follow us in feedly
Séance Fiction: Vintage ‘ghostly’ photos of ‘con artist’ spiritualist medium at work

07may2_13.jpg
 
There are at least two unacknowledged prerequisites for a successful career as a spiritualist medium. Firstly, the ability to “deep throat”—essential for hiding the yards of cheesecloth, newspapers and other materials the medium will regurgitate during a séance as “ectoplasm.”  And the iron discipline not to laugh—no matter how ridiculous the situation.

Eva Carrière was adept at both and had a successful though highly controversial career as a spiritualist medium at the turn of the 1900s. Carrière was so convincing she managed to expunge any reference from her biography to her previous attempt at a career as a medium—which led her to be exposed in the press as a fraud.

This was in 1905 when Carrière first exhibited her psychic powers in Algiers. She gained considerable attention for her ability to apparently make the spirit of a 300-year-old Brahmin Hindu called Bien Boa appear at her séances. Bien Boa was exposed by a local newspaper to be no more than a cardboard cutout and an Arab coachman named Areski. To avoid the ensuing bad publicity, Carrière merely changed her name to “Eva C” which (somehow) worked and she was able to re-established herself as a highly respected medium whose believers included Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the renowned psychic researcher Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing. Of course, not everyone was so easily fooled. Harry Houdini described Carrière as a con artist—claiming her whole act was no more than cheap theatrical magic tricks.

In a bid to prove the authenticity of Carrière’s psychic powers, Baron von Schrenck-Notzing documented a series of test séances between 1909-1913. The results were eventually published in his book Phenomena of Materialisation in 1923. The Baron’s photographs of these sessions purported to show Carrière expelling ectoplasm and causing spirits to “materialise.”

Carrière’s séances were said to verge on the pornographic. She often stripped naked and demanded the participants insert their fingers into her vagina to ensure no ectoplasm or other materials had been hidden there. A similar examination was offered after each séance, but as the Public Domain Review notes:

Whether the audience members were obliging is up for debate, but reports that Carrière would run around the séance room naked indulging in sexual activities with her audience suggests perhaps so. One can imagine that this deliberate eroticisation of the male audience might go some way to explaining the ease with which these “investigators” believed the psychic reality of the seances. A decision of fraud on their part would distance their involvement somewhat from the special and heightened context of the séances and so cast their complicity in, or at the least witnessing of, sexual activities in the sober (and more judgemental) cold light of day.

When “spiritualist debunker” Harry Price examined Schrenk-Notzing’s photographs of Carrière’s alleged psychic powers, he dismissed them as tawdry fakes and denounced Carrière as a fraud. He also suggested the images of spirit faces were photographs clipped from newspapers. This was to prove a moot point.

In 1920 Eric Dingwall with V. J. Woolley of the Society for Psychical Research in London, investigated Carrière’s claims. An analysis of her “ectoplasm” was shown to be nothing more than “chewed paper.” The ghostly apparitions were photographs from the magazine Le Miroir—whose masthead was often visible in Schrenk-Notzing’s photographs.

Back issues of the magazine matched some of Carrière’s ectoplasm faces, including Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and the French president Raymond Poincaré. This is something Schrenk-Notzing tries to address in his book, but with not much success. A 1913 newspaper article explained how “Miss Eva prepared the heads before every séance, and endeavoured to make them unrecognizable. A clean-shaven face was decorated with a beard. Grey hairs became black curls, a broad forehead was made into a narrow one. But, in spite of all her endeavours, she could not obliterate certain characteristic lines.”

The Society for Psychical Research’s report proved Carrière was a fraud. However, it was covered up thus allowing Eva Carrière and her supporters like Baron Schrenk-Notzing to claim her psychic powers were genuine.
 
01mar13_11.jpg
March 13th, 1911.
 
03jun7_11.jpg
June 7th, 1911.

Many more of the Baron’s photos of ‘ectoplasm’ and ‘ghosts’ from Eva Carrière’s séances, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Awesome vintage ouija boards
04.04.2016
04:20 pm

Topics:
Design
Games
History
Occult

Tags:
ouija board


Mecca Answer Board, Lee Industries, Chicago, c. 1940
 
There are two facts that a visit to the incredibly terrific Museum of Talking Boards website will cement in any viewer—the high point for ouija consumption was the 1940s and Chicago was the place where most ouija boards were manufactured.

The Museum of Talking Boards has done an excellent job wrangling what must be a chaotic field with a lot of damaged or substandard exemplars. Every board is lovingly photographed, and informational details about the time and place each board was created are always easy to find. Truly, a tremendous job.

