“To a new world of gods and monsters!’
-Dr. Pretorius, in The Bride Of Frankenstein
Despite the predictions (and hopes) of some, the early 21st Century of the Common Era is not a time of less religion than before – 85% of the planet’s population profess to hold some religious belief. But… some of those beliefs are a long way from orthodoxy.
As a result of the rise in popular culture in the last century and the increasing speed and density of communications media to carry it, the modern world has a plethora of stories – avowed fictions among them – about religion, myth and magic to chose from. Increasingly, peoples’ beliefs are directly affected by these stories. Some believers take metaphorical comfort and confirmation of their own orthodox beliefs from them, some incorporate part of pop culture into their belief system… and some even take these fictional tales and treat them as the basis of their own new religions.
New Gods And Monsters is the story of these stories – how they began, how they became popular, the influence they can have on us and what they imply for a future seemingly ridden with religious strife.
This will be an expansion of my previously published thoughts on hyper-real religion, Slenderman, multi-model occultism and basically everything I care about, heavily revised and re-examined – plus a lot of new material on how mythology and stories intersect our modern world.
I did a podcast a couple of days with my friend and fellow Grinder Mikey Pirate (who is totally not the leader of an Asteroid Death Cult): we talked about the usual stuff – hyperreal religion, metafiction, Trickster Gods, Slenderman, Babylon 5‘s Rangers and why those who cosplay the Engineers from Prometheus might not be the nicest people to have over for a cup of tea.
Next week, I’m giving two different talks in London on two consecutive days:
22nd April, I’m speaking at the Royal College of Art’s Battersea campus (RCA students only, sadly) on neopaganism, the hyperreal (again), authenticity and Midsummer. Details here.
On the 23rd, appropriately enough, I’m giving a talk on ‘Robert Anton Wilson – Gnostic Agnostic’ at the University of London’s Senate House Library’s ‘Marginal Presences’ Symposium – there should still be tickets available for this, and you can learn more here.
Also upcoming (hopefully 24 September) is the next post in my ongoing Spiral Nature column The Hype: This time I’ll be talking about a very personal experience in the use of pop culture symbology in magic, and issues of cultural appropriation. Hint:
The Slenderman. Born barely five years ago in an online Photoshop competition, this faceless creature’s mythology rapidly spread across the internet, inspiring video series, Alternate Reality Games, stories… and nightmares. Earlier this year, its influence may have led to the attempted murder of a child by other children. A creature of pure fiction, drawing blood. Cat Vincent takes a look at the origins, evolution and implications of this most modern of monsters.
So, this happened… I wrote the cover feature for this month’s Fortean Times.
Ever since I first read FT as a kid (when it was still a fanzine rather than a professional monthly), I had a dream that I’d be in its pages some day – maybe in an article about weird shit, possibly in a review or even a memorial in the Strange Deaths column!
To not only be commissioned to write for them, but to get the cover first time out, is literally a dream come true – and the highlight of my writing career so far.
Huge thanks to FT editor David Sutton for asking me to write for them, Jenny Coleman for her interesting alternate view of Slendy alongside my piece and Etienne Gilfillan for the beautiful cover art.
And… I’ve been commissioned by Fortean Times to write a feature on Slenderman for the next issue. This is a big deal for me, to put it mildly. I hope to do the subject – and the fall-out from the Wisconsin tragedy – justice.
It’s a strange world, and getting stranger by the day. Be safe out there, folks…
I had the great pleasure of giving a talk about Slenderman (based on my two Darklore articles, but expanding on the practical occult aspects) at the celebrated Treadwells bookshop in London on 25th November 2013ce. Now, the video of the talk is available on YouTube.
If I can clean up the audio, I’ll post the Q&A session later.
As I had a few requests for it, the transcript for the original script is below the cut – but you’l have to watch the video for my hilarious improvisations and my appalling Alan Moore impersonation!
This year’s book is another stunning collection of the best of modern Forteana – and it also contains the second half of my look at the way the Slenderman meme is infiltrating the ‘real’ world.
This piece, Killing Slenderman, looks at what this could mean and what to do about it – taking on such examples of the fictional entering the quotidian as Alan Moore’s meetings with his own creation John Constantine, and Grant Morrison’s near-death experience writing The Invisibles.
I’m happy to announce that Darklore volume 6, the latest instalment of what has become one of the best Fortean journals around, is out now – and I’m in it. This is my first professional published work and I’m proud as hell to be there.
Here’s the good word:
Ladies and gentlemen: the sixth instalment of our anthology series covering hidden history, fringe science and general Forteana, Darklore Volume VI, is now available for sale. You can pick up your copy from any number of online retailers through a simple search. But here’s the links to Amazon:
Above is the totally awesome cover (conceived by myself, and perfectly executed by Mark Foster), and below is a listing of what you’ll find within:
Cat Vincent examines the birth of a modern monster meme: The Slenderman.
Mark Foster unlocks the mystery of the ‘Trial Passages’ beside the Giza pyramids.
Robert Schoch evaluates the chances of our Sun wiping out modern civilisation.
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince lift the veil on the esoteric foundations of The Royal Society.
Neil Arnold goes in search of sewer monsters.
Mitch Horowitz points out America’s mystical history.
Nigel Watson shares a case of ‘alien contact’ that he investigated.
John Reppion sheds some light on Liverpool’s forgotten megalithic history.
Martin Shough looks into the strange case of ‘double suns’.
Blair MacKenzie Blake discusses the mystery man of 20th century alchemy, Fulcanelli.
Greg Taylor points out the astronomical archetype behind depictions of gods and kings in ancient cultures.
Jack Hunter heads to the dark side of anthropology and finds the weirdness that doesn’t often get talked about in academic circles.
Thanks for everyone’s support of the Darklore series – it helps to fund this website, and also provides financial support for contributors so that they can continue researching and writing about the stranger side of life.
Well worth your time and money – despite my presence!