Thor gets his Hammer Back

These are the illustrations for the children’s book, The Quest of the Hammer, from The Home Adventure Library (Volume 7): Great Stories From World Literature, written by Abbie Farwell Brown, compiled by Doris Heitkotter, illustrated by John Everds, copyright of The Southwestern Company, 1968.

For anyone who doesn’t know the story, Thor’s hammer Mjolnir gets stolen by a Giant named Thrym.

Thor discovers his missing Hammer

When Loki flies out and discovers the thief, Thrym states that he will only give back the hammer if Thor’s beautiful wife, Freya, will become his bride.

Loki sets out to discover the thief

Loki then persuades Thor that he should stand in for Freya and be the Giant’s “bride.”

Thor dresses as Freya — with serious misgivings

“Freya” surprises the wedding party by eating and drinking everyone else under the table. Of course, Thor and Loki end up slaying the Giants and get the hammer back (after getting their bellies full).

Thor surprises his bridegroom with his voracious appetite (at the dinner table only!)

Chaos Magic: Ritual through Video Games

Note: I wrote this essay on Chaos magic testing exactly four years ago this month and had it up on this blog for a while but then took it down. I’m posting it again in case it is of interest to anyone.

Chaos magic (I prefer this standard spelling to the oft-used ‘magick’) sometimes gets regarded as a kind of slacker magic — if so, then I stand as a slacker among slackers. But Chaos can act kindly to folks like me. I like rituals, but only when I can make them up. I also like some guidelines, but only where I can pick and choose what to keep and toss. For the most part, chaos magic smiles on non-rigidity, and sometimes vomits on it (depending on how much it’s had to drink), but the main goal consists of getting results.
A few weeks ago, I mulled over ways in which to do some free-form magic based on an activity that I enjoy and spend a lot of time on: video games. Specifically, the game Dark Souls, that already acts a sort of alternate life for me when I immerse myself in it. As it so happens, it has a Chaos covenant, with a devotional element to the Fair Lady, who is half-woman, half-spider. The covenant is most useful as the means to a helpful shortcut, and to save an NPC so that he can help with the final boss, but the member also can offer humanities to the Fair Lady to relieve her suffering and to get rank in the covenant.

At the time, I thought, since I’m already doing this for several hours a week, why not do it as a magic act and make the taking of humanities and subsequent offering a ritual act with a clear goal? Then I thought about what goals to aim for as tests. I wanted something simple and non-life changing, but that also would be an obvious success if it happened. On a Sunday night, I decided on two possible scenarios: Someone at my job would say something unusually nice to me, or the UPS driver who brought our packages would be a substitute driver whom I’d never seen before (mostly because I didn’t like our regular driver, and the substitutes were always the same three or four people). Neither of these scenarios were things over which I could control the outcome, nor would really matter to me, so they seemed like simple tests to try out this form of magic.
I never actually did the gaming ritual, I just made the plan to do so in my head.

The next day at work, my boss was walking through, stopped, and said, ‘You’re probably going to think that this is a really odd thing for me to say to you, but you look especially good today.’ Now, I get along very well with my boss and he’s a lot more cheerful and friendly than I am, but neither he, nor anyone else that I’ve ever worked with, has said that to me, and it was a very unusual thing. I kind of laughed it off, but I thought about the ritual that I had planned. Soon after, the UPS truck drove up. Not our regular loud-mouthed driver, but someone completely new that I’d never seen before. But again, I never actually did the ritual.

That night, I thought about what had happened and wanted to make another plan for a future ritual. Since both of the former outcomes were pleasant things for me, one positive and one kind of neutral, I wondered if it would be good to try something that would be more negative. To have someone criticize me unfairly, for instance. This was a pretty vague plan, and I didn’t think about it too much, or even want to do so. I certainly didn’t have a great desire to be criticized.

Two days later, I went to a department store to return an item and unintentionally “jumped” someone in line, for which I received a furtive criticism. Criticism passive-aggressive and sort of unfair (at least from my viewpoint). Yay! More chaos magic success (urgh).

So how could I get success from rituals that I never even carried out? Partly, I think it has to do with the nature of Chaos magic. From what I’ve read of others’ experiences and from my own haphazard experiments, it can work that way. The important element seemed to be making a clear plan and having clear goals, so the results came with little to no further effort on my part. They were all things that were out of my conscious control and normally don’t happen but all had good probability of happening under the right circumstances (good probability is always an important component of successful magic). Giving it some thought since then, I also have wondered if it was a magic result at all; perhaps it was a case of divination, and I simply was plugging into events that already would happen. Or maybe a combination of the two, resulting in a perfect marriage of precognition and magical results. Maybe all the time that I already had spent on the working part of the ritual (gathering humanities and offering them through regular game play) had fulfilled the workings as I plotted them (kind of like long devotion to a god paying off when you finally make a request of that god). Or maybe they were just big coincidences — but coincidences, if they even exist, have their own peculiar sort of magical vibe.

[8.20.17, edited for length]

Oracular Head of Orpheus

Orpheus just cannot be shut up …

Despondent in his failed quest to rescue his wife from Hades, Orpheus spurned human contact. This did not set well with some Dionysian Maenads, who tore him to pieces. His head washed up on the shores of Lesbos and prophesied to the people. This is a scan of a black-and-white image of an Attic red-figure vase depicting the bizarre event. The image is culled from Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry by Emily Vermeule (Sather Classical Lectures, Volume Forty-Six; University of California Press, 1979).

