The Ravenwood Disaster

What Really Happened?

Ravenwood House

Those familiar with the history of America in the 1970s will recall the Ravenwood Disaster, in which thirteen college students and faculty met their end in a basement apartment near Russell University in Columbia, South Carolina in the spring of 1972.

Some truth, but much more falsehood, has been written about that tragedy. The Ravenwood Thirteen have been called witches, orgiasts, devil worshippers, drug trippers, a suicide cult, even a terrorist group somehow slain by their own intended weapons. Witches indeed they were – well, most of them – but none of those other things: bold explorers, rather, in worlds beyond this one we all know. Explorers who, through sad mischance on their greatest journey, were unable to return.

Ravenwood Associates was formed to honor the memory of the Thirteen who died, to share information, and hopefully, eventually, to set the record straight before the public. That last was impossible in the years closely following the disaster, and some details can likely never be told. The passage of nearly half a century, though, has brought widening public acceptance and understanding of philosophies, religions and lifestyles far from the common norm.

It is time, therefore, to reveal as much as prudence and old oaths of secrecy allow.

The Ravenwood Series

Hi, and merry meet! I’m Jack Peredur, narrator of the Ravenwood series. I hope you’ll enjoy these books I’m putting together.

Beginning soon after the Ravenwood Disaster, at a friend’s suggestion I began keeping a series of spiral-bound notebooks as home-grown psychotherapy to help me cope with that staggering loss.  My account began as a reconstruction of events leading up to the Disaster, then continued for several years afterward as a diary.

Finding those notebooks again in 2007, while moving from Calhoun to the new Ravenstead near Belvedere, inspired me to rework them into a memoir of the months and events leading up to the Disaster and immediately following it.  After lengthy discussion at Lammas, 2018, the expanded Garret Gang voted to let that memoir be published in book form, along with supplementary material we have accumulated since.  These materials together form the Ravenwood Series.

The Author – Jack Peredur

So, what are these books: this “Ravenwood Series” I’m offering?

Born in New Jersey in ‘49 I’ve always loved science, so in college I decided to major in chemistry. Alas, on graduating I found there were NO JOBS for a chemist with just a Bachelor’s degree and no work experience. Nor was there enough left in my dwindling college fund to take me further.

I nearly threw my chemistry sponge back in the beaker then, and went to work for my father George selling hardware in his store and doing home repairs. Just then, though, my advisor’s old mentor – a respected researcher in his field! – sent out a call for a student to help him while working toward a Master’s degree. The fly in the flask, though, was that he lived and taught at Calhoun University in (as my mother Doreen said) “the hot, far-off wilds” of inland South Carolina.

After wrestling for weeks with the decision – while George steadily urged me to go, and Doreen, to stay! – I accepted, and Doctor Knight at Calhoun accepted me as well.

And though ultimately I threw in that chemistry sponge after all, I still make the South my home.  It was here I met my wife Suzanne, and made some of the best friends a man could ever ask for.  It was here I found a “new” career as a licensed handyman and builder – first as an employee of Homefixers based in Seven Oaks, and later as its owner – while Sue, a former dress designer in Paris, went into business herself as creator of the Midnight Confections line of intimate apparel.

It was here, too, that together we found the key to entering worlds beyond this one we all know. That’s far too complex and arcane a subject for this short web page, though. The tale of our discovery, and all that resulted from it, I’m telling at length in Ravenwood: A Seeker’s Memoir.

On retiring in 2007 Sue and I left Calhoun along with our two best friends and, pooling our resources, bought a broken-down farm they’d found near Belvedere, South Carolina. In memory of colleagues lost to tragedy, we’ve renamed it the Ravenstead. My office is here, and it’s here, along with helping restore the farm buildings one by one, that I’m spending most of my time compiling old notes and diaries to create the Ravenwood Series: not just my Seeker’s Memoir, but also some other books I hope my readers will find interesting and useful.

Ravenwood?

Sue and I are also regular attendees at FantaSci in Durham, NC each March, ConGregate in Winston-Salem, NC each July, and CONjuration in Atlanta, GA each November. In years when we don’t have a vendor booth, look for us out on the floor. I’ll be the bearded one in lab coat and safety glasses, while Sue’s usually in well-tailored blue. We may or may not be together. And, yes: there’s a small prize each year for the first person recognizing each of us there.