These images are enough to drive me to eBay, where you can get many of these design marvels for prices ranging between $20 and $500.

ADIOS, FAREWELL, AU REVOIR, LATER DUDE, RECEPTION BAD, uhhhh, STATIC?
 

Black Magic Talking board, Gift Craft, Chicago, c. 1944
 

Crystal Gazer, A Barrel of Fun, c. 1940
 

Father Time Mystery Talking Board, T. Eaton Company, Toronto, 1945
 

Guiding Star Board, Palmer and Associates, Chicago
 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Devil’s Reign’: Demonic art exhibit curated by Church of Satan’s High Priest
04.01.2016
09:38 am

Topics:
Art
Occult

Tags:
Satanism
Howl Gallery
Peter H. Gilmore


Pale Horse, “Through the Gateway,” screenprint

Peter H. Gilmore has long been among the world’s leading authorities on LaVeyan Satanism. An author of countless works on the subject, most notably The Satanic Scriptures, Gilmore was appointed the High Priest of the Church of Satan 15 years ago, and has since served—not without controversy, unsurprisingly—as caretaker of the Anton LaVey legacy, even writing a new introduction to The Satanic Bible, the book that changed his life in his early teens (say what you will about that, hey, at least it wasn’t Atlas Shrugged).

Gilmore has recently endeavored to curate a Satanic art exhibit called “The Devil’s Reign” (a cheeky nod to an old film) for Howl Gallery, a combination exhibition space/tattoo shop in Ft. Myers. FL. The show is traveling, and it opens tonight, April 1, 2016 at Stephen Romano Gallery In Brooklyn, and it’ll travel to Eridanos Gallery & Tattoo in Boston for an opening on May 6th. The show seeks to acquaint viewers with expressions of devils from many cultures, though deities that were turned to devils and demons by Christianity are by far the most often featured, and curiously, figures from the Lovecraft mythos make appearances. “Since all deities and devils are invented,” Gilmore writes in his foreword to the exhibit’s companion book, “Satanists can employ any, from whatever fiction they find inspirational, as a means for emotional excitement in ritual.” He continues:

Whether the artists crafted these images to purge themselves of some withheld impulses or as celebrations of others, they function as visual rituals, offering viewers much over which to ruminate. Of this tenebrous throng, some will have been or will be inscribed upon human flesh. Their bearers might wish to absorb and dominate them, or to boldly proclaim allegiance to these sovereigns of Hell.

Devilish art has long been said to mock authority, to frighten the gullible into beliefs contrary to their nature, and to both embody and expose complex elements of the human animal and his frequently savage societies. The Church of Satan proposes that one can explore and fulfill one’s desires when they are experienced as controlled indulgence, not frenzied compulsion—an Epicurean rather than Hedonistic approach. Each artwork here can thus be a means for self-reflection, or for seeing worldly perspectives that may previously have remained hidden.

 

Herb Auerbach, untitled, ink & watercolor on paper
 

Uncle Allan, “Mephisto,” pen, ink, watercolor
 

Dusty Neal, “Naamah,” ink, liquid acrylic
 
More demonic art after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The black magic ‘hexing party’ to kill Adolf Hitler with voodoo, 1941
03.28.2016
12:50 pm

Topics:
History
Media
Occult

Tags:
Adolf Hitler
black magic
voodoo


Florence Birdseye chants above an effigy of Hitler, 1941.
 
William Seabrook was a well-known occultist (and, not coincidentally, a buddy of Aleister Crowley) who in 1940 had published a fairly popular book called Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today.

On a wet evening in January 1941, Seabrook and “a youthful band of idealists” convened at a cabin in the Maryland woods—they made sure to bring a whole bunch of rum from Jamaica, land of voodoo—with a single, lofty aim: “to kill Adolf Hitler by voodoo incantation.” A report of the event, complete with photographs, made for one of the odder features ever to appear in LIFE Magazine, under the title “LIFE Goes to a Hexing Party.”

The event had curious connections to the federal government, it seems. The tom-tom drums were borrowed, according to LIFE, from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Furthermore, LIFE described the group of voodoo practitioners as “respectable residents of Washington, D.C.,” and the cabin in which it all took place belonged to a man named Charles Tupper, who was an employee in a naval factory. The group brought, in LIFE’s words, “a dressmaker’s dummy, a Nazi uniform, nails, axes, tom-toms and plenty of Jamaica rum.” The dummy and the uniform were needed for the life-sized effigy that the group was going to create of Hitler.

