Konstantinos: Keeping you in the Dark for a Dime


Book: Nocturnal Witchcraft
Author: Konstaninos
Publisher: Who else but Llewellyn?

I have a confession to make before I start this review. (And how many reviews do I start out with confessions -- I should really go back and take a look.) Anyway, the confession is this: I started disliking the Konstantinos fellow when I first heard his name a few years back. As I've already mentioned, I have a severe dislike for people who make too much of themselves and providing yourself with a single moniker is a marked indication of someone who thinks a little too much of him or herself. Let's look at the evidence: Sting. Madonna. Prince. Starhawk. (Just kidding on that last one – sheesh, calm down!)

So, let it be known that I hate Konstantinos's name. And I don't really care much for his author's photo, either. When I pick up a book on the occult, I don't want to be reminded of every stupid Goth guy that's ever tried to pick me up in a bar by telling me riveting stories about his forays into the occult darkness. Pardon me for a moment, while I shudder:
Come to think of it, he looks a little like Naboo from the Mighty Boosh without the turban.



Now that that is over, let's get to the review. I'm going to try like heck to make this succinct.

Apparently, K (as I've decided to call him, if I type that damned name over and over again throughout this review, it sure as hell isn't going to be succinct) has decided that Witchcraft in general and Wicca in particular just doesn't attract enough fringe personalities and that our gothic brothers and sisters in the Craft are being left out in the cold. Apparently, it's not enough to drape oneself in pentacle jewellery as a combination Goth/Witch statement. No, no -- he sees the need to create an entire new tradition for our Dark counterparts. A tradition that is called Nocturnal Witchcraft. And he's serious about it too -- so serious that he's busted out at least three books about it over the course of the years.

So, once we get past the appropriately creeeeeepy and goooothic cover art, what do we find? Sadly, not a lot. We first get a cozy little introduction that asks if the reader likes to dress in black (snort, giggle) and likes to wear silver jewellery (chuckle, guffaw). Then, after K is done describing more than half the attendees of any pagan/feminist/gothic/heavy metal (choose one) gathering, he moves on to the really important questions. Do we, as readers, like to be surrounded by the essence of night, by any chance? If the answers to any of these questions is yes, well, we may just be one of the....nightkind. Yeah, you read that right. And yeah, he got paid to write this crap.

Next, we get some blather about the four soul types. A kind of Meyers-Briggs for Goths. The world is divided into four types: Good-light, Evil-light, Evil-dark, and of course...our heroes: the Good-dark. He takes great pains to remind us that Dark doesn't have to mean evil, you know. And some people just happen to resonate completely with darkness rather than light. Balance is so over-rated, you know. We get explanations of three of these four types, but surprisingly, we hear very little about these elusive Good-dark souls. Why? Oh, because we probably already know about the Good-dark soul type. Because, "Good-dark may be someone just like you." And the italics are all his, baby. Apparently, because I picked up this book, I am very likely a Good-dark soul. Kind of like if you pick up a copy of the Watchtower, you must be a Jehovah's Witness.

Now, before we go one tiny step further, I've got a pet peeve that needs some airing out. And who else can I share it with but you, good readers? In these opening chapters, K tells us that magick is often spelled, with a final "k" to differentiate it from stage magic. Thanks for the tip. Okay, Occult and Paranormal world, I know Mr. Crowley was neato-mosquito. And I know he's primarily responsible for slapping that redundant K on the end of MagicK. (Okay, I think it's his fault and I'm too lazy to check -- but I know he was an early-adopter, at the least. He probably stole it from Mathers, anyway.) But I have a bonza idea: why don't we differentiate stage magic from ooky occult magic as follows: If the results are that you pull a rabbit out of a hat, saw a woman in half, or make the Statue of Liberty disappear it's stage magic. If the results are that the demon Asmodian shows up in your basement, your dog and cat switch heads, or you find yourself able to travel through eldritch portals to other worlds, that's not stage magic. Is the damned K really necessary?

