The Nazi Quest for the Holy Grail: Otto Rahn’s Books and Col. Howard Buechner’s Imagination

The field of Nazi Grail lore owes its existence to Otto Rahn. Rahn was an adventurer, linguist, amateur historian, spelunker and member of the SS-Ahnenerbe.

otto rahn
Do any amount of research on Rahn and you’ll soon be confronted with the moniker, ‘The Nazi Indiana Jones’, but realistically, Otto was just a nerd who caught the attention of Heinrich Himmler after writing a dumb book about the Holy Grail. After this, Himmler gave him a job in the Ahnenerbe, the division of the SS that was assigned to try to use mythology to glorify the Aryan race. Otto was allegedly gay and half Jewish, but he took the job. (I don’t really blame him.) Once the SS got a better idea of who Rahn really was, they demoted him, and he ended up killing himself.

Rahn wrote two books, both of which I’ll review in this post. However, before looking at Rahn’s work, it was essential for me to read the book that almost all of Rahn’s work was based on, Wolfram Von Essenbach’s Parzival.

wolfram parzifal

The Holy Grail has been discussed on this blog several times before, and while researching for one of those posts, I read Chretien De Troye’s foundational grail tale, Perceval, the Story of the Grail. De Troye’s book is the first time the Holy Grail appears in literature, but he never describes the exact nature of the Grail.  De Troyes’ Perceval was never finished, but a German poet named Wolfram Von Eschenbach rewrote it and added an ending. Von Eschenbach’s version, Parzival, is a more complete, lengthy and influential text, and it plays an important role in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Dark Gods, The Spear of Destiny and even The Werewolf’s Revenge. It is to my great shame that I admit to having reviewed those books without first slogging through the Parzival. I knew I’d have to read this before looking at Rahn’s stuff, so I borrowed a copy of A.T. Hatto’s translation from my library.

Jesus Christ, this book was so fucking boring. It’s so, so bad. The writing is dense, meandering and dull. The art of writing novels was clearly not yet perfected in the 13th century. A stupid lad ends up in a castle and sees a magic stone and some other weird shit but doesn’t bother to ask his host about it. Then he runs around for years trying to figure out what happened. Honestly, if you want more detail than that, skip the book and read a synopsis online; consuming this trash was a horrid experience. Yuck.

otto rahn crusade against the grailCrusade Against the Grail:  The Struggle between the Cathars, the Templars, and the Church of Rome
Otto Rahn

Inner Traditions – 2006 (Originally published 1933)

Otto Rahn’s first book, Crusade Against the Grail, is the latest addition my list of unfinished books. I’m generally pretty obstinate when it comes to finishing boring books, but this one got the better of me. After spending months slogging through Parzival and Rahn’s other book, I simply could not bring myself to finish this. I got about three quarters of the way through before admitting to myself that I had no idea what Rahn was describing. I could either start again or read another 50 pages of text without having a clue as to what was going on. Fuck that. This is terrible, awful, boring, dull garbage.

As far as I can tell, the basic idea behind this book is that the Cathars of Southern France were gnostics and that they were in possession of the Holy Grail. (This idea became very popular with later occult/conspiracy writers.) Rahn believed that Wolfram Von Essenbach’s Parzival was actually a Cathar document, and that it could provide details on how to find the Grail, which he seemed to think was still hidden near the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur.

It’s not until his next book that Rahn makes clear what the Holy Grail actually is.

lucifer's court otto rahnLucifer’s Court: A Heretic’s Journey in Search of the Light Bringers – Otto Rahn
Inner Traditions – 2008 (Originally published 1937)

Lucifer’s Court is Otto Rahn’s travel journal. He travelled around Europe, mostly Southern France, looking for details on the Holy Grail. The most interesting part of this book is Rahn’s thesis that the Holy Grail is nothing to do with the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. Rahn believed that the Holy Grail was a stone from the crown of Lucifer that fell out during his fall. Rahn believed that Lucifer, the Light Bringer, is a source of goodness, and he equates the christian/jewish god with an evil demiurge figure, just as the Cathars supposedly did centuries ago. Otto Rahn was a self proclaimed Luciferian.

