13 Hallowe’en Reads

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occultober on October 10, 2022 by Occult Detective

Look, almost everyone loves spooky season, and there’s something comforting about snuggling up with a scary book on those nights when the autumn chill has you in its grip. I thought it might be fun to make a list of hauntingly good Hallowe’en Reads, books that really set the mood and promise fitful nights of unease and bad dreams. These are all stories I have read multiple times. Many are near lifelong favorites.

You’ll notice a common theme. I like me some pulpy fiction. The more purple the prose the better.

Anyway, I wish you many happy nightmares in the days and weeks to come.

13. The Devil Rides Out & Gateway to Hell
by Dennis Wheatley

12. The Complete John Thunstone
by Manly Wade Wellman

11. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

10. The Complete Tales and Poems of
Edgar Allan Poe

09. The Shining by Stephen King

08. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

07. A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

06. The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James

05. Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories

04. Tales of Horror and the Supernatural
by Arthur Machen

03. Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural
by Algernon Blackwood

02. The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft

01. The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard

All Hallow’s Read 2022 #AllHallowsRead

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occultober on October 4, 2022 by Occult Detective

“You know, there aren’t enough traditions that involve giving books,” Neil Gaiman thought. And from this simple kernel has sprung All Hallow’s Read (#AllHallowsRead on twitter). So here’s his line of thinking:  “I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.”

I have designed an All Hallow’s Read poster for several years running now, since 2014 I think. Always a lot of fun. It’s a tradition I hold near and dear to my heart and I hope it means something to you.

Give a scary book this and every Hallowe’en. Keep the nightmare alive…

The Thing on the Roof by Robert E. Howard

Posted in Occult Detectives, Occultober on September 29, 2022 by Occult Detective

Occultober rolls on. As part of this year’s celebration, I decided to read aloud a story of John Kirowan, one of my favorite occult detectives and written by my favorite author.

Originally published in Weird Tales Magazine Vol XIX No 2 in February, 1932, Robert E. Howard’s “The Thing on the Roof” is a shuddery tale of an old, legend-haunted tomb in Honduras, and the doom that pursued the man who opened it.

Hastily narrated, and with little editing, any errors are my own. I am not accustomed to reading for a stretch like this, so my voice becomes slurred at times. Such is the slow and steady creep of age, I presume.

Still, it’s a fun story, steeped in Lovecraft’s legendarium. And I had an odd thought… what if a certain Dr. Jones had followed up on Tussman’s expedition. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Toad?

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.

New Promotional Poster

Posted in Horror, Investigations, Magick, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on September 19, 2022 by Occult Detective

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.

Spooky Season is all but upon us

Posted in Occultober on September 12, 2022 by Occult Detective

Hey, Sleuths. It’s mid-September which means we’re racing toward Occultober, my annual celebration of all things strange and unusual. I’ve a feeling in my gut that tells me this one is going to be special.

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.

Landon Connors — Occult Detective: Volume One

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , , on August 12, 2022 by Occult Detective

Landon Connors: Occult Detective Volume One is now available on Amazon. 22 stories. 500+ pages.

Collected together for the first time are the complete stories of Occult Detective Landon Connors and those supernatural investigators who exist within his cosmology.

From the arcane sorceries of “The Wickedest Man in the World” to the preternatural exploits of hard-boiled gumshoe Sam Hill and the harrowing investigations of Agents Wolfe and Crowe, this collection of macabre tales of the black arts treads the dangerous landscape between this world and that populated by angels and demons, gods and devils, ghosts and spirits, and the legendary creatures of our darkest imaginings. This is the place Landon Connors calls home.

If you like the genre, you’ll love Landon Connors and the entourage of standing characters in Bob Freeman’s imaginarium. The tales in this volume range from the classic noir detective yarn with Connors at the center, to horror stories set in rural places like those of the author’s youth.” — Freeman Presson, Wizard

…like the bastard lovechild of The X-Files, H.P. Lovecraft, and Doctor Strange; and I mean that in the most loving way possible.” — The Monster Librarian

The tales here breathe, and oft times, there’s a hint of brimstone, perhaps some of that old black magick lurks in the exhale.” — Steven Shrewsbury, co-author of Bad Magick

“The connections stand out so vividly when put in order.” — Greg Mitchell, author of The Coming Evil trilogy

“…the depth of occult knowledge that has been intertwined into these stories is vast.” — Ginger Nuts of Horror

“Between ancient bloodlines, unholy alliances and magical orders of great power, Freeman’s knowledge of dark magic and its history shows throughout every page.” — The Sci Fi Guys Book Review

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