A Tour Through the History of American Metaphysical Religion

Raise your hand if you’ve ever attended a séance, sat in meditation, done yoga, consulted a psychic, read tarot cards, purged in a sweatlodge, prayed with tobacco, read esoteric literature, executed a karate chop, attempted tantric sex, shouted hallelujah at a revival, practiced astrology or alchemy, dropped a tab of acid, bought a book at Bodhi Tree bookstore, consulted an oracle, hearkened to an end-of-the-world prophecy, speculated about (or encountered) UFOs, worn a crystal, chanted a magic spell or mantra, or even dreamt of wandering in the Himalayas and encountering a Tibetan master or stumbling across Don Juan down in Mexico?

If so, welcome to the American Metaphysical Tradition! And if you haven’t, where have you been for the last 400 years?

While the study of “AMR” is a newly emerged academic specialization, author Ronnie Pontiac sees it more broadly as a “catchall metaphor for the esoteric beliefs and practices that have found a home in the melting pot of America,” and himself as a “tour guide to the rough-and-tumble world of spirituality American-style.” Pontiac’s 600-page American Metaphysical Tradition: Esoteric and Mystical Traditions in the New World spans “four centuries of America’s metaphysical saints, grifters, misfits, revolutionaries, visionaries, eccentrics, and some important thinkers who were far ahead of their time.” Continue reading “A Tour Through the History of American Metaphysical Religion”