Photograph by Gerard Hutton of Charlotte Rodgers’ ‘Isis Unveiled‘
Registration is now open for the inaugural two day conference and symposium, hosted within Leicester’s De Montfort University. SoM/MS aims to critically and practically examine the contemporary esoteric landscape; the discourse germinated via a curated body of international speakers and artists.
The gathering focusses around the lived and living experience of post-Crowleyian systems of magick and its relationship to certain British subcultures of the creative arts since the decline of the Empire. Peter Carroll has argued that this dissolution of physical empire has installed a ‘tenuous link with identity’ upon the British psyche; thus creating an ideal petri dish within which magickians can flourish.
Registration for the conference and a reduced advanced ticket for single day attendance to the symposium is available via the following eventbrite page:
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23rd May- Conference Program.
Clephan Building Room CL 1.16
Registration from 9.30am-10.00am
Crowley and Spare: A Love Affair.
Austin Spare joined the Ordo Templi Orientalis when he was having an affair with Aleister Crowley. Crowley’s revival of the Order in England was hitting the headlines in the newspapers culminating in the seven performances of the Rites of Eleusis. These were held in Caxton Hall across the road from Crowley’s spectacularly decorated flat in Victoria. Spare was the younger man by a decade but his fame was much more solidly based as a remarkably gifted artist. The Order seems to have been in some disorder technically but fuelled with tremendous enthusiasm for magic and the arts. The collective nature of magic was a lifelong interest of Crowley but it was of no interest to Spare as his own system shows. These two creative men combusted for a while and then fell apart with little to show for it except for the passion of Crowley’s poetry.
Geraldine Beskin of The Atlantis Bookshop is a significant collector of Crowley and Spare. She has staged three large exhibitions of Spare’s work and has published Crowley. Geraldine also produced The Rites of Eleusis in London some years ago.
Success and failure, minerals, knowledge and illness
Dr. Matthew Cheeseman
This paper is a biographical account of an eighteen month period of research beginning in early Spring 2005 and ending in summer 2006. It describes a dramatic attack on my priorities as a researcher and my attempts via improvised ritual to regain control of them. In discussing the attack and ritual it considers ethnographic methodologies in researching and working with magical knowledge.
I work between English Literature, Folklore, Creative Writing, Music and Education. Recently, I’ve focused on integrating artistic practice with interdisciplinary research. I’m a member of the Centre for Medical Humanities and the Centre for Visual Studies.
Full details of Matthew’s academic history and current research concerns can be found using the following link:
Intent and Ritual in the Psychedelic Therapy
The use of hallucinogens for magickal purposes were explored by Crowley in the early 20th century. However, a systematic examination occurred within an institutional framework in the mid-twentieth century, and the earlier magickal use was unknown to the scientists who put them under the research lens. This paper looks at the ritualization of psychiatric practices with hallucinogens, through the development of psychedelic and psycholytic therapy, paying special attention to the identification of set and setting as ways to manipulate and intentionalize the experience according to pre-determined aims. Ultimately, it argues that while the researchers identified similar properties in hallucinogens to Crowley, they failed to see any use in them outside their own therapeutic aims, which essentially led to them charming themselves over the nature and action of these substances.
Robert Dickins is currently the editor of the Psychedelic Press UK: Anthology of Drug Writing, and its online sister publication psypressuk.com. Robert has a journalism undergraduate, and an English literature Masters from the University of Exeter. His writing tends to deal with literary conceptions of psychedelics, and their role in culture and society. He has also written the novel ‘Erin’.
The Reverend Nemu
Angel of the library
Genie of the pen
Write the demon on the page
And cross him out again
“Magick is an example of Mythopoeia in that particular form called Disease of Language” Aleister Crowley
Mythopoeia, or the making of myths, plugs the magician into a stream of narrative, and the results we can look forward to depend on the poetry of the myth we are writing.In its dreams, visions and urges, the unconscious communicates in the language of poetry. We call out to our gods and familiars, and the world around us answers with rhyme. Synchronicity falls in perfect metre if we stress the right syllables, and even our failures have their own peculiar rhyme scheme.
