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.

Three for Thursday: Strange & Unusual Books I Read as a Kid Edition

Posted in Magick, Paranormal on September 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

I’m back from my month long RPGaDay celebration and deadline slaying. Still, I wasn’t absent completely. I hope you enjoyed the recent book reviews I managed to post. I read some great titles from Llewellyn Books (especially Thorn Mooney’s The Witch’s Path) that really put me in delicious mood (and there are more to come), and now here we are, slowly sliding into the “Unofficial End of Summer”.

Well, Magick Books are on my mind, and as I sit here listening to Shawn Hebert’s The LVX Files and his chat with author/witch Jason Mankey (much discussion of DJ Conway and Silver Ravenwolf right now), I thought, “what better subject for Three for Thursday than the three most influential strange and unusual books that I read as a child”.

Hopefully you’re up for playing along. Let’s have at it…

THREE

In 1976, I was 10 years old, attending 4th grade in the old haunted Converse High School. After school let out I often got to stay behind and help my grandmother clean the building (which was always a treat for me). One day, in the boiler room basement, I was rooting through the lost and found box that grandma always kept down there, and lo and behold, look what Bobby found — Hans Holzer’s Ghost Hunter. Needless to say, a great and influential read. Holzer was a groundbreaking pioneer of the paranormal and I still use many of his ideas to this very day.

TWO

This book I nicked from the Converse Public Library when I was in the 3rd grade. I was already fascinated by witchcraft and the occult. Finding this book by Sybil Leek, whom I had seen many times on tv and read about in the tabloids was a thrill. This one certainly got my head spinning…

ONE

If you’re a frequent follower of this blog, you know the story behind this book. My first treatise on the magical world. Discovered when I was 8 years old, already long fascinated by the Occult, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, the Lost City of Atlantis, ESP, Magic, and Oak Island (etcetera, ad nauseum). Many Palmer Hall pulled back the veil and made me believe.

My thoughts on A Cosmic Encounter by Stewart W. Bench, available soon from @LlewellynBooks

Posted in Book Review, Investigations on August 17, 2021 by Occult Detective

A Fascinating Firsthand Nuts & Bolts Analysis of the Grays

When an alien craft stalled Stewart Bench’s truck on a backcountry road, he tried his best to just forget about it. But then they came back and made it personal. In A Cosmic Encounter, for the first time, Stewart tells the incredible true story of being encountered and then abducted by aliens. As an engineer, Stewart uses his technical experience to describe the specifications of the alien craft, their technology, their communications, and their mission.

You will discover the details of the alien device implanted in his nose, the telepathic communication displayed by the aliens, and a wealth of information about the layout and operation of their vehicle and equipment. This is a highly detailed, close-up look at how aliens infiltrate our airspace and conduct experiments on humans―without any official acknowledgement―as well as the personal toll these encounters have on the abductees.

I was fascinated with UFOs as a child. To be fair, anything strange and unusual caught my attention: Bigfoot, the Lost City of Atlantis, Oak Island, the Bermuda Triangle, and the like. I don’t suppose things have changed much. I read mountains of UFO comics and magazines, pored over paperback books by Jacques Vallee, Frank Edwards, Irving Greenfield, Erich Von Daniken, Ralph Blum, George Adamski, and so many more, and I clipped articles from National Enquirer and other newsrags to keep track of all the unnatural phenomena out there I could. Man, the mid-seventies were a great time to be alive.

I’ve told the story, many times, of how several of friends and myself were allowed to test out of fifth grade math and were given a classroom in the attic of the old Converse High School Building to study UFO Phenomena. This would have been 1976. We had a huge rotating bulletin board with a map of the United States on one side and the world on the other that we stick pinned the hell out of with every UFO sighting we could uncover. We developed a theory and presented before the school. I even made money on the side by recording myself reading eyewitness accounts and selling them to my classmates.

All this to say, I am the audience for Stewart W. Bench’s A Cosmic Encounter: A True Story of an Alien Abduction. It is further subtitles: An Engineer’s Analysis of Extraterrestrials & Their Technology. Not only am I the audience, but with UFOs so prominent in the news, with government “revelations” making the rounds, this is the perfect time to immerse yourself in just this type of read.

