Ronald Reagan's occult interests

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We all know that Ronald and Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers, but apparently the 40th president was also well-versed in the writings of occult scholar Manly P. Hall, most famous for his 1928 tome The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Over at the Washington Post, former BB guestblogger Mitch Horowitz, author of the excellent "Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation," explores the Reagan-Hall connection. From the Washington Post:
Hall's concise volume ("The Secret Destiny of America") described how America was the product of a "Great Plan" for religious liberty and self-governance, launched by a hidden order of ancient philosophers and secret societies. In one chapter, Hall described a rousing speech delivered by a mysterious "unknown speaker" before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The "strange man," wrote Hall, invisibly entered and exited the locked doors of the Philadelphia statehouse on July 4th, 1776, delivering an oration that bolstered the wavering spirits of the delegates. "God has given America to be free!" commanded the mysterious speaker, urging the men to overcome their fears of the noose, axe, or gibbet, and to seal destiny by signing the great document. Newly emboldened, the delegates rushed forward to add their names. They looked to thank the stranger only to discover that he had vanished from the locked room. Was this, Hall wondered, "one of the agents of the secret Order, guarding and directing the destiny of America?"

At a 1957 commencement address at his alma mater Eureka College, Reagan, then a corporate spokesman for GE, sought to inspire students with this leaf from occult history. "This is a land of destiny," Reagan said, "and our forefathers found their way here by some Divine system of selective service gathered here to fulfill a mission to advance man a further step in his climb from the swamps."

Reagan then retold (without naming a source) the tale of Hall's unknown speaker. "When they turned to thank the speaker for his timely words," Reagan concluded, "he couldn't be found and to this day no one knows who he was or how he entered or left the guarded room."

Reagan revived the story in 1981, when Parade magazine asked the president for a personal essay on what July 4th meant to him. Presidential aide Michael Deaver delivered the piece with a note saying, "This Fourth of July message is the president's own words and written initially in the president's hand," on a yellow pad at Camp David. Reagan retold the legend of the unknown speaker - this time using language very close to Hall's own: "When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors."

"Reagan and the occult" (Washington Post)

Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation (Amazon)

The Secret Destiny of America (Amazon)


  1. Sometimes I’m still filled with awe that we made it through the 1980s without a nuclear holocaust.

  2. I’m filled with Joy at the thought of all those old conservative Christians who are suddenly interested in the occult because their favorite president just set them a precedent.


    1. In comparison with George W., this seems…almost quaint.

      Don’t forget which President helped put the Taliban in power and got us so entangled with Iraq in the first place.

  3. The real question is whether Reagan really read the book or just remembered that somebody had told him the story and couldn’t be bothered to check out whether it was a genuine legend. Whatever can be said against Reagan (and a lot obviously can be), somehow I don’t see him poring over occult tomes (or reading much of anything, actually).

    1. I certainly hope Warren Ellis has them find the Secret Constitution in the fabled Basement of the Alamo.

  4. Regardless of whether or not this is occult behavior, there should be no excusing by the Christian Right for his abominable association with the astrologer.

    “Deut 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
    Deut 18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
    Deut 18:12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”

    I could not help myself =o)

  5. Sigh. The “mysterious speaker” was John Adams, representing Massachusetts Colony at the time, future Ambassador to Great Britain and President of the United States.

    The only mystery is that no one recorded what he said, but whatever it was he roused 12 of the 13 delegations to vote for independence (New York, then occupied by Britain, abstained). The signing only took place over a period of months, as the delegates all rushed home to their new States to spread the word and protect their families.

    Mr. Adams being my ancestral cousin, it never fails to bug me when this Snopesworthy BS keeps shewing up about colonial time-travellers.

  6. Secret Teachings is a beautiful book but IMHO, it pales in comparison to Jung’s recently released Red Book.

  7. Isn’t this taught to American schoolchildren as ‘manifest destiny’? (which incidentally originally included British Columbia and a big chunk of Mexico)

  8. When his handlers weren’t around to keep him on script, everything Reagan said was nonsense. This is no exception.

  9. That Declaration of Independence story is probably myth– people sometimes need to feel strongly about certain things, in this case that America is special and unique and holds an exalted place in the world. A “hidden order of ancient philosophers and secret societies?” Oh please. Even if true, a “secret society” does not constitute magical divine wisdom (the Ku Klux Klan was a secret society too, you know.) There is a danger in thinking you have some special divine guidance or mandate, just ask Tomas de Torquemada.

  10. Is this mythical declaration of independence story the reason why even latter-day presidents are up to their necks in silly secret societies?

    Praise Moloch! To-wit To-woo

  11. The scandal is right here in this line: “to fulfill a mission to advance man a further step in his climb from the swamps.””

    Gosh, you don’t suppose Reagan was referencing evolution, do you?

    FSM be praised!

  12. I can’t believe no one has spotted the obvious clue that makes Hall’s story BS. According to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

    One of the most enduring myths about Independence Day is that Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The myth had become so firmly established that, decades after the event and nearing the end of their lives, even the elderly Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had come to believe that they and the other delegates had signed the Declaration on the fourth. Most delegates actually signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776.

    Emphasis mine. So independence was voted on on July 2nd, formally adopted and read to the populace on July 4th, and signed on August 2nd.

    Advice to future claimants of the supernatural: Give as few details as you can get away with. The vaguer the story, the more your listeners’ imaginations will fill in the details.

  13. And so, if you are either too young to remember what Mr. Reagan’s presidency was like, or you feel some misplaced nostalgia for his brand of “conservatism,” remember what a *moron* this idiot was.

    He stole/”borrowed” his ‘America as a shining city on a hill’ metaphor, he mis-remembered WW2 from those dumb movies he made at the time, and his wife’s “Just Say No” campaign was useless.

    The only ‘accurate’ movie he made, which I think says something about himself, was “King’s Row.” That’s because it’s about sadism, insanity, (and murder).

  14. He also felt that someday the US and the USSR might have to put aside there differences to fight alien invaders. The idea of US and the Soviets puting aside their difference to just not blow up the world was oddly not within his world view. Weird but true.

  15. Reagan’s presidency convinced me there might actually be something to this “selling your soul to the devil” thing.

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