Spirits on Film?

Is it really possible to photograph those who have passed on?

Magician David Fox explores…

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Sir Victor Goddard’s RAF squadron circa 1919

This year we commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and the above photograph of an RAF squadron was taken in 1919 after the cessation of hostilities. The men and women in this image all served in the same unit during the conflict alongside Sir Victor Goddard (who took the shot). Uncannily a mysterious spectral face can be seen to the rear of the fourth gentleman from the left on the back row.

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The image of Freddy Jackson, who had died two days before, appears behind the back row.

Members of the squadron quickly identified the man to be Freddy Jackson; a mechanic, who had been tragically killed in an accident two days before the photograph was taken. Indeed, Jackson’s funeral took place on the day of this group shot and his subsequent appearance in the image raises some profound questions. Is it possible to capture evidence of an afterlife using photographic equipment? Or is this merely an example of an elaborate hoax conducted by individuals of superior technological wisdom?

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Newby Church altar 1963. The photograph was taken by Reverend Lord and experts cannot explain the mysterious shrouded figure.

Ghost hunters, psychic investigators and spiritualists have long argued that it is indeed possible to record evidence of the departed by using even the most basic of recording equipment. In recent years it is not only photographs of supposed spirit forms which have entered the public domain, but a whole variety of film clips boasting both visual and audio ‘evidence’ of a seemingly otherworldly nature. Exponents of this viewpoint argue that experts can visit notorious venues of preternatural phenomena and use their sensitivity and awareness to successfully ‘record’ the activities of the deceased. So-called ‘ghost-hunts’ at apparently haunted venues have become commonplace throughout the UK and have provided a much welcome source of revenue to hoteliers.

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The gardens to the rear of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire. Note the curious misty ‘figure’ to the centre left.

My vocation takes me to many spectacular locations throughout the British Isles and it is incredible how many venues I perform at which are said to be ‘haunted’. It always strikes me as nothing short of extraordinary how even the most level-headed and austere of hotel managers can suddenly divulge his or her own spine-chilling account of nocturnal queerness on the premises. Such people seem to be fully convinced in the existence of an afterlife and the occurrence of supernatural activity around their venues. Indeed, prior to most performances I always take a few photographs around the hotels, halls and stately homes I am fortunate enough to perform magic at. On a closer inspection, it is rather peculiar that I do often find unusual shapes, orbs and irregularities among the images. For example, the most recent being the misty ‘figure’ in the trees to the rear of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire (see photograph above). I since discovered that this venue is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a servant girl who took her own life.

For more information about the author, why not visit David’s website: David Fox Illusionist Extraordinaire

Our Mysterious Satellite… Who Built The Moon?

Title: ‘Who Built The Moon?’

Authors: Christopher Knight and Alan Butler

Year of publication: 2005

Who Built

‘They say all progress is dependent on the unreasonable person.’

It could be said that in the midst of the maelstrom of twenty-first century daily life, we can ill afford the time to contemplate our place within the grand cosmic scheme. The very pace of human existence throughout the developed world seems to have accelerated ten-fold since the internet explosion and the advent of the now ubiquitous mobile phone. Technology has dramatically compressed both space and time, and profoundly revolutionised the way we communicate, co-exist and consume. Indeed, the most imaginative of the great science fiction writers of the twentieth century would surely be amazed by the seemingly incessant march of technological progression and its incredible influence upon the human race.

However, despite our great achievements within the realms of science, engineering and telecommunications, the human race will always remain ensconced within the seemingly eternal cycles of nature herself. Our very physical bodies will forever be entwined within the natural rhythms of Mother Earth despite the fact that over one half of the world’s population now dwell in urban areas. Indeed, one massive natural influence upon everything on this planet so often goes seemingly unnoticed or unaccounted by many. Our solitary satellite; the Moon, continues to effect the tides, the growth of crops, animal behaviour, birth rate, crime incidence, health conditions and infinitely more factors than we can comprehend. Even prior to the dawn of human existence, the presence of this mysterious sphere has played a major role in the development of the world as we know it.

