ISSN 2202-9869-00 (Print) ISSN 2203-0298 (Online)
photo by eva collins
BECOMING A WITCH BECOMING OTHER 18 · SARAH JEZEBEL WOOD 32 · ARTS 37 DAME DISMEMBER 42 · CITY OF SHADOWS 50 · WITCHES & WICKED BODIES 24
THERE ARE OTHER WAYS OF SEEING THE WORLD
“OTHER MAGAZINE” 31 OCTOBER 2013
O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
OTHER magazine THERE ARE OTHER WAYS OF SEEING THE WORLD.
An international bi-annual aimed at people who are fascinated in exploring the unknown other. PEOPLE + ART + PHOTOGRAPHY + MUSIC + BOOKS + FILM + PLACES + SPIRITUALITY We are interested in those with an unusual or unique and creative pursuit, particularly those with an alternative, spiritual, humanitarian, occult, creative or artistic quest. Published twice yearly at the solstices. Editor Damiana Fortune Sub Editor Jim Gleeson Online Editor David Mattichak Art Director Tim Hartridge Production Manager Tori Collins Social Media Support Ashley S. Editorial inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.other-magazine.com Facebook www.facebook.com/OtherMagazine Published by Manuscript Design PO Box 179 Newtown 2042 NSW Australia Copyright The copyright remains with the original writers, artists and photographers. No part of this publication should be reproduced without the written premision of the Publisher. Disclaimer All responsible effort has been made to correctly attribute information and accuracy of our sources and images. We aim for standards of integrity and ethical behavior with this publication. While no personal responsibility is accepted by the Publisher we do fact check all content for our magazine. Please contact us if you can provide more accurate details or wish to question the content.
www.facebook.com/OtherMagazine @MagazineOther email@example.com www.other-magazine.com ISSN 2202-9869 (Print) ISSN 2203-0298 (Online) COVER PHOTO: Vali Myers by Eva Collins STORY: Witch of Positano by David Mattichak
Witches, Sufis & philosophers in Kings Cross
THE OTHER CORNER
Contributing to a new magazine is challenging, creating one is positively daunting. Fortunately our writers and publishing team at OTHER magazine thrive on being edgy and creative, especially in ways that will feature the more unusual and unexpected; quite simply we aim to be more than you might see in your average magazine.
he Sydney Morning Herald's Sydney Magazine interviewed me recently on the subject of Witchcraft, one of my particular areas of interest. The article included a broad spectrum of views from practitioners of Sufism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism and Taoism; all philosophies of the esoteric, the marginal, and the other. It occurred to me that if the mainstream media felt these subjects worthy of serious editorial space, dedicating valuable pages in their flagship magazine, then surely now was the right time for a specialist publication on the exploration of the other.
What is the other? The other is most especially expressed in cultural differences, and given voice through the arts and literature. For the academically inclined, the 20th century French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas explored the idea of the other, and it was articulated further in the work of Edward Said's Orientalism; but we are already very familiar with the other, at least at an instinctual level. It is the uniqueness we recognise in others, their differentness from us. Otherness is epitomised in one of Sydney’s most famous eccentrics, the late visionary artist Rosaleen Norton, who was known as the Witch of Kings Cross. She revelled in her otherness… “They are alien, Other. I'm touched with uneasiness… Fear of these humans… and glide away sidelong: Yet joying in fear, in my stealthy aloofness, To know they are They and I'm I.” I’m passionate about OTHER magazine. It is something that has lived in my imagination for several years. In my line of work I meet many interesting and talented creatives, thinkers and writers. Their fields of expertise encompass the arts, literature, performance, and the sciences; many
of them also have interests in the occult and have explored the other in their work. Earlier this year, I approached several people from my circle who were familiar with the meaning of the other. I invited them take a look at the concept and draft designs for OTHER magazine. They were instantly hooked, and so we began working together to bring this project to life. As the creative director, I'm committed to bringing the magazine to life in a rich, visual expression and to make tangible the ideas of our writers and creatives in exploring the people and subjects within these pages. By design, this publication is a representation of the other, a type of personal touchstone to experiencing otherness. Expect to be changed through your exposure to the works and ideas that are examined here; ultimately, OTHER magazine is not like any print magazine you have encountered before. Because the birthplace of OTHER magazine is in Rosaleen Norton’s old stomping-ground of Kings Cross, it seems fitting to reflect on her words both as a graphic artist, a witch and someone who understood what it means to embody the other… “Calling of others like me. Quietly they come, flitting softly as secrets; light-footed, velverty, swifly… With eyes gleaming green, lambent flame of the Opal. Kindred… we signal our quick recognition. I am I… but I know we are we…” Publisher Tim Hartridge A PERSONAL THANK YOU My sincere and heartfelt thank you to the talented team at OTHER magazine as well as all the generous contributors and those who gave interviews. A special thank you to Tori Collins who believed in the vision that you now hold. To our supporters and readers who have come from all around the world and liked us. Thank you — T.H.
In this Issue · zero
OCTOBER 31ST 2013
COVER STORY THE WITCH OF POSITANO: VALI MYERS · 8
LITERATURE & MUSIC HYAKUMONOGATARI, JAPANESE HORROR · 61 CAISEAL MOR · 64
ARTS & CULTURE WITCHES & WICKED BODIES · 24 WINDOWS TO THE SACRED · 37 DAME DISMEMBER · 42 CITY OF SHADOWS: PETER DOYLE · 50
PAGAN & OCCULT BECOMING A WITCH, BECOMING OTHER · 18 JEZEBEL SPIRIT: SARAH JEZEBEL WOOD · 32 THE DELUDED CRAFT: PART 1 · 56
SPONSORED BY · WITCHES WORKSHOP · MANUSCRIPT DESIGN · STRANGE NATION · SPIRAL SANCTUM O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
OTHE R MA G A ZINE C O LLA B O R AT O R S
EDITOR Damiana is a writer, editor and occultist living in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. An incurable reader, note-taker, diarist and storyteller, she has found her niche at OTHER magazine where she can indulge her love of long-form journalism, the arts, books and dark fiction. When she isn’t plotting the next issue of OTHER magazine, she’s busy pondering dangerous ideas and other mind-expanding activities. And like everyone in the line at her local post office, she’s writing a book.
ART DIRECTOR Tim has worked as a graphic designer and art director in the print and publishing industries for almost thiry years. He has also written for a number of publications in the Australian pagan community and contributed to the book Practising the Witch’s Craft, published by Allen & Unwin in 2003. He has been an active pagan advocate and is best known for his online community WitchesWorkshop, which he founded in 1999. He has been a practicing witch since his early teens, and became involved in coven-based witchcraft in 1973. He has run numerous pagan workshops and retreats, and in recent years run several Witch Camp retreats with his wife Tori Collins. OTHER magazine was dreamed up after imagining what a quality magazine, focused on the arts and the occult could look like.
D.G. MATTICHAK Jr.
ONLINE EDITOR David was born in the United States in 1963 and spent the first half of his childhood in upstate New York before immigrating from his native Syracuse to Melbourne, Australia, in the antipodes. After attending one of Melbourne’s exclusive private schools, he went on to study art before navigating the twists and turns of life to become an à la carte chef. Always looking for an adventure, and drawn by the esoteric, David is a long-time student of the occult arts and is well known for his writing on Magick and Thelema. After spending 25 years working in some of Melbourne’s best kitchens, he decided to make the fiscally dubious choice of embarking on a career as a freelance writer.
PRODUCTION MANAGER Tori is a linguist with a particular interest semantics and the lexical development of language. Born in the UK, she graduated from the University of London in 2000 and travelled extensively, immersing herself in the diverse cultures of Europe and South East Asia before settling in Australia in 2003. Tori spent much of her career as a researcher before moving into project management. She has used these skills to plan and coordinate several pagan-focused retreats with Tim Hartridge. An avid reader, dancer and writer of poetry and song, she can often be found with her guitar or a book in hand. A Reiki Master and student of the occult, Tori also holds a diploma in metaphysics. She currently lives in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs with her husband, Tim, and their menagerie of cats.
David is also an avid blogger and shares his eclectic opinions on D G Mattichak Jr’s Blog, Blogging About Everything as well as discussing occult topics on Ankhafnakhonsu’s Esoterica. He has been contributing to periodicals for many years, including Moot Magazine, and has also published four books. His first novel Loot, a pop noir crime fiction novel set in Melbourne has been followed by A Comment on the Verses of the Book of the Law which explains Thelema and its message, Give Us This Day Our Daily Blog, a collection of his most popular blog posts and early in 2012, Master of the Crossroads, a steampunk inspired Voodoo horror story. Most recently he has published his latest work of occultism called The Sword & the Serpent. David is married and lives in Melbourne with his wife Michelle and their two cats. dgmattichakjr.com
SUB-EDITOR Jim Gleeson is a journalist, writer and author, whose principal source of income currently comes from photography. Born in Sydney, he graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1986 majoring in the History of Science. After editing the student newspaper for two years, he started his writing career as a feature writer for The Good Weekend supplement of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Age and The Canberra Times. In the mid-1990s, Jim published a series of language books in Tokyo, which are distributed throughout Asia, the UK and the United States. More recently, Jim has collaborated with Tim on several books and publications. Jim lives on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and is married with two children, a dog and some chickens.
Ethan DOYLE WHITE
WRITER A Londoner bornand-bred, Ethan Doyle White (BA MA) is an independent scholar of archaeology and the history of religion with a particular interest in the development of cult, ritual, and magic. His own areas of research have centered on the study of ritual specialists in Early and Middle Anglo-Saxon England, and also the development of Wicca and contemporary Traditional Witchcraft in 20thcentury Britain. He has published five papers on the latter subject in three peer-reviewed academic journals, and has also published nine books and exhibit reviews in four different journals. Ethan is the author of the popular blog Albion Calling, providing interviews, reviews and critiques.
Gemma Lucy SMART
WRITER Gemma Lucy Smart is a writer, creative artist and academic based in Sydney, Australia. She is currently pursuing a MSc in Philosophy of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney. Her passion for nature, ethics and mysticism inspires her work.
SOCIAL MEDIA Ashley S. joined our team in the role of moderator for our pagan partner on Facebook, the long-running and highly successful WitchesWorkshop group. Ashley is a librarian and student. Currently he is undertaking an English and Sociology/ Anthropology degree. He finds the nature of spirituality and how it interacts with everyday life fascinating. Beyond reading and creative writing he has an eclectic musical taste, a passion for travel and a thirst for knowledge. He has a particular interest in Witchcraft, Golden Dawn magic and a growing love of Mesopotamian mythology. With the launch of OTHER magazine Ashley’s role of social media moderator has expanded to encompass the platform of WitchesWorkshop and OTHER magazine.
O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
WRITER Nicolee Ferris is a Sydney-based writer and heavy metal music reviewer. She is currently studying, majoring in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing. She enjoys penning free verse and automatic vignettes. With a strong interest in Thelemic magick, Paganism and Witchcraft, Nicolee describes herself as a (possibly very wicked) witch.
WRITER Peter Doyle is an author of fiction and non-fiction books. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) from UTS and a PhD from Macquarie University. He is a musician (lap steel and slide guitar) with a long association with the Sydney blues, rockabilly, country and pub rock scenes and is an exhibiting visual artist. Peter is author of the novels Get Rich Quick (1996), Amaze Your Friends (1998) and The Devil's Jump and the non-fiction titles Echo and Reverb: Fabricating Space in Popular Music Recording, 1900–1960 (2005), City of Shadows (2005) and Crooks Like Us, (2009). He has also written essays, feature articles, reviews and short pieces for Meanjin, Heat, The Bulletin, HQ and The Sydney Morning Herald. He has been a columnist for Max and Sydney City Hub. In the early 2000s Peter worked as a part time curator at the Justice & Police Museum in Sydney, for whom he curated the exhibitions Crimes of Passion (2002–2003) and City of Shadows: Inner City Crime and Mayhem, 1912–1948.
WRITER Richard Freeman is the Zoological Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, the world’s only full-time mystery animal research organisation, based in the UK. He is one of the few fieldworking cryptozoologists in the world. Richard recently branched out from writing about cryptozoology and folklore into horror fiction. He has had two collections of short stories published, Green Unpleasant Land: 18 tales of British Horror, and Hyakumonogatari: Stories of Japanese Horror Vol 1. He is also editing Tales of the Damned, an anthology of Fortean horror stories written by some of the world’s most prominent researchers. His influences include classic Dr Who, Kolchak the Night Stalker, the films of Ray Harryhausen and the weird tales of writers such as M.R James, E.F. Benson, H.H. Munroe, Guy Endore and William Hope Hodgeson.
David Mattichak reviews the enchanted life story of Australian artist VALI MYERS
The WITCH of Positano 8
T H E ENC H A NT ED A RT OF
en years after her death, Vali Myers is emerging as one of the most popular and significant Australian artists of the latter half of the 20th Century. An exhibition representing the first ever major survey of her work, on display at the LaTrobe University Museum of Art in Melbourne, evocatively entitled Between the Dusk and Dawn, reveals the full vibrancy and individual esoteric symbolism of her unique artworks. The works have been brought together by curator Dr. Tracy Spinks, largely from private collections in the United States and Europe, where Vali was an established artist for three decades while remaining all but unknown in her native Australia. Vali Myers was born in 1930 in Sydney and later moved to live in Melbourne's outer eastern suburban sprawl, where her narrow prospects for a meaningful life were at odds with her spirit of
men enjoy “in the sense that one might enjoy being accompanied by a cheetah on a leash”, as if sensing the powerful influence that animals would play in her life. The bartenders in the small, dark, smoky clubs like l’Escale and Tabou where Vali danced to wild African rhythms, called her le chat and the concierges called her la bête, the Beast. This dweller of the darkness who had shunned the light of day to live between the dusk and dawn, was also called la morte vive, for her deathly pale white face and dark, kohl-lined eyes, makeup to ward off the infernal spirits that seethed below her surface. These dark, yet formative years were captured in Ed van der Elsken's 1956 pictorial book Love on the Left Bank which shows a dark-eyed Vali dancing sinuously in low-lit nightclubs as she lived the nocturnal, bohemian life of the outré of Paris in the 1950s.
