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Category Archives: Modern Satanism

CHLOE WYMA ON THE ART OF AGNES PELTON – Artforum

Posted: March 5, 2020 at 6:05 pm

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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A Modern Witch’s Guide to Paris: Where to Find the Occult and Esoteric – Frenchly

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.

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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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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Conjures Up a Strong Season 3 – The Spool

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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Best Documentaries of ’19 – Fort Worth Weekly

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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Best Documentaries of '19 - Fort Worth Weekly

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Sam Dunn: The Journey of the World’s Most Famous Headbanger – Daily Hawker

Posted: at 3:44 am

Arguably the worlds most famous metalhead, Canadian Sam Dunn is an anthropologist, former bass player in the metal band Burn to Black, and an award winning documentary maker. A man of many talents, Dunn is most famous for his documentary films based around heavy metal music. Most fans of heavy metal music are familiar with the work of Sam Dunn.

Sam Dunn was born on March 20th, 1974 in Victoria , British Columbia, Canada. In Metal: A Headbangers Journey, Dunn described the city as the land of the newly wed and the nearly dead. He called himself a banger, rocker, punk, skid etc. He developed his love for metal music during his time as a teenager in Victoria.

Sam Dunn studied Anthropology at the University of Victoria. He also obtained a masters degree from York University where his thesis was focused on Guatemalan refugees. .

The documentary film that brought Sam Dunn in public eye was Metal: A Headbangers Journey. The documentary was loved and appreciated by heavy metal fans all across the globe. It also received widespread critical acclaim and went on to win a Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Documentary. Sam Dunn also made the Grammy-nominated Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage and Super Duper Alice Cooper. The latter went on to win the award for Best Feature-Length Documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards. Sam Dunn continued working in the field of heavy metal and collaborated with vh1 to bring the biggest ever TV series on the history of heavy metal, Metal Evolution. Dunn served as the co-director and host for the show. It went on to reach #1 on VH1 Classic (USA) and M3 (Canada). Sam Dunn also co-directed the famous Netflix original series Hip-Hop Evolution. The show has gone on to become a great success and has won a Peabody, an International Emmy, and a Canadian Screen Award. In 2015, Sam Dunn also released Satan Lives, discussing the impact of Satan on popular culture.

This was the first documentary film released by Sam Dunn. It was released in the year 2005. Dunn co-directed it with Jessica Wise and Scot McFadyen. The film followed Sam Dunn on a journey which documented the origins, culture and appeal of heavy metal in popular culture. The documentary explored the most prominent and notorious themes present in heavy metal music: violence, death, religion and Satanism, gender and sexuality. The documentary also delved into some key traits and idiosyncrasies of heavy metals various subgenres such as thrash metal, death metal, black metal, glam metal, progressive metal and power metal. For the purpose of this documentary film, Sam Dunn even created a family-tree style flow chart which documented all the subgenres of heavy metal and their relationship with each other.

The Metal Family Tree from Metal: A Headbangers Journey

The film also discussed the various aspects of the heavy metal culture along with people such as DePaul Universitys Professor of Sociology, Deena Weinstein. She spoke at great lengths about the relevance and symbolism of the colour black and the true meaning of the testosterone fuelled hypermasculinity of heavy metal. Sam Dunn also attended Wacken Open Air, the most well renowned heavy metal festival of the world. He also spoke to Twisted Sisters Dee Snider about the PMRCs attack on heavy metal music in the 1980s.

Sam Dunn co-produced and directed Global Metal. The documentary was released in 2008. Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen embarked on a global journey to see the impact of heavy metal music all across the globe, especially outside of Europe and North America. The whirlwind journey featured Sam Dunn travelling through India, China, Japan, Indonesia, the Middle East and South America. Sam Dunn discussed some unusual metal scenes from the underbelly of heavy metal. Those scenes ranged from Indonesian death metal to Israeli Oriental metal and Chinese black metal to Iranian thrash metal, etc. The film showed a truly global community of metalheads who took the essence of heavy metal and added their own cultural twist to it. As it is in the West, heavy metal music also helps create a form of cultural expression for the people who are fed up in societies dominated by conflict, corruption and mass-consumerism.

Sam Dunn has called Iron Maiden his favourite band of all time on many occasions. This 2009 documentary, co-written and co-directed by Dunn and McFadyen chronicled Iron Maidens 2008 World Tour in which vocalist Bruce Dickinson flew a converted Boeing 757 from country to country.

This documentary on one of Canadas most famous rock bands Rush, premiered on April 29th at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It went on to win the Audience Award at the festival.

Sam Dunn went on to produce the biggest ever series on heavy metal music for vh1 Classic. The series, called Metal Evolution premiered on November 11th, 2011. The series was created after feedback about Metal: A Headbangers Journey. Some people said they wished that film was eight hours long, Dunn said. The 11 part series featured the following episode. The 12th episode, titled Extreme Metal, was released online through crowdfunding.

