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Earliest known Aleister Crowley manuscript surfaces
05.19.2014
08:28 pm

Topics:
Books
Occult
Queer

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
poetry


 
In 1898, heartbroken Cambridge student Aleister Crowley’s love affair with Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt had ended and he looked to his poetry for comfort. A small notebook of these lovelorn poems will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this week.

Rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who discovered the manuscript during a hunt for early gay literature says:

“The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him – and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.”

Pollitt was a female impersonator who went by the stage name “Diane de Rougy,” the future Great Beast 666 was just 22 when they met in 1897. Pollitt was four years his senior, a friend of both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, had been painted by James McNeill Whistler and was the president of the university’s Footlights Dramatic Club. “I lived with Pollitt as his wife for some six months and he made a poet out of me” is how Crowley described their relationship.

Crowley later wrote of his lover:

“Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise. His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth. He possessed one physical beauty - his hair ... its colour was pale gold, like spring sunshine, and its texture of the finest gossamer. The relation between us was that ideal intimacy which the Greeks considered the greatest glory of manhood and the most precious prize of life.”

 

 
According to bookdealer Pearson it is the earliest known Crowley manuscript, a collection of eight sonnets, composed in pencil in a small notebook. Only two of the homoerotic poems have ever been published. Crowley destroyed much of his earliest poetry, but chose to keep this volume, which includes titles like “He, who seduced me first” and “I, who am dying for thy kiss.”

“He destroyed the poetry because he was the priest, the master, the leader, and it didn’t suit his image to be seen as weak and vulnerable. But he kept this little book all his life, so the poems obviously meant a great deal to him.”

The so-called “Amsterdam Notebook of Aleister Crowley” is priced at £12,500 and can be viewed starting Thursday at the Olympia . Here’s one of the poems.

The Red Lips of the Octopus

The red lips of the octopus
Are more than myriad stars of night.
The great beast writhes in fiercer form than thirsty stallions amorous
I would they clung to me and stung. I would they quenched me with delight.
The red lips of the octopus.
They reek with poison of the sea
Scarlet and hot and languorous
My skin drinks in their slaver warm, my sweats his wrapt embrace excite
The heavy sea rolls languishly o’er the ensanguined kiss of us.
We strain and strive, we die for love. We linger in the lusty fight
We agonize; our club becomes more cruel and more murderous.
My passion splashes out at last. Ah! with what ecstasy I bite
The red lips of the octopus.

Crowley’s bisexuality and libertine ways led to his expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1899, clearing the way for Crowley to develop his own magical order.
 

 
Via The Guardian

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll: The Michael Jackson, Aleister Crowley, Liberace connection


 
They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll is a mildly notorious 2004 Christian indoctrination video series meant to scare kids away from Satanic rock music, and even apparently some easy listening and country and western as well. (Young people have eclectic iTunes playlists and the devil’s minions know this.)

With an awful lot of screen time to fill, the producers of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll didn’t just go for the more obvious targets—KISS (aka “Kids in Satan’s Service”). Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc—they dug deeper into the Satanic morass, managing to pull Garth Brooks, Billy Joel and even Liberace into their rambling and logically spurious “thesis” which is spread out over either four or ten volumes (there are two versions):

Is it true that Satan is the master musician working behind the popular music scene and influencing our youth?

Fasten your seat belts as you go on an eye-popping ride upon the roller coaster of Rock, and find out how Rock’s most popular artists have Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll. In this mind-blowing exposé Pastor Joe Schimmel reveals just how Satan has been effectively using popular music to undermine God’s plan for the family and ultimately heralding the coming of the Antichrist and his kingdom on earth.

This full-length video series contains 10 hours of eye-popping, rare, and some never before seen footage that will leave you picking your jaw up off the ground, as you see hundreds of artists (most of whom are not covered in the abbreviated 3-hour version) being used by Satan to destroy many lives. Come behind the scenes with us as we expose the deceptive agendas of many of yesterday and today’s secular artists, such as: Elvis, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, U2, Creed, Madonna, Britney Spears, DMX, Tupac, Tori Amos, and many more.

It’s time to remove the blinders - guard yourself and those you love from one of Satan’s most powerful tools!

