Archive for April, 2018

Variation on a Theme, #OccultNine

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 28, 2018 by Occult Detective

We’ve covered the books. Eighteen years worth. But something else that kept creeping up on my as I revisited my magical mystery tour through my early days delving into the mystic, that music was always there, and still is. So, rather than address a time period, I thought, why not compile an #OccultNine of the music that has and does inspire me, then and now and for always.


Very hard to limit it to just nine, as I’m sure you’ll find. So, who made the cut?

They’re in no order, so from left to right, the top row features Pentangle, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Ronnie James Dio (Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio); the middle row contains Stevie Nicks (Buckingham Nicks, Fleetwood Mac), Jimmy Page (The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin), Loreena McKennitt; the bottom row spotlights Ian Gillan (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Gillan), Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention), Wardruna.

So, can you pick nine musical acts that have influenced and enhanced your spiritual journey?

What were your #NextOccultNine?

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 27, 2018 by Occult Detective

Yesterday I invited you to share your #OccultNine. The idea was to take the first nine years of your interest and study in the magical arts and pick nine books that were a heady influence. That time period for me was 1974 -1983.

Today, I’m asking for your #NextOccultNine. For me, the next nine years of my studies, from 1984 – 1993, were a whirlwind, to say the least. I worked part time in a “New Age” bookstore on campus, read tarot cards for drug money, and generally had a brilliant, mind-expanding time that, admittedly, descended into dependency issues. But I came out the other side of that the better for it.

Anyway, here are the books, for better or worse, that were a major influence during that chapter of my life.



Posted in Archive, Magick by Trial & Error on April 26, 2018 by Occult Detective

Was thinking about those early books that influenced my journey into the strange and unusual corners I now often find myself in. These were there in the beginning. Not necessarily the best, but each was an important stepping stone just the same.

What were yours?


So how does #OccultNine work? Take the first nine years of your interest and study in the magical arts and pick nine books that were a heady influence. That time period for me was 1974 -1983.

Preternaturally Speaking #OccultDetectiveRPG

Posted in Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game on April 23, 2018 by Occult Detective

Let’s continue our exploration of KITH.

To refresh your memory, Kith, within the context of Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game™, is what you are. Your Protagonist’s Kith provides you with a basic framework from which your occult detective will come to life through the unique powers, resistances, advantages, and abilities they add. More than that, your Kith establishes the first glimmer of background for which to build your Protagonist around.

There are three core Kith for you to choose from: Natural, Preternatural, and Supernatural.

In our first installment, we took a peek at the Naturals. Today, we’ll look at what it means to be a Preternatural.

First, the word itself. Merriam-Webster defines preternatural as existing outside of nature; exceeding what is natural or regular; inexplicable by ordinary means.

In Occult Detective, a Preternatural is a character with powers and abilities beyond what is normal or natural — the idea being they are naturals with special gifts, either by birth or by exceptional training.

There are three types of Preternatural:

Alchemists, who are scientifically gifted, are blessed with intelligence beyond the scope of ordinary men and women. As such, they begin with a minimum Brains score of 10, then roll a 1d10+2 to establish their ability. One can come at this from several different angles, be it from speculative philosophy or fringe science.

Examples: Victor Frankenstein, Walter Bishop, Herbert West


Magicians, adept in the use of the Esoteric Arts, select their abilities from the Path and Major Arcana tables found in this manual. Their Sun and Moon Signs dictate which element those spells are expressed by. A Magician can choose a Light or Dark Path and the spells available to them are adjusted accordingly. Light Path Magicians begin with a minimum Brains score of 10, then roll 1d10+1 to establish their ability. Dark Path Magicians begin with a minimum Bravado score of 10, then roll 1d10+1 to establish their ability.

Examples: John Constantine, Harry Dresden, Diana Tregarde

Necromancing the Stone



Psychics are sensitive to nonphysical or supernatural forces and influences, marked by extraordinary or mysterious sensitivity, perception, or understanding, and in some cases, possess powers of telekinesis, pyrokinesis, levitation, and more. Psychics begin with a minimum Boon score of 10, then roll a 1d10+2 to establish their ability.

Examples: Odd Thomas, Vanessa Ives, Eleven

Episode 101

Coming up next — Supernaturals.


My review of Vernon Mahabal’s Talk to the Hand: A Field Guide to Practical Palmistry

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 20, 2018 by Occult Detective

When I was a young boy, maybe 9 or 10, me and my friends were up to no good at the Converse Fair. It was a spectacular carnival back then, with all the sights, sounds, and smells that hearkened back to a far distant age. Little did we realize that these were the final death throes of a way of life that the modern age would have little use for. More’s the pity. The mid-70’s was the last gasp of a magical era that stretched back for decades untold. Before long, gone would be the girlie shows, freaks and curiosities, and the carnival fortune-tellers.

