Archive for October, 2018

My thoughts on Dee’s ‘Fortune Telling with Playing Cards’ & Marin’s ‘Monsters and Creatures’

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on October 31, 2018 by Occult Detective

A lot happening today. It’s Hallowe’en, after all. A cold rain is falling on my haunted heartland and Jimmy Page’s Lucifer Rising is droning away on the turntable. Magic is, as they say, in the air.

playingcardsI thought I’d share with you some quick thoughts on a couple of new releases, the first being a re-release of Jonathan Dee’s Fortune Telling with Playing Cards.

I was quite fond of books such as this as a child. My parents were not the most tolerant when it came to the occult, so learning to read playing cards as opposed to the Tarot was an important stepping stone in my early development.

Therein lies the beauty of it. Most any household has a deck of cards handy, so you have a readily accessible divination tool within easy grasp.

You’ll find some rather generic card interpretations and a wealth of various card spreads to choose from and experiment with. It’s a solid enough introductory lesson in cartomancy, more than useful enough, especially for those just dipping their toes in preternatural waters.

You can snatch it up here, if you’ve a mind to.

elfbreak

The second book I’d like to shake a stick at is Gabiann Marin’s Monsters and Creatures, part of Rockpool Publishing’s ‘Supernatural Series’. Now, I reviewed one other installment in this run, Lucy Cavendish’s Witches and Wizards, and found it wanting. Monsters and Creatures is less offensive, but still feels a bit light.

monstersLike its predecessor, Monsters and Creatures is a lovely book. The graphic design folks at Rockpool are rock solid. These little hardcovers are crammed full of pictures, wingdings, and all the little bells and whistles and tricks-of-the-trade that make for a top-of-the-line reference book.

And I simply adored these ‘occult encyclopedias’ as a kid. This would have been 8 year old me’s favorite book, I’m sure. I would have carried it and the Witches volume around like the Old and New Testament.

53 year old me, however, is a little more jaded, and a little more learned. Is it a fun book? Certainly, and it’s a far cry better researched than Witches and Wizards turned out to be. My qualms about this is there’s nothing really new to be discovered between its covers.

I suppose that says more about me than it does about Monsters and Creatures.

Still, it’s a pretty package, and if you’re new to this sort of thing, or have young ones about, it’s well worth the price of admission, which you can easily do right here.

My thoughts on ‘A Book of Pagan Prayer’ by Ceisiwr Serith

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on October 30, 2018 by Occult Detective

Weiser Books was kind enough to send me a review copy of A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith. Originally published in 2002, I was very familiar with that earlier work, and its companion, A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book, published in 2011.

aboppA few years back I reviewed A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book stating, “Lyrical and inspirational, I cannot imagine a pagan who would not be enchanted by this book.”

The same could be said for the re-release of the book that started it all.

While this edition maintains the pocket-size format of its predecessor, it is now bound in trade paperback fashion. An unfortunate but cost saving move, I’m sure. But it’s the content we’re after, no? Well, Pagan Prayer does not disappoint.

If I were to sum up this book it a single word, that word would be ‘uplifting‘.

While some of you might be finding this work for the first time, for those of you who might already have it, why would you want to pick this edition up? Quite simply there is a wealth of new prayers added. Prayers for Midsummer that were not present in the original edition, as well as Lammas prayers that didn’t find their way into the work.

They alone make it well worth making a place for it on your shelf.

For first time purchasers, you will discover deep, meaningful words that seek to make a causal connection between the material and the spiritual; words that are meant to create a relationship with the gods of our forebearers.

No matter the path you’re on, A Book of Pagan Prayer will move you and inspire you. Ceisiwr Serith delivers a beautiful collection of devotions and invocations that honour the gods.

I cannot recommend this work highly enough. If you are inclined to speak with the higher powers, A Book of Pagan Prayer is for you.

A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith is available November 1 via Amazon, or in your favorite brick & mortar.

My thoughts on the latest Witches’ Almanac and Demarco’s 2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary

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

WA 1978One of the books I look forward to every year is The Witches’ Almanac. I’ve been a follower for, goodness, something like 40 years, though I found them only sporadically back in the late seventies into the mid-nineties. But since then, they have become an annual obsession. I will admit to a fondness for the look and feel of the books when I was first picking them up, but I fully understand that the modern trade bound editions make far more sense.

The latest edition’s theme is Animals: Friends & Familiars.

In it, you’ll find the same attention to detail that made this such a vital part of the magical community since Elizabeth Peppers gave birth to it back in 1971. The Almanac is both timeless and timely.

I always appreciate the artwork throughout as it invokes early offset & letterpress printing.

You’ll find, as always, a wealth of information between its covers, with articles thoughtfully presented on a wealth of diverse topics. Of particular interest was a piece by Lon Milo DuQuette on the Holy Guardian Angel and The Black Dog by Morven Westfield.

If I were limited to a single book each year, I would unquestionably always call upon this trusted friend. I still pull old editions out to revisit articles that inspired me as a young man.