My talk is about magick and writing. My own book began suddenly as a series of manic nocturnal emissions, frantically scribbled down over two years in the small hours of the night. I had no intention to write a book, and this material lay completely unusable until a friend asked me to read her some, and decided she should help me organize it into something coherent. The next phase took another three years, researching leads and working through ideas, drawing it apart, putting it back together until I had an enormous string of code over a million characters long.
Solve et coagula, dissolve and precipitate, remake, rework and repeat. The editing phase took several more years, including a stint in the Amazon, and by that time the book had grown to include an attack on pharmacological medicine and the disempowering colonialism of the body which underpins it.
The entire enterprise had been attended by coincidence and poetry, mad street people illuminating chapters with timely rants, the angel of the library dropping texts in my path, characters appearing to make cameos. As if by magick, I contracted an aggressive and potentially disfiguring bacterial infection in the Amazon, allowing me to test my theories on disease and the power of will at exactly the right time. After eight magickal and terrifying months treating it with ayahuasca and ritual, I emerged lighter by ten kilos and an ex-wife, and entirely renewed.
I only realized many years later that the illness and other troubles had the signature of a particular demon of the Goetia, when a Solomonic magickian read my cards and pulled his sigil from the deck. The obstacles, in retrospect, were stepping stones, and the poetry is much more potent on his account.
Grammar guides the words and glues the bars into the cage
Written rite, a grimoire bends the bars and frees the mage
The Reverend Nemu incarnated one night in Japan into the body of an English teacher, with a background in the History and Philosophy of Science and an interest in psychedelics.The earthbound medium and the astral clergyman share an interest in why people follow the narratives they do, and what is possible when we start exploring more weird and wonderful rhyme schemes.
The two get on well enough, but one can be something of a pedant, and the other is prone to flights of fancy.
This paper is an exploration of my relationship with a particular place – Mid Wales – and the music it inspired. At the same time it’s an exploration of something much more general and wide-reaching: what happens to us when we’re affected profoundly and inspired by a place. By looking at the different factors that make Mid Wales so rich and inspiring to me, and the creative process involved in drawing out music from the landscape, I develop a theory about (magickal) reality – about what makes our experiences of certain places and things charged, rich and ‘hypperreal’.
Sharron Kraus is a musician and composer inspired by folk music, psychedelia, horror soundtracks as well as surrealism, gothic literature and magick. She has worked musically in ritual contexts and in free improvisational ones and found interesting crossovers. Her most recent album was recorded over a period of three years spent in rural Mid Wales, listening to the landscape, working with it magickally and drawing out the music it seemed to contain. She is currently working on an album of songs inspired by the Mabinogion.
The aim of this talk will be to identify and discuss differences in the process, intention, and execution of performing ritual versus ritual as performance. By this, I refer to directly performing or enacting a ritual in comparison to creating a public performative action which incorporates or includes elements of ritual. One, I believe, alludes to ritual using theatrical elements in order to provide an illustration using metaphor, whereas the presumed goal of performing ritual would be to use action to invoke a magical-spiritual transformation. I do not mean to imply that one approach is more authentic or effective than the other, but instead want to identify how intention and focus can be used to better direct the desired outcome of the ritual/performance for all participants.
As a case study, I will use the example of Ron Athey’s performance “Gifts of the Spirit: Automatic Writing”. Building on his own childhood experience of glossolalia within the Pentacostal religion, Athey designed this piece in order to explore whether an ecstatic experience could be created in a secular environment. I was involved with the presentation of this performance in Manchester, 2011 and Birmingham, 2012 as a curator/stage manager. Within this discussion, I would like to share the differences that I observed between these two presentations as a lead-in to opening a dialogue related to ritual/performance.
