Archive for the Magick by Trial & Error Category

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.


My thoughts on More Ghost Chronicles by Wood & Kolek

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on October 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

ghostchronicles2Maureen Wood and Ron Kolek are back with More Ghost Chronicles: Stories from the realm of the unknown, the unexplained, and the unbelievable.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t catch their first outing, but, having been sent this title by the publisher to review, I may have to rectify that and soon.

I like the way this book was set up. Each investigation has a casefile with the all the pertinent logistics upfront, followed by a play-by-play of the investigation itself, and a closing commentary by both authors.

This book is written for laymen and the author’s do a fair job of explaining phenomena and the equipment and techniques they use in their investigations. While my personal opinions on most modern equipment is well documented, Wood, Kolek, and their research team do not seem to overly relay on the trendy toys that most paranormal investigators swear by these days.

I trust my eyes and ears, first and foremost, and I was glad to see that there was not an over-reliance on pop gadgetry. Oh, they’re in play, but they are just a tool in the arsenal. The focus is on the investigators themselves.

Wood and Kolek make a great team. While mediums can be hit or miss, I found Maureen to come across as very personable. You want to believe her. As for Kolek, he’s billed as a skeptical ghost hunter but he’s a believer, through and through. He is thorough though and he is interested in hard, quantifiable evidence. I gave up chasing that dragon years ago.

Books like these can fall one of two ways. I’m happy to report that More Ghost Chronicles is a thrilling and enjoyable ride-along. If you’re looking for some “true ghost stories” to curl up with this Hallowe’en season, this is a good one.

You can order a copy from Amazon and have it long before the chains of All Hallow’s Eve are rattling.

This Silent Well of Sorrow (Part 1 of 5)

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 4, 2018 by Occult Detective


Part One of Five


The magician’s shovel bit deep into the rich, black soil, the sound of overturned earth swallowed by the vast expanse of old-growth forest that surrounded him. He was not alone. There were many eyes upon him for he was an intruder here.

Starbiter wiped sweat from his brow, pulling his weathered hand down across his face to stroke the hoary beard that he had hid behind for so long. It was a mask of sorts, a deceit. It projected an aura of wisdom and learnedness, and while the years behind him measured him so, the road ahead begged hard to differ.

No, one would be hard pressed to see wisdom in his present course.

A crow cawed from overhead, one of the watchful denizens of the ancient wood. The old scholar recalled a rhyme from his childhood. “One for sorrow, Two for mirth,” he muttered. “Three for a funeral and four for birth.” The crow flapped its wings and swooped down off its perch, soaring over Starbiter’s head. “One it is,” the magician spat. He returned to the soil and finished the grim task he had set himself to.

How many graves had he dug in this silent corner of the world? Each was marked by a single stone, never larger than his fist. He made sure it had a flat side to it, and he scratched an appropriate sigil to denote the departed in a significant way.


He lowered the figure into the ground and covered them, slowly and methodically, reciting that old nursery rhyme over and over, again and again, as he worked. “One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three for a funeral, Four for birth,” he sang.

“Five for heaven.”

He brought the flat of his shovel down hard, patting the earth solid.

“Six for hell.” He stabbed the shovel into the ground and took up the flat rock he’d uncovered earlier, and with another stone, he etched the sacred symbol onto it, then lowered it atop the mound of black dirt.

A crow cawed, and then another. Starbiter looked up to the trees over head. A murder of crows had arrived. A procession of mourners perhaps, he mused. He counted them, one by one, then acknowledged the truth of it.

“Seven for the devil, his own self.”

Guy Starbiter brushed off his hands and smiled grimly before beginning the long trek out through the forest to his awaiting Opel Kapitän. Within an hour, he was back to civilization, pulling his saloon sedan into the rundown roadhouse at Bishop’s Cross.

He took a deep breath and took out his cell phone. No bars. He cursed, then steeled himself and made for the door beneath the flickering neon sign that read “Beherit Club“.

He approached the bar, eyes intent on the patrons scattered throughout. He ordered a whisky neat, top shelf, and lit a cigarette nervously.

“Pay phone?” he asked.

“Sure,” the bartender replied, pointing toward the bathrooms. There it stood, mounted between the doors to the men’s and women’s lavatories, like some sort of ancient relic from a long lost era.

Starbiter dialed the number by heart and put his back to the wall. All eyes were on him. As he waited for someone to answer he began to count them. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Sev—

Caliburn House.

“Thea?” he muttered, shaken.

“Yes, this is she, who…” Alethea Hill paused for a moment. “Guy, is that you?” she said. “You sound horrible.”

“Tell Landon,” Starbiter said, lowering his voice to a whisper, “Es tut mir leid.”


“Just tell him, bitte.” Starbiter returned the handset to its cradle and slouched toward the bar. The magician downed his whisky and leaned there, eyes closed, that damnable nursery rhyme coursing through his brain.

“Another, Herr Starbiter?”

The magician looked up from his empty glass, startled. The bartender smiled as the patrons all rose from their seats.

“I am number eight,” the bartender said.

Dann bin ich neun, scheint es,” Starbiter replied.

Nein, der Hexer” the bartender said. “Du bist die Nummer eins.”

to be continued…

Artistically Speaking

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives on October 2, 2018 by Occult Detective


Occultober is in full swing. Today we honor the births of two legendary figures in the occult world — Jack Parsons — Thelemite, author, and co-founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory — and Arthur Edward Waite, author and occultist best known for the Rider-Waite Tarot.

I had several important projects to work on this morning.

First off, I tackled the writing of the backcover copy for a forthcoming Landon Connors novella I co-wrote with Greg Mitchell, then followed that up with finalizing the cover and back cover art and producing the fifth (above right) of five illustrations that will grace the interior. Greg is hard at work formatting the text and getting it ready for release. Stay tuned for more details on that front.

Next, I worked for a bit on my new review column that will begin appearing at Paint Monk Library. Here in the coming weeks I’ll be taking over Wally’s Saturday Night Shivers, reviewing horror comics for what is fast becoming the premiere review site on the internet.

I have been reviewing issues of Conan the Barbarian as a fill-in for Paint Monk’s “Countdown to Conan” for the past couple of months and it’s been a blast. I’m thrilled that Wally thought enough of my work to offer me a weekly column.

Finally, I had a chance to work on the cover art (above left) for my son Connor’s next release, Word Hollow. We have spent the last couple of months editing the book. Now all that’s left is formatting the text and getting it uploaded and printed. We hope to have it all wrapped up and ready for purchase by Hallowe’en.

I was really proud of his first work, Jonny Spencer and the Black Lich of Ashrock Earth, but Word Hollow is a much more mature effort. He was a born storyteller and it has been a thrill to watch him hone his craft. He’s already something special. I can hardly wait to see where his incredible talents take him and he continues to grow as an artist.


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