March 3, 2018

Engines lie
Rotting and rusting
In the sands
Roar no more to the
Sounds of freedom to
The flock of birds under
A carbon sky.

Clinton Van Inman

fever damaged

March 3, 2018

a tattoo you

The creatures riding her back were created from multi-coloured inks. Eve recognised Rheacus the centaur – who was raping a nubile Atalanta between the slight rise of shoulder blades. Below a griffin fled the skinny waistband of those semi-translucent harem pants – escaping the flaming breath of a green, jewelled dragon whose tail curved up above her latissimus dorsi. Such fine works of art – skin art – were rare. Eve had seen plenty of tats in her time, but never ones as realistic – or as animated – as these.

In the soft golden light of the night club, this young woman looked totally surreal, a walking art gallery, and sight of her made Eve feel fever damaged. Like she was seeing in a laudanum dream: a delirium of smooth gold skin and mythical monsters, curling in wild arabesques – arabesques that apparently guarded the woman’s inner, secret self.

Eve reached out for her as she passed.

‘Naughty, naughty,’ the young woman said, playfully brushing Eve’s hand away with her own. ‘You can look, but must never touch.’

‘I wanted a dance,’ Eve blurted. ‘A private dance…’

What had she done? What the hell had she asked for?

‘Really?’ Quiet amusement in night-dark eyes as they met Eve’s intense gaze. She leaned forward and spoke softly. ‘The booths are upstairs. Very discreet…You can have thirty minutes of me, or an hour if you prefer.’ She gave Eve prices.

‘An hour,’ Eve decided, and fumbled out a roll of cash; she was so distracted she had to count the amount three times to get it right.

The girl, smiling, took the worn, greasy notes.

‘Follow me,’ she said.

Peter Suster
Painted Angels

As a young teenager I developed an interest in the supernatural and the occult, if only in a fictional form. I was an avid reader of the ‘black magic’ thrillers of Dennis Wheatley, the ghost stories of M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood (whom I later discovered had been a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), the adventure stories of C.S. Lewis, H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. the ‘Fu Manchu’ novels of Sax Rohmer (another occultist with links to the GD). Arthur Machen (ditto), Robert E. Howard’s, sword & sorcery’ stories, and the horror tales of H.P. Lovecraft.

After a near death experience during an emergency operation when I was fourteen I became more seriously interested in spiritual and esoteric matters and began studying books on Tibetan Buddhism. Some of my first reading in this respect was, in hindsight, quite laughable (and fictional) books by ‘Lobsang Rampa’, or ‘Rampant Lobster’ as I nicknamed him. It later turned out he was a plumber and decorator called Cyril Hoskins who had either fallen off a ladder one day or out of a tree while photographing an owl! When he regained consciousness he discovered that he was now possessed by the spirit of a Tibetan lama.

In my state of juvenile ignorance at the time I thought it all sounded fairly reasonable and it was exciting stuff. I really wanted to believe there were secret caves in Tibet inhabited by 200-year-old lamas and full of Atlantean flying machines and the Akashic Records. I had seen and loved the classic film Lost Horizon and thought Shangri-la or Shambala actually existed and Mr Hoskins had found it. Despite their often ludicrous content and appalling standard of writing, and the fact he claimed one of them had been dictated to him by his talking cat, Mr Rampa’s books became global bestsellers, This was probably because they were easily available in cheap paperback editions and gullible teenagers like me could afford to buy them out of their pocket money. Also, as I was to discover later when I gained some degree of discrimination and judgement, people will believe absolutely anything…

…My first serious non-fiction reading on witchcraft and magic was as diverse as John Symond’s never bettered biography of Aleister Crowley The Great Beast, Madame Helena Blavatsky’s esoteric and obtuse two volumes of The Secret Doctrine and her Isis Unveiled, the whole thirteen volumes of the first edition of Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, (which several years later I sold for a pittance to pay an electricity bill), Dr Margaret Murray’s speculative The Witch Cult in Western Europe, Montague Summer’s sensationalist Witchcraft and Black Magic, Aleister Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice, Robert Grave’s seminal and inspiring poetic classic The White Goddess, and first editions of Dion fortune’s fabulous occult novels, The Sea Priestess and Moon Magic. The last two books had a profound effect on me and it was some years before their full significance became clear. All in all it was a heady brew for a working-class lad whose only education had been at a secondary modern school. However it provided an excellent grounding for anyone taking their first tentative steps on the occult path.

Michael Howard
A Seeker’s Journey

A deeply erotic god (Dionysus), he appears both in a masculine and an effeminate form. He is often depicted as a mature, bearded man and is associated with the phallus. Yet, he also frequently appears as a beardless youth with rather feminine features. Roman-era authors, such as Seneca, Nonnus and Pseudo-Apollodorus, narrate that Bacchus grew up disguised as a girl to escape the wrath of Hera. The Suda Lexicon ascribes to him the titles Androgynous, Unmanly (Anandros in Greek), and Hermaphrodite.

Yet, Dionysus was not the only deity that had features of both sexes. The motif of androgyny, or gynandry as I prefer to call it to emphasize the feminine, appears again and again in Hellenic mythology, as well as in different traditions around the world. Its origins are lost in the mists of time. The Neolithic inhabitants of Greece, for example, created a host of female figurines whose necks and heads take a phallic form.

