The London Occult Conference 2016

The London Occult Conference happened on Saturday. The person who ran it has all the organisational skills of a baboon. I should know; I spent six months living with him and resisting the temptation to put daffodil bulbs in his salad. But the event went on, at least publicly, without any major problems. For all guest speakers and traders, I am delighted that it went so well.

Electrowerks was a perfect venue for the Conference, but I’ll never get used to seeing it during daylight hours, when I’m able to walk through the place without stumbling over piles of lobotomised goths and staring at myself in the mirror mumbling about how I’m going to regret this in the morning. The building is comprised of several rooms, each as gloomy and crumbly as the next. The scene is imbued with a perpetual twilight, apart from the bar area downstairs where the unforgiving skylight hangs overhead, seemingly with no respect for month-old roots and dodgy contouring.

Let’s start with the market stalls. All my favourites were there. Ella Guru’s paintings blow me away with their humour and beauty every time. I picked up a couple of dried crows’ feet from Curiosities From the 5th Corner, who are always at these events, tables piled high with human bones, stuffed alligators and abject taxidermy. I also had the pleasure of meeting the girls from Strega Craft, who sell animal skulls set in ornate black frames. I had not seen Phil Barrington’s work before and I enjoyed the socio—politically-charged surrealism of his photography. And it’s always a pleasure to see the subgenius of Praeterlimina selling their cutting zines and beautiful rune charms.

My favourite lecture was given by Josephine McCarthy, a woman whose life has been as rich and full as her writing would suggest. One can often only write like McCarthy after realising the futility of flowery bullshit. Her lecture was about the mechanics of magic. She describes magical tradition as a ‘lampshade’ and uses this metaphor to explain that what we should acknowledge as practitioners is that the style of lampshade is not important, because behind it, the inner workings are essentially the same – in fact, behind THAT, the ‘electricity’ is identical and from the same source.

She got right to the core of practice without the need for categorising or comparing. I found it fascinating, because McCarthy confirmed a few nagging theories and suspicions I had and simultaneously birthed a hundred new questions for me to think about. This is what a good teacher does. It got me thinking further about the nature of my practice and some of the high strangeness I’d experienced, so I am even more inclined now to set about answering these questions.

A few weeks ago, I was in bed, asleep. The number 74 came crashing into my head like a burglar. I know the difference between dreams, visions and messages. At the time, the number 74 held no importance for me, but there it was, flashing in my brain as if someone else had put it there. It only lasted a few seconds. I woke up immediately, started fumbling around and wrote it down. In her lecture McCarthy said that if you miss an important hint, the universe will shake you up and down by the ears until you see it. So although I have not entirely explained the significance of the number 74, the methodology of its imposition into my head is something I am now very clear on.

McCarthy compared the variation in people’s receptivity to magickal influences to the difference between conductive and non-conductive materials. If you connect a power source to a copper plate, the electrons are free to fly around and pass on the charge. If you connect the power source to a block of wood, that electricity is just going to stop there and maybe even do some damage if the voltage is high enough. Think of lightening striking a tree and shattering it. Don’t forget your astral condom.

Personally, it makes me think about some of the things I’ve done in the past and feel rather lucky that I followed some of the rules for once, because that probably prevented me from harm. It also raises the question of why I seem to be so ‘conductive’. Between the ages of 11 and 16, I didn’t have a great deal of friends at school, so instead I would read in the library. I picked up my first book on Greek mythology in 7th Grade and suddenly I didn’t care about having human friends. I wanted to talk to monsters, heroes and Gods. So perhaps during these formative years, I was unwittingly rewiring myself, producing effects in my psyche which would not become clear or relevant for years to come. Kudos, past Foxy. Good lad.

As a result, I grew up creating characters, interpreting my dreams and staring up at the night sky. It goes a long way to explaining why when I first read about entity creation, it was more like remembering than learning and why I am so at ease with Tarot, despite only picking up my first deck less than a year ago. Like the crepuscular passageways of the Electrowerks building, my journey through magic has taken so many twists and turns. Just when I think i’ve got the hang of it, along comes something to knock me sideways, or to make me smile in realisation.

Time to go and formulate some questions and answers for myself. Utterances to all who have made me think and rethink, for better and for worse.

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The Next Station is Derek’s Despair

On the way home on the Underground, from a belated birthday night out with our friends, my fiancé Lucius and I encountered a gentleman named Derek. We got on the tube at Turnham Green, sat down with an almighty bag of chips, scoffed the lot and, upon seeing that we were only half way home, fell with our eyes shut and our arms around each other. Between stuffing slices of deep fried potato into our mouths, we kissed each other. I will further shock the reader that there may have even been the brief brush of tongues too. I understand that some people might not appreciate it when a couple kisses in public. I also understand that these are the sorts of people who sit with their anuses clenched so tight that they activate the Thames Flood Barrier.

