Picture of author.

About the Author

David V. Barrett has been writing about new religions and esoteric movements for many years. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology of Religion from the London School of Economics.

Includes the names: David V.Barrett, David V. Barret

Also includes: David Barrett (4)

Image credit: David V. Barrett


Works by David V. Barrett

Runes (Predictions Library) (1995) 69 copies
Digital Dreams (1990) — Editor; Contributor — 61 copies
Tarot (Predictions Library) (1995) 51 copies
Tales from the Vatican Vaults: 28 Extraordinary Stories (2015) — Editor; Contributor — 15 copies
Dreams (1995) 15 copies

Associated Works

Temps (1991) — Contributor — 98 copies
Blue Motel (1994) — Contributor — 43 copies
Strange Pleasures 3 (2005) — Contributor — 4 copies
White Dwarf 115 (1989) — Contributor — 4 copies
Strange Pleasures 2 (2003) — Contributor — 3 copies
White Dwarf 112 (1989) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 113 (1989) — Contributor — 1 copy
White Dwarf 114 (1989) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Legal name
Barrett, David Vickers
Country (for map)
Places of residence
London, England, UK
book critic



An excellent investigation and analysis of a church that attempted to reform many of its teachings and shattered in the process.
HenrySt123 | 1 other review | Jul 19, 2021 |
While this book is not one which I would have bought myself, I'm really glad that it was given to me as a gift! Religious/spiritual beliefs have always been something which fascinated me, even through my almost complete lack of belief in any of htem, but it's often hard to know where to start the research because so many books are written by biased fanatics. Barrett presents a decidedly unbiased and straightforward view of all if the religious groups featured, and it was very clear based on his inclusion of quotes from practitioners that his fascination is what drove his research. I was surprised while reading that so many of these secret religions are actually based on Judeo-Christian belief systems, just with different interpretations (mostly revolving around symbolism and ritual) or the beliefs that have dominated Western society for two milleniums. Many blend traditions and beliefs from Eastern practises (meditation seems popular) or refocus on an individual's relationship with their own spirituality - interesting concepts in comparison to te group-dominated and hierarchical Judeo-Christian practises. Obviously the later section of the book, which focus on esoteric and neo-pagan spirituality, were of more personal interest to me, since they are closer to the (loose) beliefs that I hold. Much of this information was not new to me, since I hvae done some basic reading on many of these gropus or had peripheral knowledge of their rituals, but I still appreciated the side by side presentation (and no nonsense approach) of the information. There has been a big research book on druidry tha I've been meaning to read for quite some time, so now I have the motivation to actually do it!… (more)
JaimieRiella | 1 other review | Feb 25, 2021 |
I've always been a bit of a sucker for something that promises knowledge that is somehow secret or known only to a privileged few. In my early youth I was intrigued by the advertisements for acane knowledge (handed down through the centuries by a secretive priesthood etc) that were included in the comics (or was it Popular Mechanics) that I read at the time. I think it was the latter...but the Rosicrucian's (AMORC) seemed to have a substantial headquarters and made various promises......so I duly wrote-in asking for the secret wisdom. I can't remember exactly what came back but it was clearly unsatisfying. I think it must have been some suggestion that I enrol in a learning program for a fee .....and I got the impression that there were an infinity of such courses leading to higher and higher qualifications ....but in what? Sounded a bit like a money fleecing operation to me and I never took it further. (At least when I wrote into the catholics for information, about the same time, they were not proposing to charge me).
Anyway, here I am...... 60 plus years later still reading about secret religions (most of whom claim to have secret knowledge or direct acess to god (or gods)). And my conclusions are pretty much as they were with my early brush with the Rosicrucians (AMORC). However, what I learned from this book was that the AMORC was only one of many splinter groups of the Rosicrucians and if there is a unifying factor among all of these secret religions, it seems to be that they have a remarkable tendency to fragment and to form breakaway movements.
The book itself is fairly non-judgemental though the author does let himself have a sly aside ....as when Guy Ballard who taught "mastery over death" died unexpectedly from a stroke......"many members felt cheated". (To me, it is amazing that ALL members did not feel cheated). Though there are a number of reliable fall-back positions adopted by religions when their prediction do not pan out (see P115-116).
