#OCCULTOBER: As the Worm Turns

Posted in Occultober on October 25, 2021 by Occult Detective

I have been sick (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this) and I’m still under the weather a bit. Hell of a time for me to be so. This is my shining moment, when, for a brief time, I am aligned with the masses, when they all spend a month or so wrapped in the cloak I wear year round. That’s alright, no amount of discomfort will dissuade my spirit.

That said, I will not be posting a review of Loki and Sigyn today as I imagined I would. I am only a third of the way through it. I am enjoying it well enough. It’s not exactly a scholarly treatise, but I appreciate an author who’s heart is in the work.

While I did not finish Loki, I did help host a Halloween Party on Saturday. I read fortunes with the Jack O’Lantern Tarot (a big hit) and led a “ghost hunt” through one of my favorite haunted locations. It was a great night spent with friends and family and, while I was admittedly hopped up on pain meds, I felt pretty good, with a bit of a backslide on Sunday.

Connor and I took in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and I’ve got to say, I have mixed emotions. It is more faithful than David Lynch’s adaptation. It’s an attractive film, with stunning visuals and spectacular effects. It has a stellar cast, and thematically, it’s focused… but David Lynch’s version, despite the obvious warts, is a far better film. Villeneuve covers roughly one third of the novel, while Lynch tells the complete story in less time. You would think with the slower pace we would get more time to get to know the characters. No. Lynch, in his weird and spartan retelling delves so much deeper into everyone’s motivations. Villeneuve’s film is soulless and vapid, while Lynch delivered a masterclass in peeling back the layers of the spirit, exploring religion and politics and cult of personality. Villeneuve’s Dune is pretty, but Lynch’s Dune is a true epic.

In this Tale of Two Paul’s, Kyle MacLachlan’s character is one I feel for, one I am invested in. Timothée Chalamet, on the other hand, delivers a Paul who I do not care for in the slightest. The same is true of every character we meet in Villeneuve’s Dune, save for Oscar Issac’s Duke Leto. His is the only character who is given any depth and the movie suffers for it.

On a scale 1-10 Sand Worms, I give the 2021 Dune (Part One) 6.5 (maybe 7 if I wasn’t under the weather). As for David Lynch’s Dune? Hell, I’d give 10 Sand Worms alone just for Alicia Witt’s demon child scene at the end.

As Samhain approaches, we detect that not so subtle shift as the separation between worlds is but a whisper. Rain is falling on the haunted hinterlands now, of the sort that holds the promise of winter. Soon, frost will abound, and the northern spirits will return to their proper station. I’ve so many plans and so little time….

Tomorrow night, I’ll be joining Shawn Hebert, Michelle Belanger, and Eilfie Music for a talk about magick and the paranormal. I can hardly wait and I look forward to sharing it with you.

That’s all for now. The rain will not lessen. I can hear it calling me the way it used to do…

#OCCULTOBER: Tis the Season

Posted in Occultober on October 22, 2021 by Occult Detective

So, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, I contracted a pretty nasty ear infection and I was pretty much down for the count. I am better today, infused with antibiotics and minimal pain relief. We, here in the States, have serious pain management issues. But, regardless, I am on the mend and looking to see this Witching Season through to the bitter end.

This afternoon I’ll be checking in on Llewellyn’s Virtual Author Forum: Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal featuring Michelle Belanger, Mustafa Gatollari, and Brandon Alvis. Should be interesting. You can join in the discussion via Crowdcast at 3pm EST.

Tomorrow night, my wife and I will be hosting a small gathering at a local haunted location, complete with tarot readings and a “ghost hunt”. Man, I love this time of year.

Next week, Michelle Belanger, Eilfie Music, and myself will sit down for an interview with Shawn Hebert. The topic is the use of magick in paranormal investigations. Should be a great discussion. Shawn is an ace interviewer and I have a ton of respect for Michelle and Eilfie. I’ll post the appropriate links once the podcast goes live.

