Tuesday 21 December 2010

Do They Know It's Mithras?

Bracken House Sundial
Sunday 12th December saw the first act of Magick Concrète. Mark Pilkington and I took a 3 hour walk from Tottenham Court Road, through Crowley's Holborn beneath the pealing bells of St. Paul's, to the displaced remains of a Mithraeum at Walbrook. Along the way a number of field recordings were made. Mark then processed the recordings through his modular synthesiser set-up - MISTY. I have subsequently taken these recordings, to create a ceremonial structure, overlaying them with readings from a Mithraic Ritual. We are releasing the the resulting track "Do they know it's Mithras", as a free download. It is possibly the first ever occult charity record. Each download will accrue magical energy for worthy causes over the Christmas period. By downloading this song, you are pledging 13 minutes worth of pure oja. It's a radically different working of the "English Heretic" family favourite standard "Open The Mithraic Stargate".

Statue of Ceres at Holborn Viaduct

The last few weeks have seen tumultuous scenes in our capital city. As education becomes the key symbol of a gnostic power struggle, "Do they know it's Mithras?" is a timely ritual. Knowledge as power, gnosis as the power of psychic freedom. The Persian Mithras is a gnostic deity appropriated by the Roman military. Education - and by inference knowledge - sacrificed at the behest of the military industrial complex. The Feast Of Mithras, imported to Rome, took place on 25th December, at the culmination of the week-long festival of a Saturnalia. It was a celebration of the return of the sun in the darkest time of the year. Whilst the recent vote was passed to increase tuition fees, it may represent the necessity for a more autonomous future. Though it may be possible to handicap the right to formal education, what cannot be taken away is brightness and potential, an unconquerable Sun, that transcends class and wealth. Perhaps this is the time to imagine the ludic revolution as envisaged by Bob Black. In this respect "Do they know it's Mithras?", is an economic sacrifice to precipitate such a revolution: an opportunity to steal from the fire of serious play. Black inspires the notion of the gift economy, lessons as presents. To be in the ever-present and see the ever in the present - akin to P.K. Dick's "the empire never ended" - is the initiatory lesson in concrete magic.

The remains of a Mithraeum at Walbrook

The track is dedicated particularly to the activism of lecturers and students alike, who have shown both courage and vision, using the society of the spectacle and its machinery to subversively bright ends. Moreover, that the vital tools of humour and imagination can disarm and re-vision evokes Octavio Paz's statement, "a chained man need only close his eyes to make the world explode". To mix the puer of Jupiter with the senex of Saturn is dissolve the lectern between pedagogue and pupil. As such, "Do they know it's Mithras?" is a ceremonial volley from the esoteric underground of the spectacle, a shadow academy - the society of the spectral. On a more hermetic level perhaps it is necessary for us to dwell in the saturnine night of discontented winters in order to glimpse the jupiterian light and new possibilities - what the alchemists called the lumen naturae.
The black dog of Newgate

The track serves another purpose. As we know, Christmas is often a time of celebration induced stress and unwelcome guests. Therefore, rather than treating this track as a piece of festive entertainment, and because of its somewhat atonal nature, I would recommend playing it towards the end of Saturnalia when one wishes to rid the House and Parliament of toffee-scoffing hangers on. A banishing perambulation to work off the gluttony of capital.

A common custom during Saturnalia was role reversal, in which masters would play the slave and slave the master. This psychodrama is patently obvious in the recent demonstrations; the would-be buffoon king and his equine wife pelted with paint is a masquerade conducted by the very lords of misrule. It also shows the arbitrary nature of power. Words as power, the mithraic liturgy, used in this hymn, contains a vowel based mantra. GRS Mead believes these to be a form of theurgic language, a nomina barbara. A set of seemingly meaningless utterances, they may actually represent a yogic exercise in breath control, of harnessing emotion, forging from the fire of eiron, anger and energy tending unto change. Our final instruction for the listener is to gather their family and friends around the mithraic tree and join in with the mantric section from the ritual. In doing so, one will only serve to raise the mercury to boiling point in the charity oja-ometer installed at the English Heretic HQ. Be warned though, like all dodgy gurus before, we may run off with the proceeds to build ourselves a Scientological yacht somewhere exotic.
St. Pauls, the luna temple

Monday 29 November 2010

Found Object Podcast Volume 1.

I recently took part in the first, and very enjoyable Found Objects Podcast.  The inaugural meeting took place at the Angel pub off Denmark Street: hosted by Ken Hollings, along with Dolly Dolly (David Yates) and Andrew Demetrius. David has distilled the two hour conversation into a podcast for Found Objects. Ken discussed Morning Of The Magicians, Andrew -  HPL artwork, David - A honeycombe from his bee keeping interests. Myself, I took along Christopher Evans' Landscapes Of The Night.

