Archive for the Book Review Category

What did I think of Conan: Blood of the Serpent?

Posted in Book Review on January 10, 2023 by Occult Detective

My Thoughts on Demon at the Door by Michael Arruda

Posted in Book Review, Horror, Occult Detectives on December 9, 2022 by Occult Detective

Demons come out at night.

I’d known that since I could first talk. I remember this because I watched my first horror movie when I was three. Scared the crap out of me. Most fun 90 minutes I’d ever had in my young life. But the information was clear. The night was a bad and scary place. Everything came out at night: vampires, monsters, ghosts, and especially demons.

It was not a good time to be alone, which was why when my parents suggested that at 12, I was old enough to babysit my younger brother Tim, who was 10, and my little sister Egg, who was 8, I told them it was a bad idea. Too many monsters.

So says twelve-year-old Dylan Holcomb, moments before he and his younger brother and sister disappear from their home without a trace. Special Agent Dani Cerra is assigned the case, and to her chagrin, the children’s parents also hire Sean Ryan, a former Catholic priest who now works as a paranormal investigator. Together, Cerra and Ryan follow the clues in a case which begins with the disappearance of three children from their home with no sign of forced entry or exit, continues into the lurid arena of child abduction, and ends with a journey into the supernatural world of demons, a hellish realm filled with unceasing fires and tortures.

Michael Arruda has written a novel in which the human villains are every bit as horrifying as their demonic counterparts, maybe even more so. Demon at the Door is a tale of the supernatural, a story of three children fighting for their lives against both human predators and demonic, while a flawed FBI agent and a troubled paranormal investigator put their differences behind them and leave no stone unturned in their efforts to find and save the children.

Demon at the Door is horror author and movie critic Michael Arruda’s second novel, following his science fiction adventure Time Frame.

I’d been aware of Michael Arruda’s work at Cinema Knife Fight, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect of his sophomore novel, his first foray into horror, when a pdf ARC for Demon at the Door arrived in my inbox from Macabre Ink (Crossroads Press). What I didn’t expect was to be reading a pretty decent occult detective novel.

This is just the sort of set-up I crave in a good supernatural mystery — imperiled kids (gets me every time) is a good touch to generate the sort of emotions you’re going for here, and they are compelling kids. Cerra and Ryan though, our erstwhile occult detectives, are the stars of the show. I enjoy their characterization, and this is true of all the characters populating the novel. Every one feels real and grounded. And the supernatural elements are tastefully done. Not all demons smell of brimstone. I’m glad we get some great variety in our villainy.

Arruda has some skills, to be sure. Some of the dialogue is a little rough in places, a little too “TV”, but he understands pacing and the old bait and switch, managing both like a pro. I think he shows a lot of promise and I would certainly recommend Demon at the Door. While I feel there are some growing pains evident in the prose, it’s a solid page turner and well worth the time spent with it.

Here’s to hoping for more from this world in the future.

Demon at the Door by Michael Arruda is available in pod trade paperback on Amazon for just $16.99

My Thoughts on @WeiserBooks’ Living Thelema & The Magick of Aleister Crowley

Posted in Book Review, Magick on December 7, 2022 by Occult Detective

Two of the most important books on Thelema, the spearhead of the Western Esoteric Religio-Spiritual Movement received and disseminated by Aleister Crowley, have been rereleased by Weiser Books this month of December:

The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema by Lon Milo DuQuette (December 1, $24.95) with an Introduction by Jason Louv and a Foreword by Hymenaeus Beta (William Breeze).

Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick by David Shoemaker (December 1, $21.95) with a Foreword by Lon Milo DuQuette

They compliment each other very well, and their reissue is timely. Thelema, over the course of the pandemic lockdowns, became elevated in the discourse across the occult circles of social media. Now, in that aftermath, these books, and the anticipation of Marco Viscanti’s The Aleister Crowley Manual: Thelemic Magick for Modern Times due in February, look to offer up a sort of Thelemic Renaissance which I am quite eager to observe and comment on.

Now, let’s have a look at these December titles.

The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema by Lon Milo DuQuette (December 1, $24.95) with an Introduction by Jason Louv and a Foreword by Hymenaeus Beta (William Breeze).

The 30th Anniversary of the Classic Guide to Thelema, Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual System of Ritual Magick, with a New Introduction by the Author.

This is the perfect introductory text for readers who wonder what the works—rather than the myth—of Aleister Crowley are all about.

DuQuette begins by dispatching some of the myths that have surrounded Crowley’s life and legend. He then explores the practice of rituals themselves, unpacking Crowley’s often opaque writing and offering his own commentary. Step by step, and in plain English, he presents a course of study with examples of rituals and explanations of their significance. DuQuette also includes a survey of many of Crowley’s original works with an extensive bibliography and endnotes.

Formerly titled The Magick of Thelema, then released in a revised edition published in 2003, this Weiser Classics edition includes a new introduction by the author.

.:.

I am quite familiar with this book, having read both previous iterations. The standout for this edition was the great Introduction by Jason Louv who delivered an insightful call to action and beautiful summation of Thelemic thought.

The book itself is a “Weiser Classic” for good reason. Lon DuQuette is an elegant writer without all the pretense. He takes you on a journey and speaks with an almost folksy wisdom that makes you comfortable. All the while, however, he is presenting his interpretation of the truths behind the sometimes archaic language that intimidates many initiates.

The Law is for All? Well, DuQuette makes that maxim a reality by delivering a master class in the ins-and-outs of Thelema. A must-read book for anyone interested in what makes Thelema tick.

The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema by Lon Milo DuQuette is available wherever books are sold. He is your obligatory link to AMAZON.

Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick by David Shoemaker (December 1, $21.95) with a Foreword by Lon Milo DuQuette

“The most thorough and understandable exposition of the underlying theories and the practical applications of the spiritual disciplines of Thelema currently available. A landmark work.” ―Lon Milo DuQuette, author of The Magick of Aleister Crowley

The system of spiritual attainment developed by Aleister Crowley is notoriously challenging in its scope. Living Thelema, adapted from the popular podcast of the same name, brings a welcome approachability to Crowley’s material, without diminishing the depth of the system. The author focuses on the practical and experiential aspects of the path of Thelema, allowing the reader to grasp the true transformative power of the system.

Beginners and advanced practitioners alike will find much useful advice here, as Shoemaker brings his characteristic down-to-earth style to bear on topics such as ritual and meditation practices, sex magick, astral projection, psychotherapy for magicians, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and that pinnacle of attainment known as the crossing of the Abyss.

The author’s background as a practicing psychotherapist allows an entirely unique fusion of esoteric wisdom and cognitive science.

“In this entertaining and (dare I say it?) lively book, David Shoemaker reminds us that Thelema is not just a philosophy or a study but a spiritual practice. From applied ‘how to’ advice to thought-provoking ‘how about’ posers, Dr. Shoemaker offers his personal take―informed by twenty years of walking the talk, along with his incisiveness as a professional therapist―on how to get the most out of the fundamental Thelemic practices of yoga and ritual, both inside and outside of the temple.” ―Richard Kaczynski, author of Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley

.:.

I had the Anima Solis edition of this book and you’ll not find many differences between these volumes, though the former is passingly rare and, having lost mine through an unfortunate accident, this edition is a godsend, as they say. Shoemaker’s narrative voice is the star here. It’s why I see such a similarity and complimentary aspect between this an Baba Lon’s book.

Living Thelema presents a system for making the practice a part of your life, by embracing the spirituality of it, and stripping away some of the things that weigh it down. All things you add later as you advance and progress.

It’s well-reasoned, personal, and insightful. It find the beauty in the symmetry and simplicity, by making the complex palatable.

It’s a beautiful book and should be read and studied by magicians and witches of all stripes.

Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick by David Shoemaker is available wherever books are sold. Here is your link to AMAZON. Use it wisely.

