To Seek the Nature of Things, Irene Hillel-Erlanger, ‘Voyages in Kaleidoscope’

Primordia Quaerere Rerum

During the Dark Ages, countless healers and philosophers found expression in the secret science of alchemy. Known as ‘adepts’, these pilgrims sought through the physical and spiritual rigours of the ‘Great Work’ to attain the ‘Philosopher’s stone’ – a substance capable of transforming the subatomic structure of matter, of enriching or ‘ennobling’ the common elements of the periodic table, and of transmuting lead into gold – producing the elusive ‘Elixir of Life’.

In 1919, Editions Georges Cres in Paris published a curious book by a wealthy socialite, Irene Hillel-Erlanger, entitled ‘Voyages en Kaleidoscope’ (Voyage in Kaleidoscope). Irene was a poet (using the pseudonym of Claude Lorrey) and literary innovator, as well as one of the first cineastes. She was born into the wealthy Parisian banking family, the Camondo’s. When she was twenty-four, she married the well known composer, Camille Erlanger. They had one son, Philippe (who went on to organize the first Cannes Film Festival). After ten years, Camille had an affair with his lead soprano, Marthe Chenal, and the marriage was over. A scandalous divorce ensued. After, Irene became a patron of the Dadaist movement, counting Andre Breton and Louis Aragon (whose surrealist erotic novel Irene’s Con was rumored to have been based upon her) amongst her friends and fellow writers. In 1915, she began making films with the avant-garde, feminist director, Germaine Dulac, for H-D Films. In late 1919, Voyages in Kaleidoscope was published, and by March of 1920, at the age of 41, Irene was dead. Subsequently, all copies of her book were ‘pulped‘ and destroyed.

Voyages en Kaleidoscope, written in an avant-garde manner, tells the story of Joel Joze, the naïve, yet brilliant inventor, who studies the occult sciences. He invents an odd device (a kaleidoscope) that, through a dizzying process of chemical synthesis (including mysterious fluids, salts and precious metals (platinum pellets)), makes the unseen world seen. It allows the viewer to discover the hidden meaning of all things, offering a new vision of the universe – a vision to the true nature of how things are animated. In a doomed love triangle, Joze is torn between his infatuation with the darkly sensual, Countess Vera, star of the Paris ballet, and his love for the discreetly veiled, Grace. Joze chooses Vera, leading to his eventual downfall as she exploits both him and his miraculous device. In the end, Grace appears at Vera’s house to save poor Joze from the clutches of the Countess. He then discovers the two women are sisters: Vera is reality, and Grace is truth – they are two aspects of the same person, or a double emanation of the unseen – signifying both time and eternity. The Countess Vera flies into a rage. Lifting her veil, Grace reveals a white diamond in her forehead that has the power to detonate a thousand bombs. With a current of electricity, she destroys the kaleidoscope, creating a catastrophe that razes the neighborhood. Afterwards, Vera returns to her stage career, and the half paralyzed Joel returns to Grace, abandoning his ambition for power, money and worldly success. The book is narrated by Joze’s secretary, Gilly, the ‘loyal servant‘, whom Irene sagely describes as, ‘the salt of the earth‘, or whom some may recognize as saline, the first solvent in alchemy.

At first glance, Voyages seems like a lightweight romantic farce. But closer examination reveals the subtext, or hidden meaning within the text. Like carvings from the Gothic cathedrals of old, inside the story exists a certain ‘spoken cabala‘ or ‘cant‘ –  “a language peculiar to all individuals who wish to communicate their thoughts without being understood by outsiders.” (Fulcanelli) Irene elucidated further in Par amour (In Litterature, n°10, December 1919 – her last published work before her death) when she stated, “enigmas, signs, you are everywhere, if only we: knew how to read, how to see, but then we are carnal readers and blindly presumptuous.” There were rumors that within the pages of Voyages she exposed the process defining ‘the Great Work‘. Others said, she gave away the identity of the master alchemist who had successfully transmuted ‘the Great Work‘. And while there is no proof Irene was a practicing alchemist, she was well entrenched within the occult community of La Belle Epoch (including such luminaries as Fulcanelli, Jean-Julien Champagne, Pierre Pujols de Valois, Eugene Canseliet and Louise Barbe, to name a few). A community that traveled throughout high society who, for the most part, funded their efforts.

After Irene died all traces of her work would have been eradicated if not for a tight-knit group of alchemists who had held her in high regard. In 1945, Eugene Canseliet mentioned in his book, Deux logis alchimiques, en marge de la science et de l’histoire, that he had been ordered (by Fulcanelli) to find a copy of Les Voyages en Kaleidoscope in 1919, managing to do so before they were destroyed. He also wrote of a model who posed for a painting done by Jean Julien Champagne at the request of Fulcanelli in 1910, whom often “frequented the house of Mme. Erlanger”. He went on to say his master (Fulcanelli) had been surprised to see the level of like-minded symbolism hidden within the text of Voyages.

In the secretive community of alchemists there is a  rule strictly adhered to – ‘silencium‘. Perhaps it is best described by the motto of alchemist, Jacques Coeur (1395-1456), “JOIE. DIRE. FAIRE. TAIRE”. (About my joy, say it, do it, be silent). The alchemist, Georges Starkey (1628- 1665), whose pseudonym was Eyrenee Philathe, in his 1740-54 treaty,  ‘L’Entrée ouverte au Palais fermé du Roi’ (The entrance is open in the closed palace of the King) wrote, “I know several people who own ‘the art’, and who hold the real keys: all want the most rigorous about her silence. For me, I hope in my God made me think otherwise, and that is why I wrote this book, none of my brothers Followers (with whom I am in daily reports) knows nothing.” Quite clearly he knows he is breaking the rule of silencium, while protecting his adepts so they will not be ostracized – or worse.

In the subtext of Voyages, Irene may have broken the rule of ‘silencium’, but was the infraction worth her life? Since the advent of the internet, stories have circulated that Irene was poisoned by oysters at her book launch (Voyages makes much wordplay on oyster cocktails) for betraying the secrets of ‘the Great Work‘ within the ten ‘voyages‘ described in her novel. Unfortunately, there’s no proof for this conjecture.

Much of the murder speculation centers around a curious diagram for a ‘thermo maitre‘ (thermometer) by painter, Kees Von Dongen, that supposedly divulged the ‘temperature scale‘ of ‘the Great Work’. But perhaps the drawing, along with the characters of Vera and Grace, were meant as an allegory. In The Kybolian (1910), by the ‘three initiates‘, chapter II, The Principles of Polarity, states, “Heat and Cold, although “opposites,” are really the same thing, the differences consisting merely of degrees of the same thing. Look at your thermometer and see if you can discover where “heat” terminates and “cold” begins! There is no such thing as “absolute heat” or “absolute cold”–the two terms “heat” and “cold” simply indicate varying degrees of the same thing, and that “same thing” which manifests as “heat” and “cold” is merely a form, variety, and rate of Vibration.”

Having been born into a wealthy banking family, it is no stretch of the imagination to say Irene’s artistic pursuits were something of an embarrassment. First, the scandalous dissolution of her marriage. Of course, funding the rebellious Dadaists of her day whom she openly invited into her house, making movies and keeping occult company, didn’t exactly thrill them either. Irene’s uncle, Solomon Camondo, had married into the wealthy Pereire family who owned the infamous financial institution, the Banque Transatlantique, whose monetary pursuits covered the globe. It is evident from the wording in the ‘4° voyage‘ (Voyages in Kaleidoscope) titled ‘The Octopus‘ (pages 77-81 version Allia, 1998) Irene didn’t approve of the merchant banking business.

the octopus
However eats, digests, and Devours
everything it has…”

“Money is nothing here
if it’s not GOLD
Gold is nothing
if it is not
FORCE
(material)”

Different sources of power (or force material) in the early 19th century were jealously guarded. It is no coincidence that in the history of the Banque Transatlantique “the banque’s largest undertakings began at the turn of the century when the new gas and electricity industries created a demand for distribution.” Most alchemists of the time worked under the guises as scientist and chemists. Some of them, like Eugene Caneseliet, worked for years at the Sarcelles gasworks. Film director and adept, Walter Lang, writes in his introduction to the second edition of Fulcanelli’s,  Mystery of the Cathedrals (1977), “Alchemy is the total science of energy transformation... The decay of radium into lead with the release of radioactivity is alchemy. The explosion of a nuclear bomb is alchemy…

In Voyages, the inventor of the kaleidoscope bears the distinctive name, Joel Joze. People have speculated whether it was a pseudonym for Jean-Julien Champagne, the inventor, painter, alchemist, who was close to Fulcanelli, or the scientist, alchemist, James Joules, who created the ‘Joules effect‘, noted for his work on the first law of thermodynamics and kinetic energy. A straight line can be drawn from the work of James Joules to the work of Ernest Marsden, and Ernest Rutherford (the father of nuclear physics), when Rutherford managed an alchemical hat trick by using radium as an alpha source to probe the atomic structure of gold.

At the end of the ‘work‘ in Voyages, Grace discloses the ‘truth‘ when she lifts her veil to reveal the white diamond on her forward that has immeasurable destructive force. With the advances that were occurring in the science of energy of time was Irene Hillel-Erlanger trying to warn of the deadly potential of this knowledge? There might be another hint in her story. Joel Joze, unhappy within the established constraints of the academy which surrounded the positives science, namely physics and chemistry that he was hypnotized by, one day he found his answer within the masters of the Occult: namely, the Cabbala and the Bible.

Soon he (Joel Joze) became master of the fluidic forces which prevail in the world. And the secret was not entirely buried (hidden) since the Very-Sublime Antiquity. Docile to his commandments, these forces merged with their captive brothers; Rays. Radiant bodies. Fragrances. Electrics. Of which we know nothing. And of which we serve. These Great Princes-Prisoners under their metal armlets and glass masks.

Furthermore, in his introduction to Mystery of the Cathedrals, Walter Lang tells a curious story of how French researcher, Jacques Bergier, assistant to the noted physicist, Andre Helbronner, received a visit from an impressive individual who passed onto him a ‘strange and highly knowledgeable warning which had to do with the fact that orthodox science was on the brink of manipulating nuclear energy’. “The stranger said it was his duty to warn that this same abyss had been crossed by humanity in the past with disastrous consequences. Knowing human nature, he had no hope that such a warning would have any effect but it was his duty to give it.” Bergier became convinced the stranger was none other than the master alchemist, Fulcanelli.

Sadly enough, breaking the rule of ‘silencium’ is not what eliminated most of Irene’s legacy but instead, it was the greed of the octopus. Shortly after her death, her uncle Solomon Camondo, bought all of her work he could find and ordered it to be destroyed. His reasons for doing so remains murky. Whether she was an embarrassment to the prestigious family name, or she had touched upon secrets from Solomon’s ‘power‘ sector that were never meant for the public, we will never know. Her son, Philippe wrote that she, “she was considered and outcast who brought scandal to the family through her outspoken intellectual prowness.

Ahead of her time and in the ‘know‘, it seems death was the only way to silence Irene. But the underground stream always manages to surface and neither time, nor money, could erase her from memory. The ‘work‘ transcends and flows forth.

This time I will contribute a modest stone to the edifice of hermetic poetry by evoking an authentic, almost contemporary alchemist whom, I think, I am entitled to call an Adept, and whose writings are practically impossible to find. I mean Irene Hillel-Erlanger.” – poet heremeticist, Andre Savoret.

Special thanks to Richard Armin for his correspondence and for steering me in the right direction when it comes to the source material.

A different version of this story was written by Scarlett Amaris and Richard Stanley for The Heretic Magazine.

