A Quaint and Curious Volume of Forgotten Porn

The most exciting part of Francis King’s Sexuality, Magic and Perversion was doubtlessly a passage towards the end of the book where King is discussing how magic has been portrayed in works of pornography. He points out that most of the occult-themed porn that had appeared at the time that he was writing his book had been written by people who had no real knowledge of occultism. He mentions one exception to the rule, referring to a book titled Inpenetrable (the spelling mistake is neither mine nor King’s), a pornographic novel that features the Order of the Golden Dawn invoking demons, worshipping Satan, and indulging in buggery, rape and psychic murder. According to King, the author of this intriguing text actually seemed to have had a decent amount of occult insight.

francis king on inpenetrable
After reading this passage, I had to find the book it’s describing.

In a footnote, King claims to have traced 3 separate printings of this intriguing book. One printing credits a Joel Harris as the author, one credits an Aristotle Levi, and the last seems to have completely withheld the author’s name. King points out that the text in all three editions was produced by photo-lithography, suggesting that all three derived from a previous edition that he has never seen. He also believes that the texts he had seen were published in 1970 or 1971.

I spent a few days trying track down a copy of Inpenetrable, but I could only find one other reference to it. Ellic Howe briefly alludes to it in the penultimate paragraph of his 1972 book The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. He claims that this peculiar work of pornography had recently been brought to his attention by a friend. Judging by the details Howe gives (or lack thereof) and the year that his book was published (the year after Sexuality, Magic and Perversion), I’d be surprised if Howe’s friend hadn’t been Francis King. Howe provides no extra clues about the origin of this peculiar text.

ellic howe inpenetrable
The title of the book, Inpenetrable, didn’t yield any other results, so I decided to search up the name/s of the author. “Joel Harris” led to a dead end, but there are a few, scant mentions of Aristotle Levi online. It seemed as if this guy wrote two other books, Spawn of the Devil and In the Devil’s Power, but there was no other mention of Inpenetrable anywhere. It turns out though, that Spawn of the Devil was translated into Danish and published as I Djævlens Magt, which translates as “In the Devil’s Power” – the two titles were a result of my browser’s automatic translator. There was only one book. Spawn of the Devil (and its translation) came out as part of the Svea Book series, a pornographic series that was published in Denmark in the late 60s and early 70s by a porn company called Nordisk Bladcentral. Some sources credit the work of this Aristotle Levi to a woman named Erica Schoeb, but Erica holds the copyright for all of the books in the Svea series, so it seems likely that she was the series editor or publisher rather than the actual author of any of its texts.

After several hours of searching with these clues, I found an index of science-fiction pornography that gives the following summary of Spawn of the Devil; “Maureen Graille, a seventeenth century witch, is reincarnated in the present.” Bingo! King had mentioned “Maureen Graille, the heroine of the book” in his brief discussion of Inpenetrable. I realised that Spawn of the Devil and Inpenetrable could potentially be two entries in the same series, but judging by the genre I was dealing with, I assumed it more likely that they were just different titles for the same work.

Ok, so I hadn’t been able to find a copy of Inpenetrable, would Spawn of the Devil prove any easier to track down? Like I said, there were very few (maybe 5) mentions of Aristotle Levi or his work online. I don’t want to give away my book-finding techniques to my competitors, but I’ll say that after quite a bit of searching, wrangling, infiltrating strange facebook groups and google-translating, I managed to obtain a single copy of Spawn of the Devil from a dusty, second-hand bookshop somewhere in the Middle-East.

spawn of the devil - aristotle levi
Spawn of the Devil – Aristotle Levi

Svea Book – 1969

Let’s start off with the physical book itself. There’s a few scratches on the cover, but nothing you wouldn’t expect on a book published in 1969. There’s no cover image or blurb on the back. There’s nothing inside other than the story itself – no details on the author or advertisements for other books.

The text is peppered with typos, but the standard of the writing is pretty good. I imagine that the writer probably wrote other, less smutty, books under a different name. In fact, some of the sex scenes in this book seem so sudden and unnecessary that I would be surprised if the author hadn’t originally had loftier aims for this work. This might well have been intended as an occult thriller that was a little too sexy for respectable publishing houses. Maybe after a few refusals, the author took his manuscript to a smut house and was told that instead of being too sexy, the text wasn’t sexy enough. Perhaps he cried into his typewriter as he reedited his manuscript and filled it with “hot cock-sticks”, “quivering quims” and “tight little shitholes” as a last resort to get it published. I’ve read other occult based porn in which the standard procedure was one sex scene per chapter, but this isn’t quite the same. Spawn of the Devil frontloads the smut – once the story gets going, the sex takes a backseat. There’s a few chapters towards the end with barely any riding at all.

And some of the sex scenes are absolutely ludicrous. I’m by no means an expert on literary pornography, and I know that different people get off on different things, but many of the sex acts described in here come across as vulgar and hilarious rather than titillating and sexy. I can’t deny the fact that I greatly enjoy vulgarity though, and I will admit that the following two page description of a disgusting incestuous liaison made me laugh so hard that I cried.

spawn of devil erotica
Please read both pages (higher res image here). It gets better and better. LOL.

Looking back, one of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was Francis King’s assessment of the author as a knowledgeable student of the occult. The occultism herein is largely of the Dennis Wheatley variety, but, like Mr. Wheatley, Mr. Levi clearly has a basic understanding of what he’s greatly exaggerating.

spawn devil inside coverI presume the pseudonym is a mix of the Greek fella and Eliphas Levi.

This book is super rare. If you plan on hunting down a copy, good luck to you. If you’re not pushed, here’s a summary of the story:

The story starts off with Maureen, a witch, observing an orgy in the forest. She isn’t partaking, just watching. When she leaves, she is apprehended by an angry mob of villagers who presume she had just finished up early and was heading home. The mob go on to capture all of the revelers.

All of the revelers are burned at the stake along with Maureen and her husband, Tom. Just before they are set alight, Maureen promises Tom that they will live again.