I’m still revisiting Robert E. Howard’s Occult Detective fiction and I hope to discuss my thoughts on those stories before Hallowe’en rolls around. I also have reviews of Loki and Sigyn by Lea Svendsen and Welsh Witchcraft by Mhara Starling to post, most likely on the 25th and the 1st of November respectively. Look for my thoughts on Fabio Listrani’s Goetia: Tarot in Darkness on Tuesday, October 26th.

And watch for a couple of announcements next week,one regarding an exciting new anthology I’m putting together and the other, well, let’s save it for then. The crows have to caw about something.

Heck, as long as we’re looking ahead to the future, let’s go deep. As of now, I plan to be a guest at ParaUnity IV at the Miami County Fairgrounds, October 22. Pencil that one into your calendars.

Well, sleuths, that’s all for now. Let’s get out there and rattle some chains this weekend, then come back here and chat about. What do you say?

#OCCULTOBER: 3 for Thursday — Magick Retailer Edition

Posted in Occultober on October 21, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dark days are upon me. I’ve developed a nasty sinus ear infection and so am consuming antibiotics and painkillers like they’re Hallowe’en candy.

I want to shine the spotlight today on three of my favorite occult shops. First, I’ll give love to my local metaphysical guilty treasure — Willow Products.

Located at 1204 N Baldwin Ave in Marion, IN, Nick and Daniel offer this small community an amazing array of products.

Next up we’ll turn our attention to Salem Massachusetts and the fantabulous purveyor of syrups and lotions and more — the magically delicious WytchWood.

Finally, we have the wonders of Lailokens Awen, A paradise of scents and spells, Shawn is the premiere herbalist and aromatherapist, whose formulas are quickly becoming essential to my work.

Apologies for not including links. I’m posting from my phone and it’s giving me fits.

Edited to add the proper linkages, correct drug-induced spelling errors, and properly relay my diagnosis.

#OCCULTOBER: (Ghost)Hunter’s Moon

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 20, 2021 by Occult Detective

This evening brings us the Hunter’s Moon, harvest festivals abound, and we are less than a dozen days till Samhain. As promised last week, today I am slated to write a short missive on the favorite Occult Detective of the winner of the Shadows Over Somerset All Hallow’s Read Giveaway. The recipient of the book, Vince Dickinson, wrote in his entry the following:

Hi Bob – my favorite occult detective is YOU. To be fair, I don’t follow any others, but that still counts, right?

Well, it most certainly does. A deal is a deal.

So, how is it that I came by the moniker of Occult Detective?

I’ve been fascinated by both sides of the Occult Detective coin since I was a child. Growing up in rural Indiana, surrounded by local legends, of both the more common urban variety and the myths of the Miami Indians who once called the area home, and fed by the folktales of my family’s native Ozark roots, I was obsessed with magic and monsters and the macabre.

Before I was ten, I was reading the works of Dennis Wheatley, Richard Cavendish, Sybil Leek, Gerald Gardner, and Manly Palmer Hall… they went hand in hand with Marvel Comics, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Three Investigators.

I studied UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Occult, prayed to Heathen Gods in the Hoosier hinterlands, scoured newspapers and gossip rags for stories about Hans Holzer, the Warrens, Sean Manchester and the like, and spent near countless nights in local graveyards and prowling abandoned houses, barns, and churches…

What was the catalyst? Who can say? Was it Kolchak, Dark Shadows, Scooby Doo? Late night Sammy Terry? Maybe seeing the Legend of Boggy Creek or The Exorcist at the Drive-In? Or it could have been the seances and light-as-a-feather sessions conducted by my much older baby-sitting cousins….

Regardless, I was hooked at a young age and I’ve never looked back.

Beyond those childhood endeavors, I began really investigating the strange and unusual in 1983, and that carried over into college where I studied Anthropology with a focus on Witchcraft, Magic, & Religion. At the height of the “Satanic Panic” I consulted with the local DNR on how to identify occult activity in the Misissinewa State Forest.

