Category: New Age/occult

“Hubert Humphrey Was a Vampire!”

“So you’re telling me,” I ask the Pope of Witches, “that Hubert Humphrey was a vampire?”

“Yes, he actually was. Hubert was a very interesting person.”

So says Carl Llewellyn Weschcke. We are sitting in his spacious office at the St. Paul headquarters of Llewellyn Worldwide, the largest independent occult publishing house in America. At age seventy-two, he’s a sage and grandfatherly figure, like a well-groomed Father Christmas or Albus Dumbledore. He has been president of Llewellyn for forty-three years. The ascendance of his company has both mirrored and fueled the rise of New Age from an obscure fringe phenomenon to the remarkably mainstream movement it is today. And because of his influence, the Twin Cities is one of the nation’s major pagan population centers. Just across town, in fact, the hugely popular Edge Fest conference kicks off later this month. Weschcke can take some small measure of credit—or blame, depending on your point of view.

The Weschcke family has for four generations combined business with an uncommon interest in unusual religions. Carl’s grandfather Charles was a successful pharmacist, patent-medicine inventor, and prominent theosophist who passed his views on to his son and grandson. As a young man, Carl felt his life’s work went somewhat beyond his grandpa’s herbal laxative, and in January 1960 he spent forty thousand dollars on a small mail-order astrology publisher, Llewellyn, and moved it from Los Angeles to St. Paul.

Unless he’s clairvoyant, Carl couldn’t have known how successful this would be. He tells me that if he’d only wanted to make money, he’d have done something else. But he was passionate about the occult, and he identified with the company so strongly that he literally took its name as his own. And his timing was perfect: Llewellyn may have been decidedly fringe in the Eisenhower era, but few people in the fifties guessed that the next decade would be…the sixties. Vision-questing hippies found their needs met in a steady stream of books with the distinctive crescent-moon logo on the spine.

Originally published Oct. 23, 2003 in Rake Magazine. Read the complete article.

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