Return to the Necronomicon

After eight years, my article on the Simon Necronomicon, “Reviving Dead Names,” will appear in Penn State University Press’s anthology Magic in the Modern World. I have practically a full set of the Magic in History books, so it’s particularly nice to be a part of the series.

In a sense, this is a continuation of the work that went into The Necronomicon Files, describing the context of the Necronomicon‘s appearance in the NYC occult scene of the Seventies.  At the same time, it is not a debunking work – my sharp-eyed reviewers kept an eye out for that, so as not to blunt its impact – but a description of the numerous strategies used to legitimize the book’s original appearance, and a discussion of their efficacy, or lack thereof.  Olav Hammer’s Claiming Knowledge was invaluable in developing my arguments.

The curious part about the Necronomicon is its combination of high and consistent sales, with its relative lack of impact on the modern occult scene.  We have many works on witchcraft, magic, and similar topics that sold much less than Simon’s book, but which are more quoted and have had more of an impact on the spiritual marketplace. My article explores some potential reasons for the change.

Also, I got to keep the South Park endnote, which was key to the piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on December 21, 2016 at 5:15 pm  Comments (2)  

Spirits in the Library – Pazuzu

For the third part of our series (see parts 1 and 2) examining various works covering demonic entities, I’ll be looking at Pazuzu.

Louvre PazuzuA creation of the first millennium BC Assyrians, Pazuzu is the spirit of plague, cold, and evil winds.  He was generally shunned, but could also be called upon to scare off the female demon Lamashtu from small children.  (The tablet from the left, from the Louvre, shows Pazuzu overlooking Lamashtu in what is likely a protective manner.)  Recognition of Pazuzu seems to have died out in the Christian era – at least until The Exorcist made his curious locust-winged, scorpion-tailed, beaked, clawed appearance a cultural icon.

Part of my choice of Pazuzu was prompted by his position outside of traditional monotheism, save for his appearances in media.  So, what’s the verdict?

We do have some omissions.  de Plancy leaves him out, which is not surprising given how recently knowledge of Pazuzu came to us.  Gettings omits him as well.  Neither Belanger nor Davidson includes them in their works, although the introductions indicate that he doesn’t fall under the criteria set by either author.

Bane – A brief description of the demon, with notes as to his appearance and the rivalry with Lamashtu.  Some sources listed, none from Mesopotamian mythology.

Guiley – Information on his appearance, his rivalry with Lamashtu, and his role in The Exorcist.  Uses Black and Green’s Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia as a source.  Excellent.

Lurker – A very short section that covers the basics of the spirit’s appearance and portfolio, but no mention of Lamashtu.  Short and factually accurate.

Mack – Three pages on Pazuzu initially make this look good, but upon reading much of this is just filler text about other spirits.

This particular choice did fulfill the purpose I set out, which was to flush out the philosophies behind the books.  Mack was particularly disappointing, I have to say.  Other books I didn’t expect did an excellent job with him, while others left him on the wayside, disappointingly.

Who will be our next candidate?  We’ll find out soon…

Published in: on July 10, 2015 at 8:48 am  Comments (2)  

The Maqlu Text: An Update on its Publication

For some time, I’ve been waiting for a new published English translation of the Maqlu Text, the first millennium BCE exorcistic rite in Akkadian that gets so much attention in the Simon Necronomicon.  I have greatly appreciated Marie-Hélène Hoffmann and Ross Caldwell’s online translation of the book, but what I have been waiting for is the edition by Tzvi Abusch, the foremost scholar on the incantation series.  So, I feel quite odd relating this announcement from Dr. Abusch, from the American Schools for Oriental Research blog:

During my stay at the AIAR, I completed and submitted: 1) A volume for the SBL Writings from the Ancient World series: The Witchcraft Series Maqlû: Transcription and Translation. This volume contains a transcription of the full text of Maqlû with notes, a translation, and detailed introduction. 2) A volume for students in the State Archives of Assyria, Cuneiform Texts series, Maqlû: A Student Edition and Selected Commentary containing an edition of the Maqlû standard text in transliteration together with the cuneiform text. This volume will also provide both historical/critical and exegetical commentaries on selected incantations. These commentaries will draw upon and synthesize the many individual studies that I previously published.

I continued to work on The Magical Ceremony Maqlû: A Critical Edition (Ancient Magic and Divination; Leiden: Brill), which will contain the main edition of Maqlû. I reviewed and made some last minute corrections to the synoptic edition (“score”), revised the bibliography of sources, and drafted the preface.I hope that this volume will be submitted to the publisher by the end of June, 2014.

Really?  I’ve waited so long for this book, and now we’ll be seeing three different versions?

I’m eagerly awaiting more information, so I can figure out which one I want.

Published in: on December 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Books Forthcoming and Just Arrived

I’ve been working slowly on my review of Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic by Stephen Skinner, a book dealing in some detail with the Greek and Demotic magical papyri.  I’m over half done, and I’m quite positively impressed with it, and I should have a review up soon.

Hippocampus Press is advertising The Variorum Lovecraft, a three-volume set of Lovecraft’s stories with all of the variant texts noted therein.  I’m on the fence about purchasing it myself; after all, I own all of Lovecraft’s fiction at least three times over scattered about my shelves.  Nonetheless, others might be interested therein, or in commenter Bobby Derie’s Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.

Also, I just saw that Rankine and Barron’s edition of The Complete Grimoire of Pope Honorius is now available on Kindle for the price of a Simon Necronomicon.  (Yes, I’m linking to Amazon.  I’m trying not to link to them when I don’t have to, but they’re far too convenient for many readers, not to mention me.)

