Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults – Third Announcement.

Ok so this is our third announcement for Folk Horror Revival’s Witch Cults event on 14 July at The Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle, and as you can probably see the lineup is starting to take shape. Only two things to announce today, but we still have a number of amazingly cool things to bring you before the lineup is complete. Anyway back to today and firstly we have another addition to our musical lineup.

PEG POWLER

32883751_10217371162175364_7622788577771913216_n

Peg Powler are a four piece acoustic band from the Teesside and North Yorkshire areas performing original material, traditional folk songs and blues & jazz standards. Their original material embraces literary motifs, contemporary life and traditional, mythical and historical influences.  They play regularly at folk, poetry and literary festivals, folk and acoustic events and are the house band at Folklines, Middlesbrough’s contemporary evening of music and spoken word.

They take their name from the mythical hag of the River Tees, a grindylow who is said to grab children and wayward young men who stray too close to the bubbling river’s edge and devour them in her watery den, known as Hell’s Kettles.

Peg Powler’s debut album, Northern Lines is available on iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.

Band members:

Ian Bartholomew: Guitar/Vocals/Songwriting;

Sara Dennis: Vocals/Ukulele/Harmonium/Percussion/Songwriting;

Mags Forward: Fiddle/Backing Vocals;

Graham Brotton: Double Bass/Guitar/Backing Vocals.

http://www.pegpowlerband.co.uk

@pegpowlerband

#pegpowler

 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING…

‘The best new folk band in the North.’

Andy Willoughby, Poet, Literary Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing.

 

‘Beautifully dark and twisted folk music with a macabre streak a mile wide.’

Bob Fischer, BBC Tees

 

Peg Powler are a North East band standing firmly in the present but with roots running deep into the past. Drawing upon wealth of folklore, myth and history their powerful original songs bring us face to face with a host of wyrd characters, dangerous situations and dark dramas that remind us of our own challenges and of how our own choices will shape our futures. This is beautiful, breath-taking and intelligent music.

Bob Beagrie, Poet, Literary Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing.

 

‘It’s common nowadays when trying to describe musicians to say they are a little bit of this or that, well if it helps, Peg Powler are like early Fairport mixed with the Strawbs, and dash of Pentangle. But more than all of this, their music sounds like home to me. Sara Dennis’s lilting voice with an edge of jazz to it would be equally at home in a Greenwich Village jazz cellar, but the music is rooted on the banks of the Tees, singing about the water witch, the eponymous Peg Powler or the all-American Emily Dickinson. It’s all here.’

Peter Lagan, Lutenist

 

 

Also joining our carefully curated programme of films we have a classic witchcraft documentary from the golden age of witchcraft films, 1970s.

 

 

Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri (Witchcraft 70)

Angeli-Bianchi...Angeli-Neri

We are proud to present a very rare screening of the European version of Luigi Scattini’s ‘Witchcraft 70’ documentary. This is a very different print than the American version of the film, it starts with grave desecrations in Highgate Cemetery London that is not in the US print. Featuring a wonderful score by Piero Umiliani, that really helps give the documentary the feel of classic Italian horror movies at the time. The film is very much a product of its era and the voice over sometimes contains some ‘groovy’ dialogue.

This version features extended footage of British witches Alex and Maxine Sanders preparing a ritual. The film also covers a black mass and Anton La Vey and the Church of Satan as well as voodoo rituals. The documentary does not differentiate between Satanism, black magic and witchcraft and puts them in a melting pot together to make a heady psychedelic brew. Copies of this movie are very hard to come by as it’s never been officially released on DVD and the last screenings of it in the UK took place in the 70’s, today we present the best sourced version that we can find. Witchcraft 70 is certainly a product of its era, the film does contain nudity and animal sacrifice that may upset some viewers. This is the extended 90 minute version, we show it here as a time capsule of when witchcraft was at its public height within the media consciousness.

bone collector 2

 

They join those already announced on the lineup that promises to be one of the truly outstanding witchcraft related events of the year. So far we have:

Speakers – Darren Charles, Gail-Nina Anderson, and Bob Beagrie

Films – Simon King of the Witches, and Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri

Musical performances – Peg Powler, Hokano, Heartwood Institute, and Black Mountain Transmitter.

Still come we have more wonderful speakers, more amazing musical acts, a selection of specially chosen short films, and even more exciting things taking place which I can’t reveal to you just yet.

Tickets for either the full day or just the evening event are available from the eventbrite link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

31743633_10209067236157594_4602741104788373504_n

Advertisements

Our second Witch Cults Announcement is Here.

31743633_10209067236157594_4602741104788373504_n

The second announcement for our Witch Cults event which takes place at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle upon Tyne, on July 14th is finally upon us and what a wonderful selection of speakers and musicians we have for your delectation.

Joining our musical programme we have the world’s finest “purveyors of sonic archaeology” The Heartwood Institute

The Heartwood Institute

31914291_1768083639880724_2034477470689787904_n (1)

Their latest album Secret Rites has been described as “an unholy collision of Throbbing Gristle style proto industrial, kosmiche krautrock and 70’s folk horror soundtracks.” The album’s overriding  focus lies heavily on the witchcraft documentaries of the 1970s, Secret Rites, The Power of the Witch, Witchcraft ’70, and The Legend of the Witches, and in particular the prominent stars of the period Alex and Maxine Sanders, the self appointed King and Queen of the Witches. The album is in their own words ” A hauntological delve into a time when the Occult was making inroads into mainstream media, truly the Age of Aquarius…”

For their performance at Witch Cults you can expect a setlist largely fashioned from the material on this album. We here at Folk Horror Revival are very much looking forward to checking them out on the evening.

