In 1576, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II chose Prague to be his home. More than any other person, Rudolf made Prague a hotbed of alchemical interest. Rudolf lived in the Prague Castle, where he welcomed not only astrologers and magicians but also scientists, musicians, and artists. In addition to noted alchemists Edward Kelley and John Dee, Prague was also home to the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, the painter Arcimboldo, the poet Elizabeth Jane Weston, among others. Rudolf arguably spawned the most intense period of occult activity in history. Continue reading →
It’s certainly no slight to the late director Curtis Harrington to describe The Wormwood Star, his visually arresting 1955 portrait of occult artist/beatnik weirdo Marjorie Cameron as being “Anger-esque” considering that he’d served as the cinematographer for Kenneth Anger’s Puce Moment and that it stars Cameron, one of Anger’s most well-known cinematic avatars (Cameron famously played “The Scarlet Woman” in Inauguration of The Pleasure Dome and Harrington himself portrayed “Cesare the Somnambulist” in that film. Additionally, Paul Mathison, who played “Pan” in Anger’s druggy occult vision was the art director of The Wormwood Star). Continue reading →
The Daily Mail (I know!) has a fascinating feature on David Latimer and his soon to be 54-year-old bottle garden that he started on Easter Sunday back in 1960. Continue reading →
Prague is a city steeped in history both known and otherwise, and the darker side of the Czech capitol’s past is brought to light in evocative displays at The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague, which looks at some of the famous dabblers in the dark arts that have called the city home.
As king of much of eastern Europe and eventually Holy Roman Emperor during the 16th century, Rudolf II was not known as an especially effective ruler, but he is widely remembered for his interest and patronage of the occult arts. It was during his reign that he turned Prague into the unofficial capitol of the dark arts. Funding a number of alchemists and other so-called sorcerers, most notably the likes of Edward Kelley and John Dee, Rudolf created possibly the most active period of occult practice in history. Continue reading →
For some time now, people like poet Robert Graves and countercultural guru Timothy Leary have assumed that ancient religion and mysticism were the products of mind-altering drugs. But in the case of one modern religious experience—the inspiration behind John Coltrane’s holy four-part suite, A Love Supreme—it was the distinct absence of drugs that lit the flame. Like many recovering addicts, Coltrane found God in 1957, after having what he called in the album’s liner notes “a spiritual awakening.” Seven years later, he dedicated his masterpiece, “a humble, offering,” to the deity he credited with “a richer, fuller, more productive life.” No rote hymnal, chant, or psalter, A Love Supreme offers itself up to the listener as the product of intensely personal devotion. And like the ecstatic revelations of many a saint, Coltrane’s work has inspired its own devotional cult—The Church of St. Coltrane. Continue reading →
Mapping experts have identified a curious cluster of seven roads around Swan Street in Manchester which are all perfectly aligned with the midwinter sun, just like the prehistoric monument at Stonehenge. Sun-worshippers hoping to mark the Winter Solstice on Sunday could avoid a trip to Stonehenge – and celebrate on the back streets of Manchester’s Northern Quarter instead. Continue reading →
“I think, therefore I am” is perhaps the most familiar one-liner in western philosophy. Even if the stoners, philosophers and quantum mechanically-inclined skeptics who believe we’re living an illusion are right, few existential quips hit with such profound, approachable simplicity. The only catch is that in Descartes’ opinion, “we” – our thoughts, our personalities, our “minds” – are mostly divorced from our bodies.
The polymathic Frenchman and other dualist philosophers proposed that while the mind exerts control over our physical interaction with the world, there is a clear delineation between body and mind; that our material forms are simply temporary housing for our immaterial souls. But centuries of science argue against a corporeal crash pad. The body and mind appear inextricably linked. And findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on us – more specifically on our DNA. Continue reading →
The Royston Cave is an artificial cave in Hertfordshire, England. It is not known who created the cave or what it was used for, but there has been much speculation. Some believe that it was used by the Knights Templar. Others believe it may have been an Augustinian store mine. Another theory is that it was a Neolithic flint mine. None of these theories have been substantiated, and the origin of the Royston Cave remains a mystery. Royston cave was discovered in August 1742 in Royston. A worker was digging holes to build footing for a new bench at a market. He discovered a millstone while he was digging, and when he dug around to remove it, he found the shaft leading to the cave. When the cave was discovered, it was half-filled with dirt and rock. Efforts were made to remove the dirt and rock, which was subsequently discarded. Some believed that treasure would be found within Royston cave. However, removal of the dirt did not reveal any treasure. There were sculptures and carvings found within. It is worth noting that had the soil not been discarded, today’s technology could have allowed for a soil analysis.