For three years, I didn’t see the sunlight” freedom and uniquely eclectic personality. This desire for emancipation found an early expression in dance, and her flowing, and often improvised performances delighted audiences and focused the spotlight on her for the first time. Her early success with the Melbourne Modern Ballet Company, after she became a principal dancer at 17, allowed her an avenue of escape from the beige world of servitude in domestic anonymity that she saw looming ahead of her. Vali left Melbourne for the City of Lights in 1949 as if to escape from a mindset that she feared would, in its determination to tame the wild corners of her trackless and beautifully desolate homeland, also subdue her wild spirit. She feared being kept in a cage like an exotic night bird of paradise that can only really live to the full in the darkest depths of the wildest places. She bewitched men and was described by the poet Gabriel Pommerand as the sort of companion that
O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
It was in these crucially influential years that she met the avant garde artist Ernst Fuchs, who took her to Vienna in 1952 and exposed her to artists like Gustav Klimt and Mati Klarwein. Inspired by them, Vali changed her focus and began to draw. Her first works, carefully and intricately drawn in black ink, are stark and almost impoverished compared to her later works. Yet even in these seminal works the motifs that she would use throughout her entire body of work were emerging. In Night Flight (1951–52), she depicts herself in a softened monochrome of shadows as an emaciated figure with her knees drawn up as she floats above the deep black sea that yawns beneath her. The existential darkness of the composition, and its subject reflected the haunted nature of her life of poverty on the streets of Paris. The autobiographical motif in even these earliest works is self-evident but it was only after her escape from her opium addicted existence in
When Vali and her soul mate Rudi stumbled into the little valley near Positano in Italy that would come to be known as Il Porto, she finally found her spiritual home.”
Top: Photo of Vali Myers by Ed van der Elsken, Paris circa 1950 Right: Ira Cohen and Vali Myers in Room 631 of the Chelsea Hotel. Photo by Joe Ambrose
Paris that she was able to allow the full colour of her palette to develop.
T H E R EB I RT H O F T HE BOHE MIAN QUE E N Vali had come to the attention of the French immigration authorities and she was hounded out of her bohemian life, fleeing Paris for southern Italy with Rudi Rappold, whom she had married in 1955. When Vali and her soul mate Rudi stumbled into the little valley near Positano in Italy that would come to be known as Il Porto, she finally found her spiritual home. The couple transformed the remote valley into a sanctuary for the menagerie of animals that Vali collected and which would come to form such an important part of the symbolism that would characterize her work. Living reclusively among her family of animals, Myers honed her artistic edge, using self portraiture as a vehicle to explore her own identity, and to create her own esoteric, animistic mythology through her vividly colored, stylized images. She developed her graphic style with a colour palette that betrayed the influences of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac but which was entirely original and as vibrantly hued as Vali herself. In her transitional work, Lammas Tide (1958–64), all of the signature components of her compositional style are finally in place while the deep black monochrome of her early period is augmented by the intricate detail in her rendering that was to become dominant in her fully developed works. In The Doom Moon of Anne Boguet (1966), Vali introduces the bold use of colour that would become a feature of her composition. The subject is a young French girl condemned to death as a witch in the 16th Century and is drawn in profile in Vali's characteristic monochromatic style. She watches from one side of the circular, portal-like view afforded by the drawing as three hunting dogs pursue a fox in an obvious metaphor for her own feelings of being hounded by the local authorities. The circular rendering resolves in a swirl that reveals a sharp-eyed rooster that gazes on the whole in proud defiance. The intricate circular rendering is framed by a scarlet block of color, its simplicity a stark contrast to the
patterned detail of the black and grey drawing. Vali's elaborately curled script across the bottom naively makes the title an integral part of the overall composition, a motif that she would use in many of her compositions. By the time that she drew Foxy (1967), her palette had developed into an explosion of colour that translated itself to the intricacy of her composition at the same time. Her beloved pet vixen is drawn as if emerging from the wilderness behind, which is balanced by an image of Vali, her love for the fox depicted by a schoolgirl-like heart with “Foxy” inscribed in careful, swirling script. The composition presents the vixen as being poised between its wild, untamed nature and the domestic attentions of Vali, as if symbolising the delicate point of balance between the wild spirit and the civilized world within the artist herself. Even in isolation, she once again drew the attention of the outside world and stars of the 1960s like Mick Jagger and Donovan visited her wild valley near Naples to pay her court. Along with this welcome attention, Vali and her lifestyle also attracted visits from local authorities that placed increasing pressure on her to depart from her sacred valley. In spite of her growing notoriety as a bohemian queen who lived an untamed life among her flock of familiars, the crushing reality of having to finance her sanctuary, as well as the legal costs incurred fighting deportation from Italy, compelled her to travel to New York to sell her precious drawings. This decision came at the end of her period of transformation and she graphically depicted the demise of the old persona and the rebirth of the new Vali in Death in Port Jackson Hotel (1968–69) in which she portrays herself as prostrate and mortally wounded while her renewed spiritual awareness assumes a powerful new visage that hovers overhead. This was an important work for Vali and in it she uses all of the mechanisms that would feature in her composition from that point onwards. She is surrounded by her animals, their forms evoked from the swirling energy and fractal-like detail that rewards close examination with a depth of detail that seems impossible in works of such diminutive size. The totem of the whale also surfaces significantly in this
O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
Room 631 – always occupied by Vali at New York's Chelsea Hotel – became a magnet that drew the leading lights of ...the counterculture... [such as] Salvador Dali...”
VALI MYERS composition, presaging the importance that this icon would grow to have over Vali and her work in the years that followed. Characteristically, Vali left Positano for the Big Apple without any plan beyond selling a few drawings. She arrived in an art savvy world that was as little prepared for Vali as she was for it. While there, she met Salvador Dali who praised her work and generously advised her to exhibit her work in Europe, and she launched herself once more onto the world stage with her first exhibition in Amsterdam in 1972. This established her as a successful artist and Vali was able to return to New York to a new audience that was waiting and willing to be entranced by her bewitching personality. Room 631 — always occupied by Vali at New York's Chelsea Hotel — became a magnet that drew the leading lights of succeeding generations of the counterculture, as if they were called on a pilgrimage to receive the benediction of their archetypal mother. Her rebirth as the bohemian queen was complete and from this point onwards, Vali would continue to hold court for an eclectic collection of personalities that were attracted to her unique persona for the remainder of her life.
T HE GRE AT WHIT E WH ALE
Vali Myers’ sketckbook diaries, Photo by David Mattichak
The 1970s saw Vali produce her finest works, principally the drawing of the great white whale Moby Dick. She had first read Melville's novel in the early 1960s and continued to reread it every winter at Positano for the next 30 years. The protagonist of this tale began to emerge as a totem image in her works, forming a subtle yet connecting thread woven through her drawings. The drawing itself is one of her largest works and she uses every part of the composition to add layers of totemic meaning to the central images. In Moby Dick, Vali's rendering reached a high point and the depth of detail is staggering. Vali portrays herself stretched out across the length of the bottom of the image with her beloved vixen Foxy curled up next to her. Behind her great mane of crimson hair is an image of Il Porto, with its domed, single-room building and a profile of Rudi in muted sepia tones all forming a frame for the real focal point, the depiction of the white whale in its desperate struggle with
Top right: Vali Myers, Gianpiero Menichetti and toad Middle: Vali Myers and Foxy in front of Moby Dick Bottom: A polaroid of Vali Myers and Foxy
Ahab. The dreamlike depiction is drawn as if it has blossomed out of a single wisp of smoke from the opium pipe that lays discarded next to Vali's supine figure. From the swirls of dreaminducing smoke emerges an image of the grim struggle as the whale turns to face the hunter, his crimson blood streaming from the wounds inflicted by Ahab's harpoons, the color tinting the whole scene in swirls of the lifeblood that flowed through Vali into her works. Vali's personal life went through a transformation throughout the 1970s as her relationship with Rudi began to break down. In 1971 a young admirer named Gianpiero Gianni Menichetti came to stay at Il Porto and was to remain for the rest of Vali's life, acting as her companion, and then becoming her lover and finally living as her willing slave in a relationship that he himself described as that of a ‘sailor's wife’. At the same time, she was finally finding the success and recognition that her work and her unique personality deserved, and these contending pressures inevitably surfaced in her drawings, inspiring her to heights of creative originality. This period in her life saw her produce 48 works that marked the high point of her creative career. It was also a period of intense personal struggles for Vali, her ‘doom moons’ during which she sought refuge in her art as a medicine for her ailing spirit, resulting in the production of her finest works. She began to explore the powerful symbols of feminine sacrifice with the Madonna Queen of Thorns (1973–74) forming a counterpoint to images like the unfinished Puttana (1971–73) that portray a potent female sexuality. The bold water color palette of the autobiographical image Night Flame (1977-79), inspired by the death of her mother in 1976, shows Vali with her mass of red hair, and surrounded by her animals, holding the goose quill pen with which she drew to write the dedication of the work to her mother across the bottom of the composition. As an established artist, Vali seemed to find greater self-confidence in her composition and used it to explore themes of feminine strength. Using herself as the subject, she explored the full spectrum of feminine existence from the overseeing protective image of Madonna Dell'Arco (1985) to the hypnotically flowing swirls of Huldah (1981). At the same time her rendering softened, losing its primitive hard edge and taking on a diffuse hue of color that
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When I came to Australia, I felt I could breathe again. I love the openness of the sky and the people – they’re unshockable!”
Vali Myers photo by Eva Collins
VALI MYERS give many of the works a surreal dreamlike quality that is mirrored in their subjects. The white whale maintains a thread through her compositions, transformed by her evolved palette into a subtle yet powerful force of expression, no longer hunted but, as in The Whale (1980–83), now taking the fight to the whalers, as if Vali came to understand that her success had become her greatest weapon against a world that largely misunderstood her and her motives. Her long absence from her homeland may also have played on her mind during this period, as is evidenced by the dreamlike work Southern Cross (1985) in which Vali depicts herself curled up in sleep while the familiar shape of Crux Australis emerges from the swirling vortex of her subconscious like a star to follow that will finally take her home. After suffering a series of epileptic seizures while in New York in 1991, Vali's priorities changed and she returned to Australia for the first time since she had departed for Paris in 1949. She settled in Melbourne and established her studio in the Nicholson Building in Swanston Street. She continued to divide her time between the valley in Positano for the annual festival at Madonna dell'Arco or to pick up her journals, and stage exhibitions in New York and Amsterdam and her studio in Melbourne until her death from cancer in 2003. By the time that Vali returned to Melbourne in the 1990s, the city that had once threatened to entrap her free spirit seemed to have grown spiritually with her. Its cosmopolitan soul had blossomed to match Vali's own fully bloomed personality and finally it was big enough to hold her. Here, Vali could hold court on her own terms in her own land and perhaps it was this that made her feel as if she could breathe again after her return. Her later works show a confidence of expression that indicates Vali had finally mastered herself, had come to know who she was and was content with what she had become. The soft edged rendering and broad swirling compositions that had become a part of her work throughout the 1980s once again began to incorporate a greater complexity, and a return to the fractal-like quality of the minute detail that had marked her best works from the golden years of her oeuvre. The sepia and burnt sienna that dominated her palette for works like Whaler's Daughter (1990) and Stella Maris (1998) were accented by the use of deep, bold
Right: Foxy by Vali Myers Images reproduced with the kind permission of The Vali Myers Art Gallery Trust.
colours once again in Lamia (1997) and Tiger Lily Lady (1976–96), the latter work spanning 20 years of her compositional style, combining the most powerful elements of her early works with the soft edged vision of her more evolved compositions. Vali spent the final 10 years of her life travelling between Melbourne and Positano, which she visited for the annual festival of Madonna dell'Arco. Her self image in her drawings had transformed, with her distinctive facial tattoos taking on an almost ritual significance in works of the period like Siberian Dream (2001) and Sea Fox (1999). Her final, unfinished work Holy Ghost (2001–02) hinted at a return to the greatness of Moby Dick with her self portrait now small and subtly included so as to be almost invisible beneath the long, spiraling tentacles of a giant squid. These arms wrap around her protectively, pulling her into the deep, drawing her comfortably into the sleep of her inner depths, where she dreams of the animal companions that had preceded her into the life beyond and where they can run free, just as Vali had done five decades earlier.
BETWEEN TH E D U S K A ND D AW N The LUMA exhibition presents a comprehensive review of Vali Myers' work that reveals the development of her art as a parallel to her spiritual growth and a mirror to the events in her life. Few other artists have been so openly autobiographical in their works and this is underscored by the three diaries that are also on display. Carefully inscribed in Vali's distinctive, confident cursive calligraphy, these journals are works of art in their own right. Rather than presenting a linear account of her life, they record snippets of her transient thoughts, stanzas of poetry and visual images that floated to the surface of her attention like djinn emerging from the depths of her imagination to become the totemic entities in her shamanistic inspired compositions. They reveal that, for Vali, the act of creation was like a ritual purging in a cathartic, meditative necessity for finding balances between the contending forces in her life. The overall impact of the works, displayed together as a whole for the first time, shows that Vali never really fit comfortably into a genre. Her drawings reveal that it is more important to understand what motivated
O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
...her love for the fox depicted by a schoolgirl-like heart with “Foxy” inscribed in careful, swirling script.” 15
Photo: Curator Dr. Tracy Spinks at the 2013 Between the Dusk and Dawn exhibition at the LaTrobe University Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by David Mattichak Left: Moby Dick by Vali Myers
her creativity rather than to examine which styles or artists may have influenced her. She adopted themes of feminine wisdom and fortitude, employed potent animal totems, and incorporated the places and events in her life in her drawings, because those things were inside of her and needed to be evoked onto the handmade Amalfi paper in order to exorcise them from her own inner depths. In doing so she could free herself from the conventions that had threatened to entrap her soul and stop it from roaming freely through the wild places where she was most at home.