Gloraie to the End of the World (in the blink of an eye) – redux

 

Juan de Valdes Leal (1622-1690) was a Spanish painter of the Baroque era. His style was considered mature, often bordering on the macabre, with it’s flagrant brushstrokes. Most of his paintings dealt with the allegory of the transience of life and death. Two of his most famous works, Finis Gloriae Mundi and In Icti Occuli, translate roughly to ‘the end of the glory of the world in the blink of an eye’. With it’s subtle and apocalyptic overtones was there more to Leal’s work than what meets the eye?

Finis Gloriae Mundi was also the title of the master alchemist Fulcanelli’s unpublished third tome. The task of editing Fulcanelli’s books fell upon his adept, author and alchemist, Eugene Canseliet, who in his own words said, “it is only for Finis Gloriae Mundi that a few notes were actually written and they were not included in the parcel with the other notes. I don’t know why. I have used those texts, since they were outside, in order to get an idea of what the third book might have been like. What would it have been in actuality, I have no idea. But Fulcanelli wanted the parcel back and he took it from me. Perhaps there were very serious matters in there.” Canseliet continued, “the two texts that were published from these notes appeared in the second edition of the Mysteries of the Cathedrals and in Dwellings of the Philosophers. They are chapters dealing respectively with the cyclical cross of Hendaye and the paradox of the unlimited progress of sciences.”

Having personally read through these passages many times, one could easily say they contain dire warnings about the future of nuclear energy and the coming age of iron; the age of death.

The first edition of Mysteries of the Cathedrals was published by Jean Schmidt in 1926. Then, it was republished in 1957 with the added chapter on the cyclical cross of Hendaye. An account of the cross was originally written by Jules Boucher in 1936, but Fulcanelli took it one step further by identifying the base of the mystery cross with the four ages of a man: Creda Yuga, or the age of innocence, when innocence was firmly established on earth; Treda Yuga, corresponding to the age of silver; Trouvabara Yuga, or the age of bronze; and the age of iron, the fourth and last age, and the one that we currently live in, the Kuli Yuga, the age of misery, misfortune and decrepitude. These four ages in Hindu mythology can be attributed to the form of a cow that symbolizes virtue, and goes from standing on four legs, to a final and weakened state, barely able to balance on one leg.

Photo by J. Stabler.

Fulcanelli also left us with a mystery written on the cross, OXCRUXAVES PENUNICA, which could be read, ‘O crux ave spes unica’ (Hail, o cross, the only hope), but the translation should read unicus not unica. In using the ‘secret language of the birds‘ or the ‘green language‘, a phonetic wordplay with it’s origins in ancient Greek, by using a permutation of the vowels, Fulcanelli comes up with this sentence, ‘Il est ecrit que la vie se refugie en un seul espace’ (it is written that life takes refuge within a single space).

 

Juan Valdes Leal had a benefactor, Don Miguel de Manara, who was a knight of the Order of Calatrava, and who’s tempestuous life was rumored to be the inspiration behind one the many Don Juan myths of the time. Old Don Miguel even had an opera named after him, composed by Franco Alfano. The story goes that late one night, while stumbling home from a raucous party (or possible orgy), Don Miguel had a horrifying and life-changing vision. The vision consisted of a large funeral procession. When he looked upon the open casket, he realized the corpse inside was none other than himself — only as a dead man.  After this he cleaned up his act and became a benefactor to the Hospital de la Caridad in Seville (a place dedicated to helping the poor) as penance for his previous life. Atoning for his sins doesn’t seem to have have left its mark on him as his epitaph states, ‘here lies the bones and ashes of the worst person who ever lived on earth‘. His last will and testament contained the most humble of self accusations, not only as a ‘great sinner‘, but also an ‘adulterer, robber, and servant of the devil’.

Finis Gloraie Mundi

Finis Gloriae Mundi, the glory of the end of the world. The painting based off of Don Miguel de Manara’s vision of his funeral procession. Quite possibly, that is him lying with his eyes wide open, with no signs of decay, as though freshly dead — or undead. The herald of the Order of Calatrava readily visible on his arm and to his left lies the corpse of a bishop in a state of extreme decay, with bugs crawling all over it. In the background a female hand bearing the mark of the crucifixion, emerges from the clouds holding a set of scales: the words nimas (neither more) and nimenos (nor less) can be read together as ‘neither too many, nor too few‘. On the left set of scales there appears a snarling lamb of god (to me, it looks more like a puppy), and the skull of a goat, which could symbolize the ‘golden fleece’. This is interesting because Fulcanelli states the ‘art gotique’ or ‘argot’ was the secret language of the Argonauts, those who manned the Argo on its voyage to ‘the felicitous shores of Colchis‘. Hence, by the symbolic language, it becomes the vessel, the ‘argot‘, whereby the truth, symbolized by the fleece, is transmitted across the ages. Coincidentally, there was also an ‘Order of the Golden Fleece‘ that was closely connected to the ‘Order of Calatrava‘.

Also depicted in the painting is a toad (a familiar), a fan of peacock feathers (vanity), and a heart. Again a heart on the right set of scales, but with the initials IHS (Jesus Hominum Salvator), a closed book (subtext), a loaf of bread, and other religious adornments. Don Miguel appears to be staring glassy-eyed at the left set of scales. There is an ominous looking owl perched on the third of the seven steps that lead to the light, staring towards the bishop. The French word for owl comes from ‘chouette‘ from the old Occitan word ‘chòta’. In Greek ‘chous’ signifies the tumulus, or the mound above a tomb. In old Khem, ‘Shu’ or ‘Chou‘ is the light of the east that divides heaven and earth. The owl represents thought and consciousness. The nocturnal bird of prey also symbolizes Lucifer. In the painting its body is cast in the shadow of the stairway, while its head is in the light. Night is the symbol of death, and the head bears the light: the two aspects of Lucifer, at once the ‘guardian of hell‘, but also the ‘light bearer or light bringer‘.

In Ictu Occuli

In Icti Occuli, or ‘in the blink of an eye‘. The allegory of death presents the triumph of the grim reaper as he sweeps into the picture. He is an imposing figure, with one skeletal foot standing on the globe, while the other stands on armaments; the trappings of office and the insignia of power. Under one arm he carries a coffin and, in his hand, a scythe. His bony right fingers snuff out the life-light represented by the candle as he stares at the viewer from the depths of his empty eye sockets. The candlestick, and the bishop’s cross, form a radius over the bishop’s hat from where death puts out the flame. On the coffin rests pontifical robes, a bishop’s crosier, a papal cross and tiara. Close to the tiara two royal crowns rest on some purple fabric. From one hangs the chain of the ‘Order of the Golden Fleece‘, the pendant representing Saint Michael slaying the dragon. Notice the open book with the architectural drawing which looks to be the drawing of a cathedral? The same image is depicted in another of his paintings, along with images of open and closed texts: knowledge open and knowledge hidden. Printed on the spines of the three books are the words ‘history’, ‘science’ and ‘religion’ the vanities of the material world.

In Mystery of the Cathedrals, Fulcanelli writes about the coming rotation of the earth’s poles and warns that every 12,000 thousand years, under the sign of Leo or under that of Aquarius, Saturn brandishes his scythe and, with his foot, tips the earth on its axis. He is, in alchemical terminology, the secret fire which purifies matter. In Dwellings of the Philosophers, Fulcanelli sagely writes, “… human evolution expands and develops between the two scourges. Water and fire, agents of all material mutations, work together during the same time and each in an opposing terrestrial region. And since the solar movement – that is to say the ascension of the star to the zenith of the pole – remains the great driving force of the elemental conflagration, the result is that the northern hemisphere is, alternately, submerged at the end of one cycle and charred at the completion of the following… One must await with sangfroid the supreme hour, that of punishment for many, and martyrdom for others.”

Leyendo la regla de la Caridad

The curious portrait above, Leyendo la regla de la Caridad (Reading the rule of Charity), also hangs in the chapel of the Hospital de la Caridad. It’s quite possible the three together were meant to viewed as a triptych. Don Miguel ordered to have the painting done after his death in 1679. He’s featured once again sporting the emblem of the Order of Calatrava on his left arm. More open and closed books are shown – symbols of hidden or half-hidden knowledge (occult or esoteric). Then there’s the odd-looking child seated in the habit who seems to be saying, “shhhh – don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret, but I’ve been reading that somehow a 17th century Don Miguel knows exactly what a mushroom cloud looks like. In fact he’s pointing straight to it!”

And who would this potential new-born son of Horus, Harpocrates, whose feet are positioned on the black squares of a checkerboard floor, be to tell one to be silent? He who is the symbol of hope against the suffering of humanity. Perhaps the third painting was meant as the fulfillment of the  promise of first two, or a warning of how one could truly bring the glory of end the world in the blink of an eye. “Behold I show you a mystery; We shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.” I Corinthians 15: 51-52

Gloraie to the End of the World (in the blink of an eye)redux, published in The Heretic Magazine Issue 10.

Mo(u)rning Views…

My friend, and often times co-writer, Melissa Saint Hilaire and I decided to take a spur of the moment field trip to the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena to scout locations for an upcoming enormously exciting not-so-secret-secret-project that has nothing to do with alternative religions. Little did we know what we were in for…

Melissa and I hadn’t gone exploring together since the Black Star Canyon ghost hunting fandango almost nine years ago, and although entertaining, it was a total wash out (except for the crazed rednecks waiting for us in their monster truck as we left the canyon at around midnight. Luckily, we scared them more than they scared us, but I’ve seen that scenario in a movie before, and it normally ends in either tears, death, or squealing like a pig).

Melissa doing a good job of being spooky
Part of the giant rose window

The ground floor of the mausoleum was dazzling with rose windows, murals spanning the ceilings, and lots of Italian marble and dead people. Quickly, we realized we had the place to ourselves and got down to investigating.

I was delighted to spy these eight-pointed stars on the second floor. Informally known as the Star of Isis, I used to come across the exact symbol etched into rock at the various mystery spots in the Languedoc region of the South of France where I lived for many years ( for those in the know, I think it was an attempt to mark out the points on David’s Wood’s original pentagram in Genisis. For those not in the know, David Wood wrote a bonkers book called Genisis back in 1986 which basically introduced the Rennes (Rennes-le-Chateau) pentagram, and an increasingly baffling system of sacro-sexual geometry hidden within the landscape — it’s a must read if only for the ‘Ass of Set’). Why the star of Isis? You’s have to ask the sorcerer who’s been carving them all of these years. I mean there are eight points to the Pagan Wheel Year, not to mention the seal of the prophets, and, of course, King Solomon — and all of his barking seals.

Eight pointed star – paging Isis, Inanna, Ishtar, Lakshmi & co
The Great Architect, the eye in the pyramid, part of the tetragramatton . 1, 3, 4,
The stained glass below was a shocker — the colors of the county of Foix, along with a three-tiered castle, which has to do with an Occitan prophecy, and not much to do with a mausoleum in Southern California. The timing is spooky because I’m waiting on one more map (which is on it’s way here) but I think I’ve come up with a fairly valid theory as to why Montsegur and some of the surrounding castles have a solstice effect. If I’m right it’s gonna throw the cat amongst the mystery & history loving pigeons.

No. No Masonic symbols here. Only a few geometrical and architectural themes…
 Not being well versed in Masonry, I don’t know if that’s the ‘high twelve’ in the plates above, or the ‘low twelve’ — or if it would be considered the twelve points on the fully expressed circle.
Il est difficile de vivre l’heure entre chien et loup
“Infinity like time without a friend. Who’ll sing the song if the melody should end?”

The third floor was fairly desolate. With scores of long-dead flowers, and piles of broken furniture hoarded into the corners, it was obvious no one came up there any more. While passing by a darkened alcove, Melissa and I froze in our tracks, both having felt an icy chilly emanating from it. Kneeling next to the enclosure using her iPhone as a torch, Melissa read the names from inside. “Elizabeth,” she said. “Eeelliizzzaaabethhhh….Shhhhh…..! something angrily whispered back. We high-tailed it down the stairs, laughing as we hit the bottom. Not gales of laughter, but nervous, adrenaline laced laughter. Afterwards, we jimmied the lock and checked out the chapel, but there was nothing to be found that wasn’t of the waking world. Calling it a day, we reckoned we’d probably more than worn out our welcome.