On that particular night we’d crawled clandestinely under the folds of the hootch show tent, ogling the scantily clad showgirls before being chased off by the cigar-chewing barker in a dirty tank top and bowler hat, his cane cutting the air as we bolted past the Himalaya and Tilt-a-Whirl, making our way through the maze of elephant ear vendors and game of chance con-men with a couple of carnies on our tails.

We split up and I slipped into a small tent just off the Midway, out of breath, peeking out as the roughhouses ran by, laughing. A woman’s voice made me leap out of my skin. “I don’t think you’re here for your fortune, no?” she’d said. I turned to see an attractive older woman, which means she was probably in her mid-thirties, maybe forty-ish, dressed like what I would have called a gypsy: colorful scarf tied around her head, big hoop earrings, and garish peasant dress and vest.

“Madame Zelda” spoke with an Eastern European accent, surely a put on, but to my young ears, I was captivated. She was like a pretty version of Maleva the Gypsy from Universal’s The Wolfman. She talked me out of my last 50¢ and thus I had my first experience with a palm reader. She told me I would be creative and successful, not rich but respected, and that I would lead a life of adventure. She also told me that I would leave the small, rural community I called home but that I would be drawn forever to it.

She definitely left a mark on me, though it was the only time I’ve ever had my palm read, despite working for a time in a Metaphysical bookstore that offered such services. Still, I’ve always been interested in the artform and read several books on the subject, but all of them pale to the one I have just finished — Talk to the Hand: A Field Guide to Practical Palmistry by Vernon Mahabal.


Talk to the Hand was such a delight. Clear and concise, after my poring over handfuls of books on the subject, I find that Mahabal has delivered the perfect book on the subject.

It has some tremendously helpful illustrations that, while simplistic, convey the meaning with precision.

I particularly like how the author framed the book around the most common questions asked, and how intuitive the process of reading one’s hand is when walked through the process.

For me, this is the definitive book on the subject for the layman. Everything is here to begin the journey and that’s all you can really ask from a book like this.

It does make me want to deep dive into the astrological side of palmistry, but there are only so many hours in the day. The author has given me all I need to feel comfortable assessing my own personality through the terrain of my hands.

It’s a fine palmistry primer and one you’ll be proud to hold on to and consult frequently, I suspect.

Talk to the Hand: A Field Guide to Practical Palmistry by Vernon Mahabal is available wherever books are sold. The quickest and easiest way to get yours is to snag it from amazon. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

My thoughts on The Lunar Gospel by Cal Garrison

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on April 18, 2018 by Occult Detective

I’ve been insanely busy working on Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game. Thankfully, book reviews often do double duty as research. The following book came along at just the right time.

lunarThe Lunar Gospel by Cal Garrison touches on something that I have held to be true for nearly forty years, that one’s moon sign has more or, at the very least, equal prominence in your astrological make-up than one’s sun sign. Garrison presents a rich and fascinating glimpse into our relationship with the lunar aspects of our personalities. I found the book well researched and wrapped up in an enjoyable package.

The Lunar Gospel is such a pleasant read and insightful, able to walk that fine line between erudite, analytical discourse and intuitive, emotional revelation.

It’s a great addition to my library and I recommend it to all those with a healthy interest in the heavens and their influence upon us.

The Lunar Gospel by Cal Garrison is published by Weiser Books and can be purchased directly from their website, or via either your local brick & mortar or favorite online retail outlet.


My Favorite Authors

Posted in Liber et Audax, The Library on April 17, 2018 by Occult Detective

In his most recent newsletter, Brian Keene offered up a list of his 20 favorite authors. That’s a challenge I just could not pass up. So here are my favorites, the caveat being that this is a list of writers of fiction and as close to their proper order as I can muster. Also, because of the third author on my list, I have decided there should be 23 names instead of 20. Fnord.



1. Robert E. Howard
2. J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Robert Anton Wilson
4. Neil Gaiman
Katherine Kurtz
6. Alan Moore
7. Umberto Eco
Fritz Leiber
9. Mary Stewart
10. Roy Thomas
11. Manly Wade Wellman
12. Stephen King
13. George R.R. Martin

14. Edgar Rice Burroughs
15. Algernon Blackwood
16. H.P. Lovecraft
Raymond Chandler
18. Anne Rice
19. Rex Stout
20. Shirley Jackson
21. Arthur Machen
22. Aleister Crowley
Margaret Weis

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