Secret Magic Spells of the Romany Gypsies and Fascination – A Feast of Finbarr

I was pretty lazy with reading this week, so here’s a post on two more awful magical pamphlets from Finbarr Publications, publisher of the worst magical texts ever printed.

secret magic spells of the romany gypsiesSecret Magic Spells of the Romany Gypsies – C. McGiolla Cathain & M. McGrath
Finbarr -1993

Secret Magic Spells of the Romany Gypsies purports to be a collection of authentic gypsy spells for love, money and revenge. It’s a load of shit. All of the spells in here look something like this:

For this spell, all you need is a green candle and a picture of your true love. First, thoroughly rub the tip of the candle against your anus. Then Light the candle and let some of the wax drip on the photograph while uttering the following incantation;

“Tweedly diddly fiddly dum,
Fiddeldy diddeldy widdeldy wee,
Boomboom bumbum bambam bum
So mote it be”

You will marry your true love within a month.

The spells take up roughly half of the text. The rest is made up of anecdotes of these spells being used succesfully. I’ve noticed a similar approach in quite a few other books from Finbarr publications, but the stories in here are particularly unconvincing. One of the characters is referred to only as “B.S.”. I can’t shake the feeling that this was the authors cryptically confessing to feeding their audience complete and utter bullshit.

 

fascination master count de leonFascination – Master Count de Leon
Finbarr – 2015

Fascination is the shortest pamphlet I’ve read from Finbarr, and it’s probably the most absurd. The actual text is barely 7 pages long. The first 5 of these pages are spent praising Adolph Hitler, and the last 2 describe a ritual that you can use to become more like Adolph. The ritual consists of wagging your dick at your reflection in a mirror while muttering your own name exactly 99 times. Seriously. I’m not even joking. That’s all this book contains. It suggests that Hitler himself performed this ritual.

This is obviously a noteworthy magical offering, but I don’t feel much need to comment any further on it. If you think I’ve exaggerated about its contents, read it for yourself – the text is easy to find online.

Season of the Witch – Peter Bebergal

season of the witch occult rock and roll - peter bebergal.jpgSeason of the Witch : How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll – Peter Bebergal
Penguin – 2014

I like rock’n’roll and books about the occult, but I found this quite boring. Peter Bebergal seems to have set his sights a bit too high. His definition of Occult is very broad (as I suppose it should be), and he attempts to use this open Occultism to spin a narrative that links all strains of rock music.

Season of the Witch contains all the stuff you’d expect- the Stones and their connection to Kenneth Anger, Jimmy Page and Aleister Crowley, Black Sabbath and the Devil… but it also includes lengthy discussions on the influence of voodoo on blues music and prog rock’s fascination with sci-fi. The topics being discussed are interesting, but the scope of the book is so large that the author doesn’t get to go into a huge amount of detail. Also, the book mostly focuses on mainstream artists. There’s a bit on Throbbing Gristle and their offshoots, and Magma get a mention, but the Beatles and Pink Floyd get far more coverage.┬áBerbegal also discusses Coven, Black Widow, and Mercyful Fate, but I’ve read books that go into far greater detail on that kind of stuff.

I feel a bit bad about this review. Berbegal comes across as sincerely interested in the subject matter, and he knows what he’s writing about. This would probably be more interesting to a person who hadn’t already spent a lot of time reading about the links between rock music and the occult.

Speaking of books about rock music, the trailer for the Lords of Chaos movie was finally posted online. It looks truly ridiculous. I’m definitely going to watch it.

Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood – Weird Fiction from the Golden Dawn

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The Three Imposters and other stories – Vol. 1 of the Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen
The White People and other stories – Vol. 2 of the Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen
The Terror and other stories – Vol. 3 of the Best Weird Tales of Arthur Machen
Chaosium Publishing

It’s very rare that I would read a book of short stories in the same way that I would read a novel. I usually have a book or two of short stories on the go that I’ll dip in and out of when I’m between other texts. It can take an awfully long time to get through a book in this manner, but it stops me from getting bored of the author’s style. (The Collected Stories of M.R. James, for example, took me about 7 months to finish, but I got through another 35 full texts in that same period.) In this particular case, the collection of short stories was broken up over three books, and I interspersed other collections between each of these volumes. It has hence taken me about 4 years to get through Chaosium’s collected weird tales of Arthur Machen, and I can’t honestly say that I remember much about the first ones that I read other than that I absolutely adored them.

Much like Penguin’s editions of Lovecraft’s stories, the first volume of this collection contains the best material. I took a copy of it out of the library after reading about Machen online, and I enjoyed it immensely. These creepy stories about freaks, weird experiments and dark forces are top notch stuff. I’ve already linked to my posts on James and Lovecraft, and I feel that Machen, at his best, occupies the middle-ground between these two authors. Every story in here was deadly. You should buy and read this book.

The second volume has some good stuff, but some of it is lame. This book contains the Angels of Mons stuff. During the first World War, Machen wrote a story about some angels appearing on a battlefield at Mons. The story was published in a newspaper, and many people, including some of the soldiers who had been in that battle, took it to be a factual account. It’s kind of cool that this happened, but the story isn’t that great. The Red Hand and The White People are the highlights in this volume. Maybe take this one out of the library, or read those two stories online instead.

The third volume is plop. There were a few stories that seem promising at the beginning, but these either teeter off into incoherence or abruptly turn to shit. Changes was worth reading for the hideous, yellow-faced goblin-child, and Out of the Picture was entertaining if quite silly, but the rest of the stories in here are garbage. The title story is actually the uncut version of a story that appears in the second version, and it’s a drawn-out piece of trash. Speaking of what is contained in this volume, S.T. Joshi claims; “None of these works add anything to Machen’s overall reputation as a horror writer.” I agree. Joshi afterwards mentions other works of Machen’s which were too poor to be included here. Those stories must be the literary equivalent of sniffing a shit-stained pair of britches. Don’t bother with this one unless you’re a completist. It’s not an enjoyable read.

Machen also wrote a novel called The Hill of Dreams. I haven’t read that yet, but it’s supposed to be good. I’ll get around to it someday.

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Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories – Algernon Blackwood
Penguin – 2002

I took this book out of the library right after finishing the first volume in the above Machen collection. I read it straight through without breaks, and while I thoroughly enjoyed most of it, by the end I was getting burnt out on short stories. It has been a long time since I read this book, but I seem to remember the individual stories from this one better than those from the first Machen collection. There’s 9 stories in here, and they are all quite different. The weird in ‘Weird Fiction’ is a tricky thing to pin down, but I found that Blackwood’s stories are weirder (in the common sense of the word weird) than those of Machen or Lovecraft. That being said, this is the only collection of Blackwood’s that I have read, and maybe his other work is different. I would love to hear from anyone who has any recommendations on Blackwood’s other stuff. The layout of this book is nice; it has an almost identical format to the Penguin editions of Lovecraft (an introduction by Joshi and a small article and set of notes for each story). I would recommend picking this one up.

Both Machen and Blackwood were members of the magical order of the Golden Dawn along with W.B. Yeats and Aleister Crowley. Whatever though. I’m not going to get into that. If you’re interested, you can find out more about their involvement in this magical order online.