Lisa Newman is an intermedia performance artist and co-director/ founder of 2 Gyrlz Performative Arts, an artist-led presenting organization. She received a BS in Fine Art from the University of Oregon in 1996, and an MA in Performance and Cultural Location in Contemporary Europe from Dartington College of Art in Devon, UK in 2007. Newman completed a PhD in Drama/Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester in 2014. Her current research explores the economic and social value of the body in performance and live art within contemporary art markets.
In both her solo work and in collaboration with partner, Llewyn Máire, as the gyrl grip, Newman explores the intricacies of obsession, fetish, and the loving relationship. She endeavors to challenge the “audience/performer” dynamic, with the goal of these roles become vague, malleable; participants are encouraged to give and receive through reciprocal openings of the self to others through live interactions.
Newman has performed in festivals, residencies, and conferences throughout North America and Europe since 1995 including the Full Nelson festival (Los Angeles), the La-bás festival(Finland), Harta Monza festival (Italy), Performance Studies Intl. conferences (Rhode Island, Copenhagen, Utrecht), Rdece Zore festival (Slovenia), Five Holes festival (Canada), and numerous others.
Originally a PhD thesis, Spiral Bound is now being reworked as a monograph and this presentation surveys the main argument with some additional material. The idea is to elucidate linkages between physical space, occult identity and occult cosmology.
We begin with a straightforward set of observations on idioms of verticality and laterality which link esoteric identity with place in a way which is familiar from both popular culture and Christian thought: left-hand and lower-down spaces are associated with ‘black’ magic while the ‘white’ magic of the right-hand path is devoted to exploring more celestial spaces. This is important because it goes a long way to explaining both the problematic relationships between occulture and the ‘mainstream’ and also some of the problematic relationships within the occult ‘community’ itself.
We then move on to observations about the protean nature of the contemporary. It is argued that with its many and various fluxing “energies”, the esoteric universe is reflective of a contemporary experience of existential ephemerality. It may therefore be rather less resistant or radical than some thinkers have claimed. The final segment of the presentation looks at the symbol of the spiral to which so many different occult groups relate. The possible meanings it holds are explored in relation to modernity. It is suggested that far from being atavistic or an eccentric outgrowth, esoteric thought may owe far more to the contemporary than either its proponents or detractors would care to admit. The occult, it is concluded, can only be fully understood by reference to its spatial symbolism and like much ‘alternative spirituality’, it is not just in the present but very much of the present.
William Redwood completed a PhD on esoteric cosmology in the Anthropology Department at UCL. He writes and teaches in London.
Last summer I undertook Sink or Sing, a one-hundred day live art action that culminated in my swimming to Bestival on the Isle of Wight whilst singing a one-hundred verse ballad in two languages. Fuelled by insights into the intangible connections between ancient divination practices and the collapse of space and time enacted through social media, my concern was with the supposed impossibility of changing fate and the emerging possibilities of reading fate through the digital landscape.
Crafting one hundred days as clusters of fractal rituals, every day from 1st June – 8th September I worked in different ways to swim to Bestival while singing. I transformed my life and work, trained my body, moved and witnessed movement, and wrote a long, long song. Drenched in colour magick, dosed up with herbs, and poetically guided by the philosophies of Henri Bergson’s Time and Free Will, François Laruelle’s Non-Philosophy and Maurice Blanchot’s collected writings, I created a metaphysical framework by which to live as artwork.
My ritual was inter-acted using Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, other websites and hundreds of email exchanges. Writing, poetry, video, audio, photography and found objects endure through the transformations that occurred during those one hundred days. The press got involved; some of the world looked on. My presentation contextualizes these materials as transgressive and living magick, conducted by a novice diviner always-already becoming a digital witch.
