In conversation with Jesse Heikkinen

I recently had a chance to talk with musician Jesse Heikkinen about his music, which I think will appeal to the audience of the library quite a bit.

Jesse is a 30-year-old musician from Tampere, Finland. He has lived most of his life in the Northern part of the country, where the winters are fierce and dark, and in the summer the sun never sets. Jesse plays the guitar in such bands as Hexvessel, The Aeon, and King Satan. He has toured and made records with so many bands that he can’t even name all of them. But, he also has a solo project, Iterum Nata, with two recently released singles from his forthcoming second issue, due in December. All of these bands are heavily influenced by the occult, although from totally different perspectives. Besides being a musician, Jesse also teaches the guitar and works with the disabled.

 

John Griogair Bell, Librarian: Take a moment to introduce yourself! Who are you?

In conversation with Jesse Heikkinen photo by Antti Haapapuro

Jesse Heikkinen, photo by Antti Haapapuro

Jesse Heikkinen: The boring answer would be, I am a musician from Finland, lately focused on more or less occult-themed music. On the other hand, aren’t we all just a divine manifestation of eternal Gnosis, consisted of ancient stardust?

L: Sure. Infinite sparkly dust. That’s everything. Done. No need to keep going with the interview, as we’re all one! Or, you know, at least that’s one way to think about it, from one mote of dust to another.

J: Yes, you could’ve just checked this stuff out from the Akashic records – the Wikipedia of collective consciousness!

L: Ugh! Homework? Pshaw! Other than music and dusting, what are you up to in the world?

J: Not much, I work as a social counsellor and occasionally worship the Devil – just like all decent Finns do. That’s why we have one of the best social security systems in the world!

L: You’ve got an upcoming solo release! This is your second solo album? Tell me a little about that.

Iterum Nata The Course of Empire

J: Yes! I’ve been in the music business for years now, but my first solo album was released just last December. Now the second album, The Course of Empire, is ready and will be released a year after the debut. I’ve been writing music since I was a kid but I never really got the time to express myself through my own songs until last year. My solo project, Iterum Nata, was born as I moved to Tampere on July 2017.

L: And, you’ve been in a number of other projects, I understand. What have those been? Are they ongoing?

J: In the last ten years I’ve been doing stuff from children’s music to jazz to black metal. Maybe my next solo project should be a mixture of these three! Nowadays, I have three main bands besides Iterum Nata; Hexvessel plays beautiful psych folk/rock, The Aeon’s musical path is dark acoustic folk, and King Satan is loud and provocative industrial metal. There are also few other projects which shouldn’t be discussed here.

L: I’m wondering if you’ve have any realizations or breakthroughs in the time since, or if the change is continued growth not he same path. What’s changed for you since your last solo release?

J: Well, yes — so much has happened! It never stops surprising me, how we seem to be unlimited in our potential of growing and learning. There really is a huge gap between the first and this album, in many levels. The first record was kind of an experiment, where I tried out different kinds of sounds and studio tricks. It wasn’t so much about playing songs, it was more about just creating soundscapes. The lyrical themes were about gazing inside and trying to find the Godhead within. It was written in an enchanted state, where I felt that I really connected with the true nature of being; “Wake up, You are Nothing and All”. That’s actually pretty nihilistic approach, but with a positive twist! To be honest, I never actually thought that my weird solo music would interest anyone. After the first album was released I got tons of great feedback. Shortly after that I joined King Satan and Hexvessel. There was also lots of stuff going on in my spiritual growth and I absorbed lots of metaphysical ideas from many different schools. I started to record The Course of Empire last May. I wanted to make it more aggressive and darker album than the debut, again to mach my own thoughts during that time. I also let go of the idea that I should do everything on my own, so there are some featuring musicians on the album as well.

L: Aggressive and dark? From Finland?! How can this be?! I mean, really, what is it about Finland? Are you near Lemi, the Capital of Metal?

