Author: Aldous Huxley. Date first posted: Sep. 11, wiser, more conducive to a quiet life, to leave Loudon and start afresh in some other parish? Grandier. HUXLEY’S MASTERPIECE AND PERHAPS THE MOST ENJOYABLE BOOK ABOUT SPIRITUALITY EVER WRITTEN..” — Washington Post Book WorldAldous. Note. In this short text, Aldous Huxley puts forward the hypothesis that the evils we ascribe to religious intolerance and obscurantism are instead a product of.

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I overall loved this book.

Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun. Appendix ()

The book, though lesser known than Huxley’s other novels such as Brave New Worldis widely considered one of his best works. It’s a master work of self control and restraint. The Devils of Loudun is still an important book for out time. As for the Chinese drug addict, he could be relied upon to make no trouble for his conquerors. All these are indispensable, but none of them is enough. He is not a very nice man, loving and leaving and focusing fairly narrowly on Father Urban Grandier rather than the concerns of his flock.

If I was going to muse on the origins of psychology and treatment for the mentally ill and how it arose from belief in possessions and the process of exorcism I’d put that shit into an essay. I mean, if you’re looking for something that deals with actual demon possession, or a piece of lurid fiction dealing wi This is probably one of the most interesting and important books I’ve ever read.

Reading this produces the interesting sensation of having digested a number of closely related yet separate books, in the time it takes to read one book This raises a very important and difficult question.

Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience Oliver Sacks mentions this work in his new book Hallucinations for its depictions of groups experiencing mass delusions. Huxley is one of those authors I just did not appreciate as a young man, but have come to find with age is a writer who not only has a great mind and important things to say about the state of humanity and the power of the “soul”, but does so with a dark and wicked tongue stuck firmly in cheek that makes his writing as much fun as it is.

The Devils of Loudun

The Dark Gods, as Lawrence called them, may change their sign and become bright. He calls it self-transendence, and offers an in-depth discussion of some of the principles that are common to most religions.

Primarily this is due to the astounding progress of applied science and the consequent demand by the masses for compensatory illusions that have an air of being positivistic rather than metaphysical. But if this self-identification with what is human is not accompanied by a conscious and consistent effort to achieve upward self-transcendence into the universal life of the Spirit, the goods achieved will always be mingled with counterbalancing evils.


The community in which the trail and execution took place provides an example of group think and mass hysteria, reminding me how little we have changed in the last three hundred years.

It speaks to a reader devoted to truth and careful analysis who holds the author and the reader to superlative standards. Huxley provides a very interesting summary and explanation of the events surrounding nuns possessed by the devil and the priest who was wrongly accused and burned at the stake for instigating the mayhem.

Refresh and try again. On the many occasions when we drink tea, or coffee, or soda pop, our ancestors refreshed themselves with wine, beer, mead and, in later centuries, with gin, brandy and usquebaugh.

If it’s possible that the human mind can tap into another mind, then those minds must share something on some non-physical level.

Religious and political ceremonials are welcomed by the masses as opportunities for getting drunk on herd-poison, and by their rulers as opportunities for planting suggestions in hixley which have momentarily ceased to be capable of reason or free will. It centers on Roman Catholic priest Urbain Grandier and an entire convent of Ursuline nunswho allegedly became possessed by demons after Loduon made a pact with Satan.

Such an outlandish book. Maybe the edition I read is difficult to find in America.

How much easier, how much more agreeable to trace each effect to a single and, if possible, a personal cause! These epidemics of what in one region is called Tarantism, in another St. Pilgrimages and political rallies, corybantic revivals and patriotic parades – these things are ethically right so long as they are our pilgrimages, our rallies, our revivals, and our parades.

But crowd-delirium aroused by government agents, crowd delirium in the name of orthodoxy, is an entirely different matter. It is an essay on a real story from the Seventeenth Century, and Huxley is not the only one who wrote about it. It is very clear and most passages are translated. If you like Huxley, 17th Century France, or interested in the history of Catholicism or Theology I would highly recommend this book.

Later, when they had come to power, it was only in relation to foreigners and selected scapegoats that they permitted herd-intoxication to run its full course. Of the second possibility more will be said in a later paragraph. In this short text, Aldous Huxley puts forward the hypothesis that the evils we ascribe to religious intolerance and obscurantism are instead a product of human nature under specific circumstances, namely the existence of a totalitarian manipulative power.


It’s important to remember that though times have changed, we are the same people. That he tried to make the worst of both worlds, instead of the best, is also sadly typical. Made one with the drug, he becomes, as Soma-Indra, the source of immortality, the mediator between the human and the divine. All this is of no moment. In modern times beer and the other toxic short cuts to self-transcendence are no longer officially worshipped as gods.

It’s interesting, because at times he makes ironic or even sarcastic comments, and that’s normally the refuge of a weaker writer, a writer who sneers at the world, dismisses the very idea of demon possession or even plain old spirituality as quaint fantasy. That school term was a bit depressing, what with all the reminders of how incredibly shitty people can be in the interest of doing the right and proper thing. Individually and in the co-ordinated and purposive groups which constitute a healthy society, men and women display a certain capacity for rational thought and free choice in the light of ethical principles.

The fact that most of those who take part in these affairs are temporally dehumanized by herd-posion is of no account in comparison with the fact that their dehumanization may be used to consolidate the religious an political powers that be. Huxley is an excellent expository writer at times a little pedantic and the book provides a wealth of information on French society of the early 17th Century.

The final symptom of herd-intoxication is a maniacal violence. Huxley avoided the historicist fallacy of criticizing the condemnation of Grandier based upon the values and knowledge of his day. The historical accuracy and clear, adroit prose make it a pleasure looudon read.

While in this state they will believe any nonsense that thf be bawled at them, will act upon any command or exhortation, however senseless, mad or criminal.

Whether or not they’re “demons” proper is sort of beside the point. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. On all three levels it worked for me. Thus, catalepsy was either a humbug or a symptom of diabolic infestation.