Monday, 2 November 2020

your daily demon: vine

Ruling the tenth to fourteenth degrees of Scorpio—corresponding with today until the sixth of November is the infernal potentate called Vine, according to the Ars Goetia after Johann Weyer’s late sixteenth century hierarchy and expanded, elaborated by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Jacques Collin de Plancy. Generally depicted as a noble lion on a black steed and holding a viper as a staff, the demon king can be compelled to assume human form and will give counsel on all the secrets of the past, present and future (quite the thorough opposition-researcher) and is invoked to reveal the presence of other spirits or practitioners of the diabolical arts and is attributed with the power of troubling the waters and tearing down walls.

Monday, 12 October 2020


Being the load-bearing day it already is with the celebration of indigenous cultures and identity, the Feast for Life (birthday in 1875) of occultist and Thelema founder Aleister Crowley, the start of the first Oktoberfest in 1890—plus Thanksgiving / Action de grรขce for our Canadian friends this year, this date also is observed as Freethought Day, held on the anniversary when colonial governor of Massachusetts Bay William Phips (*1651 – †1695) was moved to recant and contact the privy council of William and Mary to recommend that they disband the witch tribunal that Phips himself had established in order bring legitimacy to a process that was widely seen for the petty court of retributions that it was by finding “spectral evidence” inadmissible.

Despite his good intentions, Phips’ reforms came up short and the witch trials were effectively ended in North America where they had lingered longer than in Europe. Humanist, secularists and freethinkers eschew heterodoxy and prescriptive rather than descriptive world-views and organisers hope to portray atheists and the non-aligned as just the same as everyone else (a concept that is glaring absent in politics) and induct honorary figures as examples of those that embody autonomy and reason, whose ranks include Thomas Paine, Clarence Darrow, Mark Twain, Mary Wollstonecraft, Hypatia, Fredrick Douglas and George Orwell.

Monday, 5 October 2020

ius canonicum

This date, marking the occasion of his death in 1926 (*1841), is the veneration of the Blessed Bartolo “Rosario” Longo, a lapsed Catholic and former satanic priest, who returned to the Church and championed praying the Rosary—for which he was awarded a papal knighting and beatification posthumously. Against the wishes of his family who wanted Longo to pursue a career in teaching, as a young man he went to Naples to study law and came under the influence of the occult and spiritualism trend that was very much en vogue at the time, the Catholic Church seen as less effective in terms of seeking favour or mediumship than witchcraft or other practitioners of the dark arts and universities were the sites of rallying against the pope who was regarded as antithetical to the Italian unification efforts of General Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Longo grew more and more rebellious and joined a satanic cult and eventually was ordained as the priest of one chapter. Growing despondent and anxious by turns, Longo turned to a boyhood companion who convinced him to leave the city and return home to Pompeii and convinced him to return to the Church finding that the rosary calmed his anxieties. Maintaining his law firm, Longo had had been retained as an estate agent by a wealthy countess who became his patron and together founded a confraternity dedicated to the Rosary and acquired a derelict church to reconsecrate as a shrine. A nun from another convent that championed the rosary (there was already an established network) donated a painting of Saint Dominic and Catherine of Siena communing with Mary in prayer. From a junk store and without artistic merit, Longo secretly disliked the painting but hung it in the church so as not to insult. Reports of miracles were attributed to the painting and brought in pilgrims, eventually enlarging it to a basilica, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompeii. On the advice of the pope, Longo and the countess were married—though remained chaste for the rest of their lives together, fostering children and dedicating themselves to charitable causes.What sort of twist ending would you give this couple?  I suspect they, along with that cursed picture, were recusant devil-worshippers all along, in fear of being persecuted for believing in the wrong magic.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

brother sun, sister moon

Fabulistically perhaps best-known for his ability to commune with Nature as a reflection of divinity and preaching to the birds—thus appointed patron saint of ecology in 1979 by Pope John Paul II, confessor, scholar and organiser Francis of Assisi (*1181 – †1226) is venerated on this day, the morning after having peacefully expired after receiving the stigmata from a vision of a crucified seraphim. Constituting religious orders for both men and women with significant political clout and endurance, Francis’ attempted a rapprochement with Al-Kamil, the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, and put an end to the bloodshed of the Crusades and bring about peace. Though received graciously by the court of the sultan, the negotiations ultimately failed, although only the Franciscans were allowed to remain in the Holy Land after the fall of Crusader kingdoms as custodians on behalf of the Church.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