Ooh, talk about earnest. Naturally Marilyn Manson gets blamed for a lot of this devilish devilry and figures prominently, but ascribing all that infernal power to a dude who spends two hours doing his make-up before he leaves the house never seems to strike the producers as even the teensiest bit silly…

Pastor Joseph Schimmel is not actually the host of the series, as stated on the box cover—it’s actor Grant Goodeve who you might recall from The Love Boat, Eight is Enough or Northern Exposure. But if that is Schimmel breathlessly reciting the voice over—you can hear his saliva hitting the mic throughout the entire thing, as he repeatedly trips over his words—he should have paid Goodeve the extra bucks to narrate as well as host. It sounds like he’s amped up on crank and drooling the entire time. Say it, don’t spray it, Reverend…

Here’s one particularly good short sample of the, er… charms, I guess, of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll that explains how Michael Jackson used an Aleister Crowley-style ritual to contact the spirit of Liberace! Crowley gets blamed for everything here, don’t you know? Scroll in to about 2:20 to start.
 

 
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Part one of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll. Should you wish to torture yourself with more, it’s easy enough to find the rest. I recommend the Amazon reviews.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The socialist politician Aleister Crowley nominated as his successor
04.25.2014
07:23 am

Topics:
History
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Tom Driberg

yelworcgrebird1.jpg
 
The name Tom Driberg might not mean much today, but Driberg was at the center of nearly every major political and cultural event during the twentieth century. He was, as his biographer Francis Wheen described him, like Woody Allen’s fictional creation “Zelig,” for Tom had been:

...on the picket lines of the General Strike, in Spain during the civil war, in America for Pearl Harbor, in Paris for the liberation, in Buchenwald just after it was relieved, in Korea with the Royal Marines, in London when it was Swinging.

Driberg was a respected British politician, a member of parliament and Chairman of the Labour Party. He was also a journalist and author. As a young man at Oxford University he had been part of the gilded “Brideshead” generation, alongside Evelyn Waugh, W. H. Auden (who he introduced to T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland), and Cyril Connolly, who later wrote of this privileged group:

“We were the last generation of womanless Oxford. Men who liked women were apt to get sent down.”

At university, Driberg indulged his sexual tastes and formed his political allegiance to the Communist Party. He had a brief career as a poet and became friends with Sacheverell and Osbert Sitwell.

After university he started his career as a journalist establishing and writing the “William Hickey” gossip column for the conservative Daily Expres. Though Driberg married Ena Mary Binfield in 1951, he was gay and lived a dangerously promiscuous life in the decades before homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain. Driberg mixed with a variety of notorious gay underworld figures, including Ronnie Kray with whom Driberg was rumored to have had an affair. He also mixed with royalty and celebrities, such as Mick Jagger with whom he discussed revolution and politics and tried to convince the singer into standing for parliament as a Labour MP.

Driberg was expelled from the Communist party. He had links to MI5, knew double-agent and Guy Burgess and was always suspected of alleged treachery. In later years, Driberg famously supported the legalisation of cannabis and contributed to satirical magazine Private Eye where he compiled the crossword. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore famously satirized Driberg as a lecherous and predatory homosexual in stockings and suspenders.

Driberg may seem like a mythical figure, but this brief summation only skims the surface of his life. Indeed, one of the more incredible tales in Driberg’s biography was his association with Aleister Crowley and how the “Great Beast” chose Driberg to be his successor.

When Driberg was at university his writing came to the attention of Aleister Crowley who for whatever reason took an interest in his verse poem “Homage to Beethoven” and invited the young man to lunch at the Eiffel Tower restaurant.

Crowley was already there when I got to the Eiffel Tower. He stood up, stout, bald and middle-aged, in a well-cut plus-four suit of green hand-woven tweed, and greeted me. Then, as we sat down, he said, in a rather high cracked, donnish voice: ‘Pardon me while I invoke the Moon.’

We did not on this occasion go into these deeper matters. I asked him whether at this time he was performing any magical ceremonies in London. He took the opportunity to explain that they were very expensive to set up—the pentacle must be just so, et cetera, or it could be dangerous. All the same, a lot of rubbish had been written about his magic. Magic was simply ‘the art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.’ It operated in quite everyday ways: when you used the telephone it was magic, or would have been thought so a century ago.

After their lunch together, Driberg saw Crowley again from time to time. The Great Beast was under the misapprehension Driberg was rich, a belief founded on Driberg being part of the “Brideshead” generation at Christ Church college, Oxford. Crowley kept hinting to the young poet about the great works he still had to achieve, and his need of finance.

