Archive for Red Wheel/Weiser

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with Madame Pamita

Posted in Last Writes with..., Magick with tags , , on March 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

madamepamitaI bought my first Tarot Deck, Pixie’s Rider-Waite, 38 years ago this summer. I still consider myself a student of the art and science of the cards and I’m always on the lookout for a new and fresh take on interpreting them.

That’s why I found Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True such a delight.

The author writes passionately and you get a true sense of her enthusiasm  and warmth. She has a style that’s all her own, with a clear, confident voice.

She takes the reader on a terrific journey, with the cards as milestones, or better still, doorways into strange new lands of possibilities. The author’s positive spin is refreshing and I’m thrilled to add her knowledge and inspiration into my arsenal.

Madame Pamita has a real gift and plenty of otherworldly charm. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, whether you’re a grizzled old veteran like me or new to the realm of card reading.


pamitaI was lucky enough to get Madam Pamita to sit down with us and take part in our little requiem-esque departure, taking a glimpse into her pre-inhumation, if you will.

The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

What would be your last meal? Take me to a Michelin 3 star restaurant in France, please! I’d like really fabulous wine with my meal, and yes, we would like a bread basket and yes, I will be having a dessert. Make that two desserts!

What would be the last book you’d like to read? I want to read something funny so I can go out laughing. Perhaps “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!” by Gideon Defoe – nothing like a story of hapless, arrogant and naive pirates battling the evil Queen Victoria to set me in the mood to take off on my own adventure into the unknown.

What is the last movie you’d like to watch? “This is Spinal Tap” – it has everything a movie should have – hapless, arrogant and naive musicians battling the evil music industry plus amps that go to 11.

What is the last song you’d like to hear? This is the hardest question of all because music is my thing! I’d like to see a live band for my last song because live music is the total experience for me. Oooh.. choices now… Is time travel allowed? If so, let me see the Kinks in 1968, David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust or the New York Dolls in 1973. Or, if time travel isn’t allowed, let me play music with one of my own bands just one last time. Music is everything!

Who is the first person you’d like to meet on the other side? It’s corny and not very exciting or clever, but I would love to see my mom again. I’d love to get a big warm hug from her. She was the best hugger ever!


Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot is available wherever books are sold. Mine came by way of Red Wheel/Weiser. That’s a fine place to start. If you’re new to the path, or have been on the journey as long as I have, you’ll find tremendous value in this work. I truly believe it should grace the shelves of any and all tarot enthusiasts.

My review of Crystal Skulls by Judy Hall

Posted in Magick with tags , , on September 12, 2016 by Occult Detective


My introduction to the Crystal Skulls phenomena came by way of Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of… in the mid-seventies. I was intrigued by the idea, of course, consumed as I was by all things alien, magical, and supernatural. My bookshelves were lined with paperbacks on Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Ancient Aliens, and Witchcraft.

So, if you were to ask ten year old me my thoughts on the Crystal Skulls, I would have been a believer and probably told you all about  Eugène Boban or Anna Mitchell-Hedges, about the various skulls in private collections and those housed in various museums across the world.

Ask twenty year old me and the doubt would begin to show. By that time, I had followed my obsessions to university. I was a student of archaeology and anthropology. I certainly didn’t want the enigmatic Crystal Skulls to be a hoax, but the mounting evidence could lead to no other conclusion.

But the idea behind the Crystal Skulls is a persistent an curious thing. There is a undeniable power behind this artifacts, sideshow sleight of hand or not and Judy Hall’s latest book Crystal Skulls: Ancient Tools for Peace, Knowledge, and Enlightenment is a balanced look at the phenomena of these mysterious objet d’art.

Judy Hall is a well known psychic healer and author, whose three volumes of The Crystal Bible line the shelves of most purveyors of so-called New Age mysteries. Hall has a comfortable writing style, coming across as both knowledgeable and somewhat down-home. You trust her words because she believes what she writes.

Divided into two parts, Crystal Skulls does a fair job of first exploring the various legends and myths surrounding these curios before moving onto the more esoteric uses of them. This is when the book comes alive as the author delves into crystal lore, offering practical guidance in selecting, cleansing, and attuning to your own crystal skull for a myriad of purposes.

I found Judy Hall’s Crystal Skulls fascinating reading, if for no other reason than it having magically transported me back to my childhood, to a time when items such as these were not a part of some elaborate hoax, but mysterious and magical artifacts awaiting to be harnessed.

