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The Unholy Grail of ‘Lost’ Films: Kenneth Anger’s ‘Lucifer Rising’ with Jimmy Page soundtrack
04.17.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Occult

Tags:
Kenneth Anger
Jimmy Page
Brian Butler


 
Tonight a lucky audience in downtown Los Angeles, seated in the opulent setting of the theatre at the Ace Hotel (once the original United Artists Theatre co-owned by Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford) will be treated to a number of Kenneth Anger rarities that have been recently rediscovered and restored by Anger’s producer/manager/collaborator filmmaker Brian Butler. Among them are alternate versions of The Magick Lantern Cycle films and the mind-blowing, but ill-fated collaboration between Anger and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, both famously devotees of Aleister Crowley’s philosophy of Thelema.

The story of their falling out has long been a foundation of the Led Zeppelin mythos: Anger had been living in Page’s Tower House abode in London, editing Lucifer Rising on the same film equipment used on The Song Remains The Same. While Page was on tour with Led Zeppelin, his girlfriend suddenly kicked Anger out, not even allowing him to get his things. A few days later, the mercurial Magus of Cinema threw a hissy over not getting an additional five minutes of music he needed to complete Lucifer Rising when he wanted it, phoned the Swan Song office and “fired” Page—who was in America and apparently mystified by the whole exercise—from the project. Anger did his patented “curse” routine very publicly, going so far as accusing Page of being a mere “dabbler” in the occult and a rich, lazy junkie. Rock journalists at the time began to speculate if Anger’s curse had worked when a succession of tragic events ended Led Zeppelin’s reign as the world’s biggest rock group.

Pages’ Lucifer RIsing score is wonderfully perverse: a languid but steadily building Middle Eastern-sounding drone, festooned with chanting, tabla, screaming mellotron, a sonically shifting low frequency, foreboding ambiance and shimmering 12-string guitar work. It’s a mad, diabolical symphony of beautiful evil; a fascinating piece of unconventional aggressively avant garde music from one of the rock era’s most mysterious living legends. Married to Anger’s imagery, it’s an exquisite aesthetic and spiritual experience.

The world’s two most famous, most artistically high-level Thelemite magicians collaborated for several years and frustratingly, the fruits of that effort have been seen by very few people. And not for four decades at that.
 

 

Over email, I asked Brian Butler a few questions.

How or where did you locate this print?

Brian Butler: I got a call from a storage facility who told me that they had found an “aberated” print of Lucifer Rising. They asked if they should throw it away or if we wanted to keep it. This was a year ago. I was so busy that I didn’t think much of it and put it in storage. Gradually as I started to inventory Kenneth’s archive I found old press clippings and film programs. I found it interesting how meticulous he was in curating a unique experience for the audience. In 1966 he began screening his films as The Magick Lantern Cycle and designed a thirteen-page booklet with a different color for each page. He also recut Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome as the “Sacred Mushroom Edition” for this occasion. In the audience notes were included specific instructions on when to take LSD (still legal at the time) to time it for that film.

I started to notice how The Magick Lantern Cycle evolved in the early 1970s with different versions of Lucifer Rising. It’s seems he began including this in the program as he was shooting it—“Lucifer Rising Chapter One” was shown in 1970—and he experimented with various soundtracks including Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.

Eventually Jimmy Page came onboard in 1973. For someone of the stature that Jimmy Page had reached in 1973 it was quite radical to do an avant garde soundtrack strictly as an artistic endeavor, although Mick Jagger did the Moog soundtrack for Kenneth’s Invocation of My Demon Brother in 1969. They worked together for several years with at least two different versions being produced, one in 1974 and one in 1975.

Which one is this?

Brian Butler: After a lot of research, I found it to be the 1975 version—the most developed of four versions known to exist. It ends with “To be continued” and was obviously a work in progress.

In one interview I found, Jimmy Page refers to when he screened Lucifer Rising in his room hotel room on the sixth floor and seemed delighted that his haunting score terrified guests up on the twelfth floor. He also mentions making a special trip to a screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to be sure the music was synced up correctly. The Anger/Page version was exhibited to the public at least a few times, and also privately, for potential investors.
 

