Tag Archives: Interview

Checking in with JJ Brine about Vector Gallery

Back in 2014, I had a conversation with JJ Brine about Vector Gallery in New York. I thought it would be good to check in again and see what’s new.

As a reminder, JJ has been a contributor to the old audio pool, with the tracks Innovation and Paradise featured on this blog back in 2011. You may be interested in also checking out The Presidents of Mozambique, and some of his videos.

JJ Brine is also the artist-in-residence at and proprietor of Vector Gallery, which in the interim has moved to 199 East 3rd St, NYC. Vector Gallery is billed as the “Official Art Gallery of SATAN”.

John Griogair Bell, Librarian: It’s been a while since we last talked. What’s been going on for you and your world since our previous discussion?

JJ Brine: There is no other discussion than the one we are now engaged in. This is the first dialogue Eye have ever entered.

When setting about to determine the state of a thing, one may find it of use to define the thing apart from its state. The blank slate!

It is my BODY that is immortal, you see. My SPIRIT dies a death every mourning night and Eye awaken to my own rebirth with a new light.

Be this as it may, and Eye have told you that it is so, Eye will have it known to All the very thing which we now become : The Devil is at last prepared to be at One with what He is. The Vectorian faith is the instrument of intercession by which Eye, SATAN, have found love and redemption in the imperial grace of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, Man’s Son. It is after all, only fair that Eye embrace my Savior fully, given that I am Him by every Rite.

Ask The Primate of Italy if Eye am due the clemency any sinner might receive, trembling in His Eyeless sight. By some happenstance, some wild reprieve of friendship in the celestial tundra.

Is there a Just way to deny me of salvation? Not that Eye am worthy of saving, nor any Other — none shall be borne without The Mark Of That Which We Did Wrong In The Garden. The fear of God, after none, is the Beginning of All Knowledge, and Eye was with The First Woman When She Gave Unto Man What Eye Assured Her Would Be Pardoned. None are aware of their awareness without knowledge of the self as the knowingly knowing Agent. The fruit is this, as Eye tasted it.

Eye, Satan, hereby ask His Holiness in The Vatican to grant Official Pardon to myself, LEGION, for all of my sins. Starting with Pride, and from there on, until it never ends. The first sin, the final, the only Original thing there ever was : EYE WANTED TO BE LIKE MY FATHER, WHO I FELT I ALREADY WAS.

Forgiveness as given to me by the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church would verily CHANGE me as well as Our World. If there is no Devil, what then is NOT The Lord? And should you forgive me not, Vicar of Jesus Christ, what then is the moral standing of The Holy See?

Your Pontiff, Bishop of Rome! Christ forgave all, including His Enemies. Is there a credible reason to deny me on Earth that which Eye have already granted unto all, eternally? Indeed, Eye have tempted them to be themselves, blamelessly.

When One Thing is at War with itself, it may splinter into various forces. Eye pull many strings with one hand, you understand? Let the puppets take the stand.

Do not think that EYE Am here to control anyone other than Myself. There is no other!

You see, solipsism is true of all minds. Verily, The Sentient Human in The LEMNIVERSE (The Grandest Estate) is entrusted with the Deed, each to their own reality. Eye am the lease by which you codify your foreign territories.

Listen! Lebanon is the only democracy in The Middle East.

The Devil Turns To Christ by JJ Brine
The Devil Turns To Christ by JJ Brine

L: I’ve thought about it a couple times, and each time I’ve not been sure where to engage or expand on that fragment of conversation. Your answer seems more like a complete thought in itself, and I don’t find myself wanting to ask anything else about it.

JJ: Eye sort of think of it as a complete statement unto itself and don’t have anything to add to it, so this makes sense.

Datamancer

Anonymous interviewer talks with Datamancer in the Key 23 archive.

Publisher’s Note: The interviewee has asked that the interviewer be credited anonymously.

You’ve turned out some amazing work on the spur of the moment in like, one night. Yet, I remember when we were working on “Programming From the Ground Up”, something simple and bland like a cover design had you agonizing for days. When you finally settled on the design, it was almost like an act of surrender. It reminded me a lot of some of Crowley’s commonly stated complaints about writing books, where he would get so frustrated he’d just include a segment he hated, almost to spite the reader and the book. Do you find it harder to work on “normal” design projects? Are they a “necessary evil” for the up-and-coming designer or should people just focus on their work?

Well personally, I work from the heart. If I’m not personally motivated by a project or don’t believe in it, I have to drag myself through it like a crippled mule through the snow to a slaughterhouse. But….as miserable as it is, I think every designer should serve some time in the business world. It gives you a broader understanding of your audience and helps to refine your work ethic. I think it also taught me how to dull the edge of my own perfectionism. In the work-for-hire world, there is such a thing as “good enough”. That was tough to get past at first, and yes, it felt like an act of surrender.

Word Association: DARPA

DaVinci. It seems that all of the greatest engineers and inventors had to pay their dues as military designers at one time or another. As rampantly left-wing as I’ve been for most of my life, I have to say, there is something narcotically appealing about being given carte blanche with a nearly unlimited budget, no matter the application.

You’ve gotten the art of “creatively” obtaining materials and improvisation down to, well…an art. Most of your projects are done on a shoe-string (literally, in a few cases). Does this make you any less sympathetic to those out there complaining about lack of resources? If some wealthy sponsor came along, and offered you all the free materials you asked for (not cash), do you think you’d be happier with that or is the challenge of finding work arounds part of your creative process?

