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Mankind’s Most Dangerous Game
Black Magic! What else can compare? In Dennis Wheatley’s classic novel, The Devil Rides Out, the protagonist Duke De Richleau called it “the most dangerous game which has ever been known to mankind throughout the ages.” And indeed it is. For Black Magic is the key that can unlock the gates to unseen forces that would cast the world into chaos, overturn the order of the gods, call down demonic invasions, raise the dead, curse the living, shred all sanity and overthrow every regime of power.
In the opening lines of his monumental classic, The Black Arts, Richard Cavendish described the Black Magician’s quest this way:
The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power… Carried to its furthest extreme, the black magician’s ambition is to wield supreme power over the entire universe, to make himself a god. Black magic is rooted in the darkest levels of the mind, and this is a large part of its attraction, but it is much more than a product of the love of evil or a liking for mysterious mumbo-jumbo. It is a titanic attempt to exalt the stature of man, to put man in the place which religious thought reserves for God.
Exalting oneself as a god; invoking the dark forces of nature; tapping the dark side of the mind; acquiring unlimited power: these are the objectives of the Black Magicians—the priesthood of a secret religion that has no fixed forms or name.
Classic Tales from Another Era
This anthology contains some of our favorite classic tales and essays on the subject of Black Magic. Read them for entertainment, and for ideas about how to advance on your own Black Magical quest, if you are so inclined.
Most of these stories were written between 1895 and 1930—a most exhilarating period of Anglo-American culture. This was an era when the British Empire had colonized much of the globe, industrialism and science seemed all-powerful, and the Anglo-Americans stood astride the world, confident in the superiority of their civilization. And yet, there amidst the triumphant scientific rationalism and materialism of the age, we find a strong counter-current of mysticism and magic re-emerging, in such wildly popular movements as Spiritualism, Theosophy, Yoga, Ceremonial Magic and Egyptian-influenced occultism. This was the peak of the “Golden Dawn” school of magic, which included many elite members of British society, including several authors in this collection. Aleister Crowley was the most famous product of this period, and his influence lives on as a man whose “Thelemic” creed of “Do what thou wilt” was decades ahead of its time, and is now mainstream.
The occult interests of the time are reflected in the popular literature: ghost stories by authors like M. R. James, gothic horror novels by the likes of Stoker and Haggard, and “weird tales” by the likes of Lovecraft, Blackwood and Howard, all delved into the irrational realms of Black Magic and gave us many classic works. The stories in this anthology should give you a feel for this heady period—a time of grand ideas, imperial arrogance and magical rediscovery, the likes of which we shall never see again.
Notes About These Stories and Essays
Our anthology begins with essays by two of the most influential occultists of the past few centuries: Éliphas Lévi and Aleister Crowley. They are intriguing and informative pieces, but keep in mind that neither of these “experts” was an actual Black Magician (as they make quite clear). One should therefore take their anti-Black Magic propaganda with a large a pinch of salt, just as one would a Christian minister’s writings on the subject of Satanism.
Nevertheless, Lévi’s famous motto of the Magus—“to know, to dare, to will, to keep silent”—applies even more to the Black Magus than the White. And Crowley was known to partake in practices that are Black Magic by any reasonable definition, so for him to deny it smells rather ratty to this writer. Did he have a change of magical polarity at some point, or was he just pulling the wool over the eyes of a gullible public in true Black Magician fashion?
Our first short story of this collection is “Casting the Runes” (pub. 1911), a famous tale by the English master of the ghost story, M. R. James. The villain Mr. Karswell, author of an infamous book called The History of Witchcraft, is one of the more intriguing Black Magicians in the literature. What were the contents of his dread book? Where did he come by his occult knowledge? What was the precise nature of the cursed runes? Inquiring dark minds want to know! Note that a fine 1957 film called Night of the Demon was made from this story—a movie that Anton LaVey, among others, considered a formative influence.
“The Two Black Bottles” (pub. 1927) was drafted by Wilfred Blanch Talman, then modified by horror giant H. P. Lovecraft for publication in the legendary magazine Weird Tales. Talman’s main idea, of a lineage of soul-stealers who operate from a church and corrupt a whole town, is a most diabolical brainchild, worthy of a Black Magician!
“Smith: An Episode in a Lodging-House” (pub. 1906) is the account of a sorcerer’s experiments in demon-summoning that get out of hand. Blackwood’s description of the sorcerer is first-rate; any Black Magician worth his sulfur should be able to identify with this:
“… He was a man apart from his fellows, a mind that followed a line leading away from ordinary human intercourse and human interests, and into regions that left in his atmosphere something remote, rarefied, chilling. …
“I have only once come across a human being who suggested a disagreeable familiarity with unholy things, and who made me feel uncanny and ‘creepy’ in his presence; and that unenviable individual was Mr. Smith.”
“Nikola’s Scheme” is a tasty excerpt from Dr. Nikola Returns (pub. 1896), the second of five novels featuring the formidable scientist-sorcerer Dr. Nikola. Before Fu Manchu, long before Doctor Doom, Dr. Nikola was scouring the world for the occult secrets of immortality and unlimited power. A great villainous role model to all Black Magicians!
In the “The Sorcerers” (pub. 1893), the renowned William Butler Yeats gives us a delightful little tale of a mysterious cabal of Black Sorcerers who summon dark forces from beyond. Let this be a cautionary tale for all who dare to dabble in the Black Arts!
“Black Magic” (pub. 1909) is Marjorie Bowen’s epic novel about two sorcerers’ daring quest for forbidden knowledge and power in medieval Europe. As is often the case with such quests, this one takes the Black Magicians to the very summit of spiritual power – the Papacy, and the Antichrist Himself! We include the first three chapters of the novel to whet your appetite—look for this entire outstanding novel to be published in a future installment of the Dark Lords’ Library of the Occult.