Christopher Knight and Alan Butler’s text entitled ‘Who Built The Moon?’ raises some fascinating questions and both authors have conducted a considerable amount of research in order to arrive at some controversial yet highly stimulating theories. Knight and Butler’s contribution to our understanding of past civilisations and alternative historical discourse in recent years has been exceptional. Indeed, since reading ‘The Hiram Key’ (co-written by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, published in 1996) I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to read the consistently illuminating and meticulously researched works of all three authors.

Knight and Butler’s bold theory is based on the fact that without the Moon, life on Earth would most certainly have not developed into its current state. For example, they appreciate that the phenomena of plate tectonics is unique to our planet in the solar system, and the gravitational influence of our satellite has been instrumental in creating an opportunity for a diversity of species to flourish upon planet earth. Indeed, it may very well have been the gravitational forces of the moon which were responsible for permitting the first DNA molecules to develop billions of years ago in the deepest darkest depths of the pre-historic oceans.

Furthermore, the authors have revealed some startling mathematical calculations involving Earth, Sun and Moon which challenge the notion that the Earth and human species are merely ‘chance’ creations. The idea that blind coincidence has had a part to play in the development of such a complex biological system is questioned by a series of incredible observations. For example, the Moon is four hundred times closer to the Earth than the Sun and four hundred times smaller than our closest star. Another incredible deduction involves the universal usage of the ‘Megalithic Yard’ among the inhabitants of the ancient world. This mysterious unit of measurement appears to have been utilised when our pre-historic ancestors fashioned many of the great stone circles, statues and monuments of antiquity. What is even more intriguing is that Megalithic geometry appears to compliment the movements of both Sun and Moon to seemingly non-coincidental figures: ‘to our total amazement there were 100 Megalithic Yards per lunar Megalithic second of arc’ and for the sun: ‘we know that the sun is 400 times the size of the Moon it should logically have a perfect 40,000 Megalithic Yards per second of arc.’

Was the Moon 'created' by a higher intelligence? It seems to fit too perfectly into the complex incubator which sustains life on Earth.

Was the Moon ‘created’ by a higher intelligence? It seems to fit too perfectly into the complex incubator which sustains life on Earth.

In essence, Knight and Butler fuel the debate that the development of our Earth, and the subsequent appearance of modern human beings some 43,000 years ago, may have been instigated and overseen by a higher extra-terrestrial intelligence. This notion was once scoffed at by the scientific establishment, but it is becoming more and more apparent that there are is an ever-growing plethora of questions concerning the development of our planet and species which remain unanswered. The sudden appearance of cro-magnon man around 40,000 BC and his subsequent meteoric development into the dominant species on the face of this planet is arguably the greatest puzzle of all time.

Like all of their works, Knight and Butler write in a highly engaging style which can be readily appreciated. They achieve a fine balance between science, history, theory, astronomy and anthropology in order to present a highly thought-provoking and vital study of this area. Who built the moon? Did a higher intelligence visit our solar system billions of years ago? And has this advanced being continued to visit the Earth at decisive intervals throughout the course of time? The ideas and theories espoused within this text most certainly compliment those of Erich Von Daniken, Alan Landsburg and other free-thinkers who are not predisposed to the wholesale acceptance of the views of the academic establishment.

David Fox frequently blogs about matters of an unworldly and perplexing nature. David is a professional magician, illusionist and mind-reader who performs magic throughout the UK and beyond…

Aleister Crowley – The Beast 666 – MI6 Agent?

Title: ‘Secret Agent 666’  Author: Richard B. Spence  Year of Publication: 2008

The name Aleister Crowley is always certain to exacerbate an intriguing myriad of reactions from both dedicated Occultists and those with merely a casual acquaintance with the arcane alike. The self-styled ‘Great Beast 666’ continues to cast his influence over the contemporary New Age movement, as well as the artistic world, many years after his death in 1947. Mysterious, eccentric and with talent in abundance, Crowley is both revered and detested in equal measure. Indeed, such a complex personality always makes for ‘good copy’ and it is small wonder that numerous texts have been produced over the past sixty years focusing primarily on Crowley’s colourful lifestyle and his profound interest in Occultism (or Magick as he preferred to call it: ‘the Art and Science of causing Change to occur in conformity with the Will’).

