Tarot Tuesday: Nothing Ventured…

Posted in Tarot on April 13, 2021 by Occult Detective

For today’s reading I pulled my Robin Wood Tarot, the deck I keep in my messenger bag for general purposes. I purchased it in 1991 from a little shop where a few years earlier I used to earn drinking money doing readings by appointment. My how times have changed…

I really like Robin Wood’s art, and the prismacolor pencil color really pops.

Today I thought I would do another three-card-draw, reflecting on a new business venture I’ve undertaken. Let’s see how things shake out.

The first card drawn is the 5 of Wands. The Past Position represents recent events that have transpired leading up to the present situation, relating to your question. In this case, the 5 of Wands represents disharmony, discord, and chaos. People are not on the same page are are working against one another.

The second card is the 7 of Wands. Hm, another Wand in the draw. Curious. This is the Present Position and reflects our current state of affairs as related to the question at hand. The 7 of Wands represents confronting conflict and the defense of one’s territory. Typically the card also can maintain that the defender is unsure of their position, even while defending it.

The third card drawn is from the Major Arcana — The World. Found in the Future Position, this card shows the probable outcome. It is a card about success and fulfillment, the culmination of a long journey. You really couldn’t ask for a better signifier for what’s to come.

If I were reading this for someone else, my advice would be to stay the course, believe in the work they are doing and set aside self-doubt. In the end, it’s all sunshine and rainbows.

But then, your mileage might vary.

If you’d be interested in a reading, I am willing to do so for a nominal donation via paypal. I carry out readings via email regularly, and I have been known to do so via twitter DM and Facebook Messenger apps.

Magick By Trial & Error: Jack-of-All-Trades

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Paranormal on April 12, 2021 by Occult Detective

Really crunched for time today, so I’ll be brief, offering up a little food for thought.

As an extension of last week’s piece on the mutability of magick, I thought I should briefly explain how I have approached things in the past.

In my field, you have to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. It pays to be knowledgeable in a wide variety of traditions. You have to be able to differentiate Santeria from Voudon from Hoodoo and the like. You need to be able to discern from ceremonial magic to all the varying degrees of left-hand pathwork, from all sides of the magical coin, and as many religions as you can squeeze into the gray matter between your ears. And once you muddy the waters with all the self-styled combinations that solitaries or isolated groups might cook up and cobble together, well, an investigators work is, at the very least, never boring.

Paranormal investigators often enter into situations that they’re ill-equipped to handle. They may be atheist, agnostic, Christian, Pagan, or what have you, but the crux of the situation is, if you go into an investigation close-minded, you’re libel to set yourself up for a world of hurt.

It really does pay to do your homework. You can have the sanctity of your own faith or magical practice, but you need to be open to the many and varied paths that are out there. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. — Sun Tzu

I’ll revisit this when I have more than a ten minute window…

Ghost Hunting Tales of Indiana & Beyond: Start the Ball Rolling #Paranormal

Posted in Investigations, Paranormal on April 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

Welcome to the first post in my new (mostly) weekly feature —Thank the Gods It’s Friday: Ghost Hunting Tales of Indiana & Beyond. I’ll be discussing old and new cases and as I tried to come up with the perfect story to get the ball rolling, well, I thought this little tale would be apropos…

Just shy of eleven years ago, on a Hallowe’en night, some friends joined me on an informal investigation of a confidential location. What I can tell you is it took place in a three story building, constructed in 1860s, and I have explored the place near countless times since the late 1970s. It has never disappointed in terms of paranormal activity. Never.

That Hallowe’en was no different.

The experience I want to share is an odd one.

I had placed, on the third floor, a child’s ball, in the “wardrobe” room, atop an “x” marked by masking tape. The idea being that perhaps something would move the ball while we were downstairs exploring. I left the room, passing through a closet area, then turned east through a set of double doors, then north down a flight of stairs to a landing, then south down a short stair and through the stair door to the second floor.

I make a point of detailing my descent for a reason.

My cohorts and I investigated the second floor, experiencing the sounds of footsteps and whispers throughout, then we adjourned to the second floor “waiting” room where we relaxed for a bit. Being still…quiet, immersing ourselves in the distinct sounds of the old building.

