And rest at last where souls unbodied dwell/In ever-flowing Fields of asphodel
If you recall our elegiac post from last year, you recall that Fields Book Store, once pound for pound the finest occult bookshop in the English-speaking world, had died. Its physical location closed, it had ascended into the Web, like one of Zeus' ex-girlfriends tossed into the constellations when Hera got too close.
But I forgot something. I forgot that if you believe, if you have Followed the Path, then there is a place, a sacred space where time bends upon itself and the past can approach us. A space where, with a sacrifice of blood (or of $169.43), the dead can speak with the living, and sell them books. That space is the Dealers' Room at Pantheacon in San Jose. A large New Age/pagan/etc. convention that conveniently overlaps DunDraCon, I have gone to Pantheacon in the past to receive a "double tap" from Fields when the pickings were (relatively) slim at the street store.
This year, I went there and was vouchsafed a vision of a Fields Book Store booth alive and overflowing, and the aforementioned $169.43 worth of books. Among the books in stock, it delighted me no end to find, was my very own The Nazi Occult -- I had made the Occult Nazis section! Better yet, when I showed my accomplice R. my triumph, it triggered gladsome cries of Princely recognition from the on-duty Fieldsians! O frabjous day!
In the ecstasy of that moment, inhaling the patchouli-and-asphodel-scented air of the Elysian Bardo that is the Pantheacon Dealers' Room, Fields beat me up and took my money.
It wasn't all savage body slams and haymakers. There were some used books in the booth, likely as lure or bait. I picked up The Prisoner In The Opal A.E.W. Mason, which was "Number 10 in the Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult." (Published by Sphere Books between 1974 and 1977 or so, the 45 volumes of this series would make a fine collection if I were the sort of person who collected paperback series. Which I very nearly am.) I also bought a nice hardback copy of Spirits Stars and Spells by L. Sprague and Catherine de Camp. As you might guess from the authors, this is a well-planned, light-hearted but skeptical look at the Western magical tradition. Much of my own eliptonic work owes its grounding to some de Camp tome or other, a nice get for the shelves.
It's the new books that get you, though. In the "Shakespeare" section I picked up the new Routledge printing of the third edition of Eric Partridge's classic Shakespeare's Bawdy, an analysis (with extensive glossary!) of, well, Shakespeare's dirty jokes. First written in 1947, when Partridge had to put the sexiest stuff in Latin to keep the lower orders from getting it, it's still a key resource for your Elizabethan dick-joke research. Moving steadily back into the cantosphere, ace mythographer Marina Warner apparently has a new book out, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights so you see my hands were tied.
A left-hand turn brings us to the Crowleyan tradition, embodied by a lovely (and uncensored) overview of experimental director Kenneth Anger: Demonic Visionary by Alice L. Hutchison and the self-explanatory The Dark Lord: H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant, and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic by my main man Peter Levenda. This is made especially delightful by Levenda's ongoing coyness about whether or not he was the "Simon" who edited/created/imagined the Avon Books paperback Necronomicon. (He was.)
And no trip to Fields, Elysian or otherwise, is complete without the "Occult Nazi" section, so I went ahead and picked up Henry Stevens' Dark Star: The Hidden History of German Secret Bases, Flying Disks & U-Boats because you know why.
So it was a beaten Prince who left the hotel and headed back to the car. But it wasn't over. In the parking lot, I heard a furtive voice call my name. It was a Fieldsian standing, literally, in the back of a truck. He had one more gem to show me, he said. Opening a box and pulling out a small stack of books literally wrapped in brown paper, he tore one open and handed it to me. It was the beautiful Imaginary Book Co. edition of The Moonchild of Yesod: A Grimoire of Occult Hyperchemistry, by Karl Stone, who among other things announces himself "a Hyadean emissary of The Cult of The Yellow Sign." More Lovecraft, more Grant, more magic plus lots of Tibet because just because. A signed and numbered edition, even. How much? $108. With visions of Hyadean ambassadors being forced to take me and Virgil in after mollpeartree changes all the locks, I regretfully turned this amazing parking-lot-only offer down and left, to return to the world of the living. But having refused the Hyadean pomegranate, I felt somehow as though I had turned a cinematic beat-down into a symbolic victory. We'll call it a tie, Fields. We'll dance again next year, unless we're both dead.