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Showing posts from 2016

Grenoside Sword Dance 2016

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I've been going to this for years. It gets better every time, as I let the forms of this old dance sink under my skin. This year the wind is bitter cold, and Death turns up and helps stop the traffic (an important part of the preparation for the dance). I've never seen Death at this event before, so I suspect he's a freelance. Today my camera is not working well, so check out this old blog post with some decent film of the dances:  https://chaotopia-dave.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=grenoside The Sword Dancers’ sequence involves two songs. In the first, the dancers hold each end of the ‘swords’ in a circle, then move round and through the circle in loops, stepping over the paired swords then raising them, until the hexagram form of the unconquered sun is produced and held up. This seems like a cheerful form of the rhythms of work and frith, endless cycles under the calendar of the sun, the tune having a steady solid cheerful pace. With the second dance, the rhythm sp

Chaos Streams - real live chaos magic!

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A book about the magical life done by IOT members . Also contains my History of Chaos Magic as an intro. Go here  and buy one, for the astonishing price of £8. Or an e-version for almost nothing.

North, the Rise and Fall of the Polar Cosmos by Gyrus

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http://polarcosmology.com/ What would it be like if culture was completely different, if we had taken any of a number of different routes in our cultural past? Not many authors dig as deep as Gyrus has done in 'North', dismantling deeply-embedded cultural assumptions. Sure, there are other books, and this is indeed a hopeful trend in culture; instead of tinkering or trying to patch up the mess we have at the moment, let's look at its very roots and see if we can detect the basic flaws in our worldviews. Morris Berman did it with his 1989 book 'Coming To Our Senses', in which he shows how cultural shifts rely on some kind of collective gnosis, some new and ecstatic apprehension of reality, and that this cultural shift is not always a benign one. More recently and coming from a slightly different direction we have Nikki Wyrd's essay in which she suggests we abandon the primacy of 'higher' in her blog piece Dionysus' Doorway ( https://theblogofba

Pranayama by Andre van Lysebeth

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(I was going to plug the business I bought it off, M and J Books, but they have no detectable web presence at all. I encountered them via the Amazon UK portal. So this link won't take you there: https://www.waterstones.com/book/pranayama/andre-van-lysebeth/9780955241239 ) I only found out about the existence of this book recently, even though it was first published in 1979, via a footnote in another book I was reading. My reference treated it as a classic, and I can see why. That's why I'm reviewing it. 'Pranayama' held a number of surprises for me. At first I was put off by some curious attempts to demonstrate scientifically the existence of 'prana'. As I show in my forthcoming book 'Life Force: Sensed Energy in Breathwork, Psychedelia and Chaos Magic' we do not need the blessing of science to work with energy sensations and further, that concepts like 'prana' and 'qi' do not map smoothly onto concepts from physical science.

New edition of The Nine Doors of Midgard, by Edred Thorsson

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From Wordery at http://bit.ly/2aZnoZj I first read this book in 1996, when I joined the Rune-Gild. It is the training manual for that organization, and presents a scheme of self-initiation via a lengthy and thorough programme of work. At that time I bought the Llewellyn edition, one of those books where they use vanishing glue on the spine and so it eventually becomes loose leaf. Then for some time it was only available as a Gild internal document, so the new edition brings this extraordinary work to the wider world in a form which does not fall apart. The scheme is very thorough, and amounts to a daily practice that you build up from a progressive menu of workings, new ones introduced in each of the 9 sections or 'Doors'. The work includes daily rituals, rune contemplation, magical diary (PAD or personal analysis diary), Germanic soul lore, breath and sound exercises that lead up to operative rune-galdor, the carving of runes leading up to the creation of runic talisman

Review of The High King's Vengeance by Steven Poore

The High King's Vengeance by Steven Poore https://www.amazon.co.uk/High-Kings-Vengeance-Steven-Poore/dp/1911497049 This is the sequel to Heir to the North , https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heir-North-Steven-Poore/dp/1909845892, both being parts of Malessar's Curse. (I review HTTN here ). The tale opens in a tavern where we learn some important news via a couple of the less pleasant characters. As in HTTN , we hear of places that not everyone believes in the existence of - in this world, there are many lost layers of history, and few people know the whole story. As it happens, Norrow, Cassia's vile father, knows a good deal, and his knowledge is knowledge of coming war. At the end of HTTN (no spoilers!) Cassia and her allies perform a kind of magical fix on the blasted northern land of Caenthell, but the fix will not hold. We meet her again, in the ruins of the magical battle that ended the first volume, picking up the shattered pieces of her life and the ruined lives of h

