I haven’t posted on here for a long time and would have a very long story to tell about that—in fact a whole slew of stories since stories are what have keeping me away! I started this blog as an apprenticeship, to hone my writing skills for fiction. That’s why you will find a first drafts on here and on Gothic Faery Tales, my other blog, amongst the regular blog posts. I also saw this as a place to explore my interests in magic, folklore and history — themes that also deeply inform my fiction. I want to come back to this blog and could think of no batter start than to share the research behind one of my top books.
The Vampire’s Mirror was #1 in Horror and #2 in Gothic Romance on Kindle and got several excellent reviews. But here, on the Winterspells blog, I want to talk about, not the story, but the magic of mirrors.
Blame Alice Through the Looking Glass, or perhaps Snow White, but I have, since childhood, been aware of the uncanny nature of mirrors. The mirror sees things in reverse, it may reflect what we cannot see because it is behind us, or above us, or at an odd angle. It may show us the hidden side as when we hold one mirror to our face to look into another mirror at our back. The mirror suggests hidden worlds on the other side of the glass. Mirrors can be used for spying and magician’s tricks, bending our perception of reality.
“Jack in Glass”! How could he not be a Jack being all leftwards and backwards sinsiter? And how could a doppleganger be safe?
Have you ever stared at your refection in a mirror and seen yourself morph into creatures and animals and elves? Transformations abound in the mirror.
Before glass was and silver were combined by the Venetians into clear and wonderful speculums, our ancestors looked into the surface of a lake or a dish of water, a polished stone, or perhaps, as in this tale, a sheet of polished silver, to see what others saw, but they themselves could not see: their own images.
Yet all reflective thinsg were suspect…
Though metal was a superficial thing, all metals were attributed to Gods. The surface of a lake goes deep into another realm, also largely invisble to the human eye, that nevertheless yields up treasures and food. All of these qualities were mysterious and therefoe suspect in ancient times.
“The power of mirrors – or any reflective surface – to reveal what is hidden has been known since ancient times. Gazing upon shiny surfaces is one of the oldest forms of scrying, a method of divination practiced by the early Egyptians, Arabs, the Magi of Persia, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, the witches of Thessaly reputedly wrote their oracles in human blood upon mirrors. The Thessalian witches are supposed to have taught Pythagoras how to divine by holding a magic mirror up to the moon. Romans who were skilled in mirror reading were called specularii.”
The Vampire’s Mirror
The Vampire’s Mirror plays with the idea that the vampire cannot be seen in the mirror. This is an interesting idea because it suggests that the Vampire has no body to reflect. He also casts no shadow. Yet he is not incorporeal to those he presy upon who not only see the vampire, but feel him and are powerfully effected by him.
Since the vampire is a predator, then the mirror must serve his predation. Therefore it must be, as in Alice Through the Looking Glass, a portal through which he passes into the victims workd and through which the victim may pass into his. The mirror can also be used as a means of enchantment.
In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the mirror is aligned with Vanity.
Sins of Vanity and Temptation
“Giselle wouldn’t call herself a thief, but like a magpie she was pulled toward bright objects: jewels and bangles, rings and beaded sashes, embroidered reticules and fans. The mere sight of a pair of earrings lying unattended on the dressing table would set her fingers fluttering to enclose them, secretly, in the palm of her hand, to be nonchalantly dropped in the pocket of her apron. Only cleaning up, she’d tell herself. My Lady shouldn’t leave valuable things lying around like that.”—Alyne de Winter The Vampire’s Mirror
Thieving creatures like magpies and crows love bright shiny objects. Something about objects that give off light associates them with the Devil. Perhaps because all the Devil’s works are but counterfiets of God’s Creation.
The Hero of this tale, Stefan, is unable to resist the lure of the vampire’s mirror. His beloved Analise grow enraptured with her own reflection in the glass, but also sees the vampire’s world on the other side. She sees him and he sees her….
Although my soul resonates with the old Night Religion, I am not Wiccan. That is nothing against Wicca, merely my own preference to stay free of group-minds. I have certainly learned a lot from Wiccan teachings over the years, those that have been available to the public through books and things. Back around 1980, I found many of the early witchcraft books very inspiring, such as The Spiral Dance, The White Goddess, The Sea Priestess, etc. There was very good one long out of print called Moon, Moon. One of the primary figures that fascinated me was the Triple Moon Goddess.
One of her most evocative images was as a row of three identical mothers in peaked hoods carved in stone on some ancient Roman wall. These three mothers are primal. I later discovered the concept of the Triple Moon Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. I don’t recall, or don’t remember, the origin of this idea, but it was everywhere. As a sky watcher since childhood and a moon lover, this symbolism just never felt right. Clearly, in my original, un-indoctrinated, mind, the moon did not have three phases, but four. Somehow, like the famous Durer etching of the “Three Witches”, the obvious four had been reduced to three and, despite the obvious presence of the fourth figure, this mistake continues to be made. ( see my postFour Witches, Three Graces, or Something Else). The old academic mind has seemed to be entranced by the Three Graces, the Three Muses, the Three Fates, the Norns, to a blinding degree. Why do they ignore the fourth? What are they afraid of?
I rebelled against mainline Feminism, hanging on to my femininity at all costs. Not only did I enjoy embodying that quality, I knew the inherent, soulful power of it. I was actually frightened by the idea of giving that up to become to a kind of imitation and therefore lesser “man”, for that could only lead to drainage of the woman’s wild soul. In those days the alternate path was made available through “Women’s Studies”. Under that umbrella was the Women’s Spirituality Movement where, in the bookstores, the ancient mythologies of the world could be found. There I found my elders, the Grandmothers who, if I sifted through the pop-ideological nonsense, I found keys to the deep knowing.
Clearly the moon has four phases: Waxing Crescent, Full Moon, Waning Crescent, and Dark Moon, wrongfully called the New Moon. The term New Moon more accurately describes the slim first crescent as the moon re-appears in the sky after three nights of darkness. This is Diana’s bow. (The varying iconography of the Goddess Diana is worthy of another blog post). It seems the Dark Moon is being left out. Perhaps it is because it is the Black Moon of Death.
Back in the 1980s “Women’s Mysteries” were so-called because no one ever talked about things like menstruation which is our distinct connection to the moon. Womanhood was equated to giving birth. We were meant to represent fertility only in the most active stages: either being the Maiden in preparation for conception of children, the Mother, pregnant and nurturing, or the Grandmother, or Crone (another mis-applied term) taking care to guide the younger ones. These are beautiful concepts, but by leaving out the Dark Mother — the real Crone — the ancient Old One — does not protect us from the disturbing subject of death, rather it cuts us off from the natural cycle of Life, Death, and Re-birth. It severs us from our souls.
There may have been a hidden agenda as well in hiding knowledge of this fourth phase of the moon that has to do with the Dark Side of the Moon. There are two issues here.
1: Denial of the Dark Moon is denial of the Dark Predator in the psyche. By keeping our inner darkness unconscious, we remain children ( as Patriarchy wants us to be) Naive and easy prey to externalizations of the evil force. By recognizing and owning this wild creature within, we are empowered by it, able to fight and defend ourselves and those we love like mother bears. we also earn how stop pushing, to let go, to rest, to allow rejuvenation and rebirth, safe in the silence of the Dark Mother.