1.Pre Metal

This episode features Sam Dunn discussing about the ultimate progenitor of metal music: Rock n Roll. Sam Dunn also talked about early blues musicians and their impact in the development of metals style.

2. Early Metal Part 1: US Division

Metal morning in America begins with the clank of cars and guitars and the burning of draft cards, Including the likes of Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes, The Frost, Iggy & The Stooges and the explosive MC5 and of course KISS.

3. Early Metal Part 2: UK Division

The UK wasnt about to cede rock & roll dominance to America. This episode documented how early blues-influenced British bands cranked up the amps and used distorted guitars to give the first pre-metal sounds from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and of course Black Sabbath who most consider the first ever heavy metal band and are recognized for laying the blueprints of what became an entire genre of music. These bands tended to stay away from the label of heavy metal for a major part of their career and only called heavy metal a part of what they did. It wasnt until the arrival of Judas Priest that the term heavy metal was fully embraced and given a distinct look.

4. New Wave of British Heavy Metal

The movement began to grow and was spearheaded by the likes of Motrhead, Diamond Head and gained even more momentum when Iron Maiden began packing local clubs and later went on to sell millions of albums. The media and record labels could no longer ignore these bands and this became a major force in music that had to be reckoned with and was dubbed as the new wave of British heavy metal. Other notable acts which were part of this included Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, Raven and Praying Mantis. The NWOBHM bands started losing their popularity in the wake of the rising glam metal scene in America. The glam metal bands featured a more polished, mainstream friendly sound which the raw NWOBHM bands couldnt keep up with. However, NWOBHM did end up igniting the fire which led to the birth of the subgenre of thrash metal in America.

5. Glam

Sam Dunn made it abundantly clear that he loathed Glam Metal during his days as a teenager in the 80s. He even went on to compare Glam bands to boybands. In this episode, Sam Dunn met some key figures associated with the glam metal movement such as such as Mtley Cres Vince Neil, Dokkens George Lynch and Van Halens Michael Anthony. These former stars divulged their side of the story and revealed the attitudes, influences and decisions which dictated their lives and careers on L.A.s storied Sunset Strip. On the flipside, Dunn also interviewedScott Ian from Anthrax and Slash from Guns N Roses who discussed the reasons behind the vilification of glam.

6. Thrash

This episode featured the subgenre of metal which took metal straight into its most extreme form and gave birth to some of the biggest bands in the history of metal viz. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.

7. Grunge

While grunge has widely been credited to fueling the demise of heavy metal from popular music, Sam Dunn still believes that it is associated with metal in some ways. Dunn discussed the impact of early metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin in the formative years of most grunge musicians. Also featured in the episode were the circumstances that led to the rapid decline of grunge.

8. Nu Metal

If hair metal was the antithesis of heavy metal purists in the eighties, that was delegated to nu metal in the late nineties. Likewise, if the keyboard was an instrument that such purists felt had no place in a heavy metal band, that disdain was now held by the incorporation of the turntable. Early influences came from bands such as Anthrax and their 1991 collaboration with Public Enemy, Faith No More, even thrashers whose riff-driven hooks were described as groove metal. Sepulturas Roots album was also credited as an influence on Nu Metal. This spawned the rise of a new genre of music influenced by two seemingly opposing forces: hip hop and hard rock. Nu metal broke ground and gave way to bands like Korn, Deftones, Rage Against The Machine, and Limp Bizkit. At the height of its popularity the show documents the unfortunate events that conspired in Woodstock in 1999 which included performances by Korn, Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit leading to nu metals decline soon thereafter. Yet the mantle has still been carried on by acts such as Linkin Park and Disturbed, among others.

9. Shock Rock

Unlike any other genre profiled on the show, Shock Rock is defined by its visuals and public image, not by its sound. The genres roots were traced back to Screamin Jay Hawkins and Arthur Brown. This episode focused on metals impact in pushing the envelope when it came to disturbing and horrific imagery and its place as Public Enemy #1 to conservative America. Shock Rock as we know it, started with Alice Cooper in the 1970s. It was made more (for the lack of a better word) shocking by early black metal pioneers Venom and Mercyful Fate (featuring the vocal histrionics of lead singer King Diamond) in the 1980s. The episode also discussed Marilyn Manson, who was made a scapegoat for the Columbine High School massacre of 1999. Slipknot and Rammstein are also featured.

10. Power Metal

Completely alien to the genre, Sam Dunn sets off to find out what its all about, and why its so unfamiliar to him. Dunn analyzed the difference between power metal and traditional heavy metal and traced the genres roots to continental Europe. Also discussed in the episode are the ties of Power Metal to Classical Music and the way in which power metal flourishes with metal festivals such as Germanys Wacken Open Air and Slovenias Metal Camp. Power Metal figureheads such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Kai Hansen were interviewed in this episode.