Just ask,
“Ravenwood?”

Here’s a Hint

The Books

hover over the images to read the book blurb

The Moon Path
The Moon Path

With fresh-found love in a new town, Jack Peredur and Suzanne Marat have a leg up on life in the 1970s – or do they? Lured by a leading scientist’s promise of mentorship Jack’s come from New Jersey to a college in the South. Suzanne has traveled further, giving up a promising career as a dress designer in Paris.

Though she seems to be winning Jack’s heart, Suzanne dreads the day he learns the terrible reason she left France behind. When their clothes come off and the truth comes out, will her beauty and charm be enough to keep him from turning away in horror?

Nick Valentine and Alaine Lancaster are locals: he a shaper of psychedelic light, she a reader of the Tarot. But when the image on a card she’s dealt to Jack turns suddenly real before her eyes, Alaine begins to guess what danger soon may drag them all from the world they know…

Into the shadows of The Moon Path.

The Garrett
The Garret

Though in a temple of Nature Suzanne has now bared soul and body to confess her awful secret before the Gods, Jack remains bound to her by love and they still seem destined to walk the Moon Path together.

But as Alaine teaches them the ways of witchcraft, Jack’s roommate Hadrian Marsan launches his own quest for “Mindpower” using the ways of science. Will their converging paths lead to collaboration, or to betrayal? How far can Hadrian be trusted?

Meanwhile, Alaine’s cards predict her lover Carl Ehrhardt will soon return from war. As she plans their new life together Nick finds a “garret” for them to rent, cheap but needing repairs and restoration. With students’ meager resources, can even Alaine’s magic help them ready it in time for Carl’s arrival?

And who is that emerald-eyed woman who holds such “mindpower” over Jack? And what will happen when she and Hadrian come up at last to The Garret?

The Magic Theater
The Magic Theater

The warning of Alaine’s cards has come true and Suzanne has fled, a victim of Hadrian’s treachery. Will she ever return? Or will emerald-eyed Norma Stevens, with her empathic powers and healing touch, take Suzanne’s place in the new-formed coven and in Jack’s affections?

Meanwhile, experiments with hypnotic mind-travel have brought astonishing results. Suzanne once saw herself on spiral stairs beneath Tarot-card tapestries. Now others, all unprompted, are describing that same place. Is it just a dream they somehow share, or is it real? Does that spiral lead down to another world?

…As high on the mountaintop above a town long cursed and forsaken, potent energies are gathering unseen….

What perils await Alaine’s new coven as they start exploring The Magic Theater?

Dark Domains
Dark Domains

After a perilous journey across the nation, Nick’s lover Dawn has returned. But curses follow her, clinging like mud from Louisiana swamps. Is the dark world haunting her sleep just a nightmare, or terribly, lethally real? What dangers must the new coven face to save her from the wrath of Voodoo gods?

Meanwhile, Norma is finding a closer friendship and intimacy with them both. Will her developing love for Nick and Dawn lose her Jack’s affection, or somehow strengthen it? Will the new threesome someday become a foursome?

And what of Suzanne? Since leaving Calhoun with Hadrian she’s been incommunicado. But now her beloved Aunt Clarisse is dying and needs her home again. Can Jack and the others get word to her in time?

Follow them as they brave the Dark Domains of hidden worlds and within the human heart.

Out of Darkness
Out of Darkness

Fleeing Hadrian’s web of lies, Suzanne has come back to Calhoun and the Garret to comfort her dying Aunt Clarisse and make peace with Jack and Norma. She’s not come alone, though, for within Russell’s Mindpower group another has secretly coalesced, “Magus” Madden its leader. Now his coven meets Alaine’s in joy and friendship. But will that friendship last?

Sue’s nightmares have meanwhile become something more: scenes like a life long past, far different from the one she leads now. Are they memories of a prior existence, a proof of reincarnation? Alaine’s scroll promised rebirth “in the same time and place as your loved ones, that you may meet and remember and love anew.” Has that promise been fulfilled?