Until next time —
Much love from where the worlds touch.
S – xx

 

Still…

I’ve been going through a minor crisis. I’m always happiest when life is a whirlwind, but it hasn’t been lately. There’s been a lot of stillness — something I never sit with comfortably. Perhaps it’s the breath before the storm. There’s been so much change and heartache this year. So many people are scared. So many people are hurting and with this vast underbelly of misogyny and racism that has reared its ugly head in this country it’s hard not to despair — but despair we must not. This isn’t my favorite time of year, either. Winter is not so harsh in LA, but Christmas leaves me cold none-the-less. I don’t think I ever liked Christmas. I remember my neighbors rapturously telling me about the angels flying around their tree when I was a child. I peered endlessly at our tree for a couple of years before I realized said neighbors were religious fanatics and technically insane. I think my favorite Christmas was in fourth or fifth grade when my mother bought me cassettes of Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman and Devo’s Freedom of Choice — which, in retrospect, explains a lot about my life.

Things I’ve been doing in the interim…
Writing on the new book. After a cracking first few chapters it’s been slow going. Mainly that’s because I keep getting lost in the research and am making new connections all the time so the outline keeps changing. I have promised myself this time I will use an outline and stick to it — it’ll never happen.

Lilith by Leigh McCloskey

An old friend of mine from the Languedoc, Anaiya Sophia was in Malibu so I went to visit her at Leigh McCloskey’s house, Olandar. Leigh was in two of my favorite movies, Inferno, and The Bermuda Depths. Wandering through his painted 3-D environment, Hieroglyph of the Human Soul, it was all I could do not to ask him about working with Dario (not the right crowd). Was a thoroughly enjoyable evening (Anaiya talked about the dark side of the feminine which reminded me of many conversations we had sitting in the sunshine in the garden of Yobaba Lounge in Chalabre, France — making me miss my home something fierce) and Leigh’a paintings, especially the one of Lilith, intrigued me to no end. I was also in serious awe of his library and could have spent days there perusing through the titles. You can learn more about Hieroglyph of the Human Soul here.

Speaking of which, I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. My favorites so far: The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: the Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose. Obviously, I was not the only one haunted by the line in Fulcanelli’s Dwellings of the Philosophers, “The Tales of Mother Goose (mother law, primary law) are hermetical narratives where esoteric truths mingle with the marvelous and legendary setting of the Saturnalia, of Paradise, and of the Golden Age.” Evidently, Bernard Roger, the author was as well. He was also one of the last disciples of Fulcanelli’s adept, Eugene Canseliet which makes me beyond curious to his research. I just finished Normal by Warren Ellis, and had the pleasure of hearing him read from it the other night. It’s a far cry from the folklore and history I’m normally steeped in, but I’m terrified by the notion the science of machines may be an unhealthy magic in the exploitation of nature — namely electronic genius loci. I won’t say more because you should read it yourself, although I was musing with a friend the other night that part of my current state of mind may spring from occulted abyss gaze. I’ve been pulling on the threads of the past, and slogging through dense treatises for so long that I’m only barely in the present, only now do I own a cell phone and know how to download an app. Perhaps I’ll be sent to Abnormal. Perhaps I already have and that’s what LA really is. What else? I thoroughly enjoyed Strange Revelations: Magic, Poison and Sacrilege in Louis IVX’s France by Lynn Wood Mollenauer. I have to say some of the chapters were beyond horrific. As the mother of the Mother of Toads who killed everyone in the film (yes, technically Clark Ashton Smith is her creator, but I gave her some modern day nefarious nuance) there were a couple of times I actually set this book down. Still, if you have the stomach for it, it’s a fascinating read.

I also have another article in the latest issue of The Heretic Magazine. On the Trail of the Tetramorph – “In an attempt to bring order and meaning into the structure of their daily existence, the first wise Persian astrologers appointed four royal stars in the sky, otherwise known as the watchers, who stood over the universality of divine dominion.” The Heretic Magazine contains a choice selection of feature articles written by cross-disciplinary experts in the fields of Alternative History, Lost Civilizations and Technologies, Mysteries and Conundrums, Religion, the Occult, Politics, Science and more. If you’re at all curious — follow the link — The Heretic Magazine Issue 11. Much thanks to Editor, Andrew Gough, and to Mark Foster, Creative Director, for having me onboard.

There are two projects in the works that I am beyond excited about but cannot say anything about them right now. I shouldn’t even say that, but I can’t help myself. As for Desired Pyrotechnics… it’s taking longer than expected. Fingers crossed it will be out by the beginning of the year. I do not doubt knowing the way my life goes that everything will come crashing in at once and I’ll be throwing my hands in the air screaming, “What the fuck!”
I sure hope so…

Until then I’ll be holed up at Lux in Tenebris HQ, grumbling about the holidays, and spiking the eggnog.

Much love from where the worlds touch,
S- xx

ps – I cut my hair. It was beyond time for a change and secret agent suits my mood.

 

The Tides are Turning…

Finally a quiet moment while waiting for the hunter’s moon to arrive…

Something I came across earlier from this years journal – June 21st.

“Is the death of magic the saddest death of all? Watching the magic leave the land and fade like the half-remembered sunset? Nothing sustains — all is cyclical — the ebb and flow to which we cling. The donkey’s bray and claim it’s not true. The believers all point their crooked fingers, but they know it’s true in their heart of hearts… the magic has left the land. Maybe some day in the hazy future it will reappear again, but for now it’s enough to know it once existed, and to move forward in the world.”

 Does anyone even read blogs anymore? I have to wonder. I admit, I’ve been lazy about keeping this up. After pushing out two books in rapid succession (one released and one not yet released) I’ve wanted to do anything other than produce more verbiage. Even though work on the next book is stalling, I’m not worried about it. There’s projects galore on the table and I couldn’t be more thrilled even if I can’t talk about them at this moment in time. And I’m extremely grateful because after a huge amount of hard work, I’ve caught a couple of lucky breaks.