Sara Zaltash (BA Theatre, Film and Television, Bristol; MA Performance, Culture Context, Leeds) reveals transgression by exploring duration through song, poetics and action. Music, philosophy, consciousness and digital life influence her work. She uses recorded sound, singing and musicality to craft autobiographical live action as contemporary myth, as urban parable, as lost legend. Using site-responsive devising methods, the tangible materials of her work are gleaned from her surroundings. Sharing her experiences of life, love, adventure and failure, she performs herself becoming a hero and privileges the nomadic voice. Out of popular movements, digital lives and ancient practices, Sara Zaltash seeks frontiers, pioneers and revolutions.
Artist talks from MAS Productions and Sound artist George Rogers.
Round table discussion chaired by Nick Kilby
24th May- Performance Symposium
Doors from 10.30am
A Love Offering
A Love Offering functions as a psychic kissing booth in which audience members make a donation/”love offering” in exchange for a sensual, non-physical, energetic exchange.
I am a conceptual artist interested in systems of power, in the acquisition and abdication of control.
I seek opportunities to confront and confound audience expectations. By highlighting the daily performativity we all assume, I expose our dependency upon social matrices in our shifting personal identities. Repetitive actions hint at mysterious prior events. The viewer must extrapolate the significance of these accumulating gestures, which take on a deeper emotional charge as they slowly and inexorably pile up.
My practice exists on cusps. I believe that only in these in-betweens can we truly stop being polite and start getting real.
i. Generate an atmosphere of comfort in a disquieting scene.
ii. Tease with disjointed rhythm that oscillates in the subconscious.
iii. Curate the senses to recall collective memory; real or imagined.
iv. Contradict: strength in weakness, private made public.
v. Exercise the seemingly futile.
Robert Hardaker is an artist working in performance. Since Graduating from De Montfort University Ba(Hons) Fine Art in 2012 he has undertaken several internships with emerging art groups in Leicester such as The Attic and 2 Queens Gallery. In 2013 he performed at Circuit Festival and for Roger Hiorns’ “Youth” at The Hepworth Gallery. He is currently curating and creating work for Handmade Festival 2014 and is developing new solo and collaborative work.
Untitled for the Watcher
My physical performances are based on my highly ritualised training in Indian and Eastern European performative traditions, as well as Japanese martial arts, which has allowed me to develop a highly disciplined and controlled bodymind. This training, along with performance rituals, allows me to attempt to contain and maintain a sublime state of chaos, and to use this as an activator for the audience.
Central to my work is the Indian principle of the whole body; referring to the presence of both the physical body and of the yogic subtle body. The subtle body is the term given to the energies that can be channelled through the physical body in order to strengthen it and heighten its abilities, and bares a close resemblance to the forces channelled by sigal in chaos magick. In my performances I utilise my training in the Indian martial art Kalarippayattu to engage both my subtle and physical body to create a whole performing body that is capable of becoming all-eyes. A body that is all eyes can forge intimate connection with the audience member without being physically intimate and enhance the experience in the shared space between the performer and the audience. With this accentuated awareness my performances can act as a semi-spiritual experience for the audience, as both our presences in the shared space are intensified through my ritualised subtle body.
This high level of discipline and ritual, that has become an integral part of my whole body, allows me to both contain and channel sublime chaos energy, without allowing it to become formless and unwatchable or allowing the energy to dissipate and become entropy. The focused performance of the channelled sublime is designed for a society in which we, as conditioned participants, have lost both our relationship with our whole bodies and with our potential sublime energies. In my performances I attempt to make my body an activator for the audience, using our shared space expose my own sublime energy to the audience member and attempt to awaken their energy, which I believe to seminally present in the human form.
Tom Morgan is an emerging experimental performer currently completing a BA at De Montfort
University. Since 2013 he has travelled to Wales, Poland and Austria to train in international performance disciplines. He has collaborated in research with the Grotowski Institute and trained
under the international acting master Phillip Zarrilli. His work has been performed at The Salon,
Leicester, and has been programmed at the Crisis Festival 2014, Arezzo.