It was then that Derek, who had been sitting opposite the whole time with his wife, decided to lose his shit. Derek was dressed in a navy blue jacket and trousers, with a white shirt topped off with a purple tie the pattern of which had been apparently inspired by the onset of a DMT trip. He held a paper bag from Caxton the stationers, which presumably contained business cards stating “I am a hateful bag of acid” engraved on them.

He delivered his sermon thusly:

“I’m fucking fed up of this! This is fucking disgusting … Conduct yourself in public without that fucking behaviour…. I’m fucking sick of it!”

As his wife buried her long-suffering face in her hands and mouthed the words “Shut up, Derek” in an embarrassed fashion, I smiled.

It’s fairly obvious that had we been a heterosexual couple, that he wouldn’t have yawned forth his vast chasm of a mouth, but I can’t prove that, so I will only pass comment on what he said. I have experienced more than my fair share of verbal abuse in public. This often ranges from a reaction to the way that I dress (Anime villain with a dash of Quentin Crisp) to the fact that I am obviously a flaming homosexual. Usually when this happens, I’m on my own, and I can choose between the “Girl, hold my kiseru” approach and “He’s built like a pile of tractor tyres, shit, call the police”. But this was different. Lucius and I recently got engaged and I’ve never before been so comfortable throwing my arms around someone in public and holding hands and kissing and laughing as I have now.

If we had jumped on the tube like Lord Flasheart, dropped our trousers and yelled “Hey, Derek! Hop you brought a straw! ‘Cause we’re about to put the COCK in CockFosters, baby!” then I could understand such an overtly hateful reaction. If, say, we had sauntered onto the carriage, swigging a bottle of Tequila, passed urine onto his knee and then collapsed into a game of chocolate-covered Twister on the floor, I would grant his behaviour as warranted. Alas, we only had a snog, ate some chips and cuddled.

There is a theory that violent, explosive and hateful behaviour towards other human beings with certain qualities indicates repressed personality traits which that individual has yet to fully accept within themselves. As such, it seeps out in a (mis)directed stream of obscenities aimed at others who have visibly accepted, even embraced, those aforementioned aspects of themselves which lay suppressed beneath a veneer of external and internal imposed restrictions.

In this case, since Lucius and I kissed each other, ate chips and then nodded off for a bit on each other’s shoulders, that Derek here was driven by some reptilian impulse motivated by his desire for either greasy food, a good nap or some love and affection, neither of which he was going to receive from his wife, who was at this point grimacing at Derek’s behaviour with a face like Nosferatu sitting on a hornets’ nest.

Lucius and I appreciate the wisdom of Sun Tzu and I feel an appropriate quote coming on (easy, Derek, we’re still dressed).

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

When I’m confronted with situations like this, it is sometimes my reaction to become aggressive and responsive. But this time, I just smiled and remained (externally) serene. Obviously, I was imagining what Derek’s scrotum would look like roasting on a barbecue, but that’s just where my mind wanders when confronted with the sheer stupidity of some people. Derek, you see, had already lost.

Everyone else on the tube managed not to have a rectal prolapse while two other human beings were affectionate with each other. But Derek was having none of it. Because poor Derek, despite his posh suit, expensive stationery and his lovely wife sitting next to him (as she probably had done of the last 30 years, the poor cow), Derek was a hateful man, who was on his way home to his hateful, bitter existence, to sit in his white Y-fronts, with a hazy internal monologue playing somewhere in the back of his mind about how much of a twisted sack of shit he is.

Which is why, Derek, when my fiancé and I got up to leave the carriage at our stop, I did not draw my foot back and hoof you in the knee, nor did I dispose of the last few soggy chips conveniently down your oesophagus. I simply said, Derek, that I wish you had half as much love for yourself as I do for my beloved. That’s why I grabbed Lucius, proceeded to give him the biggest, wettest snog right in front of you, before we strolled off home to cuddle up in bed and fall asleep, secure in the knowledge that we will never, ever grow into someone like you.

(Derek, below)
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C O V E N: SpellBound

Once upon a time, I was at a party and I met a lady named Kitty Kane, who I knew as one of the UK’s most prolific and successful burlesque dancers. After speaking to me for a few minutes, the poor deluded woman said “You know, Foxy. One day, I’m going to get you on stage, I am.” She was a little drunk, so I thought she was kidding. I was more than a little drunk, so I agreed. This is why I thought she was deluded: I had zero experience of being on stage. Two months later, I became her regular host and compere, doing gigs, festivals, one-off shows, dressed in cumbersome costumes and ceiling-scraping headdresses. Apparently a sharp tongue gets you everywhere. When I moved back to London, I found that I missed hosting a great deal. I got carried away into the world of fashion and witchcraft, which left little time for anything else.

Ironic then, that with the second night of C O V EN, London’s only monthly occult-themed cabaret and performance night, I should be granted my wish to take to the stage once again.

