|This caught my eye while doing my rounds in the city. |
I was going about my business one sunny London day in the merry merry month of May when my eye was caught by a sign in the street which invited people to come along and explore art, psychoanalysis and the occult, just round the corner from where I live in Old Street.
So I went over and hung around a bit outside and asked a guy who was eating lunch from a Sainsbury's carrier bag who was sat on the the step outside what it was all about and whether I could come in. He said it was art stuff and he was one of the artists, his accent seemed to indicate that he may have been a German or something similar, and he waved me in.
|The horse is pretty cool and according to my mate this is a good cafe, but my business was in the former warehouse cum 'art-space' next-door at the 'Candid Art Trust' no doubt funded by UK taxpayers and the National Lottery.|
Somewhat self consciously I crept quietly in and hung around the periphery hoping not to be noticed and that none of these people's nostrils would flare in feral excitation at the smell of a fresh Christian.
What I appeared to have walked into initially seemed to resemble some kind of seminar. There was what appeared to be a panel of three speakers, along with a chair or host. The audience seemed to be composed of a sort of mix of alternative urban types blended with some kind of academic pretense. There was also a strong Nordic/Germanic element and many of the speakers and members of the audience were German, there were thick set German artists, there were also tall and gangly German men with big chins dressed up as women and apparently convincing the world at large that they were actually indeed female.
|Charlotte Rodgers weird road-kill 'art'.|
As I stood on the edge I looked around and noticed that what passed for 'art' here was of a particular variety: there were visions of hell, of demons, of human sacrifice, and weird creatures composed of the dead bones of animals found dead in the road.
Most of it resembled the kind of doodles that a 15 year old male might do in the back of their school book. Somehow and for some reason, this puerile rubbish had been given a platform.
When I arrived, there was a New Zealand based health care representative who was speaking about magic and people with mental illnesses. I found this interesting and wondered if this was a trend in the psychological field and whether, despite the skepticism of modern science and the psychological profession as a whole, that there we doctors and mental health professional who were also occultists and were involved with spirits. This I find slightly disturbing and it reminds me somewhat of the expression: 'Fox in the henhouse.'
After standing around for a bit and realising that I would neither be eaten alive there and then as fresh meat, or be shaken down for money to buy a ticket, I spotted an empty chair and sat down.
Then there was a talk delivered by a voodoo practitioner which was actually quite interesting, though rather disturbingly, it sought to make voodoo sound like nothing more but a harmless spiritualist cult which I'm pretty sure it isn't. In fact at the very end of the weekend there was a Voodoo ritual which all the participants took part in, including myself, where we were invited to allow ourselves to be possessed by our ancestors. I went through the motions and the chanting and stuff but If I'm honest I'd have to say my heart wasn't quite in it.
In Voodoo each person apparently has a star of destiny which is the seat of your soul and higher self, but problems arise if one loses contact with your own star or indeed, if you become reborn to a different star, or if you have several stars at once. This is the Voodoo explanation for MPD. Souls can be directed or placed on a different star through rituals. People it is reported, have different personalities when their soul is placed on a different star.
In Voodoo initiation, one finds oneself lost in the general sea of souls, this results in loss of personality and loss of soul, if the initiation has a successful outcome then this is temporary and one is reconnected to ones star and hence one's soul. However if it is unsuccessful then once becomes one of the famed Voodoo zombies, losing their personality and soul and having no will, mind or volition of their own. The belief among Voodoo practitioners is that such a person deserves such a fate for not being more careful with their soul and this punishment of living as a zombie is seen as a judgement upon that person.
We were told that anyone having problems in their lives may be a victim of a curse and that the only way to end this curse was to appeal to spirits to help them.
The Voodoo ritual at then end was designed to draw spirit help into ourselves, and while we were apparently calling on our ancestors during this ritual, it is unlikely that it would be your kindly old nana and granddad showing up.
|Hey everyone let's all get up and do a jolly Voodoo ritual in Islington. |
The man took a special jug containing water and announced:
"The water is the water whose grandfather was ice, who met grandfather fire and became water.
We dedicate this water to our ancestors." He then stamped his foot heavily on the floor three times.
"We stand on the bones of our ancestors."
He then took some water in his mouth and noisily spat it into a bowl. I shuddered, I never liked seeing people spit, even if they are Voodoo priests doing a magickal ritual, it still looked scruffy.