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I have been fortunate to have read several biographies of this mythical figure, as well as Crowley’s ‘Confessions’. All these offerings have been most illuminating, but in my opinion Lawrence Sutin’s ‘Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley’ offers the most objective, balanced and well researched piece of investigative work to date. The purpose of this article is certainly not for me to expound a character reference of Crowley (there is ample opportunity for those interested to formulate their own opinion in the local library or bookshop) but to draw attention to a refreshing and insightful piece of investigative work by Richard B Spence.

Several years ago Channel Four ran a series of documentaries entitled ‘Masters of Darkness’. These focused upon the familiar rogues gallery of historical ‘villains’ one is likely to encounter in any compendium of the weird and the wonderful: the Marquis de Sade, Dr John Dee and, of course, Aleister Crowley all featured. I was amazed that Crowley was branded a ‘traitor to the British people’ by the narrator having been made aware of his involvement within the secret services of Her Majesty’s realm during a conversation with a prominent occultist many years ago. Thus, I was most intrigued to learn of the publication of a text dedicated entirely to his activities within the world of espionage and counter-espionage.

Meticulously researched and engaging, Spence sets out his intentions from the onset: ‘this book is not intended as a general biography of Crowley nor in any way a treatise on his writings and thought, and it takes no position on the reality of magic and the supernatural’. Furthermore, Spence very correctly deduces that ‘the same magical retreat may be both essential to the health of the spirit and useful as a cover for spying’. This was most certainly the case for Dr John Dee during Elizabethan times and Crowley who, as a student of Cambridge University and as a member of the Golden Dawn, had access to many of the most influential artistic and political figures of his generation. In essence, it would have been extremely foolish for the British secret services not to have utilised someone of Crowley’s pedigree and caliber during the turbulent times of World War One, the uncertain inter war years, and the calamity of the Second World War.

Spence’s research into Crowley’s activities in New York during the First World War is captivating, and he invites us to appreciate how instrumental Crowley was in influencing the emerging super power to support the British war effort against the Kaiser. American sympathies very much hung in the balance between British and anti-imperialist (primarily Irish and German interests against Britannia) during this critical period. Spence also sheds light upon Crowley’s involvement with the Lusitania disaster, which will be of great interest to conspiracy theorists; the sinking of which ultimately drew the Americans into the conflict on the side of the British Empire.

The reasons for Crowley’s seemingly bizarre decision to establish an occult commune on the island of Sicily are also addressed. Spence puts forward strong evidence to suggest that he was in fact spying for the British government on both the French military and the Italian fascists. Indeed, such a strategic position in the Mediterranean would have rendered Crowley an excellent accessory for the British security services. This section of Spence’s work also compliments the account provided to me by the gentleman I spoke to several years ago. Mussolini’s decision to expel Crowley may have not been solely for his much publicised occult practices and more so on account of his involvement with the shadowy embryonic machinations of MI6.

Crowley’s influence and involvement within various German occult groups during WWII would most certainly have been appreciated by MI5 and MI6 alike. Indeed, Spence notes that on the outbreak of hostilities, Crowley ‘completed form for NID’ (British Naval Intelligence Division) and raises questions on his involvement with the Rudolf Hess affair. This episode has been previously visited by Amado Crowley in his work ‘The Riddles of Aleister Crowley’ and once again parallels the account I was provided with by a prominent occultist. Whatever the truth, we can rest assured that Crowley would most certainly have been considered a useful appurtenance in the fight against Nazism by the British security services. Indeed, Crowley himself did take credit in suggesting the famous ‘V for victory’ sign which was famously used by Churchill during the early 1940s.

Spence deserves a considerable amount of credit for producing such a well-researched and captivating text. One might say that it is a thankless task to paint a figure of notoriety such as Crowley in a more positive light, but this is an essential piece of academic study which will doubtless draw much more critical acclaim. The author has clearly spent a substantial amount of time researching British and French governmental archives, as well as a diverse range of extraneous sources, to provide an incredible profile of Aleister Crowley which has, until now, remained hidden from the public gaze.