the lesser apocalypse

Referred to as the above with the conviction it was punishment from God alternatively for the Ottomans’ perceived inhospitality toward the Eastern Christians or for the Turks tolerating them, a powerful earthquake, with its epicentre in the Sea of Marmara, and resulting tsunami devastated Constantinople on this day in 1509. Damage and death estimates vary widely but probably took ten thousand lives and destroyed homes and infrastructure, and reportedly Hagia Sophia (previously) withstood the quake virtually unscathed, only the plaster that had been used to cover the Byzantine mosaics was shaken off the walls, revealing the Christian imagery beneath. The month and a half of aftershocks that followed did not cause significant damage but delayed recovery efforts and rebuilding.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020


Via Everlasting Blรถrt, we enjoyed looking through this 1903 gallery of Hopi Kachina as rendered by an artist known as Kutcahanauu (White Bear) and published in a 1903 volume commissioned as part of an ethnographic study of tribal culture. The animistic spirit beings—revered and respected but not worshipped—have three distinct manifestations: the supernatural, the dance and the figurines (tihรผ), the likeness or personification of real world people, things and forces of nature and are understood to have relationships, unions and offspring. The figurines act as messengers between the natural and spirit worlds and have an instructive aspect for their caretakers. Much more to explore at the links above.

Monday, 7 September 2020

abbots bromley horn dance

Though cancelled this year due to the pandemic, customarily the eleventh century ritual folk dance—whose current iteration involves characters adorned with reindeer antlers, Maid Marian (Robin Hood’s love interest), a Village Idiot and a hobby horse is held on the day after Wakes Sunday, the first one falling after 4 September—traditionally an end of summer funfair introduced by Gregory the Great to transfer devotions from pagan idols to patron saints and preserved as a summer holiday through the Industrial Revolution as an homage to trade guilds. Academic research into the history of Staffordshire believe that the dance itself was a form of enchantment—sympathetic magic to ensure a good hunting season. The headdress used generation after generation has been radio-carbon dated back almost a millennium old where reindeer could last be found on the British Isles. An alternate kit of regular red deer antlers are used for when the troupe goes on tour. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

divinisation or pompatus of love

We enjoyed reading this short, collective hagiography that profiles several saints named Hyacinth, including one from Fara: “A martyr about whom nothing is known,” but we were more intrigued by the footnote for namesake flower (Giancinto, Jacinto, Hyakithos) and its mythological origins in a handsome Spartan prince and his fatal love-triangle.
Hyacinth was the lover of Apollo, but he had the attention and advances of a host of other suitors including the famous Thracian singer Thamyris, Zephyrus and Boreas—respectively the West and North Winds. Hyacinth preferred the company of Apollo and together in a chariot drawn by swans, they had adventures. While playing a round of frisbee (discus), Hyacinth was struck in the head and perished, the eponymous blossom rising up where his blood was spilled—a trope appropriated by Christianity as a symbol of renewal. Devastated Apollo blamed himself but there is strong suspicion that the winds conspired to punish the prince out of jealousy, and the god wanted himself to become mortal to join him after his healing powers failed him. The Spartan month that coincided with early summer when the flowers bloom was named in his honour and included three days of festivities. Hyacinth was eventually resurrected and joined the pantheon of the gods. This attainment of godhood is apotheosis and usually in Antiquity heroes were accorded local status alone, whereas in Imperial Rome, a deceased ruler was generally recognised by his success, decree of the senate and popular consent—though some ridiculed this practise as it also included the corrupt and inept—satirised by referring to the tradition with another Greek borrowing apocolocyntosis—that is, pumpkinification with accompanying lampoon that features Claudius and Caligula in the underworld.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

the secret teachings of all ages

Having joined that Great Beyond on this day in 1990 (*1901) and perhaps finding out the accuracy of what he taught, Canadian-American mystic and prolific lecturer Manly Palmer Hall was best remembered for the eponymous ambitious and comprehensive survey and fusion of wisdom literature.
An encyclopaedic outline compiled and ultimately published in 1928—volumes sold per subscription prior to publication (which strikes one as exceedingly modern though such funding methods, cash-on-delivery, have a long past) and recruited top talent in all departments, including printers, the eminent illustrator J. Augustus Knapp and book designers once employed by the Vatican and great universities—as a concise and accessible digest of metaphysics that challenged one to examine symbols, convention and ritual though the lens not of a received religion but rather as a heuristic tool for probing universal truths. Travelling from his native Los Angeles to Europe and Asia, Hall acquired many rare books and manuscripts on esoterica as original sources and due to the success of his publication of The Secret Teachings of All Ages and some generous patrons (also not a new scheme) and in 1934 founded public trust called the Philosophical Research Society—still in operation, to further his studies, curate collections and host events and seminars on the occult and mythology.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