I could go on, but I am struggling with a nasty bout of flu and while the spirit is willing, the mind and body are not up to the task. Suffice to say, these books are definitive. If you have an interest in Thelema, I believe this is where you begin, before Crowley. These prime you for what is to come in the Old Crow’s Holy Books.

Enjoy.

My Thoughts on The Stone Serpent by Nicholas Kaufmann

Posted in Book Review, Horror on November 29, 2022 by Occult Detective

Nick Kaufmann’s one of those writers who I’ve always thought deserved a larger audience. I really enjoyed Chasing the Dragon, Dying Is My Business, Die and Stay Dead, In the Shadow of the Axe, and Hunt at World’s End. With that sort of track record, I was really looking forward to reading the ARC for The Stone Serpent he and publisher David Naill Wilson sent me for review. I should point out, The Stone Serpent is book two in the Dr. Laura Powell series and I have not read the predecessor, The Hungry Earth.

Before I continue, here’s the blurb from Crossroad Press:

“Nicholas Kaufmann offers up an unputdownable blend of gruesome body horror and fast-paced suspense.” – Ray Garton, author of Live Girls and Ravenous

Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Powell didn’t think anything could be more frightening than what she uncovered in an autopsy a year ago. Yet, in this chilling sequel to Nicholas Kaufmann’s bestselling The Hungry Earth, the cause of death is literally petrifying.

When a completely petrified corpse ends up on her autopsy table, Laura is convinced it must be a fossil, but the evidence says otherwise. Impossibly, the man on her table died in a car crash earlier that day. But what could cause a human body to transform so quickly from flesh to a hard stonelike substance?

Laura’s investigation takes her out of her hometown of Sakima, New York, and into dangerous new territory. From the streets of Valley Grove, home to a fundamentalist religious sect under the thumb of a brutal, vindictive leader, to the bowels of Thurmond Biotech, a secretive pharmaceutical company hellbent on developing the first anti-aging miracle drug, what she unearths is far more terrifying than she could have imagined.

Vicious, deadly creatures are preying on the people of Valley Grove, killing them with a highly toxic venom that ravages and transforms their bodies in horrifying ways. As the creatures claim more victims, striking from out of the darkness with lightning-fast speed, Laura must find a way to stop them before they spread to the rest of the Hudson Valley. But will her search for answers put her in even more danger by sending her into the heart of the creatures’ den?

With The Stone Serpent, multiple award-nominated author Nicholas Kaufmann delivers another gripping thriller in the Dr. Laura Powell series.

Let’s get this out of the way first. You definitely do not need to read The Hungry Earth before tackling The Stone Serpent. Kaufmann tells you everything you need to know throughout. That said, I now want to read The Hungry Earth because Dr. Powell is a terrific protagonist.

Nick navigates pacing like a pro. The Stone Serpent is suspenseful without ever becoming bogged down by plot. It’s a roller coaster ride from the outset, with a unique body horror twist that keeps you glued to the page. While I think some of the subplots fall a little flat, the characters all make up for it. Powell and Booker are a great team and there are some truly despicable bad guys they find themselves up against.

The real winner here is the amount of research the author did to keep the book moving and not bury the reader under an avalanche of info-dumps. He juggles this perfectly, keeping the information flowing organically. That’s a neat trick I wish more authors could wrap their heads around.

The Stone Serpent is solid FOUR out of FIVE STARS Horror. I highly recommend it. Hell, I’ve not even read the first one and I’ll go ahead and recommend it too. Laura Powell is a great character. I hope to read more of her in the future.

The Stone Serpent by Nicholas Kaufmann is published by Macabre Ink, an imprint of Crossroad Press, and available via AMAZON.

And, while I have your attention, as an occult detective fan, I recommend the two Trent novels — Dying is My Business and Die and Stay Dead. You won’t be disappointed except to learn there are only the two.