300 years later, a pair of twins that regularly have been having sex with each other since they were children both feel a sudden urge to go and dig a hole in a certain part of their village. They discover a strange ring. The sister, who is named Maureen, puts it on.

Soon thereafter, Maureen is having lunch in a fancy restaurant. By chance, she meets a lady called Celia Aston. It turns out that Celia is one of the leading members of a magical secret society called the Golden Dawn. She invites Maureen and her brother Tom to her house where she shows them her magical book collection and introduces them to her husband.

Maureen gets it into her head that she wants to be in Celia’s position. To put a curse on Celia, Maureen and Tom perform a gruesome black-magic sex ritual:

sex ritual curse
Yuck, but also Hahahaha.

The ritual is successful and Celia dies soon thereafter. Using mind control, Maureen convinces Celia’s grieving husband to marry her within a matter of months.

Later on, during a Golden Dawn orgy, Maureen manages to summon a spirit. It’s either Pan or Satan, or maybe both. Only Maureen and a crucified prostitute that Maureen had hired for the occasion actually see the spirit. The prostitute goes insane afterwards. While this is all happening, one of the other members of the Golden Dawn, a lady named Nona, simultaneously gets raped and senses that Maureen is a bad apple.

After this night of black magic and debauchery, Nona and her boyfriend visit a very powerful old witch named Kyleen to see if anything can be done about Maureen. They don’t know it, but Maureen was actually watching them do this by means of black magic.

Maureen summons the spirit of Pan to kill all three of them. She is successful in doing so, but unfortunately for her, Kyleen had been able to do some summoning of her own. Shortly afterwards, Maureen and Tom are killed when their ship sinks during a cruise. Just before they die, Maureen reassures Tom that they will meet again.

The book ends in the future. In the year 2236, a set of twins are born, a boy and a girl.

Spawn of the Devil isn’t the greatest occult-thriller in my collection, but it’s nowhere near the worst. Its combination of black magic and silly synonyms for genitalia pleased me immensely, and I can’t imagine a book more appropriate for this blog. Moreover, the process of reading about it in King’s book, researching it, tracking it down, waiting to see if it would ever actually arrive, and then reading and reviewing it a few months later has been rather exciting. When I started this blog and began reading books by people like Montague Summers, Timothy D’Arch Smith and even Francis King himself, I was jealous of the depths of their research and of the discoveries they had made in the realms of occult literature. It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I found it immensely satisfying to solve part of a mystery posed by one of these individuals 47 years ago.

francis king inpenetrable footnote

Inpenetrable was first published by Nordisk Bladcentral as as Spawn of the Devil, a novel by Aristotle Levi. Unfortunately, I can’t claim to know who Aristotle Levi (or Joel Harris) was. My reading suggests that he probably wrote other books (under a different name) in the late 60s/early 70s. He clearly had an interest in the occult. His repeated use of the word bollocks means that he was almost definitely British. This book was published in Copenhagen and translated into Danish, so it is possible that he had some other link to Denmark. Does this description sound familiar to anyone? I wonder if there’s anybody alive today who knows his true identity. If anyone has any further information on Aristotle Levi, Joel Harris, Inpenetrable or Spawn of the Devil, please, please, please, leave a comment or email me to let me know.

 

Sexuality, Magic and Perversion – Francis King

This post was originally intended for Saint Valentine’s day, but I made some startling discoveries whilst writing it and had to postpone its publication until things were sorted out.

sex magic and perversion francis kingSexuality, Magic and Perversion – Francis King
Citadel Press – 1974 (Originally published 1971)

I hadn’t read anything by King when I bought this book based on its title alone (I’ve since reviewed his Secret Rituals of the O.T.O.), and I was expecting something rather trashy when I made the purchase. This book, however, isn’t very trashy at all. It’s a relatively sensible overview of how sex has been used in magical practice throughout history. It’s pretty good.

I didn’t follow some of the stuff on tantricism at the beginning, but the chapters on the more modern occultists were very interesting. I’ve seen Charles Leadbeater’s name come up in loads of books that discuss Theosophy, but I didn’t know he was a dirty, boy-touching bastard until I read this one. The stuff on Crowley was entertaining too. Apparently ol’ Aleister liked getting bummed as crowds of his friends watched.
aleister crowley bugger

Sexuality, Magic and Perversion was insightful, well researched and it made me want to read more books. The writing was neither overly academic nor flagrant nonsense. I’m looking forward to reading more of Francis King’s work in the future.

Yes, this post is considerably shorter than my regular output, but don’t be dismayed. I’ve held back on the really interesting discovery that I made whilst reading this book. Said discovery is so exciting that I’m giving it its own separate post. (I’ll post it tomorrow!) If you’re at all interested in Sexuality, Magic and Perversion (the book) and/or sexuality, magic, perversion and the activities these concepts entail, I guarantee, you’ll want to read what’s coming up next.

 

Raped by the Devil – The Worst of the Worst

The Devil must be one of the most frequently occurring characters in the canon of Western literature. Over the last few years, I’ve been seeking out and reading books in which he makes an appearance, but I’ve now gotten to a stage where I’ve read most of the really well known ones and I’m having to move on to slightly less popular texts. As I do so, I’m noticing that the quality tends to be dropping. Reading Dennis Wheatley’s The Satanist after having read Milton’s Paradise Lost, one understands how Lucifer must have felt when he was falling from the heavens; it’s a pretty steep decline.

Finding myself travelling down this highway to literary Hell, I decided to rev up my engines and aim for rock bottom. I have no time for dull diabolism; if I’m reading a book about the devil, I want it to be either really fucking good, or REALLY fucking bad. I decided to seek out the single worst book in which Satan plays a starring role, and guess what!

