In 1653, there was a fabulous spectacle which lasted seven nights. It was a series of ballets in Paris which totaled over 15 hours in length. The nobles, ambassadors, and even the bourgeoisie attended this opulent work, orchestrated by the Cardinal Mazarin, whose aim was to glorify the Sun King, Louis XIV, who at the age of 15 was only just beginning his long and magnificent reign as King of France.
Mazarin had employed the greatest artistic minds of France to participate in this event, from composers, dancing masters, and the poetic librettist Isaac de Benserade. This magnum opus consisted of four veilles, or night watches, all of which were oriented towards the culmination at the end–a grand ballet for the rising of the sun, played by the young king himself.
So why am I talking about it here? Because during the third veille (midnight till 3 AM), there is a Sabbat! This ballet has everything from Satan riding in on a goat, a dance-off between Ptolemy and Zoroaster, a choir of witches, flaming demons, and werewolves!
Enjoy this abridged version by Ensemble Correspondances, from 2015. The Sabbat begins at 1:53. The astrologer’s dance is at 1:32.
Celebrating and bemoaning all things Teutonic, Rammstein’s newly released single is accompanied by this highly visual music video which is set in multiple periods of Germanic history, from the early Roman imperial campaigns in Germania, the First, Second and Third Reich, and up to the present.
Germany – my heart in flames
Want to love and damn you
Germany – your breath’s cold
So young, and yet so old
Deutschland – mein Herz in Flammen Will dich lieben und verdammen Deutschland – dein Atem kalt So jung – und doch so alt Deutschland!
In certain galleries of the British Museum, visitors are allowed to hold ancient artifacts with their own hands. This piece in my hand is an inscription in cuneiform from the 21st Century BCE Ziggurat of Ur. The Ziggurat, which still partially stands, was a temple complex dedicated to the Moon god Nanna (Sin). He was described as the father of all gods, and the “Lord of Wisdom”. The main sanctuary at Ur was called E-gish-shir-gal, “house of the great light”. In some legends, Nanna begat the goddess Inanna (also known as Ishtar), who governed love and beauty and was associated with the planet Venus. She was called the “Queen of the Heaven”, and her religious influence has stretched into the present day: later known by the Phoenicians as Astarte, then to the Greeks as Aphrodite, all of whom share many similarities to the Virgin Mary of Christian worship (also a Queen of Heaven).
We are all heirs to great Mystery. None of our modern religions have ever stood on their own. They are built on the shoulders of giants, ever more ancient and nebulous because of the vast gulfs of time that stand between us and them. As I held this precious and unique artifact in my hands, I had a true sense of awe as I contemplated these ideas in my heart. To many of my friends, history is boring. I have always found that history is alive and we are surrounded and formed by it in every single way. Perhaps in another 4,000 years, this tablet will still be preserved next to artifacts from our own times, where other people will delicately hold them and wonder at what was…
My recent trip to London included many points of historical interest, especially the day I spent strolling through the British Museum. I had one object in mind, however, as I was searching through the Enlightenment Gallery, the magical shew-stone of John Dee. This piece of polished obsidian likely came to England after the exploits in Mexico of the conquistador Hernan Cortez.
Dr. John Dee (likely an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Prospero) was known across Europe both as the astrologer for Mary I and Elizabeth I, but also for his spirit work with the notorious Edward Kelley. Together they used their magical expertise to contact the Enochian spirits, whose language and alphabet Kelley scried and Dee transcribed. The Enochian language is said to contain great power and its full meaning remains mysterious even today. Still over the centuries many great magicians used Enochian magic in their work: Crowley, Mathers, and even Anton LaVey.
To look into this same mirror with my own eyes, to see my own reflection looking back through it, was a profound moment in my own life as a student and historian of magic–also as a disciple of John Dee!
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 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!