Avalonia, which was responsible for that book, has placed the following announcement on their “forthcoming” page:

THE BOOK OF SPIRITS (Le Livre des Esperitz) by David Rankine & Paul Harry Barron. This 16th century French work introduces many demons for the first known time and is seen to be an earlier root to the spirits of the Goetia. More information soon

If you’d like to read the original medieval French text, it’s appended to the end of this article discussing the list.  Nonetheless, this work should have additional commentary on the topic which will make it a welcome addition.

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 7:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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Sort-of Review: The Bull of Heaven

It’s been nearly a year, and I recalled I hadn’t given props to a fellow Starwood author to whom I had the privilege of meeting last year.  As such, I’d like to enthusiastically recommend Michael Lloyd’s book Bull of Heaven:  The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan, available from Lulu.

I am not ashamed to say I have not read this entire book.  It’s huge – over 600 pages long – and as such I use it more as a reference for particular details of the New York City occult scene.  Because, when you get down to it, this book is much more than a biography of the founder of the Minoan Brotherhood, the pioneering gay pagan group based on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern mythology and practice.  It is perhaps the first book to go beyond biography, or the history of an order, to describe an entire milieu, in this case that of occultism in New York City from the mid-Sixties to the late Eighties.  Lloyd has done painstaking research into many different aspects of the scene, based on contemporary documents and interviews with many of the participants, rigorously documenting as he goes.  Some aspects are covered more thoroughly than others, of course, but that’s the nature of the beast.

There’s an additional twist here, as you can guess.  Ed Buczynski’s long-time partner was Herman Slater, the owner of the Magickal Childe Bookshop.  As such, we get a good amount of material on Simon and the Necronomicon.  There’s even a section on The Necronomicon Files where he calls us out on an error, which I intend to blog about soon.  All of this is quite illuminating, and it takes our examination of the topic out of the realm of “Harms and Gonce vs. Simon” and sheds new light on the old debate.

As such, I can enthusiastically recommend The Bull of Heaven for those who are interested in a wide variety of topics:  the history of witchcraft, the LGBT movement, Necronomicon practitioners and skeptics, and just about anyoneelse who could come near any of those categories.   It’s really that good.

Published in: on July 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm  Comments (4)  

Double Kickstarters

Somehow I’ve managed to get myself entangled in not one but two Kickstarters at once.  Both have already reached the initial funding goal, so if you jump on board, you’ll be getting something neat and adding to everyone else’s neat stuff.

First, the Call of Cthulhu book Tales from the Crescent City features my adventure “Needles,” in which your investigators take on a New Orleans legend and uncover the terrifying truth behind them.  At the Algiers level, you’ll get that scenario, plus another five by some great authors, including a rewritten version of Kevin Ross’ classic “Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?” and his all-new sequel, in both print and PDF.  Tales also has  a New Orleans neighborhood guide written by locals, a two-page Roaring Twenties map of the city,  and a writeup of HPL’s mystic Etienne-Laurent de Marigny, in both print and PDF.  The next stretch goal is the book’s seventh scenario.

On top of that, you’ll get a Mythos scenario in PDF format, another four scenarios based upon New Orleans folklore (and more with more stretch goals) in PDF, and a set of Mardi Gras beads.  I told Oscar Rios of Golden Goblin Press to charge you more than $35 for all this, but he didn’t listen.

Second is the fiction anthology Delta Green:  Tales from Failed Anatomies, a collection of stories of paranormal investigation and creeping horror by Dennis Detwiller.   More stories are being written as stretch goals by Kenneth Hite, Adam Scott Glancy, Cody Goodfellow, and Greg Stolze.  When the campaign reaches $10,000 (it’s at $8700 right now), I’ll write a Delta Green short story called “Dark,” set during the NYC blackout of 1977.   Maybe I’ll weave in something else that was going on in the Big Apple at that time.

For $15, you’ll get the e-book, plus all of the stretch goal stories, plus a coupon to buy a paperback of Detwiller’s book for about $10 or hardback for $25, plus a coupon to buy my story and the others in a book for another $10 if we reach enough goals to fill it.  (They’re giving out the coupons for purchase later in order to speed up delivery.)  For another $15, you can be an alpha tester for the new Delta Green RPG as well.

In either case, you’re getting a lot of quality material for not too much from companies with good track records.  Donate a little so you can read something great.

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  

Warlock Asylum’s Animated Tale of Dan Harms

A great deal has been going on lately, with a trip to England and back, a lecture at Treadwell’s, and all sorts of other matters.  On top of that, Warlock Asylum has made an animated short about my life.   We can safely call it a loose adaptation, as I’ve never really dressed up like a ninja and dissolved a tea-drinking vampire dressed as Frankenstein’s Monster with rain.

I’ll have a review, a trip report, and other updates later.

Published in: on May 28, 2013 at 11:25 pm  Comments (4)  

Matters Grimoiric

A few quick links for you:

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  

The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia Now Available as eBook

That’s right!  Arc Dream has acquired the electronic rights for The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia, and they’ve just released the eBook in time for GenCon!

You can pick it up for the Kindle, for starters.  I know it’ll be available in ePub format as well, shortly.

 

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 10:17 am  Comments (6)  

Podcast on The Long-Lost Friend, Lovecraft

I was a guest on Matt Staggs’ Disinfo podcast a few days ago.  If you’d like to listen to the episode, you can do so here.  I talk about The Long-Lost Friend, the Cthulhu Mythos, magic, the Necronomicon, and a bunch of other topics.   It was a lot of fun, though I had to punt on the Mormonism question.

Anyway, check it out.

Published in: on July 7, 2012 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment