Ian Cat Vincent has accepted to answer a few questions about the case and its famous monster : how can a monster leave our imagination to reach the real world ? And how can we, then, make him disappear ?
How do you exorcise Slenderman from the internet ?
You can’t! As I mentioned in my second Darklore article, quoting Alan Moore, you can’t kill an idea. What you can do, rather, is to work against a specific manifestation or instance of Slenderman – I talk a little about this in that article (and its footnotes on my website) and a lot more in my recent lecture given in London at Treadwells bookshop.
Basically, there are three approaches (which can be combined): fight a manifestation on its own terms, counter it with something summoned from a different mythos which it has no protection against, or to attack the underlying mythos itself (with, say, parody).
Or, if you’ve got the know-how and magical technique to back it up… just tell him to fuck off.
What is your reaction to the recent tragedy ?
This is an awful tragedy, and the families of all involved have my deepest sympathy.
People have claimed that gods and devils had driven them to perform terrible acts, even to kill, for centuries. For Slenderman to be named as the cause of such a death is a new, but not surprising, aspect of an ancient human problem.
How did you come to be interested in, as you call it, « weird shit » ? Can you explain this fascination ?
I was, basically, a very weird child! I had a lot of low-grade psychic manifestations as a kid from about the age of 7 (precognitive dreams, sensing oddness etc), and I was soon fascinated by mythology. Luckily, the local library did not stop me reading any books I wanted… I was soon reading quite high-level psychology and occult books by Crowley, John Lilly, Tim Leary and the like, which opened up my world view and gave me the very necessary tools to cope with what I was sensing and experiencing.
When I was about 12, I read the work of Robert Anton Wilson for the first time, and his multi-model perspective was life-changing. His angle towards how language shapes our beliefs, and through that our perception of reality, gave me a vital perspective which continues to influence my approach to everything, not just the occult.
You have engaged in « field work », what did it consist of ?
Most of my field work consisted of helping people who had problems of a paranormal nature – they believed they were haunted or cursed, or that their house had some kind of taint. This has ranged from on-the-spot teaching of how to do shielding and cleansing rituals to performing banishings and breaking curses on someone’s behalf to all-night video surveillance of possible night visitations.
What is combat magic ?
Using magical techniques to defend against or oppose other magical or occult action. An awful lot of it consists of sensing what kind of magic has been used against a person or place, and then finding a countermeasure – though sometimes, it’s closer to a reflex-based martial art. Using my personal energy or Qi against another’s. In my main model of magical action, spell-casting is basically a structure of Qi given a set of instructions – the trick is to deflect, riposte and counter either the energy itself, or the instructions.
It’s also a lot like bomb disposal – you need to understand how to make bombs in order to be able to safely stop them working without them blowing you up. Sadly, I now know a lot about curses.
How did paranormal security firm Athanor consulting came to be ? Did you have many clients ?
By the time I reached my early twenties I was the go-to guy in my circle of friends for odd and occult-related problems. I picked up a lot of experience helping them out, and eventually turned that experience to use when I founded Athanor Consulting, my paranormal protection company (which existed from 2001 to 2006). At the time, there was a boom in ‘feng-shui’ practitioners – people who would come into your home and tty to improve the Qi flow for you – but nobody in the UK was offering any kind of service to help people with anything other than very minor problems… I wanted to help those people, and establish some level of professionalism in doing so.
We didn’t have a lot of clients – maybe 4 to 6 a year at the peak. This was mostly due to my policy of never taking a client who would be better served by normal rather than paranormal means, such as seeking therapy. Most people who believe they are cursed do so because of what’s basically bad luck – economic downturn, romantic disappointments. Actual effective cursing is pretty rare, though nasty when it happens.
Is it similar to exorcism ?
In a sense… though in the (very few) exorcisms I’ve done, there always seemed to be an element of aspects of the sufferer’s own personalities being drawn out by the ‘possessing entity’ rather than it being a direct forcing of a new persona into them. It’s a tricky subject – on one level I always stick to a policy of treating strange phenomena “as if” they are real rather than “as” real (allowing me to not get hung up on a single explanation for an event), but at the time you really have to treat the appearance of a possessing entity as though it’s real – for a given definition of real, of course!
You have a firm belief in the occult, but you seem to disprove (disapprove of?) religions. Why ?
My biggest problem with organised religion of all kinds is that they invariably claim to be The One Truth. As a Taoist and disciple of RA Wilson’s perspective, I simply can’t agree with that.
As the saying goes, The Tao that can be expressed is NOT the Tao – as soon as you apply language to mystical phenomena, something is lost, and invariably dogma gets directly in the way of experiencing and understanding that. And, my experience has shown that for the most part people do good or bad things despite deeply held religious belief rather than because of them.
I know many good people of faith – in both the majority religions and many of the lesser-known ones. But the ones I truly respect are those who can get past the given tenets of their faith and consider the possibility that nobody has all the answers. (And that emphatically includes me! My standard operating position is always that if I start to believe I have all the answers, it’s time to start looking very hard at where I’m getting something wrong.)
What is the evil you believe to exist ?
The evil that men do.
Although I have experienced some things which seem (and I must emphasise that!) to have been non-human entities which were malicious, I don’t believe in Evil as a force in the Christian sense. But I believe that the cruelty people have and the nasty things they do leave a taint, on both them and the places and people they affect. Sometimes, that taint can become almost alive… and do a lot of harm.
Do you think everybody should be interested, even a bit, in occult and esoteric works ?
Not necessarily… most people won’t ever need to be, and many who are interested only ever encounter the theoretical or mythological side. But I do think people should be prepared to learn about and try to understand beliefs and experiences different from their own perspective – but not blindly. Strangely, there’s a lot of skepticism in the competent magician… that “treat thing as if not as real” perspective I mentioned earlier. There’s a big difference between listening to someone’s stories and beliefs, and assuming them to be as real as the teller believes they are.