Alembic – Timothy d’Arch Smith

alembic timothy d'arch smith.jpgAlembic – Timothy d’Arch Smith
Dalkey Archive Press – 1992

Alembic is a novel about alchemy, insanity, sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and  magic. If that doesn’t make you want to read it, this blog isn’t the place for you. Alembic is the only novel by Timothy D’Arch Smith, a name you might recall from my earlier posts on his bibliography of Montague Summers and Books of the Beast, a collection of essays about the books of Aleister Crowley, Summers and Austin Spare. D’Arch Smith is a pretty cool guy.

The plot of Alembic is fairly puzzling. The narrator works for the English Government’s secret alchemy department. While he’s taking some time off work to visit his famous rockstar mate, he bumps into his coworker’s daughter. He falls in love with her, and they have some adventures. This story is punctuated with flashbacks of the narrator’s days in the army. 

In truth, it’s not a very good story.

Most of the novels that I’ve read this year have been of the trashy horror fiction variety. That style of writing is usually fairly to the point, and the books are plot driven, focused on the tale, not the telling. Alembic is quite the opposite. It reads like a book written to showcase the author’s writing. D’Arch Smith uses his verbiage to great comic effect at times, but overall, the writing style is overwhelming. Several secondary characters get lost and blend into each other in the dense text.

cadaver tomb rene chalon richierThe cover image of the book is a drawing of this statue. Originally the statue held the actual heart of René de Chalon. Cool.

When I started reading this book, it reminded me of the early novels of Flann O’Brien. This might have been due to the fact that Alembic was put out by Dalkey Archives, a publisher named after one of O’ Brien’s novels, but the grandiose descriptions of the utterly banal definitely seemed a bit Flannesque to me.  The other influence that I couldn’t help but notice was Nabakov’s Lolita. Yes, unfortunately this is another book about a grown man falling in love with and raping a child. I didn’t like this part. The girl in here is 14. The male is in his mid twenties. Aside from one comically repulsive scene, this book isn’t sexually explicit, but it was still unpleasant to read the narrative of a diddler.

Timothy D’Arch Smith has also written a book about the Uranian poets. These were a gang of paedophiles who liked writing poems about little boys. Hey, reading/writing books about something doesn’t mean you like it, but why put it in your own fiction? I don’t mean to be accusatory, but I did wonder why he didn’t just make the girl two years older. 

One possible explanation might be the fact that the book revolves around a Led Zeppelin styled band named Celestial Praylin. I’m not a big enough Zeppelin fan to have been able to understand the similarities between them and the fake band, but the cover of the book and every review I’ve read of it has mentioned Zeppelin. D’Arch Smith used to be close with Jimmy Page. He was the guy who got Page all his books on Crowley, and he later dedicated his Books of the Beast to the rocker. Anyways, as we all know, Jimmy Page repeatedly raped a 14 year old when he was in his late twenties, so maybe it just felt natural to include a bit of child abuse in a Led-Zeppeliny book. Anyone wanting to play the “14 is old enough to give consent” or “times were different back then” cards can fuck right off. He knew it was wrong and he did it anyway. Page is a nonce.

aleister crowley signatureThe lettering of the title on the cover of Alembic is clearly based on the signature of Aleister Crowley although I’m not entirely sure why. It probably has something to do with the magical child/homunculus motifs that run through the book.

I was a bit surprised with Alembic. I really liked the other books that I’ve read by this author, and I had wanted to read this one for ages. There were several parts that made me laugh out loud, and there are some cool ideas in here, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as I expected to. Given the role of alchemy plays in the narrator’s life, I suspect that there were levels of meaning in this book that went totally over my head.

The Necromantic Ritual Book – Leilah Wendell

wendell necromantic ritual book.jpg
The Necromantic Ritual Book – Leilah Wendell
Westgate Press  – 2005 (First published 1991)

Here’s a short and sweet grimoire of necromantic death magic. I was fairly surprised with this one. It’s probably the grimmest book of magic I’ve ever reviewed.

The first part of the book deals with “getting comfortable in Death’s presence”. It explains how the prospective necromancer must spend a night of contemplation in contact with a corpse. At this point, alarm bells were going off in my head. If this was just the preparation, what would the more adept rituals entail?

A lengthy portion of the text is spent describing how to make “a sculpted talisman for necromantic rites”, basically a physical body for a magical entity. Unlike the “anchoring base for an artificial spirit” from The Dark Arts of Tarantula, this talisman must be physically made by the magician; a Dungeons and Dragons figurine will not do. And unlike the Genies created in The Hallowed Genie, Wendell’s talismans must be composed of as much dead matter as possible. Oh, and they’re supposed to be life sized too, so Wendell suggests using an actual human skeleton as the frame. This frame is then to be covered in a thick paste of festering dead matter. Pulped roadkill and hideously rotten human remains are to be ground up with graveyard dirt for this task. Once this is done, the stinking mass of death sausage is to be wrapped tightly in a winding sheet that has been soaked with glue. This putrescent monstrosity is to be kept hidden, presumably in the shadows of the magicians house.

I mean, that sounds like the beginning of an amazing horror story, and I wonder if anybody has ever actually gone through with it. Imagine the stench. You’d probably contract all types of horrid diseases from in the process. Imagine having friends or family over and one of them finding your stinky friend. You’d end up in a mad house.

wendell necromancy angel of death
Ok, so after the creating a rot-golem section, I knew that Leilah wasn’t just your average witchy magician. She was clearly a real freak, but I was still a bit surprised at the end of the book.

In describing the culmination of an act of “high necromancy”, she explains that the magician will experience “an erection (in males) or sensuous expression (in females)”. She then instructs the magician, “At this point, do not suppress your desires. Give into them and follow their lead.” I ask you, my dear reader, how do you interpret that advice? It sounds very much to me like she is advocating necrophilia. In the following pages she seems to issue a solemn warning against doing so, but if you read this passage carefully, you’ll see that she only warns against having sex with a corpse if you’re not in love with death. She never says that it’s wrong for a true death lover to love the dead. Also, at the end of this book, there is an advertisement for another book of hers titled “Love Never Dies – The Journey of a Necrophile“. This book is described as “a collection of Leilah’s “personal” encounters with Death, via the dead.” It contains “necrophilic erotica, not for the squeemish” (sic). I found an interview with her in which she says that she draws the line at full-on intercourse with the dead, but she might just have been saying that to protect herself. Draw your own conclusions on whether or nor ol’ Leilah has ever ridden a corpse.

I didn’t expect the darkness and depravity of this book. I thought it would be a witchy manual for drawing magic circles in a cemetery. I’d like to read more by Wendell, but her books seem fairly rare, and I’d worry about ordering copies of her work to my house. I don’t know about the legality of owning necrophilia porn, and I’d be a bit apprehensive even looking up the details.

It just occurred to me that over the course of the past two weeks, I’ve published reviews of books on necrophilia, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Sadomagical techniques. I’ll be in big trouble if my mom ever finds my blog.

The Hallowed Genie – Basil Crouch

The Hallowed Genie – Basil E. Crouch
Finbarr International – Publishing date unknown

It seems that the standard of books being reviewed on here recently has declined in a pretty serious way. It’s sad to think of the few people who are dumb enough to buy this kind of rubbish, but it’s more depressing still to think that more than a couple actually put this crap out.

First off, this author’s name is Basil Crouch. That sounds far too similar to Basil Brush for me to be able to read this book without imagining the text being narrated by a snooty English fox. This was doubtlessly the reason for the author’s adoption of the slightly more mysterious pen name ‘Basil La Croix’ for some of his other works. 

basil brush

Anyways, ol’ Basil was either a moron or a swindler. The spells/rituals in here are so stupid that I hope he only put them to paper to relieve idiot Occultists of their expendable income. It’s either that or he was a mentally deficient teenager.

