Datura, edited by Ruby Sara
Scarlet Imprint, 9780956720368, 2011
To be honest, I’ve dodged a serious bullet with Datura. When its editor, Ruby Sara, put out a call for submissions on Scarlet Imprint last year, I almost submitted a handful of poems for inclusion. The thought of an anthology of occult-themed poetic work and essays on the mystical aspects of the creative process struck quite a nerve with me, and I was eager to contribute. Luckily a combination of a busy life at the time and a creative dry spell prevented me from sending Sara anything by the deadline, and after reading through Datura, I’m deeply thankful that the few pieces I was able to conjure up never got sent her way. For even if they were accepted and published in the pages of Datura, the quality of the content is so high my work would have looked like utter shit next to everything else between its covers.
Datura contains the work of 26 poets, that work being a mix of 6 essays and 47 poems. When I picked up Datura, I was really eager to read the essays. Scarlet Imprint has published three other anthologies in the past – Howlings, Devoted, and Diabolical - and their occult essays were absolutely stellar. While I do love poetry, and have a deep fondness for the Pagan and fortean realms, I’ve read enough awful odes to Odin and tree-spirits (and composed quite a few myself, to be fair) that the thought of a book devoted to such poetry might be a risky gamble. I figured that six good essays could make up for some lousy astral-poetics. Thankfully while the essay-work is every bit as good as I hoped it would be, the poetry in Datura manages to keep its nimble-feet from stepping into the bear-trap of twee Pagan clichés. Continue reading
The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil, by Jack Barrow
Winged Feet Productions, 9780951532911, 286 pp.
What do magicians really do? Is Blackpool really the centre of evil for the UK? Is there a magical spell to make a car start? These and many other questions are asked and answered in this worthy first novel by Jack Barrow, who has written several magical theory and practice books in the last 20 years or so. Continue reading
The Gnostic Faustus: The Secret Teachings behind the Classic Text, by Ramona Fradon
Inner Traditions, 9781594772047, 370 pp., 2007
This is not a book for the casual reader. Without a basic understanding of Gnostic literature, alchemy and/or the Faust legend you will rapidly find yourself playing catch-up.
This book is predominantly a comparison, section by section (and sometimes line for line) between the original “Faust book” (Anonymous, circa 1570) and major Gnostic and alchemical writings, many of which were known only by reputation until the late 19th century and later. Each chapter is introduced with a short overview, and then the reader is left to read the document (in a series of side-by-side columns) and to make his own comparisons and draw his own conclusions. Continue reading
Dancing God: Poetry Of Myths And Magicks, by Diotima
Neos Alexandrian, 9781438210643, 197 pp., 2008
This is the second book issued by Bibliotheca Alexandrina in an attempt to promote the revival of traditional polytheistic religions through publication of a series of books dedicated to the ancient gods of Greece and Egypt (although the contents are not restricted to those two cultures). I reviewed the previous book Written in Wine earlier. Both of these books are primarily composed of poetry (Written in Wine has a few stories as well), although this book is primarily the work of a single author.
The title of this book refers to Pan, although numerous other deities make an appearance on these pages. Most of the poems are very short, but there are occasional longer works as well.
There are occasional Continue reading
Liber Malorum: Children of the Apple, edited by Sean Scullion
PagAnarchy Press, 9780955798405, 523 pp., 2008
This is a compilation work. There are twenty three authors and over 70 contributions. I’m sure it will be difficult for some people to read, since it is a true Discordian book. And, of course, Discordians are notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole. Continue reading