Hokano

Hokano

Hokano is the solo project of Andy Hokano, mainly known for his work with the coldwave/neofolk outfit The Psychogeographical Commission and Newcastle based occult drone trio Chonyid. Andy will be performing a set based upon his forthcoming release “Witch Pricker” which is based loosely upon the 1650 Newcastle witch trials.

Gail-Nina Anderson

gail-nina

Gail-Nina Anderson is a cultural historian, lecturer and journalist based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a specialism in the visual traditions of the Gothic.

She has contributed to the Fortean Times and the Journal of the Folklore Society, as well writing on Victorian art, William Burroughs, fairy traditions, and the Angel of the North. She reviews regularly for The Crack, is an active member of the Dracula Society and is one of the founders/readers for the Lit & Phil’s bi-annual “Phantoms at the Phil” ghost story event. Her third exhibition of weird and wonderful postcards will take place this summer in Newcastle.

We can’t wait to hear Gail-Nina’s talk “Hecate or the Horned Man – was there a God of the Witches?”. How about you guys?

Ok, that’s enough for today’s announcement. So far we have talks from Gail-Nina Anderson, and Darren Charles, Bob Beagrie’s poetry recitals, music from Black Mountain Transmitter, Hokano and The Heartwood Institute, and our first film Simon King of the Witches.  We still have quite a bit to come so please stick with us and hopefully we shall have our next announcement up in a few days time.

Tickets are available now from the eventbrite link below, priced at £25 for the full day event and £15 for the evening event alone.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

Sarah Dean – The Pilgrim Interview

Welcome to this the third in our series of interviews conducted by our very own man about town, John Pilgrim.  Harpist Sarah Dean is someone I was only vaguely aware of until recently, So for me this interview is going to prove very interesting from a personal perspective. Anyway I will shut up and leave the rest to John and Sarah.

31947238_10155841736763649_8284819891953860608_n

John Pilgrim: What first attracted you to the harp?

 

Sarah Dean: My awareness of all things harp began with listening to The Celtic Renaissance album by Alan Stivell and then hearing Jon Anderson playing it. I’m drawn to things that create atmospheres and that’s what I love about the harp.

 

John Pilgrim: How has your understanding of the Celtic harp and its associated traditions developed over the years?

 

Sarah Dean: Bizarrely enough a guest spot with my local Women’s Institute on ‘Being a Harper’ sparked off lots of research and I put all this on my webpage entitled ‘All Things Harp’. I found out lots of things about the harp that I didn’t know, the origins of it, how physically it’s developed over the centuries and all the mystique surrounding it…fascinating stuff, thank you Ladies of the WI!

 

John Pilgrim: You seem to have strong affinity for the music of the 1970s. This is the classic era for Folk Horror film, television and literature.  What bands do you particularly like from around this time? And would you agree that the 70s are returning in some ways?

 

Sarah Dean: I’m stuck in the 70’s to be honest! As to returning, I don’t think it’s ever really gone away…music comes and goes and people are influenced by all sorts of things and all the things you grow up with and listen to. It all fashions the music we make, either consciously or subconsciously.  I was very lucky to have an older brother and sister who let me rifle their record collections when they went out, so Pink Floyd, Yes, Wishbone Ash, Gryphon, Led Zeppelin and actually too many to name are all their whirling round from a very early age…as well as The Osmonds and Suzie Quatro, what a mix. Then of course Punk happened.

 

John PIlgrim: The countryside is clearly important to you. What role does it play in relation to your music, songwriting and general outlook on life?

 

Sarah Dean: I moved out of York in 1997 and actually just needed the fields and trees around me all the time…birdsong especially.  I’m drawn to nature and the constant changing of the seasons is always a fascination to me.  Being outdoors for me frees the mind and nurtures the soul and I think I have written about this quite a lot.  We write about things we know generally, don’t we? So writing a song about cloud watching or running down a hill with my dog seems a good a topic as any!

 

John Pilgrim: Are you interested in the new nature writing – if so, which writers particularly appeal to you?

 

Sarah Dean: I am an avid reader of all things nature wise: Roger Deakin, John Lewis-Stempel, J.A Baker, Thomas Pakenham, Robert MacFarlane. I hoover up books like these – glorious writing!  Nan Shepherd, Christopher Somerville.  I’ve just finished Peter Wohllebens’ The Hidden Life of Trees. Books that you can come back to and dip in again. It’s great that there’s so many new writers too, if we can get people reading and appreciating the countryside and nature then hopefully we can look after it better!

 

John Pilgrim: I understand that your creative talents have extended to other outlets such as music for meditation, poetry and animated vikings. Can you tell us more?

 

Sarah Dean: I’ve recorded a lot of music for meditation and actually the harp is just fabulous for this.  Again, creating atmospheres and soundscapes that can take you to other places.  We live in a world of constant mind traffic and the need for mindfulness and meditation is key to mental health.  I’ve been asked to do various projects to put poetry to music, our dear friend Don Walls was someone who I collaborated with doing joint concerts, song and poem swapping.