J: We Finns like our music as we like our humour.

L: And there’s a single that’s out now from this upcoming album that people can check out. I understand you put a lot of thought into each track, with ideas and symbolism you’ve got in mind for each. What’s this track about for you as the artist?

J: I think this was the first track I wrote for the album. The whole writing process is covered in a haze, but I do remember having serious Kingston Wall vibes as I wrote this song. I have always felt a certain attraction to number seven and in this song that number plays a huge role. In Hebrew the number seven means a sword or “to arm”, so this song can be seen as a battle cry. On the other hand it is an ode to the never-ending dance of birth and death and it describes the message of the whole album pretty comprehensive way. There’s also another single that came out on Nov 8th!

L: Tell me a bit about this second track!

J: “Sacrificial Light” is a song about self-sacrifice, whatever that may mean. I got Anna-Kaisa from The Aeon to sing this song and Kimmo from Hexvessel to play the string ensemble. The classical four elements are hidden in the lyrics to form a certain alchemic formula.

L: Tell me about your esoteric studies and influences. What path are you on? What’s being on that path done for you?

J: There are many paths with different names, different gods and different ideals, but in the end all of that is just semantics. I believe we all create our own paths, but after all all these paths are united. I could say the main influence is my own inner knowledge, which is dynamic and all-developing. I have adopted the Thelemic philosophy (which is a nexus of many mystical and cultural schools) and I enjoy the main concepts of Daoism. These systems have helped me to conceptualise some metaphysical phenomena that I have always known they’re there, but never had the right names for. At this point I’d like to bring up Atheism. I know so many smart and nice atheists, but for some reason they can’t stand if one speaks about being on an esoteric path. I guess that’s because they forget that these paths can be (and often are) symbolic. The Gods, prophets and rituals may be symbols and thus could fit even the atheistic world view flawlessly. I believe we all are capable of finding our own paths, but at first we need to know who we truly are. And that’s where the symbols help us.

L: How have these occult influences informed your music? How have they influenced your ideas of music and have they had an influence on your technical music making as well?

J: In general I trust my intuition more and try not to be too hard on myself. When it comes to the writing, all of my lyrics are very much inspired by various occult themes and there are loads of known symbols and esoteric principles to be found.

L: What do you know now about your particular esoteric path and study that you wish you’d known before?

J: I really do believe that everything happens exactly at the right moment – that’s the only possibility. The Universe goes on exactly as it should, but we tend to forget that. And that’s mainly because we get so easily stuck in our human viewpoints.

In conversation with Jesse Heikkinen photo by Denis Charmot

Jesse Heikkinen, photo by Denis Charmot

L: How does this thinking affect you as you go about doing things in your life? Do you have a personal practice informed by these ideas?

J: I have had to learn to accept things as they come. For me it doesn’t mean that one should be passive and submissive, but rather humble and ready to move on. I try to practice what I preach!

L: What do you suspect is true, but can’t prove, about your particular esoteric path of study?

J: What a question! I can’t even prove to myself that I am true!

L: Well, let’s continue as if we are true, for some value of true that helps us make it through this interview!

J: Wow, maybe you can write the lyrics for my next album? The jazzy satanic children’s music record?

L: I’m down. Hit me up!

 

Thanks to Jesse Heikkinen for taking the time to talk with me about his work. Be sure to check out the two released singles and the self-titled Iterum Nata on Bandcamp, watch for the second solo upcoming release, and then head down the rabbit hole to find out about his other projects while you’re waiting.

Summary for the week ending Nov 4th, 2018

Here’s a summary of activity for the week ending November 4th, 2018.

Last week, and the next two are likely to be a bit quiet, but there’s actually a bunch going on. I was going to just post a note that I’d skip a summary this week, but then I thought of a bunch of things that I’ve been doing to talk about. So, not so much activity on the blog, and so on, but there’s actually a bunch to talk about even still.

