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Category Archives: Modern Satanism
Posted: November 7, 2020 at 9:02 pm
While Lady Gaga and John Legend campaigned for the Biden-Harris ticket in Pennsylvania, rapper Lil Pump joined President Trump in Michigan. USA TODAY
On the eve of the 2020 election several artists took the Biden-Harris campaign stage in a final plea for support from their fan bases. The next morning adversaries rekindledold, QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories to discredit Lady Gaga's political outcry. The common theme: Gaga is a witch.
More: Fact check: Pennsylvania voters exposed to COVID-19 can still vote
One Facebook user called Gaga a high ranking witch in the music industry, referencing her relationship with Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic.
The same post highlighted the slogan Battle for the soul of the nation as evidence that Gaga was involved in something sinister. The Biden-Harris claim has been using that slogansince August. The slogan is not specific to Gaga, who only joined in campaign efforts on Nov. 2, andcannot prove that the star is a involved with satanism.
These demonic spirits of witchcraft, sexual perversion, and child sacrifice are seducing too many Christians at an alarming rate, Jeremiah Johnson Ministries posted on Facebook about Biden and Gaga on Nov. 3. Thatpost was later deleted.
USA TODAY reached out to both posters for comments and has not received a response.
Abramovic has been the subjectof conspiracy theories surrounding witchcraft dating back to PizzaGate in October 2016. When Hillary Clintons campaign chairman John Podestas emails were released on WikiLeaks, an email between Abramovic and Podestas brother Tony Podesta sparked speculation.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Marina Abramovic(Photo: Donna Ward, FilmMagic)
I am so looking forward to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place. Do you think you will be able to let me know if your brother is joining? Abramovic wrote in the email.
Proponents of the conspiracy theory argued the email was evidence that she and the Clinton campaign we involved in witchcraft and satanism.
Abramovic later said Spirit Cooking referred to a dinner she hosted for a group of benefactors to her art institute.
More: Fact check: False claim linking Paul Pelosi Jr., Hunter Biden and Burisma
The dinner shared the name with a 1996 book and 1997 performance piece shed previously worked on. The Museum of Modern Art described the cookbook as a series of 'aphrodisiac recipes'that serve as evocative instructions for actions or thoughts.
Abramovics performance involved her painting strange recipes in blood on a gallerys walls. We had lots of fun, she told the New York Times about the dinner. There was no human blood, or baby serving, or sex orgies.
Marina Abramovi's emotionally harrowing journey through Brazil is documented in her new film.(Photo: Courtesy of Cau Ito)
I really want to ask these people, Can you stop with this? Can you stop harassing me? Cant you see that this is just the art Ive been doing for 50 years of my life? Abramovic said of the conspiracy theories that have caused to her and her coworkers to receive death threats.
Lady Gaga became entangled in the conspiracy theory when social media users began sharing a photo of the singer with Abramovic and a body-painted model. Several posts falsely claimed the model was Ryan Singleton, an aspiring model whose body was found in Baker, California, on Sept. 21, 2013. Posters arguedGaga and Abramovic were involved in an illegal satanic spirit cooking hunt and party just days after Singleton went missing.
A July fact-check by Reuters found that the photo was taken at a July 2013 art show and the model involved was not Singleton. Trina Merry, the body paint artist featured in the show, dispelledthe claimmultiple times on Twitter.
Other social media users shared photos of Gaga atthe event, claiming she was involved in a "sickening" ritual pertaining to "Satanic Democrat Pedophile Cannibals."
The photo featured Gaga and Abramovic eating something off what looked like a bloody body. Lead Stories reported in May that the two "good friends" were not drinking blood, butengagingin performance art.
Lady Gaga in a scene from her Abramovic Method video.(Photo: Vimeo)
Despite these efforts by fact-checkers and artists to debunk these claims, some continue to argue Gaga is a witch. USA TODAY could find no evidence to support that theory.
Neither Abramovic nor Gagas representation has responded to USA TODAYs emails.
More: Fact check: Joe Biden 'chumps' quote at Pennsylvania rally taken out of context
We rate the claim that Lady Gagais involved in witchcraft or satanism FALSE because it is not supported by our research. Claims that Gaga is a witch stem from misrepresentations ofa 2013 art event and her relationship with performance artist Marina Abramovic, whose own false accusations of witchcraft tie back to the PizzaGate conspiracy theory. The resurgence of this claim comes directly after Gaga expressed support for the Biden-Harris campaign.
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Posted: at 9:02 pm
As I write this piece, the United States has still not declared a victor for the 2020 presidential election. By the time this piece is published, a winner will likely have been declared, legal struggles and recounts could delay a definitive verdict for months.
Likewise, the painfully close nature of this race, close both for Democrats assured of a former Vice President Joe Biden landslide and President Donald J. Trump supporters who anticipated a sweeping victory, means that those hoping to come away from the election with a clear picture of the character and values of America will be left with more questions than answers.
But perhaps therein lies the point. To call America a divided country in modern times would be an understatement: Across both state and party lines, Americans are living under significantly different systems of law, subscribing to radically different accounts of reality and engaging in exceedingly varied walks of life.
Consider, for example, the referendum passed in Oregon this week to decriminalize illegal drugs, in addition to the legalization (with restrictions) of psilocybin, a psychedelic substance commonly referred to as "magic mushrooms."
We now live in a country where an individual can face criminal charges for marijuana possession in many states, while incurring no criminal penalty for the possession of heroin in at least one. Of course, the legality of drug use is only one out of many examples where the law differs across state lines: Gun control, public education standards and the death penalty figure among other conspicuous examples.
While the right to an abortion is federally legal under Roe v. Wade, access to abortion clinics varies across the country. Furthermore, should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the current Supreme Court, a concern for Democrats now that conservative justices hold a 6-3 majority, the bodily rights of women will become even more disparate across state lines.
Even if we ignore the heterogeneity of state governments, terms such as "American life" and "American culture" prove especially slippery and difficult to define. How many similarities can we really draw between the lives of rural Americans and the lives of city-dwellers?
And among these similarities, how many of them can we call universally American as opposed to universally human? The socio-economic realities facing American citizens quite regularly vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, let alone state to state.
A still more intractable question presents itself when we investigate the differences between the worldviews of Americans with differing political opinions. We no longer argue only over what is right, but also over what is real. The widespread availability of information in the digital age has ensured the widespread availability of misinformation as well.
How can we talk of universal American ideals when we cannot even agree, at a basic level, on what is happening in America? When an online conspiracy theory such as QAnon, which accuses Democratic "elites" of "Satanism" (among other, even more untoward charges) has achieved enough mainstream success that those who support it have won congressional seats this year?
No, none of this disparity is necessarily new in the United States, nor is it necessarily a bad thing on principle that Americans are not tied together by a unifying experience. The problem arises when we ignore the inherent lack of unity in our country. It arises when we talk broadly about "national" issues in a country as large and heterogeneous as America, and then we wonder why nobody can agree on these issues.
But above all else, the problem arises due to our clumsiness in adapting to the digital age. Social media harbors the potential to meaningfully connect people who would never cross paths in a world without modern technology. But so far it has spread more ill-will between strangers than amity. In an ideal society, online news sources could beget a political renaissance of well-informed citizens and easier, quicker access to the going-ons of the world.
But in practice, skepticism of the news has flourished in the digital age like never before, and a greater emphasis on national politics, at the expense of local news sources, threatens to alienate readers, who rarely see a straight line between the content of headlines and the struggles of their daily life.
Although I admire my country and the political philosophy upon which it was founded, a deep problem presents itself in the way we structure our national identity, a problem that will continue to fester if left untreated.
The soul of the United States is not singular. If we want our nation to thrive, we need to start having multifaceted conversations instead of one-dimensional arguments. We need to address a larger scope of issues in politics than the few, somewhat arbitrary ones we find ourselves incessantly revisiting.
We need to look toward a political system that accounts for a great diversity of thought instead of a system that tries to express the vast complexity of American experience in a binary fashion. The sooner we accept these realities, the sooner we can move beyond these last four years of division, confusion and anger.
Daniel Bernstein is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore looking to major in cell biology and neuroscience and mathematics. His column, "Mind You," runs on alternate Fridays.
