Upon doing some research into Eastern European folklore and paganism I came across Vlach Magic which is still practiced in small villages in Serbia. Similar to Voodoo, its a blend of beliefs from the Orthodox Church and ancient pagan traditions. It’s a very secretive and ostracized practice which has been passed down from witch to witch within families. Black Weddings (marriages at funerals between the living and dead), blood, animal sacrifice, black and white magick are an integral part of the Vlach narrative. Vice did and interesting piece on this below.
Most people are familiar with the Salem Witch Trials, but not many with the Finnish Witch Trials. The witch trials took places between 1520 – 1750. Finland, then a part of Sweden, was known for it’s large population of practicing witches. Both male and female, as shown in the photos before, were put to trial with over 1,200 convictions.
Are you like me and getting into the spirit of Halloween an entire month early? A few months early? All year round? If you need a place to start or just need some new suggestions within the creep realm I’ll be serving up my favorite titles across mediums (movies, comics, books, podcasts, and music). Enjoy!
Dark Horse comics doesn’t get a lot of love from me as of late, mostly because Image is crushing it and Boom! is having a quiet renaissance of its own (but that’s a whole other conversation). But one title I cannot get enough of is Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. The story follows Emmy, a young woman living on a farm in the South with her father, who discovers the farm land and the old gnarled tree which looms over the property holds way more mystery and terror than the ordinary estate. This was one of the first comics in the horror genre that genuinely terrified me and frankly, delighted me. This is not your run of the mill horror genre title filled with tropes and cliches, it’s emphatically unique. Crook’s artwork is subdued when it needs to be, but he somehow knows exactly when to heat things up with fiery splashes of orange which make the page seem like it’s glowing. The title is well underway, current on it’s 27th issue giving you plenty to sink your teeth into it you decide to dip into the darkness on the farm.
If you’re a newcomer to the Giallo genre, consider Suspiria your gateway drug. Dario Argento, known for his Italian horror films during the 70s and early 80s, is probably best known for this film. Ballet. Witches. Murder. Maggots. This movie’s got it all. On top of the exciting subject matter, the film is stunning to watch. The colors are dramatic, tri-toned red, blues, and purples. The sets are dream like and look similar to something out of Alice in Wonderland with tall, dramatic doors, twisting hallways, and secret passageways. What many people don’t know is that Argento’s original script was written with a school full of 12 year old girls in mind (which was eventually changed to 20 year old women). Because of this, Argento went so far as to raise the doorknobs higher on doors to force the perspective to skew childlike and whimsical. The visuals are emphasized with the score by Goblin, which you can hear in the trailer above. You’ll catch yourself hissing, “WITCHES”, around the house after you watch this.
The word “giallo” is Italian for “yellow” The term was derived from a series of cheap paperback mystery novels, popular in post-fascist Italy, which were published with yellow covers.
Quiet. Understated. Factual let fictitious enough to have a brilliant story woven by Richard Maclean Smith, the podcast’s host. Unexplained was started back in 2016 as a bi-weekly podcast tackling the unknown occurrences across history that have somehow evaded explanation. I’m always shocked to discover how few people actually know about this podcast. I would rank it at the same level as Lore, and at some times would prefer the subject matter over the vanilla rehashed topics of other paranormal podcasts. Trust me, I really don’t need to hear more about the Danvers State Hospital or Rolling Hills. Unexplained cuts deep with some of the most obscure and compelling content I’ve heard in a long time. I’d recommend starting with Season 1 Episode 10: The Spaces that Linger to journey to Aleister Crowley’s (and later Jimmy Page’s) home, the infamous Boleskine house or start at the beginning with Season 1 Episode 1: Opening the Gate which discusses the mystery surrounding the death of occultist Netta Fornario.
Ghost Town by The Specials
Drive around with your creep friends and enjoy some grim ska.
Witches of America by Alex Mar
Guys. GUYS. I finished a book. A physical book! It’s been a while since I’ve been genuinely intrigued by a piece of non fiction. Throw witches in the title and I’m bound to have my interests piqued but for a title to hold my attention is impressive. In “Witches of America” Alex Mar spends time traversing various pagan religions from traditional Wicca to the reclusive Feri tradition and even delving into Thelemic magick. Since a young age, I discovered Wicca at age 12, I’ve been enthralled with the concept of the occult and worship of deities but have never through to really read more into the various sects and paths of practice. This book really hooked me on Thelemic magick and the Ordo Templi Orientis, which is the organization founded by famous occultist Aleister Crowley. I even went so far as to find out if there’s a temple located in Austin (Surprise, surprise they do and it’s name is incredible – The Scarlet Woman Lodge). Obviously I have a lot to learn before attending a Gnostic Mass, but the concept is rather intoxicating. Here’s one of my favorite passages from during Mar’s time at the Alombrados temple during a Gnostic Mass.
We were not made by a father figure, separate from us in his holiness; instead, we come from chaos, born out of the same fire as the universe. And from Babalon, the Great Mother, the Scarlet Woman, the bride of Chaos, the destroy of limits, the ecstasy of living! She is every woman’s sexual appetite, woman free from society’s constraints. Fearless, she arrives riding the Beast: she reins him in with one hand, and with the other she raises a cup full of love and death!
Have you read, listened to, or watched any of the titles above? How do you feel about them? Do you know anything about…witches?