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‘Zarathustra,’ the avant-folk soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1970 Nietzsche adaptation
06.09.2016
09:03 pm

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Literature
Music
Occult

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In 1970, Alejandro Jodorowsky brought his adaptation of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra to the stage in Mexico City. A creation for its time and place, Jodorowsky’s Zarathustra was a play for four men (A, B, C, and Zarathustra) and two women (D and E), all (eventually) nude on a bare, white stage. The script indicated that the actors were to stand at the entrance of the theater and talk with the audience before the action began; Jodorowsky’s Zen master, the monk Ejo Takata, sat on stage meditating for the two-hour duration of the performance.

As the director recounts in The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky, the staging of the production—called Zaratustra in Spanish—reflected his ongoing Zen practice:

My ambitions were becoming centered on the theater. Nevertheless, Ejo Takata’s teachings—to be instead of to seem, to live simply, to practice the teaching instead of merely reciting it, and knowing that the words we use to describe the world are not the world—had profoundly changed my vision of what theater should be. In my upcoming production, a theatrical version of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, I had stripped the stage of its usual décor, including even curtains and ropes, and had the walls painted white. Defying censorship, the actors and actresses undressed completely on stage after reciting lines from the Gospel of Thomas: “The disciples asked him: ‘When will you be revealed, and when will we be able to see you?’ And Jesus said: ‘When you shed your clothing without shame, and when you take your jewels and cast them under your feet and trample them like little children, then will you be able to contemplate the Son of the Living One and have no more fear.’”

The production was a success, with full houses from Tuesday through Sunday. I then proposed to Ejo (without much hope) that he meditate before the public during the performance. To my astonishment, the master accepted. He arrived punctually, took his seat on the side of the stage, and meditated without moving for two hours. The contrast between the actors speaking their lines and the silent monk dressed in his ritual robes had a staggering effect. Zarathustra continued to run for a full year and a half.

 

Standing: Henry West, Brontis Jodorowsky, Héctor Bonilla, Micky Salas, Carlos Ancira, Isela Vega, Jorge Luke and Alvaro Carcaño. Sitting: Luis Urías, Valerie Jodorowsky (pregnant with Teo), Carlos (nicknamed “the hairy guy”), Alejandro Jodorowsky, Cristobal Jodorowsky and Susana Kamini.
 
So far as I know, you can’t watch a performance of Zarathustra on the web, but below, you can listen to the soundtrack LP recorded by the cast and the band Las Damas Chinas (Chinese Checkers), and if you open this link in another window, you can follow along in the script. Digital copies of the soundtrack are available from Paniques Records. It is, of course, entirely in Spanish, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone. These words from D’s song ring out in a universal tongue:

¡Mis piernas, mis dedos, mis pelos,
AAAmoor. . .!
Mi saliva, mi excremento, mi corazón. . .

(Translation: “My legs, my fingers, my hairs / Looove. . .! / My saliva, my shit, my heart   . . .”)

While we’re on the subject of Alejandro Jodorowsky, don’t forget to give your money to the Indiegogo campaign for his upcoming feature Poesía Sin Fin (Endless Poetry). If you choose the “poetic money” perk, he’ll pay you back in bills of his own magical currency. Jodorowsky’s life and work are always cause for celebration.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Jeepers Creepers: Surreal illustrations of witchcraft-caused eye diseases from the 16th century
06.08.2016
10:03 am

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Books
Occult
Science/Tech

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Georg Bartisch dedicated his life to the study and treatment of the eye and its diseases.

Born in Königsbrück, Saxony in 1535, Bartisch was apprenticed to a barber surgeon at the age of thirteen. After three years training, he set off to ply his trade as an itinerant surgeon—carrying out operations, amputations, and diagnosing illness amongst the populace of Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia.

Medicine at this time was still prone to a belief in the superstitious. Bartisch believed a patient could be diagnosed through their astrological chart or horoscope and that magic, astrology and indeed witchcraft itself played an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

His main interest was ophthalmology. Though never academically trained, Bartisch excelled in his study of eye diseases and their cures, and was recognized as a leading expert in ocular medicine and surgery. One can imagine how brutal and painful such procedures would have been at this time when there was very poor hygiene and no anaesthetics.

Bartisch also believed myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism could be corrected by the wearing of masks rather than by the use of eyeglasses (see illustrations below). He believed a glass held in front of the eyes would only further damage the patient’s sight.

Though many of his ideas may seem strange to us now, Bartisch was a pioneer and his major contribution to ocular medicine was his compendium or “atlas” Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst published in 1583. It was the first book that detailed eye diseases and was responsible in establishing ophthalmology as a separate and distinct medical discipline.

Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst included sections on head and eye anatomy; strabismus; cataracts (which he classified by color—white, blue, gray, green, yellow, and black); external disease; trauma; and even witchcraft.

By 1588, Bartisch was oculist to the court of Duke Augustus I of Saxony. He died in 1607.

If you have an interest in the history of medicine, or are just a bibliophile, then you may be interested in viewing the whole of Georg Bartisch’s Ophthalmodouleia which has been digitized here.
 
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More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Boyd Rice and Douglas P. get busy in the new fan-fiction comic book ‘Love Holocaust’
06.03.2016
09:03 am

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Books
Music
Occult
Queer

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Now there’s a Henry & Glenn Forever for the neofolk set.

The latest catalog from Soleilmoon Recordings (home of the affordable Dreamachine and much of the Legendary Pink Dots’ oeuvre) offers Love Holocaust, a new comic book about “an imaginary romantic encounter” between former collaborators Boyd Rice of NON and Douglas P. of Death in June:

The story, written by J. Guignol, draws inspiration from Death In June’s legendary songbook. Illustrator Tenebrous Kate turned the story into a comic book, and has lovingly hand-made each copy. The covers are hand-printed linocuts with gold ink on black paper. Limited numbered editions of 27 hard-bound and 50 soft-bound copies.

 

 
The glimpses of the book’s contents on the Soleilmoon website disclose runes, Gothic script, tiki mugs, and other totems of these men’s mythologies. I see that J. Guignol describes their assignation in the kind of prose Terry Southern used to call “brutally frank” and “frankly explicit”:

Boyd wanted to feel the tightness of Dougie’s anal swastika, he wanted to open the “brown book” of his love. Boyd began to pull Dougie’s pants down; his hot breath send [sic] shivers down Dougie’s spine as he whispered in his ear, “Put the mask on. You know I like it with the mask on.”

More fun after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘American Horror Story’ tarot cards
05.23.2016
01:02 pm

Topics:
Occult
Television

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‎Ligne claire whiz Derek Eads has concocted a gorgeous tarot set for fans of FX’s creepy shudder-fest American Horror Story.

Using the stately Art Nouveau AHS typeface and precise red/white/black drawings on a muted dark slate gray background, Eads has wittily taken some of the gore and shock out of the familiar cast of bone-chilling monster (and their victims).

In the deck, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) from season 2 occupies the role of Judgement, while The Hermit is the “pinhead” Pepper from seasons 2 & 4 (Naomi Grossman); triple-breasted Desiree Dupree from season 4 (Angela Bassett) is the Chariot, and Iris the hotel clerk from season 5 (Kathy Bates) is the Hierophant. Eads changed the title of season 5’s Elizabeth Bathory (Lady Gaga) from Countess to Empress, whereas the High Priestess is journalist Lana Winters from season 2 (Sarah Paulson).

There’s no better choice for the Devil than season 3’s Papa Legba (Lance Reddick), and the AHS may have had a tarot deck in mind when they introduced the winged Angel of Death (Frances Conroy) in season 2.

The rest, we’ll let you figure out for yourself.

You can purchase the full set from Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles for just $25.
 

The Fool/The Magician
 

The High Priestess/The Empress
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Hoodoo,’ John Fogerty’s lost, occult-tinged disco rock album
05.20.2016
09:00 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

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I won’t hear any badmouthing of John Fogerty on my internet. John Fogerty is tops. If he’d drunk a bottle of poison after recording “Proud Mary,” we’d still remember him as a peer of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. But Fogerty left the cyanide on the shelf and led Creedence Clearwater Revival for an astonishing run of hit singles and albums, every last one of which (okay, maybe not Mardi Gras, but that leaves six LPs of quality) belongs in the collection of even the most half-assed, fair-weather, penny-pinching, Sunday-driving, miserable, mean, craven self-abnegating rock fan. I guarantee it!

So it is not to mock Fogerty that I draw your attention to a low point in his career, but to praise him. Behold: this lowly nth-generation bootleg of this ridiculous album, Hoodoo, which was to have been his second solo LP before he destroyed the tapes—even this sorry thing, with its stiff beats, gratuitous synths and friendly gestures toward the disco audience, is like unto one of Paul Bunyan’s labors compared with the bleats of today’s puny “Americana” people. It’s pretty good!

