Author Archives: John Griogair Bell

About John Griogair Bell

My name is John. I'm the enigmatic super villain, known only, to some, as the Librarian.

You help yourself by helping others. There are no hermits in the desert unless they are thinking big thoughts that will eventually help others.

Edward de Bono, H+ A New Religion?

Hermetic quote de Bono H-plus help

Nietzsche Against the Crucified

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Nietzsche Against the Crucified by Alistair Kee.

Kee Neitzsche Against the Crucified

Kee’s Nietzsche Against the Crucified is a lucid approach to Nietzsche’s thought, from the uncommon perspective of a professor of Religious Studies. As Kee notes in his introduction, most of the secondary literature on Nietzsche is generated within the discipline of “Philosophy,” and much of it reflects a disinterest in the religious context and theological consequences of the material–a disinterest that is alien to Nietzsche’s own perspective. This book covers Nietzsche’s principal themes and topics adequately, and concludes with a sound argument against viewing him as the “father of postmodernism.” 

There is brief but sufficient biographical material to appreciate Nietzsche’s situation, and the distinctions between his lived experience and his espoused values. Kee also provides helpful context regarding the evolution of counter-Christian thought in 19th-century Germany, where Nietzsche figures as the third of three antichrists: the first was Ludwig Feuerbach, and the second David Strauss.

Kee’s handling of the doctrine of eternal recurrence is quite sensitive. He does not deform it into something with which he can be more intellectually comfortable, nor does he attempt to downplay its importance in Nietzsche’s ouvre. Similarly, his appreciation of the Will to Power is careful, and framing it with religious concerns gives it a different cast than most introductory treatments. 

Once in a great while, Kee’s prose indulges in a sort of vernacular banter, which I found mostly ineffective. The book as a whole reads quickly, and I would recommend it as an accessible interpretation of Nietzsche, especially useful to Thelemites.

Omnium Gatherum: April 20, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 20, 2019

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

  • Declassified photos from U2 planes are helping archaeologists unlock the past. Code-named CHESS, the flyover missions were meant to monitor military targets.” — Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica

    Ouellette Ars Technica declassified photos helping archaeologists

    “During the 1950s and 1960s, US spy planes made regular flights across Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, photographing the terrain to track military targets. A chunk of the Middle Eastern photographs were declassified in 1997, and now those airborne images are helping archaeologists track changing features in the landscape that in many cases are no longer visible today, according to a new paper published in Advances in Archaeological Practice.”

  • ‘Extraordinary’ 500-year-old library catalogue reveals books lost to time. The Libro de los Epítomes was a catalogue for Hernando Colón’s 16th-century collection, which he intended to be the biggest in the world” — Alison Flood, The Guardian [HT James ༀ Barrett]

    “They sent me the photos. I was sitting on a beach at the time and I said ‘you’ve got to be flipping kidding me’. It’s the major missing piece from the library,” said Wilson-Lee. “It’s an amazing story. Instead of being a needle in a haystack, it was a needle in a bunch of other needles.”

  • Jinn by Kabreet Productions, from Netflix, due in June [HT Acing Entertainment]

    “When a girl accidentally releases a jinn in the form of a teenage boy, they learn they’ve also unleashed an ancient darkness that threatens the world.”

  • The Witch’s Book of Mysteries by Devin Hunter, due in May

    Hunter The Witch's Book of Mysteries

    “Devin Hunter, author of groundbreaking works The Witch’s Book of Power and The Witch’s Book of Spirits, makes a powerful statement on how you can deepen your Witch Power and further develop your relationships with familiars, guides, spirits, and gods. The Witch’s Book of Mysteries invites you to embark on a pivotal journey designed to help break you free of the illusory cultural energies that hold you back from true magical vitality.

    With spells and rituals drawn from the author’s own book of shadows, this book explores energetic self-orientation, the Witch’s Eye, and the Witch’s Tree—techniques that will support and embolden you on your quest to achieve personal gnosis. Learn the extraordinary practices of the Witch’s Dream and the Witch’s Sabbat, and initiate into the mysteries of the Cosmic Grigori, primordial guardians of space, time, matter, energy, and quintessence. Ultimately, the path of the witch takes you to the six gates of the Labyrinth of Diana. Through these gates, the authentic nature of the soul is found and God Herself is revealed.”

