Babalon Diaries: # 17: Invocatory Theatre and the Babalon Project

Aline DeWinter: Invocatory Theatre and the Babalon Project

Interview by Alison Rockbrand

This is Part 17 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.

by Air Adam

by Air Adam

As part of her on going academic research into esoteric acting and performance/theatre at the Rose Bruford College, Alison Rockbrand interviewed me about my creative process. She was  especially interested in my use of ritual to develop roles in acting and dance.  Most actors at one time or another, study Method Acting developed by Constantin Stanislavsky in the late 19th century. I recently learned that he made great use of esoteric methods in training actors how to embody their roles. I wonder how far he originally took them in terms of Otherworld contacts….

Alison Rockbrand:

Aline DeWinter is an American medium, tarot reader, witch, writer and performer whose work has crossed from the Seattle Shakespeare Company,to the dance performances of the Companions of Musavir, to working on esoteric theatre projects in London, England where she lived for nine years. She is the writer of a detailed and extensive blog on what she calls ‘the magical path’; included in this blog is an account of her experiences while working on the esoteric play by Paul Green, Babalon, of which I  myself was the director. I spoke to her on her experiences as an individual performer in the realms of esoteric theatre and dance.

Interview with Aline de Winter

AR: You describe yourself as a witch and as a performer, can you give me some idea as to how you interpret these terms and how they relate to each other?

AD: Well, I think I have always been what I would call a witch. When I first started working with the Seattle Shakespeare Company in the 1980′s I started to feel that there were deeper levels to Shakespeare that no one was really investigating. I tried to bring my magical awareness into my performances.

AR: What do you mean by ‘magical awareness’.

AD: At the time I was doing a lot of Kabbalistic magic, you know from the Jewish Kabbala. I was getting up at five in the morning to do these meditations which were based on that system, trying to increase my esoteric knowledge. But I was always a natural witch, I always just somehow knew how to do magic. It was like what they say about shamans, I was just called to the path I am on by the spirits themselves. I have heard the same sort of thing from Native Indian shamans with whom I have had a lot of experiences. Basically I knew how to tap into other dimensional reality and bring stuff through, though my body. I would move my mind through a door. But at the time of my work with Shakespeare and particularly with the part of Lady Macbeth, I was just trying to integrate my knowledge with what I felt were the deeper levels in that play.

AR: How did you accomplish this integration?

AD. One example is the scene where Lady Macbeth conjures of all of these dark spirits or demons in order to make herself stronger. In the performance, we thought of that scene as an actual magical ritual. We drew a circle, and conjured the directions, and treated the scene very much as you would in ceremonial magic. We thought of the scene as an actual magical ritual though we were quite careful not to fully conjure the dark energies that Lady Macbeth was conjuring, or at least I did not conjure them into myself as she was because that would have been too chaotic. But we still  treated it as though I were real, as though the spirits were being spoken to during the performance. We also banished them everyday after the rehearsals and performances; we were careful to cleanse to space magically after every performance.

lady-macbeth Ellen Terry as Lady MacBeth

AR: Can you tell me something about your preparation for the performance of that role?

AD. Well as I said I was doing all this Kabbala, and that helped me to get to some of those deeper levels. But the way I always prepare for such roles is through ritual and through the use of images. I would find the right image of the magical levels within the character I wanted to use during the scene and then I would take those images into my own body, or my own awareness. I finally found that it was easier to do this with dance because then I can just totally let go in performance and let the character or the spirit I am trying to work with completely take over, like a kind of shamanic possession.

AR: You said you also used ritual?

AD: Yes, when I practice at home I always begin the practice by drawing the circle and calling in to it the energies I need for the performance. Its a magical ritual that I repeat every time I rehearse because I am trying to do magic on the stage and it takes a lot of practice of that ritualistic kind to accomplish that. The ritual might vary, but its a ritual the same as in ceremonial magic where the circle is drawn before the spirits can enter. It was the same when I started working in dance.

AR: Can you elaborate about your work in dance?

AD: I started to work with the dance company, Companions of Musavir, performing sacred dances. I was initiated into the Sufi Order in Paris in 1982.  In those days when I was dancing an doing a lot of theatre my whole desire was to use theatre as a magical vehicle.  There were very few people, if any, who had the same idea as me- only Elizabeth Dickinson, the director of the Companions of Musavir - had this as the real reason behind the dance company. I was one of two dancers who got that. I felt I could do more of what I wanted with them. I started doing my own choreographies which sprang out of my desire to unite with a Goddess or God- as Circe, Melusine, Salome, Ariadne and various others.

circe

Circe by Waterhouse

AR: What was your process in preparing for that kind of role?

