Video Nasty and Year in Review (2017)

2017 was a pretty good year for me. I got a much better job, became a dad and went back to university (again). These changes, while mostly enjoyable, meant that I didn’t get to review or read as many books as I have in the last few years. However, I feel that the quality of this year’s posts has been of a decent standard. Here’s the best of 2017.

liber falxifer10. Liber Falxifer 
A heavy metal grimoire of dark black magic.

halloween and satanism9. Halloween and Satanism
Anti-Semitic Christian bullshit propaganda for assholes.

tarry thou till i come croly8. Tarry Thou Till I Come 
Including it here because, as far as I know, this is the only review of this book online. The tale of the Wandering Jew.

arktos joscelyn godwin7. Arktos
Some bullshit about Donald Trump. A very cool book.

holy-blood-holy-grail6. Holy Blood, Holy Grail
Jesus had a kid, and Hitler was a descendant of Dracula.

crowley book 45. Aleister Crowey’s Law and Lies
Getting to grip’s with Aleister Crowley’s bullshit.

faust demon 144. The Books of Faust
This one took a lot of work.

red book of appin scarabaeus3. The Red Books of Appin
Myth busted.

the aleister crowley scrapbook2. The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook
An interview with a Crowley expert.

robert anton wilson the sex magicians1. The Sex Magicians
My contribution to the conspiracy theories about the conspiracy theorist.

Well, there you go: Nocturnal Revelries’ best of 2017. (Just to remind you, as with last year, the links in this post are to the best posts of the year, not the best books that I read.) This blog has been going for nearly 3 years now, and I’ve reviewed about 170 books so far. I recently added an index page to the site in case anybody is looking to see if I’ve looked at a specific book or author.

Thanks for all of the support and interest. Remember, this blog has twitter and facebook pages to help keep you up to date with my ramblings. I’ve a few posts planned for the near future, but who knows what’s going to end up featured here in 2018. I’m going home for Christmas for the first time in years too, so I doubt I’ll post again until January. As always, you can email me with recommendations, questions, comments or threats. If you currently work in retail, know that my heart bleeds for you. For everyone else, enjoy the time off work, and don’t forget to go to mass on the 25th.

On Reading and Collecting Occult Books

occult paperbacksThis, my friends, is what it’s all about. Fuck your fancy hardback collection!

How could a person possibly enjoy Simon’s Necronomicon if they’ve never heard of Cthulu? Could they possibly feel the full impact of Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness having never before encountered the dread cry of “Tekeli-li!”? Haven’t you ever noticed the references to Pallas Athena and the Balm of Gilead in Poe‘s the Raven? They couldn’t have made much sense to you unless you were familiar with Greek mythology and Biblical lore. Speaking of mythology, isn’t the Simon Necronomicon, the text that we started off with, basically just a silly version of the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation myth?

Even the silliest, most entry-level texts of Occultism require an awful lot of background reading if they are to be understood and fully appreciated.

“Occult” literally means hidden, and many “Occultists” out there limit their research to the esoteric. Occultism is generally concerned with spirituality and the supernatural, and many “occultists” that I have encountered have little to no interest in the major world religions, history, philosophy or science. I personally fail to understand how they can comprehend the Hidden without first studying and attempting to understand what is in plain view.

The internet has made countless esoteric texts instantly available to the neophyte. A few clicks on wikipedia and Curious George ends up bypassing Homer and the Bible and gets straight into nutty books filled with references to these works. These n00bs can’t possibly understand the stuff they’re supposedly reading.

Maybe I’m just getting old. I have similar complaints about kids these days being able to download obscure black metal records when they’ve never listened to Megadeth or Anthrax. When I was a teenager, we had to buy albums and check the thank-you lists in the cd booklets to find the names of other cool bands. Nowadays a kid can go from being a Justin Bieber fan to a devotee of obscure Finnish death-doom in just a few clicks. Start at the start or go die in your posehole, you annoying little snots.

And music, while obviously very different to literature, can also contain references to other music. (I felt chills the first time I heard the singer from Crypt Sermon bellow out “Fool, fool!” in this track, a song that is incidentally based on a story from the Bible. If you don’t understand the “Fool, fool!” reference, please abruptly find the closest exit and leave the hall. (That’s another heavy metal reference btw.)) This being said, a person can certainly enjoy a song without having heard older songs of the same genre. References within music (and fiction) generally serve aesthetic purposes.

Occult texts are a little different though. Their writers often deliberately attempt to obfuscate their message, and esoteric references are one of the more popular methods of doing so. These references, while often having an aesthetic quality, primarily serve as what I’ll refer to as “initiation bridges”. You don’t get to cross the bridge and pass on to green fields of understanding until you’ve done your research and found out what the reference means.

mythology book collectionSome of my books on Mythology

No matter how much background reading you do, you’re bound to run into these initiation bridges on your quest for secret knowledge. In my opinion, however, the occult adventurer is better off starting off on their quest with at least some of their homework done. If you want to become a psychologist, you need to study the history of psychology. Why should it be any different if you want to be a magician?