Esoterically the Moon has always been considered to be the gateway of souls falling from Heaven to the Sub-Lunar atmosphere to enter a quickened womb to be born again on earth. This purpose is that of the life-giving phase of Waxing to Full Moon that is the sign of the Fertile Mother.
Spirits of the Dead by Kieron Rhys-Johnson
2: There is an esoteric planet behind the moon, at the Dark Side. This is called the Eighth Sphere, portal to the realm of the dead.
This Eight Sphere is a tricky issue, for it is said that it is a realm of hungry ghosts, or demons. The Women’s Spirituality Movement of the 1980s slipped into the larger New Age Movement ( all these “movements” crikey!) so easily that almost became synonymous. (As a born clairvoyant, I was drawn into this “movement” against my will as I knew my abilities had nothing to do with any commercial/ political “movement” but were a natural condition of my soul. Clairvoyance is Seer-ship. It does not depend on spirits to see into the Unseen, but are symptoms of an awakened Inner Eye.) The job of the New Age was partly to seduce some people into becoming dependent upon spirits by joining the ranks of Channelers and Trance Mediums. ( I was warned against Mediumship very early on) These methods of “communicating with the dead” lead directly into contact with that Eighth Sphere, home to the the Shells and what Qabbalists call the Qlippoth. These things want your soul.
I will not elaborate further on this, except to say that the two are Not the same thing. In the esoteric realm it is so important to get the symbolism straight because symbols are keys to the psychic core. They effect you in subtle ways which is one reason why so much of this stuff was, until very recent times, kept secret.
Secrecy cuts both ways, of course. My goal is enliven Soul.
Christian Influences on Our Perception of the Moon
I just want to share a fragment of my forthcoming book, The Grail Keepers’ Tarot, to illustrate an important junction in how lunar, and therefore female and fertility symbolism may have come to be manipulated for propaganda purposes. It comes under my description of Trump number 18, The Moon, depicted in my tarot deck as The Three Maries of the Sea.
“The image of the Three Marys of the Sea may have its roots in the pagan Triune Goddess of the Moon, or the Three Fates—-Spinner, Weaver and Cutter of the cord. The moon and the sea are of course inseparable, for the tides are ruled by the phases of the Moon. The introduction of the dark-skinned servant, Sara the Egyptian, suggests the hidden presence of the fourth lunar phase, the dark moon. In the old legend, the Three Marys threw Sara overboard, but a raft took shape beneath her and she was saved. On a symbolic level, this cruel behavior is early evidence of the Christian tendency to fear the hidden side of things, things that only come out in the total darkness, and move at the edges of consciousness, banished deities like Sara, who are yet saved by the invisible ones. Many of the Black Madonnas of France and Spain are associated with the hidden Sara of the black moon.”
Sara is worshipped under ground, in a cave, a place reserved in the ancient world, for the dead.
This is not glorify death, or to encourage a Death Cult. Not by any means. Nihilism leads to all kinds of abuses and has to do with that Eighth Sphere. But to deny the existence of that fourth, Dark Moon, is to flee the very cycles of life that lead to our deepest natures, our courage and maturity. Denial of this dark makes perpetual children of us. The Ancient Mother is ultimately our teacher and protector.
Those who disagree with me are free to comment. This is a deep topic, prone to dogmas and worthy of debate.
Ash, ash of the long strong twigs
You timber creation!
Branches of ash trees gather new light
In the deep, dark mazes of January snows.
The ancient Ash, bare branched in winter, is a witchy sight. Its gnarled branches and tangles of twigs seem to be holding secrets, perhaps spells cast up from its roots by the Three Fates who, in the perpetual night of the Underworld, weave the threads of destiny. This is the power of World Tree, Yggdrasil, the Ash.
It was from the branches of the Ash tree that Odin hung himself for nine days and nights to gain the power of the Runes, or magical speech that could harness and transform Fate according to his will. For is it not true that when something is named, and especially when it is written, that it comes within our power to control it?
As for the Ogham, the Ash, bare in its season of mid winter, is like a great scrawl, signifying that outward life is unformed as yet, that the great energies emerging from below the ground, are not yet set into the patterns of things to come. This leaves them vulnerable to the Magician who can grasp the pliable tangles and move them into the patterns of his or her desire. It is as if the branches can be arranged so that they write one’s spell upon the heavens.
The Ash is a tree that loves the wet ground. Thus it is said to be rooted in the Well of Wyrd, the deepest portal into the Underworld out of which the Runes were born. Around the rim of the Well, the Weavers sit, catching the Runes in their threads to re-create the world.
At the base of the tree is the serpent of wisdom, who winds its way up the trunk of the tree, and into its branches, to peer out of its leaves in search of those who would seize the knowledge of the forces of Creation. Thus Shamans, known in European cultures as Witches, used this tree as a road into the deepest levels of the primal Unseen, and then again, as a ladder rising up the planes into the highest of Celestial realms, where the Moon, Sun, and Stars confer another kind of wisdom.
It is the branches of tall and ancient Ash tree that gather the new light from the Heavens and bring it to Earth in preparation for renewal in Spring
Yggdrasil: The World Tree
When entering and leaving Faery by way of the inverted tree, it would lend potency to your working to know the lore of the Ash, for this detail will lead you deeper into the Underworld, and open more realms to you.
The efficacy of magical work hinges on the build up of certain images in the aethers that surround planet earth in the sub-lunar plane. The older the images, the more power they hold, and that power is made of the thought forms of every person and animal who has projected their intention towards it. An avatar as ancient as the Sacred Ash, the World Tree, Yggdrasil, is a battery of potent imagery that can catapult you through time and space to where the soul imprints of past Magicians and Witches are still active.
Divination by Ash: New energies are stirring deep inside you. take time to meditate and grasp the messages that your subconscious mind is sending you.
One way to do this would be to cast the magical circle with the ash as its central axis. Let it take you into the Underworld, and then up into the stars. Pay attention to what you see, and what and whom you meet. Keep a journal, and record of your journey, and by doing so, self knowledge will come to you.
You may begin to have prophetic dreams. Write them down. remember the Scared Letters and their power to influence the Web of Wyrd at this time.
Magical tools made of Ash are said to be most potent as they draw on the strength of the World Tree.
The graceful Birch is the White lady of the Woods. It is fitting that these trees,
ghostly in twilight, should stand at either side of the gate of the Celtic New
Year of October 31st, for it has come down to us that passing among the
birches can take you into the Otherworld.
New Beginnings by Jennifer Vranes
Birch, white stemmed birch
Stands pale in the dark forest.
A rod of Birch will cleanse us of evil
And usher us through November’s long doorway…
There was an old Samhain tradition of running down an avenue of birch trees
while being flogged with the twigs as a means of purification for the New Year.
This birch portal at the gate of the New Year mirrors its position as first of the
letters, for it is the opener of the gate to the Ogham, the creation of Ogma
Sun-Face, God of Eloquence.