The Actophile Society: Great Yarmouth

For English Heretic: Andy, Dave and Hannah
For K-Punk: Mark, Zoe, George and Michelle
Destination: Great Yarmouth - Louis Tussaud's House Of Wax, Regent Street and Promenade.

Great Yarmouth is one of my favourite places. I first visited it about 10 years ago with my then wife Helen and  our son Dave. Helen had just found out she was pregnant with Hannah and was suffering really bad morning sickness. So it didn't help that we booked into the seediest hotel, serving the most gelatinous minestrone soup and salads lubricated with a homemade dressing - of a consistency more David Lynch than Paul Newman. The hotel proprietors were Harry and Terry. Terry was a muscular middle aged Geordie who did a drag routine on a Tuesday evening in the exquisitely uncomfortable and bijoux lounge bar. On the wall of the stairwell leading to the bedrooms, there was a photograph of Terry -  dressed as a mermaid. Still, it remains one of our favourite holidays - like being in a George Kuchar film...

Recently I've been pondering a new kind of psychogeography - one for the family, after all every coordinate of pretension and speculation has been annexed by some flavour of the 'art'.  The Society Of The Actophile is therefore a natural extension. A play on Bataille's esoteric cult of revolutionary sacrifice - The Actophile makes an apotheosis of the beach and, by extrapolation, a religion of leisure. Whilst this conceit is obviously bathed in lazy irony, Actophilia has real potential. It's where the situationist disciples of the ludic revolution go on a day out, more charabanc than Left Bank.

As a place for praxis, the beach itself is a clean talisman, waiting for dead seals to be drawn upon it  and jetsammed to the subconscious of the next tide. 

One only need look at the revved up world of Jeff Keens, the terminal sands of JGB, the incubal revenants of M.R. James' Burnstow and, the hints of R'lyeh at Dunwich to know that seaside psychogeography represents the most powerful frontier between what is known and a queasy occult: where the relics of a hideous pre-historical weekend break are washed up as the future's lagan.

Louis Tussaud's House Of Wax

Plan For The Assassination Of Princess Ann

The Ultimate Power Electronics Supergroup: Eichmann on laptop; Black Panther on beaters; Manson on vocals and Beads

Forensic evidence proves that God told the Yorkshire Ripper to do it

A three eyed, idiot dwarf, cannibal killer from Poland - an identity parade nightmare

Fontastic Diner

Trish Clowes' Tangent - the best name for a jazz band ever

Onomatopeaic Coffee Bar... an even better name for a Jazz band

Dave in retro holiday photoshoot 

With a name like Gypsy Roaselee, you'd expect her to be clairvoyant

Existential Noddy, reframed as Kowalski in Vanishing Point

The Question is... What kind of Family?

The shores of Boleskine atop a Carousel

Joyland - This is what i'd imagine the end of the world looks like to a 3yr old

Brutal Sports Centre

Ridiculous food sculptures - Oppenheim at the Seaside

A place to perform the treasure seeking rituals of Magick Concrete

Lost Underwater Chippies

Roadside East Anglia

Yarmouth - after De Chirico

Gothic Hotel

Sunday 21 November 2010

Neptune - Equester

On our way down to Ilfracombe with Dave and Hannah, we drove past Dunster. From the road, you can see the Castle. The kids looked suitably impressed. Yes, it's a fairy tale castle. We decided to visit it on the way back. Dunster is just outside Minehead and I've subsequently discovered some great connections with horses about the place (that is feeding into the work Hippomania which will be appearing in the next Wyrd Tales).

Dunster is a medieval village and the castle dominates. On the other side of the village is a folly, in the style of a ruined tower - it's called Conygar Tower. Apparently there also used to be a huge statue of Neptune visible from the sea, in the same woodland. I've yet to find any depictions of this statue.

Last week, I was heavily involved in the writing of Hippomania  - the visionary phase of the process. One of the scenes involved the character discovering a drowned woman in a pond. Later returning to the pond there is a stone the shape of a horses head. It started getting me thinking about horses, water and drowning?

Of course there is the phrase "you can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink". While this cliche has moral over-tones, it's also a great phrase to encapsulate the work of the imagination. The imagination will do what it wants to do, ultimately it's a stubborn mare that has its own agenda.

Kerenyi has a section on Demeter and Poseidon's stallion marriage.

"It was told that when Poseidon began to pursue Demeter with amorous importunities... Demeter turned into a mare and mingled with grazing steeds... Poseidon perceived the trick, and coupled with Demeter in the shape of a stallion... The wrathful goddess turned into Erinys, the goddess of anger, and was actually called Demeter Erinys until she washed away her anger in the river Ladon... She bore to Poseidon a daughter and at the same time the steed Arion, the horse with a black mane."