As an eyewitness account and retelling, Bench’s tale is very personal and exacting. At times, it almost reads like a diary. It is sometimes sad, sometimes confusing, and you really feel for the man and his family, and the conclusion is a heartbreaker in many respects.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, Stewart Bench is no Bob Lazar. The engineering aspects, told in journeyman detail, all sounds very solid, and oddly mundane. It also doesn’t feel right to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Bench’s narrative is a little flat, a little too phlegmatic.

But it is a narrative worth inspection.

Did I come away from A Cosmic Encounter believing Stewart Bench? No. I’m sorry, I can’t say I was convinced. But there is a story there, and it’s one I valued reading. I saw a bit of myself in young Bench.

While I would not fall all over myself recommending A Cosmic Encounter by Stewart Bench, I do think it’s worth your time, especially if you’re interested in UFO Phenomena and Abduction narratives. The book drops September 8th, and it’s sure to cause a stir in the UFO/UAP Community. It will be available wherever books are sold. You can preorder through Amazon.

Magick Monday: Thoughts on @LlewellynBooks’ Ozark Folk Magic by Brandon Weston

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

.:.

Discover the Healing Power of Plants and Prayers

Bring traditional methods of healing and magic into the modern world with this impressive book on Ozark folk magic. Providing lore, verbal charms, healing plants, herbal recipes, magical tools and alignments, and more, folk healer Brandon Weston sheds light on the region’s secretive culture and shows you how to heal both yourself and others.

Ozark Folk Magic invites you to experience the hillfolk’s magic through the eyes of an authentic practitioner. Learn how to optimize your healing work and spells according to the moon cycles, zodiac signs, and numerology. Explore medicinal uses for native Ozark plants,
instructions for healing magical illnesses, and how modern witches can feel at home with Ozark traditions. Combining personal stories and down-to-earth advice, this book makes it easy to incorporate Ozark folk magic into your practice.

Includes a foreword by Virginia Siegel, MA, folk arts coordinator at the University of Arkansas

While I was born in the hinterlands of the Hoosier State, my roots stretch back to the Ozarks. Both of my parents were born in Arkansas, as were their parents, and their parents before them. They came from towns like Poughkeepsie, Evening Shade, Batesville, Jonesboro, and the like. I spent my summers swimming in the Strawberry, hiking the foothills and backwoods (with the snakes, ticks and chiggers), and even, in my later years, tracked dogmen through the Ozarks. I had great-grandparents who still maintained stillhouses. They were all dirt poor. My dad was born in a dirt floor shack. My mom picked cotton, barefoot, until they moved north when she was a teen. I grew up on a farm here in Indiana, but the Ozarks were in the blood of my folk and they passed a lot of that on to me, especially the folk tales.

I guess that was a long winded way of saying that I was excited to read Brandon Weston’s Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, & Healing. I’ll be honest with you, if you’re looking for traditional Ozark Folk Magic, such as found in Ozark Magic and Folklore by Randolph Vaughn, this may not be the book for you.

Vaughn’s book is a tougher read in many respects, but it captures that mountain spirit. As it should. It was written in 1947. I am lucky enough to own Isaac Bonewits personal dogeared copy, and it has been a cherished favorite.

That said, if, as I suspect you are, looking for a bit of that old school mountain magic that has been drug into the 21st Century, that blends the old and new because it’s a living tradition and not some stale and stagnate anthropology lecture.

Folk Magic is a living and breathing art by its very nature. Weston really grasps this and you see that evolution in his writing and exploration of those Ozark charms. I suppose most people are more familiar with that Appalachian flavor, but the magic of the Ozarks is every bit as potent and flavorful as anything you’ll find out east.

Settlers, bringing their folk ways with them from across the ocean and the wilds of these new lands, incorporated native lore along the way, and the indigenous peoples of the Ozarks, like the Caddo and Osage, were teachers before they were forcibly removed by the advance of American expansion.

Weston does an admirable job of dissecting the traditions, presenting them with reverence and with a respectful interpretation of yesterday, while bringing it forward, showing the evolution of it as a practice and an art.

I am really thrilled to have had a chance to immerse myself in this, and to see its growth. It’s comforting to know that traditions of my ancestors are alive and well, and in such good hands.

Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, & Healing by Brandon Weston, released in January of this year, is available wherever books are sold. I recommend it highly.

Happy Friday the 13th

Posted in Current Events on August 13, 2021 by Occult Detective

I love Friday the 13th. It’s generally my second favorite holiday.

Three guesses what my favorite is.

