Official Melissa Press 2012. 118 pages. Illustrated. Octavo.
Black Faux Leather Edition (Standard): limited to 220 copies.
Burgundy Bonded Leather Edition: limited to 30 copies.
The Infernal Colopatiron is Official Melissa Press' debut fine binding. It's an impressive start. The book's author, S. Connolly, comes out with guns blazing. Connolly eschews poetic riddles and academic-speak in favor of a writing style that is very straight-forward and raw. Her approach is refreshingly honest, unpretentious, and practical. But be warned: this is not 'Intro to Magic 101'. There is no hand-holding in The Infernal Colopatiron. Rudimentary details are glossed over, or avoided all together, as the author assumes the reader is already well acquainted with basic procedures, formalities, and concepts. A novice would be lost by the end of Chapter One. The author marches right along; it's up to the reader to keep up. In fact, S. Connolly almost comes off as an esoteric Drill Sergeant. Right in the intro she writes:
"You'll also find this book is not written in flowery language or prose that attempts to mimic fifteenth century grimoires, or talk in cyclical metaphor meant to baffle the reader with bullshit. Too many modern publishers of limited edition hardcovers publish that nonsense.
... This is not a book of simple magick for the mildly curious. ...
You either know your way around a Daemonolatry ritual construct or you don't. So if you're not familiar with Daemonolatry and something isn't clear to you, that is not my failing as an author. It's your magickal education that is lacking and it is up to you to do the work to rectify any lack of knowledge."See what I mean? No coddling here! Personally, I think her attitude is wonderful. The occult publishing industry could benefit from a few more writers willing to dish out the 'tough love' approach. Of course an in-your-face writing style can easily be warped into a big ego trip, but S. Connolly easily side steps this temptation by staying on task and even includes self-depreciating comments, believing there is always something to be learned from one's failures. She also freely admits her own limitations, a trait I found very refreshing. For example, she writes:
"Now I'd like to take a moment to discuss the raw sigils printed in this book. These sigils were hand drawn by a real working magician (me), not artists. I did not write this book to be pretty and sit on a shelf looking pretty. I wrote it to be used. So don't expect professional artwork herein. Not all magicians are professional artists and it would be silly to expect they should be. I can scarcely draw a stick figure."I must say, her unapologetic bluntness really grew on me.
The book is essentially a mixture of personal experiences and practical formulae, all dealing with the art of theophany (spirit summoning) which involves the opening of gates or portals through ritual and using them as a conduit for direct spirit contact. I realize there is endless debate between occultists who feel spirits, demons, god-forms, etc. are nothing more than Jungian archetypes with no objective 'realness' vs. those who believe entities are sentient beings that can be summoned into physical appearance. S. Connolly is of the latter camp, or at least mostly. She feels that given enough practice and skill, visual manifestations are indeed possible.
As aforementioned, a portion of the book is devoted to personal experiences. These include experiences with paranormal phenomena and recorded results of personal workings. Her personal stories help provide context for the book's information while assisting readers by way of example. In many ways this section reminded me of Lon Milo DuQuette's highly influential book, My Life With the Spirits, an amusing autobiographical journey filled with cautionary tales of 'goety gone wrong' and other gems of sagely magical advice. The rest of the book includes a list of "Infernal Gatekeepers". This includes the book's namesake, Colopatiron, the angel or genii who rules over the 9th hour, as found in The Nuctemeron of Apollonious of Tyana. Also included are their respective sigils, attributes, and uses. The book concludes with a number of rituals, magical recipes, and rites. Connolly also gives a number helpful tips and pointers on technique.
The edition reviewed here is one of the 30 Burgundy Bonded Leather editions. It's attractive in its pure simplicity -- a very sleek and modern grimoire. Its 'no frills' presentation perfectly suits the no-nonsense attitude of its author. The book is fully bound in highly textured burgundy bonded leather. For more on bonded leather please refer to my review on Sepher Raziel. The boards feel very solid and have a high sheen. The cover is blocked in copper with an ouroboros device and the seal of Ocat, the Gatekeeper of the Dead. The title is also blocked in copper on the spine. Endpapers are dark gray with a linen texture. Regrettably, the binding is perfect-bound (glued) rather than sewn-signatures, thus no head/tail bands. Paper is a crisp white with a smooth satin finish and of moderate weight (80#). I should note the paper has an assertive synthetic smell like that of new running shoes, which could be attributed to a paper-bleaching agent or perhaps the type of ink. It's not wholly unpleasant, just strange. Acrid odors emanating from a book about demons is probably a good sign. Illustrations consist of classic woodcuts and the author's own diagrams (all black and white). The text is sharp, clean, and remarkably free of typographical errors (unless they eluded me), the latter being a rare feat these days due to over-reliance on SpellCheck. Cheers to their proof reader.
My only criticism of The Infernal Colopatiron is that it seems a wee bit padded. I see little reason why a slim book of only 118 pages requires 16 different chapters. Some 'chapters' are as little as two pages. Each chapter heading and conclusion generally creates empty space ranging from about 1/2 to 2/3 of a page. Thus with 16 chapters there are collectively roughly 8 pages of empty space throughout. This brings the book to barely over 100 pages. It could have also benefited from including a Table of Contents. Connolly clearly has a lot of insightful information to impart to her readers, so why such brevity? The book left me wishing it had a bit more meat on the bone. Perhaps this is just an appetizer for something greater. I would normally hope for an expanded edition sometime in the future; however, the press claims that it will never be reprinted. Hint* Get it while you can.
Each copy is signed, consecrated, and sigilized by the author. One more thing of note: each copy includes a curse. Official Melissa Press has come up with a creative way to combat plagiarism. Anyone who reproduces the work will activate the curse and incur their wrath. It reads:
"For him who stealeth or illegally copy, scan upload this book, let it change into a serpent in his hand and shall Leviathan judge him. For each illegal copy he creates, something of value, whether person, life, or money will be taken from him. Let him languish in pain crying out for mercy, and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let the gatekeepers gnaw his entrails if he ever attempts the magick within and let the flames of Hell consume him forever. By Lucifuge and Amducious, it is done."So don't copy their book! Or anyone else's for that matter. Hopefully my quotes are not enough to trigger my doom. I think the spirits will recognize that I mean no offense. Leviathan and I are on pretty good terms anyway. That said, if this is the last book review I post, you all know my fate.
Over all The Infernal Colopatirion is a refreshingly down-to-earth and contemporary grimoire. S. Connally comes off as confident; and more importantly, competent with nothing to prove. Her diverse background and years of practical experience are apparent throughout the text. After this impressive fine bound debut I greatly look forward to future titles from Official Melissa Press.