I’m pretty sure I found it.

raped by the devil - satans libraryRAPED by the DEVIL – Anonymous
Star Distributors (Satan’s Library) – 1997 (First Published 1979)

I honestly can’t imagine a shadier title than “Raped by the Devil”. I mean, sure, you could throw a few adjectives or a prepositional phrase in there to make it sound a bit grosser, but I reckon its simplicity is what makes this title truly special. It’s not called “The Raping Devil” or “The Devil Raped Me”; that would give undue importance to the subject of the novel. The author, who unsurprisingly chose to remain anonymous, used the passive voice to title this work. Look at the phrasing: “Raped by the Devil”. The action itself is given more importance than its subject or object; thus suggesting that this is primarily a book about rape.

On that note, I’ll just take a moment to clarify that I don’t think rape is funny at all and that I don’t want to make light of a horrible topic. I read this book with a mind to explore the shadiest reaches of Satanic literature, not for sexual excitement. Also, my copy of this book is second hand, and I would not have bought it if I thought that any of money was going to go to individuals profiting off the promotion of rape. The publishing company that put this out, Star Distributors, released loads of similar, Satanic themed pornography. I chose to review this one as it seemed a little bit worse than all of the others (Devil’s Incest Daughter came a close second!), and as I’ve already noted, I wanted the worst of the worst.

I’d imagine that most of the people reading this post have no interest in actually reading the book, so I am going to give a complete plot summary. If you are seriously thinking of reading this book, skip the next few paragraphs or I’ll ruin all of the suspense that the author has so carefully weaved into this masterpiece of romantic fiction.

A psychiatrist comes to a small nunnery at the request of a priest. There are four nuns living there: Sister Mercy, Sister Grace, Sister Charity and the Mother Superior. Sister Mercy had a dream in which she was raped by Devil. The psychologist demands that she recount the experience in vivid detail. After the virginal nun does so, the psychiatrist declares that it was just a manifestation of her sexual frustration and decides to leave.

nun confessionIt was her first time.

On his way home, the psychiatrist picks up a hitchhiker named Char. After driving about 50 meters down the road, they get out of the car and have sex. Afterwards she turns into the Devil. The psychiatrist presumes it was a hallucination brought on by his earlier conversation with the nun, but he decides to head back to the nunnery just to check things out. Once he gets there, he proceeds to have sex with Sister Mercy, the nun who had dreamt about Satan. Meanwhile, Jesus Christ appears to Sister Grace and has sex with her. This was my favourite part of the book.

jesus nun sexInterestingly enough, Jesus is the only male in this novel who does not insist on ending  his lovemaking with a bit of uppah-de-bummeh.

After hearing Grace orgasming on Jesus’s cock, the psychiatrist runs to her aid and proceeds to have sex with her. While this is happening the Mother Superior is having sex with the priest who works at the nunnery, and Sister Charity, who we soon realize was the horny hitchhiker, has entered a void with the Devil and is repeatedly making him cum. It is during this tryst that Devil informs her of his plan to impregnate the Mother Superior with the antichrist. There’s a pretty funny moment during this bit when the Devil gets really salty with Charity after she says “Oh God” when she’s cumming.

After the psychiatrist anally rapes Sister Grace, Jesus Christ possesses her and orders her rapist to crucify Sister Charity to prevent the birth of the Antichrist. (Sister Charity is somehow physically linked with the Devil, so killing her will kill him and prevent conception.) Unfortunately, the Devil has already started to rape the Mother Superior, and when the novel ends with Sister Charity being nailed to a wall by the anal rapist and his last victim, the reader is unsure as to whether this ritual crucifixion was performed early enough to prevent the conception of the Antichrist.

chicks with dicks speedoAt the end of the book, there’s some pretty good ads for phone sex lines.

As blasphemous and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny this book was, I honestly feel like it could have been much better. It reads as if it were written by somebody who was having a wank. It’s full of misspellings, missing words, faulty punctuation, and other technical flaws that probably occurred as the author reached across his type writer to grab a kleenex to wipe the snotty gip out of his crusty bellybutton. Those mistakes, I’m willing to forgive as they don’t really detract from the story; what annoyed me were the missed opportunities for blasphemy. There’d be parts where the nuns are lying in bed, looking up towards the crucifix on their cell wall, and I’d start anticipating that crucifix being misused in hilarious ways, but no; the sex acts in this book are frustratingly vanilla (a spot of rimming is as tropical as it gets). In fact, in spite of title, all of the sex acts in this book are mutually enjoyable, and even the titular raping is surprisingly consensual; the victim admits that she “wanted the demon’s seed in her ass more than anything.” Confusing, right?

It makes me wonder who the target audience this book and the other books in the Satan’s Library series were. Despite the book’s title, most of its sex is had between humans, and aside from the couple of rapey bits, the book doesn’t really go for any specific kink. I had been hoping it would be aimed at perverts with a Devil or blasphemy fetish or something interesting, but the plot and the actual sex acts in this book don’t really have much to do with each other; you could change all of the characters to aliens and space-colonists living on mars by changing a few words.

Realistically, this book was first published in 1979, at the end of what Grady Hendrix referred to as “the Devil’s Decade”, an era in which the inclusion of the Archfiend on the cover of a paperback would guarantee the publisher some small amount of success. This book is fucking garbage, and I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if the writer was given the title and a deadline by which to finish the book. No care or thought went into this rubbish; it’s just 180 pages of repetitive sex scenes with the Devil and a horrible title thrown in an attempt to draw an audience.

In complete honesty, I’m not really used to reading pornography, and I’m a little annoyed with this book. I knew full well that it was going to be shit when I ordered it, but after reading it, I can’t help but feel that it could have been so much better. I mean, I don’t know the first thing about writing erotic fiction, but I can tell the difference between Satanic porn and porn featuring Satan, and this crap is definitely the latter. In this book, the Devil has the power to change his shape and transport people into different dimensions, yet when he has the chance to do whatever he wants to his lover, he chooses to give her a long, romantic kiss on the lips. I mean, come on! I would have included some twisted form of the osculum infame or had the nun receiving her first unholy communion in the form of a facial from Satan’s goaty udders. Another thing; there wasn’t a single same-sex sex scene in this entire book! Homosexuality is a sin in Christianity, so surely the Devil invented gayness. Why is there no gay or lesbian scenes in here? I understand that gay/lesbian sex doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes, but there isn’t even a threesome! Also, the omission of a full blown Satanic orgy suggests to me that the author of this book knew next to nothing about the lore of Satanism and possession. Finally, my favourite part of the book, the Jesus bit, should have been drawn out more. Think of the potential!