Back to work. So, K's little book takes off. We get the same lecture about magical ethics that we get in all books, along with the usual stripped down and over-simplified version of the concept of Karama that you find in all books on Wicca. A note to all you kiddies out there: karma, as it is defined in the cultures and traditions that formed the concept is vastly more complicated and interesting than “tit-for-tat.” Go look it up -- you will be amazed. Then we learn that this is going to be a whole new tradition of magic, with a whole new method of doing things. We even find out that elemental correspondences (heck, correspondences of almost any kind) are unnecessary in this tradition. We, as Nightkind, only use the following correspondences: Silver or White for the moon, Black for the Gothic darkness, and the phases of the moon. This is nocturnal witchcraft and who needs those crazy correspondences? Well, except for casting circles. We'll use 'em for that. Ahem.

Next, we get a brief run-down of all the Wiccan sabbats. The descriptions are short and virtually no information regarding a Nocturnal tradition is provided. Get used to that, it becomes a theme.

We learn to make a Nocturnal Altar next. I'll try not to give anything away in case you haven't read through to the end, but here's a tip: every single magical tool and altar accoutrement is... chartreuse! Oh wait, chartreuse is just in Constance's little fantasy world. Actually, everything should be black blackety black black black. The blackest black that ever blacked, in fact. A big black attack! Did I mention black? Black altar cloth, censor, candles, ritual clothing, candle holders, etc., etc., etc. The only non-black item is whatever god or goddess representation you put on the altar (I guess so that you don't keep knocking them off your altar because they blend in with all the other black). I'm glad we got that squared away. This is a whole new tradition, you know -- so we have to get our altar items taken care of so that we can do all of this uniquely nocturnal magical stuff! Gee, being a Nightkind is grand! I think I'll go paint my toilet paper black so that it won't taint my gothic bottom. Good lord, I think I just found my Craft name: Gothic Bottom!

The chapter on Reaching the Dark Divine has nothing to do with the drag queen that used to appear in John Waters movies. This made Connie sad. It does, however, include a lot of lazy scholarship, and that made Connie even sadder. I wept through the entire chapter; I'm woman enough to admit it. In this chapter, K discusses evoking and invoking God forms. Except, he doesn't call it evoking and invoking God forms. He calls both methods invoking, and then throws in assuming god forms to muddy things up further.

Next we move into Circles of Night and Lunar Light, which contains a twenty five step process for casting a Nocturnal Circle which is completely indistinguishable from any other circle a Wiccan may cast. Well, except for the fact that he encourages you to start with a banishing, which is awfully nice and ceremonial of him, but which doesn’t really add anything new or Nocturnal to the process. He also encourages a lot of the “invoking” he describes in the previous chapter, which isn’t really Wiccan, but is still well-established Ceremonial Magic. So what we have so far is Ceremonial Magic light with some Wicca thrown in for flavour. I’m still waiting for the special Nocturnal bits.

And there you have the first whole section of the book. Now, if you are a generous soul like me, you may be thinking that maybe, just maybe, the first section of the book was a general primer on magic and the real slick Nocturnal stuff may appear in the second segment: Mind Powers after Dark. If you are that generous of a soul, let me apologize in advance for disappointing you.

