Archive for the Occultober Category

#OCCULTOBER: “Werewolf Hunter” (Ghost Hunting Tales of Indiana & Beyond)

Posted in Investigations, Occultober on October 8, 2021 by Occult Detective

I was thinking about the various paranormal adventures I’ve been blessed to take part in over the decades I’ve been at this. While Indiana has always, and will continue to be my primary concern and interest, especially the hinterlands of my own backyard, I have been fortunate to investigate some rather intriguing places beyond these Hoosier boundaries.

One of the strangest adventures took me to Arkansas back in 1993. A number of “Dogman” sightings in the Razorback State caught the attention of my friend “Poor Tom”. I packed my bags and headed South to spend a handful of days helping him investigate. He was something of a backwoods sort, a bushcrafter with a fair amount of Navajo blood in him, so after interviewing a couple of eyewitnesses we headed out into the wilderness on a two week hike through the Ozarks.

The idea of the “Dogman” had taken firm hold in that era, but mostly in Michigan. I’d never heard of Dogmen that far south. Arkansas was “Boggy Creek” Monster territory. Both the Dogman and Boggy Creek Monster were said to be roughly seven feet tall and covered with hair, and this description held in our interviews, but the people we talked with were confident this creature had a wolf’s head sitting atop a bipedal humanoid frame.

Tom was full-on convinced it was a skinwalker. In Navajo culture, a skinwalker was a witch who could take on the form of an animal— most often that of a wolf. I tried to explain to him that a Dogman and a Skinwalker were far removed from one another, but he was locked in. I was in the Sasquatch (or Sasquatch-adjacent) camp myself, but the idea of stalking a skinwalker through the rugged, mountainous terrain of my ancestors had quite the appeal to me. I was not yet 30 and being able to put “werewolf hunter” on my resume was all the coaxing I needed.

Needless to say, we didn’t catch sight of any sort of Dogman, Skinwalker, or Wildman of the Woods. We did, however, enjoy a fascinating adventure — camping and hiking in an amazingly beautiful (but humid and bug infested) part of the country, smoking both legal and illegal substances, and, on one magical moonlit night, consuming a bit of Psilocybin. We did run across wolf tracks, or, more likely, the tracks of a pack of wolf-dog hybrids. But that was as close as we got, although we did commune with ancient spirits there in those misty mountains.

It’s the journey that makes the adventure. Part of my love of “ghost hunting” lies in my fascination with history, architecture, abandoned places, and isolated woodlands. If a place turns out to not be haunted, or to be quiet, on an investigation, I’ve still had an experience I treasure.

#OCCULTOBER: 13 More Songs for Hallowe’en

Posted in Occultober on October 7, 2021 by Occult Detective

ANOTHER SAMHAIN PLAYLIST
13 More Songs for Hallowe’en

We’re drawing ever closer to Hallowe’en and I am feeling the Samhain Spirit. In fact, it’s got my feet a’tappin’. What better way to express it than by sharing another collection of songs that bang the proverbial gong…

Synchronicity II
The Police
Sisters of the Moon
Fleetwood Mac
Hangman
Roy Harper & Jimmy Page
Crazy Man Michael
Fairport Convention
Black Sabbath
Coven
Born Again
Black Sabbath
Lights Out
Jethro Tull
Mandrake Root
Deep Purple
Abbey of Thelema
Ian Gillan
Darker Shade of Black
Blackmore’s Night
Dance Macabre
Ghost
Zombie Hands
The Killers
Broomsticks
The Pretty Reckless

#OCCULTOBER #ALLHALLOWSREAD #GIVEAWAY: Win a free copy of Shadows Over Somerset

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 6, 2021 by Occult Detective

What secrets lurk in the heart of Cairnwood Manor?

In the sleepy little town of Somerset, an ancient evil awakens, hungering for blood and vengeance…

Michael Somers is brought to Cairnwood, an isolated manor in rural Indiana, to sit at the deathbed of a grandfather he never knew existed. He soon finds himself drawn into a strange and esoteric world filled with werewolves, vampires, witches… and a family curse that dates back to fourteenth century Scotland.