Honestly, this book is actually very boring, and it’s not very convincing. Rahn’s sources are mostly folktales, legends and works of fiction. The way that Lucifer’s Court is broken up into a journal format makes it significantly easier to read than Crusade Against the Grail, but this was still very dull.

 

Ok, so that’s three shit books so far, one of which is considered a classic of literature and the other two are well known in certain circles. Now I want to present to you something a little stranger, Col. Howard Buechner’s Emerald Cup – Ark of Gold. I first heard of this book in an episode of Myth Hunters years ago, and for some reason I can’t remember, I set my heart on finding a copy. I eventually found an affordable copy online and bought it, but it remained on my shelf for four years before I got around to reading it. I was pretty happy to discover that my copy is actually signed by the author.

emerald cup - ark of gold howard buechnerEmerald Cup – Ark of Gold: The Quest of SS Lt. Otto Rahn of the Third Reich
Col. Howard Buechner
Thunderbird Press – 1991

The Holy Grail was given to Abraham by Melchizideck (a character from the Old Testament who some view as a proto-Jesus). It got lumped in with the treasure of Solomon at some stage but was later separated from this trove and ended up in some junk store until teenage Jesus saw it. Then teenage Jesus went to England with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea. He lived there until he was about 30. When he came back to Judea, he got to work on the whole Christ thing, and when he realised that the shit was about to hit the fan, he threw a party with his mates and decided to use his fancy cup. When Jesus died, his friend used this same cup to catch some of the fluid that was leaking from the hole in the side of Christ’s corpse.

According to Buechner, this grail ended up in the hands of the Cathars after being brought to France after the crucifixion. Although Rahn described the Grail as a stone from Lucifer’s crown, to Buechner, it is the standard Jesus beaker. Buechner does acknowledge that some believe that one of the decorative stones on the Grail might have originally come from the crown of Lucifer, but he also claims that Rahn believed that there were two separate grails, the standard one and a separate German one. (Confused yet?) Although Otto Rahn’s name appears in the title of Buechner’s book, I was not convinced that Buechner had actually read Rahn’s work. It seems a bit like he read somebody else’s summaries of Rahn’s books. While he references several works of absolute nonsense (Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Spear of Destiny, Morning of the Magicians), he acknowledges that at the time of writing Emerald Cup, he had not read Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s The Occult Roots of Nazism, the seminal academic work on Nazi occultism.

Buechner believed that Rahn (and our old friend Bérenger Saunière from Holy Blood, Holy Grail) had found the treasure of the Cathars. He claims that Rahn either would not or could not take the treasure to Heinrich Himmler, so Himmler sent in Otto Skorzeny to collect it.

Otto_SkorzenyOtto “Nazi Supervillain Extraordinaire” Skorzeny

Otto Skorzeny was a Nazi hero. He helped kidnap Mussolini, and he had a big scar across his face. There’s lots of bullshit stories about him. Buechner’s tale is is one of these. There is proof that Skorzeny was in Yugoslavia on the date that he was supposedly retrieving the Grail from France.

Buechner claims that after Skorzeny delivered the Grail to his superiors, it was shipped to Antarctica in a submarine so that it could be deposited in a magical cave that leads to the center of the Earth. (This magical cave also leads to a void from which the echoes of strange voices can be heard.) At the end of the book, Buechner admits that the package that was sent to Antarctica may well have been a map marking the current location of the Grail rather than the Grail itself.

I reckon that any speculation on the final conundrum of Buechner’s book is a complete waste of time. Absolutely all of his book is rubbish. Many of his claims are based on untruths. His sources are books of nonsense. None of what Buechner claims is remotely convincing. He never mentions Otto Rahn’s homosexuality, and actually claims that instead of dying, the young adventurer may have had extensive plastic surgery and changed his first name to Rudolf. Rudolf Rahn was a real person, and there is a record of his life before Otto’s death, so I don’t really understand how Buechner was willing to put such a stupid theory forth in writing.

otto rahn rudolf rahn

Throughout Buechner’s nonsense, he repeatedly references a book called The Occult and the Third Reich. A few years ago, this would have been enough to convince me to read this book, but I no longer have much of an interest in this crap. Buechner has a few other books about similar topics, but I have no intention of tracking them down either. Some of my blog posts are a breeze to write. I’ll read a novel in an afternoon and then write the review while I’m waiting for dinner. This post took a lot of time and effort. Reading these books was a thoroughly unpleasant experience, and I can’t recommend any of them to anyone. Do yourself a favour and read something good instead.