AD: When I was working on Circe, once the choreography was set, I would move my consciousness into what I have to call ‘the Circe current’. I would try to connect my consciousness with that of the Goddess, which feels more like a specific current of consciousness rather then the mind of a character. Its something from a different reality. Then I would often find new ways to move in the choreography and a lot of it would change based on my connection. I would do this over and over again, as a ritualistic, magical and spiritual practice as a preparation for performance.

AR: How was the performance different from the rehearsals?

AD: In the rehearsal phase I would just be contacting it myself, letting the Circe current show me the dance and letting in use me to find the right choreography. In performance, I would mediate on stage between the Goddess Circe and the audience. I would try to bring something magical through to the audience. However, you never know if its going to work. You can’t control the spirit. Its a willing co-operation. If it does not want to manifest in a certain performance then there is nothing you can do. You have to work with it and develop a relationship with it, so that is why there is so much ritual practice involved- it makes the connection stronger.

AR: How do you develop this connection?

AD. I always invoke, I develop in magical circles. I make a circle, I invoke the spirit and then I let it take over me but without letting go of my critical side so that I can work. It develops through the ritual practice, but in that practice I am making my self very open emotionally. I am trying to release my conscious mind and go into the subconscious, which opens you up emotionally, and then  you can connect to the spirit through a strong emotion. In magic we often use sygils and symbols to get in touch with the subconscious mind and I use those to connect the spirits as well. I use the heart chakra combined with the third eye, which then makes you telepathic with spirits that are good for you,that have a higher energy level. From the solar plexus into the lower chakra levels you get demons who feed off your sexual energies, which can be very debilitating.

AR: What is there to be gained from this kind of connection to a spirit?

AD: Every time I perform in this way and get into the body of a spirit, or mediate for a spirit to an audience, it alters me in ways I sometimes do not know about until much later. I have gotten many gifts from this kind of practice, mainly new abilities or new insights into myself or the world. These are magical gifts which are given from the spirit who has a different reality to me, and when I communicated with it on this level, something of the spirit always stays with me, forever. And it can alter reality as I know it as well. Things change, strange things happen, my life changes. It could be a dangerous practice and many people on the occult path go insane from conjuring demons. If you conjure positive entities, then good things will follow, but often when you deal in Black Magic, then bad things tend to happen and people loose themselves. With the Babalon project, I felt that the energy of Babalon was very fiery and chaotic and many bizarre things happened during the rehearsal process in London. But I gained a lot from Babalon, especially lots of Kundalini energy rising up my spine.

AR: Can you tell me more about your preparation for Babalon?

AD: I have written in my blog about the experiences with Babalon by Paul Green and with the spirit of Babalon because it was something that altered my life in many ways and in which I saw how the use of certain energies and types of magic can have major effects in reality. In preparation it was very magical because the play itself is alive- it contains some of the Enochian keys of John Dee and Edward Kelley which were used by the occultist Jack Parsons to complete what he called “ The Babalon Working”, a magical rite to call the energies of the spirit of Babalon into the world at large. Those energies were not the kind I was used to dealing with. They were darker, more fiery. In rehearsal we sang the Enochian keys and it would get very weird. There was definitely something happening when we sang the keys in rehearsals. Since all the actors were occultists and magicians, it would seem that we could not help but actually perform aspects of the Babalon Working whenever we performed those scenes in the play.

AR: Did this differ from your private practice?

AD: In my private practice I would draw the circle, call the directions as is done in most Wiccan and ceremonial magical rituals, then I would use the Babalon sygil which Aleister Crowley created to try to connect to the ‘Babalon current’ . I would work to bring through the Babalon energy. What it felt like was a very disruptive energy, like the earth was falling from underneath me. As always I experienced it as a dimensional shift. Then Babalon would appear to me. Babalon shows up as a red fiery figure covered with jewels. Then I would walk into that figure. I would just move my body into the body of this spirit Babalon and I would focus on what that felt like, and try to remember the feeling of that for the rehearsals with the rest of the cast.

AR: Was the same thing happening in performance?

AD: No. In performance I felt as though Babalon was talking directly through me to the audience. There were moments in the performance when I felt as though the energy was really being manifested directly to them. My performance was a magical act to conjure Babalon and I think she was definitely there and I think the audience could feel that. But each time one of these spirits manifests though a medium, it will take on aspects of that person as well. So my invocation of it would be different from another actors.