Currently, I’m holed up at a friend’s house way up in the canyon. Some place out of time where the coyotes sing at night, and the oak trees dance under the light of another super moon. I always need a break from the city to recharge. Especially with all the election trauma. I’ve watched the debates, but they’ve left me feeling like I’ve poked the rotting underbelly of some gangrenous animal in its death throes. I try not to turn my head away, but what’s the lesson to be learned? He who dies with the most toys wins? I know from experience you cannot teach an entitled monster the error of their ways because they simply do not care. In fact, they love their soul-crushing ways. They love to inflict pain and destroy things because it makes them feel powerful. Well, that, and getting people to get onboard with their despicable behavior. I’m kind of surprised that anyone is shocked Trump has acted in such a blatantly misogynistic way and brushes it off as ‘locker room talk’. Just like I’m surprised the word ‘pussy’ has the American public up in arms, especially after all the horrible racist comments that have been spewed forth. After the last loathsome debate, the pizza delivery man told me he thought Trump had handled himself really well — much better than the time before. As I gaped at him, not quite believing my ears, I asked him what he saw in Trump. He told me Trump was for ‘guys like him’. Then, he laughed and said I was like his daughter and she hates Trump, but she was smart, and that’s why he sent her to college. I still can’t wrap my head around his statement because it has nothing to do with qualification, or the bigger picture in general, but has to do with some weird, self-loathing, underdog identification, that has nothing to do with ones, and the nations, general safety and welfare. I’m not trying to man-bash here. The pizza guy was the first person I’ve come across who actually had a kind word about Trump, except some adamant, pro-lifer, who I blocked on FB, which shows how insular my world is. I totally get identifying with the underdog who is shaking up the system. There’s a rebellious punk rock teenager raising a middle finger trapped within my adult body, but Trump isn’t ‘like him’, and isn’t for ‘guys like him’. Trump’s never been ‘like him’, and in all honesty, probably doesn’t know anyone ‘like him’. That’s the disconnect, as well as the obvious. And it makes my skin crawl that possibly he meant ‘guys like him’ as in misogynistic creeps. I’m fairly certain that’s not what he meant. At least I hope not because that would be an even uglier can of worms and a more dire state of affairs.

As for the Patreon thing I wrote about in the last blog… My apologies, but it’s not gonna happen. I’m taking the page down. My everlasting thanks to those who expressed an interest in it, but I don’t have the time as the winds have shifted and fortune is blowing in a new creative direction — one I’ve come to realize I’ve wanted for a very long time — so I’m going for it. My hats off to those creators who make those kind of platforms work for them, and I’m in love with the idea of artists supporting artists, but for now, I’m going to step down, and instead, support the friends I have on there and applaud from the sidelines.

There isn’t much more to tell because I’ve been diligently crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s, and making certain all of my bases are covered. It’s not glamorous, but it is necessary so I don’t repeat some of my mistakes from the past. I don’t mind making mistakes as long as I learn from them.

So in the meantime, be true to yourself and fuck the naysayers and bullies at large. Make the world a bigger and brighter place, and not smaller and meaner. Be kind to yourself and to those around you. I don’t know what else — don’t be an asshole? That kind of goes without saying…

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S – xx

 

Beauty in Ruin

I’ve only got an hour but I wanted to share a couple things.

This is what happens when I am left to my own devices for periods of time. I’ve been house-sitting for a friend who had a family emergency. In the midst of my quiet time in the canyon, all hell broke loose. Fires raging from all sides, no sleep, high alert, ash raining down like snowflakes, the skies turning dark at midday — it was all quite biblical. I couldn’t leave, so I hunkered down with the animals and tested new electronic things to amuse myself. First, I taught myself to record and edit audio — the digital way — the 21st century way. I’ve needed to do this for quite some time. The last time I learned to record and edit audio was in the early nineties at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I have hazy memories of being deep within the under recesses of the school, plugging cables into sockets and unwrapping and rewrapping miles of wires (last year an old friend told me he was the one who set up the miasma of audio equipment down there and we laughed while reminiscing how one could get stuck in those endless, winding, corridors editing for days, like troglodytes never seeing the sun, passing out in the hallways, and watching the cockroaches climb out of the vending machine one just bought coffee from. Chicago has its own brand of humor). Anyhow, I put together my first spoken work piece for Sisters of the Wasteland. This will not be the project’s final form, nor am I about to start writing poetry, or doing spoken word for that matter, but it’s a test. I will be doing a lot more audio like I used to do, but I suspect it will end up more as lyrics and songs. Also, I love to mix found sounds. Always have. I tend to listen to the world in an odd way. Ask anyone’s who’s ever been in the car with me as we go under a freeway underpass and motorcycles race overhead, and I’m transfixed by the distorted echo, wishing out loud they would do it again. Beauty in ruin. Generally, that’s about the time someone asks me if I’m tripping balls with a worried expression on their face, but I digress.

Here’s the link if you want to give it a listen:

https://soundcloud.com/scarlett-amaris/sisters-of-the-wasteland-audio

I also did some test shots for the upcoming series, Lux in Tenenbris, on the seriously mysterious goings on in fin de siecle Paris, which will make it’s debut in the middle of August on Patreon (yes, it was originally scheduled for the beginning of August, but I missed the first window of filming thanks to the unscheduled arrival of the hellacious Sand Fire). These are actually the wrong contacts. I could have sent them back, but once I opened them — I had to give them a go. I know they’re a little much — but still…………..

Before I run, I wanted to share this as well as the ‘so-called real world’ is swimming in the zeitgeist and we step closer toward the black iron prison every day (of course, one could argue we’re already there. I might agree.) It’s a short film by my friend, director and writer, Eric Shapiro, called HOAX, which you can watch for free on Amazon – just press HERE

The hour has struck. Time for me to go.

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S – xx

p.s. Here’s the link to the Patreon page where the new series will be happening – Lux in Tenebris

Patreon Alert…!

