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

My thoughts on Draugen

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives with tags on July 2, 2019 by Occult Detective

From Red Thread Games comes Draugen, a first-person psychological mystery set in Norway.

“The year is 1923. You play Edward Charles Harden, an American traveller who’s come to Norway to find his missing sister. But you’re not alone: at every step of the way, Edward’s accompanied by his ward, Lissie; a gregarious, independent and enigmatic young woman. Together, you must explore this scenic coastal community — nestled amongst the fjords and mountains of rural Norway — in your search for Edward’s sister, and unearth the darkness that lies beneath the picturesque surface.”

Draugen

First, let me explain that I reached out to Astrid Rosemarin, who works in marketing and PR for Red Thread, requesting the opportunity to review this game. She supplied me with a code for Steam and off I went.

In full disclosure, I rarely play PC games. I prefer console (XBoxOne), but the theme of this game piqued my interest and I wanted to share my thoughts with fellow occult detective fans.

The gameplay was simple, which was a big help to me, not being very comfortable gaming with a keyboard. If keyboards aren’t your thing either, no worries here. You’ll have no trouble navigating the world.

Draugen_screen_village

The visuals are stunning. The environment, settings, and characters are all extremely believable and immersive. I was never drawn out of the narrative because of graphics. Red Thread Games’ attention to detail is admirable.

I was also quite taken with the voice acting and sound effects. While Lissie was quite annoying, I can’t help but feel she was spot on and exactly right for what was needed for the story.

Draugen_screen_letter

And speaking of story, well, that’s the defining grace of the game. Billed as a psychological mystery, that is exactly what you get. It’s not horror, but there are elements of the genre to keep you more than satisfied if that’s what you’re looking for.

Of course there are some hiccups, narratively speaking, but I found the game more compelling than other similar games, such as The Vanishing of Ethan Carter or Kona.

All in all, a very positive experience and one that I think occult detective fans will find interest in. There are Lovecraftian moments, with a Ligotti sensibility.

In summation, it is flawed, but compelling, with an excellent sensory immersion that will often leave you breathless. The pacing is slow, painfully so at times, but I believe this is by design, as the isolation, desperation, and descent into madness as the core themes is simulated by the narrative structure.

On a scale of 1-10, I rate it a measured 7.5 stars.

Draugen_screen_farmhouse

 

My thoughts on Grimoire of Aleister Crowley by Rodney Orpheus

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on June 28, 2019 by Occult Detective

grimoireofacIn many ways, Rodney Orpheus has delivered what can best be described as the past, present, and future of Thelema in his latest work, Grimoire of Aleister Crowley: Group Magick Rituals.

Orpheus writes with confidence, presenting these rites in all their complex glory, while dissecting them and making them palpable for both beginners and those more seasoned alike.

More importantly, he takes rituals nearly a century old and breathes new life into them, dragging them into the modern age while respecting their core essence.

The past and present merge seamlessly together, creating a template for Thelema going forward.

Image result for rodney orpheusPractical and pragmatic, Grimoire is a testament to Orpheus’ erudite understanding of ritual and the importance of the group dynamic. Every role is carefully defined. Every instrument detailed. Every action and every word, deliberate, reasoned, and evocative.

I would be hard pressed to single out a more important book for the esoterically inclined. Grimoire expands the works of the Great Beast and in doing so they work intimately in unison with the author’s original rites to create a firm foundation sure to inspire your own work, whether as an instrument of Crowley’s vision, or for someone who walks a different path.

Grimoire of Aleister Crowley by Rodney Orpheus is available wherever books are sold and worth every penny of its cover price. If you’ve shelves of occult texts, know that they are incomplete without this book residing there alongside the rest. My only regret is it not being released in leather-bound hardcover.

My Thoughts on Tarot and the Archetypal Journey & Living Runes

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on June 13, 2019 by Occult Detective

Two quick “reviews” for the price of one? As both are reprints, the internet is overflowing with reviews of both, so rather than dissect them it feels more appropriate to give my overall impressions instead. Let’s start with the better of the two.