11. Progressive Metal

The series finale showcased the subgenre of progressive metal. This subgenre was heavily influenced by 70s progressive rock, which used textured sounds and intricate arrangements while incorporating the rock element in its own distinctive way. Modern progressive rock most often cites the influences of the percussive guitar-playing of Steve Hackett of Genesis, and the instrumentals of Yes. Progressive Rock came to the forefront with the Canadian band Rush which is profiled in one-on-one interviews with the bands 3 members, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart while on tour in Cleveland, Ohio. The nineties introduced the groundbreaking, innovative sounds of bands like Tool, Queensrche, Dream Theater, Mastodon, Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

12. Extreme Metal: The Lost Episode

Produced after the original series aired, this episode covers Florida Death Metal, Norwegian Black Metal, Grindcore, and other extreme subgenres. The episode was produced with the help of donations through IndieGoGo.

Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyens Banger Films has a Youtube channel Banger TV All Metal.

The channel features regular album reviews, subgenre discussions (Lock Horns) and contests such as Shredders of Metal. Sam Dunn and Banger Films are currently working on creating a Netflix style streaming service, which will specialize in streaming heavy metal related content.

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Fears Hampshire Horse Ripper has returned after 26 years and psycho culprit could be next Ian Brady – The Sun

Posted: January 14, 2020 at 4:58 am

A BLOODIED sheep corpse lies in a road, satanic symbols daubed on its side.

The gruesome discovery is the latest in a string of animal slayings that have sent shockwaves through the towns and villages of the New Forest.

Now leading criminal profiler Mick Neville believes it could signal the return of the Hampshire Horse Ripper, who slashed, mutilated and abused more than 30 horses in a similar area in the Nineties before mysteriously disappearing.

And in a chilling warning, the retired Met detective fears it could only be a matter of time before the psychotic killer moves on to targeting people.

Mick, 52, says: Evil and violent minds are drawn to satanic rites, so the police must take these attacks seriously before the offender decides to obtain his perverted thrills by attacking people.

The ewe, found this month in Cadnam, Hants, had been stabbed eight times and was left lying alongside a pitchfork and straw cross.

In November last year another sheep was brutally stabbed in the village of Bramshaw. A pentagram a symbol popular in the occult was spray-painted on to its fleece and the devils number of 666 was plastered on to the door of a church there.

Another sheep had its entrails ripped out in nearby Boldre. The symbolism has led many to believe the killings could be the work of a satanic cult.

Mick said: There appears to be a satanic element with occult symbols sprayed on the targeted animals. Even more bizarre is that many of these attacks, in 2019 and the earlier spate in 1992, have occurred on or around a full moon.

We know a full moon can affect those with psychological issues, such as schizophrenia, and can create violent or aggressive behaviour.

Many serial killers the likes of Ted Bundy and Ian Brady began their evil careers by hurting animals before moving on to people.

During the Hampshire Horse Rippers three-year reign, attacks grew increasingly frenzied. In August 1991, Welsh cob Daphne was sliced with a Stanley knife.

In October 1992, four horses were slashed and one was fatally stabbed during a single attack. The following year a horse was burned with acid and 28 others were wounded with knives and corrosive substances.

Horses belonging to Anita Jones, 67, wife of the late Monkees singer Davy Jones, were among the victims. One of her mares was sexually assaulted with a pole and another had its shoulder slashed in July 1992.

2

Anita told papers at the time: It was horrific. Now if I hear the slightest noise outside I send the dogs out thinking it might be the horse lunatic. In response, Hampshire Police launched Operation Mountbatten, named after one of the horse casualties.

Ten-year-old Mountbatten was found by owner Robert Broderick, 81. Her neck, genitals and hindquarters had been slashed before she died of a heart attack.

Roberts wife Flora, 82, this week told The Sun the recent animal killings have brought back painful memories. She added: I saw news about the recent at- tacks and they just keep happening. I hate talking about it, even now.

At the time, the police said the attackers had come when it was dark a few nights before the killing and fed Mountbatten to get her used to them being there. Then on the night she was murdered they sneaked down and did horrific things to her.

Police issued a photofit of a suspect. But before they could close in, the attacks halted in 1993, as inexplicably as they had started.

Police expert Mick believes the 26-year gap in crimes may point to the ripper having spent a lengthy spell in prison or having left the area to join the Armed Forces.

He said: The attacks from the 1990s do bear similarities to the recent attacks sharp instruments used to attack horses, cows and other animals. The police need to look at why the attacks have restarted after some 25 years.

Has the offender been in prison? Did he or she serve in the Armed Forces and has now returned to where they offended as a teenager?

While attacks in the Nineties were mostly horses, this killer has moved on to different types of animals. It could be that hes targeting smaller cattle because hes now an old man, or simply because thats what he has easy access to now.

There is certainly a sexual element to the killings. The culprit is seeking a thrill. Wendy Maughan, 60, owned the latest sheep to be killed.

She said: The offenders must have a knowledge of livestock to do this and there is quite some intent and planning involved. It is sinister.

Farmer Andrew Parry-Norton, 51, who found the ewe, said: It looked as if it had been dragged into the middle of the lane. It was very creepy.