“Gory, baroque, hairy fun with vamps and beasties.” — William Meikle, author of The Midnight Eye Files

“In the first few pages alone we are given proof positive of what terror lurks around every corner…and it’s this tension that shines through on every page.” — Insidious Reflections

“I recommend it to all horror fans (even those who don’t particularly care for vampires, werewolves, or witches).” — Horror-Web

In the Fall of 2000, newly married and without a job, my wife suggested I do something I had always aspired to do but had never done — write a novel. So, for three months, each evening as my wife slinked off to work at Waldenbooks, I ascended to the attic and wrote a story about werewolves and witches and vampires and immortal swordsmen and ancient Scottish curses and… well, you get the idea. Nick Mamatas once said that the biggest mistakes first time authors make is shoehorning in everything they’re interested. Guilty as charged.

I have so many fond memories of Shadows Over Somerset — the writing of it, sharing it with my wife every evening, seeing it developed and then dropped by Dimension Films (well the dropped part not so much), signing my first contract, my first (and hugely successful) book signing…

Yes, it has warts, but Shadows Over Somerset, my love letter to Dark Shadows and the Gothics I devoured as a child, has a special place in my heart.

It is Out-Of-Print and I’ve decided it’s time to retire it and its sequel, Keepers of the Dead. It was a hard decision, but one I ultimately had to make. So, as a fond farewell and in honor of All Hallow’s Read, I would like to offer YOU the chance to win a signed copy of the Seventh Star Press edition that was released in 2014, edited by Rodney Carlstrom and illustrated by Enggar Adirasa.

HOW DO YOU WIN?

Email me at Shadows@OccultDetective.com before the end of the Lesser Feast of Aleister Crowley (11:59pm EST on October 12th) and tell me who your favorite Occult Detective is. I’ll toss all the names in a fedora and a draw the winner on the 13th… and, as an added bonus, on October 20th, I will share my thoughts on the Occult Detective you’ve chosen.

There you have it. A signed copy of Shadows Over Somerset could be yours? Good luck and Happy Hallowe’en.

#OCCULTOBER: My Thoughts on the Jack-O’Lantern Tarot by Giuliano Costa (@loscarabeotarot @LlewellynBooks)

Posted in Occultober, Tarot on October 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

Sleuths, I have something important to share. I have a new tarot deck that has become my Hallowe’en favorite…and it is scrumptious. Before I dive in, here’s what the publisher has to say about the Jack-O’-Lantern Tarot.

Gorgeous rich colors and perfectly rendered compositions are sure to make this one of the most popular Halloween decks available. As the Wheel of the Year turns to autumn, this lovely tarot reflects how the distance between our world and the spirit plane thins and fades. With fabulous art by Giuliano Costa, this laughing and grinning macabre new deck of eternal wisdom and perilous delight carries the Halloween spirit fully into Tarot.

Boxed deck (2¾ x 4¾) includes a 78-card deck and instructional booklet

Okay, for starters, every word above is true. The colors are unbelievable. Each and every card pops. The art is thematically pleasing and rendered so beautifully. They put a smile on my face. Really, they are a delight, capturing the whimsy of the holiday while maintaining an air of respect and authenticity.

The deck is composed in a traditional fashion, giving a Hallowe’en twist to Pixie’s Waite deck. They are not too slick to the hand and of sturdy stock.

I spent a fair amount of time with them over the past five days and I found the readings, for myself and close friends, to be insightful and intuitive. It is a solid deck, as worthy as any in my collection in that regard. I really love the feel of the cards and they show no signs of wear after several dozen readings. All of the querents were enchanted by the deck’s artwork, giving the art high praise. By adhering to the classic “Rider-Waite” deck, there was no need to become comfortable with the deck. It is immediately accessible to beginners and seasoned readers alike.

Without question I highly recommend its purchase. The Jack-O’-Lantern Tarot is a deck that begs to be a part of any collector’s cartomancy treasure trove, or for the Hallowe’en aficionado, how could this not be included in one’s phantasmagoria?

