Occult Detective Countdown 11/20: Aleister Crowley’s Simon Iff

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Today we celebrate Crowleymas, the 145th reckoning of the Nativity of the Beast.

Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875 – December 1, 1947) is a man who should need no introduction. An infamous occultist, whose name has been spoken of in hushed whispers since he first stepped onto the world stage, has been both heralded and reviled. Dubbed the “wickedest man in the world” by the British Press, Crowley was a man ahead of his time. A magician of renown, to be sure, but Crowley was also a philosopher, a poet, an accomplished mountaineer, a painter, a masterful chess player, and much more.

Crowley is best known for his esoteric writings, with the body of his work viewed as the definitive examinations of modern magic, beautifully bridging the ancient mystery traditions with the brave new world of  scientific methodology.

But there is one key aspect to this man that has been…

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Occult Detective Countdown 9/20: Thomas Carnacki / #40DaysofHalloween

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I didn’t give Thomas Carnacki enough credit as a kid and wrote him off as a Shelock Holmes knock-off, in the same vein as other paranormal investigators that came to light in that era, such as Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence and Seabury Quinn’s Jules de Grandin.

I really missed the boat on this one.

My appreciation for William Hope Hodgson’s occult detective came later, in college, when I stumbled upon him anew.

I had snatched up a copy of Carnacki, the Ghost Finder, along with some Marilyn Ross Dark Shadows paperbacks, at the White Rabbit, a used bookstore in the Village, just off campus at Ball State. That would have been around 1986 or so. I was enthralled… and amazed that I hadn’t found them so when I first read them nearly a decade before.

Regardless, I had become an avowed fan and champion of Hodgson’s writings, and my interest…

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The Strange Case of Edgar Allan Poe and James Whitcomb Riley / #40DaysofHalloween

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Edgar Allan Poe died October 7, 1849, the same day James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana. An odd connection, to be sure, the Hoosier Poet and the Tomahawk Man, but there is a stranger one still.

Believing that Midwestern authors were failing to find traction in the literary magazines and newspapers published on the East Coast, in 1877 James Whitcomb Riley concocted a poem in the style of Poe and submitted it as a long lost work of the famed author.

The poem, titled Leonainie, appeared in the Kokomo Democrat on August 2nd, 1877, and was subsequently reprinted many times before people caught on to the prank.

While the ruse traveled far beyond where Riley intended, the young poet took pleasure in the fact that many of the literary elite, the very ones he intended to prank, fell for it.

Granted, Riley was fired from his position at…

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Review: Hasan-i-Sabah by James Wasserman

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As a companion to Wasserman’s The Templars and the Assassins, Hasan-i-Sabah: Assassin Master seeks to reveal the man behind the myth of one of the most influential and mysterious sects in the secret history of the world. Following up the brilliant work found in the preceding volume, Hasan-i-Sabah does not disappoint.

While the mysteries of the Assassins have long been thought to be lost, thanks in large part to the Mongol invasions, Wasserman has combed through what remains and painted for us a picture in which Hasan-i-Sabah played a crucial role in the development of European culture due to his influence over the Knights Templar.

Now, there lies some heady stuff, and the reader is asked to make some leaps of faith, but none too egregious. Wasserman backs up his conjecture with solid reasoning, and with compelling research and intuitive deductions, the evidence is overwhelming and voluminous.

The unfolding…

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Occult Detective Countdown 8/20: The Hardy Boys / #40DaysofHalloween

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I grew up on the edge of my grandparent’s farm in rural Indiana, roaming the sparse woods and wading in the shallow waters of the creek that wound its way through our backyard. At night I’d slip out to prowl the local boneyard and explore the isolated wonders that surrounded me. It was the 70s and in the Midwest it might as well have been twenty years earlier. It was a simpler place and time.

hardy_disney

We didn’t have much in the way of television back then, catching four, sometimes five channels with our towering tv antenna. Channel 40 was one of them, and it played reruns of everything from the Lone Ranger to the Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers, the Beverly Hillbillies, and a host of other shows long past. My favorite was the Mickey Mouse Club, but only because of the Hardy Boys serials.

