#Occultober Shadows & Seances

Posted in Investigations, Occultober on September 24, 2021 by Occult Detective

Look at that cute kid. Yes, that’s me at age seven, 1973. I’m sharing this picture of me, on the cusp of beginning my magical journey, because it seems surreal to think that in less than a year, he’ll be reading his first book on the occult — Manly Palmer Hall’s Unseen Forces — and he’ll begin sneaking out of the house to spend nights in the local boneyard.

Truth be told, it was the summer of 1973 that I may have seen my first spirit…

Let me set the stage. I was already obsessed with ghosts and vampires and monsters… and detective work. By 1973 I had read through the majority of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and what Three Investigators i could get my hands on. I was reading horror comics, watching Sammy Terry’s Nightmare Theater, Dark Shadows, and going to the drive-in to see Hammer Horror films and The Legend of Boggy Creek. I was a devout fan of the Night Stalker TV movie, and I was devouring urban legends and folk tales, UFOs, and Bigfoot fervently.

My cousins were sort of in to all that stuff too. And, being six-ten years older, they used to enjoy scaring the proverbial crap out of me. That summer, they were playing with Ouija Boards and conducting seances, as kids are wont to do, especially in the 70s. Light as a feather, stiff as a board? Oh yeah, these were fun times to be a kid in the Midwest.

I remember clearly being at my grandparents’ house on Aleck Street in Converse. It was late at night and the street lights were casting long shadows. We were on the porch, a single candle burning in the center of us, all gather in a circle, holding hands, as they called out for spirits to manifest before us.

Of course, one of them was hiding in the bushes, making ghostly sounds and rattling tin cans, and the inevitable jump scare would be delivered as the crescendo of calls into the hereafter had reached their fevered pitch… but beforehand, and I remember this as clearly as it was yesterday, I saw a shadow, a silhouette, move across the porch but no one was there to cast it. I grew scared, but before I could wrap my head around what I saw, a cousin leapt from the bushes and everyone was screaming, and laughing, and the moment was gone.

I chalked it up to youthful fancy, but now, all these years later, I wonder…

#Occultober: What is an Occult Detective?

Posted in Occultober on September 23, 2021 by Occult Detective

When most people imagine an occult detective, they think in terms of fiction, in which a story is told, regardless of medium, that combines the tropes of traditional detective stories with those found in supernatural horror. Occult Detectives, however, are more than just fictional characters.

Occult Detectives are investigators who immerse themselves in all things strange and unusual. More than just “ghost hunters”, occult detectives are well versed in all manner of occult and magical traditions; in the beliefs, denominations, cults, and sects of traditional and fringe religions; in folk and shamanic practices; in conspiracy theories of all stripes; in ancient aliens, alien abductions, ufology, cryptozoology, altered states of consciousness, ancient history and archaeology, cryptoanthropology, psychic phenomena, and other Fortean matters; in climate change and geopolitics; in secret societies and political structures. And more… so much more.

Occult detectives have a diverse skill set that ranges from the scientific to the fantastic and all points in between.

Both words in their description have equal weight.

oc·​cult | \ ə-ˈkəlt, ä- \ not revealed; not easily apprehended or understood; hidden from view; of or relating to the occult (astrology, palmistry, card reading, etc); not manifest or detectable by clinical methods alone; matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them —used with the.

de·​tec·​tive | \ di-ˈtek-tiv \ fitted for or used in detecting something; of or relating to detectives or their work; one employed or engaged in detecting lawbreakers or in getting information that is not readily or publicly accessible

Occult detectives are problem solvers. It’s just that the problems they encounter tend to be of the exceptional kind.

to be continued

Occultober begins…

Posted in Occultober on September 22, 2021 by Occult Detective

Today is a special day for me. Not only does it kick off the Season of the Witch, from the Autumnal Equinox of Mabon through the Hallowed Night of Samhain, but it is, more importantly, at least in my household, my wedding anniversary. Kim and I were intertwined in holy matrimony 21 years ago today.

As I state, probably not often enough, my lovely wife is the perfect partner in life. We initially bonded over our mutual love of books, which should be the basis of all marriages. She is my biggest supporter, the ideal mother to a perfect son, and a loving, compassionate, forgiving, and patient woman. I love her dearly. She is responsible for all of my accomplishments and in my failures, she is always there to help me lick my wounds and see me back to my feet. If you’ve a spare prayer to lift up, raise it in her name.

As for the reason we’re all here, please allow me to welcome each and every one of you to the 2021 Celebration of OCCULTOBER. What a long, strange road we’ve traveled since last year’s festivities. This outing I plan to focus more heavily on the raison d’etre of this site and of my after hours proclivities.