*Columns,cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
YOUR VOICE|The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our printnewspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 900 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 900 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and collegeaffiliation or department to be considered for publication.Please submit via email too[emailprotected] by 4 p.m. to be consideredforthe following days publication. Columns, cartoons and letters donot necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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Posted: October 27, 2020 at 10:59 pm
There is perhaps no game that sparks as much curiosity and fear as a Ouija board. The flat board with numbers, letters, a few words, and a planchette (aka the boards moving device) is generally synonymous with breaking the veil between the living and dead realms. Many see it as a tool to open horrifying portals while others use it to curiously commune with the other side.
It is also a staple in horror stories, pop culture, entertainment, and certain spiritual practices for many decades. But, despite being such a looming part of our culture, most people dont know the complex history behind Ouija boards.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the Ouija board stems from Spiritualism, a belief that the dead can communicate with the living. Of course, this idea is something that has existed on a global scale for thousands of years. But, it became quite prominent in the United States during the 19th century when childbirth, war, and disease among other things led to shorter life spans and frequent deaths. Many people desired a pathway to connect with lost loved ones and get answers to unresolved issues and questions.
The concept of contacting the dead was seen as socially acceptable and even wholesome in many circles. Of course, this is likely because the faces of Spiritualism were white people. For example, in 1848, people became enraptured by Maggie and Kate Fox, two young sisters who claimed to get messages from spirits through taps on their walls. Their abilities made them household names and further sparked public interest in reaching out to deceased people.
This lead to the birth of talking boards, the precursor to the Ouija board, in the late 1880s. It had letters, numbers, and a small cursor to point towards its script. Its not clear who came up with the first talking board. But technically that person should get credit for laying the groundwork for Ouija boards. Today, Ouija board, talking board, and spirit board are all interchangeable terms to describe the same tool.
It wouldnt be the American way if someone didnt try to further capitalize on the popularity of sances and personal pain, right? And, like most American origin stories, there is a lot of messiness behind the Ouija boards beginnings. Charles Kennard of Baltimore, Maryland didnt care about the spiritualism movement but he did see a profitable business opportunity. The (allegedly) shady businessman teamed up with coffin maker/undertaker E.C. Reiche, a Prussian immigrant, to start producing their own wooden boards. But, when Kennard starting looking for investors, he took credit for the invention.
Theres some debate over Reiches actual involvement. As reported by MyEasternShoreMD, information about Reiches life is spotty at best with little official records and no real credit to him being the Ouija board creator. This makes sense if Kennard simply took credit for Reiches handiwork. But, if that is the case, then why didnt Reiche at least try to put up a legal or verbal fight for his creation? However, leading talking board expert Robert Murch told Baltimore Magazine that Reiche was indeed involved with early productions only to be cut out by Kennard. Ouch.
After Kennards many failed attempts to secure funding, attorney Elijah Bond became interested. They formed Kennard Novelty Company in 1890 along with other investors like William H.A. Maupin, Colonel Washington Bowie, and John F. Green. Bonds sister-in-law Helen Peters also played a key role in creating its handle and possibly the name. Kennard and his colleagues claimed that the board named itself after they asked it. The board said Ouija is an ancient Egyptian phrase which means good luck.
Theres also a popular albeit nonsensical belief that Ouija is a combination of the French and German words for yes (oui + ja). Peters later said she wore a locket with a picture of a woman with the word Ouija over it. It is also possible that the name on the locket may have been misread, especially considering there was a prominent author and activist named Ouida at that time. So, even the name itself boasts a history of (possible) magic and mystery.
However, Peters did convince the patent office to approve the Ouija boards application. She did this through a demonstration that spelled out the officers supposedly unknown name. Its unlikely that they wouldnt already know the officers name but its another interesting addition to the origin story. A patent file confirms she did a demonstration and the patent was issued on February 10th 1891.
The company soon brought Bonds employee William Fuld into the fold, they began to produce boards. They became a hit, quickly opening additional factories before Kennard and Bonds unceremonious booting out of the business. Fuld took over but he strangely died in 1927 after falling from the roof of a new factory one he claimed a Ouija board told him to build.
The Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board game became a cultural staple when it hit shelves for $1.50 in 1891. It was a direct path to ancestors but also a bit of intriguing and escapist Friday night fun amid a tumultuous world. People would gather with family or friends and experience the rush of asking questions as the (then) wooden planchette jumps around to provide an otherworldly answer. Their intentions were by all accounts what many would consider pure. The Ouija board began to appear in sketches for major newspapers and grew in popularity through the disparity of the Great Depression.
Saturday Evening Post/Norman Rockwell
Writers like Pearl Curran and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill all began to use the board for creative inspiration. There were people from certain religious and spiritual backgrounds who saw the board as a form of divination (seeking information from spiritual forces,) which their beliefs condemn. It fell under the umbrella term of witchcraft, which they associated with ungodly deeds.
TV shows took a jovial approach to using a Ouija board. I Love Lucy episode The Sance depicts Lucy faking a sance to find favor with a businessman. However, several stories began to surface about Ouija boards and murder.
In 1930, Clothilde Marchand was killed by Lila Jimerson, who was having an affair with Marchands husband. Jimerson used a Ouija board to convince an associate, Nancy Bowen, that Marchand was a witch who caused Bowens husbands death. Jimerson and Bowen later pled guilty to manslaughter. Despite dark stories involving the Ouija board, many people did not see it as an inherent void of evil. In fact, forty years after Fulds death, Ouija boards outsold than Monopoly games.
Interestingly, the change in attitudes towards the Ouija board stems from none other than The Exorcistin 1973.
The supposedly based on a true story (which has its share of debatable and murky details) seminal horror flick about a girl who is possessed by a demon after playing with a Ouija board scared the fear of Hell into people. It also didnt help that The Exorcists release came at an already uneasy time in America. People were still reeling from the Manson cult murders of the late 1960s and the rise of serial killing sprees by culprits like the Zodiac and Alphabet killers who seemed to use ritual patterns in their murders.
There was also the beginnings of modern Satanism through Anton LaVey, who wrote The Satanic Bible and founded the Church of Satan in 1966. People like John Todd and David Hanson began to plant ideas that evil witchy cults run the world. So, a film with spiritual possession and green vomit spewing all over the place absolutely played further into those fears.
But The Exorcist isnt the first film depiction of a Ouija board as a gateway to possession. The Uninvited (1944) features siblings who host a sance to find out the truth behind a death in the home. It apparently isnt same level the scare fest of The Exorcist.
Suddenly, the Ouija board became an evil and demonic tool. Americans became more consumed by Satanic Panic in the 1980s after a group of Californian kids told their community that their school was a location for rape, prostitution, and satanic activities. These unproven allegations led to a wave of fear among the American public.
So, anything that could be even remotely associated with evil or the occult like the Ouija board, Dungeons & Dragons, and certain types of music became evil. It became even more interesting to rebellious youth who would use them in secret for some possible thrills and scares. Parker Brothers later became acquired by Hasbro, which still continued to sell thousands of boards. Hasbro still sells Ouija boards and owns the trademark for the name.
Ouija boards remain in our current public consciousness as stories about demonic possession continue the thrive. In November 2014, 35 Bolivian students were hospitalized because of trances, sweating, and rapid heartbeats after playing with a Ouija board. There have been stories of mass fainting and spirit possession in Mexico, hysteria, and even the rise of a 2015 viral game called Charlie Charlie. Players would create a make shift version of a Ouija board with yes and no on a piece of paper. The game uses two pencils to supposedly chat with a demonic spirit.
Meanwhile, the Ouija boards new notoriety as a symbol of evil took over the horror genre. In 1986, the first movie in the Witchboard franchise hit theaters. The story follows Linda and Jim, who become haunted by a ghost after a Ouija board session with Jims friend/Lindas ex Brandon. Linda begins to act unusual and people predictably start to die.
Sorority House Massacre II (1990) taps into the Ouija board as sleepover entertainment trope with a group of sorority sisters who use the board to contact a deceased murderer. What Lies Beneath (2000) shows the main character, Claire, using one to contact a missing/possibly dead neighbor. In 2007, Paranormal Activity took Ouija boards to found-footage territory with a paranormal houseguest gaining power from the board.
That same year, the board finally got a film bearing its name. Ouija shows a group of kids who use a board and end up dealing with a stalkerish (and murderous) spirit. The film became a franchise with its latest installment releasing in 2016. And, in 2020, the Ouija board continues to make appearances in film and TV.
