Saturday, 7 July 2012

The soundtrack of Samael's soul

There is music in Samael, a whole lotta music. While I was writing it, and its sequel, certain tunes just grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go.
Let me share a few with you...

Zeke's band plays indie folk - much like Seth Lakeman. This song, in particular, thrummed its way through Samael

When Gen and Star are in the pub, just before Gen  meets Samael for the first time (in real life) this is playing on duke box.

There are a whole pile of good songs played at the gig but this is the one that Samael uses to challenge Zeke.
Suffice to say, they are a helluva lot better looking than these guys. :)

At Samael's cottage in the woods, he plays two songs.  The first is this...

And the second is this...

And then, when she is driving to the coast, feeling betrayed and bereft, this is what she's listening to.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Samael in images

When I wrote Samael, it played in front of my eyes, just as if I were watching a movie.  I could see each scene so clearly. I knew exactly what each character looked like, what they sounded like, what they smelled like.  And the same for the locations - each house, each field, each wood.  Part of the joy of reading a book is, to me, making one's own assocations; of putting one's own imagination to work.  And so I did wonder about making up a Pinterest board for Samael.
But, then again, I thought how much I'd love to see the inspiration behind some of my own favourite books.  Movies are never quite the same because so often the author is not part of the equation (though the Harry Potter series is an exception of course).
Anyhow, I have made the board (and also ones for the two sequels) so do take a look and tell me what you think.
In the meantime, a few of my favourite images...

This is how I imagine Tabitha...slowly emerging from ice, becoming more real as Gen moves towards her, away from her own mother...
Not quite Zeke, but not far off really...the body's there, and the tatts... Not too surprising that Gen feels a frisson, huh?
The sound of the violin echoes through Samael.  Both Samael and Zeke play exceedingly well - as they prove at their epic battle at the band's gig.
Something so poignant and macabre about this image.  All those lost children... dead childhood. Abandoned toys in Samael's chest. Who stole them?
So nearly Star.  Star's hair is usually neon pink - and she prefers Converse most of the time...but I'm sure she'd have a go at orange and DMs... And yeah, she really shouldn't smoke - it will wreck her skin and give her foul breath!
No picture of Samael?  Of course not. I know exactly how he looks.  But how you think he looks...well, I leave that to your imagination.  Some loves should never be pinned down and dissected too far. :-)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Samael update

Samael has undergone a substantial rewrite.

Check out the first chapter here....

