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Monsters, death and the Mona Lisa stripping: Lorenzo Alessandri, father of Italian surrealism
07.15.2015
08:06 am

Topics:
Art
Occult

Tags:
occult
Catholicism
painting
Lorenzo Alessandri


 
At the end of World War II, Italian artist Lorenzo Alessandri opened up his first studio, naming it “Attic Macabre,” a clear indication of his artistic direction. It wasn’t until 1964 though, that he coined the term “Surfanta” (a portmanteau of surrealism and fantasy) to describe the movement he spearheaded—a wide-ranging genre of other-worldly creatures, horror, sex, mystery, occultism, and a healthy dose of religious and historical farce. He titled a magazine Surfanta, and you can even catch the word in the signage of his paintings, like morbid little Hidden Mickeys. The sheer diversity of his work makes it impossible to do a comprehensive retrospective, but I’ll cover a few of the weirdest highlights—pictures below are relatively safe for work, embedded links are… less so.

Throughout his career, Alessandri had a fascination with grotesque sexuality. He utilized a variety of subjects for the theme, including sentient genitals, anthropomorphic animals and horrifyingly lewd monsters. Not all of his prurient material was disgusting though—there was also his campy “groovy chick” phase, which often featured regular pin-up style ladies in surreal settings. Sometimes the babes themselves were psychedelic—often a shade of electric blue, and sometimes they hung out with his occult characters or his sex-monsters (though they stop short of doing anything hardcore).

In my opinion, Alessandri’s most fascinating and sophisticated work is his series of contemporary fantasy scenarios, which deal most readily with the politics and history of the modern world. The KKK lord over a naked woman before an atom bomb and a gorilla. Mona Lisa does a striptease before an animalian bourgeoisie (he also did a version where she had a penis). There’s also a ton of occult imagery. Airplanes piloted by skeletons (he loves those) roll by estates, landmarks and villages. Shadowy figures—perhaps demonic creatures or paranormal monks—are busy, perhaps frantic. The worlds he created are complex and mysterious—an inscrutable delight.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Hear Debbie Harry perform a voodoo rite: ‘Invocation to Papa Legba’
07.10.2015
05:35 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Blondie
Chris Stein
Voodoo
Deborah Harry


 
It looks like Vodun had more devotees in the CBGB set than I would have guessed, because I would have guessed zero. Yet Talking Heads paid tribute to “Papa Legba” in their True Stories, and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie recorded this “Invocation to Papa Legba” for a 1989 compilation on Giorno Poetry Systems. It’s just Harry’s voice with Stein’s approximation of Haitian drumming, and it sounds fantastic—maybe a distant, merrier cousin of Peter Hammill’s “A Motorbike in Afrika.”
 

 
I eagerly await learning about Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s researches into Vodun when Bight of the Twin comes out, because I am ham ignorant about this religion. Papa Legba is, I take it, the gatekeeper of the spirit world, and all attempts to communicate with the loa begin with prayers and offerings to him. Maybe, if you play this loud and often enough, he’ll pay you a visit tonight.
 

 
via Zero Equals Two

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Satanic Temple of Detroit debuts massive one-ton Baphomet monument
06.30.2015
03:16 pm

Topics:
Occult

Tags:
Satanism

The Satanic Temple of Detroit's Bahomet momument
The Satanic Temple of Detroit’s new Baphomet momument
 
If you were not already aware, Detroit, Michigan is the home to the very first national chapter house of The Satanic Temple. Late yesterday, TST released the first photos of a nine-foot, one-ton statue of Baphomet that they hope to display at the State Capitol in Oklahoma.
 
If you’re wondering why The Satanic Temple is hoping to house the titanic sculpture of Baphomet in Oklahoma’s State Capitol, let me clear that up for you. Although they have yet to be granted permission (and promise to sue the state if request is denied), TST wants Baphomet to sit next to the six-foot tall Ten Commandments statue (built with the help of “private” funding), that has stood on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol since 2012. Coincidently, said statue was smashed up in 2014 by a guy who said he was acting on “Satan’s” orders. The statue was then restored and returned to its original spot at the Capitol. However, in an interesting turn of events late today, it looks like the controversial statue’s days are indeed numbered
 
Smashed up Ten Commandments statue in Oklahoma
Satan says SMASH!
 
In a decisive 7-2 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Ten Commandments statue must be removed as it violates the state’s constitutional ban on the use of public property for the benefit of a religion. While this decision does not bode well for TST, it will be interesting to see how this one shakes out given Oklahoma’s highly conservative constituency. I also wouldn’t be surprised if TST starts looking for a new home for Baphomet. Still, I think it’s safe to say that times are indeed changing in this country. And fast.
 
