Tag Archives: Halloween

Happy Halloween!

This scared the heck outta me when I was a little girl 🙂

The video below is one of my favorite illustrations of Earth elementals, the spirit world, and how our ancestors might have seen them. Ancient humans lived in a world of myth and folklore that was as real as the physical world. I believe these old ways of viewing the world are seeing a resurgence today.

I like how this film shows the mystery of a mountain, and the wildness of nature outside of the village. How his shadow over the land is what causes the dead to rise, and they fly up to him on the winds, then dance in the fires. And I love how he starts doing magick with fire and energy.

Halloween is such a special day. It’s a very old festival, and marks one of the many yearly connection points where we can rise above the physical world and connect with the ephemeral. We connect in a primal way to our planet and what it means to be human.

If you’ve never seen this footage of the demon on the mountain, check it out!

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…and here’s the second part where the spirits go back to their graves and wait for the next Halloween…
 

Reclaiming The Radical Legacy of The Witch

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Article by 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about witches. Not just because top ten lists of hot tv witches and sexy Halloween selfies currently swamp my social media feeds, but because my tables and shelves are currently so laden with herbs, plants, berries, phials and bottles that if an inquisitor of old were to enter, I’d find myself quickly tied to the stake. And while this worry seems remote, it’s a plain fact that women in third world countries are still hunted down, tortured and set aflame for the crime of witchcraft.

Sure, the witch is emerging from the world of taboo and shadows onto the world stage. Sure, she’s being touted as a feminist icon  – a “powerful feminine model free from male influence or ownership”. But I’m not so sure. Because how can it be that the witch, once associated with everything transgressive and beyond the realm of normative society, is now so trendy and positively mainstream?  Is it really a feminist step forward that W magazine declared Fall 2016, the season of the witch, replete with pouting models in gothic dresses, chains and black lace underwear?

And while many believe the witch of the middle ages was a spectre created by the church, I believe she was real. Yes, many put to death were just ordinary women who practiced folk magic, herbalism and midwifery, but many were powerful spiritual leaders of the indigenous, animist faith traditions of the old world – and their magic was earned through a lifetime of spiritual discipline spent in communion with nature.

And I worry her make-over into nubile fashion siren not only obscures this history, but her true relevance as a role model to us today. One that if resurrected, would be just as subversive and dangerous to the powers that be. 

Today the witches tall black hat and burbling cauldron have become icons of Halloween kitsch, but they were once hallowed items of the holy women and priestesses, the healers and herbalists, the oracles and diviners of old Europe. Their conical hats and cauldrons date back to the 2nd Millennium BCE and were connected to the female shamans of the Indo-European peoples.

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Tarim Mummies, 1800 BCE

 

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Scythian Princess and her cauldron, 4th to 5th century BCE

 

Their cauldrons (as well as crystal balls and magical wands) were still being used thousands of years later by the “witte wieven” or wise women, the sibyls, seers, and female druids of Celtic, Anglo Saxon, and Norse traditions of the middle ages.

According to Max Dashu, author Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion,  these “dream-readers, sooth-sayers, and herb-chanters, fire-gazers in Switzerland, or water-gazers in France and Spain”, practiced “all the elements of shamanism: chants, prophecy, healing, weather-making powers, and shapeshifting”. Legends tell of their sacred cauldrons in which “they simmered mysterious herbs to produce a drink of immortality and resurrection.”

These women were the guardians of the earth, the protectors of the sacred groves, lakes and springs, from which they derived their magical power. And until the middle ages they were highly respected, sought out and consulted for healing and divination by common folk, nobility and clergy alike.

But according to Barbara G. Walker , it was during the 14th century that the Catholic Church, during its relentless expansion and appropriation of sacred land, began to distinguish between witchcraft, perpetrated by women, and sorcery, a legitimate pursuit of men.

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While books on sorcery were condoned well into the enlightenment, female witches in contrast were said to “magically injure crops, domestic animals, and people, and in general “outrage the Divine Majesty”. And thus their religious practices (as described by Dashu) of “sitting-out” on the land “gazing, listening, gathering wisdom” were extinguished by a priesthood that sought to bring nature, magic, women (not to mention their land and property) under male control.

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These women did not go easily, or take usurpation of their holy sites and old ways lightly – it took the Church hundreds of years to hunt them down. And so it seems likely, at least to me,  that the stereotype of vengeful witch, casting curses and blighting crop, was real, at least for the church. She must have been the original eco-feminist, fighting the patriarchy with one of most powerful tools at her disposal, magic. And the Church took it pretty seriously indeed.”

