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Occult paintings and mystical visions of female surrealist Ithell Colquhoun
06.21.2017
11:00 am
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Like the Abstract Expressionist movement that followed in its wake, Surrealism’s history has largely been written as a narrative of heroic transgressions committed by bad boys, which did no favors for the women involved in the movement. Even Surrealism’s most celebrated woman artists—Meret Oppenheim, whose “Breakfast in Fur” was the first objet acquired by MoMA, and Lee Miller, who moved on from Surrealism to become a celebrated photojournalist—are arguably as well or even better known as nude models for photos by Man Ray as for their own achievements.

Not only was that at work in ensuring that painter/poet Ithell Colquhoun remained an obscure figure, there’s her strong supernatural bent. Surrealism’s interest in automatism in writing and drawing was held in service of suppressing the discipline of the conscious mind in order to develop the unconscious, triggering creativity-enhancing states. But Colquhoun used Surrealism’s methods in service of Hermeticism. She sought not merely the unconscious, but the mystical and transcendent. This pursuit led to her ouster from the official English Surrealist group in 1940. She continued to paint, eschewing her early representational style in favor of increasing automatism, and she increased her involvement in the occult, participating in the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the Golden Dawn splinter group Stella Matutina.

Colquhoun’s biography and body of work merit far deeper exploration than I can offer here, and I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in Surrealism or esoteric art who don’t already know her to engage in that deep dive. The video at the very end of this post isn’t a terrible place to start. What concerns us today is a suite of her paintings and connected esoteric poetic writings called Decad of Intelligence. Based on an early Kabbalistic treatise known as the Sefer Yetzirah, the ten painting/writing pairs were created in 1978 and 1979, based on ten “Sephiroth,” aspects of infinity revealed in creation. The Decad has been published in full for the first time as an extraordinary set of prints and an accompanying book by Fulgur Limited, a UK publisher concerned with the intersections between the esoteric and visual art (if you’re familiar with Abraxas Journal, you know Fulgur). From Dr Amy Hale’s introduction:

A key to understanding the way in which the Decad was designed to work may be found in Colquhoun’s relationship to colour theory, in which she was interested from early in her formal arts training. In the 1930s she studied at the London atelier of Amédée Ozenfant, who spearheaded scientific colour theory in Britain, particularly concentrated on the effects of colour in architecture. Colquhoun’s own studies of colour theory were underpinned by her interest in the Golden Dawn magical system and reinforced for her the idea that colours hold the power to communicate both concrete and more ineffable spiritual principles. Similarly to the theories put forward by Kandinsky in his 1911 text Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Colquhoun believed that colours were themselves intelligences and gateways to other planes of existence.

The Decad of Intelligence…was designed to be a small book of ten enamel pieces, each depicting a different sephira, accompanied by a description of their properties. The enamel is thickly laid on the paper, and each piece is a colour study, encompassing the colours of each of the four colour scales of the Tree of Life. Her text is extremely regular in construction, and provides a list of of the correspondences of each sephira, including its location, corresponding part of the body, elemental and planetary associations, fragrances and flowers, alchemical associations, and the vision that the sephira is intended to inspire.

The prints in the folio are quite vivid, printed with metallic highlights that help to capture the essence of the enamel originals. The versions of the same works in the booklet are still quite nice, but less expensively printed, and the digital images we have to share with you resemble the latter more closely. They give you the idea quite well enough. Elements of the corresponding poems were derived from information found in Aleister Crowley’s Liber 777, and perhaps accordingly, the Decad of Intelligence is limited to 777 copies.
 

 
ABSOLUTE OR PERFECT INTELLIGENCE

Sphere of Mercury
Pillar of Water
Splendour a Hermaphrodite

Opal storax moly
Quicksilver mescal
Left foot navel
The names versicles and apron octagram
Zinc Venus as metal

Jackal of the west healer of plagues
Truthfulness angelic Sons of God
Analysis into Four Elements vision of splendour
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.21.2017
11:00 am
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‘I’m Always Thinking of You’: The Bruce Conner occult greeting card
06.16.2017
08:34 am
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‘I’m Always Thinking of You,’ greeting card by Bruce Conner, c. 1957 (via Dust-to-Digital)
 
Dust-to-Digital, the excellent reissue label behind last year’s Music of Morocco: Recorded by Paul Bowles, 1959, has reprinted this greeting card drawn by Bruce Conner some 60 years ago. It costs $5.

