This Silent Well of Sorrow (Part 4 of 5)

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 25, 2018 by Occult Detective

tswos

Part Four of Five

SPIRIT

“Do you remember my name?”

Landon Connors took a long, slow drag from his cigarette. Back turned toward the man speaking. His eyes were on Michelle whom he could see through the open flap of the ceremonial tent. He had meant to leave her out of this, but she was as stubborn as she was beautiful. When the Fed’s Paranormal Ops began eating itself, she had walked away from her career and was aimless. Connors offered her direction, but their relationship had… evolved. It was…complicated, at best.

And now, behind him, two dear friends were one and the implications were like the proverbial albatross.

“Which one?” Connors replied. He withdrew another cigarette from the pack in his inner pocket, lighting it off the dying embers of the last. He dropped the spent butt to the ground and crushed it beneath the sole of his Berluti Gaspards. “Are you Sam, Samael, or Guy?”

“I can’t be all three?”

“No,” Connors said. He turned, stealing one last glance of Michelle before doing so. She was tossing a log on the fire while Tracy paced back and forth. He needed her, needed them both. “And the three men I admire most, the father, son, and the holy ghost, they caught the last train for the coast… the day… the music…died,” he sang, slightly off key, but then, he was under a lot of strain.

“He was dying,” Starbiter said. It was Guy’s voice, Guy’s face, somewhat — the eye patch and disheveled hair not withstanding, but the intonation, the accent, all wrong. No, it was clearly Sam Hill wearing Starbiter like a ragged suit, ill-fitting and threadbear. “I climbed inside to keep him alive, like I did the other, but the difference is, I’ll give him back, once he’s healed.”

spirit

“You know what this will do to him,” Connors said. “He’ll feel empty, his spirit will never be the same.”

“I know, I know,” Samael said. He reached out and took Connors cigarette away from him. and filled Starbiter’s lungs with smoke. He coughed, but smiled.

“Guy doesn’t smoke,” Connors said, lighting another.

“Yeah, well, Sam did.”

A tear slid down Connors’ cheek as he approached his old friend. He hugged him then and Samael returned the gesture. They clung to one another, Connors sobbing, as they were locked in a fierce embrace they neither wanted to end.

“Damn it,” Connors said, finally pulling away. “I’ve missed you. Thea misses you.”

“I realize we shouldn’t be here, now, but if I didn’t intervene, Guy would be dead, discarded in a shallow grave, and we wouldn’t be able to stop what’s coming.” Samael rolled his neck, exposing the deep bruising.

“What the hell did Guy stumble into?”

“To answer that,” Samael answered, “will require us visiting the place of interment.”

“Guy’s grave?”

“Not his,” Samael said solemnly, “but the one he dug, that which led to all this.”

Samael dropped the spent cigarette to the ground and stamped it with the end of his willow staff. Allowing the repurposed branch to support his weight, he moved stiffly, but with purpose, out of the tent to stand beneath the night canopy. A star, perhaps startled by the former celestial’s emergence, fell from the heavens, its wake like a blazing wound  slashed across the black canvas overhead.

A pale imitation of my own fall, Samael thought. As spectacular as that had been, his rise and subsequent rebirth had too been but a unceremonious reflection of the conflagration that had wrested him from his former glory. As Connors rejoined the others, he swallowed the pain in the body that he was so diligently working to reknit. So fragile, he thought, but so delightfully —free.

“I know what you are.”

Samael turned to see Tracy’s approach. She was a pretty girl, would soon be a beautiful woman. He reached out toward her, but she recoiled from his touch. Behind the steely exterior was a wounded bird. She too has fallen, he thought, perhaps even further than I.

“And I know what you are as well,” he said.

“Don’t,” Michelle barked. She stormed across the field to stand between them.

“Ah, a tale of two mothers,” Samael said. “No offense meant, my dear.”

He heard Connors’ approach and pushed forward, walking toward the observation platform. The climb was painful, but it felt good to feel anything again. When Sam Hill had given up his flesh and Samael became a spirit trapped in a hole in the ground, the loss of a tactile perception of the world around him was true torment, far worse than any physical pain one could endure.

“You understand their reaction,” Connors said as he joined his friend, looking out across the Oppenheim environs. “They both have suffered inconceivable loss and your…kind has been instrumental in both.”

“I was reborn, not far from here,” Samael said, as if Connors had not spoken. “And born yet again, so near the same place.” He took a lit cigarette from Connors’ hand and inhaled deeply. “The fabric between worlds in very thin here.”

“What are you not telling me?” Connors asked. He laid his hand on Samael’s shoulder.

“Everything,” he replied, “everything…”

to be concluded, Thursday, November 1

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

HAUNTEDHISTORYsm

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?

A Passage in Black

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror with tags , , , , on October 19, 2018 by Occult Detective

Sketch

I had the opportunity to illustrate a 12 page story in Cullen Bunn’s homage to classic horror anthology comics, A Passage in Black, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out. My friend Anton Kromoff delivered a terrific script that captured the essence of Cullen’s short story, putting his own spin on it. I added my 2¢ and I think we ended up with something pretty cool.

The kickstarter is live now, with about 20 days left as of this writing.

