Occulture Update

January 2014 – NEWSFLASH

The Burt Sharp archive has been released after  a recent bereavement in the UK. This discovery is of great  significance to the Gurdjieff Work or  4th Way, in that Burt was one of the  organisers of a private work group in Southern England, led by the late Mexican mystic John Flores. The archive of the work group had lain undiscovred in the house of Flores’s sister and was uncovered last week and consists mainly of original artwork.

Burt passed away about a decade ago having been part of the Beryl Pogson group in East Sussex, he had survived Flores, who was a pupil of Gurdjieffian Rodney Collin in Mexico and under the instruction of the mysterious Madam Harkoonian.   Together Sharp and Flores continued to teach the 4th Way and carried on the Rodney Collin line.  Several paintings based on the inner teachings of the Flores-Sharp group painted by Burt will be displayed (exclusively)  on this site shortly.

Colin Wilson 1931-2013

by Gary Lachman

          Colin Wilson was one of the most prolific, controversial, and stimulating writers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. After bursting on the English literary scene in 1956 at the age of 24 with his first book The Outsider, Wilson went on to write an astounding number of works – 181 titles in all – on a wide range of subjects including philosophy, psychology, criminology and the occult. He also produced an impressive body of fiction ( Ritual in the Dark (1960))as well as biographies (Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast (1987)) , literary criticism (The Craft of the Novel (1975)), autobiographies (Dreaming to Some Purpose (2004)), and even a book on wine (A Book of Booze (1974)). Wilson once said that he wrote “as a dog with fleas scratches,” and his sheer output is enough to warrant recognition. But it was the ideas that informed his vast body of work that demand our attention. From The Outsider to late works like Superconsciousness (2009), Wilson’s rigorous analytical mind was focused on a single subject: the limitations of human consciousness. At an early age he came to the conclusion that most of us waste our lives in trivialities and negative emotions, and that it is only in moments of crisis that we shake ourselves awake and for a brief time are aware of the vast, mysterious, objective world that surrounds us. Wilson’s “Outsiders” are men and woman driven by an obscure hunger for something more, some meaning and purpose that conventional life cannot provide. Through a study of the lives and work of figures like Nietzsche, T.E. Lawrence, Vincent Van Gogh, Hermann Hesse and others, Wilson outlined a new archetype: the person who “sees too much and too deeply” to be satisfied with “the triviality of everydayness,” and who rejects the security and comfort most of us desire in order to pursue “intensity of being.” Wilson’s “Outsiders” “live dangerously,” in Nietzsche’s phrase, and in his early years drifting from job to job and tramping around England and France, Wilson did too. Famously, for a time he slept on Hampstead Heath while writing by day in the British Library, in order to save money but also to preserve his freedom.

          Wilson was caught up in the late 50s publicity storm around the Angry Young Men, and when the critics had had enough of the Angries and turned on them, he felt their ire full blast. On publication The Outsider was praised and sold out in a week, but by the time his second book Religion and the Rebel (1957) appeared, Wilson was universally panned. Wilson retired to Cornwall and ignored the critics, working on the books of his “Outsider Cycle” and laying the foundation of what he called his “new existentialism,” a more positive, optimistic variety that rejected the nihilism and despair of Sartre and Heidegger. By the end of the 1960s, Wilson’s mind had turned in a new but related direction, the occult.  In 1971 The Occult appeared and for a time Wilson was back in the critics’ good books. A masterful survey and analysis of occult phenomena – that was also a bestseller – Wilson’s excursions into the occult were a logical development of his earlier existential concerns, and in later books like Mysteries (1978)  and Beyond the Occult (1988), Wilson developed his notion of “Faculty X.” This, he said, is a kind of “sixth sense” that allows us to escape the confines of our subjectivity and grasp “the reality of other times and places.” It is, in essence, a recognition that reality is not limited to whatever time or place we happen to be stuck in.

          Wilson’s focus on the limitations of consciousness informs all his work, from the magisterial The Criminal History of Mankind(1984), a study in the dangers of creative frustration that rivals H.G. Wells’ Outline of History  in scope and vision, to his Lovecraft-inspired fictions The Mind Parasites  (1966) and The Philosopher’s Stone (1969), as well as his investigations into the vagaries of human sexuality The Misfits (1987).  But Wilson was also a consummate raconteur and in  The Angry Years (2007) he invites the reader to reminisce with him about his early duffle-coated days, brawling with Kenneth Tynan, getting drunk with Kingsley Amis, and hob-knobbing with Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, Christopher Isherwood, and other literary lights.