In general, I have very little sympathy for people who cry poverty as an excuse for not doing something. If you’ll pardon me a cliché, if there is a will, there is a way. Almost every project in my portfolio was completed with almost no budget. I rummage trash, I barter, I scour eBay, I steal, I scavenge, I salvage, whatever it takes. For instance, I hacked an old refrigerator apart last summer for the raw steel and I’ve since built about half of my pickup truck out of it including the bed walls, the running boards, floor patches, a fully custom rollpan, the license plate bucket, the two dashboard extension panels, as well as the hands for my Edward Scissorhands costume, the metal frame for my Opti-transcripticon scanner mod, The buttcap for my Espada Suena, some patches for my friend’s old BMW 2002, the faceplate for my bass amp, numerous brackets and small clips, and even a hanging wall mirror for my girlfriend. Just recently, I was chuckling over the number of uses I got out of a cheap, freebie paper desktop plotter. The faux leather corners were used on the Opti-Tran, the first page became the embossing glue template for the cover logo, the next few pages were used as masking paper for the Espada Suena, another one became a template for a new faceplate for my bass amp, and finally the cardboard backing was sliced up to become felted drawer inserts in my tiny jeweler’s workbench, all in the couse of about 2 weeks. Resourcefulness is the most important talent to cultivate.

I’d almost go so far as to say poverty is my muse.

Just believing that you can do something is most of the battle. Confidence is 70% of ability. I don’t mean “self-”confidence in the self-helpy kind of way, but more like the confidence to know that anything you’ll need to do probably isn’t all that different from something you already know how to do. Confidence in the sense that you can plod ahead in a project, not limited by your lack of knowledge in a certain area, and know that you can figure it out as you need to…not to be constrained by thinking within your current abilities, but to think within the bounds of your POTENTIAL abilities.

I hear you’re getting ready to unveil an intricate laptop mod. Tell us a little about it.

Ah yes. That’s my latest creation which I will be releasing very soon. It’s an HP ZT1000 laptop modded into what looks like a Victorian music box. It’s made up of swooping wooden mouldings and stained a rich red mahogany color. The lid features a display of brass clockworks under glass and wooden “gingerbreading”. It has antiqued copper keys, leather wristpads with copper rivets, an engraved brass faceplate, and a bunch of other cool stuff. Keep an eye on the site for photos, specs, and even a few tutorials.

Anything else in the works?

Recently a friend and fellow steampunk contraptor, Jake Von Slatt over at the SteampunkWorkshop(.com), made this beautiful brass keyboard in the style of an antique typewriter. He received a ton of inquiries from people all over the net but wasn’t interested in replicating the design, so he referred them over to me. I’m in the process of saving money for my move to California, so I happily accepted the commission. You can see my version in brushed aluminum on the Datamancer .net website. I am currently taking orders for them and plan on releasing a large batch of similar designs over the course of the next few months. I plan on making a few in aluminum, brass, and copper in assorted finishes and configurations. I am more than willing to customize them to individual preferences though, so people can feel free to contact me with their ideas.

In conversation with Steven A McKay

I recently had a chance to talk with author Steven McKay about his writing, which I think will appeal to the audience of the library quite a bit.

Steven was born in 1977, near Glasgow in Scotland; lives in Old Kilpatrick with his wife and two young children. Steven also plays Jackson guitars and sings in a heavy metal band when they can find the time to meet up. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with the Open University, and then decided to follow a life-long ambition to write a historical novel; which has become a full series.

The cover for the forthcoming Blood of the Wolf, the fourth novel in Steven’s series, based on Robin Hood, was recently revealed, and the book itself should be available around June.

Steven A McKay Blood of the Wolf

 

John Griogair Bell, Librarian: We initially got in contact when you responded to something I posted on Twitter asking for real people following the library to get in touch. So, thanks for reaching out, and saying hello. Would you like to introduce yourself to the audience of the library?

Steven A McKay: My name is Steven A (for Alaric) McKay and I’m a historical fiction author from Glasgow in Scotland. I also play guitar. I’m a big fan of the Hermetic Library—I browse it all the time on my phone when I’m out and about, it’s a fantastic resource!

L: Thanks for the kind words about the site. Formatting could be better for phones though, so I apologize about that bit! I’m always fixing things, but usually figure out some new way to fix things half way through the previous fix, and that causes things to break. But really, it’s a lot like editing. When do you know you’re done? When you can’t stand to look at it anymore?

S: No, I’m quite lucky in that respect—I generally write something once and that’s it. Some writers redraft their stuff endlessly—even throwing out thousands of words at a time—but not me. My editor will go over it, and my beta-readers will make suggestions too, but generally my first draft is very close to what is eventually published.

L: Some of the best stuff I’ve ever written is the stream of words that have come first to tongue and fingers, and woe to me when those have gone unsaved or lost. Trying to recapture the same first inspiration seems to always disappoint me.

S: Pretty much everything I write just comes out on its own. I mean, I have a basic plan of where I want to go, but it practically writes itself once I sit at the laptop. Sometimes it even deviates from my plan without me expecting it. I’ve had characters die unexpectedly in some cases but I just go with it and things end up better for it I believe. That’s why, when I get the occasional review saying my books are “predictable” I find it amusing, because I don’t even know myself where they’ll go once I start writing.