the inauguration of the pleasure dome

Via Weird Universe we are acquainted with the portfolio and curriculum vitรฆ thus far of underground filmmaker and author Kenneth Anger (*1923) whose anthology of short works explore Thelema and its adherents through his eponymous 1954 (remastered in 1966 for 1978 for wider audiences as Anger’s original concept included projecting the action on three screens simultaneously) through the cinematic filters of surrealism, the occult and homoeroticism.
Playing the goddess of magic Hecate himself, the short also stars Anaรฏs Nin as Astarte (Ishtar) and fellow director and pioneer of New Queer Cinema Curtis Harrington (*1926 – †2007, whose credits include numerous television series—Baretta, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels and also Orson Welles’ unfinished The Other Side of the Wind) was in the role of Cesare, the somnambulist from The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and was inspired by the ritual fancy-dress parties that founder Aleister Crowley would host that invited guests to come as their madness and a recitation of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s atmospheric poem. More to explore at the links above.

Monday, 8 June 2020

xx. prairial

Corresponding with the above date on the Republican Revolutionary calendar—the equivalent of today on the Gregorian—lawyer and statesman, Maximillen Franรงois Marie Isidore de Robespierre aghast at the idea of complete rejection of the role of god and religion, sought to achieve a happy medium between Roman Catholicism and the agnostic Cult of Reason, proclaimed in Year II (1794) of the Republic the Festival of the Supreme Being, Fรฉte de l’รŠtre suprรชme.
Meticulously planned and with holidays scheduled in advance every tenth day—the equivalent of fortnightly celebrations, many saw the courtly and bureaucratic nature of the event as a substitution and surrogate for the old ways that the movement had sought to overturn, especially the paternal nature of this civic, state religion that believed that reflection and threat of retribution were necessary for a democratic society. The Thermidorian Counter Revolt (so called for taking place not long afterwards on IX. Thermidor II—27 July 1794) was in response to this re-imposition and precipitated Robespierre’s downfall and his guillotining—the agenda of observances falling away immediately thereafter, with Napoleon restoring Catholicism by Year X.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

anthroposophy and apogee

Acknowledging the esoteric dangers that have emerged from the pseudo-scientific disciplines that arose towards the end of the era of Enlightenment just on the cusp of Modernity that try to reconcile the onslaught on evidence that the Cosmos is far older and complex than we can account for with the Bible and founding mythologies, Geoff Manaugh introduces us to the writing of one Sampson Arnold Mackey by leaning heavily into the paradoxical nature of such ethnography and theosophy that it’s in the effort of nailing down a narrative that brings up the problematic nature of speculation and amateur pursuits.
Never going away just repackaged and given a different sheen, we look at impossible epochs and receding events that disappear from the archeological record dredged up from archetypal memories and leading down pathways—some branches potentially problematic, either in fiction, espousing dangerous ideology or adopting thinking that rejects any achievement outsized in the mind of the beholder technically or sensibly has to be the work of the supernatural and one is left to deal with various theories that state the Pyramids of the Ancient Egyptians and Nazca Lines were the work of aliens. Mackey’s The Mythological Astronomy in Three Parts published in 1827 is no different than modern day disaster movies that gainsay the slow creep of environmental degradation with something dramatic like the flipping of the Earth’s magnetic poles and makes a deep and earnest investigation into a pet theory relating to the procession of the zodiac—that we’ve moved on from the Age of Pisces to the Aquarian one, except that Mackey hoped for more cataclysmic and drastic transitions—plunging humankind from an time of general prosperity into an “Age of Horror” plunging the world into deep enduring winters and arid droughts. Life and culture are driven so far as we know by stability and not swings between extremes, however distance that time out of mind may be. The work presents calculations, and like trying to pinpoint the primordial flood that haunts and informs our collective memory is a way to privilege one original story over another and suggest in was the deluge that formed the Mediterranean, for example, or makes some similar loaded and elaborated assumption—which again seems to be the overreach of amateurism that breeds more fables—but still invites one to ponder if these larger, unfathomable cycles might not have some bearing on belief and behaviour and constitution and how disaster imprints and lingers and that instinctual awareness of a pendulum fuels dread and hope.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