          Writing about The Outsider in the late 70s, Wilson said that after writing it he felt he had “settled down to the serious business of living” and that he was “starting to do what he always intended to do.” He had a feeling of “leaving harbor” and that it made no difference that the critics had tried to take back what they said about his work. “They couldn’t take back the passport they’ d given me.” No they couldn’t, nor could they take back the one he gave to all his readers.

Colin Henry Wilson was born 26 June 1931 in Leicester and died 5 December 2013. He had been suffering ill health following a stroke in 2011. He is survived by his wife Joy, his daughter Sally, and his sons Damon and Rowan.

Click link to see Colin at Occulture

Colin at Occultre

 

Dr Dave Evans RIP

Sad news has come in that Dr Dave Evans, author, academic, occultist and Kaostar has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Dave  was  the author of The History of Magick After Crowley, he also wrote under the name Brakespeare, whose legacy includes Kaostar and other works. He founded the Journal For the Academic Study of Magic and contributed much to the occult scene over the years.  Dave spoke at Occulture in 2009 and remembered by his publisher as “a good friend, collaborator, a great writer and truly multi talented man”.

 

LONDON’S MYSTICAL LEGACY

 

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New book available

Available from all quality esoteric bookstores: Watkins. Treadwells and Atlantis to name but a few. Or order directly

http://www.lulu.com/shop/toyne-newton-and-jonathan-tapsell/londons-mystical-legacy/paperback/product-21244471.html

 

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London’s Mystical Legacy review at Occulture 2012

Despite being the founder and driving force behind the Occulture Festivals, Jon Tapsell has always been something of a shrinking violet when it comes to being on stage. Having had many conversations with him on a wide range of subjects, I have always been impressed with his depth of knowledge and the sheer variety of contacts from occultists, artists, businessmen, journalists and the judiciary, and I have often wondered how to get him on stage.

Little did I know that all those years Jon was running more than a few ideas past me for a book he was writing (ex-journalists are always writing a book,  so I did not pay much attention), usually after we started that second bottle of red.  So watching him on stage was a kind of deja vue,  as phrases and names resonated – Brutus, Spartans, Royal Highway, the City of London, eminent judges, and now I was seeing what he had been getting at.

The problem was, of course, that publication problems meant that the book London’s Mystical Legacy was not on display – we have to wait until the 31st of August – very frustrating.

Jon’s co-author Toyne Newton has a track record of researching esoteric mysteries such as at Clapham Woods, in The Demonic Connection, and he looks the part as author, researcher with not a little of the schoolmaster about him. It must have been a fascinating process to see the two at work, as they both have that meticulous quality when it comes to evidence.

Summing up the talk is difficult as both speakers had a lot to say, illustrated profusely with the photographs, and they covered a lot of ground, from the site of Troy, ancient Britain, the Romans, the history of the City of London, the banking system and its connections to esoteric groups. Jon in particular explored the origins of our legal system, particularly common law. Roll on the 31st.

Paul Hughes-Barlow

A State of Fear?

Its a measure of the way the average citizen’s perception of whistleblowers is distorted by The Powers that Be, that I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that Annie Machon is not a personality defective idiosyncratic maverick incapable of rational thought, but a deeply caring and respectful woman who is passionate about fighting the erosion of the hard-won human rights of everyone worldwide, not just the UK, by individuals and organizations  with the political or financial clout who knows the right people.

Losing freedom is death by thousands of miniscule cuts that individually mean nothing but put together bring about a picture that is frightening, so keeping a sense of perspective and a sense of humour is an asset. Annie told us that her political and ethical views have not changed before, during or after her intensive ten months of interviews before being offered a job in  MI5. Full marks for recruiting someone with integrity into the Security Service, but why would anyone be surprised at the outcome? Annie Machon’s precis of the rather tawdry and unedifying history of the secret services in the UK over the last hundred years make it all the more surprising that MI5 tried to recruit her in the first place.