Build a little monster out of clay and then put him in a circle of candles. Tell him 10 times that you need some money, read him some Bible verses, and in no time at all, you’ll be a millionaire. The key to this ritual is the word ‘need’. Telling a Genie that you want something is useless; you have to tell them that you need it.

Basil blames wants for a great deal of the world’s ills. He claims to have medical evidence to show that women who experience an unsatiated desire during pregnancy are likely to give birth to a mutant.

medical curiositiesThe above “medical curiosity” was actually a woman named Rosa Plemons. She suffered from muscular atrophy. She was supposedly kidnapped when she was 19 and put in a freak show. Her tale is more tragic than curious, and I don’t know why she was included in here. I don’t know anything about the bendy lad at the bottom.

Basil makes his ridiculous claim about wants and needs halfway through the book, but it’s only on the last page that he includes images of the resulting ‘medical curiosities’. This is just one of several examples of how disorganized this text is. Certain paragraphs explain that the next section of the book will discuss a certain issue, but that issue won’t actually be mentioned until pages later. Also, it seems as if Basil decided to pad out his text with a few lengthy Biblical Psalms in order to reach his desired page count.

the book of knowhowMe on the bus to work in the morning.

When I started this blog, I read just about any occult-related material I could get my hands on. I quickly realised that most of it is airy-fairy, white-people-with-dreadlocks nonsense. I then focused my attention on black magic and Satanism. I haven’t read or reviewed much that doesn’t at least touch on the darker side of Occultism, so I must have been expecting something of that ilk when I decided to read this. Unfortunately, this book has no badness in it. There’s nothing interesting about it other than the author’s sheer incompetence. This is pathetic.

Note: Since writing this review, I came across a thread about Basil Crouch online. Apparently he was a well respected magician, and there’s curious tales about people destroying his books because they were too “tempting and Dark”. I have managed to track down pdf copies of a few more of his texts, and even though the Hallowed Genie is absolutely awful, I have grown curious and will doubtlessly read and review his other works at some stage. Stay tuned.

Carnal Alchemy – Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain and Self-Transformation

carnal-alchemy-flowers
Carnal Alchemy – Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain and Self – Transformation
Stephen E. Flowers and Crystal Dawn Flowers
Inner Traditions – 2013 (First Published 2011, I think)

I’m interested in sadomasochism and Occultism in roughly the same way. I don’t practice either, but I find them both rather intriguing. On seeing the title of this book, I knew I’d have to read it.

The main idea in here, as far as I can tell, is that S&M can be used for magical purposes. That seems very peculiar until you understand the kinds of magical purposes that the authors are talking about. Don’t expect to able to levitate after a good caning. That’s not the kind of magic we’re dealing with.

old orgyParty time!

The book is titled “Carnal Alchemy”. Alchemy is the science/art/ practice of changing one thing to another, the obvious example being lead into gold. The authors of this book claim that Sadomasochist magicians can transmute themselves/each other from total losers into successful individuals through the practice of sadoshamanism. I’m very sceptical when it comes to promises of magical powers, but I can accept this idea.

For an S&M freak, the pain/torture/humiliation is part of or at least powerfully linked to the sex act. I don’t go for that stuff myself, but who doesn’t feel like a success after a good shag? If somebody who gets off on pain is in a safe, loving, sexually active relationship with a person with complimentary interests, this could certainly have beneficial effects on their self esteem and general success. Is this magic? Sure.

My only issue with this idea is that it’s a bit self aggrandizing. Any sexual fetish is potentially empowering in this way. If a person likes something (safe) and they get it, they will be happier. There’s no need to write a book about it. This whole book has a bit of a “We do S&M. We’re magicians. We’re so cool’ feel to it. The authors do seem to suggest that any sexual act has magical potential, but that the ritualistic nature of S&M makes it particularly effective. I don’t know guys. I think you just wanted to write a book about the things you like.