First, in the ongoing saga of my computer, I finally heard news after a week in the shop. They had not done any repairs. Apparently one of the parts is on backorder until some time, at least, in December. So, I could wait for that, which would add at least another couple months to the time I’ve been without a working desktop. Or, they finally decided to offer, a kind of replacement. Instead of a full replacement, they are willing to apply the entire repair bill as a kind of trade-in credit for a new machine. Looks like I’ll be heading in to the shop again next week to see about that option, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be heading home with a new machine, under new warranty, for about half off; which, let’s be clear, is still not cheap, and certainly not a warranty-covered repair solution at no additional cost. Anyhow, the saga continues.

I’m mostly over the flu I picked up last trip, just in time for another trip. Huzzah!

I’m working on the upcoming anthology, which is due to release in less than a month. Oh, wow. Time flies! I’ve got some cover ideas submitted by a new artist, and I’ve got the playlist to sort through. But, everything should be ready in time! The anthologies are a highlight of my year, and it’s a lot of fun to put them together and then share them with everyone. I’m looking forward to releasing this next anthology into the wild for you all.

I’m also working on a new interview with a musician who’s been influenced by esotericism, and I’m not sure when that will be ready; but, I’ll post that as soon as it is done. The way I do the interviews, is that I send some initial questions, and when I get answers, I add additional questions; repeating that process until there’s what feels like a complete interview. I’ve been doing new interviews pretty much monthly over on Rigaroga’s Odd Order with some people in the streaming community, but haven’t done an interview for the library in a while. So, I’m excited to share this one when it is done.

Still looking for help and others to join me in a working community around the library, of course.

Lots of new pages and work on old pages on the site, which is pretty much every week, really. You can always check the front page of the site which shows the most recent changes and new pages, or check out the Recent Changes special page for a full list.

Want to join me on this blog and create new art or writing for Hermetic Library? Pitch your Idea.

Help get some conversations started over on the BBS and Chat.

Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron.

Consider also checking out what I’m up to on my personal blog and at Odd Order.

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from this last week

Some top posts on social media

Omnium Gatherum: October 30, 2018

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 30, 2018

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural by Peter Bebergal, from TarcherPerigee

    Berbergal Strange Frequencies

    “A journey through the attempts artists, scientists, and tinkerers have made to imagine and communicate with the otherworldly using various technologies, from cameras to radiowaves.

    Strange Frequencies takes readers on an extraordinary narrative and historical journey to discover how people have used technology in an effort to search for our own immortality. Bebergal builds his own ghostly gadgets to reach the other side, too, and follows the path of famous inventors, engineers, seekers, and seers who attempted to answer life’s ultimate mysteries. He finds that not only are technological innovations potent metaphors keeping our spiritual explorations alive, but literal tools through which to experiment the boundaries of the physical world and our own psyches.

    Peter takes the reader alongside as he explores:
    * the legend of the golem and the strange history of automata;
    * a photographer who is trying to capture the physical manifestation of spirits;
    * a homemaker who has recorded voicemails from the dead;
    * a stage magician who combines magic and technology to alter his audience’s consciousness;
    * and more.”

  • The season of the witch: how Sabrina and co are casting their spell over TV. Diverse, digitally savvy and definitely feminist, our screens are full of witches who embody a new imagining of the original ‘nasty woman’” — Charlotte Richardson Andrews, The Guardian UK; talking, in part, with Christina Oakley Harrington of Treadwells

    “So will the interest in witches last or is it a passing spell? ‘We’ll have to wait and see,’ says [Christina] Oakley Harrington. ‘For some, it’ll be a fashion trend. They’re drawn to the aesthetic rather than the actual practice. But for a certain proportion – a small one, I think – it’ll waken something innate, intense and lasting.’

    Even if she falls out of vogue – which doesn’t look likely, given this autumn’s TV programming – the witch is always with us, says MacCormack. ‘The occult never goes away. People are desperate for alternative paradigms of practice and activism because the current ones simply don’t work.'”