jure uxoris

Buried in the churchyard of the chapel of Saint Peter ad Vincula (in Chains) of the Tower of London, another Royal Peculiar like Westminster Abbey, where she was imprisoned and executed unrepentant with no crime articulated against her, the feast of the martyrdom of the Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (*1473 – †1541) is celebrated today—advanced one day as Augustine of Canterbury already occupied the actual date with her estranged son Reginald the last Catholic to hold that office before the split of the Church of England—on the order of Henry VIII.
Niece of kings Edward IV and Richard III, Margaret was one of the few members of the House of the Plantagenet to survive the War of the Rose and though once reduced to poverty was able to restore herself and her immediate family, titled in her own right—the other being Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke, also executed under the orders of the same. Though having no designs on restoring the dynasty and presenting no real threat to the king’s legitimacy, Margaret was disposed of, ostensibly on the intimation of treason, for being a power and independent individual—not to mention a landed woman of means whose property could be repossessed.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

vittore e corona

Feasted on this day in parts of northern Italy, Austria and Bavaria, Saint Corona (or sometimes going by her Greek equivalent, Stephanie, ฯƒฯ„ฮญฯ†แพฐฮฝฮฟฯ‚—both denoting one who is crowned) is forever twain with Victor of Damascus, an early Christian martyr serving as a soldier in the province of Syria.
Before being ultimately beheaded for refusing to renounce his faith in 170 A.D. during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the imprisoned Victor was brought provisions and encouraged to preserve despite the bodily tortures he was made to endure by a woman called Corona, identified according to different sources as either the sister of one his fellow enlisted men or Victor’s wife. The authorities decided to apprehend her as well—and according to her hagiography, and as depicted rather bizarrely on this turn of the century fruit sticker—the crest of the greengrocers’ guild of Vienna, was put to a rather gruesome death for comforting the imprisoned by being bound to opposing palms trunks and being torn asunder once released. Rather than being invoked in times of plague, Corona is the patron of gambling and the lottery and called upon for circumstances involving money or treasure.

Saturday, 9 May 2020


Celebrated discontinuously on today, the eleventh and the thirteenth, the Roman performed annual rites into order to exercise malevolent spirits of the dead that had taken up residence in their house during the previous year whom might be lured away with offerings of beans.
The Vestal priestesses whose chief patronage was for hearth and home, cultivating a sacred fire that symbolically burned for all and was never to be extinguished, baked all the mola salsa used throughout the year, salted flour cakes that were much like communion wafers and were burnt offerings themselves as well as given to sacrificial animals—for the whole city and for Lemuralia made a special batch made with the first ears of grain of the season to help appease the restive dead. According to contemporary scholarship by Ovid, the observance was derived from an older ritual called Remuria instituted by the founder of Rome himself to atone for the death of his brother, Remus.
Incantations included the head of the household (paterfamilias) rising at midnight and pattering around the chambers barefooted and tossing black beans over his or her shoulder, favomancy—see above, and repeating Haec ego mitto—his redimo meque meosque fabis (These I dispatch; with these beans I redeem me and mine) with the rest of the family and domestics banging pots and pans. Though All Saints and All Souls Day for Western Christianity has been advanced toward the end of October and beginning of November (Halloween right now? Yes please), for the Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox church, they are celebrated on the Friday following Easter as perhaps a syncretism of this Roman custom. Because of the vacating of noxious ghosts, the month was considered an inauspicious time to wed, and hence the proverb: Mense Maio malae nubunt—Bad girls get married in May.

Monday, 4 May 2020

the magicks of megas-tu

Following the previous episode and originally pitched for TOS, the October 1973 adventure finds the crew of the Enterprise on an alien world in a parallel dimension where magic is common practise instead of science and are placed on trial for humanity’s complicity in the Salem Witch Trials, subpoenaed to appear by a devil-like being called Lucien with near omnipotent powers. The officers of the court are not pleased that Lucien let the humans know about their planet and letting them dabble in spell-casting and are resolved to condemning both him and the crew for their transgressions.
Captain Kirk is able to successfully make his counter-argument, pleaing that mankind has advanced far since the seventeenth century and urges the judge show clemency—crucially, for Lucien too.  Convinced by this act of sympathy, the Enterprise is dismissed and allowed to return to their dimension. In the end, it is revealed that Lucien is synonymous with and the embodiment of the Abrahamic concept of Lucifer, this moment of dรฉnouement being somewhat of a compromise since the creators wanted to feature an encounter with God as they had later wanted to do with the franchise’s first big screen adaptation—a pitch-script that itself never materialised in the form they had wanted.

