Who is the Duke De Richleau?

It may come as surprise to some of you, but I am neither French nor a Duke. Le Duc De Richleau is the hero in a collection of 11 novels by Dennis Wheatley. For all of the philistines reading my blog, Wheatley, was a prolific author of trashy adventure novels. Most of his books were spy novels, but he was also a self proclaimed expert on the occult, and some of his books, 2 of which I have already reviewed, deal with black magic. The Duke De Richleau series contains 3 Black Magic novels, including The Devil Rides Out, perhaps Wheatley’s most famous book.


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The Devil Rides Out
Hutchinson and Co – 1972 (Originally published 1934)
It’s been a long time since I read this one, but I remember it well enough to know that you don’t need an in-depth review to decide whether or not you should read it. This book is about Satanists, pentagrams, rituals, goats, spells, and demons. If you know that much and don’t want to read this, you’re a piece of shit. This is definitely one of the best places to start if you haven’t read any Wheatley before. The movie is deadly too, but for the love of Satan, read the book first.
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My copy of Devil Rides Out is a fancy hardback reissue. Some of these have illustrations.

 

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Strange Conflict
Arrow – 1981 (Originally published 1941)
Unlike the other two books in this post, I read this one last week, so it’s still fairly fresh in my memory. This was an enjoyable entry to the series, but it’s a pretty bad book. It sees the Duke and his mates being hired to discover how Nazi U-Boats have been successfully figuring out the trade routes of English ships. Using astral-projection, the Duke figures out that the Nazis are getting their info from an evil Voodoo priest in Haiti. Ok; Voodoo Nazis, sounds great right? Well yeah, that is super cool, but let’s just think about the idea of using astral projection as a means of espionage for a moment. Astral projection gives the Duke the ability to leave his body and go anywhere in the world. The book starts off with him sitting in his apartment in London as the city is being bombed to shit. WHY THE FUCK DID HE WAIT 2 YEARS TO START SPIRIT-SPYING? Why did he not volunteer to start sleep-creeping the Nazis as soon as they entered Poland? Also, out of the Duke’s team of friends, 3 out of the 5 are able to astrally project themselves. If 60% of people can do so, why the fuck were the British government so fucking slow to organize a full-on Astral attack on Germany? It doesn’t make any sense.

Anyways, as soon as they figure out that the bad guy is in Haiti they decide to head over to kill him in his sleep. I have mentioned elsewhere that Wheatley was not one to be concerned with cultural or political sensitivity, and a trip to Haiti provides several lolworthy examples. This was written in 1941, so the author’s use of the term Jap is excusable, but referring to the “Jap” character as a “dirty little yellow rat” might be a bit much for the modern reader. Failing that, the description of the Haitian natives is sure to offend:
“Those coloured bums have just no powers of organisation at all and it’s like one big tropical slum. If it weren’t for the climate and the masses of fruit that can be had just for the plucking the whole darned lot of them would have starved to death long ago… The niggers live in little more than tents made from tying a few banana palms together.”  There’s another thoroughly unpleasant passage describing the parents of a missing teenager whose corpse has just been found in the hospital; “The man and woman were Mulattoes… The woman was a characterless bag of fat which appeared to have been poured into the good-quality silk dress that restrained her ample figure”.
He also refers to one of the black characters as a “wooglie”, although I’m not entirely sure whether or not that’s a racial slur. (My guess is that it probably is.) To top it all off, the book ends in an amazing proclamation on the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race.

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Mr Wheatley, you charmer!

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I don’t mind reading racist books as long as I’m not giving money to the author. In this case, the author is long dead, and I buy these books second hand. However, the most recent editions of Wheatley’s novels have been abridged, and the horrible racism and misogyny have been removed. This is utterly infuriating. It’s not that the publishers want to prevent the spread of racist ideas; it’s that they want to make Wheatley more palatable to the tumblr generation. Fuck that; if you buy a book about Nazi devil-worshippers but get offended by fictional characters’ racism, you need to kill yourself immediately. Yes, Wheatley was a shit, but if you can’t read a book by a person that you might not like in real life, you’re a stupid fucking loser. If you come across something in a book that makes you uncomfortable, think critically and learn from the experience. Censorship of literature is immoral, and anyone who begs to differ can go and help themselves to a hearty swig of bleach.

