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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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

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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.

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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

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Cheers!

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