AR: You said you experienced magical phenomena during the rehearsals for Babalon. Can you elaborate?

AD: The play had a magical effect way beyond just the rehearsal room. Not only on myself but in the real world as well. There is one incident which happened during the rehearsals. It was towards the end of the rehearsal process and nearing the performance. I had a problem with my flat and so I had to go and stay with a friend of mine near Hampstead Heath. At one point  she told me to find someplace else to stay because another friend of hers was coming from Germany for her job in Hemel Hempstead. The German friend’s return home was delayed all of a sudden when the factory she was working at blew up. It turned out that the factory was a producer of airplane fuel.  It’s very bizarre because Jack Parsons, the protagonist of Babalon, was, in real life, one of the inventors of rocket and air plane fuel. He was killed when he dropped a canister of rocket fuel and it exploded. His death is also the climax of the play.  I find it incredible that this should have happened so close to where Babalon was being performed and only a few days before the performance, and that I who was  playing Babalon, was directly connected to someone who worked there. It’s horrible though, really.

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The Babalon Working as it was performed by Jack Parsons was supposed to bring the energy of the ‘Babalon Current’ into the world at large, to affect the outside world and to have a major effect on humanity. Many people have wondered what was actually accomplished by it though, as Parsons was killed in an explosion not long after. I think we awoke something in our rehearsals that had a similar effect. We  performed a version of the Parsons Babalon Working and a factory close to us that stored air plane fuel blew up.  That is what I mean about real effects. This type of esoteric theatre effects things.

(Aside by me: This why we say “Don’t do this at home….” Luckily no one was hurt.)

AR: What effects did the experience have on you personally?

AD: Its always like a kind of initiation because something in me changes and a whole new side of my personality can develop. The experience with Babalon brought through something that was not there before. Initiation is about creating a holistic self  from these currents, dimensions, or conciousnesses, and letting them add to by body and to my knowledge. I have more energy then I do this. Also, the spirit becomes a muse for me, and though it new connection are born and I gain in gnosis. Working with Babalon I contacted things I had not contacted before, but now I always can again. I can always call that spirit or energy back. I still feel very connected to it today. It affects objective reality.

AR: Do you think this kind of experience is possible though other theatrical means? Do you need to be an esoteric actor to experience this or can it happen in other theatres, such as those in which use shamanic techniques ?

AD: I have done a lot of work with shamans and I have seen many of their rituals on Native American reservations in America. You cannot take the techniques of shamanism away from the shamans and expect to get the same results. Those techniques are tied to the land, to specific trees, or lakes or other natural elements, and to a specific tribe. I have seen shamans perform with feathers that were 1000 years old passed down a family line- a lot of the magic is in those feathers. Shamans are healers and they work for the whole community. There may be some similar techniques in esoteric acting, but its not really shamanism the way it is used traditionally. Our practice of Esoteric theatre is urban, it travels with us, its not tied to a place or a people. Its like a kind of urban shamanism. But these shamans like esoteric actors are trained to be able to see into other dimensions and to bring things back. I do not think that is what is happening in other theatres because the people involved are not trained in that way, the audience in not being changed in the same way because the actors are not calling in other dimensions of reality. They are exploring this reality, but we are going somewhere beyond there.

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alterofbabalon

And of course, if you want to listen to podcasts of our December 16, 2005 performance of Babalon, the links are just below.

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my RSS Feed or my email list. There is more to come…

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Babalon Diaries #15+9: Cup of Abominations!

babylonastridethebeast_thumb1

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.

smallbab

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.

red-phone-box

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.”

“I did?”

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.

sideleila02

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!

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And of course, if you want to listen to podcasts of our December 16, 2005 performance of Babalon, the links are just below.

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my RSS Feed or my email list. There is more to come…

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Babalon Diaries: No !! Casting

Babalon Diaries # !! Casting

Our Lady Babalon

Our Lady Babalon

This is Part 11 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.

Babalon Diaries No.!!

Babalon by Paul A. Green
Voices and Characters

Jack: John Whitesides Parsons – educate Californian, Frater 210 of the OTO

Ed: Ed Forman – technician at CIT – Californian, Life long friend of Jack

Crowley: Aleister Crowley, Baphomet, Frater Perdrabo 666, Master Therion,The Great Beast, Supreme Caliph of the Order of Oriental Templars etc etc. In this last phase of his life, Crowley suffered form severe asthma. A 1930’s recording of his inimitable voice survives.