As for Otto Rahn, his reputation as the Nazi Indiana Jones is pretty silly. He seems to have been a lonely, tragic figure whose tendency to speculate wildy drew the attention of the Nazi Party and eventually led to his death.

 

Half a Decade of Blogging about Creepy Books

I got a notification during the week informing me that this blog is now 5 years old. My first post, a look at Wade Baskin’s translation of Collin De Plancy’s Dictionary of Witchcraft, was published on February 27th, 2015. Since then, I have reviewed almost 350 books.

I’m a little bit surprised that I’ve lasted this long to be honest. I put a lot of work into this site, but I don’t see a huge amount of traffic. I have nobody to blame for this other than myself. Most of the books I write about are bottom of the barrel stuff that nobody will ever search for. I’ve thought about branching out and reading more contemporary fiction in attempt to draw more traffic, but while I certainly won’t rule out reading new books, I reckon weird old books will probably remain my focus. I think of this site more as a literary freakshow than a review site. I don’t really care if people want to read the books I write about or not, I just want you to know that these texts exist.

I write about famous books and popular authors regularly, but my favourite posts are always the ones about books that have an air of mystery to them. There have been a few posts on this blog where I have had the delight of presenting new information or theories on strange and mysterious texts. Here are a few posts that represent my best work. I beseech any lovers of peculiar literature to check these out if you haven’t already.

 

mmThe Autobiography of Saint Margaret Mary (March 2015)
This was one of my first posts. It’s about a Christian saint who had a shit fetish. I look back on it with a smile.

 

2015-12-28 02.38.38Did Aleister Crowley Create Strange Lifeforms? (December 2015)
This was my first post on Aleister Crowley. It’s a look at the different ways he was portrayed in fiction by those who actually knew him.

 

michelle remembers ross bayMichelle Remembers – Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder (March 2016)
I’m pretty confident in saying that at the time this post was published, it was the most comprehensive account of why this book is bullshit. It includes photos from the Satanic graveyard where the events in the book supposedly took place.

 

20160325_000821The Fiery Angel – Valery Bryusov (March 2016)
A look at the real events that inspired this peculiar occult novel.

 

robert anton wilson the sex magiciansRobert Anton Wilson, Sex Magician! (July 2017)
An exegesis of a book of pulp occult pornography. (It’s one of those ‘use the text to interpret the text’ situations.)

 

liber falxiferDeath Worship and Current 218 (November 2017)
An exploration of the link between heavy metal and Liber Falxifer, an infamous text of Black Magic.

 

spawn of the devil - aristotle leviSpawn of the Devil (Inpenetrable) – A Quaint and Curious Volume of Forgotten Porn (August 2018)
I still think this is the best post I’ve ever written.

 

dark gods - anthony roberts and Geoff GilbertsonDark Gods – Anthony Roberts and Geoff Gilbertson (July 2019)
It was a delight to be able to share information on this rare and curious tome of paranoid doom.

 

La Tronçonneuse de l'Horreur - nick blakeA History of Chainsaw Terror (Come the Night) by Nick Blake (Shaun Hutson) (February 2020)
There were histories of this book online before this, but this is the most complete one out there.

 

There’s lots of other good posts on here, but these few are special to me.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed a recent lack of posts on occult books. (The last non-fiction book I wrote about was Daughters of the Devil back at the beginning of December.) There’s a few reasons for this. I’m mainly just sick of wasting my time reading stupid spellbooks written by wankers. I have been reading other types of occult books over the past few months, but unfortunately, they have been extremely boring, long and difficult to get through. I’ve had a post about Nazi Grail Hunters in the works since early October and another on a horrendously stupid book about interdimensional sasquatches, but reading these texts has been so tedious that I have been avoiding them and breezing through enjoyable horror novels instead.