The great Robert E. Howard gave us “The Haunter of the Ring” (pub. 1934), a tale of treachery and sorcery set in the modern age. The intriguing thing about this tale for the connoisseur of Black Magical fiction is the way it connects Howard’s Hyborean mythos of Conan, Kull, et al to the modern world, using the device of an ancient magical ring. For this ring was once the possession of the great Stygian sorcerer Thoth-Amon, who led a powerful cult of sorcerers call the Black Ring ten thousand years before the Christian era. It was Thoth-Amon who gave us this pithy statement of the Black Magician’s creed:
“Wits and swords are as straws against the wisdom of the Darkness.”
“Pollack and the Porroh Man” (pub. 1895) by H. G. Wells is an outstanding tale of black magical revenge in darkest colonial Africa. The Porroh sect of witch-doctors, compared to whom is is said the Inquisition couldn’t hold a candle, is a terrifying example of a Black Magocracy—a political order dominated by Black Magicians. This tale reminds us that such magocracy is a primal form of government for human societies—one that is certainly more “normal” than our modern liberal democracy!
Arthur Conan Doyle’s gripping story “Playing With Fire” (pub. 1900) concerns the encounter of a group of intrepid séance-goers with forces of the unknown (and their own minds). While they might not call themselves such, when one of the séancers says “all the powers are made for use… If we can do this, we should do this. Every new departure of knowledge has been called unlawful in its inception. It is right and proper that we should inquire into the nature of death,” he is speaking with the mindset of a true Black Magician.
Note that séances and “Spiritualism” were once all the rage among the elites of Western society, including presidents, kings and captains of industry—though many clerics called them “necromancy” or “demon-possession” and warned that they were doorways to the Devil. And there is no doubt that such explorations can open doors that might have been better left closed, and may in fact be gateways straight to Hell. Black Magicians are that special breed who actively seek out such infernal portals and plunge right into them, rather than fleeing from them in terror. Playing with fire, indeed!
“At the Guest House” (pub. 1921) is an intriguing excerpt from the novel Bat Wing, by the famous author of Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer. Bat Wing is a story of high crime and voodoo – which Rohmer calls “the most notable survival of black magic—that is, the scientific employment of darkness against light.” Rohmer’s idea, about the sun being the source of the soul, and sunless realms being the domain of demons, is a fascinating one that we encourage the reader to put to the test. How long have you tried living in darkness? It might sound unpleasant, but as Mr. Camber says: “sorrow is the price we must pay for joy.”
“The Alchemist” (pub. 1916) was weird fiction great H. P. Lovecraft’s first published tale. It concerns the curse of a line of Black Alchemists that goes back six hundred years. A well-crafted tale, especially when one considers that Lovecraft was only 17 when he wrote it. Add Michel the Evil and Charles the Sorcerer to the Black Magician’s hall of infamy!
“Methods Employed in Making a Psychic Attack” (pub. 1930) is an excerpt from Dion Fortune’s influential work, Psychic Self-Defense. Though Fortune was a White Magician to the bone, her discussion of Black Magic is a useful overview of the subject for acolytes on either side of the spectrum.
“The Grand Bewitchment” (pub. 1921) is a chapter from Aleister Crowley’s novel Moonchild, which concerns an attempt to conceive a magickal child and an epic battle between the magicians of the “White Lodge” and the “Black Lodge.” This chapter takes us inside the “Unholy of Unholies” of the Black Lodge — a secret chamber where they perform their unholiest Black Magical rite. It’s a fascinating glimpse inside a Black Magickal Order that seems a little too believable to be all fiction. If you’re like us, you’ll want to have a pencil handy to take notes for future workings..
The Black Temple Library
This book is the first in a series we’re calling The Dark Lords Library of the Occult, or The Black Temple Library. These are works of fact and fiction, short stories, novels, and essays, grimoires and unholy books that the Dark Lords have found inspirational and educational on their paths of power. They are classics that the Dark Lords keep in their own occult library, and consider required reading for all would-be Black Magicians.
The series uses as its symbol the nine-pointed seal of the Black Temple – the physical monument to the dark forces which the Dark Lords have constructed at their estate. The Black Temple is the site of their most inspired rituals, and a gateway for some of the most potent forces of darkness this world can know. In fact, the Black Temple is ground zero for the Dark Lords’ black magical campaign of world domination, from which their influence spreads out like a black poison across the world. It is also a site which Black Magical seekers make pilgrimages to in search of of unlimited knowledge and power. The Black Temple is also a state of mind which exists on a plane outside of mundane space and time. All those who feel the call of Darkness as we do are invited to make astral pilgrimages to the Black Temple by reading publications such as these, and sharing in the spirit of the place. The Black Temple is a timeless metaphysical monument to the eternal quest of the Black Magicians who make use of it.
In an age when mundane libraries are purging their shelves of anything that reeks of “the occult”, the “evil”, the “irrational”, the “politically incorrect” or the “outdated”, it falls to the keepers of the dark wisdom to preserve and celebrate such works in our private collections and publications. For by their nature, the Black Arts are a mortal threat to the priesthoods of the dominant creeds, whether they be Abrahamic Monotheists, Enlightenment Cultists, New Age happy-campers, believers in Dharma and Karma or what have you. None of these priesthoods wants you to delve into the dark realms where real power is gained, though it may cost you your place in their heavens or even your very soul. Thus, we are publishing select works from our Black Temple Library at this terrible time, to propagate and preserve their wisdom for those Black Magicians who will carry the torch of the Black Flame onward, forever, into the infinite Darkness…
Evil reading and darkest dreams,
~The Dark Lords~
Imperial Year Six (October, 2016)