Birch was traditionally used to make cradles for babies to protect them from
being stolen by the Siddhe. It seems typically paradoxical that the tree that
opens the doors to the Otherworld would be used to protect a child from
possession by it, but perhaps the birch bark cradle served to fool the Gentry
into thinking the child was already theirs…
In Britain, the maypole is made of birch while the wonderful scraggly birch twigs
are used to kindle the Beltane fires. The best witches brooms are made of birch with those wonderful black twigs as sweepers.
There is an old tradition of burying the dead with conical birch bark hats on their heads to insure the purification of their souls.
The lines are from the English ballad: The Wife of Usher’s Well. The lady’s sons appear wearing their birch bark hats — proof that they are dead.
It fell about the Martinmass,
When nights are lang and mirk,
The carlin wife’s three sons came hame,
And their hats were o the birk.
Imagine the birch trees standing across from each other, their topmost branches in the shape of a Gothic arch. On the other side, calling you with its mysterious, mist filled grandeur is Faery. If you walk through, you will enter the trance that allows divination by the Ogham.
Divination by Birch: Protection from harm both physical and magical. Cleansing, leaving the negative, life draining energies behind to start over refreshed. A time of going inward to store power in purity. Clear the ground of
obstructions so that new things may grow. Change comes gradually with the turning of the Wheel.
Magic can be done for fertility and creativity, healing and protection.
Tie a red ribbon around a birch tree to ward off negative energies. Hang birch twigs over a new baby’s cradle. Use birch bark as magical parchment to keep your writings safe.
Ogham Letter: Beth
Deities: The White Goddess, Belin, White Ladies of the Forest
Animal: White Cow
Herb: Fly Agaric Mushrooms — The Flowers of Annwn
According to the Irish Bards of old, the Ogham was received by a great poet, mac Elatha mac Delbeath from the God Ogma Grian-ainech or Ogma Sun-Face, a mercurial God of language and poetry. It was instantly conceived as a magical tool. One only has to cast the mind back to the times when uttering spells and charms was enough to change reality at will, or to recall the opening of the Bible, “In the beginning was the WORD”, in order to grasp the power of letters and language in the old world before books usurped the power of communication and turned language into a standard collection of letters printed on pieces of parchment. Of course every witch knows that books themselves in those times were believed to be magical, and for some of us, they still are.
The first letter written was the Ogham for Birch, Beth, carved seven times on the birch bark paper by Ogma for the God Lugh, as an oracle to warn him that his wife would be carried away.
Blogger, Kevin Jones, at: www.taliere.tripod.com, has these interesting things to say about the word Ogham:
Ogham is named after Ogma. However, in Greek ogmos means a line, row or
furrow, which is quite an apt description of Ogham… In Scots Gaelic the word
for Ogham, oidheam, means ‘a notion of anything, an idea, an inference, hint’.
This is an accurate description of the Ogham. The cognate word in Latin,
agmen, means both ‘boatmen’s oars’ and ‘speech’, which is very apt! There is
also the rather obscure word ogygia which is best translated as primeval or
‘before time’. This may or may not be related but if it is, it is apt since the
Ogham does concern primeval things.
Primeval…yes! What could be more primeval than the trees and the sky and
the birds and the earth?
Deer nibbling the leaves of the Ash Tree
that is also like a door into the Otherworld.
Two trees on either side of a path can be perceived as gateways
into the Otherworld. Therefore you must pass between two birches on the Eve
of Samhain, or All Soul’s Night, to begin your journey around the Wheel of the
Year through the grove of sacred trees.
As pretty as the correspondences are, I feel the current popular trend of creating Celtic Tree calenders with Birch on the threshold of January is wrong. The Ogham is an ancient Celtic system. The ancient Celtic calender, and one adopted by many who follow a magical Celtic path, begins at Samhain and the Rites of the Birch are meant to be carried out at that time.
Robert Graves, author of The White Goddess, was among the first to popularize the Ogham as the sacred alphabet of the Celts. He also claimed that all true poetry sprang from this sacred source, magical words formed of magical letters seeded in the subconscious of the inspired poet, and behind that was the power of the Great Goddess. His description of this alphabet, which he called Beth, Luis, Nion, or Birch, Rowan, and Ash respectively, follows the Celtic year of thirteen lunar months. beginning on November first.
I am following the order of trees in a poem I wrote in the early 1980’s called Witches Wheel. I wrote this poem under the influence of The White Goddess, well before the New Age version of Ogham hit the bookstores under the guise of “Celtic Astrology”. Each tree in this book is accompanied by a stanza of this old poem of mine, which was the first poem I ever had published. Even this order is unusual, but it the one that works for me. I give my reasons in the text, though I wrote the poem in a completely intuitive, stream of consciousness state that intellectually justified none of my choices.
The truth is that the idea of a Celtic Tree calender has more to do with the Celtic Twilight of the Victorian Age than with any historical facts. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful concept that inspires the imagination and gives us a sense of place in a world where human beings are increasingly alienated from nature.
As one who resonates with the most primal levels in magic, I will attempt to reach back intuitively into the origins of the Ogham in the mists of the “Dark Ages” on the British Isles. Fact or fantasy? Who cares!
Robert Place and I had so much fun with his first interview that we decided to give you Part 2. Robert is such a interesting man having not only designed five beautiful tarot decks, but being an occult scholar as well. So please enjoy more of our fascinating conversation.
Can you tell me what The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery is about? It sounds very intriguing. Is it based on a Mystery Tradition? The art I saw looks very beautiful as well.
I started on The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery in 2001. At present, it consists only of the Fool, the 21 trumps, the ace and two of coins, the ace of swords, the ace of cups, and the ace of staffs. I also completed a set of the Fool and Trumps printed oversize with annotations in the margins and background done in a calligraphic script. I completed this for my exhibition in the Crafts and Folk Art Museum in LA in January, 2010. I made 17″ high prints of these and they were the main focus of the exhibit. They are also included in my book based on the exhibition, The Fool’s Journey: the History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot.
The inspiration for the deck came when I was looking at the paintings of 19th century English Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites believed that art was a spiritual or magical endeavor and toward this end they formed a mystical brotherhood of artists dedicated to recapturing the sincerity of the art of the early Renaissance—the same historic period that gave us the Tarot. In many ways they paved the way in England for the Golden Dawn. Burne-Jones, in particular, based his tall female beauties and melancholy heroes on the paintings of Botticelli and Michelangelo, two artists whose works are considered primary examples of Renaissance Neoplatonic mysticism. I noticed that Burne-Jones painted some of the same allegorical figures that are found in the Tarot such as Foolishness, Temperance, and the Wheel of Fortune. I always loved his style of painting and I wanted to complete the Tarot deck for him that he seems to have unintentionally started.
Robert Place: The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery
As the deck progressed, besides being enamored with the beauty of the style, I found that it was the perfect means to express all of the insights that I had developed concerning the nature of the Tarot and its mystical message. It allowed me to bridge the gap and synthesize the Renaissance ideas expressed in the original Tarot with the broader archetypal interpretations of those images that were added by 19th century occultists.