There is a better, in-color image of this vase painting at the unsurpassed Theoi site.

Dangerous Fairies

“He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.”

Be careful: Not all fairies are benign, ethereal sweeties. The Fairies, by 19th-Century Irish poet William Allingham, is a dark-themed children’s poem that includes the abduction (and eventual death) of a child. This artwork by Boris Artzybasheff adds to the creepiness. The poem and illustration were included in the Collier’s Junior Classics’ The Young Folks Shelf of Books, Volume 1 (“ABC GO!”; 1962) under the heading “Best-Loved Poems.” As a pre-schooler, I found the picture especially disturbing. It always comes to mind when I think I feel something scratchy in my bed at night.

Here are some excerpts from the poem:

Up the airy mountain

Down the rushy glen,

We daren’t go a-hunting,

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap,

And white owl’s feather. …


They stole little Bridget

For seven years long;

When she came down again

Her friends were all gone.

They took her lightly back

Between the night and morrow;

They thought she was fast asleep,

But she was dead with sorrow.

They have kept her ever since

Deep within the lake,

On a bed of flag leaves,

Watching till she wake.


By the craggy hill-side,

Through the mosses bare,

They have planted thorn trees

For pleasure here and there.

Is any man so daring

As dig them up in spite?

He shall find the thornies set

In his bed at night. …

You can find the entire poem at Poetry Archive

More from “Dreadful Folktales”


Last month, I posted regarding the exhibition/book release in Norway for Dreadful Folktales from the Land of Nosferatu. The book is authored by Gina Sandulescu and illustrated by Costin Chioreanu, both of Romania. Costin has now posted a short movie about the exhibition, including interview clips with members of the bands Einherjer and Vulture Industries:

Some Thoughts On Divination

Watch out, lady — there’s a floating spirit head right behind you…

I first saw a Ouija board when I was a very little kid and was fascinated with the images on it. Several years after that, I got one for myself but, despite the enticing promises of the movies and religious folks, the spirits stayed silent for me. It turned out to be the most boring board game that I’ve ever played (even worse than Scrabble). Better pictures than Scrabble, though.

Back then, I dabbled with several other divination methods, including astrology, playing cards, and automatic writing. But I mostly spent time on dream recollection and recording of dreams, and I still find that to be the most effective way to get a glimpse past the surface of the physical world. Whether it’s gaining insight into a problem, meeting new people, visits with loved ones who have passed on, or exciting video game-type adventures, you really can’t beat the first person perspective of the dream world.

When it comes to other forms of divination, I’ve given a lot of thought to what I’m really looking for when I do it. When I was younger, I mostly thought of it as a prediction system, but I don’t think of it in that way any more. Obviously, the idea is to gain answers, but it seems a futile and negative past-time to look for definite answers about the future. At best, a divination method may give some general characteristics of what the future might hold, based on the present conditions, but expecting an exact answer negates the reality that the future might be malleable, at least to a degree.

What I found through practice is that divination can lead me to consider a direction or solution that I hadn’t considered before. An example came a few years ago: I had been waking up much too early in the mornings, unable to get back to sleep, so I was drained later in the day and felt kind of bad every day. At that time, I was reading the book Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change by Master Zhongxian Wu, which offers a unique, shamanic system of the I Ching. I wasn’t putting it to practice, but decided to use it to get some insight into my sleep and health problems. The trigram that resulted was Kun (Earth). Although there are a few body parts that relate to Kun, I sensed that the spleen was the relevant focal point.

Apart from knowing that I had a spleen, I knew nothing else about it or its function. So I looked up information about it from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, and learned that its function is related to the digestive system, and that cold, raw foods are not very good for it. The recommendation was to eat mostly hot foods. Now, a few months earlier, I had cut meat, dairy and eggs out of my diet, and had been eating a lot of raw fruits and vegetables, with relatively little cooked food. In light of this information about the health of the spleen, I began eating mostly hot food again. One night later, I began sleeping sounding throughout the night again and felt much better as a result.

I can’t say whether there was anything to the divination itself, or not, but I can say that, by doing it, I found a solution to the problem, a solution that I never would have thought of on my own. Despite my interest in matters of the unseen, I tend to be pretty skeptical about the paranormal, and quick to dismiss it as a factor when a physical, logical explanation is more likely. But I like results that work, and at least in that particular case, whether coincidence or not, there was indeed a working result. It doesn’t matter whether it’s “real” or not; it was real for me.

Site Status Update


This is just a short update on the site, mostly in order to kick-start some renewal on adding to the content. When I began the blog several years ago, I had a certain vision for it that changed over time. As my own experiences morphed, backtracked and sidetracked, I either lost interest in doing more or didn’t really know what would be useful to add. I don’t see a real point in putting up content just to pad things out, as this is not a money-making blog (any ads you might see are put up by WordPress for their own revenue). I want the content to be something that I can stand behind, that is written well and that has the potential to be of value to the reader who comes across it.

I’m working on some new posts now, including some short reviews of favorite dark-flavored shopping sites and musical works, discussion of some liberty-related themes, and some essays on esoteric themes, among other topics. I might also move over a few of the old posts from the sister-site (grundfus), which I abandoned.

Where the Light is as Darkness

Job's Evil Dreams (William Blake)

Job’s Evil Dreams (William Blake)


Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.

— Book of Job, 10:20-22 (King James Version)