Only this time, it’s personal. This time, it isn’t something I can put down along with the microphone after the show. This time, I have all the experience and energy I need at my pointed fingertips to help C O V EN become what it should be.

It’s turned into a collaborative effort now, between my boyfriend Lucius and I. He conceived it, birthed it and now it’s being imbued, together, with all of our loves and hates, our fears and joys, our experience and our energy. It is at once ice cold to your soul and burning fire to your senses. This isn’t the place for my personal life, but you can be assured that both of us together, with all the powers of the abyss and all the electrified energy of the people involved, from the bar manager and our lovely last-minute doorman, to the owner of Resistance Gallery and the twisted acts Lucius and I book, that C O V E N is here, If you’re not hiding under you’re bed, you’d better be sat in the audience being splattered with viscera.

I make no secret of the fact that I love being on stage. It bequeaths me an opportunity to show my humour, my confidence and, let’s face it, my costumes. I also make it no secret that the behaviour of some people involved in other nights affects greater attention and praise than is actually deserved, that the preening, posturing and pretence at the expense of newer, less experienced performers is something which makes me so angry I could just spit glass. I loathe injustice. I swore that if ever an arena presented itself to me where I could make that known, I would shout it from the rooftops. So there it is. Signed, sealed and suck on it.

All of the above may sound antagonistic. If so, good. There is a great deal to shake up right now, both on the occult scene and the club scene. But remember, even though it is not infinite, my love and positivity is abundant and I herby grant it to C O V E N, all those involved and all of the paying customers who come to see it. My aim is always to better myself and those who get pulled into my orbit.

So what did they see last saturday? Stream of consciousness time.

C O V EN: Spellbound began with me. Of course. The host sets the mood and I was feeling frisky. Nicoletta Wylde and I took to the stage to a song about being Gothic. There were candles. There was a choreographed dance. I removed a cloak to reveal the tiniest outfit and the biggest pair extendable wings I have ever made and despite wearing weeny pants, there was not a testicle in sight. The first act was Aurora from House of Health, performing IMPURE. Aurora frequently appears to me to be neither male nor female, but beyond such mundane confines of gender. With a slight, white, bare frame and an obsidian black face, he seems to melt out of the darkness and onto the stage, guzzles a bowl of something which might be wine, possibly blood and, amidst a haze of incense and low, atmospheric music, takes a huge rock and smashes the bowl to shards. Water is poured and there is, as often the case, bewildered applause. While the glass is being cleared up, I tell a joke about Princess Diana which goes down much better than I thought. And then Joana Glitz, resplendent in rubber horns and a ruff, produces fire from about her person and, with an understated ease many fire performers lack, moulds and shapes it, tastes it even. It isn’t long before the famously hilarious Joe Black reveals himself, serene and splendid, draped and decadent. This wonderful performer seems to have been born with a microphone in his hand and his eyebrows drawn on. After dropping so many names we had to send someone on to clear the stage, he launches into a rendition of the Cruella De Vil song and leaves, as easily and beautifully as he came, to applause. After the interval, Ryan Darling sticks the knife in with a visual display, crouched on the stage like a coiled cobra, inserting, with disturbing effortlessness, needle after needle into his skin, face and tongue. His boyish face contorts and twists, the whites of his eyes expand, leaving his pupils like the needle marks which now punctuate his arms. Nina Russ and Sophia Mindus are up now, winding shibari rope in a haunting, unhurried display of bondage and submission, tethered to an imposing chunk of bamboo, suspended from above. The profound hypnotism of shibari is never lost on me; the length of the performance alone was an opera of intimacy. The epicentre of the night exploded in one final orgasm with The Naked Grace Missionaries, a band reminiscent of Charles Manson’s singing career, replete with more than a visual nod and a wink to 1960s cult indoctrination and a full on acid trip orgy, set in post-flower power, pre-Cold War freedom and mindfuckery. Mine’s a KoolAid, girls.

After the applause finished, everyone took to the stage for one last dance to I Am Gothic. Petals were thrown. Gin was consumed.

And I was left with a taste in my mouth that meant anticipation. It was a craving for the future and a nostalgia for the past. A longing for more of that, yes please.

But this time, I will be needle sharp and rock hard ready.

Courtesy of Haste Malaise Photography, here are some pictures of the carnage.

 

  • You can follow C O V EN on Facebook here
  • Haste Malaise here
  • Find Aurora from House of Health here
  • Find Ryan Darling here
  • Joana Glitz here
  • Joe Black here
  • Nina and Sophia here and here
  • The Naked Grace Missionaries here

 

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The Power of the Word

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Helen always looked forward to John’s anniversary surprises.