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Its starting to get worrying in terms of putting animals out in the forest. A police spokesman said: We are looking into all lines of enquiry at this time and would link together similar crimes if the evidence allows us to.

Hampshire Police launched an investigation in January last year after six mutilated goat carcasses were discovered within a 20-mile radius.

One had its tongue cut out and another was found in a Tesco car park with its ear sliced off. Fears of a satanic cult tally with the New Forests historical links to the occult.

The religion of modern witchcraft, known as Wicca, was founded in the village of Highcliffe, Hants, in 1939 by eccentric archaeologist and nudist Gerald Gardner.

After the Government repealed laws making witchcraft a crime in 1951, Gardner gained fame through the panic caused by his book Witchcraft Today.

He defended himself to Richard Dimbleby on BBCs Panorama, insisting Wicca was not an excuse for sex parties, despite its naked rituals.

Hants Police have called in the Police Pagan Association (PPA) to investigate whether the latest round of animal violence could be linked to witchcraft.

The group, made up of 200 Heathen, Shaman and Druid officers within the police force, look into suspected ritual killings and animal attacks. The PPA believes the latest sheep killing is not linked to the occult, but rather to a mentally unstable individual.

Sgt Andy Pardy said: Whilst the pentacle, or pentagram, is used by Wiccan Pagans to represent the five elements, it is not unique to Paganism, being also used in satanism and occultism.

Having previously been involved in other investigations into the mutilation and harming of livestock, the suspects are usually not found to be affiliated with any religion or belief.

The actions instead are usually due to the mental health or antisocial tendencies of the offender. Animal campaigner and nature presenter Chris Packham, 58, lives in the New Forest. He has urged locals to watch out for unusual behaviour.

He added: Lets hope whoever is perpetrating these things makes a very early mistake and is apprehended really quickly.

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But one New Forest local, who did not want to be named, echoed fears the livestock slayings could lead to human deaths.

He said: People are saying that someone killing animals could be practice for murdering humans. Thats the next step.

No doubt New Foresters will be bolting their stables and their own doors until the killer is caught.

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Occult symbols found on New Forest animals killed, and in church vandalism – The Wild Hunt

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 2:45 am

NEW FOREST, Hampshire, England A recent spate of animal killings and vandalism have been reported this month as taking place in the New Forest in Hampshire.

The village of Bramshaw has been witness to occult markings spray-painted on the church door and a sheep was stabbed, daubed with purple and green pentagrams and left in a local field. A heifer and two calves were also stabbed and are currently in the care of local vets.

This is not the first set of attacks on animals in the New Forest this year. In October, a horse was found stabbed to death in a field in Walkford Lane, Walkford, near Christchurch.

Map of New Forest [Source: Google Maps]

Throughout the region, animals are owned by local farmers but are allowed to wander freely, particularly the New Forests famous community of ponies in addition to cattle and sheep. Thus, gaining access to animals is not difficult and much of the area consists of woodland or open scrub. Although there are villages, towns and isolated houses throughout the New Forest, much of it is still secluded and, at night, badly lit.

Because of the symbology used, the recent incidents have given rise to local concerns about a Satanic cult. The occult markings in question were the number 666 and an inverted cross.

The sheep were discovered by dog-walker Judy Rudd, who is reported as saying It was very unpleasant some people think its sinister.

Her husband says: I think its reasonable to say its not just lads messing about. Its unnerving weve lived here for 40 years and theres been nothing like this before. Its related to something other than simply a desire to injure animals its either witchcraft or whatever. Its rather worrying.

A farmer from Bramshaw, whose cow was knifed and needed veterinary treatment, added: Im very concerned for the welfare of the animals and the people out there in the forest. Its quite scary to know somebody is going around doing this. Why injure and kill animals and put symbols on them?

Tony Hockley, a resident and the chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association (CDA), has expressed concerns regarding these incidents to the wider community, pointing out to The Independent that this is a relatively small rural community.

Any harm to New Forest livestock hurts everyone. We all depend upon the vocational commitment of 700 local people to turn livestock out to graze the landscape. Most have just a few animals, and there are only 200 sheep in the whole of the New Forest. It is devastating to lose one in this way, and it is the sort of thing that will make commoners give up. If the grazing goes then the accessibility, culture and biodiversity go too, Hockley said.

Image source: The Scotsman

The vicar of St Peters, the Rev David Bacon, said that the incidents, which occurred between November 16 and 20, could be a result of witchcraft or black magic. It could just be kids but I dont think it is, given the context. Theres been witchcraft round here for hundreds of years the New Forest is well known for witchcraft and black magic and this has obviously gone up a level.

People who are not conversant with the practices of contemporary Paganism cannot necessarily be expected to draw a distinction between the way in which this spiritual path is often misrepresented in the media, and how it takes shape in real life, which is why the educational efforts of organizations such as the Pagan Federation must continue to push back against inaccurate and potentially damaging stereotypes.