Lady Vendredi Baadass Blood Quest
The Baadass Blood Quest applies Joseph Campbell’s Hero Quest to 1970’s exploitation film revenge narratives transforming the revenge storyline into a mythic ritual. We combine the neo-pop-shamanic performance art and semiotic symbol manipulation of Performance Artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena with the Gnostic and Gurdjieff influenced work of Polish Theatre director Jerzy Grotowski. The dance styles are from Haitain Vodou dance and contemporary street dance, particularly Krumping, vogueing and popping.
Aspects of the working processes are modeled around Chaos Magic in particular work on the themes and techniques of possession as described by Nikki Wyrd in the Baphomet possession rituals of the IOT. Also we draw on Ramsey Dukes’ thinking around virtual reality, and how this functions as a description of the creative process particularly when put into the context of chaos theory systems of creativity.
Director: Jonathan Grieve studied Drama & Theatre Arts at University of Birmingham. He is a director, deviser, writer and musician, currently director of new music and performance project MAS Productions. Founder and artistic director of Para Active Theatre from 1994 to 2007, also founder member of experimental post-industrial band Contrastate. He has taught at universities and drama schools since 2000 including Rose Bruford, E15 Acting School, Brunel, University of Kent and Goldsmiths.
Performer and composer: Nwando Ebizie is a performance artist, musician, producer and dancer from Nigeria. She spent the early part of her career in physical theatre and circus, searching for a process that could encapsulate her ideas. This included training at Circomedia in Physical Theatre and aerial arts, performing and training with Para Active for 4 years, including performances at LIFT festival and performances with Guillermo Gomez Pena. A sudden understanding that her practice had to combine music with movement led her to compose a new score for Hotel Medea in 2009. Further study at British Academy of New Music helped her contextualise her musical ideas and now she is bringing her physical performer/live art practise together with musical creation in the persona of Lady Vendredi.
Consultant on the ritual arts: Dr Mark James Hamilton trained at the University of Birmingham (UK), and with classical Indian dancer Priya Srikumar, in Edinburgh. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Canterbury (NZ). Mark has worked as a dancer-actor, director-choreographer, scriptwriter and creative producer for stage and television, and researches the integration of voice and movement training. His teaching is a synthesis of the European practices of Rudolf Laban, Jerzy Grotowski and Roy Hart, with the hereditary and contemporary arts of the Māori people and the region of Kerala. His theorising seeks to link academic discourse about performativity with practice-based examination of the formation of identity within the processes of performance practices. Over the past decade, Mark’s career in the Asia Pacific region has ranged from performance of his own solo dance works, to co-creation of a Māori pop opera with a symphony orchestra. He has convened, and continues to arrange, international gatherings through which scholars and practitioners explore the interface of the martial arts and dance drama. Dr Hamilton is an affiliate of a number of academic and artistic professional bodies. Amongst these are: Rosanna Raymond’s “Savage Klub”, Asian Performing Arts Network, Dance Base (Scottish National Centre for Dance), and The Voice Studio International (UK); New Zealand Studies Network, New Zealand South Asia Centre, and Mika Haka Foundation (NZ); CVN Kalari East Fort Thiruvananthapuram & Samudra Performing Arts (Kerala, India).
From penetration of the skin by the needle to its subsequent exit, strong sensations are awakened in and on the body of the recipient. One can not, however, underestimate the strong sensations awakened within the viewer while observing a needle pass through skin. What the viewer perceives sensorially as they empathetically experience the feeling of being pierced is often stronger than that of the recipient. I view the ability to empathize with the sensations of another body as one type of out of body experience. As one is able to physically feel what another is experiencing, one simultaneously inhabits both the body of another and one’s own body.
The ritual quality of piercing lies in the intention of the piercer/piercee. When one considers the cleanliness and sterility essential when working subcutaneously, the constant cleaning of the skin and glove changes become ceremonial actions transformed from mundane to sacred.
Anna Natt (USA, 1975) completed her Flamenco studies at the Fundación Christina Herren de Arte Flamenco in Sevilla, Spain and furthered her studies with different teachers, most notably Israel Galvan. She is a soloist in the Swiss contemporary flamenco company “El Contrabando” and teaches at Centro Flamenco dance school in Berlin where she has been based since 2005.