So, you can back us on kickstarter and bring a trade paperback home for $25 (excluding shipping of course), but for those of you wanting something special, for $150 you get the trade AND a one-of-a-kind original sketch from my drawing board to your door.

Best of all, YOU pick the subject.

Here’s a small sample of the kind of work I do:

sketches

You can check out all the amazing rewards for Cullen Bunn Presents: A Passage in Black on kickstarter. The campaign ends on Thursday, November 8.

This Silent Well of Sorrow (Part 3 of 5)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 18, 2018 by Occult Detective

tswos

Part Three of Five

FIRE

The flames rose up into the night sky, licking the velvet curtain as if they sought the favor of those stars that called the heavens home. The bonfire was constructed on a low hill in the ruins of Burg Landskron, the shell of a 13th Century castle overlooking the city of Oppenheim.

Connors DapperLandon Connors stood away from the fire, atop a wooden platform, silently smoking a cigarette. He was dressed in a bespoke suit from Edinburgh’s Stewart Christie & Co, his devil-charmed fedora held in his hands. It was not the hat itself he was thinking of, but of its former owner, his friend and mentor, Sam Hill.

Hill had been a friend to his family since the late forties, when he had come back from World War II and hung his P.I. shingle in Wabash, just a few blocks south of Caliburn House. Growing up in the shadow of his forefathers, learnèd men and magicians for untold centuries, it was the streetwise gumshoe, seemingly immortal and perpetually gruff, who had taken Landon under his wing and showed him the occult from the other side of the equation.

Of course, the fact that Sam Hill was an archangel slumming in a human meat suit was another story altogether. Cast out of heaven and plunged into the abyssal realms, Samael escaped his fate when Nazi necromancers sought his favor in the city Connors was staring down upon.

When Patton’s Third Army invaded Germany, the history books made no mention of what happened beneath Oppenheim, in the cavernous underbelly where Hitler’s Sorcerers sought a pact with Samael to defend the Fatherland. What der Führer’s goons didn’t know was that there was a secret unit among General Patton’s command comprised of nameless men, all dedicated to combating Hitler’s occult forces. They were called Immortals.

One of these Immortals was cut down in a hail of gunfire and he was all but gone, his soul released, but Samael used that moment to wrest control of the broken body and slowly begin to mend it from within. He had secured his escape from the Abyss. There he hid behind an amnesic wall of protection until that barrier was torn down by the devil himself.

Connors put his mentor’s fedora on his head and adjusted the brim. Hill was tucked away in a Hopi kiva, half a world away, but his presence was still felt, each and every time that hat rode atop his fiery locks.

“Are you ready?”

Connors turned to see Tracy Larson at the foot of the platform. She was dressed in jungle khakis and high boots, with a tan blouse over a dark tanktop. Her chestnut hair was pulled back in a ponytail and the small glasses on her face made her look like a student archaeologist, or at least Hollywood’s version of one. She was a pretty girl who had been forced to grow up impossibly fast.

“Absolutely,” Connors replied. He lit another cigarette and climbed down the stairs. From here, he could see the raised canvas tent that she and the others had set up along the ruined fortress wall.

The flap opened and Michelle Hawkes stepped into the firelight. She was clad in a white gown, the hood lowered, a gold chord tied loosely around her waist. She walked over to where their gear was stacked and she picked up a rifle, a Browning Safari 30-06, and tossed it to Tracy.

The teen nodded and passed Connors on the stair to take up a sentry position overlooking their camp.

mhawkesThe occult detective joined Hawkes then. He kissed her gently on the cheek and gave her a wink. She rolled her eyes in response, then pulled back the flap, allowing him to enter the tent.

Inside, a Solomonic Circle was intricately inscribed on the flat stone surface. Nine feet in diameter, the arcane space was accented by nine evenly spaced white candles, while four black candles were set at the cardinals.

Connors set his cane aside and took a worn piece of chalk from his pocket. He stepped into the circle, grimacing as he bent to close each bar behind him. He glanced toward Hawkes who stood outside the candlelight, her beauty enhanced by the stark contrast of light and shadow. She stood, arms folded across her chest, a blue and gold crook and flail held firmly in her hands.

“Khabs Am Pekht,” she said, solemnly.

“Light in extension,” Connors replied. He had taken up a sword from the altar and bowed to the quarters, then to Hawkes, who stood in the east. He raised the blade, addressing her, “Feathered, in flight, the hawk sees what the soul must not.”

“The eye in the triangle is closed.”

Connors raised the sword overhead. “The hand in the square is red.”

“Black,” Hawkes called out.

“Let the ceremony begin,” a voice murmured from the shadows.

guysamaelTheir meditation broken, Connors and Hawkes both looked to the dark corner to the rear of the tent. Believing themselves to be alone, the voice shook them to their core. From out of that blackness, a figure stepped, clad in a tattered blue robe, with a mass of white hair hanging in strands. The weathered face was scarred and haggard, a leather eye patch, crudely made, covering the left eye, and he held on heavily to a shaft of agèd willow.

“Guy?” Connors said. “Is that you, old friend.”

“Guy, we came to find you,” Hawkes added.

The figure held up his hand. “No, at least not wholly,” he said. “I am not he whom you seek, but it is his flesh I wear, though clumsily, to be sure.”

“Wh-what?” they said in unison.

“Landon, I’ve come home.”

to be continued

 

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

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.

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