If you want to be a Satanist, please read the Bible and familiarize yourself with who Satan really is. It strikes me as bizarre that a person whose religion is named after a character from a book would not have read said book. Bizarre, but not surprising; Christians are in the same boat, with the same book. Hard copies of the Bible are widely and cheaply (if not freely) available, and it is my firm belief that every Christian, Satanist, atheist and occultist should have a copy of it on their bookshelf for reference. I have a few.

bible collection

I recently finished reading Liber Falxifer, a grimoire that I can’t imagine making much sense to anyone who isn’t familiar with Gnosticism and the book of Genesis. Indeed, it was my ruminations on that book that led to this post. Check this out:
poser occultist booksI saw this posted on facebook a few weeks ago. That collection of 6 books makes up the entirety of an individual’s library. Now look, I understand that it’s not fair to judge a person based on the number of books in their collection, but I think it is fair to judge a person based on the types of books in their collection. The books in this collection are fancy-pants hardbacks that sell individually for anything between 50 and 1000 dollars. Does expensive mean better? Can you remember the tale of the Emperor and his new clothes?

I also think it’s fair, and even important, in this situation, to judge a person based on the types of books NOT in their collection. His six books doubtlessly contain references to texts not in his possession. Does he just use wikipedia to check these references? Don’t get me wrong; I use the internet to research stuff all the time. Just remember that in this case, this person has thousands of dollars to spend on books, and it very much seems that he wants people to know that he’s a book collector. It looks like he has deliberately limited his purchases to obscure, expensive books, and as you can tell, this pisses me off. Books are for reading, not for showing off.

Yeah, ok. I am obviously guilty of showing off my book collection at every given opportunity, but at least I actually read them.

You might accuse me of jealousy, and while I can freely admit that I’m jealous of anyone who clearly has fewer responsibilities than I, I would not trade my extensive collection of trashy paperback classics for a much smaller collection of far more expensive texts. For a thousand dollars, you could buy one copy of Liber Falxifer from an Ebay auction or literally hundreds of peculiar and interesting paperbacks from library book sales and second hand book stores. Which choice is going to give you more hours of entertainment? Which choice is going to give you more knowledge?

Interestingly enough, the author of Liber Falxifer seems to agree with me on the price issue. In an interview he actually encouraged people to download pdf versions of his sold-out books rather than paying anything over the original sale price for second hand copies. I have to say, I respect him for that. The original prices for his works are reasonable for nice books put out by an independent publisher.

You see, I understand that some things are worth more than others, but just as an expensive video game is useless without a console, so too is an occult book without an appropriate amount of background knowledge. I don’t think it controversial to say that Occultism is about knowledge, and spending a ridiculous amount of money on a rare occult book does not make you a knowledgeable occultist.

web of occult books.jpgI’m already seeing about 5 more connections between these texts.

I had an English teacher when I was in secondary school who used to say, “You can buy fashion, but you can’t buy style.” I’ve been struggling to make a very similar point as succinctly. To sum up this post then: Any fool can buy books, but true understanding of the Occult is available only to the dedicated student.

The practical value of studying the occult is a separate matter, one which I might address in the future. For now, it shall suffice to say that personally, I reckon most of it’s absolute rubbish.

To end on a positive note though, let us remember that while many texts require extensive background reading, these texts will likely also lead to further reading. One of my favourite things about reading is finding the name of some curious book being mentioned and then going out and tracking down a copy, only to find it filled with references to other curious tomes. You’re never going to run out of books to read, thank goodness.

occult book collection.jpg“Not for sale. Just showcasing my collection as of 2017.”

Halloween and Satanism

halloween and satanismHalloween and Satanism – Joan Hake Robie and Phil Phillips
Starburst Publishers – 1990 (First published 1987)

It’s been a while since I reviewed any Evangelical christian bullshit. While books of this ilk are always terrible and often palpably irritating, they are a necessary evil. The frustration that they cause serves to replenish my patience for awful, left-hand-path books about Black Magic and Satanism. The ol’ devil worship seems violently appealing when compared with this kind of idiotic christian foolishness.

Holy Jesus, this one is particularly bad too. I actually ordered it online last October, but it arrived 2 days into November, so I postponed reading it for the year. It was not worth the wait. I’m going to briefly go through the chapters, just so you can get a taste of how truly moronic this pile of shitty-shitey-farty-bummy-pooey-poo this is.

Chapter 1. The argument here is that fear is not of God; therefore, anything that causes fear intentionally (horror movies, scary costumes, etc…) is not appropriate for a christian. In fact, watching horror movies or dressing up in a costume will probably lead you into practicing witchcraft. I thought that this idea of fear being completely removed from god was fairly interesting.

Say, all my Bible nerds, can you remember what Genesis 20:11, 2 Samuel 23:3, 2 Chronicles 20:29, Nehemiah 5:15, Psalms 36:1, Romans 3:18, 2 Corinthians 7:1, and Ephesians 5:21 all have in common?
Yeah, that’s right; all of these Bible verses specifically address the necessity for “fear of God”.

Christians should not entertain themselves with scary things; the more time you spend being afraid of movies, the less time you’ll spend being afraid of god. That’s how this works, right? Makes perfect sense to me.

Chapter 2 describes the origins and traditions of Halloween. This section was a bit confusing. The text is describing ancient Celtic practices, but the accompanying images are from Disney and Hammer Horror films. There’s no distinction made between historical fact and legend. I’m sure some of what’s written in here is true, but the information is so poorly presented that it would be futile to attempt to distinguish the fact from the fiction. This issue is apparent throughout the book, and it serves to clarify that the only people who could read this book and take it seriously would be individuals completely incapable of critical thought.

man myth and magic
Many of the images in this seriously shitty book were simply lifted from Richard Cavendish’s Man, Myth and Magic magazine series. I have a few copies of the magazine on my shelf, but I recently found that a nearby college library has the entire collection. I think I might have to spend a few days in there soon doing so some copying.