The name of the deck comes from my belief that the Western system of seven virtues, is a yogic system designed to purify the seven soul centers, which ascend the human spine, and that have been known in the West at least from the time of Pythagoras (the 6th century BC). The World card, in particular, represents the virtue Prudence, who is the culmination of the four cardinal virtues. The other three virtues: Temperance, Strength, and Justice, were considered the parts of Prudence, and that fact helps to explain why the three are more explicitly illustrated in the Tarot. Prudence as Sophia (the Wisdom of God) was also the mother of the three Christian virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Prudence symbolizes the enlightenment that is achieved when the virtues have completed their jobs and brought each soul center into balance and health.
I went to an exhibition of Burne-Jone’s work in Burmingham when i lived in England. His work is absolutely stunning. I can see why you would be inspired by him. He also did so much! In England even some of the small country churches have stained-glass windows by Burne-Jones. That is a perfect medium for his work with the light coming through. Come to think of it—your work would make amazing stained glass.
I use to be a stained glass apprentice for about a year when I was first out of college in the 1970s.
Burne-Jones did a lot of stained glass in the US also.
I did a search to find some of his pieces and saw some great ones in Boston and Delaware. But it turned out that his first US commission was in the Episcopal Church right here in Saugerties where I live.
(Here’s a link to the stained glass windows in Saugerties:
They are gorgeous—Angels by William Morris., the rest by Burne- Jones)
I want to explore more about symbolism with you
and how you find your inspiration in other arts like painting and films and magic.
Maybe something like:
Is there a mystical unity between your tarot themes?
Is there an alchemy in the art of Burne-Jones as there is with vampires?
There is certainly a link between vampires and the PreRaphaelites.
Did you know that John Polidori who wrote The Vampyre, was
D.G. Rossetti’s uncle? Did you know about the vampiric myth that grew up around Lizzie Siddal?
I have a screenplay half written about that.
What about the Grail legend? Is that part of your alchemy as it is of Burne-Jones?
Your themes of Saints and Angels — how do they fit in? There is a Gothic quality to your
work taken as a whole I think.
Chew chew chew
Robert Place:The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery
These are good questions and I will try to answer them as best as I can.
I feel that there is a unity behind all of my Tarot decks. At first glance, this may not be obvious because my first three decks: TheAlchemical Tarot, The Angels Tarot, and the Tarot of the Saints, were based on Western mystical and religious themes, and then with the creation of The Buddha Tarot and The Vampire Tarot, I seemed to be drifting further and further away from that area.
But, my goal from the beginning was to recover the original mystical message that was expressed by the Tarot’s 15th century creators and to find ways of expressing that wisdom by illustrating its connection to popular mythology or mystical systems.
My Buddha Tarot is not just about Buddhism but how it is similar to Western mystical traditions and how this comparison helps us to better understand our own traditions. My Vampire Tarot, which although it was just published last year, was actually the second deck that I began after The Alchemical Tarot, is about Dracula and how this story is based on the Grail legend which was one to the early influences on the Tarot, and that this story in turn grew out of the shamanic practice of soul retrieval.
I believe that Edward Burne-Jones was a mystic and that his paintings were his alchemical practice. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which he belonged to, was founded in 1848 by a group of artists in England who came out of the Romantic movement and shared a romantic fascination for the art of the Middle Ages. They wanted to capture the sincerity and honest piety of the works created before the time of the Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520). A time when paintings were believed to have magical curative powers, were used in rituals to heal and protect cities, and were the inspiration for pilgrimages. They believed that their art could uplift their viewers to a higher moral state and counteract the illnesses brought about by industrialization.
Burne-Jones was a second generation member of this movement and the art critic Ruskin labeled his variation the Mythic School. He focused on a mythic Classical or Arthurian world populated by tall, pale, beautiful heroines or femme fatales, and equally beautiful armored heroes. He was a major influence on the Symbolist painters that became popular in the rest of Europe at the end of the 19th century and helped create the atmosphere that led to the revival of occultism.
Toward the end of his life, beginning in 1881, Burne-Jones worked on a large mural,”The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon.” During this period he also created a number of works depicting the legend of King Arthur, including a series of tapestries (1890-1891) designed for Morris & Company, sets and costumes for the play “King Arthur” (1895) performed at the London’s Lyceum Theater under the management of Dracula author Bram Stoker, and illustrations for Sebastian Evans’ The High History of the Holy Grail (1898). But “The Sleep of Arthur” became a personal work that he slowly perfected between other commissions. When he worked on it, he would say that he was retreating to Avalon. He finished it in 1898 and died shortly after. When I read about this, I had a strong intuition that he had achieved his goal and escaped to his inner world –escaped to Avalon.
I didn’t know that Polidori, the first author of a Vampire prose, was D.G. Rossetti’s uncle. Rossetti, of course, was Burne-Jones’ mentor and was a major influence on his style. But the vampire theme comes out of the same Romantic movement, with its obsession with the Middle Ages, the irrational, and the occult, that gave rise to the Pre-Raphaelites. I believe that the pre-Raphaelites and Burne Jones in particular influenced Bram Stoker. In Dracula, Stoker created, a strong beautiful heroine, several femme fatales, and a group of heros that were basically knights –characters that were similar to Burne-Jones’s figures. I acknowledged this by incorporating a Pre-Raphaelite style in my illustrations for my Vampire Tarot. Some of the figures are based on photos of the famous Pre-Raphaelite model Jane Morris; for example, the Mina trump.
Robert Place: Vampire Tarot
I love the Jane Morris paintings. She had a very mysterious, silent quality that suited those mystic images of women.
Rossetti first wife, Lizzie Sidall, was the artist’s primary model and in spite of their class differences he married her in 1860. With his instruction and encouragement she also became an artist. By 1862, Lizzie feared that her husband was looking for a younger muse. After her daughter was stillborn and she became pregnant again she was hopelessly depressed. She committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum. Overcome with grief and romantic ideals, Rossetti placed a book containing the only copies of his poems in her grave. After seven years he had second thoughts and had her exhumed so that he could retrieve this book. Her body was said to have been in perfect condition. Her red hair had continued to grow while she was dead and now filled the coffin framing her and creating a memorable last impression. The image of the beautiful dead Lizzie surrounded in her luscious hair captured the public imagination and led to the rumors that she was actually undead. Red hair in itself is often associated with vampires. Stoker was likely to have been influenced by this description when he wrote the scene with Lucy beautifully laid out in her coffin.
Burne Jones’ son, Philip Burne-Jones, was also a painter, but his only well known painting is “The Vampire,” a portrait of a femme fatale vampire leaning over her male victim. The model for Philip’s vampire was Mrs. Patrick Campbell, an actress who in 1893 played the lead in “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,” captured the public eye, and became famous for her beauty and talent. Philip dated her for a while, showered her with expensive presents, and painted her several times. But for the vampire portrait he worked from memory after she broke his heart by dumping him for a leading man and then a series of other lovers. In 1897, he displayed the painting at the annual summer exhibition of the New Gallery, a major show that included works by Sargent as well as Philip’s father. Alongside the painting, Philip included a poem “The Vampire” by his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, that described the foolishness of a man allowing himself to be destroyed by a heartless woman. This exhibition was held only a few months before Stoker’s Dracula was first in print.