I have not abandoned occult books, but I have to be more picky these days. I don’t need to read any more books of love spells or nonsense about kaballah. I don’t want to read any more post-hypnotic accounts of alien abductions or any more books arguing that some cave paintings prove our ancestors were space people. I’m getting pretty jaded with Satanism now too. The more Satanists I interact with, the less interested I am in books about their hero.

 

Recently, I decided that I want to start writing more fiction. Between Nocturnal Revelries and my other blog, I write a lot, and I reckon that I’ve read enough books now to make a decent go at my own stories. I’ve posted my short fiction before (Kevin and The Compost Bin, two disgusting tales), and hopefully there’ll be more coming soon.

Blogging may be past its heyday, but I like doing it, so I reckon I’ll keep going for another few years. Thanks to everyone who reads this site. I really hope you enjoy it.

2019, The Year in Review

2019 was the busiest year yet for this blog. There were more posts, words, books and traffic than ever before. (I know I said the same thing last year, but I’ve outdone myself again.) I put a lot of effort in this year, and almost all of my reading was dedicated to this blog. I only managed to read 4 non horror/occult books over the whole year. If you haven’t been paying attention, this post will guide you through what I covered in 2019.

 

 

I read some really cool novels this year. I was so excited to find a cheap copy of Kathe Koja’s The Cipher in a thrift store, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to its reputation. I posted about Edward Lee’s The Bighead right at the beginning of the year, and it was an extremely gross, funny and enjoyable read.  My copy of C.S. Cody’s The Witching Night had been on my shelf for years, but I loved it when I got around to reading it this summer. Bari Wood’s The Tribe also blew me away. There’s no wonder that it was recently rereleased. Flesh by Richard Laymon may not have been a brilliant novel, but I really enjoyed it. I ended the year reading two classics of weird fiction, Fritz Leiber’s Our Lady of Darkness and William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland. Both of these books were awesome.

 

I did a few short story collections this year too. I was delighted to get my hands on Montague Summer’s long forgotten Ghost Stories. I also really enjoyed rereading Lovecraft’s stuff. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.) In May, I reviewed Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti. I absolutely adored that book, and I was surprised to see how much traffic that post got. (I also just finished his My Work is Not Yet Done, so expect to see more Ligotti here soon.) In October, I did a lengthy post on the two Splatterpunks anthologies from the 90s. The stories in these were of varying quality, but they did put me onto some cool writers. I actually thought that I had reviewed more short story collections than this when I started writing this paragraph, but that’s because I have spent the last few weeks working through Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. I haven’t finished all 6 yet, so it’ll be another while before they show up here. (Barker is one of the authors that Splatterpunks convinced me to check out.)

 

Of course, this blog isn’t just about fiction, and this year, I got into some very weird esoteric books indeed. The one I was most excited about was Geoff Gilbertson and Anthony Robert’s The Dark Gods. Jesus, that book was mental. (I’m also happy to report that a pdf copy has been uploaded to the internet since my post was published, so you won’t have to go through what I went through to read this very rare and very odd book.) I was also proud to present a review of Robert Eisler’s Man into Wolf, a very peculiar book on lycanthropy. Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall’s (pre-Nazi) swastika adorned Ghosts: A Message from the Illuminati was another interesting book to track down and read. Allen H. Greenfield’s books on UFOnauts and the secret rituals of the Men in Black are amoungst the strangest I have ever read. I read three (1, 2, 3) dumb books on sex magic over the course of the year, and George Bataille’s book on Gilles De Rais was a very depressing look at that dirty satanist paedophile. On top of H.P.’s fiction, the aforementioned Lovecraft posts all deal with Lovecraftian grimoires too.

 

I also read a bunch of utterly idiotic grimoires that were written by morons. Highlights include Fascination by Master Count de Leon, The Black Grimoire by Angel Zialor and Secrets of the Black Temple by the Red Spider. This shit was DUMB.

 

Finally, I reviewed a little bit of porn in 2019. Satan was a Lesbian and The She-Devils did not live up to their titles, but Ann L. Probe’s Alien Sex series was exactly as good as you’d expect.