Chapter 3 talks about some animals and supernatural entities that have been linked with Halloween. It doesn’t really pass much judgement on them though. Again, the information here is a weird mix of general knowledge, opinion and fiction. This chapter, like many of the following, doesn’t really support the author’s idea that Halloween is Satanic at all. One of the images here is the cover page of a reprint of Varney the Vampire.

varney halloweenVarney the Vampire is a serialized novel originally published from 1845-1847. It’s a fairly well known piece of literature, and will definitely have come to the attention of anyone who has done any research on vampires. The authors of Halloween and Satanism have taken the cover page of this famous work and given it the heading “Vampire Show Advertisement”. But a book is not the same thing as show, and a title page is not the same thing as an advertisement. This is not a case of me disagreeing with the authors; this is a case of the authors publishing false information. But wait… this isn’t the worst of this variety of mistake to appear in this book. This doesn’t even come close to what pops up in chapter 7…

At the end of chapter 3, the authors suggest that their readers should celebrate “Holy-ween” instead of Halloween. This would entail prayer and dressing up as one’s favourite Bible character. Whoever made this suggestion would doubtlessly go as THE VIRGIN.

Chapter 4 is comprised of descriptions of different occult phenomena, from palmistry to necromancy. The descriptions themselves are basic and generally not condemnatory, but each one is followed by the phrase;
“You can be set free from [insert occult phenomenon here]!”
(You can be set free from Good Luck Charms!, You can be set free from Edgar Cayce!, You can be set free from Tea Leaf Reading!) The effect is generally fairly humorous. I had a hard time picturing the person whose life was being ruined by their commitment to tea-leaf reading. There’s a few irritating grammar mistakes in here too. This book was printed in September, and I imagine it had been rushed to the press to get it out in time for Halloween. I doubt it was ever proofread.

Chapter 5 is just a bunch of Biblical references chosen to support the notion that witchcraft is bad.

Chapter 6 is an awful summary of the history of witchcraft. The complete disregard for separating truth from speculation and opinion renders this fairly difficult to bother analyzing. Anyone with the patience to read a serious critique of this book would never have been capable of taking this rubbish seriously. It’s genuinely appallingly written. There’s a great bit in here about witches’ familiars, the demon-animals that witches use as servants. The authors claim that witches familiars never take the form of fish because fish are linked with christ. I would have thought that this had more to do with the fact that a fish is going to be far less useful as a servant to a human due to the fact that it lives in water. There’s very little mention of Halloween in this chapter.

Chapter 7 discusses the history of black magic and the black Mass. Again, this is awful rubbish and doesn’t really add any weight to the authors’ argument that Halloween is satanic. There’s a fairly lengthy description of a witch being tortured in this chapter that doesn’t serve any function other than sensationalizing the topic. This is objectively terrible writing.

Also included in this chapter is perhaps the most offensive part of the book.

de eewige joodEvangelical christian propaganda vs Nazi propaganda.

This image of an evil looking man, titled “Satanic Symbol” is thrown in the middle of a section about the Black Mass. This “Satanic Symbol” is actually the movie poster for Der ewige Jude, a repulsively anti-Semitic 1940 film produced for Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Minister for Propaganda. The title is still on the poster too. How the fuck did nobody notice this? Either Joan Hake Robie and Phil Phillips didn’t give a fuck about what they put in their book, or they deliberately used an image that the Nazis used in their attempts to dehumanize Jews. Either way, this is a shameful mistake to have made. I’m not easily offended, but when you sit down and think about what’s happened here, it is actually disgusting. They have literally used one of the vilest and sadly, most effective pieces of Nazi propaganda to push their moronic agenda. What a fucking disgrace. They really should be ashamed of themselves.

At this stage, I was getting a bit fed up with this book. The next chapter discusses modern day witchcraft and magic. Nothing of note here.

Chapter 9 gives some satanic terminology and rituals. It actually contains large chunks of text from LaVey’s Satanic Rituals. I wonder if they were given by permission by the Church of Satan… Also included here is a warning to parents to look out for Motley Crue or “Ozzie” Osbourne records in their children’s rooms.

Chapter 10 is weird. It gives accounts of people who played with the occult and suffered because of it. One of them ends up getting attacked by a werewolf Jesus. Utterly stupid.

Chapter 11 is comprised of different news stories. There is mention of the cancellation of a Mercyful Fate concert in Norfolk, Virginia. That must have sucked for Norfolk. I checked it out, and that show was indeed cancelled (although King Diamond played a set in the same venue 4 years later). The rest of these news stories are about kids turning satanic after playing with Ouija boards.

The last 3 chapters wage war on Satan without being very clear on how to achieve victory. There’s some cringey sections in which the authors quote their favourite get-rich-quick, motivational speakers. Unsurprisingly. there’s no brilliant conclusion to tie up all the loose ends into a coherent argument against Halloween.

phil phillips joan hake robieThis is a “picture” of the “authors”.

I think that an intelligent person could very easily write a book about why Christians should reconsider how they celebrate Halloween, but I also doubt that any intelligent person would waste their time doing so.  Halloween and Satanism was clearly not written for intelligent people. This is sensational, incoherent garbage that only the most dangerously stupid idiot could take seriously. It’s misleading, it’s untrue and it’s legitimately offensive. Fuck this shitty book.

My life is extremely busy at the moment, and I actually wrote this review in September to make sure it would be ready for Halloween. In the meantime, I did a little internet sleuthing to see if I could track down either of the authors. I found Phil Phillips’ twitter account, and to my surprise, he seems to have dedicated a lot of his time to helping people, especially kids, in parts of Africa and Asia. He is a Trump supporter (no surprises there), but the guy is definitely not an out-and-out racist. I’d be willing to bet that the Nazi imagery included his book wasn’t included with the intent to sow the seeds of the fourth reich. With this in mind, I reached out to Phil and asked him for an interview.

tweets to phil phillips
These are the only messages I sent. Friendly and polite, no?