In a way, an Occult Detective is something I’ve always been rather than something I became.

Anyway, all the gibber jabber is well and good, but rather then me drone on and on about myself, I’ll open it up to you. If you have a question, fire it to me either in the comments section below, or you can always email me via bob@occultdetective.com.

And thanks again, Vince for your entry. I hope you enjoy the novel.

#OCCULTOBER: My thoughts on Winterseer Animal Oracle by Siolo Thompson (@LlewellynBooks)

Posted in Book Review, Tarot on October 19, 2021 by Occult Detective

Gain the Wisdom of Long-Revered Creatures
from the Northern Climes

Experience Celtic and Norse lore in a brand-new way with this exquisite oracle deck. Winterseer Animal Oracle shows you how to deepen your divination practice through the wisdom of fifty-six marvelous creatures native to northern climates, from salmon and magpie to badger and bear. Featuring Siolo Thompson’s impressive watercolor illustrations, these cards bolster your readings with their stunning details, and the accompanying guidebook uses the mythology of bygone days to inspire your modern life.

I am simply in love with Siolo Thompson’s art and in Winterseer you get what I feel is some of her best work. Each of the 56 cards are lovingly crafted, with a wide variety of Northern European animal life that are emblazoned with an appropriate keyword. Within moments, without reading a single word from the nearly 200 page accompanying guidebook, I could easily intuit how this deck would work as an oracle tool. The cards, in and of themselves, are just a brilliant example of the fusion of art and magic.

As a complete package, I must commend Llewellyn. It’s a wonderfully constructed product, with a beautiful magnetic box that holds the guide and cards. This thing is a marvel. The printing is exquisite, with the rich, deep watercolors dripping off of card and page. The manual is gloriously glossy and easy to read…

Siolo’s writing is as soothing and inspiring as her art. The introduction is lilting and the direction concise and flawless. The focus is more on a gentle nudge toward divination, allowing for one’s own interpretation and sense of storytelling. I love this. The card descriptions are thorough and poetic and just simply lovely.

As a Heathen, this deck immediately spoke to me. Without question, I will visit it often, especially in the winter months. Having spent several days with it, I fell into Winterseer‘s charms quite easily. In no time, I developed a rhythm and narratives began to flow as I practiced one and three card spreads. I am experimenting with a nine card spread, embracing that number sacred to heathenry, and I think this is the path I will take with them.

That’s the wondrous thing about the versatility of the deck. The keywords are profound, the artwork compelling and thought-provoking… It allows the reader to develop their own chronicle with Winterseer as a guide and tool.

Beyond its value as an oracle, I can also see a veritable treasure trove of other uses, in writing fiction and interactive storytelling.

At less than $30 US, Winterseer Animal Oracle by Siolo Thompson is the deal of a lifetime. If you have not yet purchased it, make haste. You want this deck. You need this deck. Trust me, I believe you’ll fall in love with it every bit as much as I have. Recommended? Oh, without hesitation. Available at your favorite bookstores and online outlets. Here’s an Amazon link for good measure.

OCCULTOBER: A Long Strange Trip Revisited

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on October 18, 2021 by Occult Detective

There were some concepts that I brought up recently that I never got to fully explore with you, and, while I still cannot delve as deeply as I would like due to time constraints, I would still like to add some things further.

Regarding Hallucinogens in the Investigation of the Paranormal:

Using mind altering techniques to enhance the perception of self, space, and time, and to communicate with beings that exist within extra-dimensional realms, or with those men and women who have crossed from this life to the next, have been used for thousands of years by shamans in all cultures. Obviously, psychedelic drugs have been used just as long to accelerate the process, as a tool to experience these spaces and to allow for a more proactive interaction with preternatural intelligences, both on a cosmic and more personal scale. Hallucinogens create the possibility of transpersonal experiences with entities that exist within the spirit realm. To deny this is to deny the history of human spiritual evolution, and to not acknowledge the role they might play in parapsychological investigations is irrational.