The rest of this book is standard Wheatley fare; chases, rituals, beautiful but enchanted young women, demons, the works… The ending involves a bit of the old deus ex machina, and I got the feeling that ol’ Dennis might have been making it up as he went along. I wouldn’t recommend this one as a starting point for his work, but it’s worth a read if you like this kind of garbage.

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Gateway to Hell
Arrow – 1974 (Originally published 1970)

I don’t remember much about this one to be honest. It definitely wasn’t as good as Devil Rides Out, but I gave it 5/5 stars on goodreads, so it was obviously thoroughly enjoyable. More diddies on the cover too; can’t go wrong like.

Overall, Wheatley’s writing is bad (He admitted so himself), his plots are silly, and a lot of his ideas are liable to trigger you into oblivion, but I really love his books. There’s something comic-booky about them, and I like to treat myself to one in between heavier stuff.These are just the Black Magic novels from the Duke De Richleau series, and I’ll probably review the others at some stage too.

Who is the Duke De Richleau?

Did Aleister Crowley Create Strange Lifeforms?

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It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to writing a post about Aleister Crowley. It’s hard to know what to believe about the man; some see him as a prophet, while many others see him as a charlatan. In this post I discuss three different portrayals of Crowley. The three accounts come from novels, but the authors of these novels actually knew Crowley in real life. Their accounts are therefore infinitely more reliable than the many biographies written by people who never met him. I’ll start off with Crowley’s own novel.

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Moonchild – Aleister Crowley
Weiser – 1996

He may have been many things, but a good novelist, Aleister Crowley was not. This book is about a team of magicians who force a woman to undergo a ritual pregnancy to create a “moonchild” (Don’t ask what that is. I’ve read the book, and I don’t fucking know.). Another team of evil magicians, the Black Lodge, tries its best to stop this from happening. The premise is promising, but the plot reads as if it was made up as the book was being written; it starts off decently, but by the end it feels like Crowley has gotten bored with his own story and wants to be done with it as soon as possible. The ending is so unsatisfying that it makes the rest of the book feel like a waste of time. (Imagine getting halfway through Jaws and witnessing the characters giving up and saying “Fuck it. Let’s just move to Colorado where there’s no sharks.”) Also, the mix of fiction and mystical philosophy is tolerable at first, but unless you’re a fedora-wearing goth, it will get very boring very quickly.

All of the black magicians are based on people who Crowley disliked in real life. Edwin Arthwait is Arthur Edward Waite, the lean Protestant-Irishman named Gates is W.B. Yeats, and S.R.M.D is Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. (All of these lads were Crowley’s former Golden Dawn buddies.) Cyril Grey and Simon Iff are a Stephen Dedalus/Leopold Bloom tag-team version of Crowley himself. The fact that the author put two versions of himself into his book might give you an idea of his inflated sense of self-importance.

There were two parts of this book that I really liked. The first is when a lad called Balloch calls a lad called Akbar a “piece of dirt”. The second is a depiction of a grisly necromantic ritual. I won’t ruin it for you, but it involves a lot of animal blood and the corpse of William Butler Yeats. The book is actually worth reading for that particular scene alone.

This is a novel, but I’m sure that some of it was based on personal experiences. The characters representing Crowley are the good guys, and their magic is limited to a little astral projection here and there, but Crowley himself could well have been privy to depraved rituals similar to those of the Black Lodge. From what I understand about the man, he revelled in the air of mystery that surrounded him, and this book serves to propagate that air.

I bought this book ages ago, and I was fairly disappointed when I got around to reading it. The plot is shit, the characters are annoying, and ultimately it serves as little more than an ego wank. Overall, it provides the least interesting account of Crowley out of these three books.