We’re soon to enter the twenties, and while this post only looks at the books I’ve reviewed in 2019, this blog has been around for half a decade now. If you’re interested in looking back, you can check my yearly review posts for 2018, 2017, and 2016. (I didn’t do one for my first year.) You can also look through my site’s index for a complete list of the 300+ books that have been reviewed here over the past 5 years. If you enjoy this blog, please share it with like-minded people. You can get updates on twitter or facebook, and I’m always happy to get recommendations for my next review.

I hope you have a great new year!

Aleister Crowley on James Joyce

Only yesterday, I finished reading Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo, the monumental biography of Aleister Crowley. I had intended on publishing a review of that book today, but seeing as though it’s Saint Patrick’s day, I thought I should post something relating to my native Ireland. Last year, I posted Aleister Crowley’s poem “Saint Patrick’s Day, 1902”. It was my second post discussing Crowley’s strange attitude towards Ireland. While reading through Kaczynski’s biography of the Great Beast, I found another interesting link between Crowley and the Emerald Isle.

aleister crowley and james joyce.jpg

In July 1923, Crowley had an article titled “The Genius of Mr. James Joyce” published in New Pearson’s Magazine. Crowley discusses both Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and the then recently published Ulysses, showering both novels with lavish praise. When reading Crowley, one should always consider the possibility that he’s being insincere, but that’s clearly not the case here. It’s not hard to see how Crowley would be interested in a character like Joyce; both men were leaders in their fields, sexual deviants, largely misunderstood, and victims of censorship. (Although the two men never met, several people, including Kaczynski and Robert Anton Wilson, have pointed out similarities in their writing.)

james joyce aleister crowley

Here then, in its entirety, is Aleister’s article on Jimmy:

The Genius of Mr. James Joyce

Within the last twenty years a new form of literature has been evolved, the novel of the mind. I mean by this a story where what men do is described only as the outcome of what they think and feel and believe, and where the focus of interest is in their thoughts rather than in their acts. This literature is still in its experimental stage, and a majority of the novelists fail because they think it is enough to observe correctly, and so produce pathological studies rather than works of art. Their work is interesting because it is concerned with reality, but for the most part it is  indifferent literature, because the reality has not been worked into proper shape. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the further the majority of these writers probe into the mind of man, the further they depart from artistic creation.

My Wyndham Lewis’ novel Tarr is a case in point. It is one of the most interesting books written within the last ten years. It is a book that opens a secret cupboard and displays the contents with an observation that compels our admiration, but our chief interest is in watching the cat let out of the bag. All sensitive men are compelled to plead guilty to the indictment, but there is little indication that the author is interested in style for its own sake, and that his purpose would not have been as well served by an essay on the hatred of human beings for human nature.

This form of writing has been saved, by the genius of Mr. James Joyce, from its worst fate, that of becoming a mere amateur contribution to medical text-books.

Every new discovery produces a genius. Its enemies might say that psych-analysis—the latest and deepest theory to account for the vagaries of human behavior—has found the genius it deserves. Although Mr. Joyce is  known only to a limited circle in England and America, his work has been ranked with that of Swift, Sterne, and Rabelais by such critics as M. Vatery, Mr. Ezra Pound and Mr. T. S. Eliot.

There is caution to be exercised in appraising the work of a contemporary. When we like him at all, we are inclined to like him too much, because we are in unconscious sympathy with his presentation of life, and are incapable of judging his work impartially. I am convinced personally that Mr. Joyce is a genius all the world will have to recognize. I rest my proof upon his most important book Ulysses, and upon his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, and on such portions of Ulysses as have appeared. Before these he wrote two books, Chamber Music (The Egoist Press, London), a collection of most delicate songs, and Dubliners (Grant Richards, London), sketches of Dublin life distinguished by its savage bitterness, and the subsequent hostility it excited. The Portrait when it appeared was hailed as a masterpiece, but it has been boycotted by libraries and booksellers for no discernible reason other than the fact that the profound descriptions tell the truth from a new, and therefore to the majority a disturbing, point of view.