Sometimes the combination of genders becomes blatantly obvious. The Vinča culture, developed in Southeastern Europe along the Danube River from the 6th to the 3rd millennium BCE, created figurines that have male genitals and female breasts, also possessing beaks and protruding buttocks. Furthermore, two female statuettes with male members have been found in the Neolithic settlement of Makri in Thrace, in Northern Greece. We often come across similar figures on the island of Cyprus too.

Harita Meenee
Dionysus, the Bearded Goddess, and the Pride Festival
Blog article 26th July 2014

Valenso reeled as if he had received a mortal blow. He clutched at his throat, snapping the gold chain in his violence. With the face of a madman he lurched about the table and tore the child screaming from Belesa’s arms.

“You little slut!” he panted. “You lie! You have heard me mumbling in my sleep and told this lie to torment me! Say that you lie before I tear the skin from your back!”

“Uncle!” cried Belesa, in outraged bewilderment, trying to free Tina from his grasp. “Are you mad? What are you about?”

With a snarl he tore her hand from his arm and spun her staggering into the arms of Galbro who received her with a leer he made little effort to disguise.

“Mercy, my lord!” sobbed Tina. “I did not lie!”

“I said you lied!” roared Valenso. “Galbro!”

The stolid serving man seized the trembling youngster and stripped her with one brutal wrench that tore her scanty garments from her body. Wheeling, he drew her slender arms over his shoulders, lifting her writhing feet clear of the floor.

“Uncle!” shrieked Belesa, writhing vainly in Galbro’s lustful grasp. “You are mad! You cannot – oh, you cannot-!” The voice choked in her throat as Valenso caught up a jewel-hilted riding whip and brought it down across the child’s frail body with a savage force that left a red weal across her naked shoulders.

Belesa moaned, sick with the anguish of Tina’s shriek. The world had suddenly gone mad. As in a nightmare she saw the stolid faces of the soldiers and servants, beast-faces, the faces of oxen, reflecting neither pity nor sympathy. Zarono’s faintly sneering face was part of the nightmare. Nothing in that crimson haze was real except Tina’s naked white body, criss-crossed with red welts from shoulders to knees; no sound real except the child’s sharp cries of agony, and the panting gasps of Valenso as he lashed away with the staring eyes of a madman, shrieking, “You lie! You lie! Curse you, you lie! Admit your guilt, or I will flay your stubborn body! He could not have followed me here — ”

“Oh, have mercy, my lord!” screamed the child, writhing vainly on the brawny servant’s back, too frantic with fear and pain to have the wit to save herself by a lie. Blood trickled in crimson beads down her quivering thighs…

Robert E Howard
The Black Stranger

Buried alive…

March 3, 2018

I kept the rubber breathing tube clutched firmly between my front teeth. I probed it with my tongue to make sure that a small movement would not separate me from it. What if a bug above ground crawls in? I’ll have to blow it out. . . or eat the critter.

I didn’t know if I could get out of my earthen grave. The weight of the earth above my naked body prevented me from taking a full breath. When I inhaled, the earth pushed back on my lungs, informing me of my limited capacity. I took small sips of air and imagined the winter woods above as the cold came through the narrow plastic tube. In 30 minutes my partner, Isfandarmudh (“angel of the earth” in Persian), would dig me out of the grave. Then I would bury her.

I turned my attention away from the fear of things that could go wrong. I relaxed my active mind with a long, slow exhale, imagining my skin fading into the earth that pressed against it.

My bones, teeth, and nails conversed with the minerals in the stones and tectonic plates of the earth. The heat in my body reached out to find the molten core of the underworld. I wondered if the bugs that crawled behind one of my ears, under my arm, around the top of a fingertip, and all along my body were taking in moisture from the thin layer of perspiration on my surface. I felt something behind my knee.

I am made mostly of water, I thought as I considered the geothermal waters that filled veins in the earth and made up most of my body, the rain that poured from dark cumulonimbus clouds and saturated the ground from which I myself drank. There is one water on earth, I reminded myself.

From head to toe I felt life wiggle and walk. Don’t panic, Jehanara. This was my new Sufi name. This is what it feels like to host life. Giving up fear to the forces of gravity and the magnetic fields that banded the planet, I knew that I could never overwhelm the massive systems with my worry. I felt no different from a tangled root or a wedge of clay. The grave smelled like mildew and growth.

It was good to be the earth. I reviewed a long history: a singularity split in two, gaseous explosions, a hot lava-covered sphere of volcanic eruptions and shifting plates, a cooler water world, a single cell advancing to more complex organisms: fish, bird, mammal. I was curious. What next?

Life’s lust is life, I thought as I considered that life’s persistence over billions of years has led to me. I felt obliged to use my senses so that this life could know itself.

The feeling of earth that pressed against me from every direction changed my view. I imagined it as a hug. You are loved. That’s what the Sufi teachers said to do if I ever forgot that I was loved: Feel the tug of gravity. In this moment death did not feel definitive. My sense of self expanded to include all time. I remembered the words that I had read in that little book written by a Sufi. Nature is the truest book.

The sound of a metal shovel breaking through the ground above me brought me back. I hope she doesn’t hit me with that!

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne
What the Sufis taught me