Tarot and the Archetypal Journey: The Jungian Path from Darkness to Light by Sallie Nichols was originally published by Weiser Books in 1980. I still have the copy I bought as a teen from Waldenbooks. This new edition is largely unchanged from the original, though Mary K. Greer’s foreword is a wonderful addition and a compliment to the introduction by Laurens van der Postis.

I remember liking the book quite a lot, though its overtly Christian bias was a bit of a turn-off. Now, all these years later, the book reads far differently. I am, after all, considerably older and less impressionable.

Nichols tends to ramble, drifting off on tangents, and it’s clear that she is a bit of a novice when it comes to the occult world. The book is very much of its time, hearkening largely to the seventies in its sensibilities. It comes across rather charming and nostalgic. All that being said, I stand by my twitter review — “It’s a meaty book. Nearly 400 pages with small print. It’s a classic for a reason. Insightful, Nichols leaves no stone unturned. Certainly a “must-read” for tarot enthusiasts.”

Of course, my biggest complaint regarding the book is the print size. Strange that 6pt type wasn’t an issue 39 years ago.

If you’re into tarot, this book needs to be on your shelf, without a doubt.

It is available wherever books are sold. Support the publisher by buying directly from the source. Click HERE.

Living Runes: Theory and Practice of Norse Divination by Galina Krasskova was originally published by New Page Books in 2009 as Runes: Theory and Practice. And yes, that’s another book I have on my shelf. This edition has a much more attractive cover, though the text within is seemingly unchanged, at least from memory. I did not do a side by side analysis.

I have a long history of problems with Krasskova because she has a tendency to state things matter-of-factly, like she is an undisputed authority on Norse Culture and Religion when the majority of her writings are merely redressed Wicca, conjecture, and/or wishful thinking. Calling one’s self a priest of Odin or Northern Tradition shaman is easy enough, backing it up is another matter altogether.

I have reviewed her works in the past. Here are my reviews of Exploring the Northern Tradition and Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner. My thoughts have not changed in the slightest.

There is a wealth of books on the runes on the market. I recently reviewed Edred Thorsson’s The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic, for instance, and gave it high marks. I also would recommend checking out my review of Diana Paxson’s Odin: Ecstacy, Runes, & Norse Magic.

I did not care for this book the first time around. My second reading of it did not change my opinion.

Still, that being said, there are insights to be found. Things that spur thoughts in different directions. And sometimes it’s good to read differing opinions. If you’re one of those, like me, you can pick up an inexpensive copy of Living Runes from Amazon HERE.

Men of Ash

Posted in Liber et Audax on May 14, 2019 by Occult Detective

Aescling, Men of Ash.

I grew up on a small farm northwest of Converse surrounded by ash trees. They’re all dead now.

The trails we hike through the Mississinewa are littered with fallen ash.

 

In Norse culture, the world tree was a mighty ash. Odin and Thor both wielded spears of ash, and it is said the first man of the north was born of ash, while the first woman was born of elm.

Ash wood is very strong, tough and elastic, and a joint of ash will bear more weight than any other wood.

It is the best firewood, burning the hottest for the longest, whether seasoned or green.

ash_tree

Here in Indiana and across the Midwest, the ash has been ravaged. Then I look across social media and the cultural shift globally and the symbolism does not escape me.

We face two fronts.

We are at war with the extreme left who would demonize men, particularly what they refer to as “white men”, brandishing terms against us such as “toxic masculinity”, “patriarchy”, “misogyny”, and “racist”.

And we are at war with the extreme right who misappropriate our cultural heritage and the symbols of our faith to further their fascist ambitions.

How do we combat these extremes?

Simple.

We hold true to our faith. We stand proud as Men of the North, as Men of Ash. We become shining examples of what men should be — protectors, providers, self-reliant, and strong. We bolster our communities and lift up the weak. We cast down our enemies and give comfort and aide to those in need.