The Witches’ Almanac is available wherever books are sold, and priced at less than $10 on Amazon. More than worth a sawbuck for such a treasure.

magicalplanners2019

I used to make prolific entries in a magical/dream record I kept from the mid-eighties until they all suspiciously disappeared in the early nineties. Since then, I have only sporadically made entries of any kind, save for those to be found on the internet.

Those ‘diaries’, written from my late teens to mid-twenties, were a vital part of my spiritual journey and I lament their absence. I would love to go back and relive some of those intense experiences, but alas, that is not to be.

I have given a lot of thought to revisiting the process, because I still think there is something to be gained from keeping an ongoing record and I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Stacey Demarco’s 2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary from Rockpool Publishing.

I imagine most of you are aware of the author. Stacey Demarco is an Australian ‘spiritual pagan practitioner’, teacher, and witch who strikes me as being cut from that New Age pedagogue mold so prevalent in the late 20th Century with one clear distinction — she is infinitely more likeable. Maybe it’s the accent.

Demarco’s diaries are beautifully constructed spiral-bound workbooks filled with affirmations, spells, and informative articles on the seasons, all just dripping with positivity. It both screams Modern Witchery and last century New Agery at the same time.

Unfortunately, the Diary seems to be steeped in too much nuspeak idealistic liberal activism for my taste. That’s just not really my scene. I mean, I dig where they’re coming from, it just doesn’t seem very grounded to me personally. Your mileage may vary.

As I settle firmly into my greying years, my tolerance is not what it once was. I’m trying to work on that, to maintain that open-mindedness that was part and parcel to my more youthful dalliances with the preternatural. The thing is, I got burnt by a lot of New Age hokum back in the day, so my spidey-sense is pretty sensitive to such things.

That being said, I think their heart is in the right place and I’m going to put the diary to work over the coming year. I think it will prove to be a valuable tool and priced at less than $20 on Amazon, I think you might find it equally useful.

This Silent Well of Sorrow (Part 4 of 5)

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 25, 2018 by Occult Detective

tswos

Part Four of Five

SPIRIT

“Do you remember my name?”

Landon Connors took a long, slow drag from his cigarette. Back turned toward the man speaking. His eyes were on Michelle whom he could see through the open flap of the ceremonial tent. He had meant to leave her out of this, but she was as stubborn as she was beautiful. When the Fed’s Paranormal Ops began eating itself, she had walked away from her career and was aimless. Connors offered her direction, but their relationship had… evolved. It was…complicated, at best.

And now, behind him, two dear friends were one and the implications were like the proverbial albatross.

“Which one?” Connors replied. He withdrew another cigarette from the pack in his inner pocket, lighting it off the dying embers of the last. He dropped the spent butt to the ground and crushed it beneath the sole of his Berluti Gaspards. “Are you Sam, Samael, or Guy?”

“I can’t be all three?”

“No,” Connors said. He turned, stealing one last glance of Michelle before doing so. She was tossing a log on the fire while Tracy paced back and forth. He needed her, needed them both. “And the three men I admire most, the father, son, and the holy ghost, they caught the last train for the coast… the day… the music…died,” he sang, slightly off key, but then, he was under a lot of strain.

“He was dying,” Starbiter said. It was Guy’s voice, Guy’s face, somewhat — the eye patch and disheveled hair not withstanding, but the intonation, the accent, all wrong. No, it was clearly Sam Hill wearing Starbiter like a ragged suit, ill-fitting and threadbear. “I climbed inside to keep him alive, like I did the other, but the difference is, I’ll give him back, once he’s healed.”

spirit

“You know what this will do to him,” Connors said. “He’ll feel empty, his spirit will never be the same.”

“I know, I know,” Samael said. He reached out and took Connors cigarette away from him. and filled Starbiter’s lungs with smoke. He coughed, but smiled.

“Guy doesn’t smoke,” Connors said, lighting another.

“Yeah, well, Sam did.”

A tear slid down Connors’ cheek as he approached his old friend. He hugged him then and Samael returned the gesture. They clung to one another, Connors sobbing, as they were locked in a fierce embrace they neither wanted to end.

“Damn it,” Connors said, finally pulling away. “I’ve missed you. Thea misses you.”

“I realize we shouldn’t be here, now, but if I didn’t intervene, Guy would be dead, discarded in a shallow grave, and we wouldn’t be able to stop what’s coming.” Samael rolled his neck, exposing the deep bruising.

“What the hell did Guy stumble into?”

“To answer that,” Samael answered, “will require us visiting the place of interment.”

“Guy’s grave?”

“Not his,” Samael said solemnly, “but the one he dug, that which led to all this.”

Samael dropped the spent cigarette to the ground and stamped it with the end of his willow staff. Allowing the repurposed branch to support his weight, he moved stiffly, but with purpose, out of the tent to stand beneath the night canopy. A star, perhaps startled by the former celestial’s emergence, fell from the heavens, its wake like a blazing wound  slashed across the black canvas overhead.

A pale imitation of my own fall, Samael thought. As spectacular as that had been, his rise and subsequent rebirth had too been but a unceremonious reflection of the conflagration that had wrested him from his former glory. As Connors rejoined the others, he swallowed the pain in the body that he was so diligently working to reknit. So fragile, he thought, but so delightfully —free.