Now look, I know that I’ve written some nasty things about books and authors, but I’m not a complete piece of shit. If a person is willing to take the time to talk to me, I’ll be respectful, friendly and polite, regardless of our differences. The reason I wanted to interview Phil Phillips was the fact that I hated his book but thought I saw goodness in him. I hoped to use that goodness as a bridge between our differences so that we could better come to understand each other’s point of view. It was not to be.

blocked
I thought this was a bit of an over-reaction to be honest. I wanted to give the guy a chance to respond to my criticism of his work. As things stand, I can only presume that he’s aware of the shortcomings of his terrible book and doesn’t want to embarrass himself further by talking about it. Fair enough Phil, but you didn’t have to block me. I wasn’t remotely unpleasant to you.

Ok, all that being said, the big day is almost here. I’ve already carved my pumpkin and filled my phone with Misfits and Type O Negative albums. This is going to be my first Halloween as a dad too, and I’m going to initiate my baby girl into the cult of Satan by dressing her up as a cute little witch and taking her to the trick-or-treat party in our apartment building.

witch hat baby

I encourage you all to watch scary movies, listen to heavy metal and worship at the altar of Satan this Halloween. Keep it spooky and have a good one!
pumpkins

The Paddling of the Swollen Ass

secret rituals of the oto francis kingThe Secret Rituals of the O.T.O. – Francis King
1973
I’m a member of a few different book related groups on Facebook. A few weeks ago, I saw a man post a link to the ebay auction for his copy of Francis King’s The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O. Within moments, other users of that group had warned him to take the ebay listing down and to try to sell it privately instead. They claimed that the O.T.O. would file a copyright claim to have the ebay auction cancelled. Sure enough, the ebay listing was cancelled less than 6 hours later.

I knew the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis) was originally a German secret society that Aleister Crowley had commandeered at some stage, but I had no personal interest until I saw that they didn’t want people to read a particular book. Nothing is quite as appealing as that which is forbidden, and I immediately determined to read said book.. Unfortunately, copies of this curious text sell for anything between $250 and $1300.

francis king sex satan swasticaThese are the only books I own by Francis King. It can’t be denied that he had a real talent for choosing appealing titles.

Luckily for me, it took about 5 seconds to find the text of Secret Rituals online. It seems rather silly that the O.T.O. would bother filling out the copyright claim against an ebay auction for a single, very expensive copy of the book that’s going to end up wrapped in plastic on some nerdy collector’s shelf when the same exact text is freely available to anyone with access to the internet. Let it go lads. The more you fuss over it, the more people are going to want to read it. I can honestly say that I would never have bothered reading this garbage if not for your hullabaloo.

And this is the thing; the content of this book is actually rather boring. There’s a small biography of the O.T.O. at the beginning, and the rest of the book is taken up with the different initiation rituals. I’m not going to discuss what they entail because I don’t want the O.T.O. to file copyright claims against me, but I will say that there’s nothing all that interesting. You know all the silly ceremonies the Mason’s go through? This is the same crap, only a bit more Templary.
secret rituals of the oto

Members of the O.T.O. have claimed that the documents herein are imperfect draft versions of their rituals. King supposedly got them off some collector and stuck them together in a book without really asking permission. Others have pointed out that these rituals don’t make any sense without another document, De Arte Magica. The best part about this omission is that De Arte Magica was later printed in full in Scott Michaelsen’s Portable Darkness with the O.T.O.’s permission. (It’s also available online.)

oto lamen.jpgAll in all, the controversy surrounding this book is far more alluring than its contents. I wouldn’t recommend reading it, but can’t deny that doing so was moderately satisfying.
.

crowley liber cdxv paris workingLiber CDXV – Opus Lutetianum or The Paris Working – Aleister Crowley
1913

It’s no secret that the O.T.O. teaches sex magic. I was doing a bit of research on the ol’ sex magic after reading their secrets, and I came across Liber CDXV – Opus Lutetianum or The Paris Working. This is basically a magickal diary kept by Aleister Crowley during a lengthy sex magick ritual that he was practicing with his mate Victor Neuburg. This ritual is the basis for the story of Crowley told by the Canon Copely Syle in Dennis Wheatley’s To the Devil a Daughter and again by Wheatley in his The Devil and all his Works. The story tells of Crowley going mad and his son (who never existed) dying in an attempt to evoke Pan. What actually happened was that Crowley and Neuburg took a bunch of drugs and bummed the arses off each other. Fair play.
Read the cryptic account of their drugged-out bumming frenzy here.

This has been my third post in a row relating to Aleister Crowley. Kenneth Grant led his own branch of the O.T.O., and The Magical Revival discusses sex magic at length, even briefly mentioning Crowley and Neuburg’s tango in Paris. The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook shys away from elaborating on any of the truly lurid details of Crowley’s practices, but it does suggest that his poetry might be a good place to look if one was interested in that kind of thing. My own suggestion would be to read Crowley’s poem, Leah Sublime. It’s a love poem to one of his girlfriends, and it contains the lines;

“Shit on me, slut!
Creamy the curds
That drip from your gut!
Greasy the turds!
Dribble your dung
On the tip of my tongue!”

He did actually eat her poos in real life too, and that’s not even nearly the worst of it. Leah Hirsig was the woman that had tried to have sex with a goat for one of Crowley’s rituals. When the goat wouldn’t fuck her, Crowley slit its throat and let it bleed all over her.