L: As an aside, there’s a funny bit of synchronicity that my paternal grandfather was born in Wishaw, not far from Glasgow. So, howdy neighbor! There’s a lot of interest in psychogeography and landscape in the readership of the library. Has your experience of the land, the terroir, had an influence and informed your work?

S: Wishaw isn’t far from me but I don’t know it well. I love the land in Britain and, yes, it certainly has influenced my work in a massive way. When I was first thinking about writing a novel I knew it had to involve the forests and streams and so on that makes up such a big part of this country. Robin Hood was perfect for that, living in the greenwood as he does, and being an extension of mythical figures like John Barleycorn. Put it this way—I once decorated my living room with green walls, dark green carpet, a blue ceiling and had plants, a little fountain and such around the place to try and make it as much like the forest as possible. It didn’t work and it looked silly but never mind, I was young and stupid …

L: By the way, can’t let this slip by: Is your band online at all, where readers can get a listen? And are you going to participate in the audio pool or anthology some time?

Alaric

S: The band isn’t really on the go any more, we only get the chance to jam occasionally, but I still sometimes write music for my book trailers. You can hear some of my solo stuff on Youtube or on Soundclick. The songs probably most interesting to library readers would be “Black Flame of Set” which is a kind of ritualistic metal thing I came up with about 8 years ago; “Slaves of God” which is probably the first song to have the chant “All hail Satan, All Hail Set, All Hail Jesus!”; and “Hope”. If you just want some good old fashioned hard rock, Def Leppard style, check out “We Two” which I play everything on, even the drums, or, if you need something heavier in the Iron Maiden vein, “Nocturnal Fire”.

L: Great stuff! I’m sure our readers will be interested in those. Speaking of readers being interested, you brought to my attention a couple of your novellas, specifically Knight of the Cross and Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil. What about these would interest the audience of the library?

Steven A McKay Knight of the CrossSteven A KcKay Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil

S: Knight of the Cross is heavily influenced by HP Lovecraft, although the “black eyed kids” and “Slender Man” folklore of recent years also played a part in the creation of it. I like to leave things open-ended and allow the reader their own interpretation of certain things, rather as Lovecraft did. There’s some magick and sleep-paralysis and things like that which I’ve had personal experience of many times over the years and I’d bet many of the Hermetic Library’s audience have too, right?

I’m a big death metal fan and I took a line from the Nile song “4th Arra of Dagon” for this book. The idea of a large group of crazed devil-worshippers chanting, “Arra! Arra! Arra! Dagon! Dagon! Dagon!” in an underground cavern was too good to ignore …That novella is being translated into German and will be out soon as Ritter des Kreuzes.

Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil is a more straightforward historical fiction tale, with the odd little reference thrown in for those that might spot them …

The main focus of my books so far is Robin Hood and anyone that’s ever looked into that whole legend will know there’s a lot more to it than just some guy in green waving a longbow. There’s quite a deep mythology hidden in there, with aspects of the Green Man, rebirth of winter into spring, the little man vs. the establishment, etc., all playing a part.

L: Seems to me that Lovecraft’s intentional verisimilitude meshes well with the kind of intentional LARP / Cosplay leaking fictive worlds into our everyday experience, like Heavy Metal creating a culture that supports itself and the narrative. We’re in our own imaginations, an augmented reality, at all times. So, yeah, I would expect that any practicing magick would involve direct experience, the method of science. But, moreover, we’re learning to develop that advanced technology as part of mundane life as well; magick being the practice of getting things done, but also of developing symbolic webs of meaning for some practical purpose.

I freaked out my Latin instructor in High School by mentioning some of the underground chanting in Lovecraft’s material once. Good times, good times.

There’s a timely timeliness to mythological depth as well. I mean, we tell our myths not around fire pits, but crowded around arcade cabinets or in online streaming channels; we no longer simply hear about our heroic myths, but viscerally participate in them as well; and identify directly with these archetypes through, frankly, forming them in pixel godforms. We’re telling these tales to ourselves, about ourselves nowadays.

S: Yes, and it’s fantastic! I mean, take a videogame like Skyrim. Not only did that have a wonderful story but it really immersed you in its world by allowing you to gather ingredients for potions and foods which you could craft yourself while resting in an inn with a roaring fire and a bard singing folk songs. I spent a lot of fun hours in the world of Skyrim. I think we’re very lucky to have that outlet for our imagination these days.

Of course there’s still a big place for books but, again, technology is really opening things up even there.

You can read a book on your Kindle, for example, in my Knight of the Cross, I mention in the endnotes about that Nile song and the chant in it. Nowadays you can use your Kindle or tablet to instantly find that song on Youtube, hear the chant for yourself and put it all together in your mind. It all adds to the immersion and the shared experience.

Similarly, I was listening to the new Graham Hancock book, Magicians of the Gods, on my smartphone using the Audible app, and he was talking about all these incredible places like Göbekli Tepe and Baalbek which I already knew about, but then there were other places I hadn’t heard of. Despite the fact I was in the middle of nowhere, in my car, I was able to use the phone to pull up the internet and research those places Graham was describing. That’s an amazingly powerful tool humanity has at our disposal.

