Details of Totentanz – XVI C. Germany (Artist Unknown)

Sacristy painting commissioned by the Observant Franciscans. The catalogue description did not give many details, but I would guess by the costumes that this was made somewhere between 1560’s to 1580’s. The theme of the Dance of Death was hugely popular throughout multiple periods of European history, and saw a particular revival after the 1538 series by Master Holbein the Younger, whose works were widely distributed with the advent of the printing press.





Credit: The dance of death. Oil painting.. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

Robert the Doll

Robert is a world famous, mysterious and mischievous entity that dwells inside this 115 year old doll in Key West, Florida. Over the years he has been blamed for many misfortunes: divorces, injuries and even an outbreak of the Yellow Fever. He is even allegedly the original inspiration for Chucky from Child’s Play. You have to ask his permission before taking a picture, or he will seriously mess your life up. Letters are received all the time apologizing to Robert for this faux pas, often lamenting the misfortunes that came as a result of their rudeness.

The history of Robert and his original owner Robert Eugene Otto is lengthy and very mysterious. Recently Amazon dedicated a special episode of Lore to Robert and his first family. According to modern legends, Robert sometimes moves from place to place. He can cause all kinds of mayhem. People who visit him today who make flippant remarks often regret it in the end.

I have wanted to meet Robert ever since my first time in Key West when I was 13. When we finally did meet this year, I was just as excited then as I was 20 years ago. I was elated when we laid eyes on each other, and I told him all about the first time I learned about him and what a fan I was. He gave me really friendly vibes as I very politely asked his permission to make this post. For a while afterwards I was stuck in a sort of obsessive day dream about being friends with him. There is definitely spiritual power inside that doll! You can learn more about him at his own website.
Thanks again Robert!

Selections from The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century

In 1825 Robert Cross Smith, a charlatan, had unsold content from his previously failed magazine The Straggling Astrologer. Its content was “rebranded” into this handbook, The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century: Or the Master Key of Futurity, being a Complete System of Astrology, Geomancy & Occult Science.  The book covers topics from necromancy, charms and incantations, astrology, and a few fun ghost stories. It also includes beautiful illustrations, some of which are copies of earlier English etchings such as the famous graveyard scene with John Dee and Edward Kelley.


Book Review – The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic


In The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic, Thomas Hatsis takes you on a roller coaster ride through history in search for the mysterious origins of the legend of the witches’ flying ointment. Through story telling and by using primary historical sources, Hatsis presents the way in which the village healers and folk medicine practitioners of the Middle Ages became the most hated and feared of creatures to Christian Europe–witches! This book explores the historical use of psychoactive substances in both medicine and magic, and sheds much light on the Inquisitors who reacted to these practices with fear. Thomas Hatsis’ academic work, shown expertly in this book, is truly, truly impressive. Did he find the fabled recipe for magical flight? You will have to read to find out!

Magical Resistance Through the Ages

In 1588, with tensions between Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I at their peak, Philip launched the 130 warships, known as the dreaded Spanish Armada, in an attempt to invade England. According to popular legend, the privateer turned explorer Sir Francis Drake had sold his soul to Satan to become a master of the sea. In the summer of that year, Drake gathered with a mysterious group of witches at Devil’s Point, Devon where they raised a mighty storm that would destroy half the ships and leave the Armada running back to Spain with its tail between its legs. Locals say the witches can still be heard chanting there to this day.

Others like Gerald Gardner, claim that witches were instrumental in preventing Napoleon from invading England, possibly even lending their aid at Waterloo. For a fun alternative history take on the English using magic against Napoleon, see Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel.

In 1940, again England was under the threat of invasion, this time by none other than Hitler’s Third Reich, who each and every day were dropping bombs on London and other English towns. It was largely expected that a land invasion from Nazi forces was imminent, who sources say were already waiting on the other side of the Channel for their invasion orders. Enter the witches, again. This time a coven of 17, joined by Gerald Gardner and other residents of Highcliffe-on-Sea, who joined on Lammas night to engage in Operation Cone of Power. Here the witches performed a powerful ritual to raise a cone of power against Hitler himself, according to Gardner in Witchcraft Today:

“Witches did cast spells, to stop Hitler landing after France fell…They met, raised the great cone of power and directed the thought at Hitler’s brain: ‘You cannot cross the sea’ … just as their great-grandfathers had done to Boney and their remoter forefathers had done to the Spanish Armada …

Which brings me to the present day. Since 2016 witches have been working together in the thousands against the multi-headed hydra that is the Trump Administration, and now in 2018 against all the evils of the GOP in the Blue Wave movement. Though the culture, place and times have all changed, the theme remains the same: empowering ourselves with magic to fight against tyrannical powers. Though much evil has been committed by Trump and his minions, I like to think that the collective binding is doing what it can in keeping the presidential usurper powerless to destroy us. And now with the noted success of the Blue Wave movement (though much work still needs to be done), the corrupt GOP will no longer hold full power over our government. That is a sign of our success.

This time it’s not as simple as protecting an island from an invading force—we are working against powers of evil that are woven into the fabric of our own society, and that is much more difficult than shooing away some wooden ships. When people feel helpless and disenfranchised, they turn to magic for empowerment. That is why I have always admired the magic of Afro-Carribean traditions: Voudon, Yoruba, Santeria, Conjure, and so on. The struggle of those peoples, the anger of oppression, the cries for justice and the devoted appeal to their gods for help are what gives their magic such power! That is the caliber of magic we will need in America to defeat these bastards who have stolen our political machinery for their own gain.

These examples from history serve to inspire me when the battle gets tough. If you’re not pissed off by now, why not?! Get the fuck up and keep hexing the Right!