K starts out the second section by telling us that the primary benefit of being a Nightkind (he doesn’t use the term here, I think even he was embarrassed to keep repeating it) is that you’ll keep late hours and have access to what he calls the “psychic quiet hours.” He claims that from the hours of three to five in the morning, people generate a lot less psychic activity and that these hours are calmer and more conducive to magical practice. To this I say two things: First, Mr. K has never come into contact with crazy thought forms produced by vivid dreaming. Second, if someone thinking real hard nearby is going to throw you off your magical game, you may need to rethink your interests. This chapter is just sad. K mentions several times throughout the book and specifically in this chapter that the methods he is imparting to us have never been written about before. I don’t know if he’s never picked up a book by another author on the Occult or if he just enjoys lying. Perhaps he thinks he may manage to alter reality if he keeps insisting that this information is somehow new or innovative. We progress from learning a zen-like basic method for clearing the mind to learning a way to raise energy by recalling various memories, including “a decently fond memory.” I’ve always dreamed of taking magical instruction from someone who sounds like a fifteen year old, haven’t you? We move on to learn about autosuggestion and basic visualization techniques, chakra meditation (though he never calls it that), and some positive thinking is thrown in. The information that he does provide and which I’ve not seen elsewhere is a ridiculously eye-straining method to enhance your visualization skills by staring at a candle without blinking and squinting a lot.

At this point, my brain was melting with the effort of attempting to figure out why the hell people ever buy a second book that K has written. I’m not going to subject you to a review of the Divining by Night chapter. Instead, I’ll share my raw notes with you:

* A nocturnal magician never eats, he or she always partakes.
* Various visualization and scrying techniques, none of which are new or interesting.
* A previously unpublished way to walk down the street!

I know that you’re wishing that I stuck to the bulleted format for the remainder of the review, but since I had to read this dross, you get to suffer along with me. The entire next chapter is all about using an old stage mentalism trick to fool yourself into thinking you can read minds. No lie. The method involves spending a lot of time harassing your friends and acquaintances into letting you “experiment” on them, and the whole thing revolves around using body tells to find things. I suppose this is so that you can find your “nocturnal portal” when your friends hide it from you. (Don’t ask – a nocturnal portal isn’t interesting and is poorly defined throughout the book and who gives a damn anyway.) K moves on to teaching us how to read minds without physically touching someone in the next chapter. Sadly, this apparently involves flashing the person a visual queue or saying something to make the person think of what you want to “divine” and then using a mental form of dowsing to figure out their reaction. He actually suggests flashing photographs at your “unsuspecting” subjects – or even popping suddenly into their field of vision. He encourages people to “casually” flash random items at people or fix them with stares so as to “pull forward” the thought in question. I just have to share an exerpt here:

“…perform the following actions in a subtle manner:

Slightly extend your
hand, perhaps just a finger or two. This should appear to someone watching as if
you were about to raise a point but got interrupted.

Now, with your
fingertips inches away from the two (for now) astral representations of possible
choices or answers to your question begin to move slowly back and forth over
each…”

Subtle. No really. I will live the rest of my life with the image of desperate Goths running up to people, flashing a picture at them, and staring at them while gesticulating wildly. Mind dowsing: guaranteed to make you a social outcast at any gathering. Thanks, K, you’ve made my life that much brighter.

On to our third section: Nocturnal Magick. The other two sections sure weren’t about it, so maybe we will luck out with this last one, right?

Right off the bat, K tells us that “The Dark Craft is only accessible by those willing to undergo the special mental training explored in part two.” That sounds promising, though that does mean I’ll have to become a spastic stage mentalist with permanently ruined vision. Hey, I thought he told me earlier that I was a Nightkind just for picking up this book! I knew it was too good to be true. Time to go change back to plain white toilet paper.

Anyway, K tells us how to write rituals in this chapter, and how magic works and blah blah blah – yet, he still doesn’t tell us anything in particular that would set this practice apart from any other form of Wicca. The following chapter is all about lucid dreaming, and yes, once again, there is nothing new under the sun (or under the mysterious ether of the nocturnal night time magic, whichever you prefer, you Nightkind, you.)

Eventually, K gets to the point where he’s telling us to use thought forms, which is pretty interesting and something you don’t see in a book on Wicca every day. But there’s nothing new here. Well, except during the part where he recommends that in order to get in touch with your childlike sense of wonder, you should hit some clubs and listen to some good music. He prefers Goth clubs, but I bet you guessed that already. He informs us that there is a reason these clubs are called nightclubs, after all, and so all Nightkind should take advantage of them. Thanks for the tip, K. He also recommends slumber parties. Go figure. I’m leaving this chapter now, kthnkxbai.