Its most recent sighting is in Lovecraft Country, which takes place back in 1955 during pre-Satanic Panic and Exorcist times. A group of teens (including Emmitt Till) get some sinister foreshadowing while playing with the board in a basement. Its a small scene that speaks to the Ouija boards current pop culture place as a vehicle for spooky and sinister happenings.
The Ouija board is still an available and mysterious game. But there are still people who use it for their own spiritual work and/or to guide others. Popular astrologer, witch, and apothecary owner, and YouTuber BehatiLife made an in-depth video about using a Ouija board safely. She says she doesnt use it for connecting with spirits but rather leans into her abilities for spiritual connection.
She warns against using it if a user is afraid of the Ouija or lacks grounding and personal protection. BehatiLife says that mainstream media and YouTube feeds into the idea of demonic possessions through using one. A quick search of the website proves her point with countless videos about people sharing their Ouija board horror stories.
In fact, the general attitude among people who identify as occultists and/or witches is that a person who uses a Ouija board should be cautious, respectful, and use common sense. This is a sentiment in the boards official description: Handle the Ouija board with respect and it wont disappoint you! Some believe it can be a source of connection and enlightenment but can perhaps become dangerous with the wrong intention. Some people do use it to connect with their ancestors or find answers from the other side.
Of course, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that Ouija boards can contact the spirit world. Scientists have attributed the planchettes movement to the ideomotor effect: the unconscious minds ability to direct motor activity. But, science certainly cant and doesnt explain every single phenomena on Earth, so perhaps there is something taking place. Its all rather subjective depending on the users beliefs about spirit world, the afterlife, and demons.
The Ouija board continues to survive and thrive even after public panic, technological advances, and several generations of users who claim its everything from a connection tool for good to the work of a devil. It sits in the upper echelon of horror plot devices to tap into our deepest fears of losing control over our bodies or allowing an evil entity to slide its way into our space. And, whether its Halloween night, a girls sleepover, or a quite sance searching for answers, this iconic tool will likely remain a staple existing on societys fringes.
Featured Image: Hasbro
Posted: March 5, 2020 at 6:05 pm
Were sitting drinking in a busy London pub, surrounded by goths and the oh-so-curious. Were not here to chat about The Sisters Of Mercy or Edgar Allan Poe, however. Were here to discuss faith and religion with the Global Order of Satan at one of their public meet-and-greets. Brexit and Trump turned me into a Satanist, Andy Diabolus, the co-chapter head explains. I do think that back in 2015 and 16 I was feeling a bit lost. I didnt know what was going on, so I needed some degree ofagency.
The GoS are self-described as an independent nontheistic rationalist Satanist religious ministry and they fell from heaven in 2016. They were originally the British branch of The Satanic Temple (as seen in the documentary Hail Satan?) but formed a splinter group in 2018. The split came after the GoS ran a campaign where they mailed upside-down crucifixes to Bavarian state buildings, a reaction to a law passed in June 2018 that mandated Christian crosses to be hung in the entrance of every Bavarian state building. The Satanic Temple didnt approve of this not because of its severity or blasphemous nature, but simply because they hadnt given it the greenlight.
The GoS have been building their very own global empire ever since, with chapters in Europe, Australasia and the MiddleEast.
Its a modern way to have a religion without necessarily having all the superstition, Andy tells us, citing the rebellious figure of Satan in John Miltons epic poem Paradise Lost as their main inspiration. What were doing is challenging this absolute authority. One of our major things is to challenge overbearing religions, you know? I dont mind if youre a Christian or Muslim, Im not here to stop that. However, if you go to my kids school and start pushing the bible on them, and start saying, Youve got to believe this, its the one true way, and so on, then you and I are going to have somewords.
Since the 1960s, Satanism in the USA revolved around Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible and founder of the Church Of Satan. This particular belief system, known as LaVeyan Satanism, was a mixture of Ayn Rands Objectivism a philosophy wherein doing things in your own interest is the most important tenet and good old-fashioned Occultism; incorporating sex, ritual and magic. Anton died in 1997 but the Church is still going, charging a devilish $255 to join. Since 2013, however, a group called The Satanic Temple have risen and garnered a lot of media attention with their non-theistic, leftist political message. Their biggest campaign, as covered in the aforementioned Hail Satan? documentary, was to erect a Baphomet statue next to a Ten Commandments statue that was set to be built at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Baphomet statue was an embodiment of their goals around religious diversity and the separation of church andstate.
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In the UK, however, without a prominent and TV-ready prophet like Anton LaVey, Satanic sects have generally been more underground. The Order Of Nine Angles, for example, are an extreme, far-right group that have haunted the British fringes since the 60s. Andy refers to them as the Order of No Members due to their indefinite membership numbers and niche, complex worldview. He goes on to say that their ideologies, magick and their advocating murder, or culling, have no place in his group. Many members of the GoS wear masks in photos and have Satanic pseudonyms, for safety reasons rather than religious. That includes everyone includedhere.
The GoS are non-theistic, which means the followers dont actually believe in the Devil (or God) at all. So, why are they not justatheists?
Atheism is very much about what youre not you dont believe in this and that but Satanism is more like, We dont believe in God, but this is what we do believe and this is what we try to follow, Murchadh, a young member, explains as we sit with among other Satanists and drink red wine one evening in a north London flat. He refers to their pillars, which can be found proudly displayed on their website.
Among them are: Act with empathy, compassion, and wisdom towards yourself and others and, All people make mistakes. Allow them to correct those mistakes, as we seek acceptance in others over ourown.
These may seem surprisingly accessible and straight-forward and they are. The followers tell us that a battle for pluralism and religious freedom is at the heart of their movement, rather than any kind of sacrifice or sorcery you might see in late-night Channel 5 horrorfilms.
Political activism and community projects are part of their Satanism, too. Their presence at the anti-Boris march in December 2019 and their Get Home Safely campaign, are parts of their mission to rehabilitate the image of Satanism and attract like-mindedseekers.
As well as the serious stuff we do fun stuff, too, Andy insists, we go on weekends together, go to the pub together. Its not quite tea and biscuits its more cider and black (laughs).
As our conversation continues, things get a little stranger as Andy reveals, somewhat confusingly, that they actually do hold rituals and host what they call unbaptisms from time to time. He says that the ceremonies which borrow imagery and ideas from occult and pagan ceremonies are an important part of theGoS.
You do a ritual every time you cross a road, you look left, right and left again They are little ways of making yourself feel comfortable with the world, or declaring things, making statements, Andy explains. Were not conjuring demons, were not believing that by doing this we are cursing someone or are affecting other people in a certain way, its very personal, its for us. We use the trappings of [occultism]. We can use that power, that symbolistic power, rather than any sort of magical power. Its like your own personal psychodrama. He goes on to compare it to putting on a play and writing your own lines, explaining that self-affirmations are a big part ofit.
READ THIS: 12 of the most uplifting songs aboutSatan
The members we meet range from graphic designers to legal sector workers, spanning across a diverse range of ages. Some are ex-Christians, others lifelong atheists, but their connection seems as real and deep as any friendshipgroup.
Community is the important part. Meeting with people that have the same, if not similar, beliefs to me and then I dont feel alone anymore, Murchadh says, earnestly. He continues, telling us that he grew up as a Catholic and has now been a member of the Global Order for three years, joining when was 18 after losing somebody close tohim.
We cant help but wonder what role music plays in it all. Did everyone begin by listening to Slayer and drawing pentagrams on their schoolwork (like the rest of us) and then kind of, just, got carriedaway?
I started out at boarding school listening to Cradle Of Filth, who I still listen to, says Crawley, one of the members, smirking as she reminisces. I used to play it during my mums prayer meetings when I was about 16, full blast upstairs at home. There would be Gilded C**t just blaring out as the housemistress showed other parents through the house (laughs).
Despite their personal enjoyment of metal and gothic music, like Nightwish and Marilyn Manson, Andy insisted that they dont want to be gatekeepers nor let the GoS become some exclusive goth club. I find myself trying to compile playlists that arent your average thundering black metal, but theres a bit of industrial music, or Satanic doo-wop, or pop music or whatever.
Although theyre not hell-raising devil-worshippers, some of the members we speak with still make sure to separate their personal life from their Satanic social circle. Ive still got Christian friends so Im sensitive towards them, Crawley says. If I want to share something on my own private [Facebook] feed I might hide it from them. Andy echoes this, saying his Christian parents wouldnt be too chuffed if they found out and that he has rehearsed what hed say to them if they ever wereto.