  • One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy by Keith Readdy, foreword by Vere Chappell; due in December, from Ibis Press

    Readdy One Truth and One Spirit

    “Based upon academic research at the University of Amsterdam’s Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, One Truth and One Spirit is a much-needed work that covers a previously unexplored history of the modern religious movement known as Thelema. This work details the theoretical framework of Aleister Crowley’s spiritual legacy in the O.T.O. and the A∴A∴ and covers the years of Thelema since Crowley’s death in 1947.

    One Truth and One Spirit approaches a complex topic with a complex history, with exhaustive citations and sources, but it is written for anyone interested in the subject of Thelema. The author utilizes published source material as well as previously unavailable information, which makes this a unique contribution to the available literature.

    One Truth and One Spirit is expected to be of interest to the novice, the scholar, and the seasoned practitioner of Thelema. The work provides a general historical overview of Thelema from a theoretical vantage point, explores the historical development of the movement from the 1960s to the 1990s, and applies the author’s own critical discussions on the topic itself.”

  • The Satanic Temple says Netflix’s ‘Sabrina’ stole Baphomet statue design, is ‘taking legal action’” — Alyssa Pereira, SFGATE; from the Devil-Made-Me-Do-It dept.

    “‘I feel that the use of our particular image that is recognized as our own central icon (being) displayed fictionally as central to some cannibalistic cult has real world damaging effects for us,’ he said.

    [Lucien] Greaves added that he isn’t looking for any kind of fix to the situation other than a retraction by Netflix of the visual representation — however that can happen.

    ‘I want them to take it out,’ he said. ‘It looks like it’s a CGI facsimile to begin with. I don’t know how much work that takes, but I simply refuse to have our monument used in this way in perpetuity. I don’t want our monument to be associated with this.'”

  • CBS All Access Renews Ridley Scott-Produced ‘Strange Angel’ for Season 2. Drama is based on George Pendle’s book based on the real-life story of Jack Parsons” — Tim Baysinger, The Wrap

    “In season two, the U.S. is fully engaged in World War II, transforming Jack’s rocketry work into a lucrative business and further entrenching him in the military-industrial complex. While Jack’s career takes off, he and his wife Susan’s devotion to their new occult religion grows, leading them to invite the sex cult into their Pasadena mansion and to forge a personal relationship with the group’s notorious founder, Aleister Crowley himself.”

  • Claypool Lennon Delirium Preview New LP ‘South of Reality’ With Psychedelic Song. Les Claypool, Sean Lennon issue ‘Blood and Rockets,’ plot spring U.S. tour dates” — Ryan Reed, Rolling Stone

    “The experimental psych-rock duo previewed the LP with the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Blood and Rockets,’ a sprawling epic that finds Lennon and Claypool crooning and snarling, respectively, over spacey synths and chiming guitars. ‘How high does your rocket fly?’ Lennon sings on the chorus, his voice elevated to a blissful falsetto. ‘Better be careful ’cause you just might set the world on fire.’

    As Lennon tells Rolling Stone, the song’s dark lyrics document ‘the lascivious exploits of famed JPL rocket scientist Jack Parsons, the man who not only helped America get to the moon with liquid fuel technology, but was also a Magister Templi in Aleister Crowley’s cult, the Ordo Templi Orientis.’ He added that Parsons ‘sadly passed away in a violent explosion during a secretive alchemical experiment at his house in Pasadena.'”

  • Dr. Bronner’s” — Quartz

    “The Dr. Bronner’s brand has taken a long journey from hippie California to $120 million global business. It was an even longer one for Emanuel Heilbronner, scion of German soapmakers: He fled the rise of the Nazis in his 20s, was institutionalized in his 30s, saw his company go bankrupt in his 70s, and was selling a million bottles of soap a year when he died at 89 in 1997. Since then, his grandsons have continued the trajectory while trying to translate his arcane, utopian personal philosophy to the business world.”