Review - Acid Drops, by Andy Roberts

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https://psychedelicpress.co.uk/products/acid-drops-by-andy-roberts I opened this book to a promising start - a Chaos Sigil, wound with ergotized cereal stalks... This is a clue to what is to follow. The narrative plunges rapidly into Andy's first acid trip - a quite spectacularly 'bad' one. This is another clue - to Roberts's honesty. He is not trying to paint a pastel-rosy illusion of psychedelia but is interested in the whole thing, warts and all. Later in the book, he debunks a few popular misconceptions which have become 'acid myths' - such as Francis Crick being on LSD when he conceived the structure of DNA, the idea that anyone seriously considered putting acid in water supplies and the peculiar role of the chemical hydrazine hydrate in the Operation Julie acid raids. Early in the text we have a well-informed overview of the illegalization of psychedelics, complete with a confession from a major War on Some Drugs player that the information distr

Heart of Magic: Based on talk given at Twisted Power event, London, May 20th 2016

I begin by saluting all the gods of magic, language and poetry. Hail Woden! Hail Tehuti! Hail Hermes! Why are gods of magic also gods of language and poetry? Because the heart of poetry is also the heart of magic. That answer first came to me in the course of a psychedelic experience. The first time I smoked DMT, once I got the hang of it ('pay attention!') and let go, I was being guided, on a journey along a strange road. Something inside me said 'this is the heart of poetry'. I have never thought of myself as a poet, and it was one of those sayings that seem unutterably profound at the time, but which I could only make a limited amount of sense out of the next day. In this case, I found it was one of those sayings that you understand later. Years later. It took me nearly 20 years to put together the rest of the answer, to understand that that the voice that spoke was the voice of the god within me, and that god was the storyteller god. When I speak of

Two Icelandic Magic books

You wait for years for another book on Icelandic Sorcery and then two come along. In chronological order: Icelandic Magic: Aims, Tools and Techniques of the Icelandic Sorcerers, by Christopher Alan Smith , http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/norse-viking/icelandic-magic/  Previous to this, the only material in English on Icelandic magic and my first taste of its magical syncretism had been Stephen Flowers' The Galdrabok, in 1990. ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Galdrabok-Icelandic-Grimoire-Stephen-Flowers/dp/087728685X ) . This book is a thorough and very readable survey of five hand-written manuscripts, personal books of magic, giving us a glimpse across time, from the 16th to the 19th centuries, of a whole tradition of magic which still feels alive today. One of these volumes Christopher Smith translated himself. 'Aims, Tools and Techniques' provides rich backgrounds to the folk-magic - the material history, the religious shifts and persecutions, which are interspers

Brief review of two books about William S Burroughs

https://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Magical-Universe-William-Burroughs/dp/1906958645?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scientologist-William-Burroughs-Weird-Cult/dp/0956952526?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 Books on WSB are getting better. I've just finished two very good ones. My darling bought me The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs by Matthew Levi Stevens  and I just had to go and get what is more or less its unofficial companion volume, David S Wills's 'Scientologist: William S Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult '.' You know how it is with bibliophilia. The latter is a superb piece of work. Wills puts together a lot of archive material to shed light on WSB's few years of involvement in the Church of Scientology and the enduring effects on his thinking of some of Hubbard's ideas (such as the idea of engrams) and some of Scientology's practice (auditing and the E-meter). Present day readers may be su

Tyr journal, Northern esotericism and politics

This blog started off as a review of Tyr issue 4, and that review arose out of discussions about the (unfortunate) appearance of White Nationalism in Germanic esotericist writings. So the post expanded into an argument that White Nationalism is by no means typical of the Northern mysteries. Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition. Issue 4.  Edited by Joshua Buckley and Michael Moynihan Volume 4, 2014, ISSN 1538-9413, ISBN-13: 978-0-9720292-4-7, 6" x 9" perfectbound, illustrated, 430 pages. Tyr is an extraordinary publication, unlike any other. On the back cover of each edition the journal's mission is outlined: 'TYR celebrates the traditional myths, culture and social institutions of pre-Christian, pre-Modern Europe. It includes in-depth original articles, interviews, translations of essential works by radical traditionalist thinks, as well as extensive reviews of books, films, music, and the arts.' An answer is given to the question 'What does it mean to be a

Review of Wilhelm Reich - Biologist, by James E. Strick

Wilhelm Reich - Biologist, by James E. Strick, Harvard University Press, 2015. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wilhelm-Reich-Biologist-James-Strick/dp/0674736095 I came of sexual age in the 1960s, when the so-called Sexual Revolution was already well underway. Widespread, reliable contraception had finally detached the sex act from the raw biology of reproduction. Young people were becoming much freer with their explorations of sex; long before I ever had sex with anyone else, I, in common with nearly all my contemporaries, embraced the zeitgeist - the idea of sexual freedom - in a spirit of hopeful anticipation. A few years later, reading Wilhelm Reich, my friends and I were digging back into the foundations of the Sexual Revolution, a phrase coined by Reich, a movement he hoped would arise and dissolve the bonds of locked-in sexual-emotional energy and lead to a better world. Reich was the erratic visionary who had looked forward to an era we were now living in. He wrote in Function of