The Jack-O’-Lantern Tarot is available wherever books are sold, but why not order from Llewellyn direct? It better serves the writers, artists, publishers, and distributors involved.

#OCCULTOBER: The Sacred Herbs of Samhain by Ellen Evert Hopman

Posted in Book Review, Occultober on October 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

I had the pleasure of reading Ellen Evert Hopman’s The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead. Here’s what the publisher had to say about it —

A practical guide to using the sacred herbs of Samhain for healing, divination, purification, protection, magic, and as tools for contacting the Spirits

• Explores the identification, harvest, and safe practical and ritual use of more than 70 plants and trees sacred to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the origin of Halloween

• Details the most effective plants for protection from the mischief of Fairies, herbs for releasing the Dead, and visionary plants for divination and shamanic work

• Provides instructions and suggestions for a traditional Dumb Supper, offerings to the Land Spirits, Samhain rites, and recipes for the sacred foods of Samhain

The ancient Celts separated the year into two halves, the light half and the dark half, summer and winter. The festival of Samhain, from which the modern holiday of Halloween originates, marks the transition from summer to winter, the end of the Celtic year, a time when the barriers between the physical and spiritual world are at their most transparent. The herbs most characteristic of this time have specific magical and healing properties that echo the darker aspect of the year and offer potent opportunities for divination, contact with ancestors and Land Spirits, and journeys in the Otherworld.

Presenting a practical guide to the sacred herbs and trees of Samhain, Ellen Evert Hopman details the identification, harvest, and use of more than 70 plants and trees in healing, divination, purification, magic, and as tools for contacting the Spirits wandering the landscape at this liminal time of year. She explores the most effective plants for protection from the mischief of the “Good Neighbors,” the Sidhe or Fairies, as well as herbs for releasing the Dead when they are trapped on this plane. Identifying visionary plants used to induce ecstatic trance, Hopman explores how herbs have been used for millennia to aid in psychic travel and shamanic work and shows how one might safely use plants to take a voyage to the Otherworld. Drawing on her knowledge as a master herbalist, she also includes cautions to prevent harm and misidentification, along with advice on basic etiquette and common sense approaches to herb magic.

Detailing the history, rites, and traditions of Samhain, Hopman explains how to make an offering to the Land Spirits and provides instructions for the traditional Samhain ritual of the Dumb Supper, complete with recipes for the sacred foods of Samhain, such as Soul Cakes, Colcannon, Boxty bread, and dandelion wine. Woven throughout with mystical tales of folk, Fairy, and sacred herbs, this guide offers each of us practical and magical ways to connect with Nature, the plant kingdom, the Spirits that surround us, and the turning of the year.

REVIEW

This is exactly the book I was hoping to read as Samhain drew near. While I had certainly heard of the author, I had never read any of her work. That will now change. Ellen Evert Hopman writes with confidence and warmth, leaving no doubt of her sincerity and breadth of knowledge. She is in her element here as she takes the reader on a magical journey through the season, introducing the various plants and herbs to be used for salves, poultices, tinctures, homeopathic dilutions, and teas. Littered throughout are spells, charms, lore, and offerings that takes the reader from the printed word to actual work. All the information is gently delivered and it all feels very intuitive.

The book deserves a hardcover edition, which is the only fault I find. Lavishly illustrated, the book’s design is a treat in and of itself. The cover alone made me want to purchase the book, but as one should not judge it by such standards, let me assure you, the content is the real treasure here.

This a teacher’s guide, with Part One concentrating on those sacred plants to protect oneself and those which aide in communicating with spirits. Part Two is more whimsical, addressing edibles, rituals, and offerings.

This should be a part of every paranormal investigator’s tool kit and I learned a lot. I look forward to putting this new knowledge to the test in the coming weeks.

The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead is a book that should have a home on the bookshelves of every serious student of Witchcraft, Magick, and Religion. Available wherever books are sold, I recommend ordering directly from the publisher, Destiny Books, to ensure we continue to get more titles such as this.