Satanism is going through a renaissance of sorts, and the members we meet at the helm of it seem to be dedicated to cultivating its growth and evolution. Their dedication also stretches to providing a safe, welcoming place for atheists and agnostics that might want to hang out, make friends, have a drink and be part of positive change both personally andsocietally.
READ THIS: 10 of the most believably Satanicbands
As our night came to a close, we ask Crawley what shed say to anyone interested in the group. Send us a message on Twitter or email us, get in touch so we know that youre kosher, then come and meet us. Were not raving, blood-drinking lunatics, were normal, nice people, she smiles, sipping wine, the words Religion Sucks written across her T-shirt.
Despite what you may have seen on TV or in the newspaper, modern Satanism isnt built on a foundation of Lovecraftian rituals, witchcraft or occult practices; the real magic is found in the community that groups like GoS have built, and in their fight for a better, more liberal tomorrow.Hail!
Posted on March 3rd 2020, 11:30am
Posted: at 6:05 pm
Witches walk among us seriously. Pittchcraft is a blog written by staff writer Emily Pinigis about her life as a college student and practicing Witch.
In modern times Witchcraft is often portrayed as an evil and mythical practice. As a young Witch, I often find myself hesitating to identify publicly as such due to the inevitable comments that Witches dont exist. In fact, before I started this blog, there was only one person in my life who knew I was a Witch the Witch who introduced me to the practice. It seems that even today, people only think of Witches as the villains in Disney movies. While there are many secrets surrounding the practice, it is far more rooted in established religion than many people think.
A Google search of the term Witchcraft leads to various different definitions. Many of them relate to sorcery or exaggerated supernatural powers, while only a couple actually talk about the Wiccan religion. Even Merriam Webster defines Witchcraft as the use of sorcery or magic or communication with the devil or with a familiar. The definition is not entirely incorrect, though it leaves out all mention of Witchcraft as a real religious practice. The mentions of sorcery and devil worship are rooted in fiction as Satanism is a different religion from Wicca.
As with most religions, its fairly difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of the practice and the timeline is further confused in Witchcraft, where the practice may also involve worship of deities of other religions like Christianity or Buddhism. Some definitions of the practice even go so far as to claim that Witchcraft originated with civilization itself. Overall, the religion that is most commonly associated with Witchcraft is Wicca.
Wicca centers on pre-Christian beliefs that Magick exists within the universe and is practiced in such a way that honors nature and the elements. Wicca is also a Neo-Pagan religion, and most of the beliefs of Wicca are the same as Pagan beliefs, except without the same deities as Paganism. There are only two deities within Wicca the God and the Goddess. They are also sometimes referred to as the Horned God and the Moon Goddess.
On a very basic level, these two deities represent the masculine and feminine forces of nature and the universe. The relatively simple nature of the Wiccan deities is what allows for the practice to overlap with deities of other religions. When it comes down to it, Wicca is different from Paganism in that it allows for more religious freedom depending on the preferences of the practitioner. Paganism has strict deities that one must worship to be a Pagan. In Wicca, however, the deities need not be worshipped in such a way they simply exist as the opposing forces of nature. No matter the deities, the practicing Witch must always follow the Wiccan Rede, As it harms none, do as thou wilt.
The very first and perhaps most famous Wiccan was Gerald Gardner, a British occultist born in 1884. In 1934, he joined the New Forest Coven, a group of Witches who practiced their own Magick in a way diverged slightly from Paganism. Gardner went on to work with the teachings of Aleister Crowley another British occultist who dabbled in Witchcraft to found the modern religion Wicca. His practice began to spread from Britain into Australia and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
Gardners development of Wicca began shifting societys perception of Witchcraft into a more positive light. Throughout history before him, Witchcraft was seen as barbarous and often associated with devil-worshipping.
Gardner also began an era in which men could be seen as Witches. Prior to the official creation of Wicca, those being accused of Witchcraft as a blasphemous practice were almost solely women. A woman that stood out for being too promiscuous, intelligent or independent could be accused of being a Witch because she deviated from the expectations for women at the time. Men were rarely accused of being Witches, and, if they were, it was usually only if they were homosexual or flamboyant.
Witchcraft may have existed since the dawn of civilization, but it has grown and changed over the centuries. The creation of Wicca as recently as 1950 makes the entire practice very new and unknown to many people. As the definition of a Witch grows, and the societal views surrounding the practice become more positive, it is important that even those who do not practice Witchcraft understand what it means to be a Witch.
The media plays up the dark and mysterious history of Witchcraft, leaning into the supernatural elements, but it is important to remind society of practicing Witches and the very natural practice of Witchcraft. For many living Witches, it feels like an innate need to speak proudly of who we are and to educate those around us in the hopes that one day, Wicca will be normalized like every other socially accepted religion. That is precisely what I hope to achieve through these writings, if only to a small degree. I hope to normalize the practice of Witchcraft and bring more public awareness to Wicca as a legitimate practicing religion.
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According to the people who claim to be his messengers on earth, God is pissed about rock music. From the moment that guitars, drums, bass and vocals were joined together, representatives of the major religions have decried the resulting music as blasphemy and have done their best to curb any chance young people have of enjoying it. Whether its burning CDs, rallying to government to shut down concerts, or just posting up outside of an in-store appearance with a homophobic slogan on a sign, those who claim to be Heavens messengers will always find a righteous way to attack an art form that inspires onlyjoy.
But while religion has disliked rocknroll as a whole for ages, certain artists have become the ultimate scapegoats of those doing the Lords work. These musicians have angered church-goers so muchwhether with insensitive quotes, satanic imagery, or the implication that they might occasionally have sexthat their work and/or live shows have been banned (sometimes, theyve even been held at gunpoint). For the sake of celebrating these rabble-rousers, we put together a list of those artists against whom religion has raised its torch and pitchfork thehighest.
Here are 10 artists whose songs, concerts, or very presence were banned by thechurch
For going on three decades, Marilyn Manson has been the ultimate scapegoat for religious groups. The shock rockers career is peppered with incidents of offended Christians trying to shut him down, including having his live show banned in South Carolina in 1997 and being banned from an Australia resort in 1999. Even the Church Of Satan wants to be distanced from him, having clarified his role within the church to a T so as not to have anyone think hes a minister therein. So divisive youre pissing off the sataniststhe shock rockers goldenring.
READ THIS: From spooky kid to hood goth: The changing faces of Marilyn Manson
The ol Bigger than Jesus line caused an odd speed bump in the rampant Beatlemania of the early 60s. In 1966, two broadcasters from Birmingham, Alabama, named Doug Layton and Tommy Charles went on a hardcore Ban The Beatles campaign over Lennons blasphemous quote, causing record stores and radio stations around America to burn their Beatles records and ban the band. The beef was squashed in 2010, when the Vatican officially forgave the Beatles for their hubris. Good looking out fifty years later,Rome.
There was something about Slayers brand of hard-hitting, blood-soaked satanic thrash that freaked out religious figures in the 80s like no other music. Slayer fandom soon became the ultimate symbol of an adolescence gone wrong. Pastor Bob Larson led the charge, making a big show of touring with the band and outing them as everyday metalheads. But it wasnt just in Americas sensitive midsection that the band were pariahs; their 2006 album Christ Illusion was recalled by EMI India after Christian groups protested. Its good to know Slayer remain universally feared by sensitive Christians all over theworld.
Of the bands on this list, Behemoth are one of the few who have fired shots back at the church. The Polish death metal bands frontman Nergal was charged with Blasphemy for ripping up a Bible onstage in 2007, for which he even went to trial (the charges were dropped). The band were later included on a list of bands who focus on murder and Satanism, which resulted in Behemoth being banned from Poznari in 2014. Of course, Nergal also trolled Christians and metal fans alike by making up a story about being ejected from the YMCA on tour, so the feud is stillongoing.
Lamb Of God
In the modern day, its important to remember that the church is a broad term, encompassing a wide spectrum of religions that perceive music as the enemy for no good reason. An example of this was Lamb Of Gods being banned from playing a festival in Malaysia after the Office Of Islamic Development of Malaysia became worried about the bands lyrics, specifically those of the Kiladelphia intro which contains lyrics taken directly from the Quran. The show was finally shut down because the bands shows were found to infringe on religious sensitivities, and because the promoter was receiving death threats. So remember, dont be close-mindedall religions have fundamentalists who are enemies of rockmusic!