Chapter One:  If that’s what love looks like

Sam and I sat on my bed. The tarot pack lay like a loaded gun on the duvet between us.
‘Okay, if it’s the same cards again, I’m calling in the exorcist,’ said Sam, her eyes wide.
‘You don’t know any exorcists, you bozo.  Anyhow, they won’t be the same. I’ve shuffled them really well.’
Sam was my best friend and we read the tarot obsessively. We’d lay out the cards again and again until they gave us the right answers; until they told us what we wanted to hear. In Sam’s case it was dead simple:  did Ben Lomax love her?  Did he really really love her? Would they be together forever? 
In my case it was a little more complex.  Should I do science or art?  Where was my life going?  Would I ever meet my soul-mate?  Then again, there were the questions I never even admitted to Sam.  Did heaven and hell exist? What happened on the other side of infinity?   Would I ever feel truly safe?  Was I finally going mad?
I laid the cards out once more in the Celtic Cross pattern I’d learned from my mother, way back when I still had a mother.  One by one I turned them over.
‘Oh. My. God.’
Sam grabbed my arm as almost exactly the same cards came out once again.  Okay, so three were different but even so.  I shivered.  My mother always said that the cards weren’t a parlour game or a magic trick; they really could foretell the future. But more than that, she said, they could read your soul.  Did I believe that?  My scientific side, the side that liked facts and proof, rolled its eyes and said no way. My artistic side wasn’t so sure.
‘Well, looks like you’ll be alright,’ said Sam, her voice a little higher than usual.  ‘Look at that.  The Knight of Pentacles and the Knight of Wands.  Spoilt for choice.  Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool....’  She sang the last sentence.  Sam loved the cheesy old songs, and the lyric made me smile.  I didn’t like this though; what were the odds?  The same seven cards out of a possible 78?  I was doing physics and maths A-level; I knew that was seriously stretching probability.
‘Yeah, great,’ I said.  ‘But what about those?’
I poked the card with the tower struck by lightning.  People tumbled through the air, as flames flickered from the building’s windows.
‘Yeah, well...but...’
Sam tailed off.  We both knew what it meant:  disruption and unforeseen catastrophe.  Just as we knew that The Devil stood for violence, illness and black magic.  And The Moon signified unforeseen perils, deception and secret foes.
Three really horrible cards.  People freaked out about Death but that wasn’t the one they needed to worry about.  It meant change and maybe total change – but not necessarily death. 
‘Hey, The High Priestess is pretty cool.  And you’ve got The Lovers – that’s got to be good, right?’
Sam gave me a nudge in the ribs, and I turned away.  I was so darn pale that even the thought of a blush turned me puce.  I blamed my mother.  I’d inherited her alabaster skin along with the wild red hair, green eyes and willowy frame.  She had said that all the women in our family looked pretty similar, though I’d have to take that on trust  –  she hadn’t left us any photos of them. 
‘You’re too damn fussy, Gen.’
‘I’m not fussy hon,’ I said, wistfully.  ‘It’s just that all the boys we meet are so, well, boys.  I think I want someone more mature, not a silly schoolboy.’
‘Ben’s not a silly schoolboy.’
‘I didn’t say he was.’
‘You implied it.  He’s nearly nineteen.  And he’s going to law college – you can’t get much more mature than that.’  She swung her legs off the bed.  ‘I’m outta here. I’ve still got prep to finish.’
‘I didn’t mean Ben.  Honestly.’  I could have hit myself.  Why did I always say the wrong thing?
‘Sam, don’t be cross.  Please.  I didn’t mean anything about Ben.’ 
She gave me a hug.  ‘It’s okay hon.  Just sometimes it feels like you don’t know what you want.  As if there isn’t a boy alive who’s going to be good enough for you.  But we’re cool, we’re always cool.’
I squeezed her tight.  ‘Don’t go, not yet.  Stay and have some supper?  Please?  I expect Maddy’ll be here and I don’t want to feel like a flipping wallflower again.’
She patted my back gently. ‘I can’t, hon.  I’m going out for an Indian with my mum and dad.  I’ll see you tomorrow for the gig, alright?’

She paused to blow me a kiss from the door and I smiled fondly at her.  She was just so sunny, all light and brightness with her soft blonde hair, neat trim figure and trademark girly t-shirt, teeny skirt and an armload of friendship bracelets.  Sam was lovely, the best friend you could ask for. But she didn’t get why I had to make life so difficult for myself; why I couldn’t just go out with Nathan Lockwood.  Sure, Nathan was a nice guy.  But nice was a problem for me.  I didn’t want some safe, good-looking, smart enough guy.  I wanted the kind of love that makes your heart bleed; the kind of love that consumes you so totally you feel like every limb is being torn from your body.  For all that Nathan thought he was rebelling by wearing a tongue stud, I knew what the future held for him and it involved a suburban detached house, a BMW, two children, a Labrador and a time-share in Portugal.

