Necromancy is a term that is very intimate to the ones who love the dark side of the force. Let’s be candid enough. What force are we raving about? Are we talking about the supernatural force that drives the world or are we simply conjuring up some hallucinatory incorporeal envision of ours which palls the world?
The world will split up in three ardent factions when we talk about necromancy. One of them will be the votaries of necromancy who have pledged allegiance to the Stygian and sable one, ready to be henchmen, whose hands will not flinch a bit while decapitating their dearest ones just to notch up the benediction of the supreme one (say Darth Vader, whom I am using for a lighter archetype of the real force sitting behind, concealed in a shroud of mystery and undulating black clouds).
The second faction will comprise those people who will simply snub it as trumpery and moonshine. They will very clearly impose their own scientific ideas and elucidate the fact that there cannot be anything unnatural in it.
The final faction will be mixed-bag. People of this clique are driven by education and science but will not jettison such ideas of preternatural and ominous presentations.
To bring them all on the same page, Peter Alexander Haining, one of the leading British journalists and authors of the genre horror and paranormal manifestations, has made a gritty attempt to pen down an anthology, which goes by the name, The Necromancers.
The Necromancers is a collection of non-fictional essays written by Aleister Crowley, Rupert Graves and Rollo Ahmed that narrate the darkest of all secrets those happen in the deepest of all pits and it also comprises fictional stories scribed by maestros of weird fantasy like Algernon Blackwood, Rupert Bloch, Dennis Wheatley, Lawrence Flammenburg and Michael Harrison, to corroborate the fact that fantasy at times may not always dwell in the back of your mind. It may turn real and devastatingly real.
The book started with the following line, “Exurgent mortui et ad me veniunt” which means “The dead rise and come to me”. The line itself did set the tones for the imminent odyssey to the deepest and the darkest pits of earth where the devil is deified and the worst and most gruesome infamies are bred.
Robert Bloch introduced the readers to the infamous glade of black magic where he prefaced the readers with the general superficial view of what lies beneath the veneer of the term Black Magic.
As he started delving deep down, the chills are going to manifold in spades for the readers. Next came into the scene, one of the most prolific writers of the paranormal genre, Rollo Ahmed, who introduced us to hodiernal black magic. He drew a fine contrast to the present day fad for raving to the covens of the ancient days. The subtlety in this second chapter was indeed laudable enough and will strike a very delicate spot in a reader’s mind if he has ever been a hippie in his whole life.
When you are skimming through the oeuvres of occultism, you cannot simply ostracize Aleister Crowley. Ingloriously tagged as “The evilest man to walk the earth”, Crowley’s infamous and famous narrative of “The Black Lodge” was included in this volume of Stygian figments. The Black Lodge told us a story that how fallen can be a man of such evil practices who will not be tentative in sacrificing his own wife just to cast retribution upon his foe.
The next few chapters told us about the witches and their foul practices and how they used to thrive in the dourest of all ambiances. They included the practices of witchcraft and the nitty-gritty of magic that was tagged as detrimental to others.
The next most interesting chapter of the anthology is one of the most renowned stories of the preternatural genre, “A Life for a Life” by Dennis Wheatley. This story was a fictional rendition of how scores are being settled in the world of the unspoken. This story divulged that a void created on the face of the planet by the demise of an individual is immediately imbued with a new life. However, this was simply a positive way of describing the happenings of the dark world from my end. The story, on the contrary, cites the fact that if a new life is gracing the world, somewhere, someone is bound to bid adieu to this beautiful planet.
Peter Haining has curated the contents of the book very warily. He simply didn’t let the readers flow with the emotion. Consequently, there was no relentless flow of either the fiction or non-fiction in this book.
Just when the readers were expecting that they are up for a deluge of fictional stories to horripilate them, Haining gave them a tough check of reality with probably one of the most brutal chapters of the book, “The Trials of the New England Witches”.
This chapter consists of a nefarious litany of how witches were excruciated at the volition of a few ‘deferential’ people. However, they weren’t sure of what exactly is witchcraft. They used to impeach the witches with complicity attributing to the torture of common people and deifying the unholy one.
As a result of such judgments, mostly impractical ones and premised on a probable vendetta or a possible pursuit of pelf, children and wives of young age were mercilessly flayed after being tortured in the most gruesome ways possible.
The next chapter which is “The Lancashire Witches” raved about the most infamous scene of the witches who were breeding Abaddon. This chapter was an account of how people were actually browbeaten by the witches, who worshiped the infamous ones. This story also tells us about the part which cited the account of abrogation of them who bred horror and were also nabbed for nefarious practices.
There were also personal accounts of individual encounters with spirits which were not just bloodcurdling but it spoke of real horror and phantasmagoria which a reader will not even envisage in his most horrid nightmare.
There was another chapter which is called “The Confessions of Witches of Elfdale” which unfolded the inhuman torture on so-called witches just to make them confess to the a atrocities which they probably did not commit as you never expect a 12-year-old girl to murder a baby just seeking for some oblivious retribution.
The collection of such stories finally came to an end with a coup-de-grace when Rupert Bloch delivered the master stroke with his story ‘Beelzebub’. ‘Beelzebub’ was a narration of how a sound man finally met his doom after going mentally insane due to the incessant buzzing of a bee, which was incarnate of the most notorious devil.
The best part of the anthology was that it ended on a note where you wouldn’t find any culmination. The story ‘Beelzebub’ had an ending where the impeached fly took on another prey who commiserated with the demise of the victim in the story.
This may not be one of the best collection of essays and stories that you will relish but if you are seeking a good read that will imbue with tad cognizance about the oblivious,
‘The Necromancers’ will not disappoint you.