The massive statue will be officially unveiled on July 25th at a rather un-satanic sounding spot called Bert’s Warehouse Theater in Detroit, with entertainment provided by DJ William Morrison of Skinny Puppy/OhGr related infamy. Attendance is open to the public and tickets to the event will cost you $25 bucks. VIP tickets will run you $75 and include your very own photo with Baphomet. Dressing to impress satan is also highly encouraged. Nice.
 
Bahomet momument party invitation

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Sexy Ouija board platform heels
06.16.2015
08:21 am

Topics:
Fashion
Occult

Tags:
Ouija board
platform shoes


 
Fashion norms that oblige women to destroy their feet by wearing high heels are obnoxious, and yet…. one still can’t deny the allure of these amazing Ouija board platform heels and wedges. They have at times been available for purchase at the Etsy store of Miss Fiendish Apparel in the U.K. Unfortunately, none of the Ouija board shoes are for sale right now, but some of them were sold as recently as 2014, so maybe if we promote her Etsy store with a little viral magic she’ll, er, “boot up” her store again.

Miss Fiendish has been on Etsy since 2011. Her personal statement reads in part:
 

I love the dead,the strange,the ugly,the horror,the freak show and the carnies,the tattooed grandmas,the conjoined twins,these are all completely beautiful and fascinating to me..

Graveyards,abandoned buildings,i can see the beauty in horror and also the lighter side of it too..the creepy,the kitsch,the B-Movie that’s so awful that you have to laugh at it,tongue in cheek humor…


 
In addition to the shoes, Miss Fiendish also makes ouija board ankle ties, as seen here:
 

 
My favorites are these “bloody zombie” heels with the ankle tie accents…. wow!
 

 
The variety in the styles is pretty stunning…. More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Triptych version of Kenneth Anger’s ‘Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome’ not seen in 50 years screens
06.11.2015
12:31 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Kenneth Anger


 
Known for being a tireless tinkerer who often created multiple edits of his films—and inspired by Abel Gance’s silent masterpiece Napoléon—Kenneth Anger created a special triptych version of his Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. This version of the film was screened only one time, at “Expo 58” the 1958 World Fair held in Brussels, Belgium.

The triptych version of Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome has not be screened for over fifty years, but a restored version will be premiered on June 25th, 2015 at one of the top cinemas in the world, the Max Linder Panorama in Paris. The presentation is a production of Sprueth Magers, Berlin and Brian Butler and the team at Lucifer Brothers Workshop in Hollywood.

Anger’s infamous avant garde occult vision features the likes of erotic writer Anaïs Nin, witchy artist Marjorie Cameron (widow of rocket scientist/occultist Jack Parsons) as the Scarlet Woman and Kali, film director Curtis Harrington as Cesare the sleepwalker, silent film era actor Samson De Brier in several roles and Anger himself as Hecate. The film takes the name “pleasure dome” from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.”

Here’s a preview:

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Devil and his Servants: Demonic illustrations from 18th century occult book
06.11.2015
07:21 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Occult

Tags:
demons
satanism
witchcraft

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I had a friend who liked to collect occult illustrations from the earliest woodcuts of witches sabbats to hand-painted plates of winged demons. My friend did not see these pictures as telling a history of the occult, but rather a luminous narrative of the imagination’s power to invent monsters.

Similarly fabulous creatures can be found in the illustrations to the Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros, a rare book on the occult dating from 1775 which is held by the Wellcome Library. The volume is written in a mixture of German and Latin and contains 31 water-color illustrations of the Devil and his demonic servants together with three pages of magic and occult ritualistic symbols.

With the warning “NOLI ME TANGERE” (“Do Not Touch”) on its cover, the compendium can be seen as a last attempt by those of faith to instil fear among the superstitious. After all, the Compendium Artis Magicae was produced during the decade of revolutions (American and French) and in the Age of Enlightenment—when reason, science and the power of the individual dominated, and the first stirrings of industry were about to change Europe and the world. The horrendous witch trials of the 16th and 17th centuries were long banished and the last execution in England for witchcraft took place in 1716 (1727 in Scotland, 1750 in Austria, 1782 in Switzerland), while the practise of witchcraft ceased to be a criminal offense across Europe during the century (England 1735)—all of which makes this Compendium Artis Magicae all the more bizarre.

