By special guest blogger, Miranda Warren, Tarot Reader.
Taromancer cover artwork © copyright 2013 Alex Sumner
Hello, Alex has asked me to write a few words which he wants to post on his blog – so I think I can do no better than explain how I first came to collaborate with him.
I first met Mr Sumner earlier this year, when I visited him at his home. I knew I had come to the right address, judging by the shouting and screaming coming from inside. Needless to say I felt perturbed, but I decided to go through with it because I had been advised that he was the best, nay, the only man for the job.
I rang the doorbell and waited in trepidation. I could plainly hear the sound of a very bad tempered man approaching the door muttering “What fresh hell is this?” and harrumphing loudly.
I was just about to run for it – when the door flung open, and an absolutely gorgeous man with dark good looks appeared before me. “Hi, I’m Alex Sumner,” he said, throwing a peace sign at me, “novelist and writer on the occult.”
“Mr Sumner!” I exclaimed. “Do you normally answer the door stark naked?”
“Oh!” he said, suddenly realising his predicament. “Sorry about that – you caught me in the middle of a magical operation. Step inside for a moment, whilst I put some clothes on.”
“You don’t have to on my –” I began: but too late. He darted into the darkest recesses of his apartment. Five minutes later he emerged, this time wearing the finest couture from Camden (all black). Rings of strange and curious design adorned his fingers.
“What was all that shouting and screaming I heard earlier?” I said.
“Downstairs neighbours, I’m afraid. Absolutely ghastly,” he said. “Now I suggest we repair to a local hostelry to talk. I would invite you in, but I haven’t yet cleaned up the bloodstains from last time.”
A short while later, and in the more convivial atmosphere of a restaurant whose terrace overlooked the local cricket pitch, I explained to Alex the situation.
“I’ve been undergoing a mystical adventure recently,” I said to him, “involving both Tarot and Theurgy. I’ve kept a detailed log of the whole thing and I’m trying to turn it into a book. But I need some help finishing it off, so that’s where you come in. I want you to help finish it, and pretend you wrote it, so people will think it’s a novel.”
“… ‘All the very best, Alex Sumner,’” he said, as he autographed a copy of one of his books for a young blonde girl who just so happened to be passing by at that very moment. He turned back to me. “Yes, yes! An interesting premise. Do go on. Bloody hell, has the waitress gone on holiday or something?”
“Ahem, yes,” I said. I continued: “It strikes me that there have been more than enough books on Tarot and divination, a good number on Tarot and path-working, and quite a few on Tarot and spellcasting for everyday purposes, but almost none on Tarot and pure Theurgy.”
An electronic beeping noise interrupted us: I realised Alex’ iPhone had gone off. “Excuse me, I’ve just got to take this,” he said. “Hello? A love spell you say? Might I just point out that you haven’t yet paid me for the last one? Sod you, goodbye!” He ended the call, looking cross. Immediately though, he brightened up as he put his phone away. “Sorry about that, a former client of mine. Do go on.”
“Well,” I said, “My point is that I’ve in fact seen more books which suggest using Tarot to explore goetic forces, the dark recesses of the lower-self as it were: but none for exploring the higher self through ceremonial magick. Which I find ironic, seeing as the Tarot is so closely aligned to the Qabalah, and the Qabalah is nothing if not the basis for high Theurgic operations.”
“Hmm, I’ll take your word for it,” Alex said. “I really don’t know the first thing about all this Qabalah stuff. I just look it all up on Wikipedia.” I looked at him shocked: but he continued “I’m getting parched, is no-one serving today?”
I looked suspiciously at him for a moment, but then went on. “In so doing,” I said, “I also explored esoteric Christianity, which does not seem to get a wide press in occultism. And yet, under its banner falls some very powerful magical rituals which I have had many trusted friends describe to me as the most powerful they have ever experienced.
I looked at Alex, and felt shocked by his reaction: he seemed to be paying attention to me! Warming to my theme, I quickly continued. “So, to go about writing a book about Tarot and Theurgy: the first thing that occurred to me was that instead of just theorising about it, I should actually do it. For a start it would make it more sympathetic to potential readers. Also, I’ve tended to notice that I’ve actually learnt more from occult writers when the write of their own personal experiences, or publish memoirs based on their magical records, rather than sententious how-to books. For example, the Dancers to the Gods by Alan Richardson, My Life With the Spirits by Lon Milo Duquette, and even some of the books of E A Koetting.”
“OI, CAN I GET SOME FUCKING SERVICE OR WHAT?” Alex bellowed at the top of his voice. Everyone in the restaurant stared at us in shock. A baby started crying. “WE’RE DYING OF THIRST OVER HERE, FOR FUCK’S SAKE.” He turned to me and smiled. “Yeah, that sounds great,” he said in his normal voice. “But why this whole business of making it into a novel?”
“Ah, that’s the clever part, if I say so myself!” I said. “If I were to say to people ‘this is the Truth,’ and then start talking about something unbelievable, that creates a barrier in the reader’s mind which limits their enjoyment of the subject. But if I were to say instead ‘this is Fiction,’ and hence the reader is free to disbelieve it if they so wish, no such barrier exists, and consequently the reader can let his or her imagination run away with it.
“This is how Paulo Coelho, for example, was able to write an inspirational book about Alchemy – by casting it in the form of a novel. On a different subject but related in principle, no-one would have read 1984 by George Orwell if it had just been a ranting essay. But because he wrote it in the form of a fictionalised novel, it’s hailed as an all-time classic.”
“Ah well you’re speaking to the right person,” Alex said.
“I am?” I said, my hopes rising.
“Certainly!” he said. “I’ve been pretending to write decent novels for years!”
I curled my lip in a sort of snarl, but Alex just grinned in an asinine fashion that would have caused someone with a shorter temper than myself to punch him. Hard.
“Most importantly, however,” I said, “with this book I wanted to create a work of Art. Conceptual art, in the form of a book, as it were. De-commodified – like artists have themselves attempted to de-commodify contemporary Art – so making money out of this is not my primary focus.”
“WHAT!?!” Alex cried, suddenly blanching with shock. “No money? Are you mad, woman?”
I shrugged. “I see it as an experiment – performed purely for its own sake. I decide what I want to do, I do it, I write up the results. It’s successful as long as I’ve done it with integrity, and if other people actually happen to like it, that’s a pure bonus.”
“But, but, but…” Alex wailed. “It’s got to have action! It’s got to have violence! It’s got to have at least one chapter set in an abandoned warehouse, and another in the intensive care unit of the local hospital! It’s got to have swearing, gratuitous sex-scenes, preferably between two or more hot lesbians, and it’s got to have lots of cheeky references that will offend any leaders of Masonic orders who – ah! At last!”
At that moment, a young waitress wearing a top displaying ample-cleavage distracted Alex from his rant, and proceeded to take our orders.
“Taromancer” is out, December 11th 2013. Watch this space for further announcements, including details of how to download a free copy!