Tag Archives: brian butler

Babalon Working

This video is a trailer for Brian Butler’s “Babalon Working” posted by MOCAtv. There was a screening on Sept 19th, which means this is a belated mention, but you can be on the lookout for the next showing.

“MOCAtv Presents a Screening and Performance Event by Los Angeles Artist BRIAN BUTLER at MOCA Grand Avenue, September 19th, 2013.

World Premiere of Brian Butler’s Preternatural Odyssey film BABALON WORKING featuring Paz de la Huerta and the performance TRANSMIGRATION.

To occult artist Brian Butler, aesthetics are ‘magick.’ Elevating mystic practices to the status of art—or elevating art to the status of ritual—Butler’s films and performances are themselves Orphic ceremonies and Satanic rites. Pentagrams, triangles, liturgical hoods in red, white, and black, these iconographic shapes and costumes have a sacred as well as aesthetic function. The arresting imagery and trance-inducing editing of his latest short film The Babalon Working: a Shortcut to Initiation are no exception. Butler’s mentor and collaborator Kenneth Anger once compared making a movie to casting a spell. Perhaps this film will make that assertion literal: The Babalon Working was a ritual devised and practiced by occult master Jack Parsons to manifest Babalon, the divine feminine. Watch and wait.”

Brian Butler conjures the demon Bartzabel

Brian Butler conjures the demon Bartzabel” is an article that further discusses from the viewpoint of someone in attendance interviewing Brian Bulter about his recent public Bartzabel working at L & M Arts in Los Angeles.

Bartzabel Working by Brian Butler from Brian Butler on Vimeo.


“The auteur of this scene is Los Angeles-based artist Brian Butler, an icon in an occult subculture that has blossomed over the last decade. A would be polymath—artist, filmmaker, musician, and writer—Butler’s persona has been constructed around an overt dedication to the black arts, and a willingness to make public the rituals and tenets of a faith that have traditionally been kept secret by others. That, along with his ties to people with infamous reputations, most notably Kenneth Anger, have made him equally lauded and reviled.

The scene in question—Butler’s latest and most grandiose display—was a public performance of Aleister Crowley’s The Bartzabel Working. Based on techniques of evocation found in medieval grimoires, the ritual was written in 1910 and designed to manifest Bartzabel, a traditional spirit of Mars in Western occultism, through a hooded person placed in a magical triangle. The crowd, which packed the gallery’s courtyard, was the largest ever assembled to witness a Crowleyan rite.” [via]


Are there precedents for what you are doing, or do you believe it to be unique? What do you think the connection with ritual portends for the future of art and performance?

In the context of the art world, this connection is a new one—it hasn’t really been explored. Certainly there have always been artists interested in the occult, and who allowed that to inspire their work—it even became a kind of subgenre in early Modernism, but it was often hidden under the formal content of the work, as in the case of Piet Mondrian, for instance. But the overt connection, with the performance of ritual magick as art, is something new. I think it is a step towards a more intimate relationship between artist and audience—I am reminded of something that Marina Abramovic elucidated to me about the occult in the context of performance, that the future will be one of a non-objective world without art in the sense that we have it now. She foresees us attaining a mental state and level of consciousness enabling us to transmit thoughts to other people. “There will not be sculptures, or paintings, or installations,” she once said, “there will just be the artist standing in front of a public, which is developed enough to receive a message or energy.” I think the fusion of art and ritual is a step toward that kind of connectivity and that kind of intimacy.” [via]

Technicolor Skull


“Technicolor Skull’s self-titled recorded debut, a one-sided, bloodred 180 gram 12″ vinyl LP limited to 666 copies. A multimedia collaboration featuring Kenneth Anger on Theremin and Los Angeles artist Brian Butler on guitar and electronic instruments. Technicolor Skull is a magick ritual of light and sound in the context of a live performance. The project premiered at Donaufestival in Austria, in April 2008, and has subsequently toured throughout Europe, performing at the National Museum of Art, Copenhagen, and the Serralves Museum, Portugal, and recently at the Hiro Ballroom, New York, for the Anthology Film Archives benefit.” [via]

Occultural Film Series: Magick in Cinema at Northwest Film Forum on Thursday, April 5th at 7pm in Seattle, WA

You may be interested in “Occultural Film Series: Magick in Cinema” [also] which is going to be at Northwest Film Forum on Thursday, April 5th at 7pm in Seattle, WA. This appears to be the inaugural event for what is hoped to be an ongoing series, so even if you can’t make this one, consider keeping an eye out for future events.

“Thursday, Apr 05 at 07:00PM
Artist, writer and filmmaker Brian Butler presents a program that explores the occult as depicted in avant garde and experimental film. Magick has been defined by Aleister Crowley as “the science and art of causing change to occur inconformity with the will.” The short film is a perfect medium for modern occult ritual—utilizing sound light and color to alter the consciousness of the viewer. This program includes pioneers in the field of occult film as well as newer works by Brian Butler.