I stuck my iPod on and stretched out on my ridiculous bed.  I’d been in a full-on brat princess phase when I’d demanded the heart-shaped creation with the padded fuchsia headboard.  Now I was channelling a darker vibe.  I stared up at the crucifixes pinned to the headboard – just a few of the religious icons and knick-knacks I picked up all over the place.  I don’t know why I did it.  It wasn’t like I was some goth or emo type. I certainly wasn’t religious. They just called to me; had some meaning I couldn’t quite grasp.  A huge gilt-framed mirror leaned against one wall and a crystal-drop chandelier spun rainbows round the room when the sun shone through the red velvet curtains that hung at the floor to ceiling windows. 
Posters and pin-ups weren’t my thing.  I wasn’t interested in pop stars or actors.  The bare brick walls were covered with my own paintings.  I painted big and I painted bold.  Often they were self-portraits – me lost and bleak, caught up in whirlwinds of colour, trapped by thorns, tumbling through deep green water.  More often they were of him.  The face I kept painting obsessively, over and over.  His eyes looked haunted; they bored into me from the paper.  His cheekbones were high and wide, his nose sharp, his lips firm.  The face rarely smiled but if it did, it became cruel.  I had no control over what I painted – it felt as if the paints were controlling me. 
He snuck into my dreams too.  Sometimes he just stood, staring into the distance, his blond hair whipping round his face, as if he were standing in the face of a storm.  Sometimes he stared straight at me, a deep frown on his forehead, but he looked through me; he couldn’t see me.  So why did I get the feeling he was looking for me?  I could smell him though: amber and wood-smoke.  I could hear the wind and the far-off sound of a wild fiddle. I could hear him breathe.
I woke feeling bereft, as if part of my soul had been snatched.  I cranked up the volume on my iPod.  Soulsavers.  Broken.  It suited my mood. My friends didn’t remotely understand my music tastes – they called me a ‘saddo rocker’ and blamed my Dad.  Yet he rolled his eyes at my music too.  ‘Morbid weird shit’ he called it.  He could talk.  He was the one who called himself ‘Wraith’ rather than Rick; who sang lullabies to dark gods on stage; who rapped the Bible backwards; who’d made a living out of the macabre.  Let’s be honest, the daft twerp was jealous.
The front door slammed. Talk of the devil.  He could never come into a room quietly, always had to make an entrance.  He was just like an overgrown naughty schoolboy, trying to shock, to create a reaction.  His boots thudded over the polished concrete floors downstairs.  We lived in the top floors of what had once been an old warehouse near the river Thames.  When Dad and Mum had bought it, years back, it had been a wreck in a run-down part of London.  Now the area had been smartened up and all the old warehouses turned into smart offices.  Dad still called it The Warehouse – everyone else called it a ‘loft’ as if it had caught the habit from New York.
‘Gen? You up there?’ he yelled in his gravelling too-many-fags and too-much tequila voice.
I pulled myself off the bed.
‘Get your ass down here.’
‘Rick.’  A soft melodious voice but with a hint of steely disapproval.  The latest girlfriend.  Maddy.  She was a good twenty years younger than him, not that much older than me really, but she seemed kind.  After the cavalcade of brittle groupies I’d seen clip-clop through the loft, with their spray-tans and fake boobs, Maddy felt like a breath of fresh air.  I was pleased for him.  I was.
