When I was a Witch

 

 

what october brings

 

Among the many reasons I became a board-certified hypnotist, hypnosis instructor, and past-life regression therapist, was a life-long fascination with witches.

I’d always suspected that my grandmother had been a witch, my aunt had been a witch, and my wife was a witch. It wasn’t until I experienced past-life regression that I recalled I, too, had once upon a time been a witch.

Writers, like witches, live most of their creative lives in altered states. We walk between multiple worlds. We bend and shape reality with our imaginations. There is nothing we cannot do when we set our minds to it.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourselves, “Men can’t be witches. Women are witches. Men are wizards or warlocks or alchemists. How dare you call yourself a witch?”

What you learn when you recall past lives is that all men were women at least once. And all women were men at least once. We all possess both animus and anima, as Carl Jung correctly postulated, although the archetypes of the collective unconscious manifest primarily in dream states.

When I was a witch, I was burned at the stake because I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t often tell people I’m a witch. You see, who and what we are never dies. We are reincarnated in different bodies and in different places and times, but who we really are never changes.

I’m still a witch at heart. And I’m afraid of being burned.

Witches can transform themselves. We can become cats or dogs, wolves or bats. We can be male or female, good or evil or anything in-between. We can hide in shadows or live in the light.

Most of the time, unfortunately, we forget who we are and become what others expect of us.

Each year, at the precise moment brisk October transitions into frigid November and the veils between worlds temporarily part, we’re able to remember who and what we really are without the help of a certified past-life regression therapist. We can recall essential parts of each of our past lives, how events shaped who we are today. Nightmares become dreams peopled with recurrent images of magical beings we recognize as friends and lovers or previous selves long gone.

It is then that we may remove everyday costumes and masks, don the robes of wisdom to parade around in public without fear of being hanged or burned at the stake, and reveal who we really are.

It is only during the rest of the year that we must hide even from ourselves.

I’m a witch. If you believe in magic, you’re a witch, too. It makes no difference if you’re male, female, human or inhuman. Take my word for it, you can be all of those things.

You are all of those things.

What will you reveal about yourself this Halloween? Who are you, really?

I’m a witch. I’m William Butler Yeats’ small slate-colored thing!

 

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New stories for Halloween 2018

Halloween_300w 2018

Available now from Celaeno Press

What October Brings: A Lovecraftian Celebration of Halloween

Edited and with an introduction by Doug Draa

Includes my short story “That Small, Furry, Sharp-toothed Thing”.

 

It’s time for me to begin my annual Halloween marketing blitz. I’ve previously Vaguebooked about three dynamite short stories contracted to come out this fall in horror anthologies, and I’ve since received corrected page proofs to send out as ARCs and revealed cover images on FB. I’ll post complete details shortly.

I’m also confirmed to do panels, readings, and autographings at Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis, October 19 and 20; World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore, November 1-4; and Windycon in Lombard,IL, November 9-11. The only other convention I’ve scheduled is Stokercon 2019 in Grand Rapids, MI, May 9-12, 2019. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

I intend to curtail my public appearances next year to concentrate on writing new novels. I have three successful series in print and a fourth series coming out next year. I plan to continue those storylines, and I have new Winds novels coming out early in 2019.

 

You Can Go Home Again

This weekend was like returning home for me. I attended Arcana in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Arcana Con, for those in the know, is the Midwest equivalent of NECon. Currently located at the Bandana Square Best Western Plus in St. Paul, MN, Arcana 46 was held October 21-23, 2016. It’s a fantasy convention that appeals to collectors and lovers of dark fantasy and horror.

Bandana Square once housed the Northern Pacific Railroad’s Steam Locomotive repair shops. The hotel abuts where the locomotives were painted. The building has rails embedded in the floor and the doors look big enough to admit a steam locomotive.  Freight trains still pass by within a half-block of the hotel.

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Minneapolis/St. Paul was once home to some of the biggest names in pulp fiction. William Fawcett started Fawcett Publications there with Capt. Billy’s Whiz-bang. August Derleth and Donald Wandrei started Arkham House within a stone’s throw of the Twin Cities. Science Fiction greats like Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson came from Minneapolis. Weird Tales cover artist Jon Arfstrom made his life-long home in St. Paul. Fedogan and Bremer was founded in Minneapolis. Literary agent extraordinaire Kirby McCauley got his start in Minneapolis after graduating from the University of Minnesota. John Sandford still lives and works there.

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Jon Arfstrom’s painting on the cover of The Strange Company’s edition of The Devil Made Me Do It, 1985.

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Jon Arfstrom’s portrait of me, 1986.

I began attending gatherings of Lovecraftians in Minneapolis and St. Paul in 1982 after meeting Jack Koblas and Eric Carlson at a World Fantasy Convention. Jack and Eric were editors of Etchings and Odysseys, a professionally printed small press fanzine devoted to Weird Tales-style pulp fiction. I, of course, had read most of HPL and Henry Kuttner by that time, and after Jack, Eric, and I carried on long knowledgeable conversations during the WFC, we became life-long friends (both Jack and Eric passed away much too soon, and I miss them a lot).

Jack and Eric invited me to submit an article for the special Henry Kuttner tribute issue of E&O, and they also invited me to attend MinnCon (the forerunner of ArcanaCon) the following October. I agreed to write the Kuttner article and to appear on panels at MinnCon. I also received an invitation from The Strange Company publisher R. Alain (Randy) Everts to attend MadCon in Madison, Wisconsin the following May when E&O #4 would be released with my Kuttner article in it. Randy invited me to submit original fiction to The Arkham Sampler, and he bought several of my stories (he actually paid me cash money and bought me meals at expensive restaurants). He (The Strange Company) also published The Devil Made Me do It, a collection of 20 of my early stories, and a chapbook of Love Till the End of Time. I also sold him a couple of my early down-and-dirty novels that other packagers didn’t want. Randy supposedly published them under pseudonyms. I cranked out two 65,000 word novels on a manual typewriter every month for four years, and some of them were pretty bad (downright, god-awful bad) but they helped me learn my craft.

Then I married Gretta, took a regular 9 to 5 job with a medical publisher and later with Mutual Fund Sourcebook publisher Morningstar, and my fiction output dwindled.

Gretta and I attended MadCons and MinnCons every year from 1983 until 1990. I appeared on Lovecraft and Horror panels, and Gretta appeared with other small press editors on editing and publishing panels at several of the first ArcanaCons after MadCons and MinnCons ceased and Arcana became a full-fledged annual convention instead of just a gathering of friends and Lovecraft scholars.

We stopped attending sf and fantasy conventions entirely in favor of attending professional psychology educational conferences (APA, APS, Illinois Counseling Society, NGH, and alternative healing and wellness conferences).

This year I returned to Bandana Square for ArcanaCon 46.

 

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Most of the people I knew from MinnCon and earlier AracanaCons have passed away or moved out of state. Koblas and Carlson died. Jon Arfstrom died just last year. Bob Weinberg died just last month. Randy Everts is reputed to be living in Hawaii. R. Dixon Smith is now in California. David Pudelwitz was last seen in New Mexico. Roger Gerberding no longer lives in the twin cities, but he is still alive and still painting. Audrey Parente is busy with PulpAdventureCon in New Jersey and Florida. Roger Dale Trexler was unable to make this con but promises to make next year’s ArcanaCon when the GOH will be William F. Nolan. I did spend quality time in conversation with Scott Wyatt, Eric Heideman, Dwayne Olson, and Greg Ketter of DreamHaven Books. I also got to meet the delightful Kathe Koja, this year’s ArcanaCon GOH.

What I like about ArcanaCon is the attendees are all readers and book collectors. The con is small and intimate enough to get to know everyone and talk with everyone.

Once upon a time, attendance at MinnCon was by invitation only. When it became ArcanaCon, it was opened to the public but never widely advertised. It’s one of the best-kept secrets in fandom.

To me, it’s like home.

Yes, Virginia. You really can go home again.