Compleat Vampyre – Nigel Jackson

Compleat Vampyre: The Vampyre Shaman, Werewolves, Witchery & the Dark Mythology of the Undead
Nigel Jackson
Capall Bann – 1995


A few months ago I put out a call for occult book recommendations. I haven’t been as interested in occultism for the last year, and part of me thought that this was from overdoing it over the past few years. I was kindly recommended this book by a pal of mine. It looked pretty cool, so I decided to give it a go.

It’s rather dense, and despite its subject matter, I thought it was very dry. It’s only 180 pages, but it took me a month and a half to get through it. I didn’t take notes as I read through it either, so I don’t even remember much of what the author said in the first half of the book.

This seems like a thoroughly researched book, but the writing does not seem to be very critical. Most of the book is taken up with descriptions of vampires and werewolves from folklore, but the idea that these accounts might not be real is never really discussed. I’m not saying Nigel Jackson believed every word in this book, but he doesn’t do a very good job of clarifying which parts the reader is supposed to believe and which parts are just legends.

Ultimately though, this is presented as a book on occultism rather than one on folklore. Towards the end of the book, the author does give some instructions on how to shapeshift into a werewolf, but these instructions are pretty vague, and one would have to have a detailed knowledge of occultism and ceremonial magic to be able to pull them off.

The most interesting claim in the whole book is that the mysterious large cats seen throughout the English countryside (the ones discussed at length in The Goblin Universe by Ted Holiday) are actually transformed witches and wizards.

Honestly, I couldn’t give a bollocks. I have so little to say about this that I feel bad for wasting your time. I read the whole thing, but reading it felt like trying to paint water. I’d reread the same paragraph 3 times, but I was so uninterested that nothing would stick in my head. “Vampires, shadows, liminal… bleh bleh bleh.” Whatever. I’m not really qualified to judge a book like this. Maybe it’s great if you’re interested in this stuff. I certainly amn’t. I won’t say I’ll never read another occult book, but I doubt that I’ll ever get back into reading 2 a week like I was doing a few years ago.

7 thoughts on “Compleat Vampyre – Nigel Jackson

  1. Gosh, you actually read it? You bloody hero, wading through all that based upon my highly skewed say-so of what is interesting.

    It speaks more to my state of mind, or lack thereof, when it was published and I immediately became fixated with it. At the time Jackson seemed like a precious jewel of authenticity amid all the trite Llewellyn Wicca themed books, and terrible new age drivel – this was the time before the internet took off and lurking suspiciously in the woo sections of bookshops was a major hobby of mine. Objectively speaking, his first book, Call of the Horned Piper, is more balanced picture of his worldview at the time, but nevertheless YMMV.

    Admittedly, upon revisiting these early works, the cracks are far more apparent, and I know more about (pseudo) Traditional Witchcraft than I did then. So much of it just seems anachronistic, a form of larping, but isn’t that the basis of much occultism, and neo-paganism in general?

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      1. So you’re a masochist then? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! It is a more balanced read, but still more of the same really. It’s pretty well regarded in traditional witchcraft circles, which isn’t really saying much when you look at some of the quirky individuals you find there. I like it, but I am a weirdo too, and probably an undiagnosed autist or something!
        (My most beloved book is The Silmarillion which is about as difficult and as dense as dense can be)

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      2. Haha, absolutely. This blog is largely self inflicted torture.

        Lord of the Rings is as far as I got with Tolkien. I loved the trilogy (apart from that eejit Tom Bombadil), but The Silmarillion seems very daunting.

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      3. Silmarillion is in a class of it’s own really. Took me years before I was able to get past the first couple of chapters. Then I managed to slog through it over a couple months. It’s so dense, so many cross references to keep track of, and the map is pretty much essential. But the thing as a whole is a kind of jewel of literature, something almost sacred about it to me.

        Bombadil always seemed like an anomaly. First time I read that chapter set in his cottage, it had a hallucinogenic feverish quality, like a mushroom trip or something. Only other time I ever got that vibe from him was reading Cottage of Lost Play, which was from a manuscript of a very early version of The Silmarillion. I wonder if perhaps it was the place he went to while recuperating from the horror of his experience in WWI?

        At any rate Tolkien geeks will likely continue debating the nature and purpose of Bombadil until the world ends, and The Great Song is sung anew….

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  2. Excellent blog you have here — wish I’d discovered it earlier as we seem to have pretty similar taste in horror (both trashy and non), and you’ve exposed me to some books that have literally zero reviews in all of internetland. I’m going to enjoy perusing everything here over the next few days.

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