This is Part 15 to a series of posts about my adventures during 2005, leading up to the performance of Paul Green’s play Babalon. The story is full of cloak and dagger, initiatory strangeness, chaos, and hysteria. It shows what can happen on the Magical path if one is not careful…
Directed by occultist, Alison Rockbrand, Babalon was performed on December 16, 2005, at the John Gielgud Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to a sold out audience of London’s finest occultists and magicians. If you want to listen to it, click Radio QBSaul: Archives: Babalon. I played Marjorie Cameron/Babalon. I am called Angela Murrow because I had to hide my identity.
I have been slowly approaching these scary parts of the Babalon Diaries.
4 December, 2005
It was our director, Alison’s, birthday. Since she was having the blues, I decided to give her the present of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. The Brits love all this Americana stuff that is so easily forgotten about when you are back in the States.
By this time the rehearsal process had become extremely intense — at least for me. I was having trouble doing research because I was so unfamiliar with computers and I didn’t know these characters at all. I didn’t even know about google images at the time.
I do now…..
The set designer was woman I will call S. Since I was going to be the only actor onstage, Alison decided to project images, sigils, photos, etc on the back stage wall so the audience would have something to look at. S. had a great fund of them and was creating a slide show with a musical score to be played before the show. She had also provided a book about Jack Parsons called Strange Angel, by George Pendle that had some photos of the Babalon crew. Slowly I began to learn about these fascinating characters, and was drawn more and more into that world of Thelema, Magick, and the Bohemian culture of California just before WWII.
I was also bringing Babalon through — sometimes feeling entirely changed as I practiced my lines and monologues at home, repeating over and over the words of Aleister Crowley and entering the consciousness of the Scarlet Woman.
Black hooded robes were being made for the the actors, and I was looking for red and black vintage to transform myself into 1940‘s Marjorie Cameron and Babalon. We now had sound effects and voice overs. Our sound effects man, G. frequently had trouble coming to rehearsal because he worked graveyard shift, and the process of trying to get him to sacrifice sleep to rehearse was often difficult. The responsibility seemed to fall on me for some reason. This wasn’t good with what the Babalon current was doing. The actor who played Jack Parsons was often late as well. T this held us up considerably. On Alison’s birthday, he was very late having gotten lost in Sainsburys in Covent Garden, waylaid by the wine shop on his way to rehearsal.
Hail to the Red Phonebox
After rehearsal, I brought out the Jack Daniel’s for Alison. We passed it around in Treadwells and then had to leave. I remember G. had to go and that he looked like Russian Prince out of a fairy tale.We finished celebrating Alison’s birthday on the sidewalk outside. Pharoan showed up with a bottle of red wine and we passed that around too.
Now it takes very little alcohol for me to get drunk. One glass of wine and I am smashed. On and empty stomach — even worse. Mixing whiskey and wine? Unthinkable, but in the moment it seemed OK.
I don’t know how we got to Charing Cross tube station. I am sure I meant to take the train to Camden Town and then go on up to Highgate where I was living at the time. But somehow, I was sitting on my rear end on the sidewalk in front McDonalds! A homeless guy was sitting beside me pointing a row of lighted Christmas trees in a shop window across the street and asking which one I was.
“I’m the blue one. Which one are you?”
“The red one,” I said.
“You can stay here with me tonight if you want to. Curl up in my blanket.”
I remember at one point throwing up in a corner — I am naturally very tidy — aware that I had entered a sphere I would never have imagined entering before.
Next thing I recall was the Wiz talking to me, trying to pull me up off the sidewalk. A cab was waiting. I don’t know why I was being so difficult, but was alert enough to remember the Wiz saying, “Three cabs refused to pick us up and I couldn’t get you up off the side walk. I’m not letting this one go.”
“Really?” I said. I couldn’t imagine such a thing. “What time is it?”
“3 AM. S. told me to stay with you and make sure you got home all right. You were saying Hail to the Red Phonebox and took off down the street.”
Long story short, the cab took us to my house. I luckily had enough money on me to pay it. The Wiz came in and I settled him on the floor of the lounge. I fell into bed with my boots on.
5 December, 2005
In the morning I woke up fully dressed and upset that my top was wrinkled and would have to be dry cleaned. The Wiz had been so kind as to remove my boots. He had to leave early, and the Goths were stirring. I usually got in the shower before they did to give them time to get ready.
The Goths and I worked at Camden Lock Market. December was time for what the management called The Christmas Package which meant we had to work extra hours to keep our pitches over the holidays. As a Tarot Reader, I never made much money at Christmas, but could never afford to take three weeks off, so I eeeked out what I could in the freezing cold, barely moving from my table and the heat of the electric fire I had going underneath it.
I had been suspended the week before (another first for me!) for arguing with a cut-throat jewelry trader who was manipulating and trying to steal a chunk out of my pitch for himself. People with terrible attitudes, and some downright sociopaths have been known to grace the Market with their presence, and I was often a target — probably because I was a woman and because what I did for a living wasn’t perceived as valuable by them — even though I had hundreds of clients who only came to the Market to see me. I was pretty fed up with these a_____s at that point and full of the ferocity of the Whore of Babalon: Goddess of Love and War!
But that morning, I was so ill, I could barley stand. You know the feeling, like your stomach had fallen out and gotten left behind somewhere. I had taken my shower and was cringing on the couch.
Me: Yup! I have to go to work. I’ll feel better after my coffee…
Goth #1: You’re not going to work.
Me: I have to! If I don’t show up for the start of the Christmas package, I’ll lose my pitch for three weeks.
Goth #2: Nope. You’re not going to work. You’re too sick.
Goth #1: You’re not going to work like that.
Me: Well what will I do?
Goth #1: We’ll tell them you’re sick and you can’t come in. Look at you. You can barely stand up.
Me: Well, OK.
I did feel so horrible. I really didn’t want to go work.
Thank God I stayed home!
And of course, if you want to listen to podcasts of our December 16, 2005 performance of Babalon, the links are just below.
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