 
The Films of Kenneth Anger” will be introduced by the filmmaker and is a co-production of Kenneth Anger, Brian Butler and Cinespia. The former United Artists Theatre is one of the most opulent movie palaces ever built in America. For a while it was owned by freaky TV minister Dr. Gene Scott and basically closed to the public for more than two decades. The Ace Hotel has restored and preserved all the original decorations, murals and mirrored ceiling and Anger’s films will be projected on the theatre’s big screen beneath ornate columns, a soaring gold ceiling and walls in the style of a Spanish Gothic cathedral. (I was there once to see Dr. Gene Scott and even then it was pretty impressive. Restored it should be pretty incredible.)

More information here and tickets here. Apparently it’s nearly sold out, so if you snooze, you’ll lose, be warned.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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A history of the Devil
04.11.2014
07:55 am

Topics:
Belief
Occult

Tags:
Devil

00666livedride.jpg
 
The Devil first appeared in early Christian iconography as a blue angel assisting Jesus on judgment day separating the goats from the sheep, as described the gospel according to Matthew (25, 31-33):

When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

A 6th century mosaic of the last judgement in Ravenna, in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Italy, clearly shows Jesus flanked on the right by an angel of light, in red; and on the left by an angel of dark, in blue. This is the Devil, who was seen in early medieval times as little more than a low-ranking bureaucrat, who was working for God.

Gradually, as the Catholic/Christian religion extended its power, the Devil began to take on a more sinister form. The blue angel sprouted horns, and slightly resembled a dragon. Interestingly, Hell at this time was not yet the fiery furnace it is depicted as today, the river of flames would be first painted with the last judgment mural at Torcello Cathedral in Venice, produced during the 11th century

The Devil slowly changed color to red, and took on elements from other mythical gods and creatures: firstly Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, and then another Greek god Pan, who was originally the god of shepherd. (His name meant “to pasture.”) It was Pan who gave the Devil his goat’s legs and cloven hooves. Our vision of the Christian Devil owes more to artists than it does to any descriptive verse in the Bible.

By the 1600s, this horned red Devil was used as a means to oppress and enforce the rule of the Catholic/Christian church. Anyone who spoke out against the church was a heretic and in league with the Devil. For if the church was God on earth, then those against the church were on the Devil’s side. This led to the brutal and horrific slaughter of thousands of innocent people.

Today, the Devil is still used to oppress and inspire fear. Most recently, the American government, under President George W. Bush, declared war on an “Axis of Evil,” while at the head of the US military were men who literally believed they were waging war on the Devil.

This documentary examines the creation of the Devil from mythical gods to source of terrorism and fear.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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What a pact with the Devil (supposedly) looks like
04.09.2014
12:56 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Satan
The Devils
Urbain Grandier

livedottraliv.jpg
 
Catholic priest Urbain Grandier was burned at the stake in 1634 for allegedly bewitching a convent full of nuns in the French town of Loudun. The accusation came about not because of what Grandier did, but rather because of what he didn’t do.

Grandier was a bit of a lad, a controversial churchman, who was known for having sexual relations with his female parishioners. He also questioned the validity of clerical celibacy and was often critical of the church and King Louis XIII. He was a bit of a “hip priest,” you might say with leanings towards the Left. However, all this was unimportant compared to the ire he inspired after ignoring the advances made to him by the horny Mother Superior, Sister Jeanne of the Angels, at the local Ursuline convent.

Sister Jeanne wanted Grandier for her own sexual gratification and hoped to snare the priest by offering him the position of spiritual director at the convent. When Grandier rejected Sister Jeanne’s advances, she planned his downfall. Sister Jeanne offered the position to Grandier’s rival and bitter enemy, Canon Mignon. Once appointed, Sister Jeanne and several other nuns accused Grandier of using Satan to send demons to seduce the convent.

After the nuns where brutally interrogated (described as being like “a rape in a public toilet”), Grandier was arrested, tortured and put on trial. However, he was acquitted.

On his release, Grandier made the mistake of attacking Cardinal Richelieu, who was King Louis XIII’s powerful First Minister. Richelieu ordered Grandier to be tried again, and although the nuns retracted or refused to give statements, new evidenced was “uncovered” and Grandier was again charged with witchcraft, tortured, and this time convicted and sentenced to death. It was a political decision, instigated by Richelieu to dispose of a troublesome and possibly dangerous priest.

During this second trial, the state prosecutor presented a document which was said to be proof of a pact between Grandier and the Devil.