A day or so back, on twitter, I posted the following:

And that is going to be the majority of what we’ll be discussing as we move ethereally through this OCCULTOBER Season. Yes, there will be art, reviews, and more, but this year, I really want to open up a dialogue about what it means to be an occult detective. And yes, I am planning a book on the subject and hope to entice publishers that it might darken your doors somewhere down the line.

So, think on that a bit while I dust off the ol’ fedora and don my trenchcoat. The fog’s rolling in and I’ve some nasty business that requires my undivided attention. See you back here tomorrow, if the gods are willing and the creek don’t rise. May Mabon and Winter Finding’s Blessings keep you well and true.

All Hallow’s Read 2021

Posted in All Hallows Read on September 20, 2021 by Occult Detective

“You know, there aren’t enough traditions that involve giving books,” Neil Gaiman thought. And from this simple kernel has sprung All Hallow’s Read (#AllHallowsRead on twitter). So here’s his line of thinking:  “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.” Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

I have clung to this tradition since I first learned of it, ten years ago now. It’s so simple and pure, it’s a wonder it has not always been so. In keeping with the season, each year I design a poster, free to share, to celebrate the occasion. As today marks 40 days until that most glorious and frightful unholiday, I thought it a perfect time to unveil it.

Enjoy, and Happy Hallowe’en, my fellow freaks and ghouls.

Beginning an investigation into Asherwood

Posted in Investigations on September 17, 2021 by Occult Detective

I love the forests of Indiana. They seem to have a unique and haunted quality to them. I have felt it in Shades State Park without question, and in other spots as well, but nothing quite like the experiences I have had in and around the Mississinewa State Forest. From Hobbitland outside of Marion to Seven Pillars near Peru, the Mississinewa River acts as a catalyst for paranormal activity, and the creeks that feed into it, like Little Pipe or Goose, are no less so.

Of late, however, in the same neck of the woods, as they say, I’ve taken an interest in a creek fed by the Wabash, not far from where the Mississinewa and Wabash Rivers branch.

Asher Creek flows through the heart of Asherwood, now a 160 Acre Nature Preserve that is home to “over 300 species of flora and more than 140 species of birds”. In the 1950s it served as a summer camp for the Evangelical United Brethren flavor of the Methodist Church, and, it is said, it was a former Girl Scout Camp, and later owned by the Marion School Corporation. As of 2024 it will be in the hands of Acre Trust, “a membership-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting natural and working lands in northeast Indiana and portions of southern Michigan and northwest Ohio”.

It has outstanding, and somewhat challenging, trails weaving through the acreage, with interesting natural and man-made features to captivate hikers, but for those of us with a paranormal bent, from the first time I set foot there, I could feel a presence. Multiple presences, actually. Sometimes dark. Sometimes earthy.

Hence the research.

I have no doubt those woods are filled with land and water wights, spirits of earth and stream. Some friendly and some… well, not so much. But are there other spirits as well? Time will tell. Though I have hiked the area many times now, I have yet to do more than acknowledge the presence of those beings when I sense them.

And that’s the way I’ll keep it, until I conclude my research. The area has a rich history. Asherwood stands a little over a mile from the Mississinewa Dam and the trails now called Lost Sister. In my day, the area was a primitive campground, and holy ground for me and my crew of misfits. It was there where I cut my teeth as an occult detective, aiding COs during the Satanic Panic.

The vibes I get from Asherwood is akin to those I became so intimate with just south of there. There’s a mystery in those dark woods. A mystery I aim to solve. And when I do, you’ll read about it here…

Three for Thursday? How about 10 #Occult Books that got me through the pandemic

Posted in Book Review, Magick on September 16, 2021 by Occult Detective

PAN-DEMIC READS EDITION

For today’s Three for Thursday, I thought I would make a list of the occult/spiritual books that were released during (or just before) the pandemic set in that have helped me get through it. Who knows, maybe you missed some of these and could use a little pick me up? Let’s face it, the pandemic is far from over. Best settle in with a good book and live inside your head a bit.

HONORABLE MENTION
The Dictionary of Demons:
Names of the Damned
Tenth Anniversary Edition
by Michelle Belanger

TEN
Angels & Archangels:
A Magician’s Guide
by Damien Echols

NINE
The Four Elements of the Wise:
Working with the Magickal Powers of
Earth, Air, Water, Fire
by Ivo Dominguez Jr

EIGHT
The Morrigan:
Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might
by Courtney Weber

SEVEN
Psychic Witch:
A Metaphysical Guide to
Meditation, Magick & Manifestation
by Mat Auryn

SIX
Elemental Witchcraft:
A Guide to Living a Magickal Life
Through the Elements
by Heron Michelle

FIVE
The Witch’s Path:
Advancing Your Craft at Every Level
by Thorn Mooney

FOUR
Lost Teachings of the Runes:
Northern Mysteries and the Wheel of Life
by Ingrid Kincaid