  • Loyalty Does Not End With Death” by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge & Carl Abrahamsson [HT Dr Vanessa Sinclair]

    P-Orridge Abrahamsson Loyalty Does Not End With Death

    “Edition of 500 copies, mastered by Gregg Janman, cut at D&M, Berlin.

    Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, controversial occultist and iconic founding member of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, brings to a close a series of collaborations with Carl Abrahamsson which now spans three decades and which finds P-Orridge narrating over immaculate ambient tapestries, delivered at time-dilating pace.

    Electing to use their own names, ’Loyalty Does Not End With Death’ is the final part of a spoken word trilogy initiated in 1990 with the Psychick TV & White Stains side ’At Stockholm’, and proceeded by their ‘Wordship’ [2004] album as Thee Majesty & Cotton Ferox, and is the first appearance the pair have had together on vinyl. It’s the sound of two cosmically-travelled minds crossing paths again after a long absence in which they’ve been able to chew over the bare essentials – love and magick – via vibrant poetry and beautifully charged forms of ambient music.

    In nine parts they conjure a warmly meditative space, where Abrahamsson’s characteristic tones, cut-up electronics and gentle rhythms comfortably lay the bed for Genesis, who inhabits and enlivens the pristine scenes like an observant dark interpreter, translating the incomprehensible and revealing the divine through their psychedelic prism.

    The spellbinding results were recorded in New York and Stockholm 2017/18 and could feasibly have occurred at any point between 1990 and now. They are blessed with a pacing, intuition and timelessness that pays testament to an enduring creative friendship, taking the form of writing, interviews, photographs and film for nearly 35 years, bringing to resolution an almost life-long arc.”

  • Is Mike Pompeo Meshing His Rapture Believing Faith With Developing Foreign Policy Goals?” — Grona Morin [HT Dr. Death & Divinity]

    “The influence of evangelical Christianity on the president’s formation of policies is likely to become an important issue, as Trump finds himself becoming even more dependent on them for his political survival.

    To talk with any of them, will lead anyone to the realization of of their firmly held conviction that God has chosen President Trump to be their leader.

    The president’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is one of these rapture believing Evangelicals who’s genuinely convinced that he is propping up a leader chosen by God. His thinking this makes me fearful of his helping the president in the implementation of his foreign and domestic policies based on his faith. An example of how Evangelicals influence domestic policies would include the president’s military transgender ban. They had been strongly favoring and advocating in support of the president’s foreign policy decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

  • The Poker Deck of the Drowning World. A Panoramic Parable told in 52 Scenes, created by Kahn & Selesnick of the Fledermaus Workshop; from the 4-Days-To-Go dept.

    Fledermaus Workshop Kahn Selesnick Drowning World deck

    ” We are now making a POKER DECK FOR THE DROWNING WORLD: an edition of 3000 card decks printed from original pen, ink and watercolor images that when laid end-to-end form a continuous panoramic parable about climate change. Icebergs, Weeds, Chimneys, and Birds replace the standard playing card suits of clubs, diamonds, spades, and hearts, in keeping with the themes of the deck. “

  • The evolution of the medieval witch – and why she’s usually a woman” — Jennifer Farrell, Heritage Daily [HT curiosa]

    “. . .[A]t some point during the 14th and 15th centuries, religious officials perhaps unwittingly conflated two distinct traditions: “learned” magic and “common” magic. The common kind of magic required no formal training, was widely known, could be practised by both men and women, and was usually associated with love, sex and healing.

    By contrast, learned magic came to Europe from the east and featured in the “magic manuals” that circulated among educated men whom Richard Kieckhefer described as members of a “clerical underworld”.”

  • 4 Slavic Sexual Traditions and Rituals In History That Will Surprise You.
    The part of history that you don’t want to know? maybe…” — Sara P, Slavorum [HT curiosa]

    “The old Slavic sexual traditions are quite contradictory, some celebrating sexual freedom and connection with the Earth, while the others are built on the idea that lust is the core reason for all the evil in the world.”