Hopefully it will be a while before I post about this Crowley scumbag again. I feel like it’s time to read some fiction. My life is a bit hectic at the moment too, so posts here might be a bit more sporadic for a while.

A Chat with Sandy Robertson, Author of the Aleister Crowley Scrapbook

the aleister crowley scrapbookThe Aleister Crowley Scrapbook – Sandy Robertson
Foulsham – 1988 + 2002

Although I don’t practice Magick or believe in most of his bullshit, I have written about Aleister Crowley several times. As full of shit as he clearly was, he led a peculiarly interesting life, and while there are countless books about his magickal philosophy, there are also many books that discuss his life and legacy. The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook is one such work. It’s a collection of articles, photographs, poems, and various other bits and pieces, all relating to Mr. Crowley. For somebody who hasn’t heard To Mega Therion, this could serve as a nice introduction; it uses cool pictures and first hand sources to form a biography and discuss Crowley’s influence on pop culture. It does not get bogged down in his magickal theory. (Thank heavens.) For the more seasoned Crowleyite, this book contains several, very interesting, items that were previously unpublished. So whether you’re a Crowley neophyte or a high ranking member of the O.T.O., this is a cool book to have in your collection.

My only real complaint about this book is that it’s too short. The material that’s here is great, but you can find lots of other Crowleyana online. Given the wealth of information about the Great Beast that is currently available on the internet, it would be physically impossible to compile a Crowley scrapbook that would come close to being comprehensive. One must also remember that this book was published in 1988, before the days of google image search. Its author, Sandy Robertson, didn’t merely copy and paste this stuff from wikipedia. He actually went out and acquired physical copies of the documents herein.

sandy b&w_resized_6 (1)
Photo of Sandy by Ann Pearce

Sandy is the former features editor of Sounds magazine, he has appeared in a BBC documentary on Aleister Crowley, and he is one of the individuals responsible for giving Montague Summers‘ grave a headstone. On top of that, he is a really nice guy.  We have recently been chatting about the Scrapbook, Crowley and a few other bits and pieces.

crowley magick robe

Duke: The range of material in the Scrapbook is really impressive. How long did it take to acquire all of that stuff? Any interesting stories about how you got your hands on it?

Sandy: I’d been fascinated by AC since childhood, despite, as I say in the Scrapbook,  being warned off by my father. Of course, that only made the subject more attractive! My parents were quite lenient really – I remember my mother getting me into the x- film Dr Blood’s Coffin when I was about ten by pleading with the ticket lady! “He LOVES this stuff, he won’t be scared!”

As there was no Internet back then I had to go to places like photo libraries for images. In one I found an original dust- jacket for Crowley’s Moonchild novel – apart from a crease from folding it was gleaming like new, with a label on the back indicating it had been sent out at the time of publication to promote it. It had obviously been laying in that file since the 1920s.

People like my friend Timothy d’Arch Smith, the eminent bibliographer who’s forgotten more about AC than I will ever know, were a great help. He helped me get the rights to the memoir by AC’s landlord, and put me on to the two feuding ex mistresses of Beresford Egan whom I had to negotiate to reprint his fabulous caricature of AC. (My favourite part of the book, Ed.) They hated each other and his estate had been split between them. The AC memoir had been published by Tim and his pal Victor Hall as a limited edition booklet under the “Victim Press” imprint – geddit?! Victor asked a very reasonable £25 which he claimed was “legally necessary”! Tim told me that Victor was once found at Heathrow trying to fly to Paris in his nightgown, having escaped from some mental facility or other. Police asked the cabbie who’d taken him there why he hadn’t been alerted by his attire, to which he responded, “I thort ‘e was an A-rab, guvnor!”

David Tibet found me, if memory serves, an original booklet from AC’s funeral – he found two at a fiver each! It’s been reprinted since then, of course, but at the time it was very rare. Tibbles used to be my flatmate when I was in Primrose Hill. The landlady was alarmed by his bald head and leather attire. (Tibet has become a legendary cult figure  –  the landlady would surely approve of his Paul Smith suits which long ago replaced the boots and leather coat.)

thoughtful aleister crowleyDuke: Funny you should mention Timothy d’Arch Smith. I’ve reviewed a few of his books already, and I have a copy of his novel, Alembic, lying on my shelf just waiting to be read. I looked at your thank-you list at the back of the Scrapbook and saw a few other names that have popped up on this blog before, Francis King being one of them. I’m actually halfway through writing a post about his controversial book on the O.T.O., and I’m wondering if you perhaps have any insider information on that scandal or any advice to a person writing about it. (I’m a bit scared the O.T.O. will try to shut down my site if I mention it!)

Sandy: Francis King was a lovely guy but I can’t shed any light on what you ask about. I was very chuffed when he did a fortune telling set for WHSmith, and in the numerology bit he used an imaginary fellow called Sandy Robertson. Actually the personality details were spookily accurate.

Duke: Were you careful about not stepping on toes when you were compiling the Scrapbook? I can’t imagine the members of the Stiff Kittens being delighted with what you said about their record art!

Sandy: I never avoid stepping on anyone’s toes which gets me into scrapes. I always review things honestly rather than backslap, which seems to be what lots of folk in all genres of art do. Backscratching.

Duke: You mentioned before that the American edition of the Scrapbook is slightly shorter due to a complaint from Kenneth Anger. Can you give us the details of this scandal, Hollywood Babylon style, or would doing so put you at a risk of being cursed by Anger?