I slid down the stairs and padded into the open-plan living area. 
From the back Dad looked pretty good – all tall and lean with his faded jeans, biker boots and the old black leather jacket with the labyrinth symbol and ANUBIS RAT curling above it.  But when he turned round he made Mick Jagger look positively baby-faced.  Talk about beauty and the beast. Maddy barely reached his shoulder:  she looked like some war-time waif in a faded floral tea dress and Birkenstocks.
‘Hey, Dad.  Hey, Maddy.  You okay?
‘Hi Blossom. Come here.’  Dad pulled me into a bear hug.  ‘How’s you?’
‘Yeah, I’m good.’
Maddy gave me one of her little waist-high waves. 
‘You guys want some coffee?’
‘Not for me, thanks,’ said Maddy.  ‘I’m picking up some stuff and heading back to my place.  I’ve got to do some work for a breakfast meeting.’ 
She reached up and pecked Dad on the lips.  He snatched at her hand.
‘Aww, babe.  Don’t go.’
She stroked his rubbery face.  ‘I have to.  I’m not a rock star; I’m a PR.  I need to get my presentation sorted and I need my beauty sleep.’
He looked bereft, like a kid that’s had its favourite toy taken away. 
‘Will you call me when you’re done?  Can I take you to lunch?’
I moved into the kitchen area and fussed with the heavy duty coffee maker.  I seriously didn’t want to witness a smooch-fest.
I heard footsteps; a rather long pause and then the heavy front door shutting with a thud.  Dad came back, edged himself onto a stool and slumped his elbows onto the breakfast bar.
‘Yeah, Bloss.  That’d be good.’
I pushed his cup over to him, knocking the tatty old straw fruit basket.  Oranges spilled over the surface.
‘Whoah,’ said Dad, trying to catch them before they reached the edges. 
‘We should get a decent bowl, Dad.  That thing seriously isn’t up to the job.’
Dad looked wistful.  ‘Ah, but see, we got it in Egypt, your mum and me.  We were going to some temple – feck knows which one – and a couple of kids were running alongside the jeep with these damn baskets.  I was going to send ‘em packing but your mum bought the lot.  This is the last one standing.’
I glanced at him.  A million thoughts cascaded through my head but I didn’t say a word.  Just sipped my coffee. 
‘She’s not a bad person, Bloss.  Honestly.’
I pulled at the neckline of my sweatshirt.  ‘Yeah, well...’
‘She loved you.  I mean she loves you...’ He tailed off.  He wasn’t an idiot by any means but his synapses didn’t always fire in the right order, they really didn’t.
‘Yeah, right,’ I muttered.  ‘I haven’t seen her for, what?  Five years?  If that’s what love looks like, I’m not sure I want any of it.’
His shoulders slumped.   ‘You should see her; you really should.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  I’ll talk to her; see if you can’t go and stay for a while over the summer.’
‘Oh no, Dad.  Really.’ I shook my head firmly.  ‘If she wanted to see me...well...she knows where I am.’
He frowned, looking for all the world like a Shar-Pei puppy. 
‘I dunno, Bloss.  It’s not right.  You’re seventeen.  You should be talking to your mother about...well...’
I held up my hands in the universal ‘back off’ gesture.  ‘About what, Dad?  Sex? Drugs? The evils of booze?’  I laughed.  ‘Er, hello. It may have escaped your attention but backstage at your gigs isn’t exactly a toddler’s ball pit.’
‘Aw shit, Gen.  I know.’  He reached out for my hand.  ‘I’m a crap father, I really am.’
I grasped his and squeezed it firmly, blinking away a tear.  ‘No. Absolutely not.  You’re a great father.  The best.’
I paused and gave him what I hoped looked like a bright smile. 
‘I just wish you’d picked someone else to be my mother.’

