Tag Archives: john carradine

The Unknown God

The Unknown God: W.T. Smith and the Thelemites by Martin P Starr, from Teitan Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Martin P Starr's The Unknown God from Teitan Press

“The first documentary study of Aleister Crowley’s contemporary followers in North America, told through the life of their de facto leader, Wilfred Talbot Smith (1885-1957). Smith, the unacknowledged offspring of a prominent English family, emigrated to Canada where he met Charles Stansfeld Jones and through him, the works of Aleister Crowley. Although Crowley and Smith met only once, their twenty year correspondence proved to be a major link to the few and the faithful attracted to Crowley’s work in the United States and Canada. Smith’s spiritual life centered first on the initiatic structure of the Order of the A∴A∴, complemented by the emerging fraternal and social schemes of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Smith followed Jones into a few long-forgotten movements like the Universal Brotherhood and the Psychomagian Society, but he declined membership in C.F. Russell’s Choronzon Club.

To promulgate the Crowleyan teachings, in 1934 Smith incorporated his own ‘Church of Thelema’—known to Los Angeles newspaper readers as the ‘Purple Cult.’ The following year he initiated OTO activity in Los Angeles which attracted its own cast of occult characters. Smith’s life reached a strange conclusion when Crowley, taking a page from Louis Bromfield’s novel, THE STRANGE CASE OF MISS ANNIE SPRAGG, which explored ‘the twin mysteries of love and religion and the confusion that lies between’ and combining it with a reading of Smith’s natal chart, sent him off on a retreat to determine which God he was incarnating. It was a journey from which Frater 132 never returned …

THE UNKNOWN GOD is a fascinating and complex human story, intimately interwoven with the lives of most of Crowley’s disciples in the United States including C.F. Russell, Jane Wolfe, Max R. Schneider, Jack Parsons, Louis T. Culling, Frederic Mellinger and Grady L. McMurtry as well as occult teachers like H. Spencer Lewis (AMORC) Paul Foster Case (BOTA), and Wayne Walker (OM), Hollywood actors such as John Carradine and even the founder of the Mattachine Society, Harry Hay. Students of 19th and 20th century esoteric movements, including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Theosophical Society and the Crowley-derived organizations, will find THE UNKNOWN GOD worth reading.”

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Blues for the Man Devil

 

Blues for the Man Devil
(Redfern)

There is a movie dialog sample from the 1965 film Blood of the Man Devil, with Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Carradine. It’s a strange and kind of slow film, but gives a window into Hollywood (and the mainstream society’s idea of what comprises the “occult.” For these people “The Devil” is the source of all occult power, and “Satanists” basically grovel even harder than Christians.

It’s ironic then that the man pinned as the “arch Satanist” of all time, Aleister Crowley had no belief or even interest in the Christian devil. In his Magick in Theory and Practice he points out the absurdity of the Christian concept of an anti-God. God is complete unity, as the Muslims say there is no God but God. Of course, this concept of an anthropomorphic God with a gender leads one to this kind of thinking, the Christians who wrote Blood of the Man Devil don’t understand that God is a unity, the universal vibration of creation.

Thus you have silly pledges to do evil, pacts with evil that misunderstand that above the abyss God has no concept of good and evil. God in some circumstances can seem demonic or devilish, especially if the lesson that must be learned if very difficult!

Shams93 is the brainchild of composer/performer Brian Redfern. Brian graduated from CalArts in 1998, having studied composition with Nyoman Wenten, Kobla Ladzepko and Wadada Leo Smith. In 2005 Brian switched from guitar to the ancient middle eastern instrument, the oud, studying with virtuoso Yuval Ron.

Previously Brian had been the guitarist for Los Hermanos de Jazz who had opened up for bands such as the Stone Temple Pilots and performed sessions for Death Row Records, back in the wild and crazy early 1990s. Back then he also created a project called “Aleister’s Bastards” inspired by the work 777 by Aleister Crowley. However at the time, he had no idea he lived right down the street from the famous occult author, Lon Milo DuQuette.

Shams93 runs the gamut from purely acoustic solo oud to electronic music and live electric performance. Brian plays both acoustic and electric oud and uses the ancient system of “Maqam music” from the middle east to compose new material based on ancient patterns.

He is greatly inspired by recent John Zorn projects such as the Crowley String quartet, which explore occult concepts with instrumental music inspired by western classical and avant guard.

Besides having earned an MFA from CalArts Brian is an initiated Freemason, 3○, 32○, Thelemite and self-initiated Sufi/Ishmaeli. He’s also a 3○ in the OTO and a probationer of the A∴A∴, so occult practice and meditation are massive influences on the music of Shams93.

Follow Shams93 via
SoundCloud
Website
and
Anthology Profile

 

Magick, Music and Ritual 6, the Winter 2013 anthology album from the Hermetic Library
Hermetic Library Anthology Project – Magick Music and Ritual 6