The Relationship Book Tag

Posted in Book Review on November 3, 2022 by Occult Detective

I ran across the Relationship Book Tag via Michael K. Vaughan who caught it from the progenitor of the virus, Gareth Howells. I’ve come down with the booktuber bug so feel obligated to take part in these from time to time. So, here we go, let’s to it:

1. What book or books have you had the longest?

I’ve had several Hardy Boys books for an easy 50 years, beginning with The House on the Cliff on my sixth birthday, way back in 1966. Also John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-Out comes to mind, which I picked up in the first grade and still hold in a place of honor on my bookshelf. And comics. Goodness, I’ve still a few of them about. Easily had them that long. I’d kept most of the books from my childhood, being a hoarder of the things, and only just now have I started selling some of them off via my wife’s and my bookstore, Attic Pages.

2. What authors have you had a close relationship with that you are still reading today?

Robert E. Howard sits firmly atop that hill, though sadly there are no new stories for him to pen. An author that I began reading as a child that is still with us and I still read to this day would be Stephen King. I began reading him in 1976 with The Stand and ‘Salem’s Lot and the last book of his I read was If It Bleeds in 2020.

3. What new author did you start a relationship with recently?

Define recently. I guess Bernard Cornwell would come closest to fitting that bill. I’ve been reading him for less than twenty years. Also, I just, as in within a couple of months, began reading Tony Hillerman, and I can see me reading more from him, though he’s dead, but you know…

4. Name a book or books that you would say influenced your formative years?

I’ll name two. One, a series of short stories I began around 11 or 12, that influenced me as a writer and as a person, would be Robert E. Howard’s Conan series. Two, and perhaps more influential in that it shaped my spiritual worldview and impacts what I do today, was Manly Palmer Hall’s Unseen Forces which I read when I was 10 years old.

5. Name a two character relationship in a book that is central to the narrative of the book?

Frank and Joe Hardy.

6. Name a book that has a great depiction of family?

The Hardy Boys come immediately to mind, and seem to be today’s theme. But I also find myself thinking of the Starks from A Game of Thrones.

7. Name a book that features a love or obsession with a different art form as part of its story?

Magick is certainly as much art as science and so I find myself thinking of Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild and Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out, to bring things back round to occult detectives.

My Thoughts on Casting Lots by EliSheva Nesher

Posted in Book Review on November 1, 2022 by Occult Detective

I received an unexpected review copy in the post from Weiser Books, for a book I was completely unaware of. The title in question is Casting Lots: Ancient Hebrew Divination Magic by EliSheva Nesher.

I have a fondness for various forms of divination, with years of practical and sometimes professional use of tarot, oracle, and standard suited (playing) cards, and middling skills in the casting of runes. While this is a book I would generally pass over, I was intrigued and quite pleased to receive it. Before I share my thoughts, here is the publisher’s pitch:

“In Casting Lots, Elisheva Nesher does not just present the system of using the aleph-beit to cast lots for spiritual guidance and wisdom, she also shows the range of divine beings and spiritual practices in ancient Canaan/Israel, as well as the modern polytheist revival. There is a warmth and generosity here towards all sides that we all can learn from.” —Rachel Pollack, author of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom and A Walk Through the Forest of Souls
 
Lots are an ancient Hebrew form of divination and magic that may also be used for healing, blessing, cursing, meditation, and spiritual interaction. A set of lots contains twenty-two small discs, each one bearing one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In a manner similar to runes, these lots are then cast and interpreted. Though lots were once so common that explanations of how to cast them were unnecessary, over the centuries their methods and uses fell into obscurity.
 
In this practical guide, author and seer Elisheva Nesher has reconstructed the ancient art of lot casting for modern times. Her book contains explanations for each of the twenty-two lots and explores their meanings, both mystical and mundane. It also includes detailed instructions on how to cast, as well as craft your own set of lots. In addition to divination, Casting Lots explores the magical gifts of the lots as well as how to use them to contact and interact with the Hebrew spirits, such as Asherah. A brief guide is included for those unfamiliar with these spirits.
 