Her artistic practice centers around experimenting with ways to combine Flamenco and performance art as exemplified in her pieces Tormenta and the solo piece Uro, which was first shown in the final round of the Euro-Scene Festival’s competition “Das beste deutsche Tanzsolo”. She has been researching and practicing BDSM/Conscious Kink since March 2012 when she attended her first workshop at the Schwelle 7 in Berlin.
Stripped to the Core: Animistic Art Action and Magickal Revelation.
Using visual, audio and verbal mediums I will examine more traditional magickal explorations in context of my work with blood and remnants of death in sculptural form, aiming towards personal transformation and healing. I will also explore group productions and art events that I was involved which centred on the creation and directing of an egregore.
My approach is not that of an academic or intellectual; it is experiential, animist, atavistic and magickal, representative of the times and the sections of the counter culture which I have lived in. My directed magickal reality results in change in consciousness and personal reality and is, simply enough, an action of spiritually directed, artistic application.
Charlotte Rodgers is an artist, writer and non denominational animist and magickian. She uses blood and remnants of death in her atavistic sculptures and as part of her transformational spiritual expression. Her books include:
‘The Bloody Sacrifice’ Mandrake of Oxford
‘P is for Prostitution: A Modern Primer’ Mandrake of Oxford
’The Sky is a Gateway Not a Ceiling: Blood, Sex, Death, Magick and Transformation’ Privately Published by Roberto Migliussi
‘A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead’ Mandrake of Oxford (a co-authored anthology with Lydia Maskell)
The Well of Wyrd
The Well of Wyrd is a temporal collaboration between three Australian performers whose trips to Europe and UK in 2014 are converging. Employing sound, dance and ritual we delve into the deep mind (as represented by the Well) and draw up primal atavisms and mytho-cultural memories. Verse evoking Mnemosyne and Mymir (deities of Memory in Ancient Greek and Norse pantheons) are used in combination with trance-inducing music to delve into the DNA Well of archetypes and mythic consciousness. As Mother of Muses Mnemosyne is called to beget Inspiration, then allowing the results to ripple out into our further sonic and kinetic expressions.
The performance will be partially constructed and partially improvisational in nature. Songs and verse of Orryelle’s will be used to invoke Ihy- Ancient Egyptian God of Music and the Sistrum, son of the Goddess of Dance Hathor- and other relevant deities, then the energies and inspirations raised will unravel their own course of progression.
Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule is an esoteric artist in many media, including painting, writing, body art, sculpture, sound and performance. His ‘Tela Quadrivium’ series of alchemical art books are published by Fulgur Limited (UK) and he regularly exhibits and performs internationally. He is the director of Australian-based Metamorphic Ritual Theatre Company (http://www.crossroads.wild.net.au/morph.htm). His work engages with connecting the subconscious and conscious through employment of magical and mythical symbols and archetypes.
Sha is a guitarist and singer who explores trance and zen lyricism
Allis Maun is a visual artist, award-winning poet and musical multi-instrumentalist who uses voice, Morin Khuur (a traditional Mongolian instrument) and percussion to channel shamanic cultural residue.
SEX – SEX – SEX is a new work that explores pop-song lyrics as collective social memory. Drenched in ultraviolet nostalgia, singing is radicalized in a Live Art context to make explicit and multivalent statements about sex, sexuality and lust in relation to popular music.
“SEX-SEX-SEX is a gorgeous and disruptive performance. It’s by turns brash, seductive, angry, sorrowful, cheeky, earnest, abrasive, delicious and cathartic. Sara Zaltash holds pop culture’s ideas about love up to a harsh and difficult light: she loves loves and hates love, she sings each snippet with powerful commitment and, somehow, critical distance too. It’s a performance that burrows into your heart via your ears and then squeezes hard” – Harry Giles, artist and programmer, Summerhall, Edinburgh.