One day [Crowley] wrote to tell me that he had found a reference to myself in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The actual quote was: ‘From no expected house shall this child come’—and ‘what house.’ asked Crowley, ‘could be more unexpected than Aedes Christi?’ (Christ Church—the House’). It was hard to tell if he were serious or joking, as when, soon after this, he told me that he had decided to nominate me as his successor as World Teacher. He had assumed this role some years earlier, and dated all his letters from the year and the day of his epiphany.

However, Driberg wasn’t too impressed by Crowley’s proclamation as he had heard of one other man to whom Crowley had made the same offer.

...and I hope that he, rather than I, has inherited the burdensome legacy.

A few years later, after Driberg had left Oxford and started his career as the gossip columnist “William Hickey” at the Daily Express, he was contacted by a music-hall illusionist called The Great Cosmo who had acquired a trunk (“either as payment in lieu of rent or in the course of a moonlight flit”) that contained a selection of Crowley’s letters and journals.

I went along to see Cosmo. The letters were not ‘compromising’, but I relieved him of them. He also let me have something much more interesting—a small square volume, bound in red morocco and encased in baroque silver which must once must have held a missal or a breviary: this contained Crowley’s manuscript diary, recording his daily magical and sexual doings, for the period covering Loveday’s death at Cefalu and Mussolini’s subsequent expulsion of Crowley from Italy. (He set up another ‘temple’ in Tunis.) It also contained a number of pages bearing what may be called oaths of allegiance, signed in Crowley’s presence by various devotees.

Amongst these devotees was the journalist and “distinguished mathematician”  J. W. N. Sullivan, and on the front page of the diary Crowley had written all the titles he had given himself “Το Μεγα Θηριον” (“The Great Beast”), “The Eternal Word” and “The Wanderer of the Waste.” Having possession of Crowley’s intimate diary gave Driberg the chance to play a trick on the occultist.

One evening Driberg was invited by Crowley to dinner for curry (cooked by himself) and a few bottles of Moët and Chandon’s champagne.

Then Crowley did what he had often done before: he drew the little diagram known as the pentacle, used for telling fortunes by ancient Egyptians, and asked me to stare into the central space between the lines and tell him what I could see. I had never before seen, or pretended to see, anything: but now I recalled the little manuscript diary—which he did not know that I had—and began, in a trance-like voice, to describe it: the shining baroque silver, a monstrance with a Host on one side of it, the red leather, the writing inside which I could not quite read…I had never seen Crowley so staggered: he leaned forward in desperate eagerness. ‘Go on,’ he said, ‘go on!’ But the vision faded. ‘Try again,’ he pleaded. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I can’t see anything more…though perhaps if we had another bottle of Moët…?’

This was, I fear, a rather mean trick to play on the old boy: I excused it to myself by reflecting that it had given him such obvious amazed delight to see one of his own bits of magic actually coming true.

As Francis Wheen notes about the whole affair in his biography of Driberg:

...it was Tom who made the money out of Crowley, not vice versa. By rather dubious means he acquired Crowley’s manuscript diary…many years later Tom sold this for a handsome sum to Jimmy Page, the guitarist with the rock group Led Zeppelin.

In 1973 Tom raised more money by auctioning at Christie’s several volumes presented to him by Crowley. They included a copy of The Book of the Law, inscribed ‘To True Thomas of Eildon Hills with all best wishes from Boleskine and Alertarff’.

Tom Driberg died of a heart attack in 1976. His autobiography Ruling Passions was published posthumously, and the definitive biography The Soul of Indiscretion by Francis Wheen was published in 1990.

Below, the Great Beast speaks: Here’s Aleister Crowley’s recording of “The Call Of The First Ćthyr.”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Aleister Crowley, self-proclaimed Antichrist; Victorian hippie
10.12.2013
01:40 pm

Topics:
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley


 
Happy Crowleymass, everyone! Aleister Crowley, thee Great Beast 666 was hatched from a dragon’s egg on this very day in 1875.

Below, I discuss Uncle AL on the History Channel TV series, How Sex Changed The World

I had fun doing this show and I got to explain a general concept of sex magic to middle America! Good times!

The Crowley segment starts at about the 5:50 mark.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘DO NOT EAT THE CAKE OF LIGHT!’ Dangerous Minds attends Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass
10.06.2013
05:25 pm

Topics:
Belief
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley


 
“A certain magician may 100% believe in the existence of spirits or gods actually existing in the universe,” explains Adrian Dobbie, President of the Electoral College of the UK chapter of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis. “Or, if you do some magical evocation to summon a spirit of the Goetia and you communicate with it, that it is definitely a thing. And then there’s a whole other bunch of people, Crowley being one of them, who say, ‘actually these are simply properties of the mind.’ Personally”—he takes a pull on his pint—“I fall into the camp of the agnostic concerning whether these things exist.”

The two of us are sat in a very old pub in the City of London, near where Adrian works, surrounded by lawyers and bankers whose girth looks directly proportionate to their wealth—as if they got so fat literally eating money. For his part, the magician opposite me is a lean, healthy early forties, with short dark hair, a neat beard, and a ready wolfish smirk. (We have, unsurprisingly, picked out a quiet corner for our discussion.)

“The first solo ritual I ever did was very powerful to me,” he continues. “Because although I thought I’d rid myself of the whole Christian dogma—of a God in the sky who’s gonna punish me and all that stuff—the impact of that first, relatively innocuous ritual had on me was incredible. I thought: if the Bible is right I’m going to hell. That’s the line in the sand.”

A longtime Crowley reader and admirer, Adrian joined the OTO about a decade ago. I ask him about his first impressions—how the OTO’s 21st Century incarnation compared, say, to the Crowley heyday he must have grown up reading about…

“My initial experience was extremely positive. I was looking to contact the genuine article; I was looking for mentors, and I got that in spades. The OTO’s ‘heyday’ is today. When Crowley was alive, there was basically just one lodge in the whole world, and when he died there was still just a handful of people in the OTO—fifteen or thirty. Now, there’s over three thousand… But it’s nowhere near what it could be,” he concedes. “We’re still hiring community halls, and we’re still meeting in people’s houses. One of the biggest thing people have to overcome when they first get involved is a sense of disappointment. But that’s one of the first tests.”

Following our four-pints/interview, Adrian is nice enough to invite me to a Gnostic Mass in his native Brighton. (The official invitation attached to the email informs me that the ritual—designed by Crowley, and the organisation’s central rite—was to be preceded by a “TEDx” style talk!)

So, on an overcast September Sunday, I jump on a train from London, arriving in Brighton around midday. It is drizzling and cold. Stripped of her summer finery, the city feels provincial and drab, abandoned to its druggy intrigues for another nine months.

I may as well lay my cards on the table. Raised Catholic, and carrying a jangling jumble of latent Christian bric-a-brac, I prefer to remain precariously perched on the metaphysical fence. In short, I’m keen to cop a glimpse of a Gnostic Mass, but averse to actually nibbling some Cake of Light.

Regarding which, incidentally, I have other, altogether more mundane concerns…

A couple of days ago, I emailed a friend and mentioned my pending trip to Brighton. Their unexpected, seven-word response had read precisely thus: “DO NOT EAT THE CAKE OF LIGHT.” When I had inquired as to the source of such uncharacteristic upper-case vehemence, he had briefly responded that said cake reportedly included the priestess’s menstrual blood!

[Author’s Note: The OTO would like me stress that in fact the Cake of Light contains the merest homeopathic hint of this, shall we say, unorthodox ingredient. “A single drop of blood (which may be of any kind),” they write—sort of almost disappointingly really—“is mixed into the dough of one singular cake. That cake is then baked before being burned entirely to ash, which is then mixed into the dough of a batch that could make up to 50 or more cakes.” Your correspondent had imagined a kind of womb-drawn black pudding or occultnik yucky cookie. Which it very definitely is not. No occultists are ever harmed in the making of a Gnostic Mass.]
 

 
Quarter of an hour early, and frowning at my creased and printed map, I nervously shuffle up a gravel driveway running beneath a block of flats corseted in scaffolding. I’m early. At the end of the driveway less than half a dozen men are standing around outside the entrance of a small faux-Victorian community center.

Before I even reach them I can already hear the tripwires in my psyche (and stomach) a-twanging.

Adrian isn’t about, but I mention his name and introductions are made. This is a special, invitational Gnostic Mass, and a couple, like me, are invitees (though presumably bona fide neophytes rather than tremulous hacks). At least one seems a little nervous, while the OTO initiates—mostly middle aged men with either long hair or none, each with unusually pale blue eyes—inspect us with that slightly salacious curiosity with which people on one side of an experience examine those at its verge.

In the pub Adrian had referred to magick as “psychological transgression.” I can see what he means! The atmosphere is a distinct mixture of the religious and the illicit—as if we were all here for an afternoon of metaphysical dogging.

