Welp, if this isn't the place for relocating Daily Grail HQ, I don't know what is: Part of the legendary Boleskine Estate bordering Loch Ness (former home of occultist Aleister Crowley and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page) is up for sale:
[A] 1.9-acre plot on the former estate has been put on the market for £176,000 with planning permission for a three-bedroom log house, and 140ft of the Loch Ness foreshore.
"There's been a great deal of interest in the plot because of the Crowley connection. We've had various enquiries from all over the place. People do tend to be interested in things that are sinister, but we've also had enquiries from people who just want a base in the Highlands with some nice views over Loch Ness," said Kevin Maley, of Inverness agents Strutt and Parker.
"The house and plot are owned by different people. The plot has been in the same family for the last 40 years, but the owner has decided it's time to go. It's an unusual one in that it's being sold with planning permission for a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, but it would make a perfect holiday cottage," he said.
That would of course be if your "perfect holiday" involves summoning up astral zooforms in order to do the bidding of your black heart.
Nick Redfern wrote a detailed article in Darklore Volume 2 (Amazon US and UK) about this very topic, titled "What Lies Beneath: There's More Than Just a Monster to the Loch Ness Mystery". He covered not only the Page-Crowley-Boleskine topic, but also Men in Black sightings, Big Cat sightings, Kelpie myths of the area, occult rites and exorcisms, and much more. Of course, you already have DL2 don't you, so I'm preaching to the choir here...
Now, let me check my pockets for that £176,000.
Disinfo.com have posted a podcast interview with Alan Moore, creator/writer of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and much mo(o)re. (For those reading this at a later date in the archives, here's the direct link.) It's a great chat, with Moore discussing various aspects of the crossover between magick (of which he is knowledgable, and a practitioner) and the imagination, apocalyptic information overflow, and what he's currently working on. In there you'll hear of Moore's (rather) spooky experiences of 'meeting' John Constantine, how his upcoming book on the magickal arts will include a pop-up altar and a Kabbalah boardgame, and how Paracelsus had a backwards angelic language a century before Dr John Dee. The podcast begins with an interview with DeZ Vylenz, (producer and director of the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore) so if you're in a rush, Alan Moore comes in around a third of the way into the podcast.
Just nobody tell this fanboi that he's part of a magickal experiment, he might pop a fuse...
At TED this year, author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) took the audience into strange territory in her talk about creativity, expectation and the killing of genius. Unbelievably, Gilbert managed to receive a standing ovation from the scientifically-minded TED crowd after a monologue in which she asked whether we should embrace the ancient conception of genius and creativity being external and separate to us. Basically, she suggested we return to the idea that gods and daimons possess us at times - at least as a psychological crutch. Here's the talk in its entirety:
It really is a breath of fresh air to see this sort of talk getting a positive response from the upper echelons of science and technology. In this post-Dawkins era, when someone like Phil Plait feels he needs to add a caveat just for typing the descriptive word 'magical', I get rather frustrated with the worship of literal thought to the exclusion of metaphor and myth. It's good to see someone standing up for the 'real', everyday human mind like this.
For those who are interested in Gilbert's discussion of daimons and the like, check out Patrick Harpur's Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld. Harpur ties this sort of creative inspiration as the internal manifestation of 'contact' with this 'daimonic reality', and suggests many paranormal events are the outward manifestation:
The first of the great Neoplatonists, Plotinus (AD 204-70), maintained that the individual daimon was "not an anthropomorphic daemon, but an inner psychological principle, viz: the level above that on which we consciously live, and so is both within us and yet transcendent" (author's emphasis). Like Jung, he takes it as read that daimons are objective phenomena and thinks to emphasize only that, paradoxically, they manifest both inwardly (dreams, inspirations, thoughts, fantasies) and outwardly or transcendently (visions and apparitions).
A fascinating talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, and a great book by Patrick Harpur - check them both out if you get the chance.
by Gary Lachman.