I’ve only been able to find one other review of this book, and in that review this book is being lumped in with three more of the same series. It’s rather short, so I’ll include it here. It’s from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review, October 1979.

raped by the devil reviewFor the trenchcoat crowd. LOL

As far as I know then, mine is the longest review of Raped by the Devil ever written. Coming to terms with the fact that I am publicly giving this book more attention than anyone else is a bit strange. I want to just state for the record that I am not a rape-pervert and that my interest in this book was and is purely literary. I have written nothing in this post that should surprise anyone. Raped by the Devil is a truly terrible piece of work. After reading it, I have little interest in reading any of the other books from the Satan’s Library series. These texts are generally very expensive, but the book I attained is a reprint from 1997 and I got it for quite a bit cheaper than the other copies I have seen online. I wanted the worst of the worst, and I reckon that Raped by the Devil is just about as bad as you can get. I’ve read books that are more morally repugnant than this, but I don’t recall ever having read a book that clearly had as little effort put into it. Taken together, this book’s negative characteristics make it spectacularly awful.

satanic classicsThe penguin classics edition of RAPED by the DEVIL is yet to be published.

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

LUDOVICO MARIA SINISTRARI: PART TWO (Demon Lovers)

demoniality-liseux-version
To quickly summarize what I’ve already written about Ludovico Maria Sinistrari: he was a Franciscan Friar who wrote a book that was basically a list of all of the sins that he could imagine. I wrote a lengthy blog post explaining Sinistrari’s beliefs about sodomy, and while I believe it was an informative and insightful post, it may have seemed slightly out of place in this blog. I mean, isn’t this supposed to be a blog about Satan and the paranormal and spooky stuff? Surely sodomy isn’t very spooky? Well, no, but the chapter on Sodomy from Sinistrari’s De Delictis is one of the two sections from that book that is widely available in translation, and I don’t like half-assing things. The other, more infamous section, which we are going to look at today, fits far more comfortably within the context of this blog; it is a chapter on Demoniality. Demoniality, for those of you who don’t know, is the act of having sex with demons. Oh yeah, now we’re getting back on track.

The story of the manuscript of Demoniality is as interesting as its contents. In 1872, a French bookseller named Isidore Liseax spent a short holiday in England rummaging about in some antique booksellers. In one of these stores, he found a short manuscript titled “Dæmonialitas” and bought it for sixpence. He took it back to France, translated it, and published it 3 years later. It wasn’t until I read an essay on Sinistrari by Alexandra Nagel that I realised why this story sounded so familiar. Remember what I wrote about the opening to Bulwer Lytton’s Zanoni?

Liseux had never heard of Sinistrari, and he spent a long time trying to figure out who had written the text he’d purchased. Its author was listed as Ludovicus Maria of Ameno, but Liseux wasn’t able to find out any reliable information about such a man, and it wasn’t until he serendipitously opened a copy of the list of writers banned by the Vatican to just the right page that he discovered that this Friar of Ameno was the same person as the author of De Delictis. De Delictis had been unbanned for more than a century at this stage, and while it wasn’t widely available, Liseux managed tracked down a copy with a little persistence. Once he understood the nature of that work, he was certain that his manuscript on demoniality belonged to it. It followed the same structure as the other entries, and indeed De Delictis contained a chapter on demoniality. Liseux’s copy, however, while it started and ended the same way as the chapter in De Delictis, was largely expanded. The chapter in De Delictis is a mere 5-6 pages long, while Liseux’s manuscript was more than 80 pages. Liseux, by a stroke of extreme good luck, had found and paid next to nothing for the uncut edition of a paper on sexual intercourse with devils and spirits, the cut version of which was included in a book that was banned by the Vatican, the text of which had been written by a perverted, 17th century, Franciscan Friar. Holy quaint and curious volumes of forbidden lore!

There has been some discussion about the authenticity of the text. Why wasn’t the full text of Demoniality included in De Delictis? (Remember that De Delictis had actually only been banned for what it said about the qualifications of Judges, not for its details on sexual depravities. The lurid details in the apocryphal Demoniality pale in comparison to ‘the Doctrine of the Clitoris’ as laid out in the canonical chapter on sodomy.) Also, if you read Liseux’s introduction to his English translation of the text, several discrepancies arise. Alexandra Nagel has done an impressive job of listing and accounting for these discrepancies in her essay “Tracing the mysterious facts in Isidore Liseux’ publication of De Daemonialitate by Ludovico M. Sinistrari”, and if you’re interested in the details, her paper is better researched and more informative than what you’re going to read here. Suffice to say, the expanded version of Demoniality was probably intended to be included in a later edition of De Delictis that was never published. While I believe Nagel’s conclusion that Sinistrari was in fact the author, I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if he wasn’t. This is a book about fucking monsters (and I use ‘fucking’ here as a verb, not an adjective). Does it really matter who wrote it?

