New Daily Grail post: Alton Towers’ Wicker Man and Ye Olde English Theme Parks of Doom

The Wicker Man and The Beornen

Today (January 8th, 2018) UK theme park Alton Towers has made a somewhat unexpected announcement. Spring 2018 will see the opening of a new attraction at the Staffordshire based park: Wicker Man.

Wicker Man is the UK’s first new wooden rollercoaster experience in 21 years and comes with a globally unique twist – bringing together wood and fire for the very first time. A Wicker Man structure standing at 57.57ft (17.55m) tall – the height of a six-storey building – will dominate the very centre of Alton Towers Resort, appearing to burst into flames as the wooden track races three separate times through the structure.

Read the full article on DailyGrail.com

New article on Daily Grail: How to Make a Homunculus

Originally published on patreon.com/johnreppion back in September, my piece on the modern YouTube phenomena of Homunculus videos us up now at dailygrail.com

Gazelle Amber Valentine interviewed about Spirits of Place

Gazelle Amber Valentine of Jucifer Live by Hillarie Jason

Gazelle Amber Valentine is one half of sludge / doom / death metal two piece Jucifer, formed in Georgia, USA in 1993. For more than seventeen years Gazelle and her bandmate (and husband), drummer Edgar Livengood, have adopted a nomadic lifestyle. The pair live, tour, rehearse, and sometimes even record in their Winnebago, towing the literal wall of amplification Valentine utilises on stage in a trailer behind them. The duo describe this life as an endless tour, and they can easily find themselves playing live shows in twenty or more countries in a single year.

Jucifer’s music can be (and usually is) harsh, aggressive, and loud, but its subject matter and lyrical content are not necessarily what people might expect. 2008’s L’Autrichienne was a concept album based around the French Revolution accompanied by extensive historical notes, while 2013’s За Волгой для нас земли нет (“There is no land beyond The Volga”) dealt with the Soviet Union and WWII. Equally though, there is a strong sense of Americana embedded in much of Jucifer’s music and lyrics; dark folk sounds and sensibilities; finger-picked banjo and violin strings, and dissonant, melancholic melodies. Nowhere is this side of their work more apparent than in Gazelle’s solo album Devil’s Tower I, released in 2013.

All of this – the nomadic life, the artistry, the power and intelligence of her writing – made Gazelle Amber Valentine someone I was very keen to approach as a contributor to Spirits of Place. Her essay, entitled “I Have Trod Such Haunted Land”, ended up being the first in the book and remains one of my favourites. Even though her internet connection can be intermittent as she and Edgar continue their never ending tour, Gazelle was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about the book and her contribution to it.

Read the interview at dailygrail.com

From Spirits of Place: The Palace Built Over a Hellmouth by Maria J. Pérez Cuervo

Fresh for #FolkloreThursday, Greg Taylor has posted Maria J. Pérez Cuervo’s Spirits of Place essay “The Palace Built Over a Hellmouth“, about El Escorial on the southern slopes of Mount Abantos, over on the Daily Grail website.

Only a king or a queen has the power to move the capital of their kingdom to their preferred location. For King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598), this place was at the very centre of the Iberian Peninsula, not far from the city of Madrid, in an area called El Escorial on the southern slopes of Mount Abantos. Here he vowed to build his life’s plan: a royal residence that would also be a pantheon, a monastery, a library, a museum and a centre of studies. To bring it to life, he hired a group of architects, experienced masons and theologists, who evaluated the terrain positively but, given the monarch’s interest in esotericism and alchemy, probably warned him of an ancient legend: that the Devil himself had lived in a cave at the foot of the mountain, after he was expelled from Heaven and before he opened up seven doors to enter his new abode in the Underworld. The location of one of these doors was El Escorial.

Read the rest at www.dailygrail.com

John interviewed about Spirits of Place for Technoccult

Magical techno-futurist, Spirits of Place contributor, and generally lovely guy  Damien Williams conducted a Tarot interview with me about the project, it’s origins and it’s future. You can read the full interview at technoccult.net


Copies of the limited, signed edition of  Spirits of Place are still available HERE

Paperback copies can be ordered via Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk and other online retailers

A Kindle edition of the book is also available via Amazon

  • ISBN-10: 0994617631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0994617637

 

Spirits of Place out now

Cover by Pye Parr

“What’s next for Spirits of Place?” is a question that was asked a lot after the event of the same name took place back in April. Now, at last, that question can be answered. Next comes Spirits of Place the book (formerly AKA #projectLOCI).

Published by Daily Grail Publishing, Spirits of Place is available NOW in various formats:

Stories are embedded in the world around us; in metal, in brick, in concrete, and in wood. In the very earth beneath our feet. Our history surrounds us and the tales we tell, true or otherwise, are always rooted in what has gone before. The spirits of place are the echoes of people, of events, of ideas which have become imprinted upon a location, for better or for worse. They are the genii loci of classical Roman religion, the disquieting atmosphere of a former battlefield, the comfort and familiarity of a childhood home.

