Monday, May 01, 2017

From Eleusis to Edinburgh

Not safe for workish

Well, in honor of the holiday there's a gallery of photos from the Beltane Fire Festival up on the Daily Mail's site to eye-gobble. The Festival is celebrating its 30th year anniversary, yet another landmark correlating to the Years of Seven we looked at a short while back. I'm no numerologist so I can't exactly say why seven seems to be so significant in the World of Weird, I can only catalog the correspondences. 

The Festival is an ancient Mystery play to its innermost core, a spectacle that would have done Eleusis proud (flaming headdresses were a big item there as well). It's astonishing how primal and powerful it all looks in a world in which spectacle has become wallpaper. It's proof of what I was bloviating about recently, how the raw and the human still have meaning and value in a world slouching towards Skynet.

Now some of you may argue that this is all theater, performance art, that the majority of the participants (and observers) don't really believe in any of this any pagan crap, but do you really think it was any different in Classical Greece, who gave us the very words skepticism and agnosticism? Hell,  it probably wasn't all that much different in Pre-Roman Britain.

The deities here are in the details. Like that revanchist pagan holiday Carnival, the gods of these kinds of revelries are verbs. The old gods were about action not idle contemplation. I doubt they much care if anyone believes in them or not, so long as they put on eye-raping spectacles the way Edinburgh does.

I'm currently working on a post about the morphogenesis of British paganism in the context of the current folk horror revival that will revisit some of these themes.

Enjoying another 30 year anniversary is the maiden release from the nascent KLF, then dubbed The Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu.  Back in their heyday, you really couldn't tell if The KLF were high art or an elaborate hoax, geniuses or drugged-out numbskulls on a MIDI bender. Which, of course, means the project was a roaring success.

Since they're tuned into these kinds of things, The KLF appropriately chose another Year of Seven to emerge from a Rip Van Winkle sabbatical. From a helpful recap of their long and strange career in The Guardian:

Now as we reach the symbolic 23rd anniversary of the cash-sacrifice on Jura – 23 being a totemic figure in Illuminatus! numerology and thus in JAMMs lore – the KLF are back. Gnomic flyposters promise a KLF book and an event in August “unearthing aspects of the 2023 trilogy across Liverpool”, where Drummond’s career began. The Illuminati, once a private fixation for Drummond, Cauty and the 1970s counterculture, have become a pop-culture obsession (see BeyoncĂ© and her pyramid hand gestures). The KLF, AKA The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, were always agents of chaos. 
Now the world they anticipated is here.
Interesting that the post-hippie weird wave had such a huge impact on the British underground, ultimately flowering into a battalion of bands who remain interesting to this day. The KLF, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and Killing Joke are just a few of the unimaginably influential acts that fed at this trough and in turn fed an even larger legion of copyists. 

There was considerable overlap and incestuous intermingling among this set (the KLF's Jimmy Cauty played with Killing Joke's Youth in Brilliant, who managed at least one great track before falling in the 80s pop arcade and Killing Joke drummer Paul Ferguson played with The Orb).

More proof that the most resonant pop culture has a firm grounding in the esoteric. A good argument could be made that esotericism's only real, objective value is in feeding into the culture through some form of art, whether you're talking music, comics, movies and so on.  That's certainly how the overwhelming majority of people experience it.

Of course, it's also a process that can be used for constructive or destructive ends.

Finally, I wanted to plug this amazing talk with Leslie Kean, whose new book deals with NDEs, reincarnation and other phenomena, on Rune Soup. Gordon is unique as a podcaster in that he always seems to be as knowledgable as his guests on their subjects (kind of terrifying when you consider the wide range of topics he covers) so like a great drummer he can keep the beat steady and propulsive. The first quarter of the show deals with Kean's UFO work so there's an added bonus.

I was especially interested in the talk on childhood reincarnation memories, a topic I've discussed here in the past. It was particularly interesting to hear that kids eventually outgrow these memories and that they're often based in the precedent's violent death. But the entire show is info-dense and nutrient rich and doesn't feel even remotely medicinal so do give it a spin.

It's funny: I can't help but notice that, as most other topics that a leisure-suited Leonard Nimoy may once have ruminated on seem to be receding into history's ether, NDEs UFOs and Synchronicity seem to be holding their own in our rationalist, prove-it anti-culture.  Probably because these are phenomena that non-initiates experience on a consistently-frequent basis. 

 Of course, there's also Bigfoot.