Liseux found the manuscript in 1872, published the first French edition in 1875 and followed with an English Translation in 1879. This translation was popular enough to convince him to publish another section of De Delictis, that on sodomy, a decade later. One of the readers of Liseux’s translation of Demoniality was our old friend, Montague Summers. Summers was thoroughly impressed with the contents of the work but not the translation. In 1927, he re-translated Demoniality from the original Latin and wrote an introduction and set of notes to go with the text. I own a copy of Summer’s translation, but Liseux’s is available online. Summers spells Sinistrari’s first name ‘Lodovico’ (here and in his other works), but I haven’t seen that spelling anywhere else.

demoniality-summers-versionDemoniality (The Montague Summers Edition) – Lodovico Maria Sinistrari
Dover Occult – 1989 (This translation first published in 1927)

The book starts off explaining that demoniality is a separate offence to bestiality. Bestiality is having sex with an animal, but while demons are alive, they are not entirely corporeal and therefore don’t really count as animals. Sinistrari knows what demons are not, but it’s trickier to say what exactly they are. He distinguishes between evil demons who only fuck people to bring them into the power of Satan and a far less dangerous class of spirits who only fuck because they’re horny. These other spirits are composed of incubi and succubi. (Incubi are male spirits who fuck females, and succubi are female spirits who fuck men.) Surprisingly, most of what Sinistrari has to say is on the less malevolent, horny spirits, and the result is that this text feels more like a book on cryptozoology than a book on traditional demonology.

succubusThis succubus is a bit little. That man is a nonce.

In fact, if like me, you have an interest in books about cryptozoology/the paranormal/the Fortean, you’re very likely come across references to this text. Sinistrari’s descriptions of fuckable spirits are broad enough that they seem to fit many of my favourite monsters. Sinistrari argues, with evidence from Saint Anthony, that the gods, centaurs, fauns and nymphs of Paganism were all real entities and that the stories of them seducing humans were actually true. Montague Summers, in the introduction to his translation of Demoniality, argues that both the Jinns of Islam and the fairies and leprechauns from W.B. Yeats’ Celtic Twilight (an awesome book) fit Sinistrari’s decription perfectly. Hmmmmm, what other group of unproven creatures have been compared to fairies? I believe that our old pal, Whitley Strieber argued that his visitors had a lot in common with the fairy abductors of celtic lore. If that’s not enough for you, Strieber actually presents Sinistrari’s ideas as evidence for his visitors in Communion; in fairness, the similarities between stories of alien abductions and visits from incubbi/succubi are striking. Dmitri Bayanov presents ideas from Sinistrari’s Demoniality in his essay Historical Evidence for the Existence of Relict Hominoids. A relict hominoid is basically a Bigfoot. Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge then that Demoniality is actually a book about sexual intercourse with Satanic demons, the Great God Pan, leprechauns, genies, fairies, aliens and sasquatches. I can’t say for certain that Sinistrari specifically intended for his text to be interpreted this way, but given his reasoning and willingness to accept the authority of other writers, I really don’t think he would have had a problem with this interpretation.

priest-having-sex-with-bigfoot-an-alien-and-a-demonIt’s all good, baby!

According to Sinistrari, Incubi and Succubi are surprisingly like people. They have physical needs and desires; they eat smells (solid food would be too much for them), and they fuck each other, people and animals. These spirits are endowed with both free-will and morality, and Sinistrari even suggests that they might have their own form of organized religion and worship. They are more spirity than humans and hence also more spiritual and closer to God. The fact that they are closer to God means that it’s as bad for them to have sex with us as it is for us to have sex with animals.

This weird logic means that for a human to have sex with an incubus or succubus is actually a dignifying rather than a shameful experience. Sinistrari never openly condones sex with this class of spirits, but it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t consider it to be all that bad. In terms of sin, he puts demoniality in the category of pollution. This means its comparable to getting or giving oral sex or a single finger up the bum. You might get an extra Hail Mary as penance after confessing it, but that probably wouldn’t stop you from doing it again.

Shagging one of Lucifer’s Henchmen is a different story; doing so is only ever done to improve your relationship with the Dark Lord. Satan’s malevolent spirit-servants are incorporeal and must either create a body out of filth or possess a corpse in order to be able to fuck. Also, they feel no joy when they’re getting rode. If you shag one of these, you are going to Hell. The sexual act itself would only count as pollution, but as it also serves as a contract with Satan, it becomes a damnable offence. The problem is that most people don’t know the difference between a friendly neighbourhood succubi and a cacodaemon, and just as attempted murder is as bad as murder, attempted sex with an evil demon is just as bad as sex with an evil demon. This means that a minor fling with an amorous Incubus could potentially land a person in as much trouble as bending over for the cock of Asmodeus. Now you know the difference, I hope you’ll think to look before you leap!

Another thing to be careful of is the way that spirits can alter their form. Regardless of their true appearance, demons seem to be able to appear in whatever form is most pleasing to their lover. This shapeshifting can get their lovers even deeper into sin. If a demon was to have sex with a man whilst appearing as that man’s sister, the man would be guilty of incest as well as demoniality. If the demon was to appear as that man’s dog, the man would be guilty of bestiality. Even if you knew full well that your lover was a demon and ask you asked it to look like a corpse for 10 minutes, you’d soon be guilty of necrophilia. Basically, roleplaying counts. You’re already in trouble for fucking a spirit; don’t make it worse by getting kinky.

But wait; wasn’t Sinistrari’s main problem with sodomy that it was sexual activity that didn’t lead to procreation? How is having sex with airy spirits any worse? Surely that doesn’ lead to procreation either! Well, actually…

Haven’t you read the Bible? Remember the Nephilim from Genesis? The Nephilim were a race of giants that were created when the Sons of God (fallen angels) mated with the daughters of men. Remember Jesus Christ. Who was his Da again? Now if he Bible contains stories of Spirits mating with humans, you’d better believe it’s possible. So how do they do it? Babies come when a penis sperms into a vagina; how can a spirit be expected to do this? Well, it used to be assumed that the spirits would turn into a succubus, fuck a man, save his cum, turn back into an incubus, fuck a woman and then fill her with the cum that they had taken, but there are a few problems with this theory. The first being that the resultant baby wouldn’t actually be demonspawn; it would be a perfectly normal human baby whose parents had never met. Another problem that Sinistrari notes is the fact that sperm rapidly loses its potency once its outside the body. Semi-corporeal demons would have no way of keeping the gip warm during the interlude between extracting it and injecting it. There’s other problems here too that I’m sure you can work out, and Sinistrari concludes that demons must cum their own cum and that this cum is capable of impregnating humans.

incubusAn Incubus works his magic. Why is he standing in a circle of eggs?

