The strange tale of how a terrifying grimoire was unearthed in the swirling sands of the Algerian desert during World War Two…
One of my earliest memories is waking up in my cot and becoming aware of tall, shadowy figures all around me – I must have been around three-years-old – and I was terrified.
I cried out for my mum.
They went away – but they never left completely. During the day I can also remember being aware of “entities” rather like faery people of Celtic folklore. These didn’t scare me.
Then, when I was about four we moved to a village called Stewkley in Buckinghamshire. We had a nice bungalow with about an acre of ground so I had plenty of room to explore and play in and recall seeing these faery-like entities again. I also saw silver discs, or UFOs, in the sky.
When I told my parents what I saw my mum said she also saw the UFOs and other apparitions so I could talk to her about them. She was kind of Christian, but she didn’t care for the organization of the church – her faith was more personal and spiritual.
She also loved our land, England – the land of Albion – and gained much from the landscape and nature.
She used to take me with her to visit a friend of hers fairly regularly. This was Mrs Crosthwaite.
She read the tea leaves, and my mum would go for a reading – while I was bored to tears!
Anyway, it was more my mum who I could talk to about esoteric stuff as I was growing up.
We had long discussions about many things related to spirituality.
My dad didn’t really comment much. He just sort of accepted that the world isn’t what it seems on the surface. He liked telling stories about weird stuff he’d come across and his phenomenal luck which got him through a lot of heavy action during World War Two.
Dad used to visit his friend from the war Jack Thacker (he was much more interesting than listening to Mrs Crosthwaite read tea leaves for my mum). They used to talk about the war and all adventures and the lucky escapes they had.
Dad and Jack had met in Algeria in 1942 during North Africa campaign of the second world war. Dad was in the Suffolk Regiment, even though he was from Norfolk – being the contrarian that he was he joined up with a different county (Dad had actually enlisted in 1932 because of the shortage of work during the great depression, so when war broke out he was well-prepared.) He was a tank commander with the 7th Armoured Division and on close terms with the commanding officer General Archibald Wavell who had personally selected him for special operations. Jack was a member of the Long Range Desert Group – a heroic and ingenious British special forces unit.
When I was seven or eight my dad brought home some of Erich Von Daniken’s books (Chariots of the Gods being the famous one.) These were all about alien contact with Earth, and argued that the “fiery wheels” in the Bible and so on were actually spacecraft flown by advanced civilizations making contact with Earth.
I was fascinated with this and it fitted my rebellious nature as I could tell the religious education teachers at school that the Bible was all about alien contact.
To be fair, the headmaster at my primary school was a remarkable man. He’d been through a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the second world war, and had a profound interest in folk- lore – it was from him I learned all about Norse, Saxon and Celtic mythology, our heritage.
So I had an early introduction to the old gods of England and Northern Europe, and since then have felt a strong kinship with Odin/Woden, Thor/Thunor, Freya and Frey, et al. And also with the Anglo-Saxon concept of “wyrd” or fate – this is destiny of happening. (The word wyrd is the root of the word weird.) Growing up in Stewkley, for me the very land was alive, teeming with the spirits of yore. As I walked the countryside, Odin was with me, as was Thor and the other gods of our ancestors.
As I got older, I discovered books on the occult and Eastern mysticism and lapped it all up. Then, when I was about 13, we moved a village called Ravensthorpe. I liked the name. It reminded me of the two ravens that belonged to Odin. I didn’t like the bungalow. I sensed a presence that reminded me of those shadowy figures from my childhood. I read in books of the occult what these might be and how to protect myself from their influence so I had a reason to buy and read these books beyond just curiosity.
I’d built up such a collection of books on all aspects the occult and mysterious that I was always intrigued when I discovered something new.
On one visit to see Jack Thacker with my dad I remember Jack told a story of how he had found an old magickal book in the desert during the war.
Apparently he discovered this mysterious ancient text after a sandstorm had revealed an ancient city. It had been left on the altar of a temple inside this old ruin. It was written in early Arabic and was made up of spells and incantations designed to unleash archiac forces of nature! It sounded a bit too much to be real to me, but both Jack and my dad believed that the reason they were so lucky was down to this old book.
Even though I didn’t fully believe them I never forgot the name of the book – It was called The Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings.