Philp Burne-Jones: The Vampire
Philip’s painting received good reviews in London, but bad reviews later, after a New York showing. Some reporters also recognized his model, and speculation on the circumstances that led to her depiction as a vampire became the focus of gossip. During her American tour, which coincided with the American exhibition of “The Vampire,” Mrs. Campbell’s agent played up her connection to the painting. Philip, his painting, and Mrs. Campbell all came together in Chicago and the press had a field day with the story. In 1907, Porter Emerson Browne was commissioned by the actor Robert Hilliard to write a play based on the painting, which was called ” A Fool There Was.” Katherine Kaelred played the vampire and the play was carefully constructed so that it ended with a tableau that echoed the painting. The play was a popular success and influenced the burgeoning American movie industry. William Fox bought the rights to the play and created a film version, which stared Theda Bara. This role as a heartless femme fatale, which Bara continued to play in over 40 films, earned her the nickname ” the vamp.” As you can see, Pre-Raphealites, vampires, and popular imagination and culture are all intimately connected.
This was a really fascinating interview, Bob! I have long been a fan of the PreRpaelites and Dracula—-all of it and you told me things I didn’t know. Thank you Robert, it has been wonderful talking to you.
I would like to mention that Robert has a beautiful new book out:
The Fool’s Journey: The History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot
An 8.5″ by 11′ full color book
A PDF download is also available for only $10.00.
“Abashed the Devil stood, and felt how awful goodness is…”
This article was prompted by a pair of short films by a documentary film maker whose work I really enjoy. The films are called Black Magic Kingdoms and can by found on the Enigma Channel of Chris Everard. In these films, Chris pans over the masonry of Narbonne Cathedral and both inside and outside of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. What he says is correct: the stone is carved over with demons from the Goetia of King Solomon. To the modern mind, impacted as it is by skepticism towards the supernatural, atheism, and materialistic science, interpreting these figures as evocations to demons rather than to devotions to Christ is an easy mistake to make. But we have to realize that these magnificent buildings were not designed in modern times by people with a post modern mind set. They are visions from the heart and soul of the Middle Ages, and quite early at that —–the 12th century.
I was born into a French Catholic family. My father’s side was intensely religious having emigrated to Quebec in the 1604 and bringing their 1604 religious practices with them. Going to the cathedral in early childhood where both French and Latin were spoken filled my subconscious with powerful, numinous images and an endless attraction to things Medieval. It also implanted with deep spiritual struggle within. As I grew in the Existentialist 1960s, I was forced to question the basic Christian belief that Jesus Christ IS God.
But people in the Middle Ages in Europe had no such struggle. They believed. Only passionate belief could explain the sacrifices that must have gone into creating these massive and intricate temples, these consciousness transformers that send your spirit soaring. Chris Everard is right that there is no place in the Bible that talks about these demons, though Satan is the constant underlying adversary of the New Testament, lurking between the lines —just as his minions cling to the walls of the cathedrals.
Medieval Christians really believed that Jesus Christ was God.
I am sure there are people who believe this now, but most have a hard time with this these days.
Mystical, esoteric Christianity is a doctrine of Immanence—-the awareness that the Divine infuses everything that exists. Everything is alive and has a soul. If you believe in a Creative Intelligence that dreamed the worlds into life, how could it be otherwise?.
God walked the earth in the form of a man to transform the world, to show human beings that we too are capable of Higher Consciousness, even of miracles. By taking on human form, God infused His essence directly into humanity, kindling the Divine Spark. His adversaries were those who ( to this day) work to reduce humanity to the level of zomboid slaves. This is where the concept that God so loved mankind that He sent his only begotten Son (Himself) to save us comes from, I think: The devil was having a splendid time in the Roman Empire. Corruption, brutality, war, enslavement threatened to devour the world and God took notice.
The story of Paradise Lost by John Milton was based on the old Celtic myths about the War in Heaven that was caused when the archangel, Lucifer, challenged the worthiness of the God’s creation. He didn’t like the human race much and wanted nothing to do with it. Archangel Michael threw him out of Heaven and that was how he came to try to destroy us ever since. So the story goes…
The Cathedrals are Encrusted with Demons.
Most people in the Middle Ages were illiterate but they understood symbols—-pictures that were worth a thousand words. The cathedrals were referred to as Books in Stone. They were carved over with spiritual lessons: The life of Christ, visions of Heaven and Hell and the hierarchies of the worlds for a few.
Symbolizes resurrection from death
The cathedral is the House of God. Often referred as Mother Church, the cathedral was meant to be the body of Mary, Mother of God. The faithful entered the body as sinners and, after receiving the Eucharist, exit reborn in Christ. For Medieval people this ACTUALLY HAPPENED. They really believed in this powerful supernatural event. Clever modern atheists like to point out that the Eucharist is cannibalistic, a vestige of human sacrifice. What they miss is that, to the believer, Christ/ God gave his life to be the LAST human sacrifice. The Resurrection made His flesh divine, no longer human but something higher that when taken into us transferred its power to us to transform our flesh. Just as corn dollies replace human sacrifices to Goddess at Harvest, the wafer and wine stand in for the transmuted flesh and life force of Christ. The emphasis on the Scared Heart links the blood to the circulation of love and forgiveness through energy center of the heart by which we connect to the highest spiritual dimensions.
What the cathedrals teach us is that, not only was God’s purpose to redeem humanity, but the entire Creation including the seventy-two demons of the Goetia.
Medieval cathedrals have an area called the tympanum, the half moon area above the door with a depiction of Christ at the Last Judgment. On His right the good people are escorted to Heaven with the angels and on his left the bad ones undergo horrific tortures by the devils in Hell.
Of course the quickest interpretation of why these devils are here is too scare sinners into obeying the Church. I believe that is the role of Last Judgment Hell, though in this depiction from Autun Cathedral there is a touching image of Christ’s mercy as His hands reach down to lift the damned up form the lower depths.
This same compassion must be extended to the seventy-two demons whether they like it or not. Demons have no free will, they are what they are, but are still part of the Creation. This suggests that in order for full redemption to succeed, even they must be transformed to their divine nature. Even the deepest darkness must be returned to God. Indeed some of these grotesques—-for they are not all gargles or gargoyles—- exhibit a kind of longing for the light of understanding, a kind of confused vulnerability.
I think it is a very beautiful belief that by entering such a place one is transformed form a body of corruption to one of divine fire and that all living things will be brought to that blessed state with you.
Can the Creation be redeemed with any piece of it missing? In Celtic Faery Tradition we learn that even Lucifer himself must be transformed, even he must be brought back to Heaven to sit at the left side of his Father.
Hierarchies of Worlds
“Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light.”
— John Milton (Paradise Lost)
We can’t leave the Medieval mind set without taking into account the hierarchical view of the Creation. The above and below notions of Heaven and Hell were far more concrete when people believed that the earth was flat. Hell and the demons were under the plate of the earth. earth was like a flying saucer in space and Heaven was above. So we see in the cathedrals: The demonic figure are usually on the bottom and as the building goes higher, the angels and saints go up until, at the very top is often a Crucifix or a cross or a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Demons are in the roof, as in Notre Dame de Paris, I think reveal an awareness by the designers of the many dimensions that surround the Earth, our Paradise Lost. The limitation of stone, and all concrete images, is that they must SHOW things that are abstract by either anthropomorphizing them — as in the case God the Father as a bearded old man—-or must use space in suggestive ways that may not be understandable without an explanation. The explanation for demons being in the upper levels of the cathedrals could be that it was the only way to show that they are all around us in the fourth dimension. That they can see us through the ethers ( the sky) though we may not see them. This does not “elevate” them in status but does depict their power over us, spurring us on to take refuge with Christ—-inside the cathedral —in the body of his Mother, the Church.