  • The Kybalion – Sneak Peek – Coming 2019” — Ronni Thomas; about The Kybalion, a feature documentary, coming from the Midnight Archive

    “In this brief clip, occult historian Mitch Horowitz explains how the world of Ancient Egypt was as ancient to the Greeks and Romans as they are to us. A very early sneak peek at the upcoming feature documentary based on the 1908 occult masterpiece, The Kybalion. The film, shot partially on location in Egypt, details the 7 principles of Hermeticism and goes deeper into how alchemists, mediums, hypnotherapists and astral travelers are using these very principles in modern times.”

Lion in the Valley

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters.

Peters Lion in the Valley

Highlights of this fourth volume of Amelia Peabody amusement include: a mysterious redheaded opium-eater going by the name Nemo; the excruciating Mrs. Axhammer of Des Moines, Iowa; the corruption of a village priest; the birds and the bees explained to Ramses Emerson; and the peculiar generosity of the Master Criminal Sethos. 

Previous volumes in this series have carried me along by dint of sheer wit and engaging character, but this one also got me fascinated with the plot in the way that a mystery novel is supposed to–goading me to read the last sixty-odd pages at a single sitting.

Omnium Gatherum: April 19, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 19, 2019

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

  • Ascend, Ascend by Janaka Stucky, illustrated K Lenore Siner, foreword by Pam Grossman, from Fulgur, due in May

    Stucky Ascend Ascend

    “Written over the course of twenty days, coming in and out of trance states brought on by intermittent fasting and somatic rituals while secluded in the tower of a 100-year-old church – the Star and Snake Arts Centre – Ascend Ascend is Janaka Stucky’s most powerful book to date.

    Rooted in the Jewish mystical tradition of Hekhalot literature, which chronicles an ascent up the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to witness the Merkabah, or “chariot of God,” this book-length poem drafts a surreal, mythological landscape in which maximalist language shreds the natural world. Light becomes rainbowed sex. Intestines tangle into an aria. The sky is gallowed. At the center of this apocalyptic devastation stands the speaker of these poems, asserting: I explode. I shall love. I ascend. Stucky’s verse reminds us that even as we sink deeper and deeper into unknown darkness, we become our own flashlight beaming outward.

    Equal parts Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” Ascend Ascend makes us both passenger and witness as we participate in the ecstatic destruction of the self through its union with the divine.”

  • Spirit against the machines: on Douglas Rushkoff’s ‘Team Human’. A spirited review of Douglas Rushkoff’s ‘Team Human'” — AMG, Cadena Aurea; about Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human [HT Douglas Rushkoff]

    Rushkoff Team Human

    “A disenchanted worldview has allowed us to upload without any real resistance a new story, a story that collapses all previous stories, trumping all myth with the emancipatory power of science. It is the story that we have become free from all superstition, and are marching free into the future, unhinged from the wheel of cosmic interdependence and karmic responsibility, free from magical thinking into clean objectivity, finally able to decide -as in a vacuum- what we want to be. But this might just be the greatest hubris yet. The Luciferian or Promethean whim to think of oneself as master, to refuse to accept something superior than ourselves, deeming that we exist without other-determinates. For as physicist Werner Heisenberg stated “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” Perhaps in the same sense that algorithms leave out of the equation the humanness that gets in the way of their goals, our way of questioning -based on a materialistic worldview- is leaving out consciousness or spirit.”

  • Witches Are Back, Casting a Spell Over Pop Culture When We Need Them Most” — Jennifer Vineyard, Syfy Wire [HT David Salisbury]

    “That’s the kind of question a certain teenage witch and her horror-fan pals on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina like to bat around on their show. Are all monsters actually metaphors? Are the zombies in Night of the Living Dead really telling a tale about the Cold War, civil rights, and the collapse of the nuclear family? Is The Fly really about body dysmorphia? Do vampires stand in for sexual desire (or sexually-transmitted disease)? Do werewolves represent loss of control of one sort or another? And why do certain of these creatures dominate the public imagination at certain times, but not at others?

    Independent women, in other words — women who were a threat to the Puritanical social order and the patriarchal inheritance system. Some were connected to organized peasant rebellions, and some were just considered nasty women — sarcastic, argumentative, unpopular. (The ultimate crime: being unlikable.)