  • Inside the abandoned Aleister Crowley house of West Cornwall. There are plenty of abandoned houses in Cornwall, but only one has tales that involve Aleister Crowley, the Dalai Lama, Virginia Woolf, famous artists and the murder of a celebrity” — Greg Martin, Cornwall Live; about Carn Cottage near Zennor in Cornwall

    “Mention the ‘Aleister Crowley house’ in conversation with someone in West Cornwall, and you could either get a knowing look or a frosty silence. Despite being dead for more than 80 years, the English occultist who was branded a Satanist and ‘the wickedest man in the world’ is still controversial enough to stir up ill-feeling in those who would rather his links with Cornwall, however small, were forgotten.

    And then there are those who will tell you in hushed tones that they have visited the house – often as a dare. The bravest will claim they have spent the night there, writing their names on the walls to document their courage, but the more honest will tell you they got too scared to hang around.

    For the most part, though, it seems those who have heard about the ‘Aleister Crowley house’ in West Cornwall, know very little about it, including where it is.”

  • Lineage of the Magi. Faith in ‘lineage’ or Apostolic Succession has cast a shadow over organised occult communities for centuries.” — Oliver St. John, Ordo Astri; a sample article from an upcoming book, due in 2018, but no release date announced, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs

    “The proper role and function of a magical Order is to serve others in the Great Work. The role of the members of such an organisation is to assist men and women with their initiation. The service, if freely given, does not require external validation from patriarchs or peers. True initiation cannot be given, bestowed or conferred by any man or woman to any other. What can be passed on, given or validated in that way is worthless in spiritual terms. In fact, it is worse than that, for it conveys self-importance and, ultimately, betrayal for the soul—a bitter cup indeed. Investment of power in lineage is therefore a misdirection of the will and a wasting of the energy of the self.”

  • What Maniac does (and doesn’t) get right about the Bible and the Gnostics” — Michael Collett, ABC News AU

    “It’s a clever scene in a powerful show — Emma Stone and Jonah Hill’s Maniac, you might have heard the buzz about it — but don’t take it as a history lesson.”

    “One person whose ears perked up when they heard this bit of dialogue during a weekend Netflix binge was Dr Robert Myles, a New Testament lecturer at Murdoch University.

    He helped us take the scene apart.”

  • Mysteries of the Great Beast Aleister Crowley: A Liturgical Cycle for Thelemites by Dionysius Rogers, aka Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus; out in paperback, with digital release due tomorrow

    Rogers Mysteries of the Great Beast Aleister Crowley

    “These Mysteries are a set of congregational rituals commemorating the attainments of Aleister Crowley, the Prophet of Thelema. Although originally developed for and with the cooperation of local O.T.O. groups, they are suitable for performance by any Thelemites. They can be conducted on the “unholy days” to reflect their historical inspiration, or in a day-long festival which arranges them into a single larger event.”

  • The Ghost Story Persists in American Literature. Why?” — Parul Sehgal, New York Times [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “The ghost story shape-shifts because ghosts themselves are so protean — they emanate from specific cultural fears and fantasies. They emerge from their time, which is why Jacobeans saw ghosts wearing pale shrouds and Victorians saw them draped in black bombazine. It’s tempting to regard these apparitions as dark mirrors — Tell me what you fear and I’ll tell you who you are.”

    “However, ghost stories are never just reflections. They are social critiques camouflaged with cobwebs; the past clamoring for redress.”

  • So-Called ‘Witch Caves’ Suggest Underground Network Helped Accused Witches Escape Salem” — Deborah Becker, WBUR

    “Salem is well known for its gruesome history of witch trials and the stories of those executed in the anti-witch hysteria.

    But it’s also believed that there was a network of people in the area who secretly worked to help those accused of witchcraft escape from Salem to safety.

    Local historians say that in 1693 some people suspected of witchcraft traveled to what is now the Framingham/Ashland area to hide in ‘witch caves.'”

