Magick By Trial & Error: Dust My Broom

Posted in Magick on May 10, 2021 by Occult Detective

I had a great chat this weekend about the origins of my occult practices and it really set off a flood of old memories, so many things that while not altogether forgotten, were certainly resting beneath a thick coating of dust. I suppose that’s a byproduct of being a bit longer in the tooth. When one can trace their roots in craftwork back nearly fifty years then I suppose more than a few things slip by the wayside, unpracticed… no longer an integral part of one’s repertoire and routine.

There’s a danger in that, I think. We need ritual in our lives.

While I maintain a daily prayer each morning to Óðinn, the vættir, and folk, and I normally settle in at work and perform a quick Tarot reading to start my day with some foresight into what’s to come, there was a long period when I devoted far more time to my magical and spiritual well-being. I was actively engaged.

I suppose these daily blog sessions have been a way to return to that state of mind where magick and purpose are ever-present.

I find myself to be less experimental than in my youth, which is something that occurred to me as we talked this past weekend. I have become complacent, sort of set in my ways. The thing is, I don’t think it’s a matter of learning new things per se, but rather dusting off some of the old bag of tricks and taking them for a spin now and then.

Magick is a living and breathing art, and if we allow ourselves to become stale, then the art suffers.

Too much theory and not enough practice may be good for the mind, but not the soul. As the title of this blog suggests, we, meaning I, need more trial and error…

Ghost Hunting Tales: Teaser

Posted in Investigations, Paranormal on May 7, 2021 by Occult Detective

Well I spent a good chunk of my day in the ER for tests. No worries. I’m fine. Just some inflammation of the lungs. A byproduct of my youthful decadence. As the morning was spent on an OSR project, I never got around to today’s Ghost Hunting Tales. So rather than dash something off, how about a teaser for next week?

Surely that will entice you back to the Occult Detective hearth, one week from today. See you then, if not before…

Three For Thursday: Black Characters Matter

Posted in Media on May 6, 2021 by Occult Detective


“ORIGINAL black characters remain on
the shelf because of tokenization.”

— Eric July (YoungRippa59)

The internet is ablaze with talk of Black Superman and the casting of a woman of color in the role of Red Sonja. This is nothing new. Both in comics and on the big and small screens, unique characters of diverse ethnicities are often overlooked or downright dismissed unless they get slapped into another hero’s pajamas.

I’ve got to agree with Eric July on this. Taking a traditionally “white” character and putting a POC in the suit is not progress. There are a whole host of great black characters that deserve a seat at the table. A prime example is the demotion of the Falcon from a unique character to a “tokenized” Captain America. We don’t need a black Cap, what we need is the Falcon. Period.

That said, today I thought I would share my three favorite black comic book characters. This was a hard list to make. Why? Because it’s a long list of awesome, unique heroes and villains that need to be propped up. You know what? I’m going to cheat. Were going Top 5, baby!

Let’s get to it…






Wyrd Wednesday: Althingi

Posted in Wyrd on May 5, 2021 by Occult Detective


In November I backed a card game from Joshua Gillingham & Outland Entertainment called Althingi: A Viking Game of Strength & Influence. Featuring gritty art from Lada Shustova, Althingi allows each player takes on the role of a powerful Chieftain. The player’s goal is to use bribery, coercion, and intimidation to take control of the annual gathering known as the Althingi.

Sounds fun, right? Once it arrives (any week now), I’ll post a review. So, why bring this up now? Well, Outland and Joshua have a new Kickstarter set in the Althingi universe.

Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star
An Intersectional Anthology of Viking and Muslim Historical Fiction

While the term “intersectional” is an unfortunate choice, playing into Critical Race Theory advocacy, the anthology seems well intentioned and puts me in mind of the “interfaith” work that Indiana Horror Writers were involved in through Maurice Broaddus’ Mo*Con a few years back.

Bringing together a diverse stable of authors to tell stories of Norse/Muslim interactions has the potential to be tremendously entertaining and I truly look forward to getting my mitts on this.

The Kickstarter is currently underway. If you’re interested in historical fiction, particularly centered around the Norse, then Althingi just might be for you. Give it a look HERE.

