Words from the Spirits: a few fabulous texts reviewed

Fulgur publishing were, some might argue, the first producers of ‘talismanic’ books (in the modern high-end esoteric literature sense of the term). Now, as publishers of the Black Mirror journal, Fulgur have pushed the ‘talismanic’ project to a whole new level.

Black Mirror itself is an academic research network which is devoted to the study of arts and occultism. This second edition (numbered 1) of their journal is out now and contains a wonderful range of essays. These include an esoteric practitioner perspective on the art of tattooing, a great essay on Le Bal, one of the final ballets of Sergei Diaghilev. The author of the paper, Katerina Pantelides, defines magic as ‘…the performance of desire’s total possibility to dissolve and transform one’s notion of selfhood.’ This is my new favourite definition.

There’s a brilliant essay about the work of Leonora Carrington, one of my favourite witch-artists. Then the perhaps better known (to occultists) Austin Spare, gets a very thoughtful treatment in relation to his neither/neither principle and the process of magical/artistic obliteration.

This is a properly academic journal and so the quality of the writing is excellent. A great range of contributors that manages to be intelligent and approachable (and occasionally funny).

As one might expect with Fulgur the edition is beautifully produced. Typography and images sit elegantly together, the illustrations and photographs are beautiful and, as is traditional, it’s bound to become a collector’s item. But what marks this is a cut-above the rest of those fancy occult tomes is the fact that this stylish volume contains peer-reviewed, academic, accessible, cutting edge, stimulating esoteric writing. It’s about as far from Ye Derivative Bok of Ye Spooky Sigil as it’s possible to get!

If you want to discover something that’s going to stimulate your left and right hemispheres equally, and take you to the cutting edge of the academic/occult interface, then a Black Mirror is what you need.

Not Robbie Williams

Not Robbie Williams

Psychedelic Press have also released a new journal. This is volume XVIII and maintains the same high-caliber writing as previous editions. There’s a cool academic style essay by mushroom wizard and cultural historian Andy Letcher. Then the tables are turned and Andy Roberts (author of Acid Drops and Albion Dreaming amongst other books, who usually does the interviewing) is himself interviewed. Some fascinating observations are made, and wild tales told!

There’s an excellent essay about the use of sensory deprivation and darkness as a means to attain the psychedelic state, including a personal account of the technique. Snuggled into middle of the volume there’s some quality modern psychedelic poetry, crowding into graphic novel panels and expanding into swirly, liberty cap illuminated text.

I therefore recommend Psypress Journal to all heads, counter-cultural historians and explorers of the wyrd.

Psilly picture

Psilly picture

Talking with the Spirits, edited by Jack Hunter and David Luke is a world-wide tour of spiritists, shaman, online clairvoyants and many other folk who spend their time trafficking with denizens of the Otherworld.

Each academic paper provides an introduction to, and often field world from within, traditions ranging from locations as diverse as Brazil, Cuba, Britain, Taiwan and many more.  Here the black mirror of ethnography is held up to the doings of occulture in a way that is intelligent and respectful. If you want to know about the spirits, and especially want to explore (in a chaos magic stylee) the underpinning ideas for different traditions, this is the book for you.

(I was particularly interested to note how in many approaches to the spirits these entities are not seen as occupying a ‘separate reality’ but rather as beings that exist in, and emerge from, the world.)

What Talking with the Spirits also provides are snap-shots of practice; such as in David Luke’s essay on the development of spirit possession in ayahuasca using groups, and the emerging social networking culture of internet psychics described by Tamlyn Ryan.

A recommended read for spirit botherers everywhere.

Spirit writing

Spirit writing

Meanwhile…I’ll review Part 2 of the Nemu’s End series, Neuro-Apocalypse in the next set of reviews. I have, after just a couple of pages, been sucked in by the Rev’s brilliant prose. I may be some time… 🙂

JV

One thought on “Words from the Spirits: a few fabulous texts reviewed

  1. Lunam Grove says:

    I admit it…you have achieved extreme tantalization in this reader!

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