So I’ve finally done it — I’ve taken the plunge and joined the Patreon platform. Let’s see how well I do because I’ve never been that savvy at social media and yet, I keep on trying. Of course, me being me, I pushed the publish button about a month ago before I was anywhere near ready — kinda the story of my life. So I’ve been busy working on the next book. The outline is finished, but modern-day Paris doesn’t want to geographically correlate the way I want it to — dammit — why can’t the topography just obey my whims and reshape itself accordingly? After writing two books last year it feels kind of like ripping the flesh off my tongue with a Popsicle stick starting another one. I probably shouldn’t say things like that but it’s true. None of the characters have their own voice or style yet, and they certainly aren’t talking to me, nor to each other — they’re only vague, shadowy outlines, grumbling quietly in the outer recesses of my imagination. I always dread beginnings. It’s ridiculous because every story must have one. I’m much happier polishing existing material, or creating bombastic dark fantasy sequences. Now that I’ve furtively collected the necessary technology and learned to apply it (hence why I’ve been absent on the social sites lately — I’ve been busy learning new things so I can further my preternatural agenda) I’m going to share some of the esoteric research permeating the new book in a web series called Lux in Tenebris on my Patreon page starting the middle of August. It’ll consist of some of the more curious esoteric gossip abounding in fin-de-siecle Paris and other inherent mysteries. The first episode, entitled ‘Cursed Again!’, will feature warring necromancers and authors using black magic and such — and maybe a little mind-crunching alchemy. Okay, they’ll be a lot of mind-crunching alchemy, but not to start with — even I’m not ready to head down that rabbit hole yet. But I hope you will join me there. Like always, I’m approachable and open to suggestions, but keep it to the La Belle Epoque if you can — think Fulcanelli and company and we’ll be in business.

Here’s the link!

 THANK YOU!
       

And the new Lux in Tenebris merchandise is in! You can find more about it HERE!

I’ll still be posting some on this site, but I will be spending more and more time over on Patreon with the new series. Come join me for this new adventure — I would love to see you there!!!

And in other news… I’ve got a new article out in always fascinating The Heretic Magazine called ‘Gloraie to the End of the World (in the blink of an eye)’ deconstructing the apocalyptic imagery in the enigmatic paintings of Juan Valdes Leal. There’s a little Fulcanelli thrown in there, along with the mystery cross of Hendaye, warnings about the end of the world, Harpocrates, and the Kali Yuga. You can find out more HERE.

By fire we are born anew…

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S -xx

p.s. I decided to stay in LA for the summer. Obviously, I am not regretting that choice one little bit…

Un rêve dans un rêve…

Nicola Samori, School of Pan, 2011

Often when I wake out of dreams the first thing I do is write down the fragments floating around in my head. The problem is if I don’t do so sometimes the dream scenarios become trapped and refuse to make way for what I need to be thinking about and working on. There’s about twenty or so ragged and dog-eared notebooks full of these which I revisit from time to time. I thought maybe I would start sharing some of them here because sometimes these scenarios blossom into bigger things. There’s stacks of them in the third Saurimonde book where I took written pieces of my actual nightmares, rearranged the elements of six or seven separate instances into one semi-cohesive supernatural nightmare sequence, then I added in the mythology and remixed them again (sort of a mild version of the cut-up technique). I think maybe that’s why when they work, they have resonance.

So here’s the fragment from this morning. I find the idea being trapped or lost within the cycles of incarnation is a theme which often permeates my subconscious.
“The room was lit by the muted television set and a haze of bluish smoke hovered in the air from the cigarette they shared between them. She didn’t think she had ever stared into someones eyes and seen herself so clearly before. The feeling frightened her because it spoke of other times and places where they had known each other. Stroking the plane from his eyebrow to cheekbone with her fingertips, she chose her words with care. “I know you.”
“So you are beginning to remember…?”

Burying her her head into the nape of his neck, she whispered against his skin, “You are not the only accidental guest on this darkened planet — I was never meant to be here either.

Will it go into the next book? Maybe. Speaking of the next book, I’ve got the outline down and it will center around the enigmatic north porch of Notre Dame de Paris, the Belle Epoch alchemists, signs, portents, and chance encounters — some of my favorite pet obsessions. Most likely it will be a supernatural thriller which I am kind of excited about writing. I feel the need to re-root myself back into the twenty-first century for a while, and put the puzzle pieces together in a different configuration. It might not work. One never knows. I loved the outline and the ideas behind Demon Priest, and it had a cracking opening, but three chapters in I realized I had made a fatal error — I’m not a strong enough writer to narrate a whole book from a male perspective. At least not that kind of book. But that is how you learn, and possibly I’ll use that first chapter for something else one day, or figure how to come at that story from another point of view when the time is right.

Here’s the prologue from Demon Priest: (another snippet of a dream).

“There was that noise again. The throbbing of drums echoed across the valley punctuated by faraway screams. Stirring, she opened her eyes to see the bright spots of firelight glowing like fireflies in the distance. Smiling to herself, she shifted on the ground near the mouth of the shallow cave. Let them celebrate me, she mused. Let them have this night to shout and dance and to make love under the stars. Soon they would be no more, like the others who came before them. She was tired now — so very tired. The time was near when she would retreat into the cool earth where she would slumber and dream in endless darkness. No one would find her there. She knew these lands like no other and indeed, she had been here before the mountains had been formed, when there was only a vast, endless ocean. Then, the tectonic plates crashed together and what was molten soon cooled as slow moving glaciers formed the first valleys. Like herself, the terrain changed and was born anew, only to become old again. The humans called out to her, shouting her name while waving their cups in the air. A giant effigy burned sending sparks flying out into the night sky as the smaller bonfires were extinguished. I will return, she promised as the weariness took hold of her again. I always do. These humans mean little more to me than insects now. Sighing one last time against the dirt, she murmured, But first, please grant me oblivion…”

There’s not a huge amount of news to be had. Currently, I’m finishing up a project I should have completed ages ago. It’s tricky and complicated and doesn’t want to follow any known set of screenwriting rules — but it is a challenge — and I do love a challenge. I only have a certain amount of time out here to get it completed so it’s been occupying most of my waking attention.