Science has truly become like magick in my opinion.

L: The deep mythology of Robin Hood is perennial and evergreen, isn’t it? Especially at this moment in time, perhaps, politically and economically. There is a sense of having read the instruction manual, being familiar with these deep archetypes, but also, perhaps, of being trapped by them, yes? Isn’t that why it becomes essential to retell these stories?

S: We’re doomed to repeat history’s mistakes. When you look at the Robin Hood legend it’s all about a man being treated unfairly by the system, and, not just one man, but a whole segment of the population. You’re right, it’s relevant today just as it was 800 years ago because it’s still those with the most money who are controlling the populace via the mass media, big pharma, the war on terror etc etc. Robin Hood is a hero for all times and we could really do with someone like him in the 21st century to stand up and become a figurehead for the masses.

Of course, on top of all that Robin was just a man who liked a drink and a fight and I try to show that in my books!

L: You also mentioned your book The Wolf and the Raven as having been influenced by Aleister Crowley, and that there’s a very personal connection to the idea of hope in that work. What’s that about?

S: When I was writing that book—my second—I went through a very traumatic time as our second daughter was still-born. That whole period was really hard as it felt like someone had cursed me—everything was going wrong. For example, one day the shower broke, but I could still go for a bath so it was okay, but then the very next day the hot water boiler broke too, so even a bath was out.

Little things like that were just piling up day after day, on top of the major stress of the loss of a baby and I started to feel like I couldn’t take any more.

At that point I made a conscious decision to fight back and NOT give in to all the shit life was throwing my way. My by-word became “hope”. I even wrote a song with that title as I mentioned earlier (in Open G tuning, a la “That’s The Way” Zep fans!), dealing with the emotions I was feeling. Robin, the hero in the novel The Wolf and the Raven ended up taking the word as his own too, after a pep talk from the wise Friar Tuck…

Lots of gurus or philosophers believe in the power of certain words—from Thelema to Xeper or Indulgence or whatever. Well “Hope” became mine and Robin’s magical Word. I have a silver unicursal hexagram that I imbued with the word and I wear it every day to remind me of everything I’ve been through. It gives me strength to deal with all the crap life throws at every one of us.

When I was writing that book in particular I was listening almost exclusively to the Polish metal band Behemoth who also take a lot from Crowley.

So much of my creative process is infused with his spirit.

L: I’m sorry for your loss. But, and I hope this doesn’t seem trite or inappropriate, I’ve wondered about how it’s only the people that have truly gone through some shit are worth talking to about anything. The struggle is real, but it also makes us more real. (“It flows through us. It controls our actions but also obeys our commands.” Shoot me now.) I’ve talked to soldiers who’ve come back from combat that say they’ve been essentially changed in ways that cannot be understood by those that have not gone through that kind of experience. That seems obvious, in a way, until one takes the next logical leap: one cannot become fully human, develop one’s full potential as a human, without having suffered that kind of trauma. There are dimensions of Job’s humanity, for example, that cannot be realized by anyone else.

Something like a single word, “Hope”, is not only useful as a focus but a foundation or scaffold on which magick identity can be created, right? Whether we create from scratch or cultivate from unrealized potential, our magical selves require work that needs to be done, perhaps. The tools are real, have practical purpose, and, somehow, those that have taken up those tools and made it to the other side of the dark seem to me more real and fully human than those who have not found themselves forced the first step forward on what then becomes a seemingly inexorable drive to go—to Go.

S: What you say is correct, and it’s possible our trauma has made me a stronger person. Yes, it added to my life “toolbox” but to be honest it’s a tool I could have done without. I suppose it’s just part of growing older. When we’re 21 death seems so far away – then one goes through a horrible experience like a still-birth, or a soldier comes home with PTSD, or one contracts a terrible illness, and the reality of death becomes very, very real. And that’s when you truly start to wonder about an after-life, or what might lie outside the so-called “real” world.

That’s where a talisman, or a magical word like “Hope” comes in. Anyone that’s ever tried any sort of magick will know it’s real, never more so than when you’re harnessing all the experiences and emotions of life. Honestly, I was shocked at how my life changed when I began to “hope” again. I became thankful for all the good things in my life and stopped focusing on the bad stuff and it was like everything started to go well from that point on.

It was a real lesson for me—be thankful for what you have and try to stay positive!

There’s a place for mourning and it’s fine to feel sad sometimes but wallowing in it is the way to oblivion.

Hope!

L: That kind of aspirational energy is something I think I’ve also seen in the way that authors interact with each other, especially online. For example, there was a recent exchange between you and Richard Kaczynski about authors seeming to prize signed books more than non-authors. Certainly there might also be some sympathetic, maybe even some talismanic magic going on there. But I also have noticed how supportive authors tend to be toward each other; including how much I’ve seen you do on Twitter to help spread the word about other people’s work. I see that as a kind of collective servitor being built up, and it must help being part of that. How conscious is that, do you think?

S: I never thought of signed books as being talismanic but yes, in some cases I suppose you’re right. I have some which are just cool to have and it’d be nice if they were worth something in years to come, but that book of Richard’s—Perdurabo—really is extra special and I’ve been treating it with a lot more reverence than a regular book. Interesting point!

