Today we celebrate the Laughing Magician’s Lesser Feast.

Posted in Occult Detectives on May 10, 2022 by Occult Detective

This “nasty piece of work” is celebrating a birthday today, his 69th if you can believe that. John Constantine was born on the 10th of May, 1953 in Liverpool, Lancashire.

If you’re of a mind to embrace the strange (and I obviously am), then the old ConJob is real in the sense that many of his creators have spotted the Laughing Magician out and about in our very own prime material.

Now, I’ve never seen him myself, but I am willing to concede the notion that a figure such as he is ornery enough to will himself into existence, for good or bad. Just the same, whichever way that ill wind blows, I’d have a drink with him, but I sure as hell wouldn’t turn my back on him.

Happy Birthday, John Constantine, you right old bastard. Cheers.

“It’s just the way of it, son. We all sell our souls sooner or later.”

The Converse UFO Club

Posted in Investigations, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on May 9, 2022 by Occult Detective

I had a dream last night, of being upstairs in the old Converse High School. I was looking for something, and found myself inside one of the abandoned classrooms on the top floor, in the very room that was home to the Converse UFO Club I founded back in 1976. On the chalkboard was scrawled a number of arcane sigils. That’s when I woke up, at 3:15am.

This got me thinking about the origins of that club and how much fun we had. It was my 5th grade year. Mr. Piper’s class. Several kids were falling behind in math, so Piper, in a stroke of genius, decided to give everyone a test. If you scored perfect, then you didn’t have math the rest of the semester. So what did I do? I cheated off of Mick Miller. There were about a dozen of us who were excused from math class, but we weren’t left to our own devices. We were charged to present a lecture to the school, on any subject we chose. I coerced my classmates into forming the Converse UFO Club and we spent the next six weeks studying unidentified flying objects.

We were given one of the unused classrooms on the third floor. It was full of ancient desks, chairs, old flags with fewer than 50 stars, chalkboards, bulletin boards, and old US maps. We put all of it to use and put together a cool little clubhouse, far from the prying eyes of teachers and other students. I crated in my collection of UFO books, newspaper clippings, magazines, and comics, and we got to work.

Needless to say, we had the time of our lives… and we came up with a pretty good theory, for a bunch of ten year olds. The thesis we presented posited that these alien spacecraft were powering their vehicles with hydro-power, based on the amazingly high number of sightings that occurred in and around water. Never mind that with two-thirds of the planet being covered with water increased the potential for sightings near such to be more likely than not. Well… we tried.

We presented our findings before the school. We were given As for our effort. And, ultimately I made a little comic book seed money from it all by narrating UFO articles onto cassette tapes and selling them to my classmates.

Hard to believe that by ten years old, I had already formed two clubs, The Monster Club in 1974, (in which we made encyclopedic entries in a journal concerning all manner of paranormal/supernatural beasties and chased ghosts in every derelict and abandoned house or barn and throughout the Hoosier hinterlands in a ten mile radius), and the UFO Club. Harder still to believe that in a few short years, by 1983, it would all take a far more serious turn.

Weiser Books Responds to the Strange Case of Georgina Rose

Posted in Current Events, Magick on May 5, 2022 by Occult Detective

The Georgina Rose Affair has had the online occult community in a fervor, and understandably so. I will not go into the sordid details. They have been hashed and rehashed multiple times. The best source, should you wish to refresh yourself on the particulars, can be found on the Codex Astarte Substack.

All caught up? Good.

I discovered Georgina Rose, aka da’atdarling quite some time ago when one of her videos was promoted to me via the youtube algorithm gods. While I wasn’t overly impressed with her content, I did follow her channel, and did the same on other social media outlets, such as twitter and instagram.

For all the negatives I could address, as an occult influencer, she did get people talking, about Thelema, Ceremonial Magick, Witchcraft… Her obvious naivete in relation to the subjects she was professed to be a “leading voice” in smacked of the sort of social media popularity contest that is part and parcel of the whole online experience.