Then we heard the clatter of something descending the third floor stair. We heard the creak of the stair door open.

Creeping into the hall, what did we find?

The child’s ball. Sitting perfectly still outside the “waiting” room door. The door to third floor stairwell was closed.

An amazing experience. And it doesn’t even crack the Top 5 of things that have happened at that site. Probably misses out on the Top 10 as well.

Three For Thursday: Paranormal TV

Posted in Media, Paranormal on April 8, 2021 by Occult Detective

Thursday are going to be fun. When I wake up, I think of a topic and I throw up a list of my Top 3. It might be anything. Whatever catches my fancy. It just might spark controversy or debate on occasion, but that’s alright. We’re (mostly) all adults here. So, what do we start off with?

Well, looking up at the top of the page, it says this is occultdetective.com, so how about we address our raison d’etre, but with a twist. At some point we’ll tackle literature, tv, movies, comics, and the like, but for our inaugural launch, we’re going to have it hit a little closer to home. Let’s keep it real and leave the fiction behind.

Top Three Paranormal Investigation Series

— Number 3 —

Haunted Highway

“I’m Jack Osbourne and I’ve been obsessed with the paranormal since I was a kid. I’ve wanted to investigate some of America’s scariest cases. But I decided it had to be done differently. I’ve put together two teams–myself and my researcher Dana and my friends Jael and Devin. We shot everything ourselves; just us. This is what we discovered and it completely blew my mind.”

I liked Haunted Highway because, for one thing, it was different. No camera crews. Just two investigators driving across America, sticking their collectives noses into places where they don’t necessarily belong. Jack, of course, is a charismatic host, and his fellow investigators were fun to ride along with.

— Number 2 —

Portals to Hell

Another Jack Osbourne show? Yes damn it. And it’s not because of him, though he is likeable. For whatever reason, you just sort of root for the guy. The premise is a bit contrived, but I enjoy the locations and the production of the series. Jack’s partner in crime, Katrina Weidman, is a familiar face, and she and Osbourne have good chemistry. I also enjoy the people they bring on board to assist, particularly Michelle Belanger. I also enjoy the interaction between the producers, the crew, and the investigators. Everyone is involved and it feels natural.

— Number 1 —

Hellier

“A small crew of paranormal researchers find themselves in a dying coal town, where a series of strange coincidences leads them to a decades-old mystery with far-reaching implications.”

Hellier follows researchers Greg and Dana Newkirk, Karl Pfeiffer, Connor Randall, and Tyler Strand, with special appearances by Allen Greenfield and John E. L. Tenney, as they embark on an enigmatic adventure fraught with cryptic emails, strange synchronicities, goblins, aliens, the Mothman, and more. People often talk about the journey being more important than the destination, and Hellier encapsulates that ethos perfectly. How else do you describe a documentary that begins with a frantic email and ends with an Invocation to Pan?

Hellier certainly came closest to capturing the feel of my own investigations, especially in the mid-1980s, around the displaced town of Somerset, Indiana. Speaking of synchronicities…

Wyrd Wednesday

Posted in Wyrd on April 7, 2021 by Occult Detective

Hail, Óðinn!
Wayfarer, Wanderer,
Allfather, King!
Hail the Æsir!
Hail the Vanir!
Hail the Jǫtunn!
Hail the Vættir!
Hail the Folk!

This is the prayer I say every morning as I place Mjǫllnir around my neck. The necklace is very dear to me. I have been wearing it faithfully for 35 years. I hired a silversmith to craft it for me in 1985, modeled after one found in Rømersdal, Bornholm, Denmark. I requested the ring to be fashioned as Jǫrmungandr swallowing his tail. The craftsman delivered it to me a year later, at a Gun and Knife Show in Indianapolis. In 2001 I added the second ring, my wedding ring, when it became too tight for my finger. I have gone through many necklaces — leather cords, rope chains, and the like — several were gifts from my wife. Mjǫllnir is now born by a dog-tag chain. It’s never been more secure.

I thought it fitting to discuss this on the inaugural Wyrd Wednesday post, Mjǫllnir being the most obvious declaration of my faith. It is frequently commented on, especially at events and festivals (remember when those were a thing).