THREE
Beyond the North Wind:
The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North
by Christopher McIntosh

TWO
The Wanderer’s Havamal /
The Saga of the Volsungs
with The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok
by Jackson Crawford

ONE
Allow Me to Introduce:
An Insider’s Guide to the Occult
by Lon Milo DuQuette

Another Wyrd Wednesday: Preorder This Book Now — Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Posted in Book Review, Magick on September 15, 2021 by Occult Detective

Following in the wake of the last two reviews, Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements by Heron Michelle is a breath of fresh air. Before I dive in, here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Elemental Witchcraft shares a wholly unique esoteric approach to developing partnerships with elemental allies and deities and ultimately merging with the Divine Mind. Author Heron Michelle provides dozens of rituals, meditations, spells, and journal reflections as you explore the principles of Hermeticism and the magick of the four classical elements―earth, air, fire, and water. On this journey, you will discover how the chakras and the magickal pentacle correspond to the five bodies: mental, emotional, will, physical, and spiritual. You will also explore how the astrological cycles and the wheel of the year relate to the elements and the witch’s tools as well as to the paths of power, truth, sovereignty, and completion. Opening the elemental gateways and developing relationship with the goddesses and gods can be profoundly transformative work―this book guides you through this subtle path as you learn to balance the magickal elements and construct your own astral temples at the crossroads of the Self.

Alright, first, go pre-order this book right now. You want it on your shelf. Trust me, there are ideas and thought processes that, while I might not swallow all of it, makes one think. And that is always a good thing. Heron Michelle is bringing something fresh an innovative to the game. That takes courage. And I like a lot of it.

Yes, it sort of leans toward that 21st Century psychobabble that generally turns me away from such, but the author’s presentation is sincere, honest, and intelligent. Her heart is in the right place, and her fresh perspective on magical practice will hopefully engender you to look at your own work and help you to express yourself in new and exciting ways.

There are some things I disagree with, such as her stance on entering and exiting magic circles, but even in this, when she warns against cutting through with an athame, her argument is presented reasonably. This is a woman that has explored her Craft and has made it a personal process outside of traditional auspices.

There are quite a number of exercises and spells throughout, and I would encourage you to take them to heart. You will enjoy the work she leads you through and find them comfortable and intuitive.

And that’s what I find so enthralling about Michelle’s Elemental Witchcraft and the Pentacle Path as she presents it, it’s comfortable. It feels warm and inviting. She writes with passion, but reservedly, like a teacher. This is easily one of my favorite esoteric reads of the past couple of years, what I’m calling Pandemic Must-Reads, falling just behind Thorn Mooney’s The Witch’s Path and just ahead of Mat Auryn’s Psychic Witch. I’ll be posting that list on Thursday, September 16.

Oh, and as for the book itself — just look at that cover. Gorgeous. You’ll also find the graphic design and layout equally pleasing, with smart, eligible fonts and chapter headings. The real kicker for me is the art. I adore the illustrations throughout, some by Heron Michelle herself, with other work by Llewellyn’s Art Department and Mickie Mueller.

So, there you have it. Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements by Heron Michelle. Pre-order it here and devour it this coming Yule. You won’t regret it.

Wyrd Wednesday: Book Reviews (Part I)

Posted in Book Review, Magick on September 15, 2021 by Occult Detective

Normally I post book reviews on Mánadagr, but man, this week has been a real bear. I lost a friend to cancer over the weekend, another friend announced on Monday that he has been placed in hospice and does not have much time left with us, and I was, in a word, distracted. That’s the thing about getting older — the longer in the tooth you get, the more people you have to say goodbye to. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we are eternal beings, enveloped by flesh and bone. Our soul and spirit, once released from this plane of matter, embark on new adventures throughout the multiverse — those dimensions that intersect with this material plane. This knowledge does little to alleviate the sadness. I feel deeply for their family and friends. It is an enduring cycle of grief that subsides only when we become the one grieved for.

Hm, maybe these thoughts would have been better suited for a Monday.

How about we look at not one, not two, but three books today? I’ll split these into two blog posts, with the main focus being on the second blog. The first, which you’re reading now, will cover two books, but, also, will not really be a review of either, but rather my gut impressions. To be fair, I ended up skim reading both in the end and neither will find a permanent home on my bookshelves.

Beginning with the lesser of the two, I read Rise of the Witch: Making Magick Happen Your Way by Whiskey Stevens and it was… not good. I don’t like to write bad reviews. I’d much rather lead you to a good book than to dissect a book that doesn’t work for me. Sort of the “if you’ve got nothing good to say” approach. This one, however, stuck in my proverbial craw a bit.