For anyone with an interest in Aleister Crowley, ‘Secret Agent 666’ is essential reading and will not only expand one’s awareness of this extraordinary colossus of occultism, but greatly extend the reader’s appreciation of history and the shadowy political underworld during the tumultuous period of the early twentieth century.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional magician and freelance writer based in Nottingham, England. Visit his website at: http://www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Clifton Hall: A Site of Supernatural Phenomena?

An Idyllic Country Manor…

Nestled away in the picturesque environs of Clifton Conservation Village to the south west of Nottingham city centre, the imposing Georgian architecture of Clifton Hall boasts a certain majestic charm. A striking reminder of a bygone age when the Lords of the Manor of Clifton celebrated their wealth and influence throughout Nottinghamshire and beyond. The hall has a colourful history, and in 1631 King Charles I resided there at the behest of Sir Gervase Clifton. Indeed, since the estate was sold off by the Clifton family in 1958, it has been utilised by several owners for much different purposes. Firstly as a girls’ grammar school until the 1970s, then by Nottingham Trent University, and later as private luxury accommodation. However, it was under its most recent ownership that Clifton Hall sprang to the attention of both local and national media outlets.

Haunted Hall?

Reports of Clifton Hall being a site of unusual and inexplicable phenomena would appear to date from the time when it was used as a grammar school from 1958 to 1976. There are accounts of strange eerie noises and an unsettling atmosphere in specific locations around the main building. An eye-witness account of the ghost of a young woman in the vicinity is also most revealing, and there appears to have been speculation about supernatural activity within rooms which had been sealed off. Sceptics would argue that such locations are ripe for curious tales of intrigue which are often intended to scare younger boarders and are the mere products of vivid adolescent imaginations. Nonetheless, it is the sensational experiences of the Rashid family, who moved into the hall in 2007, which have attracted much attention and speculation.

A Tormented Family…

In 2007 businessman Anwar Rashid acquired Clifton Hall for the sum of £3.6 million and moved into the property with his wife and four children. Within eight months the family would have left their new home, driven away by seemingly disturbing and unsettling forces from another dimension. An intriguing cavalcade of psychic phenomena contributed to the family’s hasty decision to quit their stately accommodation. Eerie events included: sinister spectral voices, ghostly sightings, and, perhaps most upsetting of all, the manifestation of blood stains upon one of the children’s bed sheets. Mr Rashid even went so far as to invite psychic investigators to Clifton Hall to reckon with its demonic denizens. The coordinator of this metaphysical inquiry curiously concluded that the venue was one of the most unsettling places he had ever visited, even throughout the hours of daylight. The family ceased mortgage payments in 2008 and since then it has been on the market awaiting a new buyer to negotiate with its supposedly supernatural tenants…

Illusion or Reality?

Did ghosts and supernatural phenomena really drive a family away from their new home? Is Clifton Hall truly an unholy lair of queer and unnatural events? Or perhaps there is a more logical explanation for the strange occurrences which would appear to have been experienced by a variety of individuals since its days as a grammar school? Last week I happened to be in Clifton meeting a client in order to prepare for a performance of magic at a function he is currently organising. On the way home, I decided to visit the hall and took some photographs around the area. The photograph below was taken at the main gate. Strangely a friend of mine (who is a psychic) examined my handiwork and felt a curious ‘presence’ at the central upper window in the shot. On a closer analysis of the picture, it is possible to see some unusual whispy ‘faces’ on both the central panes of the window. What do you think? Could this be evidence of some sort of weird supernatural manifestation, or is it simply the reflections of the trees in the sunlight?

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Below is a close-up shot of the window. It does look rather strange and no other window in any of the other photographs looks like this. I prefer to keep an open mind and reserve judgement.  The red and blue circles mark the possible outlines of spectral ‘faces’.

