Between 1999 and 2003, an archaeological excavation of the Sainte-Catherine river produced a remarkable collection of medieval pilgrim badges. Between C. XII and C. XV, Christian pilgrims would display these inexpensive badges as charms bought at shrines to the saints.
Some pilgrim badges would display a mundane concern to which the pilgrimage was dedicated (healing, expiation for sins committed, special blessing, travel concerns, etc.) while others were fashioned through verisimilitude to have the same protective powers as the sacred relics they represented.
These badges, or signs, not only represented the experiences of the pilgrimage, but also presented the wearer’s status as a pilgrim as well as what pilgrimage they were set upon. These would also function as a visual language between pilgrims who did not speak a common tongue. The wide popularity, mobility and cheap easy production has resulted in a high number of found examples. Besides their apotropaic qualities, to the medieval pilgrim, the badge also served as a visual memory of their encounter with the sacred relic–a souvenir.
In the image above, a variety of examples from Canterbury Cathedral depict the head relic of St. Thomas à Becket. The head was removed from public veneration and the Cult of Becket was outlawed during the English Reformation.
Bibliography Blick, Sarah, ‘Comparing Pilgrim Souvenirs and Trinity Chapel Windows at Canterbury Cathedral: An Exploration of Context, Copying, and the Recovery of Lost Stained Glass’, Mirator (2001), 1-27 Lee, Jennifer, ‘Beyond the Locus Sanctus: The Independent Iconography of Pilgrims’ Souvenirs’, Visual Resources 21 (2005), 363-381 TIXADOR A. Enseignes sacrées et profanes médiévales découvertes à Valenciennes, Service archéologique de Valenciennes / Illustria-Librairie des Musées, 2004.
The most sacred and important holiday of the year is upon me. My birthday! This year’s festivities were scaled down due to the pandemic but they were no less decadent than in the past. My small chosen-pandemic social group got together to assist a Black Mass to celebrate my LIFE (and what a life it’s been so far).
This year’s altar was in stark contrast with the severe torch-lit ceremonies of the past. To celebrate indulgence and all the pleasures of the world, we built an altar toFaustus, the god who is ME–covered in gold, jewels, and all sorts of glittering trinkets which glowed in purple light. My favorite music filled the air as I offered (myself) choice incenses and an oil of frankincense, cinnamon and violet. Our holy communion was a delicious goat cheese with raw honey, and the “Elixir of Life”, Veuve Clicquot with a hearty splash of Chartreuse.
The Faustus candle was lit and bedecked with all the treasures of the altar, where its flame will continue to burn for many days, fortifying ME in my renewed hunger for LIFE.
In the before-times, back when gatherings happened regularly at the Haus of Faust, we had these things called parties. Parties are gatherings of friends and acquaintances that feature merriment, entertaining, and socialization. Wow, in 2020 that sounds like paradise. Some day, things will return to new-normal, and this playlist which I have been curating for a few years will be useful again. In the mean time, kick back, relax, take a tab of acid and enjoy these videos (best paired with your own music) I’ve been collecting for your viewing pleasure.
The figuration of the damned crowded in the middle of demonic creatures is common in the XV th century to represent Hell. The painter innovates by associating it with the representation of various abuses, such as those described in the Purgatory of Saint Patrick , text which relates the voyage of the knight Owein in Paradise and in Hell. He associated it with the idea of the fall, made even more legible by the composition, built around a vertical line. In the lower half of the image, the damned, battered by monsters, sink into the depths of the earth. The conflagration of bodies combined perfectly reflects the terrible aspect of the scene. The visual contrast with the very clear panel of Paradise, by the same artist, is accentuated by a radically different palette: here brown and gray tones, and to a lesser extent cold tones dominate. The artist’s masterpiece, this supernatural vision undoubtedly inspired the very suggestive works of Bosch. Hell and Paradise are perhaps the shutters of a triptych representing the Final Judgment. They have sometimes been identified with elements of a composition produced for the town hall of Louvain in 1468. Each detail of the work has been the subject of great attention from the painter. The anatomy of the suffering bodies, the textures of the scales of the monsters and their gleaming eyes are dramatically represented, making the horror of the scene even more palpable before our eyes. The characters’ pain in the brazier manifests itself in their grinning attitudes and faces. The liveliness of the flames is rendered by means of a very opaque paint, as well as the eyes of the demons, which makes it possible to create striking contrasts.
