The unlikely literary success of Dennis Wheatley as an author of occult-themed popular fiction has had an integral and lasting impact on British popular ideas about Satanism. Writing between the 1930s and the 1970s, Wheatley’s “Black Magic Stories” pieced together a culturally specific demonology through which he filtered his often reactionary political and social views in the areas of race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. Wheatley’s writings became one of the key conduits via which the traditional mythology of Satanism was disseminated over the course of the twentieth century— particularly in Britain. To highlight Wheatley’s cultural significance this article introduces the Wheatley phenomenon and the critical reception of his works. Second, it examines his demonological imaginary by looking at his treatment of a series of themes in his “Black Magic Stories.” Third, it interrogates the evidence for Wheatley’s sources and his direct involvement in the occult. Finally, it considers the high point of Wheatley’s
cultural impact between the 1950s and the 1970s, showing some of the avenues
by which his writings influenced and shaped the popular image of Satanism which became ubiquitous during this period, and which fed directly into the Satanic Panics of the 1980s and 1990s.
|Number of pages||29|
|Journal||Aries: Journal for the study of Western esotericism|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2022|