Introduction // Warlock
Updated: Jul 7
I've invited the writer Warlock to contribute to the project as a 'correspondent' artist. In this time of lockdown many people have found themselves connecting with nature in new ways. Warlock immerses himself in his immediate locale, creating new stories, mythologies and rituals. Here is what he has to say about himself:
The Northern Dark: Warlock’s Journal
“Afraid?” murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. “Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet – and yet – O, Mole, I am afraid!” Kenneth Grahame
To be a witch or warlock is to be a fool. To be a fool is to know nothing and be all the wiser for it. We live in peculiar times. It sometimes feels like we're screaming into the abyss. I’m a father and I don’t know what to do, but when I walk in the woods and the rivers I feel a sense of knowing.
I plan to walk in them more often.
As a child I was a Satanist. Not too long ago, I discovered a box of my old toys in Grandmother’s loft. In it was a red, plastic lunchbox with a carry-case handle, the sort you could bash someone over the head with. The Ghostbusters sticker had been removed and it was sealed shut with what appeared to be an entire roll of Sellotape. When I opened it I found a note. It was written in black felt tip on the back of a Woolworth’s receipt and was in my own spidery hand, though I had no recollection of writing it. It said ‘I do not like the devil.’ But I did like the devil. I liked him a lot. I found little warmth in the porcelain arms of Jesus, but plenty in the devil’s embrace. He was furry and warm, like one of Grandmother’s dogs. And he had beautiful horns that shined like my school shoes when I polished them.
In my teens I was given a computer and I used it to seek out the devil. I sent heartfelt messages to the Laveyan Church of Satan and received cryptic, dismissive replies. At fourteen my friends and I took the bus to Manchester to visit Afflecks Palace. Nearby, between a pub and a sex shop, was a place selling books on the Occult. Inside was a man with long, black hair. He wore a t-shirt with the words ‘Jesus is a Cunt’ on the back. He said he was a Satanist. I told him I wanted to be a Satanist too, but he told me I was reading the wrong books and that I needed to be careful. I decided the guy was a loser and gave up the devil for a while.
Later in my teens I made an enemy and sought out the devil once more. I cursed my enemy. I stayed up all night stabbing his image with a burnt pin and cried until I felt sick. I wanted him to fall off his moped and die and, one month later, he did fall of his moped. He missed a maths exam but didn’t die. I figured that was fair enough.
For years, I forgot all about him (the devil, I mean). Instead, I discovered drugs, Hip Hop and work. I pissed away a decade.
And then one day, as I was walking my dog in the woods, the devil came back. He came back at just the right time, as my mind was beginning to eat itself.
He was standing in the river and had horns, as you might expect, only they were white as birch branches. They were majestic in shape, like a goat's, though on subsequent meetings they would differ each time. Sometimes they were the broad antlers of the red deer, other times the curled horns of the ram. Sometimes, they jutted like the bull’s. But they were always white, as were his terrible eyes. His fur was green as moss and he wore a cloak of stiff, black hide. Spikes of thorn were wrapped tightly around his wrists and betwixt his horns sat a blazing candle of green. He stroked my forehead with his talloned paw and it felt like the touch of a father. Then he sat me down on a log and introduced himself.
He told me he is not the devil but the Dark, the Northern Dark, the light in the Dark. That he has lived in these lands since the time that the mysterious Dark Spirit retreated underground, leaving Old Mother Root and Father Stone to hold everything in place beneath the great fire. He told me about his love for Thorn, the creeping daughter of Old Mother Root, who offers pain and protection. He told me about Crow, who swoops and spears whoever he likes. He told me about the duplicitous Serpent who carries Crow’s victims down to the hell, where he whispers his own crooked truth to the spirit.
I met the Dark many times across a year of seasons, and he told me all manner of tales: of the various animal spirits and the terrifying spectres that haunt the North. He taught me how to whistle for Crow and send him darting after my enemies. He told me how to summon the Dark Spirit – but warned it would be the last thing I summoned. He taught me the way of the sword for protection and how to keep it sharp and clean from rust. He taught me the way of the branch and how to grow my mind like the mighty oak. He taught me the way of the bone and how to heal the body when it breaks.
And then he buggered off down a hole and I never saw him again.