Freida: Lady Freida Harris – artist, wife of Sir Percy Harris, Bart.  Crowley’s loyal pupil and patron. In her 60’s Patrician English

Smith: Wilfred T. Smith. In his 50’s. suave Anglo- American. Frater 132. Crowley’s original OTO representative in California

Helen: Helen Northrup Parsons, Jack’s first wife. Californian

Betty: Sara Elizabeth Northrup, Helen’s sister. Later Jack’s mistress

Ron: Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, author, explorer, religious teacher. Mid-West
Founder of Scientology

Cameron: Marjorie Cameron Parsons, aka Candida or Candy, artist and vessel of Babalon

Police Officer/ FBI Officer/ Radio Announcer/

and Young Crowley

Alison Rockbrand

Director, Alison Rockbrand as Babalon in a prior incarnation

Casting

It’s about time for another installment of the Babalon Diaries. That Mercury Retrograde in September was a real blooper. I was so scattered I forgot to blog. Imagine!

One thing I learned hanging around the Thelemites involved with Babalon, is that many Magicians are not psychic in the least. This came as a surprise to me because I am not sure I would have been a Witch if I was not a Faery Seer, and I would not have been a Faery Seer if I wasn’t psychic. So, I wondered what drew these people to magic? Was it anything more than an intellectual, or academic interest? I think not because they were practicing magic to get results in alignment with their True Will.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, Love under Will” 666

That is all well and good, but if you can’t “see” the effects of your magic, how do you monitor it? How do you gauge what is happening in the Unseen? How do you know what the spirits you are summoning are doing?

It is a very dangerous activity as those of who can “see” can attest. Even Crowley, and John Dee long before him,  employed clairvoyants to capture the visions and channel the spirits. Without a Seer, Magick is a case of the blind leading the blind down a dark alley in a storm.

These Magicians are all Londoners, city dwellers. My magical personality is totally tied up with nature, and nature is where the original psychic openings happened for me, and it was in nature that portals opened out into the Otherworld. When I asked about this, I was told that in cities, people are into Lodge Magic. That is why the Ceremonial Magical traditions like the  Golden Dawn, and Thelema, are based in Free Masonry — it is all Temple Magic done indoors with elaborate altars and trappings like the Catholic Church was before Vatican II.  This type of magic may not require psychic abilities because the rituals themselves hold the appeal, and the power that is promised is gained through study and the practice of Magic for certain results. Ceremonial Magic has much more formal rituals, very stately and beautiful ones that do indeed create atmospheres of great potency that can induce trance states and visions. In contrast, Witchcraft, and Faery Seership especially, are more spontaneous and don’t really need anything more than clairvoyance to participate in their  Mysteries.

Downloading A Goddess

So, there were difficulties.

It is too easy for me to mediate deities. I did it as a dancer, and as an actress when doing Shakespearean roles. I shift into other consciousness streams when I do readings and healing work for clients. I learned very early on, in the late 1970’s, to blank my mind with meditation so that “messages” could come through from the spirit worlds and I could know it was not my imagination, or fantasy. I was taught the importance of “slaying the ego” in order to become a vessel for the gods.

So, very shortly after I began working with my Babalon script, I was moving into Babalon’s current, and it would not be long before She would be coming through.

Trouble is, that on my side of issue, I am still me. I have simply allowed Babalon to take space in my consciousness and being, and to express Herself through me. But I do I do not have multiple personality disorder. On the contrary, I am highly aware that I am still me. I just now have emotions and forces moving through me that are not quite mine — but they are also, in the sense that these emotions and forces belong to all of us, not alien.

It seems in retrospect that some of my cast members did not understand this.

The Wiz came to rehearsal smelling of roses and working the eye contact with me/ She.
I,  of course was not able to separate myself from Babalon and wondered why he was attempting such an obvious seduction, as if I wouldn’t know what he was up to.
This would all play out in a rather unfortunate and somewhat silly way later on.

Babalon is a Love Goddess, and also a Goddess of Destruction, very much like Lillith.
She is red roses and blood, sex and transformation through the power of sexuality. Try to live in the world with this volatile cocktail of forces moving through you and you can easily court disaster, especially when She has Her own agenda.

BABALON

A Speculative Fiction for Radio
concerning the life and death of Jack Parsons (1914-52)

This conceptual synopsis and complete script of BABALON is copyright© Paul Andrew Green 1998/2005, who asserts all rights of authorship and intellectual paternity under the 1988 Copyright Act. It may not be reproduced , developed, adapted, performed, or broadcast in any form or medium or format whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or his agent. A staged version was performed by Travesty Theatre at the Gielgud Studio Theatre, RADA, London WC1 on 16 December 2005.