Images reproduced with the kind permission of The Vali Myers Art Gallery Trust. SOURCES: Between the Dusk and Dawn: The Art and Life of Vali Myers, Dr. Tracy Spinks Night Flower: The Life and Art of Vali Myers, edited by Martin McIntosh & Gemma Jones My Wild Bird of Paradise, Ruth Cullen (from Night Flower) Vali Myers: A Life, Nicole Karidis (from Night Flower) Vali Myers A Memior, Gianni Menichetti Vali Myers: Having a Moment, Edward Helmore http://bit.ly/Wmagazine-Vali-Myers
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Above: Three witches standing on sacred ground at Tungkillo, South Australia. Photo by Tim Hartridge
To the communities of Early Modern Christendom, the witch was a terrifying creature, the personification of the evil other. The witch could be living amongst you, in your very vil age. It could be a neighbour, a friend, or even a spouse. Malevolence was in its very nature, and it would do harm to you and your loved ones through the nefarious practice of magic.
ETHAN DOYLE WHITE is from London, a postgraduate in archaeology with a particular interest in the development and history of cult, ritual and magic. He is currently immersed in the study of the Anglo-Saxon Cunning Women of the Early Middle Ages. Independently involved in the academic field of pagan studies, he is researching the development of Traditional Witchcraft within Western Esotericism and the ways in which this has interacted with the development of Wicca.
uite what the witch did would differ from place to place and from century to century. To some they were human beings who cast spells in sinful ways to sate their own pernicious greed. To others they were entities who would ride out at night to the Witches’ Sabbath, there to devour the flesh of children and fornicate with the Devil. Two centuries later, the all-encompassing fear of the satanic witch had long declined. The scientific illumination of the Enlightenment had cast a light on the dark corners of the European mindscape, and the real horrors of war and poverty had replaced the fictional bogeymen as the stuff of nightmares. But somehow, despite the efforts of the liberal intelligentsia, that unease remained. In 1987, adults working
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at a day-care centre in sunny California were put on trial, accused once again of cavorting with Satan and sacrificing infants. The accusations were baseless, and the accused were acquitted, but the fear that sparked the trial induced a new witch-hunt, one that spread its ugly tendrils across the Anglophone world. The fear of witches remained. However, this time something was different. This time there really were men, women, and even children, both in Europe and its colonies, who really were witches. People who flew the banner of witchcraft, proud and unashamed of the fact. Websites bore names like The Witches’ Voice, magazines carried the title of Witchcraft & Wicca, and books were titled The Witches’ Bible. Witchcraft was no longer lurking in the shadows. This time it was very real.
...when faced with such adversity, such intolerance, and such ridicule, why would anyone choose to proclaim oneself a Witch?” Witches of the West Modern western witchcraft is by no means a single, unitary phenomenon. It refers instead to a broad, eclectic group of individuals and movements who choose to adopt such an inflammatory and highly charged term as a form of self-designation. Today, there are people who really do worship Satan, much as the Christians of Early Modern Europe feared. Many of them do indeed call themselves witches. But they are not alone in doing so. Most of the west’s witches today eschew the Devil, decrying him as a fictional character in Christianity’s great charade. Their desire is to go deeper, bypassing the cult of Christ to get to the age of the Old Gods, the age of the Pagans. These people, the latter-day Pagan witches, are a growing force on the world’s religious scene, with hundreds of thousands of followers, mostly in the Anglophone West. They meet in covens or practice solitarily, weaving magic and performing rites in honour of the Great Mother Goddess and the Old Horned God, deities of nature whom they believe to be far older than Jehovah or Allah. Their faith is nevertheless new. The religion of Pagan witchcraft emerged from the English middle-classes in the era of the Second World War, an attempt perhaps to turn back the clock and revive the pagan pastoral idyll in the face of modernism’s mechanical onslaught. Being a witch in the modern world is not easy. Starhawk, the famed American witch and activist, announced in 1979 “Witchcraft is a word that frightens people and confuses many others.” In 1954, the Englishman Gerald Gardner, regarded as the father of modern witchcraft, himself noted, “Witchcraft doesn't pay for broken windows!” In ensuing years, his concerns have been echoed again and again, as Pagan witches have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and their families after being exposed by a scandal-hungry media. Worse came when America’s Christian Right jumped on the bandwagon, propagating pseudo-psychology hand in hand with judgemental Bible verses to initiate the Satanic abuse scandal of the 1990s. Occultists everywhere feared for their safety as law enforcement came under the influence of these crazed televangelists. So, when faced with such adversity, such intolerance, and such ridicule, why would anyone choose to proclaim
oneself a Witch? Why announce to the world that you have become the other, knowing full well the potential repercussions? This is an issue that witches have rarely addressed in print. Most of the great figureheads of the movement remain silent on the issue of why they choose to use such terminology, instead, divulging a number of dubious etymologies relating witchcraft to wisdom. It seems apparent that the core reason why contemporary witches choose this title is because it connects them — in both their own eyes and in the eyes of others — to the historical witches of the past. It is this terminological umbilical cord that provides these modern-day occultists with a sense of heritage, and hence a sense of historical legitimacy. Both contemporary Satanism and Wicca see themselves as the spiritual heirs to those persecuted in the Early Modern witch trials, even though — from a historical perspective – their practices may be nothing alike. This, however, should come as little surprise. Almost all faiths, when new, claim to teach things that are in fact terribly old. Witchcraft is of course innately associated with magic, and this too must be a reason why many contemporary individuals adopt the terminology. For Satanists, Pagan witches, and occultists of every hue, magic is believed to be a genuine, objective force of physics, one as yet hidden from the comprehension of scientific enquiry. Thus, to practice magic is to wield power over the material universe; in the words of Aleister Crowley, “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” But one can practice magic without proclaiming oneself a witch, as the example of Crowley illustrates. Indeed, throughout Europe’s tumultuous history, many of those who battled witchcraft were the Cunning folk whose very livelihood depended on their magic. Even some of the figureheads behind the witchcraft revival have been hesitant about using the term; Robert Cochrane, one of Gardner’s great rivals and founder of an occult tradition now known as Cochranian Witchcraft, chose not to embrace the term witch even though he did not actively reject it. So while some might choose to call themselves witches as a result of the magical power they believe it holds, for many others this cannot be a factor in their decision.
Left: Members of a Sydney Witches’ coven, Nuit’s Veil, in a ritual circle dance, raising the cone of power. The group freely ustilise a fusion of wiccan, traditional witchcraft and thelemic magical practices. Photo by Inga Ritter
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...facing increasing levels of press hysteria and conservative condemnation, [they] began to describe themselves not as Witches but as Wiccans...”
If, as the rationalists argue, magic is naught but a superstitious illusion, then being a witch still wields power in a social sense. If people know you are a witch, whether they believe in magic or not, they may well still fear you and avoid you. You wield that power over them, in the Foucaultian sense. I very much doubt that most Wiccans desire to be feared, but there will clearly be some who enjoy their transgressor status, particularly if they feel oppressed already by the dominant conservative, patriarchal culture in which they find themselves trapped. In this way, announcing oneself to be a witch is an intentionally provocative statement to make, and can indeed be cathartic and liberating. It sets oneself out as an other, something counter to the mainstream and the mundane.
Witchcraft and Wicca In the 1960s, many of Britain’s Pagan witches, facing increasing levels of press hysteria and conservative condemnation, began to describe themselves not as Witches but as Wiccans, followers of a religious path that soon came to be called Wicca. This word — unfamiliar to British society — still had its origins in the shadowy worlds of sorcery. It was based on a mispronunciation of the Old English Wicca (witt∫a), a term that referred to male practitioners of magic in Anglo-Saxon England. Clearly, there was a hope among some that by abandoning the controversial terminology of witchcraft, they could abandon the controversy itself. One of the earliest magazines devoted to the subject was founded by the Gardnerian initiate John Score in 1968 emblazoned under the title of The Wiccan. That same year, John and his wife Yvonne founded an organisation that they called the Church of Wicca, through which they propagated an unusually monotheistic variant of the Craft to the States. Indeed, as the Craft reached the shores of North America, Wicca became increasingly commonplace, a friendlier, cheerier name for a friendly, cheery religion. Love, harmony, and universal brotherhood were the order of the day, especially for the followers of nature spirituality. But not everyone was happy. As Second Wave Feminism came to town, many women, angry at
centuries of patriarchy, picked up Wicca, but insisted on calling it by its older name, witchcraft. For them, this word was more genuine, more authentic, and more controversial. It was a firm middle finger up at conservative American society, a declaration of association with that which conservative America feared most. The other. Prominent among this fledgling movement was an activist group that termed itself W.I.T.C.H.. This acronym initially stood for the Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell, though they would change that as and when it suited them. Although not wholly religious in intent, many of its members used it as a vehicle through which to study genuine religious witchcraft, rather than simply as a battle-axe with which to strike patriarchy.
To become a witch There is an old adage that if you ask ten Pagans a question, you will receive eleven answers. No doubt this multivocal mentality would be reflected if you were to ask ten Pagan witches why they choose to call themselves witches. The same would perhaps be true of their Satanic namesakes, despite their many differences in theology, ethics, and praxes. The fact is, there is no singule reason why modern Westerners choose to become witches despite all the suffering and persecution it can induce. They are free to practice the arts of magic, to worship ancient gods, even to venerate Satan himself, without ever touching the term witch. And yet they do so. It is clear that the word carries with it a power; a power to rebel, to strike fear in conservative society, to transgress normal codes of behaviour. It offers a sense of heritage, tying one to the witches of old, who were burnt or hanged for their perceived misdemeanours. By adopting the word, they become your antecessors, and you their descendants. Thus, today, just as it has always been, to become a witch is to become an other. It is to mark oneself as being different from those around you. To some, you will become the evil other, the threat that they so fear, and for this reason the winding path of witchcraft is still fraught with danger. However, for those who choose to go down that path, it can offer rebellion, identity, and community.
Additional research, Tori Collins During the 1980–90s a wave of mass hysteria swept through the Western world, a moral panic that almost rivalled the infamous Salem witchcraft trials in its scope and intensity, gripping the imagination of the public. Cases of child abuse popped up everywhere in which it was claimed Satanists were seizing children for use in occult rituals, sexually abusing them and, in some cases, killing them. This myth of Devil worship day-care included claims children were ritually sodomised, forced to consume faeces and blood, and eventually murdered by Satan-loving childcare workers. The most famous of all of these cases was the McMartin preschool trial in California, which proved the catalyst for this moral panic. The case ran for seven years and, at that time, had the distinction of being the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history, costing $US15 million. No convictions were ever recorded, and all charges were dropped in 1990, seven years after the first accusations were made against staff members, but not until one defendant had spent five years in prison awaiting the final verdict. In Australia too, the fear of ritual child abuse loomed large and in 1988 the Mr Bubbles case dominated newspaper headlines. No doubt influenced by what was happening in the United States, Seabeach Kindegarten in Mona Vale became the local cause célèbre when a mother suspected her child of being taken off-site and abused by a staff member posing as Mr Bubbles the clown. The result was a trial that cost taxpayers $AU1 million. The legacy of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 90s runs deep, leaving a chain of broken people in its wake who have lost their jobs, homes and social standing, and who continue to live with the stigma of child abuse accusations despite never being convicted. The children at the heart of the allegations have also been left deeply affected by the experience, with one publicly retracting their allegation many years later in the Los Angeles Times Magazine: “Never did anyone do anything to me, and I never saw them doing anything. I said a lot of things that didn't happen. I lied...”
Above: Nuit’s Veil Coven celebrates an outdoor ritual sabbat for the Winter Solstice. Photo by Inga Ritter
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The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art recently cast a lingering spell over the landscape when it held the UK’s first ever large-scale exhibition dedicated to the depiction of witches in art. Witches and Wicked Bodies is curated by Deanna Petherbridge of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, and runs from 27 July to 3 November 2013. The following artworks and this review of the exhibition were kindly offered by the curator for OTHER magazine and its readers. The painting on this page is titled Witches at their Incantations by Salvator Rosa, circa 1646.
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EX HIBIT ION
Left: The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse. The Magic Circle was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1886 and was Waterhouse‘s third exhibit with a supernatural theme in as many years.The painting was well received at its exhibition, and was purchased for £650 the same year by the Tate Gallery. Above: Three Weird Sisters from Macbeth, by John Raphael Smith,1785. © National Galleries of Scotland
itches & Wicked Bodies features more than 80 works by influential artists, including works by Goya, Henry Fuseli, Albrecht Dürer, Salvator Rosa, William Blake, John William Waterhouse, Edward Burra, Kiki Smith, Cindy Sherman and Paula Rego. The artistic fascination with the supernatural is nothing new, but the theme provided a context in which to study the unique expression adopted by generations of artists in exploring, in particular, folklore and feminism in the past 500 years. Night terrors and she-devils keep company with sultry sirens, as the exhibition tracks the progress of the witch as she has been perceived since the 15th century — as sorcerous seductress, depraved devil’s consort, and withered, ugly old hag.