Like Harry Smith, Conner was employed by a bohemian greeting card company called Inkweed Studios (later The Haunted Inkbottle) during the ‘50s. Lionel and Joanne Ziprin—he a poet and Kabbalist, she a dancer, illustrator, and model—were its founders. The notes from Glenn Horowitz Bookseller’s 2011 exhibition of material from the Inkweed archives are full of fascinating details about the Ziprins, the artists they worked with, and the businesses they ran. While they do not seem to have made much of a dent in Hallmark’s monopoly, they gave Bruce Conner and other artists the greatest gift of all: cash.

Inkweed offered itself as a launching pad for a handful of equally ambitious and talented artists, several of whom found their first paying commercial jobs with the company. These include polymath artists Harry Smith and Jordan Belson, painter and filmmaker Bruce Conner, and illustrators Barbara Remington and William Mohr. Smith’s instantly recognizable geometric designs were used for a series of hand screened Christmas cards, which echoed the artist’s famed series of drawings and collotypes inspired by Kabbalistic themes. Their most prodigious collaborator, however, was Conner, who met the Ziprins on a visit to New York in 1951. While studying art at Wichita University and the University of Nebraska, Conner regularly sent The Ziprins card concepts, alongside completed linoleum cuts and meticulous printing instructions. Conner’s work for the Ziprins—inspired by the two-dimensional, alien forms of painter Paul Klee and the absurdum ad infinitum ethos of Dada and Beat—infused Inkweed with a heavy dose of subversive wit and black humor. Conner’s vision inspired the Ziprins to take greater risk in their own designs, expanding the parameters of what the company could and would soon become.

After the jump. Conner’s video for “Mea Culpa” from Brian Eno and David Byrne’s ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’...

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.16.2017
08:34 am
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‘Cook What Thou Wilt’ with these Aleister Crowley-themed kitchen utensils
06.02.2017
09:35 am
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Facing boredom in your food-life? Ever wondered what it takes to become “Wickedest Chef In The World”? Then why not try spicing up your culinary time—as well as your kitchen decor—with these Aleister Crowley-themed cooking utensils?

Sprung from the mind and will of Sheffield-based visual artist Stuart Faulkner, these hand-tooled (and strictly limited edition) sets of kitchenware are available to buy from the website of occult gift shop Airy Fairy, or directly from the artist himself at his website stuartfaulkner.com.

The spoons cost just a measly £6.66 (what else?) and the chopping board can be yours for only £23.

I myself am looking forward to getting stuck into Cook Of The Law, a compendium of The Great Beast’s favorite recipes which (rumor has it) was dictated by his spirit to the second most evil Brit of modern times, Gordon Ramsey…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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06.02.2017
09:35 am
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Woodcuts of Witches, Wizards and Devils
05.09.2017
10:46 am
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Well, here’s something you don’t see every day in real life: Witches with animal heads flying on broomsticks. Fuck. Why did all the good stuff happen before iPhones were around to capture it….? Or, is it just strange, nay fantastically unbelievable, that witches with animal heads ever flew around on broomsticks?

Now, once upon a time, long, long ago in a land not so very far from here, people actually did believe in witches and warlocks and wizards and animal hybrids flying with broomsticks through the devil-dark night. It was a form of mental aberration that infected the whole of Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries.

This dreadful fear of witches began with a couple of Dominican monks, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, who together wrote a barmy treatise on witchcraft called Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) in 1486. This book reinvented witchcraft and the devil as something more than just “delusions,” as had once been believed, into something solid, active, real, and very, very dangerous. Unsurprisingly, it was a bestseller for some 200 years.

According to the Malleus Maleficarum the world was literally hoaching with witches and the only way to defeat them was by the worst kind of torture and execution. This treatise received Pope Innocent VIII’s blessing. He had already given Kramer a Papal Bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484 which approved his “inquisition” into all reports and suspicions of witchcraft. This Papal Bull was included in the Malleus Maleficarum as part of the book’s preface, which meant that misogyny was not only acceptable but actively encouraged.

And so it began two centuries of terror and torture and mass stupidity.
 