    The same kind of women are still targeted in modern-day witch hunts, where people are still accused of practicing witchcraft. And some would argue, those witch hunts have transformed into other ways to oppress women, and the symbol of woman-as-witch is a potent political tool. (Remember the Republican merchandise sporting the photo of Hillary Clinton riding a broom?)”

  • Rachel Carson’s Critics Called Her a Witch. When Silent Spring was published, the response was overtly gendered. Rachel Carson’s critics depicted her as hysterical, mystical, and witchy.” — Livia Gershon, JSTOR Daily [HT Judika Illes]

    “Some scientists embraced Carson’s notion that the public must be included in evaluations of ecological dangers, which had previously been limited to industrial and agricultural representatives and government officials.

    But other scientists, along with industry representatives, government personnel, and segments of the media, pushed back with a vengeance. A review in Time accused Carson of being ‘hysterically overemphatic’ with a ‘mystical attachment to the balance of nature.’ A cover illustration for the industry magazine Farm Chemicals depicted a witch on a broomstick, clearly referring to Carson. Dr. Robert Metcalf, vice-chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, asked whether ‘we are going to progress logically and scientifically upward, or whether we are going to drift back to the dark ages where witchcraft and witches reign.'”

  • The Witches’ Insurrection Tarot. A tarot deck re-imagined from an anifascist, anticivilization, pro-sex-worker, anarchist perspective. A crowdfunding effort by Kit Snicket; from the 8-Days-To-Go dept.

    Snicket Witches' Insurrection Tarot Justice XI

    “This is not a safe deck, it is a deck for the end of the world, a deck that shows both the brutality of destruction and the beauty of transformation. It’s a deck for outcasts, anarchists, whores, witches, and queers. “

  • Noita! Finland’s Sexually Charged Witchcraft Films of the 1950s” — David Flint, Reprobate Press; Noita palaa elämään (1952) [also] and Noita palaa elämään (1952) [also] [HT Richard Kaczynski]

    Flint Reprobate Noita! Finland's Sexually Charged Witchcraft Films of the 1950s

    “Finland is not a country known for its horror movie output – you could, arguably (and no doubt someone will argue) count the number of Finnish horror films on your fingers. But in the early 1950s, two significant films emerged that both played with ideas of the supernatural, witchcraft and what we now are apparently obliged to call ‘folk horror’. One of these films, The White Reindeer (Valkoinen peura), achieved some international acclaim … The other film, The Witch Returns to Life (Noita palaa elämään), had less international impact, and has languished in relative obscurity”

  • The Magickal Women Conference ~ Join Us On 1 June 2019. A day for magic(k)al women’s voices to be heard in debate and celebration.” Saturday 1 June 2019, London, UK; sold out, but there’s a waitlist

    Magickal Women Conference 2019

    “The Magickal Women Conference pays homage to the women of the past who challenged the status quo by embracing mysticism, esotericism, and occult teachings, and to the women who continue those rich traditions through lived practice, performance, and adeptship.

    We have put together an astounding international roster of speakers, masterclasses, and workshops, including our headline speaker Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, our keynote speaker Christina Oakley-Harrington, our Artist-in-Residence Victoria Musson, and our Storyteller-in-Residence Baya Salmon-Hawk.

    We honour all women, whether female by birth or not, and welcome everyone to join us on this historic day.

    This is going to be the magic(k)al event of London, 2019 — we hope to see you there!”

  • The Cataclysmic Break That (Maybe) Occurred in 1950. Sixty-nine years ago, a new geological era may have begun on Earth.” — Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic [HT William Gibson]

    “Here is the hypothesis: Not so long ago, the very nature of planet Earth suffered a devastating rupture. The break was sudden, global, and irreversible. It happened on a Sunday within living memory.

    That idea might soon carry the weight of scientific fact. Later this month, a committee of researchers from around the world will decide whether the Earth sprang into the Anthropocene, a new chapter of its history, in the year 1950.”

  • Unique Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick to celebrate re-opening in Cleveland” — Laura DeMarco,; about The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick [HT Rev. Stacey L]

    “The magic collection, known as the Raymond Buckland Collection, is one of the most significant in America. It was started by Buckland, founder of one of America’s first covens, in 1966 after a visit to English Wiccan leader Gerald Gardner on the Isle of Man. Buckland worked for British Airways and began to acquire artifacts as he traveled the world.

