Arcane Gestures

Claude Cahun-1929-1930
Claude Cahun-1929-1930

Following the arcane gestures of your hands
That replicates and duplicates the movement
Of your swaying rolling hips against my pelvis
I stare long and hard into your glittering eyes
Focused on the middle distance chasing down
An ecstasy among the chimeras and paradoxes
The beauty of your distracted expression
Is a provocation, an exhalation of pure spirit
A command from above that I dare not refuse
For you alone can take me there to where I belong
Drenched with colour and drowning in sound
Overwhelmed by sensation and alive in love

The Book of Miracles

Book of Miracles
Book of Miracles

I am more than a little uncertain
Though I hesitate to state precisely
The exact nature of my confusion
Regarding the world and the moment.

Surely it cannot possibly be as it seems
I refuse to countenance that it is for real
Friday night and it’s not alright at all
Then Saturfuckingday and I want to rend
Let chaos reign soaking to the bone
Revel in the excesses and movement
From wildly contrasting zones and regions
The Arctic chill of terror icing the veins
Roiling fevers of isolated equatorial lusts
The insanity of an all too vivid lucidity
Divine frenzies of total intoxication
But I tell you something has got to give
We make out like we care but I can sense
The calm expectation before the excitement
Mounts as we approach the end my friend
Let me look in my Book of Miracles my love
For portents signs and omens yes all there
A positively medieval frame of mind
Lets turn back the clocks get the time
To sync break open the seals
Let it come down.

Night Games

Ellen Rogers
Ellen Rogers

Maybe it’s the answer but sleep
I feel is out of the question
As your skin crackles with electricity
Surging through the nerve endings
Generating a force field that shocks
When our skin and flesh intersect
I know you want to play once again
Those night games in earnest
My wanton snake eyed charmer
Dancing only to the best tunes
Sinuously moving to a rhythm
Hypnotically vicious as a wet dream
Compulsive as the masturbator’s motion
As compelling as a large scale disaster
We don’t dare pause to consider
That our impulsive night games
Are careering right out of control
Skidding towards the concrete barrier
Even if we did do you doubt
That we would press down hard
Accelerating loosening seatbelts
Elatedly bracing for the impact
Of the ultimate folie a deux
A drastic re-configuration of identity
But come there are so many more
Games we could play in the darkness
I see you staring back at me in the bar
We are strangers meeting for the first time
That illicit thrill a depth charge to the core
I know of a hotel around the corner
A fine and private place I’m assured
Once alone together I promise
To do you so good to do you so right
Make you experience the exquisite
Head fucking psycho-drama of attraction
Once again this time with renewed emotion
Believe me I am never more serious
Than when I am playing night games

Seasons of the Witch

Francisco Goya-El_Aquelarre Witches Sabbath)1798
Francisco Goya-El_Aquelarre (Witches Sabbath) 1798

The figure of the witch has haunted many an artists work, from the strange and disturbing phantasmagorias of Albrecht Durer and Hans Baldung Grien at the time when the Early Modern witch trials were sweeping across large swathes of Europe to the feminist re-envisionings of Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini and Alison Blickle.

The archetypal image of the witch created in the Early Modern period is of a women, alternatively a hideous crone or a beautiful temptress, engaging in nocturnal flights upon enchanted broomsticks or diabolical animals to attend Sabbaths presided over by the Devil in animal form, where they participate in sexual orgies and blood rites. This delirious but potent fantasy contributed to the hysteria that resulted in around 50,000 executions between 1424 to 1785. Even after the witch craze abated she lingered in art as a femme fatale in the 19th Century, only to be reborn and recast in spectacular fashion in the 20th and 21st Centuries as an unlikely heroine and High Priestess of a new religion.

Below is a brief tour of pictorial representations across the centuries from the 16th to the 21st that highlights the spell that the witch and her craft has cast across cultures and periods.

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The Sign of the Black Sun

Black Sun-Toyen 1951
Black Sun-Toyen 1951

My thoughts and as a consequence my dreams have been occupied by Prague lately, (a place I have never visited, incidentally), the city of Emperor Rudolf II with his court of alchemists, magicians, scientists and artists; where Dr John Dee and his medium Edward Kelley conjured up a vast array of angels in a Aztec obsidian mirror and Guiseppe Arcimboldo painted his bizarre composite portraits of visages made of fruit, branches, flowers and books. The city (fast forwarding three centuries) of Meyrink and his Golem haunting the ghetto; of Kafka and his monstrous metamorphoses, bewildering reversals and byzantine bureaucracies. The city of the incomparable Toyen.

Toyen’s phantasmagorical art is filled with images of transformation, of women becoming animals or vice versa, of sudden and terrifying shifts in size and scale, of spectral figures in the process of materialisation, of impossible desires becoming reality. Sometimes it seems that the decidedly ambiguous Toyen was channeling the entire occult and magical history of Prague.

The paintings that Toyen produced in the 1950’s onward, after Surrealism had shifted decidedly from revolutionary politics and towards the occult, frequently point towards the signs of Alchemist Alley, now Golden Lane. The black sun is the first stage of the magnum opus and also refers to the dissolution of the body and hence the ego.

I have included a selection of Toyen’s magnificently compelling paintings of metamorphosis and phantasmal  figures.

All the elements-Toyen 1950
All the elements-Toyen 1950
They Rise at Dawn-Toyen 1950
They Rise at Dawn-Toyen 1950
In Slow Motion-Toyen 1954
In Slow Motion-Toyen 1954
Fire Smoulders in the Veins-Toyen 1955
Fire Smoulders in the Veins-Toyen 1955
Seven Swords-La Belle ouvreuse-Toyen 1957
Seven Swords-La Belle ouvreuse-Toyen 1957
Vigilance in the Mirror-Toyen 1959
Vigilance in the Mirror-Toyen 1959
Toyen-Dream 1964
Toyen-Dream 1964
Toyen-Secret Room 1966
Toyen-Secret Room 1966
Toyen-New World of Year 1968
Toyen-New World of Love 1968
At the Castle Silling-Toyen 1969
At the Castle Silling-Toyen 1969
Reflection flow Out-Toyen 1969
Reflection flow Out-Toyen 1969
Elective Affinities-Toyen 1970
Elective Affinities-Toyen 1970
The Trap of Reality-Toyen 1971
The Trap of Reality-Toyen 1971