As for gargoyles —many of them are not at all demonic, but rather images of peasants and common people –the only characters seen as fit to spew run off from the roofs, the only beings “low” enough to act as gutters. Just doing their jobs…..
Freemasonry and the Demonic Cathedrals
The cathedral builders were the first Masons. What was merely the artisans guild of stone cutters has been transformed in modern times to a sinister secret society said, at the very top levels, to worship Lucifer. That being said, it does not mean that the medieval stone masons were into anything of the kind. Of course their emblems and signs are all over the cathedrals just in the way that even today, real silver is stamped Sterling.
Artists, again not readers of words, would have their signs, symbols that stood for their names. That these were co-opted by modern Freemasons does not mean that Medieval masons were worshiping the Devil. An aversion to the Catholic Church does not mean that it is right to interpret some the of the greatest works of art ever created with diabolical intent. These ideas are dangerous. Three-hundred years of the executions of millions of innocent people to such ideas getting out of hand attests to how dangerous these notions can be.
For me, our current escalation into scientific tyranny is far more frightening than the works of the ancient stone-cutters art.
Interview with Robert Place: Tarot Illustrator & Historian
I was living in London when I bought Robert place’s Alchemical Tarot. I have been interested in Alchemy since discovering Carl Jung’s work on Alchemical Art in the late 1970′s and since been very aware of those forces at work in my life. So I was very excited to find this Tarot deck and even more excited at the idea of combining Tarot and Alchemy. The deck is also extremely beautiful and poetic. Robert Place’s style is so crystal clear and refined; his choices and use of symbolism inspired. But he wasn’t just inspired once—-he has gone on to be create four more decks and has two more in progress. The Alchemical Tarot was followed by Angels Tarot, Tarot of the Saints, Buddha Tarot and The Vampire Tarot. His recent history of Tarot, The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination has been described as one of the most important books ever written on the Tarot. Works in progress include Tarot of the Seven-Fold Mystery (looks gorgeous!) and the Facsimile Italian Renaissance Woodcut Tarot.
In my research, I discovered that Robert is also an internationally renowned jeweler. If his jewelry is anything like his Tarot decks it must be amazing. He is a really nice man and we had fun doing this interview by email over several weeks.
All images are copyrighted by Robert M. Place and are used with his permission
Aline: I bought your Alchemical Tarot shortly after it was published. I love Alchemy, but I was also drawn to the clarity your images and the interesting combination of Alchemy with Tarot. I would not have taken you for a Vampire fan. Is there an Alchemy of Vampirism? Does the vampire have a place in the alchemical universe? If so what would it be?
Robert:. The first Tarot I designed was the Alchemical Tarot. The thing that I liked most about it was that it was inspired by a vision of how the alchemical Great Work, the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Tarot trumps were related stories. In fact alchemy seems to have influenced the original designers of the Tarot. So after I completed the Alchemical deck I wanted to find another story that was in sync with the trumps in the same way. My next inspiration was to make a Vampire Tarot because I saw it as a related story but the publishers were not ready for it at that time.
While working on the Alchemical Tarot I teamed up with Rosemary Ellen Guiley on the book for the deck. At that time she was also working on a couple books on vampires and I did some illustrations for her. I had always been enamored with vampire stories and I began to see that the literary vampire was related to alchemy. In fact in the novel, Dracula, alchemy is one of the disciplines that Dracula is supposed to have mastered.
The Philosopher’s Stone is described as a stone but not a stone, sometimes it is a liquid or it is immaterial. But it always described as red in color. The Stone is a mystical substance that can improve any substance that it comes in contact with, It can change lead into gold, it can cure any illness, it can turn an ordinary man into a sage, and it can prolong life indefinitely. This supposedly happened to the 14th century alchemist Nicolas Flamel. According to the stories, he created the Stone in the early 1400s and he and his wife are still alive. So you can see that the how this relates tot he vampire–both are looking for a red liquid that can prolong life indefinitely.
Aline: I had thought vampires might be connected to the nigredo- the shadow as well. You discuss that in your book. I am reading the book to the Vampire Tarot. Its really good.
Robert: This age old preoccupation with immortality seems to be at all time high these days.
That is an interesting topic in itself and how the Vampire mythos plays into that.
Aline: I have another question coming from the artist point of view. I am curious about your artistic path. I see the influence of the medieval woodcuts in your work. I wonder about your inspiration. Was Alchemical art an early influence on
your style and choice of subject matter?
What drew you to Alchemical art, the art or the study of Alchemy?
How did Tarot come into your life? That’s always a good story.
I have more, but I’ll save them. This is fun because we are busy people
and its nice to find a way.
Robert: I have always known that I was an artist since I could first pick up a crayon. As a child, I would look for inspiration wherever I cold find it. My first models for how to draw came from comic books but while in school working on projects I became fascinated with the pictures in encyclopedias and began to develop a delineated style like the ink drawing that illustrated the encyclopedia. I was always the class artist and I spent most of my time in grammar school working on large historic scenes that were stapled on bulletin boards.
When I was in fifth grade, we studied the Classical gods and my interest really peaked. I put together a booklet with drawings of all of the gods and goddesses that we studied. I drew them from pictures of Greek statues and the teachers and other adults were blown away by how realistically I could draw. It was the gods that put me over the edge artistically. I think that I lived another life in ancient Greece–maybe several.
When I was in college in the 1960s I discovered the occult. I spent a lot of time in the library looking at books on occult subjects and started visiting an occult book store in Hackensack, New Jersey, and another in Greenwich village. I still have books from those shops. The one in the Village also sold powdered incense and I can still smell the incense when I open those books. One of my favorite books from that time is The Picture Museum of Sorcery, Magic, and Alchemy by Emile Grillot de Givry. This book is filled with magical and occult pictures from old woodcuts and engravings and it turned out to be an important book that continues to feed my inspirations. My girlfriend at that time was into the Tarot. She used the Waite-Smith deck, which was about all you could get in the 60s. But in the Picture Museum I saw pictures of antique Tarot’s from the 1400s to the 1700s and I started creating my own deck based on the Tarot of Marseilles. I only completed four cards, though, and then, seeing how much work it was going to be, I lost interest.