Hoodoo sure is weird, though. Since none of the surviving images of the cover are up to DM’s standards, let me tell you about it. Picture Fogerty’s name (in yellow) and the album title (in blood red) printed in the kind of Gothic script you’d expect to find on a Hellhammer LP. Below stands Fogerty, his sunburst-finish Fender slung over a black jacket embroidered with a crescent and a pentagram, his right hand raised in warning to point at some haint or zombie lurking just over your shoulder. And if you were there with him at the photo shoot, you’d be pointing at the exact same spot, because there’s a fucking knight in a full suit of armor over Fogerty’s right shoulder. The overall effect: you’re gazing into a magic mirror that reveals you to yourself as John Fogerty, trapped between worlds in the Pit of Souls.
 

 
In 1976, “You Got The Magic” b/w “Evil Thing,” the lone single from Hoodoo, “managed to escape,” in Fogerty’s words, before he and the label agreed to flush the album down history’s toilet. Here’s how it happened, according to last year’s Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music:

Joe Smith was now the head of Asylum, and just before my new album Hoodoo was to be released, he requested to meet with me in Los Angeles. Very gingerly, he said, “This isn’t very good, John. We’ll put it out if you want us to. We just kind of feel like it’s not up to your level.” You can’t be any more generous or diplomatic than the way Joe Smith handled it. That was hard for him to do. You have to be able to be brutally honest if you’re ever going to be worth a crap.

It was hard for me to hear it, too. Nobody likes to hear, “You stink!” But they didn’t really have to twist my arm too much. I kind of knew it in my heart. “On the Run” was one of the songs on Hoodoo. I could never quite get the words to make sense. Funny: about a week before I wrote this chapter I was still trying to write that song. People under duress will do stuff because of a deadline, let it go, call it finished when they really don’t think it’s finished. My head just wasn’t right. I was in a bad way. The one-man-band thing was really hard. And the stuff with [Fantasy Records owner] Saul [Zaentz] was eating me up. Those were the hardest times I ever went through up to that point.

Joe Smith was right, of course, and I knew it, so I went back home and instructed my engineer, Russ Gary, to destroy all the Hoodoo tapes. Some things in life it’s better not to get snagged by. It’s better to move on. I didn’t want to have this come out after I’d died in some plane crash. One of the things Joe said to me was, “Why don’t you go home and fix whatever it is that’s bothering you?”

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Sun Ra invokes the Egyptian sun god at the Pyramids
05.13.2016
09:16 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

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One of my favorite bits of Sun Ra lore is this story from the bandleader’s 1971 trip to Egypt. John F. Szwed’s biography Space Is The Place recounts how customs officials, perplexed by Sun Ra’s passport (“To be named after the sun god twice was really a bit too much”), held most of the Arkestra’s instruments and luggage after letting the band into the country.

But jazz drummer Salah Ragab, “the head of military music in the Egyptian army,” came to the rescue, lending the Arkestra his gear and assisting them at some personal risk. Their shows in Egypt generated material for a trilogy of live albums, since collected on the CD releases Nidhamu + Dark Myth Equation Visitation and Horizon, and a dozen years later, during a subsequent visit, Ra collaborated with Ragab on an album with the truth-in-advertising title The Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab in Egypt.
 

 
At some indeterminate time, Ra, who could see the pyramids from his hotel outside Cairo, had decided that during the trip he would invoke his divine namesake in one of antiquity’s most sacred places. In an undated interview with Atlanta’s WREK, Ra gives his version of the Egyptian space theurgy:

...while I was there, I went in the [Great] Pyramid, up in the King’s Chamber, and I said, “Now, this pyramid was made for the name Ra. And it hadn’t been said in here in thousands of years, so let’s say it nine times and see what’ll happen.” So we said “Ra” nine times and all the lights went out in the pyramid. So I had a psychic experience there.

Ra says the guide then led the party in darkness along a dangerous path with a twelve-story drop and through the narrow entrance to the Queen’s Chamber, where the lights miraculously came on again.
 

 
With the evenhandedness that is one of his biography’s strengths, Szwed at once casts doubt on Ra’s version of events and adds a strange detail that seems to confirm his supernatural powers:

They climbed the staircase, crawled through the low entrances, and slipped through the narrow corridors in order to reach the King’s Chamber, and as they did the lights suddenly went out. Sun Ra later said that he had chanted the name of Ra nine times when it happened, although [eyewitness Hartmut] Geerken remembered only Sun Ra saying, “Why do we need light, Sun Ra, the sun is here.” Whatever, they managed to walk back out through the darkness. (When Sun Ra recounted this story to writer Robert Palmer in 1978 at the Beacon Theater in New York, the lights went out in the theater, leaving a dead spot in the middle of the tape recording as evidence.)

