Saturday, 4 December 2021

week-by-week

In what’s become an annual treat, Tom Whitwell again shares fifty-two items he has gleaned from the past year. In the compilation, drawn from experiencing editing projects for Fluxx / Medium, Whitwell’s shared new facts learned include that daily over a million images of coffee grinds are uploaded to a fortune reading app (the process of divination called tasseomancy), advice on how to solicit better answers, the MSG hoax, the truth behind the mystery seeds from China hysteria, and a few we’ve previously covered like how cowpox vaccine was transported around the world, traditional Japanese microseasons, how film was formulated to privilege lighter complexions, and how the threshhold effect applies even to a doorway on screen. Many more astonishing correlations at the links above—do let us know your favourites.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

7x7: happy halloween edition

robert the doll: Key West’s most cursed object—see also—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

zombie jamboree: Harry Belafonte’s actual ghoulish calypso number—notwithstanding the associations with the Banana Boat Song 

la calavera catrina: a sugar skull puppet presents a primer on Dรญa de los Muertos  

westsonality: enjoy Paul Lynde’s 1976 Halloween Special with a cavalcade of guest stars  

respect the sabbath: periodic movements in the US to hold no Halloween on Sundays  

main title theme: the score for John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween 

lovecraft country: welcome to my metaverse—see previously

Friday, 29 October 2021

season of the witch

Coincidentally on this day in 1390 the first tribunal within the jurisdiction of the court of Paris was held also saw across the centuries and continents the dissolution of the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692—a standing commission (charged to “hear and determine”) with a judge of assize first convened in May of the same year to adjudicate cases in the Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts, authorities displeased with their conduct and proceedings. During that later five month period, two hundred were accused and nineteen condemned to capital punishment, hanged by the neck until dead. The former, after fourteen months of deliberation and sentencing led to the execution of soothsayer Jeanne de Brigue, whom was allegedly able to summon the demon Haussibut and with his aid find lost objects and catch thieves—which sounds like more of a public service than a crime.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

your daily demon: shax

Our forty-fourth spirit governing from today through the first of November is a grand marquis ruling over thirty legion of mounted subordinates and presents as a stork or stock dove. A notorious liar, unless compelled by his summoner with the sign of his sigil to be called to the floor within a magic triangle, Shax’ powers including depriving the senses and understanding of any person upon the request of the exorcist as well as liberating loot not under the charm of another evil spirit. An avowed horse thief as well, Shax is countered by the guardian angel called Yelahiah.

Friday, 15 October 2021

8x8

day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

your daily demon: focalor

Our forty-first spirit, governing from today through 17 October is an infernal grand duke presenting as a human with griffon wings. Though consenting and docile under the command of a skilled exorcist and can be bid to do no harm, Focalor has violent tendencies and will overturn ships at sea and drown those aboard. The demon commanding three legion has influence over the wind and waves and is countered by the guardian angel Hahael. His name an anagram of the Lucifuge Rofocale suggests an intellectual affinity with the archdemon, and is among those holding to the deluded belief that they will retake the kingdom of Heaven after a thousand years’ exile.

Friday, 8 October 2021

your daily demon: raum

Governing from today through 12 October, this fortieth spirit and infernal earl presents at first as another familiar with corvid-like characteristics. True to the German sense of his name, rรคumen—to empty, evacuate—he pilfers the houses of the rich and powerful with prejudice for dignities as well as engendering love and reconciliation. Others trace his origins to the identification with the Egyptian deity Khnum, the ram-headed god who crafts the bodies of people out of Nile clay before they’re born. Also known as Raim or Raym, he controls thirty legion and is opposed by the guardian angel Yaytzael.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

your daily demon: phenex

Our thirty-seventh spirit who governs the first degrees of the House of Libra, from today through 27 September, presents just as the mythological raptor that symbolises the cycle of rebirth and renewal but is deluded in the belief as shared by a few of his compatriots that they will be restored to the throne of Heaven in twelve-hundred years.
Obedient to the exorcist who bears his sigil, this grand marquis will faithfully dispense knowledge relating to the sciences and excels at poetry. Controlling twenty legions, Phexen is opposed by the guardian angel Aniel, one of the seventy-two corresponding supernatural beings encrypted in the Sigillum Dei, a sixteenth century magical diagram by occultist and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I John Dee that gave the initiated and enlightened influence of divine creatures—at least the godly kind that is.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

7x7

ppe: an enigmatic update to COVID guidelines 

i don’t want to live on this planet anymore: a supercut of Futurama gags that have endured  

norm macdonald has a show: an appreciation of the comedian’s (†) early standup  

ernie and the emperors: a Giant Crab discography (1969) 

grandmaster: the mental and physical tolls of chess  

appareil: gorgeous French brick patterns from a 1878 catalogue 

 tireless research: Ruben Bolling showcases great scientists of the twenty-first century

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.