I embraced the Norse faith as a child, on my own volition, in 1974. I had no scholarship to guide me, no mentors or believers to counsel me on this path. My only resource at the time was The Children of Odin, written by Padraic Colum and illustrated by Willy Pogany. I had no inkling that anyone else in the world heard the call of the Northern Gods.

But it felt right and true to me then, as it does for me today.

I used Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca as a sort of guide back then. I saw Thor and Sif as my patrons. As I said, I was a child with no guidance. I fumbled through my faith, adding knowledge wherever I could find it along the way. In time, I came to honor Odin above all others, as it was his example that led me all along the way, gathering wisdom where I could to incorporate it into my faith and practice.

Now, of course, we are in the midst of a renaissance of Norse culture. The worship of the old gods has risen exponentially in the past decade. Never has there been more scholarly resources available. It is an amazing time to be Heathen. It is also a terrible time…

For all the positive growth in our faith, there has been a near equal amount of negativity. There are some who would use the symbols of Heathenry in bad faith, and others who misappropriate the gods and present them to further their own agendas.

I do not belong to any national or international organizations. I belong to no local kindred. I have been a solitary practitioner for more thirty years and I am fine with doing so for thirty more if the gods are willing. Of course, it is the twenty-first century, so I do interact with a number of Heathens from all facets of the faith, be they Asatru, Aldsidu, or simply Norse Pagans.

I count among my friends those who are Universalists, Folkish, Wiccatru, and all points in between. There is no room at my table for racist, bigoted thoughts and behavior, and I can tell the difference between someone who wishes to honor their cultural heritage from someone who merely maintains hate in their heart.

Personally, I certainly lean Folkish, but I hold no line against any man or woman, regardless of ethnicity or orientation.

As I have said, this is an amazing time to be Heathen, to be sure. We are well and truly blessed.

It is a tremendous responsibility to represent the gods. It is one none of us should take lightly.

Tarot Tuesday Three-Card Reading

Posted in Tarot on April 6, 2021 by Occult Detective

Welcome to the rebirth of Tarot Tuesdays. I thought I would start things off with a reading — a simple three card draw. For those unfamiliar, three card readings are often done for quick answers to pertinent questions. They represent the past, present, and future.

Today I’ll be using a deck of my own design — The Occult Detective Tarot. Let’s see what the Fates have in store for us.

We’ll start this off with a not so simple question, “How will we fare as we come out of the pandemic?”

The first card drawn is from the Major Arcana — The Devil. The Past Position represents recent events that have transpired leading up to the present situation, relating to your question. In this case, The Devil represents a seduction by the material world, but can also depict fear or bondage. I guess this is fitting as we see many of our COVID restrictions being lifted. We are moving away from the fear and lockdown protocols.

The second card is the 7 of Water, the card of Shamanism. This is the Present Position and reflects our current state of affairs as related to the question at hand. The 7 of Water represents the ability to see through illusion. I have my own thoughts on why this card found its way into this draw, I’ll let you make your own conclusions.

The third card drawn is the 8 of Air, the Private Eye. This is the Future Position and typically shows the probable outcome. The Private Eye is hard-nosed and down-on-his (or her) luck, trapped by circumstance, but dogged and persevering. They tend toward having a victim mentality. Everyone’s out to get ’em. Is this saying that, as we (meaning the majority) slide back into our day to day lives, that we will feel set upon, that we will be working to persevere against an oppression brought on by pandemic response?

Can you see another interpretation?

Food for thought. And that’s why tarot is an invaluable tool…

Magick by Trial and Error

Posted in Magick with tags on April 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

We in the occult community all have origin stories. Mine is no stranger than most, though I did get an early start thanks to a steady diet of comic books, horror movies, and ghost stories around countless campfires, both real and proverbial. My foray into magical practice came after a thirst for hunting monsters, boogeymen, spirits, and the fae. It was initiated by my belief that those things were real and that if I was going to interact with them, I needed the sort of protection that only magick could afford.

My first book on the magical world was Unseen Forces by Manly Palmer Hall. It had been my great-grandmother’s. Through it, I learned that magick was real, as were all manner of elemental creatures and spirits and the like. I was eight years old. I had never been beholden to my Christian upbringing, and it was shortly after reading this book that I began exploring the gods of Germanic Heathenry. It seemed natural to me that the gods of my ancestors were more salient to my ambitions, especially if I were to pursue the esoteric as a matter of course.

