Welcome to Bob Freeman’s occultdetective.com

Posted in Alba Gu Brath, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on April 18, 2016 by Occult Detective

01 sigil magickBob Freeman is an artist, game designer, paranormal adventurer, and author of two book series — The Cairnwood Manor series ( Shadows Over Somerset  & Keepers of the Dead) and Tales of the Liber Monstrorum (First Born).

A lifelong student of mythology, folklore, magic, and religion, Freeman has written numerous short stories, articles, and reviews for various online and print publications and is a respected lecturer on the occult and paranormal phenomena.

He lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.

In addition to occultdetective.com, Mr. Freeman can be found online on twitter and facebook.

cairnwood series

Men of Ash

Posted in Liber et Audax on May 14, 2019 by Occult Detective

Aescling, Men of Ash.

I grew up on a small farm northwest of Converse surrounded by ash trees. They’re all dead now.

The trails we hike through the Mississinewa are littered with fallen ash.

 

In Norse culture, the world tree was a mighty ash. Odin and Thor both wielded spears of ash, and it is said the first man of the north was born of ash, while the first woman was born of elm.

Ash wood is very strong, tough and elastic, and a joint of ash will bear more weight than any other wood.

It is the best firewood, burning the hottest for the longest, whether seasoned or green.

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Here in Indiana and across the Midwest, the ash has been ravaged. Then I look across social media and the cultural shift globally and the symbolism does not escape me.

We face two fronts.

We are at war with the extreme left who would demonize men, particularly what they refer to as “white men”, brandishing terms against us such as “toxic masculinity”, “patriarchy”, “misogyny”, and “racist”.

And we are at war with the extreme right who misappropriate our cultural heritage and the symbols of our faith to further their fascist ambitions.

How do we combat these extremes?

Simple.

We hold true to our faith. We stand proud as Men of the North, as Men of Ash. We become shining examples of what men should be — protectors, providers, self-reliant, and strong. We bolster our communities and lift up the weak. We cast down our enemies and give comfort and aide to those in need.

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I am reminded of Aragorn’s speech from Return of the King in which he called:

My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand!

The ash has fallen. We need to plant them anew and root out the pests that brought them down.

Coming Soon: @DraugenGame

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives on May 8, 2019 by Occult Detective

Hey, Occult Detective fans, I’d like to point you toward an exciting new game that embraces the genre we love. It’s gorgeously rendered, atmospheric, and, well, right up my alley. I suspect it’s right up yours as well.

Give their presskit a read, watch the story trailer, and see for yourself —

From the studio that brought you Dreamfall Chapters, and the creative team behind The Longest Journey and The Secret World, comes a first-person psychological mystery set in 1920s Norway.

The year is 1923. You play Edward Charles Harden, an American traveler who’s come to Norway to find his missing sister. But you’re not alone: at every step of the way, Edward’s accompanied by his ward, Lissie; a gregarious, independent and enigmatic young woman.

Together, you must explore this scenic coastal community — nestled amongst the fjords and mountains of rural Norway — in your search for Edward’s sister, and unearth the darkness that lies beneath the picturesque surface.

It reminds me of  The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which I had high hopes for, though that game was ultimately a letdown. I have a good feeling that Red Thread Games is going to deliver the game we’ve been waiting for.

With any luck I’ll have a chance to review this for you soon. Stay tuned for further updates.

My thoughts on ‘Beyond the North Wind’ by Christopher McIntosh

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on May 2, 2019 by Occult Detective

north wind

I first heard the Call of the North when I was 8 years old.

I was raised in a Church of Christ, a faith born of the American Restoration Movement given life in the frontier during the late 1770s, but it never spoke to me. I never considered myself “Christian” though I did enjoy bible classes and singing. Ours was an a cappella / total immersive baptism / right-leaning congregation.

