S. Jason Black &
Christopher S. Hyatt,
Pacts with the Devil
(New Falcon, 1993; 2002)

Pacts with the Devil, "a chronicle of sex, blasphemy & liberation," gets off to a good start due to extensive relating of the foundations in demonology in Europe from half a millennium ago. This is the same rich and ribald times that gave the setting for Joris Karl Huysmans' La-Bas. Black and Hyatt cover the highpoints, like the raucous Hellfire Club, as well as obscure figures and the historical roots of Faust. (It is somewhat shocking they do not even mention the well-documented career of the ghoulish Gilles de Rais, "The Pious Monster.")

After more recent history, like of course Aleister Crowley, there are chapters of such elitist and bilious thought that a reader may feel their eyes have wandered into the pages of Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard as the two writers espouse philosophies that those who wish to appear well-read would call Nietzschean.

However, having gotten through this and having read some personal conjuring testimonials we get the promised meat of the message: excerpts from arcane grimoires slightly altered for the modern yet purist necromantic. A would-be anti-Christian Satanist expecting just goats' heads, black candles and pentagrams will be let down at this point, for the point the authors have made in the book is they espouse a method of spirit channeling that reaches back to the days when most "summoners" were also "sermoners" from the pulpit of the Catholic Church. (The Church had a monopoly on such basic skills as reading and access to books necessary to pick up diabolical hobbies.) So, one must be willing to announce all the names of Jehovah in order to chat with Beelzebub, according to the ways of this illustrated manual.

Regardless, it is a handy tome to file next to the Necronomicon for such unique pet names as Rantam, Merloy and Phorsy.

[ by Tom Schulte ]
Rambles: 21 September 2002

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