After the jump, candid footage of the Sun Ra and his Arkestra visiting the pyramids…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
H.R. Giger’s nightmarish tarot cards (NSFW)
05.11.2016
12:24 pm

Topics:
Art
Occult

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Sometime in the 1990s the Swiss occultist who goes by the name Akron suggested to his countryman H.R. Giger that he create a set of tarot cards. Giger demurred, claiming a lack of time as well as a lack of interest in the subject—all the while insisting that he was “too superstitious” to take on such a project.

Giger did, however, regard tarot as an interesting venue for his artworks, and he was willing to re-purpose some of his pre-existing images as a tarot deck. The tarot deck featuring Giger’s artworks covers only the major arcana and is known as the Baphomet deck, named after the pagan god you can see depicted in the Alchemy and Devil cards at the top of this post.

It is currently out of print but like most anything, used sets can be purchased online. It seems that a detailed description of Giger’s cards written by Akron is included with the decks. 
 

 
Lauren Davis at io9 surely hit on something when she observed that when you use a deck like Giger’s, it doesn’t matter what cards you draw, they “always predict an unsettling future.”

My favorite part of Giger’s deck is actually the design for the back:
 

 
You can purchase a set for about $50 and up.
 

 
More of Giger’s tarot cards after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Fabulous modern illustrations of Witches (and their familiars)
05.03.2016
11:26 am

Topics:
Art
Occult

Tags:

witch01.jpg
Broomstick.
 
Throughout history witches have generally been described in word and illustration by men. It’s the male eye that has conjured up portraits of witches as cackling hags with bad orthodontists and hygiene problems in written works by authors as different as Shakespeare and Roald Dahl or by artists such as Henry Fuseli or Walt Disney.

In truth, any woman who was deemed to have subverted patriarchal control was called a witch—and the stereotypical image devised for such women was created by a deep and fearful misogyny.

Artist and illustrator Camille Chew has created a series of beautiful portraits of modern day Witches (and their familiars) that subverts inherited misconceptions. Chew’s witches are independent, strong women who give help and succour with their occult powers.

Chew’s illustrations are created “entirely in Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Bamboo tablet.”

The brush I use most often is just the standard round brush with the spacing set all the way down to 1% for smooth edges. I also sometimes overlay scanned in watercolor washes, hand drawn patterns, etc. (usually on layer mode>soft light) to add texture.

A graduate of Alfred University, Camille’s art work explores themes of mythology, fantasy, and the occult. Her illustrations are available to buy as prints and even as tattoos—details here
 
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Spell Book.
 
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Palm Reader.
 
More of Camille Chew’s witches after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Satanic strippers: Vintage burlesque performers dance with the devil
05.03.2016
10:35 am

Topics:
Dance
Occult
Sex

Tags:

Actress Marian Martin and a burlesque cape featuring our pal, Satan, 1930s
Actress Marian Martin in a Satan-themed burlesque cape. Martin actually played a dancer named ‘Pinky Lee’ in the 1943 film, ‘Lady of Burlesque’ which was based on the novel ‘The G-String Murders’ written by strip tease queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Martin was not a burlesque performer, but her costume is in the satanic burlesque spirit of this post.
 
Of the many fun things that comes along with being a part of the diverse compendium that is Dangerous Minds, those rare days when my feet hit the floor, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about that day, are not among them. Which is why I try to stockpile posts concerning the guy who should have built my hotrod, Satan, for those kinds of days. Because let’s face it—Satan is a big crowd pleaser among DM’s readership.
 
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show
Burlesque performer Diane de Lys in a publicity photo for her show ‘The Devil and the Virgin,’ 1953.
 
I hate to admit it, but sadly I know very little about the world of burlesque despite having a few friends who actually work in the field professionally. So the discovery that dancers back in the 1920s and 1930s (and beyond) used an unusual prop—a costume that was split into two distinctly different styles that was used for a “1/2 and 1/2” style of dance performance was sort of new to me.

One side would feature a “normal” kind of stage dress, and the other could be anything from a man or a maybe a gorilla (apparently, after King Kong was released in 1933, the popularity of girl/gorilla acts skyrocketed. Go figure). Or in the case of the images in this post, Satan himself! That said, I’d personally love to see this trend return to the burlesque stage (if it hasn’t already). Many of the photos you are about to see also feature burlesque performers all dolled up like the devil dating as far back as the early 1930s. They are also slightly NSFW. YAY!
 
H/T: To the burlesque treasure trove that is Burly Q Nell.
 
Burlesque performer with satan costume/cape
 
Devil and the Dancer, 1932
Early 1930s.
 
More devilish dancers and their demonic debonair dance partner after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Séance Fiction: Vintage ‘ghostly’ photos of ‘con artist’ spiritualist medium at work
04.14.2016
10:06 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Occult

Tags:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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