A Haitian Take on the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The Nine of Cups—photo by Alice Smeets.

Members of a Haitian artists’ group are re-creating the Tarot designs of Pamela Coleman Smith, otherwise known as the Rider-Waite Deck.

Photographed by Alice Smeets, they are calling it the Ghetto Tarot.

They have lots of machetes to substitute for swords. Information on crowd-funding and purchase here.

Pentagram Pizza at the Mongolian Grill

pentagrampizzaSome links worth exploring:

• In post-Soviet Mongolia, shamanism is a “growth industry,” says an MIT anthropologist. In Manuduhai Buyandelger’s Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memory, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia, she writes how, “shamanism is a historical memory for people who lost parts of their ancestral homeland, and who had been marginalized and politically oppressed.”

• Photographer Rik Garrett (formerly of the Occult Chicago blog, now relocating back to the Pacific Northwest), is interviewed at beautiful.bizarre.

Rik harnesses old, analog photography techniques and a deep sensibility that is both educated and magical. I dare to believe he is opening doors to the past, recreating a cross-section of witchcraft and the earliest technologies in photography, and to the spirit realm—illuminating phenomenon and sparking the imagination beyond the typical scope of artistry.

• Is this the first baby step toward recording your dreams?Scientists Figure Out What You See While You’re Dreaming.” I am imaging YouTube full of Inception-style videos. Yikes!

• Should you be hung as a witch? Take the test and see if you are guilty of witchcraft. (Link fixed.)

Spirits, Photography, and the Burned-Over District

Why was the Eastman Kodak Company founded in Rochester, New York, not far from the town of Hydesville (now part of Arcadia Township), where the Fox sisters birthed the American Spiritualist movement? Is there a connection between photography and spirits?

Esoteric photographer Rik Garret tof Chicago says yes, and he has launched a YouTube video series, of which this is the first episode.

He briefly mentions the Burned-Over District, which is a religion-scholar’s term for the part of northern New York (and in adjacent Vermont), where numerous new religious movements and personages started or flourished in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Andrew Jackson Davis, the “Poughkeepsie Seer,” was just one — Shakers, Mormons, and other movements either started or began to grow there. “Burned over” refers to the “fires” of revival movements that swept the area in the Second Great Awakening, which “reflected Romanticism characterized by enthusiasm, emotion, and an appeal to the super-natural. It rejected the skeptical rationalism and deism of the Enlightenment.”

You could say that we are still feeling it.

 

Massive 2015 Year-End Link Dump! Something for Everyone!

This is a Druid knife. It says so.

Some of the links that I saved that never turned into blog posts . . .

• The Internet loves quizes, so “What Kind of Witch Would You Be?” (answer: hearth witch). I always suspect that the answer is based on just one question, while the others are there just for fluff and decoration.

• I saved this link from the Forest Door blog because I liked this thought:

This is, indeed, one of the roots of many problems in modern polytheism – people being unwilling to wait and let things naturally evolve. My biggest concern here isn’t the specific examples of mis-assignment (though they do exist, and are indicative of a serious lack of understanding in some cases). It is the fact that these folks are sitting around trying to artificially assign gods to places and things as if it’s just a game, or at best an intellectual exercise.

Local cultus is the new kale.

Is a knife named for Druids meant for Druids? (Echoes of allegations of human sacrifice?) Just what does “Druid” mean here?

• I did like John Halstead’s post on “the tyranny of structurelessness.” See also “Reclaiming.” See also “The Theology of Consensus.”

• Turn off the computer and play a 1,600-year-old Viking war game.

• From last July, a Washington Post story on Asatruar in the Army.

A photography book of modern British folklore. Not an oxymoron.

• More photography: “Earth Magic – Photographer Rik Garrett Talks About Witchcraft.”

What if witches hadn’t changed that much since medieval times and were still fairly close to the popular imagery conveyed by their early enemies during the classical witchhunts?

