The House of Black and White

Posted in Media Macabre, Sword & Sorcery on April 19, 2015 by cairnwood


Season 5 Episode 2

“The House of Black and White”



Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 18, 2015 by cairnwood



Nine long nights I hung
wounded on wind-swept
pierced by my own spear,
pledged and offered to Odin,
myself to myself
E’en the wisest know not from
whence spring the roots of that
ancient tree…

No bread did I eat.
No mead did I drink.
With a great roar
did I look into the deep,
down into the abyss,
I took up the runes
and from Ygg I fell.

Nine lays of power
was I taught at Bolthor’s feet
And from his mead horn
Odrerir I did drink.

Wisdom did I find there,
and from it did I thrive.
I was led from a word to a word.
I was led from a deed to a deed.


History Vikings: Breaking Point?

Posted in Media Macabre with tags on April 17, 2015 by cairnwood

vikings banner

Has History Channel finally crossed the line? Have they committed an unforgivable sin?

My day started with an inbox aflame with Heathen voices, furious over last night’s episode of Vikings, in which King Ragnar seemingly offers to send his horde away in exchange for 5,000 pounds of gold and one more little thing — he wanted to be baptized by the Parisian Cleric so that when he dies he can reunite with Athelstan in Heaven.


I, myself, fired off a couple of angry tweets to History Channel:

Shame on you, @HistoryVikings. I don’t expect 100% accuracy, it is legend, after all, but to disrespect & dishonour Ragnar in such a way?

Hey, @HistoryVikings — Now there’s a Ragnar I can respect:

Then I got to thinking. Michael Hirst likes to pull the old switcheroo with his season finales. Remember when some people thought Floki was betraying Ragnar last season, but stabbed King Horik in the back instead?

So, I wonder, is Hirst going to instead honor Ragnar’s promise to do what his allies so far could not, breach the walls of Paris by appropriating a similar ruse perpetuated by one Björn Ironside?

From wikipedia:

…Björn found himself unable to breach the town walls. To gain entry, he sent messengers to the bishop to say that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened, letting his army in.

I guess we’ll have to tune in for next week’s season finale to find out.

That Most Terrible of Days

Posted in Alba Gu Brath, Liber et Auda, Writing in Theory & Practice on April 16, 2015 by cairnwood

The MacLeods were with me at Culloden, that most terrible of days.
— Bonnie Prince Charlie,
Highlander “Through a Glass Darkly”


The Battle of Culloden
16 April 1746

It’s no secret… I’ve long had a fascination with Scotland. Today, on the 269th anniversary of the Battle of Colloden, “that most terrible of days”, I share with you an extremely short excerpt from my novel Keepers of the Dead, forthcoming from Seventh Star Press, presumably latter this year:

“Nestled securely in Cairn Wood for centuries, the hills of Scotland were theirs to prowl, but they were lured out of their den by the call of patriotism and our family faced defeat alongside the Bonnie Prince at Culloden.

“They had set out as shock troops, a lead band of wolves intent on striking hard and fast into the invading Hanoverian troops and weakening them afore the Prince’s meager militia would be forced to face them in open combat, but they were betrayed by their own kin.

“The children of Romulus,” MacGregor continued, “had allied themselves with the Duke of Cumberland in return for valuable properties in the midlands of Scotland and they served the Governmental Forces well by ambushing our kinsmen and, with the aid of a vampiress, kept the pack of Cairn Wood from the guerrilla assault they had intended. As a result, after a forced march through the night, the Stuart’s outnumbered and outgunned army was decimated by the Duke’s well-trained forces. The clans were scattered, tortured, and killed, the landscape littered with mass graves…

“Our forefathers sulked with their tails between their legs all the way back to Cairn Wood and, fearing retribution and depressed by the thought of a homeland stripped of its customs and culture, they left Scotland for the New World and the promise of a new life in the colonies.”

My Thoughts on Graham Hancock’s The Divine Spark

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 15, 2015 by cairnwood

In the summer of 1985, I embarked on my first, true psychonautic journey. It was a mind-opening experience, introducing me to new and exciting ways to interact with “reality” and ripping the away the veil between my understanding of the very fabric of the multiverse.

I had no teachers, no gurus to help light the way, not in any real sense, but there were books. There were always books…Important in my development were works such as Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson; The Psychedelic Reader by Leary, Metzner and Weil; Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of Artificial Paradise by Ronald Seigel; and Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge — A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution by Terence McKenna, to name but a few that stand out.

I was never a “party guy”. For me, the “drug experience” was a spiritual thing. I always approached psychotropic drugs as a catalyst for exploring not only myself, but also as a means of embracing divinity.

divine sparkWhen asked to review The Divine Spark: A Graham Hancock Reader: Psychedelics, Consciousness, and the Birth of Civilization, I was more than thrilled to have the opportunity.

While it’s been a number of years since my last psychedelic journey, I have never stopped considering myself a psychonaut. The idea of expanding one’s consciousness, of delving into the inner workings of the mind, and dissecting what makes us tick has always struck me as being secondary only to making real inter- and intra-personal connections.

Graham Hancock has compiled a thought-provoking and compelling collection of essays by some of the leading voices in the field — Mike Alivernia ▪ Russell Brand ▪ David Jay Brown ▪ Paul Devereux ▪ Rick Doblin ▪ Ede Frecska ▪ Alex Grey ▪ Nassim Haramein ▪ Martina Hoffmann ▪ Don Lattin ▪ Luis Eduardo Luna ▪ Dennis McKenna ▪ Thad McKraken ▪ Rak Razam ▪ Gabriel Roberts ▪ Thomas B. Roberts ▪ Gregory Sams ▪ Robert Schoch ▪ Mark Seelig ▪ Rick Strassman ▪ Robert Tindall and, of course, Hancock himself.