Clifton Ghosts

Haunted Venues

Make Your Next Hotel Stay An Interesting One…

I am extremely fortunate to perform magic regularly at fantastic venues throughout the UK and beyond. My vocation frequently takes me off the beaten track to obscure locations which offer their own peculiar allurements and fascinations. Indeed, every hotel, restaurant, club, bar, or stately home has an exclusive charm and appeal. However, local legends, superstitions, and the ‘lore of land’ always continue to intrigue and amaze travellers the world over. Some places would appear to be steeped with curious rumours concerning ghosts, inexplicable occurrences, and mysterious utterances of possible occult phenomena. Thus, I decided to write about several interesting venues I have enjoyed performing at…

Makeney Hall Hotel

It is always a great pleasure to visit this beautiful hotel which is located in the serene landscape of the Amber Valley in Derbyshire. Derby itself was recently declared the ‘most haunted’ town in Britain, and the Derby Paranormal Hunters offer tours around places of supernatural interest. Makeney Hall is situated eight miles from Derby city centre and the present building dates from Victorian times. It certainly is a charming venue which is ideal for leisure breaks, weddings and corporate functions: http://www.akkeronhotels.com/Hotels/Central-and-Eastern-England/Makeney-Hall-Hotel The staff are extremely friendly and it was during a very interesting discussion with an employee that I first learned of the ghostly heritage of Makeney Hall. Stories of weird ‘presences’, inexplicable ‘figures’ appearing in hallways, and queer ‘rapping’ sounds aroused my curiosity. The gentleman in question had not experienced any of the aforementioned phenomena, however, a colleague of his seemed to genuinely believe that the building was haunted. Such unearthly tales may have developed from the times when Makeney Hall was used as a hospital.

The Ettington Park Hotel

Stratford Upon Avon is a magical town in its own right and is of course well known for its association with the bard. The dramatic neo-Gothic facades of The Ettington Park Hotel, which is to be found seven miles from the town centre, will enchant and captivate even the most seasoned of wayfarers. The hotel boasts several unearthly presences and specters which have been witnessed by a variety of people over the years: http://www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/hotels/ettington-park-hotel/History/ There would appear to be a multitude of psychic phenomena to be found, ranging from apparitions, to changes in temperature, and disembodied ethereal ‘voices’. As well as being a magnificent venue, the staff are always warm and welcoming. One employee I had the pleasure of chatting to openly discussed the existence of metaphysical happenings at the hotel and did firmly believe in the existence of ghosts. I look forward to performing magic at The Ettington Park Hotel on Christmas day and entertaining everyone whilst they enjoy the glowing hospitality. Hopefully the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future will appreciate the performance too and refrain from any spiritual heckling.

Mosborough Hall Hotel

The most recent wedding I performed at was that of Vickie and Stuart last Saturday in the pleasant environs of Mosborough Hall Hotel, Sheffield. It was a pleasure and a privilege to entertain everyone present and sample the first class hospitality of the venue. Prior to my performance, I took time to visit the hotel website and was amazed to discover that Mosborough Hall falls into the ‘haunted venue’ category: http://www.hauntedrooms.co.uk/mosborough-hall-hotel. This sixteenth century manor house clearly has a wealth of weird history for lovers of the uncanny to contemplate. Tales of a ‘large black dog’, ghostly ‘grey lady’, and of past owners calling upon the services of a local vicar to exorcise the building certainly do add to the mysterious charm of the location. Having said that, I was made to feel very welcome by the staff and the quality of the cuisine served in the restaurant is excellent. Any tales of ghosts or the supernatural can quickly be discounted within the modernised interior of the renovated manor house and spacious Chatsworth function suite. Indeed, on asking a member of staff about the possibility of psychic phenomena, I was assured that she had not witnessed anything strange. However, I always keep an open mind about these things…

Are There Are More Things In Heaven and Earth?

I consider myself very lucky to have performed magic for audiences at all of these wonderful venues and would highly recommend each to anyone planning a wedding, party, corporate event, or leisure break. Perhaps the possibility of witnessing something supernatural or uncanny during your stay can only entice you to visit? Most people are indeed intrigued by such mysteries and as Shakespeare himself said: ‘there are more things in heaven and earth’. I will be returning to all of these fine hotels in the future to perform magic and look forward to doing so. However, the ongoing prospect of learning about even more ‘haunted venues’ throughout the UK, and beyond, is always an interesting and intriguing aspect of my job as a professional magician.