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Witches & Wicked Bodies is curated by Deanna Petherbridge, and draws from all parts of the National Galleries of Scotland’s collections. Held in partnership with the British Museum, London, which lent 38 works to the show, including some of its most important prints and drawings, the exhibition also features borrowed works from the Tate and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, and numerous other British public and private collections. The exhibition identifies the aspects of witches’ activities of most interest to artists over time: their nocturnal flights; their sinister gatherings; their recurrence in threes; and their power to effect devilish rituals and spells. From Hecate to the Weird Sisters of Macbeth, female
witches have appealed to writers as well as artists, and the exhibition explores visual manifestations of this interest. Beginning darkly, both visually and metaphorically, the opening image of a horrific old crone being borne along in a chariot made of a fantastical creature’s skeleton, thought to be by Agostino Veneziano (The Witches’ Rout [The Carcass], c.1520), set the tone. Two intense oil paintings featuring dangerously beautiful classical and medieval witches, Medea (1866–8) and Vivien (1863), by Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederick Sandys were juxtaposed nearby. Hideous Hags & Seductive Sorceresses, the first of six thematic sections, contained works on paper by some of the most famous draughtsmen of all time, including
Left: L'Appel de la Nuit (The Call of the Night ), by Paul Delvaux, 1938 Below: Macbeth, by John Martin, circa 1820 Right: Witches Sabbath, by Hans Balding Grien (1484-5–1545). © National Galleries of Scotland
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The Witches Showing Macbeth the Apparitions by Alexander Runciman
After Jacques de Gheyn II (1565–1629) Invidia (envy)
Dürer, Blake and Goya. Incorporating many prints, drawings and popular printed broadsheets relating to the witch trials, the exhibition illustrates the close connections between images of witches and the print revolution in the mid-15th Century. Unnatural Acts of Flying, the next section, includes an unruly crowd of airborne witches riding a disparate selection of creatures, who sweep in on Lucas Cranach’s melancholic woman in orange (Allegory of Melancholy, 1528). This stunning northern renaissance painting, a splash of bright colour arising from the shadows of the gallery walls, is surrounded by a diverse group of prints and drawings representing witches in flight, from Goya’s weird and wonderful old hags and nubile witches, to Dürer’s terrible harridan flying backwards on a goat. Witches’ Sabbaths & Devilish Rituals include Salvator Rosa’s famous painting Witches at their Incantations (c.1646), depicting a ghoulish selection of atrocities attributed to witches’ covens. Night scenes dominates, including a fabulously theatrical small painting by Goya, A Scene from ‘The Forcibly Bewitched’ . Unholy Trinities & The Weird Sisters of Macbeth offered an unsettling juxtaposition of extreme ugliness and beauty, with a delicate watercolour by William Blake (The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy, c. 1795) and a sugary-sweet, late-18th-century ‘fancy’ portrait by Daniel Gardner of three high-profile society beauties,
including Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Three Witches from Macbeth, 1775), shown alongside Henry Fuseli’s melodramatic Macbeth, Banquo and the Witches (c.1793–4) and James Barry’s Satan, Sin and Death (c. 1792–5). The exhibition also offers the opportunity to appreciate artists’ close examination of the meaningful details of witchcraft, from the horrible hands of glory (amputated hands of dead convicted criminals used as candelabra), to grimoires, the great books of spells used by witches. Bringing the theme up to date, contemporary works includes Cindy Sherman and Kiki Smith’s explorations of themselves as witches, Paula Rego’s interpretation of Blake Morrison’s poems about the Pendle witches of the 17th Century and Markéta Luskačová’s enigmatic photograph of a Czech woman in carnival costume. A number of works by Scottish artists, including Alan Davie, John Bellany and John and Alexander Runciman, are also on display. For those unable to attend the exhibition, the striking catalogue, Witches & Wicked Bodies by curator Deanna Petherbridge, featuring all of the works from the exhibition, has been published by the National Galleries of Scotland, and is available online, in National Galleries shops and on Amazon.com, priced at £14.95.
The Whore of Babylon by William Blake, 1809 Pen and black ink and watercolours, 266 x 223 mm © The Trustees of the British Museum
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PE R FO R MANCE ART
SARA H ‘JEZEB EL’ W O O D
JEZEBEL SPIRIT It’s very powerfully feminine, and it’s very seductive. There’s something mysterious and almost forbidden about it. It’s a deeply sensual form of movement.”
ellydancer, fusion artist, yoga teacher and pagan, Sarah ‘Jezebel’ Wood is the co-founder of Lunaris, a ritual dance troupe that provides priestess initiation for its members. She is also the co-director for Occult, a festival of art and magick held in Salem, Massachusetts USA. Interview by Tim Hartridge
TIM: Sarah, your dance work to seems to be infused with everything you do. SARAH: Yes, absolutely. I’ve been dancing for a number of years. I found my passion for dance when I was part of the underground Boston club scene, and that led me to become a Goth go-go dancer for a nightclub that was very popular at the time. As a child, I never had the opportunity to take formal dance classes because I needed to take care of my sister, so I missed out on a lot of things. Later I took my first steps into the world of dance when I started going to Goth clubs in Boston, and I finally experienced a sense of freedom! When I danced in these Goth clubs, I saw really outrageously beautiful, freaky people getting down on the dance floor and they were really enjoying themselves, and I couldn’t help myself. I remember being so scared. I wore
a pair of gigantic platform boots and my friend just said, “It’s okay, just go out and dance, it’s gonna be alright”. And I remember taking those first steps and immediately falling in love — I couldn’t stop. The club thought that I was so awesome that they hired me to dance, so I became a Goth go-go dancer for a while. It was great — it was a really wonderful experience and I loved every moment of it. I have a very deep appreciation of gothic culture and gothic music, Dead Can Dance, Peter Murphy... A lot of the Goth dance has a fusion aspect to it: a little bit from the rave scene, a bit from bellydance, it’s even a little bit folkloric — there’s a mixture of styles here in Boston. TH: How did you move from go-go dance to bellydance? SJW: I was at a festival a couple of years later and a visitor to the festival spotted me from across the field setting up. As soon as she saw me, she walked right up and said, “You’re a dancer”. And I said, “Yes, I’m a dancer”. She said, “You need to take bellydance classes!” It was such a random thing to say. She’d never seen me dance, but she could tell from how I was holding myself. And so Shakti Rowen became my first bellydance teacher. I studied with her for a number of years. Later, I continued on with the amazing Naraya, who founded the Vadalna Dance Company. TH: Bellydance speaks to the feminine in a powerful way that other dance doesn’t.
Far Left: Priestesses of the Lunaris troupe. This page: Sarah Jezebel Wood. Photos by Peter Paradise Michaels of RavenWolfe Photography
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Photo: Priestesses of Lunaris. Photos by Peter Paradise Michaels of RavenWolfe Photography
SJW: It’s very powerfully feminine, and it’s very seductive. There’s something mysterious and almost forbidden about it. It’s a deeply sensual form of movement.
that the audience can receive it in whatever way they were meant to receive it. My dance is really working in a subtle way, where the message and story live.
TH: It seems to also touch a sense of mystery.
TH: Theatre has its early origins in the retelling of myths through ritual and dance — I'm thinking particularly of the Dionysian tradition, where the maenads dance in abandoned ecstasy. In some of the dance I've seen you do there is also a strong tribal influence, a sense of the primitive sacred.
SJW: The Dance of Salome, right! There is so much beauty to it: veils, candles, even candelabras and swords balanced on the head. There’s a mystique that holds a profound strength and power for women. Women dance with their hips, as opposed to ballet, which is very lifted and upright. A bellydancer on stage embodies a kind of goddess, fiercely independent, deeply mysterious, as she writhes using her hips and her belly. It’s like a solar plexus and lower chakra extravaganza! TH: With the combination of the veil, the candlelight, and the use of a ritual sword, the dancer somehow automatically embodies a pagan priestess. SJW: Yes, that’s true. My dear friend and cohort for the Occult festival, Aepril Schaile, does a lot of work specifically with the Dark Goddess as a priestess. Every woman who dances can take on the role of priestess. TH: You’ve set up a special group for this inner work, Lunaris. SJW: Yes. Lunaris is a collaborative project that I run with Naraya. She and I have always wanted to explore ritual-dance as a means of doing something more than simply dance just as performance. We've been talking about it for seven years. Our first ritual-choreography makes its debut on the night of the Masque (ball) for the Occult festival. It is the intention of Lunaris to create experiences rather than just performances by breaking the fourth wall where the audience and the dancer meet to collectively experience the psychic reality. It can be deeply profound work for dancers, where the ritual intention is just as important as the dance. TH: Lunaris gives me the impression of being a Mystery School as well as a dance school. SJW: It does, we work actively through the different stages, taking each dancer from one level of initiation to another. The dancers start as part of the outer circle of Lunaris, and then work inward as far as they wish to go. They soon find themselves becoming priestesses of ritual-dance and theatre. I feel that a lot of my work as priestess has been as an oracle — more Grecian — letting the feeling of story emerge in its abstract form, so
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SJW: Yes. Actually I've been interested in different spiritual modalities, and of course paganism and Wiccan faiths came early on. But later I became involved in the Fire Circle community. This is a very interesting type of work where you go into a ritual for the entire night, dancing and circumambulating around a central fire. The goal is to go into a trance; it is very tribal. TH: It harkens back to ritual celebrations under a full moon where the lighting of fire is such a primal thing. Fire and dance are both hypnotic, and a synergy can be created between these two primal things within the dancer. SJW: It creates that divine connection where you get out of the way and allow the message to come through in whatever mode it decides to come in. I interpret energy in a very physical form. I dance for my energetic mental health, otherwise I feel pent-up.
The mission of Lunaris is to physically manifest the workings of the soul and spirit through the art of dance, ritual and theatre. Dancers act as keepers of the gates and portrayers of the unseen. The experience of Lunaris resembles entering a dream or waking from a dream. It is the intention of Lunaris to create an experience rather than just a performance by breaking the fourth wall where the audience and the dancer meet to collectively define levels of reality. www.sarahjezebelwood.com/lunaris
TH: Let’s talk a little bit about the Occult festival you are launching. How has this come about? What motivated you to hold it? SJW: More big stories! I think it’s the sort of thing that happens with all great visions and dreams — they all originate from a great story. This story started just over a year ago when Aepril Schaile, who is an amazing dancer, came over to perform. She travelled from Salem to New York, where I was working. We had a wonderful night out and the next morning, in our slightly hung-over state, she saw a book on my table — Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy — she remarked how she loved that book. (It an intense book, intended as reference material — nobody reads it for fun!). Aepril and I spoke about occult studies and how they have a masculine bias, and how we wanted to bring a more feminine form to serious occult studies of Magick and Ceremonial Magick. We wanted to bring that more fluid feminine feeling in an artistic form to the practice of Magick. That’s how the combination should be — the merging of Art and Science.
Above: Sarah ‘Jezebel’ Wood’s ritual tattoo
These performances have a lot to do with the inner workings of the soul... [and] create a bridge to inner worlds to honour and witness each other in this space.” There have been some outstanding scientists who were also visionaries, such as the Elizabethan mathematician Dr John Dee, but at some point those arts separated. Aepril and I spoke about how wonderful it would be to see them come back together. Six months later, I was back in Salem getting some tattoo work done (a whole ritual process in itself), when Aepril and I caught up again and we decided we should do an event. We both had enough experience in holding events, we both had a passion for dance, and we were both becoming more involved in the study of Thelema. We just said, “Let’s do it! Let’s try to make this happen”. I asked her what we were going to call it and she said, “We’re going to call it Occult!” The idea behind the festival seemed encapsulated in that word. Although the event is a little more sophisticated than a single word could describe, it was nice to have the simplicity of one word. TH: It’s a powerful word. The word Occult can be still a little bit edgy and confronting, which as an artist you may want anyhow — you may want to shift people’s thinking. For some though it must invoke a few questions, such as, "What are they really going to be doing?" and "What is it really about?" So what has the reaction been like so far? SJW: The reaction has been phenomenal! It’s been supported widely by our own arts community in Salem and also from New York, and the general Thelemic, Pagan, and Wiccan communities have been exceptionally supportive — it's been really wonderful. Considering that it’s a debut year for our event, and considering that we are mostly known for doing bellydance events, we've been pleasantly surprised at the outpouring of support. Even a number of non-pagan artist communities are supporting it. People are also curious, and the event is intriguing enough to grab people’s attention. In fact, a lot of my artist friends who are not particularly spiritually inclined want to come to some of the magick workshops as a new way to look for inspiration in their work. TH: One of the things that attracted me to the event was your vision of a fusion between both the arts and magick. It really has very similar aims to those which OTHER magazine is striving toward in print. Can you tell me about some of the artists and events that you have organised for the festival?
www.occultartssalem.com Image by Bryce Churchill www.newrozrecordings.com
SJW: Yes, it takes place from Friday through to Sunday. Friday is our opening night and we have incredible artists coming together for the art opening and great work from people like K. Lenore Siner (klenoresiner.com). She works with wax, ash, oil and acrylic paints. It’s multimedia work with a lot of symbology, alchemy, colour and Goddess images. She’s a true visionary. Then we have Natan Alexander, who created the tattoo on my back. He’s an incredible artist who does large format paintings using light panels incorporating Thelemic and alchemical symbolism. Sharonn Bradbury is also a tattoo artist and painter. We
have Joseph H Shepard and we have works by the late Snake Daddy who unfortunately passed this year — his work will be shown in memoriam. He did 3D sculpture — really very profound, lovely work. All of these artists come together for the event, including Matthew Venus, whose does a lot of sacred object artwork. Matthew uses wands and sigil work in many of his pieces. On Friday night, we will open the exhibition side of the event and display the works using art-altars. Our cellist, the lovely Wisteriax, will perform throughout the evening to create an enchanting ambience. It’s going to be quite a lovely affair! Every moment of the weekend is accounted for. We have workshops all day on Saturday covering tarot, the ritual of tattoo, talks on Lilith, astrology, and music for ritual. Joseph Thiebes is coming from Portland to present on the Esoteric Art movement. Saturday night is the Masque, which commences with an opening ritual performance from the Lunaris troupe with solo dances by Aepril Schaile and Cait Capaldi, plus an outstanding burlesque performer, Belle Gunz. We want to embrace Crowley's dictum, “All art is magick”, creating the many forms in which it can be appreciated. On the Sunday we end appropriately with the Gnostic Mass. TH: What is the focus of these ritual performances? SJW: I think they’re about a lot of things! The Occult festival experience in itself is a ritual. These performances have a lot to do with the inner workings of the soul. There’s not just one specific focus that has brought us together. The purpose is to bring enlightenment through creativity, to create a bridge to inner worlds, to honour and witness each other in this space. It is as though all the artists, performers, and presenters create an authenticity to themselves by bringing this experience to us. It’s like a working alchemical project where you add all the ingredients and wait to see what happens — I just can’t wait to see it! TH: Finally, what’s in your future? What will you be doing after this event? SJW: That’s such a great question! My friend Aepril, who is a gifted astrologer, told me, “Sarah, you’re having a Neptune transit”, so we joke that I'm having a case of the Neptunes, the planet of philosophy and magick, fluidity, and the sea. It is also brings illusions. So I’ve been in a state where it’s not completely clear what’s happening next. I’m usually the well-organised type who has a solid plan all laid out, and for the first time in a long time I’m enjoying being in the fluid state of the unknown. One thing is certain: there'll be more great dance work to do with Lunaris. And more events, I’m sure. But who knows? I’m even toying with the idea of working back in New York again — we’ll see. TIM: Sarah, it’s been fantastic talking to you and I wish you all the best for the event. I only wish I could be there.
an exploration of the esoteric E XHIB ITIO N R EVIEW B Y D A M I A N A F O RT U NE
t’s an exciting premise, an art show tied together with a visionary, esoteric theme, one that explores the notion of artist as prophet, communing with the divine. No matter what your artistic persuasion, you can’t help but be curious as to the types of artworks and artists who will be brought under such a large umbrella. Visionary art, not Surrealism or its earlier cousin Symbolism, is the unifying element for this exhibition, which debuted in Perth and was recently shown in Sydney. Curator Robert Buratti highlights the difference between visionary art and Surrealism, explaining that the former relies “on the fact that the visions attained are not simply archetypal manifestations, but direct communion with the other.”