Tarot Tuesday: This Is Not A Love Song

Posted in Media, Tarot on May 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

I’ve known Amber Petty for a few years now. She reached out after becoming enamored by my High Priestess tarot design, which she licensed for her Tarot Tea House business in Australia. Subsequently she wrote a memoir and we collaborated on the cover art over the course of many months. Below is the finished artwork for her debut —This Is Not A Love Song: A Memoir About Mental Health and Love which is available wherever books are sold.

And for kicks, here are a few of the other ideas we knocked around, all Tarot related, of course.

Magick By Trial & Error: The LVX Files

Posted in Magick, Media on May 3, 2021 by Occult Detective

Today, I direct you to The LVX Files, a new podcast from my good friend Shawn Hebert of Lailokens Awen fame. Billed as “A Podcast for Occultists about Occultists”, Shawn expands on Gordon White’s “were you a weird kid?” opener to delve into the origin stories of today’s most prominent occult voices.

In the debut, we are treated to a fascinating introduction to Frater R.C., host of the Magick Without Fears podcast. I believe you’ll find Shawn a personable and erudite host, and if his discussion with Frater RC is any indication, we’re in for a spectacular season of in-depth analysis of the evolution of occultists from a very personal level.

Be sure to like, subscribe, & ring that bell.

And if you want to know a little more about what makes Shawn tick beforehand, you can check out his Last Rites from last September.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Chill & Dark Shadows

Posted in Investigations on April 30, 2021 by Occult Detective


One of the more chilling experiences I’ve had came on an evening when I hosted a paranormal investigation at a confidential location in North Central Indiana. The Italianate building we were called to once housed a prestigious fraternal lodge, and it was in the former great hall that the event I want to share took place.

While female investigators were exploring what was affectionately referred to as “the demon closet”, the men took to the great hall.

Demonologist Brad Pate was playing a full-chorus Catholic Exorcism from his laptop, hoping to provoke a response from the preternatural entity believed to reside there.

Investigator (and inventor) David LaBrecque was sitting on the main stage, using an infrared thermometer to spot check temperatures around the room.

My colleague and I were sitting in two chairs beneath an antique gaslight chandelier.

As the exorcism droned on, I was looking toward David when I saw a black shape rise up behind him, taking full human form. It loomed above him and I called out. David stood quickly and the shadow moved away from him, south along the stage until it disappeared beneath one of the ocular windows.

At that moment, I felt enveloped by an oppressive assault of bitter cold. I gasped and looked to my colleague who was experiencing the same…

David, checking the thermal, confirmed that the temperature had plummeted 20° where we were sitting.

It was, without question, compared against literally hundreds of cold spot episodes in my decades of investigating, the most dramatic temperature fluctuation I had ever experienced.

Needless to say, the location is a favorite haunt of mine. I have explored her many times before and since. Believe me, I have many more stories to tell about that place… but for now, I leave you with this short tale to keep in the back of your mind, the next time you experience a chill in the night. Look around. There may be more than meets the eye, there in the dark where the shadows lie.

Three for Thursday: Wyrd Edition

Posted in Media, Wyrd on April 29, 2021 by Occult Detective

No Wyrd Wednesday post yesterday. I am almost exclusively devoted, during my daylight hours, to the OSR Authentic Magick RPG I’ve been tapped to illustrate, edit, and orchestrate. So, how do I make amends? Well, we bring a little Wyrd into our Three for Thursday.

Today, let’s have my list of the three best “Viking” movies.



Adapted from Edison Marshall’s novel, The Vikings. If you thought the Viking’s tv show was inaccurate, hold onto your horned helm because this tale of Ragnar Lodbrok is a doozy. Oh, we’ve got Ragnar and Aella, Egbert, and the like, but we also have Eric, Ragnar’s secret bastard and Einar Ragnarsson, and let’s not forget the Welsh Princess Morgana.

For all its playing fast and loose with history, the cast more than makes up for it: Ernest Borgnine, Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh are all spectacular in this epic sword and sandal production.



Where do you even begin with this Mads Mikkelsen tour-de-force? Mads plays One-Eye, a mute thrall who escapes his captivity with a young boy and is taken in by cruel Norse Christians intent on sailing for the Holy Land on Crusade. Blown off course, they end up in North America, where One-Eye sacrifices himself to the natives there.

Oh, yes, I have opinions about this film and its meaning. More than happy to discuss with anyone brave enough for an earful.



