Tag Archives: Peter Bebergal

New Quietus feature on Coil, Coltrane and LSD mentions Aleister Crowley and more

New Quietus feature “Love’s Secret Ascension: Coil, Coltrane & The 70th Birthday Of LSD” by Peter Bebergal [HT Pam Grossman] mentions Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare and more, including quite a bit about magick and music; and even some discussion with Hermetic Library anthology artist Kim Cascone.

“If Coltrane’s rapturous Om and Ascension function as representations of the mystical impulse fueled by LSD, I have chosen the music of Coil to explore the magickal, specifically their 1991 record Love’s Secret Domain, probably the most fully realised magickal record in the context of rock & roll. And just as Om’s mystical desires are not only about a union with the divine, what is magickal about Love’s Secret Domain has nothing to do with the conjuration of demons or the binding of angels. What makes Love’s Secret Domain magickal is that it inhabits perfectly Crowley’s dictum that magick is the ‘Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will’.”

“Coil’s music forces the listener to destroy that distinction between art and artifice, because their magickal sensibility comes out of an actual location, a place. Coil draws their inspiration from an England haunted by the artist and magician Austin Osman Spare, and the “great beast” Aleister Crowley. While Crowley always seems to loom large in matters of magick, his spirit is particularly evident here because he insisted on creating a glamour around his own spiritual workings and magickal practice. The magician Crowley wrote dense tables of correspondences and complex rituals. The personality Crowley handed out business cards that read ‘The Wickedest Man Alive’.

Nevertheless, Spare is the true Holy Guardian Angel of Coil, and in numerous interviews John Balance cites him as a kindred soul, whose art and magick were inextricably bound. In a 2001 interview with Mark Pilkington for Fortean Times, Balance describes his relationship to Spare as something akin to ancestor worship, where Spare is a spirit mentor that offers advice and inspiration. Of Spare’s art, Balance gets to the root of understanding both Spare but also Coil. ‘Although they’re [Spare’s artwork] often decorative, the intention behind the decoration often hits you first.'”

Too Much to Dream

Aleister Crowley gets mentioned in an interview with Peter Bebergal about his book Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood at “Memoir Recounts Youthful Quest for Meaning in D&D, Comics, Zeppelin“. You may be interested in the rest of the interview and the book as well.


“Gilsdorf: What do you think makes some people look for meaning so desperately they are driven to the point of madness?

Bebergal: It starts with what is a fundamental part of the human experience. Religion and myth are attempts to contain this pursuit, to give it some symbols and ritual, to give it language. But for some people, the more structure you try to impose, the more they see it as an empty gesture, that God or whatever you want to call it cannot be contained by any hierarchy or imposed regulations. Occult or esoteric traditions are attempts to get beyond conventional wisdom to something more experiential, but in the modern world, they have become bound up with every kind of paranormal and fringe idea. Go into any New Age bookstore and conspiracy theories about Freemasons are on the shelf below Aleister Crowley, right next to the books on UFOs. Of course it can weigh you down. I have come to love this stuff with a bit more critical distance these days.”


“Gilsdorf: What lessons do we learn from geek culture?

Bebergal: I think the best recent example of this is the comic Hellboy, a devil spawn struggling to maintain his humanity and his goodness. His is the great lesson that we are more than our genes, more than our destiny even, be it familial, cultural, political. Most recently he had to sacrifice himself to save the earth. Prosports and American Idol cannot tell this story. Only a comic book on cheap newsprint somehow has access to the deepest layers of myth and can make them modern and relevant.”