For those who don’t already know, my third anthology as editor, That Hoodoo, Voodoo That You Do, was released on Monday by Angelic Knight Press, Ragnarok Publishing’s newly-aquired horror imprint. Of course, as the brains behind the operation, I was asked to provide an introduction. With my experiences, I could have written an entire book on rituals but, well…I edited one, instead.
This anthology is a love letter of sorts. I can hardly remember a time in my life when ritual wasn’t prevalent. In the months following the departure of my father from our lives, my mother turned back to the Catholic faith of her childhood, and my young self embraced it wholeheartedly, as children tend to do with something new they are curious about. When it failed to fill the same need in my life that it does for millions of others, I turned to the occult.
Though my taste in spiritual fare has tended more toward vanilla in the past decade, I also happen to be a United States soldier. Since I enlisted in 2000, my life has been no less filled with ritual than it was when I was lighting candles before Mass or praying around a campfire in the middle of the night. If anything, as I’ve risen through the ranks, I’ve gone from practitioner to priest, since I’m now responsible for showing newer soldiers how to perform the tasks that for me have been as automatic as breathing for years. If you think I’m stretching the analogy, I’m not. A quick search through the headlines shows how resistant we are to changes as simple as a uniform or how we conduct physical training. We soldiers can be as staunch and traditional as a church elder, I assure you.
I’d hazard to say that you, Dear Reader, don’t have a life too different from mine when it comes to ritual. If you feel inclined to argue, that’s fine; I can take it. I think I can win this one with two simple words, though: alarm clock. Most of our lives depend on a precision as vital as the timing in a witch’s grimoire. The world works on ritual. Things run smoothest when people perform their expected function. We tend to take other people’s roles for granted, as much as a parish priest expects his parishioners to show up on Sunday. As much as those parishioners expect him to be in the booth to hear their confessions on Saturday.
Of course, this book isn’t a pure, unabashed expression of admiration. The world doesn’t always work the way you want it to. People don’t always do what you think they will.
Things don’t always go according to plan. And while in the mundane, when a ritual doesn’t achieve the desired goal, one can usually simply go back to the drawing board and find a new way, when it comes to horror—well, let’s just say the price is a little higher.
December 7th, 2014