Despite the fact that I was such an avid reader (or, perhaps, because of it, given what I was reading) I left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications whatsoever. When my dad took me to a careers advisor we were told that he could see no hope for me! That was not the news my dad wanted to hear.
But then the advisor said, “Wait a minute. I’ve got the only job you can do, and you’ll fit in nicely.”
It was a job at J. S. Billingham’s antiquarian bookshop in Northampton. It was perfect.
The Billinghams bookshop had been around since 1878 and was considered a local treasure – the best second-hand bookshop in Northampton. I learned the trade of the book dealer from the owner. Within a year I’d got thousands of books in my personal collection.
Then I discovered British mystic and magician Aleister Crowley (once dubbed the “wickedest man in the world” by the Daily Express). This was actually a result of me being a fan of Led Zeppelin – I learned to play guitar from listening continually to them and learning Jimmy Page’s riffs and solos. It turned out that Jimmy was an expert on Crowley and has a big collection of his material.
In fact, Jimmy would appear in Billingham’s on the hunt for esoteric books. He ran his own esoteric bookshop and publishing company in Kensington, London called The Equinox in the early 1970s.
It was not long after my dad died in 2007 that I received an unexpected phone call. When an old man’s voice asked “Is that Doc?” it sounded like my dad. However, it wasn’t a call from the spirit world – it was an old friend of his from the war – Jack Thacker.
I remembered Jack from my childhood visits but my dad was 97 when he died so I was surprised to hear from one of his friends.
“I have something for you,” he said.
I figured it was something of Dad’s.
“Do you remember the book I told you about that I found in the war?”
“The Grimoire,” I said. “Yeah. I kinda thought you and dad were making that up.”
“You were too young to really understand how powerful it might be,” he said. “How would you like to actually see it?”
After a 32-year wait, even though it was 10 o’clock at night and an 80-mile trip to get to Jack, I didn’t hesitate to jump on my motorcycle and head out to his place.
When I finally got down to Jack’s cottage he was waiting outside the door. He’d heard my bike, with it’s straight-through pipes, as it roared into his drive.
“Come on in,” he said. “I knew you wouldn’t want to wait till the morning.”
After fixing me a coffee with a capful of rum in it, Jack said:
“I know you’ve always been curious about the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings. I couldn’t blame you after the stories your dad and I told you. But although the book did certainly bring great luck to all who handled it, it’s not something you can take lightly. Having greater luck than that alloted to the average person comes at a price. The denizens of the atavistic realm, which the grimoire shows you how to access, are not kind and feel nothing for humanity.
“If an ordinary Joe gained access to the grimoire, they would slowly be drained of their very life energy, and be left an empty shell. In many ways the grimoire gives you access to a force of nature, and nature is not kind.
“The arcane glyphs, symbols and incantations in it could be seen as similar to computer code that allows you to unlock tremendous forces and powers contained at the very heart of creation.
“But the Bible can be seen like that too, although most of it has become corrupted and some- what confused with the array of interpretations. But at its root, the Bible was like a binary code for the forces behind existence itself, and the idea that God ‘loves’ you is fallacious. ‘Love’ was merely a description of the positive force emitted from the divine being, while the so-called ‘Devil’ emitted a negative polarity. Neither had any relation to what we know as good and evil.
“It’s the same with the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings. It provides a blueprint for the powers and forces behind creation itself.
Although certain parts of it made little sense and couldn’t be adequately translated, we did grasp the enormity of what the grimoire contains. And it is not something to pass on lightly. But now that your dad’s gone, and I am unlikely to be far behind him on the great voyage, I feel that the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings should be passed on to you for safekeeping.
You should be its custodian.”
With that Jack went to his locked bureau, and pulled out the grimoire. Size was foolscap, bound in calf-skin, tatty, inlaid gold-leaf sigils and glyphs on the covers. He handed it to me, and I simply held it and stared at it. For so many years I’d waited for this moment, to actually have the grimoire in my hands.
As I began leafing through the grimoire, I felt a strange headiness, almost as if I was being drawn into another dimension. The arcane symbols and weird pen and ink drawings seemed to come alive. But equally the grimoire held a foreboding, a palpable inhumanness.
“You see those drawings,” said Jack. “They were the statues in the temple.”
“So it was true then. How you found it.”
“We might have made it into a bit more of a story – but yes.”
Jack also gave me the accompanying translation, “You’re the only person I feel safe passing it on to,” he said. “And I guess now you’ll want to get going.”