The New Forest is, indeed, known for its history of witchcraft. Gerald Gardner founded modern Wicca here, claiming that he had based it on the practices of older covens, and New Forest villages such as Burleigh are now known for the number of Witchcraft shops and Witch-themed businesses. Tony Hockley of the CDA comments upon this but says, The New Forest, like many rural areas, has a historical association with Witchcraft so that draws some people and some of the local shops trade on that but its normally more about fairies.

As readers of The Wild Hunt will obviously be aware, Wicca does not undertake animal sacrifice. Moreover, Satanic groups in the UK tend to be largely urban and revolve around political activism rather than any form of religious practice. Both groups are opposed to this kind of cruelty and vandalism, and Pagans obviously do not use symbols such as inverted crosses, although they do use pentacles and pentagrams. However as is not uncommon in these cases the local Pagan community and Satanic activist groups risk being associated with this criminal activity.

New Forest, Hampshire Image credit: Robert Linsdell, St. Andrews, Canada Wikicommons

Simon Wood, from the New Forest clan Pagans of Ytene and a former member of the PPA before retiring from policing in 2016, said: There are lots of clans in the New Forest but discrimination against Pagans is still widespread.

The pagan community of the New Forest have expressed dismay and revulsion regarding the recent attacks, and have called upon the assistance of the Police Pagan Federation, part of whose remit is to work with local law forces and endeavor to provide accurate information about Pagan practices.

Comments by the general public beneath an article on the animal attacks in the Bournemouth Echo showed some awareness of the difference between Witchcraft, Wicca and Satanism, with, in addition, an emerging consensus that the animal attacks and vandalism are more likely to have been carried out by someone who has no particular spiritual affiliation and who is simply criminally minded or unwell.

The Hampshire police have asked for anyone who might have information to contact them directly.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has also requested that anyone who has information should come forward. Sergeant Andy Williams, of Hampshire Constabularys Country Watch team, says, If you have any information that could help our enquiries, then please call 101, quoting the crime reference number 44190416137.

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Concert Review: Spinal Taps Derek Smalls Revives Mock-Rock at the Wiltern – Variety

Posted: November 11, 2019 at 3:45 am

Spinal Tap reunited this week, after a good number of years apart. Unfortunately, it was to settle a collective lawsuit against Universal Music. Apart from saying Gimme Some Money to a corporate nemesis, it looks unlikely the three principals will be sharing a stage again any time soon and so the duty of providing Tap musical-comedy to the faithful audience that would ask How could I leave this behind? has fallen to Derek Smalls, who, with handlebar mustache intact and natural hair color less so, headlined L.A.s Wiltern Wednesday night with a mix of his new solo material and a handful of classic faux-classics.

If Mssrs. Tufnel and St. Hubbins are apparently no longer interested in gummin the gash, as it were, Smalls was there to fill the population gap at the Wiltern with a multitude of guest stars, live or on video, and a lavish, beautifully arranged and conducted 48-piece orchestra, overdressed in every conceivable sense for the occasion. At the Wiltern (which Smalls described as being a fine hall despite having been named after a fictitious bird), many fine lines were traversed and obliterated not least of all the one that separates low comedy from even lower comedy but the Tap faithful could finally feel clever, not stupid, for having assembled to celebrate the John Entwistle of the band.

How low can you goapplies in all sorts of ways the bawdiness, the bass fetishism, the gruff character voice. Well, not an affectation, in Entwistles historic case, and there were probably reasons why he was never a touring monster apart from the Who, including that no one probably thought that it would be a good idea to shout out requests for him to sing Baba O Reilly as well as Boris the Spider. Harry Shearer, the Mr. Burns behind these sideburns, solved that vocal problem by not applying his guttural vocal tones to Sex Farm Woman, et al., but assigning guests to sing the numbers originally sung by Michael McKean and Christopher Guest. Billy Idol got two, Heavy Duty and Hellhole (or two and a half, as he also contributed to the climactic Big Bottom), while house band members Keith England and Judith Owen led the way the other three Tap numbers. That still left plenty for Smalls/Shearer to do, vocally, on the 11 new songs, and in lengthy monologues that offered big glimpses into a small mindset.

CREDIT: Rob Shanahan

Idol was not the only idol to take part in the proceedings. Guitarist Waddy Wachtel (well, hes a matinee idol to us) joined in on several numbers, Steve Lukather ripped the audience some new ones with his own shredding, Dweezil Zappa showed up to reprise his speed-metal solo contribution to the recent albums MRI, and Paul Shaffer put in an appearance, not as Artie Fufkin, for better or worse, but as his pianist self. Other celebrities from the 2018 album Smalls Change made taped appearances on the big video screen, billed as live via satellite, including Steve Vai, Donald Fagen (looking seriously spooky in a hoodie as he sang the erectile hook Willie dont lose that lumber), Jane Lynch (as a shrewish ex-wife or girlfriend in She Puts the Bitch in Obituary) and Rick Wakeman (live from his old castle in Newcastle). Modern click tracks are a marvelous thing, as Wakemans recorded keyboard soloing during When Men Did Rock blended seamlessly with the real-live soloing of house guitarist Marc Bonilla.