Sinistrari claims that Romulus and Remus, Plato, Caesar Augustus, Merlin, and “that damnable Heresiarch yclept Martin Luther” were all the offspring of spirits. You’ll notice that with the exception of Martin ‘the Proddy’ Luther’, these were all great men. That’s because spirits are closer to God than humans. The only problem is that human/spirit offspring are the same as horse/donkey offspring; they may get the beneficial aspects of both their parents, but mules can’t reproduce. Augustus had a daughter (who died very young), and Romulus may have had a son named Aollios and a daughter named Prima (such claims have been contradicted), but as far as I know all the other lads mentioned were either infertile, gay or just didn’t fuck. As mad as Sinistrari’s claims might seem to us, there was research and twisted, but apparent, logic behind them.

What about the Nephilim though? Why is it that demonspawn used to be giants, but modern day demonspawn are regular sized? Well there are four elements, right? So there must also be four kinds of spirits: air spirits, fire spirits, water spirits and earth spirits. (As silly as this might sound, it probably made decent sense to people living in the 17th century.) The spirits that fucked the daughters of men were air and fire spirits (again this is logical; angels came from the sky), and because fire and air are the more expansive elements, their offspring, the Nephilim were giant. After the flood, the fire and air spirits didn’t want to come down to Earth anymore because it was too wet for them, and so the only spirits left to fuck humans were the smaller, more condensed, water and Earth spirits. When you follow Sinistrari’s reasoning, it becomes apparent that he was actually a very smart guy living in a very dumb age.

demoniality-title-pageThe subtitle of the work, “A treatise wherein is shown that there are in existence on earth rational creatures besides man, endowed like him with a body and soul, that are born and die like him, redeemed by our Lord Jesus-Christ, and capable of receiving salvation or damnation”, has a nice ring to it; don’t you think? It just slides off the tongue.

I have plenty more to say about Sinistrari, but I’ve already written more than 5000 words about him, and I doubt anyone is that interested. (If you ever want to chat about him, e-mail me or leave a comment!) Demoniality is genuinely one of the most interesting texts that I have come across, both for its history and content, and I’ve no doubt that I’ll be referring to it again. If you have an interest in demonology or cryptozoology, this is is a must-read. Both Demoniality and Peccatum Mutum are available online too, so you have no excuse other than being boring.

Ludovico Maria Sinistrari: Part One (Help, there’s a clitoris in my asshole!)

Ludovico Maria Sinistrari (1622-1701) was a Franciscan priest, professor and advisor to the Holy Inquisition, a real smart guy overall. He spent the last 12 years of his life writing a book called De Delictis et Poenis Tractatus Absolutissimus or The Most Absolute Treatise of Crime and Punishment. This tome was basically a list of all the crimes that people could commit and the appropriate punishments to go with them. Sounds like a pretty useful book for an inquisitor to have, right?

Sinistrari was thorough in his work, and De Delictis, not only contains chapters on perjury, blasphemy, homicide and the likes; the author goes into delicious detail on the sins of the flesh, including incest, bestiality and ‘sacrilege with a nun’. Surprisingly enough, the book was put on the Vatican’s list of banned books for more than 40 years, not because of its lewd details, but because of what it says about the necessary qualifications of judges.

Unfortunately, the entire 600+ pages of Latin text that makes up De Delictis has never, to my knowledge, been translated into English. As far as I know, only three sections of the book have been translated: the chapters on Lewdness (Homosexuality), Sodomy and Demoniality. A professor named Hugh Hagius translated and published a small run of the section on Lewdness, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy. The other two sections were translated and published by a guy named Isidore Liseaux and are widely available. Demoniality came out in 1879, and due to its popularity, Liseaux went ahead publishing Peccatum Mutum – The Mute Sin, alias Sodomy in 1893. I usually don’t start with the Sodomy till I’m nearly finished, but today I’ll make an exception.

peccatum-mutum
First of all, Sinistrari has to lay out what sodomy actually entails. He believes that Sodomy proper is fucking and cumming inside an arse. Things get tricky when he considers the guilt of an arse fucker who cums outside of the bum. He tells of Dominicus Raynaldus, who concluded that “whoever has thus penetrated even without offering libation to the case, is to be sentenced to death, though not to be burnt after death”, but Sinistrari isn’t convinced. He seems to think that those who cum outside the arse probably only deserve to be tortured a bit. He’s firm but fair, and he notes that if a man bums once or twice but doesn’t cum inside the shitter, his torture should be mitigated; however, no such leniency should be shown to repeat bummer who tries to beat the system by bumming freely but withdrawing to jip.

Is the fuckee as guilty as the fucker? Well, if they wanted to get bummed, then they’re getting executed. If they didn’t want to get bummed, it’s up to them to prove it. If the bummee is younger than 18 years old, they should only be “scourged in a jail, or confined a long time in it; or he should be dragged for a few moments through a blazing fire”. If the bummee is less than 14 years old, they go unpunished, unless they are “a very cunning lad” who “is up to trickery”. These cunning lads, some of whom are as young as 10, “ought to be caned inside the jail, or even flogged around the prison yard”. So if you walked into your house and saw a man sodomizing your 10 year old son, you’d have to be able to prove that your son hadn’t been up to any tricks if you wanted to save him from a whipping after his rape.

Sodomy, of course, is not exclusively practiced by gay men. Sinistrari considers whether a “husband may penetrate into his wife’s rear vase in order to get up his mettle, provided he has no intention or runs no risk of discharging in it”. He doesn’t condone such behaviour, but he definitely doesn’t consider it to be too serious. A spot of anal foreplay is a mere peccadillo. Naughty but nice, eh Sinistrari? This is all a bit surprising given that he later claims that sodomizing a woman is worse than sodomizing a man. I can’t remember the exact quote, but I believe it was something along the lines of; ‘Sure, if you’re bumming a man, the bum was your only choice, but why would you bum a woman when she has a lovely pussy that’s designed to take in your gip!’ By similar logic, it’s also worse to bum your wife than it is to bum a prostitute.