Much of the sharing I do on Twitter is purely in hopes of it being reciprocated though, I must be honest. Marketing is an act of magick in itself of course, one of the oldest forms!

L: And, there’s a little Aleister Crowley easter egg in Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil. Do you want to let the cat out of the bag?

S: Ha, yeah, no-one has spotted it so far, or if they have they haven’t mentioned it. The priest in the little English village of Brandesburton has a library with some very strange books in it … Perhaps if any of the Hermetic Library readers ever check out the novella they’ll see it. Do let me know if you spot it!

L: Although, somewhat obvious from the relevance of your books to the library audience. What’s your personal background and interest in occult and esoteric subject matter?

S: I was never really interested in the occult or anything like that until my late twenties, when I started to feel like something was missing in my life. I almost wished I believed in Jesus or Buddha or, well, anything like that. I found an initiatory school and joined them. I became an Adept by completing certain tasks which were all about self-improvement. I really did grow as a person during that period and I have a lot to thank that school for, but, ultimately, I’m a solitary person so I left them. Since then, I mostly just read Crowley’s books and try to understand what he was getting at.

The best thing any of us can do is read as much as possible and take whatever we find useful from each source. Crowley might have been a really shitty father and mate, but that doesn’t make his ideas worthless or “evil”.

I recently re-read John Fowles’ The Magus and was struck by the parable about the magician. I don’t remember that at all from when I first read the book a decade ago but now, it really jumped out at me. Read it online if you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s extremely relevant in this day and age with all the horrible crap being reported in the mainstream media around the world.

That’s what I enjoy so much about this kind of esoteric art, particularly Crowley’s —sometimes little nuggets leap out at you and make you go, “Aha!” and often it’s at the exact moment in life that you really need it. Synchronicity is an amazing thing.

L: You had mentioned to me previously about taking care not to overtly or at least overly advertise your esoteric interests. I’m personally quite interested in how the library can bridge some of the town-gown-tau divides and boundaries, but maintaining mainstream approachability while still doing the material justice is a bit of a tight rope, isn’t it?

S: Yes, because there’s always people out there with preconceived ideas about the likes of Crowley. Even people who call themselves Wiccans look down their nose at Aleister, calling him “evil” or whatever because they’ve read the press saying things about him. Of course, that’s ironic because many Christians would look at Wiccans, with their pentagrams and such, as being just as evil as Uncle Al. And from what I understand he actually came up with many of Gerald Gardner’s ideas anyway!

To an extent it’s understandable. Regular people read comments about sacrificing children and take it literally. Why wouldn’t they? Who would automatically assume Crowley was talking about masturbating?

So this is what we’re up against when facing a mainstream audience. It’s not because they’re stupid assholes, it’s because they’ve never put the time in to understand what the real meaning behind this occult stuff is and why would they?

Look at the headlines when Boleskine House went up in flames in December 2015. “Satanist’s house burns down!” was the gist of most of them. Crowley was no Satanist—Christ, some would say Anton LaVey wasn’t even a Satanist!—but that’s the public perception of anyone in the West who looks at things outside a Christian framework.

I bet if most folk actually read The Satanic Bible they’d think the majority of it was simple common sense.

To me, and probably most who have an interest in this stuff, it’s about thinking outside the box and improving yourself by working differently to how everyone else does.

So many people are shocked when I tell them I took my wife’s surname when we got married, for example. It’s just not the done thing in Western society. It’s antinomian and people don’t understand it. But it was perfectly normal to me because I felt no affinity with own family name.

The idea of “Do what thou wilt” is beyond most people who simply want to take it at face value and react against it, without taking time to understand it means making the most of your gifts rather than just being decadent.

Ultimately, all we can do is treat people well and hope they accept an interest in the occult doesn’t mean we’re all crazed devil-worshippers because that’s obviously ridiculous. As Ian Anderson once said (and I’m convinced the Jethro Tull mainman was influenced by Crowley even if he didn’t make it a big thing like Jimmy Page): “Somebody wake me, I’ve been sleeping too long.”

In this new æon, with the internet at humanity’s disposal, there’s really no excuse to be asleep any more.

L: Don’t even get me started about the stupid internecine prejudice between Neopagan Witchcraft and Thelema, which goes both ways; and it’s about perception of values as well as some deeply shitty gender stereotypes. There’s some history, but I feel there’s also plenty of the same nasty harassment and animosity as is being surfaced in other subcultures, like in Gamergate and so forth. It’s ugly, but I think is some internalize cultural level shit that hasn’t been worked out. And, so the “treating people well” part still, I think, has a long way to go, even among movements that are at the least nominally related through Uncle Al and Uncle Gerald having met and talked.

There’s been a lot of great work done to tease out what influence there really was on Gardnerian Witchcraft, but it’s clear there was some. For me, personally, I feel Uncle Gerald had his Word and it is Wicca; he was also closer in contact with Crowley, when they were talking, than anyone left alive today who is second guessing the relationship between these luminaries, so that cannot be so easily dismissed. Further, Gardner was contacted about leadership of OTO after Crowley’s death, so even their contemporaries knew there was an important connection.

In the end, people who want to purify either Gardner or Crowley, dare I say force them unto that self-same procrustean chopping block we’re still struggling to escape with our lives, make them inhuman; I think those efforts fail to realize it is exactly in their complex, real humanity that they are, if you will allow, essentially New Æon. If one’s prophets and saints and friends aren’t allow to have profound flaws along with profound strengths, I think there’s more delusion than divinity in them.