The original heavy metal rabble-rousers, Black Sabbath were hated by religious authorities the minute they exploded onto the scene. The problem, of course, was that Sabbath werent satanists, and so their constant persecution felt especially plastic. There was one incident where we were due to play in a town and we got banned by the church, guitarist Tony Iommi recalled. The show was announced in all the papers for two weeks before we got there. The church managed to ban us. And then the bloody church burned down and we got theblame.
The Everly Brothers
One doesnt usually think of The Everly Brothers as the kind of band who the church would want to crush, but the pop-rock oldsters managed to get banned in Boston for their lovers lane anthem Wake Up Little Susie. The citys Catholics considered the song unseemly due to its sexual themes (even though the whole song is about two teens who didnt have sex). Its just a solid reminder that no matter how sensitive people get about music right now, back in the day you couldnt even talk about the idea of sex without bible-thumpers calling you aheathen.
Cradle Of Filth
Oddly enough, for all their devil-mongering and perversion, it wasnt Cradle Of Filths lyrics or shirts that got them assailed by armed guards and kicked out of the Vatican. The vampire metallers got in trouble in 1998 when they entered St. Peters Square while their keyboard player Lecter was wearing a priests outfit. Strangely enough it wasnt because I was wearing a tacky I love Satan T-shirt that Id just been given, or that our guitarist had a Jesus is a C**t shirt, Dani Filth told Kerrang! in 2019. It was that Lecter was dressed as a priest and apparently thats illegal there. Theyre a law unto themselves and they could have held us for the rest of our lives if theyd wantedto.
Of all the metal bands in the world, Sepultura feel like a weird one to think that God would hate; the band have an open-minded spiritual bent to them that so many other acts dont. But that didnt stop their Lebanon show from being canceled, with authorities accusing the band of insulting Christianity and being devil worshippers. The implied bigger issue, however, appears to have been that some members of the band had posed prominently in their videos around sites in Israel, which is reason to outlaw the band from entering the country (bands with Israeli stamps in their passports cannot enter Lebanon, for the record). The only real victims here were, of course, Sepulturasfans.
Greek blackened death metallers Rotting Christ certainly picked a name that sounds solely intended to upset religious figures. And while plenty of loudmouths have protested their shows, the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Esfirmenou really went all-in, getting the bands concert in Patras, Greece, canceled due to their offensive and satanic messages. Taking the accusation one step further, the monastery even implied that Rotting Christs unholy image was part of why Greece was facing a socio-economic crisis. Blaming a metal band for your countrys problems for playing death metalthe ultimate in culturalacrobatics.
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Posted on March 1st 2020, 2:30pm
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AGNES PELTON was fifty years old when she left New York for the village of Cathedral City, six miles southeast of Palm Springs in the California desert. By 1932, a conspiracy of sun, sand, and settler-colonial ideology had made the state a mecca for visionaries and seekers, attracted by landscapes seemingly unspoiled by human intervention, temporalities seemingly unburdened by the past. In Peltons 1941 painting Future, obscure shadows part to reveal two stone towers. Suggestive of those that marked the towns entrance, they float just above the horizon and flank a distant lavender hill. Overhead, four little portals arranged in a cruciform pattern perforate the bleached sky. Pelton wrote that the work represented a kind of Pilgrims Progress. Through darkness + oppression, across a stony desert and through a symbolic arch is seen a mountain of vision, above which open by degrees, windows of illumination.
The first solo show devoted to Pelton in about a quarter century, Desert Transcendentalist opened last year at the Phoenix Art Museum (where it was organized by chief curator Gilbert Vicario) and on March 13 travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (where it will be overseen by curator Barbara Haskell). Its arrival in Manhattan has been prepared by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museums record-busting 201819 retrospective of Swedish painter and mystic Hilma af Klint, to whom Pelton will likely be compared. Both artists put their academic training to work in accomplished yet conventional landscapes, reserving abstraction to convey their vision of a reality beyond the material world. They also drew on overlapping occult sources and shared a decentered view of their authorial agency, seeing themselves as conduits for spiritual forces rather than as autonomous creators. Their contemporary reception has coincided with a surge of institutional interest in underknown women artists and with a broader cultural mainstreaming of astrology, witchcraft, and alternative spirituality (a phenomenon not overlooked at the Guggenheim gift shop, which stocked Ouija boards, tarot cards, and other esoterica during the run of the af Klint show). That said, Peltons organic language of evolutionary processes differs from the diagrammatic tendency of much of af Klints work, and each artist deserves to be considered on her own terms (one shudders at the prospect of cringey epithets like the Coachella Hilma af Klint). The comparison is nonetheless instructive. While af Klint and Pelton were steeped in the heady arcana of their historical moment, their contemporary reception is very much a symptom of our own, speaking to an exhaustion with the art-historical canon and a hunger for meaning outside the domain of empirical data and official institutions.
Born in 1881 to American parents in Stuttgart, Germany, Pelton moved with her family to Brooklyn when she was seven. Timorous, shy, and plagued by neurasthenic episodes and mysterious ailments, she grew up in the long shadow of the nineteenth centurys most notorious sex scandal. In 1872, free-love advocate, spiritualist, and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhullrunning on the Equal Rights Party ticket with Frederick Douglassrevealed that renowned pastor and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher was living in concubinage with Agness grandmother Elizabeth Tilton, who was married to a prominent newspaper editor and abolitionist. The ensuing adultery trial rocked progressive Brooklyn and ruined the Tilton family. Agness mother, Florence, was sent away to Germany, where she married William Pelton, the expatriate failson of a Louisiana plantation owner. He died when Agnes was nine, and Florence gave music lessons and took in boarders to make ends meet. From the time of puberty, Pelton recalled, I was much inclined to melancholy and tears, which was probably aggravated by being the only child in a household of deeply religious and perhaps unnecessarily serious people.
Pelton began her formal study of art in 1895 at the Pratt Institute. Among her instructors was painter and educator Arthur Wesley Dow, who espoused the Japanese value of notan (the harmonious contrast of dark and light) and encouraged intuitive expression over mimetic verisimilitude. In the 1910s, his students Georgia OKeeffe and Max Weber would radicalize his ideas in adventurous abstractions, while Peltons output from this timecrepuscular idylls of willowy maidens adrift in grottoes and wooded landscapesclung to the late-Symbolist manner of Louis Michel Eilshemius, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and Arthur B. Davies. These Imaginative Paintings, as the artist called them, were congenial to the tentative modernism then emerging in New York. They were exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show, among other venues, and attracted patrons including Greenwich Village salon-nire Mabel Dodge Luhan, who would expose Pelton to the desert when she invited her to stay at her estate in Taos, New Mexico, in 1919.
A few months prior to this trip, Pelton wrote in her journal that her Imaginative Paintings were beginning to feel insincere, not real. She wanted her art to reflect perfect consciousness and Divine Reality. As art historian Erika Doss points out in her contribution to the Desert Transcendentalist catalogue, these words were lifted from the writing of spiritual leader Helena Blavatsky. Famed cofounder of the ancestral New Age faith theosophy, Blavatsky held that the worlds many belief systems were based on an atavistic religion organized around a single, metaphysical Absolute. Synthesizing elements of Neoplatonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Kabbalah, and other traditions, theosophy aimed to elevate and enlighten humanity by retrieving this forgotten universal knowledge. Like af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and other moderns, Pelton was drawn to the creeds idealist teleology of human perfectibility, finding in it an exotic alternative to scientism, materialism, and mainstream Christianity.
When her mother died in 1921, Pelton, now forty, moved to the abandoned Hayground Windmill near Water Mill, Long Island. There she painted The Ray Serene, 1925, a gestural, Kandinsky-esque churn of psychedelic vapors and whiplash curves, designating it My First Abstraction on the back of the canvas. Two works from the following year cathect on the form of a luminous sphere, enveloped in a tornado of gesture in Being and embubbled by nacreous globules in The Fountains. In the latter work, the multiplying rondures and the yellow solar disk overhead suggest Blavatskys successor Annie Besants description of the cosmos as a mighty solar system, the sun representing the LOGOS and, coming outwards, orb after orb, each orb representing a plane of the universe. Cowritten with self-styled clairvoyant Charles Webster Leadbeater, Besants 1901 treatise Thought-Forms: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation provided Pelton with a symbology of colors and shapes believed to possess transhistorical meanings. As scholar Nancy Strow Sheley noted in her dissertation on Pelton, her 1928 painting Ecstasy features the symbol of the curving hook, identified by Besant and Leadbeater with selfishness and greed. The artist explains in an accompanying poem that the cluster of yellow tendrils represents a blooming flower harassed by the ugly hook of darkness, the scythe-like form lurking near the compositions bottom edge.
