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Raymond BucklandRaymond Buckland

Raymond Buckland: The Man of Magic Writes a Mystery

by Melanie Marquis

Raymond Buckland, known to many as the “Father of American Witchcraft,” is a man of mystery and intrigue. Like his latest work, Golden Illuminati (Pendraig Publishing), a mystery thriller set in the Victorian era, he seems to be infused with that rare and subtle mystical quality, that aura of intrigue that draws people in and makes us curious to delve deeper. Author of over sixty books including the near-classic Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Raymond has made countless contributions to the body of occult philosophy and knowledge. In the early ‘60s, he left his native England to come to America and take a leading role in introducing Wicca, the modern religion of real-life witches, to the states. He's one of today's leading authorities on magic and the occult, and with over 2 million copies of his works in print worldwide, his non-fiction is well known and wide spread. But fewer people have discovered the other side of Raymond's writing life—his fiction books that are in fact a greater passion for him than his non-fiction. From the 2008 release of his first fantasy novel, The Torque of Kernow, it was clear that his talent for weaving words extends well into the realm of telling fantastic yet realistic tales. His latest book, Golden Illuminati, centers around the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a real-world magical society that has been quite influential in the development of occult science. I recently caught up with Raymond to find out more about this thrilling new novel and the mystery behind the man who wrote it.

Melanie Marquis: You're best known for writing witchcraft and magic books, but I understand you have an even greater passion for fiction writing. What do you like best about writing fiction?

Raymond Buckland: I love the freedom of writing fiction...to be able to create characters and actions; to take historical figures and events and blend them with fictional characters and events. It can be a challenge to make it all believable. I especially love the research that is necessary in order to bring about that believability.

MM: You just released a new mystery book, Golden Illuminati. Tell me about it.

RB: The basis of the story, which is set in 1899, is the Illuminati's attempts to create a New World Order. In order to do so, of course, they first  need to get rid of the old order. This they do by assassinating various world leaders and bringing about revolutions and turmoil. This much is based on historical facts. In Golden Illuminati, they make use of MacGregor Mathers, leader of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the foremost British magical society of the day. Mathers is entrusted to provide the financing for a plot to assassinate Queen Victoria. This he seems able to do if he can decipher clues left by the alchemist Nicolas Flamel, which will lead to the secret of creating gold out of base metal. Scotland Yard is on to this plot and obtain the services of a book shop owner, Alec Chambers, who is an expert on alchemical texts. Together with a few friends, Chambers follows Mathers and his cronies across Europe as they unravel the mystery of where Flamel, and his notebooks, is buried. It is a race against time and leads to a climax of trying to save the life of the queen. The book has been described as “the very best Dan Brown story set in the age of Queen Victoria.”

MM: Are you focusing more on fiction writing now than on non-fiction?

RB: More on fiction, and in particular, on the Victorian mystery genre. I also enjoy fantasy of the Tolkien variety (as in my Torque of Kernow), though Victorian mysteries are uppermost at the moment.

MM: One thing that makes for a good fiction and fantasy writer is a vivid imagination. What sort of imagination games did you like to play when you were little?

RB: I was drawn into the theater very early (I played my first part – in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” – when I was about ten or eleven) and was able to live out a lot of fantasy in that way. But as a child I shared a room for many years with my older brother and, from quite early on, he would insist that I tell him a story as we lay in bed. I would make up these wondrous fantasy tales only to find that, at some point, he had fallen asleep! So I told tales and wrote stories probably a lot more than I played. Growing up during the Second World War, when we did play, it was usually Cowboys and Indians or English against Germans!

MM: What do you like to play now?

RB: It depends who I’m playing with! Actually I’m still drawn to fantasy. If I had the opportunity (I now live out in the middle of nowhere, so don’t get it) I would probably be active in something like the Society for Creative Anachronisms. I play mostly in my mind, but much of it will (hopefully) eventually find its way onto paper and into book form.

MM: What do you like best and least about living on your little farm?

RB: I think I like just about everything about living on the farm, or at least on this particular one.  We are way out in the middle of nowhere (on a dirt road) so it's the ideal place to work.  The only problem I have is that I love cars --and have a couple of low sports cars--and these dirt roads are not good for such vehicles with their low ground clearance.  I have to drive very slowly till I get out to the hardtop!

MM: Do you really believe in magic?

RB: Oh yes! Where would we be without magic? However, one would need to define magic. I do not go in for sitting down trying to “cast spells,” as seems to be the popular belief  for many younger folk.

MM: In many books and movies, magic is portrayed as supernatural. Can you describe the difference between fantastic, supernatural magic and real, natural magic as is modernly practiced by witches and occultists today?

RB: Magic is not supernatural. It is really quite natural. It is – as Aleister Crowley defined it - causing change to occur in conformity with will. In other words, making something happen that you want to happen. I believe very much that we create our own realities, and this is really all that magic is. It is creating your own reality; making happen what you want to happen. The type of magic often presented in some books, in many movies, and in much television, is supernatural in that it is highly improbable. The wave of a “magic wand” to turn a salesman into a toad is most improbable! Yet to work on a person to the point where they become very toad-like, is possible (though I encourage positive transformations, not negative ones!). To take someone who is extremely ill – has perhaps been given up on by the medical establishment - and then to bring about a cure would seem like magic to many, yet is a form of healing magic performed regularly by many Witchcraft groups and individuals, for example.

MM: You've written over sixty books on witchcraft, magic, and the occult, and now you're quickly adding fiction titles to the list, as well. How do you stay so prolific as a writer?

RB: The secret is simply that I love to write. I always have. It gives great freedom yet is very disciplinary. I have more ideas for books than I will ever have time to write...in this lifetime.

 

Visit Raymond Buckland on the web at www.raybuckland.com
and order Golden Illuminati from www.pendraigpublishing.com

Melanie Marquis

Melanie Marquis is the author of The Witch's Bag of Tricks (June 2011, Llewellyn Publications). She's written for a variety of publications including E Magazine, New Age Retailer, Aura Magazine, SFX, and Pentacle, and she is the lead reporter for the American Tarot Association's Quarterly Journal. Living near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, she enjoys nature, writing, cooking, and art. Visit her online at http://www.melaniemarquis.com