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, 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.

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My review of William Meikle’s Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse & Other Stories

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives with tags , , on September 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

William Meikle has a new collection out featuring all new tales starring William Hope Hodgson’s occult detective Thomas Carnacki.

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The Edinburgh Townhouse and Other Stories is an assemblage of cracking good yarns written by an author who is at the top of his game. Meikle is adept at immolating* Hodgson’s prose, but I find Meikle’s take on Carnacki even more compelling.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Hodgson’s tales and consider Carnacki an indispensable fixture in the occult detective tradition, but William Meikle, who I am proud to count as a friend and compatriot, does far more with the character.

The stories, while set firmly in the era, breathe with a more sinister air about them, with a more urgent sensibility.

My favorite of the stories closes out the collection and is as fine an example of the occult detective genre as you’re apt to find. Once again in service to a young Winston Churchill, whom is written brilliantly with what seems to be the perfect voice for this historic figure, Carnacki is charged to dispel a lingering evil within The White Stag Inn, a place where hermetic sorceries were employed by men  with devilish intent, succumbing to the temptations of carnal revelries and feeding their hunger for power beyond measure.

Into the Light is a rollicking good yarn, atmospheric and perverse, with layered, nuanced storytelling that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The other tales in the collection, including The Cheyne Walk Infestation, The King’s Treasure, and The Edinburgh Townhouse, are all equal to the task.

Willie is, by no stretch of the imagination, one of our generations finest writers. He is unapologetically firmly entrenched in pulp fiction traditions, and by the gods, his words never cease to thrill me to no end.

Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse and Other Stories is published by Lovecraft eZine Press and available now from Amazon. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, and if you haven’t already, there are two previous Carnacki collections that will offer the same spinetingling chills as this one…

And the covers by Wayne Miller are almost worth the price of admission alone.

Let’s be honest here, if William Meikle’s name is on the book, it’s well worth picking up. You’re guaranteed one helluva ride.

*I meant “emulating”, but in a case of cognitive phonology typed “immolating” instead. I was going to change it, but quite like the visual of Willie sacrificing Hodgeson’s words on some sort of pagan altar, capturing his essence and style, to be delivered by black magic to those of us eager for such tales.

Amethyst Anniversary

Posted in Liber et Audax on September 22, 2017 by Occult Detective

Ah, finally… the first day of Autumn. The Equinox is a magical time, reflecting the balance between day and night, light and darkness. On this day, seventeen years ago, Kim and I spoke our vows, becoming husband and wife. She was, and is, the light to my darkness.

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It’s been an amazing journey.

We’ve been a couple just shy of 19 years, partners for 17, parents for almost 14. We’ve slept in Rapunzel’s Tower, survived the Devil’s Punch Bowl (two separate versions of it even), walked the ramparts of Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, were bewitched in Salem, and stormed the Magic Kingdom.

Today, we celebrate our lives together.

I cannot imagine a better companion moving forward through life, nor a more suited accomplice in our adventures to come.

I called Kim the light to my darkness. She is that and so much more…

She is my forever.

Happy Anniversary, Kim. I love you.

And to all of you, a Blessed Mabon and Happy Haustblot, from my family to yours.

Skál!

Happy Birthday, Stephen King

Posted in Horror with tags on September 21, 2017 by Occult Detective

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Stephen King turns 70 years old today. I was turned on to King in 1976 with ‘Salem’s Lot. I was an instant fan and have steadily chewed my way through his impressive catalog of work for 41 years now.

41 years? What an impressive body of work he’s given us. Stephen King saw me through puberty, college, broken relationships, marriage, fatherhood, and more. He has been a constant and reliable source of inspiration.

He really is the undisputed King of Modern Horror Fiction.

Happy 70th Birthday, Mr. King. Thank you for the decades of nightmares you’ve shared with us. And here’s to may more to come…

Occultoberfest 2017

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives on September 20, 2017 by Occult Detective

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The dark moon drifts across the naked sky this night and whispers for the witching season to begin anew.

Yes, my friends, it’s that time again, when the world is awakened to the arcane mysteries, when the veil grows thin and spirits, both dark and grey, move among us…

There is no time more magical. As the night becomes chill and the trees are painted from autumn’s burnt palette, I feel at home, at peace. Summer finally gives up its ghost and winter takes the stage, the sorcerous touch of icing death on its fingertips.

Oh, I have such treats in store for you, my fellow esoteric sleuths. We shall begin, however, with a gentle reminder, but one of great import: Give a Scary Book this Hallowe’en.

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All Hallow’s Read has become a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simple to take part: during the month of Hallowe’en, or better yet, on the night itself, you give someone a scary book. Young or old. It doesn’t matter. It can be a novel or a collection or even a comic book. But give words, the scarier the better.