    It will celebrate its re-opening with a party from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 27, with tarot readers and more.”

  • The Psychology of the Paranormal by David Groome, Michael Eysenck, Robin Law; from Routledge, due this month

    Groome Eysenck Law The Psychology of the Paranormal

    “Can mediums communicate with the dead? Do people really believe they’ve been abducted by aliens? Why do some people make life decisions based on their horoscope?

    The Psychology of the Paranormal explores some commonly held beliefs regarding experiences so strange they can defy an obvious scientific explanation. The book explains how psychologists have conducted experiments to provide insight into phenomena such as clairvoyance, astrology, and alien abduction, as well as teaching us fundamental truths about human belief systems.

    From debunking myths about Extra Sensory Perception, to considering whether our lives can truly be fated by the stars, The Psychology of the Paranormal shows us that however unlikely, belief in the paranormal will continue to be widespread.”

  • Real Priests Watch Chilling Adventures of Sabrina | Not Your Average Review | Netflix” about Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

    “I had priests watch Sabrina, and holy hell did they deliver.”

    “… but, I’d have preferred a little bit less cannibalism.”

  • Baphomet The Oracle Scene” from Doom Patrol, s01e05

  • Dionysus by BTS, a KPOP band

    “Just get drunk, Dionysus.
    A liquor in one hand, a Tyr sauce in another
    Transparent crystal glistening art
    Art is also a drink.
    You dunno you dunno
    You dunno what to do with
    I’ll show you.
    Ivy and rough wooden mic
    In absolute breath
    There is no sound coming out.

    I am at the door of the world.
    Cheering when you get on stage
    Can not you see my stacked
    Broken thyrsus
    Now I am born again”

The Goddess’ Son

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Goddess’ Son by Skott Holck.

Holck The Goddess' Son

This self-published first novel is a little rough around the edges, but it tells a distinctive story. The amnesiac protagonist presents his experiences in a non-linear narrative, while a third-person omniscient voice intervenes in alternating chapters to relate both contemporary events involving related characters and prehistoric scenes relevant to the supernatural entities in the tale.

There’s a little neopagan religious testimonial sprinkled through the book, as the title might suggest. Keith, the central character, has made it to his twenties without being subject to any of the popular American slave-religions, and he considers himself a pagan. There are a number of passages that center on his theological concerns, in dialogue with several different Christians: a door-to-door evangelist, a college professor, and an anti-abortion activist.

The principal setting of the book is in the Pacific Northwest at roughly the turn of the millennium, and the author’s acknowledgments indicate that he lived in Oregon while writing it. The fantastic elements of the story fall in the wide confused space between the works of say, Tom Robbins and Phillip K. Dick, with a somewhat closer kinship to the former. Despite the convoluted structure of the story, the prose is direct and fast reading.

CUTHBERT: You worship a god who doesn’t even know you exist.

ASHTON: And you worship one who sees your mind as food, and nothing more. You’re like a blade of grass worshiping a cow.

CUTHBERT: Let’s just agree to disagree.

Alan Ryker, When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha

Hermetic quote Ryker Met disagree

Omnium Gatherum: April 15, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 15, 2019

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

  • Cinemagician: Conversations with Kenneth Anger by Carl Abrahamsson

    Abrahamsson Cinemagician

    “Iconic American filmmaker Kenneth Anger has inspired generations of creative storytellers since the late 1940s. He is a unique visionary who drifts from pure poetry within his magical filmmaking to sardonic gossip in his bestselling “Hollywood Babylon” books. In-between these extremes we find a person who never tires of exploring his own creativity. In this intimate documentary, Anger lets us in on his fascinating life story, his approaches to filmmaking, and his relationship to British occultist Aleister Crowley.”

  • For sale: Aleister Crowley’s home of black magic owned by Jimmy Page” — Jim Lawson, The Times

    Lawson Times Aleister Crowley's home of black magic

    “The fire-ravaged ruins of the home once owned by an occultist described as “the most evil man in the world” is up for sale for more than half a million pounds.”

