Video Game: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (front)

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (front)

If you like puzzle games with a strong eerie vibe, then you will probably enjoy the recently released The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana. To make your way through the lonely, imposing mansion, you have to unlock puzzles (many, many puzzles) along the way.

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (back)

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (back)

I have long enjoyed the music of Nox Arcana and this game is made by the same artists (Joseph Vargo  and Christine Filipak); it is infused with a wonderfully unsettling vibe. The house’s settings, paintings and decor are beautiful and very detailed, and the traditional Nox Arcana atmospheric music is ever-present. I have only had time to play through about half (maybe?) of the game, so this is not a complete review. But I have been waiting for this game since early this year and happy to get the chance to play it. It seems well worth the wait.

In-game painting from "The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana": Draconis

In-game painting from “The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana”: Draconis

As for puzzle-solving, it is not generally one of my favorite things to do in games, so playing an entire games of puzzles is a new experience for me. But they are not (so far) too difficult for me. You have to stay aware of patterns and anything within the puzzle that changes as you work on solving it. Also, be sure to check your journal for clues that you have picked up already — these clues are needed for many of the puzzles. And look at paintings, statues, etc., as there are often either clues or items involved.

The game is available for Windows or Mac and can be bought from Steam, or it can be bought as a set (the game on DVD, the music CD and a metal token like the one used in the game); this set is available directly from the game’s maker I opted to buy the full set, as I like to have hard copies of media.

I will note that I had some problems installing the game on Windows 8.1. The antivirus gave me several messages that there might be a threat from the software and ran short scans, but all the scans gave an “everything’s ok” result. Then Windows would not install it. The game disk included a file that refers to problems that one might encounter due to the fact that the makers did not register the game with Microsoft. This document itself consisted of code mixed with text, so the recommended solution was not clear to me. What I did to solve the problem was right click on the DVD from Windows Explorer and then clicked the troubleshoot problems selection. Going through the dialogue boxes, it fixed something (but what?) and then it installed perfectly in just a few seconds. And just as an aside, I would have preferred to play the game on Linux, which is what I usually use, but I do keep an older Windows drive just for the occasional game like this.

There was obviously a lot of effort and love that went into this game, and it would be great to see more projects like this in the future from these talented folks.


My Favorite Heathen Metal

When I first seriously began to explore Northern Heathenry in 2006, there seemed to be a greater quantity of small, interesting, non-political websites related to Heathen subjects than I find now. The sites were not necessarily slick and beautiful (although there was a very beautiful Anglo-Saxon Heathenry site that I can no longer find), but I found much information on those sites and they made the exploration both fun and deep, and always compelling.

On one of those sites, I found a listing of Heathen bands, none of which I had ever heard, and there were MP3’s of a couple of songs for each one. Giving them a listen, one band jumped out at me in a major way: the Dutch band Heidevolk, whose lyrics were also only in Dutch. The two songs on that site had, to my ears, a perfect blend of an arresting folk sound mixed flawlessly with hard-driving metal and clean, masculine vocals. One of those songs was “Krijgsvolk” and someone had made a video (featuring Lego toys) for it on YouTube at the time (the beginning music is actually from the Heidevolk song “Het Gelders Volkslied”):

I was hungry for more, but at the time, I couldn’t find their nearly two-year-old album De Strijdlust is Geboren at any U.S.-based store (maybe I didn’t look carefully enough). I waited a while, but finally decided to order the album from the band directly. Their 3-song EP for the soon-to-come 2nd album (Walhalla Wacht) had just become available, so I was able to order both recordings.

I’ve just got to note that Heidevolk’s customer service was as good as their music. Within two weeks of my order, I received the package from the Netherlands at my home in North Carolina. They had included a small handful of these promo cards:


Heidevolk Promo Card (front & back)

I won’t even guess at how many times I listened to those recordings, although I found the re-recording of “Het bier zal weer vloeien” on the EP much less pleasing than the original. I do, however, prefer slightly the version of “Wodan Heerst” on the EP to the version on the full LP. The third and last song on the EP, their cover of Normaal’s “Vulgaris Magistralis,” helped to get me through a difficult time, although not in the way most people talk about songs doing that for them. Music can purge as much as console.

When Walhalla Wacht, including the violin talents of Stefanie Speervrouw, came out the following year, I ordered that from the band directly, as well, along with this awesome t-shirt (this is just the back of the shirt):

Heaidevolk T-Shirt, Wodan Heerst

Heaidevolk T-Shirt, Wodan Heerst

Completing Heidevolk’s trio of glorious albums was 2010’s Uit Oude Grond, but it was, in my opinion, the spiritual swan song of the band. Two years later came Batavi, but I never enjoyed the album and it was the last Heidevolk album that I bought. It seemed to me that the folk aspect had been left behind for a middle-ground metal sound with less to make it unique. They also afterwards ended up losing both of the two main original vocalists (Joris and Mark), and this was a great loss, indeed. The band continues in its present form, but I’m just grateful for the early recordings that have brought me so much enjoyment over the years.