More people start to arrive, men and women now of varying ages and types. Adrian, our priest, emerges from the community hall along with our priestess, a beautiful Eastern European with dark eyes and darker jewelry. I smile and nod and shake hands, leaning up against a parked car and feeling disingenuously attired in the guise of a prospect.

A thickset guy perhaps in his early thirties, with protuberant features and a hoodie baring a Crowley sigil, strikes up some conversation. He seems simultaneously affable and sly, and describes a weekend that has taken him from Glastonbury to London to Brighton, conducting various initiations. “We have a saying here,” he says matter-of-factly, fishing out a prepackaged sandwich. “No-one’s going to teach you but there’s lots of people who will help you learn.” He tucks in. It’s cheese and onion, and with each dizzying bite it occurs to me that, given the choice between this and Cake of Light, I might very well plonk for the latter.

“The tech,” he mutters (I think—?), “is powerful.”

“The tech?”

He looks at me, a little incredulously.

“The magick. The magick is very powerful. You might leave with a big smile on your face and you don’t know where it’s come from, or you might not get anything for a couple of days. But you’ll get something.”

“I was kind of hoping just to observe. Is it obligatory to participate?”

He gives me a very close look. It enters me like a stick gauging the depth of the water.

“Everyone,” he says, firmly, “is expected to take the sacrament.”

Shit.

He slips off, leaving me to freak out. I’m feeling as conspicuous as the copper in The Wicker Man

To my left stands a rather dapper old hippy with bright white beard and hair. I seem to remember being introduced to him as a fellow guest. We nod at one another.

“So,” I ask, venturing some occult small talk, “is this your first Gnostic Mass?”

“No, but it is my first for maybe… fifteen years.”

“Why the wait?”

“Oh,” he says, narrowing his (very blue) eyes. “I haven’t been waiting at all.”

Hail Mary, full of grace

I’m just readying myself to go scrambling back up the drive, pebbles pinging off my kicking heels, when the rain picks up, and the congregation, now thirty strong, begins to file into the community hall. And, against my better judgment, I file in along with them.

Within the twee, cake-sale space, an OTO temple has been installed – an effect both amusingly incongruous and disturbing, like an Alsatian mounting a poodle. I clock an embroidered checkerboard, Eye of Horus and nosediving dove, but much seems to be “occluded” in anticipation of the mass (we have, remember, that “TEDx-style” talk scheduled first)—what looks like an alter peeps out above a thick purple curtain.

Chairs have been laid out in rows before a little lectern, which Adrian presently ascends for the oration.

“There’s been a lot of speculation,” he begins, “about this being some kind of big OTO recruitment drive or something like that. So I just want to clear this up right away… it absolutely is.”

The room cracks up. Adrian, in his hyper-articulate fashion, talks Crowley, the OTO, and religious freedom for half an hour. The atmosphere, to be sure, is pretty dense—I’m certainly feeling the tech—and I sit desperate to leave but pinned to my seat by a combination of politeness and self consciousness.

Following the talk a loose-limbed discussion ensues, until the seated priestess starts catching Adrian’s eye and tapping her wrist. I try to remember if, in the Inferno, Virgil ever sweeps a hand across a burning lake of yelping Englishmen, nonchalantly explaining to Dante how “these dickheads managed to damn themselves out of social awkwardness.” Any second, I guess, the Gnostic Mass will get underway, they’ll break out the Cake of Light, and it’ll be even harder to leave.

“Right everyone,” says Adrian, taking the priestess’s visual cue. (This, I suppose, is it. Open wide.) “We’re going to have a short break now, while we get everything ready for the Gnostic Mass.”

Hallelujah! The rain has let up, and about three quarters of the congregation shuffles back outside for a pre-prandial cigarette and chat, while the remaining occultists busy themselves rearranging the chairs, pulling back the curtains, and preparing the hall. I goosestep over them, making a beeline for an amused and bemused Adrian, who I shower in incoherent apologies before hightailing it back to London…
 

 

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
The Wormwood Star: Extraordinarily freaky cinematic portrait of occult artist Marjorie Cameron


 
It’s certainly no slight to the late director Curtis Harrington to describe The Wormwood Star, his visually arresting 1955 portrait of occult artist/beatnik weirdo Marjorie Cameron as being “Anger-esque” considering that he’d served as the cinematographer for Kenneth Anger’s Puce Moment and that it stars Cameron, one of Anger’s most well-known cinematic avatars (Cameron famously played “The Scarlet Woman” in Inauguration of The Pleasure Dome and Harrington himself portrayed “Cesare the Somnambulist” in that film. Additionally, Paul Mathison, who played “Pan” in Anger’s druggy occult vision was the art director of The Wormwood Star).