While after being rescued from a void beyond time and death, the mountain witch Melusine begins to stir in her sleep. What age-old secrets will be pulled Out of Darkness when she wakes…and remembers?

From Time Unforgotten
From Time Unforgotten

After a century lost in the dark, Melusine lives again and Alaine’s coven welcomes her with laughter and love. It’s clear the traveler from the past has much to teach them, while a new century’s wonders edify her in turn.

Alas, their time together will be short. How much will implacable destiny let them share before it sweeps her away again? Will it be enough to help them break the curse that binds her?

And her return seems to have wakened Something Else in that ruined city beyond the Mist. Norma is the first to feel its strange senses probing out through solid stone. “Somethin’ old, an’...well, needin’ somehow. An’ what it needs is us!”

In fascinated horror, Magus and his Crypt Crew recognize the city and its Dweller from tales in old books long disregarded as fiction. As the stories prove terribly real after all, can Alaine’s mystic knowledge and Mel’s secrets From Time Unforgotten forestall calamity?

The Crypt
The Crypt

Magus’ Crypt beneath the mansion called Ravenwood seems to have it all: guest rooms, an art gallery, even a dungeon. Greek Gods in the hallway, mermaids in the bathroom, and the Devil guarding the door! But its mystic heart is still unfinished: a room for rituals to avert the doom now threatening his friends and the Garret Gang alike. Working together, can they ready it in time?

Meanwhile, inspired by tales of a jungle drug said to enhance psychic powers, Jack has created a home-brewed substitute in his lab and smuggled it out. Now, in return for help breaking Melusine’s curse, he plans to share it with the Crypt Crew and Hadrian’s new Mindpower group at Russell University. But will that key open the doors to new discoveries for them all, or release the very doom they fear?

What will happen when modern chemistry meets ancient magic in the secret heart of The Crypt?

In Night's Labyrinth
In Night's Labyrinth

Jack’s home-brewed drug to boost psychic powers has proven a success. Using it the Crypt’s shaman Belinda has found a labyrinth connecting our own world with countless others, and in one of them she’s earned a powerful protector’s favor. But like the labyrinths of legend, this one also holds its share of monsters.

Soon Belinda will venture forth again, taking friends from the Crypt and Garret along. Wonders await them: unearthly beauty but also ruin and horror, worlds shattered and burning. Will the group’s combined powers and mystic weapons be enough to keep them safe?

Hadrian, too, has been testing Jack’s drug in the scientific setting of his Mindpower group. But telepathy tests begin to pall as he learns more of what the drug can do. Soon Hadrian too will venture forth. But when he, the Crypt Crew and Garret Gang all meet out there, who will escape the doom that lurks In Night’s Labyrinth?

Again to Live
Again to Live

The doom has fallen: the doom now called the Ravenwood Disaster, for many died there in Magus’ Crypt. Burned, blinded, stunned by the deaths of friends and numbed by drugs for pain, Jack stumbles through gray despair. Will he ever see Norma again, or Suzanne? Will he ever see again?

Yet though his eyes are bandaged, the inner mind-vision of witches and shamans remains. Gray too is the world that vision shows him, full of lost and forsaken things, and gray the empty road he finds before him. Where does it lead? What is that weird sound he keeps hearing? like a wind’s mad piping, though Jack can feel no wind on that empty road? And why does that sound seem so uncannily familiar?

Follow Jack as he makes his way homeward through that world and others: finding despair but also beauty and hope he may someday return Again To Live on Earth.

The Dim City
The Dim City

Jack is back, alive on Earth and home at last from the hospital, though still recovering from his wounds. As a bonus, in his trek across the worlds he’s found Mel again and brought her home to the Mist: sent back by the Guardians, as they’ve learned, to rescue someone now suffering beyond Their reach.

And though Ravenwood and the Crypt Crew are gone they have left the survivors one final legacy, a baffling poem Tina once wrote in a drug-induced trance:

“Where black thorn pierces wing and wood
And tongues of darkness draw the blood
Of Beauty bare in cauldron’s flare,
And songs are silenced: Who shall dare
To turn the Key, and seek the Tree,
And pass the Watchers by the stair?”

Puzzling out its riddles, the Garret Gang grows certain Mel’s mission lies in those ruins across the Lake where Norma felt some ancient power stirring. What wonders and horrors await discovery in The Dim City?