The illustrations are a mix of Greco-Roman mythical monsters (chimeras such as Cerberus and Hydra), Phoenician gods (Astarte/Astaroth) biblical devils (Beelzebub, Satan), while some look as though they were inspired by witnessing the slaughter of men and beasts on European battlefields.

The claim that the book originated in 1075 has been dismissed, and the whole volume has been scanned on Hi-Res and can be viewed in detail at the Wellcome Library.
 
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More nightmarish demons, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
How to Destroy Angels (for free): Hours and hours of Coil’s music and video on Internet Archive
06.04.2015
12:16 pm

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Coil


 
I check this page at Brainwashed every few months to see how the Coil reissues are coming along. No news, in this case, is bad news; I’m eager to have a more or less complete set of the band’s works on CD.

It was never as if you could just skate down to Walgreens and grab the latest from Coil, but it didn’t used to be like tracking down the Maltese Falcon either. Since the untimely deaths of Jhonn Balance (in 2004) and Peter Christopherson (in 2010), even used CDs of albums that didn’t used to be particularly scarce are highly valued. The last authorized CDs of Scatology and Horse Rotorvator, which came out in 2001, will now set you back at least $50 each on the secondhand market; used, non-bootleg CDs of 2005’s The Ape of Naples start at about $100. And that’s the stuff that isn’t rare. Coil’s limited releases regularly appear among the most expensive items sold on Discogs Marketplace, where last year, a special edition of Gold Is The Metal (With The Broadest Shoulders) sold for $1,889 and Live Box fetched $3,130. Sadly, the cupboard is bare at the band’s Threshold House label, which only has a few releases for sale as digital downloads, along with a couple CDs and the European Blu-ray of Pasolini’s Salo.
 

The Colour Sound Oblivion DVD box set
 
Until Brainwashed comes out with the remastered, enhanced and enlarged versions of Coil’s works, you can—at least, as of this writing—download and stream days and days of the stuff free of charge at Internet Archive. That means FLAC files of How to Destroy Angels, Scatology, Musick to Play in the Dark (both volumes), The Remote Viewer, The Ape of Naples, ...and the ambulance died in his arms, among others; the demos for Love’s Secret Domain in 24-bit; scads of concerts, released and unreleased; and, yes, the entire fucking 16-DVD box set, Colour Sound Oblivion. A couple treats from the hoard are embedded below.
 

A four-hour Dutch radio special about Coil broadcast in June 2001
 

Coil live in Paris, May 23, 2004

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Watch the first silver screen portrayal of Aleister Crowley in 1926’s ‘The Magician’
05.22.2015
05:43 am

Topics:
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
W. Somerset Maugham


 
W. Somerset Maugham based Oliver Haddo, the titular character in his 1908 novel The Magician, on Aleister Crowley, whom he had met in literary circles in Paris. It was not an altogether flattering portrait, and Crowley, writing in Vanity Fair as “Oliver Haddo,” argued that Maugham had plagiarized multiple sources in a scathing review of the book.

Almost 20 years later, Rex Ingram brought The Magician to the silver screen with the German actor and director Paul Wegener as the bloodthirsty Haddo. Crowley was living in Paris at the time, and he sought to prevent the movie’s French premiere by legal means. Richard Kaczynski’s definitive Beast biography, Perdurabo, mentions the incident in connection with Crowley’s student Gerald Yorke (the brother of the novelist Henry Green):

[...] Yorke kept AC’s pipe dreams in perspective: one such scheme involved Metro-Goldwyn’s film adaptation of Maugham’s The Magician, which was opening on the Grand Boulevard March 23. Since Crowley received no compensation as the model of Oliver Haddo, he filed an injunction against showing the film. However, when representatives from the film company offered to pay Crowley, he refused. “The lawsuit is a pretext for a business deal,” he explained to Yorke. “I’m holding out for publicity and power.” Crowley wanted a contract to produce a series of educational films on magick. Yorke was pessimistic about the scheme.

(In the event, Crowley got nothing. “I cannot say that I think you will get any damages from Metro-Goldwyn over The Magician film,” Yorke had warned Crowley. “Your reputation is too bad to be damaged by that.”)
 

Paul Wegener as Oliver Haddo: finally, an unbiased cinematic portrait of Aleister Crowley
 
“He looks as if he had stepped out of a melodrama,” the movie’s hero says when he first meets the sorcerer, giving the game away. Briefly: a diabolical sculpture crumbles in a Latin Quarter studio, crushing artist Margaret Dauncey’s spine. Her dashing lover, the famous surgeon Arthur Burdon, cures her paralysis with a scalpel. We first see Haddo in the audience at the operating theater, looking at the beautiful young quadriplegic on the table as if she were a hamburger. Poring over occult books in search of the secret of creating life, the magician has discovered an alchemical working that requires “the Heart Blood of a Maiden.” Can you guess whom he might have in mind for a donor?

There are many visual treats in store—among them a freak show and a snake charmer—but if you’re impatient or easily bored, skip to the 29-minute mark, where Haddo brings Dauncey under his spell, magically transports her to a rite of Pan, and awakens an unnatural lust within her.
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Satan’s daughter is getting baptized tomorrow?
05.22.2015
05:04 am

Topics:
Advertising
Amusing
Media
Occult

Tags:
Satan's daughter

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“Satan’s mother” placed an advert in Sweden’s daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Tuesday announcing the baptism of her daughter Lucy on Saturday 23rd May in Elmsta.

The advert read “Welcome to the world beloved LUCY,” and carried a picture of a cherubic (demonic?) child with dark piercing eyes and 666 kiss curls. The ad included an RSVP email address from “rehtom.snatas”—which as all good occultists know is “Satan’s mother” backwards.
 

 
Alas, for all those expecting the end of days, fire, brimstone and alike, the announcement is part of a “guerilla” advertising campaign promoting the Elmsta 3000 Horror Fest.

Some eagle-eyed journalists noted their paper had been duped and carried a story about the advert later that day. This was the second time something unusual had ended up in the paper’s pages recently. On Sunday an essay in the culture section of the paper contained capital letters at the start of each paragraph that spelt out the word “P E N I S.”.
 

 
This time the mistake (cock-up?) in the Svenska Dagbladet was picked up by its rival newspaper Göteborgs-Posten RSS.
 
Via the Local

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hip Priest: The Fall’s Mark E. Smith used to do tarot card readings for drugs
05.15.2015
12:59 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Games
Music
Occult

Tags:
Mark E. Smith
The Fall
tarot


 
The other day I was in the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio, and I came across a book I’d been hunting for a while, that being a volume on lead singer of the Fall, Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith, which turns out to be an odd little tome, a kind of catch-all of writings by Smith himself. It was this last point I only understood when I held the book in my hand; I had thought it was a reported book but in fact it’s all written by Mark E. Smith. 

One of the chapters has the remarkable title of “The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World and Eric the Ferret.” The title kind of gives away the fact that it’s about tarot, which it turns out Mark E. Smith has more than the usual interest in.

Here are a couple of key passages. I have to say I only half-believe Smith on this stuff—it’s a little hard to picture sports cars turning up at his flat all the time for readings—the whole thing is a fascinating brew of ego, half-baked erudition, superstition, and self-serving logic, a scammer’s mindset if you will:
 

I used to do tarot readings as well. I went through a phase of reading books on the occult. I was fascinated by it. I still believe that things leave vibrations. America, for instance; I’ve visited all these old Civil War sites and the atmosphere is incredible. You can almost reach out and feel it.

.…After a bit, when the drugs prevailed, it got ridiculous. I got more interested in the Philip K. Dick Time Out of Joint angle—the way certain pieces of writing have a power all to themselves, almost as if they can prophesize things. But I still did the readings. Kay had a lot of hippy mates, housewives with a bit of money, really, who were always seeking out people to read for them. And I had a natural talent for it. I’ve always been able to read people. My mam’s a bit like that. I never used to charge a lot, but now you can earn a fortune. When I was really skint in 2000, I thought to myself, I should be doing that again. You can earn £40 an hour.

When people did a tarot with me they’d walk away wth their life changed. But you can’t fuck around with those things too much. You’re dealing with a force. When it goes wrong you’re not being a vessel.

-snip-

I did the readings for a year or two. But people started coming back too much. I had to tell them to stop. You get to the point where people can’t function without it—once a week turns into twice a week. They were driving up in their sports cars outside the flat, asking if they should go with this nice man they’d just met. A lot of fellas used to take advantage of that. Telling them they need more tarot—and that the tarot says you need sex with me.

One of the rules of the tarot is that you shouldn’t really take a lot of money for it, like psychics. It’s not good. So I’d take presents, a nice leather jacket. You’d go round to dope dealers and they’d give you two ounces of dope per reading.

 
Can you imagine visiting, say, Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland and running into Mark E. Smith?

Most interesting, perhaps, is that as recently as 2000, after like 20 studio albums on his resume, Smith was “skint” enough to consider taking the practice up again.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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