Sometime last week, I was curled up with my beloved watching the 1992 horror film Candyman. The plot itself is a retelling of a story older than you might think, that of an evil presence which can be conjured by saying its name into a mirror, in this case five times. We’ve all heard the urban legend of Bloody Mary, who can be summoned by repeating her name in the same way. Since she doesn’t appear with benevolent intentions (it’s like 2am in Finsbury Park, screaming and covered in blood, sometimes trying to kill you), why any non-sceptic would want to do this is beyond me. Divining things in mirrors (or catoptromancy – there’s your word of the day) is not a new thing – indeed many objects with reflective surfaces, as I’m sure you’re all aware, can be used for scrying and have been as far back as Ancient Egypt.

The aspect of the film which I found so evocative was that of modern folklore, specifically how it is formed, develops and then takes on a life of its own, through storytelling. Words are powerful swords. In this case, a suspiciously thirtysomething-looking university student studying urban legends, drags her token friend to a dangerous housing project to investigate the enigmatic, purportedly supernatural killer known as the Candyman. Sure enough, she fucks things up, summons him and realises that the legends are true and she’s in a heap of trouble. Like any sword, if the word is misused, you can fall on it or at least nick yourself quite badly and perhaps take down a lampshade or two.

When Candyman appears, he rasps to her, “I am the writing on the wall, the whispers in the classroom. Without these things, I am nothing.” It’s made pretty clear to us, that although the disturbingly corporeal spirit has a traceable, if apocryphal, history of a plantation slave who was gruesomely lynched, he is a supernatural force using the legend as a channel, a walking, stalking avatar for the fear of a whole community. He cannot exist without the energy imbued by the stories told about him. With each murder, the myth divides and conquers, the word maintaining his strength, continuing the cycle. The word made flesh. The flesh lacerated.

We can see another example of this in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, the continuation of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, the main difference being that the New Nightmare is set in the ‘real’ world, the actors playing themselves, a meta-comment on the film industry and a fourth-wall-smashing self-conscious nod to the production of the Nightmare series itself. Wes Craven playing Wes Craven explains to the main character that the fictional antagonist Freddy Krueger is a vessel for an evil entity, a perfect template to play host to a malevolent energy, trapped like a Jinn, captured in the words of the script. The kick in the balls for everyone is that the ending of the film series was an eviction notice for this spirit, who is now free to roam the real world.

A factual precedent was set in real life in 2014. Two teenage girls lured one of their peers into a forest in Wisconsin. USA, stabbed and left her for dead. Their motive? They claimed they were making a sacrifice to the mythical being known as the Slenderman. That this was a disturbing incident is not lost on me, but I was fascinated and unnerved when I read about this, because Slenderman has a history only dating back back to 2009 where it was created as an internet meme, from the fertile imagination of a guy on a forum.

Though there exist folkloric archetypes for the tall, shadowy being in a black suit, Slenderman was simply put out there as a non-canon character for people to interpret, re-interpet and misinterpret. For the most part, it has been responsible for hilarious examples of gullibility and some damn cool scary stories. But in Wisconsin, it took an undeniably tragic turn and someone nearly died. And all that started it were some words.

I truly believe that words are vessels, conduits for energy and objective.

The Slenderman incident is an extreme example, so let’s look at something we can relate to. Imagine that one day, I’ve woken up in a grumpy mood. I didn’t get a lot of sleep the before, I have an early start, haven’t got any coffee and I’m having a bad hair day. I’ve not had enough to even shave my balls before I need to run out of the door and rub shoulderpads with hoards of commuters. On my way to the bus, I realise that if I don’t have a coffee inside me, I am likely to push a toddler under a bus, so I go into some awful coffee chain and when I order the barrel full of caffeine required to prevent homicide, I’m needlessly rude to the barista. I’m in a shit mood – did I mention that? I’m tired and busy and I’ve been a dick to someone who’s only trying to earn living. I have now set in motion a causal effect. The guy queuing behind me may now think it’s appropriate to be an asshole to people because it gets you want you want or looks cool. If the guy behind me is nice, he’s still going to frown at me for being so rude. Either way, I have coloured his day and he will be one of the first links in this cycle.

Of course, he may not care at all. But then we have the barista, who is now visualising what would happen if he scalded me with a cappuccino. At best, he’ll be judgemental of customers for the rest of the day and at worst, if I’’m the latest in a long line of assholes, he’ll finally quit and leave the cafe short-staffed and a stressful place for everyone.

And that’s just one encounter. I have yet to get on the tube, go about my day, buy tobacco, strop past slow-moving tourists. You get the idea.

This is not me proselytising (and neither am I trying to paint a picture of my being a moody git every day). I’m not about to tell you we should all make an effort to be a flowery beam of sparkling joy. The sun shines out of nobody’s ass and we all have shit days. But it is important for me to acknowledge how we form daily mythologies and subconscious communities with the people we interact with and the choices we make through simple words. Similarly, the internet is our campfire around which we can tell stories. Transient these passing lores may be, there is a cumulative effect on the environment and the beings which inhabit it. It’s like a virus. Read Burroughs and watch a film called Pontypool. Visit two neighbourhoods with opposite social and economical backgrounds and you’ll taste it in your mind.

