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

True Detective resurrects the Ghost of WM3

Posted in Media Macabre on January 14, 2019 by Occult Detective

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Season One of True Detective was brilliant television and, despite some controversy regarding Nic Pizzolatto’s appropriation of the works of Alan Moore and Thomas Ligotti, was near universally acknowledged as being fresh, original, and disturbing.

It was like Twin Peaks and the Wire had a lovechild.

Season Two? Not so much. Oh, it had its moments, but it was, ultimately, a disjointed mess, with the best bits, I suspect, stripped from the script in an effort to remove the more ‘occult’ elements, elements that, in large part, made Season One so intoxicating.

Now, after a long hiatus, True Detective returns and it begs the question — can Season Three capture some of that same black magic that made its debut outing such a critical success?

Let’s find out.

The Great War and Modern Memory

What we have, initially, is Pizzolatto’s reimagining of the West Memphis 3 case, aka the Robin Hood Murders, and the subject of a true crime book (and movie) titled Devil’s Knot.

The root of the story seems to revolve around the disappearance of a brother and sister, ages 12 and 10, in an area known as the Devil’s Den. Detective Hays is interviewed in 1990 and 2015 regarding his involvement in the case back in 1980, the first by prosecutors and the second by ‘True Criminal’, which is, I presume, a tv docu-series.

Hays is a former long range reconnaissance and refers to himself as a tracker. He’s good at what he does. He sets out on his own and discovers the boy, Will, inside a cave, posed in prayer. The girl was nowhere to be found, though we learn that her fingerprints turn up in 1990.

Also of note, two cornhusk dolls, dressed as brides, were found, almost like breadcrumbs, leading Hays to Will’s body.

Set in Arkansas, I have to admit, they got the look right. The accents? Not even close. I know. My family is all from that nape of the woods and I spent a lot of time down that way, especially from the early-70s until the mid-80s.

The acting is solid. I expected as much from Mahershala Ali, but I was pleasantly surprised by Stephen Dorff’s Dennis Quaid impersonation.

I thought the mystery unfolded slow and easy, and enjoyed the three decade plot device.

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Now, let’s talk briefly about the first thing I took note of, at least in regard to Easter Eggs. In Will’s room, Hays pauses over an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book titled ‘The Forests of Leng’. Trust me, no such book or module exists.

Leng made me think of two things right away. 1.) Lovecraft’s Plateau of Leng and 2.) George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire, where Leng is a jungle island littered with ancient ruins. Martin almost certainly titled the isle as a nod to Lovecraft.

Leng was described by the sorcerer Abdul Alhazred as a place where different realities converge.

One final [piece that bears mentioning. The children’s parents were estranged. For a time, the wife’s cousin was living with them, sleeping in Will’s room. When Hays was searching the boy’s room he found a peephole drilled into his closet, allowing someone, presumably the adult cousin, to spy on the little girl’s room.

On to episode two…

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

“I like Batman and Silver Surfer.”

The second episode doubled down on the slow burn. Oh, there were plenty of red herrings and false leads, seeds of pedophile rings and conspiracies, but all in all, this felt like a character piece.

Where the first outing had a Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things (kids on bikes and D&D) vibe, this one hewed a little closer to noir procedural.

We get a richer glimpse into the lives of all involved, and we see new faces that are sure to play a bigger role as things unfold.

The three biggest things for me was Hays and Amelia’s relationship, the ransom note, and Hays’ Alzheimer’s (or dementia).

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We’re watching everyone on edge as the community and the police involved begin to unravel.

I’m still excited by the show, but I wonder if it would have been better served to have shown episode one by its lonesome, then the second week dropped two and three together? That first episode had all the water-cooler talking points laid out, while the second sort of defused that somewhat.

Regardless, I’ll be there, hungrily, next week to see where this dark road will lead us.

 

History’s Project Blue Book

Posted in Media Macabre on January 10, 2019 by Occult Detective

What follows is a true story.

In 1976 I was a fifth grader at Converse Elementary. We were housed in the old Converse High School, about a decade before they razed that beautiful building in favor of progress and cost reduction. It still doesn’t sit well with me, but that’s another matter.

In that glorious school year we were given the opportunity to ‘test out’ of math for the second semester. Several students were falling behind, so they decided to focus on those lagging by letting those who were getting it to do something else… a research project, the subject of which would be voted on by the group of those separated from those struggling.