One fascinating thing about this escapade is that the United States was not yet at war with Germany. That would have to wait nearly a year, when the Japanese attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7.

The ritual, prepared by Seabrook, invoked a pagan deity named Istan and incorporated the following phrases, to be intoned at the effigy:

“You are Hitler; Hitler is you! ... The woes that come to you, let it come to him! ... Hitler! You are the enemy of man and of the world; therefore we curse you. ... We curse you by every tear and drop of blood you have caused to flow. We curse you with the curses of all who have cursed you!”

After every line the whole group would repeat, “We curse you!”

They also chanted in unison: “We are driving nails and needles into Adolf Hitler’s heart!”

Incidentally, one of Seabrook’s claims to fame was that he once ... dined with cannibals! According to him, human flesh is pretty tasty: “It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef . . . and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted.” Not chicken?

It took several years, but the United States and its allies France, Great Britain, and the USSR defeated the Axis Powers in 1945.

Here is a gallery of images from this oh-so-peculiar event. Clicking will spawn a larger version, for all images not in portrait orientation.
 

Revelers make their way to a “hex party” in the Maryland woods, 1941.
 

Chief hexer Ted Caldwell intones an incantation. On the right, in dark shirt and tie, is author William Seabrook. Hitler’s effigy sits with its back to the window.
 
More of these remarkable pictures after the jump….......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Meteor destroys London’ and other predictions from Criswell, the ‘87% accurate’ psychic
03.15.2016
10:43 am

Topics:
Amusing
Occult

Tags:
Ed Wood Jr.
Criswell


Criswell sings! Get it at Norton Records
 
The Amazing Criswell, is perhaps best known today for his role as a sort of omniscient narrator in Ed Wood’s 1958 film Plan 9 From Outer Space, a film which has often been cited as “the worst movie ever made.” I’d disagree with that particular assessment. One need only look to Criswell’s role in Ed Wood’s Orgy of the Dead to see that there are lower possible cinematic depths of terribleness to plumb than Plan 9.

Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s Criswell was popularly known as a psychic, making frequent appearances on shows like The Jack Paar TV Special and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He often claimed that he had an “87%” accuracy rating, even though his predictions were widely known to be wildly inaccurate. He was then, perhaps, the Mrs. Miller of television clairvoyants.

I once had the good fortune to play Criswell in a stage adaptation of Plan 9 From Outer Space. In preparing for that role, my research turned up his 1968 book Criswell predicts from now to the year 2000! It remains one of the favorite books on my shelf.
 

 
Though long out of print, you can still find copies cheaply online. The book features one insane prediction after another. Like many science fiction writers of the day, Criswell seemed to assume that a robotic space-travel filled future were just around the corner. The future that Criswell envisioned still has not come to pass—which is a real shame because, according to one of his predictions, the world ended in 1999.

These are some highlights of Criswell’s astounding predictions. More of these highlights can be found at Criswellpredicts.com. Bear in mind that the predictions here which are not specifically dated are expected to have taken place before August 18, 1999—the specific day which Criswell predicted all life on earth would end.

Homosexual Cities (p. 13)

I predict that perversion will flood the land beginning in 1970. I predict a series of homosexual cities, small, compact, carefully planned areas, will soon be blatantly advertised and exist from coast to coast. These compact communities will be complete with stores, churches, bars and restaurants which will put the olden Greeks or Romans to shame with their organized orgies. You will be able to find them near Boston, Des Moines, Columbus, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Dallas, and Miami.

Much thought and planning will be expended in setting up these communities where perversion will parade shamelessly. And all this will be within the law because the perverted will claim they have been discriminated against. The Supreme Court will rule that whatever these consenting adult males, or females, wish to do, they can!

Space Stations (p. 16)

The U.S. and Russia will, separately and jointly, during the 1970s begin to set up space stations. Progress will be slow until the late 1970s when discovery of antimagnetic forces will free man from the laws of gravity and make space travel without rocket propulsion possible.

I predict that man’s exploration of space and the building of space stations will be the salvation of the human race.

By 1999 there will be more than 200 of these space stations in existence. They will house entire colonies—men, women, and children.

When the earth is destroyed on August 18, 1999, these space colonists will be the only Earth-humans left in the Universe.

Aphrodisiacal Era (p. 21)

I predict that our own United States will in the future be swept by the popular clouds of an aphrodisiacal fragrance. ... This aroma will fill every man and woman who inhales it with uncontrolled passion. It will be sold at first “underground” like LSD or STP today. But it will soon become easily available. ...