Until The Wormwood Star came out on DVD and Blu-ray recently via Drag City/Flicker Alley as part of The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection, it was very, very scarce and very difficult to see. You either had to be a friend of Curtis Harrington, probably, or have had a mutual friend with the late director (that’s how I saw it) or maybe see it in a museum. Now it’s on YouTube, of course.

So we’ve established that’s it’s, er, Angery, meaning that there’s more than a fair share of visual flair, drama and a hefty dollop of authentic occult creepiness. Cameron, for those who don’t know, was the wife of rocket scientist/wannabe Antichrist Jack Parsons and a participant in the infamous “Babalon Working” magical rite that also involved future Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She was a dedicated follower of Aleister Crowley and his occult philosophy of Thelema (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”).

Curtis Harrington told Cameron biographer Spencer Kansa in his book, Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron:

Before I made the film I’d heard from Renate [referring here to painter Renate Druks] that Cameron had spent some time in the desert trying, through magical means, to conceive a child by the spirit of Jack Parsons without success.  Cameron never spoke of Jack directly, but I do remember feeling sometimes when I talked to her, of her going off into a realm that I didn’t understand at all. It was sort of an apocalyptic thing and it’s there in her poetry.

What you should know as you watch this is that the vast majority of Marjorie Cameron’s paintings were destroyed by her—burned—in an act of ritualized suicide. There are very few pieces by Cameron that have survived—a few paintings and some sketches—and The Wormwood Star is the only record of most of them (outside of the astral plane, natch. What does survive of her estate is represented by longtime New York gallerist Nicole Klagsbrun). Cameron has long been a figure of fascination for many people and I think I can say with confidence that this film meets or even far exceeds any expectations you might have for it.

As with Anger’s films, I deeply appreciate the careful aesthetic balance between beauty and evil and, as such, it’s an extraordinary document of both Marjorie Cameron Parsons’ very essence as a human being and of her creative output. As cinema, it’s a mini-masterpiece that can stand alongside any of Anger’s films, Ira Cohen’s magnificently freaky Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda, Jack Smith’s Normal Love or Yayoi Kusama’s Self-Obliteration.

Below, the seldom-seen short film, The Wormwood Star. If it looks this good on YouTube, it must look really amazing on Blu-ray. Order The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection on Amazon (I just did).
 

 
Curtis Harrington and Cameron would work together again on 1961’s Night Tide, one of Dennis Hopper’s first starring roles. Her role as the “Water Witch” was brief, but oh so memorable…
 

 
Thank you Spencer Kansa, author of Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Sexytime with The Great Beast: How Aleister Crowley, sex magician, changed the world
07.09.2013
12:47 pm

Topics:
Sex
Television

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Magick


 
Yours truly made a recent appearance on How Sex Changed The World, a colorful, fast-paced new History Channel series. The topic was Aleister Crowley and basically how his outsized sex drive and compulsion to do whatever his dick desired that ultimately had a great effect on society in the 1960s.

In other words, Crowley was a free-living, free-loving hippie during the Victorian era, lighting the long fuse of a bomb with his “Do what thou wilt” philosophy that would go off with the sexual revolution.

I had fun doing this show and I got to explain a general concept of what sex magic is to middle America! Good times!

The Crowley segment starts at about the 5:50 mark.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Aleister Crowley: How The Great Beast unleashed the Loch Ness Monster

yelworclakcigam.jpg
 

The myths of a country travel better than its truths. Once, in a bar in Downtown Los Angeles, I got into a conversation with a man whose teeth were all gold caps. He asked me where I was from.

‘Shit. You’re from Scotland. You ever see that Loch Ness monster?’

‘No.’

‘But you know about it, right?’

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘Yeah? You know all about it, hm?’

‘Not really.

‘No? Then you don’t know who made it?’

‘Made it?’

‘Yeah, that’s what I said.’

I thought for a moment.

‘You mean Crowley? Aleister Crowley?’

‘Yeah, that’s the man, that’s him. That’s the evil motherfucker that made it.’

Crowley allegedly “made” the Loch Ness monster when he failed to complete a complex Magick ritual at Boleskine House. His failure was said to have unleashed a demon.