UPDATE: Speaking of Edinburgh and sevens here's an excerpt from a 2012 interview with the Siren. 

And this, she assures me at one point with a wild laugh, is her in decisive mood – she has turned a corner, having said no for such a long time she has resolved to start saying yes.

What's happened, I wonder, to make her feel so uncharacteristically bullish?
She thinks for a moment. "What can I say?" she says. "I think it has to do with sevens."


"I've always had a thing about sevens. And I am coming up for my 49th birthday in August. Seven sevens. It feels like a really important moment to consider all the things that are coming toward me." She stops for a while, reconsiders. "And my mum died very recently so maybe that has something to do with it too."
By the way, we're coming up fast on the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death.


  1. Yes, Gordon is fucking terrifying at times. So glad he's on our side. to go find the Daily Mail's photo gallery.

  2. It certainly feels like SOMETHING is welling up from the collective unconscious these days. Something primal & atavistic that may be cyclical in nature? Or maybe some kind of natural fail/safe mechanism or Gaian immune-system response that kicks in when humanity (or their fearless leaders) swing too far in a certain direction. Regardless, pop culture sometimes seems to have a mind of its own--memeplexes & the like, but it could also be argued (rather forcefully)that a lot of those involved with producing said pop culture are occultured themselves, like Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman for example,& are deliberately trying to infuse said pop culture with a more esoteric sensibility & keep the current flowing.

    Regarding the number 7 & its possible meanings, I've repeatedly seen it mentioned as symbolic of divine intervention, intentions manifesting, & psychic awakenings (among other things) but also linked to the planet Saturn & the Chariot card in the Tarot Major Arcana. For whatever that's worth.

    1. For comparison's sake--

      interpretations of symbolic meaning of the planet Saturn (from Wikipedia):

      "Saturn (Saturn symbol.svg) is the ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius and is exalted in Libra. In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, leader of the titans, founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The glyph is shaped like a scythe, but it is known as the "crescent below the cross", whereas Jupiter's glyph is the "crescent above the cross". The famous rings of the planet Saturn that enclose and surround it, reflect the idea of human limitations. Saturn takes 29.5 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 2.46 years in each sign of the zodiac.

      Astrologically speaking, Saturn is associated with focus, precision, nobility, ethics, civility, lofty goals, purpose, career, great achievements, dedication, authority figures, ordered hierarchy, stability, virtues, productiveness, valuable hard lessons learned, destiny, conforming social structures, balance, and karma (reaping what you have sowed or divine cosmic justice) but also with limitations, restrictions, boundaries, anxiety, tests, practicality, reality, and time. It concerns a person's sense of duty, discipline, responsibility, including their physical and emotional endurance during hardships. Saturn is also considered to represent the part of a person concerned with long-term planning or foresight. The Return of Saturn is said to mark significant events in each person's life. According to the 1st-century poet Manilius, Saturn is sad, morose, and cold, and is the greater malefic. According to Claudius Ptolemy, "Saturn is lord of the right ear, the spleen, the bladder, the phlegm, and the bones."[28] Saturn symbolized processes and things that were dry and cold, which are necessary balancing aspects to maintain life. It governed the melancholic humor.

      According to Sefer Yetzirah – GRA Version – Kaplan 4:13[29]

      "He made the letter Resh king over Peace And He bound a crown to it And He combined one with another And with them He formed Saturn in the Universe Friday in the Year The left nostril in the Soul, male and female."
      The planet Saturn

      Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn of course, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers prefer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius. In modern astrology, it is the primary native ruler of the tenth house. Traditionally however, Saturn ruled both the first and eighth houses.

      Saturn is associated with Saturday, which was named after the deity Saturn. Dante Alighieri associated Saturn with the liberal art of astronomia (astronomy and astrology).

      In Chinese astrology, Saturn is ruled by the element earth, which is warm, generous, and co-operative. In Indian astrology, Saturn is called Shani or "Sani", representing a noteworthy career and longevity. He is also the bringer of obstacles and hardship."[30]

      interpretations of Chariot card:

      Chariot Tarot Card Meanings Keywords. Upright: Control, will power, victory, assertion, determination. Reversed: Lack of control and direction, aggression. (Rather apropos I'd wager.)

  3. Genesis 41...
    then of course there are those 7 years of tribulation believers too...
    I got a bad feeling about the 7's other than it happens to be my Birthday and that is never good! HA

  4. I bought that single CD with Tammy Wynette just based on the crazy art. Great stuff. I grokked the esoteric vibe right away and it was like my Blue Oyster Cult fascination only...way shorter lived.