Crystal Skulls is published by Red Wheel/Weiser and available wherever books are sold.

My review of The Witch’s Guide to Wands by Gypsey Elaine Teague

Posted in Magick with tags , on June 22, 2015 by Occult Detective


I’ve had a lifelong fascination with wands, staves, and walking sticks. Having grown up in the midst of a small ash woods and a short walk to an even large woodland, I never lacked for any of that hallowed trinity.

While the majority of the wands that I’ve been attached to have been of the “found” variety, I’ve also turned a few, on the Eastern Woodland Carvers Club lathe, with some valuable assistance from my father and the late Chuck Leming.

I’ve fond memories of those turnings, a few winters back now, when Brent and I were crafting Ollivander-styled wands as Christmas presents for our kids.

We took it quite serious, and I’m happy to say, that same sort of seriousness is found in Gypsey Elaine Teague’s new book,  The Witch’s Guide to Wands: A Complete Botanical, Magical, and Elemental Guide to Making, Choosing, and Using the Right Wand.

If, like me, you have any sort of interest in wands and the crafting of them, I believe you’ll be delighted by this book. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Teague’s writings is her whimsy and embrace of pop culture.

Look, no book on wands would be complete without addressing Jo Rowling’s magical universe, and Teague does so with style.

More importantly, however, The Witch’s Guide to Wands is a pretty inclusive text and of particular interest is the section on Organic Wands which is authoritative and insightful. With personal anecdotes strung throughout, the narrative is elevated from a dry, scholarly work to a more intimate examination of the materials and the mindset behind them.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that Weiser Books’ design team did a fantastic job on this one, as well. Good, bright paper stock goes a long way with me, but the font choices and graphic design really sold the book, especially the illustrations which elevated the work tremendously.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with The Witch’s Guide to Wands and expect I will revisit it often as an invaluable resource. As such, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Witch’s Guide to Wands: A Complete Botanical, Magical, and Elemental Guide to Making, Choosing, and Using the Right Wand by Gypsey Elaine Teague is available wherever books are sold. You can order directly from the publisher by clicking, well, HERE ;)

Two Reviews: Steampunk Magic & Make Magic of Your Life

Posted in Archive with tags , , , , on March 11, 2013 by Occult Detective

I’ve two books to discuss today, each quite different from the other, but both an unexpected delight.

The first is one that I had more than a few misgivings about going in, but found that I was both quickly and easily won over by the author’s whimsical and ecstatic passion for the wonders of all things steampunk. Steampunk Magic: Working Magic Aboard the Airship is fun. Capital F. Capital U. Capital N. Make no mistake. If you have any interest in the genre at all, you will fall in love with this book, I suspect. It embraces the genre and all it entails and Gypsey Elaine Teague is a worthy ambassador.

steampunkWithin its pages you get a quick rundown of what steampunk is before it dives headlong into the business of working magic within its boundaries. From utilizing the tools of the trade, to invoking the pantheon of deities that make steampunk sizzle — can anything be more thrilling than calling upon Nickolai Tesla himself to raise metaphysical energies? — to spellcasting and ritual bedecked in goggles and Victorian finery.

Sure, you laugh. But you shouldn’t. If steampunk is your thing, this is where you throw caution to the wind and embrace it for all it’s worth. This is pop magick at work, no different than calling upon Kirby’s New Gods and evoking Lovecraft’s Old Ones. Who knows, you probably laugh about that too. But again… you shouldn’t. Magic is in the eye of the beholder. Passion and firm belief, coupled with the power of imagination and creative visualization, are the most potent tools in a wizard’s bag of tricks. Steampunk Magic embraces this and Gypsey Teague has crafted a wondrous treatise for fans of the genre who are looking for just wee bit more… and it delivers.

The second book I had the pleasure of reading this past week comes from T. Thorn Coyle. Make Magic of Your Life is a perfect companion to Steampunk Magic as it serves as a guide toward identifying what our deep desires are, with insightful and constructive instruction on how we might move toward those desires and manifest them in our lives. Coyle does this through what she calls the Four Powers of the Sphinx — to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silence.

makemagicClever lady, our Ms. Coyle. Make Magic of Your Life: Passion, Purpose, and the Power of Desire dances effortlessly between the spiritual and the practical, with intriguing and transformative exercises fitting for the novice and adept alike.

T. Thorn Coyle cuts to the heart of the matter and delivers a powerful and evocative book that is a complement to your spiritual journey, no matter the path you’ve chosen.