Dark Sides: The Jung Case
Although Hitler apparently had little interest in the occult - as Mark Sedgwick writes, “Hitler had no sympathy for occultism of any variety,” - he had close contact with people who did, and the Nazi movement, while not the product of “black brotherhoods” or diabolical “unknown superiors,” was certainly amenable to some occult influences. Himmler’s SS infamously incorporated runic, pagan, and Grail elements and was deeply influenced by the ideas of the occultist Karl Maria Wiligut. One SS officer, Otto Rahn, wrote a bestselling book, Crusade against the Grail, associating the Cathars with the Grail legend. Hermann Wirth, author of the monumental The Rise of Mankind, used meditation to view the past and argued, like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, that the Aryan race began in the frozen north. In 1935 Wirth was a co-founder of the notorious Ahnenerbe, the Nazi “research unit” devoted to uncovering Germany’s ancestral Aryan heritage, whose efforts included sending the SS explorer Ernst Schäfer to the Himalayas to measure Tibetan skulls. And while Hitler himself may have rejected occultism, he was certainly aware of “the power of myth,” a phrase familiar to viewers of the journalist Bill Moyers’ fantastically successful series of interviews with the mythologist Joseph Campbell.
The electrifying power of the swastika; Albert Speer’s dazzling lighting effects at the Nuremberg rallies; Hitler’s “demonic” oratory and his own deification as the Führer; the romantic vision of a bucolic Germany rooted in “blood and soil,” as opposed to an urban, mechanical modernity - all were part of the myth of National Socialism that Hitler and his followers sold to an interested public. A myth was instrumental in Hitler’s success, the dark lie voiced in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Whether the Protocols were “true” or not probably never occurred to Hitler; what was important was that they agreed with his own views and that, like himself, many people believed they were true. (The people who believed in the Protocols weren’t necessarily unintelligent; one of their most fervent supporters was Henry Ford, father of the assembly line and mass production. Like many influential people, faced with evidence that the Protocols were forged, Ford refused to believe it.) Like the French syndicalist George Sorrel and the political philosopher Leo Strauss, Hitler knew that in politics, myth is often more important than the “truth,” a difficult commodity to pin down at any time. Reason and rationality are boring and demand effort. Myth bypasses the inhibitions of the critical mind, and reaches down to the vital forces below. This is what makes it exciting and enlivening. It is also what makes it dangerous. In saying this I am not arguing “against” myth, merely pointing out that it entails something more than just “following your bliss.”
Yet many at the time were willing to risk the danger and embrace myth over reason. One was the Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung, perhaps more than anyone else, the single most important figure in the reawakening of spiritual thought in modern times. Although for much of his career Jung obscured his interest in the occult, in his later years his writings on Gnosticism, alchemy, the paranormal, spiritualism, and even flying saucers brought these otherwise marginal areas into the field of respectable research.
Spoon-bender extraordinaire Uri Geller received an award last week which James Randi might not be too happy about (although he could take it both ways I guess): the Berglas Foundation - Services to Magic Award. Personally accepting the award at the 37th International Magic Convention in London, Geller once again gave indications during a post-award Q&A that he's moving away from his claims to paranormal abilities, although he did add some caveats:
If I was to start my career now, my career would be destroyed, the speed of the internet, the technology allowing events to be reported, I’d not be able to start my career in the way I did those years ago.
...I thrive on controversy, looking back on my career, I called myself a psychic, I constantly need to re-invent myself, you will not get a straight answer... Lets say I wasn’t real, lets say for the last years I’ve fooled the journalists, the scientists, my family, my friends.. You.. If I managed to fool them, I must be the greatest..?
I have seen things in my life that I cannot understand or explain, I cannot bend spoons like some of the magicians, you can, it blows my mind when I see that, I have no idea. I had the idea and cheekiness to call it psychic, in fact all I wanted was to be rich and famous, I wanted to buy my mother a TV.
I dont think I am gifted, I think all of you are gifted, you must have encountered things that you couldn't understand. I never made money from bending spoons, I made money from finding oil and gold, I don't know how I did that, maybe it was luck.
So, is that a confession that the spoon-bending is sleight-of-hand, but with the addition of some separate 'mysterious powers' to retain some of his aura? (And, if anyone thinks that Uri's a bit full of himself when he says "the greatest?", remember that Jim Steinmeyer told me he thinks Geller is "one of the greatest magicians of all time"...)
Previously on TDG:
We've mentioned previously the movie Chemical Wedding, a fictional story about the return of 'The Great Beast', Aleister Crowley, written by Bruce Dickinson (lead singer for Iron Maiden). There's currently a very interesting video on YouTube by Julian Doyle, who directed Chemical Wedding (and was also responsible for the editing on a number of Monty Python/Terry Gilliam classics) - Doyle recently filmed his visit to the Crowleyana collection of Gerald Yorke, a former friend and disciple of Crowley who amassed a huge collection of Beast-related items during his lifetime.
