Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rest in the Arms of the Dragon

Karlsson, Thomas (2014) Amongst Mystics and Magicians in Stockholm. Belzebez. 140 p.

It is in the nature and the periphery that the divine is most evident. That which is called supernatural is really only that which is currently unknown or unusual. When nature was the everyday environment, man came into contact with the divine through temples and other buildings, but now when most people live in cities and buildings are what they mostly see, then nature is the place where we can find the supernatural. 

Thomas Karlsson's latest literary work, Amongst Mystics and Magicians in Stockholm, is focused on initiatory experiences he and his fellow travellers went through during the first years of Dragon Rouge. He himself describes it as a 'reading mystery', which should act as a key to the other side of reality. Thus the dedication to Lilith - she being the gate to the unknown in the initiatory scheme of Dragon Rouge.

It's rather easy to agree with the author on his perception; Amongst Mystics isn't a matter-of-fact, bloodless and dry academic presentation on Dragon Rouge, but more like a travelogue with a sinister and paranormal twist. Karlsson's academic background and his obviously wide erudition shines through, but in Amongst Mystics he's not writing as doctor Karlsson - he's more like a traveller of unknown plains telling his wild and astounding stories by the campfire.

The story told in Amongst Mystics is full of intrigue, interesting characters and paranormal happenings. It doesn't mention Indiana Jones - or Michael A. Aquino - but the connection seems to be there. Especially through one of the most colorful characters - Varg;

At the same time he [Varg] was grounded, street smart, and completely disrespecful to all powers, both earthly and otherworldly. He happily provided old gods and demons with playful nicknames. After having invoked the demon Beelzebub with grave seriousness, in a dark room only lit by black candles, and filled with heavy incense, he could suddenly round off the ritual by announcing that Bubbe, meaning Beelzebub, thought that we should go and have a beer at pizzeria. (p. 19)

Varg's outré approach to the questions of an occult nature notwithstanding, he obviously had been quite well-connected to the American occult underground and had, even, met Anton LaVey himself (p. 21). But, even though LaVey and his Church of Satan is brought out in a just mildly critical light, Varg's as well as his fellow mystics' interests seem to steer much more towards Aquino's Temple of Set, which comes out in a much more positive light (p. 21, 37-38, 100-101). This have been said, it would have been interesting to read how far the connection between Dragon Rouge and Temple of Set actually goes - just some old ties and shared mytho-philosophical interests, or something more? But, Amongst Mystics is the first part of the trilogy, so maybe those new additions will shed some light also on this question.

Even though Karlsson's latest literary output is spread all over the esoteric map - e.g. Kabbalah, Goetia, ghosts, hauntings, you name it - there seems to be a stout philosophical foundation to support all those diverse pursuits. That is, a strong opposition to nihilistic tendencies of the age, which used to be bonded together under the term 'Generation X';

The newspapers had by this time begun to write about Generation X, "the ironic generation", who dismisses life as joke and leads the life of a slacker, without goals or direction. We did not recognise ourselves in that description. We took up a contrary position by outright opposing everything that had to do with "the ironic generation". We took movies like Excalibur dead serious, and loved its bombastic dramaturgy accompanied by the most bombastic musical pieces by Richard Wagner and Carl Orff. We felt that there was a higher mission for those who had the ability to see it, and at one point we even appointed ourselves to be "the non-ironic generation". (p. 58)

In this day and age an outright opposition to symptoms of the twilight West has a proclivity to turn into an unquestioned 'traditionalism', which usually translates into all sorts of wishful thinking about possibilities provided by the Catholic Church and other such moribund clutches. In most cases such a 'traditionalism' - with its dogmatic adherence to a dying faith - becomes just another mask for the general weariness of today's world. Representatives of the non-ironic generation focused in and around Dragon Rouge, on the other hand, seem to have been able to avoid the trap of 'traditionalism';

We were highly critical of religious dogmaticism and fanaticism, but we were convinced that nihilism, ironic cynicism and lack of commitment that characterised so much of our generation left the door open to all manner of fundamentalism. (p. 58-59) 

So far so good, but, still, one endowed with a sceptical mindset might ask a question or two about how far these good intentions of Karlsson and his fellow draconians have, actually, carried them? To elaborate, in recent years there have been a couple of rather notorious suicide cases, which have had quite a striking resemblance to the magical interests of Dragon Rouge. I am well aware of the fact that those suicides didn't happen under the banner of Dragon Rouge - but under the banner of another Swedish secret society - but, still, it makes one wonder; does Sitra Ahra provide a positive and evolutionary opening - or is it just a shortcut to nothingness?   

Finally, a word about the print product itself. Amongst Mystics is a cute little paperback with very minimal, yet very appealing visuals. I suppose - and hope - that the following publications by Belzebez will follow the same line. For being such a small book (140 pages) it is rather pricey, though; £34.00. Then again, that's quite an understandable price for a book published by a small publishing house. In any case, I would strongly recommend Belzebez to pay more attention to proofreading of their publications - a round or two of intensive proofreading would have done wonders for Amongst Mystics.

Amongst Mystics and Magicians in Stockholm is still available from Midian Books, so if you are at least slightly interested about Dragon Rouge - or about inner workings of a secret society in general - you should probably acquire a copy. It makes an entertaining and intriguing read - it is, to wit, a reading mystery.

Dragon Rouge: here.
Belzebez: here.
Midian Books: here.

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