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FDL Movie Night Preview: It’s Witchcraft!

6:13 pm in Culture, Movie Night by Lisa Derrick

 

With the equinox nearly upon us and the mysterious rites of spring soon to make themselves felt, it’s time for magic and merriment. Join us Monday night as we discuss two documentaries about the development of one aspect of paganism, witchcraft. In one documentary we’ll learn how Gerald Gardner used history and mythology–and a bit of help from Aleister Crowley– to concoct a viable and valid faith, Wicca, and spawned a global movement. Oh yeah, he also helped repel Hilter…

In the other we’ll visit witches in their homes, see their sacred rites–and get gander at some groovy  1970s clothes and decor.

So let’s take a trip back through the halcyon days of yore and meet the folks who created a folk religion, one which has spawned thousands of books, is now (finally) recognized by the U.S. military, and may actually work as well as any other religion.

See you on the front page of Firedoglake.com at 5pm west coast time Monday. Remember to register (if you aren’t already–it’s the button on the upper left of the page) and log in. Type your questions and comments in the comment box and hit send. And refresh your page frequently to see replies.

Saturday Art: Cameron, Art and Magick

1:36 pm in Uncategorized by Lisa Derrick

Dark Angel” portrait of Jack Parsons, by Cameron

(Second image, below the jump ,is NSFW and was declared by LAPD in 1957 to be “lewd”)

Cameron Parson–she  despised her first name, Marjorie–led a storied life, filled with art, passion and magick. Born in Iowa, she joined the Navy during World Wat II, but went AWOL when her brother was injured and spent the rest of the war confined to base, leaving with an honorable discharge. Following her family to Pasadena, she met Jack Parsons, a notorious and brilliant rocket scientist, one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the discoverer of solid rocket fuel.

Months earlier Jack Parsons–a follower of English occult practitioner Aleister Crowley, dubbed “the Great Beast” and “the wickedest man win the world” and head of the magickal group Ordo Templi Orientis–had performed a series of magickal rituals with a boarder at his rambling house. The boarder, who shall remain nameless, was a pulp fiction writer who would later go on to found one of the most goofy and litigious celebrity-heavy cults in modern history. He and Parsons had performed sex magick to conjure up an “elemental” girl friend, the Scarlet Woman, Babalon, for Jack, since the boarder had taken up with Jack’s current lover, Betty, the half sister of Parsons’ ex-wife.

Parsons and the boarder performed the sex magick rituals, and Cameron walked into Parsons house, a bohmian enclave of writers, artists and oddballs. The two became lovers and eventually married, with Cameron becoming more and more immersed in the O.T.O., though she took breaks from Jack and his lifestyle in the desert, at a Swiss nunnery and in Mexico.

In 1952, as Jack and Cameron were preparing to leave for Mexico where Parsons–who had lost his security clearance at  Hughes Aircraft–had been offered a job, the scientist dropped a container of mercury fulminate and blew himself up. It was a grisly end for the Dark Angel. Cameron retired to the California desert for three years and then emerged again in Los Angeles with a series of paintings called Parchments, and reaffirming her friendship with Walter Berman and others in his circle. Fellow occultist Kenneth Anger cast her opposite Anais Nin in his  1956 film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and director Curtis Harrington filmed Cameron’s artwork and rituals for The Wormwood Star.

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Food Sunday: Holy Trifecta, Bunny Man!

10:14 am in Uncategorized by Lisa Derrick

Today is a holiday trifecta: Passover, Easter, and the First Day of the Opening of the Book of the Law. Passover is always the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, and Jesus was celebrating Passover on a Friday when all the heavy stuff went down, so the two holidays coincide; Easter is always during the eight days of Passover.

The Opening of the Book of the Law, a holy days event celebrated by the minority faith of Thelema, is held on April 8, 9 and 10 to venerate the transmission of the Book of the Law to Aleister Crowley in 1904. Liber AL, as it is known by those who practice Thelema, reveals in three short chapters many esoteric and mystical ideas that form the foundation of Thelema.

Passover and Easter have traditional meals. The Passover feast, based on the meal served in Exodus, should have lamb and bitter herbs; and for the days of Passover, all leavened food should be removed from the home and not eaten. Some people have special plates and flatware used only for Passover. Coca-Cola even makes a special Passover version of their soda which has no corn syrup. Certain sects of Christianity also reject leavened food during Passover. Lamb can be served traditionally for both Passover and Easter, referencing the lamb’s blood on the lintel the Jews used to mark their home so the angel would pass over and not kill their first born. For Christians, the “lamb of God,” aka Jesus.

In parts of Europe, ham became popular during medieval times at least for several reasons: Pigs were often easier and cheaper to raise; the pig slaughtered in the fall would have cured by spring; and the avoidance of pork at Easter–or at any time– was a way to suss out who in the community were Jews faking their conversion to Christianity (called conversos or Marranos) in order to avoid death, the Inquisition or expulsion.

Liber AL calls for

A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.

and urges Thelemites always to:

Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam!

That gives plenty of dietary leeway. Today we’re celebrating the Manifestation of Nuit, the first chapter of the Book of the Law with a Middle Eastern feast (Crowley received the Book of the Law in Egypt): Chicken shwarma, rice, tabouli, humus, roast leg of lamb, deviled eggs with lardons, baklava, and a cake baked in the shape of lamb, with cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut (and not from a mix, either; our co-hostess bakes from scratch as does her husband who is making the baklava!). She writes: Read the rest of this entry →