Thursday, 2 September 2021

your daily demon: gaap

Our thirty-third spirit is an infernal prince who governs from today through 7 September and controls sixty-six legions. Gaap’s office is to teach philosophy and the liberal arts, can engender romance, transport people around the world on his back, steal away familiars from competing exorcists and impart knowledge regarding medical care. Formerly of the angelic order post postestates, Potentates, Gaap is the cardinal spirit of the south and opposed by the ShemHamphorash guardian angel Ieuiah.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

easy-bake coven

Via the Awesomer, we learn that the gag children’s book cover parody has been expanded into a whole series of retro-inspired educational texts for precocious young witches and warlocks and other delinquents—see also. Be sure to Steven Rhodes’ complete Sinister Seventies line and My Little Occult Book Club collection at the links above.

Monday, 16 August 2021

wormwood star

We very much appreciated the introduction to actress, artist, poet and occultist Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel—known by the professional mononym Cameron by way of the short film by friend Curtis Harrington, the eponymous piece featuring Cameron’s paintings and recitations and the sole documentary source for much of her work as much of her fame came posthumously. The title is also in reference to the name she choose for her first child, the first of many moonchildren devoted to the veneration of Horus, Cameron being adherent of Thelema and becoming a convert from her first husband, rocketry pioneer Jack Parsons having also worked at the Joint Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) during World War II, to be breed according to magick sex rituals called “Babalon Working” that Cameron herself oversaw, like a Bene Gesserit mother superior. Instead, Cameron’s surviving child, born on 24 December 1955, from a subsequent marriage though paternity is uncertain was named Crystal Eve. Cameron was also in the film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

your daily demon: berith

Hebrew for covenant and sometimes associated with the Canaanite deity Ba’al for the devotion shown to him by the keeping of graven images, this twenty-eighth spirit is an infernal duke who presents as a soldier clothed in red and riding a red steed and governs from today through 12 August. His office is to impart the art of divination and alchemy when compelled by his sigil and a magic ring, Bolfry as he is also know controls twenty-six legion and is opposed by the guardian angel Shaahiah.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

inosculation

These gemels (from the Latin for pair, like Gemini) marked by foresters to not chop down (there’s some light logging in our woods but done fairly surgically with deference to unusual or aged trees though I wish we could protect them all with apotropaic magic) results from the above natural phenomenon (Anastomose) in which the roots, branches or trunks grow together. Conjoined specimens are colloquially called “husband and wife” or “marriage trees” and were possibly the sites of nuptial ceremonies.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

robigalia

One of a number of Roman celebrated during this time of year to ensure a good growing season and bountiful harvest, the feast of the for the god Robigus was held on this day in the agricultural outskirts of the city.
The god, which was designated as the divine representation of fungal blight or rust needed to be propitiated in order to ensure that the crops wouldn’t spoil in the fields. Understood as a separate, corrupt manifestation of the same infestation that could be harnessed for fermentation, the games held at this time with their attendant feasts (see also) were also marked by rather dark sacrifices that expressed their anxieties over crop failure—especially for one this late in the growing seasons that wouldn’t be easy to recover from. Whereas animal sacrifice generally was reserved for livestock that was part of the Roman diet and was shared in a communal meal, Robigalia rather gruesomely demanded a dog with a red coat—that matched the rust disease—as form of homeopathic magic.
Other observations included a celebration of—for whatever reason—of male sex-workers, professional female prostitution having had their own honours in the previous days, specifically on Vinalia urbana, the grape harvest on 23 April. Though without the cruel bits, thankfully—or the fun bits either, I suppose, the holiday is preserved in Western Christianity with the same day of prayer and fasting known as Rogation (from the Latin to beseech—to ask God for protection from calamity) and was done to cleanse the body and mind in anticipation of the Ascension and farmers often had priests bless their crops, often holding mass and processionals in the fields.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

liber legis

Though with the arrival of the ร†on of Horus humanity is supposed to have spiritually evolved to the phase where the precept and obligation to oneself and others was to “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” Aleister Crowley (previously) in 1904 along with his new bride, Rose Edith Kelly, was accountable for a bit more clarification and codification as mediums for a supernatural visitor—a disembodied voice—called Aiwass whom dictated to the newly married couple on their honeymoon in Cairo the three chapters of The Book of the Law of Thelema. Thankfully, each day from the eighth through the tenth of April, sessions only lasted an hour from noon, concluding the with the final volume published five years later, with the couple able to resume their vacation once Crowley emerged from his trance in the part of the hotel suite designated as the “temple,” though it seems that they had already done quite a bit of sight-seeing at this point, with a night spent in the Royal Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza two weeks earlier having the spirits in the first place. While the messenger for the whole of the transcript was Aiwass, each separate character was the first person narrative of the avatars represented by the Egyptian goddess and gods Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khnuit and despite the title contain more revelations and prophesies rather than anything proscriptive, with Crowley claiming to disavow the magical document and only having it published to exorcise the weight it held over him.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

your daily demon: andromalius

Our final spirit in the calendar of demonology is the seventy-second infernal earl that presents as a man bearing a great serpent. When called upon by the exorcist, Andromalius enlists his thirty-six legions to bring back any thief and his plunder and generally mete out punishment for dishonest brokers and revealing hidden treasure. Classed as a Watcher, Andromalius spies on enemy activity and reports directly to Azazel and is countered by the angel Mumiah. The cycle of the Magical Calendar—in long form as the fifteenth century wall-chart suitable for framing printed by Freiherr Johann Baptist GroรŸschedl ab Aicha in Frankfurt and laying claim to two astrological, astronomical charts by Tycho Brahe, a pharmacopia and the various sigils and signs iste Magnum Grimorium sive Calendarium Naturale Magicum Perpetuum Profundissimam Rerum Secretissimarum Cotemplationem Totiusque Philosophiรฆ Cognitionem Complectens—continues.