Sandy: I love Anger’s work but he does seem to make a career of being a professional asshole. Basically, my publisher told me he objected to my printing letters from him to a guy in the OTO who had bootlegged Jimmy Page’s soundtrack to his film Lucifer Rising. The letters show them to be on good terms, but when the guy was expelled from the OTO he said Anger turned on him and acted shocked about his behaviour. Hmmm. Well I never. Say no more for fear of little men, eh, Duc! These are cold, hard facts I’m giving you…heh heh. He also objected to my saying he claimed Sympathy for the Devil by the Stones was about him. If anyone can find a quote anywhere where he claims that I’d be grateful as I’m sure I didn’t conjure it out of nowhere. Grrrr.

aleister crowley scrapbooksI somehow ended up with two copies of this book, a hardback from 1988 and a paper back from 2002. The 2002 edition has an extra paragraph in the introduction. Otherwise identical.

Duke: In “The Fictional Crowley” section of your book, you mention several books/stories containing characters based on Crowley. I’ve already read the books by Maugham and Wheatley and the story by M.R. James. (Loved them all!) Which of the other books featuring fictional Crowleys are worth reading?

Sandy: I’ve been compiling a list for years now of every instance I can find where AC appears as a fictional character or where a character appears to be based on him, and I think I’m up to about 60 now.

The James Blish novel Black Easter is marvellous, also a sequel called The Day After Judgement. The magickian Theron Ware has no physical resemblance to AC but my gut tells me he’s the inspiration for a demonologist who brings about the end of the world!

Colin Wilson’s Man Without A Shadow has been reissued under a few different names and remains an amusing read.  A great man, very kind and sadly missed. My father used to make his walking sticks!

AC is still going strong in fiction – in recent years I have loved The Monster’s Lament by Robert Edric, in which he tries to swap souls with a man about to be hanged, and Jake Arnott’s two books The Devil’s Paintbrush and The House of Rumour, both loosely based on fact. I wrote an article on AC in fiction for Fenris Wolf on this stuff recently.

My AC fiction list is for a projected handlist – not sure I could dignify it with the title of ‘bibliography’ and I’m notoriously lazy so who knows when it’ll see the light of day, especially as new titles keep appearing.

crowley with his magic wandDuke: It’s now 70 years since Crowley died. Since your book came out, the fickle public has had an extra 30 years to forget about him. On the other hand, your book (along with the internet) has made Crowley and his writings a lot more accessible. Do you reckon that the general public is more or less aware of Crowley than they were when the Scrapbook came out? Are you still as interested in AC as you were when your book came out?

Sandy: Obviously the internet has made it easier to locate materials and people, and I guess younger folk are more aware of AC than they were in the 80s when the Scrapbook came out. I was in HMV buying this fabulous new film A Dark Song, about a woman hiring a guy to do the Abremalin Ritual (which AC famously never completed) and without knowing that I was buying an occult-y item the sales lad looked at my Houdini t-shirt and said “That looks like Aleister Crowley!”

Yes I am still fascinated by him. I don’t do magick in any practical way, except that everything is magick. I cannot debate details of this or that translation of whatever ritual or manuscript. I’m more obsessed by the man and his life.

Duke: That film, A Dark Song, looks right up my alley. I reviewed S.L. MacGregor Mathers’ translation of the Abramelin text a few months ago! Not only that, but this is an Irish horror film? I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of it until now! Did I ever tell you that I was born and raised in Dublin? Hey, speaking of Ireland, I was doing a bit of online sleuthing, and I found an interview you did with the Boomtown Rats in 1977. It starts off with the sentence “I’ve never been hot to trot for Irish people”…

Sandy: I think the Dark Song film is from an Irish director and was filmed in Wales. Sorry about the jibes re Ireland. Growing up I felt, to steal a quote I read, that my homeland was hot in summer, freezing in winter, and unbearable at all times. And Ireland seemed little better, the same prejudices magnified. Only when I’d been away for decades did I appreciate the marvellous wealth of literature and folklore of the two countries. I’m a great Wilde fan and love reading about Scottish witches. There were executions in Paisley, next to my hometown Renfrew, “cradle of the Stuarts” as the first was born there when Robert de Bruce’s daughter, wed to the Royal steward, gave premature birth as she died falling off her horse. I still can’t stand that cunt Geldof, though.

I’ve never paid much attention to Sir Bob, so I don’t know if he’s really a cunt or not, but strangely enough, it turns out that his late daughter, Peaches, was a huge fan of Crowley. She even had an O.T.O. tattoo.
peaches geldof instagram crowley

Although published almost 30 years ago, Sandy’s book is well known by Thelemites and still in print. I reckon it’s a nice addition to any Crowley collection (although I don’t see a copy of it on Peaches’ shelf!), but Sandy has had his detractors:

Sandy: I was only lately shown a review that came out at the time of publication, penned by a guy I’m assured is one of the biggest prats in Thelemic circles. He opined that it was unlikely AC had gay sex with Pollitt (the man he’d called his first wife!) and that the author pic of me made him realise that this is wishful thinking on my part!?! First, I’m not gay and have no prejudice either way. Second, I don’t know how he could intuit my sexuality from a head and shoulders b&w shot. Third, poetry AC wrote to drag artiste Pollitt is explicitly homosexual.

Another guy who turned up at a signing asked if I practice magick. I said no, if I was going to do it it’d be a serious undertaking – I probably don’t have enough discipline and one wouldn’t do, say, nuclear physics on the weekend for a lark. He went away and wrote that I admitted I was just another bandwagon jumper who latched onto Crowley. I should have known better than talk to a hack – I mean, I was one!