I predict that the sex urge will advance rapidly and many men will flagrantly expose themselves in public. Grandfathers will be accused of seducing their granddaughters and uncles will be jailed under similar crimes. Women will begin to think more of their appearance and they will have new hair styles, more attractive clothing and will use more cosmetics than ever before. [T]he driving sex urge will eventually cause orgies even greater than those of decadent Rome during the reign of the unmentionable Caesars. ... In Los Angeles, California, particularly Hollywood, sex acts will be performed openly, unashamedly on the streets. I predict that this will be difficult to control, for even the members of the law enforcement agencies will be dominated by the powerful cloud of aphrodisiac. Many cases of incest will be reported.

I predict a wealthy San Francisco attorney will announce his marriage to his mother and a Hollywood producer will openly declare his daughter is going to bear his child, and a young man in Arkansas will ask to be legally wed to his pet cat. ...

Date of the aphrodisiacal era: May 1, 1988, to March 30, 1989.

Castro Assassination (p. 31)

I predict the assassination of Fidel Castro by a woman, on August 9, 1970.

 

Criswell, far right, with fellow “Plan 9” cast members, Vampira, Tor Johnson, and Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor (standing in for Bela Lugosi).
 
Interplanetary (p. 57)

Las Vegas, Nevada, March 10, 1990: The very first Interplanetary Convention will be held in the new Convention Center on the famed Strip with colony citizens of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the Moon in full representation; Governor Sawyer will make the opening welcome address.

Meteor Destroys London: 1988 (p. 79)

London, England, will be the target of this heartless killer from outer space. The meteor will strike in a heavily populated sector of London and will hit with unprecedented force, rocking the earth for hundreds of miles and slightly shifting the position of the earth. Shocks will be felt as far away as Paris, Lisbon, Denmark, Australia, India, China, South Africa, South America, and Washington, D.C. I predict that the once proud city of London will be a tomb of death. Entire slum areas will be completely wiped out. Date: October 18, 1988.

New York City And The Shifting Coastline (p. 112)

New York will not exist as we know it today after January 21, 1980. Shifting ocean currents and earth tremors will begin to remake the eastern coast of the United States beginning in 1971. At first the changes will be small, but within three years our geologists will know what is happening. As the coast-line shifts, the land will sink and the ocean will pour inland. Before 1978, Long Island will be mostly underwater. Only the areas that can be protected by hastily erected dikes will escape—and they, not for long. Manhattan will become a city of canals, like Venice. Billions of dollars will be spent to save New York, but by 1980, all efforts will have failed and a new New York will rise, further inland, at a great expense.

Men Become Cannibals (p. 115)

I predict an outburst of cannibalism that will terrorize the population of one of the industrial cites in the state of Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh. Mass mournings will be held for the victims. A smile will be unknown. The fate of this city of Pittsburgh will never be forgotten… Date: November 28 to December 21, 1980.

The End of the World

The end of the world, it is written in Criswell Predicts, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1999. That day, every point on earth will be covered by a black rainbow—not just any black rainbow, mind you, but “a jet-black rainbow; an ebony rainbow; a black rainbow which will signify the coming suffocation of our world. This black rainbow will seemingly bring about, through some mysterious force beyond our comprehension, a lack of oxygen. It will draw the oxygen from our atmosphere, as a huge snake encircling the world and feeding upon the oxygen which we need to exist. Hour after hour, it will grow worse. And we will grow weaker. It is through this that we will be so weakened that when the final end arrives, we will go silently, we will go gasping for breath, and then there will be only silence on the earth.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
God of Hellfire: Arthur Brown incinerates the hairy hordes at Glastonbury Fayre


 
Alice Cooper is often credited with being the originator of “shock rock” but there were at least two rock provocateurs who preceded him: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and “God of Hellfire” Arthur Brown. While there were plenty of crazed novelty acts that fell into the “one hit wonders” category, Hawkins (who died in 2000) and Brown (still alive) have stood the test of time. In the case of both men, the “shock” aspect of their performances often transcended over-the-top theatrics to become a kind of pop culture ritual magic. Underneath the spook show surface, there was something genuinely unsettling but ultimately liberating in their art. When Hawkins put a spell on you there was a good reason to be concerned. The bone in his nose may have been for laughs, but there was the sound of the graveyard in his subterranean growl. And Arthur Brown put more than just a dram or two of mystical gasoline in his flaming crucible. His crazy world IS crazy. A showman, shaman and satirist, Brown can invoke powerful mojo with a wave of his spidery hand.