While undertaking such an endeavor requires controlled experimentation, whatever risks there are are mitigated by the tremendous benefits from being free to explore the entirety of human experience by delving into the untapped potential within ourselves, potential unlocked by many mind-expanding substances, such as DMT, Psilocybin,Mescaline, Salvia, Datura, among others.

My own experiences with substance-enhanced investigations have proven to me the value in such work, however, the criminality of such actions have tempered such research once I became a husband and father. That these natural substances have been criminalized represents a war on free thought and mind-expanding explorations of our inner selves…

Whether for a personal inner journey or used as a conduit to interact with other beings, hallucinogens are an important and vital tool that should not be discounted or ignored.

#OCCULTOBER: A Long Strange Trip Cut Short

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on October 15, 2021 by Occult Detective

A short day for me, on this, the 15th of October, a mere 16 days out from All Hallow’s Eve, thus I must be brief. My initial thoughts for today’s blog was to discuss one of the most neglected tools for investigation of the paranormal — psychotropics, particularly hallucinogens.

I have long been a proponent of their use, with proper guidance and all care given to them, of course. When dealing with entities whose homes are realms outside the material landscape, there are any number of natural stimulants that can help you cross that divide.

I unfortunately do not have the time to delve deeper into the subject today, so I leave the idea here with a promise for further discussion in the near future.

What do you think? Is there a place for drugs in the tool kit of an Occult Detective?

We’ll more talk on this soon…

#OCCULTOBER: Revisiting The Shadows Over Somerset Giveaway Occult Detective Results

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 14, 2021 by Occult Detective

The Shadows Over Somerset contest was interesting. The rules were simple: email me your favorite Occult Detective and then I would draw a winner at random, sending them a signed copy of the book and writing an essay about their selection.

Here are the Occult Detectives and the number of votes they tallied:

4 Thomas Carnacki
4 Fox Mulder
3 John Constantine
3 Dean Winchester
2 Harry Dresden
2 Carl Kolchak
2 Dana Scully
2 Levi Stoltzfus
1 Greg Newkirk
1 Greg & Dana Newkirk
1 Ed Warren
1 Ed & Lorraine Warren
1 Edward Carnby
1 Dr. Spektor
1 Duke De Richleau 
1 Alexandra Trese
1 Shido
1 Hellboy
1 Landon Connors
1 Bob Freeman

I find it interesting that five of the 34 votes went to real people: myself, the Newkirks, and the Warrens. Greg Newkirk and Ed Warren each got one vote, while they and their respective partners received one vote.

The continued popularity of Thomas Carnacki among occult detective fans never ceases to amaze me.

I was surprised to see Fox Mulder tie for first place with four votes and Dana Scully received two votes. While I knew the X-Files had a huge cultural impact, I didn’t count on them still being so popular.

There were two Occult Detectives I didn’t know that received votes — Shido, a vampire character from an anime series called Nightwalker — The Midnight Detective and Edward Carnby, an investigator and researcher who is the main protagonist in Alone in the Dark.

How did Scooby and the Gang not even draw a single vote?

Overall, I was thrilled with the results of the contest and was happy to see so many entrants. As for the subject of the Hunter’s Moon Occult Detective essay, well, I am less than thrilled about that one. I’ll have to cook something up special for that…


Posted in All Hallows Read, Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 13, 2021 by Occult Detective

Today I get to announce the winner of the Shadows Over Somerset All Hallow’s Read Giveaway. Whether it’s a Trick or Treat will be for the recipient to decide. Not only will the winner receive a signed (& personalized if they desire) copy of the second edition of my debut novel, Shadows Over Somerset, but they also get to pick the subject of my Occult Detective essay to be published on the Hunter’s Moon, the 20th of October.