I did watch her videos, and listened to the podcast she shared with author Temperance Alden and Nike. This content was the topic of much conversation in the circles I traveled in. As I’ve stated previously, “I was chided for dismissing her as her popularity grew. I just didn’t see why everyone was so enamored with her, to be honest. Maybe it’s because I’m old(er), but she never seemed anything more to me than a “witchtok” anime cosplayer who went viral. Her videos were never insightful in any way. For being touted as a “leading voice” in Thelema, it never seemed to me that she had a grasp on what Thelema was, let alone what it could be.

There was a time when, if one spoke negatively of Ms. Rose’s content, you were labeled as misogynist, which is unfortunate. The issue was never with gender, but with her obvious naivete and misappropriation of other people’s work.

When she announced she had written a book on Thelema, set to be published by one of my favorite occult disseminators, Weiser Books, I was as surprised as anyone. Of course once the allegations of, well, that whole sorted affair, were leveled, many in the esoteric community questioned Weiser Books’ role in this, which I personally found rather unfair.

Weiser Books has always published what I feel is a balanced collection of traditional and historical magical content alongside fresh and ofttimes innovative voices. I reached out to Red Wheel/Weiser for comment, and Associate Publisher Peter Turner was kind enough to respond.

How did Georgina come to Weiser’s attention? Was she recruited, or did she approach the publisher?

Georgina was someone we were aware of as an influencer on social media on Crowley, Thelema, and the occult. She was then doing a podcast with Temperance Alden, one of our authors. (Temperance stopped doing this podcast some time in 2021 I believe.) Georgina did several podcasts on Weiser related topics and seemed genuinely well informed and a respected online source. I actually don’t recall if I reached out to her to do a book or if she submitted one to us first. I think I reached out to her.

Could you share some insights into the internal discussion and decision to pull “Begin With True Will”?

We became aware of the situation over the weekend of April 23rd-24th. On the following Monday and Tuesday senior staff meet to discuss the options. We had hoped that Georgina would address the statements made about her in a way that might make it possible for us to continue to publish the book as planned. That wasn’t forthcoming. So we arranged to have the book description and cover removed from online retailers websites. Shortly after we formerly arranged for the book to no longer be available for preorders. Online retailers can take a few days to update their metadata and affect these sort of changes to a book’s listing so there was a bit of a lag.

In light of this controversy, what is Weiser’s stance on other “problematic” authors, particularly in your back catalog? I’m thinking here of Edred Thorsson, Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, etc. Will future editions come with disclaimers (I personally hope not)?

Weiser’s backlist includes books that were first published well over 100 years ago when what was viewed as “problematic” was very different. As a general policy we don’t remove books from our deep backlist. However, if they are reissued the books are closely read for material that may be offensive to our readers. In these instances we either provide a new foreword by a contemporary author reintroducing the book, warn the readers of any such content, and put the author’s views in historical context, or we include an “Editor’s Note” on the pages where this material is printed.

I should say this is a common problem in publishing. Rudyard Kipling, for example, was famously a racist, even using the “N” word in one of his novels. Whitewashing the past isn’t helpful.

How does this affect bringing in new authors for future publication?

We’re currently talking about making our editorial process and editorial policy more broadly known. Many people really don’t know how small publishers do what they do but in the case of Weiser’s readers we think they may appreciate a bit more transparency. In the past, we’ve tended to just want to let the books and their authors speak for themselves; that may not be sufficient these days. In terms of bringing in new authors, we’ve been talking for a while now about how best to properly research an author’s credentials and if they have expressed views that are at odds with Weiser’s publishing mission. We are now doing that research more vigorously. This would not have helped in the case of Begin with True Will (as the book was signed, edited, and already typeset before we became aware of the issues that came to light).

I want to thank Peter for addressing these concerns.

The Strange Case of Georgina Rose is an awakening moment for many of us. The company we keep reflects on us as individuals. That is not to say we should not rub shoulders with those with differing views than us. No, quite the contrary, but we need to be bold in our stance of what each of us holds true, so that there is no question as to where our allegiance lies.

