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The earliest known depiction of a witch flying on a broomstick
11:46 am



The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF) possesses countless treasures, but one of the most intriguing is certainly the first known depiction of a witch flying on a broom. As with the trope of a stork bringing a family a newborn baby, the image has embedded itself so deeply in our culture that we seldom stop to ask what it means or where it originally came from.

The marginal illustrations of the 1451 edition of French poet Martin Le Franc’s Le Champion des Dames (The Defender of Ladies), a manuscript of which currently resides in the BNF, include an image of two women levitating, one on a stick, the other on a broom. In Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History, history professors Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peters assert that this edition of Le Champion des Dames contains “the first such illustration in the pictorial history of witchcraft.” Elsewhere they call it “the first known illustration of women flying on broomsticks.”

Le Franc’s lengthy poem on virtuous women (I almost wrote “nasty women”) features a section on witches, alongside of which the broomstick illustration appears. Fascinatingly, the two women have no physical deformity whatsoever and cannot be visually singled out as witches—but for the broomstick. Their covered heads is a sign that they are Waldensians, a kind of precursor to the Protestant Reformation.

But why broomsticks?

Definitely NOT the first depiction of a witch on a broomstick—it’s from 1910—but it was just too good not to use here.
Busting out his Freudian playbook, Dylan Thuras at Atlas Obscura muses that the “broom was a symbol of female domesticity, yet the broom was also phallic, so riding on one was a symbol of female sexuality, thus femininity and domesticity gone wild.” Furthermore, pagan rituals of the day often incorporated phallic forms, and the image of a broomstick between a woman’s legs would have been quite unsettling to Catholics.

The engine behind the power flight lay not in the stick, however, but in the “ointment” or “potion” that was applied to it, which might have included nightshade, henbane or fly agaric magic mushrooms. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber found this reference in the 15th-century works of Jordanes de Bergamo:

The vulgar believe, and the witches confess, that on certain days or nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places.

“Other hairy places”—sounds like a veiled reference to genitalia, to which the levitating stick of course comes into close proximity.

Matt Soniak found a 1477 reference from Antoine Rose, who, after being accused of witchcraft in France, confessed that the Devil had given her flying potions; she would “smear the ointment on the stick, put it between her legs and say ‘Go, in the name of the Devil, go!’”

Now there’s that crazy witchcraft!
Note: The information in this article derives from a better and longer post written by Allison Meier at Hyperallergic, posted yesterday. Highly recommended.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Limited edition Alejandro Jodorowsky ‘El Topo’ figurine
10:45 am


Alejandro Jodorowsky
El Topo

For a certain type of person, the announcement of four figurines based on characters from the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky—and created in consultation with the director himself—will be cause for much fanboy and fangirl rejoicing. If you are the significant other of one of these certain types of people, then this is the part where you cross them off your Christmas list, he wrote chuckling to himself, knowing fully well that his own wife would be reading this post…(!)

With pre-orders starting this Friday, October 21, ABKCO Films and Unbox Industries are unleashing the first in a series of licensed limited edition figurines based on the work of Jodorowsky, specifically characters from his films El Topo and Holy Mountain:

The first figure released is El Topo (“The Mole”) from the landmark cult film of the same name that began the Midnight Movie phenomena of the counterculture 1970s.  Classic Americana and avant-garde European sensibilities meet Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and cosmic mystic El Topo, played by Jodorowsky, must defeat his four sharp shooting rivals on an ever increasing path to allegorical self-enlightenment and surreal resurrection. The statue, made of polystone, a full 14 inches in height and distress brown in color, features exquisite detail and is packaged in a specially crafted wood embossed box. Each piece bears the replica signature of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The highly respected sculptor Andrea Blasich worked closely with ABKCO and Jodorowsky to ensure the figurines are as realistic as possible to their characters from the films.

As you can see, it looks very nice.

Unbox Industries will be releasing future figurines based on Jodorowsky’s 1973 masterpiece The Holy Mountain later this year and in 2017. I doubt they’ll do this, but imagine what it would be like if they did the famous Christ statue from the film and you obtained dozens of them for display in your own home. It would be expensive, sure, but just think how impressed the guy reading the gas meter would be!