As a child, I came across a reference to the conversion of the Celts and Norse, often by the sword, and I came to realize that my ancestors had their faith taken from them. I knew my family was predominately English, Scots, and Irish so I looked into their histories as best I could, using encyclopedias and other reference books available in both my school and public library. I read of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons, of the Germanic tribes, and of the raiders from the North.

ChildrenofOdin001All of that led me to The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum, with illustrations by Willy Pogany. These were the tales of my ancestors’ gods. It was to these mythical beings that my forefathers prayed to. I was, in a word, captivated, and I pledged myself to Odin, then and there, placing Thor and Sif in the role of God and Goddess akin to the books on witchcraft I had been studying as well.

So, when I read Christopher McIntosh’s introduction in Beyond the North Wind: The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North and his recounting of C.S. Lewis’ “Come to Balder” moment, I knew that I had been blessed with a similar calling. It was that same ‘Call of the North‘ that I answered as a small child. I had a feeling this book that I was now reading, with its call backs to my own childhood, was to be something special.

I was not wrong on that accord.

While it does have its faults, Christopher McIntosh has delivered a wonderful treatise on the stirring of the Northern Spirit, delving into the ancient mysteries and showing their influence on modern culture.

It is not lost on me that in the midst of a very vocal minority seeking to redefine itself through identity politics, shame culture, and newthink activism, and an equally bankrupt minority obsessing on the false tenants of white supremacy, you have a resurgence of the Norse Current that sings of a deeper truth and meaning to those with ears to hear it.

christopher mcintosh_webMcIntosh is a talented author, able to succinctly get his point across with both a dramatic flair and an erudite cadence. He speaks of the past with reverence, but in such a way that pulls it from that distant memory to make it seem present and alive.

There’s a bit of Graham Hancock in his musings, which I enjoy, though without the thoroughness and alternate-archaeological whimsy Hancock is known for.

The greatest weakness of Beyond the North Wind is that it seems to only just scratch the surface. I wanted more meat, but as an appetizer, it was a nourishing dish. The references to current pop culture trends was interesting, though unfulfilling. Where McIntosh really makes an impact is in his contemplations on Hyperborea and the Runes.

Beyond the North Wind is a book equally valid for learned scholars and those just embarking on their journey. It is a book I highly recommend.

Available now in a bookstore near you, Beyond the North Wind: The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North by Christopher R. McIntosh is a worthy read that will be well at home in your personal library.

My thoughts on One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 9, 2019 by Occult Detective

onetruthonespiritI’ve read this book, One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy, three times and I am of an equal number of minds about it, hence my waiting till now to publish my thoughts (and concerns) regarding what is, frankly, a fascinating, if not controversial, exploration of the History of Thelema, at least since the passing of the Great Beast.

Here’s what the dust jacket has to say about it:

Based upon academic research at the University of Amsterdam’s Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, One Truth and One Spirit is a much-needed work that covers a previously unexplored history of the modern religious movement known as Thelema. This work details the theoretical framework of Aleister Crowley’s spiritual legacy in the O.T.O. and the A:.A:. and covers the years of Thelema since Crowley’s death in 1947.

One Truth and One Spirit approaches a complex topic with a complex history, with exhaustive citations and sources, but it is written for anyone interested in the subject of Thelema. The author utilizes published source material as well as previously unavailable information, which makes this a unique contribution to the available literature.

One Truth and One Spirit is expected to be of interest to the novice, the scholar, and the seasoned practitioner of Thelema. The work provides a general historical overview of Thelema from a theoretical vantage point, explores the historical development of the movement from the 1960s to the 1990s, and applies the author’s own critical discussions on the topic itself.

I promised myself some time ago that I would not publish unfavorable reviews of material sent to me by publishers. Better to remain silent, I think. Not that I am not critical in the reviews I do publish. If I publish a review, then I am recommending it to the public, warts and all. I just see no reason to review a book that I feel is unworthy of purchase. I would rather shine a light on books I feel have some value to readers like myself. As always, these are just my opinions. Take that as you will.