Here’s what the publisher had to say about it:

Rise, Witch, Rise

It’s time to claim your magical power and build a practice that is wholly yours―one that spiritually fulfills you and reveals your purpose. More than a how-to guide, Rise of the Witch is a deep exploration of the inner workings of witchcraft and your integral role in creating magick. Whiskey Stevens provides a comprehensive look at both the basics and more advanced topics, taking you from the history of the Craft to shadow work and everywhere in between.

Rise of the Witch teaches a wide variety of magickal skills, such as creating and casting spells, harnessing powerful energies, and making sacred space. Whiskey also empowers those who are hesitant to come out as witches or need to keep their practice secret. Packed with guidance on the elements, tarot, intuition, and more, this book helps you fully embrace your unique brand of magick.

Includes a foreword by Panda Bennett, creator of Stardust Soul Oracle and host of the YouTube series “Witch Hunt”.

Look, I don’t want to beat up on the author too much. That’s just not my thing, but there’s nothing new in this book. Nothing. It’s just a rehash of ideas by far better writers. There are no interesting takes, no fresh or interesting divergences or developments. There are no innovations.

She has chapters on initiation, tarot, shadow work, and more, but she never comes across as an authority. She’s comes across as young, inexperienced, and someone who is playing dress-up.

But that’s my two cents. I would not recommend it.

The second book, Paganism for Prisoners by Awyn Dawn is far better, while still falling a bit short. It has a terrific introduction by Christopher Penczak, which gave me high hopes for what was to follow. The thing is, there is almost a great book here. Like Rise of the Witch, it treads very common ground, but I felt the author lost focus.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

After being incarcerated for her struggles with drug addiction, author Awyn Dawn began to actively look for her spiritual side―and she found it in Paganism. By developing a profound relationship with the gods, Awyn gained greater clarity and a deep sense of peace. You can, too, with help from this empowering guide to starting and strengthening your spiritual practice.

Providing dozens of easy-to-use exercises, Paganism for Prisoners shows you how to embrace Pagan teachings and learn from deities, ancestors, and spirits. Explore the power of meditation, self-reflection, rituals, and devotions. Meet the gods and goddesses of Celtic, Norse, Greek, Roman, and other mythologies. You’ll also discover the power of the elements, the moon, the Wheel of the Year, and your own intuition. Through this book, you’ll manifest amazing change within yourself.

Her journey is amazing, and I am thrilled that magick helped her find her way, both in and out of prison and addiction, and if the book would have stayed in that lane, then I would have been shouting from the rooftops about it. Unfortunately, for me, it strayed too far from this premise.

I guess the crux of the matter lies in that I wanted so much more from this book. I wanted it to feel more personal. The author has a comfortable writing style. There are a lot of positives here that she can build from and I would certainly read something from her in the future.

While Paganism for Prisoners did not deliver for me personally, I do feel like there is an audience for this book and I hope it might work for you. Give it a look here.

OCCULTOBER is coming

Posted in Magick, Paranormal, Wyrd on September 10, 2021 by Occult Detective

THREE FOR THURSDAY: PARANORMAL INSPIRATION EDITION

Posted in Investigations on September 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

As a kid, I read a lot of books on ghosts, psychic phenomena, witchcraft, cryptids, UFOs, ancient civilizations, and, well, you get the idea. If Gordon White were to ask me if I was a ‘strange kid’ I think we all know what my answer would be. I remember when Stranger Things first dropped, some on twitter commented that they imagined that’s what my childhood was like, growing up in rural Indiana, playing D&D, and getting involved in all manner of spookiness. Truth is, they weren’t wrong.

I thought I’d use today’s “Three for” to point the finger at three “real world” influences on me as a kid. There were many others, of course, but the books, newspaper and tabloid, and television appearances of the following were huge in shaping the occult detective I was to become:

THREE
JOHN KEEL

John Keel (March 25, 1930 – July 3, 2009) was probably best known for his Mothman Prophesies, but it was Our Haunted Planet that first caught my attention. Keel’s ideas were out there and he influenced me to think outside the proverbial box.

TWO
ED & LORRAINE WARREN

Ed (September 7, 1926 – August 23, 2006) and Lorraine (January 31, 1927 – April 18, 2019) Warren had me glued to the tv whenever they appeared. Ed always came across as a used car salesman to me, but that was part of his charm. This couple was out there investigating the paranormal and I desperately wanted to join them on their adventures.

ONE
HANS HOLZER

Hans Holzer (January 26 1920 – April 26 2009) was the godfather of modern paranormal investigation. A prolific author and producer, Holzer did not shy away from mediums and magic in the quest to solve paranormal mysteries, and that fascinated me, seeing magic and science brought together to explain the inexplicable. His books were a staple of my childhood.

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