Crowley had purchased Boleskine House, on the south-east shore of Loch Ness, in order to carry out a series of rituals from The Book of the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage. He had chosen Boleskine because he required:

...a house where proper precautions against disturbance can be taken; this being arranged, there is really nothing to do but to aspire with increasing fervor and concentration, for six months, towards the obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

Boleskine suited Crowley’s needs, and he later described the place in Confessions:

The house is a long low building. I set apart the south-western half for my work. The largest room has a bow window and here I made my door and constructed the terrace and lodge. Inside the room I set up my oratory proper. This was a wooden structure, lined in part with the big mirrors which I brought from London.

For Crowley, Boleskine House was a “Thelemic Kiblah”, a “Magical East”, where he could practice the Black Mass and summon demons. It is these demons which are believed by many to have caused the strange, monstrous disruption to the loch. Crowley later stated in his autobiography:

...the spirits he summoned got out of hand, causing one housemaid to leave, and a workman to go mad. He also insinuates he was indirectly responsible for a local butcher accidentally severing an artery and bleeding to death. Crowley had written the names of some demons on a bill from the butcher’s shop.

Aleister Crowley and the Other Loch Ness Monster is an engaging short documentary, directed by Garry S. Grant. It contains fine interviews with Kenneth Anger, Colin Wilson, Neil Oram, Head of the UK OTO, John Bonner and Mogg Morgan. And the commentary is read by former Jesus of Nazareth, Robert Powell.

Back to my American friend. As we headed off into the night, in search of another bar, he said, ‘You ever think that monster was maybe Cthulhu?’

 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Mocata wills it so

atacomyardselrahc.jpg
 
Artist and illustrator Mark Dawes has designed this fabulous poster of one of my favorite actors, Charles Gray, in his unforgettable role as the Crowley-inspired villain Mocata, from The Devil Rides Out (aka The Devil’s Bride).

Adapted by Richard Matheson from Dennis Wheatley’s classic, occult novel, the film starred Christopher Lee as the Duc du Richelieu, who pitted his wits against Satanist Mocata (Gray), for the souls of Simon (Patrick Mower) and Tanith (Nike Arrighi).

Mark has a brilliant selection of work over at his Illustrated Blog, which myself and Mocata will you to check out….
 

 
With thanks to Mark Dawes!
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Magical Childe: Former ‘it girl’ Peaches Geldof, follower of Aleister Crowley?


 
Bad girl/it girl Peaches Geldof claims to have settled down at the ripe old age of 24, in favor of raising her young child and family life, but the former wild child so beloved of the British tabloids—pregnant with her second child—has now taken to her Twitter account and urged her followers to read up on the “do what thou wilt” philosophy of occultist Aleister Crowley.

Geldof also tweeted an Instagram pic of the yantra of Babalon (a symbol closely associated with Crowley) with this message:

“#93 #Thelema #o.t.o for all my fellow Thelemites on instagram!”

#LOL

Because we all know that Instagram is just crawling with Thelemites… Apparently Ms. Geldof’s even got a tattoo of the initials “O.T.O,” standing for the religious organization associated with the Great Beast 666, on her arm.

Via The Daily Mail (so take this with a grain, or a pound, of salt):

A source said: ‘Peaches is fascinated by Aleister Crowley and wants to put the word out there.

‘It’s true that she is interested in OTO and she had the tattoo done a couple of years ago.’

Peaches has also dabbled in Scientology and is now said to have converted to Judaism, the religion of her musician husband Thomas Cohen.

She said in 2009: ‘I felt I was lacking something when I didn’t have a faith.’

Professor Ronald Hutton, a historian at Bristol University, said:  ‘OTO is about using magical acts to become a stronger, more effective person. It’s more mental magic than anything to do with cauldrons.’

A spokesman for Miss Geldof declined to comment.

What I found much more interesting in the article was the news that British comedian Russell Brand is also apparently a bit of a Crowley buff. That I did not know, but it doesn’t come as any great surprise, either.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hello Aleister Crowley: The Magician Kitty
04.01.2013
10:07 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Hello Kitty


 
I’ve blogged about Hello Aleister Crowley (“Do What Meow Wilt”) before, but Etsy seller The All Seeing Cat has come up with a new variation: Hello Aleister Crowley: The Magician Kitty.

This is a one-of-a-kind polymer clay sculpture of Aleister Crowley replicating the 1910 photograph. “The Magician” in his robe and crown, armed with wand, cup, sword, bell, Book, and holy oil.

snip~

The small book on Crowley’s table was handmade and has many pages.