I want to add a quick autobiographical interlude while we’re on this topic. I first heard of anal sex when I was 10 or 11. My friends and I were kicking football down the road from our houses, when one boy, let’s call him Joe, stopped the game and asked, ‘Did yous know that you can have sex in the bum?’ There was a pause of a few seconds as we let that sink in. ‘Yeah, that’s how ye always have sex,’ another boy responded. His response was hardly surprising to anyone who had seen his drawings of the female anatomy. The genitalia in such pieces resembled a diamond shaped crease which housed three holes of equal diameter: one brown, one pink and one yellow: three separate but inter-changeable components of one busy orifice.

‘No, I don’t mean up the fanny, I mean sticking yer dick up the actual hole that the shit comes out of; it’s called anal sex and your da does it to your ma every night.’
We were impressed, but nobody was surprised. By age 11 we all knew that all adults engaged in an innumerable amount of depraved acts. The most recent additions to our list had been the revolting ‘rainbow shower’, the confusing ‘ice-cream lick’ and the abominable ‘toilet tart’.

‘That’s gross, you’d get shit on your willy,’ another boy exclaimed. He was a bit younger, and apparently, his willy had not yet become a dick. ‘Yeah, a shit smelling dick, then ye get a blow-job afterwards,’  I added; this was a good chance to show off my vocabulary. ‘I don’t know boys, you guys seem to think it’s gross,’ Joe, seeing that we were intrigued, spoke with delighted smugness, ‘it might seem gross at first… but it’s like I always say… What comes out, must go back in”

I don’t know if I appreciated quite how funny that line was at the time he said it, but I do recall thinking it was very funny indeed. It has stayed with me for nearly 20 years, and I like to quote it whenever the unspeakable sin of the Greeks comes up in conversation.

Anyways… Sinistrari considered sodomy a crime punishable by death for any layperson found guilty of it. Things are a bit different for Sodomite priests, but it’s a little unclear as to why and how this was so. Sinistrari lays out the Franciscans’ method for dealing with bummers within the order. The Sodomites would be stripped naked in front of all members of the order, soundly scourged (“soundly” means two whippers instead of one), and then pushed through a fire. The fire would hurt like fuck, but the real reason for this part was to the burn and scar the victim’s skin so they could be identified them as a bummy-man in future. Also, the punishment for sodomy should always involve fire. Duh! Remember what God did to Sodom? Oh, and after the fire, the victim was locked up in a cage and fed only bread and water 3 times a week for a total duration of 3 years, and this was best case scenario for a Sodomite priest. If they had been found guilty of multiple bummings, they would continue to recieve several scourgings a week during their time in the cage. If the public somehow found out about the priest’s sins, he would be hung. The punishment was more to preserve the good name of the Catholic church than it was to deal with the sinner.

Now, what if you agree with what Sinistrari has to say about Sodomy but you still feel the urge to go out and bum? Well, Sinistrari acknowledges that if a man is tempted by the arse of another, he “may lawfully kill the person compelling him to commit sin.” That’s  right folks. Want to bum, but don’t want to be a bummer? BE A KILLER. Well, in fairness, Sinistrari doesn’t really promote that idea; he accepts it only if there are no alternatives. Still, I thought it an interesting insight into the perversity of Catholic thought.

Ok, let’s recap what we have learned so far. We know that sodomy is when an arse is fucked and came in. We know that sodomizers and sodomizees are equally as guilty. And we know that both men and women can be sodomized.
Keeping that in mind, let’s imagine a man having anal sex with his boyfriend. At the end, much to their mutual delight, the top blows his gip right up the bottom’s arse. It follows that the top has sodomized and is guilty of sodomy, and the bottom has been sodomized and is guilty of sodomy. Afterwards, they switch roles, and both lads have had to chance not only to commit sodomy, but also to sodomize. Happy days!
Now let’s imagine a male/female couple attempting the same feat. The man fucks his girlfriend in her ass and cums inside. He has sodomized and is guilty of sodomy, and his girlfriend has been sodomized and is guilty of sodomy. What now though? Is their night of passion over? Does the female never get the opportunity to sodomize back? What about lesbians? No sodomy for them at all? Sinistrari, 17th century, Franciscan friar though he may have been, seemed to believe in gender equality, and he seemed to think it was completely unfair that women were denied the chance to commit sodomy due only to their lack of the appropriate penetrative member.

“But of course women can sodomize!” I hear you say, “What about a finger or utensil up the bum?” Well, according to Sinistrari, a finger or dildo up the arse doesn’t quite cut the mustard. It’s a dirty practice of course, and he considers it pollution (a far less serious sin), but sodomy requires internal ejaculation (or at least the attempt to do so). He considers whether it’s possible if a woman could cum into another woman, but he regards this as unlikely. Interestingly, if a woman could come into another woman, it would count as sodomy regardless of the orifice. Now, if neither dildoing arses nor attempting to cum inside their partner’s holes through some form of erotic contortionism can deem a woman guilty of sodomy, is it at all possible for a woman to be a true sodomizer?

