The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Esoterica
Tread lightly, dear friends for here there be dragons. Welcome to Day Three of the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards which brings us within the realm of the strange and unusual, the hidden and profane. While it is quite true that I am enamored with reading and writing the fictional exploits of occult detectives, I am very much a student and practitioner of the metaphysical sciences. I have been lucky enough to rub shoulders with a number of notable occult and paranormal personalities, to receive a veritable mountain of advanced reading and review copies by some of the best publishers in the business, and I continue to be afforded the opportunity to explore and investigate some of the most haunted sites in the world. So, if you fancy a glimpse behind the curtain from the safety of your armchair, then these titles may just be what this occult detective ordered —
Best Occult Release
The Angel & The Abyss: The Inward Journey, Books II & III by J. Daniel Gunther
In this beautiful hardcover from Ibis Press, a publisher I am in consistent awe of, Gunther continues his exhaustive exploration of Thelema. This really is a must-read for anyone with an interest in Aleister Crowley and his legacy. The appendices, bibliography, iconography and voluminous tables, charts, and graphs are worth the price of admission alone.
Best Ancient Mysteries Release
Medieval Mysteries: A Guide to History, Lore, Places and Symbolism by Karen Ralls, PhD
A testament to the erudite scholarship of its author, Dr. Karen Ralls, Medieval Mysteries is a fascinating read, filled with lavish photographs and illustrations, all presented in painstaking detail. Ralls makes the subjects come alive by breathing life into the narrative and drawing you into the very heart of these fabulous and enigmatic revelations.
Best Paranormal Release
The World’s Most Haunted House: The True Story of The Bridgeport Poltergeist on Lindley Street by William J. Hall
The “Bridgeport Incident” is legendary in the paranormal field, though personally my BS-meter gets a workout whenever Ed or Lorraine Warren’s names come up. Still, it is a case I had an strong interest in and Hall does a fine job of compiling various media, professional, and personal accounts surrounding the event and leaving it up to the reader to sort it all out for themselves.
Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World by Gary Lachman
Ex-Blondie-turned-Esotericist, Lachman tackles the Great Beast in this entertaining biography that sidesteps hero-worship but instead looks at the cultural impact of Crowley, particularly within the context of Rock and Roll, and from outside the Inner Circle.
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page
There are few human beings of whom I could be accused of hero-worshiping. One of those few is James Patrick Page, session man, Yardbird, Zeppelin founder, Crowley aficionado, and guitarist extraordinaire. I have read quite a few biographies of the man himself and of the bands he weaved magic in, plus the hundreds, if not thousands of articles in various magazines over the decades. All pale in comparison to this brilliant visual autobiography. Really, if you’re a fan by any stretch of the imagination, you will want to immerse yourself in this book.
Best Esoteric Website/Blog
Gordon White’s Rune Soup
Gordon White describes himself as a digital media professional, glutton, writer, and unsuccessful wizard. I describe him as brilliant, erudite, and quite possibly mad (but in a good way). If you’re not visiting Rune Soup or following him on social media you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Best Esoteric Podcast
Poke Runyon’s The Hermetic Hour
Runyon is the quintessential renaissance man and raconteur — Green Beret, author, filmmaker, freemason, magician, and podcaster — The Archimage of the Ordo Templi Astartes hosts one of the most erudite programs on the occult that you’re apt to give ear to.
Since 1992 Fulgur has been in the business of publishing some of the most beautiful, important, and coveted esoteric texts in the field. While always deserving, this year I was thrilled to examine a very special edition from Fulgur — Songs for the Witch Woman by John W. Parsons and Marjorie Cameron. A thing of sublime beauty, Songs of the Witch Woman is a limited edition, hand-numbered work of art, with a custom lined slipcase and hand bound with a black morocco spine. Printed on premium 135gsm Italian paper, with essays by William Breeze, George Pendle and Margaret Haines, you would be hard-pressed to find a more elegant and bewitching masterpiece.
The Liber L. vel Bogus Stocking-Filler by Richard T. Cole
I would be remiss if I didn’t include this as one of the bright spots of 2014. The controversy surrounding Cole’s imminent release of his full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of Crowley’s receiving of the Book of the Law in Cairo, 1904 has the occult community on the edge of their seat. His jovial preemptive strike on Christmas Eve, a 36 page pdf summary of his impending book release, was brilliant satire and Crowley-esque in nature, to be sure. Yes, a lot of Thelemites have gotten their knickers all atwist, but I for one welcome the dialogue. Anyone who hasn’t questioned at least some of Old Crow’s account haven’t really be paying attention. I look forward to its April release so I can see for myself what Cole’s on to.