And here is the link to a blog post that I made about Heidevolk on the Grundfus blog back in 2011:

Best Doll Ever?


Edgar & Annabel

I’m not generally into collecting dolls, but when I saw this Edgar Allan Poe and Annabel Lee set (part of the Living Dead Dolls Collection) several years ago I had to get them immediately. The dolls come in their own coffin. I love the motto on the back of the coffin: “We’ve passed away, now it’s time to play!”

Edit Oct 6, 2018: I posted this last October but made it private because I wanted to use my own photo, not a stock photo from the original store site. It has taken me this long to take a photo…

Awesomely Spooky Music IV

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music. This is number four in the short series.

In the early-90’s, after not playing video games for a few years, I bought a SNES game system and two games: Mario Brothers 3 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I put many, many hours into each. I had already seen the Dracula movie on which the game was based at the movie theater with my sister and two friends (in 1992, I think); I didn’t enjoy the movie quite as much as my sister did but I was interested in playing the game based on it. It was a good game for its time and a little hard for me to finish. I recall that it was one of those games with limited lives and once they were gone, I had to start the game from the beginning. The music was one of the high points of the game and is eerie enough in many cases. Hearing this soundtrack, I can still picture every level that each piece of music accompanies.

Edit: Shame & disgrace forever for my originally writing “Maria Brothers 3.” I can only blame the beer …

Awesomely Spooky Music III

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music. This is number three in the short series.

Nox Arcana have created a rather large number of albums, all with varying dark themes but all quite dramatic and impressive. Some of the albums tend to sound a bit similar to my ears, but they do a good job at making each themed album unique enough to stand out in some way from the others. Their newest, Season of the Witch, would make a particularly perfect soundtrack for any Halloween-themed endeavor:

And if you’d rather summon the Great Cthulhu, try their Necronomicon title, in particular the track, ‘Ritual of Summoning;’ ‘Ïa! Ïa! Cthulhu Fhtagn!’:

You can find Nox Arcana’s “Music for Creatures of the Night” and some sweet “Gothic Gear” on their website

Awesomely Spooky Music II

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music.

I would call the works of Lustmord more atmospheric soundscapes than music in the traditional sense, but his works definitely have an eerie vibe and can kind of take you on a mental journey. Apparently, his live shows incorporating sound and sights can be quite transcendental. This video gives a short taste of his type of performance.

Awesomely Spooky Music I

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music.

I’m starting with this gem of intense witchification, Hexerei im Zwielicht der Finsternis, by the group (solo artist?) Aghast. I don’t think that they/she ever did any other albums (if I’m wrong, please let me know), but this one would be at the very top of my all-time occult-sounding works. It’s creepy, eerie, “witchy,” and sublimely beautiful in a darkly fun way. Listen for yourself, and enjoy!


Red Clouds at Day … Stay Far Away?


This is a photo that I took in the mid-1990’s, probably 1994 but maybe 1995, around 5pm in eastern North Carolina. These ominous-looking red clouds suddenly appeared and were rapidly rolling through the sky. It was one of the most impressive sky phenomena that I’ve ever seen, and just a little scary. As I didn’t have a video recorder at the time, a snapshot was the best I could do to record it.

For a bit of pareidolia, I see a large frontal face to the left of the limb, and another, milder-looking one in profile to its left.

The Way to True Change

Every day, it seems that people are confronted with some new or old boogeyman, either in the guise of a group or a grievance, that we are urged is a menace to us and needs to be suppressed and eradicated, even to the point of squashing basic civic rights. Never mind the fact that the fear-mongering is very lucrative to those who are brandishing it, and it comes from all sides. It has become so bad that I generally avoid what passes for news now, as it’s obvious that much of it is a play for mind-control and “rabble-rousing,” not to mention a means to remove hard-won liberties.

I read a quote from Serge Kahili King today that I think is very relevant to the current state of affairs in the U.S.A. and many other parts of the world:

The changing of the world will not be done by advertising, no matter how extensive or well-designed. It will not be done by excessively expensive projects and processes, nor by bigger and better weapons either actual or metaphorical. It will never be done by trying to heal abstract concepts that only represent people. It can only be done by healing individual people one at a time, or by helping them to heal themselves.

— Serge Kahili King, Healing for the Millions: The Amazing Dynamind Technique (Introduction), 2015

We as individuals alone have the power to take our own lives in hand and make ourselves into the best us that we can. We can do that best by taking care of ourselves and lending a helping hand to those who need us. We all have a common twin enemy — Destruction and Death — and we don’t need to give those beings a helping hand in any way; they need no help in their encroachment.

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 the beautiful 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!)

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.