Tag Archive: paganism


It’s been a busy build up to the launch event for new Immanion Press/Megalithica Books publications in December. I’ve been preparing a number of books for a pre-Yule release, one of which is the much-anticipated SHE: Primal Meetings with the Dark Goddess I co-wrote with author and historian Andrew Collins.

Andy and I got to know one another in 1994, when we were both working on books connected with the Nephilim and the fallen angels. In my case, this was the Grigori trilogy (Stalking Tender Prey, Scenting Hallowed Blood and Stealing Sacred Fire). Andy was working on From the Ashes of Angels, which explored the same mythology from an historical and archaeological point of view.  Our mutual friend, Jamie Spracklen, introduced Andy and I to each other, and this resulted in Andy allowing me to use his research material for the Grigori books. We’ve been firm friends and occasional colleagues ever since.

 

I’m really excited about SHE, because it heralds a new direction for my non-fiction imprint, Megalithica Books. As I’m now running this imprint alone, I intend to venture into new territory with it, steering towards books that investigate the mythologies and beliefs that inspire magical traditions and offer new systems for readers to discover. I don’t want to have my own writing time curtailed too much, so I’ll most likely be producing fewer books for the list, but every one of them will be a work I’m personally interested in and intrigued by. I’m looking for books that explore (or create) rich and vivid magical systems, including pop culture systems that transform fictional characters and worlds into magical entities and environments.  I’m also seeking books on alternative spirituality, such as LHP, and entertaining studies on how to work with particular entities and deities. I’m after fresh approaches to practices such as meditation, pathworking and ritual, or which reveal personal experiences that are compelling and inspiring.  The key words are: imagination, creativity, depth and integrity. If anyone is interested in submitting to the list, please mail me at editorial(at)Immanion-press(dot)com.

 

9781912241033

Among the first of the new Megalithica Books titles was Zodiac of the Gods, which I released quite quietly a few months ago, under the author name of Eden Crane. This is a reimagining and retitling of a ‘popular’ book I wrote with Graham Phillips for a mainstream publisher’s New Age list back in the 90s – now it’s very much out of date, written in a style that doesn’t reflect modern culture. Last year, Graham and I revisited the text and changed it to fully represent life as it is today. We also renamed the book to more accurately describe its subject. The original was written for a ‘women’s magazine audience’ with a specific style and content to suit its target demographic at the time it was published. Neither of us want that original still to be available but… We had to bring the heavily revamped and revised version out under a joint pseudonym as the original is still available and the publishers concerned refuse to remove it from print or eBook, even given our strong case for this to be done and the fact it barely sells any copies. Big publishers simply don’t like giving books up nowadays – I assume because ‘just in case’, and because there are no overheads in keeping eBooks available. They weren’t interested in a new edition from us. I shall refrain from further comment as I’m sure anyone reading this will intuitively perceive how Graham and I feel about this situation! Zodiac of the Gods has a light-hearted aspect in that it explores the Dendera Zodiac as an alternative to Western Astrology. But in the new version, we’ve significantly expanded the second half of the book, which presents Egyptian magical workings for each month of the year and the deity, or neter, who presides over it. The book is fully illustrated in a completely different style to the original. It’s sad that the awkwardness about the old version meant we didn’t feel comfortable with doing a big splash release for this much better book under our own names, but now – at least – we want to share its origins.

 

Some examples of Danni’s illustrations for SHE
Babalon, Erzuli Danto and Hecate

SHE is the first new title that I can fully promote to launch the new look Megalithica Books. It explores 30 goddesses, some of whom are well-known in Pagan circles, such as Aphrodite, Lilith and Hecate, but others are more obscure but no less intriguing, such as Akhlys, Agrat bat Mahlat and The Cailleach. Even with the more ‘famous’ goddesses, we’ve delved into their roots to reveal their darker aspects – original facets that have, to some degree, been watered down or removed over time. To us, the original forms are far more fascinating and have more to teach us.  We asked friends to contribute a few articles and pathworkings to the book – Deborah Cartwright, Maggie Jennings, Richard Ward and Caroline Wise. SHE includes an essay about each goddess and also a visualisation to meet and interact with her. Not all of those included were goddesses to begin with but have been shaped into deities by Pagans over the years. Some were originally mythological figures – queens or sorceresses – while others were female spirits or entities who were demonised by patriarchal religions.  I enjoyed working on this book immensely and learned a lot while researching it.  There are illustrations to accompany every goddess, mostly by Danielle Lainton, although I helped out doing a few (there was so much work for one artist!) and we’ve also used one of Ruby’s Sekhmet pictures. The rest were adapted from vintage illustrations. The cover of the paperback features art by Brom, while the hardback has cover art by Danni.

The Collector’s Edition of SHE, limited to 99 hardback, numbered copies, includes a bonus section, investigating a further three goddesses: Lyssa, Melinoe and Kalma.

Andy and I, as well as Danni and a couple of the contributors who are able to come along, will be at the launch event on 13th December at The Shrewsbury Arms in Stafford. We’ll give a short talk and readings, and books will be available for purchase, so guests can buy copies of the paperback or hardback and get them signed. Here’s a link to the Facebook page for it. https://www.facebook.com/events/257889301743853/

Our co-host, Maggie Jennings of Hart Magical Gifts, will have a table at the event, where a selection of her wares will be on sale. We’re also expecting another local indie publisher, Alchemy Press, to bring some of their books along for sale, including The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors, in which I have a story.

Transpiration web

The other Megalithica Books title being launched at the event is Transpiration: Poetry and Storytelling as Our Spiritual Portals by Cornelia Benavidez, which has cover art by Peter Hollinghurst. The first half of the book is autobiographical and gives a fascinating glimpse of the author growing up in America in the 1960s and 1970s, her introduction to alternative spirituality and how it grew in the States during those decades. I was intrigued by Cornelia’s stories from her youth – such colourful characters and vivid memories both bitter and sweet. From an early age, she realised she was different, and it was only once she learned about Paganism, through a chance meeting with a witch woman in San Francisco, that she realised what she was – and could be. The second half of the book showcases Cornelia’s poetry – all inspired by her spiritual path. Some of the poems are perfect for ritual purposes – and could be used as invocations or a focus for meditation. The book is illustrated throughout with photos from Cornelia’s life – as fascinating as the text. As Cornelia lives in America, she can’t be with us in person for the launch, but her friend, author Neil Rushton, who wrote the back-cover text for the book, will be there to say a few words about the work and read a short poem of Cornelia’s choosing that she feels is relevant to SHE.

It’s strange how coincidences and connections align. Cornelia’s mentor was Victor H Anderson, who can be seen as an American equivalent of someone like Alex Saunders in the UK, in that he was a salient figure in the flowering and evolution of alternative spirituality in the 60s and 70s. Cornelia’s first book (also published by Megalithica Books) was a study of Victor and his work. Back in the 90s, Victor came upon Andy Collins’s book From the Ashes of Angels and told Cornelia that he felt this author was onto something important. He was a great admirer of Andy’s work. Cornelia had no idea of my connection with Andy when she was originally signed up by Megalithica Books. I didn’t actually ‘meet’ her until Victor H Anderson: an American Shaman came to me for layout and design. Then we discovered the connections between us. One of the epic poems in Transpiration is an adaptation of the Nephilim myth, which of course was examined in Andy’s From the Ashes of Angels and my Grigori trilogy. Now the three of us are sharing a book launch event. Such a shame Cornelia can’t be there in person, but I’m sure she will be in spirit!

Vivia Web

Our latest Tanith Lee re-release will also be published on 13th December. This is Vivia, one of Tanith’s grimmest fantasy novels. As I was editing it, I realised she was writing ‘grimdark’ before it was even a thing. An unsettling and menacing story, it will certainly appeal to all readers who like their fantasy unlit! As with all Tanith’s work, Vivia is written in a lyrical, literary style with lucid attention to detail in a richly-imagined world. The cover art is an evocative portrait of Vivia by John Kaiine.

I’ll also have the new editions of The Wraeththu Histories at the launch – The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, The Shades of Time and Memory and The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence. In the light of a remark that appeared below my Facebook post about the books, I want to make clear why I bring out these revisions. I don’t want anyone to think it’s a cold-hearted marketing ploy to get more money out of readers. The Wraeththu books are close to my heart, and I want them to be as error free as possible. The original versions of the Histories came out in the early 2000s, when Immanion Press was very new. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the mistakes and typing errors in the books, and always planned to bring out a new, corrected edition of this trilogy. It’s been over fifteen years since the first of these books was published, so I think the time is now right for me to do this. I also wanted the six volumes of the Wraeththu Chronicles and Histories to be published as a matching set of books. I re-released the Chronicles early this year and commissioned six new covers from Ruby to adorn both trilogies that all follow the same design – and beautiful they are too!

I don’t expect everyone who bought and loved the originals to ‘have’ to buy these new editions – the Histories are not that much different to the originals – but I do want new readers coming to the Mythos to have the best-crafted versions of the books I can provide. And – a selfish pleasure I can indulge because I’m a publisher – I want these books for myself too. 😊

Because of new responsibilities within Immanion Press, and the preparation of the two editions of SHE, as well as Transpiration and Vivia, I didn’t get time to finish my next fiction project this year – which is a novel based on the story I had in the Para Spectral Wraeththu anthology. I realised I need more time to develop the book to its full potential. It refused to be a shortish novella. So I’ll take up the reins of that again in the New Year. There are lots of other plans in the pipeline for the Immanion Press/Megalithica Books 2019 list, but I’ll talk more about that nearer to Yule. Thanks to everyone who’s been involved in helping produce the books that will be at the December launch and the readers who’ve preordered copies of the Collector’s Edition of SHE. As always, your invaluable support is much appreciated.

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As usual, time has galloped away, and now it’s nearly a year since I posted on my blog. As an excuse, I have been writing regular Immanion Press blog posts to keep people up to date with book releases.

I’ve been very busy this year, mainly working on ‘SHE: Primal Meetings with the Dark Goddess’, which I’ve co-written with long-standing friend and colleague, Andrew Collins. We’ve also got contributions from Deborah Cartwright, Maggie Jennings, Richard Ward and Caroline Wise and the book is fully illustrated. I’ve created some imaginary landscapes, and Danielle Lainton has brought many of the goddesses to life with wonderful pictures, reinterpreting the ancient deities in a vivid and dramatic style.

‘SHE’ began life a few years ago now, when I was thinking about publishing some of the pathworkings and rituals that Andy and I have worked on together over the years. While I was collating all of this material, and during discussions with Andy, we realised we had another – and perhaps better – book on our hands. There’s a tendency within modern Paganism to reimagine certain ancient goddesses, usually by making them less dangerous or ferocious, over-writing their less comfortable aspects with the qualities of a benign, nurturing goddess. A prime example of this is The Morrigan, originally a figure of Celtic myth associated with war and the fate of kings, but now said by some to be a mother goddess. The historical evidence for this is scanty, circumstantial and open to interpretation, or rather the preferences of the individual. While we understand why people perform these ‘rebootings’, because the mother goddess to them is a very positive figure, we feel that it undermines the authentic nature of such entities. It hides or diminishes what they originally meant to people and why they were created to interact with a certain part of nature and life.

‘SHE’ investigates the primal versions of goddesses who are (or were originally) often thought of as ‘dark’. We can see no reason why such powerful entities, from whom we can learn a great deal about the human condition, should have their claws and teeth pulled and be presented as limpid maidens or smiling mothers. This – to us – seems like a form of female castration. These strong feminine archetypes deserve to retain their original meaning and powers. It doesn’t make them any less relevant to modern practitioners – in our opinion, quite the reverse. There are plenty of mother goddesses and pretty maidens out there for people who want them.

The book examines thirty goddesses, demonesses and females of myth – some of them quite well known, such as Hecate and Lilith, others more obscure such as Breksta and Akhlys.  They illustrate our fears and our secrets desires. They encapsulate how Nature was regarded as a wild and unpredictable force to be appeased by people of earlier times.

‘SHE’ includes an essay on each of these goddesses, accompanied by a vivid pathworking to meet them in visualisation. All of them have a ‘dark’ side to their nature, some darker than others. We hope that people who buy the book and perform the pathworkings will gain insight into their own inner lives. It’s been great fun – as well as an important learning experience – working on the book and I can’t wait for its release in December. We will be having a launch event for it in Stafford, co-hosted by Hart Magical Gifts, which is owned by Maggie Jennings, one of the contributors to the book.

The cover is by Brom and there’s a preview below – this is not the final version, as there is still work to be done on the text.

She Taster

Here also are some tasters of the interior illustrations by Danielle Lainton – a goddess from the Preface and an illustration of Eris, the goddess of chaos and disorder. (Eris looks a little like Danni – I’m not sure if this is deliberate 😉 ):

‘SHE’s launch event will also be shared by ‘Vivia’, the latest of our Tanith Lee re-releases, originally published in 1995. As I’ve been copy-editing this book one thing struck me profoundly, even though I’ve read it before: Tanith was writing grimdark fantasy even before it existed as a genre. ‘Vivia’ is a dark and unsettling tale, which gets darker and grimmer as the story progresses. It starts with Vivia, the daughter of a barbaric, brutish lord, discovering something very weird in a deep, forgotten chamber, far below her father’s castle – an entity trapped in the rock. Is it a god, a demon or simply a peculiar sculpture? With her mother dead (carelessly murdered by her father), her nurse a far from mothering presence, and with no friends, Vivia escapes often to this dank, abandoned underworld, where her imagination takes over, especially concerning its possible supernatural resident. Could something be living down there, or is it only in her mind? When war and plague strike the kingdom simultaneously – described in as much graphic detail as any typical Game of Thrones fan could want – Vivia’s life inevitably has to change.

The golden prince Zulgaris who comes to the ravaged castle is hardly a rescuer – golden only in his physical appearance, he matches Vivia in darkness of nature. Their relationship is perverse, and Zulgaris encourages Vivia into habits and hungers she’s only just beginning to understand. This has no 50 Shades of … urgh sentiment or codswallop, if anyone reading this was starting to think that; ‘Vivia’ is gritty, brutal and uncompromising. I can’t say I particularly like any of the characters in the book, even the innocent victims, but by all the gods I believe in them. It presents humans at their very, most selfish worst: an incredibly realistic vision of a savage, unjust world in all its stinking, blood-soaked glory. And despite how you might wince at what goes on, you want to know more. It feels almost like a guilty pleasure. Just how can this story end?

Here’s a preview of the cover by John Kaiine:

Vivia Web.jpg

I’m also working on a fiction project of my own at the moment – which I’m developing from ‘The Emptiness Next Door’, a story that appeared in the latest ‘Para Spectral’ Wraeththu Mythos anthology, I co-edited with Wendy Darling.

The tale was inspired by an old ghost story I read – I’ll write more about that nearer the book’s release – but I realised my adaptation of this was far more than a short story. Fortunately, I found a way to finish the piece as a novella, so it could be included in ‘Para Spectral’ but there’s a lot more I have to tell, which takes it far from the piece that originally inspired it.  The novel is set in Ferelithia, and in the longer version, includes a very minor character from ‘The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit’ in Karn, one of the musicians from Rue’s band. Rue, of course, (for those familiar with the Wraeththu Mythos) went on to much greater things as the first trilogy progressed and Ferelithia was left behind. This new story reveals how the settlement was originally set up – or rather a town was appropriated from the remaining human population – and how Wraeththu victory was ensured by dangerous dealings with weird entities of the landscape. Things got out of control but were contained. However, the seals are weakening, and a catalyst reawakens the past. Karn is now a respectable pillar of the community, holding a high position in public office. Few know about his earlier life, or where he rose from. In order to deal with the current threat, the past might have to be revealed and some hara have reasons for not wanting that to occur.

That’s the basic background, and against that I have the stories of the main characters, with their own secrets, desires, problems – and hauntings. I’m enjoying writing the story very much. I had intended to release it this year, but in order to do it justice I might need more time, so I’m not committing myself either way. If it’s ready to join ‘SHE’ and ‘Vivia’ for the December launch, great, but I’m not fretting that it might not be. It’ll be ready when it’s done. 😊

Ruby did a wonderful cover for ‘Para Spectral’ based on my story, and she’ll be doing something different for the full length novel. In the meantime, here’s a version of the ‘Para Spectral’ art, without any lettering on it. The character could be Leupardra, the vanished witch-pard, or Seladris, the unfortunate har now inhabiting a house in Ferelithia, haunted by the past and the legend of the Blue Leopard.

Leupardra Web

If anyone reading this post is interested in reviewing any of the books mentioned, I can send you a review PDF and hi res jpgs of the covers in November. Please mail me at editorial(at)immanion-press(dot)com