Windows to the Sacred S. H ER VIN G ALLERY N AT I O N A L T R U S T C ENT R E, WAT S ON ROAD, OBS E RVAT ORY HIL L , T HE ROCKS, S YDN E Y AU STR ALI A O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
Windows to the Sacred www.windowstothesacred.com
You can’t deny, however, that his art grows on you, and his autoportrait...was he having a little fun with his saint-like visage back-lit by a fiery halo?”
he exhibition is saturated with Thelemic artists and references and is almost an homage to all things Crowley —- even in death, the infamous mage is a dominating and almost mythological force, an enduring occult celebrity — but the Great Beast is by no means the only star of this show. The Thelemic theme is largely driven by members of the Collective 777, the art guild of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), the magical order that Crowley founded at the beginning of the 20th century, of which Buratti is founding president. If I have one criticism, it is perhaps that this Thelemic network dominates the
show, underpinned by the presence of an imposing if slightly theatrical and self-indulgent gnostic altar. Crowley fans may be somewhat horrified to hear any sort of contrary references to their idol, but it is doubtful any of his works would have found their way in the world on artistic merit alone, unhitched from his infamy. His crude work seems to lack the authenticity and otherworldly visionary nature of his classically trained occult contemporary Austin Osman Spare and, much later, the unbridled vitality of the so-called Witch of Kings Cross, Rosaleen Norton. You can’t deny, however, that his art grows on you, and his auto-portrait (was he having a little fun with
his saint-like visage backlit by a fiery halo?) draws the visitor back again and again. Some sort of portrait mesmerism perhaps, or magic embedded in the layers of oil paints? More likely, it’s the growing and insatiable curiosity you will find yourself experiencing about the megalomaniac himself and this little-known side to his life. Crowley the artist exerts its own fascination. Fine art painters, eccentric occultists, cinematographers and fledgling creatives all rub shoulders at Windows to the Sacred, drawn together by the common influences that tie their works together. Odd bedfellows to be sure, unless viewed through the lens of esoterica.
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Other notable works include those of Norton and Spare, which look almost as fresh as the day they were painted and drawn. There is something magnetic about the images they capture with pencil and paint, exuding an almost talismanic quality. If you want to see magic on a canvas, this is it. Norton, an impoverished Kings Cross trance artist who created her own cosmology — worshipping the great God Pan and the goddess Hecate — boasts a highly distinctive style. Derided by critics then and now as cartoonish, silly and overly derivative of artists such as Norman Lindsay, she remains a source of fascination and consternation for the art world. Using trance
Previous page: Nuit by Thor Engelstad Top left: The Sun (auto portrait), 1920, by Aleister Crowley Left: Lucifer and the Goat of Mendes, circa 1955, by Rosaleen Norton Above: Isis Unveiled, 2013 by Kim Nelson
Windows to the Sacred www.windowstothesacred.com
Above: North – Authority, an Indian chief claims power from the assembled tribe, 2013, by Annette Gray Left: A Trance of History, 2010, by Danie Mellor Far Right: Homage to Rao by Kim Nelson
techniques, Norton, like Spare before her, tapped in to altered states to create her magically inclined art. Norton truly embodied the definition of visionary art pioneer. Spare, on the other hand, was a mainstream artist before he turned his back on his popular success to devote himself to the development of his own occult philosophy. He is now well-known for the development of his own magical system involving the use of sigils and automatic drawing. Like Norton, however, critics didn’t know what to make of Spare and struggled to classify his work. Some might be surprised by the inclusion of work by the late Australian surrealist painter James Gleeson. However, his paintings have a visceral quality that leaves the viewer entranced yet vaguely uneasy, as if among the paint swirls you catch a glimpse of some greater intelligence, like the milky eye of a Chthlonic being squashed up against a glassy pane — or should that be (inner) plane? Perhaps there was something to his comment “Surrealism allowed me to see behind the veil of everyday reality.”
Dani Mellor’s eye-catching masonic-influenced indigenous artworks explore the complicated relationships of death and rebirth, secret knowledge and Australia’s post-colonial culture struggle. His almost life-size coffin mixed-media artwork sports Swarovski crystals, kangaroos, skulls and dancing Aboriginal figures, and stops visitors in their tracks as they seek to make sense of the symbolism. Kim Nelson’s self-described symbolist work is arresting, and thoroughly dream-like and hypnotic. His tattooed Isis is full of surprises, from the ink on her arms to the pale astrological symbols floating in the clouds around her head. After experiencing these images — nothing short of poetry on canvas – you will leave the exhibition eager to see more of his work. Barry William Hale’s work veers from that of an occult Mambo (as I overheard a visitor remark of one large colourful canvas) to a more sombre monochromatic exploration of his automatic or channelled art. His bold Cirkos paintings, developed from a series of looping magical sigils, an exploration
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of the Enochian alphabet, mark him out as an artist of interest, a contemporary of the visionary movement. Overall, the exhibition serves as a platform for Australian talent, with most of the exhibition’s artists hailing from the Land Down Under — whether by accident or design — revealing some occult connections perhaps for the first time. To truly understand and fully appreciate this exhibition you must immerse yourself in the backstories of these artists, and appreciate the visionary process, the ability of the artist to delve deep within. In Perth and Sydney, Buratti cleverly helped along this process by staging a number of informative talks, performances and an OTO Gnostic Mass as an extension to the exhibition. Ambitious, certainly, and possibly not to everyone’s taste, Buratti has truly pulled off something very different, highly original and refreshingly brilliant.
Self Beyond Self, North Altar installation 2013, by Collective 777 members
Windows to the Sacred: An Exploration of the Esoteric is touring Australia until 2016.
Annette Gray, Mitchell Nolte, Frater Scientia and Nathan Hopkins
WHERE THE SHADOWS FALL THE ARTWORK OF DAME DISMEMBER
Confronting collages that stun, astonish and seduce the audience are the trademark of Sydney artist Dame Dismember, who wields sharp scissors and a sharp eye when it comes to making her mark in the art world. Story by Nicolee Ferris.
he negative spaces of faces sculpted apart — bold and betwitching — define the art of collage artist Dame Dismember. Fragmented heads exist in a space highlighted by the decisions of what is to be cut out and what is to be discarded. This is the reality of looking at the art of collage artist Dame Dismember. Visceral and forbidding upon first encounter, answering and establishing upon further reverie. She needs only a pair of scissors, glue, her photocopies and a board to lead us into this other world. Each artwork
has the obvious signature of being one of Dismember's, while parallel to that the images scream, breathe a story of their own. I ask her where her mind goes upon starting a piece. “It's very automatic. I make the first cut and the rest follows. I find I worry that it will fail; that the creative juices have been squeezed dry. When they do flow, I find I focus on the picture, concentrating on the texture of the skin and how the shadows fall on the face. Seeing where each cut will take the picture. I never pre-empt how the work will turn out.” I prompt her for some insight as someone who can understand the enervative aspect of the creative process. She glances away, and I reword the question: “what actually happens if you don't do what you do?” She smiles. “There can be protracted periods where creativity can lay dormant. A regrouping of sorts. During those periods I honestly don't feel like creating. I go into great resistance, but the need remains. I know it'll eventually have to happen. When I start a new piece I can feel quite anxious, doubting my ability to produce something of note. Something that speaks.”
Untitled #1 Dame Dismember
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WH E R E TH E S H A D O W S FAL L
Untitled #2, Dame Dismember
Untitled #3, Dame Dismember
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When I start a new piece I can feel quite anxious, doubting my ability to produce something of note.” 46
WHE RE T HE S HAD O WS FALL
Untitled works #4, 5, 6, by Dame Dismember
“What does the world look like? At times it can lack any perceivable magic, you know, look hackneyed. Then a texture, a piece of music or a fantastic piece of art can reignite the process. So the ordinary takes on a dramatic light. Then the cycle begins again.” Dame Dismember's art is not easy to look at. Does this mean she is merely making a statement? Trying to be a shock show? Or does she focus on the recesses of the mind that people try to ignore? “I would say I encourage the observer to look within; to use my portraits as a ladder to that uncomfortable part of themselves. “I've observed some will go with it and take the image on, so to speak. Others won’t even look at them. If there was intent, and I don't have a conscious one, I must add, it has been born from my observing people's interactions with my work. Getting them to explore the dark recesses of their psyche. If there is a statement to be made by these
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WH E R E TH E S H A D O W S FAL L
Warehouse projections of untitled works by Dame Dismember.
...[they] use my portraits as a ladder to that uncomfortable part of themselves.”
works, it would be that for the most part people are in a state of denial when it comes to acknowledging their shadowy side, so they won't even acknowledge there is a dark energy within and in a collective sense.” Dame Dismember's work, at its most focal point, is a twist of the human form. Does she see significance in horror or the grotesque? I wonder if the darkness is negative. She answers most definitely, “Because my work is of a dark confronting nature, it does make me ponder how I really see the world on a subconscious level. I contemplate where the darkness comes from, as I don't regard myself as a negative person. So I'm not sure if there is a difference regarding my daily observations when creating or when recharging the creative flow.” In being bewitched by her art and inner world, I ponder whether she may have spiritual reasonings or interests. “I think most great art is alchemy. The bringing together of materials or elements to create an energetic shift is definitely a spiritual process. To be able to use tangible materials like a scalpel, scissors, glue and tape and create a powerful reaction is an incredibly spiritual experience. To set off someone’s vibration in a positive or negative way is a very special thing. It is a hard to quantify. But it happens.”
I was brought up in a very controlling cult... that helped form my unique view of the world.” Finally, I asked her what brought to this moment? “The soul takes you down some equally positive and negative paths. Even the most unpleasant events can lead to some positive choices. I was brought up in a very controlling cult, which I eventually left, so I suppose the negative aspect of that helped form my unique view of the world. I'm not sure how much the distorted reasoning they used informed my artistic style. Every experience shapes the next I suppose. “I grew up with parents who had very distorted views on physicality. They both had problems with body image, so that's a more obvious influence on the style I gravitated towards. I also struggled with body image issues, so I've been an observer of how the psyche can shape our physicality and have been in the middle of it. I used to be quite self-destructive, so I think the creation of art is a more positive outlet for one’s distortions. I use that word quite a lot, but distortion has been the pervading influence through my life's path. The creation of my work can be quite visceral, so it's taking this violence and not turning it inward, but forcing it out through the channel of art.” I step out of the artwork, but it still faces me. I feel a measure of the sublime. Having stepped into Dame Dismember's distorted world, I feel like I have stood upon a precipice and looked down. The world contracts and expands. It is transgressively intoxicating to feel one's perceptions twist dangerously along with it. I step away from the work, and the danger subsides. The sense of fear the vague, eerie unease, does not. The disturbing sensation and its subsequent liberation is illuminating. It gives me a new sense of reality.
Exhibition, Dark Recesses : The Art Of Dame Dismember, showing from the 6th to 12th November 2013, at M2 Gallery, Suite 4, 450 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia. facebook.com/DameDismemberArt www.flickr.com/photos/79703078@N07/
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SHINING A LIGHT ON THE
The NSW Justice and Police Museum’s most notorious exhibition returns with new insights into the underbelly of 1920s Sydney, Australia. This raw intimate exhibition exposes the city’s dark history of underworld denizens, crime and mayhem.
CITY OF SHADOWS By P E T E R DOYL E , CURAT OR
n the early part of the 20th Century, police routinely went to the places that respectable Sydney did its best to avoid, the dark places, the badlands. They were just doing their job — asking questions, taking photographs, writing reports. But now, nearly a century later, the fruit of that footwork offers us the most extraordinary and intimate record of the more troubled sides of everyday life in early 20th century Sydney. Then, most of the action took place in a crescent zone of jumbled streets, terrace houses, factories and warehouses running from Balmain
criminals during the period, and the billiard saloons, dance-halls, wine bars, hotels and brothels – the traps — in the Darlinghurst, Newtown, Redfern and Haymarket areas recur overwhelmingly in these reports. One particularly vicious murder from the war years tells us much about the inner city demi-monde of the time. On a Monday night in early May 1942, Ernst Hofmann, a chef at the exclusive Royal Sydney Golf Club, met up with a five feet tall, 13 stone prostitute who worked the area around Crown and Liverpool Streets in East Sydney. Unknown to Hofmann, the prostitute,
On a Monday night in early May 1942, Ernst Hofmann, a chef at the exclusive Royal Sydney Golf Club, met up with a five feet tall, 13 stone prostitute...”
Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, © 2008 HHT
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through Pyrmont, Glebe, Annandale, Newtown, Redfern, Chippendale, the Haymarket and Surry Hills, all the way round to Darlinghurst, Paddington, Kings Cross and Wolloomooloo in the east. Taxi drivers used to call it The Horseshoe. It was where the population was most dense, where most business was conducted, where outof-towners most often washed up, and where Sydney-siders went for their illicit pleasures. The Horseshoe received consistently bad press; scandal sheets of the day titillated respectable Sydney with tales of prostitution, thuggery, drugs, gambling, gender-bending and illicit carousing. Much of it was tabloid hype, but it was more than that. The police eyes-only publication the NSW Criminal Register routinely detailed the habits and haunts of hundreds of
Phyllis May Surridge (alias Stella Croke), had for years operated a notorious ginger joint; a back lane terrace house brothel where client’s wallets were lifted while they were amorously engaged. In this case though, the client raised the alarm, was beaten senseless and left for dead in a vacant lot by Croke and her cohorts. He died a few days later in St Vincent’s Hospital. Using crime scene photographs from the private archive of the late Brian K Doyle (who, as a young constable, played a key role in the case and who also happens to have been the author’s uncle), trial transcripts and other previously confidential records, City of Shadows puts this bleak, brutal but fascinating crime under the magnifying glass. In the 1920s police photographers began attending accident and crime scenes, and they
CITY OF SHADOWS
They scowl, grin, laugh, even, in some cases, almost playfully strike poses.”
have bequeathed to us, nearly a century later, a wholly unique view of inner Sydney, their Sydney — dark streets, back alleys, grimy corner shops, factories, stables, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, sheds, backyards, dockland areas — the sort of anti-picturesque scenes from which more pictorially-inclined commercial photographers of the day averted their gaze. Perhaps the most singular component of this extraordinary visual record is the mug shots. Between 1912 and 1930 police photographed, apparently on an ad hoc basis, around 3,000 actual and suspected criminals, and more than a few outright innocents. Most of us are familiar with the modern mug shot: a flat, harshly-lit view of a dishevelled subject, abjectly holding a slate identifying the charge they are to face. The Sydney police mug shots are something different, and perhaps unique in the world. In these we see an astonishing range of men, women and children of all types, photographed under natural light, apparently in whatever poses they chose. They scowl, grin, laugh, even, in some cases, almost playfully strike poses. We talk of taking photographs, but these photographs in many cases seem in some way every bit as much given by their subjects. The photographs are technically of a very high standard: in sharp focus, pleasingly tonal. Faces are often captured in painterly detail. The photographers seem to have striven to record and reveal character and personal history as much as physical appearance. And the view of the subjects is surprisingly benign. There is an unexpected sympathy, even tenderness, in many of the photographs. The negatives come to us unaccompanied by documentation. Many are a complete mystery. But by crosschecking the names and dates on the mug shots with the police records and newspapers of the day, the stories behind many of the mug shots and crime scene photographs come to life, mapping in great particularity the shadowy sides of everyday life — the mayhem, villainy, and plain bad luck — in the old Sydney Horseshoe. This article originally appeared in Insights. City of Shadows is published by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, © 2008 HHT
ABOVE: Fay Watson is listed in the New South Wales Police Gazette from 1928. She was arrested in a house in Crown Street, Darlinghurst, and subsequently convicted for being in possession of cocaine for which she was fined ten pounds. Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, © 2008 HHT
In the early part of the 20th Century police routinely went to places that respectable people did their best to avoid, the dark places where bad things happened. They were just doing their job - asking questions, taking photographs, writing reports. But now, nearly a century later, the fruit of that footwork offers us the most extraordinary and intimate record of the more troubled sides of everyday life in early 20th century Australia.
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CITY OF SHADOWS
DE GRACY & EDWARD DALTON De Gracy and Edward Dalton, photographed sitting together in the Central Cells c.1920. There are no records in the Police Gazette, the official monthly journal that recorded details of crimes, arrests, trials and hearings, and so their crime, alleged or actual, remains unknown to the historian, as are the men themselves. They sit side by side, left leg folded over right, suits, hats, tightly tied ties, mouths without expression, steely stares. De Gracy is slightly hunched, his arms are crossed, three-day growth on his drawn cheeks with high cheekbones, his full lips slightly pouted, his hat tilted on an angle with his head in quarter profile so that the shadow covers his staring eyes, eyes of a translucent blue that stare right through the camera and into the beating heart of the spectator. He looks like a man who could kill without thought and without emotion. He looks like he is incapable of emotion. Extract from Review of the City of Shadows Exhibition: Photography as History, Photography as Art by Matthew Allen
JUSTICE & POLICE MUSEUM Focusing on the victims, perpetrators and vicinities of crime, the original 2008 City of Shadows exhibition introduced the world to the Museum’s extraordinary and compelling collection of police forensic photography dating from 1912–1960. Since 2008, Sydney Living Museum curators have been investigating leads and following up tips from the public. New research has solved many of the mysteries surrounding the people and places in these compelling photographs, and the stories that lurk behind the images can now be revealed. The City of Shadows exhibition can be seen at the Justice & Police Museum, Circular Quay, on weekends from 10am–5pm. www.hht.net.au/museums/justice_and_police_museum
E. FALLENI Concealing her gender: E. Falleni, well dressed in suit, shirt, waistcoat, tie, hair neatly parted, staring mournfully at the camera. Hotel cleaner Harry Crawford was arrested for the murder of his first wife, whose disappearance was supposedly occasioned by her elopement with another man. In fact, she had been murdered for discovering Harry’s secret: he was actually a woman named Eugenie Falleni, who had been living as a man for two decades! The photo thus suggests the fundamental instability of the photographic record. If Peter Doyle had failed to connect the picture to the story, it would probably not have entered the exhibition because superficially there is nothing remarkable about it. Extract from Review of the City of Shadows Exhibition: Photography as History, Photography as Art by Matthew Allen
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GEMMA LUCY SMART
THE DELUDED CRAFT PART ONE
In Part One of The Deluded Craft, Gemma Lucy Smart examines why perfectly rational and well-educated people are returning to the exploration of practices and mythologies of some of the world’s oldest religions. Ms Smart is a writer, creative and academic based in Sydney, Australia, and is currently pursuing a MSc in Philosophy of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney. Her passion for nature, ethics and mysticism inspires her work. Photo: Witches’ Altar from the Vinum Sabbati Witch Camp, Sydney Australia. Tori Collins
Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.” Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
ull Moon September 2012. A group of men and women gather to join in magic ritual. Some are experienced in the Craft, some less so. The atmosphere is excited, tense. The ritual is led by more experienced practitioners, and it is theatrical and lavish. There is ecstatic dancing and drumming intermingled with invocations to the divine and formal ceremonial rites. A fire is lit both literally and metaphorically as the participants release the fetters of reality and submit to the night and the mystery of its velvet embrace. The participants, including myself, are there for different reasons — power, transformation, or connection with the divine. We don’t all share the same beliefs but, like fantasy author Terry Pratchett’s Witches, we know the truth of our experience.
What is it about witchcraft and other Western magical practices that makes them so compelling? What draws intelligent, reasonable individuals to a world of ritual, mythology and belief in mystery and the unseen? By engaging in practices and rituals that do not conform to the norms of society and by holding and maintaining unusual beliefs, the Witch singles him or herself out. As an individual and as a category of people they invite questions as to the rationality of their behaviours. In particular that witchcraft draws otherwise reasonable and intelligent individuals to what seem like bizarre beliefs and rituals appears problematic, and questions philosophical understandings of the nature of belief and reality. In the Western world at least, ours is a culture of rationality worship. Clear thinking and structured logical reasoning provide us with our closest approximation of truth. Our knowledge of the world through the scientific method in particular produces a reliable and extensive understanding of the external world. There are weaknesses in our intellectual methods, which I will return to later, for certainty about matters of truth is fraught with
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trouble. For now though it cannot be denied that rational knowledge serves us very well. Religious and spiritual plurality is tolerated largely because it simply doesn’t matter to science. The intellectual standards of objectivity, rationality, logic and demonstrability stand up well against most religious claims. In this context the Witch only becomes problematic when they question the scientific claim to knowledge.
WIT CHCRAF T UN DE R T HE S PO TLI G H T Critics of Witchcraft are keen to address such problematic claims. As a graduate student of the cognitive sciences and also a Pagan witch, this is not an unfamiliar concern. One incident particularly comes to mind. While presenting his work on delusions at a philosophy conference, a colleague of mine and well-known philosopher of psychiatry directly addressed the beliefs of the witch, arguing that they are a classic case of delusion. The lynchpin of his case is that most people come to witchcraft in later life rather than being born into it. That is, they choose to become a witch. The usual justifications
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The Forcibly Bewitched, 1801 by Francisco Goya The National Gallery, London
Articles of religious faith are usually exempt from the requirements of rationality because of the context in which they adhered to.”
for religious belief, which include social structures, family traditions and conditioned understanding can no longer hold any sway for this group and the witch is by definition delusional. Being a keen student, I sat right at the front of the room and could not escape the uncomfortable tension his assertion left in me. Though I believe my colleague respected me in many other ways, he was aware of my adherence to a pagan way of living. He knew I was, by some definition, a witch. Though I doubt his aim was to make me feel targeted, the message was clear — if you are a witch you either have a mental disorder, or you have some serious explaining to do. The Anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann in her fieldwork based work Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft writes of her experience with magic in the British Isles: “Magic leads its magicians into a world of symbolism and fantasy which is hard to talk about but which becomes quite important to its practitioners, and its personal significance forces them to make sense of it in terms that at least relate to those of wider society. They rely on this claim of efficacy: they are not willing to abandon it if it seems unacceptable within conventional canons; they adjust their view of the canons in order to make it fit. Then, by marking off their magic with elaborate theatre and metaphor, they can defend their involvement in ways that they think that the wider society can also understand.” (Luhrmann 1989, 302) Luhrmann is careful here not to suggest that the experience of the magical practitioner is hallucinatory or delusion. She is more interested in the way that it is placed within the context of a wider understanding of reality. The question is not Are the experiences of magic real? but rather How can the practitioner of magic explain their experience? and I agree with her distinction.
R ELI G I O U S FA I T H A ND T HE DE L UDE D The ability to comprehend the world and self is inherently complex and multiplex. By this I mean that all sorts of factors feed into our understanding and knowledge of reality. Intelligence is one factor, but equally important factors are practical aims, previous experience, and temperament. There are very few, if any, of us who could claim to be entirely rational and logical agents. Articles of religious faith are usually exempt from the requirements
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of rationality because of the context in which they adhered to. Philosopher Dominic Murphy remarks that “normal maturing brains pick up on religion, along with many other… theories of the world” and therefore, “religion is not delusional even if religious beliefs are false” (Murphy 2006, 181). What he is suggesting here is that if beliefs are acquired through normal, socially sanctioned means they cannot be delusional, even in the face of rational scrutiny. Why does the witch not fall into this category? Because they don’t, as a rule, arrive at their beliefs through such means. There is one more point to make. For Murphy, “Numbers matter with delusions” (Murphy 2006, 182). If only a small number of people adhere to a particular set of religious or spiritual beliefs, then we are more tempted to label such beliefs as irrational or delusional. This view becomes an issue for mainstream religions when they are considered in their historical context. The possibility for instance that Jesus Christ was delusional has not escaped consideration by Christians or non-Christians alike. Christ’s beliefs ranged from unusual to the grandiose and using our current understanding of delusion it is possible to make a plausible case that Jesus was suffering from a mental disorder. I do not wish to make the case here but rather focus on a problem for it. There is a temptation to confuse the question of whether Christ’s belief in his divinity was an accurate reflection of reality with whether he was deluded. The reality of the experience matters little, what matters is the impact that Christ’s explanation of his experience had on himself and those around him. The same could be argued for the experience of the witch. I agree with the philosopher George Graham when he writes that “Consequences matter for delusions.” It is not simply enough to say that a belief that contradicts accepted social understanding and evidence of reality is delusional. Many false beliefs are benign or helpful, and some of them even turn out to be true. Graham argues that for a belief to be delusional it must have harmful or negative consequences and I agree with him. “Even if a belief or attitude is false, bizarre or otherwise highly suspect, as long as it seriously enhances a person’s adjustment to or contribution to the world, and does not cause severe or undesirable harm, there is room for classifying it as non-delusional.” (Graham 2010, 201) Perhaps then Christ was not delusional, at least not in this sense. It can certainly be argued that the teachings of Jesus were largely beneficial and not harmful,
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Witches in the Air 1797–98, Francisco Goya, from the Museo del Prado, Madrid
notwithstanding questionable interpretations of them. Where does this leave the witch? I have a feeling it’s not that simple. Even if magical practices can be seen as generally positive and not harmful, they still demand a degree of rational scrutiny. What is clear though is that it is not the content of a belief that makes it delusional. Rather, it is the way a belief is situated in the overall context of an individual’s mental life that matters. Delusions occasionally occur in isolation but most often they are found within other types of mental disorder including delusional disorder, mania and schizophrenia. Does it follow that if practitioners of magic hold delusional beliefs they
are, in general, more prone to mental disorders of this type? In Part II I will unpack the idea of a delusion and explore the social context and acceptance of belief and reality.
References: Graham, G. 2010, The Disordered Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Mental Illness, Routledge. Luhrmann, T.M. 1989, Persuasions of the Witches Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Murphy, D. 2006. Psychiatry in the Scientific Image, England, MIT Press.