I am religiously heathen, philosophically animistic, and politically Libertarian. I am, in a word, complicated. I am pro-choice, pro-gun, and an ally in trans and women’s rights. I believe in true equality between all races and genders. I always side with freedom of speech, bodily autonomy, and personal liberty.

I also believe in forgiveness, because life is too damned short to believe otherwise.

St. George’s Eve

Posted in Current Events, Writing on May 4, 2022 by Occult Detective

Wednesday, the fourth of May. Star Wars Day for most of nerd culture, but also St. George’s Eve, if you follow the old Eastern Orthodox calendar and want to get really nerdy.

“Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again: “Oh, yes! I know that! I know that, but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on: “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that to-night, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?” — Bram Stoker, Dracula

I have had vampires on the brain (werewolves, witches, and liches too) of late.

Dragonslaying. That’s what St. George was on about, and in a sense, Van Helsing and company as well. We all have our dragons to slay. Some great. Some small. But slay them we must, or die in the attempt.

Of course, the great dragon, it seems, as always, is that of government and their perchance to overreach. They’re looking to strike down Roe v Wade and thus spark a cavalcade of abortion bans in Republican strongholds.

Rights do not emanate from government, but belong inherently to each of us. We are not government property. We need to demand that our Personal Liberty not be infringed upon. What represents freedom more than having Bodily Autonomy? No government is valid if those tenets are not met. Government should serve the people, not lord over them.

Government should have no right to tell anyone what they must or must not do with their bodies. This is true of a woman seeking an abortion, of Man refusing a vaccination, or the willful choice to ingest substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, or other naturally occurring medicinals.

Government, it seems, has assumed the role of the Dragon. It need be tamed or slain.

Yes, we all have our dragons to slay. Big and small.

That said, I wish you luck in the slaying of yours.

I have many adventures ahead, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

May the Fourth Be With You…Always.

Currently writing: Unnamed Comic Project, Unnamed Board Game Project, Unnamed Folk Horror short story, Unnamed Non-Fiction Occult article

Currently watching: Parks and Rec and Northern Exposure with Kim & Conn, Hannibal with Conn, Travel the Dead and Portals to Hell on my own.

Currently playing: D&D 5e, Wordle, Quordle, Classic Words (Scrabble), Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and Elder Sign

Currently reading: 666, Sex, & the New Aeon of Horus by Richard Cole

Currently spinning: Kansas — Masque

Happy National Paranormal Day

Posted in Investigations, Paranormal on May 3, 2022 by Occult Detective

For some inexplicable reason, since 2013, May 3 has been christened National Paranormal Day. Well, every day is “Paranormal Day” in my nape of the woods, but if this once great nation wants to set aside a day other than Halloween for talking about all those things that go bump in the night, then I’m here for it.

So, as we’re supposed to share a “paranormal” story, why don’t I share one from this past weekend?

I played host to Indiana Ghost Trackers on Saturday night, April 30th, known to those more magically inclined as Walpurgisnacht. We descended on an undisclosed location, a former fraternal lodge in the north-central part of the Hoosier State, during a violent thunderstorm and beneath a New Moon, the second of the month, called a Black Moon.

Everything was aligned for an eventful investigation. The spirits of Beacon Lodge did not disappoint.

On a night filled with inexplicable knocks, disembodied footfalls, spiraling light fixtures, and the presence of shadow figures, for me, the most unnerving experience came as I sat in the darkness of the great ritual hall, illuminated by punctuations of forked lightning and the accompanying rolls of cacophonous thunder.

There, in silence, we sat beneath an ancient gaslit candelabra. As I meditated, reaching out to connect with the spirits I have grown accustomed to in that neglected space, a female voice spoke, as clear as if you and I were in conversation. She said, “Best stay awake.”

Many times over the years we’ve encountered such voices, distinct and clear on rare occasions, but audible to the naked ear nonetheless. Despite these many occurrences, it is always a preternatural treat to the senses when these unseen forces reach out.

I’ve been blessed to have experienced innumerable paranormal experiences.

Tell me, what are some of yours?

So, what are your plans for Walpurgisnacht?

