Nocturnicon: Calling Dark Forces and Powers by Konstantinos
Llewellyn Publications, 2006

  “Ia, Ia, Cthulhu Fhtagen.”
— Konstantinos? 

I was lured to this book by its cover artwork depicting the Danse Macabre, and bought it despite my fear that it would be just another 101 book with a gothic colour scheme. My first pleasant surprise was to see Llewellyn publish a book that’s based in chaos magic. My second was discovering information within that I’d never seen anywhere else; firstly because I hadn’t known it existed, and secondly because some of it didn’t exist outside of this book.  

I must say that Konstantinos does overdo it a bit when it comes to being Oh So Dark, and that although practicing magic is not exactly a safe activity, the disclaimers that Llewellyn comes up with for his books are a little ridiculous. It’s a bit much for my taste, but that may be part of their selling technique.  

The book begins with a chapter of nocturnal mental exercises designed to increase your psychic awareness and/or scare you senseless. The author theorizes a bit about dark matter and quantum mechanics and gods, perhaps bringing in a bit of physics to soothe the skeptics. (I’m not sure how this would help, as theoretical physics is just as weird if not weirder than most occult concepts. They just do a lot of math to back up their opinions.) 

Konstantinos discusses the Austin Osman Spare method of sigil creation, offering a clear and concise overview. He follows this with a few ideas for spicing up their use, which may or may not harm your retinas, and then adds his advice on getting out of your head, which mostly involves sex and drugs. (You know, you almost can’t see the little crescent moon on this book’s spine…) His wry sense of humour complements the book’s technical information and the subjects are interesting. There’s no slogging through ponderous amounts of dry material to pick out what you need. The chapters are a nice mix of theory and practical applications. It’s a quick read, and it’s meant to be immediately useful.  

The material involving Hades was a surprise, and completely new to me. I’m not sure if I could find a use for all of the rites in my own practice, but the info on using various areas (hallways, staircases) of buildings in ritual has definitely got my imagination going. I wasn’t as interested in the material on Daemons and Lucifer, but that was mostly due to conceptual differences. 

I’d never heard of GOTOS, the connection with Nosferatu, and the Brotherhood of Saturn before reading this book, and the Nocturnicon also gave me my first taste of the Cthulhu Mythos. I’m happy to have finally gotten in on this tentacled strangeness, if only to be able to avoid it in the future. 

Having read several other books by Konstantinos (Nocturnal Witchcraft, Gothic Grimoire, and Vampires: The Occult Truth) I must say that I enjoyed this one the most. It’s always nice to pick up something that’s a tad different from your usual read and actually learn some new tricks to play with.  

Generation Hex

February 11, 2008

Generation Hex edited by Jason Louv
The Disinformation Company Ltd., 2006  

This is the business we have chosen.”
— Godfather II
 

Before reading this book, I’d often find myself running in the opposite direction when I saw anything labeled Pop Culture/Occult, and I’d been wary of disinformation guides since the time they let Fiona Horne edit a book on witchcraft. I figured this book would be aimed at bored urban youth wanting to freak their parents out with something that involved less effort than Wicca. And I was absolutely wrong.  

The theme of this book is summed up in Jason Louv’s essay “Spooky Tricks” as “Create positive change on this planet or shut your mouth.” All too often occultism becomes a stagnant cycle of ego-gratification, with practitioners oblivious to their surroundings and their fellow human beings. These essays encourage engagement with the world (even if that means destroying every belief you’ve ever held about it), and using magic to make it a better place. (And as love-n-light as that sounds, these essays will convince you that it’s possible, and you won’t even have to gag down any fluff.)

My favourite essay in this book is Christian Sedman’s tale of young magicians (himself and friends?) attempting to create a meaningful existence, “They Only Want You When You’re Seventeen, When You’re Twenty-One, You’re No Fun.” It actually moved me to tears. It is a wake-up call, a ragged voice screaming from the top of a building, ‘What are we doing? Where are we going? Pay attention or you’re as good as dead already!’ Sadly, this was Sedman’s only contribution to the book. I haven’t been able to find anything else by him.  

Stephen Grasso gave three excellent essays: “Beneath the Pavement, The Beast,” “Learning to Open the Haunted Kaleidoscope,” and “Dreams of a Midwich Planet.” The first details the concept of drifting (an extended ramble in an altered state) and is one of the few essay topics that I’ve managed to use in my own practice. The second discusses the practicality of magic, and the last is a short (moral?!) tale about bringing magicians back into the service of their communities, rather than just working for their own gain.

Elijah’s essays hurt my brain with jargon overload. I think copious amounts of drugs taken beforehand would’ve eased the reading process, provided I could still focus my eyes. Despite this, I am quite fond of his Grendel’s Had an Accident script, and have already destroyed it beyond all recognition.

The rest of the essays ran from Rachel Haywire’s somewhat pointless though highly entertaining ego-boosting ramble “Eris is My Biatch” and Chris Arkenberg’s mind numbing “LoveWar with Fox News” to better ones by the editor Jason Louv about a shamanic yoga-type training experience and “Spooky Tricks,” about the indescribable essence of magic. There were essays on group magical consciousness, and plenty of ideas and tips to help a novice magician on the way or inspire jaded fools to resume their foolishness.

Two issues: One) Of fourteen contributors and nineteen essays, only two are from women. (This makes it better than Rebels and Devils by Christopher S. Hyatt, in which there was one article by a woman out of a seeming gazillion by men.) Maybe this has something to do with the Chaos community in general? Or perhaps I’m just used to being in the female-dominated witchcraft community.  

Two) I’m okay with the subtle (haha) anti-pagan digs, (hey, I make fun of the pagan community myself) but there were a few which were funny in the sense that the writers were really making comments on behaviour that also applied to themselves, and didn’t realize it. It doesn’t look good for your supposed enlightenment when you miss something like that. I mean, I’ve met just as many sad fucks dancing at raves as I have dancing in the woods.  

That said, being a neopagan is not an excuse to shy away from this book. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in Chaos magic, the essays included transcend beyond our labels of occult practices. It will encourage you to think, if nothing else, and that’s worth far more than the cover price.