Make Magic of Your Life is a book for everyone, while Steampunk Magic scratches an itch for a specific crowd. Both are worthy additions to your metaphysical library.

Both books can be purchased through the good folks at RedWheel/Weiser. Feed the beast and the beast will feed you.

My Review of Enochian Magick by Aleister Crowley

Posted in Archive with tags , , , on October 30, 2012 by Occult Detective

If you’ve spent any time at all around the occult sciences then you are most likely at least passingly familiar with the bullet points of Enochian Magic. It is, after all, regarded by many to be the pinnacle of the Western Mystery Tradition, the culmination of more than seven years of painstaking work by the renowned scholar Dr. John Dee and his cohort and magical ally, the rogue Edward Kelley. Beyond the initial dictations as chronicled by Dee and Kelley, such noted magicians as MacGregor Mathers, Dr. William Wynn Westcott, and Thomas Rudd added to that which came to be known as Enochian, but it was one devoted student who perhaps more than any other solidified Dee and Kelley’s legacy, revealing it to be a viable and working system of ceremonial magic. That man was Aleister Crowley.

Weiser Books have turned to the venerable Lon Milo DuQuette in an effort to release four volumes of quintessential writings by Aleister Crowley on the subject of Enochian Magick, culled from The Equinox, Crowley’s magnificent magical journal that was originally published between 1909-1919. Having had the chance to read (and reread) the first volume of The Best of the Equinox: Enochian Magick , I can assure you, this is as important a work on ceremonial magic as you are apt to find.

DuQuette’s two introductions, as the noted author has included the 1992 intro written for the Magickal Childe edition of Liber LXXXIV, are worth the price of admission alone. Baba Lon is an insightful and visionary wordsmith and, in addition to this edited volume, I highly recommend his sublime treatise on the subject, Enochian Vision Magick.

As to this volume, which reproduces Crowley’s vel Chanokh and The Vision and the Voice, you will find an inspiring and practical examination of Dee and Kelley’s masterwork. The Beast is in his element, to be sure. Beautiful and sublime, Crowley’s writing while exploring this system is unparalleled and haunting.

The cover art and formatting are more than pleasing and you will find the print large and comfortable on the eyes, which is, in itself, Heaven sent. I still, after having read the work numerous times over the past thirty years or so, find it hard to put down. It’s so easy to get caught up in the language and fervor of this chimerical work.

That being said, tread carefully. It’s easy to lose oneself, not only in the writing, but in the work itself.

The Best of the Equinox — Enochian Magick: Volume One by Aleister Crowley and introduced by Lon Milo DuQuette is essential reading. Available wherever books are sold or downloaded, if you only buy one metaphysical book this year, make it Enochian Magick.

My Review of Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth

Posted in Archive with tags , , on April 13, 2012 by Occult Detective

As you might imagine, I have an extensive library. My den is literally overflowing with books on every conceivable aspect of spirituality, magic, religion, philosophy, myths & legends, fringe science, cryptozoology and paranormal research. There’s also more than a few works of fiction and graphic novels piled up in there as well. The shelves are sagging. The spinner racks are bursting. The floor is littered with stacks nearly as tall as my 8 year old son. I love books. I love the endless possibilities they represent. I love the smell — the texture — the almost magical experience they convey by the promise of something fresh and wonderful trapped between their covers.

I love all the books that have found their way into my library, but there are certain gems among them that are favored above the others because of the passion they invoke. Today I am honored to share with you one that has had such an impact, a book  expertly written, infused with a timeless wisdom but presented with a neoteric, contemporary sensibility. That book is Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology by John Michael Greer, Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America.

Greer writes, “The authentic teachings of the mystery schools offer a profoundly different way of making sense of the universe and our place in it, rooted in a deep knowledge of whole systems — a way that can, without exaggeration, be described as ‘spiritual ecology.’ ”

With clear and concise language, the author reinterprets the wisdom of the ancients for the modern aspirant by presenting this knowledge in a palpable, reasoned address. With a simple elegance, Greer introduces the seven core principles of spiritual ecology — The Laws of  Wholeness, Flow, Balance, Limits, Cause and Effect, the Planes, and Evolution. Each Law is thoroughly dissected and coupled with a meditation, an affirmation, and a theme for reflection.

There is an ever-present teacher/student relationship between author and reader, but Greer’s effortless delivery is never condescending, never once do you feel lectured to. There is an openness to the dialogue as it’s presented. Mystery Teachings of the Living Earth is uplifting, a joyous address to the wonders of the world around us. It is also an invitation into these mysteries that are, at there very essence, about self-discovery and acknowledging your place in the bigger picture.