Casting Lots is a complete instruction manual for mastering the art of lot casting.

First, I am a fan of Diana Paxson’s work, both as a Troth Elder and as fantasy author. To have her write the foreword and to speak so eloquently and fondly of Ms. Nesher, of her practice and friendship, was all the introduction I needed.

For all my history and occult interests and study, the Ancient Hebrews, those pre-Rabbinic peoples, were a bit of a blind spot for me. If nothing else, I appreciated the lessons gleaned from a fellow NeoPagan. Reconstructing a faith from historical scraps is a daunting challenge. And to see those similarities between cultures is an enlightening awakening.

I stated earlier how I might have passed this book by without a second glance. What a mistake that would have been. I am thankful to Weiser for sharing this work with me, and to the author for putting together such a thoughtful examination.

I truly appreciate books that make me think, not only about what the author is presenting and suggesting, but in how it might relate to my own journey and that is the gift that Casting Lots has given me.

Beyond the Casting of Lots, this book delves into polytheism, our connections to spirits, divinities, and preternatural intelligence, in to various forms of meditation which is all very insightful and illuminating. The book is full of wonderful surprises and I really am thrilled to have experienced it. I learned from it. What better praise can one levy upon a book they’ve read?

There’s nothing exceptional about the physical book itself. The cover, paper stock, graphic design, et al are fairly standard. I think it works in this case. No bells and whistles to distract from the message. It’s all about the content…

Casting Lots by EliSheva Nesher is released today, the first of November, and is available wherever books are sold. Here is the AMAZON link. I certainly recommend it. It has a lot to offer.

My Thoughts on Starr Casas’ Hoodoo Herbal

Posted in Book Review on September 21, 2022 by Occult Detective

The latest release on schedule from Weiser Books is Hoodoo Herbal: Folk Recipes for Conjure & Spellwork with Herbs, Houseplants, Roots & Oils by Starr Casas, set to drop on the 1st of October, once spooky season is in full swing.

Here’s the publisher’s two cents:

This definitive guide to Hoodoo plant magic contains detailed information on dozens of roots and herbs.

In Hoodoo Herbal, Starr Casas shares a lifetime of experience and family secrets in her usual plain-spoken, direct, and friendly style.
 
Mama Starr makes Hoodoo plant magic accessible to all. For example, snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata)—common houseplants that are readily available at garden stores and supermarkets—possess a long reputation for successfully keeping lying tongues from disrupting your home. As their leaves resemble a double-edged sword, they are believed able to cut through malicious works (spells) that may have been sent against you. They are valued for their anti-gossip properties.
 
The book features information about a wide variety of plants and how to use them, as well as practical tips regarding planting seeds, cutting, transplanting, and caring for plants so that they will care for you, too. Starr advises that as the plants thrive and grow, the works for which they are used will grow stronger, too—as will you.

Anyone with an interest in Conjure need look no further than Mama Starr. This is as down-home and authentic as you’re going to find and a perfect companion work to Old Style Conjure, which I reviewed HERE.

And companion work it is. I highly recommend you visit Old Style Conjure first, though, if not, it is still very serviceable and chock full of information steeped in the Southern folkway.

Hoodoo Herbal serves as a great introduction to practical plant magic and you can approach it purely from that point of view, but it works best, I think, as a tool, as a guidebook into this world, which is why I suggest delving into her previous works as well, to get the full flavor.

But trust me. Hoodoo Herbal can stand alone. I just think you’re better served to explore the vast wealth of knowledge Mama Starr brings to the table.

I adore the graphic design of the book, especially the cover art and vibrant colors. Looks fantastic on the shelf.

Hoodoo Herbal: Folk Recipes for Conjure & Spellwork with Herbs, Houseplants, Roots & Oils by Starr Casas is available October 1st, wherever books are sold. Here’s a link to it on AMAZON.