Friday, 12 March 2021

the anathema of zos

Among the youngest artists to exhibit at the Royal Academy and securing an art scholarship and associated with occult figures like Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare (*1886 – †1956) is virtually unknown despite his contemporary presence—possibly for his departure from other esoterics by turning inward to uncover hidden knowledge by engaging his atavistic subconscious psyche. Accessing his portfolio full of Art Nouveau grotesques and echoing the style of artwork of Aubrey Beardsley through his self-published grimoire Earth Inferno, inspired by Dante’s epic trilogy. Eventually accusing other magicians as only concerned with self-aggrandisement and harshly critical of Nazism’s flirtation with the occult, Spare’s subsequent works articulated the process of automatic writing and mediumistic sketching, a method to produce the sigils that summon spirits, and analysing the output. Modified by later adherents and evangelisers, Spare’s techiques and theories were transferred to a movement broadly called chaos magick. More to explore at the link up top with the content warning that some of the imagery verges on the sexually domineering and violent.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

zardoz

The 1974 Irish post-apocalyptic fantasy film starring Sean Connery (*1930 - †2020), Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman premiering on this day in Los Angeles and New York takes its title, the eponymous stone talisman and cornucopia, from a damaged copy of the L. Frank Baum book Wizard of Oz that survived the end of the world and the bibliocaust and supplant older gospels and introduces us to a highly gentrified and segregated society that consists of a ruling class of ageless Eternals and mortal, enslaved Brutals who eke out a subsistence in the nuclear wilderness after satisfying the needs of the aristocrats—with a clan of assassins charged with keeping the exploited under subjugation by following orders issued by Zardoz in exchange for weapons.
It is revealed that Zardoz is an extension of the omnipotent artificial intelligence called the Tabernacle that maintains the precarity of this social order by boundless insight that no human, immortal or otherwise, can comprehend. John Boorman, the writer, director and producer had hoped to create an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (see also) for a film studio at the time but Boorman’s offer was turned down, fearing it was too ambitious and would run-over budget, instead turned his sights to creating this world, which was philosophically challenging with good elements of storytelling and very much ahead of its time but had not played well to audiences by dint of that same complexity, costuming and lack of special effects.

Friday, 30 October 2020

necromantic tripos

Buried in a 1925 newsletter from Trinity College, Cambridge we are treated to a fanciful syllabus from analytic realist Charles Dunbar Broad, whom like his contemporary colleagues Bertrand Russell (previously here and here) and G. E. Moore, would have rejected as quickly and wholly as the Platonic forms, that was surely contributed to amuse his students and reads very much like a modern wizarding 101 with courses in magic, alchemy and astrology—with practica dedicated to scrying, rhabdomancy and the interpretation of entrails—to name a few.

A special disclaimer section follows of prohibitions that enrolees are to adhere to, for instance on the Evocation of Elementals: Owing to the terms of the fire-insurance on the College buildings it is necessary to prohibit absolutely the evocation of Salamanders in rooms in College. It is an immemorial rule of the College that the baths are “places for ablution and not for the evocation of Undines.” “No member of the college may make, have in his possession, melt, or transfix a mommet [poppet, a voodoo doll] of the Master or of any of the Fellows, Chaplains, Librarian, or Organist. Bedmakers have instructions to report immediately to the Dean of College the presence of any mommet that they find.” And on Levitation and Bilocation, they are “strictly forbidden in Hall, Chapel, the Library, and during lectures.” All in all, this seems like a pretty fun, charming curriculum and Broad’s pupils must have gotten a kick out of it.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

the pharmacological merits of apotropaic magic

Just as drills for a zombie apocalypse is a useful heuristic for disaster-preparedness in general, so too are models of the inevitable vampiric saturation of run-away predation verses a more managed approach a tool for understanding contagion and immunity. Deferring to science, Dracula will always best our superstitions and folk-interventions.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

hocus potus

Just as the Twitterati has formed broad cliques reflective of larger social orders, WitchTok—the portmanteau of TikTok for practitioners of hexes and witchcraft—is a real and popular phenomenon reportedly and is being credited by some with infecting Trump with COVID-19.

While we don’t think that’s how magic works, we’ll certainly let them cast their spell and encourage more, seeing that that coven that claimed to curse Trump the night of the inauguration might need to check their work. Oh yes, and please vote—unless you want more of over-reliance on homeopathy essential oils and accusing ones neighbour of suffering a witch to live out of deep desperation as ones healthcare and jobs disappear.

