Out There
The Transcendent Life and Art
of Burt Shonberg
Spencer Kansa

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Out There
The Transcendent Life and Art of Burt Shonberg
Spencer Kansa
Format: Softcover / 256 pp / illustrated in colour
ISBN: 978-1-906958-79-4
£30/US$45
Subjects: Art/American Underground/Biography/Film Studies.

From the late-1950s until his premature death in 1977, Burt Shonberg was one of the most highly admired artists in Los Angeles. During this period, his eye-popping murals graced the facades and interiors of popular coffeehouses and hip clubs on the Sunset Strip; his paintings adorned several notable rock album covers, and his haunting portraits featured prominently in Roger Corman’s film adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and The Premature Burial.

Born in 1933, Shonberg grew up in the all-American beach town of Revere, Massachusetts, where, according to his friends, he spent most of his time drawing and indulging in his love of monster movies. After graduating high school, he studied for two years at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and then, after a brief spell in the army, he ventured to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a commercial artist.

Soon after he settled in L.A., Shonberg became the lover of the legendary occult artist Marjorie Cameron who turned him on to the teachings of the Edwardian magus Aleister Crowley and introduced him to the mind-warping properties of peyote. Shonberg also embraced the Fourth Way system of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, and his canvases began to reflect the mystical illumination inspired by his higher states of consciousness.

In 1960, the artist was chosen by Dr. Oscar Janiger to participate in his groundbreaking study into the effects of LSD-25 on the creative process. Although Shonberg regarded himself as a magical realist, his remarkable renderings of his hallucinogenic visions led many of his acolytes to regard him as the preeminent psychedelic artist of the era, and in the words of his friend and fellow painter Walter Teller, “Burt was the artist of Laurel Canyon.”

Yet despite his popularity and status, Shonberg’s artistry has been criminally overlooked in all historical accounts of the Southern Californian art scene, until now. Out There redresses this injustice and brings some long overdue recognition to L.A.’s greatest lost artist, in a book illustrated with rare examples of his incandescent artwork.

“Spencer Kansa has time traveled. Knowing Burt as well as I did, it really does feel, from his assessments and descriptions, that Spencer actually knew him as well, and Burt for sure would have dug him. They would have had a good time. I can see Burt smiling. I’m serious.”
Hampton Fancher, screenwriter, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049.

Read Spencer Kansa interview about Burt Shonberg and Bohemian Los Angeles with the LA Review of Books
lareviewofbooks.org/article/burt-shonberg-and-bohemian-los-angeles-an-interview-with-spencer-kansa/

Author’s bio:
Spencer Kansa is the author of Wormwood Star, a biography of the American artist and occult icon Marjorie Cameron (Mandrake of Oxford). His debut novella Zoning is published by Beatdom Books. His interviews with literary legends William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles and Herbert Huncke feature in Joe Ambrose’s book Chelsea Hotel Manhattan (Headpress).


#rogercorman

#edgarallanpoe

#aleistercrowley

#scifi

# Gurdjieff

# oscarjaniger

#forrestackerman

#psychedelic

#psychedelia

#beatniks
#ufos

#extraterrestrials

#arthurlee

#horrormovies

#lsdart

#lsdtrip

#lsd25

#beatgeneration

#randycalifornia

#spiritof76

#counterculture

#surrealism

#magicalrealism

#abstract

#dali

#picasso

#avantgarde

#bohemian

#cafefrankenstein

#monstermovie

Pan’s Daughter:
The Magical World
of ROSALEEN NORTON
(Revised and Greatly Expanded Edition)
Nevill Drury

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Pan’s Daughter
The Magical World of Rosaleen Norton
(Revised & Greatly Expanded Edition)
Nevill Drury
Format: Softcover/326 pp/48 illustrations.
ISBN: 978-1-906958-41-1
£22.99/US$32
Subjects: Art/Art History/Biography/Occult/Witchcraft/Magick.