In the interest of full disclosure: I cheated on the test. And so I was set free from the constraints of elementary mathematics and thrust into adolescent academia.

projblubkI petitioned the dozen or so who tested out of math for us to focus our research on the UFO phenomena. It, along with cryptids, the paranormal, and the occult, was my obsession. The students agreed and I presented my case to our teacher, Mr. Piper.

He agreed and we spent the next six weeks in an abandoned classroom on the third floor mapping out our theories on “flying saucers” and “little green men”. It was an amazing adventure and one I hold near and dear.

My bible was the Brad Steiger edited Project Blue Book. It, along with various UFO magazines and my collection of tabloid and newspaper clippings, made up our source material.

We plotted sightings on two large maps: one of the US and the other of the world. We filled not one, but three chalkboards with info, and then compiled it all into a report that we presented to the school.

Like I said, it was an amazing adventure and a memory I cherish.

bluebookFlash forward more than forty years later, and I’m watching Project Blue Book, a History Channel TV series starring Aiden Gillen as J. Allen Hynek, one of my childhood heroes.

The series debut, titled “The Fuller Dogfight”, played fast and loose with the facts. Blue Book was actually Hynek’s third UFO project for the Air Force for starters.

That being said, I loved it. Gillen was remarkable and Neal McDonough realy chewed the scenery whenever he took the screen. all in all, a solid start to a fictitious romp through early Ufology. As an old school X-Files fan, well, I can overlook the inaccuracies and instead allow myself to be immersed in the fantasy of what might have been.

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Fox Mulder was fond of the mantra, “The Truth is Out There”. Well, there’s little to no truth in Project Blue Book, but I’m all in. There’s a new “occult detective” in town, and his name is J. Allen Hynek.

9th Annual Occult Detective Awards

Posted in Occult Detective Awards on January 3, 2019 by Occult Detective

9thODA

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE NOVEL
2010 — A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene
2011 — Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis
2012 — Tortured Spirits (Jake Helman Files) by Gregory Lamberson
2013 — Love is the Law by Nick Mamatas
2014 — The Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene
2015 — Human Monsters (Jake Helman Files) by Gregory Lamberson
2016 — The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost
2017 — HeX-Rated by Jason Ridler
2018 — The Outsider by Stephen King

The-Outsider-Stephen-King

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE SHORT STORY
2010 — Ghosts Templar (Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter) by Guido Henkel
2011 — The Hellfire Club by William Meikle
2012 — Gathered Dust by W.H. Pugmire
2013 — In the Dark and Quiet by Joshua Reynolds
2014 — Bedlam in Yellow by William Meikle
2015 — Seeking Whom He May Devour by Joshua Reynolds
2016 — The Watcher at the Gate by William Meikle
2017 — When Soft Voices Die by Amanda DeWees
2018 — The Case of the Black Lodge by Aaron Vlek

Freeman, ODQ Vlek

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE ANTHOLOGY/MAGAZINE
2010 — The Black Spiral: Twisted Tales of Terror, edited by Richard D. Weber
2011 — House of Fear, edited by Jonathon Oliver
2012 — A Cat of Nine Tales, edited by Tracy DeVore and Thaddeus Sexton
2013 — Weird Detectives, edited by Paula Guran
2014 — The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult, edited by Lon Milo DuQuette
2015 — A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests, edited by Joshua Reynolds & Miles Boothe
2016 — The Weiser Book of the Fantastic and Forgotten, edited by Judika Illes
2017 — The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives, edited by Judika Illes
2018 — Occult Detective Quarterly: Number 4 / Spring 2018

odq4

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE AUDIO DRAMA/PODCAST
2010 — Edict Zero-FIS by Slipgate Nine Entertainment
2011 — Edict Zero-FIS by Slipgate Nine Entertainment
2012 — Operation Victor by Big Finish
2013 — Occult of Personality with Greg Kaminsky
2014 — Rune Soup with Gordon White
2015 — Rune Soup with Gordon White
2016 — The Horror Show with Brian Keene
2017 — Rune Soup with Gordon White
2018 — The Joe Rogan Experience

joeroganexperiencecrypto

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE COMIC
2010 — John Constantine: Hellblazer
2011 — League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century – 1969
2012 — League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century – 2009
2013 — Drumhellar
2014 — The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
2015 — Providence
2016 — Providence
2017 — Black Magick
2018 — Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration

hellblazer_30

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE MOVIE
2010 — Inception
2011 — Drive Angry
2012 — Solomon Kane
2013 — Odd Thomas
2014 — Deliver Us From Evil
2015 — Bone Tomahawk
2016 — Dr. Strange
2017 — A Dark Song
2018 — Occult Angel

occultangel

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE TV SERIES
2010 — Supernatural
2011 — Fringe
2012 — 666 Park Avenue
2013 — Hannibal
2014 — True Detective
2015 — Constantine
2016 — The X-Files: Season 10
2017 — Lucifer
2018 — Strange Angel