"Close your eyes and visualise the
water, in your heart
In your stomach and your mind.
Look across the room and meet the eyes of the person
opposite you, keep eye contact and breathe together, synchronising your
Now take the hands of the person next to you
Sing after me
We thank you ancestors for your song...
We thank you ancestors for your knowledge,
We thank you for your knowledge,
We thank you ancestors for your peace."
He passed a bottle of scented water along and told us to think of something we learned and were grateful for at the end of this weekend and to whisper it into the bottle.
The water was an embodiment of the ancestors or spirits, likely whichever spirits happened to be around at that time, like I say probably not your nan and granddad. By visualising the water inside you, you were effectively allowing yourself to be possessed by spirits.
Some talk all about gayness and more gayness. Seems to be important for those who think they're practising magic for some reason. Don't really see why it's an issue but apparently it is a major issue for these guys. They seemed obsessed with gay things, gender bendering things and blood. Grow up I say.
|I was sat behind Charlotte Rodgers. She seems to have a fondness for dead animals and making art out of menstrual blood. Each to their own, but is this art or is it just femwitch bullshit?|
|Literally not sure if this speaker is a man or a woman, these Satanist people seem to revel in this concept of attacking the very concept of gender. Any man who thinks they're a woman is at best confused and at worst, a possible Satanist nut cracker.|
|Weird bald Satanic German filmmaker.|
|Charlotte Rodgers appears to be a little camera shy.|
The oddest and by far the most disturbing talk was that delivered by Charlotte Rodgers. She is an 'artist' and 'writer' who apparently uses road kill and various bodily fluids in her 'art'. Part of her agenda inlcuded "the necessary embracing of the body, tattoos, piercings and scalpels. Deliberately imprinting scars on my own body in a depressive debilitative loop and the use of blood, sexual flood and breast milk."
She also said that she in her roadkill 'art' she would:
"Channel intent into roadkill using menstrual blood and various women's fluids."
Dude, what has happened to women these days?
She is one of the women who have the narcissism to turn a negative trait or a weakness into a strength, this in itself I consider an art form. She said:
"I have no artistic education which means I have no indoctrination." Are you sure that's all it might mean? Might it not also mean you have no ability or talent too? She then went on to say that she does:
"Ritualised work and move into a trance like state," and she mentions drawing pictures from her own menstrual blood.
One of the other participants, a dancer who like Charlotte, seemed obsessed with her own body and spoke endlessly about her own obsession while of course, dressing it all up as art and magic when none of it was either. Just puerile second division Crowley capers and an ego as scarred as and the size of Pluto's moon Charon.
"Body is the mother of language, to dance is to initiate the body's mysteries." She then went on about Byzantine liturgical dance and declared that the "Female body was demonised in the West."
Much of this is fallacious and anyone with a dim awareness of Christian art and its depiction of the virgin Mary ought to be aware that on the contrary the female body was almost deified, and this of course goes back to the pagan roots of the Roman church.
She later declared proudly: "I am a crisis individual, I am ill, I have what western medicine calls 'bipolar disorder', from family trauma." She also said, somewhat paradoxically:
"Through pain and trauma you open gateways and potential for transformation and healing.."
Such poor logic and bald assertions were ten a penny amongst the participants of the weekend: "Anything which is not transgressive is repressive" and "Everything must revolt against everything."
There was also a talk entitled 'The necessity of Evil' whereby the speaker by using a very poor sophistical trick tried, and probably convinced the audience, that goodness contains within itself its own opposite and as a result goodness creates evil. And he went on similarly to explain that freedom creates oppression.
It was all very tedious and surprising that anyone would give time, attention and a stage for this inanity, but there was also free wine which was a slightly mitigating circumstance.
|Goat head on front cover, blood rites.....are we weird and evil enough yet? Oh, I forgot, it's ART.|
Charlotte Rodgers is a non denominational magickal practitioner and an animist, and The Bloody Sacrifice is the story of her work with blood. It chronicles her use of road kill and blood in art, ritualised scarification and tattoo work, and the use of venous and menstrual blood in magick. Also included are Charlotte’s interviews with tattoo artists; priests from belief systems which utilise blood sacrifice; artists who use their own HIV positive blood as a medium; and those who use mortifications and body modification to effect changes in consciousness and self.