The word comes from our breath, our life-force and subsequently it is our power. We cast spells with words, we show love with our words, we enact vengeance with words, we make or break promises with words. So if it is possible to accidentally influence and shape our universe, for those in the know, a grounded and meditative intention manifested through our words can very literally change the world.

How do you handle your (s)word? Are you conscious of it, maintaining it skilfully? Do you strike people out of the way with it in a clumsy manner? Or does it drag, sheathed and heavy behind you through the dust?

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The Phoenix, Once Again.

“After the fall, we’ll be born, born, born again.” Klaus Nomi.

The theme of my life over the past few months has been one of renewal, of moving on and beginning a new cycle (while, of course, not forgetting the lessons of the one which has passed). Once I said the goodbyes which needed to be uttered, everything started changing. Unexpected things jumped out of unexpected places. The searchlight of realisation illuminated the landscape and showed people in its fresh, unforgiving beam. Friends became closer; strangers became friends; a friend became a stranger. One friend became something far more important to me than I could write here, lest you think that your friend FoxGlove is soppy twat. Which of course, under the feathers and drama, I really am. But that’s between you and me, okay?

I will not beleaguer this blog with the various present and future triumphs which are springboarding into existence just yet, but I will share with you my method of expressing them, because what is witchcraft if not a performative act of creation?

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There’s a new night in London town and it’s called C O V E N and it’s an occult-themed variety and club night. It’s also run by my very beautiful boyfriend and if I don’t give him a shout out, I won’t get any gin this week. The opening ‘Virgin’ night (a suitably smutty phrase, since you can open a virgin – that’s the only reason we allow them to the Sabbat) was last Saturday 27th February and it was a sold out night. One thing I do, aside from steep my dainty little hands up to the fourth knuckle in the guts of the occult and the paranormal, is make and sell costumes. Another thing I do is: I wear them. And something I used to do a while ago, was perform and host clubs. So naturally, my intense lust for the otherworldly and my finely-honed creative art have collided massively like two … massive, colliding things and I took to the stage at Coven (sorry, those spaces are hard to keep typing with these nails on).

The performance was called INRI. Igne Natura Renovatur Integra. It is an acronym of the alchemical alternative to Jesus’ last hashtag and it means “Through fire, all nature is reborn whole”. I was aided by my wonderful friends from House of Health, shrouded in a continuous sheet of white – the fabric of the status quo, the universe or a blank sheet of your own projection. I emerged from under a red veil – the womb, the situation, the problem. The costume I had constructed became the entity: a red, armoured, glittering creature, spinning around and snatching bags of blood from on high, spraying them onto the fabric, a crimson blasphemy and a significator that the end is near. Blood is spilled and the four human beings are revealed one by one, with INRI spelled out upon their pale bodies, as they writhe and dance in  cohesion with this creature. The scarlet entity, intoxicated and energised by its consumption and expulsion of blood, swirls and dances, reeling and vomiting blood from its mouth like a poison, onto the bodies of those who summoned it. Triumphant, a dancing Shiva, dripping with gold and red, this creature is void of all reasoning, free from concern of its gestation. With a realisation of its ability to destroy, it assures its intentions to be just as talented at creating, by bringing the four together around it, raising itself to full height in exaltation and preparing to rise from the tattered ashes of its former nest.

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Okay, guys, I’m back in the room. That was a complete stream-of-consciousness description of what the performance meant to me. Those who saw it are welcome to their own interpretations. I am indebted to House of Health for allowing me to draw upon them. As you’ll notice, there are photos scattered here and there (thank you, Manko!), so you can see for yourself. Not just of me, though. There were other amazing acts at C O V E N (okay, okay, it doesn’t look right without the spaces and caps lock, sod my damn nails).

Jason Atomic, was the suave, Satanic Master of Ceremonies, who opened the show with a sophisticated sermon which culminated in the whole room shouting “Hail Satan!”. He led the audience through the acts, winding around the room like a ruffed serpent with a cordless mic. Stef then delivered the Unholy Communion, distributing wafers lifted from a church – the only reason some people refused was because they were gluten intolerant. Blaspheme all you like, fuck each other in a crypt.. but you don’t want to get bloaty. House of Health took to the stage next, disarmingly serene as they sometimes appear. I adore how unapologetic these performers are. They set up a table, knelt before it, robed and silent. From about their person, emerged a dead pheasant, which was promptly dismembered and disembowelled, leaving much of the audience satisfyingly dumbfounded. Next up was the mesmerising Sasha Krohn, who appeared hooded and swathed in black, twisting in the ritualistic manner of a cloaked ghoul, before stripping down to a pair of inconceivably weeny pants and taking to the air on a set of aerial silks, writhing and turning with the inhuman strength present in the best of his kind, which he definitely is.