Anyway, I wanted to, first, wish you all the best on this positively delicious day of supposed bad luck and menace. Of course, we all know where Friday the 13th derives its ill-nature from. Those poor Templars…

Secondly, I hope to get up to a little more tomfoolery this weekend, with visits to more local boneyards and a delightfully infested location nearby. I have been working diligently on [secret project name redacted] and I need a wee bit of a break to recharge. I’ll be sure to post a few pictures as time allows.

If you’re not following my instagram, you probably should. It’s easier to drop pics there on the fly.

So, cheers, all. Enjoy the day. Remember to be kind to black cats (but it’s perfectly ok to avoid walking under ladders).

Magick Monday: My Thoughts of The Witch’s Path by Thorn Mooney

Posted in Book Review, Magick on August 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

From the Llewellyn:

Get Unstuck, Find Inspiraiton, and Take the Next Step on Your Path

The Witch’s Path is all about raising your Witchcraft practice to the next level―whether you’re a beginner who feels overwhelmed, a disillusioned adept, a jaded coven leader, or anyone in between. This book shares specific, hands-on tips for what you can do to move forward spiritually today, no matter what your starting point.

Join Thorn Mooney on an exploration of the most common themes practitioners need to look into when they’re feeling stagnant or stuck: sacred space, devotion, ritual and magic, personal practice, and community. Every chapter features four separate exercises, designed for four different types of readers, so you can come back to this book as you grow and discover fresh techniques and activities. The Witch’s Path helps renew your sense of engagement with the Craft so you can continue evolving your spirit, your practice, and yourself.

I was truly blessed to receive an Uncorrected Proof of Thorn Mooney’s latest work, The Witch’s Path: Advancing Your Craft at Every Level. And blessed is the right word here. Let’s just come right out of the gate with this one: I loved this book. I have not read the author’s debut, Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide, but I can assure you, I will be doing so in the very near future.

This is the sort of occult book I enjoy reading. Oh sure, I devour grimoires and inscrutable texts for research often, and there’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from deciphering and scrutinizing complex esoterica, but The Witch’s Path serves almost like a diary or memoir that instructs, gently, but with erudition.

That’s where Mooney shines, when she offers us a glimpse into not only the triumphs of working the Craft, but also the minefield of foibles that litter our journey.

A paraphrase I often use to relate to my own occult journey is cribbed from the late great Stan Lee, in which he states that Thor can have all the adventures he wants in Asgard, but every once in a while he has to return to Earth and take his lumps from the Absorbing Man.

The Witch’s Path is about those lumps, and the author takes us on a walk through the major aspects of a witch’s practice and gives practical exercises for nearly every stage of development to overcome them. When I talk about Magick by Trial and Error, this is what I mean.

There’s a part, early in the book, where the author waxes poetic about witches being scary, of the advantages of being an outsider, of being different from those in the mundane world. I like this. I like this a lot. I have preached it high and low for decades. She makes a good point about how in the early days of the Occult Revival, witches had to impress upon the public that their kind were good, they had to put special emphasis on the Wiccan Rede, An ye harm none, do what ye will. Why? Because, for one, in the UK, it was still illegal. And for another, they were trying to change people’s perceptions.

Now, my take is somewhat different than the author’s, because I have little interest in changing people’s perceptions. I think largely Mooney doesn’t either. I am not an activist by nature. I prefer the shadows, the mystery. I prefer things scary. Change the world? Maybe in subtle ways, but when you drag everyone into “the light”, well the dark’s a lot less fun (or vice versa).

But that’s neither here nor there. The Witch’s Path is an unmitigated joy. It is personal, intimate, and just wonderfully written. I found all of the exercises relatable, workable, and concise. This is a book not just about growth, but about sustainability. The author really opens up, reflecting on her path and how, when we do for others, often times we neglect ourselves. To maintain the course, we have to keep the embers alive. The fire might not always be lit, but we have to be able to fan them back to life.

It’s true, we all need some downtime now and then. Of course, we feel disconnected and this creates a hollow place inside. The Witch’s Path tells us we are not alone in this, and it gives the means to rekindle the fire and dance around it once more.

Hm, I wonder if I recommend this book?

The Witch’s Path: Advancing Your Craft at Every Level by Thorn Mooney will be released on September 8. Preorder your copy through Llewellyn (preferred) or Amazon (the evil empire) at your earliest convenience. Trust me. You’ll want to read this book.

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