Having so many taped contributions might have been annoying in a real concert (and frequently is, given how many legit gigs actually have recorded celebrity duet parts on a big screen nowadays) but its less so at what is essentially a sketch comedy show first and musical event secondarily albeit, when youve got contributors like Lukather and a full orchestra on hand, a very close second). The use of video made for punchlines as well as piped-in Vai. For Stonehenge, a supposed satellite feed from the titular side turned out to be several minutes of dim footage of a fog bank in the middle of the night an okay gag. Better was the use of the satellite for the new song Gummin the Gash. Its become a bit of a clich now for rockers of a certain age to perform with symphony orchestras, Smalls said, so were going to turn it up one. Tonight this will be a two-orchestra synchronized performance, because up in the middle of the night in Budapest, Hungary, where I believe they do have lights on, unlike Stonehenge, please welcome the Hungarian Studio Orchestra. But Gummin is by far the crudest song on the recent Smalls album a combination of geriatric and sexual references we probably cant reasonably describe in a family publication and so the joke, a good one, was that the female members of the Budapest orchestra all get up and walk out en masse once they start hearing the lyrics of the song.

With apologies to Shearer, the best number of the night was the one he was entirely off-stage for. Since hes married to the woman who was in the spotlight for the song, he might not mind the slight so much. This particular version of Spinal Taps Sex Farm Woman was performed, in a bravura turn, by gifted mimic Judith Owen as Dame Notting Leica an unmistakable ringer for Dame Shirley Bassey at her brassiest, with the 48-piece Hollywood Chamber Orchestra playing what was unmistakably a perfectly arranged pastiche of John Barrys James Bond themes. That Sex Farm Woman is not an obvious candidate to be turned into an homage to Goldfinger or Diamonds Are Forever, but was so perfectly, made you wonder whether maybe any song could be successfully turned into a Bond theme, if the arranging is being done by CJ Vanston (Shearers music director and the nights likely MVP).

Owen also excelled earlier in the role of Arriana Uniboobulos, a hefty-chested soprano on loan from the Pasadena Opera, reviving the aria part on the latest records title track a ballad that has Smalls explaining why his bandmates abandonment left him alone in carrying their black banner.

Speaking of opera, surtitles were projected onto the overhead screen along with visuals for a majority of the numbers, lest audience members unfamiliar with the Smalls Change albums lyrics strain too much to translate Smalls more guttural singing into English. That was a relief, for catching all the gags in a night where theres one laden literally into every couplet, even if it did sometimes have the effect of letting your eye catch the rhyming punchline a moment before the ear did. If your suspicion is that the Spinal Tap aesthetic is a one-joke one that mustve worn out its welcome by now, Shearer established that there may be an unlimited number of comedic subgenres that can still be squeezed out of the main vain/clueless/deteriorating rocker one. Probably not a lot of mock-rock songs to date have combined the themes of boomer vanity and Satanism as adeptly as Shearer does in Hell Toupee probably the recent records line-for-line funniest song, augmented in concert by a constant display of graphic images of the devil in moptops and rugs.

On a purely musical level, Hell Toupee is not much to speak of; its a song where Shearer may have been so proud of his couplets, he sacrificed the tune for them in the process. But with that said, there were plenty of other moments that did carry a significant charge just as rockers, like the contradictorily head-banging MRI, or the prog-gier When Men Did Rock. These songs provide a good excuse for those of us who have a secret, ancient love for hard rock shredding but wouldnt normally go near it with a 10-foot pole in 2019 to re-engage, with meta levels of irony or lack of irony were probably better off not worrying about as Shearer lets Vai, Lukather, Wachtel and Bonilla do their thing. And then there was the honest majesty of the orchestra, truly a case of throwing pearls before swine.

Or maybe pearls before inflated phalluses is more like it, as the set-closing Big Bottom had a large-scale version of that songs flesh torpedo drifting down from the balcony to the stage for the finale, a la Roger Waters pig on the wing. At this point, the show truly bottomed out in every way, and here, theres really no possible way to position that as an insult.

When Spinal Tap first parodied this stuff in the early 80s, they were satirizing what nearly counted as a dominant strain of the punk-avoidant rock n roll culture; now that brand of rock is remembered more via the spoof, probably, than the original thing. But with even more rarefied forms of rock on the wane in the 2010s, we may someday be at the point where future generations approach This is Spinal Tap not so much as satire as a complete science-fiction. At the Wiltern, anyway, with Shearer offering what seemed suspiciously like an affectionate farewell to the entire genre in When Men Did Rock, the audience could laugh at and embrace its waning power before the whole charade comes to be viewed by bewildered post-millennials as 11: A Space Odyssey.

