On the Shelf Review – Hadean Press Guides to the Underworld

Hadean Press has released a series of pamphlets called “Guides to the Underworld,” exploring various aspects of underworld myth from various belief systems.  Most notably for Papers purposes, it includes three pamphlets by Jake-Stratton Kent, translator and editor of Scarlet Imprint’s  The True Grimoire, or Grimorium Verum, which I reviewed previously in three parts.  I ordered his three pamphets Goetic Divination, Elelogap, and Goetic Pharmakos (written with Jaime Alekzander).

Stratton-Kent’s objective is to tie grimoire magic to Pagan religious traditions, most particularly the beliefs of classical times and the Afro-Caribbean faiths of our own era.  Though each one of these uses the Grimorium Verum as the starting off point, and the author cautions that one should have a working relationship with the spirits of that book first, the books themselves draw from an array of beliefs.  Goetic Divination outlines methods for divining by pendulum, dice, and scyring into water, as practiced in classical times.  Elelogap is an exploration of a water spirit from the True Grimoire and its ties to the ritual uses of water and classical myths of the nymphs and nereids.  Finally, Goetic Pharmakos discusses the Grimoire spirits and their relation to the ritual materials of hoodoo.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, these are books for practitioners rather than scholars.

Overall, I found that Goetic Divination was the strongest of the works, with several techniques outlined that integrated both grimoire and classical magic outlined in interesting ways.   Elelogap was fascinating for its exploration of water in ceremonial contexts, but it’s hard to get too excited about Elelogap. The weakest was Goetic Pharmakos, as the grimoire and hoodoo content seemed to sit alongside each other rather than becoming integrated into a new whole.

I suppose my question about this, which none of the books directly addresses, is what the purpose is to bring together these techniques from different cultures.  I mean, why not simply write a ritual for the nereids instead of one for Elelogap?  I can think of some reasons – the purpose of the  Verum spirits, their relevance to someone from a Judeo-Christian background, etc. – but it would have been good to spell these out.

As always, if you’ve read this far, you probably know whether these will be books for you or not.  If they are, head over to the Hadean Press site and order theml

Published in: on August 14, 2010 at 10:41 am  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Aw. I was kind of hoping it would be similar to Alice K. Turner’s “The History of Hell.”

  2. It is surprising if the Hoodoo and Goetia elements don’t fit together, as their relationship is much older than might appear:

    Perhaps a wizards kitchen table approach to the grimoires and their ‘Judeo-Christian and folklore background’ can supply additional insight to a literary perspective.😉

  3. see if I can get the cut and paste function to stick this time, with exemplars of 1600s Spanish magic practiced alongside the grimoires, but with plain connections to modern New World traditions:

    As mentioned above, a purely bibliophile approach to the grimoires lacks elements available in the kitchen.

  4. goddarn, apparently not: so typing it is: Madrid, 1600s, Inquisitors records list use of cemetery earth and dirt swept from the three prisons of the city used alongside conjure books.
    Such prison dirt is a commonplace in Palo nowadays, and likely of Spanish origin.
    Graveyard dirt incidentally is a rarity in the grimoires, which with its inclusion of an intermediary spirit is among the key reasons why Verum is particularly important for dovetailing of traditions in the modern era.

    It is hard to insist on a purely Judeo-Christian background for the grimoires, particularly in their folkloric aspect. The talisman from a compitales in Ostia, with Solomon on one side and Hecate on the other merely exemplifies the connections between Classical and grimoiric magic.

  5. Jake,

    Send them to me, and I can add them, if you like.

    Dan

  6. “Stratton-Kent’s objective is to tie grimoire magic to Pagan religious traditions, most particularly the beliefs of classical times and the Afro-Caribbean faiths of our own era.”
    While the above is somewhat mostly true, I think Jake’s emphasis is on pre-classical times and more ancient and archaic rites.
    So far as the connection between the African Diaspora religions and the grimoires, this is by no means a modern connection. I’m willing to bet that later grimoires such as the Lemegeton, Grand Grimoire, Grimorium Verum and even Abramelin were probably partly inspired by things witnessed in the French colonies.
    “I suppose my question about this, which none of the books directly addresses, is what the purpose is to bring together these techniques from different cultures.”
    Noting the statement made above, Jake is less attempting to make loose ties between diverging traditions, but to revive the Goetic tradition by tracing it’s rather long history and it’s interaction and ties with other traditions.

    So far as the actual review portion, I would have liked to see more on the contents of the actual pamphlets.

  7. There’s a new Hadean press release in the Guides to the Underworld series:
    http://www.hadeanpress.com/2013/12/path-of-the-divine-names/

    Video preview of the pamphlet here:


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