Ghost Hunting Tales: My thoughts on Passport to the Paranormal by Rich Newman, available from @LlewellynBooks September 8

Posted in Investigations on August 6, 2021 by Occult Detective

I’ve got a bone to pick with Rich Newman. In his latest book for Llewellyn, Passport to the Paranormal (September 2021), Indiana only gets two entries over four pages — Whispers Estate and Willard Library. Both are noteworthy, but as an occult detective who has been investigating the haunted Hoosier hinterlands for more than forty years, I can’t help but want to ask Mr. Newman, “Don’t you know there’s more than corn in Indiana?”

Okay, all kidding aside. If you’re into haunted locations, then you’ll want to buy this book. Full stop.

Passport to the Paranormal is a terrific resource for thrill seekers and ghost hunting hobbyists. In it you’ll find 200 reputedly haunted locations, from across all 50 States, but what makes Passport different from other books in this vein is that all of these locations are open to the public.

Newman has compiled an impressive list of locations, each with a detailed examination into the activity reported there and with a taste of the history behind them. It’s well-written, concise, and, for the paranormal enthusiast, a veritable roadmap to adventure.

I want to go on record that I absolutely adore the cover. Shannon McKuhen gets high praise from me on her design for this. It really captures the essence of what the book is about, and it invokes that sort of old school vacation aesthetic that tickles my nostalgia bone. The interior layout is passable. Nothing earth-shattering, but it gets the job done. Let’s face it, we’re here for the content, and it does not disappoint.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find inside:

I think you’ll agree, Newman provides ample information on the locations, and with a personal touch that makes this a travelogue well worth the price of admission. At just $21.99, Passport to the Paranormal: Your Guide to Haunted Spots in America is a tremendous value for plotting out your next haunted vacation. And with 200 attractions, this book will serve you for years to come.

I recommend it highly.

Passport to the Paranormal will be released on September 8 in the US and a month later, October 8, in Canada and the UK, just in time for the Samhain Season. US purchasers can preorder their copy here. Trust me, this is a book you don’t want to miss.

Watch for my review of Thorn Mooney’s The Witch’s Path on Monday.

Three for Thursday: Live-Action Joker Edition

Posted in Media on August 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

My top three favorite live action Jokers. Let the hate commence.

Number 3

Number 2

Number 1

Wyrd Wednesday: Aegishjalmur

Posted in Wyrd on August 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

The Helm of Awe
I wore before the sons of men
In defense of my treasure;
Amongst all, I alone was strong,
I thought to myself,
For I found no power a match for my own.

Thor Elptirdalr has some interesting thoughts on the Aegishjalmur (Helmet of Awe) and has initiated a discussion on possible alternative meanings of the symbol. Here is this, from the Galdrabók

Jón Árnason in the book Íslenzk Æfintýri (Icelandic Folk Tales) shared the following “spell” which I think is clearly that. I see the Aegishjalmur as a symbol of power, meant to tap into the hidden resources of your mind.

Make a helm of awe in lead,
press the lead sign between
the eyebrows, and

speak the formula:

Ægishjálm er ég ber
milli brúna mér!

I bear the helm of awe
between my brows!

Thus a man could meet his enemies
and be sure of victory.

Stephen Flowers (Edred Thorsson) connected this, and I think rightly so, to the third eye, or pineal gland. This is the gateway to higher planes of consciousness, the seat of the soul, where the pathways to the inner realms is accessed. I believe it allows us to transcend the physical realm and journey to alternate, parallel dimensions, ie the other 8 realms as described by our ancestors and the gods.

So what do you think?

Monday Magick: Atmospheric

Posted in Magick, Wyrd on August 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

Not much time today, but here’s a quick look at our Converse IOOF Cemetery, properly frog shrouded.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in boneyards lately, taking strolls amongst the dead. The images above, taken this morning on my way to the day job, scream magick to me.

Magick is as much about atmosphere as it is about anything else. This is magick stripped of science, where the heathen spirit resides.

As I’ve said on many occasions, magick and faith are interlocked for me. This is what I’ve learned through trial and error. It does not have to be true for everyone, but it is certainly true for me.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Death By Witchery?

Posted in Investigations on July 30, 2021 by Occult Detective

This week my family and I paid a visit to a favorite old haunt of mine — The Indian Cemetery near Jalapa, Indiana. It’s a place I have visited often, beginning long before it became the manicured lawn it is today. I knew it when it was wild and unkempt and largely forgotten. One thing I have always known is that it is touched by dark magic and has long been the haven of those who wish to tap into those energies. The dead are restless here. Is it because of the nature of how many of them — both in marked and unmarked graves — died?

In his book, Miami Indian Stories, Chief Clarence Godfroy wrote of the Witch War between the tribes of Miami and Grant County. The Indians of Grant County, led by Chief Meshingomesia, wanted to become US Citizens and tried to get the Indians of Miami County to join them in this. Chief Gabriel Godfroy refused. In retaliation, it was said Meshingomesia instructed his witches to curse Godfroy’s tribe and “between the years 1872-1878 the Godfroy Band of Indians died like flies”.