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.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

erbario farmaceutico

Building on a history of reference, anecdote and experimentation already established for millennia at the time of publication of this fifteenth century volume from the Veneto, we appreciated the prompt to learning more behind this category of guidebook known as the herbal (Herbarius, Erbario).
Pairing images that aid in identification with others that represented supposed pharmacological merit—as well as toxic, tonic, culinary and magical properties, extensive accompanying texts and captions inform modern ideas (but certainly do not supplant them—a feature of such collections is that they advance and improve tempered by science and scholarship but are always good to peruse for perspective and perhaps insight) of taxonomy, chemistry and medicine. Much more from Public Domain Review at the link above.

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.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

skรคrtorsdagen

In Sweden and parts of Finland—though not an official holiday since 1772—Maundy Thursday, that day of the week already closely associated with witchcraft and magic, was according to old folkloric traditions the day that witches (pรฅskkรคrringar or pรฅskhรคxa, Easter hags which children costume themselves as and entreat parents and neighbours for eggs and treats rather than a bunny) fly off to the legendary island of Blรฅkulla (Blockula—in the ancient rendering and not to be confused with the very real island in the Kalmar strait) to dance with the Devil. Non-celebrants take part also with some frantic spring-cleaning and hiding their broomsticks to keep black magic at bay. The observation ceased being a public holiday in the late eighteenth century with the repeal of the death penalty for practising witchcraft.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

apotropaic magic

An excavation in Pompeii, a Roman city along with Herculaneum frozen in time on 24 August in year 79 AD when with the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius it became buried under tonnes of pumice and hot ashfall, has uncovered a trove of charms and amulets believed to have been the repertoire, arsenal of a sorceress and also serves as a repository of very intimate personal items that fleeing residents might leave in the custody of the sorceress for safekeeping and retrieval upon return.
Each of the items collected in a wooden box that had all but decayed away represents not only its peculiar wish-fulfilment but by extension narratives too intriguing not to limn complete, not to mention what each talisman and totem might signify or hold power over. Included among the evil-eyes (the virtue of keeping away like with like), phalluses, skulls and scarabs were figures of Harpocrates—a Greek syncretisation of the Egyptian Child Horus who represented the new dawn and hope to conquer the day, who matured to adult form by twilight and represented the resilience to come back again as well as discretion and confidence-keeping.

Monday, 20 May 2019

a sigil of jupiter in taffeta with a fair ribbon

Via Miss Cellania’s Links, we are directed to a curated trove of medical records with notes by attending the physicians, astrologers royal Simon Forman (*1552 – †1611) and Richard Napier (*1559 - †1634), that’s been transcribed and catalogued by pathology: witchcraft, venereal disease, demonic possession, blunt trauma, infertility, etc. Contraindications, diagnosis and treatment are usually indicated, gleaned from astrological charting (see also) in most causes—though not always transcribed, spelling modernised and standardised for reference and readability.

Not to betray patient confidentiality but these records are a fascinating look at the state of medical science on the cusps of two ages—the late, late medieval times just before a period of enlightenment and is an interesting contrast between what we’d consider magical thinking and superstition and the wholistic approach to healing. Here’s an example below—with five hundred others to peruse at the site above, a consult the accompanying astral images to divine a treatment plan:

Richard Cowly of Tinswicke, 30 years.
Tuesday 30 April 1605, 9.00 am. A bachelor.
[In chart] afflicted in mind. Frantic & lunatic.
Trine between Saturn and Venus.
7 trine with Jupiter and Mars.
Conjunction between Sun and Mercury.
Square between Jupiter and Venus.
Trine between Jupiter and Mercury approaching May 2.
He came yesterday to Mr Gerent when I was from home & he willed him to be let blood & he is somewhat mended ever since. Keeps his bed. Tuesday was seven nights. Has taken great grief touching one whom he loved & promised marriage & is now married. & he has much thought & grief. Very wild & as one frantic. Much tormented in mind & very sick. Talks idly. Cannot sleep.

Friday, 22 December 2017

subtle allegory or indistinguishable from magic

This short synopsis of the premise of a science fiction premise really resonated with us: first serialised in 2006, Liu Cixin’s award winning (and recently adapted into film) The Three-Body Problem (ไธ‰ไฝ“) proposes that humans have encountered no alien races because extra-terrestrials conspire to contain one another, lest they advance and become a threat.
Introducing this dominant race dispenses neatly with the other reasons aliens are not visiting. Rather than actively disarming and disabling their machines and modes of exploration, the only thing aliens would need to do to humans or any other planet-bound denizen would be to bring in an element of woo and superstition and pseudoscience, maybe a peppering of miraculous events that defy logical explanation to really enforce and cement beliefs. Playing the long-game, the dominant races’ containment-policy ensures it has no competition by undermining trust in science. Given our violent regression to primitive charms and preserving appearances, however, I think that perhaps blaming a technologically superior alien race for keeping humanity relegated to the cosmic backwaters also violates the principal of Ockham’s Razor, lex parsimoniae. We certainly hope that this message is preserved in the theatrical release.