The same year she painted Ecstasy, Pelton traveled to California for eight months and became immersed in a South Pasadena spiritualist colony called the Glass Hive. She sketched lotuses, symbols of self-renunciation, at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. The flower would eventually mature into the golden inflorescence presiding over Ahmi in Egypt, 1931, a delirious nocturne replete with a white swan, strange conical mountains, and swirling celestial activity.
On her return to New York, Peltons style, which had gurgled with Heraclitean flux and painterly incident, became more serene, hard-edge, and resolved. Symmetry, horizon lines, and landscape elements returned to her compositions, which began to suggest illusionistic depths and expanses. In Star Gazer, 1929, a pale-green chalice shelters a purple ovate form that evokes a schematic standing figure or budding flower. High above in the evening sky, a tiny six-pointed star represents Venus, a planet of antipatriarchal and anticlerical significance in theosophical cosmology. According to Blavatsky, Venus, the sister planet of our Earth, was sacrificed to the ambition of our little globe to show the latter the chosen planet of the Lord. She became the scapegoat, the Azaziel of the starry dome, for the sins of the Earth, or rather for those of a certain class in the human familythe clergywho slandered the bright orb by associating it with satanism.
Pelton labored to reconstruct her interior visions on canvas, realizing numinous tissues and lapidary volumes through successive glazes over months or even years.
The allure of the arcane was central to the af Klint cult that flourished across Instagram feeds last year, but the Swedish artists recourse to extrinsic systems of meaning posed a problem for some critics and historians. Taking af Klint seriously as an artist, in my view, actually requires us to take some critical distance from the mysticism that might have enabled her to make such innovative work, Briony Fer wrote in the Guggenheim catalogue. To focus only on the occult symbolic meanings of her work leads to an interpretive dead end. Like af Klints abstractionswhich Guggenheim visitors could experience on psychic tours where they practice[d] receiving spirit messages through select paintingsPeltons court para-aesthetic modes of reading that might open up meaning for some and close it down for others. In an effort to explore a wide range of possible responses to the artists work, Sheley showed the painting Challenge, 1940, to an expert in occult imagery, who decrypted the picture sign by sign, identifying the star flower as an indication of good character, the milky, pod-like form as a symbol of maternity unrealized, and each inky stipple as a cipher for a decision influenced by men in [Peltons] life. Such literal iconographic correspondences are, of course, anathema to modernism, with its emphases on subjective expression, self-criticism, and hermeneutic indeterminacy. For Pelton, the final significance of her art ultimately lay neither in the sensuous matter of the paintings themselves nor in any hermetic doctrine encapsulated within them, but in telegraphing between the phenomenal world and an empyreal nonsite at the edges of representation and consciousness. I feel somewhat like the keeper of a little lighthouse, Pelton wrote, the beam of which goes farther than I know, and illumines for others more than I can see.
Pelton labored to reconstruct her interior visions on canvas, realizing numinous tissues and lapidary volumes through successive glazes over months or even years. She eschewed improvisation and seriality. With the exception of her last work, Light Center, a luminous egg form veiled in a purple penumbra (painted first in 194748, then again in 196061), she never repeated a composition. She did, however, draw on a consistent body of images that included orbs, urns, mountains, and, perhaps most important, fire.
In 1930, Pelton befriended composer and astrologer Dane Rudhyar (n Daniel Chennevire), who became her spiritual guide and sympathetic critic. Steeped in Bergsonian vitalism and Jungian analysis as well as theosophy, Rudhyar was a principal theorist of what he called humanistic astrology, which strove to reconcile star divinations deterministic conception of human agency with depth psychology. It was likely through him that Pelton, who had been fascinated by the eruption of the volcano Klauea when visiting Hawaii in 1924, became a devotee of Agni Yoga, a neo-theosophical discipline devoted to the cosmic, purifying energy of fire. In two works from 1930, she imagines its essence as incandescent heat, manifested as an acanthus of flames in The Voice and as a shaft of Promethean radiance in the formidably minimal White Fire. Fires in Space, 1938, one of her most visceral compositions, scatters twelve conflagrations across a field of unstructured darkness, flickers of illumination in the abyss.
If Peltons fantasias at times seem as much in dialogue with Disney as with Kandinsky, its not disparaging her to say so, any more than its disparaging Kandinsky or af Klint to note their engagements with occultism.
When Peltons landlord sold the Hayground Windmill in 1932, she headed for California. Two years earlier, writes Doss, Time magazine was already reporting a flourishing of cults, of religious novelties, and new fashions in faiths in the state. Initially planning on a brief trip, Pelton stayed for the rest of her life, seeking painterly forms through modes of heightened consciousness like trance, prayer, and meditation. In Messengers, 1932, her first Cathedral City abstraction, a blue moon rises over a desert horizon and progenerates a shimmering urn crowned by stylized palms, evoking the thatched structures of the areas indigenous Cahuilla people. Like the glassy vessel of Star Gazer, this central motif appears to levitate from the bottom of the canvasa transcendent motion Rudhyar described as upward rush or upward aspiration.
Peltons asceticism, spiritual intensity, and isolation from mainstream centers of cultural production might tempt one to romanticize her as a hermit. In fact, she made lasting friendships with her neighbors, hosted studio visits and art exhibitions, and continued to show her work in New York and other US cities. Through Rudhyar, she began a correspondence in 1933 with Raymond Jonson, cofounder of the Transcendental Painting Group, a circle of southwestern artists committed to carry[ing] painting beyond the appearance of the physical world. The same year, she lent fourteen paintings to an exhibition Jonson arranged at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. Also included was the work of OKeeffe, to whom Pelton was often and unsurprisingly compared. Pelton, likely aware that their overlapping social networks, shared inspiration in nature, and midlife relocations to the western desert might invite conflation, teased out the differences between them in her journal: [Her] source is not the [same] source as AP [Agnes Pelton] . . . they are not seen primarily inside, in the realm of Ether (as I call it). . . . The joy [of OKeeffes work] is her own subjective reaction, the joy of spreading its rebound over the canvas for her external eye.
Whereas OKeeffes biomorphic forms were overdetermined by the sexualized framing (one that the artist unequivocally rejected) imposed on them by her partner Alfred Stieglitz, Peltons work seems less available to carnal interpretations. She never married; her sexuality remains a matter of speculation, and her squeamishness on the subject reflected the Victorian attitudes with which she was raised. The physicality and violent thrust (per her description) of Seeds of Date, 1935, one in a series of commercial painting she made for a fruit farm in California, caused her some retroactive distress. Pelton resolved to avoid sexual imagery in her abstractions. When a form appears to have a phallic resemblance, she wrote, use the force it represents without the form. (For the most part, her sublimations were successful, with the exception of the conspicuously erectile Ascent [aka Liberation], 1946.)
Even in Cathedral City, one could not live on divine inspiration alone. When the death of an uncle, who for years had helped her out with regular checks, left her in precarious financial straits, Pelton began painting plein air desert scenes for the tourist trade. Letters to her friends speak of chronic illness, money problems, and creative frustrations, particularly the strain of balancing her commercial production with her abstractions. In 1932, she painted two mountain pictures, San Gorgonio in the Spring, a picturesque view of flowering cacti and a distant snowcapped massif, and Mount of Flame, a hieratic peak scaled by little tongues of flame, its summit erupting in a spray of white mist: a symbol of the transformation of heat into Light. To return to such abstractions after her landscapes, she once wrote, was like painting with a moths wing and with music instead of paint.