Twelve authors take us on a journey; a tour of places where they themselves have encountered, and consulted with, these Spirits of Place.

Those twelve authors are:

Bryndís BjörgvinsdóttirVajra ChandrasekeraMaria J. Pérez CuervoWarren EllisAlan MooreSilvia Moreno-GarciaKristine Ong MuslimDr. Joanne Parker Mark PesceIain SinclairGazelle Amber ValentineDamien Williams.

The book is edited, curated, and introduced by me, John Reppion.

#projectLOCI – coming very soon

image by Pye Parr

#projectLOCI is something myself and Greg Taylor at Daily Grail have been working on for seven months now.

It’s a collection of writings by twelve incredible authors: Bryndís BjörgvinsdóttirVajra ChandrasekeraMaria J. Pérez CuervoWarren EllisAlan MooreSilvia Moreno-GarciaKristine Ong MuslimDr. Joanne Parker Mark PesceIain SinclairGazelle Amber ValentineDamien Williams.

It’s edited, curated, and introduced by me.

It’s a book about place and our relationship to it; how ideas and stories and events become embedded into locations. And how people interact with those places; how they change the way we look at and think about ourselves and others.

Pye Parr has done us an amazing cover, which you can see a fraction of above. More of that, and the book’s actual title, will be revealed in the next fortnight or so when it goes on sale.

Keep an eye out here, and on dailygrail.com, and prepare to get very excited.

Free Articles from Darklore Volume 9

darklore-9-john-reppion

If you haven’t yet managed to get your hands on a copy of the newly released anthology Darklore Volume 9, you can now read three articles from it completely free over on the Darklore website.

We are pleased to offer three sample articles from Darklore Volume 9, as examples of the quality writing and layout inside the book – simply click on each graphic to download the PDF file. The first is “The History and Practice of English Magic”, in which John Reppion explores the real history and lore behind a fantasy fiction bestseller. The second sample article, “The Most Important Man on the Planet”, offers Adam Gorightly’s insights on the amazing life of Kerry Thornley, co-founder of Discordianism and one-time JFK assassination suspect. And lastly we have Greg Taylor’s article “Rocks in Your Head”, in which he surveys the strange phenomenon of ‘electrophonic meteors’ and suggests that they offer a lesson to us on the value of listening to eye-witness reports of UFOs.

The sample articles offer just a taste of what you’ll find in the print issue of Darklore Volume 9, so pick yourself up a copy to see the rest (links below). It takes much time and money to create the Darklore series (and maintain and run DailyGrail.com) – all contributors are paid for their articles – so those who take time to buy the books and/or support on Patreon are helping to keep the weird dream alive.

Hope you enjoy the articles!

Darklore Volume 9 Paperback

Darklore Volume 9 Limited Edition Hardcover

darklore-volume-9

Darklore Volume 9 out now

darklore-volume-9

The latest volume of Darklore is out, featuring my collected Strange & Norrell inspired articles (amongst lots of other wonderful stuff).

Paperback

Limited Edition Hardcover

 

The latest release has themes of magic and mysticism running through it, with essays from regulars including Mike Jay and Robert Schoch, as well as a conspicuous newcomer to our pages: the great Alan Moore!

We have a theme of magic and mysticism running through Darklore 9: Blair MacKenzie Blake surveys and reinterprets the infamous grimoires of centuries past; Alan Moore asks if magic is in any way relevant to the modern world, advocating a scorched earth approach and new beginnings; John Reppion uses a fictional work to illustrate the origins and practice of various magical traditions; and Cat Vincent looks at the origins and practice of various magical traditions and shows how many of them come from fictional works.

No Darklore release focuses on just one topic though. And so, along with the magical core of Volume 9, we have a number of fascinating articles on other topics of interest: Mike Jay reviews the ‘hidden history’ of the 19th century Club des Hachischins; Adam Gorightly looks at the amazing, controversial life of Kerry Thornley, co-creator of Discordianism and one-time JFK assassination suspect; Robert Schoch takes us beyond the Hollywood version of the werewolf to better understand the origins of this archetypal monster; Paul Devereux introduces us to the shamanic plants of the Americas; and Greg Taylor finds that the history of research into meteorites offers a valuable lesson to science on the value of listening to eye-witness reports.

We’ll be publishing some sample articles at the Darklore website in the coming weeks.

New Daily Grail Piece: The 5th Young One – Pay no Attention to the Girl Behind the Sofa

VthIn the early hours of Saturday morning, ignoring the blare of children’s television, I muzzily and reflexively poked at the Twitter icon on the battered screen of my knackered phone. Down I scrolled through the dozens and dozens of updates I’d missed during my five or so hours of child-interrupted sleep until I came upon one by comic artist Jamie Smart. It read

Oh my god. There was a fifth housemate in The Young Ones and she was terrifying.

