Nicholas Reid reviews Shadow Worlds


Reviewer Nicholas Reid has written a detailed piece on Andrew Paul Wood’s Shadow Worlds: A history of the occult and esoteric in New Zealand:

‘I’ll begin this review with a clear verdict. Writing about “alternative” cults and religions in New Zealand, Andrew Paul Wood is both respectful and sceptical. He categorises as occult and esoteric all the (most often small) groups that propose spiritual and religious ideas outside New Zealand’s mainstream (the mainstream being mainly Christianity, but also Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism). Wood concedes that some occult and esoteric groups have been harmless, and indeed some have contributed to the common good. But he is also aware of a malign streak in certain occult and esoteric groups, especially those that have promoted racism or white supremacism. Wood is critical of what is patently fraudulent or fabricated in some groups, many of which draw upon claims of ancient wisdom which have in fact been concocted very recently. He also calls out the charlatans who have misled their own congregations. As a piece of scholarship, Wood’s Shadow Worlds is very thorough, covering many groups (some of whom you have never heard before) and built on close research. In other words it is an admirable piece of work and contributes much to an understanding of New Zealand history.’

Read the full review on Reid’s Reader here.