In June of 1971, Arthur Brown performed at the Glastonbury Fair rock festival. A motley gathering of hippies, easy riders and suburban sadhus, the festival was a mini-Woodstock in renaissance fair drag. Swarming with enough body hair to carpet the moon and more mud-encrusted nude men than a mosh pit at Kumbh Mela. The gathering was a group grope of epic proportions where men seemed to outnumber women by at least two to one. Pink void meets the sausageful of secrets.

Fifteen years later events like these would inspire punks to declare “kill the hippies.”  So it is quite surprising that the filmed document of the festival,  Glastonbury Fayre, isn’t an acid reflux of The Summer Of Love but an engrossing slice of cinema. Despite puke-inducing scenes of flower power gone to seed, stoned freaks blathering cosmic gibberish and a cringe-inducing appearance by the slimy Maharaj Ji—the Justin Bieber of gurus—Glastonbury Fayre manages to capture something bordering on the magical. The festival took place a mere 50 miles from Stonehenge and the movie is appropriately stoned and unhinged.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Hated ‘The Witch’? Then watch the (extremely!) NSFW ‘Citizen Kane’ of witchploitation docs
03.07.2016
11:21 am

Topics:
Occult
Television

Tags:
Legend of the Witches


 
The reviews for the new movie The Witch (sometimes styled The VVitch) are in, and well, they are completely at odds with the experiences viewers are reporting.

Let’s document that, shall we? Reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes are praising the Robert Eggers movie at a rate of 89%, but audiences feel rather differently, with only 52% giving it a positive rating.

Anecdotally, my impression is that even that 52% figure might be generous. DM’s head honcho and honchoess Richard Metzger and Tara McGinley absolutely hated it, our Chris Bickel felt lukewarm towards it too, and Doug Benson of the Doug Loves Movies podcast and most of his guests who have mentioned it seem to have a special vitriol for the unusually disappointing stinkbomb.
 

 
So it’s probably a good idea to get ahold of a palate cleanser and start all over again. Nothing could be better for that than the remarkable 1970 documentary Legend of the Witches, written and directed by Malcolm Leigh. One blogger has called it “the Citizen Kane of witchploitation documentaries—however much that is worth.”

That note of ambivalence perfectly captures the experience of watching Legend of the Witches. On the one hand, it seems obvious that the interest in witchcraft is little more than a pretext for showing naked people on film. But it has to be admitted that the movie takes the subject pretty seriously, it’s not just nudie schlock.

It doesn’t take ten minutes before we get to see some footage of a bunch of naked people dancing around a fire. Ten minutes after that and a chicken has been vivisected over a chalk compass/calendar and its entrails examined for auguring purposes. If you’re looking for wiccan ritual, this is a prime artifact. The black-and-white cinematography is simply gorgeous, and Malcolm Leigh’s treatment of the subject is intelligent and interesting, even if the whole thing can’t avoid being a little silly.
 

 
In the image above you can read what may be my favorite movie poster pullquote of all time: “Has more exposed flesh and genitalia per square foot than virtually anything in the sex film genre.”

Can you say “skyclad”?

According to one source, Legend of the Witches is the only movie to feature “the only footage in existence of the infamous ‘King of Wicca,’ Alex Sanders.” Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine had become the de facto “King and Queen of Witches” around this time, and this movie was based on their experiences and her willingness to get her kit off in the name of marketing.

You might remember Alex Sanders from our report last year on the legendary occult rockers Black Widow, with whom he worked closely.

The final section of the movie addresses the subject of “scrying,” which is defined as the act of looking into a mirror and seeing the future. There’s a lot of hypnotic visuals in this part as well as some attractive women and a dude wearing a goat’s head mask—it’s basically the best thing you could put on a party while the music of the Black Angels or Mogwai roils on over it.

Have I mentioned that this movie is definitely NSFW? I guess I haven’t. Rest assured that you do not want coworkers catching you grok this in your cubicle.
 
Click through to watch this very unusual movie….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Stunning fluorescent stills from Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece ‘Suspiria’
03.07.2016
08:06 am

Topics:
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Dario Argento
Suspiria
movie stills

A stunning still from the 1977 film, Suspiria
A stunning still from the 1977 film, ‘Suspiria’
 
This past week, the strongest rumors yet of a Hollywood remake of one of the most influential Italian films ever made, Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece Suspiria, came from a Tweet by writer Alex Heller-Nicholas, the author of the 2015 book, Suspiria: Devil’s Advocates.

