A Drop of the Dark Stuff

Dark Lore Volume 2, 2008 -- Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

Dark Lore, published by Daily Grail website dhttp:/www.dailygrail.com/ is a sort of cross between The Anomalist and Strange Attractor, with something of old Fortean Studies added in. This second edition has a wide range of articles, and like most anthologies is a mixture of the good, and the, ahem, not so good.

I would single out in this issue Mike Jay’s excellent piece on John Robison, the Scottish chemist who wrote the infamous “Proofs of Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe” (http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/pc/index.htm) which first proposed the short lived Bavarian Illuminati, as the inspiration behind the French Revolution. Jay notes that while Proofs had little impact in Robison’s home country, which was dealing with far more radical and popular figures such as Tom Paine, it did have a major impact on the nascent United States of America, as Federalists and Democrat-Republicans came close to civil war. It was to have a continuing impact, the Illuminati being still a major bogeyman to the American far right.

Also of interest is Theo Paijman’s study of 19th century UFO reports and other weirdness, 'The Dark Cohorts'. This is stuff recovered from digitised newspapers in the United States. Needless to say we have no such resource in this country (at least not available to anyone outside the ranks of academe) and even if we did it would probably be too bloody expensive not only for private citizens but for our cash strapped public libraries.

While many of the reports of lights in the sky are not terribly impressive, indeed they seem to be pretty obvious astronomical misperceptions, some of the other stuff is very interesting. There is the tale of the teenage girl abducted by fairies, returns for a while, then is taken away by two fairies in the form of men in black, or the girl abducted by a black ghost, or the airship that lands so its German speaking crew can take part in a prayer meeting. Granted it’s probable that these stories may well be fictitious, but the point is that they link traditional and modern stories.

A mysterious guy called 'The Emperor' writes about mystery mists and the things which come out of them; Paul Devereux on psychedelics and witches brews, and their role in “secret night journeys” etc.; Neil Arnold on a very spooky part of Vermont; Nick Redfern on how the Monster is just part of the general weirdness at Loch Ness, and Mac Tonnies, who seems to have given up on the fairies for the time being, and now seeks to attribute UFO reports to theatrical displays put on by a super machine intelligence (in Tonnies’ favour it has to be said that this is the only form of the ETH which is not intrinsically ridiculous).

On something completely different, Jon Downes tells the story of the last Japanese soldiers of the Pacific, which sums up both the courage and futility of war pretty well.

The rest is less good I fear, editor Greg Taylor's piece on the occult in music is rather too tabloidy, covering everything from ritual magic to Ouija boards and the stuff that all sorts of adolescents get up to - like table turning that is, which convinced Stephen Braude, that psychokinesis was real - it being so much more probable that everything we think we know is wrong rather than his friends might play a trick on him.

Braude thinks scepticism is fuelled by our fear that PK would mean we could be responsible for road traffic accidents and the like. He shouldn’t worry, as if PK, on this magnitude at least, were possible, George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would all have either spontaneously combusted or turned into kangaroos by now, and soccer balls would be performing some very strange antics. Michael Prescott fails to consult original sources on his take on the R101 airship séance, and Michael Tymn’s ‘The Doctor who Saw Himself Die’ recounts a couple of Near Death Experiences which must have appeared in just about every book on this topic and many on general psychical research.

There is a piece on the crystal skull by Philip Coppens, Regan Lee’s ‘Mothman and Other Synchronicities’ says very little and, as I tend to find stuff on drugs and Magick both turn offs, doubly so when they are combined, especially in articles which appear to be written under the influence of at least one of them: Blair Blake’s ‘DMT and Magick’ was largely unreadable.

But definitely worth getting for the good stuff.

 
Review transferred from Magonia Review of Books, April 2011.

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