So, both Neptune and Poseidon are the "God of Horses", as well as the sea. Neptune Equester is the God of horse racing.

There is where it becomes interesting. Minehead, the neighbouring town to Dunster is famous for its May Day hobby horse ritual. The hobby horse is shaped like a boat. The hobby horse also parades through Dunster. Last year, the parade returned to Dunster Castle. There are some amazing old photographs of the ceremony here:

which suggests the origin of the hobby horse:

"... be in commemoration of the wreck of a vessel at Minehead in remote times, or the advent of a sort of phantom ship which entered the harbour without Captain or crew. Once the custom was encouraged, but now is much neglected, and perhaps soon will fall into desuetude"

"King Neptune" plays a central role in the long-standing tradition of the "Line-crossing ceremony" initiation rite still current in many navies, coast guards, and merchant fleets. When ships cross the equator, "Pollywogs" (sailors who had not done such a crossing before) receive "subpoenas" to appear before King Neptune and his court (usually including his first assistant Davy Jones and Her Highness Amphitrite and often various dignitaries, who are all represented by the highest-ranking seamen).

And this is where it gets crazy!

Davy Jones is really an epithet for the state of death of drowned sailors... possibly a corruption of Devil Jonah...

Davy Jones (the dimunitive singer with 1960's pop band Monkees), orginally harboured ambitions to become a jockey.

In July 1992, Hampshire-based Anita Jones, wife of said pop star Davy Jones, had two mares attacked within days of each other. One received a wound to the shoulder. One had her genitals slashed and a fence post driven inside her. This was perhaps the most infamous incident in the horrific phenomenon of horse mutilation.

For more on  horse mutilation see:

The following section is particularly interesting...

Clive Meux, senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry and a consultant at Broadmoor hospital, believes the pathology of horse attackers is similar to that of sadistic killers who target people. "I think that many of these attackers get some sort of sadomasochistic pleasure from inflicting pain on animals," said Dr Meux. "You often find the human victims of sadomasochistic killers have wounds to their genitals and eyes. What we have with horse attackers is somebody with the same drive and passion but who chooses a horse rather than a human to fulfill sexual desires. But we cannot say whether they will eventually move on to humans."
In Germany, where there have been about 400 horse attacks since 1993,a former horse caretaker was arrested during the summer. He admitted attacking nine horses because of his hatred of women. The attacks bring a chilling reminder of Peter Schaffer's 1973 play Equus, where the main character, Alan, pokes out the eyes of horses, who for him represent love and sexual passion.
For psychiatrists, however, the continued failure to catch a real-life perpetrator means they are still unable to explain why horses in particular are targeted. There have been cases of geese, hens and even guinea pigs being attacked, but horses are the most popular victim. Dr Meux said: "It may be because of the symbolism of horses in mythology and their alleged magical powers."

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Executioner's Songs: The Wurzels - Live at the Ipswich Beer Festival

It's not often I feel the urge to write gig reviews. I did a couple for Wire magazine a few years back. However, when Richard called me to say The Wurzels were playing at the Ipswich Beer Festival, I couldn't really say no. Ironically this was just after I had written my essay on Kensington, in which I boldly stated that "certitude is the concrete engagement with life".  I had resolved to live with reality as it actually is, rather than a fantasy projection of some infinitely glamorous other existence. So I really perceived Richard's invite as a message from the Gods, much like Crowley felt compelled to treat every action as significant following his reception of "The Book Of The Law".

The first thing to say about The Wurzels is that they have that cheerful look of the ruddy faced rustic Satanist. I suppose this has its archetype in the look of Charles Grey and the activities of Fred West. The highlight of the set for me is their take on "Una Paloma Blanca" ("Iam a cider drinker"). "Una Paloma Blanca" was a hit for celebrity pederast Jonathan King. It was also famously the song played in the prison van that took Gary Gilmore to be executed.

During the set, lead singer Tommy Banner strips down to a brown thong. He turns around and gyrates his  - doubtless heavily flagellated during scrumpy libated rites -  posterior to the audience. It's an act of transgression that puts me in mind of the performance of Eugene Robinson of Jazz Metal outfit Oxbow. I can imagine "I've got a brand new combine harvester" chortling from a transistor radio on the patio of 25 Cromwell Road during the shimmering heatwave of 1976.

In fact there is a link between The Wurzels and Fred West. The Wurzels covered the disco classic "Go West" by The Village People.  When West committed suicide visiting football fans would taunt teams in Devon and Avon by singing "Go West"... 

