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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The Struggle Between Darkness and Light: The Old Meaning of Christmas

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The Color of Christmas is Black

Christmas is a celebration of the dawning of the light.

In the Western World we have combined elements of Pagan rituals with the Christian Mystery of the nativity for a joyous recognition that new Light comes out of Darkness, that the resurrection of life after death is part of the cycle of nature.

Red, green, gold, tinsel, these are the colors associated with Christmas. But the old color of Christmas is black. The black of the long night filled with stars, the black of life still quickening under the soil, The darkness of the evergreen forest with glints of sun shining through,  the darkness of snow banked  houses inwardly lit by candles and hearth fires.

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And then there is the old tradition of Saturnalia.

Ancient Romans told tales of a Gold Age ruled over by King Saturn, God of sowing and husbandry. Old King Cole was a Merry Old Soul could have been written about him. The earth brought forth abundantly  as King Saturn brought people together from far and wide to teach them how to plant an harvest and till the ground, how to live lawful lives under his generous and peaceful rule. All property was held in common, greed and war were not even thought of.

After King Saturn vanished, or died, his reign continued to be commemorated by the Romans with shrines and festivals in his honor. And every winter from the 17th to the 23rd of December, great revels took place led by the Spirit of Misrule. Slaves were freed and allowed to act the part of Masters. Masters waited upon slaves. Class barriers were further razed as everyone indulged in feasting, drinking, dancing and orgies. The high point of this carnival was the coronation of the Mock King. Usually chosen by lot, the slave who was mad King, ordered the people around, often requesting the drunken revelers to perform ridiculous antics, like silly dances, mimicking animals, or carrying musicians on their backs.

But as was the case in most ancient agricultural societies known for an abundantly fertile and yielding earth. there was another side to these festivities. For the Mock King, who for a few days enjoyed every indulgence, for whom was his command, ended his reign with his head on the block, burned in the fire, or hung on the gallows tree.

It was believed that the Sun actually died on Winter Solstice, and that the only way to bring it back to life, was to exchange one life for another — a human life for the life of the sun.  The Mock King of the Saturnalia, chosen by chance — and therefore by the Gods — drunken and in a state of high excitement, was a slave for whom these few days may have been worth the price of his short and miserable life.

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The Battle of the Summer and Winter Kings

What is this connection of Christmas time and death? For Christians it would be a pre-configuration of Easter, when the Son would die as a human being and be resurrected as God, and bright solar God at that.  In December, the Mock King, a Christmas Fool dies to bring back the Sun.

The Celts had a tradition of the Oak King and the Holly King meeting on the field of battle at Winter Solstice. The Oak King o Summer must give way to the Holly King of winter, but will not do so without a fight. That it was a fight to the death is a given in the books I have read on the subject. Was this another way to insuring the sun coming back in exchange for a human life? Or was this battle enacted in the Dreamtime — the Otherworld realm where European  shamans battled witches to protect the fertility of the land?

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It is the brightness over the darkness that gives Christmas its special character. Gold over black. The warm glow of fire, the colored lights, the shining evening clothes and jewels shining in the long dark night of winter is the glamor of Christmas. But under the reassuring images of Santa Clause, and  abundant gift giving in honor of King Saturn’s Golden Age, and the Peace on Earth that also characterized his mythical reign, is the deeper complication of our mortality and our place in the scheme of things. We call on angels, wise Kings and a Great Mother Goddess to bring forth the Light now.  The Mystery still remains — the birth of the Divine Child, the one and only God, entering the darkness of the flesh to awaken the Light within us all.

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Babalon Diaries #16: Is Babalon My Guardian Angel?

Today is December 16, 2009. Three years ago on this night, we performed Babalon at the John Geilgud Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

Happy Anniversary!

This is me at dress rehearsal in my Babalon costume.  See that stressed out scared look in my eyes? At one point, I wondered if I would even have a costume. The corset is from the now vanished Fairy Goth Mother at Camden Lock Market and was obtained under great secrecy. The skirt is a big piece of fabric held together with pins.

This is Part 16 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.

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Babalon: Demon or Angel?

As the events I am about to recount unfolded, I wondered if  playing Marjorie Cameron/ Babalon was a blessing or a curse. I don’t think Cameron led a very happy life, for all of its drama and intrigue, and she was the avatar of Babalon. All I could think about form here on out was that The New Aeon was about “force and fire.” And the Babalon Working was performed by a rocket scientist who blew himself up.  The explosions had only just begun.

When I left you in the last entry, I was sick with a hangover, having been falling down drunk the night before.

It was around 1pm, or 13:00 in Greenwich Mean Time, when I received a phone call from my flatmate, W.,  I was starting to feel a little bit better at that point, but that feeling was quickly destroyed by what my flatmate had to say.

“Get out as fast as you can. The Home Office was down here looking for you. Someone told the agent me an B. knew you, and they came in to  ask us about you. We didn’t tell them anything except that you weren’t in. He might go to the flat.”