S: I don’t know much about Wicca to be honest but I do know someone who is very into it. I was shocked when I told her I was reading a Crowley book and she angrily denounced him as being “evil”. I can’t understand that mentality. I mean, she’s never even read any of his books.

Of course he had his flaws but as you say, we all do—that’s humanity!

Even the God of the bible had a bad temper and a vindictive streak, just ask everyone that drowned in the flood.

The trick is to ignore what society says you “should” like. Read widely and make up your own mind. There’s many things I read in Crowley’s books that I don’t agree with, and much of it I don’t even understand to be honest, but occasionally I’ll find a little nugget of gold that really shines out and I feel like I’ve gained a new level of understanding.

L: We’re also announcing as part of this interview a giveaway for a couple of the audiobook version of your work. Do you want to say something about what we’re giving away, such as which works and anything about the production of the audiobooks?

S: Well all five of my books are available in audio so I’m happy to give away a copy of whatever one the winners would like. Obviously these are historical fiction books, not occult treatises or even magically-themed works so take a look at my author page, read the blurbs and see what tickles your fancy!

I have five free downloads to give away—all you need is an Amazon account and the Audible app which is free to download on your tablet, smartphone or just your computer.

Not much to say about the production of the audio. My narrator, Nick Ellsworth, is a real pro (he was in a James Bond movie) and easy to work with so I don’t have any funny stories to relate. They’re just fun to listen to.

L: What’s next, and in the near future, that readers might expect to see from you?

S: Once my Forest Lord series is finished this summer (Blood of the Wolf will be the final book) I plan on going further back in time to dark age Britain, when the Romans were just pulling out and leaving us to it.

My main character in the new series will be a warrior druid and I’m really, really looking forward to exploring his magick. Real things like mentalism, sleight-of-hand, herb lore and charisma are just as interesting as shooting bolts of blue fire from your fingers in something like The Sword of Shannara and it’ll be fun to explore all that real magick while telling a good old fashioned tale of brutal ass-kicking, adventure and, maybe, love!

Look out for the first book in that new series around 2017.

 

Steven A McKay The Forest Lord series

The three books in Steven’s The Forest Lord series are Wolf’s Head, The Wolf and the Raven, and Rise of the Wolf. The fourth, and final, book in the series Blood of the Wolf should be available this June.

Be sure to also check out the novellas Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil and Knight of the Cross.

Head over to Steven’s website, where you can sign up for his email list and also get a free short story. Follow @SA_McKay on Twitter, via his Amazon author page, and The Forest Lord series page on Facebook.

(The contest for the free audiobooks on offer from The Forest Lord author Steven A McKay has ended!)

Grady McMurtry / Margot Adler

Grady McMurtry / Margot Adler is a video for a radio interview by Margot Adler of Grady McMurtry and others posted by James Wasserman.

“This interview took place at the offices of WBAI Radio in New York City in January of 1981. The participants are Margot Adler, Grady McMurtry, Alan Cabal, and Jim Wasserman.”

Louis Armstrong on His Chops

Animated audio interview with Louis Armstrong by Michael Aisner and James R. Stein in 1964 when the interviewers were in high school.

“You’ve got to be good or as bad as the devil.”

Omnium Gatherum: June 18th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 18th, 2014

Moon, clouds, smoke, skeleton hunt in the air from Restoring the Lost Sense: Jun 12, 2014, Craig Conley, Abecedarian
“Moon, clouds, smoke, skeleton hunt in the air” from Restoring the Lost Sense: Jun 12, 2014 — Craig Conley, Abecedarian

 

  • The Beast is Back — Erik Davis and Maja D’aoust interview Gary Lachman, Expanding Mind

    “Thelemic visions, magickal texts, and the tedium of transgression: a talk with occult historian Gary Lachman about his new biography Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (Tarcher).”

  • Theosophical Attitudes towards Science: Past and Present — Egil Asprem

    As is typical for esoteric movements of the modern period, the Theosophical current exhibits a deep ambivalence towards the professionalized natural sciences. Active in the middle of the so-called “clash” between science and religion in the latter half of the 19th century, Blavatsky and the early Theosophists sought a critical reconciliation, guided by the quest for esoteric “higher truth.” The negotiation with science and religion was clearly present from Blavatsky’s first major work, Isis Unveiled (1877), which dedicated one volume to a criticism of each, and has continued to twist and turn in various directions until the present day.

    “Science” is, in short, a centrally important yet ambiguous “Other” for the entire Theosophical current.

  • Opting Out of the System — Inominandum, Strategic Sorcery

    The “system” is a house of cards that is perpetrated by force and fraud. I think that taking a stand against that in terms of magic and lifestyle is a worthy thing. But just like I say to people that reject materialism as anathema to spirituality: You must really live that view for it to have meaning.

    It is not a matter of your values and your magic being in line. It is a matter of making your life be about something.

  • Where the Occult & Pagan Community Lost the Plot — Nick Farrell

    The occult community is doomed to be hijacked by right-wing nut-jobs and other idiots because it has become paralysed by its own desire to be “spiritual.”