Chief Godfroy wrote,”Among the Godfroy Band there were Indians who knew how to use witchcraft.” These Indians said, “We will attend to that matter.”

“Sometime when you visit the Indian Cemetery near Jalapa, Indiana,” he continued, “be sure to notice the number of markers that were put up in the year 1879.”

Did the Godfroy and Meshingomia Bands engage in a Witch War? I believe so. I have heard the disembodied voices of the dead in that sacred boneyard, seen shadow figures and strange lights moving amongst the stones and surrounding forest, and I have felt the dark stain of black magic on that place, still emanating from the very earth more than 140 years after the fact.

I have a huge project whose deadline is coming up like a bullet. As such, I suspect that, for the next month or so, I will be more scarce, at least in terms of these (near-)daily blogs. I will be back in the full swing of things throughout the month of October for another bout of #Occult30.

I will be taking part in #RPGaDay2021, but instead of blogging, as I have done in all the previous years, I will confine my activity to twitter.

Until next time — Stay Spooky, Sleuths…

Three for Thursday: Hoosier Haunts Edition

Posted in Investigations on July 29, 2021 by Occult Detective


Let’s face it, my hometown is famously haunted and any number of locations within a two mile radius of my house would easily occupy my Top 5 list of favorite haunted places. So, to be fair, here are my Top 3 haunted places in Indiana outside of that sphere…


It’s long gone now, but this old abandoned farm house had been a staple of my childhood from the first time my dad took me out there when I was still in grade school. A father killed his wife and children, then hung himself and there was no rest for him in death…


A bit of a cheat, but hear me out. From Hobbitland to Seven Pillars, the Mississinewa River is littered with paranormal hot spots, vortexes, hidden caches of land and water wights, and more than a few spectres for good measure. Take a drive, or better yet, hop in a canoe. You’ll not regret it.


I spent a lot of time along Goose Creek. We performed a lot of magic on that forgotten road, in amongst the trees, on the hilltops, and in the valleys. Ghosts, shadows, hellhounds, and more… Goose Creek calls to you. Believe me. There are few places like it in this world.

Wyrd Wednesday: Descended from Odin

Posted in Wyrd on July 28, 2021 by Occult Detective

I recently joined Descended from Odin, a new social media app for Norse Pagans. Described as a “hub for wanderers & warriors”, they claim to be free of algorithms, giving everyone an equal platform.

In the last couple of days, they have either reaffirmed or realigned their positions on inclusivity and gate-keeping, with posts from the founders decrying hate speech, peacocking, and other questionable behaviors.

In a social app that’s casting a broad net so that everyone feels welcome, these are encouraging signs. No one likes censorship (except fascists) but their is a certain amount of decorum that needs to be maintained in these sorts of environments.

So far, everyone I have interacted with has been friendly. It’s an eclectic mix of heathens, pagans, asatruar, and the like. There is a place for everyone, it seems, I love the way the app has hub rooms where you can post directly to those subjects you’re interested in, be it bushcraft, music, working out, or what have you.

I’ve felt very much at home and welcomed there. I think you will be too.

If you are interested, come find me. I’m Occult Detective, naturally.



This app is free.

Tarot Tuesday: The English Magic Tarot, published by @WeiserBooks

Posted in Tarot on July 27, 2021 by Occult Detective

For today’s Tarot Tuesday I thought I would re-share my review of one of my favorite decks. Enjoy.

The English Magic Tarot is a sublime work of art, beautifully drawn by comic artist and magician Rex Van Ryn (not to be confused, I imagine, with Duc de Richleau’s compatriot from Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out) and coloured by Stephen Dooley.

The English Magical Tradition is on display here, and marvelously so. Here you’ll find Newton and Dee as well as the spirits of Crowley, Fortune, Spare and others most present. The English Magic Tarot is decidedly eccentric and charming and filled with devilish wit and whimsy.

It is, in a word, enchanting.

Van Ryn and Dooly paint wondrous pictures and the accompanying book writ by Andy Letcher, author of the simply brilliant Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom, weaves a delightful tale.

On the surface, the deck’s illustrations seem rooted in the tradition of comic book art which gives the work a more contemporary feel, yet upon deeper reflection, there is an almost timeless quality to them. The inks and colours combine to form an alchemical reaction that is at once both modern and ancient, while the card descriptions from Letcher are wholly vibrant and extant, neither of then nor now, but of what is possible.

From the moment the cards touched my hands, I have felt inspired. I cannot recommend this deck highly enough, whether you would seek to use them for esoteric purposes or if you just want to admire the scintillating artwork.

The English Magic Tarot by  Van Ryn, Dooley, and Letcher is available wherever books are sold, be it brick & mortar or online via Amazon or, better yet, the publisher.