The live recording is now on-line at Radio QBSaul VOICES Angela Morrow Marjorie Cameron George Sieg Jack Parsons

Anthony Lewis Ed Forman/AleisterCrowley/Harbourmaster/FBI Agent Elizabeth Daily Lady Frieda Harris/Helen Parsons/Mrs. Crowley David De Blank Wilfred Smith/Warden/ Thomas Crowley/Announcer Marysia Kay Betty Northrup

Joe Murray L. Ron Hubbard/Police Officer VISUALS Sara Mulryan SOUND Georgi Georgiev/Paul Green DIRECTOR Alison Rockbrand

See how they try to hide…

Treadwells Bookshop

Treadwells Bookshop

How We Met Each Other

I went to a read through at Treadwells and Alison wanted to cast me. At that point, my American accent and acting experience made me a desirable choice to play Cameron/Babalon. I didn’t want to do, especially after the incident when, script in pocket, I went to the corner shop in Highgate where I lived, and bought a few items that totaled up to 6.66. Crowely’s Magical personality as the Great Beast was, of course, 666!

I hadn’t made up my mind. Though I was attracted to the project, I was scared. I didn’t want a Goddess of Destruction coming through. Suddenly, one day when I was home, it felt like an earthquake ripped through the flat. Emotionally, I became unstable, almost crazy with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep that night and somehow got on the phone with GG, (we had just become friends) and he was very kind and supportive, but I must have been  nightmare to deal with because I was basically freaking out.

A few days later, I was approached again by Pharaon about being in the play. I agreed to do it, ignoring my sense of foreboding…

A group of quite wonderful actors were assembled. But it was impossible to cast Crowley! It was weird. Here we were in the middle of London working out of an occult book shop, and we couldn’t find a middle aged to old, bald headed magician to play Aleister Crowely! The original plan was that, since the play had been written by Paul Green as a radio play, that only Crowley and Frieda Harris would be on the stage, along with a Cameron/Babalon, while the rest of the cast would be in hooded robes speaking from a gallery that runs along the top of the stage at the John Geilgud Theatre. Since Cameron/ Babalon didn’t come on until Act 2, this left the stage bare for half the play.

Cameron as Babalon

Cameron as Babalon

Weeks went by, still no Crowley. I asked my young shaven headed Goth friend to it — he would have been great because he was flamboyant, and funny as Hell, as was Crowley, but even he refused. Nor could we find an old lady to play Freida Harris.

Alison had no choice but to cast a couple of twenty somethings who were good for the roles but visually totally wrong for the parts, and keep them offstage. Anthony   Lewis,   who did the voice of Crowley  during the rehearsals was an amazing Crowley. He found recordings of Crowley’s voice, and really nailed it. He also gave the character of the Great Beast tremendous wit and charm.

The Darkness Thickens

We initially assembled upstairs in Treadwells, in the middle of the bookshop, because another theatre group, Foolish People, were rehearsing down in the “crypt”…I remember looking out the windows at the streets and the restaurants thinking how dark it was. It was now October and night fell early all of a sudden.

I remember how ghostly it was that year. One day, my room mates, P.& K. who were Goths, had gone to Highgate Cemetery. They had met at the Whitby Vampire Festival 10 years before and were inseparable from that moment on. They were really into horror films and vampires and death and all that good Goth stuff.   That night, I had a dream that some shadowy figures crept silently onto the flat and went into their bedroom. They had attracted ghosts into the house. Things were moving in a very murky direction.

The days grew darker. GG was the sound effects man. He was having trouble making it to rehearsals and the Babalon part of me was getting upset. I am not sure if I would have been unhappy about it on my own, or if the magic that was being done behind the scenes was too strong for me to take. Pharaon, who was playing Jack Parsons,  also had trouble getting to rehearsals on time, and the Wiz was frequently ill with asthma — Crowley’s malady at the end of his life. As a former professional actress and dancer, I was appalled that actors would be late for rehearsals, but I also sensed that there was stuff going on among the Thelemites that I, as an outsider, was not privy to. Things would get very much weirder before I found out.

And of course, if you want to listen to podcasts of our December 16, 2005 performance of Babalon, the links are just below.

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my RSS Feed or my email list. There is more to come…

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Babalon Diaries # 7: Foxy Red

This is the seventh in 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…(as if one has choice…)

Directed by occultist, Alison Rockbrand, Babalon was performed on December 5, 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.