Which leads me to One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy ( Foreword by Vere Chappell).

Fitting, in many respects, that I am writing this on the Second Day of the Feast of the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law.

I came to Crowley, in 1977, by way of Lovecraft, oddly enough, for it was Lovecraft that led me to the Simon Necronomicon, which led me to Cavendish’s fourth volume of Man, Myth, and Magic, which then led me to The Book of Lies in my public library. Coupled with an article on Jimmy Page in, I believe, Circus magazine, in which his Crowley fascination was addressed, and, well, I was hooked.

The histories of the Golden Dawn, O.T.O., A:.A:., and countless other magical orders and esoteric faiths, as well as all the principle players involved, has long been a passion of mine. The very finest of the lot would be Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.

That being said, I enjoy a history written with an agenda as much as a more literal and factual bent. I find One Truth and One Spirit to lend itself more to the former than the later.

One Truth and One Spirit is a beautiful book. Ibis Press is really one of the premiere publishing houses and they never cease to amaze me with the level of precision they exude, from graphic design to editorial perfection. I noticed not a single typographical error throughout which is to be commended. The attention to detail is what sets Ibis Press apart and any book they cast out into the world is one worth adding to your library.

As to the content itself, while the history of Thelema as presented by Readdy might be stilted, it is no less fascinating. The author paints a vivid and thorough picture, despite the labyrinthine nature of the occult world after Crowley’s demise.

Readdy seems a bit harsh in terms of some of the players involved, most notably of Soror Meral, the late Phyllis Seckler.

That being said, you will be hard pressed to set this work down, the author’s bias toward the legitimacy of one particular lineage of authority over others notwithstanding.

Therein lies the rub, despite protestations to the contrary, One Truth and One Spirit is intent on steering the narrative, but as I don’t have a proverbial dog in the hunt, I’m fine with it.

And I think most of you will too.

One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy, with a Foreword by Vere Chappell, is published by Ibis Press, distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser, and available wherever books are sold.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

93/93

 

 

My review of In the Cards by Marjorie G. Jones

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives on April 3, 2019 by Occult Detective

inthecardsI love a good occult detective story (obviously) and In the Cards by Marjorie G. Jones delivers. This being her first novel, Jones is to be be forgiven for some overtly purple prose.

She paints an elegant and sophisticated picture, and she is well-versed in the protagonist of this thriller — Frances Yates.

Yates was a note worthy historian whose studies centered around Giordano Bruno and the influence of the Hermetic Tradition on the Renaissance.

Jones’ impeccable scholarship helps construct a vibrant and alluring murder mystery that, in its very best moments, reminds one of Umberto Eco’s works.

While the writing does not quite achieve those lofty resemblances on a consistent basis, it is an entertaining yarn that shows the author has tremendous promise in the realm of occult detective fiction.

I can only hope there is more to come.

The book is described as follows —

In collaboration with a Scotland Yard detective, who is also a Freemason, Frances Yates, eminent historian of Renaissance spirituality and proponent of martyred priest Giordano Bruno, employs her unique scholarship to solve a murder and the theft of a rare volume in the renowned musty library of ancient philosophical traditions, where she has long been a resident scholar.

While immersed in an article regarding the significance of mysterious tarot cards, Yates comes to realize that the recurring images of the cards illustrate universal life stages and character traits that may provide clues to the identity of the murderer. Along the way, she encounters more recent scholarship regarding feminist theology that, together with the tarot, prompts her to reconsider her own patriarchal spiritual worldview.

In the Cards by Marjorie G. Jones is published by Ibis Press and distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser. I recommend it to all lovers of a good mystery.

In the Cards is available on Amazon for only slightly more than $10 for the trade paperback. A tremendous bargain that one should not pass up.