Then came the interval, where I secretly heard one of the attendees complaining about House of Health hacking up the dead bird, which entertained me a great deal. Even in a massive white headdress and 7-inch platforms, if I don’t want you to know I’m there, you won’t even see me.

For the next act, I was unfortunately backstage changing outfits and drawing on chests, but I have supplied a link below where you can hear Nicoletta Wylde’s Burn the Witch, a resonant, haunting reading of a witch being burned at the stake. I shall not even attempt to describe it here, not only because I wasn’t there, but because you need to hear it. After INRI, to finish the show, came Mutant Bird, a brazen, audio assault, laden with hazardous sounds and distorted reverbs, echoing and scratching from the stage, stripping and pouring molten wax down his body, overlaid with nightmarish animations projected above.

C O V E N was sold out, the show was a well-organised fascination of crepuscular creepery, people stayed until the small hours, dancing, drinking and, in one case, suspending a woman in shibari rope from the ceiling.

Talk about a place of magic. The ley lines around Bethnal Green are now shaped like Spaghetti Junction.

Abruptly, that concludes today’s entry. For me now, it’s back to crafting my crafts and not sleeping, projecting into an exciting future and a new stage (figuratively and literally) in my life. That unforgiving light I spoke of earlier can be such a warm and dizzying place that from far away it may look like the approach of a nuclear holocaust.

Well, even if it is, there’s creation in those ashes.

Be well until next time.

C O V E N is held at the Resistance Gallery, 265 Poyser St. E2 9RF. (The nearest tube is Bethnal Green).

Photographs by Manko Sebastien.
You can find the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/COVENeventsLDN/
And you can like follow the Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/c_o_v_e_n_/
You can also find House of Health here: https://www.facebook.com/houseofhealthcollective
You can hear Nicoletta Wylde’s Burn The Witch here: https://soundcloud.com/nicolettawylde/burnthewitch
Sasha Krohn, the sinewy flying man is here: https://www.facebook.com/SashKro
Follow Mutant Bird’s links to hear his warped voice: https://www.facebook.com/johnnyrockkit/ There’s also Jason Atomic’s Satanic Mojo here (get to the flea market on March 10th!): https://www.facebook.com/SatanicMojo/?fref=ts
And you can have your misfortune told by my very beautiful boyfriend here: https://www.facebook.com/luciusnarcissus/
The emergency exits and here, here and here…

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On Conjuring Demons. An Experience.

As this blog develops, it is likely that I will sometimes end an entry with “…and next week, make sure you read the next instalment of FoxGlove, which will be a recipe for some amazing cookies!”. Or something. But then what actually happens is I’m suddenly overcome by the urge to write about something entirely different (don’t worry, it isn’t cookies). I am working on a piece of writing about modern folklore, but it will a bit longer. In the meantime, I figured Fuck It, let’s get to something that every practitioner of the occult will have at least read about, so you know I mean business: Demons and the summoning thereof.

Since I intend FoxGlove to be an experiential record as much as an outlet for my knowledge and research, you’ll find me happy to share with you many of the rituals, engagements and contacts which have now become a regimen of my life. It took a while to come out of the broom closet, but I have been rewarded with my openness with support and a sharing of knowledge and ideas from the most inspirational people I have met in a long time. Obviously, there are some complete lunatics out there too, but all is well so far. So although I’m about to talk about a very personal experience, I remain convinced that this will find the right readers.

I want to begin by talking about the word ‘Demon’. If you’ll excuse the pun, it ‘conjures up’ all sorts of inaccurate imagery, which is the unfortunate result of fear, mistranslation and Hollywood movies. I generally loathe all three of those things. Although they are fun to learn from and laugh at, it can lead you down a dead end. Before I knew precisely what I was talking about, I was part of that conditioning too. Demons, in the sense that I’m referring to, are not evil minions of Satan – that’s a construct which has been used to frighten people for centuries, a method of keeping people stupid and scared, looking at each other in fearful paranoia of The Other, so that those in power can get on with their agendas uninterrupted. Today we have governments pointing at ‘mass immigration’; hundreds of years ago, we had religious leaders pointing at demons. Same shit, different toilet.

This is what I believe and what makes sense to me and as anybody worth listening to will tell you, those are and should be subject to revision. The Demons named in The Key of Solomon (more about that later) are avatars of energies, forces, elementals or spirits of a particular nature and you can tap into these properties. But the problem for me is that they have become the victims of mistranslation (deliberate or otherwise) and misinformation, so very early on, I realised that looking at books like The Lesser Key, although perhaps a good starting point, I was looking at the product of a dubious history, full of suppositions, embellishments and anachronisms. You can’t trust a newspaper written this morning, never mind something written in 14th Century. Maybe there’ll be a history lesson later, but I would urge people to question everything they read and put it to the test and only then consider it sacred.