Read More here: https://gathervictoria.com/2016/10/23/reclaiming-the-radical-legacy-of-the-witch/

Bauhaus School: Halloween

Spectacular creativity. Wish I could have been at this party!

Definitive Proof Nobody Did Costume Parties Like the Bauhaus

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Photo by Karl Grill via The Charnel-House

Most people attribute Germany’s Bauhaus school with the following: being on the vanguard of minimalist design, the paring down of architecture to its most essential and non-ornamental elements, and the radical idea that useful objects could also be beautiful. What may be overlooked is the fact that the rigorous design school, founded by modernism’s grandsire Walter Gropius, also put on marvelous costume parties back in the 1920s. If you thought Bauhaus folk were good at designing coffee tables, just have a look at their costumes—as bewitching and sculptural as any other student project, but with an amazing flamboyance not oft ascribed to the movement.

These Bauhaus shindigs were nothing like typical Halloween parties, where everyone expects to find a few topical doppelgängers. Back in Weimar, competition among the creatives was fierce: students and teachers like artists Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Piet Mondian, László Moholy-Nagy; architect Mies van der Rohe; and furniture designer Marcel Breuer all tried to out-do one another by designing uniquely fantastical creations. According to Farkas Molnár, the late Hungarian architect who was a Bauhaus student in the early ’20s, the school’s renowned typography studios and cabinet-making workshops were taken very seriously, but “the greatest expenditures of energy, however, go into the costume parties.

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Photo via The Charnel-House

“The essential difference between the fancy-dress balls organized by the artists of Paris, Berlin, Moscow and the ones here at the Bauhaus is that our costumes are truly original,” Molnár wrote in a 1925 essay entitled “Life at the Bauhaus.” “Everyone prepares his or her own. Never a one that has been seen before. Inhuman, or humanoid, but always new. You may see monstrously tall shapes stumbling about, colorful mechanical figures that yield not the slightest clue as to where the head is. Sweet girls inside a red cube. Here comes a witch and they are hoisted high up into the air; lights flash and scents are sprayed,” he continued.

The parties began as improvisational events, but later grew into large-scale productions with costumes and sets made by the school’s stage workshop. There was often a theme to the evenings. One party was called “Beard, Nose, and Heart,” and attendees were instructed to show up in clothing that was two-thirds white, and one-third spotted, checked or striped. However, it’s generally agreed that the apotheosis of the Bauhaus’ costumed revelry was the Metal Party of 1929, where guests donned costumes made from tin foil, frying pans, and spoons.Attendees entered that party by sliding down a chute into one of several rooms filled with silver balls.

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Photo via The Charnel-House

The theater workshop responsible for many of these resplendent events was led by Oskar Schlemmer, a charismatic painter and choreographer best known for his Triadic Ballet, an avant-garde dance production that premiered in 1922. The three-part play with different colors and moods for each act was widely performed throughout the twenties, and became something of a poster child for the Bauhaus movement.

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Photos via The Charnel-House

The Triadic Ballet’s 18 costumes were designed by matching geometric forms with analogous parts of the human body: a cylinder for the neck, a circle for the heads. Schlemmer made no secret of the fact that he considered the stylized, artificial movements of marionettes to be aesthetically superior to the naturalistic movements of real humans. These elaborate costumes, which were generally too large for their wearers to sit down in, totally upped the ante at the Bauhaus school’s regular costume balls.

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Photos via The Charnel-House

Although there aren’t many photos of Bauhaus luminaries wearing the costumes they labored over in the name of socializing, thankfully Farkas Molnár has chronicled some of their style proclivities:

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Photo via The Charnel-House

“Kandinsky prefers to appear decked out as an antenna, Itten as an amorphous monster, Feininger as two right triangles, Moholy-Nagy as a segment transpierced by a cross, Gropius as Le Corbusier, Muche as an apostle of Mazdaznan, Klee as the song of the blue tree,” Molnár wrote in 1925. “A rather grotesque menagerie…”

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Photo via The Charnel-House

Walter Gropius used to dress up as Le Corbusier? It doesn’t really get better than that.

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Photo via The Charnel-House

· Bauhaus Online [Official site]
· Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Costume Parties (1924-1926) [The Charnel-House]
· Exhibitionism: Bauhaus – Art As Life at the Barbican [Theatre of Fashion]
· All Bauhaus posts [Curbed National]
· The Ultimate Guide to Dressing Like an Architect for Halloween[Curbed National]