My Thoughts on A Spirit Work Primer by Naag Loki Shivanath

Posted in Book Review on September 13, 2022 by Occult Detective

A small, independent publisher out of Chicago, Crossed Crow Books, reached out to me some months back, asking for my review of a title they’d planned to re-release called A Spirit Work Primer: A Beginner’s Guide to Streamlined Spirit Work by Naag Loki Shivanath.

Here is the publisher’s description of the second edition of this work.

***

Invocation, Evocation, Possession These words conjure forth feelings of unease and confusion for many magical practitioners, even today. This book, however, is a fantastic guide intended to shed some much needed light on these often misunderstood subjects. Within these pages, spirit worker and necromancer Naag Loki Shivanath serves as guide and teacher, taking all readers through a sophisticated yet highly practical system of spirit conjuration. If you’ve been interested in learning how to sharpen your spirit senses, safely practice spirit possession, work through spirit invocation and evocation, then this tome is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Whether you are a follower of the more ritualized manifestations of the magical arts or a Witch looking to deepen your practice with the spirit world, A Spirit Work Primer will prove to be a valuable resource that is referenced time and time again.

***

A Spirit Work Primer was originally published by the author in 2017. The 2022 edition available now from Crossed Crow Books is an updated version, with more competent editing and better packaging. My review copy came by way of pdf, so I cannot vouch for the physical copy of the book, but the formatting and graphic design are solid. It’s clean, neat, and with excellent production values.

Admittedly, the author’s narrative voice felt off to me at first, but I eventually fell into his rhythm and I actually got rather comfortable with it. The information contained is sound magical instruction, but coming on the heels of having read Jason Miller’s Consorting with Spirits, A Spirit Primer suffers somewhat. But only just.

There are some very intriguing techniques delved into here, progressing from beginner to very advanced levels, and the author admirably navigates this with very insightful commentary throughout the experience. As a workbook, A Spirit Work Primer, really delivers.

The author is to be commended for producing a work that’s very tradition neutral. It’s a book anyone, from any background, can dive into and come out better for it. It is a very practical and informative guide and I would not hesitate to recommend it, particularly to someone new to the practice.

A Spirit Work Primer: A Beginner’s Guide to Streamlined Spirit Work by Naag Loki Shivanath is available via AMAZON for less than $20. Well worth it. In fact,l I’ll be picking up a physical copy for myself.

My Thoughts on Ancestral Grimoire by Nancy Hendrickson, published by @WeiserBooks

Posted in Book Review on September 9, 2022 by Occult Detective

Sometimes books enter your life you didn’t know you needed. Ancestral Grimoire is one of those books. I received it a few weeks back from the publisher, Weiser Books, along with another, the rerelease of Gerina Dunwich’s seminal Gemstone & Crystal Magic (highly recommended). I was behind on other reviews, some pressing deadlines, and, to be honest, I’ve been rather sick off and on for almost a year and it’s rather taxing. Nevertheless, these books tend to be healers, of mind, body, and spirit, and Ancestral Grimoire was just such a visitor.

Here’s what the publisher had to say about it:

“Hendrickson takes readers on a magical journey where they learn how to construct a personal Book of Shadows filled with ancestral wisdom.” —Theresa Reed, author of Twist Your Fate
 
Most of us know our immediate family and maybe even a generation or two beyond, but few of us are attuned to those who lived earlier. Many of us have forgotten how to keep our own stories alive. This is where the ancestors come in and where this book begins.

Ancestral Grimoire is a guide to reconnecting with your ancestors. It will show you how to access their unique wisdom—their magic!—and create your own personal ancestral grimoire, a spell book or Book of Shadows, unique to you and your heritage. Through divination, intuition, and sometimes a little luck, you will learn the magic of each ancestor and how you can use their gifts to make your life richer and more fulfilling.

As you go through this book, you’ll save your ancestral work in a journal or loose-leaf binder that will become the place to store the stories, spells, rituals, and everyday life, lore, and legend of twelve of your ancestors. At the end of a year, you will hold a personal Book of Shadows with every bit of ancestral knowledge within its pages unique to you. No two will ever be alike. In an age when family storytelling has been lost, you will have created a legacy—and a life—that the ancestors could only dream of.

