Uncle Ramsey's Little Book of Demons
Ramsey Dukes, Aeon Books 2005, ISBN 1 904658 040. 256 pages, p/bk
This is the latest book by British occult scene luminary, Ramsey Dukes. Ramsey has been responsible for many great works over a long period of time, including SSOTMBE (Sex Secrets of the Black Magicians Exposed) and Thundersqueak, both of which played a not insignificant influence on Chaos magic in its formative years. If Pete Caroll is the Steven Hawking of chaos magic (sans wheelchair), then Ramsey Dukes is its Heath Robinson, eschewing the "hard science" approach for all kinds of delightful and eccentric inventions. As you might be able to tell from those titles, this is not your "git 'ard" Chaos tome. Ramsey has a great sense of humour and seems to delight in deconstructing every rigid idea he comes across, even (especially?) his own.
Like many great books, this one has a single, simple idea as its theme. This being a review I'm not going to tell you what it is - you'll have to go and buy it for yourself. Trust me, it's worth it. Suffice to say, it revolves around the idea of animism, seeing and then negotiating with the demons and spirits all around us. Many occult authors might have turned this into your bog standard manual of techniques - "for banishment of acne, see ritual on page 38" - but not our Ramsey. Instead, we get a closely argued trip through the subtleties and shades of his thinking, as he tries his idea on for size in different situations, and rejects, revises, and counter-argues, thereby illuminating all of its sides. I found my own thinking enriched by taking the time to follow his arguments, and anyway, how can you not love a book that proposes the office photocopier might be falling in love with you?
I particularly enjoyed the fact that he expands his remit beyond the usual concerns of occultism and uses his ideas to talk and think about society and contemporary politics. It's a delight to see these areas discussed with such insight and humour in occult literature, which often doesn't get further than "… and then (insert group) will take over the world".
I was pleased to find a section close to the beginning dealing with jobs and employment, as I've recently had some difficulties in this area. Imagine my exasperation when I found out Uncle Ramsey didn't tell me exactly what the answer was. I was about to squat outside his house until he told me precisely what to do, steps A through Z, until I decided to follow his books advice and actually start thinking for myself. Buy it and hopefully you'll find the same inspiration. - Danny Lowe