So, without further ado, the winner is:


And his favorite Occult Detective is… well, let’s share his email:

"Hi Bob - my favorite occult detective is YOU.  To be fair, I don’t follow any others, but that still counts, right?"

Well, there you go. I’ll be sending Vince’s prize out on Friday, so that he receives the book before Hallowe’en. As for the Hunter’s Moon blog post? Well, that’s a bit awkward. We’ll see if I can spice things up a bit…

Congratulations, Vince. I hope you enjoy the book and have a spooktacular Hallowe’en.

And to the 30+ men and women who entered, thank you for your interest.

#OCCULTOBER: The Magic of Tarot by Sasha Graham (@SashaGraham / @LlewellynBooks)

Posted in Book Review, Occultober, Tarot on October 12, 2021 by Occult Detective

I have read a lot of books on Tarot and I own dozens of decks. I’ve been studying and reading Tarot for more than forty years now. When a book like Sasha Graham’s The Magic of Tarot comes along, I am beyond thankful. To deliver something fresh and exciting in the sphere of Tarot is no easy feat. Graham has more than succeeded in this task. What a terrific journey she took me on… I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough.

The author begins by addressing something that I have held near and dear to my heart, something that is at the very core of my being. Allow me to quote from the Introduction —

“Tarot is storytelling. It’s what we do when we read the cards. Telling stories imbues us with supernatural power — the power to change your story.”

This. All of this. Nothing could be more true, especially if not confined to Tarot. Magic, with or without the ‘K’, is about storytelling. Plain and simple. I have been preaching this for years.

Sasha Graham gets this and it shows throughout The Magic of Tarot. Before I dive deeper, let’s see what the publisher had to say about the book:

Bring Enchantment and Luminous Energy into Your Readings

Tarot is more than a card trick. It’s a chance to empower your intuition, dive into your dreams, and get to the heart of the matter. The Magic of Tarot is a fantastic guide to creating your own marvelous and magical practice. With her irresistible charm and straightforward guidance, Sasha Graham shows you how to craft a divine, sparkling destiny using spreads, exercises, spells, and prompts.

The Magic of Tarot opens your eyes to a richer, more enlightened style of divination. Sasha encourages you to flex your intuitive muscles, confidently use tarot magic and rituals, and perform readings for other people. She also walks you through every card meaning, introduces you to dream and shadow work, helps you interpret colors, numbers, and patterns, and so much more. This book lets you fearlessly jump in and enjoy magical experiences that you’ll never forget.

This is an ideal book for beginning Tarot students. Graham delves into the heart of the practice over the course of its 360 pages, and she delivers wondrous insights as she takes the reader on a complete and intimate tour of all facets of Tarot methodology.

Not only is a detailed description of each card presented, but Graham covers rituals and spells, dream and shadow work, and a wealth of various interpretations all enhanced by a focus on developing your intuitive and storytelling powers.

For those of you who, like me, have been at this for a number of years, you’ll feel comfortable with the author’s expressiveness and forthright narrative. Graham offers fresh new ways at looking at things, particularly in regard to spell and shadow work. There are some intriguing ideas that I am eager to experiment with.

One of the more enchanting things about the book was the author’s bio, written as a Tarot card description. Clever.

As for the book design, it’s more than adequate. It utilizes Pixie’s Waite Tarot illustrations throughout. Further artwork is spartan, but the diagrams of card layouts are easy to follow for the novice. While there is no flash in the design, this was probably on purpose. The prose itself is flashy enough.

I love the cover art by Abigail Larson and wish she could have contributed to the interior as well to add more symmetry. I adore her work.

The Magic of Tarot: Your Guide to Intuitive Readings, Rituals, and Spells by Sasha Graham is a tremendous value at less than $20. Available wherever books are sold, I highly recommend you purchase directly from the publisher, Llewellyn, or from your local booksellers. We need healthy publishers and bookstores. Where we spend our money matters.

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