Friday, 1 May 2020

joseph the worker

Venerated as the patron and protector of labourers and the institution of the Church and intercessor for a happy death as he died surrounded by friends and family, Jesus and Mary included, Joseph is celebrated four times during the year: 19 March—the Feast of Saint Joseph (Josefstag, not to be confused with the Feast of the Ascension, which is also celebrated as Fathers’ Day in some countries) for his role as husband and guardian, the third Wednesday after Easter—the Solemnity of Saint Joseph for his role as spouse and patronage of the Catholic Church, this Memorial as role as a Worker (since 1955 as a reflection of and solidarity with the broader movement for social justice and labour reform that had been observed on the first of May since 1890)—a carpenter, and the first Sunday after Christmas for coming to terms with his situation. His extended patronage includes the pontificate of Pope Francis, Sicily, Austria, Belgium, the Americas, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as being the champion of explorers, pilgrims, immigrants, real estate agents and engineers.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

speak of the devil

Founded on the principle of religious scepticism and gravitating towards the devil in the sense of adversary and ideological foil to theism, the Church of Satan was constituted in the Black House of California Street, San Francisco on this day, Walpurgisnacht, by musician, actor and occultist Anton Szandor LaVey (*1930 – †1997) in 1966.
Explicitly not espousing a belief in the Christian characterisation of the Great Dissembler or in fact any other deity for that matter, the orientation’s high priest saw the value in and reduplicated the organisation and the hierarchy, though as a counterpoint to the control and validation that the Abrahamic faiths demanded and by extension the share of evangelical prosperity that they tout. The Church also recognised the intrinsic value and co-opted some symbolism and ritualistic elements as cathartic and therapeutic—so called lesser magic with the possibility of greater, supernatural magic that was outside the limits of human comprehension yet only ahead of scientific understanding. Learn more about the Church’s history and tenants at the link to their website above.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

le livre des esprits

With the 1857 publication on this day of Allan Kardec’s (nom de plume of Hippolyte Lรฉon Denizard Rivail, *1804 – †1869) seminal, gospel work The Spirits Book, the Spiritist movement (not to be confused with a parallel interest called spiritualism, which concerned itself with the ability and inclination of the dead to communicate to the living) is considered arrived and complete with this final codification that attempts to address the hard, existential questions.
The main tenants of the governing philosophy hold that all corporeal living beings are manifestations of essential and discrete immortal souls which need to become incarnate at increasingly higher states to attain intellectual and moral perfection. The major schism between the former and the later was Spiritism’s belief in the reincarnation, transmigration of the soul into other physical containers and dead relatives being unavailable for consultation through a medium and thus never took hold in the United States and United Kingdom (though those objections seemed to have lapsed in the meantime) as it did in other parts of Europe, South America and Asia. Another aspect that established religions took grave exception to was Spirtism’s theist nature—evolution-affirming in its acknowledgement that a supreme and ambivalent god set things in motion but then stepped away.  After Kardec’s death, his wife and co-founder Amรฉlie Boudet became the movement’s leading authority. There are upwards of twenty-million adherents world-wide, with the majority in Brazil and Vietnam.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

saint drogo

Coming from noble stock in Flanders but orphaned as an adolescent then dispossessing himself of his inheritance and devoting his life to penance and pilgrimage—making the sojourn to Rome no less than ten times—and settling down to become a shepherd after a disfiguring disease confined him from the public, Saint Drogo of Sebourg (*1105 – †1186), who is venerated on this day, was reportedly given the power of bilocation and was seen—shrouded due to his hideous countenance—in attendance at Mass while, as witnesses attest, still tending his flock in the fields.  Drogo’s patronage includes those whom others find repulsive, coffee house proprietors (that is someone to turn to at these times), midwives (presumably due to his great empathy and for the mother he never knew) and sheep. While it is unclear why coffee might be one of his attributes, it is not just a modern gimmick with documents from Mons showing that in the 1860s, the city’s guild of cafetiers were already claiming Drogo as their patron—and possibly is connected with his miraculous power of bilocation (a virtue of coffee) or his ascetic diet and insistence on only drinking hot water.