During the 1950s and early 1960s the Sydney-based trance-artist and Pan-worshipper, Rosaleen Norton, was well known in Australia as ‘the Witch of Kings Cross’ and was frequently portrayed in the tabloid press as an evil ‘devil-worshipping’ figure from the red-light district. Norton attracted attention from both the public at large and also the local police for engaging in bizarre pagan sex-rituals with her lover, the poet Gavin Greenlees. Details of these activities would surface from time to time in the local courts when Norton was defending her metaphysical beliefs and seeking to defuse claims that her magical paintings and drawings were obscene. Norton was also associated with the scandal that eventually engulfed the professional career of renowned musical conductor, Eugene (later, Sir Eugene) Goossens who had arrived in Australia in 1947 and became a member of Norton’s magical coven six years later.

Norton dedicated her magical practice to the Great God Pan and to a lesser extent Hecate, Lilith and Lucifer. She was also intrigued by the visionary potential of Kundalini yoga, out-of-the-body trance exploration and Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic sex magick and combined all of these elements in her ritual activities.

Pan’s Daughter is the only biography of Rosaleen Norton and provides the most detailed and authoritative account of her magical beliefs and practices. First published in Britain by Mandrake in 1993, it is now reissued in a revised and expanded edition.

“Brilliantly researched…outrageous and inspiring”
Fiona Horne, author of Witch – A Personal Journey and Witch – A Magickal Year

“A fascinating study. Drury’s understanding of the occult and spiritual realms makes Norton’s art and life comprehensible” Tom Thompson, Sydney Morning Herald

Author photo by Lesley Drury

Dr Nevill Drury is best known for his publications on modern Western magic, shamanism and visionary art. For many years he worked in the Australian book industry as an editor and art book publisher and in 2008 he received his Ph.D from the University of Newcastle for a dissertation on the art and magic of Rosaleen Norton. Currently living on the New South Wales south coast, he now works as a full-time writer and occasional university lecturer. Nevill’s books have been published in 25 countries. Recent publications include Sacred Encounters: Shamanism and Magical Journeys of the Spirit; The Dictionary of Magic and Stealing Fire from Heaven: the Rise of Modern Western Magic. He also co-authored The Varieties of Magical Experience with Dr Lynne Hume.

Cover: Timeless Worlds (courtesy of Wally Glover)

Surrealism & The Occult
Nadia Choucha

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9781906958749


Surrealism & The Occult
Nadia Choucha
Format: Softcover/164 pp.
ISBN: 9781906958749
£11.99/US$20
Subjects: Art/Art History/Surrealism/Occult.

Many people associate Surrealism with politics, but it was also permeated by occult ideas, a fact often overlooked by art historians. This occult influence goes beyond general themes to the movement’s very heart.

This occult influence goes beyond general themes to the movement’s very heart. The antinomian stance of Surrealism can be traced directly to the influence of radical nineteenth century magi such as Eliphas Lévi, whose Dogma and Ritual of High Magic was widely read by Surrealism’s ideologues. Amongst these we find its progenitor André Breton.

The book shows how many Surrealists and their predecessors were steeped in magical ideas: Kandinsky, with his involvement with Theosophy, the sorcery of Salvador Dali; the alchemy of Pablo Picasso and the shamanism of Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington.

Surrealism did not establish itself in Britain until the 1930s but a select few felt something in the air. Almost ten years before the Surrealist experiments with automatic drawing, an obscure English artist, Austin Osman Spare had perfected the technique.

Nadia Choucha shows, convincingly, that occult and surrealist philosophies were often interchangeable. Surrealism and the Occult is seminal reading for art historians and occultists alike, while artists will find it a vital guide to the unlocking of the imagination.

