Mercury’s Brother

Callum James


It’s a conceit. And it is also true. A conceit to live by.

Callum James is a poet, an artist, a rare book dealer, a magician, diviner and writer. He has a deep background in Christianity and now considers himself an animist. His writing concerns are about landscape, memory, trauma, and magic, all through a queer lens.  He grew up on an island but has lived most of his adult life in very urban settings. He was, for over fifteen years, the author of the now archived blog ‘Front Free Endpaper’. He is no stranger to mental illness and finds himself on the other side of a number of deep crises which have all shaped his person and his praxis.


The South Downs. Paths of the Dead

Broken Sleep Books, 2024

At the beginning of February 2022, I read a book about the South Downs called The Old Weird Albion by Justin Hopper. As I closed the book, I decided to walk the South Downs Way, one hundred miles from Winchester to the coast at Eastbourne. I made this resolution in the wake of five years which had seen a heart-attack, an operation to remove one third of my lungs, and increasing pain and difficulty walking from the arthritis in both my knees.

Some people complete the walk in not much more than a long weekend. I resolved to walk five miles one day each weekend and set off the next Sunday to do just that. I finally limped down the steep hill into Eastbourne at the beginning of June.

Nearly every book of landscape today is written with a detached interest in the folklore, spirits, and magic of a place. I have written about this walk as one who does this magic, speaks to these spirits, and follows this lore. This book is partly a grimoire of the South Downs, partly a linear topography, partly a treatise on necromancy, partly the notebook of my walk. As a result, this is a book which is neither fiction nor non-fiction, because those categories don’t work when you leave materialism behind. It is story.

Available Here // 978-1-916938-07-6 // 82 pages // RRP £9.99



Verbal – Trans Verbal – Asemic

Callum’s conventional poetry has been published or is upcoming in numerous venues including, The Wolf, Ambit, Magma, The Dark Horse, Orbis, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, The Dawntreader and others. 

Poems based on the life of the Breton folk-saint Herve, and on the Stations of the Cross appeared in the anthology of ekphrastic poetry, The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Work of Clive Hicks-Jenkins

In non-pandemic times he runs a monthly poetry evening at the ‘world famous’ Petersfield Bookshop: ‘The Dead Poets Salon’. Half of each evening is given over to the life, letters and work of a dead poet and half to a lively open mic session. 

Increasingly, his conventional poetry has been complimented by techniques of extreme restraint and liberation such as cut-up and asemic poetry. During the long lockdowns of 2020 he created The Anatomy of an Art Student, a book of cut-up poems using the a 1930s book of anatomy for art students. Some of these can be seen at Inksweatandtears.com

Callum’s asemic poetry (of which more elsewhere) and indeed all his poetic work, is a part of his magical praxis.



The Book of YstwythMagic


A long journey

Callum has a magical praxis which is animist, spirit-based and draws from a heady mix of Christianity, Chaos Magic, Medieval European magic, and the Greek Magical Papyri.

He has never called himself a witch but does stand in the same places as The Witch, at crossroads, shorelines, on lonely paths, in deep forests and edgelands. He is a stile-sitter. 

He honours ancestors of place, of blood and of protest. His queer identity means he stands in a line of millions of other queer bodies lived and loved in. 

Divination, scrying and spell-work are all a part of Callum’s lifeway but he is firm in the adage “Make your life magic, don’t make magic your life” (atrrib to many but perhaps ‘Ramsey Dukes’) 

Callum is particularly interested in speaking with spirits of place and the creatures of the natural world. This path includes both traditional forms and more experimental engagements involving art and bodily presence, voice and dance.  






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