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on April 28, 2022 by Occult Detective

My “May Day” Weekend is sorted. Saturday afternoon you can find me at Viking Fest in Whitestown, then, that evening, I have the pleasure of hosting my friends with Indiana Ghost Trackers for a “ghost hunt”.

Let’s see: New Moon? Check. Walpurgisnacht? Check. Chance of rain? Check. Should make for a spectacular night.

Beltane will be a fine day for rest, recovery, writing, and reflection.

The occult community is awash in finger pointing, “told you so” proclamations, and a whole lot of track covering. I’m referring of course to the Georgina Rose fiasco. I was chided for dismissing her as her popularity grew. I just didn’t see why everyone was so enamored with her, to be honest. Maybe it’s because I’m old(er), but she never seemed anything more to me than a “witchtok” anime cosplayer who went viral. Her videos were never insightful in any way. For being touted as a “leading voice” in Thelema, it never seemed to me that she had a grasp on what Thelema was, let alone what it could be.

Then the receipts came in. Frater Pena on his Codex Astarte substack led the charge, bolstered by Marco Visconti, commentary by Temperance Alden and Nike (former podcast co-hosts), and a veritable host of others.

The thing is, it’s kind of ugly out there, and a lot of buzz words are getting tossed around that make me uncomfortable. It’s sort of a microcosm of all the BLM/Insurrection/Pandemic rhetoric that has exploded the past couple of years.

Something’s got to give.

So, Sunday…Beltane… I’m going to light a fire and visit with my cats, spend real quality time with my family, and think…a lot. Then, when the dust settles, I’m going to share those thoughts.

You have been warned.

My thoughts on @BruteNorse’s Love Spells & Erotic Sorcery in Norwegian Folk Magic, ed. by Eirik Storesund

Posted in Book Review, Wyrd on April 26, 2022 by Occult Detective

Love Spells & Erotic Sorcery in Norwegian Folk Magic (translated by Eirik Storesund) is described as “A curated selection of charms, spells, and sorcerous recipes from Norwegian grimoires and vernacular tradition on the topic of love and eroticism. 50+ pages chock full of terrible ideas and (mostly) bad advice for your love life. A fascinating glimpse into the magically infused boudoir of pre-industrial Scandinavia.

Well, it most certainly delivers on its description.

Putting one in mind of German Folk Traditions found in works such as Der lange verborgene Freund and Hohman’s translation Pow-Wows; or, Long, Lost Friend, Brute Norse has delivered a sensational little pamphlet that is a must-read for those heavily invested in the study of cunning ways.

The book, slight and but 50 pages, is adorable and lovingly put together. The design sense is impeccable and I’m tickled senseless to have the thing. Simply put, it’s fun. A quick and entertaining read, it is easy to imagine these remedies handed down for countless generations.

Highly recommended, and at only $9.00, you’d be foolish to pass it up. Order here.

Speaking of foolish, many thanks to Foolish Fish for bringing Brute Norse to my attention.

My thoughts on Consorting with Spirits by Jason Miller

Posted in Book Review, Magick, Paranormal on April 25, 2022 by Occult Detective

Apologies for being quiet of late. It’s becoming a habit, unfortunately, but I have been having some minor health related issues and some weighty deadlines that have kept me from the blog. Again, my apologies.

So many things I should share with you: recent paranormal investigations, upcoming appearances, and a little matter of the occulture meltdown underway on social media, but let’s focus on something more prescient to our desires — book reviews! I have a couple I need to share, so let’s spend today with what is easily the crown jewel of 2022 thus far — Jason Miller’s Consorting with Spirits.

First, here’s what Weiser Books had to share —

“Working with spirits can be some of the most dangerous yet some of the most gratifying work a magickal practitioner can engage in. With Jason as your guide in this book, you are in some of the best hands out there when it comes to approaching and working with spirits. This is a book I wish I had fifteen years ago when I began working closely with spirits.” —Mat Auryn, author of Psychic Witch

Throughout history, humans have sought power and knowledge from spirits. Learning how to conjure, communicate, and negotiate with these unseen powers is one of the keys to success in magic.