BY RICHARD FRE E MAN Japanese folklore is the strangest on earth. Its monsters and its ghost (collectively known as yokai) outstrip those of any other culture in their sheer weirdness. This cultural obsession with the supernatural spawned the storytelling tradition of Hyakumonogatari, now being reimagined by British horror writer Richard Freeman, who is doing his bit to ensure Japan’s night parade of demons and shades finds a new legion of fans.
n Japan’s Edo Period (1603–1868), hyakumonogatari kaidankai, a party game, became very popular throughout the country. Hyakumonogatari kaidankai or a gathering of 100 supernatural tales, involved the lighting of 100 candles in blue paper lanterns on a table in a room. A mirror would be placed on the table or on the wall. The participants would then take turns telling stories of the supernatural, involving strange occurrences or yokai (which broadly translates as ghosts and monsters), frequently alleging them to be true. After each story, the teller would enter the room with the paper lanterns and blow out one candle, then look in the mirror. As more and more candles were blown out, the room grew darker. After the last candle was extinguished, a blue spirit called Aoandon was said to manifest, horned and fanged, and terrifying to behold. So popular were these parties that people would collect stories for the gatherings from all over Japan. The stories were eventually collected into books known as Hyakumonogatari, which eventually became a great resource for the preservation of Japanese folklore. A high-ranking samurai named Negishi Shizue began collecting the local ghost stories told among the prisoners under his guard. Writing each tale down, he collected the stories into a large bag (bukuro), a collection eventually comprising more
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than 1000 ghostly tales. Negishi went on to publish this huge anthology in 10 volumes, calling it Mimi Bukuro, meaning Bag of Ears (ears in this sense implying tales heard), which ranged in genre from the historic to the purely supernatural. The interest in ghost stories during the late Edo period was such that the Japanese authorities eventually banned them in 1808. They specifically forbade the telling of stories that involved the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Atrocities between men and women Crimes of bad women Fire daemons Heads flying about Animal and bird goblins Serpents winding round people’s bodies 7. Dead bodies decomposing in water In his 1959 book Oriental Humor, Reginald Horace Blyth concluded the government ban was intended to suppress sexuality and bloodlust. It sounds almost exactly like the scaremongering of rightwing tabloids in the UK in the early 1980s that led to the ban on video nasties. Governments like to have scapegoats for social ills, but I can tell you no one has ever been harmed through the telling of a ghost story. Despite the ban, the popularity of hyakumonogatari continued in book and game form. Even now, when the game
is seldom played in Japan, collections of ghost stories are still being written, which is how my own book came about. I have previously written about the weird folkloric creatures and phantoms of Japan in The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia: An A to Z of Japanese Monsters, which remains my bestselling work to date. I later branched into fiction, writing a collection of horror short stories entitled Green Unpleasant Land: 18 stories of British Horror. The book gained good reviews so I decided to combine my love of horror and Japanese folklore into a new book, Hyakumonogatari: Tales of Japanese Horror Vol. 1, the first of four volumes containing 25 stories to ultimately form the full 100 required for a traditional hyakumonogatari kaidankai. I hope readers will find the strange entities within the frightening tales I am about to share here a refreshing change from those usually encountered in Western literature. Today’s books and films seem to be dominated by repetitious tales of vampires, especially pretty teenaged ones. The pages of Hyakumonogatari, however, contain no such thing. The entities of old Japan have more in common with the things that flop and crawl through the works of M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft than they do with the wan and anaemic fare that passes for horror these days. You have been warned.
By Richard Freeman he warriors circled each other, each wary of making the first move. Both looked resplendent in their armour as they skirted the sides of the arena, formidable weapons brandished on high. Each was weighing up the other for speed, size and strength. Once the fight had started there would be no mercy, no quarter given. This was a fight to the death. The taller of the two struck first, unfurling with lightning speed and bringing his weapons down upon his squatter foe. The enemy’s armour proved too thick and the weapons failed to penetrate. He grasped at his foe only to find that his foe grasped back, with greater strength. The two grappled for a moment before the squatter, stronger combatant pulled the taller to the ground and brought his own weapon down again and again. The taller fighter struggled to stand but the squat foe held fast with a grip that was now crushing through his armour even as the wounds he had sustained from the enemy’s weapon began to take their toll. The taller gladiator collapsed and the shorter one reared up in triumph. The camera stopped and the scorpion began to devour the praying mantis, rending it asunder with its pincers and hauling the fragments into its mouthparts while the mantis continued to convulse with the venom flowing through its body. “An excellent fight, one of the best yet,” the youth behind the camera grinned as he peered into the glass tank in which the invertebrates had conducted their forced death struggle. “That will be a great one for the site, Daichi,” said his friend Ren as he lifted the vivarium up and placed it back on the shelf. “The winner lives to fight another day and star in another episode of Bug Fights.” The two boys stood in a large summerhouse. The shelves around them were filled with vivariums all containing invertebrates. Living in rural southern Kagoshima was a bonus. The subtropical climate meant that bugs grew big. Daichi himself had captured the mantis in the woods near his home just a few days ago. The scorpion was a Middle Eastern species he had bought online. Daichi’s parents didn’t know about their son’s macabre hobby. They just thought he collected bugs, a phase most boys go through. But Daichi and his friends were earning a pretty penny by filming invertebrates fighting to the death for their website, Bug Fights. The summerhouse door swung open and a third boy entered. “Otoya, did you get it?” asked Daichi. Otoya slipped off his rucksack
and reached inside. He produced an angrily buzzing jar. “I sure did. Thank God this bastard didn’t sting me. I hear it’s like having a red hot rivet shoved in your flesh.” He held the vibrating jar aloft and the angry buzz could clearly be heard throughout the summerhouse. The sound seemed full of ire. Inside the jar a Japanese giant hornet, the largest hornet on earth and the length of a finger, was trying to sting the surface of the jar. The yellow venom was clearly visible on the glass.
The taller gladiator collapsed and the shorter one reared up in triumph. “God help whatever is fighting that,” grinned Ren. “Don’t you worry. I have the very thing to give this evil little critter a run for its money. Just wait a moment.” Ren adjusted the camera as Daichi pulled down another vivarium and placed it on the table. Inside was a spider with a leg span that would have covered a dinner plate. It looked like an outsized hairy glove. “A goliath bird-eating spider,” Daichi smiled proudly. “It’s from Brazil. I got it from a breeder in Osaka.” “We will need to be careful getting the hornet in with the spider. It’s as fast as greased lightning,” said Otoya. “Ren, be ready with the camera.” Daichi grabbed a cloth from a drawer and threw it over the vivarium. He took the jar and carefully unscrewed the lid. He gingerly lifted up the flap of the spider’s container and slipped the jar under the cloth. Flicking the lid from the jar he upended it into the vivarium and snapped the flap shut as the hornet careered inside. He
whipped off the cloth and shouted, “Roll!” Ren started the camera as the hornet bumbled in a confused manner about the vivarium. It bumped into the spider a couple of times, which reared up waving its legs defensively. As the hornet realised that it was still trapped it became more aggressive, its buzzing louder. The spider sprang forward trying to grab the hornet in its flailing legs and drag it back towards its waiting fangs. The hornet was too fast and dodged the spider’s attack, then shot forward like a fencing expert who had seen an opening in his opponent’s defence. Its cruel sting plunged into the underside of the huge arachnid again and again. The spider, now looking clumsy, attempted to spring upon its foe but the hornet avoided it with an almost lazy ease. The hornet then fell like a hawk on its prey, the impressive sting now stabbing into the massive spider’s back. Finally the bird-eater curled up its legs like a clenched fist and lay still. “Amazing,” gasped Daichi, “I want to do a piece to camera now Ren.” Daichi grinned into the camera. “Well that’s another exciting battle from Bug Fights. I hope you enjoyed it. You know there are some who think that what we are doing is wrong and that it’s cruel to make these bugs fight each other. WAKE UP, YOU MORONS! Haven’t you heard of survival of the fittest? Bugs fight each other and eat each other in the billions every single day. Here at Bug Fights the winner eats the loser. It’s nature’s way. “Besides all that, there is a long tradition of insect fighting in China and Japan. Like cock fights, we kept crickets to fight. We kept them in intricate carved cages of ivory. We fought stag beetles too. It's tradition. Back in China there was once a system of magic called Ku where insects were placed in a pot and made to fight. The winner was used for sorcery. “So with nature and history behind us, we need not question the morality of what we do. It’s nature’s way and we turn it into great entertainment! So don’t forget to tune in for the next bug fight, it will be amazing.” “That’s telling them,” Ren laughed. “Bunch of arseholes.” “Some people are just not grateful for all the time and effort we put in. Anyhow, that’s a wrap for today. I’ll upload these fights tonight. Let’s get this place tidied up.” The boys put away the vivariums and packed up the lights, microphones and cameras. Ren and Otoya went home and Daichi 62
returned to the house for dinner. After eating, he sat on the porch in the warm summer twilight. He was about to go up to his room and upload the day’s fights to his computer when something caught his eye. There was a movement at the bottom of the stairs that led up onto the porch. An elongated form was animatedly scurrying about. Daichi half stood. Could it possibly be what he thought it was? The thing seemed to be hunting. It moved in a rippling motion, occasionally stopping and rising up a step in a furtive manner. God, it was indeed what he had thought it was, a mukade, a Japanese giant centipede, scolopendra japonica. They were found only in the warmer southern regions of Japan. They had a reputation as savage predators with an agonisingly painful bite. Daichi recalled reading stories of people cutting off their own arms to relieve the pain of a giant centipede bite. They were usually about six inches long but this individual was a monster twice that size. Its grace was undeniable; moving its 15 pairs of legs in a ripple that ran down its segmented, chitin-plated body like an ocean wave. Its antenna seemed to twitch endlessly in its quest for prey. He had to have it for Bug Fights. The reputation of the giant centipede was legendary. They were even supposed to kill small rats! It was too far to the summerhouse, the creature would be gone by the time he got back. He had to think fast. Ren, heart pounding, rushed into the kitchen. Opening a cupboard he grabbed a Tupperware box and fumbled in a drawer for some sugar tongs. He raced back to the porch; the centipede was still there. He crept closer slipping the top off the box. He knew centipedes were functionally blind, their tiny, compound eyes just picking up light and shade. The main sensory organ was the antenna. In one swift movement, Daichi snatched up the impressive arthropod with the tongs, grasping the tail end. Before it could twist around to bite, he dropped it into the box and snapped the lid back in place. He raised it up to face level and peered through the transparent plastic. The centipede battered its plated head against the lid in anger at its imprisonment. He could clearly see the formidable maxillipeds, the first two legs modified into hollow, venom injecting fangs. Its body was a deep reddish-brown while the legs and the continuously curling and uncurling antenna were a sandy yellow. The creature seemed like a concentrated mass of fury and bile. Daichi imagined it would take apart any other arthropod he set against it. “You will be my new champion. Now to get you a home fit for a champion.” Taking his prize back down to the summerhouse, Daichi selected an empty vivarium. He filled the bottom with bark chippings. He selected a piece of hollow log for the centipede O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
to hide in and some rocks and twigs for decor. Finally he added a shallow dish of water. Satisfied with his work, he carefully prised the top off the Tupperware box and upended it over the vivarium. The centipede slid out and scuttled into the hollow log. Taking no chances, he slid the glass lid back onto the vivarium and taped it down. He then found a rock and rested it on the lid for good measure. “Now you’ll stay put. Tomorrow’s’ your big day, champ.” He uploaded the day’s battles to the Bug Fights website, noting happily that the counter had now registered more than one billion visitors. He phoned Otoya and Ren, excitedly telling them of his find. The pair were almost as excited as he was and both promised that they would be over the next afternoon to help film the fights. Daichi was too excited to sleep very well that night. The thought of pitting the centipede against a tarantula or a scorpion thrilled him. He rose early and decided to inspect his collection before the others arrived. He stopped at the doors of the summerhouse. Both had been smashed clean off their hinges and were scattered like matchwood across the garden. A few tattered pieces of wood clung to the frames. It looked as if they had been forced outwards. Rushing inside he found his collection in disarray. All of the vivariums were shattered. As he sifted through the wreckage he found not one of his gladiators. Every single bug was gone. Had someone stolen them? No, if that were the case thieves would have taken the tanks intact along with their occupants. It must be vandals from some animal rights group. He had been getting more abusive emails from them lately. Some had even threatened violence. The bastards had wrecked his whole set up. It would take months to build up the collection again. Daichi heard a movement behind him. A sort of dry rustle accompanied by a soft clicking. A shadow fell over him. He slowly turned around. Half in and half out of the summerhouse was the centipede, his centipede, only vast. It reared up like a cobra ready to strike, towering ten feet off the ground. The remaining twenty feet of its length ran out of the door and onto the lawn. How had it got so huge? How could it be so huge? An arthropod so massive should not be able to move or even breathe. He froze as the swaying head moved closer. The ripple of clicking limbs audible as it slid across the summerhouse floor. His racing mind half recalled something from Japanese legend. A monster called omukade, a giant-man eating centipede. The antenna, now each as long as his legs, uncoiled and began their endless twitching.
One brushed his face and he barely stifled a scream. His fear-instilled paralysis broken, he dived to one side as the dustbin lid-sized head struck. The scything maxillipeds snapped shut on air instead of flesh. He made a run for the door but the monster was faster. In blinding speed it had whipped round and its awful head was now blocking the doorway. Before Daichi could scream a section of the plated, multilegged body had grasped him from behind. The spiny legs wrapped about him like a trap and held fast. The head came close and paused for a while a foot from his face. Then the curved maxilliped stabbed into his chest pumping in the warm, paralysing venom. He felt the warmth spread through his body. The creature released him and he fell stiffly to the floor. The impact hurt him but he could not cry out. He was perfectly conscious but could not move so much as a muscle. The pain from the wounds in his chest was acute. The omukade withdrew to the doorway and looked like it was waiting. He could make out a scurrying noise much softer than that made by the monster. A subdued scuttling that was getting closer. Suddenly he saw what was causing it. Bugs, thousands upon thousands of insects and other invertebrates, were swarming past the omukade and into the summerhouse like a living carpet. Spiders, scorpions, millipedes, mantes, beetles, crickets, ants, cicada, fat white grubs, seething maggots, all came tumbling and flopping towards him in a living tide. In a trice they were upon him, crawling on his flesh, tickling his face with tiny legs and hairs, walking over his unblinking eyes. A fat grub was forcing its way between his lips. It felt like a cold rubbery sausage as it slipped into his mouth. At the same time a cricket the size of a small mouse began to eat his left eyeball. Ren and Otoya called at the house that afternoon. Daichi’s mother told them that he was busy in the summer house and she hadn’t seen her son all day. They found the summerhouse in a state of disarray and Daichi himself sat in a chair in the midst of the chaos. “Daichi, what the hell has gone on here?” shouted Otoya. “I think he’s asleep,” said Ren. Ren walked forward and shook Daichi. He flopped like an old sack in the boy’s grasp. Then out from his mouth, his empty eye sockets and his ears the creatures began to pour. Maggots fell like confetti, grasshoppers bounded and spiders scampered. Daichi seemed to deflate as the tides of bugs crawled from his carcass. Finally the body seemed to fall in on itself like a deflating balloon until only skin was left. Behind them the boys heard a strange sound. A sort of dry rustle, accompanied by a soft clicking.