When you’re young, especially in the rural Indiana of the early 1970s, a magical education was not easy to come by. But I managed, thanks to the sparse collection of books in the Public Library, such as the works of Sybil Leek, Richard Cavendish, and Arthur Edward Waite, but it was Francis King’s Techniques of High Magic that really opened a few doors for me.

It was a struggle though, which brings me, finally, to the subject of today’s missive. One of my biggest struggles for years was the very nature of the magical workings I was able to get my hands on. Most of it, variations on ceremonial magic, was so rigid, never mind overwhelmingly influenced by Christianity. Though I did the work, it felt wrong, and if there is a lesson I might impart, after more than forty years of this it is that magick is real and it is personal.

All of those books. All of that study. The lesson that came the slowest to me was that magick was not the rituals in these tomes. Magick is not a set of formulas and equations to be memorized and recreated verbatim. Oh, it works quite well if you do so, but you don’t have to adhere to any of it. While it’s true that there are some laws and protocols required to interact with preternatural intelligences, the actual art of magick is just that — an art. Yes, it can be approached like science, and with incredible results, but magick can be so much more, through embracing your own creativity.

Do the work. Learn the etiquette. But, by all that’s holy and unholy alike, once you’ve got a handle on it, make your own rules. Make your own magick, by trial and error.

Nóttveiða

Posted in Current Events on April 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

It’s well past time I got back to some semblance of bloggery, so I’ve set up some themes for myself and a loose itinerary. Do not take any of this as gospel, meaning I will not, necessarily, post every day of every week, but I will be more present and I hope that the path laid out below is of interest to you and hopefully will spark some engagement.

So, what’s all this then?

Mondays I will be posting about magick in all its various guises and predominately from my own perspective, though I’m sure philosophical ponderings will rear their ugly head now and then. I imagine I’ll ruffle some feathers here and there, but that’s the nature of the beast in the current climate we find ourselves in. You can expect book reviews to be posted here as well.

Tuesdays I’ve set aside for Tarot. I plan to do readings on various subjects and discuss my interpretations of the cards. I also hope to showcase and review various decks. I will dabble, from time to time, in other divinatory methods, especially runes.

On Wednesdays I will delve into all sorts of interests, predominately related to my faith. Here I will discuss my work with the ancestors, with the gods and vættir, but also about art, writing, bushcraft, hiking, woodcarving, and the like, because I find these things intricately linked to my spirituality.

Thursday is probably the day I will be most consistent in my blogging. Each week I will post a Top 3 list in all manner of areas of interest. This is where the real fights will be sparked.

And finally, Friday. I’ve reserved the final day of the week for sharing stories from my fascination with urban legends and folk tales related to my neck of the woods. Here I’ll spin old yarns and present new investigations as they come up.

While a lot of my peers have turned to releasing content like this through patreon, I’m just not comfortable holding my hat out. I’d rather see how things play out here. So, let’s set this little experiment to light.

See you on Monday.

Haunted Heathenry

Posted in Current Events, Writing on March 19, 2021 by Occult Detective

I imagine the majority of people who follow this blog know me primarily as a writer of novels and short stories, particularly in the horror genre, or more specifically the occult detective sub-genre. It was a pursuit I took on in October of 2000. I published several short stories quickly and my first novel, Shadows Over Somerset, was released in 2004 by a small press publisher, Black Death Books.

It was a whirlwind of excitement, with book signings and convention appearances, but it was also filled with stress and disillusionment. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say, I became disenchanted with the writing community, by and large. It’s a cutthroat business, and deceitful peers and bad publishing experiences turned me off of the industry, but I am now and always have been a storyteller.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my storytelling journey of late. I suppose it started when I was a child and, along with my little brother, I created elaborate productions with action figures and set pieces. It was also when I began to write comics, often rewriting captions and dialogue from books like The Mighty Thor and Doctor Strange to tell new tales, even using a cut and paste method of redirecting scenes. Later I was given the opportunity to write plays that my sixth grade class performed for our elementary school, my favorite being a battle between the Greek and Roman Gods that was ultimately settled once the Norse Pantheon took the field.