Praise for Nadia Choucha’s Surrealism & the Occult
”Highly readable…seminal… fascinating” – Francis X. King
”alive, with the heady mixture of occult and pictorial symbolism treated with laudable lucidity.”- Art Book News

Ithell Colquhoun
Pioneer Surrealist Artist, Occultist, Writer and Poet (reprinted)
Eric Ratcliffe

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cov9781869928988


Ithell Colquhoun
Pioneer Surrealist Artist, Occultist, Writer & Poet
Eric Ratcliffe
Format: Softcover/312pp/90 illustrations (25 colour).
ISBN: ISBN 978-1869928-98-8
£30/US$42
Subjects: Art/Art History/Surrealism/Occult/Magick.

The skills of Ithell Colquhoun in her main practice, that of artist and pioneer in this country of surrealistic art, have been long recognised. Additionally, other interests – alchemy, Earth-magic, active occultism, poetry, druidism, the pre-Christian pagan calendar, the history and membership of the Golden Dawn – and writing of and involvement in these interests by book publication and in a widely scattered field of correspondence, have created a miscellany of truly gargantuan proportion.

Eric Ratcliffe considered it was time to get together some of these pieces, to add something of what is known of Colquhoun’s early life and family history and to take the opportunity of listing a comprehensive calendar of her work and exhibitions. The result is neither strictly biographical nor a treatise on any one subject, but it is a first gathering of the roots, passions and multi-directions of this artist. It is a patchwork containing many launch-pads for exploration of the magical and mythical atmosphere which this artist existed in and created. Here therefore is a contribution towards solving a jigsaw and a wind-catch of the minor cyclones of lthell’s dedicatory interests, also serving as a record of her accomplishments in the art field.

REVIEWS

‘The subtitle of this book is: ‘Pioneer Surrealist, Artist, Occultist, Writer and Poet’, this multifaceted description captures the essence of who and what Ithell Colquhoun was about. Her connection to Cornwall is through the book The Living Stones, published in 1957, which was an early contribution to discovering the power of the Cornish landscape, prehistory and tradition and folklore. Even today, it continues to inspire people with its love for the ancient land of Cornwall…Ratcliffe’s biography made me want to go back and re-read The Living Stones, and no better thing could be said of a book such as this.’- Cheryl Straffon, Editor in Meyn Mamvro – Ancient stones and sacred sites in Cornwall – www.meynmamvro.co.uk

‘The author gives an excellent account of Colquhoun’s artistic career, explaining why she has been so overlooked (she stuck to her principles against the authoritarian demands of the British surrealist clique and consequently was expelled). Ratcliffe places proper emphasis upon the artist’s magical activities. She was a member of the OTO, Order of the Pyramid and Sphinx, Order of Holy Wisdom, Ancient Celtic Church and the Druid Order.

Despite having had the good fortune to read many of Colquhoun’s magical papers I learnt a great deal from this very well informed work. There is excellent bibliographical information including listings of unpublished typescripts and also as comprehensive as possible listing of her paintings and drawings.’
Ithell Colquhoun by Eric Ratcliffe, Mandrake of Oxford.
Reviewed by Ben Fernee @ Caduceus Books

‘Ithell Colquhoun was a pioneer surrealist artist, poet, writer, pantheist and occultist. Descended from Devonian ancestry, she was of Anglo-Indian birth and received her education in England at the Cheltenham Ladies College and later at the Slade School of Art in London.

After the war she moved to Cornwall where she spent the rest of her life. While at the Slade she became involved in Theosophical circles and then attempted, without success, to join Moina Mathers’ Alpha and Omega Lodge of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light.

However during the 1950s she belonged to various occult groups including Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian OTO and Nu-Isis Temple, Dr WB Crow’s Order of the Holy Wisdom and Order of the Keltic Cross, Tamara Bourkhoun’s Order of the Pyramid and the Sphinx, as well as the Druid Order, the Cornish and Breton Gorsedd, the Ancient Celtic Church, Co-Freemasonry and the Fellowship of Isis.

This biography is profusely illustrated with many of Colquhoun’s paintings and also includes some of her writings and poetry. It is a fascinating study of a unique multi-talented woman who during her creative life contributed a great deal to both the artistic and occult fields. Recommended.’
Ithell Colquhoun, by Eric Ratcliffe.
Reviewed by Mike Howard in The Cauldron, issue 129, August 2008

The Magical Universe
of William S. Burroughs
Matthew Levi Stevens

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The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs
Matthew Levi Stevens
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-906958-64-0
£11.99/US$23
Subjects: Counter-Culture/Magic/Occult/Biography/American Underground.