However, the book does seem to have focus on relatively recent "secret religions" and I got the impression that the 1800's were something like a golden age for secret religions....though from other readings it would seem that humans have always had a tendency to get sucked in by some charismatic individual who has a secret direct line to the gods. Hence the various Pythagorean schools in ancient Italy and Greece and the Dionysian sects in Rome and the various sects of Baal and Zarathustra and Christianity in the middle east over centuries. These are not covered at all.
In fact, the overall impact on me of the book was that it was a gossipy kind of newsletter about the various individuals who established these religions and who broke off from them and re-established new religions with some minor variations in beliefs. Some of them seemed to intermarry ....or divorce and remarry. Most of them seemed to write their own versions of secret learnings and doctrines. And nearly all of them sought or claimed some kind if connection or lineage from earlier schools or priests. Most of these claimed links do not sustain an investigation. Many schisms seemed to be over things like acceptance of homosexuality or sex magic or the claimed lineage from ancient priesthoods.....rather than over actual doctrines. One example of the "shape-shifting" that leaders of secret religions embraced is the following: .....a short description of the occultism and writer on Tarot, Gerard Encausse, better known as Papus, (1865-1916) and Jean Bricaud (1881-1934), split from the Church, naming their faction the Gnostic Catholic Church. (Papus was briefly a member of the Theosophical Society in the mid 1890's; he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1895; and he co-founded the Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Croix in 1898). Although Papus was never a regular Freemason, in 1908 he organised the International Masonic and Spiritualist Conference in Paris.....and so on.
Most of the relatively modern groups seem to have a series of teachings that the initiate must undergo to reach a higher level when they (presumably) can be entrusted with a higher level of learning. And, in most cases, there are charges for the higher levels of learning. (Lots of correspondence courses). An extra-ordinary number of the charismatic leaders also seem to have persuaded female followers that one of the sure pathways to mystical knowledge is to engage in sex with the founder.
I did learn a few things ...and one is that despite the claims to ancient learning ...for example from the Druids....the actual knowledge about the practices and beliefs of the Druids more than 2000 years ago is practically zero. They wrote nothing down and what we know is only from antagonistic writings from a few Roman historians such as Julius Caesar or Pliny. Yet, on top of the molehill of unreliable material a mountain of literature has been written.
My impression is that most of the "learnings" of these secret religions is really a mish-mash of ideas and beliefs of the charismatic founders (who usually seemed to incorporate their own religious upbringing into the equation as well). Thus..although there is virtually no discussion of the Mormons in the book, I have found it remarkable that the Book of Mormon .... written on tablets of gold ....was written (actually, supposedly, transcribed by Joseph Smith) into language that is strikingly familiar to anyone who has grown up steeped in the King James version of the Bible....as Joseph Smith had been.
I was intrigued by the frequent references to different kinds of energy the occult grows claimed to be able to tap-into: For example: p48; "the body, meant to be a temple for the spirit, serves as an instrument for a higher force", p51; "contact with the divine force of life", p 77...the violet flame which transmutes the cause, effect, record and memory of negative karma and disqualified energy that result in discord, disease and death. p84 "the intensity of the group...." P108:"...Aura Cleaning....where the electro-magnetic radiation of the human constitutes a field known as the aura", p125, Prana, the universal Life Force.....this energy which flows freely through space", 170: "Kabbalah teaches ways towards mystical union with God, the ultimate purpose of mankind",
I note that the author seems to "go easy" on the Scientologists ....perhaps aware of their proclivity to resort to suing and harassment of critics. Though their mode of operations has much in common with most of these other secret religions....the Charismatic founder, the levels of learning required and the hierarchies involved, and the sumptuous life style of the leaders. (And Ron L Hubbard's early years sound a bit like Kim Il Jong's in their unbelievability.
I did learn that the interest-in and influence-of satanists, seems to be greatly overstated in the popular press:....90% of an occult shop in London expressed no interest or passing curiosity about satanism. And the damage wrought by the psychologists who supposedly were able to revive surpassed memories in children. Most of the subsequent horror stories were shown to be false or impossible etc.
Anyway, a curious and interesting book....more of a reference book than anything else. I give it four stars.
… (more)
booktsunami | 1 other review | Jul 4, 2020 |
Ook verschenen als Atlas of secret societies
Marjoles | Jan 9, 2018 |

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