 

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The Magician – W. Somerset Maugham
Penguin – 1967

What a relief it was to read this book after slogging through Moonchild! This is a fast-paced, gothic thriller about an evil magician who does his best to fuck up the relationship between a young couple. He uses black magic to take control of the girl, and he forms despicable plans to use her in an unspeakable experiment. Maugham wrote this novel early in his career and later claimed to have completely forgotten about it. It’s not supposed to be his greatest work, but I fucking loved it. It’s genuinely exciting, it doesn’t shy away from violence, and it doesn’t get bogged down in tedious mysticism. The ending is fucking glorious too; I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who might read it, but holy shit, there are freaks in the attic!

So why am I including this book in this post? Well, the evil magician, one Oliver Haddo, is based on Aleister Crowley. In an introductory note, Maugham describes how he met Crowley in Paris and took an instant dislike to him. He claims that Crowley served as a model for Haddo, but that Haddo is not supposed to be a portrait of Crowley.

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This is the back cover of my copy of The Magician. Note that the magician is mistakenly referred to as Richard Haddo instead of Oliver. Oh Drat!

So what’s Oliver Haddo like? Well, one point that is made perfectly clear is that he is a plus-sized gentleman. References to his girth are made whenever he appears; indeed, the subtext of this entire novel reads “Aleister Crowley is a fatty-fatty-boombalatty”. What I found more interesting though, were the similarities between Haddo and Crowley’s own depiction of himself in Moonchild. In both books he is described as having a peculiar glare and the ability to enter or exit a room without notice. He is also depicted as being a very difficult man to read; he seems in both books to have a very odd, yet intriguing manner about him. Maugham claims that he was simultaneously interested, amused and repulsed by Crowley in real life.

Haddo’s most sinister plan is to use the blood of a virgin to create homunculi (little goblin people that are made through magic). Could the real Crowley have been so fiendish? Well, homunculi are also discussed at length in Moonchild. Crowley there puts forth a theory of reincarnation in which souls compete for human bodies. Every incarnated soul will have three forces acting on it: the soul itself, heredity and its environment. Souls should therefore look for bodies whose heredity and environments come with as few restrictions as possible. (By their nature, homunculi have no heredity and would therefore be freer than other bodies.) The aim of the magicians in Moonchild is to magically induce a scenario where a powerful soul will be convinced to enter the body of their ritual baby. This baby was conceived in the normal way and so can only be considered a homunculus in a very loose sense of the word. Conversely, Haddo’s creations in The Magician are homunculi in the very literal sense of the world. The unholy, fabricated mutants are probably the most fantastic element of Maugham’s story, but the real Crowley clearly had come across the idea in his own practice. Is it possible that he attempted to create life out of nothing? I see no reason to believe that he wouldn’t have tried to do so; it’s not like the guy was renowned for his ethical integrity.

Anyways, so transparent was Maugham’s use of Crowley as a model for Haddo that Crowley actually wrote a review of The Magician for Vanity Fair. He even signed the article as Oliver Haddo. His main criticism was that Maugham had plagiarized much of the material in his book. (Note that one of the sources he recognized as plagiarized was a passage on the creation of homunculi from Franz Hartmann’s book about Paracelcus!) This would be a fair complaint if The Magician was an essay, but the plagiarism doesn’t make the novel any less entertaining. Also, I probably wouldn’t have discovered this wonderful novel if it weren’t for the plagiarism herein. Crowley’s response to the novel and his further comments on Maugham are quite interesting; he gets a little bitchy at him, but he’s never really nasty. From the little I know about the man, I reckon he gained enormous pleasure from the fact that somebody had written a book about him, regardless of the content.