I have to confess that the original shenanigans of MI5, Annie Machon and David Shayler passed me by, probably because I knew I was being lied to at so many levels and I did not have the time or inclination to sift through all the dissembling. However I do of course remember the death of Diana which blew every other story to smithereens for weeks afterwards.  Annie took us through how she lost her innocence, and her determination to become a whistleblower despite the formidable obstacles the State has at its disposal to snuff out dissent within the security apparatus. The injustices she saw within MI5 are small beer compared to what is being carried out on a daily basis in our name to prosecute the War on Terror.

The need for Security Services is undeniable, but quite how society finds an ethical balance in the face of threats real and imagined is beyond me. Can we trust the Security Services, or do we simply trust them to lie and deceive all and sundry on our behalf, sometimes acting beyond the reach of the law? In the end Annie Machon moved to Germany but she had no problem flying into the UK for this talk, so there is some hope for us all.

Great start to Occulture 2012

Ian R. Crane talking to members of the audience after his talk on the Occult Signficance of the Olympics at Occulture 2012

Despite the inclement weather (will we ever get used to all this rain?), the first night of Occulture 2012 got off to a great start with a full house for Ian R. Crane’s talk on the occult significance of the Olympics- an omen for the rest of the week?

Unless of course a Brit happens to do well in the Olympics, my inclination to the Olympics was verging on insouciant ennui mixed with fear, for my immediate concerns is how to get across to Camden from Victoria station without losing my sanity.

Its been three long years since the last Occulture, and now I was hearing there were other, more sinister reasons for the mass hysteria expected on 21st December 2012 – the agenda has moved forward to July, centered on London and the Olympics. Stock up on tinned food, dry food stuffs and lots of water – well unless there is suddenly a drought, I will not have to worry about the last.

So its not the Mayans after all – its the Bankers and their antecedents who were angels having sex with the women, and its payback time – world domination. Oh, and the way to get out of this recession is have the aliens invade, except of course we cannot rely on them, so we need special FX – isn’t Danny Boyle a Hollywood director in his day job? Apparently only Iceland has come up with an alternative – UDI on the bankers, and they are doing well. Maybe we should get a single ticket to Rekyavik for the duration of the Olympics.

Apologies for the confused precis, but I blame Ian R. Crane – he is a great speaker, he knows his stuff inside out, he tells a great story, and he is entertaining. He also knows Annie Machon who talks tonight at the same venue on “MI5 unplugged” – what can it all mean?

Paul Hughes-Barlow

Katherine Ferguson

Katherine Ferguson submitted her short film ‘La Bete’ into the esoteric film festival. A last minute offering but what a lovely surprise.  This film has all the elements of Paganism, fertility rites and erotic imagery. The film with its folky sound track (courtesy of Men-an-Tor) and superb editing made this a very special Cornish offering. Since then Katherine has gone on to work with the likes of Lady Gaga. We shall be looking out for more films by Katherine in future.

David Bramwell

Senor Bramwell whose music and salons are legendary in and around Brighton was a pivotal player in the creation of the festival. He introduced the event to the Hanbury ballroom and brought in many diverse contacts to help build up the fledgling event. His credits include the Cheeky Guides to Brighton, Oddfellows Casino and the haunted moustache – featuring Tony Cinna AKA Draco (Dali’s choreographer).

(c) David Bramwell

Edyta Was

Edyta was a Polish multidisciplinary artist who was art Director for the Tibetan nights of Occulture. Using large banners of cloth she created some stunning set designs for those performances, particularly the musical night featuring singer Soname Yangchen.

Indifference Productions

Indifference productions who hail from Brighton are an accomplished Video/Art/Film/Installation productions company. Run by a couple, Matt & Morrigan, whose spontaneous creation of a brass all plaque bearing the Festival logo of the Medusa head was one of the delightful surprise offerings of the 2002 event. They also created several magickal mandelas featuring the Medusa logo. Their talismanic films are worth watching out for when they surface from time-to-time.

Vera Rodriguez

International photo journalist Vera Rodriguez has worked with the Occupy movement, sex workers and taken documentary stills of family life also. Her book featuring the world of dancing and the adult industry is being edited by renowned picture editor Colin Jacobson and soon to be published. We are very proud to have worked alongside this wonderful, talented photographer.

Image (c) Vera Rodriguez

Jon Ronson.

Jon Ronson: bestselling author, award-winning journalist and legendary documentary maker has claimed some journalistic coups in his time: the most prestigious perhaps was his infiltration of the Bohemian Grove. Jon managed to make his way inside the secret gathering of the worlds elite, including former Presidents and major C.E.O, and power brokers to film them worshipping a stone owl and sacrificing a doll in the name of Dull Care. His other works Jon came to the festival in 2003 and returns 2012.

