Archive for the Magick by Trial & Error Category

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.


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.

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


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?

My thoughts on Peter Bebergal’s Strange Frequencies

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error with tags on October 17, 2018 by Occult Detective

strangefrequenciesI discovered author Peter Bebergal through his 2013 release Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. I found it thoroughly  engaging, hitting me right in my sweet spot. I later connected with Bebergal via twitter and discovered we had a lot of mutual interests and wrestled with similar demons.

That led me to an earlier work of his, 2011’s Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood which was a poignant memoir that really struck close to home for me.

Which leads me to his latest release, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural, where once again I find we have trend similar grounds.

In the interest of full disclosure, Peter sent me an early review copy of this work, and boy, am I glad he did.

The slogan of Crowley’s A.’.A.’. reads “The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion”. While many today see science and magick as opposing forces, such was not always the case. One need look no further than John Dee or Sir Isaac Newton to see how clearly the two walked hand in hand. Aleister Crowley’s definition of magick, being the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will, further acknowledges the inescapable synthesis  of these two ideologies.

Peter Bebergal examines that middle ground, where science and the supernatural intermingle, and delivers a compelling and rich narrative that sheds light on where technology has been used to examine the strange and profane, in defiance of rationality.

Here be the ghost in the machine.

As a historical exploration into man’s quest to peek behind the curtain by way of science, Strange Frequencies is exemplary. Bebergal has the perfect voice for this, and one never doubts the veracity of his journey.

As someone who is no stranger to this quest, I am less enamored with most modern tech, particularly in regard to paranormal investigations. Most border on the ridiculous or patently absurd, to be honest. I have no faith in “Ghost Boxes” or “EMF Detectors”. Most digital EVP is sketchy at best and digital cameras are completely unreliable.

That is not to say that technology is not an important tool in my investigations. Of course it is. My preference for data gathered from analog stems from my belief that it is more reliable. I can’t tell you how many times someone has presented so-called evidence to me that is little more than digital artifacts. Working in the tech field, I understand these things so much more now than I did with these toys were new and shiny.

I often think, when I am hosting various paranormal research groups, that these “ghost toys” reveal more about the investigators than they do about the spirits they’re chasing. And as a student of the human condition, whether living or dead, I take it all in and file it away for further reflection.

But I digress.

I found Strange Frequencies totally thought provoking and engaging. Peter Bebergal has delivered an engrossing account of his journey into the fringe. His open-mindedness is refreshing and he makes some very pertinent observations.

Simply put, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural is available October 23 in all major retail outlets, including Amazon where the book is deeply discounted. Regardless of the cost, it is well worth the price of admission.

Raise a Horn for the Nativity of the Beast

Posted in All Hallows Read, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives on October 12, 2018 by Occult Detective

Today marks the Lesser Feast of Aleister Crowley, whose nativity occurred 143 years ago on the 12th of October, 1875.


Crowley had his shortcomings, to be sure, but his libertine spirit and genius for establishing connections and correspondences between various religious, mystical, and scientific principles, as well as an innovative approach to esoterica as a whole, cements his place as the premier occultist of the twentieth century.

His influence is undeniable.

Something that I find criminal is the lack of respect Crowley gets as an author, particularly in the occult detective genre. His novel, Moonchild, is a brilliant example of the form, and his short stories, exploring further the adventures of Simon Iff, while sometimes uneven, are just as often as good as any such prose written in the era.

One could argue that The Testament of Magdalen Blair alone warrants his place among the great authors of horror fiction.

Matter in itself may think, in a sense, but its monotony of woe is less awful than its abomination, the building up of high and holy things only to drag them through infamy and terror to the old abyss.

I leave you now with a video of Gary Lachman’s Aleister Crowley presentation at Treadwell’s. Remember to raise a horn to the memory of the Old Crow this evening. Occultober would be nothing without him in it.

My thoughts on @WeiserBooks’ Storytelling Alchemy by Renée Damoiselle

Posted in Archive, Magick by Trial & Error, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 9, 2018 by Occult Detective

storytellingalchemyWell, this one surprised me.

I received an unexpected review copy from Red Wheel/Weiser titled Storytelling Alchemy: Write Your Own Happy Ending by Renée Damoiselle.

Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly a self-help book kind of guy, but I am a storyteller and so had no real qualms about dipping my toes into this one.

Man, am I glad I did.

What I discovered was an insightful exercise, not only in creative writing, but of transformation in both a spiritual and magical nature. Storytelling Alchemy presents a system that empowers the reader to control the narrative of their life and offers the tools necessary for unlocking creativity and imagination.

By building a personal mythos, we place ourselves in the center of the action. We drive the narrative. It is our story. Through that connection, I believe we have a deeper understanding of the people around us, realizing they too are on an adventure.

Storytelling Alchemy is a book about self-discovery and invention. I recommend it highly.

Storytelling Alchemy: Write Your Own Happy Ending by Renée Damoiselle is available in bookstores, worldwide, or you can order a copy today from your favorite online bookseller.


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