All here share a common bond of talent combined with an ability to articulate their beliefs. For example Louis Martinie, a priest in the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Martinie has integrated his Tibetan Buddhist beliefs into his Voodoo practice and in doing so shows how personal spiritual evolution can effect change within a syncretic religion. As a blood related illness affected various parts of Charlotte’s life, she was given a chance to explore blood ritual in a very different way. Documenting this part of her journey gives an understanding of AIDS, HIV and HCV, and its effect on spirituality and contemporary blood rites.
Blood Ritual, with all its history, baggage and dangers holds a power to create change. Whether this power is held within blood and how much impact is created merely by our perception is for the reader to decide. The Bloody Sacrifice is an honest, modern and thought provoking personal insight into an ancient aspect of our spirituality and creativity.
Visit Charlotte Rodgers Website http://www.perdurabu.com/
|In a image slideshow which accompanied Charlotte Rodgers' talk at the even there were disturbing images of dead bodies including those of dead children. This isn't art, it's evil.|
|Creepy. This is what happens when women go wrong.|
One of my sculptures, now living in a tree in my garden. Image by Gerard Hutton.
Careful what you like Andrew Dixon, it may well influence what you get as a wedding present! That aside, the crow makes a nice witch bottle bearer, he carries the bottle as his body and can transport it to various realms.I've put some basics in it, but left the opening unstoppered so that the final owner can put more in and seal it.
|Charlotte Rodgers, caught on camera.|
|Bored audience. They paid a surprisingly large amount of money to sit through this. I didn't, I just crashed it.|
|Is this art or should some call the poleece?|
|Hey, Satanists, leave Jesus out of this will ya?|
|A demon having sex with a severed head. How did Da Vinci miss out classy stuff like this?|
|Old Norse bullshit.|
|Occult bookstore, creepy evil books 70% off.|
|Art and psychoanalysis people love Crowley apparently.|
|Weird scenes inside the Spooky Indian sex Temple....|
|Some old crone doing the Tarot in the background.....but WHY? Is it rock'n'roll, is it art? Or is it just more Satanic claptrap?|
|Truly atrocious singer, even a half decent bass and guitar player couldn't save this night. Satan doesn't always have all the best tunes.|
Why a weird horned head? Just WHY? Is Satan a patron of the Arts Council now or something? Inquiring minds want to know.
Beyond the Blood: Magick after Menopause
Interview with Diane Narraway by Charlotte Rodgers for the revised/enlarged, ‘The Bloody Sacrifice’.
I met Diane several times at Dolmen Grove gatherings and was impressed by this honest and powerful woman who possesses such a strong spirituality; a spirituality which is both archaic and very, very contemporary.
Diane is the same age as myself, and also went through menopause early. Her experience and intelligence, combined with having children and a strong family ethos meant that Diane was in a position to bring new perspectives to my research on changes in a woman’s spiritual approach and ability in different phases of her cycle...and beyond!
‘I was born in London and brought up in Dorset with my brother. My mother was a science teacher and my father a part time salesman and a full time alcoholic. Having been born with the scientific enquiring mind of my mother and the hedonistic streak of my father I guess the only available option was a magickal path; besides there were other members of my family who had practised magick and divination.
I worked with natural magick as a child using a variety of ingredients that grew around the garden as well as reading symbolism as a childlike form of divination. As I evolved so too did my magick and these days I take a more ritualistic, esoteric approach. It is easy to label or categorise me…I am a witch. Categorising my magick is more difficult. As a witch I will utilise whatever I need to and whichever form of magick will best serve my needs.
I have had 5 children one of which passed away due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (aged 9 weeks) when I was 25 years old and on the 7th January 2013 my eldest died tragically in a caravan fire. So these days I am a mother of three girls, a full time mother to my granddaughter who is currently 6 years old and my youngest child is pregnant and due very soon. There will be three generations living in my house!!! I also edit the Dolmen Grove magazine as well as writing for it and myself. I have a partner but life is a little too hectic to live together.
On the magickal side I tend not to wear a hierarchical hat but I do practice ritual magick and as a member of the Dolmen Grove I co - write and facilitate several of the rituals within the Dolmen Grove; I am sure if people gave me a title it would be priestess!!
Diane, tell me about your attitude towards blood in your spiritual and magical practice?