 

Simon Williams

Simon Williams videographer was very well placed to make films at Occulture. He had originally been involved in the critically acclaimed ‘Transcendance’ in 1996 in Brighton. The event was one of the very first to feature ISDN (live web links) and featured Robert Anton Wilson from USA. Other contributors included Terrence MacKenna, Howard Marks  and drum ‘n bass musician Roni Size. Simon stuck with the festival for a decade producing his own short film ‘the History of Occulture’ presented by Robert Goodman in 2009. Simon is now producing music with Rankin’ Rodger of the Beat and long-time collaborator Keith Clarke.

Directed by (c) Simon Williams

Helene Sandberg

Helene Sandberg is an internationally renowned photographer who worked on Occulture 2001 Her portfolio includes the last Bjork film ‘Dancer in the Dark’, with Danish Director Lars Von Trier. The images she captured at the festival are redolent of the inter-faith work that the festival enshrines, images of Buddhist lamas beside Wiccans, Satanists greeting adherents of Shinto., Helena’s works stands as testament to the festival’s ethos.

Adrian Gilbert

Adrian Gilbert attended the festival of 2003 to speak about ‘The New Jerusalem’ promoting his book about London. This book flowed others of equally mystical import ‘The Orion Mystery (1994)’. This was followed by a string of other best-selling books: ‘The Mayan Prophecies (1995)’, ‘Magi (1996)’, ‘The Holy Kingdom (1998)’ and, most recently ‘Signs in the Sky (2000)’. His own publishing company Solos Press also kept a steady stream of informative titles coming.

Adrian himself had a mystical experience aged 21, which created his thirst for knowledge:. why we exist, who we are and where we are going.

(c) Adrian Gilbert

Silver Star Associates

One of the long-term aims of Occulture was to cultivate new talent within the esoteric world. When approached by the Silver Star Associates who took over an entire evening it was game-set and match. Crowley’s invocation to Pan was read out and some young talented people in their mid- twenties came to the fore. Years later one of these people was the Master of the Lodge in Brighton, another member of the Silver Star went onto become a famous publisher of Occult literature. Occulture was and still is cultivating vital seeds for the future.

Occulture 2009

The only event to be held  in London @the Courtyard Theatre N1. Several factors made the event a strange reawakening of the magickal Arrival and as usual there was no set formula to the return of Occulture. The theme was lost in the mix but retrospectively perhaps the theme should have been the ‘magic  of place’ – in respect of Psychogeography and the situationist approach in France a la 1950′s. The appearance of the Treatment Rooms & Nick Reynolds confirmed that the times were changing and Occulture hooked into an uncertain anti-capitalist zeitgeist. It was a great shame that Woytek Suchmoski from Poland cancelled as his talk on  astrology and the financial markets may have added to the feeling that our world is not underpinned with rock solid guarantees as our chosen leaders would have us believe.

In a subtle way Stephen Skinner advanced his own academic studies to show an unbroken line of esoteric transmission from the East which counterbalanced the desolate experiences left by capitalism – anti capitalism. The knowledge that will carry humanity onward will not be found in materialism, as we have seen in recent times.

 

 

Occulture 2003

The largest Occulture Festival took place at the Sallis Benney Theatre and University Buidlings, Brighton. There were over 50 contributors and as many stallholders. The headliners were Jaz Coleman frontman of Killing Joke and Ed and Denyz Johnson.

Highlights of Occulture 2003

  • 14 strong dance troupe of the Gurdjieff dancers performed the Movements.
  • A marquee in the gardens called the Pleasure Dome curated by Mogg Morgan held talks/perfomances.
  • Oreyelle and the Metamorphic Theatre scaled a huge tree and performed an Odinistic Odessy.
  • A saxophone playing transvestite compered the main stage.
  • The worlds largest Enochian chess set was displayed.
  • Zev perfomed percussion magick in a darkened room with people lying on mats.

Occulture 2002

The 2002 event held a particularly Tibetan flavour. Mrs Takla representing the Government of official agency for his Holiness the Dalai Lama joined the Tibet Office in the opening ceremony and together with the of Mayor of Brighton were 2002′s special guests.  The compere John Belham-Payne staged the week long events. By this time Occulture had gone up to a thousand ticket holders in a week such was the demand for the event. No longer would Pagans, esotericists, Witches and the like have to endure persecution thanks to the groundswell of support for Occulture.