All this stems from the mind of Neil Gaiman who wrote, some seven odd years back —

I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.

I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…

Give a scary book.

If you don’t know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you’re giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don’t tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)

That’s it. That’s my idea.

Scary book. Hallowe’en.

Who’s with me?

Well, I am Neil. I can think of no better way to celebrate the season.

 

 

My review of Odin by Diana L. Paxson

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on September 6, 2017 by Occult Detective

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“I told you I would tell you my names. This is what they call me. I’m called Glad-of-War, Grim, Raider, and Third. I am One-Eyed. I am called Highest, and True-Guesser. I am Grimnir, and I am the Hooded One. I am All-Father, and I am Gondlir Wand-Bearer. I have as many names as there are winds, as many titles as there are ways to die. My ravens are Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory; my wolves are Freki and Geri; my horse is the gallows.”

— Neil Gaiman, American Gods

It seems quite fitting to review Diana Paxson’s Odin: Ecstacy, Runes, & Norse Magic on His day. With the music of Garmarna and Wardruna as my companions, like two ravens watching over my words, I reflect now on those writ by an author whose writing I have long admired.

But first, let’s look at the book itself. I really like the faux-parchment cover with the rich chocolate coloured lettering. The iconic cover image itself is bold and traditional, though the ravens seem out-of-synch with the classic depiction of Odin astride Sleipnir.

The interior is clean and neat, with solid font choices throughout. A little too varied for my tastes, but nothing overtly inappropriate (which is something you find far too often these days with the advancements in desktop printing).

I like the interior illustrations, which evoke an old world, woodcut feel, lending an air of authenticity to the overall work.

The layout and design are not perfect*, but neither is it distracting. It’s an attractive enough book, but it’s the content that matters most, especially considering the subject matter.

As stated previously, I have a tremendous respect for Diana Paxson. She has such a lyrical quality to her writing and she is as knowledgeable and honest as one can hope to discover. Her words mean a lot to me and she does not disappoint here.

You can feel her forthright devotion on every page, and let’s face it, the Allfather is a complex character, not easy to dissect and codify. Paxson’s examination of Odin in all his guises is as comprehensive as you’re apt to find. Her scholarship is sound and she blends her erudition with an intuitive insight that further unlocks the mystery that surrounds Old One-Eye.

For those new to Odin and the gods of Northern Europe, this is a tremendous introduction. It straddles the fine line between what is known from historical sources with the modern evolution of Odinic worship.

In that regard, there will be points of contention with many within the greater Odinist community. I foresee many of my more folkish leaning peers to find some of her thoughts contrary to their own.

That’s okay. If it opens a meaningful and respectful dialogue, more’s the better. Odin wears many and contradictory hats. This book is an opportunity to bring Odin into the hearts and minds of the masses, and Diana Paxson is an honorable spokesperson for those who walk the northern path. She is a natural storyteller, through and through, and she writes with a clear sense of purpose and conviction.

This is an important work and one I am proud to recommend to those new to the Old Ways of our Northern European ancestors, but I also think there is plenty to be learned by those of us with many years on this path already.

Diana Paxson presents a dazzling and uncompromising portrait of the Hooded One. She brings Geirölnir to life on the page, not as a religious icon, but as a living, vibrant deity that is actively among us.

Odin: Ecstasy, Runes, & Norse Magic by Diana L. Paxson is available wherever books are sold, but I recommend without hesitation that one should buy directly from Red Wheel/Weiser. Why fill the coffers of middle men, when you can show your appreciation at the source, thus allowing them greater profit.

*There is one unfortunate typo that I must address. On page 275, the name of the band is Garmarna, not Gramarna.

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with…Stephen Zimmer

Posted in Last Writes with..., Sword & Sorcery with tags , , on August 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

Welcome to a Special Edition of The Occult Detective’s Last Writes.

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoToday’s guest-of-honor is none other than Stephen Zimmer, an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

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Before we get down to the business at hand, I thought I might share with you my thoughts on Stephen’s Rayden Valkyrie series.

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Heart of a Lion is a fast-paced sword & sorcery tale starring Rayden Valkyrie, a strong-willed warrior with a sense of justice and fair play. The author really shines when he delves into her character, highlighting her strict code of honor.

Written in a very visual style, but leaving plenty of room to breathe, Heart of a Lion reminded me of a cross between Lin Carter’s prose and Sam Raimi’s sensibilities.

It certainly had a throw-back feel, like the novelization of a Saturday Matinee cliffhanger serial with Ray Harryhausen effects.