Consorting with Spirits presents a detailed explanation of what spirits are, their different classifications, and how they exist in relation to the world we normally perceive. The reader will then learn a system of practices that will cultivate three main skills: The capacity to perceive spirits clearly, the ability to interact with them effectively, and the tools to deepen your relationships. It is this focus on deepening relationships and increasing clarity in communications that has been missing from much of the material about spirits.  

This book will teach you different ways of interacting with spirits, from offerings and invitations to forceful conjurations. With these tools in hand, you can work with your spirit allies to achieve any goal, from protection, to wealth, to vast knowledge.

Consorting with Spirits shares:

  • Proper training necessary for calling and conversing with spirits.
  • How to evaluate the messages you receive.
  • A full view of different modes of contact and what situations each mode lends itself to
  • Why the best sorcery is local.
  • The tools to establish and maintain a long-term relationship with spirits (consorting).
  • The 6 different manifestations of spirits and their corresponding magickal operations, qualities, benefits, and drawbacks.
  • The 4 methods of interacting with spirits: prayer, conjuring, compelling, and evocation.

Let me begin by stating emphatically, Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies is an impressive work. On twitter I shared that I found it to be “a brilliant exploration of spirits in all their many & varied forms. A must-read for occultists & paranormal investigators alike.”

As I have stated many times, my introduction to the magical world as something distinctly real and vibrant as opposed to the stuff of fantasy, myth, and folklore was the book Unseen Forces by Manly Palmer Hall. I formulated many of my ideas about spirits from that treatise and slowly began to interact with those varied forms until a more clear (but far from complete) picture began to emerge.

What Jason Miller has done here is validate my own internalized beliefs (through UPG, trial and error, and theory and practice), and doing so by pulling back the veil and taking the reader on a fantastic journey.

Consorting with Spirits is an Unseen Forces Advanced Course, and it was everything I wanted and needed.

If there are negatives to this book, it is that it is a) too short, and b) not in a beautiful hardcover.

That said, it is an impressive volume in its trade dress. It sports a lovely and evocative cover by Wojciech Zwolinski and interior art by tattooist Matthew Brownlee. The font choices are easy on the eyes and tables and diagrams are crisp and well tended.

Matt Auryn delivers are terrific foreword, personal and professional at the same time, as all the best forewords tend to be. Mat has that certain air about him that is comforting and it really comes across here. He was an ideal choice to lure us further into the work.

But, let’s be clear, Jason Miller’s the star here. His narrative voice is erudite and instructive, but balanced in a way that makes the process almost interactive and collaborative. There is no doubt that this is a man who has indeed consorted with the sort of beings that are part and parcel to a man in my profession as it is in his.

Perhaps the greatest praise I can give in regard to this book is that you will learn from it, and you will be able to incorporate the lessons here into your personal practice. Miller delivers all the tools you need.

I had stated that this book is a must-read for occultists and paranormal investigators. Especially investigators. Too many of my colleagues are closed to the near infinite possibilities of the things they are interacting with. Consorting with Spirits would be the perfect mind opener for many.

Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies by Jason Miller is available wherever books are sold as of the 1st of May. It is surely the ideal Beltane gift (especially to one’s self). This one needs to be a part of your library. Trust me on this one.

I’d rate it 6 out of 5 Stars.

Now Available: Running Home to Shadows: Memories of TV’s First Supernatural Soap from Today’s Grown-Up Kids #DarkShadows

Posted in Horror, Media, Writing on April 7, 2022 by Occult Detective

The anthology Running Home to Shadows: Memories of TV’s First Supernatural Soap from Today’s Grown-Up Kids is now available on Amazon, and for less than $10. Invited to submit my history with the famed cult classic, I was also able to introduce Jim Beard, our esteemed ringleader, to both Mark Rainey and Elizabeth Massie, two of my favorite authors, and who co-penned my favorite Dark Shadows novel, Dreams of the Dark.

