Your Home a Sanctuary.

5. Khalsa, Jagatjoti Singh.  Altar Your Space: A Guide to the Restorative Home.

6. Cerwinske, Laura.  In a Spiritual Style: The Home as Sanctuary.

7. Ness, Caro and MacWeeny, Alen.  Spaces for Silence.

8. Bender, Tom.  Silence, Song and Shadows: Our Need for the Sacred in our Surroundings.

9. Lecouteux, Claude.  The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices.

10. Lawlor, Anthony.  The Temple in the House: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Architecture.


Gothic, Industrial, & Dark Ambient Music, Art & Culture

1. Brill, Dunja.  Goth Culture: Gender, Sexuality and Style.

2. Reed, S. Alexander.  Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music.

3. Hodkinson, Paul.  Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture.

4. Kilpatrick, Nancy.  The Goth Bible.


Cave waterfallCave Temples, Underground Homes, and Subterranean Spaces

1. Buffagni, Silvia.  Damanhur: The Temples of Humankind.

2. Turner, Frederick W.  In the Land of Temple Caves.

3. Gallagher, Debbie.  Cave and Underground Homes.

4. Ryan, Robert.  The Strong Eye of Shamanism: A Journey into the Caves of Consciousness.

5. Lundquist, John M.  The Temple: Meeting Place of Heaven and Earth.


Mysticism and Daimonic Creativity

1. Cardin, Matt.  A Course in Demonic Creativity.

This book is one of two that marked a major turning point in embracing the esoteric aspects of my creative process as a non-fiction writer.  (The other is Stephen Buhner’s Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life.)  It boggles my mind that a book this impressive is available for free download.  Have I mentioned that I love this book?  It receives my highest recommendation.  I wish I’d read it when I was younger.  It would have saved me many years of struggle.

2. Hillman, James.  The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling.


Death, Grief, Mourning, and Melancholia

1. Koudounaris, Paul.  The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses.

2. Roberts, B.K.  Death Without Denial, Grief Without Apology: A Guide for Facing Death and Loss.

3. Perry, Sarah.  Every Cradle is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide.  (Note: Release date for this book has been delayed.)

4. Weller, Francis.  Entering the Healing Ground: Grief, Ritual, and the Soul of the World.

How many of you had a place to take your grief?” That line, from this wonderful and inspiring book, served as the catalyst for a flash of confirmation of one of the sacred service roles with which I had been entrusted when I received the vision of the Hermitage.  “I must make the Hermitage into a place to take your grief,” I thought.  “A place where that grief can be ritually received and witnessed.”  And that is now an important part of the work I do.

5. Ellis-Davidson, Hilda.  The Road to Hel.

6. Jenkinson, StephenGriefwalker.

7. Romanyshyn, Robert  D.  The Soul in Grief: Love, Death, and Transformation.

8. McFarland, Ellen, and Romanyshyn, Robert D.  The Sacred Path Beyond Trauma: Reaching the Divine Through Nature’s Healing Symbols.

9. Levine, Peter A.  In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma.

10. Rogers, J. Earl.  The Art of Grief: The Use of Expressive Arts in a Grief Support Group.

11. Moody, RaymondLife After Loss.

12. Hughes, KristofferThe Journey Into Spirit: A Pagan’s Perspective on Death, Dying, & Bereavement.

13. Nocturnum, Corvis.  Cemetery Gates: Death and Mourning Through the Ages.

14. Sausys, Antonio.  Yoga for Grief Relief.


Dark Fusion-Gothic Bellydance, Ritual Dance, Sacred Temple Dance, and Yoga

1. Jones, Evan John and Clifton, Chas.  Sacred Mask, Sacred Dance.

2. Stewart, Iris.  Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance.

3. Fuse Magazine, Issue 8, Fall 2012 – Special “dark beauty” section featuring interviews with Aepril Schaile and Tempest

4. Scaravelli, Vanda.  Awakening the Spine.

By far my favourite yoga book.  “The function of the body is to collect energy from the ground,” she writes.  As one source puts it:

“Vanda Scaravelli’s truly revolutionary yoga demands a much more intelligent and subtle way of working with the body, a way that does not involve pain, punishment, aggression or a determined will; a way of working that does not cause stress and damage to the body, but that nevertheless requires a deep way of working that has the potential to satisfy both body and mind.”

5. Eisenstein, Charles.  The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self.

All of this man’s work inspires me greatly.  This book, and all his others, receive my highest recommendation.


Mosses & Lichens, Plant Spirits, and Spagyric Medicine

1. Schenk, George.  Moss Gardening: Including Lichens, Liverworts, and Other Miniatures.Moss love

2. Kimmerer, Robin Wall.  Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses.

3. Malcolm, Bill & Nancy.  The Forest Carpet.



1. Narby, Jeremy.  The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge.

2. Henderson, Joseph Lewis & Oakes, Maud.  The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Myths of Death, Rebirth, and Resurrection.

3. Graham, Le’ema Kathleen.  Dancing the Inner Serpent: Memoirs of a Suburban Snake Priestess.


teaToward a Dark Pagan Tea Culture: On the Spiritual and Magical Dimensions of Tea

1. Murphy, Frank Hadley.  The Spirit of Tea.

2. McCarroll, Amber.  The Magic in Tea Leaves.

3. A Highland Seer (with foreword by James Norwood Pratt).  Reading Tea Leaves.

4. Rosen, Diana.  Meditations With Tea: Paths to Inner Peace.

5. Murphy, Frank Hadley.  Tea Fried Brain: Notes from St. Camellia’s Church of the First Infusion.

6. Schneider, Sylvia. Healing Teas From Around the World. Sarasota, FL and Toronto, ON, Canada: Sarasota Press, 2001.

There’s a very nice section in this book with information on monastic medicine, the healing potions of Hildegard von Bingen, alchemy, spagyrics, and various magic plants from witches’ traditions.

“Tea has magical powers.”
~Sylvia Schneider, “Dew From Heaven: Appreciating a Cup of Tea”




Posted 2013/06/13 by The Black Stone Hermitage

2 responses to “Endarkenment Reading List

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