Despite being only 320 pages, The Divine Spark is a dense read. I suspect you won’t agree with every voice, but as a chorus, it is an inspiring and illuminating reading experience.

The simple truth is this, the government calls it a War on Drugs, but it’s really a War on Consciousness. It’s about control. How can a government, particularly one that claims to watch over the “land of the free”, criminalize the consumption of things that exist in nature?

Mankind has sought out these psychotropic plants and fungi, since before we discovered the secret of fire, as a means to commune with the sacred and divine.

What possible justification could a government have for denying so-called “free citizens” the right to explore their own consciousness?

I cannot recommend The Divine Spark: A Graham Hancock Reader: Psychedelics, Consciousness, and the Birth of Civilization highly enough.

The Divine Spark is published by Disinformation and distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser. It is available wherever books are sold.


Posted in Liber et Auda on April 14, 2015 by cairnwood

Every Tuesday, for ten weeks straight now, I have tried to keep the memory of my best friend alive by injecting him into this blog, a modest tribute to a man I loved like a brother. See, eleven weeks ago today he left his body behind, sailing off into the great unknown, Not an hour has passed that I have not thought of him, of our friendship and what he meant to me, of his family that is gutted by his absence…

The thing I have tried most to do is cling to that spark of him that remains, to keep him with us and a part of us. I, like so many others that loved him, will not let all of him go.

When we love someone, we give them a part of ourselves. If you’re lucky, in the end, there’s not a whole lot of you left.

That’s immortality, especially if those you gave yourself to pass you along.

That’s what these Tuesday blogs are all about. Me passing Brent along.

In the summer of 1987, Brent and I shared a little apartment in Muncie. It was the third and last place we’d hung our hats together, though he continued to be a fixture in every college town hovel I called home after.

That summer holds a special place in my heart. We were both pulling in good grades and going to class regularly (the last time that would happen for me) and we managed to avoid the craziness that had come before and would come after. We kicked back, drank a few beers, and spent untold hours dissecting the very fabric of time and space.

I slept on the couch in the front room, having converted my bedroom into a meditation room. We were getting somewhere, you know. We both felt like we were on the cusp of something truly remarkable, something life-changing and evolutionary.

I don’t know, maybe it was the trips we were taking down to Indy, hanging out at Marilene Isaacs’ and logging hours in her isolation tank, but man, it really felt like we were onto something.

Of course, it didn’t last. I had a series of mini-breakdowns followed by micro-highs. I was on a roller-coaster, terrified of growing up, and in a lot of ways, so was Brent. The inevitable crash that came in the early 90s began in the winter of ’87.

We stumbled and fell, but we picked ourselves up, often leaning on each other. In the years just prior to his death, Brent had grown immeasurably. He was the Brent of old, full of fire and passion. We had reassembled the old gang, slinging dice together but not as some kind of nostalgia… No, we reconnected and built something new. We had, each of us, been through fire, and we came out the other side of it renewed.

This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.

Brent was such a huge part of my life. I would not be the man I am today without his friendship. I am thankful for every moment we had together, and I’m thankful that so many of us carry a piece of him inside us.

That’s just one more reason that makes our game nights so special. When we’re all together, there’s more than just a piece of him there…

The Wars to Come

Posted in Media Macabre, Sword & Sorcery with tags on April 13, 2015 by cairnwood

gotbannerSeason 5 Episode 1

The Wars to Come, or Mance Can’t Dance


I’m reading very little love for the premiere of Game of Thrones’ Fifth Season. I get it. I don’t agree, but I get it.

Game of Thrones does not have the luxury of spending half a decade perfecting a story, intricately weaving the various courses undertaken by a veritable phone book of characters.

That the show has become a bit unwieldy due to its mammoth cast should come as no surprise, especially when the author of the books saw fit to spread them from one corner of his fictional globe to the other.

What the book readers love, it seems, the show watchers find seizure inducing.

If history’s any indication, episode two will be much the same, as they focus on another set of characters while adding a little weight to the ones already introduced in the premiere.

I’ve long felt this all could be corrected, this “premiere dissatisfaction” by airing episodes one and two as a single two hour launch, giving us an eleven hour season instead of ten, but what the hell do I know?

The other gripe, beyond the machine gun, scatter spray storytelling is how far the books and show are diverging. I happen to like both. Here’s how I rationalize it. I view it as one story told by separate bards. Each has their own style, their own way of looking at things. The gist of the tale is the same, but they tell things in a different order, combine this, edit that, but in the end, it’s the same tale… Like one more than the other if you like. Me? I sort of have a fondness for Mel Gibson’s Hamlet.


I realize I haven’t had much to say about the first episode. I will discuss things more fully as the season progresses. I’m just damned happy to have Game of Thrones back, especially with only two episodes remaining in the Vikings third season.

The Wars to Come was a solid outing for me, the highlight being Cersei’s flashback to her run in with Maggy the Frog, played maliciously by Alice Munro from Last of the Mohicans, if memory serves.

Haters are gonna hate. As for now, I’m loving it… The story’s being sung by a different bard, but the song is still of Ice and Fire, and, I suspect, it will still end with dragon’s breath and white walkers before it’s all said and done.

More next week.


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