Lucifer Rising: A Film by Kenneth Anger

Babalon Diaries: Appendix Three

Though The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome was the film made by Kenneth Anger most associated with the Babalon Working this film, Lucifer Rising, seems to me to be related to it. Perhaps this is because of its opening shots of seething volcanoes and its  evocation of the Aeon of Horus.

Like most of Kenneth Anger’s films, it is indecipherable without his commentary, but that makes the film no less compelling. Most of Anger’s films are based on his enactments of Thelemic Rituals, and the symbols can be interpreted using Aleister Crowley‘s magickal system. I am not a Thelemite, but from my experience playing Marjorie Cameron/Babalon and my studying for the role, I have gained a little knowledge of Crowley’s universe and know a bit about of Egyptian magic.  I have figured a few things out that may help you if you want a way into this stunning little film.

The Aeon of Horus.

After the dark earth erupts with fire and light, Isis wakes. She takes an ankh, symbol of life, off of the wall of an ancient temple and wakes Osiris. As Osiris wakes and communicates with Isis, the crocodiles are hatched. In Egyptian religion, the crocodile is both revered as a symbol of strength and protection for the Pharoah, and reviled for its quick snatching of life with its long jaws. This dichotomy is shared by Devil/ Angel,  Lucifer.

I think what happens next is meant to be a new type of man born under the power of the Age of Horus. He is both fay and violent. He stabs a girl, and washes the blood off in a bathtub. The girl, played by Marianne Faithful,  comes back to life and transports herself back in time to ancient Egypt. She climbs higher and higher by stairs or mountain passes. There is fire, the Sphinx, Stonehenge and Druids carrying torches through the night. The elephant, Ganesha, remover of obstacles, symbolically steps on a rearing cobra, symbol of Pharoah, Divine Kingship, or enlightenment. Hmmm…

Kenneth Anger himself appears performing a ritual inside a Thelemic Circle. My impression is he is raising Lucifer. There is a tiger, a fiery animal, swimming in a sea, Many more water images suggesting emotion and the dramatic collision of the elements. Finally a young man wearing a jacket with the old NBC logo on the back wit the name Lucifer written above it. Some very strange things begin to happen. There are images of Aleister Crowley, juxtaposed with more knives and an atmosphere of  potential violence. At one point Lucifer carries a cake that looks to me like the Pleasure Dome. Marianne Faithful weeps into a scarf the color of Lucifer’s clothes. We see opium poppies, and strange green orgy, more Egyptian gods, spaceships flying over the Great Sphinx.

I am sure this hasn’t been all that informative, but with Anger’s films, every little bit helps. The images are hypnotic, and the music, composed and performed by Bobby Beausoleil, is absolutely mesmerizing and deeply moving.

If you have seen this, please enjoy it again. If not prepare to be both enchanted and disturbed.

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4 thoughts on “Lucifer Rising: A Film by Kenneth Anger

  1. In fragments. This one I found…maybe on Youtube. I would love to post Pleasure Dome for the Babalon Diaries if I can get it.

  2. I’ve seen all Anger’s films, but I have a question about Inauguration of the pleasure dome. Cameron is billed as playing two parts, The Scarlet woman, and Kali, while the 4 other actresses in the film are billed as playing single parts. However, there appears to be a sixth woman, who I always thought was Cameron, peeling away masks from her face, till she reveals a painted face, with fake teeth. Is this Cameron, as another version of the Scarlet woman? Loved Lucifer rising, as well. His two best films, in my opinion.

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