A New Look at Mystical Los Angeles and its High Priest, Manly Hall

“Last Sunday evening at the Silent Movie Theater, a clip from the 1938 astrological murder mystery “When Were You Born?” was shown as part of an “Occult L.A.” program curated by the author Erik Davis. In the clip, legendary occult scholar Manly P. Hall, who had also written the movie’s script, appeared on screen to introduce the concept of astrology. With penetrating blue eyes, thick dark hair and a rakish mustache, Hall had the looks of a silent film star, and he radiated intensity as he explained the various personality traits of the different sun signs — Leos are loyal, Capricorns are brave, and so on. But that’s not all: “Astrology can solve crime!” he exhorted. “It has solved many crimes in the past.”

At this the audience burst into laughter: Yet another absurd Hollywood twist. It wasn’t the late Hall’s finest moment — in fact, he’d done the scene reluctantly. But afterward he held out hope that “When Were You Born?,” the first major motion picture to treat the subject of astrology seriously, might help “open the way for a great cycle of occult philosophy,” he wrote.

The film was a bomb, but the fact that this obscure clip was being screened before a sold-out crowd of artists, intellectuals and spiritual seekers shows that the cycle of Hall’s influence continues. And it may grow in the coming months, for Process Media has just published “Master of the Mysteries,” the first biography of Manly Palmer Hall, written by Louis Sahagun (who is a staff writer at The Times).”

(via Los Angeles Times)

1 Comment

  1. Richard Tarnas wrote a book called Cosmos and Psyche that seems to be about rehabilitating astology’s place and importance. Haven’t read it yet, but the simple fact that the author of the Passion of the Western Mind (which was brilliant) thought it was worthwhile to study for 30 odd years and write about it makes me curious. I am yet to find a treatment of astrology that inclines me to take it seriously or find it useful.

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