Is the earth hollow? Are their worlds within our world? Was Jules Verne privy to spectacular occult knowledge?

Title: ‘This Hollow Earth’  Author: Warren Smith  Year of Publication: 1972

Product Details

Like some veiled demon conjured up by a black magician, the belief in a hollow earth is one of the most intriguing of the various occult mysteries.

The hollow earth theory is a mind-shattering proposal that there are gigantic holes at the north and south poles. These polar openings lead to a vast, unknown world inside the center of the earth. Some believers also claim the earth is honeycombed with a vast network of subterranean tunnels that lead down into an inner world.

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Hollow earth theory has drifted out of the occult mainstream in recent years and, understandably, is often scoffed at or just simply ignored, by both sceptics and advocates of the paranormal alike. The notion that the inner realms of our planet may in fact be domicile to large cities populated by hitherto undiscovered beings is just simply too ridiculous for many to even consider. Indeed, the scientific axiom of the layered earth, from crust to mantle to inner and outer core, is one of the first theories any curious child will learn about when reading even the most rudimentary of encyclopedias.

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However, is it not always interesting and exciting to challenge accepted mainstream knowledge, even if our rational selves may oppose this impulse? Why is it that many cultures throughout the ages have espoused some sort of belief or body of folklore which speaks of a curious world within our world? Does this elusive shadowy zone simply exist in a metaphysical sense, or is it something entirely tangible which the intrepid may care to visit?

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It is very interesting to note that recent scientific studies regarding the composition of the earth’s core remain inconclusive and we are constantly reviewing our rather limited understanding of the structure of our planet. In truth, it would appear that we know more about the surface of the moon, than the deepest, darkest recesses of our own world. With this in mind, I was intrigued to chance upon a copy of ‘This Hollow Earth’ by Warren Smith. I had read about this theory in the past and it has always interested me.

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Smith certainly provides food for thought and this text will stimulate anyone who wants to learn more about this rather outlandish of theories. The opening chapter whets the reader’s appetite as secret tunnels under the pyramids, UFOs from within the earth, the curious tale of Olaf Jansen (a Scandinavian sailor who claimed to have met the ‘Under-People’ within the earth), and stories of explorers’ bizarre experiences in polar regions are highlighted.

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However, it was the weird tale of labourers tunnelling beneath the River Thames in the 1960s which caught my attention. As Smith recounts:

the construction crewmen were spooked by a ‘thing’ which haunted the construction project

He further adds after one of the men was frightened away for good:

Whatever O’Brien saw in the tunnel must have been a frightening spectre. He was earning $312 a week when he walked away from the job…

Were the men simply hallucinating or does this account raise interesting questions regarding the existence of sinister subterranean beings?

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Smith’s discussion of Oriental beliefs in this area is certainly enlightening. Indeed, the Buddhist doctrine of the inner world is one that I was not aware of until reading ‘This Hollow Earth’:

Agharta is a subterranean land located deep within the centre of our planet. The Buddhists believe there are millions of people living in this underworld paradise.

He speaks eloquently of the romantic travels of western explorers into the Orient and of their encounters with holy men who spoke guardedly of the earth’s inner sanctum. Curious tales of a tunnel network from remote monasteries in Tibet are addressed:

These Tibetan tunnels are just part of a honeycomb of tunnels linking many parts of the world.

The mysterious lure of the Orient and the prospect of a revelation of truth has enticed many western mystics, occult scholars and religious groups for centuries.

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Indeed, the Nazi’s fascination with a possible pathway to an inner world via the Himalayas or North Pole is also addressed by Smith. Hitler’s occult beliefs are well documented, and there are accounts of several expeditions which were sent to explore Hollow Earth theory and find hidden tunnels during the period of the Third Reich. The Luminous Lodge of the Vril society drew inspiration from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s work entitled ‘The Coming Race’ which was published in 1871. The prospect of establishing contact with a powerful race of supernatural beings within the inner earth, whose beliefs and social structure appeared to compliment those of Nazi ideology, clearly struck a chord within the German high command. Increased occult knowledge and power would surely provide the Nazis with an advantage over their enemies and they were clearly prepared to explore a variety of options (no matter how tenuous) to obtain this.