Magick Monday: Reviews of Manifestation Magic by Elhoim Leafar & Practical Alchemy by Brian Cotnoir

Posted in Book Review, Magick on July 26, 2021 by Occult Detective

Happy Máni’s Day, Sleuths. Today I have for you, not one, but two reviews of recent releases from Weiser Books. Let’s have a brief look, shall we?

Released July 1, Practical Alchemy: A Guide to the Great Work by Brian Cotnoir is a reprinting of 2006’s The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy. If that edition slipped through your fingers, this edition, while still a trade paperback, is wrapped in a more attractive cover. Edited and introduced by the late James Wasserman, it also includes a foreword by Robert Allen Bartlett.

I read the original version in 2006, and from memory, I did not notice any changes, but I found this revisit more valuable. It is dense, but if you have an interest in dipping your toes into alchemical waters, this is a great place to begin your journey.

Also released on the 1st of July we have Manifestation Magic: 21 Rituals, Spells, and Amulets for Abundance, Prosperity, and Wealth by Elhoim Leafar. This is one I was really excited to explore, and while it’s not exactly my horn of mead, it is a lovely book by a talented author and I love the way it is presented.

Leafar takes his “Magick in Theory & Practice” to heart by doing just that with this work, dividing into two section that first delves into magical theory, then into the actual practice of the techniques and themes explored in the first part.

I love what Weiser did with the book. The paper is dull so as not to glare, the font is easy on the eyes and varied, and the illustrations and layout are lovely. Really, high marks to the entire design team on this.

As for the content itself, as I said, I am not exactly the target audience for this type of book, but I found myself swept along by the author’s enthusiasm. It’s an eclectic mix of Law of Attraction/modern paganism which will appeal to a broad audience. All the work inside feels natural and inspired, and while I didn’t delve too deeply into the actual practice and application, I do not doubt that if this is in your sphere, you’ll be thrilled beyond measure to be involved in what Leafar is presenting.

Both books are priced reasonably, $16.95 for Practical Alchemy and $18.95 for Manifestation Magic, and well worth the what is being asked for them, and then some. I highly recommend both. You can find them wherever books are sold, but I generally recommend, if you have the means, to purchase directly from the publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser. This ensures more books of this nature keep coming our way.

Ghost Hunting Tales: Haunted

Posted in Investigations on July 23, 2021 by Occult Detective

haunt·ed/ˈhôn(t)əd/ adjective: haunted

  1. (of a place) frequented by a ghost.
    “it looked like a classic haunted mansion”
  2. having or showing signs of mental anguish or torment.
    “the hollow cheeks, the haunted eyes”

We’re all haunted, in one way or another. It’s called being human. We make mistakes, have errors in judgement, or just plain can’t get out of our own heads to see what’s right in front of us. Being able to forgive the foibles of our own humanity is one of the more difficult tasks we’re saddled with in this turn as material beings.

It becomes doubly so when we put our ourselves “out there” in the public eye.

When we take that leap, we invite people to come to us with their problems, and sometimes, if they catch us at the wrong moment, or we’re preoccupied, we miss the signs, or ignore them. Sometimes, maybe, we’re afraid to get involved. Regardless, it inevitably happens, once you’ve hung that shingle, that you’ll let someone down.

Who knows? Maybe you couldn’t have helped in the end. But that you didn’t try, well, that’s when the haunting sets in. And those are the sorts of ghosts that are the hardest to exorcise.

Case in point, without naming names or locations, I was once approached by a woman at a book signing. She was roughly my age. Her attractiveness was buried beneath a haggard look: sunken and downcast eyes, pallid complexion. This was a woman who had been experiencing many a sleepless night.

She purchased a book and waited patiently as I signed it. She seemed nervous. I always try to engage folks at my table, but she was reticent. I thanked her, sliding the horror novel across to her with a smile. She did not return it. Instead, she asked me a question, solemnly.

“Do you perform exorcisms?”

Do I and will I are two different things, and there is a whole lot of baggage attached to an exorcism. Mental and physical health issues are a the top of the list. I am not a medical professional. Not by a long shot. I made excuses to her. I explained in detail all the reasons she should first explore more traditional avenues. She was in fear of and for her loved one, whom she believed was possessed by some sort of demonic spirit.

I gave her some well-meaning advice, but what I didn’t do is become involved. I didn’t investigate. I didn’t visit the home and the person in question.

Several weeks later, this woman’s loved one committed suicide.

Do I blame myself? No, of course not, but I am still haunted by the fact that, in the end, I did nothing. I should have, at the very least, paid a visit to her home, spoke with her loved one. I should have made some sort of assessment of the situation.

But I didn’t.

I am an occult detective. I am also human. I made a mistake in not reaching out, even marginally. Some day, I might forgive myself for it. Today is not that day.

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