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The great thing about witchcraft is that anyone could be accused of it. The accuser never had to prove the veracity of their statement. The accused always had to prove their innocence. But this usually meant forfeiting their lives. You see, innocence was often proven by use of a variation of the ducking stool—a device once used for scolds and prostitutes—whereby a woman believed to be a witch would be tied to a rope and thrown into a river or a pond. If the woman sank and drowned—then she was innocent. Hurrah! If she floated and lived, well hell, she’s a witch and must be burnt at the stake.

Usually, it never came to this, as most women ‘fessed up after hours or days of relentless torture and were then executed. Oftentimes, these women would name their accusers (or others they didn’t like) as also being witches and in league with the devil. And so it went, more and more women were questioned, tortured, and executed.

Stupidity does not discriminate—which explains why the hysteria over witchcraft was surprisingly flamed by the rise in literacy. The mass publication of pamphlets, news sheets, and books saw a great demand for stories “true” and fictional about witches and witchcraft. These stories were exceedingly popular and were spread in posters across the land like a virus. In every village and town, these reports on the occult would be read aloud wherever they were posted. The literate read the stories. The illiterate spread the tales word-of-mouth. The most potent part of these documents were the woodcuts which depicted the women (and some men) who were in league with the Devil and using witchcraft to spread his nasty ill-will throughout the land.

One of the earliest of these illustrated pamphlets was A Rehearsall both Straung and True, of Hainous and Horrible Actes Committed by Elizabeth Stile, alias Rockingham, Mother Dutten, Mother Deuell, Mother Margaret, Fower Notorious Witches first published in 1579. This booklet told the story of Elizabeth Stile, a 65-year-old widow and beggar who was accused of witchcraft and cavorting with three other witches Mother Margaret, Mother Dutten and Mother Devell, and a man called Father Rosimunde, who could (allegedly) transform himself “into the shape and likenesse of any beaste whatsoever he will.” Nice trick. Bet he never had to buy a round at the local inn.

It wasn’t just the lowly peasantry or working class who believed in such stories but the very highest members of the establishment. The first king to unify the nations of England and Scotland as King James I wrote a treatise on witchcraft Daemonologie based on his own personal involvement in the infamous North Berwick witch trials of 1590. King James believed that most women were “detestable slaves of the Devil, the Witches or enchanters” and he personally took part in the interrogation of those accused of witchcraft.

Many of these women were just dear old ladies who had lost their husbands or were destitute and had become victims to the unwelcome focus of a someone’s ire. As Jon Crabb notes on the Publlic Domain Review, it was from such poor women came the image of the “old crone” which was then promoted through books like The Wonderful Discoverie of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillip Flower, Daughters of Joan Flower neere Beuer Castle (1619), A Most Certain, Strange and True Discovery of a Witch (1643) and The History of Witches and Wizards: Giving a True Account of All Their Tryals in England, Scotland, Sweedland, France, and New England (1700). It is this image of a witch as depicted in woodcuts that is still the most prevalent depiction of a witch used today.
 
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An early though hugely influential depiction of a witch from ‘A Most Certain, Strange and True Discovery of a Witch’ (1643).
 
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Witches cooking up trouble.
 
More weird and wonderful woodcuts of witches and alike, after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.09.2017
10:46 am
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The Son of Satan: That time Marvel Comics got into the Antichrist
05.02.2017
11:06 am
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Three little words can change everything. Think of all the times you’ve said “I love you,” or “I hate you,” or even just asked “How are you?” and then experienced the sometimes dramatic or emotional events that followed.

On April 8, 1966, TIME published three little words on the cover of its magazine that changed lots of things: “Is God Dead?”

No one knew the answer to this question for sure but in a growing secular world, it seemed at least a very real possibility.

With no God, there was a gap in the market, and Satan looked the most likely to fill it. A string of books and movies like Rosemary’s Baby, The Devil Rides Out, and The Exorcist appeared to answer TIME’s question. Satan was no longer the poster boy for drug-addled weirdos, Satan was now big business.

In the early 1970s, Marvel Comics supremo Stan Lee followed the trend for all things horror and the occult. Under Lee, Marvel shifted away from the more traditional good guy superheroes into far darker and more ambiguous characters. In a decade of Vietnam, civil rights battles, bloody assassinations, and growing student protest, web slingers and men in tin suits just didn’t cut it so well with the audience. In came Ghost Rider, The Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night, and The Monster of Frankenstein—all produced by a team of talented artists and writers that included Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, Mike Ploog, Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Gardner Fox, Marv Wolfman, Joe Maneely and, of course, Stan Lee. His hunch for a shift away from superheroes had been right and these comics sold extremely well.

But Lee had a bigger and even more dangerous idea—if vampires and werewolves sold well then why not go for the big kahuna himself? Lee wanted to do a comic book based on Satan. He wanted the Prince of Darkness to be the comic’s star and hero. He broached the idea with writer Roy Thomas. Thomas had reservations right away. This idea was going to be big trouble and who needs that kinda shit?  But Tomb of Dracula sells. Thomas pointed out that Dracula worked because it was about the team of vampire killers who were in the hunt for the evil Count and not the nasty, rotten bloodsucker himself. A comic just on Satan wouldn’t offer the possibility to develop the narrative or allow for good and evil.

But still, there was something here. Thomas went off and kicked the idea around for a bit. Then he had a simple suggestion that would make Lee’s idea work:

“What if you made it Son of Satan? You could still have Satan as a character, but he’s not the hero.”

Daimon Hellstrom, aka the Son of Satan, first appeared in issue #1 of Ghost Rider, September 1973. Hellstrom was then marketed via the try-out strand Marvel Spotlight from October 1973-October 1975. The readership seemed to dig the great moral dilemmas Daimon faced as a man born of a mortal woman (Virginia Wingate) but was still under the influence of his old man, the great beast.

Daimon’s adventures in Marvel Spotlight led to his own comic Son of Satan in 1975. The high hopes for this vehicle burned quickly, and the title crashed to earth after a mere eight issues in 1977. Tastes had changed. Satan was not as popular. And agents of Christianity claimed Marvel was corrupting the youth of America by encouraging them to worship the devil….quelle surprise...

This may all well be true, but you see for me I’m not sure that’s exactly the case. For although Daimon Hellstrom may have been Satan incarnate, he may have had the birthmark of a pentacle on his chest, and stolen his father’s powerful trident to usurp his evil ways, but the problem, well at least for me, was that the Son of Satan looked kind of lame—he just didn’t look the part. For a kick-off, he was usually bare chested like Sub-Mariner. He also wore yellow knee-high boots and a flighty yellow cape—a bit like Doctor Strange. But that’s nothing to compare with the real deal killer which was that Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan wore spandex. That’s right, Little Lord Satan wore red fucking spandex leggings! How in the name of Zuul did that happen? How could any parent let their child go out of the house dressed like that, let alone the spawn of Satan? No wonder Satan was so pissed off at his goofy progeny….

You can find editions of the whole Son of Satan and Marvel Spotlight on Son of Satan here.
 
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More thigh-bulging Son of Satan stuff, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.02.2017
11:06 am
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New witchcraft museum features occult artifacts once owned by Aleister Crowley
04.28.2017
12:28 pm
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Any discussion of Wicca in America must begin with Raymond Buckland. A disciple and correspondent of English Wicca’s acknowledged father Gerald Gardner, Buckland established America’s first Wiccan coven on Long Island in the early ‘60s. He literally wrote the book on Wicca, Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, along with dozens of smaller volumes. In 1968 (some sources say 1966), he established the USA’s first museum of witchcraft. Initially just a showroom in his basement, the collection grew and moved repeatedly, from Long Island to New Hampshire, to Virginia, to New Orleans. Sadly, in NOLA, the collection endured a period of neglect and damage.

Buckland has been an Ohioan since 1992, and two years ago, the collection returned to his Temple of Sacrifice coven, and is now going on display again, in a modest gallery in Cleveland. The Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick opens on April 29, 2017 in a room off of the Tremont record store A Separate Reality. (An aside—ASR should be a Mecca for punk, jazz, prog, and psych collectors. It’s owner, Gus Payne, has an incredible gift for procuring vinyl Holy Grails, and he’s a really swell guy, to boot.) The space has been a gallery before—a few years ago, under the name “Gallery Wolfy Part II,” it hosted a large exhibition of artwork by Half Japanese singer Jad Fair. That gallery was a white-wall space, but the Buckland incarnation is an intimate and inviting room in blood-red and exposed brick. The gallery’s curators Steven Intermill and Jillian Slane were accommodating enough to give Dangerous Minds some time with the collection. It features artifacts from a number of Wiccan luminaries, and even some possessions of legendary occultist Aleister Crowley’s.
 

Horned God Helmet - there’s a picture of this in The Complete Book of Witchcraft
 

Examples of Baphomet Talismans
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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04.28.2017
12:28 pm
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Iconic occult ‘Angel Heart’ Ring on sale today only for 30% off
04.25.2017
08:49 pm
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One fateful afternoon thirty years ago, NYC-based jewelry designer Alex Streeter was working in the backroom at his eponymous store in Soho. Two gentlemen entered the shop and approached the artist, identifying themselves as the art directors for Alan Parker’s then-in-production supernatural thriller Angel Heart. They then proceeded to tell Streeter that they felt he was, in fact, the strangest jeweler in town, and hired him on the spot to create a distinctive collection in silver to be worn by the film’s stars, Robert De Niro and Charlotte Rampling. Thus, the famous, or perhaps infamous, Angel Heart Ring, a pentagram in an amber orb held aloft by two rams—and soon to become Streeter’s signature work—was born.
 

 
One memorable scene in Angel Heart sees De Niro’s sinister character slowly rolling a boiled egg on a plate as Mickey Rourke’s character stares at his amazing ring. Since the film’s release in 1987, Alex Streeter‘s impeccably carved and beautifully-crafted jewelry has been worn by the likes of Jimmy Page, Steven Tyler, Axl Rose, Madonna, Kirk Douglas of The Roots and Marilyn Manson and seen in the pages of fashion bibles the world over. But it’s not just rock stars who covet his fine craftsmanship, it’s people wanting to feel like a rock star—or a sorcerer perhaps—who are attracted to his singular, occult-inspired handiworks.

Alex Streeter‘s work obviously isn’t for everyone, but for those who are attracted to it, it can be an obsession. But did they chose to wear his work, or did his work chose them to wear it?

It’s probably a little of both.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the ring’s creation, Alex Streeter has designed a new stamped, limited collector’s edition of the Angel Heart Ring. It’s a thicker version of the classic setting, complete with limited edition details, including the trademark Alex Streeter logo and “XXX” stamping on the inner ring.This limited edition setting will only be available through March 6th, 2018 before being discontinued.

Today April 26th—to celebrate Alex’s birthday—is the annual sale at AlexStreeter.com and AngelHeartRing.com. For one day only you take 30% off with the code “ALEXBDAY” at checkout.
 

Amber Angel Heart Ring
 

Side view
 

Ewaka Red Angel Heart Ring: Hand-created stone in a solid sterling silver setting.
 
More of Alex Streeter’s exquisite jewelry after the jump…

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Posted by Sponsored Post
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04.25.2017
08:49 pm
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DON’T YOU HATE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS: Man claims evil demon blowjob terror
04.19.2017
12:26 pm
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“Rodrique says the tokoloshe comes to his bed in the middle of the night to torment him.”

This curious tale appeared on the February 4, 2015 cover of the Daily Sun, South Africa’s largest daily newspaper with a readership of 5.7 million, but it just made its way to me. You’d think a story like this would have been, well… bigger news. Get a load of this:

Sometimes it’s a lizard who scratches him, but mostly she’s a short, beautiful woman who sucks his 4-5 . . . but there is no happy ending.

Rodrique Classen (31) said the last two years have been hell. The tokoloshe leaves him so horny that he has to leave his bed in the middle of the night and go in search of magoshas [prostitutes].

“It is only after the third big magosha that I find enough peace to go home to rest,” he said.

That’s the worst! How many times has a short beautiful demon sucked YOUR 4-5 without the expected happy ending, sending you out into the night to have sex with as many as three streetwalkers before you can finally chill out and get some sleep? We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Rodrique, who lives with his parents—no surprise there—has no money, no job and whattaya know no girlfriend, either!
 

 

“I really want a girlfriend but the tokoloshe won’t allow it. The tokoloshe does something that makes the women think I am evil and they leave me,” he said.

Gee-whiz, I wonder what that “something” might be, don’t you? I’m pretty sure his lack of success with the ladies would have nothing whatsoever to do with a cover story like this one about his demonic sex addiction appearing on the front page of the country’s largest daily. Seems just a wee bit self-inflicted to me, Rodrique… just sayin’.

A traditional Zulu sangoma healer by the name of Dumezweni Mahabuke told the paper that the tokoloshe problem originates with Rodrique’s parents’ house.