The rest of the book describes the depraved proclivities of several famous occult practitioners, including Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey and my ol’ buddy Willie Seabrook. There’s also a short section describing basic S&M techniques and a bit about the order of the Triskellion, Sadomagical group run by the authors.

seabrook maskWillie Seabrook and his babe.

The Order of the Triskellion takes its name from the Story of O, a classic of erotic literature. I remember reading that book at work years ago. I had a shitty office job, and I would download PDF books and read them instead of working. It makes me very happy to think that the dickhead owner of that company unwittingly paid me to read kinky erotica.

Anyways, this book is fine. I read it out of curiosity, and reflecting on it now, I didn’t really learn very much. At the same time, if you do enjoy dressing up as Hermione and having your bum spanked, this is doubtlessly the book for you.

The Dark Arts of Tarantula

the dark arts of tarantulaThe Dark Arts of Tarantula – Tarantula
MolochSorcery – 2010

Do the people who write this crap believe in it themselves, or is it just a transparent attempt to take money from simpletons?

This 59 page, poorly formatted piece of garbage might be a contender for the worst drivel I’ve ever reviewed. This is seriously bottom-of-the-barrel stuff.

The physical book is hideous. This looks and reads like like a half-assed high-school project. The cover is ridiculous, and the text inside is an absolute mess. I thought that this was a result of the book being digitalized (as in book to .doc), but on closer inspection, the PDF copy I was reading was actually a scan (as in book to jpg). If I had paid the cost price of 25 dollars for a hard copy of this piece of utter shit, I would hang myself out of shame.

The lad who wrote this nonsense claims that he is able to put the spirits of demons into Dungeons and Dragons figurines. According to him, he keeps these little plastic toys in fancy boxes and feeds them his own cum in return for magical favours. I’m not making this up.

sigil of serylythThis is the sigil that Tarantula created for his demon. I didn’t edit this.

He claims that a member of his occult order ended up having his neck broken by some of these spirits because he wouldn’t feed them enough of his cum. The lad’s friends only found out that demons did it because they were able to chat with his spirit after he died.

Towards the end of the book, the author describes his experience of being bitten by a huge spider and soon thereafter meeting a spiderheaded woman in a crystal castle. The woman’s husband shows up later using a pair of crabs as jet-skis and gives the narrator the power to speak to insects.

The author claims that he has been involved with an occult order for more than 30 years, so it can be assumed that he is an adult. It’s not surprising that he uses a pseudonym.

dark arts of tarantula back

I again pose the question: do these authors actually believe their own rubbish? There’s no coherence or sense to any of this crap. The stuff in this book is so childish that the only adults capable of believing it are the kind that need to have their nappy changed three times a day.

The Infernal Texts: Nox and Liber Koth – Stephen Sennitt

the infernal texts nox and liber kothThe Infernal Texts: Nox and Liber Koth – Stephen Sennitt
New Falcon Publications – 2004 (Originally published 1997/1998)

This book is comprised of a collection of essays about different esoteric orders (Nox) and a grimoire for summoning Lovecraftian entities (Liber Koth). The essays, as far as I can tell, were taken from Stephen Sennit’s occult zine, Nox. These essays are split into three sections: one on the Order of the Nine Angles, one on Nikolas Schrek’s Werewolf Order, and one on mixed bag of weirdos that Sennitt Groups together and refers to as The Nameless Sodality.