Well, I don’t want to be condescending here, but it seems to me, my good friend, that you have never heard of a little thing called the “doctrine of the clitoris”. It’s ok. there’s no need to be embarrassed. Lots of people haven’t heard of it yet. Sinistrari explains; “there is a particular part of the a woman’s body, which Anatamists call the clitoris. This part consists of the same tackles as a man’s yard, namely, sinews, veins, arteries, flesh and so forth. When in a chafe, it also resembles the yard. The clitoris distends with the rushing of seminal spirits, and, like the yard, is provided with a nut. At the top of the nut there is a hole”. Clitorises are funny things, and if they see too much use, they pop out. Yes, that’s right. A well-used clitoris is liable to burst the “exceedingly thin membrane that covers it” and rush out of its hidey-hole to remain dangling between the female’s legs for the rest of her life. A distended clitoris is often the size of a middle finger, but sometimes they are much bigger. In fact, “there was once at Venice a courtesan whose clitoris was the size of a gander’s neck.” Imposing clits are not overly common in polite European society, but in Ethiopa and other African countries, clitorises are burnt off at birth. This is because clitorises can get so big that they actually prevent the woman from being able to receive a penis into her vagina. Clits are the cause of several of the tales of women instantly turning to men. Popped clits don’t just look like cocks either; they act like them too. A clitoris is liable to grow “so big that it erects like a man’s yard, inticing them to coition, just as males”.

clitsMy friend Tim drew these pictures two years ago. They had nothing to do with Sinistrari, but they fit in pretty well here. Thanks Tim.

Now this is the interesting part. If a woman’s clit has popped out, it will swell and get hard as she gets horny. When this happens, the lascivious wretch might use it to “satisfy [her] filthy lewdness.” According to Sinistrari, women with wiggly, finger-like, distended clitorises like nothing better than impartially shoving these bizarre members into vaginas and anuses. That, dear readers, is how a woman can sodomize. This makes it rather easy to try a female accused of sodomy too; all you have to do is see if she has a huge clit. “Should the clitorus hang out in a woman, it is presumed she made use of it.” Case closed.

But what about the “must cum inside” rule that we talked of earlier? Well, Sinistrari does address this issue. He says; “If they make use of the clitoris as it is clearly demonstrated, in either of the female vases, they are guilty of downright sodomy; even thought the seed of the incuba does not enter at all into the case of the succuba, yet the crime is perfect in its kind. For there is copulation between them in due form, whilst generation can not ensue”. I can’t say I find this terribly convincing, but I am glad that he found a way to level the sodomy playing field. The punishment for female sodomites is same as for males. Women who clit men or women should be hung and burnt. Men and women who get clitted by women get the same treatment.

clitorisJust so you don’t think I’m making this up. (From page 13 of the book)

This post has become far longer than I expected it be, and if you have made it this far, I think you deserve a bit of a break before I start telling you about Sinistrari’s ideas on Demoniality (the fucking of demons). That text is more in line with the general theme of this blog, and you can expect the post on it at some stage in the next week or so. Until then, I want to make it very clear that I have been summarizing the ideas of a man who has been dead for more than 300 years, and I find his ideas both repugnant and very silly. The inherent homophobia and ignorance in his book is ludicrous, and the notion that we shouldn’t do something because it stops more people from being born is horrendous. The world is already horribly overpopulated, and I would encourage everyone to engage in sexual practices that don’t result in childbirth. Be safe, wear a condom, make sure your clitoris doesn’t pop out, and when in doubt, remember the schoolyard adage:
‘Up the Gee – HIV, but up the bum – no harm done.’

The Books of the Beast – Timothy D’Arch Smith

beastCrucible – 1987
This book popped up in my suggestions from Goodreads a few years ago, but it wasn’t until I came across a quote from it that claimed that Montague Summers had attended Black Masses that I decided to buy it.

It’s a rather interesting collection of essays about different books, their authors and their publishers. The first and longest essay is about Aleister Crowley and his predilections for certain colour combinations and kinds of paper. That might sound a little boring, but I assure you it’s a very entertaining read. Not only is it quite funny at times, it is also astoundingly well researched and documented.

Timothy D’Arch Smith didn’t know Aleister Crowley or Montague Summers personally, but he did know people that knew them. He was also a dealer of rare books for a very long time, and it is rather apparent that he’s an expert in the field. (He’s still alive; I don’t know if he’s still working.) The level of detail in here is genuinely exciting, not only because the subject matter is interesting but also because the author has apparently been able to devote his life to tracking down and examining and reading rare books about magic and sex. DEADLY.

Yes, that’s right; not all of the essays in here are about magic. One is about the collection of dirty books in the British Library and another is about Ralph Chubb, a gay paedophile. It turns out that T.D.S. is also an expert on the Uranian (bent ref) poets. Apparently there was a bunch of poets in the early 1900s who had had enough of keeping their desire to bum youngfellas to themselves. Ralph Chubb was really into it. Smith’s essay is very interesting, and I wanted to read some of Chubb’s poems to see what he was talking about, but I felt a bit wary looking them up on Google.

It is suggested herein (and elsewhere) that Montague Summers, a name my readers should be familiar with at this stage, might well have indulged in a few Uranian fantasies himself. This book also suggests that he attended Black Masses. Monty you scoundrel! In his own books, Summers violently condemns such activities, but it is here suggested that he was a practicing occultist in his youth. Smith believes that Summers was sincere in his admonitions against the Black Arts, but I’m halfway through Vampires and Vampirism at the moment, and I’m really finding it tough to believe that Summers was as credulous as he makes himself out to be. Then again, maybe he witnessed something genuinely diabolical at a Black Mass and set out to warn the world of the dangers of the powers of Hell. (Smith also wrote an entire book on Summers that I hope some day to obtain.)

There’s some other bits and pieces in here too. There’s an essay on Florence Farr (a member of the Golden Dawn who shagged both Yeats and Shaw) and an autobiographical piece. Both are interesting and worth the read. There is also a short essay on Francis Barrett, author of The Magus, an influential book of magic; however, from what I have seen online, modern editions of Smith’s book have replaced this essay with another chapter on Crowley. This seems a pity as I really enjoyed the piece on Barrett. (If anyone reading this review has a copy of the newer edition, I would be happy to scan the section on Barrett in return for a scan on the newer part on Crowley. Leave a comment or email me.)

The cover of my edition is super lame, and the page numbers on the contents page are wrong (I don’t know if it’s a numerological joke or a mistake), but all in all, this book was great; it’s short, funny and insightful. I read it in a day, but I feel that I’ll probably consult it again. Timothy D’Arch Smith seems like a real cool guy.