(c)Occulture

Occulture 2001

Whilst the official blurb says ‘Occulture 2001  followed its birth with a celebration of the 50 th anniversary of the Repeal of the Witchcraft laws and formally opened by Colin Wilson’, it might be fair to say that this was the year that the event truly arrived on the scene. It had a shape, a format, a theme and a stunning, newly opened venue  called at the time ‘The Hanbury Ballroom’. Local musician David Bramwell helped finalise one or two adjustments to the logistics.
Occulture 2001 hired internationally renowned photographer Helene Sandberg, who  captured stills of the event. Her portfolio includes the last Bjork film ‘Dancer in the Dark’, with Danish Director Lars Von Trier. Elsewhere, videographer Simon Williams captured Colin Wilson and Dave Lee speaking at the Hanbury Ballroom.
Please click here for some samples of the event.
  • A live link up by ISDN (unusual at this time) featured Eleanor Bone – The Matriarch of British Witchcraft.
  • The voices of Crowley, Derek Taylor and Alex Sanders were mixed to music.
  • The Gurdjieffian film by Peter Brook was screened at the now defunct Cinemateque.
  • A minor scandal erupted in the newspapers as Occulture was accused (wrongly of course) of animal sacrifices on stage!
  • Jeff Merrifield returned to talk about the Cathars of the Langdoc, France.
  • An obscure film made by Tracey Twyman about Rennes-Le-Chateau was screened.

The sensational attack on Occulture from a lone Evangelist  led to some interesting conversations on the notion of belief and right to live as one wishes. The Occulture Founder rang the Reverend of the church concerned and asked if lying was a good thing. Obviously the Reverend, a New Zealander of Evangelical persuasion  answer ‘No’. Once he had heard the shameful story he apologise unreservedly and was offered free tickets to attend the festival anonymously to see for himself whether the festival was evil as he might see it. No one knows whether he took up the offer to attend Occulture 2002 in cognito , although he was sent passes. The incident set in motion a further feeling that the festival might have some meaning or purpose beyond just showcasing esoteric talent.

 

Occulture 2000

The very first Occulture festival gave resonance to the idea that esotericism is something to celebrate. The event stood as a memorial to the life and work of Derek Leo Taylor, the trance medium of the late Alex Sanders – the man dubbed ‘The King of the Witches’. Derek had worked with Alex in his last coven right up until the final days of Sanders’ life and together the pair had written many long magical tracts inspired by altered states of consciousness. Derek was made head of the magical order ‘The Ordine della Nova’ and by right was commensurate in status to Sanders himself, although he preferred to avoid publicity and worked alone.
Derek Taylor was a gifted trance medium with an amazing track record in his art. His other interests included Astronomy, celestial intelligence, architecture and music. Upon his death in early 2000 the newspapers set out to vilify Mr Taylor and painted him in an untruthful and inaccurate light. The Occulture festival aimed to free him from such negative association and celebrate the many wonderful achievements of his life. The Hexagon Archive now preserve the unpublished works of both Derek Taylor and Alex Sanders.


A rare video link showing Derek Taylor and Alex Sanders working together to invooke a Fire God. The end of the piece also refers to the mysterious death of trance medium Taylor which became a Police investigation. A lady appears in this clip of the ritual who is ‘Mad’ Betty Scott-Willaims, a full blooded Romany who never spoke of the Craft ever to anyone she had not shared circle with. The gentleman at the beginning of the the video is Kevin Carlyon, the self proclaimed ‘King of White Witches’.

Gabriel Duffy

A gregarious and talkative Irishman behind whose often humorous nature was perhaps one of the most gifted people to arrive at the festival gates. His intellect may well have been thirty years ahead of the average man. From his writings, sadly unpublished in the main, lay the philosophy of phenomenology. His talk at the marquee in 2003 was suggested by Colin Wilson – a long time friend of Gabriel and the lecture was entitled ‘Metaphysical DNA’.
We are sorry to announce that Gabriel passed away in 2007. A true genius who took strides to psychologically evolve in the coming changes ahead. His book called the sexually frank  ‘Sham to Rock’ and is a riveting read and details his post war years in London and Ireland.