Saturday May 22, 2021

A package arrives from my friends at Theurgical Studies Press containing two chapbooks, the press’s first releases: Benjamin Gardner’s “Incident at Funk’s Grove” and Erik Waterkotte’s “Inside the Found Photograph.” Along with the chapbooks, Gardner also included his read-along book The Cabin. These are beautiful small-press objects made by writers who are also talented printmakers and painters. Gardner and Waterkotte work adeptly wherever they try their hand. They present themselves as theorgoi, who, as the Chaldean Oracles report, “do not fall under the fate-governed hand.” Theurgy was a form of magic performed by Neoplatonists. Theorgoi, then, are those who practice this magic: figures who invoke deities through ritual. Horror is generally not my cup of tea, and Theurgical Studies Press is at least in part a publisher of horror. “What is the nature of the horror to which my friends are drawn?” I hear myself wondering. But “Incident at Funk’s Grove” is a delight. Entry into the story’s grove functions as would passage through a portal. One crosses the magic circle that bounds contemporary realism so as to access the world of the weird.

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