According to Nicholas, director Luca Guadagnino has taken over the helm for the remake of Suspiria that will be set in the same year as the release of the original film (1977) but with the location shifted to Berlin. Nicholas’ Tweet also noted that the remake will include actress Tilda Swinton (and perhaps the rest of the cast of Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash—Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson). Squeee! While I generally shudder at the mere mention of the word “remake” (especially when it comes to horror films), it’s promising that this genre defining film would be reinterpreted by a director who doesn’t rub shoulders with Hollywood elite. The film is set for a tentative release in 2017, which will mark Suspiria’s 40th anniversary. But let’s get back to the eye-popping point of this post.

If you’ve never seen Suspiria (which, if you consider yourself a fan of horror films, I find hard to believe), I hope that the day-glow stills from this groundbreaking film I’ve put together for this post change that. Every camera set-up was a work of art. Argento himself has said that he was attempting to “reproduce the color” from Walt Disney’s animated technicolor film from 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . The prime colors were enhanced by the use of “imbibition” Technicolor prints. This process—also used for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind—makes for much more vivid color reproduction. Historically, Suspiria was one of the last films to be processed in Technicolor.

Even if you have seen Dario Argento’s Suspiria I suggest that you put on some sunglasses, turn off the lights, and enjoy the following neon-colored, nightmarish stills from the film. If you need me, I’ll be under the bed (and as far away from barbed-wire as possible).
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
Suspiria movie poster by James Rheem Davis of Giant Sumo
“Suspiria” movie poster by James Rheem Davis of Giant Sumo
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Meet the wild child ‘Tiger Woman’ who tried to kill Aleister Crowley

01wildtigerbetty.jpg
 
The other morning here at Dangerous Minds Towers (Scotland), while I sat sifting through the mailbag looking for presents and antique snuff boxes, m’colleague Tara McGinley popped a fascinating article in front of me about a wild “Tiger Woman.”

At first I thought this tabloid tale was perhaps about the woman who had inspired Roy Wood to write his rather wonderful and grimy little number “Wild Tiger Woman” for The Move. As I read on, I realized this story of a rebellious singer, dancer and artist’s model was unlikely to have been the woman Wood had in mind when he wrote his famous song.

No, this particular “Tiger Woman” was one Betty May Golding—a drug addict, a boozer, and a dabbler in the occult. She had a string of lovers, worked as a prostitute, had been a member of a notorious criminal gang, an alleged Satanist, and had once even tried to murder Aleister Crowley. This was the kind of impressive resumé one would expect from the original “wild child.” Not that Ms. Golding would have given two hoots for any of that:

I have not cared what the world thought of me and as a result what it thought has often not been very kind… I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement.

You go girl!

Betty May was born Elizabeth Marlow Golding into a world of poverty and deprivation in Canning Town, London in 1895. The neighborhood was situated at the heart of the city’s docks—an area described by Charles Dickens as:

...already debased below the point of enmity to filth; poorer labourers live there, because they cannot afford to go farther, and there become debased.

To get an idea how deprived and “debased” this district was—Canning Town even today “remains among the 5% [of the] most deprived areas in the UK.”  Plus ca change…
 
01slumlon.jpg
A typical London slum 1909.
 
When Betty was just an infant, her father left the family home, leaving her mother to support four children on a pittance of 10/- a week—roughly the equivalent of $1.50. The family home was a hovel with no furniture and no beds. The family slept on bundles of rags, cuddling together to keep warm.

Her mother was half-French with beautiful olive complexion and almond eyes. The struggle proved too much for her and Betty was sent off to live with her father who was then residing in a brothel. Her father was an engineer by trade but he preferred to spend his time drinking, fighting and thieving. He was eventually arrested and sent to jail.

In her autobiography Tiger Woman, published in 1929, Betty described herself as a “little brown-faced marmoset ... and the only quick thing in this very slow world.” She earned pennies by dancing and singing on the street.  After her father’s arrest, she was passed from relative to relative eventually staying with an aunt who described her as “a regular little savage.”

One of her earliest memories was finding the body of a pregnant neighbor hanging from a hook. The woman had caught her husband having sex with her sister.

Her face was purple and her eyes bulged like a fish’s. It was rather awful.

Eventually Betty was sent to another aunt who stayed out in the country in Somerset. Here she attended school but soon the teenager was in trouble after having an affair with one of her teachers.

I can hardly say, in the light of what I have learnt since, that we were in love. At least perhaps he was. Certainly I was fond of him.

