While I was a dedicated player of both Dungeons and Dragons and the World of Darkness tabletop role-playing games in my late teens, it was neither Ravenloft or Mage: The Ascension which fuelled my love for the mystical. Comics, anime and Warhammer also held my attention, though did little to make me who I am today. No, it is Lovecraft who is responsible in a round about sort of way for the magick running through my veins, as while I only began devouring his written works later in life the Cthulhu mythos had already seeped its way garishly into my consciousness through many a video nasty long before that.
Evil Dead is my favourite post Lovecraftian series, and Army of Darkness in particular sat on almost permanent loop in those mythic days before competitively priced streaming changed the home entertainment landscape forever. More than any other franchise this series may well have catalysed my decision to become a necromancer, to part the veil and stare down the eldritch abomination reaching in through the door of the cabin to swallow my soul. In a world where the line between sane and psychotic is measured by how we react to the madness of a rudderless universe characters like Ashley Williams make a whole lot of sense.
As I took my first few faltering steps into the realms of the weird, I too hoped to find my own Necronomicon somewhere amid the dusty shelves of London’s numerous secondhand book shops. I travelled widely, becoming something of a nuisance in an ever expanding local area that ultimately proved a fertile, yet fruitless hunting ground for arcane secrets once bound in human flesh inked in blood. I desired a short cut to mystical power, a ticket to a more exciting life where I could play the hero and overcome those aspects of my psyche which kept me awake at night. Back then I thought I knew what I wanted from magick, thought I knew what magick was.
But I was wrong. There are no shortcuts to esoteric wisdom, no sacrificial daggers to bleed away the time required when becoming something more than yet another lamb to the slaughter within the everyday human herd. It takes many years of trial and error, research and commitment. Relationships fall by the wayside, friendships falter, hobbies drip away like pus from a possessed limb awaiting the desperate bite of your petrol powered chainsaw. And we who claim the occult as a willing burden put up with this disruption because no matter the cost, no matter the pain, the magic always wins.
It has to be that way. It must be the most important thing in your life or there is no way that you will ever move beyond the silver screen delusion offered up to the all too willing masses and caress the far subtler face of real sorcery. The true magickian can count their victories on the skulls of both friend and foe alike, and a life lived outside of the accepted social norms will inevitably create an expanding list of people who you were ultimately unable to save. Darkness waits like an army at the edges of the candlelight, after all, and all it takes is one misstep to snuff out the spark within before causing a final tumble into the swirling shadows below.
Perhaps it is time for a few home truths, as sour as they may seem. Thing is, you will never find a flesh bound book that awakens an ancient evil in the woods which only a true hero can slay, boomstick in hand. You are not Ash from the original Evil Dead or Mia from the lacklustre remake. Your destiny does not lie within a sweeping cinematic adventure, keeping eldritch abominations at bay without a second thought for either personal safety or clean pair of underpants. Our reality is bound by laws that can be bent but never broken, and the hero’s journey is not the birthright of every neophyte who reads the Necronomicon.
The occult provides more of a scalpel that a machete, a needle than a stake, a whisper than a shout. It can be used to tip the scales in your favour, to stack synchronicities around a given goal and make the improbable slightly more possible. It allows you to touch the soul of the divine, whatever you deem that current to be, as well as creating a glamour which tricks the general public into mistakenly concluding that you know what the hell you are doing. If they are honest most magickians will see the truth in what I am saying, because as the dawn breaks and the monsters retreat back to their haunted forests to dream all this mystical mumbo jumbo might just be a groovy coincidence after all.