20151228_012632To the Devil a Daughter – Dennis Wheatley
Arrow – 1966

I read this book a year and a half ago, and as I remember, it’s the story of an evil priest called Canon Copely-Syle who is trying to get control of a girl to use her in his attempt to create a homunculus. The girl in question is a quiet, well-behaved young woman during the day, but at night, a satanic influence causes her to become a brazen little jezebel. This is a Dennis Wheatley novel, and so the victim is obviously saved by a team of upper-class Brits who have both served in the military and somehow amassed a wide knowledge of the occult. It’s also full of the casual racism and weird demons appearing out clouds of smoke that I have learned to expect in a Wheatley novel. This is total trash, but it is the exact kind of trash that I adore. My goodreads review for this book simply reads; “I can’t say this is one of the best books that I have read, but I can certainly say it’s one of my favourites. A damn fine novel.” There is a film that was loosely based on it too. It’s not nearly as good as the film version of The Devil Rides Out, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

It’s interesting coming back to this book after having read The Magician. When I started reading The Magician, I kept thinking to myself that it was like a more stylish  version of a Dennis Wheatley novel. Once I got a bit into it, I realized that it is pretty much exactly that. Wheatley draws heavily from The Magican for the plot of To the Devil a Daughter. He does it in a pretty cool way though. The girl in The Magician slowly goes from good to bad, but the girl in this one alternates between the two every 12 hours. And if Oliver Haddo is supposed to be an over-the-top version of Crowley, then Canon Copely-Syle is the same thing pushed 1 step further. There’s even a cool scene in this novel where the Canon discusses Crowley. He initially refers to him as a charlatan, but he is told a story that leads him to accept that Crowley had reached the magical degree of Ipsissimus.

I have another book about Crowley called Portable Darkness. I bought it because it was cheap and it features a foreword by Robert Anton Wilson. The foreword begins: “Everyone knows the sinister story of how Aleister Crowley and his son, MacAleister, went one dark night into a hotel room in Paris and howled within a magic triangle the nameless names that invoked the Devil. The results, we are told, were eldritch and abominable, as the late great H.P. Lovecraft would say.  MacAleister  was found dead of a heart attack.” (I have read other versions of this story in which the son’s head was either torn off or turned 180 degrees around by the demon.) Wilson notes that this story, which is accepted as true by many occultists, has its basis in the story told to the Canon in To The Devil A Daughter. Wilson therefore dismisses it as entirely fictional. Wheatley however, did not consider the story to be fictional at all. In his non-fiction work, The Devil And All His Works, he tells how he was quite fond of Crowley and how he would often have him over for dinner. This book was published 18 years after To The Devil A Daughter, and in it he also recounts the aforementioned story of the disastrous summoning ritual. Regardless of whether that story is true or not, you could say that it has been accepted into the official Crowley “Canon”. Hahaha, get it?

I have alluded to fact that I would not have discovered Maugham’s novel were it not for his plagiarism. It would be more accurate to say that I would not have discovered Maugham’s novel were it not for Wheatley’s plagiarism of Maugham’s plagiarism. There is a passage in Wheatley’s novel that discusses the succesful attempts of Count Von Küffstein and Abbé Geloni to create homunculi. Wheatley knew his stuff, and when I read this passage, I decided to try to find out whether it was based on anything or if it was directly from Wheatley’s imagination. When I looked up those names, I came across an almost identical passage from Maugham’s book. That passaged mentioned a mysterious text called Die Sphinx as a source. I looked that up, but I couldn’t find anything so I presumed that Maugham had made it up. I put The Magician on my to-read list and didn’t think much else of it. After I had read The Magician, I looked at Crowley’s review of it and noticed that the passage from Maugham’s book that mentions Count Von Küffstein and Die Sphinx was supposedly taken directly out of Franz Hartmann’s book on the Life of Paracelcus. Crowley also alludes to the improbability of Maugham having made his own translation of Die Sphinx, and that made me reconsider the existence of such a text. Well, I found a pdf copy of Hartmann’s book on the alchemist, and it mentions the publisher and other details of Die Sphinx. It is real afterall! It’s a bizarre masonic handbook by a guy named Emil Besetzny, and it contains an entire chapter on the lives of the Homunculi. After an intensive google search, I actually managed to track down a copy of the original work. Unfortunately, my German is extremely poor, and I can’t understand much of it at all. Here is a pdf copy of the chapter that deals with the homunculi. Anyone want to translate it?

