13.4.14

Black Magic Church

Kevin Gates. Black Magic Church: The True Story of Clophill. Fonthill Media (24 April 2014)

The ruined Old St Mary's Church in Clophill, Bedfordshire has an enormous reputation for the occult and paranormal. In 1963, graves were desecrated and a skull was impaled on a spike inside the church. Bones were found arranged on a makeshift altar, along with the remains of a cockerel in the celebration of a black mass. The incident made headlines across the world and put the fear of God into the local community. A spate of similar incidents followed in the area with cattle found mutilated, further tombs looted and macabre ceremonies performed up at the church.

The incidents gave rise to a huge black magic outbreak across the country. Sinister events have continued at Clophill to this day and the constant defiling of graves has led to an unprecedented number of ghostly sightings at the lonely hilltop setting. This, and the proximity of the village to the A6 site of the Hanratty murder in 1961, combined to give the church a sinister reputation for the occult.

Black Magic Church: The True Story of Clophill explores the legend for the first time and includes rare interviews with witnesses to events at this most haunted location.


14.3.14

Trolls Off-Line

John Lindow. Trolls. Reaktion Books (15 Mar 2014)

Trolls are everywhere. They lurk on the internet; they fill the pages of popular fantasy literature; they are hunted in Norwegian film. They are the homeless in California; they are comforting or threatening characters in children's books; they are amusing dolls. Although trolls are ubiquitous today, for centuries they were confined to the landscape of Scandinavia. They were beings in nature, and their environment was a pre-industrial world in which people lived by farming and fishing on a small scale.

This book is a history of trolls from their first appearances in folk tales - some people reported actual encounters with trolls, and others found such encounters plausible even if they were not sure - and follows a natural transition from folklore to trolls in other domains of popular culture. Indeed, trolls would not be interesting had they not made this jump, first to illustrations in the Nordic book market, then on to Scandinavian literature and drama, and far beyond. Since then they have never gone away, and in their various guises they continue to appeal to the imagination around the world. From the Vikings to the Moomins, the Brothers Grimm and the Three Billy Goats Gruff, this book explores the panoply of trolls and their history and their continuing presence today.


10.3.14

Is the Pope Catholic?

Robert Bauval, Chiara Hohenzollern. Vatican Heresy: Bernini and the Building of the Hermetic Temple of the Sun. Bear & Company (31 Mar 2014)

In 16th century Italy, in the midst of the Renaissance, two powerful movements tookhold. The first, the Hermetic Movement, was inspired by an ancient set of books housed in the library of Cosimo de’ Medici and written by the Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus. The movement expounded the return of the “true religion of the world” based on a form of natural magic that could draw down the powers of the heavens and incorporate them into statues and physical structures. The other movement,the Heliocentric Movement launched by Copernicus, was a direct challenge to the Vatican’s biblical interpretation of a geocentric world system. Declared a heresy by the Pope, those who promoted it risked the full force of the Inquisition.

Exploring the meeting point of these two movements, authors Robert Bauval and Chiara Hohenzollern reveal how the most outspoken and famous philosophers, alchemists, and scientists of the Renaissance, such as Giordano Bruno and Marsilio Ficino, called for a Hermetic reformation of the Christian religion by building a magical utopic city, an architectural version of the heliocentric system.

Using contemporary documents and the latest cutting-edge theses, the authors show that this Temple of the Sun was built in Rome, directly in front of the Vatican’s Basilica of St. Peter. They explain how the Vatican architect Bernini designed St. Peter’s Square to reflect the esoteric principles of the Hermetica and how the square is a detailed representation of the heliocentric system. Revealing the magical architectural plan masterminded by the Renaissance’s greatest minds, including Bernini, Jesuit scholars, Queen Christine of Sweden, and several popes, the authors expose the ultimate heresy of all time blessed by the Vatican itself


2.3.14

Retelling Rendlesham

The latest contribution to the Rendlesham saga:

Nick Pope, John Burroughs, Jim Penniston. Encounter in Rendlesham Forest: The Inside Story of the World's Best-Documented UFO Incident. Thomas Dunne Books (18 Mar 2014)

From the publisher's website: Roswell was only the beginning! An in-depth look at the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident, the world's most sensational and compelling series of UFO encounters. In 1980, a UFO was tracked on military radar in Rendlesham Forest, England. It landed near two of the most strategically important military bases in NATO, and was approached by military witnesses who touched the hull. This explosive new book -- perfect for fans of Annie Jacobsen's Area 51, and Leslie Kean's UFOs -- tells the full story of this incident, which is set to become better-known than Roswell.