I’ll just point out that although Sandy had the decency not to name names, the review by the man who (perhaps wishfully) believed that Sandy was wishfully believing that Crowley was gay is fairly easy to find online. Let’s just say his last name rhymes with jelly.

I like books about Aleister Crowley and the occult and all of that good stuff, but my first love is, and always will be, rock’n’roll. When having a discussion with the man who introduced Genesis P-Orridge to Frank Zappa, I couldn’t resist asking a couple of off-topic questions:

Duke: Did you really cut an interview with Roky Erickson short because he was brandishing a huge knife?

Sandy: A fan gave Roky a knife, which he waved around during the photo session alarming lenswoman Jill Furmanovsky. The reason I walked out of the interview early was that questions I posed were met by minutes long silences before he’d finally say something rivetting like ‘Ah doan’t know”. I played the tape to some people and they understood. I left the tape running and the whole time I was away he sat there with his wife and not a single syllable passed between them. You could feel the waves of mental illness coming off him. Brian Wilson was a happy bunny compared to Roky.

Duke: Are there any recordings of your old band, the Nobodies?

Sandy: Luckily, I’m sure any bedroom tapes of the Nobodies have been erased. Missing episodes of Mystery & Imagination are a tragedy for posterity, missing tapes of me caterwauling are a blessing. I did record a synth type album and sent it to Eno’s Obscure Records. He had the sense not to release it. My old Nobodies pal Alex Fergusson was in Alternative TV and Psychic TV before moving to Germany and begetting twin sons. If anyone’s in touch with him I’d love to hear from him.

I want to thank Sandy for being so patient, accommodating and pleasant. For more of his stuff, check out Rock’s Back Pages and go out and buy his book.

Robert Anton Wilson, Sex Magician!

robert anton wilson the sex magicians

Today, the 23rd of July, is Robert Anton Wilson day. Today is also the 44 year anniversary of Robert Anton Wilson’s first contact with extraterrestrials from Sirius. To celebrate the occasion, I’m going to discuss RAW’s first published novel, The Sex Magicians. fnord

I need preface my discussion of The Sex Magicians by mentioning a few facts concerning the author’s best known book. Robert Anton Wilson claimed that he and Robert Shea started working on The Illuminatus! Trilogy in 1969. He also said it took 5 years to find a publisher for this cult classic. The book was published in 1975, suggesting that it had been finished at some stage in 1970.

In 1973, after three unsuccessful years of trying to find a publisher for this massively complex and confusing masterpiece, Wilson seems to have been unable to contain himself. He took some of the characters and plot elements from the unpublished manuscript of Illuminatus! and worked them into The Sex Magicians, a work of hardcore pornography.

I was actually suprised by how much porn this book contains. At first, I thought it would be more of a novel with some porny bits than a porno with some novelly bits. I was wrong. I think every chapter has a sex scene, and they get fairly juicy. We’re talking incest, anal and gorilla cocks here. There’s also a scene that features a woman begging to be fucked by Frodo Baggins. If that doesn’t get your motor running, I don’t know what will.

Now, a cynic might assume that RAW chose to use pornography as the medium to express his ideas because he had lost hope of ever getting Illuminatus! published. Perhaps he believed that diluting his outlandish ideas with hardcore sex scenes was the only way to make them accessible to the general public. Had he become convinced that only publishers of pornography would ever accept a novel whose plot revolves around a trouble-making dwarf and the Illuminati?

While the above reasoning is fairly sensible, it doesn’t take into account the genius of Robert Anton Wilson. Personally, I refuse to believe that the publishing of The Sex Magicians represents RAW’s giving up on getting Illuminatus! published. On the contrary, I believe that the publishing of the Sex Magicians represents an attempt (that was hugely successful) to get Illuminatus! published. Fnord

Sex Magic as far as I understand it, is the harnessing of sexual energy for using in magical rituals. Grant Morrison, who incidentally is a big RAW fan, describes a very basic act of sex magic: Fnord 

  1. In sentence form, write down the goal that you want to achieve.
  2. Cross out the vowels and repeating letters from the goal. Fnord
  3. Take the remaining letters and turn them into a cool looking sigil.
  4. Masturbate and as you orgasm, focus on or visualise the sigil you have created.

Focusing on the sigil during climax charges it with sexual energy and sets the magic in motion. Like I said, this is a very simplistic ritual (one which Grant Morrison claims is effective), but it gives a basic idea of how sex magic works.

With this rudimentary understanding of sex magic, let’s re-examine Robert Anton Wilson’s decision to publish a book of hardcore pornography in 1973. Yes, pornography afficionadoes may not be primarily concerned with the plot and characters and themes of the smut that they are reading, but these elements certainly enter into their consciousness. As the reader makes their way through The Sex Magicians, their arousal and awareness of RAW’s conspiracy theories are simultaneous. This arousal charges the ideas and concepts in the background of this novel, and just like Grant Morrison’s sigil wanking, the sexual energy becomes a driving force in achieving the author’s aims. By writing a book of hardcore porn and interspersing it with characters and concepts from the unpublished manuscript of Illuminatus!, Robert Anton Wilson instigated a wide-scale act of sex magic.  Through the orgasms achieved by readers of the Sex Magicians, the characters and ideas originally from Illuminatus! became charged with enough power to drive that novel into publication. The Sex Magicians is not just a smutty novel; it is a grimoire, a veritable sexual spellbook!  Fucking genius! Fnord