1200px-Blason_Gondor.svg

I am reminded of Aragorn’s speech from Return of the King in which he called:

My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand!

The ash has fallen. We need to plant them anew and root out the pests that brought them down.

Coming Soon: @DraugenGame

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives on May 8, 2019 by Occult Detective

Hey, Occult Detective fans, I’d like to point you toward an exciting new game that embraces the genre we love. It’s gorgeously rendered, atmospheric, and, well, right up my alley. I suspect it’s right up yours as well.

Give their presskit a read, watch the story trailer, and see for yourself —

From the studio that brought you Dreamfall Chapters, and the creative team behind The Longest Journey and The Secret World, comes a first-person psychological mystery set in 1920s Norway.

The year is 1923. You play Edward Charles Harden, an American traveler who’s come to Norway to find his missing sister. But you’re not alone: at every step of the way, Edward’s accompanied by his ward, Lissie; a gregarious, independent and enigmatic young woman.

Together, you must explore this scenic coastal community — nestled amongst the fjords and mountains of rural Norway — in your search for Edward’s sister, and unearth the darkness that lies beneath the picturesque surface.

It reminds me of  The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which I had high hopes for, though that game was ultimately a letdown. I have a good feeling that Red Thread Games is going to deliver the game we’ve been waiting for.

With any luck I’ll have a chance to review this for you soon. Stay tuned for further updates.

My thoughts on ‘Beyond the North Wind’ by Christopher McIntosh

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on May 2, 2019 by Occult Detective

north wind

I first heard the Call of the North when I was 8 years old.

I was raised in a Church of Christ, a faith born of the American Restoration Movement given life in the frontier during the late 1770s, but it never spoke to me. I never considered myself “Christian” though I did enjoy bible classes and singing. Ours was an a cappella / total immersive baptism / right-leaning congregation.

As a child, I came across a reference to the conversion of the Celts and Norse, often by the sword, and I came to realize that my ancestors had their faith taken from them. I knew my family was predominately English, Scots, and Irish so I looked into their histories as best I could, using encyclopedias and other reference books available in both my school and public library. I read of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons, of the Germanic tribes, and of the raiders from the North.

ChildrenofOdin001All of that led me to The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum, with illustrations by Willy Pogany. These were the tales of my ancestors’ gods. It was to these mythical beings that my forefathers prayed to. I was, in a word, captivated, and I pledged myself to Odin, then and there, placing Thor and Sif in the role of God and Goddess akin to the books on witchcraft I had been studying as well.

So, when I read Christopher McIntosh’s introduction in Beyond the North Wind: The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North and his recounting of C.S. Lewis’ “Come to Balder” moment, I knew that I had been blessed with a similar calling. It was that same ‘Call of the North‘ that I answered as a small child. I had a feeling this book that I was now reading, with its call backs to my own childhood, was to be something special.

I was not wrong on that accord.

While it does have its faults, Christopher McIntosh has delivered a wonderful treatise on the stirring of the Northern Spirit, delving into the ancient mysteries and showing their influence on modern culture.

It is not lost on me that in the midst of a very vocal minority seeking to redefine itself through identity politics, shame culture, and newthink activism, and an equally bankrupt minority obsessing on the false tenants of white supremacy, you have a resurgence of the Norse Current that sings of a deeper truth and meaning to those with ears to hear it.

christopher mcintosh_webMcIntosh is a talented author, able to succinctly get his point across with both a dramatic flair and an erudite cadence. He speaks of the past with reverence, but in such a way that pulls it from that distant memory to make it seem present and alive.

There’s a bit of Graham Hancock in his musings, which I enjoy, though without the thoroughness and alternate-archaeological whimsy Hancock is known for.

The greatest weakness of Beyond the North Wind is that it seems to only just scratch the surface. I wanted more meat, but as an appetizer, it was a nourishing dish. The references to current pop culture trends was interesting, though unfulfilling. Where McIntosh really makes an impact is in his contemplations on Hyperborea and the Runes.