Wheatley’s first hand account of the catastrophic experiments of Crowley suggest that he was willing to delve into the diabolical. Also, the fact that Crowley knew of Die Sphinx supports the idea that he might have tried to create his own homunculi. These facts, along with Maugham’s fictional accusations and his own willingness to discuss the topic, suggest that it is almost certain that Aleister Crowley attempted to create unhallowed bastard lifeforms. The only question remaining is whether or not he succeeded…

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I gave it a go myself; these boys are coming along nicely!

 

 

 

 

Did Aleister Crowley Create Strange Lifeforms?

WAS HITLER A SATANIST?

nazi
Well it’s Hitler’s birthday, so here’s a post about occult Nazism. I’m going to review three books:

The Occult Roots of Nazism – Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
NYU Press – 1992

They Used Dark Forces
Hutchinson & Co. Ltd (I think) – 1964

Theozoology – Jorg Lanz Von Liebenfelz
Europa House (PDF version) – 2004

The Occult Roots of Nazism
First off, The Occult Roots of Nazism is a pretty serious book. It’s well researched and well written. It’s very academic though, and it’s interesting in a historical way rather than a spooky way. To tell the truth, my main reason for buying this book was because Danzig owns a copy.

It turns out that some of the Nazi party’s beliefs had their roots in odd theosophical mysticism. The Nazi’s notion of Aryan supremacy might have been affected by some weird old men’s nutty ideas about Atlantis. I can accept that the Nazi’s ideas were affected by these nutty ideas, but it’s certainly not fair to blame the Holocaust solely on the  fantasies of a few occultists. In fairness though, the author never suggests any such thing; this really isn’t a bullshitty book. Goodrick-Clarke goes into a huge amount of detail to support his claims, and a lot of this book is very boring. I’d imagine it to have been a very difficult book to write, and I respect the author’s self restraint and ability to stick with the dry facts. The temptation to exaggerate would definitely have gotten the better of me.

The occultism herein is mostly quite boring to be honest. It’s mostly new-agey garbage; runes, theosophy and that kind of nonsense. If you’re hoping for accusations of Satanic pacts, this book will disappoint. The stuff about Von Liebenfelz is quite interesting, but we’ll get to that later on.

Overall I’ll give this book a 6/10. It’s good, but it’s not entirely to my tastes. If you’re a history student writing about this kind of stuff, this would be an extremely useful resource, but if you’re a gobshite, like me, who likes reading stupid books about the devil, then this might not be entirely satisfying.

They Used Dark Forces
I hadn’t yet read They Used Dark Forces when I came up with the idea for this post, but I had read Goodrick-Clarke’s book. I thought it would be a fun to contrast Goodrick-Clarke’s very academic work with a trashy Dennis Wheatley novel. To my disappointment, They Used Dark Forces is actually a very well researched piece of historical fiction, with only a little gratuitous black magic thrown in for fun. But what I found most disappointing was the fact that the ‘They’ in the title doesn’t refer to the Nazis. It’s actually the novel’s protagonist, Gregory Sallust, and his mate Malacou that do be using the dark forces herein.

I love Dennis Wheatley novels, and you can be sure that this isn’t going to be the last of his works reviewed on this blog, but I have to admit, this book wasn’t great. At least one third of it is just a factual account of different events and characters of the second world war. Wheatley was actually involved in the war, and he clearly knows what he’s talking about but I don’t read his novels for history lessons.

This book portrays Hitler as having an interest in the occult, but the only real satanist in the novel is actually a Jew. Wheatley doesn’t seem particularly anti-Semitic in any of his other works that I have read, and he never suggests that all Jews are Satanists in this book, but it did strike me as a little insensitive to villainize the only Jewish character in a narrative that largely unfolds in a concentration camp. I wasn’t particularly offended by his representation of the Jews; I was just disappointed that he didn’t use this book as an opportunity to make up silly stories about Hitler being a wizard.

Although not overtly anti-Semitic, the book does contain some good old-fashioned homophobia and misogyny. The most evil of all the books characters, Herr Obergruppenführer Grauber, is a fat homosexual who has a kinky bdsm room in his apartment, and there’s a particularly hilarious instance when a character expresses his attraction to a young woman by saying, “If I’d been ten years younger I’d have taken her off you and smacked her bottom myself.” I don’t think that Wheatley’s lack of cultural sensitivity detracts from his work; I find it hilarious. I only mention it as a warning to any nerds who are considering reading this work who might get upset.