  • Invocation of Almost: The Art of David Tibet” through May 25, Cal State Fullerton’s Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery, California [HT OC Weekly]

    “Invocation of Almost will showcase a large selection of David Tibet’s past, present, and future paintings and drawings, which Channel his Cartoon Imaginings of Apocalypses, Hallucinatory Scribble Myths, and Sidereal Dream PickNicks. There will also be many new sculptures and installation pieces – all previously unseen works – which have been recently shown to Tibet as Dreams from the Wooden Child. Some of these unique artworks include, or have been inspired by, Coptic and Akkadian texts, languages that Tibet has studied for many years. Also on display will be original hand-written lyrics by Tibet, as well as ephemera from Tibet’s ParaMusical group, Current 93. An entirely new musical composition has been created by Current 93, as Red House as Red Barn, especially for The CSUF Begovich Gallery. In addition, this exhibition will flicker AlephFilms by the video artist Davide Pepe, David Tibet’s long-term collaborator and the FilmSaint for C93. An extensive full-color exhibition catalogue will be produced in Lunar Conjunction with this exhibition with texts and essays on David and his work by: Anohni, Nick Blinko, Henry Boxer, Jacqueline Bunge, Nick Cave, Shirley Collins, Michel Faber, Gef!, Norbert Kox, Thomas Ligotti, Hugo Lundhaug, Seth Sanders, David Tibet, Ola Wikander, Martin Worthington, and Daniel Wojcik. “

  • Gale Introduces New Digital Archive on Religions of America
    Traces the History of Religious Developments and Movements Unique to America
    ” — News release via PR Newswire

    “Gale, a Cengage company, is introducing a new digital archive that explores the history and unique character of the American religious experience. Religions of America provides scholars and researchers access to the largest resource of its kind that follows the development of religions and religious movements born in and significantly reshaped by the United States from 1820 to 1990.

    Cross searchable with other Gale Primary Sources, Religions of America comprises five unique collections:

    The FBI Files on Jonestown, Moorish Science Temple of America, and the Branch Davidians: Explores the events surrounding the Free Peoples Temple in Jonestown; the activities of the early Black-Moslem Moorish Science Temple of America and, through reproduced negotiation transcripts, the beliefs and practices of David Koresh and his Branch Davidian followers.”

  • Ranked: The Creepiest Lore Episodes” — David Chiodaroli, Screen Rant

    Chiodaroli Screen Rant creepiest lore

    “The episode delves deep into the background of the accentric Parsons, one of the pioneers of early racketeering and devout occultist, who blended science and spirituality in ways that seem unfathomable. Yet, Parsons manages to bridge this gap, resulting in a story that’s equally weird and enjoyable.

    While it may be a little unsettling to think that we owe much of our modern knowledge of space exploration to a known demon summoner, there isn’t anything particularly frightening in Parson’s story. Sure, the legendary occultist Aleister Crowley makes an appearance to impart some philosophical wisdom, but unless you have a particular aversion to the often reviled religious leader, then there isn’t much here to trigger the heevy jeevies.”

  • Devil’s Fairground by The Tiger Lillies [also, HT Prospect Magazine]

    “London’s the Tiger Lillies are celebrating 30 years of their provocative brand of avant-garde punk-cabaret with their symphonic latest album, Devil’s Fairground (out 15 February). Themes of junkies, prostitutes and all forms of vice continue to make up the majority of their work, while frontman Martyn Jacques has a knack for finding beauty in the macabre and grotesque, like Poe, Lovecraft and Edward Gorey before him. The band have performed all over the world, making their way from humble beginnings busking in the streets and playing bar-rooms to performing in massive concert halls and opera houses. They’ve also shared bills with St. Vincent, John Cale, Patti Smith, David Byrne and many others, and have built a legion of devoted fans including film director Terry Gilliam, the late Robin Williams and Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

    Devil’s Fairground takes the listener on a tour through the sordid underbelly of post-soviet Prague, where Jacques’s eye finds poetry in legless drunks, bored hookers and fatherless children.”

  • Ydg Drops Terrifying Ode to Occult Deity, “Baphomet”” — Matthew Meadow, YourEDM

    “Baphomet is a widely misunderstood concept. Popularly characterized as a demon deity with the head of a goat and body of a man with black wings and long, pointed horns, it’s easy to draw a parallel to the idea of the devil. In reality, it’s actually a symbol denoting “perfect social order.”