It is amazingly less than 150 pages and yet it feels all-encompassing. The simple truth is, this book is a key that unlocks a very special door that, once opened, leads into the well-spring in your heart and soul. The answers are there, waiting to be rediscovered.

The chapter on “The Spiritual Ecology of Magic” is worth the price of admission all by its lonesome.

To be fair and balanced, there is one aspect of the book that I found wanting — the cover design itself. If ever a book should not be judged by its cover, this is the one. A beautiful and evocative photograph of Ohio’s grand Serpent Mound is marred by an uninspired white square with a dull, lifeless, and nondescript sans serif font dropped atop it. A book of this caliber deserved a little more innovation than what could be accomplished by any novice with a cheap photo design program.

The interior formatting is stellar however, with comfortable font choices throughout, isolated ruminations, and comes with an index and suggested reading list.

Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology by John Michael Greer is a must-read. It just might be the most important book you’ll read, not just this year, but for many years to come. So stop what you’re doing, click on this link, and order a copy today. Or better yet, stroll on down to your corner bookstore and bring this one home. You can stop by here later and thank me… I’ll be waiting.

My Review of Casting Sacred Space by Ivo Dominguez Jr

Posted in Archive with tags , , on February 6, 2012 by Occult Detective

Ivo Dominguez Jr has taken a close and personal look at the most important element of successful magical operations and through careful dissection and a thorough, comprehensive examination of various rites and practices delivered the most quintessential treatise on the subject that I have been blessed with the honour to read.

Believe me, that is not hyperbole.

What Mr. Dominguez has achieved is monumental in so many ways.

The casting of one’s sacred space is paramount to the work of magicians, witches, and yes, paranormal investigators. By exploring the inner and outer workings of this magical arena and of the subtle (and not so subtle) energies involved, Dominguez has painted a compelling picture for novices and adepts alike.

This is an important work, one that should be a part of every practitioner’s library regardless of creed, philosophy, or stripe.

It’s all here, with an in-depth analysis and painstaking audit of the various applications for creating a hallowed and consecrated sphere from which to work. From grounding and centering to proper maintenance, Casting Sacred Space leaves no stone unturned and it delivers an array of bold and exciting techniques for establishing the foundation from which to channel one’s energies to successful magical workings.

This book really struck home with me and is, as far as I’m concerned, essential reading for anyone embarking on the esoteric path.

Casting Sacred Space: The Core of All Magical Work by Ivo Dominguez Jr is available wherever books are sold, but as I so often do on this blog, I encourage you to purchase directly from the publisher because by doing so you ensure their continued health and success.

Review Monday — A Very Special All Witchcraft Edition

Posted in Archive with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2011 by Occult Detective

With Hallowe’en a mere week away, what better way to prepare oneself than to dive headlong into not one, not two or three, but four books on witchcraft? It is a subject that I have long been fascinated with, was a major component of my academic studies, and the history of witchcraft and its evolution throughout the modern age has been of particular interest to me. Receiving these four titles from Weiser Books to review could not have come at a better time. The stars are aligned and so am I, so let’s get started —

Weird Ways of Witchcraft by Dr. Leo Louis Martello

I cut my teeth on old school witchcraft, through my involvement with an Alexandrian Coven in college, and so for younger folk who have grown up with all-things-Wicca, this book may rub them in a wrong way. Good. This book is as accurate a depiction of the Witchcraft movement as it existed in the late sixties and early seventies as you’ll find. Martello was a major force in the development of what would become the modern face of Witchcraft. What you find here is a terrific sampling of the Western Mystery Tradition intermixed with folklore, mythology, superstition, and the anthropological theories of the time. When I first began my studies it was through poring over books much like this one. Weird Ways of Witchcraft is a must-read for any serious student of the history of Pagan Witchcraft. It is a remarkable rediscovery and Martello deserves a place of honor in the pantheon of the Craft. Order your copy HERE.

Old World Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi

Raven Grimassi is one of the most respected voices in Witchcraft today and Old World Witchcraft is a perfect example of why. Grimassi writes with confidence and paints a vivid and compelling picture not only of the roots of Witchcraft Past but also of Witchcraft’s Present and Future. This is one of those books that you feel compelled to recommend to anyone with a serious interest in the subject, particularly the first 100 pages or so. This book re-embraces the witch as herbalist, as one who is in touch with nature in a very intimate way. It is an inspiring read, and though it leans heavily on Grimassi’s own Tradition, which he founded but a handful of years ago, Old World Witchcraft maintains a level of authenticity that many books on the subject just cannot equal. Add this book to your collection, post haste, for I suspect in future years this will be revered as an important work and you can brag that you were there from the beginning. Care to order directly from the Weiser Bookstore? Then click HERE.

The Witches’ Book of the Dead by Christian Day

Now here’s a book right up my alley and one I’d recommend for any and all paranormal investigators as it sheds a different light on “ghost hunting after dark”. Day has written a well researched book, intermixed with a fair amount of humor I might add. This is certainly not some stuffy, academic read, which is refreshing sometimes. Is it letter perfect? Not by a long shot. Day seems to gloss over many details and seems to muddy the waters a bit. There also is a tendency on his part to paint with far too broad a brush, but all that being said, I found the book quite useful as it, at the very least, sparked some intriguing lines of thinking as pertains to the matter of necromancy. And really, isn’t that the point of books of this nature? You take from it what you can and synthesize it into your own worldview and work from there. The Witches’ Book of the Dead may annoy and offend many of you. Again, I say good. We need to be shaken up a bit now and then. If it gets you thinking then it has done its job and done it well if you ask me. Bring it on home, mates. You’ll be glad you did. Order from my favorite publisher by clicking right… HERE.

The Witches’ Almanac (Spring 2012-Spring 2013) Radiance of the Sun (Issue 31)

And last, but certainly not least, we have the latest installment in the indispensable Witches’ Almanac series. Really, should I even have to recommend this?  The Witches’ Almanac is a treasure trove, through and through, never failing to impress. Issue 31 continues the fine tradition set forth by the lovely and talented Elizabeth Pepper back in the early 70s and I can see no good reason for you not to purchase each and every volume as it hits the shelves of your local brick and mortar. It’s a constant source of interesting facts and knowledge and should be put to use accordingly. If you’re far too busy to get out and about, as always the Internet can alleviate your problems by making this readily available to those with a credit card in hand. Place your order, dear fulka, by clicking HERE.

Hell, is there any good reason (other than we’re in the midst of a backbreaking recession) to not order each and every one of these titles? It’s Hallowe’en, for goodness sake. We’ve been tricked enough. It’s time for a treat…

Review: Kids Who See Ghosts

Posted in Archive with tags , , on October 21, 2010 by Occult Detective

Kids Who See Ghosts: How to Guide Them Through Fear by Caron Goode

When I received a review copy of Kids Who See Ghosts I was very excited. As many of you are more than aware I have been investigating the paranormal for most of my life. These investigations have put me in contact with some amazing individuals: psychics, mediums, seers, shamans, priests, exorcists, magicians, demonologists… and charlatans. I’ve been intrigued by spirit phenomena for as long as I can remember. I believe in ghosts simply because  I have experienced them, first hand, but I am a skeptic at heart. You may find that odd considering my work, but the truth of the matter is that people believe what they want to believe and sometimes, often times, they are wrong. The vast majority of cases I’ve worked on have had rational explanations for the supposed paranormal events people have claimed to experience. Sometimes they’ve even been hoaxes, perpetuated by the clients, or sometimes by someone just wanting to mess with them. It comes with the territory. But still, I believe, and I continue to examine and explore every avenue because I enjoy the adventure — the mystery — and the sense of childlike wonder when I am faced with something altogether preternatural.

Overall, I was disappointed by Ms. Goode’s book, mainly because I was hoping it would be something that it wasn’t. That’s on me. Kids Who See Ghosts is a patchwork of information, gathered together covering various paranormal subjects. There is a wealth of information here, though it is presented in a very sterile fashion. The anecdotes and stories from “experts” are many, but you never get a sense of the personal essence that one would hope for in a book of this nature. It’s a tad too dry and clinical for my tastes.

That’s not to say that the book is not without merit. It’s a good initiatory glimpse into paranormal phenomena, but it is merely a starting point. Ms. Goode does a fair job of directing the reader to other sources and that’s its strongest asset. I have no qualms with recommending this book to anyone with minimal knowledge on the subject. The most important message of the book rings true — if you have a child who is experiencing paranormal phenomena they need your love and support most of all.

Kids Who See Ghosts: How to Guide Them Through Fear is published by Red Wheel/ Weiser and available wherever books are sold. If interested, you can purchase the book directly from the publisher or on

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