The document was written sdrawkcab (backwards), sealed in blood, covered with various occult symbols, and signed by Grandier, a selection of demons, and Lucifer, himself:

We, the influential Lucifer, the young Satan, Beelzebub, Leviathan, Elimi, and Astaroth, together with others, have today accepted the covenant pact of Urbain Grandier, who is ours.

And him do we promise the love of women, the flower of virgins, the respect of monarchs, honors, lusts and powers.

He will go whoring three days long; the carousal will be dear to him.

He offers us once in the year a seal of blood, under the feet he will trample the holy things of the church and he will ask us many questions; with this pact he will live twenty years happy on the earth of men, and will later join us to sin against God.

Bound in hell, in the council of demons.

Lucifer
Beelzebub
Satan
Astaroth
Leviathan
Elimi

The seals placed the Devil, the master, and the demons, princes of the lord.

Baalberith, writer.

You’d think if you were selling your soul to the Devil, you might ask for a “Get Out of Jail” card. But alas, poor old Grandier didn’t have that option, and died at the stake. But at least now we know what the Catholic Church believe a pact with the Devil looks like
 
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You may know this story if you’ve seen Ken Russell’s film The Devils, with Oliver Reed as Grandier, and Vanessa Redgrave as Sister Jeanne; or read the book, upon which the film is based, The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. If not, here’s the film’s trailer to tempt your very soul.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Helen Duncan: The strange tale of Britain’s last Witch
04.01.2014
08:44 am

Topics:
Occult

Tags:
witchcraft
Helen Duncan

nacnudell.jpg
 
In 1944, a Scottish medium called Helen Duncan became the last person to be prosecuted under the archaic Witchcraft Act of 1735. Duncan was a popular medium, who held seances across Britain during the 1930s and 1940s, and claimed she had incredible paranormal skills, these were often proved to be fake. For example, she said was able to produce ectoplasm, but when photographed and examined, this turned out to be regurgitated muslin cloth; she also claimed she could make spirits appear when under a trance, but these “spirits” proved to be nothing more than a sheet of cheesecloth with a cut-out picture from a movie magazine. Yet such was Helen’s charismatic appeal that she attracted many devoted followers and fans, including the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who believed Duncan had powerful psychic abilities.

Her psychic “talents” came to the notice of the Royal Navy after Helen claimed she saw an apparition of a dead sailor from the sunk ship HMS Barham, during a seance in Southampton. She said the dead sailor claimed his ship had been sunk with the loss of all life on board. As this was during the Second World War, official announcements about any sunk British vessel were held back so as not to damage morale. Duncan claimed she knew it HMS Barham as she had seen the ship’s name in the band of the dead sailor’s hat.
 
ectodunc.jpg
Ms. Duncan and her less than convincing ectoplasm.
 
Though this all sounds deliciously spooky, it is rather unlikely, as the names of ships were no longer written on sailor hats, and more importantly, the family members of all the ship’s crew had been notified of the loss of life, meaning the news of HMS Barham’s sinking was known locally in Southampton amongst a few families but not nationally. However, the Navy were so concerned that Helen Duncan may have been operating as a German spy that they kept tabs on her and her paranormal activities.

This eventually led to Duncan’s prosecution under the Witchcraft Act, and her incarceration for nine months in prison. At her trial, the respected historian and high-ranking Freemason, Alfred Dodd testified to Duncan’s authenticity. It was also known that Churchill took a personal interest in the case and questioned the use of the Witchcraft Act to prosecute Duncan. During the trial, the judge forbade Duncan from proving her psychic abilities in court—how she intended this is not quite clear. However, the resulting conviction and imprisonment seemed overly harsh for a woman who was considered to be fraudulent and no real security threat. If only Scooby-Doo had been around back then, eh?

Followers of Helen Duncan have consistently maintained her authenticity, and long after her death in 1956, she continues to hold considerable sway over those with an interest in the paranormal.

The following documentaries investigate Duncan’s claims to psychic powers and the events surrounding her trial. Each takes a different approach, from the supportive and personal, to the objective and scientific.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Classic rock conspiracy theory: ‘Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon,’ the dark heart of the hippie dream


 
The standard modus operandi of a work of “conspiracy theory” is fairly straightforward. The author/researcher takes some commonly accepted historical narrative, and lavishes scepticism upon it, while simultaneously maintaining an alternative understanding of what “really” happened, one that ostensibly better fits the considered facts.