Babalon

ANNOUNCER: BABALON

CAMERON/BABALON: (SFX: whispered, reverb) I am the naked brilliance of the
voluptuous night-sky….Come to me..
Priestess/ Nuit

Priestess/ Nuit

In the end, I had no choice.
Here’s a little back story:
The skinny, blond Hungarian pole dancer who had been my flatmate in Highgate got her thong too far up her _____ and decided she and I were “not friends”. I could never figure this out as I liked her well enough. I had been warned about “Hungarian women living abroad” , but she being a pushy little thing, and life at Oak Lodge on the Heath having sunk into a morass of stormy Kiwi DJ NOISE!!!! made moving imperative. I was also outlining this Vampire novel (mentioned in part 666)  and thought hearing the  Hugarian language every day would be good research. Besides, living next to Highgate Cemetery was irrisistable. Of course my Vampire/ heroine would begin her adventures in Highgate! Thus was I seduced into giving in to Salamadra’s demands.
Lease up, she moved out. I wanted to stay put, so in a moment of desperation, I talked Kallistratus and Pippi into moving in. I am so glad I did….
I met them when they were working in Camden Lock Market. Journeying to London from far Grantham, in search of decadance, they sold their own line of clothing in an attempt to survive.  Hung on  outdoor railings, these glamorous togs blew in the wind  like black smudges in the English gloom. Business was not that great, so they started working in Fairy Goth Mother, a Goth shop specializing in beautiful corsets and fetish gear.
Fairy Goth Mother, London

Fairy Goth Mother, London

They were great friends. Kallistratus had a way with the ladies. “Hello, lovely lady,” was his special greeting.Though he is tall, dark and handsome, I didn’t fancy Kallistratus, though we loved each other dearly. Pippi liked me– perhaps because I was the only woman on earth who didn’t fancy her husband.
Once they moved in with me, my Gothic Romance flat was transformed into proper a Goth lair. Bats hung from the ceiling, a collection of Living Dead Dolls and Tortured Souls gazed out from the shelves, a picture of Bram Stoker hung over the kitchen table.  When the picture fell off the wall, breaking the glass, we all three crossed ourselves and groaned…
Posey, Living Dead Doll

Posey, Living Dead Doll

Kundalini Rising

I had a full blown Kundalini Awakening in 1986. This was after clearing my energy fields through 18 months of  almost constant meditation. Dramatic, archetypal, hallucinatory images rose and subsided within me for weeks. ( Without LSD, mind you.) My  third eye blossomed open, intensifying my psychic abilities, and making me a clear channel for healing energies. Kundalini launched my career as a healer.

Kundalini has another side to it, though. A sexual side. I had become Shakti.

I was attending a talk on Chaos Magic at Treadwells. There was a pleasant looking young man there that I will call G.G. ( he is commonly known as the sitar playing Bulgarian)  The next time I was at Treadwells, he came into the shop. When he saw me, he made a beeline for me and gazed into my eyes. G.G. looks a bit like a cross between a Russian Prince in a fairy tale, and a deer. Pretty cute, but I was dazzled by his eyes! They were pale fiery green!

After that, we kept running into each other. One night G.G., and a friend of his followed me home wanting to go to Highgate Cemetery. It was 2 or 3 AM, but what fun! We wanted to go into the cemetery but it was locked. Walking around on the road below the tall wrought iron railings, we found a black kitten, sitting peacefully on a grave, peering out through the bars. Not far along there was a gap in the fence. We broke in and hiked up to Waterlow Park . On this clear autumn night, the moon was full, the trees rustled and dropped their leaves. We lay on the dewy grass looking up at the stars.

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery

On our way out of the park, a a red fox crossed our path. G.G. knelt down and beckoned it over. Next thing we knew, the fox was sniffing his fingers and letting G.G. pet him.                  
“Who are you? Saint Francis if Assisi, or something?” I said.
G.G. was to have more encounters with red foxes. Note the color — RED!

I Am Called.