#OCCULTOBER: Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occult Detectives, Occultober on October 1, 2021 by Occult Detective

Rabbit. Rabbit. Rabbit. Let’s gather ’round and stab it.

Finally, October comes and we can really sink our proverbial teeth into OCCULTOBER. It’s just 30 days till All Hallow’s Eve, but we know here at occultdetective.com the spirit of Samhain never stops.

I have UPDATED the “What is an Occult Detective?” page, addressing real world paranormal sleuths like myself, as well as restructuring my Top Ten recommendations in fiction and including a Paranormal Reality Series category. Check it out if you’ve a mind to.

So, what’s on the agenda for this month? Whilst still trying to dodge COVID, I hope to take in Mississinewa 1812 this weekend, there’s the Autumn Camping Weekend coming up, the Season 3 premiere of Critical Role to look forward to, plus a Halloween Party/Ghost Hunt.

This year I’m planning to spend a lot more time out there in the haunted Hoosier hinterlands, and slither back here to report all the goings on. I’ve also a slate of reviews coming your way as well as a look at Robert E. Howard’s Occult Detective fiction… and, late in the month, I’ll be joining Shawn Hebert, Michelle Belanger, and Eilfie Music for a discussion about utilizing magick in paranormal investigations (details to come).

Of course, at the very top of the list is my son Connor’s forthcoming 18th Birthday. Obviously, I am immensely proud of that young man. Believe me, he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s already a marvelous storyteller. I truly believe he’s going to be an author everyone will know in due time.

That’s all I have time for today. Happy October, everyone. Let’s make this year’s celebration one to remember…

#OCculTOBER: 13 Songs for Hallowe’en

Posted in Occultober on September 30, 2021 by Occult Detective

SAMHAIN PLAYLIST
13 Songs For Hallowe’en

This is not meant to be a definitive list of music for All Hallow’s Eve, merely a parade and cascade of tunes to spark a mood. I could have easily done 31 rather than 13, but I thought I should leave a little room for you to play with and add your own favorites. Share them below, if you’ve a mind to…

Bloodletting
Concrete Blonde
In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company
The Dead South
No More I Love Yous
Annie Lennox
Blacksnake
Charming Disaster
Wicked Annabella
The Kinks
Season of the Witch
Donovan
I Put a Spell on You
Credence Clearwater Revival
It’s All Coming Back to Me Now
Meatloaf & Marion Raven
Still I’m Sad
The Yardbirds
No Quarter
Led Zeppelin
Your Ghost
Kristen Hersh
Lucifer Over London
Current 93
Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Pink Floyd

#OCculTOBER: Werewolf By Night

Posted in Occultober on September 29, 2021 by Occult Detective

I love Hallowe’en. Shocking, I know. But I mean I love nearly everything about it — the candy, costumes, movies, festivals, pumpkin carving, decorations, and games. I have since i was a wee boy and I probably love it even more now. It’s the one time out of the year when I’m on the same page as everyone else. Every day is spooky for me. It’s nice when the rest of the world gets on board for a spell.

Anyway, the subject of today’s post is not the comic book, but instead a Hallowe’en game I created when I was, oh 9 or 10 or so. I named it after the comic, obviously, and for good reason. Here’s how it goes:

You gather up all the neighborhood kids for some Hide-And-Go-Seek, with a hairy twist. You first decide who the werewolf is. Then the kids all scatter and hide. The were wolf begins to count…

“One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock six o’clock, seven o’clock, eight o’clock, nine o’clock, ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, NOON! One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock six o’clock, seven o’clock, eight o’clock, nine o’clock, ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, MIDNIGHT! HOWL!”

Then the werewolf is off, searching for the children in hiding. The twist comes from when the werewolf finds his prey, instead of just being caught, they become infected. Now they are hunting hiders as well, until more and more werewolves are on the prowl.