Our Trip to Rosslyn Chapel is Old Enough to Vote

Posted in Alba Gu Brath on March 26, 2019 by Occult Detective

March 26, 2001

We got up early and walked through a light mist and boarded a bus that set out across the Scottish countryside. When Kim and I first made plans to travel to Scotland there was one special destination that was at the very top of our “must see” list. We were excited and passed the time chatting with our fellow passengers, especially with a young Australian college student named Sophie who was backpacking across Europe. As we rolled into the village of Roslin, I felt an electricity in the air. It was a feeling that would become amplified as we disembarked and walked up the gravel lane and laid eyes on one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture ever conceived.

Rosslyn Chapel is well known today, thanks in large part to Dan Brown’s 2003 literary phenomenon The Da Vinci Code. I understand that it has since been overrun with tourists, but when we arrived on that cold, early spring morning, it was a small handful of us that walked the hallowed grounds. In fact, Kim and I spent hours in the Chapel alone, without another soul around.

rosslyn2

The Chapel was enveloped by a network of scaffolding as renovations were underway, but that steel cage did nothing to diminish its awesome beauty. Intricately detailed with Masonic symbols, gargoyles, green men, historic figures, and Norse gods, Rosslyn Chapel was as much art as it was a place of worship. It was the single most impressive structure I’ve ever stood in, and it was all ours… We just didn’t want to leave and we lingered about, gazing in wide wonder and poring over every delicate inch of this monument to the esoteric mystery traditions.

Interior of Rosslyn Chapel - both Master and Apprentice Pillars visible

Interior of Rosslyn Chapel – both Master and Apprentice Pillars visible

We marveled at the Apprentice Pillar, symbol of blessed Yggdrasil, and the inscription there — “Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are stronger still, but truth conquers all”.

rosslyn1We jumped the rope and descended into the lower crypt and explored the cells. We walked the graveyard and climbed the scaffolding to pore over the roof and the carvings there unseen from below. And we toured the on site Museum of Freemasonry…

It was sweet perfection.

We met up with Sophie in the village and ate a quick lunch of garlic toast and exotic cheeses before catching the bus back to Edinburgh. We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening wandering the city streets and making preparations for our next day’s journey. We ate haddock at Filthy McNasty’s and had sodas at Jenny Ha, then ate supper at the Bad Ass where I took a leap of faith.

You just can’t go to Scotland and not submit yourself to a bit of traditional cuisine. While Kim acquainted herself with the Bad Ass’ version of a chicken enchilada, I ordered the Highland Chicken and Haggis. Haggis is the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep that’s stuffed into its stomach, along with onions, suet, and spices… And it is unbelievable. I loved every bite of it. It had a very unique texture and was moist and savory. It immediately went to the top of my “last meal” requests.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

bobkim0301

Occult Detective RPG Update

Posted in Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game on March 22, 2019 by Occult Detective

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I had planned to launch the Occult Detective RPG on May 1. That date now looks a tad bit too optimistic. I’m having surgery in April and that’s going to gravely affect my productivity, so, rather than rush the project (or worse, try to complete it in a medicated state) I am going to postpone the release till Lammas Night, the first of August.

I like the date. I like it a lot actually. To be honest, Katherine Kurtz has been such a huge influence on my work, and her novel Lammas Night in particular has its fingerprints all over my fiction, and thus, this RPG, that it is fitting.

From a metaphysical sense, I like the symmetry of releasing the game during Lughnasadh, especially with a New Moon overhead.

Practically speaking, with these added few months, I can add some additional art and functional graphics to the rulebook that will certainly enhance not only the experience, but the overall aesthetic.

As we move forward, I will strive to produce weekly updates on my progress, and maybe even offer up some sneak peeks of what’s to come.

I have certainly tempered my ambitions and expectations. Without partners, not taking it to kickstarter is the right decision. While I liked the idea of maps and miniatures, they were never a crucial element of the gameplay. It’s the roleplaying that matters, the storytelling.

This game will rise or fall on the strength of the magic system, I suspect. It is different from what many will have been used to. I think it makes for a more vibrant and exciting game. I look forward to seeing what the public thinks…

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