Pre-order yours from the Unbox Industries website.


More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘A Message from the Temple’: First peek at upcoming documentary on Genesis P-Orridge cult looks GOOD

As there is just 23 days—ahem—left of their already half-funded Kickstarter campaign, I wanted to call your attention to a new film, already in production titled A Message from the Temple.

As a close observer/fellow traveler—I was never myself a member or direct participant, I’ve never been much of a joiner—of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth in the 1980s, I was pleased to hear that a feature length documentary was being planned on Genesis P-Orridge’s fanclub/cult and really impressed by their excellent trailer. The truly inside story of a cult is seldom an easy one to tell, but when it’s done right—like Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos 2012 “cult classic” The Source—it can be the very most fascinating sort of documentary. Sure, films about crazed loners are good too, I’ll grant you that, but there’s something about a group of outcasts deciding to do something oddball or unorthodox together that’s just too interesting, cinematically speaking, in my opinion. The groupthink, the leaders, philosophies, the motivations, jealousies, schisms, etc, etc., are so richly dramatic in a situation like that.

Adding harassment by the authorities—often the case for outlaw communities—only tends to heighten that drama.

Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth has been convened in order to act as a catalyst and focus for the Individual development of all those who wish to reach inwards and strike out. Maybe you are already one of these, already feeling different, dissatisfied, separate from the mass around you, instinctive and alert? You are already one of us. The fact that you have this message is a start in itself.

Conceived in the aftermath of the punk and industrial countercultures, Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY) was an “anti-cult” that drew on the tenets of provocation, transgression, and the DIY ethos to form an internationally reaching network bound together by an esoteric sensibility.

With experimental pop group Psychic TV serving as the public’s access to Temple doctrine (shattering a Guinness World Record for musical output in the process), the decade long spiritual, intellectual, and sexual revolution that TOPY would instigate, for tens of thousands of members worldwide, represented an unprecedented model for radical communion.

TOPY strove to transcend the normative constructs of culture, sexuality, order, and reason, examine and undermine systems of power, and reach ecstatic states of being. In doing so its members often hurdled past the outer limits of propriety, arousing the moral wrath of “Satanic Panic” era British authorities and causing the subsequent Scotland Yard raid and political exile of the group’s central figurehead, artist and provocateur Genesis P-Orridge.

A Message from the Temple is the first authorized documentary about Thee Temple Of Psychick Youth (years 1981-1991), tracing its influences and inception to its dramatic downfall and enduring legacy.

Told with unprecedented access through the eyes of its members, collaborators, and persecutors via contemporary interviews, personal archives, and historical accounts from the mainstream media, A Message from the Temple will provide an intimate portrait of the artists, occultists, and rock stars that surrounded Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth.

It is our belief as filmmakers that stories such as this must be told if human history is to survive, progress, or have any meaning whatsoever.


This weekend in Brooklyn, the film’s producer’s Unclean Pictures will mount a benefit for the documentary. “Ritual Cuttings” is a symposium of Temple related videos and a discussion with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and other participants in TOPY. Tickets available here.
Watch the excellent trailer for ‘A Message from the Temple’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Number 666: The Aleister Crowley issue of Flexipop!

I learned many things during my recent conversation with David Tibet (Current 93 and related projects) and Youth (Killing Joke, the Orb, the Fireman, Brother Culture, Pink Floyd, et al.) about their fabulous new album as Hypnopazūzu. One of these was that during the early 80s, a British pop magazine had, at Tibet’s urging, numbered its final issue 666 and put Aleister Crowley on the cover. Tibet had written the cover story, too, about the Beast and his influence on pop musicians.

Both Youth and Tibet seemed to think the magazine in question was Smash Hits, but in fact Flexipop! was the one that employed Mark Manning/Zodiac Mindwarp as art editor and concluded with the Crowley issue. Though I wasn’t there, Flexipop! seems much hipper than Smash Hits from my vantage point: Every issue came with a flexi disc, and alongside the shit (and not) pop stars of the day, they profiled quality bands like the Birthday Party, Pigbag, Motörhead, Bauhaus, and Killing Joke (Youth dropped his pants in the pages of No. 19).

Having reached the kabbalistically significant number 32 with their second-to-last issue in June 1983—featuring both Killing Joke sans Youth and Brilliant, Youth’s new band with Jimmy Cauty—Flexipop! made a daring editorial decision at its perch atop the Tree of Life. For the cover of their valedictory number, instead of Paul Young or Sting, they took a chance on this fresh-faced, golden-voiced up-and-comer with a song in his heart and an Enochian key on his lips.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The 13th-century ‘thinking machine’ of Ramón Llull

Ramón Llull, via Alchetron. The ribbon in his mouth says Lux mea est ipse dominus, “My light is the Lord himself”
There’s an exhibition at Barcelona’s CCCB called “The Thinking Machine: Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria,” up through December 11. Including work by Arnold Schönberg, Athanasius Kircher, Giordano Bruno, Leibniz, Italo Calvino, John Cage, and Salvador Dalí, the show makes its case for the influence of the Catalan philosopher Ramón Llull (1232-1316, sometimes anglicized “Raymond Lully”), who might be credited with inventing the first computer, or its primitive ancestor.

I first became aware of Llull and his contraption in Jorge Luis Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions, which reprints “Ramón Llull’s Thinking Machine,” an article Borges wrote for El Hogar Magazine in 1937. Borges gives the most lucid description of the machine I’m aware of, starting with its simplest, two-dimensional form, a circle divided nine times:


It is a schema or diagram of the attributes of God. The letter A, at the center, signifies the Lord. Along the circumference, the letter B stands for goodness, C for greatness, D for eternity, E for power, F for wisdom, G for volition, H for virtue, I for truth, and K for glory. The nine letters are equidistant from the center, and each is joined to all the others by chords or diagonal lines. The first of these features means that all of these attributes are inherent; the second, that they are systematically interrelated in such a way as to affirm, with impeccable orthodoxy, that glory is eternal or that eternity is glorious; that power is true, glorious, good, great, eternal, powerful, wise, free and virtuous, or benevolently great, greatly eternal, eternally powerful, powerfully wise, wisely free, freely virtuous, virtuously truthful, etc., etc.

I want my readers to grasp the full magnitude of this etcetera. Suffice it to say that it embraces a number of combinations far greater than this page can record. The fact that they are all entirely futile—the fact that, for us, to say that glory is eternal is as rigorously null and void as to say that eternity is glorious—is of only secondary interest. This motionless diagram, with its nine capital letters distributed among nine compartments and linked by a star and some polygons, is already a thinking machine. It was natural for its inventor—a man, we must not forget, of the thirteenth century—to feed it with a subject matter that now strikes us as unrewarding. We now know that the concepts of goodness, greatness, wisdom, power, and glory are incapable of engendering an appreciable revelation. We (who are basically no less naive than Llull) would load the machine differently, no doubt with the words Entropy, Time, Electrons, Potential Energy, Fourth Dimension, Relativity, Protons, Einstein. Or with Surplus Value, Proletariat, Capitalism, Class Struggle, Dialectical Materialism, Engels.

Then, Borges moves on to the more elaborate version of Llull’s thinking machine—the one with three revolving disks, illustrated below: 


If a mere circle subdivided into nine compartments can give rise to so many combinations, what wonders may we expect from three concentric, manually revolving disks made of wood or metal, each with fifteen or twenty compartments? This thought occurred to the remote Ramón Llull on his red and zenithal island of Mallorca, and he designed his guileless machine. The circumstances and objectives of this machine no longer interest us, but its guiding principle—the methodical application of chance to the resolution of a problem—still does.


Let us select a problem at random: the elucidation of the “true” color of a tiger. I give each of Llull’s letters the value of a color, I spin the disks, and I decipher that the capricious tiger is blue, yellow, black, white, green, purple, orange, and grey, or yellowishly blue, blackly blue, whitely blue, greenly blue, purplishly blue, bluely blue, etc. Adherents of [Llull’s] Ars magna remained undaunted in the face of this torrential ambiguity; they recommended the simultaneous deployment of many combinatory machines, which (according to them) would gradually orient and rectify themselves through “multiplications” and “eliminations.” For a long while, many people believed that the certain revelation of all the world’s enigmas lay in the patient manipulation of these disks.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
That ‘Star Trek’ episode where Jack the Ripper takes over the Enterprise so everyone gets super high
09:08 am


Star Trek
Jack the Ripper

I didn’t want to write this post, but the burden of TV history weighs heavy on my shoulders. The 50th anniversary of Star Trek came and went, and in all the fanfare, I saw no mention of the original series’ single most bizarre episode. Forget the one where they’re back in the 1920s, or the one where they’re at the O.K. Corral with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, or the one where Kirk and Spock fight Genghis Khan alongside Abraham Lincoln; this right here is the goods.

Before last night, I hadn’t seen “Wolf in the Fold” for about 30 years. I watched it again to make sure my memory was accurate, and I can confirm that this is without a doubt the most insane episode of Star Trek that ever made it to the screen. It is actually even weirder than I remembered. A space séance is involved.

I don’t want to give away much more of the plot, but you’ll see what I mean if I set it up briefly. Kirk, Bones, and Scotty go whoring on the “hedonistic” planet Argelius II, which looks just like foggy London town. Next thing you know, Scotty’s standing over a dead belly dancer with a bloody knife in his hand. Kirk asks what kind of legal process they have in this jerkwater, when the Prefect, making a grand entrance, declares: 

The law of Argelius is love.

Then comes the Jack the Ripper business and the whole crew getting messy on tranks. And there is so much more I’m deliberately leaving out.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Entire print run of crucial post-industrial/apocalyptic folk magazine ‘The Fifth Path’ is now online

The Fifth Path was a short-lived fanzine, produced sporadically between 1991 and 1994, that covered the post-industrial scene as well as the genre that later came to be known as “neofolk,” which was commonly referred to at the time as “apocalyptic folk” or “World Serpent” (after World Serpent Distribution who distributed most of the bands associated with this genre).

The magazine covered England’s Hidden Reverse type artists such as Death In June, Sol Invictus, Current 93, and Coil, as well as iconoclasts such as Boyd Rice, Feral House‘s Adam Parfrey, and former Church of Satan high-priestess, Zeena LaVey.

Lords of Chaos author, Michael Moynihan was a contributing writer to issue three and was an associate editor on issues four and five. The magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief, Robert Ward, died in 2004.

Web developer and collector Kenn Wilson has graciously uploaded all five issues of The Fifth Path to his personal website. Fred Berger, founder and editor of Propaganda Magazine, apparently donated the issues from his personal collection. Some of them are marked with his personal notes.

If you are a fan of this era and genre, these five issues are crucial reading.

You can download all five issues from Wilson’s website or follow these direct links here:

The Fifth Path: Issue One
Foetus Inc, Death in June, Robert Anton Wilson, Zeena LaVey, Jack Chick, Throbbing Gristle bootleg reviews, An Introduction to Urban and Wilderness Survival

The Fifth Path: Issue Two
Rozz Williams, Kodo, Skinheads in East Germany, live show reviews of Death in June, Current 93, Sol Invictus, Survival: Shelters and Tools

The Fifth Path: Issue Three
Boyd Rice, Sol Invictus, Freya Aswynn, Blood Axis, Yukio Mishima, Carl Orff, Skinheads in East Germany part II, Survival: Fire Starting Tools

The Fifth Path: Issue Four
Swans, Sol Invictus part II, Adam Parfrey, Crash Worship, The Electric Hellfire Club, Thomas Lyttle, Odinism in Heavy Metal

The Fifth Path: Issue Five
Fire + Ice, In the Nursery, Ordo Equitum Solis, Somewhere in Europe, David E. Williams, Will, Bathory, Odinism in Heavy Metal part II, Third World Black Magic Dictators

Via: Kenn Wilson

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Prankster plants hilarious fake occult spell book at a metaphysical shop
10:19 am



Jeff Wysaski is an artist working in the medium of putting fake signs, flyers, and products into spaces to create a transformative or, usually, comedic effect. Working under the project name Obvious Plant, he has hilariously put fake art into museums, fake self-help books into bookstores, and fake wine recommendations into liquor stores.

You can read more about Wysaski’s work HERE.

