Friday, May 9, 2014

Atlantean Magic and Demons, care of some schmuck back in the early 1900's

When I say 'schmuck' I mean that he is roundly unsung and forgotten now, although in his own time he was fairly influential.  Elliot O'Donnell.  Backstory - so, I swore to +James Bennett that my goal for the year was to refrain from reading anything written after 1900 this calendar year.  Believe it or not, I've done pretty good so far, but this little gem was read by me back in November, and I've been thinking about it, mulling it over.  You know, sort of sacrificing tomcats and drams of my own blood in the moonlight.  That kind of thing.

This book, The Sorcery Club, starts off neat - with maybe some inside information about the Celtic-Mayan-Egyptian connection for Atlantis' remnants in the Yucatan.  It's pretty plausible if you're on ketamine or else a Serpent Man masquerading as a human.  There's a history of the downfall of Atlantis after the rise of its Black Magicians, how to actually become an Atlantean Black Magician by trucking with the last of the wordly spirits, and then it kind of just degenerates into a late 1800s/pre-War era morality tale and romance.  It's a complicated love quadrangle with super-powerful perverts on one side and some plucky country Englishmen and -women on the other.

This is what you get if you put in "plucky English country folk" to Google's image search

All things considered, it's kind of cool I guess.  You get a rundown of the spirits (good and bad) as recognized by the sorcerous Atlanteans, and then some really sketchy and implausible restrictions on Black Magician behavior.  It boils down to : DONT STICK YOUR MEAT WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR BREAD

Chapter 2 has a brief breakdown of Atlantis, its reliance upon the interchange between men and spirits, and the pre-religious feelings of Atlanteans. Also, how Atlantis fell.

Chapter 5 has some great (read: mediocre) poetry about the various spirits that the Atlanteans had deals with.  Here's the poetry in question:

"I am not sure of that," Hamar said, and after a brief pause began to repeat these words 
"Morbas from the mountains,
Where flow malignant fountains
We are ready for you—Come!

Vampires from the passes,
Where grow blood-sucking grasses,
We are ready for you—Come!

Vice Elementals pretty
Give ear unto our ditty
We are ready for you—Come!

Planetians, forms so fearful,
We inform you, eager, tearful,
We are ready for you—Come!

Clanogrians, things of sorrow.
Postpone not till to-morrow,
We are ready for you—Come!

Barrowvians, shades seclusive,
Be not to us exclusive,
We are ready for you—Come!

Earthbound spirits of the Dead
Approach with grim and noiseless tread—
We are ready for you—Come!"



(footnote: According to Atlantean ideas these spirits were:—Vice Elementals; Morbas (or Disease Elementals); Clanogrians (or malicious family ghosts, such as Banshees, etc.); Vampires; Barrowvians, i. e. a grotesque kind of phantasm that frequents places where prehistoric man or beast has been interred; Planetians, i. e. spirits inimical to dwellers on this earth that inhabit various of the other planets; and earthbound spirits of such dead human beings as were mad, imbecile, cruel and vicious, together with the phantasms of vicious and mad beasts, and beasts of prey.—(Eliot O'Donnell's note.))

Morbas, Vampires, Vice Elementals, Planetians, Clanogrians, Barrowvians, and the Earthbound Spirits of the Dead.  Good stuff, I guess.  The whole process of becoming an Atlantean Black Magician is laid out in grisly detail - one almost wonders if Mr. Eliot hadn't at least tried it.  His own backstory is pretty spooky and there for the interested.  He wrote many more books than are easily available today, but a good handful of them are available at Gutenberg and might be useful to interested parties in the RPG community.  Like me.  Maybe once my other project is done I will put out a sourcebook of Elliot O'Donnell critters and spells etc.  Sort of a poor man's Vance or something.

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