Of course there is “HOLY GROUND!”, a safe space where, if at least one hider can get to it after MIDNIGHT without being caught, then they’re safe from harm and the game ends once they’ve shouted out (and yes, sometimes they hold out for a bit to terrorize those still hiding). Otherwise the game continues until everyone has been turned into werewolves.

It was a big hit with my circle of friends there for a while. I sometimes wish I could be young again, just for a chance at another go of it, you know what I mean? Once more to howl in the night with reckless abandon as only children can do.

Anyway, that’s today’s missive. Enjoy the season… The gods know, I sure do.

OCculTOBER: The Times They Are A’Changin’

Posted in Occultober, Paranormal on September 28, 2021 by Occult Detective

It has been a peculiar OCCULTOBER so far, hasn’t it? Granted, here in the haunted Hoosier hinterlands, peculiar is the norm, but there is something else in the air that seems more preponderant. There is a not- so-subtle shift in reality and tone. People are different. They’ve become adversarial and divided in the past few years, and it’s more than a political trend. We’re seeing this on a global scale. For those of us involved in paranormal investigation, has it not seemed like activity has increased as well? In recent years, have not the spirits themselves becoming more agitated, more aggressive — darker.

A year ago, The New York Times reported on increasing claims by ordinary people, with no pre-existing belief in the strange and unusual mind you, of paranormal activity, such as phantom touches, the appearance of shadow figures, and hearing inexplicable noises.

Granted, people were in lockdown and going stir-crazy… but some folks weren’t restricted from work. For some, other than not eating out as often (or at all), their lives were largely unchanged (other than worrying about they loved ones). And they were reporting activity too.

Is it the heightened emotional states of the living that are feeding these spirits? Is it simply over-active imaginations due to ‘sheltering in place’? Or is there something more transformative at work?

I often take seasoned investigators on tours of particular hot spots across my nape of the woods. Due to COVID, those excursions have been greatly (and painfully) reduced, but on those occasions when I have been able to, the activity has been amplified, and I have noticed the increase in other regions as well.

Many of the heightened experiences I have personally taken note of have occurred in the woodlands between the Mississinewa and Wabash Rivers. Long the home of preternatural entities, of Paissa and wights and other fey, and in times past, shapeshifters and wild men, the feeling I get in those forests has taken a decidedly darker turn. I hear things moving across terrain that are not of this material earth, and I see things in my peripheral, shadow things… And I hear reports from colleagues in the field, and of those outside it, of similar occurrences. Similar enough to denote a trend.

So, tell me my fellow sleuths, have you noticed these changes as well? If so, do you have a theory or a story to share? I would love to hear it and discuss it further. It’s a dialogue we need to have.

#OCculTOBER: Paranormal Dream Team (Part I)

Posted in Investigations, Occultober, Paranormal on September 27, 2021 by Occult Detective

I was thinking over the weekend, having watched a few episodes of Paranormal Lockdown on Discovery+, about what my idea of a “Paranormal Dream Team” would look like, if I could only choose from those involved in magical or paraentertainment. Here are my selections:

Joining me (Keter) would be Heather Taddy (Binah), Katrina Weidman (Chochmah), Eilfie Music (Da’at), Josh Gates (Gevurah), Amy Bruni (Chesed), Michelle Belanger (Tiferet), Dana Newkirk (Hod), Greg Newkirk (Netzah), John E.L. Tenney (Yesod), and Shawn Hebert (Malkuth).

“Traditional” investigators Taddy, Weidman, and Bruni, are balanced with the “Magical” talents of Eilfie, Belanger, and Dana. I see Greg, Tenney, and myself as having feet in both worlds. Hebert, I chose because he has fresh eyes (having never investigated before) and is well versed in magic ritual. As for Gates? Well, I appreciate his investigative curiosity and his sense of humor…

Of course, a team so large would require an operation worthy of their skill set and number… Why, I believe the haunted Hoosier hinterlands of my own backyard would be more than enough to keep such a crew enticed. Prowling the forests along the Mississinewa perhaps? Or a certain small town awash in preternatural activity?

What about you? If you were to embark on an exploration of the paranormal kind, who would you call?

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