The sun is rising, the desert is stretching its sun-kissed skin, there’s coffee brewing in the kitchen, and I need to get down to writing for the day…

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S – xx

Casu, Consensus, Studiis Magicis….

I keep pondering the so-called real world with one eyebrow raised and the ghost of a smile passing my lips. Spent the last few weeks hunkered down in the desert, finishing up the fourth rewrite of Desired Pyrotechnics ( it’s done). In everything I design, in all the the characters I construct, there are bits and pieces of friends, lovers, and those who catch my eye, and I’m always mentally squirreling away other people’s idiosyncrasies. Anyhow, the day after I finished the rewrite three very strange things occurred all within the space of about four hours. The first was a video interview on social media with a friend of mine whom I based a minor character on and he said something which he says in the book, even though its nothing we’ve ever discussed in real life, and I made that dialogue up. The second incident was from a random moment in the book when the lead character digs through a closet in the guest room and comes up with a pink robe, remarking, ‘ pretty, but not on me’. While drinking my morning coffee on the patio, enjoying the sunshine, a friend of mine staying in the guest room came out in a pink robe, explaining she bought it compulsively the night before, but she wasn’t certain about it. Her exact words were ‘it’s very pretty, but not on me’.  I laughed. A couple of hours later while was driving around with another friend who happened to be in town he repeated something I gave another minor character that I loosely based off of him. He said it sarcastically — exactly the way I had written it, even though I don’t recall him ever using the phrase before — and it was something I tossed in at the last minute. It’s weird. Then there’s the whole praying mantis thing… but I’m not getting into that because it’s too fucking weird – like somehow fiction bleeds into reality and vice versa kind of weird. Sometimes I wonder about these things. Can you conjure situations by an act of creative will? Lucky for me, this rather brutal story actually has a happy ending because a lot of scripts and stories I’ve written before don’t. In fact, I don’t think any of them do. So maybe it’s sympathetic magic in action. It’s a possibility. I don’t believe it to be coincidence — that’s why I say one eyebrow raised and the ghost of a smile passing my lips.

So onto news…

We’ve finally gotten the brand spanking new Saurimonde III merchandise at the Eden Darkly store — t-shirts, stickers, coffee mugs (want one!), tote bags, and a bunch of other things. Follow the link to find out more!!!

Saurimonde Super Store

And in other news…

I finally got my ass back into LA and made it into the BTS studio for our seventeenth gonzo podcast. These crazy fucking things are never scripted, but they are so much fun to do — and are proving to be surprisingly popular. Who knew?

Our seventeenth episode takes a turn for the dark side fast with: a pecker puffer, an Easter special with Lucifer’s testicles, a new book from our fave author Mandy De Sandra, and Victorian doctors who thought reading made women insane and depraved.

Finale

The next month is going to be a game-changer. Keep watching this space because some very radical developments are in the works. After pulling magic rabbits successfully out of paper bags for the last many years, I’m about to get very dangerous, and I am so ready to step up…

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S-xx

Selva Oscura – Absolution is Not an Option…




Hey there friends! Shall we take the sweet with the bitter? I’m rather a fan of the savoury myself…

First up, new, sweet business — we have a brand spanking new giveaway going on over at Goodreads! We’re giving away four print copies of our latest dark fantasy offering, Saurimonde III. All you have to do is follow the link below for your chance to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Saurimonde III by Melissa St. Hilaire

Saurimonde III

by Melissa St. Hilaire

Giveaway ends May 06, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

And now onto old, sort of bitter business — I found this journal entry quite by accident earlier after clicking on the wrong icon. I think it was from the end of summer 2012? When I’d started on the first Saurimonde novel — a different time and a different place, but it is evocative, and took me quite by surprise.

2012, Montsegur, France – Summer:

Selva Oscura,

There is a character, a succubus, crafting herself out of darkness and chaos, and I have a feeling she’s going to reek havoc on my new story. I don’t whether I’m birthing her into existence, or whether she is being rebirthed. Sometimes it feels like she’s using me as a conduit and has been waiting for the opportune moment to do so. 
Partial character study — the words are from a fragment of a dream.
“I’ll never forgive you and there’s a part of me that will always hate you. The feeling is irrational and rears its ugly head at a moment’s notice. I have to keep remembering — this is not my fault — I did not cause this situation — you did. Absolution is not an option. It may hurt me more, but I’ll never be there in my soul, not even if I mouth the words of your proverbial redemption. Time should heal these things and I no longer dwell on them like I once did — you no longer haunt my waking thoughts. When reminded of the past it’s more like the sudden pain of being touched with the lit end of a cigarette. I lash out at the world — of course, that’s putting it mildly, when what I really want is to rip down the fabric of creation itself. The irrational rises inside like a darkened whirlwind, an abyss without stars, like utter blackness — and it builds like the pregnant sky before a southern storm. I cannot control this — there are no reins, no brakes, no known forms of control, as it spills forth. Do you hear my voice howling in the winds? Don’t you not recognize what shimmers in the shadows? There is power there. You hang your head, cowering in shame, but if you only stood still, and raised a hand to the west, you would realize this is a gift. Go, dive deeper into the water. Hold your breath longer than you ever thought possible. Far past the murkiness and into the deep, deep, depths. Why do you deny yourself these things? She is always there waiting for you, shining in her cloak of immaculate darkness. No more celebrated now than the distant memory of a dull glint on a rusted blade.”

And that’s where it stops…

It’s scary. It’s violent. I’m well aware of where my head was at the time. I know the circumstances — but it is raw and honest. I love these fragments of dreams, and I love having forgotten them only to stumble across them at a later date. Besides the first Saurimonde novel there’s the germ on Sisters of the Wasteland in there as well. I miss the ancient spirits of the olde country and maybe they miss me too. But the time to return is not yet, although it will be soon. I bide my time as I rebuild an empire.

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S – xx