The second book in the series, Thunder Horizon, was a stronger outing. Rayden is still ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800the same ass-kicking warrior woman you fell in love with in Heart of a Lion. You can really tell the author is inside her head. He gets her.

The big difference here are the supporting characters. While handled with skill in the debut novel, in Thunder Horizon, this cast really comes alive.

There are some real spine-tingling moments throughout, and the author deftly navigates between these larger-than-life fantasy tropes and rich, textured human elements.

He makes you feel for every character and that’s an incredible accomplishment.

With another book in the Dark Sun Dawn Saga still to come and a tv pilot in post-production, we have thankfully not seen the last of Rayden Valkyrie.

Speaking of “last”… it’s my pleasure now to draw your attention to Stephen’s responses to our morbid curiosities — It’s time for…

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The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

 

Last meal you’d eat: Would have to be a pizza, true New York-style, with at least a pepperoni topping.  Most likely double pepperoni and banana peppers, mushrooms, and olives.  But New York-style pizza is a life-long favorite of mine.  Thankfully here in Lexington we have a pizza place (Brooklyn Pizza) that does it very, very well.  I’d go with that as my choice!

Last book you’d read: Lord of the Rings trilogy compendium.  These books have had a life-long impact on me from the first time my mother read them to me at age 7.  I always see new things in the story every time I read it, and at this point I’ve read these books many times over.  They would be an appropriate final read before making the big transition.

Last movie you’d watch: I’m going to sound very single-minded, but I have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy again.  I was so impressed with how well Peter Jackson captured the look and feel of the books.   There are major differences between the books and the movie, but the core spirit remains intact onscreen and that is what is most important to me!

Last song you’d listen to: This is a very difficult choice as I am a huge music fan.  But I’d want to end things on a positive note, so I’d have to go with a Kiss song, as I’ve been a Kiss fan since the days I was exposed to Lord of the Rings novels!  While “Rock and Roll All Nite” is not my favorite Kiss song, it does sum up the magic of Kiss and as a last song would be fitting indeed!  It’s a pure expression of living life with zest and would be a great way to cross over!

First person you’d like to meet on the other side: I cannot choose one of my folks over the other, so this is co-awarded to my father and mother.  No question they are first on my list as far as who I want to see in better realms beyond.  I miss them every single day.

ouroboros

 

I’d like to thank Stephen for allowing Occult Detective to be one of his whistlestops on his whirlwind Rayden Valkyrie Blog Tour Celebration.

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To follow along on the tour, click HERE for everywhere Stephen’s been and where he’s headed next. You can also follow Stephen via his social media presence:

Twitter:  @SGZimmer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7
Website: www.stephenzimmer.com

If you dig heroic fantasy and strong female protagonists, then I urge you to order Heart Like a Lion and Thunder Horizon. They will more than scratch that itch, believe me.

BOBOD
My occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, and both novels in the Cairnwood Manor series — Shadows Over Somerset and Keepers of the Dead — are available via Amazon and other online retail outlets in both ebook and trade paperback.

Godspeed Grandpa

Posted in Liber et Audax on August 22, 2017 by Occult Detective

grandpashirleyYesterday, as the moon had just begun to blot out the sun, my grandfather, O’Neal Shirley, crossed from this world to the next.

He was 89 years old.

He should have left us a few years back, but you see there’s something about my grandfather you may not know — he was the toughest, hardest working, and strongest man you could ever hope to meet.

Death was in for a fight.

Grandpa Shirley had toiled in the fields all his life. He grew up poor in rural Arkansas and struggled to build a life for his family, eventually settling in rural Indiana.

The Shirley surname comes from ancient Saxon, meaning ‘a clear place or pasture’. It was a fitting name for him.

Grandpa was a horseman and farmer and I bailed a lot of hay and cleaned a lot of stalls for that man. He pushed me hard, but pushed himself harder.

I have so many fond memories growing up on that farm as a child. It was hard work, but it was honest, and looking back on it, a lot of fun.

It seemed like every farmer in the area had a “Neal Shirley” story, usually centering around feats of strength or some sort of MacGyver-ish hack for fixing broken down equipment that just sort of came natural to him.

Whether it was of him tossing hay in a field barefooted or fixing a busted belt with bailing twine, the general gist of it all was that he was as tough as nails.

He was a good man. He may never have quite understood me, but that’s okay. He loved me and I him, and that’s what mattered.

My favorite picture of us together is from Converse’s Old Fashioned Days, just a little over 50 years ago, on August 12, 1967. I was 17 months old. He would have been 39.

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Godspeed, Grandpa. You taught me far more than I think you realized and I love you for it and so much more.

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