Blood is the life force. Using blood in magick and bringing that life giving force into a ritual giving it and subsequent thought forms life. The use of venous blood in bonding rites adds the essence of self whether as a mixing of bloods as a bond between priest and priestess, handfastings (my life force is joined to their life force etc.) or added to ink for spell casting where the concept would be control over the ritual. Either way it is my sacrifice to ensure an outcome or seal a bond on a deeper ritual level. Menstrual blood I would consider preferable to use where the intention is sexually or fertility driven, be it to attract or repel. Menstrual blood although entirely feminine is blood which has being rejected by the body and unlike venous blood is no longer ‘alive’. The living blood which flows through our bodies provides a more vital energy and although I would consider it often to be the ‘greater sacrifice’ can at times be fraught with some of our darker energies more often than we would choose to admit, with menstrual blood often being the safer option for feeding spirit houses etc, especially in our wilder teenage years.
As you no longer are able to work with your menstrual blood magickally, what adjustments have you needed to make to your practice?
Anything that required menstrual blood I find can be replaced by mixing venous blood with sexual fluids. This relies on a tantric understanding of oneself which comes purely with age, and the ability to use it cautiously because it is often far more powerful than the menstrual blood of my ‘Earth Mother’ years.
Have you noticed a difference in the way your spirituality operated during your menstruating years, pregnancy, childrearing and now menopause?
Although it wasn’t obvious at the time, now when I look back I can see that my spiritual path reflected the stage of life I was at. As a small child I practised a more nature based form of magic and because, like most children the great outdoors was a wonderland, I longed to experience the garden at night. I remember looking out of the bedroom window at the dark moonlit garden and seeing it as this beautifully magickal place with its own set of rules and inhabitants. I grew up opposite an incredibly old church and graveyard and there was something curiously comfortable about the graveyard by moonlight. By eight years old I owned my first book on Cornish witchcraft which gave me simplistic structured spells to follow. As a teenager my spiritual beliefs were as rebellious as every other aspect. Like most teenagers my brain cells were replaced with hormones and a challenging somewhat chaotic attitude towards everything and everyone. I did not, like many of my peers, ‘fall in love on a weekly basis’; still preferring to have control over my emotions. I tried marijuana and of course alcohol. As I had epilepsy as a child I was never tempted to try anything stronger. Looking back that was definitely a blessing in disguise. My spiritual beliefs revolved around the concept of, if the Christians were right then God (as they knew him) was really an old dope smoking hippy with a really warped sense of humour…hence the platypus and the bible. My polytheistic beliefs were not so much celebrated as they were in my infancy but had become somehow closer and more human. I explained my polytheism using analogies such as, if I wanted to buy knickers in a department store I didn’t ask the owner just the lady on the knickers counter!!!! Throughout my teenage years magick was replaced by teenage angst and punk rock. The louder and more offensive the better! Funnily enough it was at the end of my teenage years and prior to having children that I discovered I could read tarot cards. As a mother I returned to my spiritual path finding a spiritualist medium that sneakily did spells on the side. She was the epitome of the archetypal medieval wise woman. From her I honed my skills of Tarot reading, clairvoyance and psychometry. When my son died I was only 25 years old and a deeper understanding and knowledge help me to understand not only why he had died but to appreciate and seize all that life has to offer. Nowadays my path has brought me to a greater understanding of ritual magick and the importance of channelled information and life experience.
How are you finding menopause? I’ve been post menopausal three or so years now, starting the process in my thirties and I must admit (dodgy physical manifestations aside) I feel the most integrated and centred that I have ever been
I went through the menopause quite early and have not menstruated for the last eight years and I have found that like you I am more centred and much more focused. I have a much greater understanding of how magick has worked for me throughout life including the years I seemed to step back from it. One of the things about the inner wisdom of the witch is the importance of knowing when not to do rituals,as much as knowing when to do them.
Diane you have talked about the changes in your inner and outer worlds post menopause; have there also been changes in your relationship with spirits, deities or God forms?