Doyle chats with Yorke's sons John and Michael about their father's famous collection (the Rolling Stones even visited), telling many a fascinating tale along the way - everything from evil magic wands calling for blood, through to spells on vellum 'treated' by certain other bodily chemicals. I've embedded the video below for those interested - wonderful to hear these eyebrow-raising stories from ostensibly 'proper' British gentlemen!
Those early documents of L. Ron Hubbard sound especially intriguing, would love to see what they say. Mr Yorke will probably find a line of Scientology suits marching down his driveway tomorrow...
Harry Potter fans (and miscellaneous book collectors) out there might want to smash open the piggy bank, with today's announcement of the December 4 publication of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a companion volume to J.K. Rowling's blockbuster series about a boy wizard. The mass market paperback (Amazon US and UK) is already #1 on Amazon.com, four months before release.
Much more pretty and desirable though is the limited edition hardcover (Amazon US and UK). At $100.00/£50.00 (respectively) it doesn't come cheap, especially for a small page count book, but the packaging looks first class - and you can just see the kid's faces lighting up on Xmas day when they open this up...
Tucked in its own case disguised as a wizarding textbook found in the Hogwarts library, the Collector's Edition includes an exclusive reproduction of J.K. Rowling's handwritten introduction, as well as 10 additional illustrations not found in the Standard Edition or the original. Opening the case reveals a velvet bag embroidered with J.K. Rowling’s signature, in which sits the piece de resistance: your very own copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, complete with metal skull, corners, and clasp; replica gemstones; and emerald ribbon.
Offering the trademark wit and imagination familiar to Rowling's legions of readers--as well as Aesop's wisdom and the occasional darkness of the Brothers Grimm--each of these five tales reveals a lesson befitting children and parents alike: the strength gained with a trusted friendship, the redemptive power of love, and the true magic that exists in the hearts of all of us. Rowling's new introduction also comments on the personal lessons she has taken from the Tales, noting that the characters in Beedle's collection "take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe," and "that magic causes as much trouble as it cures."
With 100,000 copies available, it's hardly what most people would call "limited edition", though relative to the sales of the Potter series I guess it is. And the price looks cheap compared to what Amazon paid for just one of the hand-written copies: £1,950,000.
The Independent is reporting that one of the most comprehensive collections of rare and ancient books on magic (both stage conjuring and 'magick') may be under threat:
The Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, based at the University of London, is the UK's largest of its kind and contains letters between Price and the legendary illusionist Houdini. It also has detailed correspondence between Price and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a believer in the paranormal. Titles such as The Hammer of Witches, a 1486 treatise on witchcraft, are among its 13,000 items, which include pamphlets and hand-pressed books as well as photographs.
The collection is under threat after the university's grant for its specialist library was slashed by more than 60 per cent by the Higher Education Funding Council. The £1m cut means the library could cease to exist.
Harry Price was a famous researcher in the 1930s and 1940s, who investigated psychics, hauntings and other occult matters. His investigations, and results, suggest a true scientist - he debunked with ferocity, but also had a number of positive findings. Of the infamous 'Brocken Experiment', he said:
Although our principal object in staging the Bloksberg Tryst was to ridicule the idea that magic ritual, under modern conditions, is still potent, we are not so foolish as to imagine that we have entirely succeeded: superstition is not so easily killed as that! But the experiment was worth reproducing, as the investigation of such things is perfectly legitimate when carried out in a scientific manner; and I consider that the result of our test has advanced us a stage in our knowledge of ancient magic ritual.
The scoffer will tell us that because we had no faith, the experiment was not conclusive; in other words, that the formula will not work automatically. That is all very well, but what sort of a state do we have to induce in order that the magical metamorphosis shall take place? The fifteenth-century scribe who compiled the Black Book says of the Brocken miracle: 'This have I witnesseth myself.' But in my opinion the old man had worked himself into such a condition of ecstatic enthusiasm that he was really in a state of auto-hypnosis or self-induced trance, and when he 'saw' the goat change into the 'faire youth' it was merely an hallucination. I think he wrote out the formula in good faith.
