Do You Believe in Magic(k)?
(Cheap Day Return)
by Bob Freeman
Time and time again the sacred words are spoken, passed from one wordslinger to the next, like an arcane mantra from a dark and distant age. “Write what you know,” they say. All well and good, but when you’re traversing subject matter as weighty as black magic, sorcery, and necromancy, where does that road even begin?
For me it began in the early seventies with a forgotten hermetic tract I found in the bottom of an old steamer trunk in my grandparents’ second floor spare room. The trunk had been my great-grandmother’s, an ancient woman by the time I met her, eerily silent and confined to a nursing home. We visited her nearly every Sunday throughout my childhood, delivering graham crackers and well wishes.
Stranger was that mysterious trunk, silent and confined in its own way, tucked into a corner and buried beneath a veritable mountain of old quilts and crocheted blankets. Within its musty cavity was a treasure trove of books and pamphlets, mostly dealing with herbs, medicinal plants, and astrology, all dating to the thirties and forties. It was an intriguing find for an eight year old boy who’d already become accustomed to sneaking out of his parents’ house in the dead of night to while away the hours in a nearby boneyard.
But the true treasure found in that trunk, at least for me, was the aforementioned tract. Penned by the philosopher and mystic Manly Palmer Hall, Unseen Forces was a revelation. It was, after all, my first book of esoterica, my metaphysical primer, if you will, and it opened up a world of possibilities to me. This slender pamphlet, which had belonged to my own flesh and blood, quickly became my most prized possession. Through it I was introduced to the denizens of the invisible worlds and our connection with them, including the ‘Dweller on the Threshold,’ elementals, nature spirits, thought-forms, ghosts and spectres.
I was already consumed by the likes of Dark Shadows and The Night Stalker, and I’d just begun to read Poe and Blackwood and Wheatley alongside The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, and Marvel Comics… and now here was a book purporting that the world out there was far stranger than it appeared on the surface, that there was an esoteric and wondrous (and frightening) world that existed in the shadows?
I had to know more… Of course, growing up in the rural Midwest, occult books were hard to come by, especially for an eight year old boy, but not impossible. I managed to get my hands on books by authors such as Hans Holzer, Sybil Leek, and Gavin and Yvonne Frost, and even managed to score a tattered copy of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today.
It was all eye-opening to say the least. Unseen Forces added fuel to my interest in the preternatural, the occult, and the hermetic sciences — an interest that is still alive and well today. I had continued my studies through high school, college, and beyond, with the support of Nightstalkers of Indiana, an occult and paranormal research group I formed in 1983. I became obsessed with the works of the magicicans and alchemists of the Elizabethan era, the Golden Dawn, Thelema, Gardnerian and Alexandrian Witchcraft, and later the Discordians and Chaos Magic, and I kept abreast of advances in parapsychology and physics.
When I decided to become serious about writing fiction it was only natural that I would turn to this lifelong study and interest as source material for my stories. It was, after all, a time honoured tradition. Hell, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn alone was virtually a who’s who of famous authors of occult and horror fiction, including Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, Aleister Crowley, Bram Stoker, and Dion Fortune, to name but a few.
“Write what you know”? Well, they, like so many before and since, certainly did.
Writing successful occult fiction requires a certain amount of verisimilitude. Having an intimate understanding of the esoteric sciences adds weight to your stories. If you want to write about the fantastic, you must make it live and breathe. You have to cast a spell on your audience, so that even if it’s just for a little while, they too will believe in magic.
About Bob Freeman: Bob Freeman doesn’t just write and draw occult detectives, he’s also a card carrying paranormal adventurer who founded Nightstalkers of Indiana in 1983.
A lifelong student of witchcraft, magic, and religion, Bob’s studies are reflected in his art, both as an author and illustrator.
Bob lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.
He can be found online at occultdetective.com
Shadows Over Somerset Book Synopsis: Michael Somers is brought to Cairnwood, an isolated manor in rural Indiana, to sit at the deathbed of a grandfather he never knew existed. He soon finds himself drawn into a strange and esoteric world filled with werewolves, vampires, witches… and a family curse that dates back to fourteenth century Scotland.
In the sleepy little town of Somerset, an ancient evil awakens, hungering for blood and vengeance… and if Michael is to survive he must face his inner demons and embrace his family’s dark past.
Shadows Over Somerset is the first Cairnwood Manor Novel.
Amazon Links for Shadows Over Somerset: