Did you catch this season’s American Horror Story? I’m not sure Roanoke flowed as well as the show’s previous years, but I blame poor writing over a faulty premise. I think films based on “true stories” can work even if the audience doesn’t believe the events portrayed in the movie occurred at all—but only if the audience cares about the characters. Of course, as an occultist, I’ve lived through an unbelievable event or two.
I’m amazed I made it through some of the things I tried in my twenties. Deciding to summon an Elder God, choosing to walk all seven gates of death on a lark… I have no idea how I survived long enough to hike down into the river valley with three friends on Halloween night, 1996. Perhaps my patron watched over me even then! Regardless of who or what protected back then, whatever we saw in the shadows encouraged me to ward my apartment for the first time. It also led me to write the original draft of “What You Wish For,” which debuts today in Into the Abyss.
When I read the other stories in the anthology, I kept wondering, “How much of this is real? How much have these magicians actually seen?”
After all, sight can be subjective. Consider the latest Marvel movie, Doctor Strange. Without giving any major plot threads away, I can say sorcerers occasionally fight in the movie without “mundanes” noticing their battles whatsoever. Spells protect people from the ugly reality of the situation, just as our own psyches can protect us from unpleasant truths. They do this by editing uncomfortable information out of our awareness. Isn’t it funny how you’ll rarely notice you’ve gained a pound unless you’re specifically watching for such a minute change, but you can’t ignore when an extra twenty stops your jeans from zipping up anymore?
That’s what I mean. We don’t always see what’s right in front of us because we choose not to do so. On the other hand, just because I’m staring at a cookbook and muttering under my breath while stirring cake batter doesn’t necessarily mean I’m struggling with the recipe. It could also mean that I’m reciting an incantation meant to hex the crap out of my neighbor and I’ll soon serve him a big ol’ slice instead! Appearances can be deceiving.
All right—maybe Doctor Strange is fiction. I admit it was hard for me to accept Tilda Swinton as an ancient male Tibetan too. Be that as it may, I have seen martial arts masters like those in the movie use chi energy as part of their attacks. I know magicians that have undertaken the infamous Toad Rite mentioned in Into the Abyss. I have channeled spirits and let them speak through me. And, for better or for worse, I saw the hulking thing that crouched in darkness beneath the bridge in my city’s river valley. I saw it and I heard it and…
Well, now. I suppose you’ll have to read the story I wrote. But be cautious when you venture Into the Abyss.
The line between fact and fiction can be wonderfully, magickally thin.
Into the Abyss collects eleven tales of suspense and horror written by some of today’s most formidable magicians. From the toad rite, to chthonic gnosis, to witches, werewolves and ghosts, to gods, daemons, and madmen, these stories are sure to have something for every reader. Pull up the blankets and turn on the lights—take a journey up the river Styx, Into the Abyss.
Featuring stories by: William Briar, Audrey Brice, David Owain Hughes, Peter Oliver Wonder, and MORE!