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‘This Hollow Earth’ may not be a classic of occult literature, but it can most certainly be appreciated and enjoyed by anyone who is curious about this peculiar theory. It raises some interesting questions and invites the reader to continue study within this fascinating area. Since its publication in 1972, there have been a variety of texts and articles written about the possibility of a world within our world. Notable contemporary writers who espouse this idea include the English author David Icke. This text is readily available on Amazon and vends for around £4. For more information about the author, visit David’s magical website: Magic and Illusion.

Voodoo, Black Magic and Sorcery in Deepest Darkest Africa…

Title: ‘Jungle Magic’ Author: James H. Neal Year of publication: 1966
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A fascinating biographical account of supernatural occurrences.

A thick black powder spread across a car seat… The European thought nothing of it. But to his African companion it was a sign, a deadly sign of a Ju-ju attack. A curse so potent that its victim was helpless -and doomed.
 
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‘Jungle Magic’ is a fascinating text which will be of great interest to anyone with an interest in Voodoo, the Occult, and matters cognate. This startling biographical account of James H Neale’s first-hand experiences of the Voodoo religion in Ghana during British rule in the 1950s will make even the most sceptical of souls consider the power and potency of this ancient faith.
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Neal arrived on the Gold Coast in 1952 having been appointed to the position of Chief Finance and Supplies Officer by the High Commissioner in London. He was responsible for cracking down on numerous criminal gangs which were involved in activities such as fraud, extortion and the large scale theft of building materials. Neal’s investigative work lead to the convictions of many powerful figures who were operating in the West African underworld. Loyal friendships and alliances were forged during his dangerous missions but, inevitably, bitter and sinister disenfranchised enemies became commonplace and were more than willing to use black magic to kill…
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Initially Neal scoffed at the notion of Voodoo and sinister forces from unseen realms. Like many Europeans of the time he believed it was mere hocus pocus and superstition. In the introduction he recounts his first impressions on the subject whilst listening to the terrible stories of other government officials in the European Club in Accra:
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‘This was fascinating – intelligent men, level-headed and highly qualified in their professions, giving credence to a lot of mumbo-jumbo.’
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However, after witnessing the power of Voodoo on several occasions, Neal’s point-of-view is radically altered. Indeed, an almost fatal attack from a black Ju-ju man is the penultimate stage in his process of conversion. It is only after the intervention of a white Ju-ju man (his colleague’s uncle) that he is able to make a full recovery:
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‘I made up my mind there and then that Ju-ju was far more than the harmless hocus-pocus I had thought it to be.’
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The startling accounts of Neale’s experiences in this exciting environment ensure that ‘Jungle Magic’ is a real page turner. But perhaps it is the consistency of his objective and rational narrative voice which make the preternatural occurrences all the more believable and frightening. He appears to deliver his anecdotes in an unassuming fashion calmly inviting the reader to make up his or her own mind about the veracity of Voodoo. Neale’s strength as a writer is most certainly his sobriety when faced with with such a controversial, sensitive and unworldly subject.
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Sympathetic magic, as well as the usage of amulets, potions and ritual, are all evident within this seemingly unknown classic. Neal’s detailed and engaging accounts will be of great interest to anyone with even just a passing interest in the Occult. At the finale of the sensational final chapter, Neal concludes:
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‘I came more than ever to the conclusion that many of these African Ju-ju men had powerful secrets of which very little was known in the West, and that it has been passed down from generation to generation.’
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I am amazed that ‘Jungle Magic’ is currently not in print and hardback copies vend for around £25 on Amazon. I was very fortunate to pick up a paperback edition in a local bookshop for £5. Hopefully you will be able to procure a copy if this subject is of interest to you. Why not visit my website for more things magical? Magical David Fox.
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