This is a lovely book. I just adore the cover art and design that went into it. Similarly so with the interior. Plenty of diagrams and illustrations, comfortable font choices, and the like. Care went into this one.

What I like best, beyond the soothing narrative of the author, is that this is a workbook, first and foremost. No passive read here. This is the sort of book to light a fire under you, to get you excited to make some magick.

We all need that little push sometimes and Ancestral Grimoire delivers, almost like an elder would with a child. An encouraging prodding. Fitting.

There are terrific revelations and discoveries to be found here. While ideally suited for those new to the path, I learned so much from this book I would encourage all practitioners, regardless of experience, to join Nancy Hendrickson on this magical journey.

Ancestral Grimoire: Connect with the Wisdom of the Ancestors through Tarot, Oracles, and Magic by Nancy Hendrickson is available now, wherever books are sold. This is not a book that will sit idly on your bookshelf and as such it is sure to become a treasured part of your esoteric library. You can pick up a copy today, from Amazon, and I encourage you to do so. It’s the spooky time, folks. A fresh Book of Shadows is a perfect way to embrace the season.

My Thoughts on The Witch’s Guide to the Paranormal by J. Allen Cross, published by @LlewellynBooks

Posted in Book Review, Investigations, Paranormal on September 7, 2022 by Occult Detective

Barking right up my proverbial tree, and just in time for Spooky Season, we have J. Allen Cross’ The Witch’s Guide to the Paranormal: How to Investigate, Communicate, and Clear Spirits. Llewellyn actually sent me an Uncorrected Proof a few months back, and I’ve read the book twice through, and revisited certain chapters since, but before I give you my thoughts, let’s see what the publisher has to say about it:

Flex Investigative Methods That Only Witches Can Wield

As a witch, your ability to manipulate energy allows you to interact with ghosts in ways that other investigators can’t. Discover how to use your magical toolkit to identify and resolve the four main types of haunting―residual, poltergeist, human earthbound, and inhuman entity. J. Allen Cross guides you through the basic principles of a haunting, while building a foundation of paranormal investigation, witchcraft, and mediumship skills. You will learn how to craft a seal, open and close portals, perform an exorcism, and help spirits cross over. With more than forty exercises and rituals, this book shows you how to make the most of your talents so you can bring peace to restless spirits and those they haunt.

Llewellyn is pretty dead on in the description. J. Allen Cross does an admirable job of covering all the bases. As a near lifelong paranormal investigator and purveyor of the strange and unusual, I can honestly say this is a solid primer for anyone, let alone the target audience (ie young witches/occultists interested in ghost hunting).

One of the biggest thrills I got was poring over Cross’ Recommended Reading List and, in addition to Michelle Belanger’s excellent Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide (highly recommended), Cross mentions one of my favorite books from the early years of my studies, The Llewellyn Practical Guide to Psychic Self-Defense and Well-Being by Melita Denning and Osbourne Phillips, which I devoured in, I’m going to say, 1981 or so. Fine book if you happen upon it secondhand.

This “Witch’s Guide” is a treat for would-be investigators and, I think, helpful to even some of the more seasoned folk out there. It is concise, well-researched, insightful, and engaging. It’s obviously written by someone with first hand experience in investigating the paranormal and in folk magic.

This has long been a passion of mine, utilizing occult practices in the investigation of and communion with preternatural intelligences. This is a neglected part of the field of paranormal research and investigation. All too often, the media shows us one form of investigative procedures and it produces far too many copycats. There is far more to interacting with spirits than flashlight tricks and emf detectors. Thankfully this book has come along to champion that cause.

The Witch’s Guide to the Paranormal: How to Investigate, Communicate, and Clear Spirits by J. Allen Cross, published by Llewellyn Books, will be available wherever books are sold on Thursday, September 8. Here’s a helpful link to AMAZON so you can add this book to your library. Trust me, this one needs to be there.

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