A week or so after I got the Babalon script, I was sitting across a table in a Turkish Restaurant having dinner with G.G. At the same time I saw that his eyes were brown? The kundalini raced up my spine, opened my heart, and spouted out of my crown chakra like a geyser. I was alarmed about this. I am old enough to be G.G.’s mother. Kundalini rising like this can make you fall in love…
And why had I seen those Luciferian green eyes looking out of G.G.’s dark brown ones?  Was it my own doing? Or Babalon’s? What was going on?
I still hadn’t decided whether to do the role of Cameron/Babalon. I still did not want to commit. I wanted to write my novel Dark Night, Lily Bright. But at home, the next evening, I felt as if Ophiel had returned. As a huge vortex of energy swirled around me, knocking me over with its force,  my feeble Will was overcome. I freaked out! This was too intense for me, guys!  Magick that is too strong can make me unstable! Don’t work so hard!
I  woke up at 3AM, totally confused, and spent an hour text messaging G.G.
“What is going on? What do you know about it? Why am I compelled to call you?”
I can’t believe he put up with me. He was so supportive! (He worked nights in the Underground, so I wasn’t keeping him up.)
Now I get the picture, but I’m not telling til I’m ready.
Next thing I knew I was at rehearsal for Babalon. I am pretty sure Magick was involved in my decision to agree to be the vessel for Cameron and the Ancient Goddess of Love and War. But I am not sure if it was Magick done by Alison and Pharaon — or Babalon!
by Air Adam

Scarlet Woman, by Air Adam

To listen to the Radio Show, Babalon, click here:

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my RSS Feed or my email list. There is more to come…

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Babalon Diaries: Pharaon’s Grimoire Comes to Life

This is the fifth in 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…(as if one has choice…)

Directed by 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 play Marjorie Cameron/Babalon. I am called Angela Murrow because I had to hide my identity.

A page out of the Demons’ Book

Before I found Treadwells Bookshop in Covent Garden, I had been in hiding from all things Arcane for a few years. This was due a  spontaneous, prolonged, and shattering Initiation by the Horned God shortly after I moved into a bedsitting room close to Hampstead Heath. I had also been the target of constant, virulent psychic attacks from, in her own words, The Overseer of All Tarot Readers in London. (It took two years of being  back in the States to realize who was behind these attacks. She’s that good.)  Apparently she resented my thriving practice as a Tarot Reader in Camden Lock Market, as well as the fact that I didn’t bow and scrape to her. Why would I? As an American, that type of obeisance wouldn’t even occur to me.  All the time I was London, I didn’t think of this woman because I so seldom saw her. I thought the Universe was trying to destroy me, that the Goddess, and the Faery Realm, had turned against me. I was wrong.

For the first time in my life, I wanted nothing to do with Magic or practitioners of Magic. This led to a Dark Night of the Soul, for never had I felt so isolated, so cut off from the sources of life and inspiration.

I will tell these stories in more detail in future blog posts.

The Cycle of the Horned God’s Initiation Ends

One of my Tarot clients was an interesting Goth girl from New England. I was telling her how much I missed like minded friends, and she told me about Tteadwells Bookshop. There I would be able to reconnect with the only people I felt I had  anything in common with: Magical People and Artists.

It was late 2004,  when I started going to talks there. There are so many interesting people speaking at Treadwells. The first talk I attended was with Caroline Wise . She was discussing the Deer Goddess Elen of the Ways. This  Goddess, with her antlers and woodland aspect, was very resonant with me. Through the  discussion, I gained many insights that brought me back in touch with myself. It was no accident that Elen of the Ways, or the woodland track, led me out of the darkness into which I had been plunged by the Horned God seven years before. Her’s was the feminine end of the cycle of Initiation I had undergone with the masculine Stag God, Cernunnos.

Elen means Light. In the case of this Woodland Goddess, it is the gentle light that filters through the trees. My time of endarkenment was over…one would think.

Cheska Potter, Elen

Cheska Potter, Elen

Magicians

I went back  to Treadwells again and again, thinking I had found a second home. I later found out I had cut quite a dash without realizing it. This was not a necessarily a good thing…

I met all sorts of people there, from Celtic Pagans to Black Magicians. In my years reading Tarot in Camden Lock Market, I had met many Goths and became friends with an amazing couple, Pippi and Kallustratus, who had links with Gothic Satanists. Kallistratus claimed to come from a line of Cuthulu devotees, a magical path based on the. literary works of H.P.Lovecraft. These paths and lifestyles were not my cup of tea. I didn’t understand how the Necrinomicon could be the basis of a religion. As Pippi said about me, “She doesn’t have any evil in her.” It is pretty true despite appearances. It’s just that, as an artist, I have a tendency to go where angels fear to tread….

Out of curiosity, open mindedness,  and a quest for material, I allowed myself to get to know various Dark Magicians. They turned out to be extremely intelligent, creative, and quite fun to be around, though I kept a firm limit on how far I would get involved. I am very sensitive, and have to work overtime to keep my psychic boundaries intact, never mind the  social ones. After my  Underworld Initiation when the Holy Grail erupted form the earth in 1996, I was well aware of the extremely powerful effect magic has on me, and am very careful not to get involved with other peoples’ workings.