With that we said our goodbyes.
As I gunned my custom v-twin motorcycle to life, and headed home to Norwich in Norfolk, my mind was racing.
By the time I got home, the late-night round-trip and revelation had taken its toll. As much as I wanted to start reading the Grimoire I just fell asleep with it in my hand. Over the new few days I did nothing but pour over the original manuscript and the accompanying translation.
The translation was only partial as some of the language just couldn’t be decyphered. Strange terms like “Zyphon” and “Xura” clearly held meaning, but this was lost in the mists of time.
Either that, or you were supposed to be disorientated and the idea was for the terminology to seep into your unconscious mind, and the primal elements of your reptilian brain would make its own sense of it and possibly this was what changed you and brought the uncanny luck – a keying into the pre-human primal pit.
Part of me – the conscious rational self – just thought “it’s a very old book and that’s it, just a load of superstitious ramblings…”
But at the same time I felt a terrible repulsion towards it. The glyphs and strange drawings of spirits and creatures seemed to seep into my subconscious. It was as if the very pen and ink scrawls left the page and edged into my soul.
As I read the manuscript, I’d suddenly get the feeling someone or something was in the room with me. I’d jump round. It was if a shadow was there, but it disappeared. Was it just my imagination? Or was it real? The feeling of strangeness that would come over me was real enough.
When I realized I needed to take a break I rode down to Norwich market to the mushy peas stall for a cup of tea. I needed to get out in the bright sunshine and chat to my biker pals about ordinary things.
As the conversation went on, I looked around and could swear I saw a long-bearded Arabic – looking fellow staring at me with piercing eyes. And the next second he was gone. I’d go and have a look around, but no sign of him.
I started to have odd dreams where I’d meet characters I wouldn’t normally come across in waking life. For example, one recurring dream would be of me out on my motorcycle riding around the old Norfolk coast road, and I’d head down a lane through some woods taking me out into the middle of nowhere. And then I’d come to a ironwork gate that led to a large house. At the gate was an old man in tweeds, grey hair and beard, beckoning me. He opened the gates and I rode down to the big house. Taking off my helmet and gloves I would see a patrician woman with blonde hair in her thirties at the door smiling and saying “We’ve been expecting you…”
I’d go into the house and the woman would usher me into the library. Sitting on a leather-upholstered settee was a stately-looking gentleman in his sixties. Gesturing for me to sit down, he said his name was Raoul Millbrook. He added that, “We’ve been watching you. And we are guiding you onto a new path in life. Soon you will embark upon a journey into realms few experience on the human plane. But beware, its denizens are not to be trifled with.”
With that the dream usually ended. Or else I would find myself back on my motorcycle heading back onto the coast road.
None of this should have bothered me as I’d seen some wild and scary things during my time with Earl Marlowe, but I’d taken most of it with a pinch of salt. I hadn’t let it bother me. But this was starting to get scary.
Despite the fact that I had read everything about magic and the occult that I could get my hands on over the years, as well as practicing various magick rituals and all that I had learned from Earl, the Grimoire changed everything I had thought about magick.
The sorcery in the Grimoire is nothing like that found in spellbooks, magic cookbooks, on the internet, in witches’ coven, occult orders or even in hardcore sorcery circles.
It read like an extension of the works of Aleister Crowley and medieval grimoires, although the closest connection I could find was apparent in a much deeper reading of the works of Carlos Casteneda.
Take just one section in The Grimoire, a quarter of the way through. It talks about beings that walk in the shadows of our world. Beings that lurk of the periphery of our dreams. Beings that live in the twilight places.
Some of these being take on human-like appearances and are able to enter our world, others keep their primordial reptilian and bestial appearance.
According to the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings, if we are unfortunate enough to become aware of these primordial reptilian beings, we would dearly pray they did not exist. For these beings can reach out from the darkness – the very abyss – to touch us with icy, lifeless hands, and with malign intent.
The Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings talks of these malevolent beings as predators that look for moments of human weakness…when they see it, they pounce and ensnare the unwary.
Some of these creatures feed on human life energy, others feast on fear – on the primal terror we feel when confronted with something truly alien and not of this world – something ungodly and unwholesome.
These beings watch us. They hunger for what we have. They hunger for our very souls. So, dear reader, beware of the shadows – for there lie terrible inhuman creatures with a demented lust to feast on your soul.