“I know what you are.”

Samael turned to see Tracy’s approach. She was a pretty girl, would soon be a beautiful woman. He reached out toward her, but she recoiled from his touch. Behind the steely exterior was a wounded bird. She too has fallen, he thought, perhaps even further than I.

“And I know what you are as well,” he said.

“Don’t,” Michelle barked. She stormed across the field to stand between them.

“Ah, a tale of two mothers,” Samael said. “No offense meant, my dear.”

He heard Connors’ approach and pushed forward, walking toward the observation platform. The climb was painful, but it felt good to feel anything again. When Sam Hill had given up his flesh and Samael became a spirit trapped in a hole in the ground, the loss of a tactile perception of the world around him was true torment, far worse than any physical pain one could endure.

“You understand their reaction,” Connors said as he joined his friend, looking out across the Oppenheim environs. “They both have suffered inconceivable loss and your…kind has been instrumental in both.”

“I was reborn, not far from here,” Samael said, as if Connors had not spoken. “And born yet again, so near the same place.” He took a lit cigarette from Connors’ hand and inhaled deeply. “The fabric between worlds in very thin here.”

“What are you not telling me?” Connors asked. He laid his hand on Samael’s shoulder.

“Everything,” he replied, “everything…”

to be concluded, Thursday, November 1

My thoughts on Lon Milo DuQuette’s Son of Chicken Qabalah

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on October 23, 2018 by Occult Detective

sonofchickenqabalahNot exactly seasonal, but I took a stroll through Lon Milo DuQuette’s Son of Chicken Qabalah just the same.

This time of year, I generally prefer to read more fiction than non-. Hallowe’en is a time for ghosts and gremlins, ghouls and grumkins, of witches and vampires and werewolves and all manner of things that go bump in the night.

But when Lon’s latest showed up on my doorstep, I just couldn’t resist. A fan of the original recipe, 2001’s Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford, I had long thought a follow-up was in order.

Here’s the rub. This is a funny book, as was its predecessor. With tongue firmly in cheek, DuQuette delivers a very stripped down and accessible treatise of the Jewish Qabalah. Over-simplified? Perhaps, but as an introduction, easily consumed by the masses, it is a terrific primer.

There’s a very Robert Anton Wilson-esque feel to Lon’s approach, a sort of George Carlin by way of the Golden Dawn reverence for the material.

If you are a stranger to the Qabalah, then you will feel quite comfortable with this book, though, I do believe you should begin with the earlier volume.

As far as self-initiations go, this is a hoot and a half.

Son of Chicken Qabalah by Lon Milo DuQuette is available wherever books are sold. You can snatch one up from Amazon for less than 4 Grande Caffe Lattes.

Tonight, join me for “Haunted History” in the Historic Odd-Fellows Building

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

HAUNTEDHISTORYsm

While the Converse Historical Society treats guests to pumpkin decorating, cider & canvas illustrating, the showcasing of the artifacts they’ve gathered, and a viewing of vintage ‘home movies’ from Converse’s past, I will be offering hourly tours of the upper floors of the former Odd-Fellows Lodge.

This is a rare peek into the spectacular ruin of the third floor, and while I cannot guarantee that you will ‘experience’ a ghostly encounter, I can assure you, it certainly can happen.

There is the potential for this tour to become very intense and frightening. The EWCC & CHS shall not be held responsible for guests who are unable to continue due to the affects of this site.  If it becomes too much for guests, they will be escorted downstairs as safely and quickly as possible.

For your protection as well as mine, I must insist that guests remain together in a group and in close proximity to me AT ALL TIMES.

Out of respect for the site and our hosts, the Eastern Woodland Carvers Club, please DO NOT touch any carvings on display. Please treat the building and its contents with respect.

I urge parents to use their own good judgment regarding children. While the stories told are ‘family-friendly’, the experience has the potential to be unsettling. As for seniors or others with mobility or health issues, I would recommend you not take the tour due to the extensive stair climbing. Again, use your best judgement.

As I stated earlier, there is no guarantee of actually seeing (or feeling) a ghost or spirit in human form, but you should prepare yourselves for the possibility.

Now, who wants to learn a little history and have a bit of a thrill tempting the preternatural forces that reside in this historic building?

A Passage in Black

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror with tags , , , , on October 19, 2018 by Occult Detective

Sketch

I had the opportunity to illustrate a 12 page story in Cullen Bunn’s homage to classic horror anthology comics, A Passage in Black, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out. My friend Anton Kromoff delivered a terrific script that captured the essence of Cullen’s short story, putting his own spin on it. I added my 2¢ and I think we ended up with something pretty cool.

The kickstarter is live now, with about 20 days left as of this writing.

So, you can back us on kickstarter and bring a trade paperback home for $25 (excluding shipping of course), but for those of you wanting something special, for $150 you get the trade AND a one-of-a-kind original sketch from my drawing board to your door.

Best of all, YOU pick the subject.

Here’s a small sample of the kind of work I do:

sketches

You can check out all the amazing rewards for Cullen Bunn Presents: A Passage in Black on kickstarter. The campaign ends on Thursday, November 8.

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