The latest “installation” by Obvious Plant involves the placement of a fake occult spell book in a metaphysical shop. The book generically-entitled Ancient Magick Spells of the Occult, contains several “spells” with completely ludicrous casting instructions (though maybe not any more or less ludicrous than many “legitimate” wiccan spell books).

Check these pages out here. I pretty much lost it at “Spell of the Gemini’s Clone.”

As funny as the spells are, it’s even more hilarious to imagine someone picking this book up in the shop and taking it seriously.


More magick after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The unauthorized Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ amusement park ride is a REAL thing!
09:48 am


Michael Jackson
amusement parks

Le train Fantôme Thriller
Michael Jackson fans living in France can experience Le train Fantôme Thriller, a traveling ghost train ride that pays homage to the King of Pop’s multi-platinum selling album and iconic music video. Totally not authorized by the Jackson family estate, this three-story attraction is chock-full of hungry zombies that are ready to devour you alongside a very familiar soundtrack from 1982.
The ride was created by Stéphane Camors, the descendant of a family of funfair attraction developers dating back a century and a half. Stéphane had previously created two popular ghost train attractions: “Fantom Manor” and “King Kong.” While searching for an idea of a more contemporary and innovative ride, inspiration struck when he came across his children watching the John Landis-directed “Thriller” music video on the internet. Stéphane immediately began consulting with manufacturers, set decorators, and visual artists. After fourteen months and 18,000 hours of construction, his dream became a reality.
You can track the location of Le train Fantôme Thriller via its official Facebook page. Alternatively, you can rent it during the off-season and assemble it yourself in your own backyard (mounting the ride takes just three days, only two days to disassemble).
Le train Fantôme Thriller at night
Le train Fantôme Thriller
See Le train Fantôme Thriller in action after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
When Tiny Tim met Current 93, Nurse With Wound, and ‘the Antichrist’
09:24 am


Tiny Tim
Current 93
Nurse With Wound

Cover art for Tiny Tim’s Songs of an Impotent Troubadour by Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound

Another one of those things they don’t teach you in school: Current 93 and Nurse With Wound collaborated with Tiny Tim on a song called “Just What Do You Mean by ‘Antichrist’?”

David Tibet’s Durtro label released a few Tiny Tim albums. The first of these was Songs of an Impotent Troubadour, a career-spanning collection of solid gold Tiny Tim hits like “I Used To Love Jessica Hahn, But Now I Love Stephanie Bohn,” “Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year,” and “She Left Me with the Herpes.” “Just What Do You Mean by ‘Antichrist’?” ended the album; it consisted mostly of those TG-style glissandi that make your intestines cramp a bit, laid over a tape collage of Tibet and Tiny’s phone conversations about the latter’s bizarre eschatological views.

Cover for the Durtro release of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album
The definitive book about the Coil, Current 93, and Nurse With Wound gang, England’s Hidden Reverse, reports that Tiny Tim’s crackpot opinions about gay people provided the occasion for a break between Tibet and his close friend, Douglas P. of Death in June:

Not everyone in the Current circle swooned before Tiny Tim’s bigheartedness. Douglas Pearce took his views on homosexuality as an excuse to irrevocably cut all ties with Tibet, on the grounds that friendship with both Tiny Tim and himself was incompatible.

Tibet had become obsessed with Tiny Tim in the mid-90s after listening to his work on the recommendation of Boyd Rice. And it was Rice who suggested Tibet call Tiny up:

On Rice’s suggestion, Tibet made contact through Big Bucks Burnett, who ran Tiny Tim’s fan club. To his surprise, Burnett suggested that Tibet call Tiny right away, as he loved to talk on the phone. It was the start of a beautiful long distance telephone relationship. ‘I rang up his hotel, where he had checked in under the name Peter Poker,’ Tibet recalls. ‘Straight away he was like ‘Hi, Mr. Tibet, nice to speak to you, have you got a girlfriend? What does she look like?’ His phone calls always lasted at least an hour.’ Tibet and Tiny Tim only met once, when he flew over to play at London’s Union Chapel in 1995, in a mismatched lineup that featured Red Dwarf‘s Norman Lovett and Al Murray, ‘the comedy landlord’. As a result, Time Out listed the concert in their comedy section.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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