• So you’re a Pagan? Here are ten ways to show respect for your elders. It’s the Pagan way.

• Philosophy should teach you how to live. “Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers.” Also, it’s Pagan.

• Reviewing a book on Greek and Roman animal sacrifice, which was, after all, the chief ritual back in the days when Paganism was the religion of the community.

• Was it the bells? Morris dancers attacked by dogs.

• Camille Paglia’s definition of “Pagan” is not mine, but she still kicks ass. Also, “Everything’s Awesome, and Camille Paglia Is Unhappy!”

• Embiggen thy word-hoard! Visit the Historical Thesaurus of Engish.

• But if you really want to go down the 15th-century rabbit hole, follow The Great Vowel Shift.

The New Yorker covers psychedelic therapy. To learn more, follow and donate to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Also: “How Psychedelics Are Helping Cancer Patients Fend Off Despair.”

Looking good for an academic interview.

A review from last year of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll.

• From the Chronicle of Higher Education: “How to Be Intoxicated.” Not surprisingly, Dionyus figures in more than does binge-drinking.

• Apparently the Yakuza, the Nipponese Mob, planned to call off Halloween due to a gang war. So how did that work out?

The Occluded Life of an “Occult” Photographer

William Mortensen touching up a photo portrait of the actress Jean Harlow. Other photos NSFW.

If a phrase like “famous early twentieth century California photographer” makes you think of Edward Weston or Ansel Adams, then you probably have not heard of William Mortensen, known “as ‘the Antichrist’ by Ansel Adams, a tag that stuck after Anton LaVey dedicated The Satanic Bible to him. Primarily known as a Hollywood portrait artist, he developed a myriad of pre-Photoshop special effects to craft grotesque, erotic, and mystical images.”

Publicizing a new book of his photos, Vice offers “The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography.”

His life remained a mystery. I had absorbed A. D. Coleman’s essay about Mortensen’s relegation to the backwater of photo history by the Newhalls, Adams and the rest, and, thus understood why there was little mention of him in photo history books. I’d even tracked down the booklet printed by Deborah Irmas and The Los Angeles Center for Creative Photography, who had put together the show that I’d seen. However, when I found any biographical information, the sources repeated the same story line, which came from the brief autobiographical section in Mortensen’s book The Command To Look. Beyond those slim facts there seemed to be nothing more. William Mortensen appeared to be more myth than man.

Would we say that Chicago photographer and occult historian Rik Garrett is somewhat in his lineage?

The Infrared Signature of Ghosts

Over at my other blog,  I have been posting examples of wildlife photos taken with game cameras (a/k/a scout cameras or camera traps).

Seeking to learn more about how their passive infrared (PIR) detectors work, I was browsing the Web and ended up with South Jersey Ghost Research.

Apparently, PIR motion sensors can be used for ghost-hunting. Here is a tutorial, using the term loosely.

For instance, their diagram makes no sense. An animal as small as a mouse can trip a camera. I have seen it happen. Squirrels definitely will do so. And as for cats, what is in the lower right corner of the PIR-activated camera photo on this page at the Ghosthunter Store site?

Nevertheless, the Ghosthunter Store site confidently proclaims, “When a PIR Motion Sensor detects movement in an area where there isn’t anything visible moving, you have a major unexplainable paranormal event.”

(Unless something did move but was not captured due to digital shutter lag, which happens all the time, particularly in less-fancy cameras.)

Except … I thought that ghosts traditionally were associated with unexplained cold spots in buildings. When did they start emitting infrared radiation?

Clearly, I am not up-to-date on twenty-first century ghost-hunting.

End of a Photographic Era

Your kids won’t know what “Polaroid” means.

I still have my dad’s SX-70 in its leather carrying case. It’s an expensive beast to feed, and when the last flashbar is used up, I will probably dump it. In my memory it sits next to his 1969 Jeep Wagoneer.

Some people liked Polaroid cameras for the privacy factor.