I was not involved with the Tarot again for many years but, in 1982, I had a dream that changed that situation. In the dream, I received a phone call from a dream law firm in England and the ringing of the phone in that dream brought on an intense clarity that makes the dream impossible to forget. Even now I can easily visualize the dream. When the phone rang, I remember thinking, “how can someone call you in a dream? I didn’t know that that could happen.” When I answered the phone, a dream operator verified that I was Robert Place and then connected me with a woman from the dream law firm. The second woman told me that I had an inheritance coming from an ancestor in England, and that it had great power. She said that it was called “the key,” it would come in a box from England, and that I would recognize it when I saw it. When I woke up the dream had been so vivid that I expected the box to be at the foot of the bed. It wasn’t, but, within a few days, my friend Scott came to my house to show me his new Waite-Smith Deck. My head turned in his direction of its own will and then my eyes decided to focus on the deck in his hands. I immediately recognized it as my inheritance. In a few more days my friend Ed gave me a Tarot of Marseilles deck. He said that he just had a feeling that I needed it. After that, I went to New York City to buy my own copy of the Waite-Smith deck. With these decks, I started on my study of the Tarot and Western mysticism.
Aline: That is an amazing story! It sounds like Fortuna had plans for you—or the Gods were calling again.
Robert: That is how I started my obsessive study of the Tarot. I soon realized that most of the books on Tarot did not make much sense historically and that the occult correlations for the images were not that helpful either. Instead I looked at the pictures themselves and let them talk to me. The pictures soon led me further into the study of alchemy, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, mysticism, and magic, which I continued for many years.
Now, let’s jump ahead to 1987. By this time my study of mysticism and the occult had become even more obsessive. Although I was making my living as an art jeweler, I was spending more and more time reading and less and less time on my work. One day in August, I was looking at my old friend The Picture Museum and I became fascinated by a 17th century alchemical engraving representing the Philosopher’s Stone in an abstract way. The design depicted a heart in the center of a cross with images of the four elements assigned to each corner, an arrangement called a quincunx. As I looked at this image, I realized that the heart in the center was symbolically interchangeable with the dancing nude in the center of the World card and that the symbols of the elements assigned to the corners were also interchangeable with the symbols of the four evangelists in the corners of the World. Pictures like this hold tremendous power and I had just unlocked the power in this one. It was like a key opening a door in the back of my mind and out of this door came a flood of images. Within seconds, I saw that all of the trumps in the Tarot were interchangeable with alchemical images and that when that interchange was complete it was evident that the Tarot’s trumps were telling the same story as the alchemical great work, the Magnum Opus. The Tarot could be read as a text on the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, the magical transformative substance that could prolong life.
Aline: How remarkable!
Robert: I began working on The Alchemical Tarot to illustrate this revelation and I started writing the book (although I had not considered myself a writer before this) to explain my vision. It took me seven years and the deck was published by Thorsons in England in 1995. Rosemary Ellen Guiley teamed up with me on the book. As for the images, besides The Picture Museum, I relied heavily on Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy, and The Golden Game, which is full of 17th century alchemical engravings. In keeping with the vision of the deck, I made conscious references to images from these engravings. My style of drawing is more like a woodcut than an engraving though. The biggest influence on my style of drawing in The Alchemical Tarot is Albrecht Durer’s woodcuts. I have a Dover book with all of his woodcuts and whenever I was stuck on how to render or shade a form with lines I would look and the book and see how Durer would do it.
Aline: Yes, I can see the influence of Durer in your work. But also the look of Alchemical art itself which is mostly woodcuts.
Maier: Atalanta Fugiens, 1618
Aline: One more question: You have designed 5 Tarot decks. That is amazing!
Now, I painted a tarot deck in the 1990′s that was never published.
During the four and a half years it took me to do that, many weird things happened.
I began to wonder if the concentration on the cards was effecting my life. I did not paint them in order
but received visions that came when they wanted to an I painted them in that order.
Did you find that working on Tarot caused things to happen in your life?
If so can you share a story about that?
Robert: It is funny that you should ask about the effect designing the cards has on the designer because that is actually part of the reason I stopped when I first started creating a deck in college. I noticed that the card that I drew would manifest in my life. The last one I did was the Tower and after that I had a falling out with my girlfriend. So I stopped. When I started on The Alchemical Tarot though things were different. For one thing I no longer used the cards as a way of making predictions about the future. I came to see the Tarot as a way of conversing with the Higher Self and obtaining wise advice. Every card has wisdom to impart and if that was what manifested after I did the design there was no problem. What started to happen is that I would include details in the picture, guided by my intuition and not really know why I was doing that. It was not until later when I was using the cards that I began to understand some of these details and was able to read them.
For example, when I designed Justice I placed the female figure on a stone base in the center of the picture and placed two columns behind and to either side of her. Her arms extended to either side holding her sword in her left hand and her scales in her right so that each tool lined up with the column in the background. When I did this, I was thinking that this was an odd way to compose the picture. It was not something that I would usually do because I would be afraid that it would look awkward. However, it seemed to work and I went with it. Then I spontaneously added flames and a column of smoke emerging from her crown, like she was a furnace, and I put an eye in the center for the flames. It was not until I was looking at the picture later that I realized what I had done was to relate the figure to the Kabalistic Tree of Life with its three columns. The scales on our left related to the pillar of severity, the sword on our right related to the pillar of mercy, and Justice’s body formed the central pillar with the column of smoke rising toward the divine presence. That the scales were on the side of severity made sense because one has to be severe or unemotional to find the true balance without any prejudice. Also the sword is a symbol of action or punishment and this does need to be tempered with mercy or forgiveness.
Aline: The archetypes are very powerful. They have to well up in your subconscious mind when you dwell on the symbols and then putting them paper “manifests ” them in some way. It is interesting that that was more managable when you stopped using them for divination —-perhaps your approach prevented the dark side being triggered…
Is there anything you would like to add? Are there any new projects you would like us to know about?
Robert Right now I am working on a book about the Tarot exhibition that I curated at the LA Craft and Folk Art Museum. The exhibit was a huge success. It got two articles in the LA Times and record attendance. This book will be a catalog of the show providing examples of important Tarot decks from the earliest 15th century Italian decks to the latest designs by contemporary artists. It also will have additional illustrations comparing the Tarot designs and symbols to other Renaissance and occult art and even to Egyptian art. It features all of the trumps from my Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, which I actually completed for the exhibit, and all of the trumps from my Alchemical Tarot with related examples of alchemical art.
People who are interested in finding out when it is complete should watch my web site, link to me on Facebook, or sign up for my email newsletter.
There is information at my web site:
“You are altogether a human being, Jane? You are certain of that?”
Saturn and the Nature of Consciousness
Our spiritual growth is dependent on the growth of others. If but one person wakes up, he can pull others up by their roots. — I-Ching
Due to my belated interest in the 2012 scenario, I have only recently paid attention the theorists who predict everything from full planetary destruction, the installation of the dreaded One World Government, and even planetary ascension to a higher vibrational sphere. While the more sensationalistic of these warnings scare me to death, occultist Michael Tsarion holds out the possibility that development of our individual consciousness on a mass level can swing this transformation onto a path of true awakening and with it greater freedom and wisdom.
Michael is an astrologer. If you have read any of my other blog posts you know I often use astrological symbols to look deeper into things such as solstice imagery, folklore, and ritual.
One point Michael Tsarion made has been turning over and over in my mind: The old order of the Age of Pisces was under the rule of Saturn. The new Age of Aquarius is ruled by Uranus in conjunction with Pluto.
The Age of Pisces has been an age of repression. The Age of Aquarius will be a time of mass awakening.
