Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic exhibits a soft spot I have for magick: the academic approach. This Ph.D. paper by Stephen Skinner is the latest of the his many works on the Western esoteric tradition, in addition to many books on feng shui. His clear grasp on the historical data and his academic lens make this paper-turned-book a highly educational though sometimes mundane read. There is no fluff here — just facts, charts, and the occasional historical backtracking. Yet, Skinner’s painstaking translation, organization, and interpretation bring to light many long-standing traditions’ origins in the magick of Late Antiquity. Skinner describes a snapshot in time when magick held reverence as part of a tradition tied to the mystery cults and religions of the day. Continue reading
Francis H Breakspear was the pseudonym of the academic chaote Dave Evans, who passed in 2013. This was his third book in under this name, following Kaostar! and If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It! (As Breakspear, Evans seemed inordinately fond of exclamation points.)
Both a scholar and a practitioner of the occult, Evans was a founding editor of The Journal for the Academic Study of Magic, and co-editor of Ten Years of Triumph of the Moon (with Dave Green). He was also the author of The History of British Magick After Crowley and Aleister Crowley and the 20th Century Synthesis of Magick. Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, he was also an occasional contributor to both Spiral Nature and Plutonica.net, and a good friend. Continue reading
“The Yggdrasil-Tree is a beautiful symbolical representation of Freemasonry,” says Daniel Sickels in his General Ahiman Rezon. The book, which was intended to be read by Freemasons who wanted insight into their fraternity and its rituals, was published in 1868. Yggdrasil, says Sickels, “illustrates the character of Masonic secrecy.” Yet this was, of course, the world tree of pre-Christian, Norse mythology, and Sickels, who also speaks of the norns (the female figures who predetermine the fates of men), is certainly well aware of its character.
Sickels’ work appeared more than 85 years prior to the publication of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today — which initiated the birth (or, as some would maintain, revival) of the Pagan religion of Wicca — and just over a century prior to the “revival” of Asatru, the Germanic-inspired, and rune-based Pagan religion which emerged during the 1970s. Yet, some other Freemasons of the 19th century were inspired by northern European, pre-Christian mythology, and absorbed some elements into Masonic, or “fringe Masonic,” ritualism. Continue reading
Warning: This piece contains spoilers for the film The Babadook, including its ending.
The Babadook was one of the surprise movie hits of 2014. This ultra-low-budget Australian horror film came out of nowhere to grab the attention of genre-lovers and general movie-goers alike, even leading to a popular call for its lead actress Essie Davis to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination. (She was sadly unable to qualify due to the film having been released on video on demand at the same time as its theatrical release.)
The Babadook is about a widowed mother, Amelia (Davis) trying to raise her hyper-active, conjuring- and gadget-obsessed son Samuel (Noah Wiseman, aged six at the time of filming). Stressed and sleep-deprived, Amelia starts to think that the monster from a mysteriously-appearing children’s book, the titular Babadook, may not only be real but could also be attacking, or possibly possessing, her son. Continue reading
Naga Magick is an interesting find on many levels. Denny Sargent has written an erudite and fascinating glimpse into a world at once mysterious and paradoxical.
Naga Magick began life as a research project which then blossomed into this book. As a practicing tantric and historian, Denny Sargent can speak with authority about these mysterious and powerful serpent entities who have been the object of veneration for millennia in India and other parts of Asia. Serpents as an archetype and reality arouse both fear and awe in humans, they haunt the depths of our subconscious and manifest in many areas of human culture; a relic, perhaps, of a primeval fear from our ancient past. Continue reading
The Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult, edited by Richard Metzger
Disinformation, 9781938875106, 352 pp., 2004, 2014
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “grimoire,” I think of dusty old tomes full of alchemical esoterica and glyphs in some cobwebbed book shoppe that smells of sandalwood, possibly helmed by a bearded man in a fez.
The Book of Lies, from the legendary Disinformation imprint, is a grimoire for the 21st century. It breaks the carbonite stasis of this kind of outmoded thinking, and zooms into the present. It’s a wonderful primer on postmodern magick, broken up into sections, from Magick in Theory and Practice, to Occult Icons to Scarlet Women, Secret Societies, as well as a section dedicated solely to the 20th century’s most infamous mage, Aleister Crowley. The Book of Lies is comprised of 40 essays from some of the occult underground’s leading lights, including Invisibles‘ author Grant Morrison; tryptamine consciousness from Terence McKenna; Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV alien Genesis P-Orridge; to leading chaote Phil Hine; biblical apocrypha from Boyd Rice; and anarchist activist Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson). Continue reading