Category Archives: Musings

Witchcraft in Illinois Teaser Video

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Witchcraft in Illinois is Now Available!

After over seven years of writing, editing, and researching, my book on the history of witchcraft in Illinois is finally available on Amazon.com (coming soon to a store near you)! It is 192 pages with 37 rarely-seen images.

Although Illinois saw no dramatic witch trials, witchcraft has been a part of Illinois history and culture from French exploration to the present day.

On the Illinois frontier, pioneers pressed silver dimes into musket balls to ward off witches, while farmers dutifully erected fence posts according to phases of the moon.

In 1904, the quiet town of Quincy was shocked to learn of Bessie Bement’s suicide, after the young woman sought help from a witch doctor to break a hex.

In turn-of-the-century Chicago, Lauron William de Laurence’s occult publishing house churned out manuals for performing bizarre rituals intended to attract love and exact revenge.

For the first time in print, Michael Kleen presents the full story of the Prairie State’s dalliance with the dark arts.

With a foreword by Owen Davies, Professor of Social History, University of Hertfordshire. Author of America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft after Salem (2013).

The paperback sells for $21.99 and the Kindle edition sells for $12.99. Order today!

Witchcraft in Illinois Available Sept 18

Just a few days remain before my new book Witchcraft in Illinois: A Cultural History officially goes on sale Monday, September 18. The paperback sells for $21.99 and the Kindle edition sells for $12.99. I don’t have a copy to show you yet, but the interior is beautifully designed, with 37 rarely-seen images.

Here are the ten most interesting highlights from the book:

  • This is the first and only book to examine the subject of witchcraft in Illinois.
  • It fills a large gap in the understanding of witchcraft as it relates to Illinois history.
  • It examines little-known or forgotten episodes and events in Illinois history.
  • It contains primary sources that have never been seen in print.
  • It reveals the truth behind Illinois’ oldest tale of witchcraft—the execution of two French slaves in 1779.
  • It shows the connection between witch beliefs in Illinois and those in early modern Europe.
  • It shows how witch beliefs have always been a part of Illinois history, from the frontier to the present day.
  • It shows how witch beliefs proliferated in both rural areas and cities like Chicago and its suburbs.
  • It examines not simply cases of witchcraft, but also superstitions and beliefs about witches and folk magic.
  • It reveals the startling fact that witch doctors practiced alongside modern medicine in Illinois well into the 1920s.

You can still Pre-order the book before September 18th.

Look at these Pretenders

Look at Kellogg’s trying to muscle into General Mills’ Halloween-themed cereal market. Sorry guys, you’ll never be Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo-Berry.

Nothing beats the originals!

Why I ‘Unliked’ Social Media

How often have you pulled up your Twitter or Facebook feed and seen nothing but fake news or ridiculous headlines?

How often have you been drawn into worthless arguments that lead nowhere?

How often have you seen someone you used to respect post something completely stupid that changes your opinion of them entirely?

How often have you “unfriended” or “unfollowed” someone for any of the above reasons?

How much time do you spend repeatedly checking updates on social media?

I’ve had a Facebook account since 2005, when you still needed a .edu email address to sign up for an account and it was just about sharing pictures and organizing events with your college buddies.

Even back then social media was kinda worthless. Remember Myspace and the social manipulation of arranging your “top eight” friends?

Over the years, I’ve considered deactivating my accounts so many times, but the thought of losing touch with all my friends kept me hooked. Facebook even uses that fear to guilt-trip you into keeping your account when you try to leave.

I’ve also used Facebook in the past to successfully promote my books and articles, but here’s a secret: it doesn’t work anymore unless you pay for it.

Facebook allows you to create pages to stay in touch with your fans, but hardly any of them will ever see what you post unless you “pay to promote.” Twitter recently adopted this model as well.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter use your social connections and personal information to make money. I don’t have a problem with it–you voluntarily sign up and they have to stay profitable.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have begun censoring users, deleting or hiding posts they deem offensive and banning or suspending nonconformist accounts. Again, they are private companies and I support their right to decide what kind of content is shown on their platforms.

But does that mean I should continue to use those platforms? Not at all. Tech execs like to pretend these platforms have become an indispensable part of modern life. They’re wrong. I can live without ever seeing another funny cat photo.

At this point, the drawbacks to social media far outweigh the supposed benefits. I decided not to support it anymore, to focus on growing my website and finding other, healthier ways to connect with friends and family.

So if you really want to keep in touch, send me an email (the old fashioned way). I’d love to hear from you.

Stockholm Inn – Rockford’s Best Kept Secret

Ok, it’s not much of a secret, but I love their Swedish pancakes so much I had to share. This is definitely a local delicacy. I’ve never seen Swedish pancakes on a menu outside the Rockford, Illinois area. Stockholm Inn is located in a strip mall at 2420 Charles Street if you’re ever in the area.