Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

I tend to start these posts with a quote from a famous song or words from a bestselling book. For a change, how about some words from a book I hope will soon become a bestseller?

“Not quite,” she said gently, “look closer. As each image gets repeated it loses strength, it passes closer to the realm of the supernatural. As it does so, some essence of its being becomes captured by the spirits that reside within that realm and are so lessened. The entities within the realm beyond the glass of the mirror absorb and feed on the lifeblood within the images and they become fainter and darker. There are no more than perhaps a hundred or so reflections, although it may not appear so to you.”

I peered intently into the depths of the glass and saw that she was correct. The images did diminish as they disappeared into the distance. Each smaller and fainter, more shrouded in shadows than the last.

“Do you also see how thin the divide is stretched between this world and the next?”

For a moment I was puzzled as to what she wanted me to see, but as I stared at our images, I began to realize there was something wrong. As I scoured the farthest images, so small that my eyes ached, I discerned a darkness behind a distant, tiny reflection of myself. I leaned in closer to see better. My reflection also leaned in and revealed a dark and shadowy shape that stood at my shoulder, dark and indistinct, but moving, its face close to my own, almost touching.

“What is it. What do I see?” I whispered, still staring at the dark shape that stood behind me.

What Joseph is looking into in the story, are two scrying mirrors, set facing each other to create a seeming ‘infinity’ of reflections.

You can read the whole story by clicking on the book cover below.

Scrying can be interchanged with terms like ‘seeing’ or ‘peeping’. The word itself comes from the English word ‘descry’ which means ‘to make out dimly’ or ‘to reveal’. It is the practice of looking into a suitable medium, usually reflective, to detect the presence of a paranormal entity or vision/message. The medium can be things like the crystal balls, stones or glass. One of the more infamous mediums is the scrying mirror. Scrying, regardless of medium can be traced back through the ages, as far back as 3000 B.C. in China.

Since the day when Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, humankind has been enthralled by the facets of the worlds, and the possible insights into paranormal realms they reflect.

Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, for instance, made a magic mirror that showed the past, present and future.

Perseus used the mirror of his shield to defeat Medusa. Anybody who looked directly at the face of Medusa was turned to stone, Perseus defeated her by fighting her by looking only at her reflection.

In Europe, it has long been a tradition to cover the mirrors in the home of someone recently deceased. The belief is that the soul of the dead person could easily become entrapped within the hidden realm of the mirror, unable to depart and find peace in the afterlife.

And then there was John Dee. Born in 1527 he became Queen Mary’s astrologer, but he was also an astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher. The application of these sciences all held one common theme, Dee sought to use them to find a way to speak directly to God. Dee had a scrying mirror built from obsidian and for seven years he claimed to have used the device to communicate with angels who taught him the original language use by humankind before the fall.

John Dee’s Scrying Mirror

Dee created a massively convoluted mathematical system in which to achieve his communications and in later years it greatly influenced members of the magical society of the Golden Dawn and the esteemed Aleister Crowley. You can read more about The Golden Dawn and Crowley below.

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Mr. Crowley – did you talk to the dead?

In the iconic words of the legend who is Ozzy Osbourne:

“Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head?

Oh Mr. Crowley, did you talk to the dead?

Your lifestyle to me seemed so tragic

With the thrill of it all

You fooled all the people with magic

Yeah, you waited on Satan’s call”

Songwriters: John Osbourne / Randy Rhoads / Robert Daisley

If you don’t know, Mr. Crowley refers to Aliester Crowley, and Crowley would have spelled ‘magic’ here as ‘magick’.

He was a late 19th century occultist who founded the religion of Thelema based on a modern form of paganism. Crowley was often accused of being a satanist, although he refuted this and countered that he could not worship “satan’ as he didn’t believe in the Christian biblical version of the fallen angel. Not much of a denial really, when you stop and think about it…

Crowley was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a sect founded in London in 1888. The Golden Dawn was a secret magical order devoted to the study and practice of the occult..

Aleister Crowley in his Golden Dawn regalia in 1910

William Woodman, William Westcott and Samuel Mathers were the three freemasons who founded the society with a focus on spirituality and self improvement. Crowley joined in 1898 and soon rose to prominence, although he was largely disliked due to his bisexuality and libertine lifestyle. Most of our modern concepts of magic, wicca and the paranormal still stem from the philosophies of the Golden Dawn and the teachings of Crowley himself.

The Rose Cross of the Golden Dawn

It is also the same secret society that Doctor John Carter belongs to in my novel, “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” It is from the Golden Dawn that two errant members, not willing to be constrained by the ethics and limits on power that the society imposes, decide to leave and found their own order—The Dux de Obscurum or The Commanders of Darkness. A sect much more willing to embrace the inherent darkness of the underworld.

As Doctor Carter states as he explains to Joseph Snodgrass, Edgar’s would be savior, when they first meet in Baltimore:

“of course, knowledge of power is one thing, to become adept at its summoning and control is another thing entirely. My order is a peaceful one, we seek knowledge, its members are dedicated to the advancement of humanity by the perfection of the individual on every plane of existence. Like your venerable profession doctor, we seek to do no harm.”

An extended silence fell across the room, broken only by an ember from the log that spat and cracked, musket shot loud in the silent chamber. Carter looked up, his eyes wide and glassy.

“The spells however are from an ancient world, a realm where harm, torture, and immolation was more commonplace. To re-enact their full efficacy and master true dominion, sacrifice is required.”

Unlike the Golden Dawn, The Dux de Obscurum will stop at nothing to master true dominion. The scholar of esotericism Wouter Hanegraaff asserted that Crowley was also an extreme representation of “the dark side of the occult”. In my sequel to “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe“, The Order of the Golden Dawn once more pitches battle against the Dux de Obscurum. I am currently writing the book, and who knows, given much of the action takes place in London, perhaps Mister Aleister Crowley himself might make an appearance!

Once more in the words of the great Ozzy:

“Uncovering things that were sacred

Manifest on this Earth

Ah, conceived in the eye of a secret

And they scattered the afterbirth”

You can read book one by clicking on the link below. It’s available in ebook, paperback and hardback and always free on Kindle Select.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Check out the re-branded website for similar posts and random musings. I will post some more on other supernatural elements that are used in my books – Furies, Scrying and Goetic circles amongst them, so sign up and give me a like, a share and a follow 😉

Back to the Paranormal

I am currently querying literary editors for representation of my latest Sci-Fi book tentatively titled “River is Rising.” You can read a blog post that discusses the main themes of this book by clicking on the image below.

Māori warrior with facial Tā moko

It was a real challenge to write, although the research for all of the hard Sci-Fi elements was fun (between just you and I, I am starting to think that I really should be a researcher rather than a writer). The intent is that this book will be the first in a trilogy. The problem is that while I wait to hear back from agents, my passion for the themes of the book have gone off the boil. Not to say they couldn’t be instantly rekindled, they just need a positive push from the publishing world to get me back on track.

So, what to write in the meantime. Well, I really enjoyed writing the paranormal story surrounding the last days of Edgar Allan Poe. That story was self-published and the rights are entirely within my control. It also turns out that I left the ending open for a sequel, where the unlikely assemblage from book one (spoiler alert – most of them) get to fight another day. With at least 50% of the characters already written I just needed an idea.

I really liked writing within the atmosphere of “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” If you haven’t read it yet (shame on you, you must!), the tale carried an American gothic theme. Gas lit streets, steam ships, wet cobbles and large rooms full of ancient mirrors where beasts and secrets could lie concealed within.

You can read a sample and buy a copy here:

So, where to set book two. There was only one place – 19th century London. Where better? Massive overcrowding, crippling poverty for the masses, open sewers, narrow twisting unlit streets and Brasses a plenty to act as my unwitting victims for a new denizen of the dark to pick off in awful ways.

Brass in this context is Cockney Rhyming slang. The slang was claimed to have been invented to obscure the meaning of words to allow criminals to speak freely without being easily understood by the Ducks (see below). Only the first word of the rhyme is typically spoken, so the listener needs to already know the complete phrase to ascertain the meaning.

So? Brass? Well, its meaning has one of two derivatives. Brass Door (whore) or Brass Nail (Tail). A prostitute to you and I. And this in an era in London when the number of Victorian women working the trade was staggeringly high. Poverty and lack of opportunity for the working classes led to as many as 80,000 women and girls working the streets in 19th century London. A great backdrop for a re-inventing of the Ripper story perhaps? One where the killer slips through the shadows with ease, not because he has Royal connections, but rather because he (it) is bestowed with supernatural prowess.

19th century London

I am finding that the slang of the era lends an additional element of authenticity to the time and place, which was already a dark and dangerous time and place to live, even without a murderous creature living in your midst

Here are a few more examples of popular rhyming slang words. Note of caution, this was the language of the street and so can be a touch on the colorful side.

Boat Race (Face)

Brown Bread (Dead)

Ducks and Geese (Police)

Dustbin Lid (Kid)

Gypsy’s Kiss (Piss)

Some require some minor linguistic mental gymnastics

Titfer = Tit for Tat (Hat)

Porky = Pork Pie (Lie)

Whistle = Whistle and Flute (suit)

Richard = Richard the Third (I will let you figure that one out)

And some have come into popularity through more modern vernacular, which I love, although its use for the book is more than doubtful. How about:

Rockford Files (Piles)!

So, the book is about a third written. One element I have added is much more depth around the paranormal antagonists from the first book. In book one the motives and main actors of The Dux de Obscurum were only hinted at. In book two, they play a much more central role and I am busy fleshing out two of the central characters. There will be a few blind alleys and several surprises woven through the tale as well. The plan at the moment is to finish book two by Summer and drive straight on to the final book three in the series to publish them all together by the end of the year.

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