Confessions of a Black Magician, by Nathan Neuharth
Original Falcon Press, 9781935150794, 191 pp., 2010
Our hero in this tale is the author himself, and as no occultist anywhere ever had but one name, he’s known variously as Nathan Neuharth, Frater Parsifal, and Natas, or Saint Natas.
The book opens with his initiation into the Golden Dawn, introducing a colourful cast of characters in his new fraters and sorors. Neuharth allies himself with Fater Azazel, a brother in the order who shares his affinity for Aleister Crowley and Thelemic magick. His experiments lead him to encounters with angels, and devils too, not to mention aliens and Atlanteans who offer him questionable messages.
Inspired by Jack Parson’s Babalon Working, Neuharth seeks to undertake a similar project he called the Babalon Isis Working. Various incarnations of Babalon appear as she is won, lost, regained and eventually walks out of his life. In the process Neuharth loses his wife, his kids, his job and very possibly his mind.
Frequently in and out of jail, Neuharth ends up selling and taking copious amounts of drugs – weed, cocaine, LSD, and others in a nonstop downward spiral. Coming to view himself as a ronin, a gangster and a rebel, he finds himself stuck in a cycle of drugs and largely meaningless sex and getting nowhere.
Which leads into one point which frustrated me: Neuharth’s depiction of women. To him, it seems the most important attribute of a woman is her appearance, and Neuharth’s women are unfailingly gorgeous and always attracted to him. As a consequence, we read that he has a lot of sex with women who are otherwise devoid of personality or interests beyond Neuharth himself. There are a few words about spirituality and sex magick, but the women are interchangeable, and the results negligible.
Various secret orders approach him throughout the book, some affiliated with Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians, the Silver Star, and others which remain unnamed. It’s unclear what they want or expect from Neuharth, or what they hope to gain from a connection with him. At some point he founds his own order, the kult of kaos, but this is referenced only in passing, which is a shame as I would have loved to have learned more about it. An online search lead to the discovery that Neuharth maintains a journal of the same name which is available for download from his website, saintnatas.com.
Amidst the mayhem, it’s a comparatively innocuous incident that finally prompts him enter a detox program and go to rehab. Which, by the end of the book, seems to stick. Neuharth views it as a further initiation on his path – finally, the right one.
Confessions of a Black Magician is an unusual book. It is ostensibly billed as an autobiography, however, most of the personal details have been stripped from the narrative. We learn that Neuharth has children, but we don’t know their names, ages, or how many there are. We know he leaves several jobs, but not what they are. Even where the events happen and the timeframe over which they occur remain unclear. Given the questionable legality of many of the activities that take place this makes a certain amount of sense. In the end, these omissions serve to heighten our sense of Neuharth’s deep immersion into the occult and how completely consensus reality has been left behind.
Despite its flaws, Confessions is an excellent read, written with a sense of urgency that carries the story along. Indeed, fast paced doesn’t even begin to cover it. I devoured it in a matter of hours. If sex, drugs and an ambiguous redemption sound like your cup of tea, this is definitely a book worth checking out.