  • Dialectics of Darkness” — Egil Asprem, Inference [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; a review of The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences by Jason Josephson-Storm, from University of Chicago Press

    “Historical evidence is easily neglected, Josephson-Storm argues, when it crosses the grain of what we ought to believe. Disenchantment is a foundational myth of the new human sciences that emerged during the nineteenth century. By treating magic and religion as anachronisms, anthropology and sociology reinforced the myth of disenchantment, while promoting their own claim to scientific status. A taboo invites its own subversion. So, too, with disenchantment. The disavowal of the occult typically involved the public rejection and the private embrace of various enchantments.”

  • Why Hilma af Klint’s Occult Spirituality Makes Her the Perfect Artist for Our Technologically Disrupted Time. At the Guggenheim, ‘Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future’ makes you rethink what it means to be modern.” — Ben Davis, ArtNet News; about Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future at the Guggenheim

    Davis Artnet Why Hilma af Klints Occult Spirituality Makes Perfect Artist

    “Hilma af Klint’s example shows the symbolic power that a woman artist could draw both in spite of and because of the constraints put on her by her time period and her culture, making her a convincing heroine for today. But there is another aspect of Hilma af Klint that makes her oeuvre enter into harmonic relation with the present.

    That is her occultism.”

Summary for the week ending Oct 28, 2018

Here’s a summary of activity for the week ending October 28th, 2018.

I spent the week, and have continued, fighting with a flu I picked up whilst on my travels to try and fix my computer the previous week, which is still in the shop getting major surgery. I knew I was screwed when I overheard my transit driver for one leg of the trip talking with another passenger about recovering from two weeks of flu. I pretty much knew at that point I’d be bringing home an illness as a souvenir. And, I did. I started getting an itchy throat in the first days after, and I’ve been increasingly under the weather since. I may be finally starting to recover more than not? I hope. Anyhow, I spent most of the last week feeling awful, and nursing myself. I might even be well by the time I have to do the whole trip again to pick up whatever Frankenstein’s Monster my machine is becoming, once the butchers have finished their ministrations.

On the bright side, I had the new release of “Part 1” of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to watch. If you’ve followed along for long enough, you’ll remember that I’ve read the Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics, as I’ve mentioned them, variously, and on the blog starting around 2014. So, I was prepared and have been looking forward to that. I mentioned in one place that I haven’t been as excited for what’s to come, after watching some teasers and trailers, since the taurobolium scene in Rome s01e01. But, it was both more and different that I expected. Quite enjoyable. Not absolutely perfect, but darned good and better than I’d hoped in so many ways. Better than the shit representation and twisted inspired-by-history in some recent disappointing and, for me, unwatchable, shows. *cough* Strange Angel *cough* This Chilling Adventures of Sabrina show, rather, seemed to me just right as a mix of great production and acting through creepy and campy narrative with significant representation.

This week I published a guest post, a successful submission supported by all the ongoing Patrons of Hermetic Library, that you should check out. The Unknown Soror by Heather Schubert, an essay identifying Soror Fiat Yod, correspondent with Aleister Crowley in Magick Without Tears, as Anne Maria Macky née Hawkins. I understand that this essay will also appear in an upcoming issue of The Daughters of Babalon, an anthology of works by a broad range of modern writers and artists that captures the rich and multifaceted aspects of the feminine current of Thelema. Consider checking out that anthology, but you can see this essay here at Hermetic Library first!

Still looking for help and others to join me in a working community around the library, of course.

Lots of new pages and work on old pages on the site, which is pretty much every week, really. You can always check the front page of the site which shows the most recent changes and new pages, or check out the Recent Changes special page for a full list.

Want to join me on this blog and create new art or writing for Hermetic Library? Pitch your Idea.

Help get some conversations started over on the BBS and Chat.

Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron.

Consider also checking out what I’m up to on my personal blog and at Odd Order.

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from this last week

Some top posts on social media