  • Theater as Plague: Radovan Ivšić and the Theater of the Weird — Jon Graham, Weird Fiction Review

    Like its counterpart in fiction, the theater of the weird exists on the margins of mainstream culture, where its deadly accuracy when targeting the shibboleths of the cultural consensus can be safely muffled before its subversive potency does any visible damage.

    For Ivšić, theatrical space offers the ideal spot for opening that space within the spectator that allows experience of individual singularity not as a rupture, but as a vitally essential difference that makes it possible for the world to breathe. He saw the play as the result of a dark conspiracy between the world and the individual, who intentionally withdraws from this relationship in order to return by means of the Trojan horse of fiction.

  • D&D Yoga — swi in collaboration with Sarah Dahnke and Eric Hagan [HT Erik Davis]

    D&D Yoga can be played in many ways. The varying flavors range from that of a guided narrative while people do yoga to a far more interactive experience where players are in conversation and play a more active role in the campaign. For the first trial, we thought it would be wise to veer closer to the guided narrative side of things. Players still made decisions and rolled dice to dictate a few directions that the story took but generally we wanted to see how the experiment would play out and then build from there. As we proceed into future events we are building more interactivity into the game.

  • Appeals Court Finds Scanning To Be Fair Use — NewYorkCountryLawyer, Slashdot

    scanning whole books and making them searchable for research use is a fair use

    the creation of a searchable, full text database is a ‘quintessentially transformative use’, that it was ‘reasonably necessary’ to make use of the entire works, that maintaining four copies of the database was reasonably necessary as well, and that the research library did not impair the market for the originals.

  • «Dracula è sepolto a Napoli, ecco dov’è la tomba» — Paolo Barbuto, Il Gazzettino

    «Il conte Dracula è morto a Napoli, è stato sepolto nel cuore della città ed è ancora qui»: c’è un gruppo di persone che da settimane percorre strade e vicoli a caccia del segreto.

    E non sono ragazzini sognatori, fanatici, esaltati, ma serissimi studiosi dell’università di Tallinn in Estonia. Sono convinti di ciò che fanno, sostengono di avere già in mano i documenti che provano la verità, così hanno avviato una campagna di ricerche sul territorio.

    “Count Dracula died in Naples, was buried in the heart of the city and is still here”: there is a group of people who for weeks along the streets and alleys in search of the secret.

    And kids are not dreamers, fanatics, exalted, but very serious scholars of the University of Tallinn in Estonia. They believe in what they do, they claim to have already got the documents to prove the truth, so they launched a campaign of research in the area.

  • From Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Songs Before Sunrise at “Save His Own Soul He Hath No Star” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    His soul is even with the sun
    Whose spirit and whose eye are one,
    Who seeks not stars by day, nor light
    And heavy heat of day by night.
    Him can no God cast down, whom none
    Can lift in hope beyond the height
    Of fate and nature and things done
    By the calm rule of might and right
    That bids men be and bear and do,
    And die beneath blind skies or blue.

  • Two giant planets may cruise unseen beyond Pluto” — Nicola Jenner, NewScientist; from the where-is-your-astrology-now dept.

    The monsters are multiplying. Just months after astronomers announced hints of a giant “Planet X” lurking beyond Pluto, a team in Spain says there may actually be two supersized planets hiding in the outer reaches of our solar system.

    When potential dwarf planet 2012 VP113 was discovered in March, it joined a handful of unusual rocky objects known to reside beyond the orbit of Pluto. These small objects have curiously aligned orbits, which hints that an unseen planet even further out is influencing their behaviour. Scientists calculated that this world would be about 10 times the mass of Earth and would orbit at roughly 250 times Earth’s distance from the sun.

    Now Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain have taken another look at these distant bodies. As well as confirming their bizarre orbital alignment, the pair found additional puzzling patterns. Small groups of the objects have very similar orbital paths. Because they are not massive enough to be tugging on each other, the researchers think the objects are being “shepherded” by a larger object in a pattern known as orbital resonance.

  • ‘A Funny Kind Of Relationship’ Alan Moore On Iain Sinclair — Nick Talbot, The Quietus

    Whilst not quite a household name, instead occupying a liminal status maintained by a principled refusal to be involved in any Hollywood adaptations of his work, Moore is widely regarded as the finest writer in the medium, and it is difficult to imagine how the comic book landscape would look without the enduring influence of his exceptional work. But it is equally difficult to imagine how From Hell (1989), his first major work beyond the costumed vigilantes and superheroes genre, and also his Magnum Opus, would have looked had he not discovered the work of Iain Sinclair. A quintessential writer’s writer, Sinclair is a Hendrix-cum-Kevin Shields of the English language, mixing scholarly historical research, formal training and technical linguistic virtuosity with a wildly impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness prose-poetry delivery that is dazzling, dizzying, and for those with literary pretensions, frankly dispiriting in its apparently effortless genius. Sinclair’s subject is predominantly London, most often East London, and the relationship between its history, its continually shifting cityscape and the psyche of those who inhabit it. Sharing similar concerns, themes and stylistic flourishes with Peter Ackroyd, both with works appearing in the eighties and nineties, this uniquely East London-focused micro-genre came to be dubbed ‘psychogeography’. Soon complemented by Will Self and others, the movement could be interpreted as a response to the corporatist regeneration of London’s East End by the Thatcherite Conservative government in the 1980s. The spatial and historical density of London allows for an unusually potent and apparently limitless store of inspiration, but what marks out Sinclair in particular is his ability to see patterns, sigils and correspondences where perhaps the rest of us see dog shit, broken fencing and inane graffiti.