When I hung up the phone, I was shaking like a leaf and dizzy with fright. My passport had expired just recently and I had been too busy to replace it. My mind went instantly to that horrible two-faced A. I was convinced she had ratted me out. Now I think differently, but then I could think of no other reason why I would have the Home Office coming after me in the market. I also realized that my drunken adventure of the night before had been my salvation, otherwise I would have been at work to be  hauled down to immigration and probably put behind bars. The idea of being in cage was worse than anything I could imagine!

I didn’t know what to do. The phone rang again. I was afraid to answer it, but picked it up in case it was W. again. It was a client of mine who had a habit of calling me at the worst possible times, but this was fortuitous for once.

“Turn yourself in,” she said. “Its like taxes — its better to just deal with them.”

“I can’t,” I said. “My passport is no good. No way am I going to turn myself in.”

We wrangled for a while and then she agreed I should run for it. She was very kind and gave me the phone number of her ex-husband who was an immigration lawyer who would be sympathetic to my plight. I was lucky to catch him in. After trying to convince me I should get married in a hurry — and he knew just the person — he finally told me: “Pack your bags and go to a friend’s house. I will see what I can do to help you, but first — get out of there. Otherwise you’ll be deported.”

Deported meant several weeks in a jail cell and then being sent home with nothing but the clothes on your back and nowhere to go.

I was nervous wreck! I was laughing to myself in one way though. All through this time, I had been working on a novel called Dark Night, Lily Bright. It was a fantasy based on British Magical traditions. My protagonist in the book, was in a situation that had to be really suspenseful and scary and I was unsure if I could write it. I actually wished I knew what it was like to be scared out of my mind so I could write the scene convincingly. And here I was! A live wire of terror!

“I didn’t mean this!” I said to the Universe. Be careful what you wish for is not just a cliche.

Bloody hell.

I called a good friend.  Luckily, she was home and when I asked her if I could stay at her’s for a few days,  she was up for it. By 3pm — 15:00 — I was out of the house.

When I got to my friend’s house — who I will call L, I called W. to tell him where I was and gave him her phone number. (I was the freak without a mobile phone back then, ever since I had mine stolen in the market.)

A few hours later, I got a call from W.

“When did you get out?”

“Around 3.”

“Well we just home at 6 o’clock, and there was a business card under the door. They came for a visit, by the look of it. Good thing you weren’t here.”

“I guess so,” I said. That was a close call.

“Look, don’t call the phone here. I have to find out what to do. Just don’t come back to the flat. I think he’s parked outside.I’ll call you when I know something.”

“I’m so sorry, you guys,” I said. I really was. I never meant to drop them in it. They went as much hell as I did through this.

So, was Babalon my nemesis as I had feared? Did she disrupt my life, creating  cataclysmic events because of the volatility of her spirit? That was I thought at the time. Now, I thank the Gods that I was given that role of Babalon, that she made me so sick I couldn’t go to work, because the Home Office catching me was bound to happen.

I was also glad that my first flatmate had turned out to be unreliable and moved out leaving me holding the bag. I am also so glad I had W. and B. move in because they were so strong and so loyal to me that I would have been lost without them. The first flatmate would have been totally useless and probably a treacherous cow as well.

I have come to believe that Babalon was my Guardian Angel.

After this, the story gets really weird, so please, do come back for more!

Babalon – A Fable of Rocketry, Sex and High Magick Tickets and Information


Gielgud Theatre
33 Shaftesbury Avenue
London, England W1V 7HA
Directions and Map

This show is currently closed
Performance Date was December 16, 2006

Ticket Information: This show is currently closed.

Tickets by Phone: 020 7908 4800
December - January 2010
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Synopsis


Babalon is a Paul Green play, originally written for radio, that explores the enigmatic life and mysterious death of Jack Parsons (1914-52), pioneering American rocket scientist, disciple of the magus Aleister Crowley, and passionate devotee of Lady Babalon, the Scarlet Woman of the New Aeon. Alison Rockbrand’s highly stylised production reinforces the resonance of the text with soundscape and visual projections to create unique moments of ritual theatre. There are also elements of dark farce and tragedy as Parsons’ apocalyptic vision is subverted by hostile forces.

User Reviews


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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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Winter Comes

Winter Comes

I have news for you,
Stag bellows. winter snows,
Summer has gone,
Winds high and cold,
Sun low, short its course.

The streams running high,
Deep red, the branches
Their shape is lost,
Wild goose flies,
Cold has seized her wings,
Season of ice,
This is my news.

–Anonymous, Celtic poem

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The Black Stream


Before you go to sleep, imagine you are following a black stream into the woods. As you follow it along, begin to focus on the trees, the patches of sky above you, and the ground beneath your feet. Set the intention to find the sacred animals, to connect to one that may be special for you, and will promise to guide you deeper into Faery. Perhaps you spy a frog or toad at your feet near the steams edge, or a low  flying owl brushes your head with its wings. Maybe a deer awaits you further along, or a fox slinks through the underbrush. Whoever it is, offer a small gift to thank them for being your guide, and then follow them wherever they may lead. I promise you it will be lovely, disturbing, transformational…

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Babalon Diaries #15+9: Cup of Abominations!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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