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Curro pupil speaks: ‘Stop the satanic panic, art is meant to provoke thought’ – News24

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 3:16 pm

The KwaZulu-Natal Grantleigh Curro pupil who produced the artwork that a pastor considered to be "demonic" has explained that his pieces are "the furthest thing from so-called satanism".

In a statement, the young artist, who has not been named, disagreed with the way Pastor Andrew Anderson depicted the work in a choked-up recording in which he feels that "Jesus is being crucified again".

"It has come to my attention that a non-consensual recording of my matric art exhibition has been leaked and gone viral on social media," the pupil said.

"It is because of the magnitude of the resultant controversy that I, the artist, am releasing this statement.

"The artworks in this exhibition explore the commercialisation of contemporary organised religion as well as the monetary exploitation of the faithful by greedy individuals who hide behind the disguise of a church or similar pious institution.

"They discuss [through the appropriation of religious imagery] how contemporary religion has become superficial.

"Instead of connecting with one's faith on a deep, seemingly meaningful level and actually having the guts to ask metaphysical questions, many simply consume their religion in the same fashion as they would any other product [hence the use of Ronald McDonald as a symbol for the infection of faith with consumer culture], and it is because of this that they become vulnerable to manipulation at the hands of those who use their office as a religious leader to further their own lives instead of bringing about positive change in the world."

Symbol of abuse and misuse

The appearance of Ronald McDonald, the McDonald's clown, does not act as a "defamation of anyone's personal messiah", but as a symbol of the abuse and misuse.

"I do not care what people believe, I simply want to highlight potential risks in how they believe it. For in a society dominated by an idea-driven culture, the contents of your mind are perhaps the most important and exploitable."

The artist asked whether, in a country stricken with poverty and glaring inequalities "who can take those religious leaders who rake in millions of rand of income on a regular basis seriously?"

The statement continues: "Who can honestly say that it is right for certain religious leaders to have gotten away with robbing those who trust them most and not repaying society? Televangelism, church-sponsored merchandise and even charging a fee for attendance are all minor examples of the ways in which one contributes to the modern day business of religion."

The drawings take the compositions of classical, religious paintings and insert symbols of capitalism in them to communicate this sentiment.

The Creation of Adam, Alba Madonna, The Last Supper, The Dead Christ Mourned (The Three Maries) and The Last Judgement were cited as compositions appropriated.

Designed to provoke thought

"However unsettling the imagery may seem, it is designed to provoke thought - to make the viewer question whether they are subject to merciless exploitation or are truly cognisant of what and how they believe.

" Questions of rationality and irrationality, good and evil as well as an introspective reflection on my own metaphysical beliefs are all discussions pursued in my art and are sadly things forgotten and ignored by those too scared by the honesty and power of artistic expression to see my work for what it is - a dissection of contemporary faith."

The artist said that his art was a far cry from the "satanic panic" as some people claimed it to be.

"It does not come from a place of malice nor does it necessarily reflect the views of my school.

"Christianity, Scientology, Islam or any one of the multiple thousands of other religions that exist - I really could not care what any one person believes [nor should anyone] but what I do care about is fairness and the sanctity of the human mind.

"Therefore, it is for that reason that I denounce the completely unfounded claims made against my art on social media and advise that before anyone speaks, that they perhaps think.

"I cannot damage that which has already been shattered."

On Tuesday, Anderson called for a protest at the school over the work and said he could feel a demonic presence around the exhibition.

'My God is no clown'

"My God is no clown," said an upset Anderson in a video that was circulated widely.

He was particularly upset by the pupils' interpretation of the religious paintings and art, such as Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, in which Jesus was portrayed as a clown and dollar signs were on a lintel behind him, and strips of the Bible's book of Chronicles worked on to a sculpture.

On Wednesday, the Ballito Apostolic Faith Mission pastor said the exhibition had been taken down, following a meeting with the school, which pleased him. The school would not confirm or deny this.

Anderson said there were two things he was aiming for: That the school admitted it pushed the boundary and crossed its ethos of "to God be the Glory"; and that it made a statement that this would never happen again.

In a statement on Wednesday, the school apologised for offending anybody.

"Curro extends an unreserved apology to all those community members who have been affected and offended by the artwork in question.

"It said that following an internal investigation, Curro determined that the duty of care and guidance offered to the learner did not always adequately address the underlying issues and potential implications of producing a visual art piece, the content of which was controversial and likely to stir emotive responses.

"It is also important that art is subjective and open to interpretation; art encourages people to voice an opinion, either for or against the work in question," it stated.

The school "reaffirmed" its commitment to the constitutional right of every individual with respect to their religious belief, race or ethnicity, gender orientation.

It would actively include this as part of their ongoing good practice as an institution of learning and to rigorously avoid any action that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

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Creepy countdown the 20 scariest horror movies of all time – NNY360

Posted: at 3:16 pm

Horror movies have changed dramatically over the decades to keep up with ever-evolving audiences. Some of the old classics, while still artful and entertaining, no longer have the power to shock. Others, however, have stood the test of time.