The book is the history of the infancy, childhood, and adolescence of a high-school boy, Stephen Daedalus. While he is little his people are prosperous gentle folk, by the time he is grown up they are living in a Dublin slum. In a magnificent early chapter his family sit round their rich Christmas Dinner. It is the time of the Parnell tragedy, and every person there takes a different view of it with an equal passion, and their dispute rises with matchless intensity until Stephen’s father is left alone at the head of the table and cries and says, “Parnell, my dead king.”

Stephen goes to a Catholic public school, and his young body and his young beliefs drive hell into him, and he leaves school and goes to college and finds his nature unchanged. He grows up in love with absolute beauty, and obsessed with the obscenity of life. He is tortured so soon as he is able to perceive the conflict of the body and the soul, the excremental animal and the image of God.

The book is written with the utmost delicacy and vigor. When Stephen is a baby, Mr. Joyce selected the exact incidents that would impress the hardly conscious minds in such a way that the reader finds that his own infantile memories are astir. He recalls his own mind when it was incapable of synthesis and conscious only of alternation between nourishment and excretion. Gradually the child becomes aware of the relation between one thing and another, with adolescence his consciousness becomes complete, and the struggle of the individual to express and reconcile himself to life begins. As his mind changes Mr. Joyce changes his style, the unperceiving mind is shown so that the actual texture of its unperceptiveness is felt, an incomplete thought is given in its incompleteness. But when Mr. Joyce leaves his characters to their stream of unsorted perceptions and speaks for himself, he write classical English prose with the particular beauty proper to a new master. Stephen is walking on the cliffs of Dublin bay, and looks over to the town and sees—

“as a scene, or some dim areas, old as man’s weariness the image of the seventh city of Christendom was present to him across the timeless air, not older, not more weary, nor less patient of subjection than in the days of the thingmote.”

The end of the Portrait leaves Stephen still at Dublin University. He is the eldest, a swarm of brothers and sisters sit round the table and drink tea out of jam pots. His mother “is ashamed a University student should be so dirty, his own mother has to wash him.” He is the poorest of poor students, the most gifted, proud and perverse. We leave him, knowing that there is worse in store for him and turn to Ulysses.

Ulysses (The Shakespeare Book Co., Paris—by subscription), as the title suggests, is another Odyssey of a small Jewish commercial traveler round about the Dublin streets on one day.

About him there unwinds the most extraordinary procession of his friends and acquaintances from one public house to the next, and among them is Stephen, his father gone in drink, Buck Mulligan, a horsey “tough,” barmaids, the Rev. Father Conmee S. J. Stephen’s little sister buying a French grammar for a penny, maid-servants, loafers, business men, all passing and talking and dreaming, and observed and set down to what seems the last possible point of human observation.

A great part of the book is passed in a public house where the scenes of the Odyssey are represented by two barmaids standing behind a barrier of whiskey-bottles which contain, as Mr. Joyce observes, “orient and immortal wheat standing from everlasting to everlasting.”

Stephen is now a school master, reading Lycidas over the heads of a class of indifferent children. He is now a quite subsidiary character. It is in Mr. Bloom that the essence of the book lies.

The disreputable, snobbish Catholic world sees in Mr. Bloom a commercial traveler of a despised race. Mr. Bloom sees himself as a lover, a poet, a gourmet, and a man-of-the-world. Yet he is an acute observer of himself, he takes himself into his own confidence, and it is infinitely entertaining to overhear him. It is also shocking and startling. His Odyssey is between his home, some shops, a cemetery and a public-house, in a trance on foot. In the beginning he buys a piece of soap, “sweet lemony wax,” and the part taken by that piece of soap in his  trouser pocket is given its exact proportion. It has a life-history of its own, a “Little Odyssey.”

I have no space to enter upon the real profundity of this book, or its amazing achievement in sheer virtuosity. Mr. Joyce has taken Homer’s Odyssey and made an analogy, episode by episode, translating the great supernatural epic into terms of slang and betting slips, into the filth, meanness and wit and passion of Dublin today. Then the subtle little alien is shown exploiting, as once the “Zeus-born, son of Laertes, Odysseus of many wiles” exploited, the ladies and goddesses of the “finest story in the world.”