Huh? I blinked, took a big swig of my bitter, luke-warm, instant coffee, and clicked the link Jamie had posted. On Business Insider Australia I read the headline REVEALED: There really was a creepy fifth housemate lurking in cult British TV show The Young Ones. The article had been posted that very morning (18th June, 2016). What the…?

Read the rest on DailyGrail.com

The Daily Grail now on Patreon

The Daily Grail

I’ve been writing for The Daily Grail (when I can find the time) for a good while now, but I READ the Daily Grail every single day. And I’m far from alone – the Grail has nearly ten-thousand readers every single day. How much does it cost to read the very best online round-up of up to the minute weirdness out there? Nothing. It’s completely free. How much does it cost to run the site, and pay contributors? More than nothing. Quite a bit more.

So, Daily Grail now have a Patreon page where you can show your support from as little as $1 a month (there are even some pretty incredible prizes up for grabs). Become a Friend of The Grail and enjoy your daily dose of the weird with the extra added smugness of knowing that you are now, truly “one of us”.

Double #FolkloreThursday post: Hare’s Eggs for Easter, and Invoking the Spirits of Place

Hare’s Eggs at Easter

As the Easter weekend draws close, children and adults alike anticipating a chocolate egg binge, the internet is alive with articles on the “true” origins of Easter. Yet, could there be any truth in the idea that rabbits – or hares at least – do lay eggs?
Read the rest on DailyGrail.com


Invoking the Spirits of Placecalderstones-showing-cup-and-ring-f-beattie

South Liverpool, where I was born and live still, is a place full of green-spaces. Its abundance of woodlands, parks, cemeteries, playing fields and golf courses are linked by an intricate network of narrow, bramble-lined public footpaths and overgrown roadside verges. The more romantically inclined might be tempted to call them faerie paths, or corpse roads, and perhaps some once were such; back when an Iron Age fort stood on top of Woolton’s Camp Hill, or perhaps longer still.
Read the rest on FolkloreThursday.com

New Daily Grail piece: Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World exhibition

In the recent half term holiday I found myself looking after our nearly-four-year-old twins while our eldest went to the Safari Park. I was a little bit stuck for what to do because there are no (or very few) Stay & Plays/Playgroups open in school holidays. The previous day we’d been to Liverpool Central Library where, for the duration of the half term, there were daily kid friendly things. We (myself and all three kids) had seen a conjurer whose act, if I’m perfectly honest, failed to hold the attention of many of the forty or so kids  assembled there, mine included. Maybe it was this that finally jogged my memory of something I’d been meaning to do since I first read about it.

I’d received an email some weeks earlier via A Ghostly Company which mentioned that, from the 21st of January 2016, the John Rylands Library in Manchester would be displaying some  magical texts and artefacts in an exhibition entitled Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World. That seems like the kind of thing two nearly-four-year-old boys might enjoy, right?

Read the rest on DailyGrail.com

New Daily Grail piece: The Power of (Passive Aggressive?) Prayer

Shintō_prayer

Last Saturday – the 6th of February, 2016 – Professor Richard Dawkins, world renowned ethologist, evolutionary biologist, creator of the concept of the meme, and champion of Capital A Atheism (or New Atheism), suffered a minor stroke. He is, I am pleased to report, currently recuperating in his home and is expected to make a full, or near full, recovery.

Yesterday, when news of Professor Dawkins illness broke, the Church of England Twitter account posted:

Prayers for Prof Dawkins and his family

[followed by a link to a report on his stroke in The Independent newspaper]

At the time of writing, the CofE’s Tweet has received 1.3K retweets and 925 likes.

The tweet has caused some controversy, so much so that a statement entitled #PrayForDawkins has been posted on the Church of England Communications tumblr. Many people, it seems, felt that the CofE was not merely wishing Dawkins a speedy recovery, rather having some kind of dig at him.

Read the rest on DailyGrail.com

New article on Daily Grail: Oh apple tree, We wassail thee

Tom
“Wæs þu hæl” is an Anglo Saxon toast meaning “be thou hale” (“be in good health“). The toast, if not the customs which the term has come to be associated with, is thought to date from the early eleventh or late tenth century, at least.

There are two kinds of Wassailing – the first of which has come to be closely associated with Christmas and carolling. Wassailers call at people’s homes then offer a song and a drink of warmed, spiced ale or cider from a Wassailing bowl (or cup) to the answerer in exchange for money or gifts.

The second originates in the South West of England (“the West Country”), where apple orchards were already providing cider for the thirsty population by the time our Roman invaders arrived.

Continue reading on DailyGrail.com