——
“In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen. The dogma of science is that the will cannot possibly affect external forces, and I think that’s just ridiculous. It’s as bad as the church. My viewpoint is the exact contrary of the scientific viewpoint. I believe that if you run into somebody in the street it’s for a reason. Among primitive people they say that if someone was bitten by a snake he was murdered. I believe that.”
– William S. Burroughs

Fully revised and expanded from the limited edition chapbook that first appeared in 2012, The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs is the first ever in-depth consideration of the significance of Magic and the Occult in the Life & Work of the writer and counter-cultural icon.

In Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs, his biographer Ted Morgan wrote:

‘As the single most important thing about Graham Greene was his viewpoint as a lapsed Catholic, the single most important thing about Burroughs was his belief in the magical universe. The same impulse that lead him to put out curses was, as he saw it, the source of his writing…’

‘To Burroughs behind everyday reality there was the reality of the spirit world, of psychic visitations, of curses, of possession and phantom beings…’

From the Introduction to The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs:

In talking about The Magical Universe of William S. Burroughs I am really thinking of two things:

Firstly, and probably most obvious, is the material that appears in the output of Burroughs the Writer that can be seen as describing or referring to some magical, mystical or occult idea – Invocations of Elder Gods of Abominations, descriptions of Sex-Magick rituals, references to amulets, charms, ghosts, omens and spells – all the thematic set-dressing that we all know and love, from Hammer Horror Movies to Weird Tales, from H. P. Lovecraft to Dennis Wheatley and The X-Files…

Secondly, there is the personal interest and involvement of Burroughs the Man with belief systems and practices that come from those strange ‘Other’ territories that lay outside the bounds of either conventional mainstream religion or scientific materialism – explorations of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, Konstanin Raudive’s Electronic Voice Phenomena, Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Accumulator; also partaking of the Vine-of-the-Soul with Amazonian shamans, attending the Rites of Pan in the Rif Mountains outside Morocco, participating in a Sweat-Lodge with Native American Indian medicine men – and, latterly, an engagement with that most Post-Modern of Occultisms, Chaos Magic.

The material considered has been distilled from archival sources, correspondence, interviews, and of course, published works. As well as his own personal contact with Burroughs and his lifelong study of the Man and his Work, the author also draws from a wide range of former associates – collaborators, friends, lovers, and students – including C. J. Bradbury Robinson, Michael Butterworth, David Conway, Phil Hine, Graham Masterton, Malcolm Mc Neill, and others.

As well as his own contact with the likes of Genesis P-Orridge, John Balance & Peter Christopherson of Coil, and writer Terry Wilson, back in 1980s London, he has also had unprecedented access to the papers of Cabell McLean, a young writer who was William’s companion, lover & student, c.1976-1983.

Sometime in the nineteen-seventies, following a reprint of my book, Magic: An Occult Primer, a letter was forwarded to me by my then publisher. Poorly typed and in an envelope which, unless my memory deceives me, bore no postage stamp, it came from William S. Burroughs. I still have it somewhere. In it the writer made plain his interest in magic. In real magic that is, not the smoke and mirrors kind.

Given that Burroughs’ tireless ambition was to encounter a reality beyond that accessible to our five senses, with magic perceived as an effective means to that end, it is remarkable that the subject has hitherto received but scant attention.

This work, by Matthew Levi Stevens, who must have encountered Burroughs at around the time he wrote to me, sets out to make up for that deficit. In it he chronicles the man’s interest and examines the part magic and occultism generally played both in his life and in his work.

Stevens sets about the task with gusto, indicative of his respect and, indeed, affection for “Uncle Bill”, as well as his familiarity with the topic itself. He draws on Burroughs’ own writings, and on those of the growing number of people, supporters and critics alike, who have commented on him and his literary output.