Strange-Angel

 

BEST OCCULT DETECTIVE REALITY SERIES
2010 — Destination Truth
2011 — Brad Meltzer’s Decoded
2012 — Deals from the Dark Side
2013 — Haunted Highway
2014 — The Curse of Oak Island
2015 — Expedition Unknown
2016 — The Curse of Oak Island
2017 — Expedition Unknown
2018 — The Occult Collector

occult-collector-calvin-von-crush

 

BEST OCCULT NON-FICTION
2010 — Perdurabo, Revised & Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski, PhD
2011 — Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter by Josh Gates
2012 — In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult by James Wasserman
2013 — The Best of the Equinox, vol 2: Dramatic Calls by Aleister Crowley & Lon Milo DuQuette
2014 — Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World by Gary Lachman
2015 — H.P. Lovecraft & the Black Magickal Tradition by John L. Steadman
2016 — The English Magic Tarot by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, & Andy Letcher
2017 — Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony by Julian Vayne
2018 — John Dee and the Empire of Angels by Jason Louv

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THE MANLY WADE WELLMAN AWARD
2010 — Brian Keene
2011 — William Meikle
2012 — Gregory Lamberson
2013 — Tim Prasil
2014 — John Constantine
2015 — Miles Boothe
2016 — Sam Gafford, John Linwood Grant, Travis Neisler, and Dave Brzeski
2017 — Joshua Reynolds
2018 — Charles R Rutledge

charles

Cabbage on the morrow

Posted in Liber et Audax on December 31, 2018 by Occult Detective

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Let’s cut to the chase — The defining moment of 2018 was the death of my father near the end of July after a horrific battle with cancer. It was an exhausting ordeal, for everyone, and I’m still feeling the weight of it these many months later. My father had a lot of faults, but I loved him despite each and every one of them and I miss him, foibles and all.

There was some good, to be sure, spread out across the mantle of the past year. While my father’s passing was a grim shadow that hung over it, we still managed to find some light.

One of the highlights was seeing Connor meet one of his favorite authors, Margaret Weiss, at Gen Con. My son has been reading through all of the Dragonlance books, and recounting them, chapter by chapter, to me has been such a joy. His enthusiasm is contagious and I revel in his love for these books, much as how I did when they first hit the scene in the late 80s.

kbc

Another of the things I cherish about 2018 was our continued commitment to our health and well being. Yoga, meditation, and hiking have become such an integral part of our lives, with Kim being the driving force behind it. We eat healthy. We exercise. And we’re loving every bit of it.

We also took in several plays and concerts, and man, was that a lot of fun. To soak up a bit of culture like that, and being able to share it with Kim and Connor, was such an uplifting experience. I am so looking forward to expanding those horizons even more in 2019.

There were also a lot of things that took a backseat this past year, unfortunately.

My explorations into the paranormal were few and far between for the better part of 2018. A lot of that was due to my father’s illness, to be sure, but I also have been noticing an ongoing trend in the field, some things that I have complained about for years, that are becoming more and more prevalent. I hope to work toward changing some of that as the new year rolls out.

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I didn’t get much writing done this year either, but I did manage to see a novella published — Hallowe’en House, co-written with my friend Greg Mitchell; and there was the introduction I wrote for a kickstarter project that reprinted the earliest tales of Kull written by my favorite author, Robert E. Howard.

Along with writing less, I also read less this year. Our Water Street Book Club petered out after two books (Sleeping Beauties was a real slog) and I managed only about 60 titles for the year, many of which were review copies that came my way. That will be one my New Year’s Resolutions, to see the Book Club revitalized and to get more reading (and writing) in over the course of 2019.

rpgAnother high point of 2018 was seeing the Oak Hill RPG Club grow. We picked up new members and played twice weekly for the better part of it. While we lost steam on developing our own RPG (due to various copyright issues), we really have seen gaming become more firmly entrenched into our regimen.