Into The Depths
Into The Depths

With the help of Mel’s mountain magic, Jack is on the mend both on Earth and in the world of the Mist. Following clues in old books and Tina’s poem “Black Thorn” he and Mel have opened an old door into the ruins across the Lake, only to find mystery waiting beneath: a mighty shaft with stone steps leading steeply down into darkness.

Meanwhile a new member has joined the Garret Gang: Cissy Adams, who since leaving Hadrian’s old “Mindpower” group has proven her mettle by ditching her old drug-dealing boyfriend, her talent by reaching the Yellow Corridor, and her courage by rescuing Mel from danger there. Suzanne, now dating Cissy’s recently widowed brother Brian, hopes Jack and Cissy will soon be a couple too. But will the chemistry between them work? Or will Cissy’s fancy turn instead to Mel herself?

And what will the growing Gang discover when they follow those stone steps down Into The Depths?

Second-Hand Gods
Second-Hand Gods

Feeling he wants her less as a partner than as a substitute for his dead wife, Suzanne has broken up with Brian and tearfully returned to Jack. Cissy remains a friend to both and a welcome Garret resident, though as a nature lover in summer’s warmth she prefers camping au naturel at the spell-protected Quarry.

On campus, things are less rosy. Doctor Knight, blaming Jack for the lab accident, has cancelled his graduate assistant’s pay and banned him from re-enrolling. Will Jack be able to stay on in the Garret with Sue? Or will he need to go back to New Jersey, tail tucked in defeat?

And provoked by human incursion into its resting place, across the Lake an ancient evil has risen to reclaim the dead city as its own. Though favored by the Guardians and backed by the awesome power of the Mist itself, even as Second-Hand Gods can the Garret Gang survive its wrath?

Syzygy!

Ravenwood:
A Seeker’s Memoir
Book 13

Fools and Paladins

Ravenwood:
A Seeker’s Memoir
Book 14

Moondark and Sunfire

Ravenwood:
A Seeker’s Memoir
Book 15

Rain in the Garden

Ravenwood:
A Seeker’s Memoir
Book 16

Fire and Water

Ravenwood:
A Seeker’s Memoir
Book 17

see the rest of the series
The Book of Horab
A Ravenwood Tale
The Girl with No Name
A Ravenwood Tale
Grandmother Gingerbread
A Ravenwood Tale
The Book of Joys
A Ravenwood Guide
The Book of Silence
A Ravenwood Grimoire

The tale of Ravenwood goes on, of course, across many worlds and both forward and backward in time, and someday in the years to come I hope to write some of the rest.  Check this page regularly for updated release information on the titles shown above, and for possible new ones I hope eventually to add to the Series.

About Ravenwood Associates

Starting with just the original Garret Gang, all of us close friends of the Thirteen, Ravenwood Associates has grown with the years until as of Lammas 2018 it included covens, individual witches, wizards, magicians, shah-people, fellow travelers and allies, in – at least – at least seven states and three foreign countries.

“At least”? Yes.  Following Laws handed down from ancient times, to maintain privacy and security from persecution Ravenwood Associates has been organized up to now in a sort of cell system with contact only between trusted friends. “So be it ardane: that no coven shall know where the next coven bides, nor who are among its members….”

Only at Lammas 2018, with social attitudes changing and the Ravenwood Disaster’s fiftieth anniversary fast approaching, did our expanded Garret Gang vote to drop this rule and let Associates who so desire, or others as soon as duly sworn, join our community openly through the Internet.

As a member, you’ll receive our digital Membership Package and the eBook version of Book #1 in the Ravenwood Series, The Moon Path.  Plus, exclusive access to materials we hope will help if you’re walking that path along with us.

If you want to join Ravenwood Associates, our ever-growing network of friends and colleagues, sign up below and we’ll add you to our mailing list. Or if you’re already in the network but not yet on the mailing list, I encourage you to do the same.

 

Become a Ravenwood Associate

Or, if you are already an associate but not on the mailing list?

Ravenwood Associates, LLC
P. O. Box 916
Bath, SC 29816
info@RavenwoodAssociates.com

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