Prana Slow Music for Yoga Caiseal Mor CD Review by David Mattichak Caiseal Mor is, by his own admission, an eclectic artist, picking up instruments and musical styles like a magpie as he finds them scattered through his travels. This eclecticism has led to him developing his own unique blend of sounds that touches a world-music style mix of exotic rhythms, traditional melodic soundscapes and enchanting esoteric beats. His innovative use of obscure, esoteric instruments evokes trance-inducing tunes that somehow combine the feeling of ancient primitive music with a cutting-edge, completely contemporary atmospheric sound that has an almost psychedelic edge. Caiseal Mor has produced 14 CDs of the haunting, hypnotic music that he has been playing at his hugely successful Deep Dreaming events. His latest CD, entitled Prana, Slow Music for Yoga combines all of his usual musical elements, like a strong bass drone undertone, with engaging beats that carry his delicately crafted melodies. The three long tracks on the CD each reveal a different aspect of his musical creativity and the flowing, almost freeform vocals of Laya Rocha add a primal tone to the intricately hypnotic performances. The theme of the CD is established by the title track, Prana, that opens slowly and subtly with a deep drone recalling the esoteric utterance of a softly chanted mantra. This sound forms a base for the introduction of Caiseal's delicately bowed melody that dances across an almost subliminally hypnotic heartbeat rhythm. Caiseal's trademark riffs accent the exotic beat and give the composition an atmospheric depth and accentuate the persistent yet gentle energy in the music.
In the second track, called Sway, Caiseal displays a masterful use of his medium that makes this the standout composition of the CD. It begins slowly with a seductive flute melody and gradually introduces a rhythm with a simple riff that recalls the experimental music of the 1960s. The deep droning bass vibrates through you harmoniously and brings this very well-constructed composition together as a melodic unity. The vocals by Laya Rocha shift the melody, making it more urgent as if it is being urged on by the simple, yet intricate handclap beat. Cleverly, Caiseal ends as he began with a simple, strummed melodic riff over powerfully bowed bass undercurrents. The final track, Asana Dreaming, introduces to the CD the somnambulistic alchemy of meditational dreaming that is a feature of much of Caiseal's work. The composition returns to the sonorous droning bass of the didgeridoo with carefully picked melodies intertwined over the top as it slowly builds in a dance between point and counterpoint before introducing a more confident, bowed tune that floats through the composition like incense smoke wafting through an exotic temple. This CD is a definite evolution of Caiseal's music as he has become more adept at using his orchestra of exotic Eastern instruments like the Persian Santur and the Turkish Bowed Tanbur. On this album he has been able to create an atmosphere that recalls the ancient world but which simultaneously places it firmly in a modern setting. Prana, Slow Music for Yoga is available online: www.cdbaby.com/Artist/CaisealMór1
MADE BY k ha tic at M
vid Da ne
ins oll C i ge Tor Eth brid r e th Pen idge a n artr n H a Tim De rris e Fe e l o c Ni Doyle Peter rt ucy Sma Geema L
Col lins e Ashl ey K arstu nen
Meet the Team Geem
OTHER MAGAZINE TEAM
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We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”
THER magazine is a journey, and whatever path you take — print, digital, or multimedia — all roads lead to the liminal reality. In this magazine, I want to explore this otherness, and provide a platform for unusual or unique and creative pursuits, particularly those with an alternative, spiritual, humanitarian, occult, or artistic quest.
OTHER magazine’s manifesto celebrates individuals and experiences that are occasionally radical, different or unique — people, places and pastimes that have an influence on our spirituality, our philosophy, and the ways in which we see the world. I have long been enamoured of the salon concept established in 16th century Italy and made famous by the French, who embraced it with a passion and used it as a springboard for the cultural movement that became the Age of Enlightenment. Salons were essentially intellectual and literary gatherings that encouraged the spreading of ideas, experiences and beliefs. They were theatres of conversation that helped shape society and cross the boundaries of class and gender. What appeals to me is the role salons played as informal universities,
DAVID MATTICHAK jr O NLI NE ED I T O R · CRE AT IN G T HE OT HE R E XP E RIE N CE
I Photo by Michelle Walker
Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin Vol. 7: 1966–1974
E DIT OR · A L IT E RARY S AL ON
t is an exciting time to be involved with the creation of a new magazine. Digital technology has put the power to publish into the hands of everyone in what may be the greatest revolution in freedom of speech that the world has ever known. Every two years, we now generate more data than has been accumulated in the thousands of years since the invention of writing. At the same time, new technologies have changed the fundamental nature of print media by giving the static format of traditional periodicals the potential to be a dynamic, interactive experience. While so much has changed, a great deal has remained the same; a new magazine must still provide quality, interest and value if it is to survive and thrive in what has become an immensely competitive marketplace. Achieving success takes passion, vision and, most importantly, a talented
primarily for women, in which the exchange of ideas and literary mentoring took place, and social barriers were broken down. Let’s forget, momentarily, that these historychanging get-togethers started out in the bedrooms of wealthy women, who reclined on their beds while guests gathered around and paid court while discussing progressive politics and other topics deemed to be polite conversation! I see OTHER magazine playing a similar role as the salons of the past, acting as a forum for the sharing of ideas and experiences outside the mainstream, and fostering an appreciation for the fringe pursuits of artists, writers and others. Few new publishing initiatives present such a challenge on so many levels — professional, spiritual
and intellectual — but that’s what OTHER magazine is for me. It’s a rare and beautiful vision made real, a delicious dream come true. Fantastically and richly dark, it glows at its edges like match-lit paper, a fusion of dangerous ideas and deeds that will, I hope, tilt your world on its axis, or at the very least challenge your way of thinking. It’s a wild harvest of experience, thought, action, feeling, expression and accomplishment — a sensory journey that I hope will leave its mark of change upon you, the reader, and linger with you long after you have read it. Journey with us as we show you there are many other ways to experience and immerse yourself in this and other realities.
Title page of A Most Certain, Strange and true Discovery of a Witch. © University of Glasgow Library
The Steppenwolf's look pierced our whole epoch, its whole overwrought activity, the whole surge and strife, the whole vanity, the whole superficial play of a shallow, opinionated intellectuality...” group of people that are committed to producing an exciting publication that represents all of the best that technology has to contribute, while remaining true to the highest editorial standards. When I was invited to join the diverse and talented group of contributors to OTHER magazine, I saw it as an opportunity to explore the new boundaries of what is possible in publishing in the 21st Century. Because of the immediacy of social media, magazines are no longer merely a means of distributing articles; they are the potential for creating beginning points for new conversations. The potential for creating an interactive reading experience that incorporates the voices of our readers, and that creates opportunities to network and interact with them, is an exciting new direction in publishing. In my view, OTHER magazine will be more than a vehicle for presenting ideas to our readership, it is an opportunity to begin a journey
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with them that explores the edges of what we can imagine together. Exploring the peripheries of our cultural consciousness is, perhaps, the most exciting prospect that my involvement with OTHER magazine presents to me. Creating a platform that provides a rationale for discussing the people and events that are in the van of the avant garde, and meeting those intrepid souls that have summoned the courage to explore our fullest potential, is an exciting prospect. These inspired minds, often lone wolves, hunting at the edges of the known world for passage into the underworld, like modern day Aeneas in search of an augury of our potential for greatness, so often set the example and lead the way for the rest of us. These are the people with whom I want to connect and hear their accounts of their journeys so I can share, if in only a small way, their vision of what we can become.
P R O D U CTIO N M A N A G ER
S UB- E DIT OR
JUST PLAIN ENGLISH
“At the heart of Esoteric Art is the argument that… the highest purpose for creativity is to enable communion of Man with the Divine.” Robert Buratti
he same can be said of the written word, which is capable of triggering an emotional response that can act as a catalyst for understanding our own inner nature. As a linguist, I am interested not just in the story itself, but the way in which it is told, and what the recounting of it evokes in both the teller and the audience. The witch in me also seeks out that which is left of centre, sometimes dark, and often esoteric in nature. OTHER magazine provides a platform for these stories and experiences, together with captivating images, to come to life and stir emotions within the reader. As a society we are innately captivated by the lives of others as we use their experiences as a benchmark to find our own place in the world. At OTHER magazine we seek out those whose lifestyles or creative talents fall outside of the ordinary, opening the door on cultures, beliefs and psychologies that differ radically from our own. These may confront, challenge or exhilarate us, calling us to broaden our field of vision. We approach each piece from an original perspective, delving beneath the surface to uncover a hidden gem — that’s what makes this publication so unique and exciting. I’m thrilled to be involved in this project and hope that you find inspiration in the edgy, dark, and curious domain of the other.
ormalcy is a state many of us strive to achieve, but it is a pursuit that often ends in failure. While normalcy enables society to function, providing a common currency through which we transact our daily affairs, it veils our real selves, obscuring our inner ideas. Normalcy is a state of repression, a condition I believe we should strive to escape rather than pursue. A cursory glance at history reveals that civilisation has been fashioned by the most eccentric and erratic of personalities, people who cultivated their inner musings, unhinged from everyday reality. Moderate, reasonable, well-rounded individuals, on the other hand — people who exude all the traits of a polite education — don’t usually finish up in the history books. Normalcy is rarely a path to greatness. Any initiative that celebrates the outlying areas of human activity, that strives to capture the remote recesses of human interest, unquestionably represents the most worthwhile of endeavours. For only if we venture far away from the mainstream of everyday life do we come to the less-populated area of the Other: eclectic, inspirational and the home of genius — always far removed from everyday normalcy. There are, I believe, two byproducts of genius: a failure to understand the practical benefits or value of one’s work, and an indifference to wealth and glory. And people with these qualities — dedicated, passionate,
inspired individuals — will be most at home in these pages. We value the work of people who have eschewed the path of popular, mainstream success and who instead have chosen to remain faithful to their own compass and pursue their uniquely individual view of the world, taking us to the remote perimeters of human perception and experience. It is a great honour to be a part of this project.
SO CIA L MED IA S U PPO RT
PU BL IS HE R + ART DIRE CT OR
THER magazine works closely with WitchesWorkshop, a social media platform that has been the starting point for many people seeking in finding their spiritual roots since it was launched in May 1999. This platform has played a significant role in bringing together the central audience for OTHER magazine and in providing a pool of like-minded people from where OTHER magazine draws its editorial talent. As the principal moderator for Witches Workshop, I ensure that people entering our community have a sincere interest in witchcraft, paganism and spirituality. I relish the opportunity to participate in an expanded role overseeing our social media platform that continues to be a tested benchmark against which we chart our course ahead.
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I bought... the amazing Man, Myth and Magic magazine, where Art and the Occult came together like some mysterium coniunctionis.”
raphic design is my passion. Witchcraft and magick have been a life long fascination for me. As a teen, one of the first occult magazines I bought was the amazing Man, Myth and Magic, where Art and the Occult came together like some mysterium coniunctionis. Published from 1970, the magazine, or more strictly speaking, the serialised encyclopedia, each week enticed the reader with powerful images and stories. Edited by Richard Cavendish, the magazine was fabulously illustrated with photos and articles about the most intriguing people working magick and practicing strange rituals. All this was indelibly impressed into the imagination of the young artist-witch that I was becoming; I desperately wanted to emmulate the art and magick of this publication. Soon after returning to Sydney in 1983, I joined a revolution, said to be as significant as Gutenberg’s invention of movable type (the printing press) — I began using an Apple Macintosh computer. Significantly, the first publication I worked on as a designer was a New Age magazine. I was hooked. You could say that for the next 30 years I have been honing and developing my skills in graphic design for the purpose of creating this particular magazine. But OTHER magazine is not merely any magazine, it is designed to make a difference. As the creative director, I'm interested in making art and design that will be as seductive to our readers as the work of our writers. I invite you sup of our vinum sabbati.
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Our audience wants to you to show us the world through the eyes of the Other. The Other is a constant source of fascination, intrigue, horror, amazement, and inspiration for Fallen embers... by Niiveleggelja
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us. We can be simultaneously attracted and
you in advance of the next issue. We publish twice a year at the summer and winter solstices. Don’t miss our next issue on
repulsed by what other people are and what they
21st June 2014.
do. Our audience particularly wants to know why
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never really got to know the other before, then
OTHER magazine will seek to investigate into these lives and experiences now.
COMING in the next issue If you liked our first Issue Zero then you’ll love Issue One. December’s 2013 solstice issue will be our first print publication. Offering a huge range of features, interviews, articles, and over 120 pages of OTHER magazine goodness for the holiday season—don’t miss out.
Mt Franklin, the longest running Pagan festival in Australia
Maxine Sanders, the Firechild interview
Kevin Rolly and the oilgraphic technique
Iconic Heavy Neo-Celtic band Omnia offers us their raison d'être
O T H E R M A G A Z I N E
ISSN 2202-9869 (Print) ISSN 2203-0298 (Online)
Issue Zero: published November 2013 FREE Issue Zero: published 31 October 2013
Photo: Back cover by Tim Hartridge. Front cover by Eva Collins