I find the Order of The Nine Angles quite interesting. Some people know of them as the occult order that actually advocates human culling, and these people probably assume that it’s a hoax or an urban legend or something. I am not now, nor even have been, part of the O9A, but I was once in contact a person involved with the order who committed some truly reprehensible acts. He’s now in prison. (While some of these weirdos are actually quite dangerous, it is worth emphasizing that despite their delusions, they’re far more high-school shooter dangerous than Sauron dangerous.) Obviously the independent actions of a few weirdos shouldn’t necessarily tarnish the reputation of a whole group, but this group’s philosophy is rather sketchy and acts like a magnet for pieces of shit looking to justify their shittiness.

nox infernal texts

It’s hard to know how seriously the stuff on the Werewolf Order should be taken. I had read about this order before in relation to Radio Werewolf, the order’s musical faction. I enjoyed Radio Werewolf’s hilarious appearances on the Hot Seat with Wally George (part one, part two) so much that I wanted to like their music. (Schrek’s later, more serious, appearances on Bob Larson‘s talk show were less entertaining.) Unfortunately, Radio Werewolf’s songs are absolutely awful. Seriously atrocious shit. I have tried listening to their albums just for the sake of the lyrics, but the accompanying music is so lame that I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a full song.

This Order’s philosophy, as put forth in Nox, the same philosophy which Schrek founded Radio Werewolf to propagate, is cringeworthy. It’s just Church of Satanism edginess pushed half a step further. Members of the order are expected to be warriors, not worriers; Pagans, not pious; predators, not prey; and Beserkers, not Bankers. Lame. From Schrek’s lyrics and willingness to be interviewed by Wally George, it is apparent that he had a sense of humor, and if this the stuff in Nox was written as tongue-in-cheek promotional material to draw attention to Radio Werewolf’s awful music, fair enough, but from the interviews with Schrek that I’ve read, I get the sense that there is an underlying sincerity to his nonsense. Part of the act is clearly satire, but the ratio of satire and satanic sincerity is quite unclear. Read with that in mind, this stuff makes the Werewolf Order come across as a shower of plonkers, Schrek in particular coming across as an absolute arse. ( I chose the word “arse” instead of “ass” deliberately here. I’m not comparing him to a stubborn, uneducated donkey. I’m comparing him to two fleshy, hairy bumcheeks with a tinted brown anus nestled ‘tween.)

The essays from the “Nameless Sodality” are forgettable garbage, crap about Zombie Meat and other rubbish. Don’t waste your time.

cthulu nox koth

Liber Koth is a grimoire of Lovecraftian Chaos Magic. I’m not a magician, so I can’t speak to its efficacy. Just reading it might be moderately enjoyable if you were to imagine yourself as a character in one of Lovecraft’s stories who has stumbled upon some dark tome of eldritch secrets, but I didn’t have the pleasure of doing so because I read it while sitting on a crowded, smelly bus home from work. It was a pretty shit experience.

Most of this book was pretty crap, but at least it was short.

The Catechism of Lucifer – Johannes Nefastos

catechism of luciferThe Catechism of Lucifer – Johannes Nefastos
Ixaxaar – 2013 (First published 2003, I think)

This is another one of those fancy boy Ixaxaar books. I enjoyed the first 3-4 pages and then got very bored. I guess a muggle like me just doesn’t have the brainpower to figure this stuff out.

The Catechism of Lucifer is a Luciferian version of Luther’s Catechism. I did enjoy the fact that the work of a Protestant was being attacked, but that fact also rendered this work a little less blasphemous. I mean, attacking the work of an enemy of Catholicism actually aligns you with the one true church, amirite? I haven’t read anything by Luther (and I hope to John Paul II that I never have to), so i’m sure a great deal of Nefasto’s sinister parody went over my head.

I liked the naughty version of the 10 commandments at the beginning, but the rest of the writing in here is extremely boring. Seriously dull stuff. I mean, I’m sure that some people find it really profound and all that, but I honestly had no idea what this Nefastos lad was talking about. Theosophical Luciferian Gnostic philosophy? Haha, no thanks bud. Thank goodness this was short.

I wonder about the type of people who take these books seriously. I reckon they’re either humourless black metal fans, or neckbeards who collect swords and use an image of an anime character as their Facebook profile pic.

This book doubtlessly looks cool on your shelf and will probably worry your Christian friends if they look through it, but if you want to gain insight from it, good fucking luck. It’s just a load of old crap if you ask me.