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


I have to grasp my moment while everyone’s attention is elsewhere.  While the hubbub, the hullaballoo, rages, I can slip under the radar.  While the mob race around rejoicing, gloating, I can go deep undercover.  I can slip through the veils.

I have to perform the Rite.  Just as I always have/did/will do.  But first I must purify myself.
I slide away from the world.
I fast.
I meditate.
I pray.

I strip myself naked and scrub myself with salt.  I cleanse my body with water and anoint it with oils.
I make sacred the space.
I light the incense. 
I tone the sigils.
I trace the sigils.  On the floor.  In the air.  On my body. 

I summon Them.  To guard me as I work/worked/will work.

And They will come. They always came. They come.
They are here. 
And how terrible, how terrifying, how beautiful They are.

It starts…

From Tanit

On sigils, words and magic

Samael gives Gen a necklace with his sigil, or magical sign, attached.  It’s a risky move on his part as knowing someone’s true name can give you power over them.  In ceremonial magic, a mage may use the sign that represents the true name of an angel or demon in order to summon the being – and ask or demand it does your will. 

Kabbalah teaches that letters possess energy so that, when you combine letters to make words – and specifically nameswith intent -  you are performing magic.  Words are powerful.  Why do people never realise this?  Why do people use words so carelessly?  Be extremely careful of the words you use and how you use them – there could be long-lasting ramifications!
In Tanit, the sequel to Samael, sigils are used in a different, more creative way.  Instead of just using them to summon or control entities, they are also employed to manifest outcomes.  Instead of borrowing a traditional accepted form, the mages make their own.  And you know what?  You could too. 
Why are sigils so powerful?  Because the conscious mind cannot perform true magic – in fact thought inhibits magic.  It’s the subconscious mind which performs magic. You need something that is liminal, that can float between conscious and unconscious, some way of planting magical intent into the subconscious so it can unconsciously manipulate quantum potentiality to bring *physical* results.

What is that liminal something?  Yup - sigils.  A sigil is a sleight of hand trick to breach the barriers of the subconscious.  You can achieve the same effect via shamanism (employing altered states of consciousness through drugs or deep  meditation or disordering the senses through sound) or via traditional ceremonial magic (which also uses symbols but that takes a heck of a long training).

Sigils, on the other hand, are quick. 

It’s not chance, by the way, that the name sigil is also used in modern circuit boards, in computer programming – a sigil is a mystical circuit diagram.  By using sigils you are programming, you are creating, you are manifesting an outcome.  Think about it.  Seriously. 
How you make a sigil depends on your proclivities.  They can be physical or mental or even virtual, but physical sigils are far easier to control.  Visual sigils are the most common but you can create audio sigils or even tactile sigils.  What you create usually depends on your preferred mode of communication – whether you are predominantly visual, auditory or kinaesthetic in your approach to life.

Basically a sigil consists of the words of a statement of intent reduced into an abstract design.  The sigil is then charged (there are various methods) with the will and intent of the sigil-maker. 

Shall I tell you how to do it?  Nah.  Go find out for yourself…  It’s not that hard.

Now, here’s another interesting thing…  A hypersigil is an extended form of sigil – a work of art created with magical meaning, intent and will. I’ve experimented with these over the years, in various forms.  Interesting, huh? 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The 42 Assessors

Samael takes Gen onto the astral plane, up, up, up through the pathways, the keys, of the Tree of Life to the sephirah, or sphere, known as Geburah.   
Geburah is home to the Halls of Justice, where – after death – we are met by the Forty-Two Assessors.  These spiritual judges look deep in our eyes and question us, one after another, as to how we spent our time, this life-time, on Earth.  The questions are asked in quiet even voices and there is no possibility of lying; there is no wriggling out of it; no avoidance; no mitigating circumstances. 
We simply cannot lie.
The truth wells up from inside us.  We speak the truth, despite our fear.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody is totally pure.  But we can only hope.  

The Questions of the Forty-Two Assessors

1.       Hast though given due thought to the body inhabited by thee?
2.       Hast thou lived the fullness of time allotted to thee?
3.       Hast thou refrained from being unclean in body and mind?
4.       Has thou loved with the body, only where the heart is also?
5.       Hast thou had knowledge of those forbidden to thee?
6.       Hast thou kept thee only to the sword or the distaff?
7.       Hast thou respected the bodies of the younger brethren?
8.       Hast thou stolen?
9.       Hast thou taken food and drink to excess?
10.   Hast thou killed?
11.   Hast thou spoken unjustly in anger?
12.   Hast thou looked upon the goods of others in envy?
13.   Hast thou known jealousy?
14.   Hast thou spoken ill of any man or woman in anger?
15.   Hast though been undiligent in work?
16.   Hast thou profaned the mysteries?
17.   Hast thou known pride in thyself that is false?
18.   Hast thou strayed from the path allotted thee?
19.   Hast thou lusted for precious metals?
20.   Hast thou been too worldly?
21.   Hast thou been just in thy dealings in the market place?
22.   Hast thou replayed all debts promptly?
23.   Hast thou been generous to the needy?
24.   Hast thou lied to gain from others?
25.   Hast thy tongue been as a viper to cause laughter in others?
26.   Hast thou been a friend?
27.   Hast thou hated another to the exclusion of all else?
28.   Hast thou lent thy body to any from the other side?
29.   Hast thou been thy parents’ joy?
30.   Hast thou honoured all faiths that are of the Light?
31.   Hast thou given time to be at peace with the gods?
32.   Hast thou turned aside from wisdom given in love?
33.   Hast thou listened to that which is not for thy ears?
34.   Hast thou lived in the Light?
35.   Hast thou been a sword for the weak?
36.   Hast thou enslaved any other life?
37.   Hast thou faced the mirror of self?
38.   Hast thou taken the words of his mouth from any man as thy own?
39.   Hast thou known that all journeys end but to begin?
40.   Hast thou remembered all the brethren of the Earth, and been compassionate to those younger brethren who serve thee as beasts in the field and the home?
41.   Hast thou ever worked man or beast beyond its strength in thy greed?