Was the boundary between picturing the material world and her inner vision as hard as Pelton imagined? Not so in Winter, 1933, a bizarre, almost clumsy sublation of abstraction and figure painting, with its poshlost doves foregrounding an astronomical pink corolla blossoming from the sea. The work epitomizes the alluring wrongness of Peltons paintings, which look like modern art but also like design, advertising, and pop culture. There is something distinctly Moderne in her line, her bulbous yet tensile contours, while her curlicues and fronds and wings are reminiscent of interwar textiles and wallpaper. The glowing ovoid form in Light Center could be a sconce on a bathroom wall; the swan in Ahmi in Egypt could have been cut out of a magazine. Her polychrome hazes suggest neon on a rainy night. To a contemporary eye, works like Idyll, 1952a desert landscape brightly detourned by two translucent parabolic forms that refuse to quite make sense either as objects in pictorial space or as gestural marksmight register as virtuosic exemplars of good bad painting, but the elements of badness dont collapse into kitsch, at least not entirely, nor do they make her pictures any less compelling as explorations of inner worlds and esoteric visions.
If Peltons fantasias at times seem as much in dialogue with Disney as with Kandinsky, its not disparaging her to say so, any more than its disparaging Kandinsky or af Klint to note their engagements with occultism. Theosophy is one of modernisms limit concepts; so is kitsch. (And these two limits might not themselves be cleanly distinct. With its baroque eclecticism and spiritualist trappings, theosophy, one might say, was already kitsch.) Peltons paintings are gorgeously weird explorations of these limitsperhaps none more gorgeous, weird, even destructive than Day, 1935, painted after her exposure to the geometric work of Jonson and the Transcendental Painting Group. A vertical rectangle, scandalously Euclidean and infilled with a cool blue fade, establishes itself on a misty starlit mountain, canceling its illusionism. Although this is the closest she would come to true geometric abstraction, writes the late Michael Zakian, who curated Peltons first retrospective in 1995, the central rectangle is not a pure, autonomous form. A flow of pearly, Peltonian fluid bursts from its side, concluding in plumes of filmy opalescence. The artist called the shape the fountain with the open door. Its negative metaphysics is an invitation inside, to the realm of Ether.
Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, March 13June 28.
Chloe Wyma is an associate editor atArtforum.
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Posted: February 4, 2020 at 11:49 am
Despite the fact that Halloween is long gone, witch season never ends, a subject The New York Times recently delved into in an article, When Did Everybody Become A Witch? But Paris has a long history of fascination with the occult, particularly in its Belle poque heyday, and there are still a few places in the city rife with witchiness and wonder. Here are some of our favorites.
La Maison de la Radiesthsie, or House of Divination, is the oldest (and one of the last) esoteric stores in Paris. You can buy wands, pendulums, and divination rods, starting in a reasonable 10 range, and working up into the designer realm. 22 Rue Godot de Mauroy, 75009
And of course, theres nothing better, when youre in the mood, than a good ol fashioned haunted house. Le Manoir de Paris has been putting up its trademark Legends of Paris show for almost a decade, featuring all kinds of creepy and gruesome characters from Pariss history. Keep an eye out for special events like their annual Halloween show, and a performance called Dark Night that occurs every Friday the 13th. 18 Rue de Paradis, 75010
A bookstore that refers to itself as a Librairie sotrique, Arc en Ciel is a place for anyone who needs an non-ironic crystal ball or tarot cards. Among the books, find anything on topics ranging from reiki and aromatherapy to yoga and plant care. They host workshops, seminars, and meet-ups for those inclined towards the spiritual and the occult. 3 Rue Jean-Mac, 75011
Brsilophile in Passage Jouffroy is a great place to find any kind of rare or exotic crystals you need to perform whatever witchcraft youve learned from your reading at Arc en Ciel. Loose beads, precious stones, and even an esoteric crystal collection should cover anything youre looking for, from rose quartz to tourmaline. 40 Passage Jouffroy, 75009
You might recognize the Church of Saint-Merri, because it sits right beside the Stravinsky fountain, and one of the more famous murals of the Marais. But this medieval church got some surprising sprucing up in the mid-1800s, when a Baphomet was carved above the entranceway. The demonic figure is heavily used in Satanism, and among the Knights Templar, and its accompaniment by a prominently-placed stained glass depiction of a pentagram makes this one curious church. 76 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004
For one-of-a-kind trinkets, statement pieces, and magic charms, try the office of Xenia Rybina, a Parisian witch, illustrator, and fashion designer come to France by way of Russia. Everything is witchcraft around [us] Rybina says in an interview with Messy Nessy Chic at her home/workshop in Paris, which she lovingly refers to as her coven. And with a snake named Seraphim and a cat named Lucifer, its easy to believe that everything is witchcraft around Xenia Rybina, whose berets embroidered with eyes and tiny, exquisite spider dolls have an effect at once whimsical and uncanny. Xenias work will soon be available in her e-shop. In the meantime, shes selling items via Instagram (DM her for prices).
Hidden in a backstreet of Montmartre, in front of the Hotel Particulier Montmartre (one of the most exclusive boutique hotels in the city), is a lumpy hunk of rock called the Rocher de la Sorcire, or Witchs Rock. The rock, and the entire passage, was named for the old woman who lived in the house, called la soucire, or the dowser. (In case youre wondering, a dowser is someone who uses a divination rod.) No one quite knows where it came from, but some believe it might still have some powerful magic inside. Passage de la Sorcire, 75018
Though the interior has been refurbished into a modern restaurant, the exterior of the Auberge Nicolas Flamel is the same simple stone facade that was built to be an inn in 1407 by Nicolas Flamel and his wife. This makes it the oldest stone building in Paris, a pretty impressive feat in such a well-preserved city. If the name Nicolas Flamel rings a bell, you might recognize it from Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Both in the book and in real life, Flamel, probably the most recognizable name in the history of alchemy, was famous for allegedly creating a Philosphers stone, which had powers such as transforming ordinary metals into gold. 51 Rue de Montmorency, 75003
Featured image: Stock Photosfrom Vera Petruk / Shutterstock
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Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:09 am
In a show that features magic, monsters, and mystical dimensions its important to make sure the protagonist is relatable to a regular audience. Fortunately, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina manages to have an everywoman as its titular lead. Despite her magical prowess, Sabrina still has to deal with typical teenage problems: juggling her school work, extracurricular activities, and her social and romantic life all while maintaining an afterschool job as Queen of Hell.
Okay, so maybe Sabrina isnt completely relatable, but she is still a compelling character, and the third season pits her in her most harrowing adventures yet. Previously, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and her cohorts managed to thwart Lucifers (Luke Cook) plans of creating a hell on Earth with Sabrina (who is his daughter) as his queen. The group manages to trap Lucifer inside Sabrinas boyfriend, Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) and together he and Lilith (Michelle Gomez)- who has been crowned Queen of Hell- go to the nether realm to keep the mortal realm safe.
The new season starts out with Sabrina and her friends venturing into Hell to save Nick, there they find the underworld in chaos, as the other demons are challenging Lilliths right to rule. To prevent an uprising, Sabrina accepts the throne as Lucifers rightful heir. However, she is quickly challenged by a prince of Hell, Caliban (Sam Corlett), and must find three unholy artifacts if she is to keep her crown.
In the mortal realm, the witches of the Church of Night have found that their powers are waning due to falling out of the Dark Lords favor. As they search for a way to restore their magic, a new threat, one older than Satan, has come to Greendale in the form of a carnival.
While the previous season kept the show exclusively centered on Greendale, Sabrina is finally ready to create a more fleshed out universe. Not only in locations (besides Hell, the characters also go to New Orleans and Scotland) but also in the mythos. Previously, the only cosmology has been between Christianity and Satanism, but now Paganism and Voodoo have been added to the mix. Not only does this expansion give this season dynamism, but it also raises the stakes. These new elements help put the characters in situations that become increasingly dire, and as a result, will have you binging the season in one sitting.
The returning cast is also evolving their performances, while still keeping their characters consistent. As always, Shipka is fantastic, imbuing Sabrina with spunk and sass underlined with true goodness. Admirably, she also leans into Sabrinas selfishness and saviour complex, giving the performance more nuance. Sabrinas aunts Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis) are also growing in complexity. The previously fanatical Zelda is now lost without her faith in Satan but must lead whats left of the coven. Otto manages to keep Zeldas take-charge personality but underlies it with vulnerability. Conversely, Hilda has begun to assert herself against her sister, and Davis does a great job adding an edge (and even some nastiness) to Hildas sweet nature.