It is a job well done. And one that is all the more welcome because long overdue . . .

– David Conway, 2014.

Wormwood Star
The Magickal Life
of Marjorie Cameron
(revised & enlarged)
Spencer Kansa

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9781906958602

This New Edition features fascinating new insights and info,
as well as over 20 new images.

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Ebook editions:
Click here for Kindle UK edition

Click here for Kindle USA edition


Wormwood Star
The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron
Spencer Kansa
Format: Softcover/302 pp/illustrated.
ISBN: ISBN 978-1-906958-60-2 (was 978-1-906958-08-4)
£13.99/US$24
Subjects: Biography/Magick/Thelema/Art/American Underground/Film Studies

In the first ever biography written about her, Wormwood Star traces the extraordinary life of the enigmatic artist Marjorie Cameron, one of the most fascinating figures to emerge from the American Underground art world and film scene.

Born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, in 1922, Cameron’s uniqueness and talent as a natural born artist was evident to those around her early on in life. During World War 2 she served in the Women’s Navy, and worked in Washington as an aide to the Joint Chiefs Of Staff. But it was after the War that her life really took off, when she met her husband Jack Parsons. By day Parsons was a brilliant rocket scientist, but by night he was Master of the Agape Lodge, a fraternal magickal order, whose head was the most famous magus of the 20th century… Aleister Crowley.

Gradually, over the course of their marriage, Parsons initiated Cameron into the occult sciences, and the biography offers a fresh perspective on her role in the infamous Babalon Working magick rituals Parsons conducted with the future founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard. Following Parsons death in 1952 from a chemical explosion, Cameron inherited her husband’s magickal mantle and embarked on a lifelong spiritual quest, a journey reflected in the otherworldly images she depicted, many of them drawn from the Elemental Kingdom and astral plane.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Cameron became a celebrated personality in California’s underground art world and film scene. In 1954 she starred in Kenneth Anger’s visual masterwork, ‘Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome’, stealing the show from her co-star Anais Nin. The budding filmmaker Curtis Harrington was so taken with Cameron, he made a film study dedicated to her artwork entitled, ‘The Wormwood Star’. He then brought Cameron’s powerful and mysterious presence to bear on his evocative noir thriller, ‘Night Tide’, casting her alongside a young Dennis Hopper.

Cameron was an inspirational figure to the many artists and poets that congregated around Wallace Berman’s Semina scene, and in 1957 Berman’s show at the Ferus Gallery was shut down by LA’s vice squad, due to the sexually charged nature of one of her drawings. Undaunted, she continued to carve a unique and brilliant path as an artist. A retrospective of Cameron’s work, entitled ‘The Pearl Of Reprisal’, was held at LA’s Barnsdall Art Park in 1989, and after her death some of her most admired pieces were included in the ‘Reflections Of A New Aeon Exhibition’ at the Eleven Seven Gallery in Long Beach, California. Cameron’s famous Peyote Vision drawing made its way into the Beat Culture And The New America retrospective held at the Whitney Museum in 1995. And in 2006, a profile of her work was featured in the critically lauded Semina Culture Exhibition. The following year an exhibition of her sketches and drawings was held at the Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York.

With so much of her life and work shrouded in mystery, Wormwood Star sheds new light on this most remarkable artist and elusive occult icon.

All Material on this page copyright © Spencer Kansa

Cover of First Edition


#rogercorman

#edgarallanpoe

#aleistercrowley

#scifi

# Gurdjieff

# oscarjaniger

#forrestackerman

#psychedelic

#psychedelia

#beatniks
#ufos

#extraterrestrials

#arthurlee

#horrormovies

#lsdart

#lsdtrip

#lsd25

#beatgeneration

#randycalifornia

#spiritof76

#counterculture

#surrealism

#magicalrealism

#abstract

#dali

#picasso

#avantgarde

#bohemian

#cafefrankenstein

#monstermovie