Readers of this Book, and visitors to my Instagram, will already be highly familiar with my deeply seated hatred for Donald Trump and his cohort of evil. I have been an active member of the #MAGICRESISTANCE and Bind Trump movement since the very beginning. Unfortunately over the years, I have found the common spells used in the movement to be weak and pusillanimous. I do believe that the Trump Binding ritual has been effective in containing a great amount of what human evil this man is capable of unleashing on the world (things could be MUCH worse).
Still, the time for binding is over for me. I, and a large number of witches I know out there, have moved on to cursing. The stakes are too high in this election/pandemic/uprising/disaster fueled year to take any chances. Not only are we cursing the president himself, but his enablers, the GOP, and even his local supporters in my own town. If you fly a Trump logo near my house, I will be happy to include you in these workings. (Coincidentally, as soon as we started cursing some of the neighbors, the Trump flags started to disappear).
Some in my coven are working a series of rituals both simple and complex, almost every night for the foreseeable future, including the Operation of the Grand Bewitchment being held on Tuesday, June 15th. Below is a description of one such ritual we developed, which after a month of introspection, has shown itself to be effective not only against Trump’s reputation, well-being and safety, but has been a much needed catharsis for us internally.
Saturday, May 16th 2020, ☽︎ in ♓︎, Day & Hour of ♄
On this night of a waning moon, and in the day and hour of Saturn (which governs death, destruction, illness, and other dark influences), the Priestess and I gathered to conduct a five part ritual of destruction against Donald Trump, the GOP and other far right evildoers. The altar having been prepared, the torches lit, and the concelebrants in full regalia, we intoxicated ourselves with liquors, cannabis and visionary herbs.
I. Opening the Hellish Vortex
The LBRP was omitted for this circle casting, as we welcomed all malice, wickedness and evil spirits to be present at our baneful altar. In its place, the Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram was used to remove even any positive influences present. Infernal powers were invoked with the solemn ringing of a bell, and calling out the names of the princes of Hell: Leviathan to the West, Belial to the North, Lucifer to the East, and Satan to the South. Then using the formulae of the Opening by Watchtower, the elemental powers at each quarter were called upon, and their influences equilibrated at the center of the altar. Next, as Saturn began to rise above the horizon, we performed the act of Drawing Down Saturn. As the gong sounded beyond the Sphere of Art, the space was enveloped in a dark flame which burned with wrath and fury. The elemental, diabolical and planetary energies now filling the chamber, we circumambulated the altar to form a vortex of these powers.
II. Binding the Enemy
We then performed the binding traditionally used by the Bind Trump movement, only now including the printed images of all our GOP worst-favorites as well. This time, however we had a secret weapon! You see, after Congress authorized a stimulus payment to the priestess and I due to the pandemic, by law the IRS was required to send notification to each recipient by mail. In this case, Trump decided that it was necessary to make the IRS send a letter in his name, and with his own signature at the bottom. By the Law of Contagion, this granted us immediate magical access to the person of Donald Trump, granting us a new avenue of magical influence over him we did not have before. The first Trump letter was consumed for this binding. To prepare the next step, a special Saturnal incense was prepared (henbane, sulfur, chicory, pepper, myrrh and dried blood) and the space was fumigated thereby.
III. The Curse Jar
Continuing to circle the altar, we entered the next phase by reciting the mantra, “Bring forth the flames of Hell!”. As we marched around, reciting this mantra with great passion and hatred in our hearts, we visualized the writing and scorching black flames of hellfire rising in this space, as the drum and the gong continued. A cauldron had been set in the center of the altar for burning our photos of the victims. Each of us took turns with these images, pouring our hate out onto them, piercing them with nails, and imbuing them with enmity, then casting them to the fire in the iron pot. Whenever we held an image that inspired additional outrage, we were free to throw burning phosphorous into the cauldron as well. Bring forth the flames of Hell! Seeing the faces of Trump, McConnel, Pence, DeVos, DeSantis, Scott, Rubio, and others–GOP lobbyists, EPA violators, alt-right murderers, criminals, killers, liars and cheats–burning up in our hands, brought us great delight at the thought of their downfall. Bring forth the flames of Hell! We continued this movement, until the heat, the sweat, the panting, the rage, the tears and the fury were built to a horrible crescendo–FRENZY!! Bring forth the flames of Hell! We took our coven’s sacred sword aloft, and pierced it through the air towards the burning cauldron, thrusting all our rancor, wrath and despair into the smoke and ash of their smoldering, writhing faces. Bring forth the flames of Hell! The images having been consummated by flames, we removed the ashes from the cauldron and added them to the Curse Jar. Inside the jar were the artifacts from the binding (above), the second Trump letter, the Saturnine incense, dirt from the yards of all the Trump supporters in my neighborhood, and my own concoction of Goofer Dust. This dust contained quantities of the following: graveyard dirt, cayenne pepper, habanero pepper, snake skin, a snake’s head, bone dust, salt, poppy seed, coal, the hair of a black dog, a spider and her eggs, and iron filings. Bring forth the flames of Hell! The Curse Jar was then topped off with an anointed death’s head candle, inscribed with the name Donald J Trump, whose wax was then let to drip through the whole jar as it melted and finally suffocated itself. We poured the rest of whatever malice we could find inside our hearts, into the jar, and sealed it with black candle wax. Bring forth the flames of Hell!
