Zine Underground

As someone who grew up in London, a city as steeped in magick as it is mythology, the disjointed nature of the occult community out here in Wales remains a massive shock to the system. Sure, there are a few different crystal stockists of varying quality, as well as a couple of other shops selling a limited selection of incenses and oils, yet none of these seem to bother with the sort of texts that I require when looking for otherworldly inspiration. There is always Amazon of course, but I exhausted the penny plus postage section of that particular website a long time ago.

As such, I tend to make a beeline for the second hand bookshops when visiting town. These often dusty and poorly ventilated temples to dead trees and forgotten ideas are my main source of literary discovery, as well as being the kind of place that the library angels just love to hang out. This air of latent synchronicity is sorely lacking when you deal with the various online retailers, and is just another reason among many as to why there will always be a place for this type of store in even the most digital of ages. Indeed, where better to perform bibliomancy than a room stacked floor to ceiling with a million different potential answers?

More than once I have lingered in the basement of Troutmark Books and pondered on a given magickal problem, only to find the perfect answer in the form of a work by Skoob or Disnformation. I have found copies of the Satanic Bible sitting side by side with trashy paperbacks dedicated to angel meditations, Buddhist texts on the same shelf as local ghost stories. I’ve also bought many a Batman graphic novel from there, as well as a few role playing game handbooks now sadly out of print. All in all an Aladdin’s cave, and reasonably priced too.

While in the centre of Cardiff recently on a completely unrelated, and all too mundane expedition, I chanced upon something rather interesting. So intriguing, in fact, that it has reignited my interest in the workings of the very pre-millennial counterculture that cradled my initial forays into the magickal underground over two decades ago. Looking through the books at Troutmark for nothing in particular I noticed a couple of oversized paperbacks, garishly printed and obviously limited run. Soon I held in my hands issue three and the double issue four and five of Towards 2012 by Slab-O-Concrete Publications. It was love at first sight.

I am nowhere as up on the whole zine scene as I probably should be, my particular generation of chaos magickians being far more interested in the vast memetic melting pot that formed early bulletin board culture than Xeroxed and stapled pamphlets, but I know a bargain when I see it. Towards 2012 is an anomaly, true, but a very intriguing one regardless. It boasts early interviews with Phil Hine and Alan Moore, among others, as well as essays by a who’s who of late Nineties magickal thought. I am sure that you can see why I was so excited, and why bagging both for under a tenner blew me away.

After a little digging on the train home I found the website for Gyrus, the original driving force behind the project, and was excited to discover that it was also home to a thought provoking collection of essays and articles all well deserving of a read. The story of how Towards 2012 was created is a fascinating and oddly magickal one, and further proof that the zine was a child of the pre-millennial zeitgeist that desired to be born no matter what barriers stood in its way. Some ideas are just too immanent fail it seems.

All in all a very productive trip, and one that has got me itching to nip back to London and scour the esoteric bookshops for rogue copies of parts one and two. It is a long shot, as the whole run has been out of print for a long time now, but the hunt is half the fun. One day, should Gyrus ever wish to re-enter the publishing sphere and chronicle post-millennial magick in the same eclectic, slightly chaotic way I would be honoured to have my written work featured. Until then, I am just as happy to read myself back to the good old days instead.

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