So what about the dark forces? Well there’s lots of numerology, astrology and palm-reading in here, but there’s only one truly diabolic act in the whole book. This despicable blasphemy occurs early on too, and I was left waiting for more for the remainder of the book. The single atrocity committed is particularly nasty though, and it really seems out of place in terms of the characters involved and the general tone of the novel. There’s a brief reprisal of diabolism later on when Malacou suggests the performance of another ritual in honor of the Dark Lord. Gregory’s response to this suggestion is utterly priceless; “You filthy Satanist. Get to hell where you belong.” Good man, Gregory. That’ll surely teach him the error of this ways.

In general, this book was disappointing. Wheatley’s novels are fun, but they’re absolute trash. If I’m going to read trash, I need it to be at least 50% satanic. This novel was only 15% satanic, so the highest rating I can give it is 5/10. Read it if you like Wheatley, but don’t use it at a starting point to get into this writing.

To add insult to injury, my copy of the book doesn’t even a cool cover. Dennis Wheatley novels usually have awesome covers, and most other editions of this book have cool satanic swasticas on their covers. I got a lame plain red hardback version.coverswheatley
Spot the dud.

Theozoology, or The Science of the Sodomite Apelings and the Divine Electron
(An introduction to the most ancient and modern philosophy and a  justification of the monarchy and the nobility.)
theo.jpg

Well aside from having the greatest title of any book in the history of the world, this is also one of the funniest books that I have ever read. I usually only review books that I own, but the only copies of this that I have found have been printed versions of the .pdf version that I found online that some jackass is selling online for ridiculous money. I’m happy to stick with an electronic copy anyways, as I don’t want to be giving money to anybody who takes this nonsense seriously enough to translate and publish it.

I first heard of this book in Goodrick-Clarke’s book and had to track it down. Jorg Lanz Von Liebenfelz was cuckoo. In this book, he argues that a race of bizarre, homosexual ape-monsters have been fucking things up for the Aryan God-race since the beginning of time. Pretty much everything bad that has happened has been caused entirely by these malicious monkey-men. You might think that sounds unlikely, but Lanz uses the Bible to provide evidence for his claims, so he was almost definitely right.

I read this about a year ago, and I can’t honestly remember the specific arguments that Lanzy puts forth. I don’t think that matters though, they’re far too silly to discuss. I’m going to just copy a few quotations in here so you get a general idea of how amusing this book can be. Lanz gives an interesting account of the origins of crucifixion:
The “crucifixion” consisted of binding wild and unruly Sodomite monsters to poles in order to be able to copulate with them without danger. (cf. Job XL.24 Thren. V, 13). On the other hand, however, people were bound to such poles in order to have them sodomized by lascivious apelings. This was the torture to which early Christians were put (pastor Hermae III,2) and that was also the torture of Jesus.
So originally, regular l people used to tie the apelings up to bum them, and they’d also tie up criminals to let them get bummed by the apelings. There’s more details on Jesus’ ordeal later on; “Christ was to be outraged by the Sodomite hobgoblins. If he consented to this willingly and if he was overcome by temptation, then his whole mission would have been dashed.” Poor Jesus – nailed to a cross and then expected to resist the temptation of getting bummed by a hobgoblin. That’s rough.

I’m not entirely sure why, but this diagram and its description made me laugh until I was in tears.
Untitled
an image from Pompeii shows us three such ugly hobgoblins travelling on a barge.
Von Liebenfelz thought that both this image and the phrase ‘ugly hobgoblins’ were appropriate to use in a ‘scientific study’ that would justify the supremacy of the Aryan race. It looks like it was drawn by a toddler. What the fuck Lanz?

Apparently people took this seriously though. It’s difficult to understand how; this book is illogical, offensive, confused and yet hilarious. It’s too mad to rate. Read it for a laugh; it’s no good for anything else.

WAS HITLER A SATANIST?