While Dave McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon : Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream, indubitably follows this approach, its focus is utterly unique. Not to put too fine a point on it, the book is no less than the Official Classic Rock Conspiracy Theory, with individual chapters tackling the unlikely subjects of Frank Zappa, the Doors, Love, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Gram Parsons and more, the careers of which are scrutinized for the fingerprints of the secret state.

What you make of McGowan’s criteria in and of itself (which ranges fairly widely, and at times wildly, from a “tell-tale” preoccupation with the occult to heavy military-industrial family ties), to my mind the virtue of Weird Scenes dwells in the ensuing atmosphere of incredible fairy-tale strangeness—not unlike Joan Didion’s own famous look at California in the late sixties, The White Album. On almost every page, movie-star mansions, knitted with secret passages, spontaneously combust; murders, suicides and overdoses spread through the celebrity populace; cults spring up peopled with mobsters and spies… and all the while, this timeless, intriguing music keeps on geysering away. I contacted McGowan about his bizarre book earlier this week…

Thomas McGrath: Hi Dave. Could you begin please by telling us something about your previous work?

David McGowan: My work as a political/social critic began around 1997, when I began to see signs that the political landscape in this country was about to change in rather profound ways. That was also the time that I first ventured onto the internet, which opened up a wealth of new research possibilities. I put up my first website circa 1998, and an adaptation of that became my first book, Derailing Democracy, in 2000. That first book, now out of print, was a warning to the American people that all the changes we have seen since the events of September 11, 2001 – the attacks on civil rights, privacy rights, and due process rights; the militarization of the nation’s police forces; the waging of multiple wars; the rise of surveillance technology and data mining, etc. – were already in the works and just waiting for a provocation to justify their implementation. My second book, Understanding the F-Word, was a review of twentieth-century US history that attempted to answer the question: “if this is in fact where we’re headed, then how did we get here?” Since 9-11, I’ve spent a good deal of time researching the events of that day and looked into a wide range of other topics. My third book, Programmed to Kill, was a look at the reality and mythology of what exactly a serial killer is. For the past six years, I have spent most of my time digging into the 1960s and 1970s Laurel Canyon counterculture scene, which has now become my fourth book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon.

Thomas McGrath:  Am I right in presuming that you take it as a given fact that power networks are essentially infected by occultism? Are these cults essentially Satanic, or what?

David McGowan: Yes, I do believe that what you refer to as power networks, otherwise known as secret societies, are occult in nature. The symbolism can be seen everywhere, if you choose not to maneuver your way through the world deaf, dumb and blind. And I believe that it has been that way for a very long time. As for them being Satanic, I suppose it depends upon how you define Satanic. I personally don’t believe the teachings of either Satanism or Christianity, which are really just opposite sides of the same coin. I don’t believe that there is a God or a devil, and I don’t believe that those on the upper rungs of the ladder on either side believe so either. These are belief systems that are used to manipulate the minds of impressionable followers. In the case of Satanism, it is, to me, a way to covertly sell a fascist mindset, which is the direction the country, and the rest of the world, is moving. Those embracing the teachings think they are rebelling against the system, but they are in reality reinforcing it. Just as the hippies did. And just as so-called Patriots and Anarchists are. I don’t believe there has been a legitimate resistance movement in this country for a very long time.

Thomas McGrath: Tell us about Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon. What is this new book’s central thesis?

David McGowan: To the extent that it has a central thesis, I would say that it is that the music and counterculture scene that sprung to life in the 1960s was not the organic, grassroots resistance movement that it is generally perceived to be, but rather a movement that was essentially manufactured and steered. And a corollary to that would be that for a scene that was supposed to be all about peace, love and understanding, there was a very dark, violent underbelly that this book attempts to expose.

Thomas McGrath: How convinced are you by it and why?

David McGowan: Very convinced. It’s been a long journey and virtually everything I have discovered – including the military/intelligence family backgrounds of so many of those on the scene, both among the musicians and among their actor counterparts; the existence of a covert military facility right in the heart of the canyon; the prior connections among many of the most prominent stars; the fact that some of the guiding lights behind both the Rand Corporation and the Project for a New American Century were hanging out there at the time, as were the future governor and lieutenant governor of California, and, by some reports, J. Edgar Hoover and various other unnamed politicos and law enforcement personnel; and the uncanny number of violent deaths connected to the scene – all tend to indicate that the 1960s counterculture was an intelligence operation.