    While it’s the unwanted interpretation at play here in YDG’s new song “Baphomet,” it’s an absolute banger all the same.”

  • Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today by John Tolan, due in June from Princeton University Press [HT AlterNet]

    Tolan Faces of Muhammad

    “Heretic and impostor or reformer and statesman? The contradictory Western visions of Muhammad

    In European culture, Muhammad has been vilified as a heretic, an impostor, and a pagan idol. But these aren’t the only images of the Prophet of Islam that emerge from Western history. Commentators have also portrayed Muhammad as a visionary reformer and an inspirational leader, statesman, and lawgiver. In Faces of Muhammad, John Tolan provides a comprehensive history of these changing, complex, and contradictory visions. Starting from the earliest calls to the faithful to join the Crusades against the “Saracens,” he traces the evolution of Western conceptions of Muhammad through the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and up to the present day.

    Faces of Muhammad reveals a lengthy tradition of positive portrayals of Muhammad that many will find surprising. To Reformation polemicists, the spread of Islam attested to the corruption of the established Church, and prompted them to depict Muhammad as a champion of reform. In revolutionary England, writers on both sides of the conflict drew parallels between Muhammad and Oliver Cromwell, asking whether the prophet was a rebel against legitimate authority or the bringer of a new and just order. Voltaire first saw Muhammad as an archetypal religious fanatic but later claimed him as an enemy of superstition. To Napoleon, he was simply a role model: a brilliant general, orator, and leader.

    The book shows that Muhammad wears so many faces in the West because he has always acted as a mirror for its writers, their portrayals revealing more about their own concerns than the historical realities of the founder of Islam.”

  • Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic exhibition, through September 15, Wellcome Collection museum, London

    Wellcome Smoke and Mirrors

    “What can magic and conjuring tell us about the human mind? Our new exhibition brings together the worlds of psychology and entertainment in search of the truth about deception.

    Explore how our biases affect our perception and whether our senses can be hacked. Discover spirit photography, magic props and psychology experiments to see how magic works on – and in – the mind of the spectator.”

  • HERETICAL FATES ART BOOK and TAROT DECK with Danika XIX. A NSFW Tarot deck and art book with 78 photographs by Allan Amato, descriptions by Danika XIX and art by JAW Cooper + Lauren Panepinto. A crowdfunding effort by Allan Amato.

    Amato Danica heretical fates art book and tarot deck the hierophant

    “The idea for this deck arrived over breakfast one fateful sunday morning. My partner Mallory and I each pulled our tarot card, a prompt we do together to answer a creative question, get our bearings, or just invite our subconscious into the conversation.

    I wondered aloud whether a tarot version of those old timey naked lady playing card decks existed out in the world already (they do), and would a functioning photographed deck be interesting to contemplate? (it was) My partner immediately encouraged me to think more about it, and very much in the chaos theory way I do things, I had two shoots scheduled the following week.

    In addition to the ethereal Danika, we have JAW Cooper creating the suites, backs and frontispiece of the deck, and Lauren Panepinto designing the complete series, soup to nuts. A true creative dream team that came together to make this the best possible project it could be. To say nothing of all the staggering subjects who allowed themselves to be transformed into angels, monsters and misfits! Ye Gods; Danika XIX, Amanda Palmer, Stoya, Joanna Angel, Vivid Vivka, Sash Suicide, Candy Ken, Ana Fox, Buck Angel, Jiz Lee, Anikka Albrite, Dani Daniels, Dominique, Nina Kate, Mick Blue, Mousa Kraish, Jeana Turner, Eugene Simon, Valis Volkova, Anactingangel, Bree Daniels, Jenna Fox, Pulpfictionally, Misti Dawn, Alexis Fawx, Fawn Grey, Taylor Wilkey, Eirenne SG, Thomas Gunter, Susanna Eggli, Mark Snyder, Megan Ayn, Ace Tilton Ratcliff, Roarie Yum, Ali Rose, Brandon Scott, TJ, Idiivil, Tee Beez, Andi Rye, Ryan Mclane, Autumn Fryer, Ms Briq House, Jettila Lewis, Small Hands, Vanessa Alexandra, Stephanie Inagaki, Tita Cupcake, Biqtchpuddin, Misfit Marceline and Astraia Esprit!”