It was among these Magicians that I met Pharaon, author of the wonderfully poetic Grimoire, Liber Niger Legionis. This magically inspired book is filled  with invocations to Infernal Deities, or Demons. I told P. and K. about it and they wanted a copy. It was a limited edition, beautifully bound by hand. A work of Art. Each one of the 72 Grimoires is dedicated to a certain Demon.

Ophiel

Ophiel

When I went into Treadwells to make the purchase, its author was unexpectedly there to greet me. There were only 3  Grimoires left. The one I chose was dedicated to  Ophiel, an Angel of the Air sigilized as a kind of vortex of dark wind. Pharaon happily signed the Grimiore for me, increasing its value for my friends. We had a nice chat and a laugh. I was relieved to find him genuinely friendly and easy to talk to.  I took the Grimoire home planning to give it to K. and P. at the Market on the next Monday.

The Grimoire Speaks

When I got it home, I laid the Grimoire on the kitchen table thinking I would take a look at it during dinner. As I was cooking, I my attention was drawn by the sound of tinkling bells. The sound seemed to be coming from the book! I was a bit concerned because I wasn’t up for any more ‘Initiations’. I went into denial for a moment because I wanted to look through the book. It was so well written and beautifully put together. I felt P.and K. would be very pleased with it, but I hadn’t bargained for Magical contact with Demons. The bells continued to tinkle. When I opened the book the sound of soft , dark chanting, far away as if it was in the back of my mind, came through. Then the unmistakable scent of dirty laundry, that I have come to associate with the presence of unclean spirits, wafted up.

Oh, no! What have I gotten myself into now?

Demons and Nightmares

.
Later that night, I was visited by a dream so vivid, it woke me up.  A huge, black serpent was in the living room growing larger and larger, unwinding and rewinding its coils, filling the space with breathing, groaning, and menace. Opening one eye, I lay very still. If you can see them, they can see you and I wasn’t sure I wanted Ophiel to know I could see him.
I stole a glance at the clock on the stand beside my bed. It was about 3 AM. I learned in my ordeal with the Horned God, that 3AM-6AM are the true witching hours. These are the hours when the cock crows, the hours when most people die.
As Ophiel breathed, expanded, and contracted in the living room, there were other sounds, voices murmuring. Much of the phenomena that I don’t remember, but it kept me awake in a state of hyper-vigilant fear until dawn. Suddenly I heard all these little chattering baby voices. It felt as if a cloud of tiny spirits had entered my ear and gone into my head!  I sat up and decided I had to get the Grimoire out of the flat.
The book was still sitting on the kitchen table. This meant I had to  creep quietly out of my room (as if it mattered!) and cross the dark living room where Ophiel still wound in and out, seething and breathing like a black cloud of pollution. The lights from the street lamps came in through the windows, casting shadows on the floor, but the mass of shadows in the center of the room still swirled and oozed. When I reached the kitchen table, I grabbed the Grimoire. I knew it had to go outside, but where?

There was a small balcony outside a door in the wall of my bedroom, but it was often wet with rain. Frantically, I rummaged  through a kitchen drawer for a plastic bag, and wrapped the Grimoire in it — it was expensive, and a gift after all! Then I slunk back to my bedroom and placed it outside on the threshold of the door under the eaves. Then I tried to get back to sleep.
Though the book was now outside, wrapped in a plastic Sainsbury’s bag,  I still didn’t get any sleep because the phenomena continued. Spirits are not barred by walls or doors. I endured their haunting me until  6AM — the same hour the Horned One vanished had when he Initiated me into his mysteries seven years before.

***

This was just  the beginning of my association with Pharaon and his magical associate, Alison Rockbrand, talented director of Babalon.

Preview of Coming Attractions


This is a creatively re-edited bit from Kenneth Anger’s film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, based on Crowley’s Babalon Working. In this scene, Marjorie Cameron plays Kali, Goddess of Death and Rebirth, for Transformation of the soul. I studied this film when I was preparing to play Marjorie Cameron, though the Babalon that I portrayed was very different.

Subscribe to my email list for updates of the Babalon Diaries.

This film gives some idea of the energies I was dealing with as things heated up for the Play.

To listen to the Radio Show, Babalon, click here:

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my email list or RSS Feeds
Cheers!

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