Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Mini-rant

End of year review? 2013 was the same, only more so, and faster. It could be viewed as a renaissance in occult book publishing as new operations continued to spring up or expand throughout the year. However, the signal to noise ratio is a constant issue and it feels like the good ship Midian is being battered by an unending tide of - what has become to be categorised by Jake Stratton-Kent among others -  dark fluff. And there is just too much to keep up with. Customers (who actually read books) are starting to object to paying £50+ for a poorly researched, badly edited limited edition book bound in Lulu covered leather and sigilised with demon spunk. The secondary market bubble is showing signs of collapse as people try to offload their useless collections only to realise everyone else is doing the same. Like most of modern culture, it’s the glamour of surface with no depth, a race to get out new material as fast as possible and then extract the last financial drops before heading off to the next big thing. Now that anyone can publish, it doesn’t mean that everyone should publish. I’m no fan of the cankerous Kindle but maybe that’s where a lot of this drek belongs, on a medium as instant and disposable as its content.

On a more positive note, some publishers continue to deliver, most notably Scarlet Imprint. Absolutely no apologies for singling them out yet again. Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech released just two titles this year; Nicholaj Frisvold’s excellent anthology of essays on traditional craft - Serpent Songs, and Peter Grey’s own ground-breaking, poetic, political, why-the-fuck-haven’t-you-read-it-yet, tour-de-force act of re-wilding, Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Witchcraft isn’t ‘becoming’ political, it always was. It’s just that in the 20th century it got lost in the twisty paths of unnecessary arcana.

I will end on a slightly altered quote from John Waters - “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have (good) books, don't fuck them.”

Happy 2014.


  1. Tell it like it is Jonathan! This deserves to go viral.

  2. Agree with Jake... its time this drek was consigned to history. The volume of total tosh wrapped in glamour covers is becoming beyond silly. Thanks guys for shouting this from the rooftops..it certainly does deserve to go viral!!
    and a happy new year to you both x

  3. *cross-posted with my G+ feed*

    Sadly the reason (some) publishers still keep putting out this crap, is that (some) people keep buying them.

    I suspect that these sales are (primarily) bolstered by scalpers, looking to sell them on at (artificially) inflated prices. However I suspect they will get their comeuppance, when (eventually) the floor falls out of the market and they are left with (over priced) books they can't sell. Much like with comic books in the mid nineties.

  4. Sanest words I've heard all year.

  5. Unfortunately, the marketing for some of this dreck is pretty slick. One author, whom I will not name, has wonderful video production and weekly releases on You Tube, guest spots on podcasts etc. The dark fluff, alas, sells. When you glance over the books, it's nothing much.

  6. I'll bear the last comment in mind as it would have saved me a lot of hassle over the years if I had taken this advice!!

    Korky Kat

  7. Very good article and comments.
    I guess this "bubble", can become shorter, with less risk of become something like the newage or be-yourself-a-witch popular books.
    IMHO, the reason is simple: despiste people's curiosity about the occult and some foruns with lots of beginners, including the RPG ones, really few are ready to pay $$$ for such books and other materials just because most of then, give up quickly when they discover that magic needs personal work. Often hard work.
    So, most of them buy one book and expect instant results. Three days later they are shouting it's a fail.
    By other side, for the few good practitioners, we have the possibility to reach some very good materials, just because the modern resources, including Kindle. And the traditional arcana methods can assure discretion on the readers who know what look for behind the words.
    The problem, now back to the original post, is when some people start publishing anything, with nothing to offer, acting as slot machines.

  8. I am in complete agreement about the increasing preponderance of "dark fluff", Jonathan. Though perhaps all the rubbish will serve as a useful blind for the real gems out there.
    As for deluxe editions being a 'bubble', I'm not convinced, yet. Most are printed in editions of under 60 copies or so. This prevents it from becoming like the comic book bubble mentioned above. Comic companies printed issues in vast quantities and readers hoarded them creating false scarcity (or imagined scarcity), and collapsed under its own weight. But even when the bubble burst an Action Comics #1 was still priceless because it was rare. The crucial factor here is demand -- people have to want a copy. I very much doubt that people will pay high prices for dark fluff nonsense on the secondary market even if it is rare. It is the skilled authors who provide timeless and meaningful content that will be sought after in years to come. The trick is to discover who these talented authors are today.

  9. Good posts ( Jonathan and Boris). I agree with much of what is said. I get people coming to me for advice after having been coached (extorted more like) by the person Fannyfae is referring to in her post.... In this case the dark fluff often leads to personal teaching consultations which lead to yet more consultations (which these people pay money for each time) which in turn leaves some of these people - who are looking for a genuine path - in a bit of a mess. Many of these so-called authors do NOT practice much of their own work.something that I personally pick up on quite easily - some though, are more obvious to the general public, than others. People will wise up eventually - but hopefully sooner rather than later ( for the sake of their spiritual growth, path, personal evolution.. and their hard earned money.

    In Nomine Hecate,


  10. Love the Waters quote at the end, and he's correct about that. You have to find those things out the 'hard way' usually ;-)