Beyond the North Wind is a book equally valid for learned scholars and those just embarking on their journey. It is a book I highly recommend.

Available now in a bookstore near you, Beyond the North Wind: The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North by Christopher R. McIntosh is a worthy read that will be well at home in your personal library.

My thoughts on One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 9, 2019 by Occult Detective

onetruthonespiritI’ve read this book, One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy, three times and I am of an equal number of minds about it, hence my waiting till now to publish my thoughts (and concerns) regarding what is, frankly, a fascinating, if not controversial, exploration of the History of Thelema, at least since the passing of the Great Beast.

Here’s what the dust jacket has to say about it:

Based upon academic research at the University of Amsterdam’s Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, One Truth and One Spirit is a much-needed work that covers a previously unexplored history of the modern religious movement known as Thelema. This work details the theoretical framework of Aleister Crowley’s spiritual legacy in the O.T.O. and the A:.A:. and covers the years of Thelema since Crowley’s death in 1947.

One Truth and One Spirit approaches a complex topic with a complex history, with exhaustive citations and sources, but it is written for anyone interested in the subject of Thelema. The author utilizes published source material as well as previously unavailable information, which makes this a unique contribution to the available literature.

One Truth and One Spirit is expected to be of interest to the novice, the scholar, and the seasoned practitioner of Thelema. The work provides a general historical overview of Thelema from a theoretical vantage point, explores the historical development of the movement from the 1960s to the 1990s, and applies the author’s own critical discussions on the topic itself.

I promised myself some time ago that I would not publish unfavorable reviews of material sent to me by publishers. Better to remain silent, I think. Not that I am not critical in the reviews I do publish. If I publish a review, then I am recommending it to the public, warts and all. I just see no reason to review a book that I feel is unworthy of purchase. I would rather shine a light on books I feel have some value to readers like myself. As always, these are just my opinions. Take that as you will.

Which leads me to One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy ( Foreword by Vere Chappell).

Fitting, in many respects, that I am writing this on the Second Day of the Feast of the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law.

I came to Crowley, in 1977, by way of Lovecraft, oddly enough, for it was Lovecraft that led me to the Simon Necronomicon, which led me to Cavendish’s fourth volume of Man, Myth, and Magic, which then led me to The Book of Lies in my public library. Coupled with an article on Jimmy Page in, I believe, Circus magazine, in which his Crowley fascination was addressed, and, well, I was hooked.

The histories of the Golden Dawn, O.T.O., A:.A:., and countless other magical orders and esoteric faiths, as well as all the principle players involved, has long been a passion of mine. The very finest of the lot would be Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.

That being said, I enjoy a history written with an agenda as much as a more literal and factual bent. I find One Truth and One Spirit to lend itself more to the former than the later.

One Truth and One Spirit is a beautiful book. Ibis Press is really one of the premiere publishing houses and they never cease to amaze me with the level of precision they exude, from graphic design to editorial perfection. I noticed not a single typographical error throughout which is to be commended. The attention to detail is what sets Ibis Press apart and any book they cast out into the world is one worth adding to your library.

As to the content itself, while the history of Thelema as presented by Readdy might be stilted, it is no less fascinating. The author paints a vivid and thorough picture, despite the labyrinthine nature of the occult world after Crowley’s demise.

Readdy seems a bit harsh in terms of some of the players involved, most notably of Soror Meral, the late Phyllis Seckler.

That being said, you will be hard pressed to set this work down, the author’s bias toward the legitimacy of one particular lineage of authority over others notwithstanding.

Therein lies the rub, despite protestations to the contrary, One Truth and One Spirit is intent on steering the narrative, but as I don’t have a proverbial dog in the hunt, I’m fine with it.

And I think most of you will too.

One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy, with a Foreword by Vere Chappell, is published by Ibis Press, distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser, and available wherever books are sold.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

93/93

 

 

%d bloggers like this: