By now, you’ve probably seen the cover for COMMUNION.
Big thanks to Gavin at Kendall Reviews for sharing it with the world for the reveal this past week.
For those that missed it, VOILA
Once again, Mason McDonald delivered a stunning cover and one that both relates back to the bleakness of the cover for Ritual, but also gives you an idea of the direction this sequel takes.
As I said in the cover reveal post, the ebook will again be $0.99 to match Ritual. I don’t have a confirmed release date yet, but will keep you posted!
Recently, on my private readers group on Facebook (if you are on Facebook, come, join the fun! https://www.facebook.com/groups/SteveStredReadersGroup/) I asked what people wanted to see/what questions they had. Author Eleanor Merry (Dead Awake series) said she’d love to see what dark areas of the web I entered while researching Ritual and COMMUNION.
I posted the following on that page, but now want to share it with you all!
I think a lot of people who have read Ritual and those who have now read COMMUNION in beta form do have some questions about the background of these two reads for two reasons; A) they are quite graphic and B) they’ve started to connect some dots.
I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible for those who have not read either, but mostly for those who have read Ritual and are intrigued with COMMUNION. There is a third book coming and I will mention one brief moment related to Book Three, but I can promise it is not a spoiler.
The novella has a singular focus – told through two converging characters. Brad – the chosen one, aka Mr. Boring. When I wrote this piece, I wanted the mundane nature of Brad’s daily life to really create this sense of ‘hey, I know this guy.’ I find this is the frequent narrative of horrible news. Someone does something and the neighbours and co-workers always say ‘he just seemed like a normal guy.’ I find this to be a very frequent theme within organized religion. Now, I will say – I won’t bash religion here, and truthfully, I don’t believe Ritual or COMMUNION do in fact bash religion. I think both are more a discussion on the zealot level some become. Which leads us to the 2nd converging character – Father. Father is a true leader of a cult. He commands power, has charisma and charm and believes he will ascend to the chosen place – in this fictional world, that place is the Black Heavens.
So, to start with, let’s discuss three pieces of stuff here – Abaddon, Sheol and the Black Heavens.
(Apollyon aka Abaddon)
Abaddon and Sheol are both entities as well as places. Abaddon is referred to as the King of an Army of Locusts, as well as The Angel of Death and the Destroyer. He is also known as Apollyon. Abaddon is also referred to as Doom or a bottomless pit.
Sheol is referred to as the darkness where spirits are kept, or the underworld. Some refer to Sheol as Hades itself. Sheol has also been referenced as an underworld Deity similar to Nergal.
(Sheol as defined as a place)
The Black Heavens is a completely fictional place that I’ve created for this trilogy. It is loosely based off of a theory known as Chaosophy. This was something propagated by a Swedish cult known as Misanthropic Luciferian Order (MLO). Now, I just want to interject – if you google MLO – be warned that they have some horrific ideals that do not fall in line with my personal beliefs. MLO is now known as Temple of the Black Light. The most famous member of MLO was Jon Nödtveidt of the band Dissection. Jon killed himself in 2006 by self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found in a circle of candles and conspiracy folks (aided by interview quotes from Jon’s brother) have said that Jon followed a Ritual to ascend. Through MLO they’ve decreed this Chaosophy which doesn’t follow the biblical creation theory but instead follows what they’ve labelled Liber Azerate – creation through chaos.
“In the beginning, there was nothing but the energy of Chaos. Absu and Tiamat slept, and dreamed their darkest dreams. And all was good until their dark dreams began to spawn the cosmic gods.”
Liber Azerate is also a grimoire created by MLO aka TotBL which describes Azerate specifically as “the hidden name of the “eleven anti-cosmic gods.” See where this is going? Two of those anti-cosmic gods are listed as Abbadon and Sheol.
Dissection’s album ‘Reinkaos.’ The lyrics and music were written and created specifically in line with MLO tenets and designed to invoke the anti-cosmic gods.
So, with Ritual and Father specifically, in order to ascend to the Black Heavens to live forever/achieve immortality, Father must work with Sheol and Abaddon to complete the Ritual and Father and his followers will live forever in the chaos of cosmic time.
Now, let’s chat a bit about Father and the complex. I think for most people the most famous occultist of all is Aleister Crowley.
Crowley loosely inspired Father based on a few things. While Crowley was a known drug user and wanted to expand his mind and attempt to open up all of the worlds available to him, I’ve kept Father as a straight forward “preacher” figure. He shuns drugs, shuns fornication with women and is focused solely on the singular desire to achieve immortality. Like Crowley though, Father has a penchant for males and in order to relieve some of his anger and frustrations, Father has decided Brad aka the chosen one, as his outlet. I used this relationship as a way to create a despicable abuser, one who is seen as horrific by Brad but revered by the flock.
This theme will play out a bit more in COMMUNION.
Crowley developed his beliefs of Thelema when he wrote “The Book of the Law” in 1904. Crowley also owned The Abbey of Thelema in Italy, which was my inspiration for the complex in Ritual. Preacher’s Rock is a fictional structure/formation that I used to act as a way for Father to physically move closer to the cosmos.
(Outside of The Abbey of Thelema on the left, inside of a room on the right.)
(Artwork and graffiti adorning wall in The Abbey of Thelema.)
One of the frequent Thelema and Chaosophy features is the usage of the number 11. This does creep up within Ritual and COMMUNION but will feature more prominently in book three.
There you have it. A slightly deeper dive into both Ritual and COMMUNION. I have attached some pictures of Abaddon, Sheol and The Abbey of Thelema. I found these pictures through deeper dives into the stuff I’ve mentioned here, but they are also easily found on Google and through Wikipedia.
Wound Upon Wound
I did a surprise cover reveal for my serial novella Wound Upon Wound in my Instagram stories as well this week. Mason once again created a great piece!
Chapter Four is now live and as I said previously, once this story ends it will be available as a free ebook and a paperback version for as cheap as I can make it!
You can read the latest chapter or catch up on the full story so far here;
New chapter next Friday!
That’s all I got for this week!
I’ll see you next week with some more writing news!