Okay, this is the last chapter I’m talking about because I am sick to death of this ridiculous book. Dark Mystique, Magnetism, and Suggestion. K tells us it’s a harsh world out there for those with our super-rare soul type. We are misunderstood and may even be feared! (Yeah, you wish, Goth boy.) He recommends that we maintain our “dark mystique” by keeping our mouths shut about being a Witch, so that people won’t thwart our magical attempts with negative thought forms. I’d imagine it’s also so that people don’t dissolve into hysterical laughter when you tell them you’re a nocturnal witch. That could really hurt a person’s confidence and may require more nightclubbing to remedy. Luckily, even though you have to keep your mouth shut, K assures us that the dark magical powers you work with will attract people and mystify them. You can increase this dark magnetism by pretending that normal actions require magical willpower. So, before opening a door, see yourself do it, then raise energy, and finally open that door quickly and with severity. K also says you can use illusions or suggestions to influence people with your ooky dark powers.

So, what do we have when we look at Nocturnal Magick as a whole? Well, we have a whole bunch of basic techniques wrapped up in a veneer of pseudo-goth culture and nocturnal heebie-jeebies, presented to us by a long-haired fellah with a questionable writing style and no real concept of the tradition he claims to have created. My dear friend Greybeard tells me he has had individuals claim that they are following this tradition, and that makes me sad. Because this tradition consists solely of calling yourself a “Nocturnal Witch” and buying into the complete bullshit this guy has to offer.


To sum this "tradition" up, a quote from my beloved and staunchly Christian boyfriend: "It's like practicing regular Witchcraft, only you don't have to stop pretending you're a vampire." And people ask me why I love him.

11 comments:

Steve B said...

>>"It's like practicing regular Witchcraft, only you don't have to stop pretending you're a vampire."

Genius.

Hilarious review, love it.

>>"Wicca in particular just doesn't attract enough fringe personalities and that our gothic brothers and sisters in the Craft are being left out in the cold."

Yeah, he's clearly never been to Witchfest.

Anjel said...

OH. MY. GOD.

Go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6QD7aLRvWU

Do it now. Nothing I can say will prepare you.

Steve B said...

Aaargh.

It's only after seeing some of the other episodes that it appears to be an intentional spoof. The fact that I'm not 100% sure about this, and was convinced it was real *for at least 2 minutes*, probably says a lot about Konstantinos.

Now I need to go and bleach my brain...

Constance Parker said...

Hahaha!

Anjel, how do you dig this stuff up?

STOP IT! JUST STOP IT!

Thanks for the link!

dd said...

I am sorry, for not identifying myself. I have no blogger account.

All I can say is, I have respect for the works of Mr. Konstantinos. One of his works, Summoning Spirits, urged me to go beyond reading. God knows how much I have improved, both physically and spiritually. And for this I owe great to Mr. K.

Owd Scrat said...

Funny funny review! I was laughing outloud many places throughout.

A misguided friend gave me this book as a gift years ago. What fun reading!

Can you believe morons like this get published and there is so many brilliant and learned authors just waiting for their break?

The masses. Excuse me I must partake of some doritos, this NightKind needs her fuel for her late night "activities".

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KodyLawless said...

I love K's books, but this is a hilarious review! Gothic Bottom. Genius.

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Anonymous said...

I like his books and took them and made them the basis of my own private tradition!

.DGS. said...

Thankyou for entertaining me, I too like reading about the occult and spiritual matters. I have the book by d deveroux, which although as you say not well written was entertaining and food for thought. This dross, written by k sounds dull but your rapier like wit has me laughing and I can assure you not an easy task. I lay my own rapier at your feet and bow to superior talent my dear lady. Oh one quick question, I always thought Franz Bardon initiation into hermetics a good read, what do you think. Many regards .DGS.