 

John Pilgrim: Your performances often include a little bit of humour and you clearly enjoy the engagement you have with audiences…

 

Sarah Dean: I must admit that given the chance I’d probably like to do a bit of stand up comedy. It’s true I do love to have a bit of banter with the audience, I’m very much of the opinion that this time with the audience is a one-off event and it’s about communication, not just through song but the whole rapport that you can build up.  It’s probably a reaction against seeing Van Morrison in concert and I seriously don’t think he said a single word to the audience.

 

Performing and sharing the music and songs with an audience and having an interaction is really important to me, but it depends where you are, so each concert is different in that respect.  Working in bands is always fun, because you never know what could or might happen.  In the last couple of years I’ve been on the road with The Heather Findlay Band and whenever she’s trying to tune the guitar I slip into a bit of Tubular Bells just to fill the time…having Spinal Tap moments like when my a cappella trio Soundsphere played at The Sage in a choir festival and we couldn’t find the stage and ended up getting very lost.  Being asked to play the theme from Blackadder for a wedding, yes it’s possible.  I’m working on a harp version of Popcorn as we speak…no, I really am!

 

John Pilgrim: The Black Swan in York is well known to you, but Swansongs will be your first Folk Horror Revival event. What are your expectations of the night?

 

Sarah Dean: I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be making some musical magic at the Swansongs gig and I’m looking forward to meeting all the musicians and hearing their music. The Black Swan holds lots of happy memories for me and the Wolfe Room is so atmospheric, the ambiance it creates will make for a really special night and I’m delighted to have the chance to play a part in it.

 

SS

Swansongs takes place May 12th at the Black Swan in York. The last few remaining tickets are still available for this fabulous event from the following eventbrite link, but get in quick as numbers are very limited and we are getting close to selling out.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swansongs-tickets-44059576379

Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults – First Announcement!

31743633_10209067236157594_4602741104788373504_n

Banner design copyright Andy Paciorek and Cobweb Mehers

 

Welcome to this, the first announcement of our exciting Witch-Cults event taking place July 14th in Newcastle upon Tyne, and we have a veritable smorgasbord of good stuff for your delectation.

Ok let’s begin with the first musical announcement for our evening entertainment. (Please note the film screening will also be part of the evening entertainment, this film programme will run twice during the day, once across the afternoon 12-5 and once in the evening 7-12)

 

Black Mountain Transmitter

 black mountain trans

Black Mountain Transmitter is the one-man project of J.R. Moore from Northern Ireland. Since 2008 he has been creating instrumental soundscapes influenced by a diet of horror fiction and film, VHS era ‘Video Nasty’ soundtracks, The Radiophonic Workshop and the abject electronics of the early Industrial music pioneers. Known for albums such as “Black Goat of The Woods”, “Playing With Dead Things” and “Oscillator Ritual”, his work has been released by Auris Apothecary (USA), Aurora Borealis (UK) and his own Lysergic Earwax label at http://www.lysergicearwax.bandcamp.com

“Like an old horror film where the special effects are too cheap to give you a real shock, but the ideas are warped enough to make you stay awake afterwards for far longer than you wanted to” – Wire magazine

“The sounds created by Black Mountain Transmitter gives the impression of having been set in motion long ago by some remote force” – Julian Cope.

 

 

Moving onto our daytime programme, this section will be made up of talks, film screenings and one or two other exciting developments still to be announced. Anyway, without further ado here are the details of the first speakers to be announced and the first feature film in our screening programme.

Darren Charles

14570820_10154073795849211_8021523934460063290_o

Photograph courtesy Graeme K. Cunningham

Folk Horror Revivalist, Unearthing Forgotten Horrors DJ, and member of both The Equestrian Vortex and The Mortlake Bookclub. Darren Charles wears a number of different hats at various times but is very much embedded in the Folk Horror scene. Darren recently completed an MA in History at Newcastle University and will be using his expertise to discuss either Historical Accuracy/ Inaccuracy in relation to the Cinema of Witchcraft, or The Newcastle Witch trials.

He has previously spoken on the topic of Folk Horror at Cambridge University, The British Museum, Edinburgh Summerhall, The Hepworth, Wakefield, and most recently at The Scottish Pagan Federation Conference at the Pleasance in April. Darren is a longstanding member of the Folk Horror Revival admin group and is currently hard at work on several book projects.

 

 

Bob Beagrie

31786531_10155319844400918_6521123526408142848_n

Photograph Courtesy Kev Howard

Bob Beagrie, award winning poet and performer has published 7 collections of poetry most recently This Game of Strangers (Wyrd Harvest Press 2017) and Leasungspell (Smokestack Books 2016). His work has been translated into Finnish, Estonian, Danish, Urdu, Dutch and Swedish. He is a founder member of the experimental word and music collective Project Lono and a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University.

Bob will perform sections from the epic poem The Seer Sung Husband, a verse novel about Old Mother Shipton and ill fated rebellion against Henry VIII known as The Pilgrimage of Grace.

 

Simon, King of the Witches

simon

This gloriously campy over the top horror movie from 1971 directed by American racing driver turned director Bruce Kessler is the first title for our film programme. A psychedelic cult classic that so far remains unreleased on these shores in any format. It stars Andrew Prine as Simon Sinestrari, a ceremonial magician, who’s ambition it is, to become a god. Simon lives in a storm drain, selling charm and potions as a means of getting by. The film is a wild psychedelic freak out with drugs, parties, Satanic rituals and all kinds of lysergic madness and mayhem. Over the years Simon has become a beloved cult classic and Folk Horror Revival are excited to be bringing Simon to the big screen at the Star and Shadow, Newcastle.

Don’t forget this is only the first announcement so loads more fascinating content still to come, we’ve barely scratched the witch…err I mean surface. Anyway ticket links are now operational and the pricing structure is as follows:

Full day ticket (12noon -1am)      £25

Evening only tickets (7pm-1am)  £15

Both are available from the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

 

Sharron Kraus – The Pilgrim Interview

After John Pilgrim’s most insightful interview with Phil and Layla from Hawthonn, he has been in touch with Folk Horror Revival favourite Sharron Kraus to chat about her inspirational new album, her enchanting novella Hares in the Moonlight and Folk Horror’s  revival, as well as talking about the upcoming Swansongs event at the Black Swan in York on May 12th. Anyway, I shall leave the floor clear for Sharron and John to guide us through the mist.

 

Publication1

 

John Pilgrim: You are a good friend of Folk Horror Revival, having appeared on stage at the 2016 event at the British Museum and at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield last year. What do you make of the revival of interest in folk horror which is taking place more generally? What do you think accounts for this and do you have thoughts on how this might continue to develop?

 

Sharron Kraus: The question of why there’s now an upsurge of interest in folk horror is an interesting one but I’m probably not best qualified to answer it, as to me the real question is what’s taken everyone else so long?! If I were to speculate wildly about why folk horror is gaining in popularity now, though, I’d guess that it’s something to do with the fact that the world has recently become a darker, more chaotic place.

 

John Pilgrim: A deep spiritual connection with the landscape permeates much of your work.  What were the formative experiences for you in connecting to the landscape and how has your connection and awareness changed over the years?

 

Sharron Kraus: I loved insects and trees as a child and forests have always been special places for me. I spent a year in Aberystwyth as a student and the landscape of Mid Wales cast a spell on me. For years after leaving there the kind of landscapes I’d found there appeared in my dreams. The first time I took LSD I was in a copse just outside Oxford with a couple of friends. We spent hours in what felt like an enchanted land and afterwards, though the vividness of the trip wore off, the things I’d discovered never left me. It feels like there are new layers to my experience of landscape being added all the time.

sharron

 

John Pilgrim: Your album Pilgrim Chants and Pastoral Trails has been described as inhabiting “an an eerie and wonderful world, somewhere between eisteddfod and witches’ sabbat” . and as being “suffused with a lovingly melancholic sense of place”. How did this album come about?

 

Sharron Kraus: I visited Mid Wales, after years of not having been back there and my heart swelled with love for the place. I drove up through the Elan Valley, stopping and walking here and there, and wherever I stopped I had a tantalising sense of there being music just out of earshot. I stayed with friends and told them how I was feeling and they diagnosed a case of ‘hiraeth’, which is a Welsh word meaning something like homesickness or deep longing for somewhere. I decided to move to Mid Wales and try to listen to the land and draw out its music. At the time I thought that what I was doing was only possible because of the ‘magic’ of the place, but the way of working that I developed – that kind of listening and opening up to the place – became something I could then apply to other things, working on different projects. Two collaborations I’ve worked on since then – one with poet Helen Tookey and one with writer Justin Hopper – have involved the same kind of ‘listening’ to the text and responding musically to it.

 

John Pilgrim: One of your songs is ‘Blodeuwedd’ which I am sure must derive from the Mabinogi – the earliest prose stories in Britain. Can you tell us more about your interest in this mythology?

 

Sharron Kraus: I read the Mabinogi whilst I was living in Wales and loved the fact that some of the settings in the stories were actual places around me – that made obvious the magic in the land I was living in. I found the stories confusing at first – they’re very condensed and seem to require unlocking – and my way in was through writing songs about the stories or characters I wanted to gain some understanding of. As well as Blodeuwedd, the woman conjured out of flowers, I wrote about Branwen, the Welsh princess who’s married to Matholwch, King of Ireland, and who trains a starling to take a message to her brother Bran in Wales,   Efnisien, the troublemaker who starts a war between the Welsh and Irish, kills his own nephew by throwing him in the fire, then redeems himself somewhat by sacrificing his life to save his countrymen. I was writing about the characters in the stories, but also about my own experiences living in Wales, and about eternal themes found in the stories – like the plight of the migrant forced to seek work in a foreign land.

 

John Pilgrim: You have recently published ‘Hares in the Moonlight’, a tale of magic and adventure for readers aged 8 to 12, in the tradition of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper. What prompted you to follow this tradition in writing for this particular age group?

hares

 

Sharron Kraus: I wrote ‘Hares’ for children of good friends of mine and wrote a story I thought they would enjoy. I didn’t exactly decide to write in a tradition, but was influenced by the writers and stories I’d enjoyed as a child, including Garner and Cooper. I was keen to write about magic in a way that conveyed something true, which is what I think the best magical children’s writing does. I think this is something children’s fiction shares with folk horror: both of these things try to convey something of the mysteriousness, weirdness or magic of the world we live in.
John Pilgrim: You spoke on ‘Art as Alchemy’ at the ‘Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult’ conference in London in 2016. Recognising that this is complex subject, can you say something about how you see art as a form of alchemy. How does this thinking apply to your artistic practice and day-to-day life?

 

Sharron Kraus: The basic idea is that through art we can take suffering, pain and darkness and transmute them into something golden. The way the crucible of creativity does this is one of the things I think of as true magic – not supernatural magic, but just our ability to take chaos and form something from it – the way we make something out of nothing. That’s a very short answer; for a fuller one, there’s a podcast of the talk I gave at that conference here: https://soundcloud.com/highbrowlowlife/sharron-kraus-ru-podcast.

 

John Pilgrim: Joy’s Reflection is Sorrow, your new album, will be released on Sunstone Records in June. What themes have you been exploring in this recording and what are the points of continuity and discontinuity with your previous work?

 

Sharron Kraus: Most of the songs on the new album were written in the year my Dad died, and the wider world started to edge its way towards darkness, so death and darkness are pretty central. The chorus of one song asks the question “What can we do when darkness falls; what can we do when evil calls?” and I think the album is my attempt to answer that question. I guess it’s a question that’s been there implicitly in my work for a long time but that came up to the surface on this one. Sonically this is probably the most poppy album I’ve recorded – kind of baroque-folk-pop. I think that’s partly due to my decision to try to write in standard tuning and using verse-chorus song structures more than I’d normally do. Maybe it’s also partly because the world got darker and I wanted to add some light.

14724361_10154054580664211_434121861910531704_n

 

John Pilgrim: You will be playing at the Swansongs event at the Black Swan – a haunted medieval public house in York – on 12 May. What might people expect and do you think the venue might influence your performance?

 

Sharron Kraus: Playing in an atmospheric venue always adds something and the darker and spookier the better! I’ll be playing a mix of songs and semi-improvised instrumental pieces with Guy Whittaker joining me on drums and percussion. We may have a special guest with us and whip up some Rusalnaia magic too!

www.sharronkraus.com

Sharron will playing at our Swansongs event at the Black Swan in York on May 12th alongside Hawthonn and Sarah Dean. To buy tickets for this intimate evening visit the link below, but remember tickets are very limited and we would advise pre-booking to ensure admission.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swansongs-tickets-44059576379

swansongs

Folk Horror Revival at the Scottish Pagan Federation Conference 2018

 

29572787_1071870936285593_8849265059687862238_n

This weekend sees the 25th annual Scottish Pagan Federation Conference taking place in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Andy Paciorek and I are immensely proud to be representing Folk Horror Revival on this most auspicious occasion. We will be presenting a brand new talk on ‘The History and Folklore of Witchcraft, Faeries, Angels, Daemons, Ghosts & Other Worlds in Folk Horror cinema and television’. The following should give you an idea of what to expect if you are coming along.

 

 

30727243_1084551371684216_8388084261182389757_n

 
The amazing Inkubus Sukkubus will be our evening entertainment. We expect loads of old favourites from their extensive discography, plus one or two from their new album!

We will delve into the world of Folk Horror Revival with Andy Paciorek and Darren Charles, our keynote speakers. They will present a never-been-heard-before talk on the history and folklore of witchcraft, faeries, angels, daemons, an ghosts in relation to folk horror revival cinema and television. It’s absolutely fantastic we can bring them to Scotland and we are sure everyone will want to hear what they have to say on this amazing topic.

Rich Blackett – Chair of Asatru UK and part of Folk Horror Revival – will give an amazing insight into werewolves, wolf cults and Heathen warriors. A feast of magic and folklore.

The magnificently open Cat Treadwell will talk about being a modern Druid as well as being a Pagan and living with depression. A really insightful discussion to be had!

We’ll also explore Aleister Crowley and the Elixir of Life as Jean Fowler, Pagan Celebrant and Edinburgh University Honorary Chaplain, presents her research on the topic.

Spin some magick with Dr Jennifer Lauxman McCorkell, expert in wool and metalwork, with two unique workshops – hand spinning and weaving – both limited numbers!

An exploration of everyday Enochian magic is the focus of a much anticipated workshop by Paul Sykes. Paul will reveal the work of John Dee and Edward Kelly as they unveiled the angelic language and made contact with the Angelic realm.

Having explored Voodoo, western mysticism and traditional witchcraft, to name but a few, Avi Lago will take us through a workshop on Espiritismo: working with the ancestors.

Hear about the King of the Scots, King Arthur, with an thrilling talk by Glaswegian historian Hugh MacArthur, who has spent many years studying the roots of the legendary king.

If you’ve ever wanted to talk with two experienced Wiccans, here is your chance. Fee and Jon will facilitate this fascinating open discussion group.

Members of Midlothian AVoD Lodge will lead everyone in a Thelemic ritual for this year’s closing ritual; a first for the SPF conference and one we hope everyone enjoys experiencing.

From inspring talks, interactive workshops, open discussions and spectacular evening entertainment, we’ve got a brilliant day out in the heart of Edinburgh.

Avanced tickets will close on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 11:59pm.

Advanced adult all-day (evening included) tickets: £15 per SPF or affiliate PF member or £20 per person (non-member).

*NEW* Advanced teen tickets: £8 per teen (must be aged 12 to 17 years-old and accompanied by parent/guardian/carer with valid all-day conference ticket).

Advanced evening (gig only) tickets: £8 per person.

Tickets are still available from the link below.

http://www.scottishpf.org/conference.html

Hawthonn Interviewed

Phil and Layla from Hawthonn have just released a critically acclaimed album ‘Red Goddess: Of this Men Shall Know Nothing’ on Ba Da Bing records. They will also be appearing at our Folk Horror Revival event, Swansongs which takes place in York on May 12th at the Black Swan. John Pilgrim caught up with Phil and Layla for a chat about the new album, their influences and what we can expect from the upcoming gig.

hawthonn

Your new album is Red Goddess: Of this Men Shall Know Nothing. Who is the Red Goddess and what is it that men shall know nothing of?   What clues does the album provide in these respects?

 

Phil: For a long time the new album didn’t really have a title. We had a lot of themes that we touched on: mugwort (‘In Mighty Revelation’), menstruation (‘Lady of the Flood’), hysteria (‘Eden’), the post-mortem exploitation of women’s bodies (‘Misandrist’), and dream… all things which I suppose could be considered as relating to the feminine experience. Originally I’d given the album the working title Flood, but I don’t think either of us were 100% happy with that…

 

Layla: We had been reading several books around the time we were working on the album, particularly Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove’s The Wise Wound, which had a lot of invaluable knowledge on the sacred feminine and many jumping off points for inspiration, and also Peter Grey’s The Red Goddess, which explores his vision of Babalon: the Scarlet Woman, or Mother of Abominations – a goddess found in Thelemic mysticism. The idea that she represents earth and sexual impulse made her a fitting matron deity for this set of recordings.

 

Phil had also found a painting by Max Ernst called Of This Men Shall Know Nothing, which in the early stages of designing the album cover he had wanted to recreate in tableaux. The final cover photo by Narikka contained some coincidental resonances to the Ernst image, and the title of the painting seemed to echo concepts within the album of feminine wildness, and the perceived unknowableness of the female nature.

 

Phil: The Ernst picture has also been interpreted as depicting sexual alchemy, which also ties in with much of Peter Grey’s writing on Babalon and the goddess’ connection to sexual magic and the three ‘Fs’: f(e)asting, flagellation and fucking!

 

Red Goddess has already been critically acclaimed. Ben Chasny, of Six Organs of Admittance, had this to say:

 

    “Hawthonn is the real deal. Equally adept at transcribing crow calls into musical scales as they are at creating horizon melting atmospheres, Red Goddess raises the bar for musicians interested in composing straight from the creative imagination. For fans of Jocelyn Godwin, John Dee and Folk Horror as much as the darker spectrum of British music, this is a record of staggering breadth.”

 

Following on from this, here, can you say something on how you went about composing Red Goddess and the role of  the creative imagination in this project? How did the experience develop your theory and practise of the creative process more generally?

 

Phil: I think imagination and creativity are inextricably linked. Many of our favourite artists and poets place great emphasis on imagination, reverie and sudden illumination. Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of hard work to do in bringing these visions to fruition, but it is the imaginative aspects that dominate their experience and make the whole enterprise worthwhile. There are often equal amounts of technique and imaginative work going on in a piece – and, as in poetry, we often try to bring disparate symbols together into a whole. Layla’s work on ‘In Mighty Revelation’ really worked well in this respect: she brought together sounds recorded at an abandoned cooling tower with a recording of Rin’dzin Pamo’s thighbone trumpet blasts (- using an instrument anointed with her menstrual blood -), which evokes a very interesting sonic atmosphere and attendant mental imagery: a decaying post-industrial temple, open to the stars (- as we recently discovered were the ancient Indian temples of the cult of the Yoginis, female tantric deities -), and the sort of space where edgeland herbs blossom: in particular mugwort, which rather became our ‘vegetable ally’ for this album (our previous collaborations having explored hawthorn and yew!). Conjuring mental spaces to accompany the sound – and continuing to explore them through the ongoing process of producing the music – is a very important part of our practice, but only one amongst a whole other lot of imaginative and creative techniques we use!

 

Layla: Dreams, for example, have been integral to the creative process for Hawthonn from the start and continue to be so. The latest track we’ve been working on is conceived around a dream I had recently that I was reading a grimoire of Andrew Chumbley’s, whilst a portrait of him next to me began to shapeshift into a demon. The dream sound/landscape was incredibly vivid and evoking those sounds, feelings and thoughts again has made it a compelling project on both a creative and imaginative level.

 

The cover image for the album is powerfully striking.  How did this come about? What was the location and what was its significance to you? 

 

Layla: The cover image came about due to a set of lucky coincidences/syncronicities, I had followed a photographer, Aki Pitkänen, alias Narikka, on Tumblr after a friend of mine posted a pagan/magic themed set of his. I thought his work was exceptional, so showed it to Phil.

 

Phil looked him up on Facebook and that same day Aki had posted to say he was looking for collaborators/models to work with in our home town of Leeds the following month. We got in touch and found we had a lot of shared interests, and agreed to take him up on Ilkley moor as apparently they have no moors in his home country of Finland and he’d always wanted to shoot on one!

 

A friend very kindly drove us all up to Whetstone Gate, and as I still didn’t really know what Aki wanted as a backdrop I had planned a walking route to take him to various antiquities that held personal significance to us… but ultimately Aki just wanted “bleak” as the backdrop so most of the photos he took of us are from a particularly desolate spot near the Badger stone, overlooking a huge barrow that most people don’t even know is there.

 

We had a few hours of larking around with skulls before the proper Yorkshire weather hit us, and then I was extremely glad to be wearing a thick wool cloak! He sent us that shot almost immediately when we got home and we knew right away that one of them was the cover, which we had been stuck on for a couple of months.

 

Both of us have a long love and personal connection with Ilkley moor so it seems doubly fitting that the cover was shot there – Phil recorded some of his earlier music as Xenis Emputae Travelling Band on the moor and we have spent many hours wandering there together. It’s especially wonderful in the mist, when the edges of the real world are completely erased and all you can see are the soft curves of land in front of you. It’s a beautiful, liminal landscape that can become quite frightening after dark!

 

As  a duo of ‘Mugwort-smoking surburban witches’ in what ways do you seek to connect with the ‘old ways’ and the hidden currents of Old Albion ?

 

Layla: I think we both have quite vivid, mystic connections with landscape. Our relationship with the world we inhabit both on a physical and imaginal level is essential to both our personal practices and our music. We don’t try and claim any tradition. Although Traditional Witchcraft has been a source of inspiration at times, we are more interested in the poetic relevance of the landscape and it’s past inhabitants: a palimpsest of activity and meaning, which we unearth and interpret in our own way. The place where we live is rich in Romano-Celtic history so we have made dedication to, and drawn inspiration from, an Iron age shrine in the woods and a sacred river that flows nearby. The two deities associated with them – Cocidius and Verbeia – have formed a god/goddess duality in our personal mythos, which has become a particular backdrop to our more recent music.

 

Phil: Cocidius and Verbeia are very much deities embedded in our northern landscape, and they derive their names from the meetings of two cultures: Roman and Celtic. In some ways, thinking deeply about this – and the political climate of our time – has forced us to revise our thoughts on religious syncretism and the bugbear of cultural appropriation. We want to distance ourselves from the idea of pantheons being nationalistic and tied up with rigid ideas of cultural identity, which have become increasingly toxic. We emphasise the highly syncretic nature of religion in the ancient world as a potential alternative, and one that does not dilute the power and individuality of deities by reducing them simply to interchangeable masks of pop-Jungian archetypes. On our track ‘Lady of the Flood’, we borrowed from the Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri, which are masterpieces of heady magical lore and symbolism, incorporating fragments of ancient Egyptian ceremonialism, Greek mythology and Gnostic cosmology into something that more visceral and powerful than its component parts.  In some ways, it is the Roman presence in England that also connects us to Egypt, and I find it fascinating that the English witch Andrew Chumbley incorporated so much Egyptian lore into his ‘Sabbatic Craft’, which at first glance seems very much rooted in the British landscape, but again yields work that is highly eclectic, but utterly spellbinding and aesthetically ravishing in its execution.

 

You are clearly fascinated by occult thinkers and writers from previous centuries such as  Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Dr John Dee. Do you see a contemporary relevance to such  figures?

 

Phil: I think Dee is most relevant to my solo work, such as Hesperian Garden, which features compositions drawn from his Hieroglyphic Monad: a glyph which he believed had profound implications for all arts and sciences. I do find it quite funny how such an establishment figure – a courtier and member of England’s elite – has become such a countercultural hero, although there is no denying that he was a deep and eccentric genius.  Agrippa, similarly, is a rather profound inspiration personally, but in Hawthonn we often concentrate on the works of more contemporary occultists and artists: John Balance, Andrew Chumbley, Peter Grey & Alkistis Dimech, Penelope Shuttle & Peter Redgrove, and so on. I think my own work can be quite cerebral and uncompromising sometimes, often with quite dense swathes of sleeve-notes or accompanying texts, but with Hawthonn we strive toward something more direct and relevant to the present.

 

You will be playing at ‘Swansongs’ at the Black Swan in York on 12 May. What can people expect from your performance?

 

Phil: The three Fs! Haha, only joking…

 

Layla: I was so nervous but dead-set that we’d play live this year, the first gig was an absolute joy to do, so I’m hoping the York gig will be equally transcendentally fun! Ritual elements, death whistle, singing bowl, synths and bone rattles… I hope it’s a little bit spooky and we can coax the resident ghost out for a duet.

 

Phil: Hah, in that case, we definitely have to re-use the Spiricom frequencies that we used in our first album. After that particular recording session, our infant son woke up sat on our bed babbling excitedly to thin air! We managed to record that and include on our track ‘Thanatopsis’! I hope that whatever happens, it will be a mesmerising and sonically engaging experience even for those who don’t buy into the occult side of things!

 

Lastly, can you tell us something amusing that has happened while working together recently as Hawthonn?

 

Phil: Well, we’re often quite serious when it comes to Hawthonn and how we go about working on these pieces. They are often entwined in our interests, obsessions, dreams etc, and we have quite critical listening sessions while each piece develops. Sparks often fly, but that process definitely enhances the quality of our output tenfold. Our friend Gretchen (of the noise rock band Guttersnipe) said she imagined us working together in perfect hippyish harmony – but our ‘studio’ is definitely an infernal forge, and what we create there is far more robust for it!

 

However, one amusing thing that did happen was when we decided to make a kangling, or thighbone trumpet, which is an important tool in chöd rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, which involve the use of fear to cut through the ego. Being made of a human thighbone, the kangling has a unique, utterly unnerving and haunting sound. We were very interested in making our own, and a friend of ours told us that he had some human bones from a medical skeleton that had been given to him by someone else who felt uneasy keeping them around. So, we gathered all the material, including dust masks, hacksaws, knitting needle (for poking through the marrow), and so on. I took the bone outside to cut it, and sat with it for a while, sombrely meditating on death and thanking the original donor from which it came.

 

As I began to saw the top end off, however, it became apparent something wasn’t right. The bone was too hard… and solid. It turned out to be a very convincing plastic cast! At that point, it seemed like the universe was having a cosmic joke at my expense, and the solemnity of the occasion was undermined somewhat! It was even more amusing to think of our friends respectfully transporting these bones from flat to flat as they moved around Leeds, completely oblivious to the fact that they had never been part of a living thing!

 

Wow… we probably sound like a right pair of ghouls!

You can listen/buy Red Goddess: Of this Men Shall Know Nothing here.

Swansongs takes place on May 12th at the Black Swan, York featuring live performances from Sharron Kraus, the aforementioned Hawthonn and Sarah Dean. Tickets are available from the following link.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swansongs-tickets-44059576379

 

The Sermon: A Review

sermon 1

The Sermon opens with some beautifully shot images of the English countryside haunting, magical and pictureseque they set the scene perfectly. These are followed  by an opening credit sequence that recalls the heyday of Hammer and Amicus films, a lone crow flies into shot and lands in a lonesome tree. A close up of the crow sits behind the films titles, in homage to Piers Haggard’s folk horror classic The Blood on Satan’s Claw. Already this feels like familiar territory.

The story concerns the events of a small rural village somewhere in England. We are presented with images of a young woman and her father, the local preacher preparing for the sermon of the title. She is filling a glass decanter with wine, whilst the father shaves in preparation of the coming events.

sermon 2

The vast majority of the film’s eleven minutes takes places in the church hall, as the preacher well spoken and charismatic takes centre stage. The sermon itself is unsettlingly homophobic in nature and makes for incredibly uncomfortable viewing. What it does is, it sheds a little light on the attitudes of the community, its people and its prejudices. The preacher’s hateful attack on homosexuality is strikingly outmoded to us in today’s world, and yet the congregation is supprtive of his principles. It highlights perfectly for me the positive changes that we as a people have undergone over the last 50 or 60 years in our attitudes to sexuality. I am reminded somewhat of The Wicker Man, in that we are presented with a rural community isolated not only geographically but also from modern liberal thought. One imagines how Sgt Howie must have felt upon finding out that certain archaic practices were still being practiced many years after popular belief in them had faded away.

The final twist in the tail is a satisying turn, it is harsh and unpleasant in its execution, however it makes for a great ending. The film is not yet out on general release so I am unable to discuss the storyline any further at present, other than to say it is an excellent film and well worth checking out if you get the chance.

Overall, The Sermon is a very well made, beautifully scripted short film. The music by Benjamin Hudson and Cape Khoboi fits perfectly,  and it features some genuinely lovely cinematography, that really captures the essence of the English countryside. I am not entirely sure if it was intentional, but several external shots were taken from a low angle. This was very reminiscent of Dick Bush’s amazing cinematography for Blood on Satan’s Claw, where it was used to great effect to hint at how everything rises up from the earth. This may or may not be the case, however I felt compelled to raise it in passing.

sermon director

Director Dean Puckett cut his teeth making documentary films, the most recent of which was released in 2013, Grasp the Nettle highlights the exploits of a group of land rights activists who battle to set up alternative communities in Britain. The Sermon is his second fiction short to have been supported by Creative England and the BFI after the comedy, horror, sci-fi short Circles in 2015. Circles, which was also set in Devon involved paranormal investigators taking their revenge on a group of crop circle hoaxers. I will certainly be looking forward to seeing more from Dean on the evidence of The Sermon.

The Sermon will receive its premiere at the BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival this coming weekend, Saturday March 24th. I have included more information for those interested in checking out this excellent folk horror gem.

BFI Flare: Altered States

 

Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts, Whitby December 2017

(Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts 2017)

Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts 2017

Folk Horror Revival presents Winter Ghosts Where better to spend an engaging winter’s evening in the compan…

Where better to spend an engaging winter’s evening in the company of the Folk Horror Revival group, than in the beautiful coastal town of Whitby. This event promises to be one of the highlights of the wyrd calendar, and is most definitely not to be missed.

In the intimate setting of The Metropole, Whitby, we cordially invite you to join us for our winter soiree, a gathering of the clans on the North Yorkshire coast. Folk Horror Revival present a series of exhilarating talks and musical performances for your terpsichorean pleasure.
Beginning at 4pm, the event gets under way with a series of thought provoking oratories with a distinctly local flavour, before we plunge headlong into an evening programme of esoteric, auditory treats for the soul.
Talks:
George Cromack – Coastal Terrors
Elaine Edmunds – The Tell Tale Art
Bob Fischer – A Story To Shiver To
Followed by – The Flash Company’s Mummer’s Play

Live Music:
The Equestrian Vortex featuring Melmoth the Wanderer
The Soulless Party featuring Chris Lambert
Leasungspell
Inkubus Sukkubus

Poster Image courtesy of Andy Paciorek and Erin Sorrey