In the world of travelling and exploration, the terms ‘spiritual tourism’ and ‘dark tourism’ have become buzzwords in discourse for trips that individuals take to either explore significant religious sites or ill-famed locations in an attempt to achieve enlightenment or to explore the darker recesses of the human experience.
In case you’ve ever been interested in where to visit both, you may wish to start with Andy Sharp’s The Astral Geographic from Watkins Publishing; a guide to the world through the eyes of an aspiring occultist, or someone interested in exploring how the supernatural has always existed in the real world (at least according to Sharp), and how darker practices have often been tied, rightly or wrongly, to sites of mystical or paranormal significance.
Sharp endeavours to strike a balanced tone throughout The Astral Geographic, showing a clear reverence and passion for all things esoteric without losing an objective, historical writing style and critiquing long-since-quashed beliefs or dangerous practices.
There’s a pleasing variety to The Astral Geographic as well, touching on arcane concepts such as Atlantis, necromancy, and Satan, as well as real-life figures such as notorious occultist Aleister Crowley and mysterious French alchemist Fulcanelli. The final section even abandons the travel guide format and instead becomes a pocket grimoire for anyone who wants to explore their own spiritual practices, including planetary details for creating talismans, lucid dream how-tos, and even invoking hexagrams.
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It also helps that The Astral Geographic is a treat for the eyes, full to the brim with photographs, graphics, and artwork that help centre these esoteric sites in the real, tangible world, and also provide the book with some of the best coffee-table-book art in a good while, courtesy of Nick Taylor. Even if a curious reader has no real interest in the mystical, it’s likely that the visual feast on show will entice some to pick up this tome.
While some readers may find it aimed more for beginners and so may wish for a deeper exploration of certain areas or locales, The Astral Geographic is a charming and accessible guide to the world’s collection of supernatural hotspots. For the discerning spiritually-minded person, it will prove a boon, or for a loved one perhaps the positively divine spooky seasonal gift.
The Astral Geographic is out on 10th October from Watkins Publishing.