Adapted from Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, The 13th Warrior is loosely based on Beowulf, merged with the chronicles of Ahmad ibd Fadlan. The cast is spectacular, particularly Jahn Dennis Storhøi who manages to steal every scene he is in.

“After my small role in The 13th Warrior, I said to myself, ‘Let us stop this nonsense, these meal tickets that we do because it pays well.’ I thought, ‘Unless I find a stupendous film that I love and that makes me want to leave home to do, I will stop.’ Bad pictures are very humiliating, I was really sick. It is terrifying to have to do the dialogue from bad scripts, to face a director who does not know what he is doing, in a film so bad that it is not even worth exploring.” — Omar Scharif

Well, Omar, I disagree. John McTiernan was the original direstor, and while he was responsible for films like The Hunt for Red October, Predator, and Die Hard, by all accounts he lit a lot of money on fire and delivered a wretched film. Crichton took the reins himself, reshooting the ending and delivering what I consider an exhilarating adventure film.

Tarot Tuesday: Robin Wood

Posted in Tarot on April 27, 2021 by Occult Detective

I just wanted to say a few words about Robin Wood, whom we lost to cancer (and after a terrible bout with COVID) on April 19th. She was 67 years old. I think it’s telling of the respect I had for her as an artist as her Tarot was the second deck I showcased on Tarot Tuesday after its relaunch. It is her deck that is in my messenger bag right now. It’s the deck I have carried with me on countless paranormal investigations. Her art was clear, concise, and had that enigmatic ‘pop’ so many artists lack.

I think it was her spirit that made her art so special. She was ‘one of us’, a nature-loving spell-casting witch who illustrated a number of beautiful book covers for Llewellyn, particularly the books of Scott Cunningham. I loved Scott’s work, but let’s be honest here, I picked them up because of those covers.

She also illustrated the works of Anne McCaffery and a whole host of fantasy art for TSR. Her work was ever-present in my life and I appreciated her and her talent beyond measure.

She had health problems for years. While I am sorry she is gone, I take comfort in that she is beyond all pain and suffering, and that she left behind a legacy that will be cherished for years to come.

Godspeed, Sweet Robin. Enjoy your wings…

Magick By Trial & Error: Talking Boards

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Paranormal on April 26, 2021 by Occult Detective

You may have noticed I did not post an installment of Ghost Hunting Tales on Friday. It was bound to happen. I have been working on a couple of huge projects (and neglecting a few more) and to be perfectly honest, I am behind schedule on everything. Deadlines are cruel mistresses…

As such, I desperately need to remain focused on one project in particular. I am working on the art and graphic design for a soon-to-be-released OSR Magick Authentic RPG. Of course, the project cannot be released until I wrap up my chores, so I’m off to it.

But not before I leave you with this.

One of the most versatile tools for both an occultist and paranormal investigator is the Talking Board, aka Spirit or Witch Board, or simply Ouija. It has certainly fallen in and out of favor over the years, but I stand by its capacity to both unlock the inner workings of the subconscious mind and operate as a device through which we can communicate with the spirits of the departed and preternatural intelligences.

I keep on hand both a Ouija Board and Psychic Circle, tucked neatly into my investigation bag. I highly recommend you employ one as well. I have been enamored with them since my teen years, and hold that particularly unsettling occurrences with their use in the 1980s cemented for me not only their validity but their potential.

As such, the boards can be fraught with danger, as once a link with an entity is established you cannot be sure what or who you have made contact with.

“There is, however, a good way of using
this instrument to get what you want,
and that is to perform the whole
operation in a consecrated circle,
so that undesirable aliens cannot
interfere with it. You should then
employ the proper magical
invocation in order to get into your
circle just the one spirit you want.
It is comparatively easy to do this.
A few simple instructions are all
that is necessary, and I shall be
pleased to give these, free of charge,
to any one who cares to apply.”

— Aleister Crowley

Crowley’s advice, quoted above, is recommended, although his involvement, “free of charge” is sadly unavailable.

Or is it? We have the board, after all…

Chances are, you’ve got one in the back of a closet or in the game room buried beneath Candy Land, Clue, and Monopoly. Dust it off. Give it a spin. Become attuned to it and make it a part of your repertoire.

I look forward to hearing your results…

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