What is undeniable and indeed sacred are the energies, forces or whatever handle you use, which are everywhere. Each named demon has its own characteristics and associations, so if I were feeling brave, I would go out on a limb and say that these ‘avatars’ are a way into those energies and one of many methods of direct experience with those forces. I’m writing retrospectively, as it was some time ago when I underwent this experience and, if I’m honest (which I always will be here), I still haven’t fully comprehended what happened.

I’ll save the theological debate for another time and I understand that perhaps the above conclusions, however vague, might contradict what some people believe and that’s fine, because that’s what we’re all here for. But I know two things for sure and I’ll put my name to them: Firstly, a pure and honest intent, clarity of purpose and an willingness to trust yourself is the key to progression in magic- but do your research and question everything. Secondly, I would advise against doing anything with the hope of harnessing all the Dark Powerz of Hades, because it probably won’t work. Or, worse, you’ll end up attracting something harmful. And there are harmful things out there; I’ve seen that for myself. When you work with magic, you basically paint a big extra-dimensional target on your head and it can be like opening Tinder in the middle of a bar brawl. You’re only going attract trouble if you’re in the wrong place.

So if you’re thinking of summing a demon for a vulgar display of power, or the execution of some vengeful agenda, you’re probably better off sending a nasty, but eloquently-worded email and then posting a really cool selfie. It’ll make you feel better and it won’t send you round the bend. What follows is not to be taken as words of encouragement or a cool example to follow; it’s simply what happened.

Having chosen who I was going to address, I set the room, attuned it the colour blue, filled the place with incense, appropriate materials and set candles. I remember the entire room being so filled with incense and candlelight that it was like looking through frosted, smoked glass.

With who and what already clear in my mind, I laid out in my thoughts precisely why. This is where clarity of intention comes in; I went into this only wanting one thing: protection. I knew that from now on, I was going to be delving into some very deep, exhilarating work in the future and while I found my feet, I wanted something there just to keep those harmful things away from me. So I went into a silent, deep, hour long meditation to calm myself and to centre my thoughts.

I did the ritual, with all the trimmings, which I’m going to deliberately skirt around now, because it is very long and if you so desire, you can easily find it yourself. I did it four or five times. The first thing I noticed was that two of the candles in front of me were flickering and waving. I checked the direction of my breathing to ensure I wasn’t disturbing them. They continued like that for a bit and then stopped. The next thing which happened, which will stay with me for a very long time, is that my head, neck and shoulders bent, bowed, suddenly, as if someone had given me a firm nudge downwards. It was like a small, polite bow, deliberate and slow. It felt like it came from within me somehow.

Those of you who meditate (and you should) might have experienced something when you’re tired, that you have a sort of ‘flop’, heading towards a micro nap. This wasn’t what I felt. The fact that I wasn’t tired at all, despite being at this for over two hours, makes what happened next all the more surprising. I had the overwhelming urge to go and lie on my bed. So I went, fully clothed and lay on my back and shut my eyes.

The dream went like this. A venue had been hired, or perhaps created. It consisted of several rooms, all decorated differently. The one I was in was pure white, with rectangular blocks and plinths, like an art gallery awaiting its curator. Gather in this room, was a mixture of what I can only describe as Pharaohs, kings, queens, priests from different time periods, a patchwork of royal history. We were all crammed into this room and I felt like I was awaiting a tour – there was a sense of something impending, a palpable sense of immediacy hanging in the air. Everybody was engrossed in conversation in different sized groups, some people flitting from group to group, seemingly greeting old friends. The atmosphere was jovial but boisterous. I noticed that many of these people were armed. there were swords, spears, bows and arrows. None of the weapons were loaded, drawn or being handled in a threatening manner. There was an underlying sensation of restrained animosity, as if we were on some neutral ground and that this was a time of respect.

It was then that I noticed the man who was standing outside of it all. He was standing, slumped against something, with a huge archer’s bow slung over his shoulder and a strange, asymmetrical hat which seemed to be made out of fur or a pelt. He was very attractive and, erm, not wearing a great deal else apart from his fancy hat. And he was looking at me with a smirk – not an expression of derision or scorn. If I had to give his expression a name, I would characterise it as “Hey, I’ve been waiting for you and I’ll be waiting here until you’re ready.” That’s what I got from him.

Suddenly, we were all ushered into another room and roles were assigned. There was a short man handing out pieces of paper denoting what each person was to do and even though he gave one to me, I frustratingly cannot recall what any of them were. There were other people there who don’t seem to fit in. They were very young, looked comparatively ‘clean’ and ‘innocent’ next to the rest of this unruly bunch. It was as if they had been permitted to observe and I realised that this is perhaps what I had been allowed too.

There was a period of fuzziness as with any dream and I found myself in another room, walking through what I can only describe as the dregs of a buffet or the remains of a party. There was an elderly woman sitting at a table, staring at me angrily and muttering about this all being ‘some sort of cult’. She had the most vile energy coming off her and although I didn’t appreciate what she’d said, I pretended to smile, nod and not be bothered by her. I wandered off and I saw myself leave through a frosted glass door, annoyingly unable to see what I looked like.

I came round at 4:10am

You know, some dreams are just dreams. I don’t think you should lose any sleep over all of them, so to speak. But then I’ve been paying attention to my dreams since I was a young boy, learning to interpret them and discovering what they might mean and I have learned when some dreams are much more than random, archetypal imagery. In two decades of listening to my dreams, I have not had one like this before. I immediately wrote down what I think I saw and what I was being given. Perhaps some parts will be obvious to you, some would take a deeper understanding of what I was going through at the time. That will come later in further posts.

I began this entry with what have learned and where my opinions currently lie on summoning spirits. It is enough to end this with a brief summary of where it left me. Namely, it was not what I was expecting, but then this was very early on in my journey and, who knows, an older FoxGlove may look back upon this and be grateful that I didn’t snag myself on anything harmful. However, what’s done is done and that I had deliberately not been expecting anything might be perhaps why I was open to this what-I-call vision and why I consider the unexpected results truly enriching. I have long since worked out who and what the smirking dude with the hat and bow was and if he is indeed waiting for me, then the time will inevitably come when I find myself there again.

Oh and if you’re wondering whether I received the protection I asked for, the answer is yes. If you’re wondering who I asked, as you will notice I deliberately left out, then that’s between me and the universe.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next week with a recipe for my mum’s fabulous Yorkshire Pudding. Perhaps.

FoxGlove.

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The Little Welsh Boy and Magic or A Brief Introduction to your Author

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Believe it or not, I was once a young boy. For me, it’s a time which many in their late twenties or early thirties will tell you feels like a distant, impossible concept like world peace or buying a well-made margarita. It was a time of playtime and imagination, summers which seemed to span decades and no bloody tax returns. Although much of my pre-teen years have suffered the wrath of the frailty of human memory, I do know that it was during this embryonic period that I first became interested in the subject I now shelter under the umbrella term ‘paranormal’.

When I was this young boy, there lived a Scottish family next to us. The daughters were slightly older than I and, as most Scottish people are, they were brash and confident. Being a Welshman, myself, I appreciate the fiery Celtic blood which is natural to all of us. Their grandmother lived with them too and everybody in the street used to call her Gran. At one point, they invited me to go camping with them and I remember being so excited, which amuses me now as I tend to get panic attacks if I don’t have access to a pair of working hair straighteners and wifi (a sad product of my time, which I am working on sorting out).

One night, the Dad told us a ghost story. It was the quintessential set up: a campfire, a torch held under his face and us all huddled around in blankets under the moonlight.

The story he told us was about a little boy walking to school. He came across a big brick dam which had been built to keep a river at bay, but he noticed that it had sprung a leak. Although only a small trickle, he worried that the hole might get bigger and the dam might break, flooding the village. So he decided to put his index finger in it and call for help. Now is the time for the obvious joke about fingers in dykes. Done? Good. Continuing with the story, the dad told us that the boy waited and waited, calling for assistance, but nobody came. Before long, he decided to pull out his finger and run for help, but when he did, he found his finger had swollen, become stuck and, horrifically, it snapped off, remaining in the dam. Distraught, as one would be after losing a finger, he stumbled home where some days later, his hand turned septic and he died of what I imagine would be blood poisoning. Forever after, the people in the town would be visited by his ghost, who would tap them on the shoulder in the night and say “Gis back my finger, his back my finger.”

As you might expect, I didn’t get much sleep in the tent that night. But I became fascinated by ghost stories from then on and made sure I read all that I could. By the time I was a fifteen year old with dyed red hair and a bellybutton piercing I had hidden from my parents, I had amassed a vast collection of ghost stories which remain on my bookshelf behind me now, as I sit writing this in London.

I later learned that the story the Dad told us is a macabre variation on The Little Dutch Boy, which was first told in the 1865 novel The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge. It has a more whimsical tone where the boy ends up successfully obtaining help and saving the town, instead of ripping off his finger and dying of septicaemia. My dark humour prefers the version told to me around the campfire.

I’ve noticed a predilection amongst many adults who regard their childhood as a place and time put away, locked down and lost to their conscious memory, which makes me sad because childhood was a place where I first found magic in many of its forms. Granted, I resisted for some years, but, like the tiny hole in the dam, water finds its own level whether you like it or not, whether you’re ready or not. Childhood is a place full of terrors and demons and if you’re willing, as I discussed with somebody very special to me recently, you can harness those demons and use them to your advantage.

I’ll take you through those beautiful terrors and exhilarating demons, blog entry by blog entry, and share with you my thoughts on everything from my magical practice and the respect for land spirits, to dream divination and some of my own personal experiences with the supernatural.

This is an introduction of sorts, so please allow me this brief moment of self-indulgence. If you’re ready to read, I’m ready to talk.

The next entry will be an examination of modern folklore and the internet.

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