Of course, a large part of my talents for telling stories were honed through adjudicating roleplaying games. It scratched that itch for genre yarn spinning that was cultivated from reading Howard, Lovecraft, Wellman, Burroughs, and Wheatley as a boy, but it soon became music and magic that fueled my artistic endeavors.

As I said, I started writing horror in 2000, at the age of 34, prior to that I was writing (mostly) super hero comics (something I pulled the plug on in 2006), but my primary focus, particularly from age 16 – 30, was writing songs and poetry. That was where I felt most fulfilled, where I explored my thoughts on religion, philosophy, spirituality, and the paranormal.

Of late, as I became more and more frustrated and dissatisfied with the writing industry, from stem to stern, I found myself picking up the guitar more and songs began to fall out of it again. As I continued to explore my heathen faith, which has been a cornerstone of my beliefs for more than four decades, I found I was writing poetry and verse that expressed those themes more than ever before, that the old voice I had shelved was hungry and eager to assert itself.

This is not to say that I am done with writing horror and occult detective fiction, but just that a large part of my creative self has been neglected for far too long, that the storyteller I imagined myself becoming got distracted along the way. I guess this is a roundabout way of saying you will see a bit more of me moving forward.

I hope to reawaken that part of me that embarked on a shamanic journey long ago but lost the path somewhere along the way. I am eager to explore a hybrid of horror and heathenry, if you will, to realign myself to where I was in the beginning, coupled with the years of wisdom acquired along the way, and to become a more expressive voice in the communities in which I am active.

I leave you with a couple of verses from the first “real” song I wrote, back in 1986 or so…

Shadows are reality
Creeping through my sanity
Everything in darkness
Everything in black
I was born with vision
Mystic intuition
Trip my way through daylight
And never coming back

Flowing through the motions
Drinking magick potions
My mind is now electric
Everything surreal
Trading all my sanity
For a little sanctity
I’m living just for dying
But dying isn’t real

What I’m Reading in 2021

Posted in The Library on March 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

2020 was a challenge. While my goal has always been reading 52 books a year, I used to read far more than that. As a reviewer, it was almost like a job. The last few years, I’ve been hovering around 57. I think this is going to be my last year chasing a book a week. I’m 55 years old. It’s time to slow down, to really immerse myself in what I’m reading. Review copies, because of COVID, have been few and far between. It’s time to start looking toward solely reading for pleasure again.

  1. Berkeley Noir, edited by Jerry Thompson & Owen Hill
  2. Centralia by Amodia, Bunn, Cesare, Hicks, Keene, & Quinn
  3. The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun by JRR Tolkien
  4. Tales of Norse Mythology by Helen A, Guerber
  5. A Means to Freedom: The Letters of HP Lovecraft & Robert E Howard: 1933-1936
  6. The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost
  7. Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost
  8. The Saga of the Volsungs with The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, translated by Jackson Crawford
  9. Fire & Blood by George RR Martin
  10. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  11. The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
  12. The Magical Battle of Britain by Dion Fortune
  13. The Viking Spirit by Daniel McCoy
  14. Weird Indiana by James Willis, Mark Marimen, and Troy Taylor
  15. Tales of Yog-Sothoth by Davenport, Hambling, Phipps, West, & Wilson
  16. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts — The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes
  17. The Way of Fire and Ice — The Living Tradition of Norse Paganism by Ryan Smith
  18. The Vikings — A History by Robert Ferguson
  19. Odin — The Origins, History and Evolution of the Norse God by Jesse Harasta
  20. Trudvang Adventures Setting Companion
  21. Trudvang Adventures Heroes Companion
  22. Rites of Anglo-Saxon and Norse Paganism by Eric Wodening
  23. Mordenkainen’s Candlekeep Collectibles by Grim Press
  24. Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers, and Martial Artists by Guy Windsor
  25. Candlekeep Mysteries by Wizards of the Coast
  26. Five Torches Deep by Sigil Stone
  27. Wyrd by Will Wright
  28. Old Norse for Modern Times by Sharpe, Vídalín, & Gillingham
%d bloggers like this: