Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some inspirations for the upcoming "Language of the Birds"

After running late with February's image in the Magical Calendar project, it's been hard to catch up.  As I work to finish the image, I'd like to share some of the things that have been inspiring me.

A brief primer:

"The “language of birds” has many names; some call it the “Language of the Gods”, others the “Green language”. Michael Sells has referred to this “sacred language” as the “language of unsaying”, whereby the core of what needs to be said, is actually not said, though everyone understands what is being said.
The “language of birds” is therefore the mystical language, by default an unpopular subject amongst scholars, specifically because of the apparent lack of “clarity”: a clear and distinct sense. The sense is inferred."

"The origin of the “bird language” may go back to primitive societies. When shamans enter a trance, they attempt to speak the language of nature; they are said to speak “the language of birds”. Historians of religion have documented this phenomenon around the entire world and depictions of shamans with wings or as a bird are common. "

Essentially, there is this idea in all different mythologies, cultures and magical traditions that there is a magical / secret language of birds through which knowledge can be passed.  Sometimes the Language of the Birds is literally considered a coded language.  I looked at the representation of birds and bird-headed figures in relation to the passing of knowledge and the evolution of spirit.

There is a connection between serpent knowledge and language of the birds in Amazonian "shaman" culture, as evidenced in
The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
Jeremy Narby

Edward Bruce Bynum

Bird gods / goddesses and symbolism are of course huge in ancient Egyptian (Kemetic) beliefs. 
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Thoth the scribe was an ibis.  A scribe = magician. 

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If most people are not literate and you need a written spell or talisman, you consult a scribe.  Thoth invented language, and Thoth invented Alchemy.  The Greeks decide that Thoth is their own Hermes, who becomes the godfather of Alchemy.

There are female aspects of this as well, namely Ma'at, goddess of order, who basically keeps the universe from falling apart.  She is represented as an ostrich feather.
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From an Egyptian tomb now in Vienna:

The Kemetic notions of Ba, Ka and Akh

Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory) on Odin's shoulders.


Bird / Serpent connection:
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Compelling, powerful, terrifying women.  Women monsters.  This ties in, I suppose, with some of the things I've been dealing with in Earth Magic.
"In art, Sirens appeared first as birds with the heads of women, later as women, sometimes winged, with bird legs. Sirens were placed as guards on tombs of the sixth century BCE. Greek Sirens may have evolved from Egypt. In Egyptian religion, the ba is a portion of the soul which is generally represented as a bird with a human head."

These ladies are all over Vienna:

First published image of witches in flight.  "De Lamiis et Phitonicis Mulieribus."
Ulrich Molitor (1489)
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Bird's Head Haggadah -
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Max Ernst:  Robing of the Bride
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

BABALON information and inspiration

If it isn't obvious, I'm running a couple of days behind in releasing BABALON, the February image for the Magical Calendar project.  The main reason for this is that I feel it is an image with a great deal of history, and I've been fussing over a multitude of tests to ensure that I feel I've conveyed this in the finished image.

Detail images of two tests:

This are both fairly quick and loose, mainly acrylic paint applied over photo collage. 

I will be releasing more information in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, here are some of my references and inspiration for this image.

Babylon, as described in the Book of Revelation

Which in turn Aleister Crowley adapted as BABALON

"Lust" card from Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck, as illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris

Which in turn Jack Parsons further adapted, invoking her as a goddess in his Babalon Working

Kenneth Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, starring (Marjorie) Cameron Parsons, Jack Parson's widow, as Babalon

 Similar imagery was used in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis:

William Blake

It's been said that Jack Parsons's Babalon Working symbolically opened the floodgates for modern witchcraft.  Whether you agree with this or not, the figure of Babalon as a powerful goddess certainly brings to mind certain images of witches and witchcraft throughout the ages.  I couldn't help but draw parallels between images of Babalon riding the Great Beast to some of my favorite images of witches riding to the sabbath.  

One of my favorites, Falero's Departure of the Witches: