Ray Sherwin’s Fats of Life

Strange Smell in the CarI’ve just started to read the latest publication from respected occult author, Ray Sherwin: Strange Smell in the Car: Aromatic Oils and Magick (published by Mandrake); outwardly presented as a collection of writings on essential oils and aromatherapy, the book actually works as something of an autobiography.

I’ve only made it a short way in and remain fascinated by the tales of Ray’s entrepreneurial endeavours in the field of essential oils. I’m sure I visited his Leeds based shop as teenager the year he sold it, although I may be confusing it with visits to Sorceror’s Apprentice.

I like Ray’s writing style, Ray comes across as both personable and reassuringly confident – something I’ve discovered in his other writings.

The final chapter I read last night struck me as important. Not so much in the sense of:

This is valid advice Ben, you should take note

But in the

How strange, you start looking into alternate weight loss methods and CLA; then all of a sudden your attention is drawn to an article on dietary fats, written by a local and respected figure on the global occult scene

The chapter was titled: The Fats of Life: What your Mother Would Have Told you if She’d known. So strongly was I effected by this article, I came into work early to research coconut oil. I managed to locate a PDF version of the article and would highly recommend reading it, if only to get an idea of Ray’s writing style.

Ray makes it clear that he is using other people’s research as a primary basis for his opinions on the efficacy of coconut oil; combined with his own findings through his own use.

Of particular interest is what he has to say on the possible link between unsaturated fats and suicide – I have heard reports of suicidal depression being a serious side effect of cholesterol busting statins.

Of equal interest is the possible link between unsaturated fats and cancer – but everything causes cancer these days doesn’t it?

Mandrake of OxfordThe upshot of all this is that by using coconut oil to balance my intake of saturated and unsaturated fats I may be able to finally lose some weight. I have an incredibly low intake of saturated fats in comparison to the polyunsaturated fats I take in.

Obviously none of this will work without regular exercise and a controlled diet but it may just be the final push to swing the pendulum the right way.

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The Atrocity Archives

The Atrocity ArchivesLast night, on the recommendation of a friend, I read The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross.

What a good recommendation that was. Essentially a collection of consecutive novellas, The Atrocity Archives is an amalgam of spy thriller and supernatural horror, all wrapped up with an early cyberpunk feel. This is the first of three books following tech-occultist Bob Howard as he begins field work for “The Laundry”, a UK intelligence organisation focusing on the suppression of certain occult threats to our world.

The world Stross portrays is very similar to our own, only with an emphasis on a link between science and magick; mathematics and physics being directly accountable for occult events. We find entities used in The Laundry’s phone system, zombies controlled as security guards and a variety of interesting field items. The Laundry is kept busy by the natural re-discoveries of dangerous occult memes by everyday techies/occultists like you or I. Whilst the people of the past may summon an entity by means of animal sacrifice, the same effect can be achieved by means of a accurately positioned laser grid or with the correct application of capacitance. It’s interesting to see how Stross’s ideas could fit so easily into contemporary occult practice.

Stross manages to merge the shadowy worlds of espionage and Lovecraftian horror in a way that impresses me more than other similar works. I think my experience on IT help-desks makes me more sympathetic to the world that Bob Howard protects; that and Bob’s lack of any superhuman ability. The Laundry is far more convoluted and bureaucratic than Brian Lumley‘s E-Branch (don’t get me wrong, I love Lumley’s work – E-Branch especially) and Stross’s tale is far more relevant to today than Robert R. McCammon‘s The Wolf’s Hour or The Night Boat (again, both excellent works).

The horror in The Atrocity Archives is not limited to themes of eldritch magicks and foul tentacled elder gods. We also find horror in the descriptions of our own world’s history; Nazi atrocities, modern day acts of terrorism and the hopelessness of a bureaucratic workplace. There is humour too, the kind of dry, quotable humour that many tech geeks would appreciate.

The third book, The Fuller Memorandum is due out some time this year but the second, The Jennifer Morgue, is available and on its way to me soon.