When their illicit relationship was discovered, Betty was given an ultimatum.

There was a great deal of fuss and it was made clear to me that unless the ­friendship came to an end it would be the schoolmaster who would be made to suffer.

After a rather tearful scene with my aunt I was packed off with a few pounds.

 
01gybetps.jpg
Betty in her gypsy dress.
 
Arriving in London in 1910 Betty could only afford one outfit:

...but every item of it was a different colour. Neither red nor green nor blue nor yellow nor purple was forgotten, for I loved them all equally, and if I was not rich enough to wear them separately ... I would wear them, like Joseph in the Bible, all at once! Colours to me are like children to a loving mother.

With her exotic looks and green eyes, Betty looked every part the gypsy and was later known for her song “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.” The novelist Anthony Powell described her as looking like a seaside fortune teller. Betty also delighted in her costermonger background:

I am a true coster in my flamboyance and my love of colour, in my violence of feeling and its immediate response in speech and action. Even now I am often caught with a sudden longing regret for the streets of Limehouse as I knew them, for the girls with their gaudy shawls and heads of ostrich feathers, like clouds in a wind, and the men in their caps, silk neckerchiefs and bright yellow pointed boots in which they took such pride. I adored the swagger and the showiness of it all.

 
001cafer.jpg
The Café Royal in 1912 as painted by artist William Orpen.
 
At first, Betty worked as a prostitute before becoming a model, dancer and entertainer at the hip Café Royal.

The lights, the mirrors, the red plush seats, the eccentrically dressed people, the coffee served in glasses, the pale cloudy absinthe ... I felt as if I had strayed by accident into some miraculous Arabian palace… No duck ever took to water, no man to drink, as I to the Café Royal.

The venue was the haunt of Bohemians and artists—Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, the “Queen of Bohemia” Nina Hamnett, heiress Nancy Cunard, William Orpen, Anna Wickham, Iris Tree and Ezra Pound.

Betty’s flamboyance and gypsy attire attracted their interest and she had affairs with many of the regulars. She modelled for Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. Being an artist’s model was a grey area that often crossed into prostitution. Many of May’s contemporaries in “modelling” died in tragic circumstances—either by their own hand or at the hands of a jealous lover.
 
01augjoboat.jpg
The artist Augustus John looking rather pleased with himself.
 
Betty’s life then took the first a many surprising turns when she became involved with a notorious criminal gang.

In 1914, she met a man she nicknamed “Cherub” at a bar who took her to France. Their relationship was platonic but after a night of drinking absinthe Cherub attacked her:

He clasped me round the waist, pinning my arms… I struggled with all the strength fear and hate could give me.

With a supreme effort I succeeded in half-freeing my right arm so that I was enabled to dig my scissors into the fleshy part of his neck.

Betty escaped to Paris where she met up with a man known as the “White Panther” who introduced her into the one of the ciy’s L’Apache gangs. She later claimed it was this gang who nicknamed her “Tiger Woman” after she became involved in a fight with one of the gangster’s girlfriends. When separated by the gang leader she bit into his wrist like a wild animal.

Now part of gang, Betty became involved in various robberies and acts of violence—in one occasion branding a possible informer with a red hot knife. This experience led her to quit Paris.
 
01whitepant.jpg
Apache gang members or hooligans fighting the police in 1904.
 
To be honest, Betty’s autobiography reads at times like a thrilling pulp novel and without corroborative evidence seems more like fiction than fact.

Returning to London, Betty resumed work as a singer and dancer. She sought a husband and found two suitors: the first died after a mysterious boating accident; the second blew his brains out one fine summer’s day. Betty eventually married a trainee doctor Miles L. Atkinson, who introduced her to the joys of cocaine.

I learnt one thing on my ­honeymoon—to take drugs.

Atkinson had an unlimited supply of cocaine via his work with the hospital. The couple embarked on a mad drug frenzy. They fell in with a den of opium smokers. May’s drug intake escalated to 150 grains of cocaine a day plus several pipes of opium. She became paranoid—on one occasion believing the world was against her after ordering a coffee at a cafe and the waiter served it black. She decided to divorce Atkinson, but he was killed in action in 1917 while serving as a soldier in the First World War.

Betty then met and married an Australian called “Roy”—not believed to be his real name—who weaned her off drugs by threatening to beat her if ever he caught her taking any. However, she divorced Roy after catching him having an affair.

Continuing with her career as an artist’s model, Betty sat for Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer, who she claimed painted her as the Sphinx.
 
