People in the modern world who are interested in the subjects of occultism and sorcery approach them in distinctly divergent ways; they also approach its exploration with different motivations and degrees of commitment, as well as different levels and ways of understanding. What is not new to occultism as a whole is the inclination towards fanfare, illusion and in most cases outright fraud. Even the earliest medieval grimoires, and the corrupt Catholic priests who used them appear to be mostly motivated by monetary profit and to be riding on the widespread superstition of the people who would seek their services1.
As we move into the 21st century, the era of computers where we have supposedly “killed God” and are philosophically liberated2, the forms which the business of occultism takes shape reflect the hubriatic mentality and disposition of the target market that can afford to spend on such things. Their commercialism is only veiled by the fact that these have striven to maintain an aura of exclusivity by staying in character and preying on a niche market which desires to be told they are special, and that they can commune with demons and return to their void Mother without having to actually transform themselves through trials and learning in real life.
Some may lean strongly towards a light academic tone, providing the college-instructed child with a sense of respectability. We see the likes of Kenneth Grant and Michael W. Ford here. These tend to be wordy and full of references, though the intelligent reader used to high literature and substantial writings can easily discern that what goes on most of the time is turgid story-telling with an edginess disguised in a manner of articulate, superficial elegance. None of these had the elegance and depth which can be found in the work of Julius Evola, yet another luminary avoided because he is “on the wrong side of history”. It should be made clear that Evola was more of a real, scholarly intellectual than an “occult” writer.
Others yet, play on the more visceral and contrarian leanings of a different portion of the population. Among these we find Alesiter Crowley and Anton Szandor Lavey, both of whom continue to exert a great influence over the mediocre, cowardly and selfish personalities of middle class children with slightly more severe mental problems and an above-average intelligence.
The following is a short comment on two of the most critically-acclaimed occult releases of the 21st century. Each of them uses a slightly different technique to entice the feeble minded and to latch on to their need for identification. One is more European and thus strives more consistently to give the appearance of being the solid work of deep knowledge; the other is more American, and thus exudes a tacky feeling that borders in the moronic, and relies on haphazard juxtapositions, surely to keep the attention of the mostly lobotomized American public.
I. Thomas Karlsson – Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic
More of a story book with lots of references to Jewish mystic literature, this book straddles the safe, politically-correct space, while trying to give off an aura of darkness. The basis for this is the author’s argument that “real darkness” is pitch black and thus beyond the violence and depraved nature of humans, which is more like a scale of grays3. Basically implying that bad people are grey human evil, not the real evil, which is always something more. Nevermind the fact that the author blatantly lies to the reader with respect to what traditional documents consider evil to actually be, but he lets them feel as if they are more special because they would not debase themselves, they would not dare do such unspeakable acts. The void mother loves you all.
And while some would argue that the value of this book lies in its explanation of sephirotic dynamics and the extensive explanations on the mystical forces discussed in traditional Jewish documents, Karlsson basically extracts everything relating to sources, branches, theories and classifications from Gershom Scholem extensive scholarly studies on the subject. The serious student who is actually interested in Jewish mysticism would do well simply studying Scholem’s work on his people’s mysticism. Furthermore, Dion Fortune’s The Mystical Qabalah is already the ultimate work on the dynamics of The Tree of Life. This is detailed yet concise work without any manner of nonsense or filler, which means it does not pander to an audience, it merely offers information and certain permitted opinions. The only advantage of Karlsson is that he openly discusses the dark side of the Tree, which information, however, can be found in the translations of the original sources, and in Gershom Scholem’s work.
When reaching the Tantric aspect of his approach, Karlsson relies a lot on references to Julius Evola’s works like The Yoga of Power. The synchretism that is sold to the special snowflakes who fetishize a superficial image of oriental mysticism and want to exchange the idea of a protecting father for an incestuous mother-lover is completed in a way that would have delighted Sigmund Freud. For people actually steeped in the study and praxis of actual transgression, this collection of interpretations of dark mystic practice made safe for the mundane is little more than a nonsensical comedy.
II. E.A. Koetting – The Book of Azazel: The Grimoire of the Damned
The so-called controversial master of spooks strikes again with a title more fit to be placed besides the likes of Evil Dead or Stephen King’s It. The first third of the book is entirely third-rate tacky and spooky story-telling. Who knows if the events are true, and maybe they are, but the writing is cheap narrative without an actual point besides telling the reader that this is scary and very real. There is no lesson here, it is simply the tacky horror writing that is one of Koetting’s trademark signatures. After that, when a superficial exposition of thoughts on occultism, demonology and ritual begin, there is a feeling that the man has a thing or two of worth to say, but this is drowned in tons of filler. At the end of the day, one can estimate that this 184-page book could be distilled into 5 pages of Koetting’s insights without losing actual value.
There is, of course, the grimoire section with sigils4 and invocations, but this is short and of course is surrounded and supported by the legend that Koetting builds around himself in what might aptly be called a penny-dreadful novella. Besides the cheap horror narrative and self-aggrandizing words, Koetting fills the book with quotations of his past works and inspirational anecdotes from his own life. Barring the respect one might have for someone with the strength and talent of Koetting, his literature amounts to little more than special-needs self-help books5.
The music counterpart of the likes of Koetting could be Swedish black metal rock-star band Watain. They both concentrate on a very successful niche market that is based on packaging ordinary or cheap content into expensive bindings and bloated merchandise. Like most of his writings, it appears more as a safe-space self-help book for pampered kids who believe themselves to be “evil” and “dark”. The hyperbole in his work, however, only contributes to the comedic factor.
Books that are not a complete waste of your time
- A. A. Morain Scithain
- Arthur Moros The Cult of the Black Cube
- Martin Heidegger Being and Time
1 An enjoyable and scholarly discussion on medieval necromantic grimoires and the culture which developed around them can be found in Richard Kieckhefer’s Forbidden Rites.
2 In many cases, people claim to be free from philosophy itself; notably, the trained slaves of the scientific establishment and other over-educated workers.
3 Page 13, under the section titled ‘The Tree of Life Before the Fall’: This grey evil surrounding us in our world is mainly committed by frustrated and confused individuals, power-mad politicians or criminals unable to control petty desires. This evil has, in reality, nothing whatsoever to do with the metaphysical evil that we encounter in religious documents. Mankind is, in fact, in possession of a unique predilection for brutality and excessive violence which distinguishes us from other animals. We seem to the the sole creators of death camps, mass rape, meat factories and extensive killing for the purposes of amusement. The grey evil is human, all too human, while metaphysical evil is blak as night and completely inhuman.
4 Re-drawn by Ars Leprosa, an artist with extensive experience revamping olde and new art for boutique literature and metal music releases.
4 Perhaps an equivalent, and even more hilarious example, can be found in the literature, programs and merchandise of Occult Bro Paul Waggener, whose tacky self help occultism was exemplified early on with works such as the least-common-denominator, average-IQ, blockhead-pandering The Centurion Method.