Magick,  S. Connolly,  Spirituality

The Art of Baffling With Bullshit

Pretty sentences are worthless if they only serve to cloak a rather simple principle in mystery, and make it sound more intellectual and complicated than it really is.

I find a lot of limited edition occult books do this these days.

They take 101 material, wrap it in a lot of big words and fancy metaphors, and sell it as 401. This works because, of those people who buy these books now, over 3/4 of them won’t be practicing ten years from now anyway. Basically – it’s a beginner’s market. It always has been when it comes to the occult, and likely always will be. This isn’t to say there isn’t a market for more advanced material, there is.  It’s just considerably smaller and publishers print a lot of 101 so they can afford to print the 401. As a publisher and occult author, I have seen this with my own two eyes.

Sadly I can’t stand reading a lot of the stuff coming out of the limited edition hardcover market. Some of it is good – yes. But some of it makes me feel like finding the author, smacking him/her upside the head, and sending him/her to a writing class where (s)he can learn how to write concise prose that isn’t nearly as dry and meandering.

Okay, in all fairness – these authors can write. They’re simply trying to hide that what they’re writing is the same shit already out there. They’ve simply gussied it up in prettier clothes and have sold it as something new and revolutionary. They’ve taken 2 + 2 = 4, and turned it into a walk in the park where one finds two ducks and two swans swimming in a lake. There’s a beautiful sunset and the azalias are in bloom.

I guess what I’m really saying is,  “Get to the point already and quit wasting my time!”

Spending twenty pages listing all the beautiful metaphors you’ve come up with to describe the sphere of Malkuth is worthless to those of us who have been practicing forever. We get it. Do you have anything new? Revolutionary? Ponder worthy?

Usually the answer is no.

Or perhaps that’s what people want. They want books that are really “smart sounding” to bring legitimacy to their practice of magick. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve met authors who write rather concise prose who are very smart sounding. Just because they don’t use words like anomalistic, gasconading, and parsimonious throughout their prose doesn’t make them less intelligent. It makes them less pompous and not obtuse.

Of course I do see the appeal. I do. It might actually be a fun writing exercise to write something so full of metaphoric nonsense that the reader’s eyes glaze over and they say, “Oh yeah! It was really great!” Just because they’re pretty sure it was good, but they were so bored they couldn’t bring themselves to keep reading. After all – it’s called: “A Perspicacious Discourse of Luciferian Thought.”  That sounds really smart, by-golly.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these books are beautifully written. It’s like reading an orgy of literary delight for those who love words.  For those who are dedicated to a specific Divine Intelligence (Lucifer, Ahriman, Belial, Hekate, etc…) these kinds of books are going to hold the most meaning, and are a testament to the gods within their pages.

But personally, were I to rate such books on a usefulness scale from 1 to 5,  I’d say many of them could be a  5 for 101 (if the reader is able to finish it without falling asleep), and maybe a 2 for 401 (if the reader hasn’t tossed the book into a fire and cussed the author). Mind you I only give them a two because sometimes there are some interesting and new ideas wrapped up in the ebullient pages of painfully lethargic prose.

Sure – I imagine a lot of folks will say I don’t get it. That the genius of these books is lost on someone like me. No, it’s not.  I get it, I just got it over fifteen years ago – thanks for the pedantic refresher. Even Franz Bardon, as dry reading as he can possibly be, writes with more clarity and less fluff.

For those who love these books – more power to you. I can’t waste my time wading through metaphoric cesspools. I have Work to do.

Feel free to cuss me and tell me what a raving bitch I am in the comments below. (This could be the post that is likely to get me into trouble this month, and I’m not sure I care.)

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at


  • Harold Roth

    Oddly enough, I just finished reading an interview and an article excerpt by the same person and I thought, “My god, what a bunch of horse shit. And mean, too.” I love a writer who isn’t afraid to use a difficult word when it’s the right word for the situation. I enjoy playful language, which might well be difficult; difficult language can be part of the fun of reading. But unfortunately, there are writers in the occult world who are nothing more than copycats bloated with self-importance, arrogance, disdain for others, and preciousness. Personally, I have found that often it is not that they have 101 information but that they have no information at all. What is presented as precious is just a big huge thicket of sloppy thinking and bad writing. And bad art.

    • Steph

      Good points! I was kind of scared to write about this topic because so many of my readers think these books are wonderful and I didn’t want to alienate anyone for sharing my opinion. So, in this instance, everyone was telling me I had to read this book because it was so great. I finally found a friend who owned it and who would loan it. I SO BADLY wanted to love it as much as everyone else seemed to. I just couldn’t. It was awful. And yes, I agree, some of the artwork is terrible, too. I think a good majority of it is computer generated through cut and paste programs and it’s soulless. I’d rather see hand drawn stick figures. lol

  • Slayden

    No. Not a raving bitch at all. On the contrary, this is my number one gripe regarding +90% of all occult literature out there. You have to wade through a cascading avalanche of rhetorical vomit in order to get to the gold nuggets, or in many cases, gold flakes. I often wonder if some of these authors just like to hear themselves talk, not to mention the unfortunate side-effect of inflated self-importance rife in the occult community, which I believe is also a factor in this writing style.

    • Steph

      It’s true – a lot of magicians are rather self-inflated. I sometimes find myself being an arrogant twit. Then something happens and I get knocked off my high horse. The older I get, the more mindful I’ve become of my ego. It, along with my big mouth, has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. lol 😛 (Both still do.) ::cringe::

      • Slayden

        I’ve had a similar, but different problem in my life. I tend to viciously question my beliefs and perceptions to prevent succumbing to hubris… to the point of undervalue myself. But the way I talk is sometimes off-putting to others due to the factual manner in which I speak. So I’ve been accused of being arrogant when I’m not. That can be a bit of a mind-bender when living that moment. As an aside, I love how concise your writing is, like with the brass vessel. I looked up your books after stumbling on NephilimPress and now here I am talking to the author. First time I’ve ever responded to a blog too. Huh.

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