Thomas McGrath: You propose that hippie culture was established to neutralise the anti-war movement. But I also interpreted your book as suggesting that, as far as you’re concerned, there’s also some resonance between what you term “psychedelic occultism” (the hippie counterculture) and the “elite” philosophy/theology? You think this was a second reason for its dissemination?

David McGowan: Yes, I do. Hippie culture is now viewed as synonymous with the anti-war movement, but as the book points out, that wasn’t always the case. A thriving anti-war movement existed before the first hippie emerged on the scene, along with a women’s rights movement, a black empowerment/Black Panther movement, and various other movements aimed at bringing about major changes in society. All of that was eclipsed by and subsumed by the hippies and flower children, who put a face on those movements that was offensive to mainstream America and easy to demonize. And as you mentioned, a second purpose was served as well – indoctrinating the young and impressionable into a belief system that serves the agenda of the powers that be.

Thomas McGrath: One thing your book does very convincingly, I think, is argue that many if not most of the main movers in the sixties counterculture were, not to put too fine a point on it, horrendous, cynical degenerates. However, one might argue that a predilection for drugs, alcohol, and even things like violence and child abuse, does not make you a member of a government cult. You disagree?

David McGowan:  No. I’ve known a lot of people throughout my life with a predilection for drugs and alcohol, none of whom were involved in any cults, government or otherwise. And I don’t believe that a predilection for drugs makes one a degenerate. The focus on drug use in the book is to illustrate the point that none of the scene’s movers and shakers ever suffered any legal consequences for their rampant and very open use of, and sometimes trafficking of, illicit drugs. The question posed is why, if these people were really challenging the status quo, did the state not use its law enforcement powers to silence troublemakers? I do have zero tolerance for violence towards and abuse of children, which some people in this story were guilty of. But that again doesn’t make someone a member of a cult – though it does make them seriously morally challenged.

Thomas McGrath: You say in the book that you were always a fan of sixties music and culture. Weirdly, I found that, even while reading Weird Scenes, I was almost constantly listening to the artists you were denouncing. I mean, I found albums like Pet Sounds, Forever Changes, Return of the Grievous Angel,et al sounded especially weird in the context, but I still couldn’t resist sticking them on. I was wondering if you still listen to these records yourself?

David McGowan: Yes, I do. The very first rock concert I ever attended was Three Dog Night circa 1973 – a Laurel Canyon band, though I did not know that until about five years ago. To my mind, the greatest guitarist who ever lived was Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin was arguably the finest female vocalist – in terms of raw power and emotion – to ever take the stage. I don’t know that it is accurate to describe my book as “denouncing” various artists. Brian Wilson, who composed Pet Sounds, is described as the finest and most admired composer of his generation. The guys from Love, architects of Forever Changes, are presented as among the most talented musicians of the era. Frank Zappa is acknowledged as an immensely talented musician, composer and arranger. And so on. It is true that I believe that some of the most famed artists to emerge from Laurel Canyon are vastly overrated, with Jim Morrison and David Crosby quickly coming to mind. And it’s true that on some of the most loved albums that came out of the canyon, the musicians who interpreted the songs weren’t the ones on the album covers. And it’s also true that, unlike other books that have covered the Laurel Canyon scene, Weird Scenes doesn’t sugarcoat things. But the undeniable talent and artistry of many of the canyon’s luminaries is acknowledged. And the book also shines a little bit of light on some of the tragically forgotten figures from that era, like Judee Sill and David Blue, which could lead to readers rediscovering some of those artists and the talents that they had to offer.
 