“The tokoloshe was created in the yard to destroy him and make sure he never gets into a stable relationship with a woman,” said Dumezweni. “He needs to be cleansed by being washed and the house must be cleansed through special ceremonies. That’s the only way the tokoloshe will leave him alone,” said the sangoma.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.19.2017
12:26 pm
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Ian Svenonius conducts a seance, summoning the spirits of Brian Jones, Jim Morrison & others
03.30.2017
01:29 pm
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In 2012 Ian Svenonius, well-known D.C.-based indie rock frontman (Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Weird War, Chain and the Gang, etc.) published a volume with the provocative title Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group for Akashic Books. It’s a highly amusing read.
 

Svenonius consorts with a “hostile” protester
 
In January 2013 Svenonius visited Candela Books + Gallery in Richmond, Virginia, and held a seance to illustrate the points outlined in the book. Before he can get going, however, he is interrupted by a “protest” organized by the UFLRSA, that is, the United Federation of Living Rock Stars of America, whose attorneys reads a statement focusing on the unfair treatment toward the working rock and roll stars of today who happen to suffer the unfortunate fate of being alive.

In what proved to be a highly scripted turn of events, Svenonius proposes a seance to bridge the differences between the living and the dead. But he has no candles, which everyone knows are required for a seance. Candles are duly produced.
 

 
In short order four volunteers are seated around a table asking questions of, in order, Paul McCartney (the hoax was true!), Little Richard (alive then, alive now), Brian Jones, and Jim Morrison, who offer useful advice to would-be rock superstars such as “it helps to be British” and “manufacture nostalgia.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.30.2017
01:29 pm
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Mad nuns, torture, witchcraft, & Satan: Silent film ‘Häxan’ narrated by William S. Burroughs
03.24.2017
01:17 pm
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A movie poster for the 1922 silent film, ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.’
 
Like many of you, I share an affinity for topics of interest that involve the guy who should have built your hotrod, Satan. Given the choice between Heaven or Hell, I just want to be where my friends are. And my post today is about as satanic as they come as it involves possessed nuns; witchcraft; grave robbery; cannibalism as well as the occasional human sacrifice. If that’s not dangerous enough for your mind, then consider the fact that the unmistakeable voice of William S. Burroughs narrates the subject of this post—the mind-fucky 1922 silent film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, a flick full of all the sacrilegious subjects I mentioned above and much much more!

Initially, Häxan is presented as a kind of historical document providing legitimate information about the origins of witchcraft and paganism. It is also widely considered to be one of the very first films to do so in such vivid detail. Director Benjamin Christensen—a former medical student—even cast himself as the devil as well as making a brief appearance as Jesus in the film. However, before Häxan could be officially released in Sweden, Swedish censors requested that Christensen omit several scenes including a rather shocking one involving a newborn baby covered in goo being held over a boiling cauldron. Many of the depictions of witchcraft in Häxan were apparently loosely based on the results of research conducted by prominent British anthropologist, Egyptologist and folklore historian, Margaret Alice Murray in her controversial 1921 book by The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. Subsequently, after its censored release and being summarily banned in several countries, the film was heralded by members of the surrealist movement—as noted in the 2011 book 100 Cult Films—who called the film a “masterpiece of subversion.” 

Christensen’s care in making Häxan look and feel realistic truly knew no bounds. To reinforce its authentic darkness and to help convey the appropriate mood that is required for demonic possession he sent one of his cameramen to take photographs of the bleak, cloud-filled skies of Norway that he used throughout the film as a backdrop. His actors are genuinely terrifying looking and appear to be deeply tormented. In other words, Häxan looks like an actual snapshot taken in Hell.
 

A disturbed nun surrounded by an equally disturbing array of torture devices from ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’

Adding another layer of satanic panic related to Häxan is a story attributed directly to Christensen himself regarding actress Maren Pedersen who played “Maria the weaver,” a witch in the film. According to Christensen, when he discovered Pedersen she purported to be a Red Cross nurse from Denmark—though when they met she was a street vendor selling flowers. While they were in the middle of filming Pederson allegedly confessed to Christensen that she believed that the devil was “real” and that she had “seen him sitting by her bedside.” So enthralled was he by Pederson’s diabolical revelation that the director decided to include it in the film’s storyline. Presumably, because the power of Satan compelled him to, of course.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.24.2017
01:17 pm
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