Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Field Guide to Demons!

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As we creep closer to October 31st everyone's attention usually shifts a little bit more towards ghosts, goblins, and all things that go bump in the night. It is part of what makes the month of October so much fun. This really is the only time of year that such topics suddenly become socially acceptable. If you try reading a book like "A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits" in the middle of December everyone is going to think you are wacko. But near the month of October, this shit becomes research and valid one at that! You don't want to be stuck in some dark forest and find yourself face to face with an evil forest fairy. Or exploring a cave and accidentally uncover a dank, disgusting layer of a troll. Or worse yet be laying in bed one night and feel the presence of some demonic spirit entering your home! Like I said, valid research! So lets dive deep into the pages of a pretty cool book that is all about the things you thought only existed in fairy tales!

"Demons, fairies, and fallen angles are everywhere. They lurk at crossroads, crouch behind doors, hide in trees, slip into beds, wait in caves, hover at weddings and childbirths, disguise themselves as friends, relatives-even disguise themselves as you. They are powerful; they are protean; they are enchanting. And, to the uninformed, they are often invisible." This text is taken from the back cover of 'A Field Guide to Demons' and it helps to give you an idea of sorts as to what this book is all about. If you could not tell from its title this book is a reference guide to all things demonic. Though it does not limit itself to just evil spirits as everything from Mermaid's to Werewolf's and just about everything else in-between all make an appearance within these pages.

'A Field Guide to Demons' was co-wrote by Carol and Dinah Mack and is legitimately classified in the reference section of your local bookstore. So if you are looking for some sort of tounge-in-cheek novel in the vein of 'The Zombie Survival Guide', look elsewhere. 'A Field Guide to Demons' presents itself seriously and does actually function as a reference title. All the while managing to be pretty convincing in the process. Instead of listing its contents in alphabetical order it opts breaks everything up into the most likely place you will find these creature living. Water, Mountain, Forest, Desert, Domicile, and Psyche to be exact. This is a fun decision on the authors part as it keeps all the different types of creatures varied. Since 90% of the books audience is not going to be using this as an actual "field guide" is a great way to keep your average reader turning the pages and reading, instead of simply thumbing through the novel.

Pazuzu is a powerful demon!
"Pazuzu is a hybrid creature, with the feet of an eagle, the paws of a lion, the head of a dog, the tail of a scorpion, and four wings. Half his head is skinless and the skull is exposed. he has a deathlike grimace. Pazuzu, or rather the image of him, would be found perched in the window of any ancient home, facing outward."

This is a small exert from the opening description of the Pazuzu demon (who resides in the Domicile [ie: your house] environment) and gives you a fairly good indication of how most of the books subjects are covered. The interesting ones get the books full treatment which includes an artists rendition of what they might look like, which ended up being one of my favorite aspects of this book. Also included is a "lore" or history of the creature. For most this section is where the meat and potatoes of the books contents will lie. The history of these creates is often based from actual mythology. Pazuzu, for example, his lore states that he was populorized in Hollywood as being the demon who possessed Regan in 'The Exorcist' though this is considered 'unusual behavior' for this type of demon. From here the book moves on to 'Dispelling & Disarming Techniques' should you ever find yourself face to face with one of these inhabatents. These generally cover popular methods from all cultures. In China, they suggest laying mirrors on your roof to deflect evil spirits. Jewish folk tradition has a warding-off technique that  has you writing "So-and-so is not home" on the door of your house. As well as other methods for removing the Pazuzu demon.

None of this of course means you should take the book as anything more than a simple collection of popular legend and folk lore. Think of it as a book of fairy tails for adults. Do not confuse 'A Field Guide to Demons' with some sort of occult, black magic, or voodoo novel. They call it a "field guide" simply because that is a creative title and a good way to market this book. It is instead a really cool reference guide with a lot of information about popular mythological characters. Nobody really expects you to believe everything that is presented here as fact but that does not mean that it is not an entertaining, fun read. It is a fairly short book too, coming in at 274 pages. Meaning that you should easily be able to finish 'A Field Guide to Demons' over the course of the weekend. Making it a great book to check out during the Halloween Season!

2 comments:

  1. Wow, looks like an interesting read. It's a good way to get into the Halloween spirit!

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  2. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is a nice spooky book that's will keep you interested from start to finish! Great fun around Halloween time!

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