Sunday, 28 August 2011

Brighton Occultists Rock

The Occult revolution is upon us, you can feel it with every new event, each conjunction, that the energy is returning. We just celebrated another turn of the wheel in Brighton with the Summer of Love, orchestrating not a conference, not an event, but a happening.

It was a welcome return for Scarlet Imprint which was aptly founded in this Regency dream of pleasure and the collision of occidental and oriental opulence. Brighton has been smeared with the ash of Crowley’s cremation, pierced by the counterculture of TOPY, seen the Occulture Festival rise and fall,  and proudly, queerly, keeps reinventing itself. We are part of that history. It is a city living out an eternal youth, open to all possibilities of transformation. It reeks of sin, but is self-possessed, dressed with feathers and glitter for an end of the world party, any day or night of the god damned week. My, what a perfect place to inaugurate a Summer of Love.  Floating in an architecture of mirage and fantasy, the magical possibilities of such a place can be carved out of the air. We chose to do so, and Brighton, we will return.

The Greek temple façade of the Unitarian church faces the brothels-turned-bars, and the stables of the palace with their honeycomb tunnels for the facilitation of consort between princes and whores. Based on the Athenian temple of Hephaestus, it seemed a peculiarly apt for such a gathering of the children of Cain to hammer out their differences and forge new links. The message of the Unitarians is a welcome one, an inclusive post-Christian recognition that we can learn from all spiritual traditions. This is what we are intent on doing. A melting of misunderstandings, antagonisms, and misplaced scene elitism, like so much ice-cream in a skull cup. Perhaps we can learn to share our common experiences? This is the future, a wilful destruction of the artificial divisions between magician, witch, orders and the disorderly. Of course we can still disagree, debate and dispute, but we must also be able to dissolve like the proverbial LSD sugar cube on the tongue of a neophyte.

So we thank those came, the readers, the writers, the poets, the dancers, the musicians, the ritualists, the witches, the carcists, the wild women, the publishers, the book dealers, the whole panoply, friends in this endeavour.

To have Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold in England was a blessing. Having worked all Summer on his book under the spreading branches and dry perfume of the fig trees, they finally bore fruit. Perfect timing. The baskets of quartered erotic flesh that we served will make yet more sense when you read what Nicholaj has to say about Pomba Gira and the fig tree in Hell. When Nicholaj made his offering to Pomba Gira we must remember that this is still a city of whores, of free women, of knee-trembling back alleys and sexual adventures. When you read the accounts of Maria Padilha, you can also remember another Maria, Maria Fitzherbert, the uncrowned Catholic mistress of King George whose namesake pub was where we dashed to buy drinks between speeches. I remember my own offerings to Pomba Gira, not so far from this spot, and wonder what magical skeins connect them all.
Nicholaj is the real deal, a serious student and teacher with a vast working and comparative knowledge of Brazilian and Cuban cults, Tantra, Witchcraft and the Western Magical Tradition. He has put the time in, and it shows. Though we are waiting on the printer we were able to present him with one of the dramatic red moiré copies of his Pomba Gira which presided over the proceedings of the day from the stage. Today was another taste of the ripe fruit as we all wait hungrily for the book!

Jake Stratton-Kent continues to blaze through the implications of Geosophia for Western magic. This two volume work is going to gain momentum over the next century, and will be recognised as a key text for understanding all the magic that is to come. Jake writes prose like carving marble, and that makes demands on the reader which require commitment. Magic is Work. In the flesh, he is an electric imp, insistent, enthused, and obviously in command of his material. If you are a student of magic at whatever stage of your career, it would be worth paying attention to and engaging with JSK who rightly venerates the bones rather than just paying homage to the appeals of the ephemeral flesh. 

Stephen Grasso was tempted down from his South London haunts to lay down some dapper patter. A psychogeographical tour through the magic of his city. A dérive that was not derivative, but reminded us of Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor and Alan Moore at his best. A claustrophobic clawing through the dirt and bowels of the city to find the magic in the urban overwritten city of the Moon Goddess. Props to Stephen for daring to compose literature and incant it over a live audience. For those who haven’t followed his work, there are essays in Devoted and XVI you may want to follow up. Watch this man.

In an horrific emerald frilled shirt I delivered a piece on Lucifer in relation to the grimoires and the ritual of the pact. This has been a subject which I have spent some years working on, and which notably the BlackDragon has elucidated further for me. Publishing for purely magical reasons has these results, as does sacrifice and ordeal. It seems that some of the speech appropriately eluded the camera crew, but a fuller printed version of this will be forthcoming from Scarlet Imprint.

Alkistis Dimech set herself a major task in The Mirror of Sacrifice. To communicate the essence of Butoh, an avant-garde Japanese dance form which she has practised for the last ten years, and to relate that to elements of shamanic training, magic, ritual and performance. It was a challenge which she rose to. We are pleased that amongst our audience and readers are a number of dancers who resonate to this body-based approach. Alkistis will be giving a further talk at the Day of the Dead in Glastonbury and is engaged in more writing work to follow her essay on witchcraft in XVI.  

Ulysses Black is an unfamiliar name and deliberately so. His durational performance of black mirror staring lasted from event opening until he took the stage. His was the final striptease and reveal for the day event. Ulysses Black outed himself publically as the latest face and phase of the man born as Orlando Britts, whose Totemic Invocations written as Jack Macbeth is one of the most sought after of modern grimoires.  A performance artist, his discussion of identity, ritual and action asked uncomfortable questions of all of us. Who exactly are we? On his evidence, Beuys and Nitsch should be recognised as part of the occult syllabus. It all came to a sticky end where the artist ate his own words. An important moment and another blurring of the lines between performance, ritual and magic. 

The evening event gave Nous the chance to take to the decks. With all the talk of Assassins in the occult milieu we thought it best to have a genuine one to spin the tunes for the attending Templars and Witches. His brand of sonic heresy and desire for elusive perfection are close to our hearts. We also know him as a serious academic hermeticist which his essays in Howlings and XVI attest to.

Michael Azzato thrilled with his Egyptian dance. He demonstrated how to make an entrance in an unashamed clinging cerise number. A dance of hip shimmying virtuosity won over all present. Michael is not just eye-candy, but a talented performer and devotee. An exhuberant  and uplifting performance in front of his magical peers which was greeted with appreciative ululation.

Alkistis enthralled with a virtuoso butoh dance. It was a privilege to watch such an intimate dance. I have never seen an audience so intent on catching every instant and nuance of a performance. A fragile, difficult and otherworldly experience unfolded. The emotional impact was profound. I lost track of the number of people who rushed up after the performance, compelled to hold her in the cathartic wake of their journey with her. We deliberately did not film this.

Stephen Grasso finished with his crate of voodoo vinyl and we were soon on the steps of our requisitioned temple drinking in the end of the night. Boundaries dissolved, ritual finished, glasses in hand. Three performers gyrated their hula hoop routine in the street for kicks not cash, a hybrid fusion of Pomba Gira and Rofocale. A good sign. The Brighton night is balmy and perverse enough to contain it all.

We have more to do, and yes, that is an account of just a hundred people in a hijacked church, of a vibrant collision of magic, music, ritual and performance. A moment, a happening, a what-the-hell was that? But those who are making the effort are shot through with the energy from it like a stick of Brighton rock. How many magicians does it take to create change, to make the grass green, the flowers grow?
The game is on.

Podcast of the speeches to follow courtesy of

1 comment:

ununknownoknownu said...