As one person points out in the comments on this thread a while ago: “Well, when will we see the Hello ´Genesis Breyer P-Orridge´ Kitty-version?”


 
h/t Chris Holmes

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Robert Anton Wilson on Aleister Crowley
01.03.2013
02:53 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Robert Anton Wilson


 
Perhaps this will only prove of interest to really hardcore Crowley buffs (and not necessarily RAW fans who aren’t Crowley nuts) but this is, for sure, the best Bob Wilson interview on the topic of Aleister Crowley that I’ve ever heard.

I’m pretty sure this comes from the CD box set of interviews with Wilson, Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything: (or Old Bob Exposes His Ignorance) that came out in 2005.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Aleister Crowley’s ‘Bartzabel Working’: Video documentation of Brian Butler’s ritual performance
12.17.2012
05:31 pm

Topics:
Art
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Brian Butler


 
Photos and video from Brian Butler’s performance of Aleister Crowley’s “Bartzabel Working,” a ceremonial evocation of the spirit of Mars, first written and performed in London in 1910 by the Great Beast 666.
 

 
The ceremony was performed at the west coast branch of L&M Arts in Los Angeles on December 4.

The ritual was part of the gallery’s current “For the Martian Chronicles” exhibit and employed custom robes made in the original A∴A∴ (Crowley’s magical order) designs and a circle, altar and triangle fabricated in Thelemic colors.
 

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
James Franco and Brian Butler to perform Aleister Crowley ritual in Los Angeles art gallery


Three magi: Kenneth Anger, James Franco and Brian Butler

Occult artist / musician / filmmaker Brian Butler will be performing Aleister Crowley’s “Bartzabel Working” tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 4, at the L&M Arts gallery space in Venice Beach, CA. This occult ceremony is part of the gallery’s current “Martian Chronicles” theme exhibit and will employ custom robes made in the original A∴A∴ (Crowley’s magical order) designs and a circle, altar and triangle fabricated in vivid colors. Actor James Franco and Noot Seear from Twilight: New Moon will also participate in the ritual.

In conjunction with the current exhibition For the Martian Chronicles, L&M Arts is pleased to present The Bartzabel Working, a performance by filmmaker and artist Brian Butler. Based on a ceremonial evocation of the spirit of Mars, first written and performed in London in 1910 by the famed British occultist Aleister Crowley, the ritual later became part of Los Angeles history in 1946 when Jet Propulsion Laboratory rocket scientist and Crowley protégé Jack Parsons conducted his own version of this rite, with the intention of placing a martial curse on a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard.

For his reinterpretation of this historical performance, Butler will conjure Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars, evoking the site that was once home to the late sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and currently comprises L&M Arts. The ritual will have Butler as Chief Magus, leading a cast drawn from his upcoming feature film King Death and featuring Henry Hopper as Assistant Magus, Noot Seear as Magus Adjuvant, and James Franco as Material Basis, the vessel though which the spirit of Mars manifests.

The performance will take place on Tuesday, December 4th at 8:30pm, followed by a reception with tunes courtesy of DJ & artist Eddie Ruscha.

Butler’s work has been shown at LAXART, in Portugal, Greece and in China. He recently performed with Kenneth Anger at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles as Technicolor Skull. www.brianbutler.com

“The Martian Chronicles” exhibit, honoring the work of sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, runs through January 5, 2013

L&M Arts, Los Angeles, 660 South Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA, 90291, 8:30 - 11:30 PM

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Vincent Price & Peter Cushing: On location filming ‘Madhouse’ in 1974

Madhouse_1974
 
A location report for Jim Clark’s 1974 film Madhouse, starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry, Adrienne Corri and Linda Heyden. The film was very loosely based on Angus Hall’s pulp thriller Devilday, which told the story of a dissipated actor, Paul Toombes (Price) and his return to acting in a TV horror series about the evil Doctor Dis (Doctor Death in the film). Toombes was an obese, unrepentant, drug addicted and sexual predator, who dabbled in Black Magic, and is suspected of a series of brutal murders. Hall’s character owes something to Orson Welles and Aleister Crowley, and the book offered quite a few interesting plot lines the film never developed. Clark went on to edit Marathon Man, The Killing Fields, and The World is Not Enough, amongst many others. Madhouse was his last film as director.

Here director Clark talks about his admiration for the gods of film James Whale and Todd Browning, while Vincent Price and Peter Cushing talk about why ‘horror’ or ‘thrillers’ are so popular.
 

 
With thanks to Nellym.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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