IV. Toast of Destruction
Having spent our rage to the utmost of our ability, we then poured out blood red wine infused with bitter herbs, into ornate crystal chalices. “A toast…to the end of the GOP, to the death of tyrants, and to the suffering of Trump!” I let the bitter wine flow down my throat to drown the fires of my burning anger, to soothe my body and comfort my soul.
V. Down by the Riverside (Closing)
The Curse Jar made ready, the conflagration within drowned with wine, and all our energy spent, we left the circle and marched in solemnity and silence to my town’s canal, carrying the Curse Jar (and a second curse jar made months previously) in hand. To the ritual mind, it felt like holding a ticking time bomb, a hand grenade which could explode with our condensed acrimony and blistering vengeance. With some solemn words of release, we dropped the jars into the canal, letting the water carry them away to the sea. When we returned to the circle, we dismissed the quarters, bade farewell to the Infernal powers, and purified ourselves with the LBRP and other purifications.
The ritual was then concluded, and we left to go spend time and play games with our friends across town to refresh ourselves.
Apart from becoming recently engaged, every single plan I had this year has been uprooted. I was supposed to design in another fashion show, I was supposed to travel to several wonderful places, and we were even going to plan a Halloween trip to Salem, MA this year. Alas, the world had different plans for us all. So while my travel, recreation and research is currently on hold (and while I still thankfully have my day job I can do from home), we are learning to party it up on camera with each other.
My initial hesitation to do video calls has quickly been overcome by necessity. Now I’m livestreaming every week, whether it is my live astronomy shows, group spells, or attending the fun at Club Quarantine, the isolating internet’s coolest queer hangout. Incidentally you can see us performing for the people there this coming Saturday night, around 11/12 EST.
This may be the last place you’d expect to find content like this, I’m sure. At the time of this writing, the world is currently stuck in the clutches of the awful Covid19 pandemic. Naturally my our energies are spent on more important things than writing on a niche website. But this particular bit of papal magic was not only extremely interesting, but also quite moving. More importantly, it is living history unfolding before our eyes.
Last week was the Pope’s semi-annual Urbi et Orbi declaration, where he traditionally pontificates on the state of the Church and the world, took place in an emptied St. Peter’s square. After his address, the small number of clergy present performed the rites of Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. Here, the pope took the ostensorium in his hands, and blessed the whole city of Rome, and perhaps the whole world, with the sacred host. As he did so, the basilica and the surrounding churches began to PEEL with thunderous resounding, while the sirens of the gendarmeria blared in salute. As soon as the pope had finished, the bells stopped and silence again fell over the empty square. It was like watching something from the end of the world.
Also present was a miraculous crucifix which was reported to cure the City during a plague in 1522. The pope reverenced this relic as it was also exposed to the open square, obviously in the hopes that the pandemic will soon end. We shall see what efficacious qualities this rite may bare.
I admit that I’ve been scoffing at the Christians who have been pleading on the blood of Jesus to stop the pandemic. But so many of those crazy shitheads have been foolishly using their faith as the only means of protection, with no clear intentions of actively containing the spread.
Meanwhile, my country’s government has been pretending this was all a hoax until just the other day, and we are starting to prepare for a worst case scenario where our under developed healthcare system will fail us, and we will be left to our own devices. My state’s government has shut down bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, and many other gathering places. Meanwhile food and sanitation products are becoming difficult to obtain.
As much as I personally would love to see the collapse of society while a plague rushes over the land, I am going to do my part. While using scientifically proven best-practices, you all know what that entails by now, AND spiritual exercises of compassion, we can get through this weird fuckin’ period of history.
My coven will be conducting a spell for the containment of SARS-CoV-2 on Saturday, March 21st 2020 at 22:00, EST. If you want to join in virtually, see the livestream on my instagram, @heissowitty .