Aleister Crowley

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Post by Nick » Tue 16 Oct, 2007 14:50:07

It seems they have made a DVD and here is a review, about the same opinion as mine...

This was obviously made in an era when full frontal nudity in the cinema needed an excuse. "Now what can we use to get some pubics past the censor? I know! Witchcraft!", seems to be what the director thought.

A quick trip to Wardour Street to hire a camera, 50 quid for a roll of neg, and off to the local church for some background shots. "Let's make a movie (even if we can only afford black and white). Yippee!" Next off to Hampsted Heath with some cronies from the local pub (note to self: make sure the girls don't mind taking their knickers down; pity I forgot to tell the blokes not to try covering up their naughties as they all look like they are playing with themselves, when in fact they are trying to stop the camera seeing who is the "best man"!) I must say the rostrum camera-work isn't too bad and it's a pity that the database doesn't have the crew named.

The commentary sounds, and let's face it is, straight from the 1970's. You can imagine creeping into a dingy cinema full of the Dirty Mac brigade who are only sitting there to see the tits and bums.

From the above you will think that I am taking the urine, actually this film is quite interesting, well researched and deserves a play to a wider audience if only for the lack of coyness. But comments such as "The women's branch of the armed forces is a source of images" is well, rather odd to say the least! Although I can't imagine a real coven having so many long haired, firm breasted 20 year olds who all look like singer Mary Hopkin, accompanied by slightly balding 40 year old men trying to copulate with them. What happened to all the wizened, warty old hags? Perhaps they didn't go down the pub that night! In short, it's all a bit staged.

Well alright this bloke is a bit full of himself, but I still think the film is worth watching.

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Post by Nick » Tue 16 Oct, 2007 14:56:44

and here is a much more positive and detailed review....
Legend of the Witches (Review)

Written and Directed by Malcolm Leigh
Produced by Negus-Fancey
Edited by Judith Smith
Lighting Cameraman: Robert Webb
Border Film Production (London) Ltd
Year: 1969
Featuring: Alex and Maxine Sanders and their beautiful coven.
Format: DVD

‘In the beginning was the Moon, Diana. Her lover was the Dawn, Lucifer - God of Light. They created man, and built the monuments, which tracked their paths across the skies. Now man could predict the movements of the Gods, he sought to control them, through priests and ritual…’

Originally X-rated, this newly released DVD, is a real period piece this, documenting the beliefs and practices of Alex Sanders and the circle of witches, which under his leadership, electrified the popular imagination and attracted many into the Wiccan path.

The film's leisurely pace requires the modern viewer to make some adjustment to their viewing habits. Nevertheless this is a minor masterpiece and really manages to tell one of witchcraft's many 'stories'. We've perhaps become a little too knowing to accept all of the certainties of 1960s Wicca - but nevertheless we can all agree, that this 'warts and all' view, really does capture the spirit of the time. It's a beautiful film, shot I think in 16mm black and white, which lends it a very artistic feel, reminding me most of the experimental films of Maya Deren or indeed UK classics of 'socialist realism' such as 'Night Mail', the 1936 movie by John Grierson, with music by Benjamin Britten.

The documentary begins with lovely sweeping shots of seascapes and ancient, elemental landscapes over which the film's narrator begins his tale of the ancient witch mythology, of the Goddess Diana and her consort Lucifer, the sun. Now whether or not one buys into this spirited mythology, we have strayed into controversy almost immediately. Who amongst the current glut of media witches even dares to mention that name - Lucifer?

Almost half the film explores these ideas, covering issues such the mysteries of earth energy, altered states, the pagan traces that survive in pre-reformation churches, the persecutions and the rebirth of the old religion. It's foundation myth, easy to sneer at, but strangely wonderful just the same.

Seamlessly, the film now deliverers us into the hands of a modern coven. We see them perform a variety of rites. First, an outdoor initiation. The candidate, referred to throughout as Michael, not because that's his real name but presumably because of the ancient folk myth of 'crazy man Michael', Britain's very own 'holy fool'. The priestess repeatedly calls 'Michael' to various encounters with elemental forces, the whole rite done at Alderley Edge in Cheshire, itself a place of power, just a stone's thrown from Lindow Moss, where in Iron Age times, other, darker rites were done by our pagan ancestors.

Now the action moves into the temple, after some exploration of the many cursing exhibits, still to be seen at the Boscastle's Witchcraft Museum, we are prepared for the notion that witches sometimes curse. The coven, prepare such a curse, using the traditional and extremely ancient technique, in which a poppet is given life through the agency of Alex and Maxine's act of sexual magick - fascinating stuff.

We even get to see something seldom alluded to these days - the so-called 'Black Mass.' completed with a very lifelike 'sign of Osiris slain' - . These witches, known these days as Alexandrians, do not see such as mass as any form of inversion of Christian principles. They knew something that we have all perhaps forgotten - there is no impervable barrier between primitive Christianity and classical paganism. It was around this time that Professor Morton Smith wrote his groundbreaking book Jesus the Magician. The 'Black Mass' is only 'black to the blind' - it is in fact a celebration of life in all is bounty.

The film concludes with a nod to the future, when the special powers of the witch will be understood more in terms of the newish science of ESP and indeed the 1960s first forays into the psychedelic, encounter groups and other techniques of obsession and transcendence. Of course some in the new millennial will find this all too embarrassing and bad for business - but what do they know? Who are then the true successors to Alex Sanders and the witches of the 1960s? If they were still here I'd say the Temple ov Psychic Youth would be a likely contender. The film will outrage some but inspire others to take up where they left off after a generation or more of stoney sleep. Buy this and be refreshed. - Mogg Morgan

So there! Nick

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Crowley : the perfect dinner guest (?)

Post by Charles » Sat 20 Sep, 2008 09:42:22

I've just been reading the article on DW in 'Million' from Jan/Feb 1991 - it's listed in the 'Other Publications' section of the website and I just came across a copy.

It's mainly about DW and the background to 'The Library of the Occult' series - the article's author, Stan Nicholls, was the Editorial Consultant, and used to somewhat dread going round to DW on business and having to drink several huge goblets of sherry before they settled down to business ... but he greatly enjoyed DW's anecdotes and admired his huge book collection greatly.

Re Crowley, he recounts that DW had some choice stories to tell .... among these was that if anyone was misguided enough to invite Crowley to a dinner party, AC was inclined to lower his trousers and defecate over his host's carpet. For Crowley, this was apparently a benediction.

I wonder if DW ever invited him to his home, or if that was why he entertained him at the Hungaria ?!?

Apologies for the slightly crude story, but if DW could tell it, I don't see why I shouldn't repeat it on the website !

Best wishes to all !

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Post by caroline$-0 » Sat 27 Sep, 2008 20:47:40

:rofl I would love to have to have been present at one of those dinner parties.I wonder if he did the business before or after they had eaten.Thanks Charles I love anecdotes like this. :rofl

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Post by Cibator » Sat 14 Mar, 2009 09:12:41

About the TV confrontation between DW and Alex Sanders. This was in 1969-70 (can't be any more precise), and occurred on the Simon Dee Show - an early-evening chat 'n' music show that went out around 6.30pm on Saturdays. Simon Dee was a former pirate DJ who went legit after 1967 and had a series of high-profile TV and radio gigs before suddenly disappearing from public view in the early 70s.

The encounter was pretty low-key, really. DW was given a fancy build-up, after which Dee rose to greet him and shake hands as he walked on to the set. Wearing black tie, of course (like Conky Bill, DW liked to change for dinner). Alex appeared next, clad in a dark robe and sporting big black shades which I suppose were meant to look menacing, but didn't have that effect on me at all. In fact I thought he looked rather a prat! Bear in mind that at this time you could see outre outfits like that on just about any university campus or city street, and few people gave them a second look any more.

Anyway, they got down to discussing witchcraft and the occult, but this being a chat show, no-one was looking for any amazing profundities. The main thing I remember was DW looking aghast at some remark of Alex's about casting spells, and asking him in tones of great concern: "have you thought about what you're doing to your karma?" Much of the chat was between Dee and Sanders (the more "sensational" and visually interesting of the two guests), with DW looking rather out of it a lot of the time. The whole business was probably not very much to his taste anyhow.

I don't recall Sanders actually casting a spell on the programme, but according to some other description I've read of the occasion, he whipped out a maukin (wax doll) and proceeded to do some nasty things to it. Asked if he'd be scared if he was the subject of these proceedings, DW answered strongly in the affirmative.

After about six or seven minutes it was all over, and no-one very much the wiser.

I've read other accounts of Alex's activities (such as Stewart Farrar's What Witches Do and Maxine Sanders' own autobiography, and have come to the conclusion that he was a bit of a poseur, and that Maxine was the real power in that set-up.
Fas est et ab hoste doceri

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