  • Eating Flower Spirits” — Sarah Anne Lawless

    Summer flowers are brought inside, painted the colours of sarees and gypsy vardos, and fill tea pots and canning jars. Nighshade, poppies, red clover, comfrey, daisies, sage flowers, and foxgloves. Some from the yard, some escaped from gardens into the neglected back alleys of the old neighbourhood. I know that by taking them home I am consuming them, making their already short lives even shorter, but I try my best to ask sweetly for their blessings before I snip off their heads and bring them home. I try my best to let them know why and what will be done with their beautiful sacrifice – their souls burned up like incense to be eaten by my own beloved spirits – eaters of flowers.

  • What Athens Has Got To Do With Jerusalem: The Marriage of Greek and Jewish Themes in the Apocryphon of John” — Dan Attrell

    This paper presents a summary overview of how the Apocryphon of John, an apocalyptic work drawn from the Nag Hammadi Library, is explicitly the product of an syncretism between Greek language/philosophy and Jewish mythology/mysticism in the 1st century CE.

  • Coincidentia Oppositorum: Exploring the Dialogue in the Recent Historical Literature of Medieval and Early Modern European Alchemy — Dan Attrell

    The study of alchemy has posed a number of complications for historians. Among historians of science who wrote as late as the mid-20th century, alchemy was perceived to be a mystical philosophy, an obstacle to the progress of „rational‟ chemistry, and even a pathology of the mind. This rather out-dated tendency toward knee-jerk dismissals has, however, been recently curtailed as the wider community of medievalists and early modern historians began to understand alchemy on its own terms, having placed it firmly within in the context of an ‘alchemical worldview.’ The recent dialogue among historians concerning alchemy in Europe has chiefly been directed toward (a) understanding of what ‘alchemy’ actually meant to the people who lived amongst it or practiced it themselves; (b) determining to what extent alchemy was interrelated with the religious consciousness of its practitioners; and most noticeably (c) reconciling or collapsing a number of exaggerated, artificial, and misleading dichotomies within our modern perceptions of medieval and early modern alchemy. Was European alchemy a ‘theoretical’ or a ‘practical’ art? Was it a ‘spiritual’ or a ‘material’ pursuit? Was it a ‘medicinal’ or a ‘metallurgical’ practice? How and when was ‘alchemy’ differentiated from ‘chemistry’? Were they ‘on the fringes’ of learned society, or were they at the cutting edge of knowledge as defined by traditional institutions? Were alchemists outright ‘frauds’ (Betrüger) or misguided ‘fools’?

    These are all questions which a handful of historians have recently tackled and shown to be somewhat misguided. Such dichotomies arose from the dialogue of recent centuries wherein scholars and theorists from various disciplines began exploring and reconceptualising alchemy and its history; each angle, each discipline, each perspective offered some rather rigid model for understanding alchemy, and many of these models crystallized into opposing camps. Alchemy, however, was never a static or monolithic pursuit and thus eludes any attempt to give such simple definitions. In response to this problem, it is this paper’s goal to flesh out the most recent scholarly dialogue – to outline and synthesize the most pertinent points made in the recent historical literature concerning alchemy. What I hope to show is how the most recent historical research tells us that ‘alchemy’ meant many different things to many different people at many different junctures in history, even among the relatively isolated practitioners of Europe. With no source of official authority such as the Church or the University to govern alchemy as a branch of knowledge, the art was free to take on and accumulate a number of its practitioners’ idiosyncrasies. Free as it was, as a model to explore and communicate features of the known universe, European alchemy was a rich and dynamic practice which contained within itself all of the artificial polarities mentioned above.

  • Rewilding Witchcraft — Peter Grey, Scarlet Imprint

    We have mistaken social and economic change for the result of our own advocacy. Marching in lock-step with what used to be called mainstream, but is now mono-culture, we have disenchanted ourselves, handed over our teeth and claws and bristling luxuriant furs. I will not be part of this process, because to do so is to be complicit with the very forces that are destroying all life on earth. It is time for Witchcraft not to choose, but to remember which side it is on in this struggle.

  • London’s calling: the city as character in urban fantasy” — Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent, Spiral Nature

    Each of these series draws on what I would say are the main characteristics of London’s soul. It’s old – continually inhabited since before Roman times; it’s powerful — but nowhere near as much as its past as the heart of an empire; it’s stubborn — enduring centuries of hardship and prosperity, adapting to huge changes in population and traumas ranging from plague to fire to Nazi bombs to the very modern stresses of wealth inequality. London changes — it has to — but there’s some core of its personality that always remains.

    Of course, London as a whole is the sum of its parts, none of which are quite alike — the genius loci of Camden differs greatly from those of Catford and Chelsea. But each also touch the greater gestalt of the place. Inevitably, the best way to grasp the specific psychogeography of a place is to walk its streets.

  • Weekly Apocryphote: June 8-14 — April D DeConick, Forbidden Gospels

    You have not come to suffer. Rather you have come to escape from what binds you. Release yourself, and what has bound you will be undone. Save yourself, so that what is (in you) may be saved … Why are you hesitating?

 

If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.