  5. Tripped over a Beltane festival down here on the south coast of England by total accident yesterday, with full on Wicca man burning. The old gods are returning?

  6. Seven is infused with divinity. Not some lofty pie in the sky mind you. Awake and aware, willing to share. Dennis

  7. Funny that you mention the KLF/JAMMS (well, not funny funny). I was just re-reading John Higgs amazing book "The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the band who burned a million Pounds".
    Reading it made me think that I was reading The Secret Sun.
    I wonder if you have read it and what you think of it. If you haven´t you should give it a try.

  8. "I'm currently working on a post about the morphogenesis of British paganism in the context of the current folk horror revival that will revisit some of these themes."

    The only value I really get out of Facebook anymore is the groups I follow, especially the Secret Sun, but also another group (maybe you've heard of it) called Folk Horror Revival. The funny thing is over the past year are so there has been more and more overlap between what is posted and discussed there and what is posted and discussed at the Secret Sun Facebook group.

  9. Some trivia... The pillared monument at the top of the hill where the Edinburgh Beltane celebrations begin (which you can see in the video, with the lighting of alchemical symbols, no less) dates back to 1822 and was originally intended as a Napoleonic War memorial based on either/or/both the Temple of Minerva and the Parthenon in Athens. There was also the mooting of catacombs beneath which would mark the place as a 'Scottish Valhalla.'

    Multiple lacks of funding - and general disagreement as to the overall point of the thing - meant that in the long term, it remained but some unfinished pillars. It is often jokingly referred to as 'Scotland's Disgrace.'

    Also - I was playing 'Where's Wally' a bit with that video, as I'm pretty sure I'm standing directly behind that guy's head as the video starts. Then as he's heading up the hill, I'm just in front of him. Then when he's up on the hill, I'm somewhere just off to the left!

    All in all, Edinburgh Beltane was an enjoyable experience. I got covered in ash, separated from my people, chased the May Queen, became lost on the hillside and ran into some fox-faced trickster people. I'd definitely recommend it if you're in the vicinity, next time around.

  10. I don't remember the KLF going as far back as '87... but I'll admit that something very strange happened to music in that year. It was the year that music made entirely of other music went mainstream. Also, music started to be associated with drugs other than weed. I'm not convinced we've entirely recovered from any of it.

  11. Fucking hell man, i was in a thread on 4chans music board hours ago posting about the KLF and 90's electronic music like the future sound of london, 808 state, orbital, etc.

    Oh, even funnier, the KLF make a song about the justified ancients of mu, the music board on 4chan is called /mu/.
    BTW never post there if you actually like music.....

    Im feeling some synchronicity here...

    Electronic music used to be so cool until it was watered down and mass marketed to millennials who think skirllix invented it in 2012

    Also ive been noticing a general theme of fire in the cultural zeitgeist, there was a disastrous music festival were ja rule trapped a bunch of rich kids called the "fyre festival".
    Also a really weird name for a wwe pay per view, even for wrestling called "great balls of fire"

    I think we really are leaving the cultural zeitgeist of the obama years and entering the cultural state of whatever the trump years are. After months of people running around with their heads cut off.

    Im feeling more pop cultural media that lampoons the rich, or yuppies is down the pipe.

    Maybe the garbage us americans call electronic music might actually get more idm instead of edm.....that is more wishful thinking from me though

  12. Of course the cultural zeitgeist of Trump is going to be massively different to the one in the Obama years! I noticed it straight away. Not that the cultural zeitgeist wasn't changing before, but Trump's arrival has definitely accelerated things. There is no question the USA is entering Saturn times, and as usual, pushing the rest of the world along.

  13. I've been reading the Law of One also called the Ra material. Ra says there are 3 bigfoots. Chris what are your thoughts on this material?

  14. Excellent work as always, Chris.

  15. As mentioned above the John Higgs KLF book is great. He's not an interesting writer or thinker himself but he's got an eye for great material. It's as much a RAW book as a KLF one. As for Gordon no one who takes Taleb for a guru is worth anyone's time frankly. Too normal, too sane, too trite.

  16. Has one investigated the rituals performed by Killing Joke just to find their bass player and guitarist when the band was forming. Or their sourcing ley lines to harness energy for their gigs?

    I love Killing Joke, but their Crowley leanings put me off a bit.

  17. Hey chris there is a tremendous and I mean the best book I have ever had the pleasure of reading on the Klf, by John Higgs.