London

April 26, 2017

He’s a man on the King’s Road—macintosh,
trilby hat—who kisses me by the newspaper
stand, says Come on babe and off we go,
on a bus over Chelsea Bridge to the locks
and market in Camden Town. He holds my hand,
says he likes to watch me age, play catch-up,
and he educates me, privately, during evening
South Bank strolls, buys me secondhand books,
recites the history of The Tower, tells me
about ice skaters on the Thames and how
Shakespeare and Marlowe would slap his back
after shows at The Theatre and Globe. But my man
sleeps with eyes open and those eyes are old.
I watch as he snores, dive down those pupils
and feel his river pulse through my body,
see the decaying faces of those it conceals.
The lights of Soho tickle my skin but even now
I’m not taken in by him. I’m not his only lover.
Why should I be? We’re unfaithful to each other.
Even though he makes me feel I matter, more than
anyone else has done or ever will, I can’t
give up everything to be with him. So I watch
my children play elsewhere in a garden we can
afford as I cyberstalk him on my phone,
imagine his sweaty body moving on top of me.
And I’m sniffing his pheromones and the thought
of him overtakes me again and part of me yearns
to be on a train back to sirens, lights, and fumes.

Lisa Parry

Sanity…?

April 26, 2017

I must confess that I lost faith in the sanity of the world

H.G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau

They see, it is said, men who have been dead for several months, come back to earth, talk, walk, infest villages, ill use both men and beasts, suck the blood of their near relations, make them ill, and finally cause their death; so that people can only save themselves from their dangerous visits and their hauntings by exhuming them, impaling them, cutting off their heads, tearing out the heart, or burning them. These revenants are called by the name of oupires or vampires, that is to say, leeches; and such particulars are related of them, so singular, so detailed, and invested with such probable circumstances and such judicial information, that one can hardly refuse to credit the belief which is held in those countries, that these revenants come out of their tombs and produce those effects which are proclaimed of them.

Antoine Augustin Calme

Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c.

(Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al.)

Mess

April 24, 2017

It is surprising the number of practitioners of the magical arts and witchcraft who were involved in military and intelligence work during the Second World War. Perhaps the best known ‘occult spy’ operating in the Second World War, and in fact long before, and whose intelligence career has been well documented, is Aleister Crowley. Author Dr Richard B.Spence believes that Crowley began his journey to being a secret agent when he took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This was at the Malvern College boarding school in 1891when he joined the cadet corps of the local Worcestershire Royal Artillery Volunteers. Later in life Crowley was to say that despite his problems and issues with the British establishment he had always felt that he was bound to that oath. In fact it had strengthened his link with England. It is possible he meant on a magical and psychic level as well as the physical and patriotic one.

As a young man, through an introduction by his aunt who was a member, Crowley joined the Primrose League. This was a semi-secret, quasi-Masonic, right-wing group within the Conservative Party whose aim was to protect it from its political enemies. Dr Spence suggests that Crowley’s Jacobite sympathies in support of the return of the Stuart dynasty to the British throne to replace the Hanoverian usurpers, could have been used by the League to persuade Crowley to spy on potential enemies of the Crown. This however would suggest that his Jacobite inclinations were not genuine or a passing teenage phase.

Crowley was lucky enough to come under the patronage of the Marquess of Salisbury, the Grand Master of the League. It has been suggested that Salisbury helped Crowley to enter Cambridge University and was grooming his young protégé for a lifelong career in the Diplomatic Service, which might well have involved spying for his country. However Crowley had other ideas, although it was at Cambridge that he met the future artist Gerald Kelly and later married his sister Rose. Forty years or so later both men were to serve in the wartime British Secret Service.

In the First World War Cowley was living in New York and he was accosted by a stranger on an omnibus. During their conversation about the war in Europe the man handed Crowley a business card.Printed on it were the addresses of two pro-German magazines and subsequently Crowley wrote anti-British propaganda for these publications.

Naturally the British government took a dim view of this anti-patriotic, traitorous act. They labelled him a traitor and the police raided his magical temple in London and closed it down. Crowley always protested his innocence. In fact he said he had been working for British Intelligence and written the satirical articles at their request. The aim was to ridicule the pro-German movement in America and discredit the magazines. This has never confirmed by the British Government, but it has also not been denied.

Michael Howard
THE OCCULT WAR
Secret Agents, Magicians and Hitler

absurd superstitions

April 24, 2017

In common with most of the lower classes of the West of England, the miner is not free from many absurd superstitions (though I am glad to observe, even in the last few years, a great change has taken place, and such follies are gradually declining). Some think themselves endowed with a species of supernatural agency, and, like the Egyptian alluded to by Othello, call themselves charmers, and profess to stop the flowing of blood (no matter from what cause – a divided artery even), to remove specks from the cornea (which, in the dialect of the country, are called cannons!), and cure erysipelas, by charming. But I have never been able to ascertain by what means the charm is supposed to work. I only know that it is an everyday occurrence for mothers to bring children to the surgery, afflicted with either of the diseases mentioned, and say that they have had them charmed; but they were no better, such want of improvement having obviously excited the greatest feelings of astonishment. I knew a person connected with the mines, who felt himself endowed with prophetic powers; and in his case the divination was not confined to events momentous and terrible, but extended to the most trifling minutiae of life.

He with grave simplicity told me one day, by way of exemplifying the proper estimation in which his prophetic powers were held by his wife, that on one occasion, his pig having wandered from his sty, she came to him to ascertain in what direction it was to be sought for; and on his professing utter ignorance of the animal’s peregrinations, she exclaimed in reproachful tones, ‘Ak – you are not so pious as you used to be. I remember the time when you could have told me in an instant the exact spot to have found it.’

William Wale Tayler
On the Diseases of Cornish Miners

Days I enjoy

April 23, 2017

Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,
When I have no engagements written on my block,
When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone.
The years are too strictly measured, and life too short
For me to afford such bits of myself to my friends.
And what have I to give my friends in the last resort?
An awkwardness, a shyness, and a scrap,
No thing that’s truly me, a bootless waste,
A waste of myself and them, for my life is mine
And theirs presumably theirs, and cannot touch.

Vita Sackville-West

Love

April 23, 2017

Amongst some races the constrictor vaginæ muscles are abnormally developed. In Abyssinia, for instance, a woman can so exert them as to cause pain to a man, and, when sitting upon his thighs, she can induce the orgasm without moving any other part of her person. Such an artist is called by the Arabs, “Kabbazah,” literally meaning “a holder,” and it is not surprising that the slave dealers pay large sums for her. All women have more or less the power, but they wholly neglect it; indeed, there are many races in Europe which have never even heard of it. To these the words of wisdom spoken by Kalyana Malla, the poet, should be peculiarly acceptable.

Sir Richard F Buton (translation)
Footnote from The Anaga Ranga

meet a ghost

April 22, 2017

Most people have never seen a ghost, and never want or expect to, but almost everyone will admit that sometimes they have a sneaking feeling that they just possibly could meet a ghost if they weren’t careful―if they were to turn a corner too suddenly, perhaps, or open their eyes too soon when they wake up at night, or go into a dark room without hesitating first.

Shirley Jackson
Come along with me