Written by Nick Pope, an international bestselling author and former government UFO investigator, working closely with John Burroughs and Jim Penniston, the two officers at the heart of the encounters, this book reveals the first-hand witnesses' full stories for the first time and is supported by numerous formerly-classified documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The inside story of these events and their aftermath will change people’s perceptions about the UFO mystery and about the true role played by government, the military and the intelligence agencies.


27.2.14

Insight or Illusion

Birk Engmann. Near-Death Experiences: Heavenly Insight or Human Illusion? Springer. (28 Feb 2014)

The expression "Near-Death Experience" is associated in the popular understanding with access to knowledge about our transition between the states of life and death. But how should such experiences be interpreted? Are they verifiable with scientific methods? If so, how can they be explained? Attempting to relate matters of scientific knowledge to subjective experience and the realm of belief is a difficult balancing act and has led to a variety of approaches to the topic. This work scrutinizes the diverse views and also myths, about near-death experiences and describes them from a scientific standpoint. Situated at the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and religious studies this book will appeal to a broad audience of both scientists and general readers.


16.2.14

The Surreal Thing

Exploring the links between art and the occult

Patrick Lepetit. Esoteric Secrets Of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies. Inner Traditions; Original edition (15 Feb 2014)

Not merely an artistic or literary movement as many believe, the surrealists rejected the labels of artist and author bestowed upon them by outsiders, accepting instead the titles of magician, alchemist, or -- in the case of Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo -- witch. Their paintings, poems, and other works were created to seek out unexplored regions of the mind and recover lost "psychic" and magical powers. They used creative expression as the vehicle to attain what Andre Breton called the "supreme point," the point at which all opposites cease to be perceived as contradictions. This supreme point is found at the heart of all esoteric doctrines, including the Great Work of alchemy, and enables communication with higher states of being.

Drawing on an extensive range of writings by the surrealists and those in their circle of influence, Patrick Lepetit shows how the surrealists employed mythology, gnostic principles, tarot, voodoo, and alchemy not simply as reference points but as significant elements of their ongoing investigations into the fundamental nature of consciousness. He provides many specific examples of esoteric influence among the surrealists, such as how Picasso's famous Demoiselles d'Avignon was originally titled The Bath of the Philosophers, how painter Victor Brauner drew from his father's spiritualist vocation as well as the Kabbalah and tarot, and how doctor and surrealist author Pierre Mabille was a Freemason focused on finding initiatory paths where "it is possible to feel a new system connecting man with the universe."

Lepetit casts new light on the connection between key figures of the movement and the circle of adepts gathered around Fulcanelli. He also explores the relationship between surrealists and Freemasonry, Martinists, and the Elect Cohen as well as the Grail mythos and the Arthurian brotherhood.


4.2.14

Mass Hysteria

Good to see two authoritative Forteans tackling such a contentious subject:

Robert E. Bartholomew Bob Rickard. Mass Hysteria in Schools: A Worldwide History Since 1566 McFarland. (January 31, 2014)

This book comprehensively surveys the colourful history of mass hysteria and kindred phenomena in schools--from outbreaks of demonic possession during witchcraft scares to twitching and shaking epidemics in 19th century European schools, to more contemporary incidents of collapsing bands, itching frenzies, ghost panics and mystery illnesses.

The authors trace strange behaviours and illnesses in students through the centuries. Possessed children went into trance states and began to bark like dogs in 16th and 17th century Holland; an outbreak of Tourette's-like symptoms struck schoolgirls in western New York in 2011 and 2012. Many episodes are from the United States and separate chapters detail accounts from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania. Some take issue with the term "mass hysteria" and consider its use derogatory to females but it remains entrenched in the scientific lexicon. Most reports in this book involve a preponderance of females: this may reflect the social conditioning of females and not any innate predisposition.