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream is available now in special pre-release hardback only from Headpress. The paperback is out next month, and should be available from all strange bookshops.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Beyond the Doors: Conspiracy theories about the deaths of Jimi, Janis and Jim

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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The grooviest tarot deck ever: The Linweave Tarot, 1967
03.19.2014
03:01 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Art
Occult

Tags:
Tarot

Linweave Tarot
“Jupiter” and “L’Amoureux”
 
In 1967 the Linweave Paper Co. was looking to promote its outstanding paper products, so they hit on a terrific promotional idea—publish a large-format, full-color tarot deck with art in the contemporary style executed by several top graphic artists of the moment. So they hired Ron Rae, Hy Roth, Nicolas Sidjakov, and David Mario Palladini to do it, and the results was a lively whimsical deck that looks like it came straight out of Yellow Submarine. Unfortunately, the Linweave Paper Co. apparently closed up shop in 1989. So today, that means that the tarot deck is the thing it’s more known for. A collector’s item, it now goes for about $100 used on Amazon.

The actual title of the deck is “Linweave Spells Your Fortune with a Modern Interpretation of the Medieval Tarot Pack: Presented on the Most Exciting Creative Papers in America”—just that alone is pretty awesome. I’ve selected a choice few for presentation here; you can see many more cards at these friendly websites.
 
Linweave Tarot
Linweave Tarot, cover
 
Linweave Tarot
 
Linweave Tarot
“Le Mai”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Medium Fool: Hilariously bad séance hoax from the Edwardian era
03.18.2014
08:11 am

Topics:
Amusing
Occult

Tags:
hoax
seance


 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of history’s most iconic detective,Sherlock Holmes, believed the French medium seen in these photographs, Eva Carrière, was authentic. You see, unlike his famous fictional creation, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a sucker.

The Spiritualist movement of the late 19th century conned a lot of incredibly intelligent people, and probably attracted a few reasonably amused gawkers, as well. If you think there’s nothing interesting about a woman dragging out a bunch of newspaper cutouts and faking a connection with the spiritual world, please note that some of the pictures below are of nude Carrière, though her dirty pillows have been retouched. Yes, Eva C. regularly got naked and received paranormal gynecological exams from her “assistant” and rumored girlfriend, Juliette Bisson. It’s also said that she engaged in sexual activities with séance participants, so before you paint the attendants of such events with a broad and gullible brush—remember, this was before Internet porn.

The photos here are from the 1910s, when the séance craze was already winding down, thanks in no small part to “evidence” like this, I’m sure. Debunking spiritualists was quite the hobby of many a sober-minded Edwardian, and they weren’t particularly impressed with Carrière’s ectoplasm—identifiable as scraps of a French magazine. You’ll notice the faces featured in her communion with the spirits include Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and the French president Raymond Poincaré, none who were dead at the time…
 

 

 

 
More fake spiritualism after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’: Incredible vintage movie photos up for auction
03.05.2014
09:53 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Occult

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Häxan


 
What’s your budget for occult-related artifacts? Well, it probably needs to be a lot bigger, because some gorgeous vintage photos from the 1922 Swedish/Danish documentary, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages are up for auction. The opening bid was $2,000, and the lot is expected to go for somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000.

For the uninitiated, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages is only a “documentary” in a very abstract sense. Intrigued by the Malleus Maleficarum—a 15th century German guide to witch and demon identification—director Benjamin Christensen depicted the occult hysteria of the Middle Ages by actually portraying the delusions and superstitions themselves. So instead of a movie made up entirely of inquisitions and trials and executions (which, to be fair, are certainly scary), he delivered a motion picture depicting mental illness, satanic masses, baby killing, sex with the devil, broom rides, the seduction of clergy and all manner of cinematic evil. The film was once banned in the United States.

I highly recommend you watch it, and I also highly recommend the 1968 William S. Burroughs-narrated version I posted at the bottom. The film was originally silent (obviously), but whatever score might have been played at a screening couldn’t be any creepier than hearing William S. Burroughs’ nasally voice over psychedelic jazz and electronic noises. Plus, the Criterion Collection version is 104 minutes long, whereas the Burroughs version is 77 minutes, since a narrator eliminates the necessity of title cards.

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages was the most expensive Swedish film ever made at the time, and it shows. There are lush, eery sets, clearly created with careful attention to detail, and the early special effects are haunting, even in our cynical CGI-laden present day. The cinematography is also very sophisticated, using odd angles and unsettling close-ups. It’s absolutely gorgeous, a true fantastic horror—disturbing, violent, and sometimes sexy—pretty much everything you want in an occult documentary, no? To give you a taste, some of the lot is below, (the first four are larger sized, the others are smaller photos).

But really, watch the movie. In the dark.