At present Mr. Joyce is all but unknown except to the inmost ring of English and French lovers of the arts. In his own country prejudiced Dublin opinion is making a determined effort to boycott him. It would certainly reflect no discredit on the Commonwealth of Australia if she were to be one of the first to recognize a writer who will in time compel recognition from the whole civilized world.

 

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered these lads in conjunction with each other. Both Aleister Crowley and James Joyce appear as central characters in Robert Anton Wilson’s Masks of the Illuminati.

Expect more on Crowley here soon. I should have the review of Perdurabo ready for next week.

2018, The Year in Review

In 2018, I reviewed books about Satanic Communists, intergalactic Nazis, Trump voting necrophiles, sodomaniacal vampires, Sado-shamans, and an another Alien Jesus – and that’s not mentioning the fiction. I published more posts, wrote more words, reviewed more books and saw more traffic this year than any year previous. I did best-of posts for 2016 and 2017, but for 2018 I’m going to go all out and indulge myself with a full post on this blog and its upkeep. I’ll post a new review early next week, so come back then if you’re only interested in the books.

paperback wall horror occult.jpg
Most of this year’s acquisitions have been trade paperbacks.

I read and reviewed far more fiction this year than ever before.  There’s two reasons for this. I became sick and tired of reading long, boring occult books. They’re expensive, they take ages to read, and they’re usually absolutely awful. The second factor was Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell. I’ve been reviewing horror fiction since 2015, but Hendrix’s book opened my eyes to the realms of trashy horror. I’ve long known that books like these existed, I just wasn’t sure which were worth reading. It turns out that it’s most of them.

Some of the Paperbacks from Hell I read this year.

I already had a few of the books featured in PFH on my to-read list, but PFH’s popularity made some of these books scarce, and I ended up shelling out quite a bit of cash to grab copies before they were impossible to find.

satan series brian mcnaughton starI had been meaning to buy copies of these for ages. Their inclusion in Paperbacks from Hell has made them rather difficult to track down for a reasonable price.

After enjoying the transition from classic Gothic horror to modern trashy paperback horror, I allowed myself to go even further and visited the strange world of Bizarro Fiction. I wasn’t sure if those books belonged on a blog like this, but whatever. I’ll post whatever I want. I’ve enjoyed wallowing in the trash swamp recently, but I’m planning on reading some more high-brow horror in the near future to even things out. (I’ve actually been rereading all of Lovecraft’s work since shortly after publishing this review. I didn’t think it was anything special, but it’s been one of my most popular posts this year. Expect more Lovecraft posts in 2019.)

Magical Books from the internet.

The past few months have seen me returning to occult literature. Instead of paying ridiculous money for awful books, I’m downloading pdf copies online, and instead of slogging through dense, arcane tomes of esotericism, I’m breezing through idiotic pamphlet length grimoires. It’s the same crap; it’s just easier to stomach when I’m confronted with 50 pages of nonsense instead of 500. This has allowed me to publish 2 posts per week for the last few months, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue at this pace. I have a few ideas for multi-book posts for the near future that will probably slow things down considerably. They’ll be worth the wait.

I usually do a top 10 posts of the year list around this time. It’s harder to choose this year because there’s more posts than ever before. I’ll just say that my reviews of Raped by the Devil, Marx and Satan, Ghoul, Space Gate, The Veil Removed, Masks of the Illuminati, Psychopathia Sexualis, Nox Infernus, Satanicon, and Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy are pretty good. Also, my short “splatterpunk” story, Kevin is worth a look.

Best of 2018

All that being said, the most important post of the year was doubtlessly on Spawn of the Devil by Aristotle Levi, an exceedingly rare work of occult erotica. If you haven’t read this post, please take a look.

spawn of the devil - aristotle leviDefinitely not a book that you’d want to judge by its cover.

Running this blog can be quite frustrating. I put in a lot of effort and often don’t see much of a response. You won’t find reviews of some of these books on any other sites, and lots of them aren’t even listed on Goodreads. Search engines don’t bring much traffic to these posts because nobody ever googles the names of these books. I could probably do a better job promoting this stuff on social media, but I’d far prefer to spend my time reading and writing about weird books. If you could share this blog with somebody you know who’d be interested, it would be super appreciated!

Happy new year!