I am an Aquarian with strong Pluto and Saturn aspects. My Capricorn moon is ruled by Saturn—all those rings circling around your emotions means that every time the old bugger moves you feel it. I have suffered a lot with Saturn transits—-as do most people. In conversations with others on this subject, most people will say things like, “Saturn is your teacher.” “We are here to learn.” “We only learn by suffering.” Or even “Earth is prison so you have to do your time because of all your bad karma.”
I never bought any of that.
I prefer the action of Pluto to Saturn. Most people are shocked when I say that because they are scared of Pluto—-God of the Underworld (of the unconscious…). But Pluto is also the God of Wealth who brings transformation. Pluto, the psychologist, brings the soul to light. His action is creative, mythical.
Saturn is a nasty old school teacher who is bitter, hates children and therefore believes corporal punishment is the only way to teach them. The idea that one could learn through beauty, art, nature, etc. doesn’t seem to occur to the old taskmaster. The idea that surrendering to the dark forces of the unconscious—dark only because it is unconscious—is thought by the rigid old blighter to be a descent into chaos—- into the Hell of his unresolved repressions that is.
I beg to differ. The unconscious is a gold mine.
Saturn is Straight out of Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte
This is Saturn from Jane Eyre:
Mr. Brocklehurst - The cruel, hypocritical master of the Lowood School, Mr. Brocklehurst preaches a doctrine of privation, while stealing from the school to support his luxurious lifestyle. After a typhus epidemic sweeps Lowood, Brocklehurst’s shifty and dishonest practices are brought to light and he is publicly discredited.
Saturn by Peter Paul Rubens — Saturn eating his children
Why did Saturn eat his children? He was afraid they would take away his power.
These Saturnian qualities are so symptomatic of the times we have been living through it can’t be missed.
Things of Beauty Misused
The old father figure, strict and cold of heart, who knows what is good for us, who projects his own inadequacy, unworthiness, and vulnerability onto us and punishes us for it has been the role of church and state for over 2000 years. It wasn’t all bad. Saturn’s rulership over stones has resulted in some of the most magnificent architecture, sculpture, jewels,—Pisces rulership over music, visionary art, storytelling, dance, film have given the world windows into the soul that cannot be surpassed. But like all things of great power and beauty, these sublime gifts were mis-used to seduce the soul into accepting Saturn’s agenda of control and enslavement to the what astrologer Jeff Green calls “the sado-masochistic axis of Virgo/Pisces”.
I don’t care what Liz Green (author of Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil) says, some of us cannot be taught by Saturn. Punishment is not our learning style. The tragedy is that this Saturnian mindset has made a wreck of our gorgeous planet, combined with Pisces it has used every from of deception, manipulation, imagery and irrational fear verging on hysteria to reduce humanity to be nothing but slaves to our base appetites, degrading us so that those great father figures in their ivory towers—- what Michael calls “Big Daddy”—- can sell us stuff. All the while they look down on us for behaving that way and happily crush us under their all-powerful thumbs while they hoard all the money (Capricorn) for themselves.
I also recently found out that coal mining in West Virginia has evolved beyond the horrors of strip mining the side of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Mining companies now prefer the expedient of blowing off the entire top the mountain! The mountain will NEVER recover from that. In a forum, one kind soul pointed out that people who live in West Virginia should not be blamed because they have to make a living and are afraid to buck the system. THIS IS THE GRIP OF SATURN IN OLD MONEYBAGS CAPRICORN. Saturn keeps you miserable and afraid so you will continue to tow the line —-and this insight has answered all my deepest questions —–Its hard to accept but the UNIVERSAL INTELLIGENCE put that tyrant in power in the first place. Saturn is inside of us. The great art of the Age of Pisces that was meant to free us and uplift was co-opted by the dark side and turned to their profit. It is no accident that artists get next to nothing for bringing through great works that middle men got rich from.
What does that mean?
We are finally passing out of the Kali Yuga—-the time in the Hindu calendar of the Aeons of greatest darkness and evil. Kali is meant to be a cleansing force, a Plutonian cycle of Death and Rebirth. God Creator Intelligence put us through this to refine our desires. It’s as if we have to bottom out before we can transcend. The trouble is that each new generation has to start over, but I don’t think that was the divine plan. Parents are meant to hand down consciousness to their children. This has not been happening.
The time of freedom is at hand. We have to choose how we are going to get out form the tyranny of Saturn.
The door is open. There is that whole bit in the Bible about separating the Sheep from the Goats. Well, then your damned if you do and your damned if you don’t because the goat is Capricorn ruled by Saturn and the sheep are what Big Daddy wants us all to be so he can lead us like Pied Piper to our own destruction.
BUT, the sheep is also the creature of Aries —-the sheep is capable of standing on his hind legs and if you have never been stared down by a sheep you don’t know how aggressive they can be. Uranus will soon be moving into Aries —-the sheep is going to demand its freedom from Saturn.
This is excellent. If people would drop their Saturnian fears and see them for the Pisces illusions they are, than waking up will not be so difficult.
As a Lightbody Integration for Ascension practioner, I know that if 7,000 people wake up, we will be able to “lift the rest up by their roots.” This is a call for all those able to grab that Uranian energy in Aries, and take advantage of that Plutonian transformation taking place in Capricorn to expose and dismantle the current social structure of this world. One World Government under the rule of the Old Men, Big Daddy Warbucks will be defeated because we will throw off them off by our sheer refusal to cooperate. We have to be awake to their agenda in order to do that. We the sheep, empowered by Uranus, can change the vibration of humanity, and save ourselves and the Mother Earth.
The Gods of Our Time
Saturn, God of Time, castrated his father Uranus and seized his power.
Saturn cast the severed genitals of Uranus into the sea. From the foam the goddess Venus (Aphodite to the Greeks) was born. (Venus is the Morning Star — an inspiring and beneficial planet of love called Lucifer in ancient times. Lucferian Venus has been degraded by those in power who use sex to stimulate our reptilian brains to excite the base appetites to enslave us.)
From blood from Uranus’s grievous wound dripped onto the Earth. From the union of the blood of Uranus, and the Earth, the Giants leaped into being.
Pluto, or the Greek, Hades, is the son of Unranus and Rhea, the Earth.
Looks like Saturn is caught between his resurrected father, his son and Mother Earth.
One more thing: The painting above is a picture of Hades where the god Hades, the Greek equivalent to Pluto, rules over the dead and all the minerals under the Earth.. This is your unconscious mind. This darkness is what certain Saturnian crime bosses and big shots would love to live in and therefore they want to create this for you by activating the dark side of Pluto.
Pluto rules Scorpio and includes all the power based emotional patterns of that sign. It also takes advantage of other people’s money, underworld secret societies, murder, plots and all of that.
Pluto in Capricorn can thus generate a lethal cocktail for free thinkers everywhere, but it also gives a clear signal to distrust everything and everyone claiming authority — especially the wolves in sheep’s clothing that they serve up as our saviors.
Our first job should be to clean up our inner world and insist on consciously creating and co-creating the Heaven on Earth we really want. It is up to us to heal the Wasteland by questioning everything. Uranus in Aries — coming next year — can give us that strength, or deteriorate into violent revolution. It is our choice. I will do my best and I hope you will do yours.
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.