We may feel rather small after this.  After all, who hasn’t gossiped?  Who hasn’t sniped or been mean or eavesdropped?  Who hasn’t fallen out with her parents, or told the odd lie?   
However there is one last question which may save our souls. 

The forty-second assessor asks this question:  Is there one upon the Earth who is glad thou hast lived?

It’s our get out of jail card.  Just maybe.

Footnote for maths geeks like Gen....think about Sedenions.... The Tibetan Book of the Dead has 58 angry demons and 42 happy Buddhas - hence 100 in all = 5 * 16 + 2*10 = 100 distinct units in the interlinked 5-fold "unit quaternion" ensemble. Soooo.....we have the 42 Assessors and then focus in on one of the seven isomorphic box-kites; then focus in further on the second box-kite which has its struts defined by upper vs. lower case letters, and the triple zigzag analog being the "all lowercase" sail..  Or not. :)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The beach

The wave was vast, a wall of water and, for a moment, I panicked.  I couldn’t see ‘my’ surfer.  How ridiculous was that?  My surfer.  But no, there he was and – Oh My God – could he surf?  These weren’t the gargantuan waves of Hawaii or California but they weren’t tiddlers either and he rode this one like a pro, swooping low, slicing through, not a foot wrong. 
As he neared the beach my heart did a double flip.  That tall, sinewy body, albeit clad in a full body suit, was oh so familiar. So too the long blonde hair, wet tendrils down his neck. 
I stepped back, my hand flying to my mouth.  As he jumped easily off the  board and stalked through the water towards me, I could only say one word.
My heart gave such a lurch I thought it would jump clean out of me.  I knew I should be wary; I knew I should confront him about the stuff in the chest – but my body was telling me a whole different story. 
A smile simmered round those slim cool lips.  I felt my body tug towards him, as if we were magnets inexorably attracted, unable to resist.  He scooted the board onto the sand and shook out his hair, like a dog.
‘Hey, I’ll get wet.’
‘So?’  He grabbed my hands and pulled me towards him.  I felt my body slam into his rock hard chest, my thighs rubbed against wet neoprene.  He let himself fall backwards into the water, pulling me with him, twining his hands into my hair. I tried to pull away, tried to remember my doubts, but it was impossible.
Then his lips were on mine and my senses fell into overload.  Every cell of my body tingled at his touch.
‘It’s not fair,’ I gasped, freeing my mouth for a moment.  ‘I’m virtually naked and you’re all covered up in a wetsuit.’
'That can easily be remedied,’ he said, kneeling up and reaching behind his shoulder to tug down the zip.
‘Oh.’ I felt myself flare red. ‘I didn’t mean that.’
‘I know you didn’t,’ he said with a grin, shrugging his arms out of the suit and pulling it down, revealing a broad chest and the start of a serious six-pack.  A silver chain hung round his neck, with what looked like a magical symbol dangling from it.  He pulled me up and stared down at me, his head slanted to one side.

‘I’m sorry I left you. There were things I had to do.’
‘Like what?’  There was probably a simple explanation, right?
‘Just things.’  He shrugged and stroked a tendril of hair from my face.

From Samael, Chapter Twenty