The above passage suggests that not only was Price committed to scientific investigation of strange subjects, but also that he was contemplating ritual magick as a mode of reaching altered states of consciousness - something which debunkers don't normally understand.
Being a conjurer himself, he was familiar with the techniques of stage magic, and so was more than able to spot psychic fakes. However, he was a controversial figure, and the first impression of him being a true scientist may be off the mark - instead, many felt his prime motivation was publicity. So skeptics claimed his positive findings were simply an effort to make headlines...and funnily enough, debunked psychics claimed the exact same thing when he cried hoax.
A great resource for learning more about the career and investigations of Harry Price is HarryPrice.co.uk. You can find out more about the Harry Price Collection at the University of London website.
Any Tool fans out there probably noticed that Daily Grail Publishing actually published *two* books last week. While all the attention was on Jacques Vallee's UFO classic Messengers of Deception, we also released another, more esoteric work - Blair MacKenzie Blake's book of occult poetry, Ijynx, which you can check out on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Blair - who is the content manager for Tool's website - has been a good friend of TDG (and myself personally) for years now, regularly linking to us, as well as contributing his impressive knowledge of esoterica to our publications Sub Rosa and Darklore.
Here's the blurb for Ijynx...
Incorporating a magical vocabulary and nightside symbolism, IJYNX is a unique collection of occult prose-poems by an author who has been studying, experimenting, and writing about the western esoteric tradition for over twenty years. While some of the mystical verses attempt to convey ritually-machined hyperdimensions of consciousness (including encounters with the trans-mundane entities that inhabit these parallel continua), others contain, rather inexplicably, detailed knowledge of a higher Arcanum involving the alchemical entelechy of the dead. And still others challenge even the author's initiated interpretation of things perceived in the ontological spectrum of a 'Magizoth', other than to suggest, upon a closer examination of the cryptic word play, that they are anti-apotropaic in nature, and offer, at the very least, rare fleeting glimpses of the Grand Dreaming of a Treasured Eye.
We've released Ijynx as a hardcover book, priced at $34.95. You can take a look at the typesetting and inside contents by clicking on the thumbnails that accompany this post. You can also read Blair's own write-ups over at Tool's website. I'm really pleased to have helped Blair get his book out there in hardcover at last, as he's done so much for this site, and has such great insights into esoterica, ufology, and so many more of the topics we discuss. Not to mention he was kind enough to steer and beer me around L.A. when I was there a few years ago - that kind of hospitality is bound to earn a seat reservation on the ferry to the 'Island of the Blest'...
Also upcoming from Daily Grail Publishing will be Darklore #2 (and there's some great content in there!), and also a reprint of Paul Devereux's seminal book The Long Trip, which catalogues the prehistory of psychedelia - both probably in the next month. So much great reading for y'all, I'm sure you'll dig them. And then...I need a break!
A new book tells the story of one of the 20th century's greatest names in esoterica, Manly P. Hall. Written by L.A. Times journalist Louis Sahagun, Master of Mysteries: The Life of Manly Palmer Hall (Amazon US and UK) "provides a panorama of twentieth century mysticism and an insider’s view into a subculture that continues to have a profound influence on movies, television, music, books, art, and thought."
In 1919, a Canadian teenager with a sixth-grade education arrived by train to the wilds of Los Angeles. Within a decade he had transformed himself into a world-renowned luminary and occult scholar. His name was Manly Palmer Hall, author of the landmark encyclopedia 'The Secret Teachings of All Ages' and the 20th century’s most prolific writer and speaker on ancient philosophies, mysticism, and magic.
Hall revealed to thousands how universal wisdom could be found in the myths and symbols of the ancient Western mystery teachings. He amassed the largest occult library west of the Mississippi and founded The Philosophical Research Society in 1934 for the purpose of providing seekers rare access to the world’s wisdom literature. He became a confidante and friend to celebrities and politicians. In 1990, he died—some say he was killed—in what remains an open-ended Hollywood murder mystery.
More on Manly P. Hall here on TDG:
- My review of Hall's magnum opus, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, written while he was in his 20s!
- Mitch Horowitz's mini-bio, "The Inscrutable Manly P. Hall".
- Also by Mitch, "Bringing the 'Secret Teachings' into the 21st Century".