Review by S. C. Mendes
I don’t read much horror now adays… I know, not the best opening line for a guest spot on a horror review website, but it’s the truth. So when Nikki asked me to contribute, I almost turned her down. Instead, I have a rather unconventional book to submit for your approval. It could be considered a ‘self-help’ book, and while there’s no true horror in it, I promise the content deals with supernatural entities and unexplained forces. I hope you enjoy...
Sex and Money. When talking to practitioners of various occult paths, these are the two reasons I hear cited most often on why a person first began to dabble with magick. Hopefully, those initial selfish desires will be transformed into more nobler aspirations before the individual continues further on their path. But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s that desire to make more money, find a dream job, or a soulmate that starts many of us toward self-improvement, and this hasn’t changed much in six thousand years. Now adays YouTube personalities beg for us to give them just 45 seconds so they can show us how to make 45K a month. We have tips on how to pick up the opposite sex easily using subconscious tricks. And of course, there are countless love and money spells being peddled every day. In this regard, occult practitioners can almost be thought of as the first self-help gurus, teaching others how to use their will and magick to change their reality.
The personal development industry is now big business. But before there was Tony Robbins's energizing personality, Zig Ziglar’s business advice, Jim Rohn, or even Eric Thomas—who does an amazing job connecting with the youth—America drew its inspiration to achieve a better, more fulfilled life from Napoleon Hill. He is one of the first “Personal Development” authors and lecturers in modern times. Like Robbins, Hill spent years interviewing the most successful people of his time, then shared those lessons through books such as Think and Grow Rich, How to Sell Your Way through Life, The Master-Key to Riches, You Can Work Your Own Miracles, and more.
Of all his writings though, Outwitting the Devil, for me, is his crowning achievement. I’m not going to waste time trying to convince you that the book’s content will raise your salary a few notches with a promotion or debate if the 'personal development' industry is full of charlatans that prey on people. I found it to be true, that if you master some of the book’s lessons, you can’t help but succeed in all aspects of life, however, at its core, Outwitting the Devil is actually occulted knowledge with a new spin. Many motivational speakers today, tend to shy away from sharing much about the workings of the unseen world when providing personal development advice. They instead focus on the science of behavior change, NLP, goal-setting and brain hacking—all important factors, but still only half of the equation. Hill on the other hand was more open about exploring and working with supernatural forces and entities. He referred to these entities as the great, unseen masters who maintain an eternal school of wisdom. And like a true master, Hill blends his occult knowledge expertly with science about the brain, heredity, and proven laws of the universe, so as not to lose skeptical readers uninterested in what could be misconstrued as spiritual mumbo-jumbo. For me, Hill is the right balance between the science-based motivational speakers and the fluffy law-of-attraction spiritual gurus.
Outwitting the Devil is written in an interview format, with the guest of honor being the Devil himself. “Mr. Earth-Bound” is the interviewer, and by using the ‘master key’, Mr. Earth-Bound is able to ask any question of the Prince of Lies and compel him to answer truthfully. The interview forces repetition and elaboration in the Devil’s answers with the intent of exposing the truth behind the mythical entity and what influence the Lord of the Flies has over mankind. The goal being that once the devil’s tricks are exposed, the reader will be free of the creature’s hold and able to grow into the best version of themselves, fulfilling all their goals and dreams.
The "interview" was supposedly conducted and written in 1938, however the book was withheld from publication for more than 70 years due to its controversial themes—or at least that’s what the publisher claims. Hill’s wife was the first to ask that the book be suppressed, and after her death, the manuscript changed hands several times before finally making it to the printing press in 2011. Fear of repercussions from the book’s content played a significant role in stopping the book from reaching the masses. It’s ironic that fear was an obstacle in publishing the book, considering the interview reiterates that fear is one of the devil’s greatest tricks.
After 288 pages, one might assume the format of simple back and forth Q&A would bore the reader. However, the dialogue is quite engrossing because of the truth it holds. It’s on par to watching a court drama unfold with you being privy to the inner workings of the most diabolical evil in the universe and how its deeds are spread. Despite being written in 1938, the content is still relevant today and the exposes problems of our crumbling public education system, the dangers of dietary choices, and the harm that parents, religious leaders, teachers, and other innocent people perpetrate when they unknowingly spread the devil's message of misery. No one wants to believe that teachers and other good-intentioned adults are wrong in how they conduct themselves. But let's face it, we all know where good intentions lead to...
Don’t let talk of god or the devil fool you. This is not a religious book. It’s about understanding human nature and recognizing the hypnotic rhythm of the world around us in order to transform yourself into what you aspire to be. It’s about your will to create and never drifting from your definite purpose in life.
If you are the least bit open-minded, pick up this book, or listen to the audio on Youtube (the Devil's voice actor is quite entertaining). Just try to secure an edition that does NOT contain the editor notes from Sharon Lechter. Her annotations at the bottom of sections are pointless spoon-feeding of inferences that any decent reader can make, and it damn-near ruins Hill’s original dialogue. If you can’t find a copy without her commentary, simply ignore her text when it appears. With that said, I hope you decide to come learn the tricks of the devil—not that he's real mind you. Old Scratch is quite clear on the point that he is not what many believe him to be. Instead of having a tail and horns and residing in an underground lair of torture, the devil is actually an energy that is more at home in the unused portion of man’s mind. He is the negative electron in matter, he is the second pillar and, in conjunction with his opposition—the force humans tend to call god—the devil holds up this dimension of reality. Without the Adversary, there would be no universe, as we know it.
While all readers can garner entertainment and helpful lessons on how to become successful, this book will really speak to those of you who are still young in their journey of occult knowledge or are looking for something other than just Law of Attraction blogs. When I first started on the path as a western ceremonial magician, this book was quite influential to me. I haven’t read it in years, but at the time I listened to certain chapters over and over again as I drove to work. I found that Hill’s writings reinforced and strengthened lessons and teachings I was studying in the occult sciences. However, you do not have to be a kabbalist or in a Rosicrucian or secret order to receive the benefit of this book. Much like the seven Hermetic Principles, the maxims in Outwitting the Devil will stand the test of time. The difference is that Hill doesn’t code the information as abstractly as alchemical texts do. The message in Outwitting the Devil is not far below the surface, just keep in mind that the lips of wisdom are sealed except to the ears of understanding.
Until next time, stay definite and never drift