Dark Shadows meant everything to me as a child, and being given the opportunity to share my love for Shadows and Dan Curtis was a thrill. The fact that this anthology was put together to honor Jim’s late wife, author Becky Beard, made the experience all the more poignant. And I got to share a Table of Contents with some of my favorite people.

If you’re a fan of Dark Shadows, then this anthology is the love letter you’ve been waiting for.

School’s out, Barnabas is IN!

They were a generation all their own, the army of children who ran home from school to watch Dark Shadows, TV’s very first supernatural soap. A breed apart, they set aside the worship of mundane pop stars to follow vampires, witches, and werewolves. From 1966 to 1971, they were daytime Monster Kids…and today they have stories to tell.

Writer-editor Jim Beard has gathered these grown-up kids together in this tome to tell those tales. Their experiences are sometimes tragic and terrifying, yet also uplifting and inspirational, but above all, Dark Shadows touched them so deeply as to leave an indelible impression on their lives that lasts to this day.

Return to Collinwood to brave the stormy nights and rainswept days of yore to listen to this coven of writers spin yarns of childhood encounters with Barnabas, Angelique, Quentin, Vicky, Maggie, and their compatriots. Cross the threshold of the Old House, take a seat by the crackling fire, and make yourself comfortable to the strains of maudlin music issuing forth from the gramophone—the ghosts of the past are about to arise in RUNNING HOME TO SHADOWS. Won’t you join us?

Edited by Jim Beard with Charles R. Rutledge

Cover Illustration by Mark Maddox with Logo Design and Formatting by Maggie Ryel

Foreword by Kathryn Leigh Scott

Featuring Essays by Greg Cox, Mark Dawidziak, Dave Dykema, Bob Freeman, Ed Gross, Nancy Holder, Tina Hunt, Katherine Kerestman, Mark Maddox (with Ed Catto), Elizabeth Massie, Kimberly Oswald, Martin Powell, Dana Pride, Mark Rainey, Michael Rogers, Charles R. Rutledge, Chris Ryan, Frank Schildiner, Duane Spurlock, and Jeff Thompson.

Afterword by Rich Handley

Addendum: A big shout out to our editors. Jim was great to work with and extremely communicative (and he delivered a heartfelt introduction), and my pal Charles Rutledge was a lifesaver, catching a slight error that really improved my essay. Cheers to both.

Writing in Four Colors (Redux)

Posted in Writing on March 23, 2022 by Occult Detective

I have a lot of great memories from the time I spent working in the small press trenches with Lion’s Den Studios. We fought the good fight for 19 years, and prior to digital, had a lot of success selling ashcans and the like. As publishing evolved, we made a lot of initial mistakes, many of which eventually sunk us, but I was always scrambling, trying to get us out of the small press and saddled to a mainstream project.

We had talented creators on our staff and a kick-ass studio to work out of. We were on the brink of all our dreams coming true…

Knightshade & Sangrael stand watch over our Studio entrance.
My lettering/editorial desk.
Ye Olde Drafting Table

We came so close to that proverbial brass ring on more than one occasion. My favorite near miss was when I reached out to actress Elizabeth Gracen with the idea of creating a comic book character based on her likeness. I was (and am) a huge fan, born from admiring her performance as Amanda on the series Highlander and its spin-off, The Raven.

We negotiated a deal that included her joining us at conventions for signings, and she was interested in discussing plot and development. It was an exciting time. With this, I began talks with various publishers, eventually earning the interest of Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow.

Our Elizabeth Gracen comic, which we were calling Iron Maiden, was tailor-made for Top Cow, who were at the top of their game at the time, publishing Witchblade, The Darkness, and The Magdalena, among others.

Everything was going swimmingly, and we were set to produce a Witchblade story for one of their anthologies, with Iron Maiden still in negotiation, but things didn’t work out. Without going into the sordid details, deadlines were missed, and, well, there the dream died.

I was heartsick over it. That failed experience led me to closing the doors on Lion’s Den Studios, and I walked away from comics, concentrating on my writing career. But man, for a time there, we were almost living the dream. Almost.

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