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

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.

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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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Paranormal Retroactivity

Posted in Liber et Audax, Magick by Trial & Error on March 5, 2019 by Occult Detective

Magick, in all its forms and practices, is our attempt to kindle that spark of divinity that is our birthright. We are the children of the gods and we are meant to stride amongst the infinite…

merc retro

Each of us has a number, special to us. Mine is 8, though I generally write it ∞. It seems like this year should be my year. It’s my 53rd, after all. 5 and 3 make 8.

Astrologically speaking, Mercury retrogrades in Pisces today. It’s a time to look inward, to reflect, to consider my path forward, and the legacy I hope to leave behind. Jupiter factors into this accord as well. Everything’s lining up.

Tomorrow, Uranus moves into Taurus for the next seven years which should inspire an insane amount of creativity. And with the New Moon, well, this synchronicity of events couldn’t be more timely.

It is a time to become wild and free, to plunge myself into the wilderness, to stalk my muse and harvest it.

In seven years I’ll be sixty. Now’s the time to plot my course.

I have several projects I would like to see completed by year’s end:

  1. Occult Detective RPG for Bordermen Games
  2. No Quarter, a 5th Edition Campaign Setting for Bordermen Games
  3. An anthology of Occult Fiction by Practicing Occultists
  4. Widow-maker’s Apprentice,  a collaboration with Steven Shrewsbury
  5. The sequel to Hallowe’en House, a collaboration with Greg Mitchell
  6. Born Again, the final book in the Liber Monstrorum and Cairnwood Manor series

I also have a couple of other projects I’d like to get off the ground, including an occult detective/sword and sorcery series and what could very well be my final horror novel.

The biggest thing itching at me though is a non-fiction handbook — sort of an occult detective’s grimoire, a grim-noir, if you will.

Time will tell. I’ve a lot of things that need to find their proper alignment, but my goal is to see all these projects, and others unnamed, through by 2026.

I’m not really a planner. I like to spread the seed and let things grow organically, wildly even.

Fingers (and swords) crossed.

True Detective Disappoints…Again

Posted in Media Macabre on February 26, 2019 by Occult Detective

truedetective3

Let’s cut to the chase — Season Three, the much heralded return of a series desperate to pretend Season Two never happened, was held together by some damn good acting by Ali and Dorff, but in the end it was an ultimately disappointing exercise where all the most interesting characters were women that got almost no screen time.

Pizzolatto is a writer who mines pop culture and true crime stories, pulls out the superficial bits, and then weaves an empty story around them.

There was a good story in there, hidden in the muck. That good story was recited as a weighty exposition while our characters were sitting at a kitchen table.

Ali’s portrayal of a man suffering from dementia was compelling and heartbreaking, but in the end it was just a mcguffin, a wearisome plot device so that the writer could deliver his ah-ha moment that was obvious as soon as we met Mike and his daughter, but we had to watch as “the ghost” of Amelia delivers the “truth” to Hays by the happenstance of a book falling to the floor on just the right page for the revelation to bear fruit.

That’s some weak writing unless you actually interject the paranormal element.

Pizzolatto just can’t make up his mind, largely, I think, because he’s lost in his own narrative. He doesn’t understand the story he’s telling. He has no grasp of the craft. He just plods along, stringing scenes together and hoping it all comes together in the end.

Well, it doesn’t. Not really.

Hell, he couldn’t even make up his mind how to end the damn thing. As we pull into Wayne’s eye, we find him and his girlfriend reconciling in the VFW then walking off into the white light like the finale of LOST.

Don’t tell me we’ve been in Purgatory all along.

Did Wayne die there on the porch just then, or did he descend even deeper into his dementia, never to return?

But wait, we’re not done. We end, instead, with Purple Hays in the jungles of Vietnam. Force Recon, Uh-Rah!

Did Wayne die and then take a detour into hell or did he descend even deeper into his dementia to become lost in that jungle of long ago?

Or is this Pizzolatto’s attempt at lifting the plot of Jacob’s Ladder? Did Purple Hays never come home from ‘Nam at all, dying in the jungle, and the entire season was ultimately a dying man’s fantasy?

Surely not, but one could see how such an interpretation could take hold. I suspect the author wrote both scenes and couldn’t decide which route to take, so delivered both, creating an ineffectual mess.

Want my bottom line? Nic Pizzolatto is a snake oil salesman with a flashy cart and fancy label on the bottle. Drinking it down won’t hurt you none, but don’t expect it to do you much good either.

Watch Season Three for the amazing performances, particularly from Stephen Dorff, who really surprised me in this.

Don’t expect much from the story and you’ll get along just fine.

What I’m Reading in 2019

Posted in The Library on February 25, 2019 by Occult Detective

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Another 56 books read last year. I used to read near double that, but time is not the luxurious bounty it once was, and, to be perfectly honest, my eyes tire out a lot quicker than they did even a few short years ago. My goal has always been to at least read 52 books. Will this be the year I fall short? It’s coming, I know, but the goal remains. Let’s see what 2019, my 53rd year on this planet, brings…

01. Conan Volume 20: A Witch Shall be Born (Dark Horse)
02. Conan Volume 17: Shadows Over Kush (Dark Horse)
03. Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville
04. The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels & Jacques Bergier
05. The Occult World by A. P. Sinnett
06. The Occult: A History by Colin Wilson
07. The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy by the Three Initiates
08. Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer
09. Barbarian Life by Roy Thomas
10. Enemies of the Secret Hide-Out by John Peterson
11. Memnon by Scott Oden
12. Men of Bronze by Scott Oden
13. Lion & Dragon by RPGPundit
14. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
15. Northern Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski
16. In the Cards by Marjorie G. Jones
17. Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury
18. Advanced Bushcraft by Dave Canterbury
19. Bushcraft First Aid by Dave Canterbury & Jason A. Hunt, PhD
20. One Truth and One Spirit by Keith Readdy
21. Beyond the North Wind by Christopher McIntosh
22. Red Sonja: The Ballad of the Red Goddess by Roy Thomas, Estaban Maroto, & Santi Casas
23.

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