Now, I don’t know if RAW ever admitted as much; he wrote quite a lot, and I haven’t read all of his books (yet), but I am quite sure that he would at least enjoy my theory. That being said, there are some pretty flagrant clues within the book itself that support my hypothesis. I mean, for the love of god, the book is called The Sex Magicians. Perhaps the most important character in the book, the mischievous Markoff Chaney, is also the most direct link to the Illuminatus! trilogy. Not only that, but the events described in the Sex Magicians end up having been set into action by Markoff committing an act of sex magic. I won’t describe what that act is in case you want to read the book, but I will say that it bears some rather striking similarities with the act (or acts) that RAW set out to instigate. Also, we’re talking about Robert Anton Wilson here. That he believed in the efficacy of magic is not up for debate, and if anyone ever had the ingenuity and sense of humour to do something like this, it would be him. (Grant Morrison did hold a wankathon to try to boost sales of the Invisibles, and while that is obviously a hilarious idea, it seems crude in comparison to what RAW “pulled off”. Plus, it’s common knowledge that Grant Morrison is a huge RAW fan, so maybe this is where he got the idea.)
Fnord
So if this book is just a magical tool that RAW used to get Illuminatus published, is it worth reading? Yeah, sure it is. I mean, it’s nowhere near as mental as Illuminatus!, but it’s got fairly similar vibes going through it, and both books share characters. I don’t know how many of my readers are James Joyce fans, but I know RAW loved him, so I’ll say that if Illuminatus! was Ulysses, The Sex Magicians has the same kind of relationship to the author’s masterpiece as Portrait of an Artist, only with the readability of Dubliners. If it sounds like your kind of thing, you should give it a go. The book has been out of print for a very long time, and copies are usually fairly pricy ($300+), but somebody put the whole thing online (apparently with RAW’s permission) and a quick google search for the books title, the author’s name and .pdf will doubtlessly sort you out.

I wonder what happens if you wank off to this book now that RAW’s will has been done and Illuminatus! has been published. At what are the Illuminated King-Kong Sex Magic vibes now directed? Fnord

Trapped in a Dream of the Necronomicon

dead names necronomicon simon
Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon – Simon

Avon – 2006

Before reading the Simon Necronomicon, I had never entertained the idea that it might be an authentic text, and I was quite surprised when I discovered that many individuals believe that it is truly an ancient spellbook. I gave the matter some consideration, and the only real evidence that I could see for the book’s authenticity was “how much it sucks”. Despite the title and the framing story, there’s very little Lovecraftian material in here. Sure, it’s really only a few oul’ sigils and a muddle of Babylonian mythology. If somebody was going to hoax out a Necronomicon, literature’s most infamous book of twisted black magic, you’d think that they’d make it a bit nastier. As it turns out, Simon, the chap who edited the Necronomicon feels the same way.

Dead Names begins with the expanded story of how the Necronomicon was discovered and published. This tale involves the Kennedy assassinations, the Son of Sam murders, warring covens of witches, mysterious suicides and a bizarre gang of questionably consecrated priests. We’re lashing conspiracies onto conspiracies here, but A) Simon provides evidence for some of his claims, and B) I love conspiracies. This part was pretty good; it felt like reading a more sinister version of the Da Vinci Code. Really, the most disappointing part of the story was getting to the end and realizing that I was only halfway through the book.

You see, unfortunately for everyone, Simon is not just expanding the mythos of the Necronomicon in Dead Names, he is also trying to prove its authenticity. Approximately half of this book is taken up with Simon’s arguing that the Necronomicon is a legitimate ancient text. I could go into explaining his reasoning, but ughh, who fucking cares? (If you do care and you want to witness Simon getting pwned, I strongly suggest checking out the blog of Simon’s arch-nemesis.)

The story of an ancient Babylonian manuscript showing up in New York is unlikely, but it’s totally possible. The story of an ancient manuscript with the same name as a fictional book invented by a horror writer, a text that has clearly been written by a “Mad Arab” who perfectly fits the description of the author in the horror writer’s stories, is far less likely, especially when said writer repeatedly claimed that the manuscript was entirely fictional. Simon says that Lovecraft had read the Necronomicon; Lovecraft said the Necronomicon was “fakery”, “fictitious”, “100% fiction” and “merely a figment of my own imagination”.

Simon has tried to keep his identity secret for the past 40 years because he supposedly came by the book illegally and doesn’t want to deal with the consequences. Why would Lovecraft have repeatedly denied the existence of the same book? Had he come across it illegally too? Why did he write so much about it if he didn’t want people to associate it with him?

Unfortunately, there are no good reasons to believe that the Necronomicon is real. Simon’s arguments are lame, selective and unconvincing, and reading the latter half of this book felt like Chariots of the Gods or some other wishy-washy work of pseudo-academia. I mean, to prove his points, Simon repeatedly references a book by one of the author’s of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, perhaps the most infamously debunked book of conspiracies ever written. Come on Simon, you’re fooling no-one.

Much like the book that its about, Dead Names would have been far better if the author had gone all out horror show. The origin story of the Necronomicon given here features all the shady ingredients necessary to make a truly entertaining weird tale, but Simon constrains himself with a set of unconvincing arguments that do nothing but make him look like a fool. By the end of the book, you start to feel embarrassed for the lad. I mean, nobody over the age of 15 believes the book is real, and Simon himself knows better than anyone that it’s not real, yet he gets into petty squabbles with people over its authenticity. At a certain point it seems to become more important for him to appear smarter than his critics than it does for him to provide evidence that the Necronomicon is real. It’s like watching an internet troll forget that they’re trolling.