The Wurzels are not so much saucy as  pan-erotic; the kind of people that would engage in romantic liaisons with farm machinery. If love between farmer and tractor seems absurd, then I would point the reader to the following case of autoerotic death detailed in The Journal of Forensic Sciences:

"A 42 year-old Asian man was found hanging by the neck, suspended by a rope attached to the raised shovel of a John Deere Model JD410, diesel powered, backhoe tractor...The decedent was suspended in a semi-sitting position by a cloth safety harness strap wrapped around his neck and clipped to a rope that was hooked to the raised shovel of the backhoe tractor. A towel was between the loose fitting strap and the victim's neck. A long piece of plastic pipe was connected on one end by conduit tape to the hydraulic control lever of the shovel in the operator's compartment of the tractor. A broom stick was taped to the other end of the pipe and was partially under the decedent's buttocks. The hydraulic shovel could be easily raised or lowered by slight pressure applied to the broomstick. The decedent was fully clothed, and his genitals were not exposed. No pornographic materials, women's clothing items, or mirrors were at the scene...He had no known psychiatric illness.
Determination of autoerotic death was made from decedent history and circumstantial indicators. The victim kept a journal of love poetry dedicated to his tractor that he had named "Stone," outlining his desire for them to "soar high" together. The victim was unmarried and lived with his parents on their farm. He also had a reasonable expectation of privacy for an extended period, as he engaged in this behavior in the late evening down by the barn. Cause of death was determined to be accidental autoerotic asphyxiation with carbon monoxide intoxication as a contributor. [1]

Towards the end of the set, The Wurzels cover "Ruby Ruby" by the The Kaiser Chiefs. It's a frighteningly easy mutation, replacing the chorus with "Oooarrr oooarr ay". Indeed I can't help thinking that the pork pie hat,  turned up jeans and suit jacket look of The Kaiser Chiefs is an updated version of the country bumpkin stylings of  The Wurzels. Perhaps The Wurzels are The Kaiser Chiefs', cider drinking, combine harvester mating, rural uncles?

1] Dietz, P.E., & O'Halloran, Ronald,"Autoerotic Fatalities with Power Hydraulics", Journal of Forensic Sciences, No. 2, March 1993, pp. 359-364)

Monday 8 November 2010

Magick Concrete

As anyone who has spoken to me for more than about 10 minutes will know, my creative inspirations are quite transparent. For years I've been obsessed with JG Ballard (who in a weird way, I consider a surrogate father figure), and Kenneth Grant (though I would NEVER seek practical parenting advice from his words). I've spent alot of time introspectively trying to tie together their creative worlds. The brook to bridge between JGB and Grant appears to be Ballard's refusal to countenance anything paranormal. This seemingly irreconcilable difference has actually provided me with the dialectical fuel to see a possibility of synthesising their mythos'. Where Grant and Ballard meet is in their appreciation of the science of the imagination, revealed through Surrealism. The pivotal figure in the equation is Salvador Dali and his siddhi of manifesting  - the "concrete irrational".

I've recently started moving the English Heretic project abroad, following the imaginal across the channel to Europe. In doing this, I've been groping for a suitable moniker to describe the research. Of course the hankering for exotic soil is a subconscious one analogous with Roussel's "Impressions Of Africa".

I've decided upon "Magick Concrete". Starting in 2011, I'll be developing this project. I envisage there being three broad aspects to it: "Theory" (essays, discussions, hermeneutics); Art (Concretised Irrational); Practice (Ritual/Fieldwork). Of course this may all change on the hot deserts of the imagination, but it feels like the time (albeit it told with soft clocks) is right.

Saturday 23 October 2010

George Sanders And The Abandoned Sausages

Extracts from David Wilde's "A Shadow History Of Rock Music"

"One of the more cinematic groups to come out of the whole English Americana scene was "The Abandoned Sausages".  Their debut album was a lush post-rock imagined documentary, based on the final years of the actor George Sanders. The archetypal cad of British Cinema, Sanders had heavily invested in a Fife meat company and pig factory,  ironically named "CadCo"...  When the company went belly up he lost his money and barely escaped prosecution. Sanders committed suicide in April 1972, taking an overdose of Nembutal, at a hotel near Barcelona. His suicide note read: "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck."

The record received mixed reviews - criticised for its derivative nature, borrowing heavily from Scottish Post-Rock giants - Mogwai...  One particularly harsh jibe lampooned - 'The Future of post-rock? more like rock 'n' sausage roll..' In the light of these scathing attacks, The Abandoned Sausages changed their name to Hogwai and were never heard from again... "

English Heretic are proud to be re-releasing this lost classic in the near future as part of their English Americana research project.