As a child my magic was more intuitive and natural…the simplicity of childhood reflected in magick and I remember being about 7 when I came to the conclusion that I must be Pagan as the Greco Roman polytheistic belief system made more sense than the mainstream monotheistic beliefs of the community. Given that I lived in a village with two C of E churches this was quite a radical decision. Having made that decision I was drawn to Venus and Jupiter; the all - powerful father god and his daughter, the goddess of love and beauty. There may have been an element of my coming from a single parent family but it more likely is that this God/Goddess combination eased my transition from monotheism to Paganism. Later, as a teenager I was more drawn to the fiery energy of Mars and the dark energies of Pluto/Hades and the energy of the hunt associated with Diana/Artemis, while as a mother I felt closer to the softer energies of Venus/Aphrodite and Pan the God of fertility and lust.
Although I have aged and my life taken many turns, there remains a pattern to my existence as now I can see that even without any awareness or knowledge of Diana, Lucifer, Hecate and Cerridwen their energies have always been present. I see Cerridwen more with age as I experience more of life and see more of death; through these I understand rebirth. Hecate in her most ancient of guises has been there at all the crossroads and now she calls to the darkness within me just as Lucifer has always been there showing the way towards enlightenment.
How about changes in your relationship to the environment?
I suppose there are many contributing factors but having passed the years of needing babysitters, I became free to pursue my magick in a way that connected me more to the surrounding environment.
Initially this took the form of running a witchcraft shop which included teaching witchcraft and tarot, bringing me out of my closet and into the pagan community. It was this that brought me into contact with the Dolmen Grove, eventually leading me to my role within the Grove now.
These days my magick is centred mostly on raising the consciousness of those within the surrounding circle initially, and hopefully beyond, and I suspect the deities I work with now facilitate this concept.
In some non Western cultures post menopausal women are afforded higher status and initiation into areas previously barred to them and in Tantra the power of magick is said to move from a women’s genitals and womb to her heart. Do you think that post menopausal women in the western magickal community are given enough resources, respect and recognition? Do you think that the mythos around ‘the crone’ covers all the bases?
The short answer has to be Hell No!!!! The mythos around the ‘Crone’ falls very short of covering all the bases, but at least it tries to cover some of them. While I understand the concept of the tantric idea that the magick moves from the genitals and womb to the heart, my own understanding and experience is that post-menopausal women have a greater understanding of using all of these areas and how to incorporate them into their tantric rituals. By allowing the magick to be present and flow freely through the genitals, womb and heart the effect of tantric rituals will be much greater. It is probably fairer to assume only the crone has the freedom and maturity to incorporate all aspects of love and creation without the ego getting in the way.
Whilst it is certainly true that many other cultures have more reverence for age, there are also many other cultures that don’t although I suspect it is only in Western countries that the beauty of youth is celebrated above the wisdom of the elder. With age comes life experience and a deeper understanding and I find that people respect me for that and perhaps over the years I have learned how to gain respect. The resources available to all those practising magick are much easier to attain since the internet. Whether it be obscure herbs, magickal tools or simply the need to chat with like - minded individuals it is all there on a plate….and of course solitude is a rare luxury but when it turns to necessity it is attainable.
As a child I lacked the experience, as a teenager I lacked the focus and as a mother I lacked the time, but now …K’ching!!! Now I have all of these and I find that I know have the serenity for my understanding to eventually become wisdom.
Diane, how would like to see an evolution or change of attitudes towards post menopausal women develop within the magickal community? Any thoughts for actions that would positively shake up a stagnant status quo and be of benefit to the community AND to the women concerned?
In order for any change to be of long term effect it needs to begin by educating the younger members of the community, this sadly extends to the community as a whole. We have reached a stage in mankind’s evolution, particularly in the western world where a strengthening of family values is not just important but essential. I feel sadly that it is my generation who have failed to see the wisdom of their elders, seeing them more often than not as a burden. By the same token the innocence of youth is all too often seen as something to be conquered rather than nurtured. In my house three generations live side by side comfortably.
As I watch my youngest daughter look forward to the birth of her first child I become aware as to how little our children are prepared for the experience of motherhood, and she is grateful for the chance to learn how to be a Mum from someone who has not only been through it but within a safe and loving environment. I know a few others in three generation households all of which are Pagan.
I hope this trend continues as I see my mother being respected for her compassion and knowledge by her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I hope I too earn that love and respect.
That said they will only learn respect for their elders, if their elders earn that respect.
With age we attain wisdom and learn how to accept and use the darkness that lives inside us instead of fearing it …or worse still fighting it!!