What makes a movie scary? Some would say its the jump-scare the boo! moment that jolts you out of your seat. Others might point to a particularly ghastly monster or a preponderance of gore. And whos to say whats more terrifying a ghost, a creature or a plain old murderer? Much of what jangles your nerves depends on the fears you bring into the theater.

The best horror movies find a sweet spot: A primal, universal terror made vivid by skillful filmmaking. That formula will surely never age. Here, just in time for Halloween, are 20 of the scariest movies of all time:

20. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2009)

This no-budget indie about a possessed McMansion helped kick off the current horror craze. Slamming doors and flickering lights and not much else make this a yelp-out-loud treat.

19. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

The movie that gave us the blade-fingered Freddy Krueger (and the film debut of Johnny Depp) looks a little dated now, but director Wes Cravens blend of dreams and reality still has the power to unsettle.

18. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

The zombie genre starts with George Romeros ghoulish, gory classic. AMCs The Walking Dead may have more splatter, but this one really stares into the existential abyss.

17. ROSEMARYS BABY (1968)

Roman Polanskis film about a pregnant woman (Mia Farrow) who gets snookered into Satanism is a slow-building chiller, but the climactic payoff is one of the best youll ever see.

Jordan Peeles story of a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his white girlfriends parents is essentially a race-based version of The Stepford Wives. It works best as satirical commentary but has enough wig-out moments to earn a place on this list.

Five college kids find an audiotape that releases demons in this sophomore feature from Sam Raimi. Its freaky great fun thanks to clever camerawork, a sly sense of humor and a star turn from Bruce Campbell.

This knockoff of The Exorcist met with mixed reviews but is now considered an iconic horror film in its own right. Harvey Stevens is unforgettable as Damien, a literal demon child, while several top-shelf actors (Gregory Peck, Lee Remick) play the unfortunate adults around him.

13. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

Three filmmakers enter a Maryland forest to investigate a local myth. Assembled from their found footage, The Blair Witch Project uses virtually nothing but weird noises and shaky camerawork by the actors themselves to create an atmosphere of deep-reaching terror.

12. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

Hoopers low-budget shocker about cannibals preying on hippies was the perfect mid-70s horror film, a grisly stew of Manson mythology and redneckphobia. Not for the faint of heart.

One of two Tobe Hooper films on this list, Poltergeist has been almost as widely imitated as Psycho or Halloween. (Theres some controversy about whether producer Steven Spielberg really directed it.) This is the movie that made an entire generation afraid to watch television.

Steven Spielbergs masterpiece about an outsize shark may not pack the scares-per-minute of other films on this list. Its part horror movie, part adventure epic. But for white-knuckle suspense plus several nasty surprises Jaws is tough to beat.

John Carpenters remake of the 1951 classic about a creature discovered in Antarctica is a screamingly great horror flick, full of gore, goo and flamethrowers. The ace cast includes Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Keith David.

This sneak attack of a movie begins straightforwardly enough with a Japanese widower looking for a younger lover. The harrowing second half no spoilers must be seen to believed. Directed by Takashi Miike.

Ari Asters story of an artist (Toni Collette) ensnared by a cult may be too intense for some. Critics raved, but freaked-out audiences gave it a rare D+ CinemaScore. Youve been warned.

6. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)

Jonathan Demmes modern classic is still the only horror film to win the Oscar for best picture. Anthony Hopkins sinister and highly quotable Hannibal Lecter is the cinematic serial killer by which all others are now judged.

Alfred Hitchcocks most famous film may not jolt audiences the way it once did. But its still a terrific shocker, from Anthony Perkins unnerving performance as the ultimate mamas boy to the lightbulb-swinging climax.

John Carpenter terrorized middle America with this simple but effective tale about a serial killer stalking suburban teenagers. Even today, Halloween feels like your worst nightmare: a home invasion perpetrated by a semi-supernatural being. Jamie Lee Curtis makes her big-screen debut as terrorized babysitter Laurie Strode.

Director Ridley Scott admitted that Alien was basically Jaws in space. Nevertheless, thanks to a groundbreakingly hideous space creature (designed by illustrator H.R. Geiger) and a tough-as-nails Sigourney Weaver as the last survivor on a doomed craft, Scotts movie remains the first word in modern sci-fi horror.

Audiences reportedly fainted and vomited during screenings of William Friedkins film about a little girl possessed by a demon (Linda Blair, in a head-spinning, Oscar-nominated turn). Hype aside, this is still an absolute hair-raiser, especially the later editions that restored the eye-popping spider-walk scene.

When it comes to imitators, Stanley Kubricks The Shining, based on Stephen Kings 1977 novel, stands alone. Nobody has ever re-created a hotel quite like the Overlook, nor has anyone equaled Jack Nicholsons unhinged performance as a father gone mad. Its a monolith of terror, undiminished even after nearly 40 years.

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