The Hardy Boys captured my imagination…

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Occult Detective Countdown 7/20: The Scooby Gang

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No, not these guys, but they certainly fit the bill.

I’m talking about the originals —
Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby

Wait, does that make Buffy Summers an analog for Scooby Doo, because clearly Giles is Fred, Cordelia is Daphne, Willow is Velma, and Xander is Shaggy. Weird. But I digress…

I knew at some point I would be adding Scooby Doo to the countdown, but a strange synchronicity sort of cemented it for me when I saw the following parked in front of the building that was the subject of this past weekend’s paranormal investigation.

As it turned out, the van did not belong to any of the erstwhile ghost-breakers I was meeting with, but rather the dishwasher in a local restaurant. Strange, but most certainly true.

Scooby Doo came on the scene back in 1969, September 13th to be exact. I was three and a half years…

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Occult Detective Countdown 6/20 — John Thunstone / #40DaysofHalloween

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I remember being in elementary school, reading my way through Howard and Lovecraft, and looking for that next thing. An older kid on my school bus recommended Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John stories. And while I enjoyed John the Balladeer, those stories leading me to Wellman’s John Thunstone was where the magic really happened for me.

Manly Wade Wellman was a giant. Few authors have influenced me in the way Wellman has. He epitomized the pulp sensibilities I gravitated toward and near everything he touched was Appalachian gold.

For me, John Thunstone was the culmination of all Wellman’s considerable talents given life on the page. Big and strong, Thunstone was a scholar and playboy who battled supernatural menaces with a silvered cane sword inscribed with the latin phrase — Sic pereant omnes inimici tu — which translates as “thus perish all your enemies”.

In the tradition of Wheatley’s Mocata and…

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Happy October! #40DaysofHalloween

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For those who don’t follow my twitter or facebook author page, here is where my mind was at this morning.

Yesterday, I read a 2014 interview with Jimmy Page, from GQ of all places, that was cracking good. My son has been discovering Zeppelin in recent months, and as I still place Page on a considerably high altar, that has been a thrill for me.

But I was reminded of all the “satanic panic” nonsense that surrounded Page and the band growing up, and around the untitled album, called 4 or Runes or Zoso or what have you. Play Stairway backwards and you’ll hear Plant opine about “my sweet Satan” and other oddities.

One of my favorites was that, if you placed the inner artwork up to a mirror, the face of the devil would be revealed. Well, quite clearly, as evidenced by the image I’ve recreated at the top…

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Occult Detective Countdown 5/20: Adam Sinclair / #40DaysofHalloween

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Forgive me. I’m running on very little sleep, but the Countdown must go on…

On my 25th birthday, the 1st of March, 1991, we were celebrating by a dozen or so of my friends and I attending the premiere of Oliver Stone’s new film, The Doors, starring Val Kilmer and Kyle MacLachlan, but earlier in the day I treated myself to a little shopping at the Muncie Mall’s B. Dalton.

That’s when I discovered Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris’ The Adept, which was released on that same day…

There was definitely something in the air and it was certainly a day etched for all-time into the mythic annals. I vividly recall a hangover of epic proportions being all but nullified the day after thanks largely to being consumed by the first chapter in the Adam Sinclair series.

I had long been a Kartherine Kurtz fan, particularly of her novel…

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Coming in 2021 — The Invisible College / #40DaysofHallween

This is exciting news!

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Here’s an exciting announcement for you — Bordermen Games and I are beginning work on the latest OSR Roleplaying Game from RPGPundit called The Invisible College, an “Authentic Magick” system that mirrors, in many ways, the Occult Detective RPG we’ve been developing over the past several years.

We will be handling the creative design and publication of the core product, penned by RPGPundit, creator of my favorite OSR game, the medieval authentic RPG, Lion & Dragon.

Based on our agreement with the creator, Bordermen Games will follow up the core rulebook with a number of supplements that will bring our Occult Detective material into the fold, further expanding the Invisible College brand.

But enough about all that, let’s hear from Pundit himself:

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