Program includes:
Death Posture (Brian Butler, 2011, 3 min)
The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (Ira Cohen, 1968, 20 min)
No. 17: Mirror Animations (Harry Smith, 1979, 8 min)
Wormwood Star (Curtis Harrington, 1956, 15 min)
Brush of Baphomet (Kenneth Anger, 2009, 7 min)
Night of Pan (Brian Butler, 2009, 7 min)
Union of Opposites (Brian Butler, 2012, 10 min)” [via]

“Established 2012 the Occultural Film Series features the esoteric and the occult in cinema. Embracing historical and contemporary examples in film and video of esoteric currents in moving pictures.

Co-hosted by the Northwest Film Forum and the Esoteric Book Conference.

Coordinators: Tobi Nussbaum and William Kiesel” [via]


Of course, the quoted definition of “magick” by Aleister Crowley can be found in “Definition and Theorems of Magick” from Magick in Theory and Practice:

“Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”

Aleister Crowley, Lam and the Amalantrah Working mentioned in an interview with Brian Butler

Aleister Crowley, Lam and the Amalantrah Working mentioned in “MAGICKAL STORIES – LAM” an interview with Brian Bulter, a continuation from MAGICKAL STORIES – THE EXÚ.

“When Aleister Crowley was living in New York, doing various magickal experiments in a place on West 9th, he did what’s called the Amalantrah Working. It’s theorized this process created a deliberate channel in ephemeral cosmic influences so that extra-dimensional entities could enter our universe. In short, he likely created a portal for what we know as gray aliens to come visit us.

Eventually Crowley made contact with an entity known as Lam and drew its portrait, and damn if it doesn’t look like the pictures we see of Grays now. (Incidentally, ‘lam’ is the mantra linked to the root chakra, which is associated with survival.) This was around 1917. While there are possibly ancient accounts of extra-terrestrial visitations in other parts of the world, this was one of the first-known Grays to have popped into Western consciousness, although Crowley didn’t explicitly say this.

Crowley introduced Lam for the first time in his commentary on the Voice of the Silence by Theosophy founder Madame Blavatsky. Founded or not, he basically tears that classic to shreds without ever really explaining why he started it off with his portrait of Lam. Since then, Lam’s been expounded on by a writer named Kenneth Grant who knew Crowley personally and is his acknowledged successor.

When we last left off in our Magickal Stories with Brian Butler, he talked about how his demon-worship experience in Brazil culminated in a Lam visitation. Let’s pick up where we left off…”

Magical Stories – The Exú

You might want to check out “MAGICKAL STORIES – THE EXÚ” over at VICE, an interview by Liz Armstrong with Brian Butler that has some text and pretty pictures, and discussion about Afro-Brazilian traditions in Brazil, difficulties with terminology, and more.

“Over a weird first hangout where we sat and drank tea from chairs so deep and low to the ground we felt like children at the grownups’ table, Brian Butler and I decided to begin a collaboration where I’d come over and dig through his personal archives of obscure occult objects and texts and ask him a bunch of questions. Brian’s an artist, writer, and musician whose Crowley-style occult studies are related to his work, which is obvious from his short films Night of Pan and The Dove and the Serpent. He is also known for his collaborations with Kenneth Anger. Brian has access to all kinds of magickal stuff requiring clearance that comes through ritual. And he’s found items you can acquire only when you go searching in weird pockets of the world way off the cultural grid.”

“VICE: Who do we have here?
Brian Butler: His name is Belzebu and he’s the South American version of Baphomet. He’s what’s called an exú, or a demon, in the system called Quimbanda.”

“We were talking about magick and the occult and to simplify, people don’t understand what I’m talking about unless I say ‘demon’ or ‘devil’ or ‘Satan’ or something. If you say ‘occultism’ in general, most people don’t—well, maybe gradually it’s changing, but in general people don’t have anything but the devil to latch onto or have a reference for. Kabbalah or Western magick, people don’t know what that means.

So you just say ‘devil.’
Yeah, I mean look at him. You look at him and say, ‘Oh, that’s the devil.'”

Images and Oracles exhibition at LAXART Annex through Jun 18th

Brian Butler, who worked with Kenneth Anger, has a new solo exhibition, a film and art installation, at the LAXART Annex, in Los Angeles, California, through Jun 18th.

“Part of “Images and Oracles,” Butler’s first solo exhibition, “The Dove and the Serpent” is a meditation on alchemy; the title references the Hermetic principle “as above, so below.” Filmed at a castle in Normandy, France, with some friends he rounded up during Paris fashion week last fall, including Dash Snow’s sister Caroline and the cinematographer Edouard Plongeon, whose family provided the locale, the two-and-a-half minute piece is beautiful, hypnotic and vaguely sinister. Shadowy figures shape-shift and meld with the elements, occult symbols flash and fade, and there is some covetable fashion on display, including a Masonic robe and an ivory silk gown by the London designer Qasimi.

The film screens on a loop in the gallery, projected between four cubes covered in alchemical symbols and standing on pillars. “People often think of a goat’s head or these pagan ideas, but these are cubes,” Butler says. “I felt like it was an interesting way to blend these arcane teachings with a modernist setting.” He compares the forms, two black and two white, to “machines or maps of the astral world,” adding that they can “get rather complex, like a Rubik’s Cube. Once you turn it, it can be difficult to get back to where you were.” [via]