I originally wrote this post for Triptych, the web comic I created with Devon Devereaux. I liked it a lot and wanted to share it here just in case there are folks who aren't reading the comic. Though, I can't understand why you wouldn't be. Anyway, here's the post:
My first exposure to the occult came in the form of Richard Cavendish’s 24-volume Man, Myth and Magic. I still remember the shock I felt looking through those books for the first time. It was similar to the feeling I had the first time I looked at porn – though I knew it wasn’t technically illicit since my parents had it on a shelf I could easily access. It’s hard for me to imagine why those volumes were in the house. It must have been because of my mother. She had a passing interest in all things spiritual.Tarot decks were common in our house, and we had a Ouija board. So, I suppose that answers that.
I first discovered these books, collections of articles which appeared in Cavendish’s magazine of the same name, when I was six. I can still feel the cold concrete floor beneath me as I looked through the volumes. Every page seemed to bring an electric thrill as image after image flooded into my wee brain. At that age, of course, all I did was look at the pictures. Later I read the damned thing from beginning to end and would regularly re-read articles as I grew older. There were articles on demons, ritual scarification, witchcraft, cannibalism, and so much more. I encountered some 1,000 articles as I looked through those books. And I would only ever look at it in that room, I’d certainly never have taken it into the room where I slept. In those days, I was a true believer. Of everything. I’ve changed since then – nowadays I feel like I don’t believe in anything. I don’t know that I recommend either state.
I think my parents sold those volumes when they moved from that house where I’d grown up. Even if they didn’t, that’s when I lost track of the books. In the years since then I’ve searched half-heartedly for them. I remember finding a complete set at least a decade ago. The bookstore was asking the ungodly sum of $200 and there was no Triptych.
way I could have afforded that at the time. I don’t even know if I’d want them again at this point. I’m sure that everything I found scary and thrilling and new about them would seem now, nearly 40 years on, creaky and silly. I think I’d rather keep my memories intact. Especially because those books have informed so much of what I have written and what I plan to write. They certainly inform everything I’m doing with