So, we say fare thee well to 2018. I’ve a fair number of resolutions for the new year, not the least of which is to be more mindful of content for this blog. I hope to have some exciting announcements in the coming months and hope you’ll stay tuned to hear them.

Till then, I wish each and every one of you all the best and may 2019 find you at peace.

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

Embrace the N.I.G.H.T.

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, N.I.G.H.T., Occult Detectives on December 17, 2018 by Occult Detective

NIGHTTEASE

We’ll be launching a new venture come spring. We hope you’ll join us on this journey of discovery… More details to come.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on December 4, 2018 by Occult Detective

sumfreeman

This makes for a pretty good summation of what makes me tick. I could decipher the lot of it, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, it’s not really all that deep… just accurate.

In Defense of ‘Fakelore’

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on November 19, 2018 by Occult Detective

“And I suppose if I had to choose between the true version and an elaborate one involving a fish and a wedding ring, I might choose the fancy version. But that’s just me”

— Dr. Bennett (Robert Guillaume), Big Fish

Let me preface the following by stating categorically that there is no place for physical, emotional, or sexual abuse within any community, let alone the greater, so-called, ‘pagan’ collective. We should strive to be better, to one another and to those outside our circle. The age old adage that ‘we are all in this together’ is more than just a platitude or affirmation — it is grounded in the reality of our place in the universe. While I believe you will discover that I am no great friend to ‘reality’ as perceived by the masses, some truths are irrefutable, regardless of the cut of your jib.

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If you’ve not already been treated to their words, I direct you first to a lengthy essay by Sarah Anne Lawless titled For Sale: Neopaganism “As Is”, and a response from anthropologist Amy Hale found under the heading On Paganism, Fakelore, and Tired Conversations about Authenticity.

Both are erudite and thought-provoking. Do I need to add my proverbial two-cents? Absolutely not, but then, that’s never stopped me before.

I watched the movie Big Fish this past weekend. Are you familiar? Based on the book by Daniel Wallace (which I’ve not read, but need to), the film was packed full of star power — Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Ewan MacGregor, Helena Bonham Carter, and on and on.

Of the film, director Tim Burton said, “Big Fish is about what’s real and what’s fantastic, what’s true and what’s not true, what’s partially true and how, in the end, it’s all true.

My own faith, which stems from my interpretation of heathenry, is founded on the tall tale in many respects. Anyone who has taken even a cursory stroll through the Sagas can readily see this to be true.

Boasting around the campfire is a time-honored tradition. Tales often grow in the telling, but if they’re well told, then more’s the better.

The truth can be overrated, and more often than not, elusive.

Sometimes building a mythology, a legend, around one’s beliefs heightens the narrative. It becomes a part of the ritual, entering that headspace where reality is warped and blended with the supernatural to create a magical truth that transcends the reality of the mundane.

Looking at Thelema, for instance, does it really matter if Aleister Crowley fictionalized his account regarding the transmission of the Book of the Law?

What of Gerald Gardner or Alex Sanders? Do their backstories make their traditions any less potent if they are fabrications?

The Golden Dawn was founded on so-called fakelore as is nearly every ‘secret society’ born under the sun, moon, and stars. I’m looking at you, Freemasons and Odd-Fellows, and all the rest.

Entire nations are founded on twisted versions of the honest to goodness truth.

And why not?

In a sense, all of reality is false, memory is unreliable, and we all build mythologies around ourselves, altering the past to suit our chosen narratives.

Everything is fictive.

When looking for the truth, well, which version of it do you want, because we all see things from different perspectives. There’s a reason why eyewitness testimony is largely unreliable.

Psychologically, we reinterpret events so that they make sense to us all based on numerous cultural and biological factors.

Truth is what you make it.

wonder

Now, if you’re creating fakelore to manipulate and control people to feed your ‘cult of personality’, to use and abuse members of your ‘tribe’, well then, we have a problem…

But, if you’re building a mythological narrative to elevate and uplift, to pass down a fable that fosters a sense of wonder and importance, well then where is the harm in that?

We’re on a spiritual journey, each and every one of us. What matters is our evolution going forward. If your reimagined backstory propels you up out of the mire into the heavens, then so be it.

In the end, it’s all about intent.

At least, that’s how I see it.

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