Out of the supporting cast, Michelle Gomez as Lilith is the clear standout. The word anti-hero is thrown around carelessly these days, but the duplicitous and morally ambiguous Lilith fits the bill perfectly. Its clear that Gomez relishes the role, giving a commanding performance that demands attention every time shes on screen. Gomez also plays Ms. Wardwell, who Lilith impersonated in seasons 1 and 2 but is now back. This could have been confusing, but Gomez gives both characters completely different body language and tonal inflections, creating characters so different that youd never confuse the two.
The biggest appeal for Sabrina is its ability to manage the balance between supernatural horror and teenage melodrama. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is best known for his work on Glee and Riverdale, and he keeps the spirit of these shows alive while also injecting some truly dark stuff. An episode can feature court intrigue, scenes of sweet romance, child murder, and a frothy cheerleader routine all without any tonal dissonance. Its a bubblegum goth drama that manages to push the boundaries of camp without becoming overly ridiculous.
While previous season kept the show exclusively centered on Greendale, Sabrina is finally ready to create a more fleshed out universe.
Sabrina has also managed to integrate its more progressive elements into the plot more seamlessly than in previous episodes. The shows feminist leanings have always been a draw but often times the messaging felt didactic and heavy-handed. However, this season decides to explore rather than preach by having the Church of Night Coven search for a new religion. For all its posturing at being liberating, the Satanic Church was just as patriarchal as many Christian denominations; but with Satan out of the picture, the witches are left to search for a more equitable source of magical powers. This allows the show to explore feminist themes without feeling like an after school special.
The show also expertly handles its queer characters as well, most notably Theo (Lachlan Watson, who is nonbinary). While trans characters are gaining some prominence in mainstream media, trans men are vastly underrepresented. In this season, Theo is given a love interest with newcomer Robin (Jonathan Whitesell). Not only is this subplot incredibly sweet, but it is also devoid of any fetishization of trans bodies that so often occurs in mainstream media. Allowing a trans character to have a life outside their trans identity without ignoring it is refreshing, and we need more of it.
Production designer Lisa Soper has upped the ante in the third season. Greendale keeps its timeless charm with sets, props, and costumes that are a mix of mid-century and modern. The Pagan carnival adds to aesthetic by feeling like it stepped out of the late 1800s. Hell is also a mix of the gory and the gorgeous. While the infernal denizens are disgusting to look at, Hell itself is often beautiful. Most notably Liliths throne, which is shaped like a clawed hand, and the Shore of Sorrow, where the damned are trapped in overcrowded boxes to drown for all eternity. Who knew Hell could be so #instaworthy? The anachronism of the mortal realm and the beauty of the nether world help keep the more dissonant tones in the plot feel more consistent.
While Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may not be to everyones taste, fans of the series will be pleased with the direction it takes in its third season. As the series expands outside its original premise, well find ourselves in new territory in the fourth season, but as long as we have Sabrina with us, well be fine.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina returns for a third season of toil and trouble starting January 24th.
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Posted: January 17, 2020 at 3:44 am
Whats the deal with documentaries made up only of found footage? Apollo 11 and Amazing Grace have been on a great many lists of the best docs this year, and while their footage holds immense value, I like a little more craftsmanship and context in my nonfiction films. (It looks like the Oscar voters do, too.) I also like a sense of humor, as you can see from the list below.
1. Hail Satan? Evangelical Christians loyalty to Donald Trump in the face of everything has made Satanism look appealing like never before. This often hilarious film by Penny Lane (and, yes, thats her real name) profiles the Satanic Temple and their masterful acts of trolling by insisting that their religion be represented when state governments put up monuments to Christianity. The Satanists demonstrate how many Christians think religious freedom is only for them. Id join the Temple, but I think Id be out of place, because the Satanists seem much nicer people than me.
2. One Child Nation. No one in Wang Nanfu and Lynn Zhangs film will say that Chinas decades-long one-child policy was anything other than a shining success for the country. They do this even while they lay out plenty of evidence that it was a disaster that resulted in broken families and parents murdering their baby girls. Stories of women being dragged kicking and screaming to abortion clinics are told by the people who did the dragging. Its all framed through Wangs stories of raising her own children in America, a country she notes is trying to outlaw abortion entirely and take control of womens bodies just like the Chinese government.
3. Honeyland. This multiple Oscar nominee was supposed to be an informational video about beekeeping put out by the government of North Macedonia. However, Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanovs project grew into something much greater, starting with Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljumas breathtaking photography of the countrys mountainous rural areas. Turkish-descended beekeeper Hatidze Muratova initially welcomes the large Turkish family who moves into the trailer next door, but then they move into the honey business, too, and their bees kill all of hers. Hatidze is a compelling and funny character in this story of nature and bad neighbors.
4. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blach. Gotta give props to a movie that informed me so much about a subject that I am supposed to be well-informed about. Pamela B. Greens film measures the life and times of one of the very first film directors of either gender and how the mostly male community of French film critics and historians tried to erase her from the record after her death. A host of movie celebrities make the case that she deserves to be recognized alongside her colleagues Georges Melis and the Lumire Brothers in the pantheon of film pioneers. Thats mixed with Guy-Blachs colorful life. She taught Lois Weber, the first American woman director, who promptly repaid her mentor by stealing away her husband.
5. Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened. Two documentaries about the ill-fated music festival came out last January, but Chris Smiths is the only one eligible for this list and has footage from every stage of the planning, such as it was. Watching this film is like having the fiasco unfold before your eyes, as Billy McFarland and Ja Rule think that if they just will their logistically complicated rich-people party to happen, it will materialize amid a cloud of likes on Instagram. If youre big on schadenfreude like me, this is vastly entertaining.
6. American Factory. This Oscar nominee starts with a Chinese auto glass manufacturer taking over a shuttered GM plant in Dayton, Ohio, and declaring theyll rejuvenate the area. Oh, but if you know the differences between Chinese and American capitalism, you know how this will end. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert chronicle how it all comes apart, as American managers are replaced and workers chafe against new bosses who care nothing for workers safety or time spent with families. The CEO comes away embittered, saying Americans are lazy, incompetent, and mentally slow for wanting these things. Hes wrong theyre just not used to being treated like their Chinese counterparts.
7. For Sama. Waad al-Kateab begins her documentary by filming her baby girl doing baby things, as many mothers have done. Then a tank shell hits the building that shes in, and her husband asks on his daughters behalf, Mama, why did you give birth to me? Its a fair question as al-Kateab and co-director Edward Watts document raising a child in Aleppo, Syria, while its being bombed daily by Bashar al-Assads Russian allies. This Oscar nominee tells the story of this stupidly courageous couple whose love of their hometown makes them film its destruction for baby Sama, who grows up not even reacting to the sound of explosions nearby.
8. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal. Before gymnastics takes center stage at the Summer Olympics, lets remember that while Larry Nassar molested hundreds of little girls, the sports governing body did everything to protect this monster and nothing to protect the elite athletes whom he did his best to ruin. Erin Lee Carr finds plenty of blame to spread to the U.S. Olympic Committee, law enforcement, and Michigan State University. Her interviews with the victims so many victims remind us what it took to get the truth out.
9. Cunningham. Oh, look! This movie is playing this week at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (see: Night & Day). Alla Kovgans biography of the choreographer Merce Cunningham relies heavily on extensive footage from the mans interviews about his work. What really earns this film its spot on the list is its beautifully filmed performances of Cunninghams dances, restaged in forest clearings, highway tunnels, and other unlikely locales. Try to see this in 3-D.
10. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. You can pay tribute to the late American novelist by watching Timothy Sanders-Greenfields documentary that includes extensive interviews with the personable Nobel laureate before her death. Theres plenty of stuff about how this black woman forced her way into the white male literary canon by writing African-American stories, but youll also learn about her work as a book editor at Random House, where her work (with sometimes unlikely collaborators such as Muhammad Ali) was scarcely less groundbreaking.
Honorable mention: Alex Holmes Maiden A.J. Eatons David Crosby: Remember My Name Joshua Riehls The Russian Five Ed Perkins Tell Me Who I Am Midge Costins Making Waves: The Art of Sound in Cinema John Chesters The Biggest Little Farm Viktor Kossakovskys Aquarela Martin Scorseses Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story Jill Magids The Proposal Lauren Greenfields The Kingmaker Max Lewkowicz Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles Rob Garvers What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael Matt Wolfs Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project Andrew Slaters Echo in the Canyon Sydney Pollack and Alan Elliotts Amazing Grace.
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