Oh, and buy me these photographs. I need them for apartment ambiance whilst summoning the dark forces
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Thank you, Eric Bradley!

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The Process Church of the Final Judgement: Revelations of an apocalypse cult
02.18.2014
04:42 pm

Topics:
Belief
Books
Occult

Tags:
Timothy Wyllie
The Process


 
Alessandro Papa’s excellent new book, The Process: Archives, Documents, Reflections and Revelations, is an indispensable addition to the small number of publications devoted to the 60s apocalypse cult, The Process Church of the Final Judgement.

When I say small, I refer only to the handful of books—well, three—that includes Love, Sex, Fear, Death: The Inside Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment and Propaganda and the Holy Writ of The Process Church of the Final Judgment, both published by Feral House in recent years, along with William S. Bainbridge’s sociological study of the organization, Satan’s Power: A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult, which came out in 1978. Not a lot.

The Process is the subject of fascination for many people—I’m one of them—because of how dark their theology was, and a desire to understand what caused the well-educated middle class members to join up with such a group in the first place. What weirdos! Although they appeared at first blush to be a Satan-worshipping cult—something Ed Sanders’ lurid Manson book The Family is partially to blame for—this view is very widely off the mark. The Processean tenants sought to harmonize the notion of the Christian eschaton with the carnage the cult’s young adherents had literally been born into, the bombed out ruins of post-WWII Europe. Christ would return and team up with Satan for the final judgement of mankind. After what had just gone down, would this have seemed so incredibly far-fetched? In this sense, the poetic Process theology, most of it coming via the inspired pen of the group’s charismatic leader, Robert DeGrimston, was firmly grounded in Judeo-Christian imagery and the thanatonic impulses of eschatological beliefs in general.

DeGrimston’s “Game of the Gods” described a universe where Lucifer, Satan and Jehovah battle it out on a cosmic chess board where we—and all of history—are just their pawns. This idea of the trio’s endtime “unity” comes from a not-so-esoteric reading of The Book of Revelation. I’m not saying this is exactly the same sort of energy that’s been channeled into the Left Behind book series, but there IS a certain similar impulse at play. Christians LOVE them a little end of the world, right, so how surprising would it be that something like The Process would sprout up in postwar Britain, where the participants were probably all raised as Christians? (This is a very difficult thing to shake, as many of you reading this can no doubt attest to.) That Charles Manson’s prophecy of a coming race war would find inspiration in DeGrimston’s end of the world sermonizing isn’t that surprising, either.

The thing is, I think people who are fascinated by the Process want them to be “darker” than they actually were. Based on the dramatic—indeed the infernal—prose of DeGrimston, they probably expect to find “rites” or Crowleyan sex magick rituals, when the reality was much closer to a “Jesus freak” coffee house with newsletters, folk singers and veggie burgers. Setting aside any “mindfucking” that authoritarian cults tend to engage in, viewed in retrospect, the Processeans actually seem pretty tame, an ascetic, gentle and devotional lot.

Papa’s book makes good use of his extensive collection of Process memorabilia. As the shadowy cult’s narrative history unfolds, he is able to refer to, quote from extensively and even reproduce from the vast amount of literature they produced. In doing so, Papa is able to give his readers an accurate picture of what actually transpired, cleaving the myth from the history and presenting the most objective portrait of The Process yet, even when it can be a little goofy.

The Process: Archives, Documents, Reflections and Revelations has been published in a limited edition of just 555 copies. You can order it from End of Kali-Yuga editions via eBay.

Below, a 2010 interview that I conducted with former Process member and author, Timothy Wylie
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Metal albums with googly eyes


Beheomth, Zos Kia Cultus
 

The name of this Tumblr says it all. Its author seems to value brevity:

I have way too much spare time on my hands.

As spoofs of metal’s sometimes over-the-top grimness go, this one is often laugh out loud funny, and there are some albums I really love in there. But if whoever’s doing this reads this, and is taking requests, I’d love to see IX Equilibrium, Shadows of the Sun, and Skullgrid, please and thank you sir or ma’am.
 

Dehumanized, Prophecies Foretold
 

Dying Fetus, Descend Into Depravity, back cover
 

Skeletonwitch, Serpents Unleashed
 

Vital Remains, Icons of Evil
 

Immortal, Pure Holocaust, probably the best one of the whole bunch
 

Ensiferum, From Afar

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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