Stay in the sunlight. Don’t step into the shadows. Otherwise some terrible thing from the primal slime, the eternal, oppressive darkness may reach out and grab an arm or a leg, and drag you into its stale, stagnant and sulfurous world…to be forever damned in the murky, crepuscular gloom.
Take care, for those lightless, loveless lands are always only a step away… according to the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings, anyway.
On the upside, many things would fall into place. If I needed some hard-to-find parts for my motorcycle, next thing I know some biker guy I came across on the market would have them. And when I wanted a low cost old bike to “rat” into a chopper, next thing I know someone puts me onto one for next-to-no-money.
The grimoire somehow put me into the very flow of nature. So when you willed something, events seemed to slip into place. Like I was drawn to what I needed to get a thing done. Very much like I was in alignment with the anglo-saxon concept of wyrd.
As custodian of the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings I have taken it upon myself to experiment with some of the sorcery contained in the book. One of the terrible formulas outlined how to safely travel in spirit form to the realms of eternal darkness where those creatures of the damned reside.
I plucked up my courage, and dispensing warding protective formulas as I went, I stepped from the light into the shadows, and entered the world of eternal gloom where the hellish creatures reside.
While in the lightless realm, I encountered and conversed with one of its baleful denizens.
The creature was semi-human in appearance – or had made itself that way on seeing me coming. It had taken on the guise of a man in his forties with slicked-hair and wearing a kind of Victorian frock coat.
He (or it) called himself Samuel Charteris, and he had a terrible greenish pallor, claw-like hands, and fearsome unblinking eyes, like a reptile. I couldn’t help thinking of Jack the Ripper. And began to wonder if that particularly malicious Victorian serial killer may have had its origins in this infernal world and was not of the earth. While in spirit form, I conversed with this terrible creature that had the appearance of a man, calling himself Samuel Charteris. On my return from that inhuman realm I wrote down the gist of what the creature said to me. This is my transcription:
“I am Samuel Charteris. Or rather that is the name I’m using for now, at least. You won’t have heard of me, not unless you have a relative with the second sight, or with mental illness, or perhaps an uncle who took far too much LSD in the 1960s and was still having flashbacks into the Reagan years. They might have caught a glimpse of me.
But no, mostly you won’t have seen or heard of me. To you, I don’t exist. And believe me, if you did know of my existence, you’d wish I didn’t exist. You’d implore the particular god you worship to remove me from creation.
You see, I haunt the night in the city. I walk between the shadows, watching, always watching.
Sometimes I see somebody that stands out. Somebody that makes an impression. And I open the gate and lure them into the shadow light. Yes, that’s me, waiting and watching in the dark crevices of the city. Watching. Always watching. It’s all too easy. I watch the night time revellers go in and out of bars. Laughing and talking, oblivious to my presence and malign intent.
Then there are the city workers, leaving late, weary and keen to return home. They don’t see me either. But I see them. I watch their every move from my in-between place in the shadows.
Nobody knows I’m there. But I am. If you stand out from the crowd, I might beckon you saying “Don’t be afraid… I can make all your dreams and desires come true…” and will lead you into the shadow light.
Will you come? Maybe. Maybe not.
All I can say is, the wise enlightened souls keep to the neon light of the city. Wary of a particular kind of night shadow, they sense the lurking darkness. They sense the the unnatural shadows – the ones that emanate a deep all-pervasive obsidian gloom, the shadows that the neon light cannot penetrate – and they avoid them. They know not to step into the dark shadows.
Those with closed consciousness, on the other hand, the everyday droogs with little self-awareness, merrily walk into the mirky shadows, oblivious to the terrible, inhuman watchers than await them…and beckon them…offering them the fulfillment of their tiny little dreams… offering them fame and fortune, offering them wealth for the taking, offering them every possible sensual desire they crave…offering them anything they want.
And I have them! My icy claw hand gripping them and drawing them into my hellish lair to satisfy my hunger for their very soul… But before I consume, I welcome them to my crepuscular world…
Oh, it’s all too easy…”
That was my transcription of the sinister encounter I had in the lightless realm, described by the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings.
It took me days to get over that encounter so it’s not something I plan on repeating any time soon. Apart from anything else, I’m not sure what there is to be gained…although the Grimoire of the Seven Obsidian Kings does seem to map out a method of safely tapping the power from the realm of never-ending darkness.