Of all the pop culture properties I devoured in my twenties, it was Lovecraft who is most responsible for the tone of the magick running through my veins today.
Through his writings, I imprinted on the idea of the doomed hero, consumed by a creeping madness that results in their sacrificing mind, body, and soul for just one more glimpse into a cold and uncaring eldritch world.
The subtext running through his work was as obvious as it was simple. To know the supernatural required sacrifice. It was also the tool of the villain, the outcast, and this too I embraced.
My blood flowed and pacts were made as I explored this paradigm, seeking the power to ascend beyond stifling underclass roots through unreal means.
But long before reading any of his weird tales, I actually brushed up against the Cthulhu Mythos through a completely different medium.
The Evil Dead will always be my favourite post-Lovecraftian series.
Army of Darkness sat on an almost permanent loop when I was in my early teens, a heady mix of cartoon gore and rockabilly humour with just a dash of the hero's journey thrown in for good measure too.
More than any other franchise, this series may well have set the groundwork, which allowed me to realise that becoming a magickian was an actual viable pursuit.
Because to a disenfranchised young man raised in a violent slum where the line between sane and psychotic is measured by our reaction to the madness of a rudderless universe, characters like Ashley Williams made a lot of sense.
As I took my initial steps into the eldritch realm many years after first watching those films, I too hoped to find my own Necronomicon Ex Mortis somewhere amid the dusty shelves of London’s many second-hand bookshops.
I had fallen for the fallacy that it is artefacts and not drive that makes someone a magickian.
I travelled widely, becoming something of a nuisance in an ever expanding local area that ultimately proved an exhausting, yet fruitless, hunting ground for arcane secrets.
Looking back, it is easy to see that I was guilty of not wanting to put in the effort to learn.
I desired a shortcut to mystical power, a ticket to a more exciting life where I could play the hero and overcome those aspects of my psyche which kept me awake at night.
Back then I thought I knew what I wanted from magick, thought I knew what being a magickian actually meant.
But I was wrong.
There are no shortcuts to esoteric wisdom, no Kandarian Daggers to bleed away the time required when becoming something more than yet another face in the crowd. It takes many years of trial and error, research and commitment.
Relationships fall by the wayside, friendships falter, hobbies drip away like pus from a possessed limb awaiting the desperate bite of a blunt and tearing chainsaw.
We who claim the occult as a willing burden put up with this disruption because no matter the cost, no matter the pain, the magic always wins.
It has to be that way. It must be the most important thing in your life or there is no way that you will ever move beyond the silver screen delusion.
The true magickian can count their victories on the skulls of both friend and foe alike, and a life lived outside of the accepted social norms will inevitably create an ever-expanding list of people who they ultimately could not save.
Darkness waits like an army at the edges of the candlelight, after all, and all it takes is one misstep to snuff out the spark within before causing a final tumble into the swirling shadows below.
But on that knife edge lies the adventure, and I have had more than a few.
Now middle-aged, I know better than to seek answers outside of myself.
I accept I will never be Ashley Williams, boomstick in hand, keeping eldritch abominations from destroying the world one shotgun shell at a time. Honestly, I do not know whether to sheepishly smile or rear back in disgust when I see just how naïve I once was.
But I have learned many lessons.
Magick provides more of a scalpel than a machete, a needle than a stake, a whisper than a shout.
It can tip the scales in your favour, to stack synchronicity around a goal and make the improbable slightly more possible.
It allows the briefest touch of the divine, whatever the magickian deems that current to be, as well as creating a glamour which tricks the public into mistakenly concluding that you know what the hell you are doing.
Our reality is bound by laws that can be bent but never broken, and the hero’s journey is not the birthright of every neophyte who searches for grimoires and tomes of long forgotten lore instead of putting in the work.
But all is not lost. Once you accept the rules of the game, it becomes easier to see the results among the static.