01betsphin.jpg
Jacob Kramer’s painting ‘The Sphinx’ (1918).
 
Her notoriety grew after the publication of a book Dope Darling by David “Bunny” Garnett, which was based on Betty’s life as a coke addict. The book told the story of a man called Roy who falls in love with a dancer Claire at a bohemian cafe. Claire is a drug addict and prostitute. Roy believes he can save Claire by marrying her. Once married, Roy gradually becomes a drug addict too.

In the book, Garnett described Claire as being :

...always asked to all the parties given in the flashy Bohemian world in which she moved. No dance, gambling party, or secret doping orgy was complete without her. Under the effect of cocaine which she took more and more recklessly, she became inspired by a wild frenzy, and danced like a Bacchante, drank off a bottle of champagne, and played a thousand wild antics

But all of this was by way of a warm-up to her meeting the Great Beast.
 
01dopedbet.jpg
‘Dope Darling’ by David Garnett.
 
In 1922, Betty met and married the poet Frederick Charles Loveday (aka Raoul Loveday). This dear boy (aged about twenty or twenty-one) was an acolyte of Aleister Crowley. With a first class degree from Oxford University and a book of published poems to his name, Loveday was utterly dedicated to Crowley and to his study of the occult.

Crowley first met Loveday at a dive in London called the Harlequin. He liked Loveday—saw his potential and claimed he was his heir apparent—but he said this about many other young man that took his fancy. He was however reticent in his praise for May—describing her as a “charming child, tender and simple of soul” but impaired by an alleged childhood accident he believed had “damaged her brain permanently so that its functions were discontinuous.” This condition was exacerbated by her drug addiction—though he was complimentary in her strength of will in curing herself.

Crowley believed he could save Loveday from the “vagabonds, squalid and obscene, who constituted the court of Queen Betty.”

In his Confessions, Crowley recounted a typical scene of Betty “at work” in the Harlequin:

In a corner was his wife, three parts drunk, on the knees of a dirty-faced loafer, pawed by a swarm of lewd hogs, breathless with lust. She gave herself greedily to their gross and bestial fingerings and was singing in an exquisite voice ... an interminable smutty song, with a ribald chorus in which they all joined.

 
02crowleyshadowpuppet.jpg
Aleister Crowley
 
Crowley moved to Sicily where he established his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu. He wanted Loveday—and to a lesser extent May—to join him there. However, Loveday had been ill after an operation and several friends including Nina Hamnett warned him off going. But Loveday was determined and the couple traveled to the Abbey.

Arriving there in the fall of 1922, Betty and Loveday were soon party to various sex magic rituals under Crowley’s direction. On one occasion, Betty chanced upon a box filled with blood soaked neckties. When she asked Crowley what these were, he replied that they had belonged to Jack the Ripper and were stained with the blood of his victims.

Crowley may have tut-tutted about Betty’s sexual hi-jinks with other men in the club, but he didn’t seem to mind all the fucking and sucking that went on at the Abbey. Betty was unsure about Crowley. She was intrigued by the occult and her superstition kept her belief from wavering. But she never fully trusted him.

Everything came to a head after a black mass where Crowley commanded Loveday to kill a cat and drink its blood. Crowley claimed the cat was possessed by an evil spirit. Loveday beheaded the cat and greedily drank its blood. Within hours he fell ill and died, on February 16th, 1923.

Betty blamed Crowley for her husband’s death and swore revenge—deciding to kill him.
 
More on Betty May and her life of sex and drugs and the occult, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Vintage Occult: This amazing Tumblr will satisfy ALL of your kitschy, witchy needs
03.01.2016
12:02 pm

Topics:
Media
Occult

Tags:
Satanism
witches


 
If the amazing Tumblr Vintage Occult is any indication, Satanists really need better tailors—so many of the people interested in the dark arts are young women who have inordinate trouble keeping their torsos covered. Then again, where there’s Satanism, there’s gonna be dozens of flickering candles, so I’m not too worried about them catching cold or anything.

Vintage Occult is the best thing I’ve seen on the Internet all day and I’m betting that’s true for you too. A voluminous gallery of images from old, tattered paperback books, schlocky magazines, and straight-to-video movies, midnight classics with titles like Blood Sucking Nazi Zombies or Queen of the Vampires (“La Regina Dei Vampiri”) or my favorite, Satan in High Heels, there’s just no end to the Vampira knockoffs out there.

In case you need the warning, this is probably not something you want to be checking out in your cubicle.
 

 

 
Much more from Vintage Occult, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 25  1 2 3 >  Last ›