“It’s unfortunate that my studies of mysticism and
Eastern and Western traditions of magic and tantrism have all come under the
umbrella of [Aleister] Crowley. Yeah, sure, I read a lot of Crowley and I was
fascinated by his techniques and ideas. But I was reading across the board. It
wasn’t un-usual at that time to be interested in comparative religions and
magic. It was quite a major part of my formative experience as much as anything
~Jimmy Page – Guitar World magazine in 2003,
[Top Pic:] Jimmy Page holding the Stele Of Revealing facing a portrait of Aleister Crowley in Kenneth Anger’s Film Lucifer Rising.
[Bottom Pic:] Kenneth Grant former head of the OTO in Britain.
[Middle Pic] Image of Gregory Peters book. Read about his diverse Thalamic experiences here.
[From Wiki] Kenneth Grant (23 May 1924 – 15 January 2011) was an English ceremonial magician and prominent advocate of the Thelemite religion. A poet, novelist, and writer, he founded his own Thelemite organisation, the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis – later renamed the Typhonian Order – with his wife Steffi Grant.
Born in Ilford, Essex, Grant developed an interest in occultism and Asian religion during his teenage years. After several months serving in India with the British Army amid the Second World War, he returned to Britain and became the personal secretary of Aleister Crowley, the ceremonial magician who had founded Thelema in 1904. Crowley instructed Grant in his esoteric practices, initiating him into his own occult order, the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). When Crowley died in 1947, Grant was seen as his heir apparent in Britain, and was appointed as such by the American head of the O.T.O., Karl Germer. Founding the London-based New Isis Lodge in 1954, Grant added to many of Crowley’s Thelemite teachings, bringing in extraterrestrial themes and influences from the work of H.P. Lovecraft. This was anathema to Germer, who expelled Grant from the O.T.O. in 1955, although the latter continued to operate his Lodge regardless until 1962.
In 1949, Grant befriended the occult artist Austin Osman Spare, and in ensuing years helped to publicise Spare’s artwork through a series of publications. During the 1950s he also came to be increasingly interested in Hinduism, exploring the teachings of the Hindu guru Ramana Maharshiand publishing a range of articles on the topic. He was particularly interested in the Hindu tantra, incorporating ideas from it into the Thelemic practices of sex magic. On Germer’s death in 1969, Grant proclaimed himself Outer Head of the O.T.O.; this title was disputed by the American Grady McMurtry, who took control of the O.T.O. Grant’s Order became known as the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis, operating from his Golders Green home. In 1959 he began publishing on the subject of occultism, and proceeded to author the Typhonian Trilogies, as well as a number of novels, books of poetry, and publications devoted to propagating the work of Crowley and Spare.
Grant’s writings and teachings have proved a significant influence over other currents of occultism, including chaos magic, the Temple of Set and the Dragon Rouge. They also attracted academic interest within the study of Western esotericism, particularly from Henrik Bogdan and Dave Evans.
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Tag: led zeppelin
February, 14 Melody Maker [Chris Welch]
“Jimmy Page: Paganini of the
(February 14, 21, 28, 1970), pp. 17–18; 12; 10.
Boathouse: This house on the Thames River sits in the beautiful village of
Pangbourne, outside of London. Originally the home was a boathouse for hiring
and maintenance of boats belonging to the firm Hopps of Henley from the 19th
century until 1959 when it was transformed into a residential home. Jimmy
purchased the house in 1967 for £6,000, using money he had saved up as a
working session guitarist. In an
interview with Chris Welch for Melody Maker Magazine in 1970, Jimmy described
how he acquired the home.
bought the house about two and a half years ago when I was in The Yardbirds.
There hasn’t been much time to decorate, being away in the states so much, but
you wouldn’t have believed the scene when I moved in. The previous owner had
great garlands of plastic flowers everywhere. She even had a barrow in the
corner decorated with plastic flowers. It was like a Norseman’s funeral when we
we threw all the flowers in the river.”
Welch: “The Thames flows outside his rear porch,
rather fast and muddy in February. Swans and ducks poke about. Cows lurch in
the fields on the opposite bank. A large white telescope has pride of place in
the living room…Wandering around the interior revealed a surprising number of
oddly shaped rooms and passages, and down below the ground floor was a huge
room housing the central heating, a dismantled antique bed, considerable
quantities of junk and a motor launch bobbing about in an inlet waiting for
Page to Welch: “This is the tub [boat]. It’s out of
action at the moment, but it has a cassette tape machine. You can cruise down
the river, switch off the motor and dig all the sounds. I can’t wait for the
summer. Once the sun comes out, we all go on the river and every day is a
Welch: “We continued a tour of the low-ceilinged
rooms with sloping floors and muddied piles of valuable paintings, records,
model trains, and books. Copies of Man, Myth, and Magic lay
around and a huge volume of the works of mystic Aleister Crowley. In one room was a Mutoscope, a hand-cranked
seaside peepshow featuring “a gentleman’s downfall”, involving a lissome
lass wearing not unsexy 1926 underwear and a healthy smile. Parts of the house
were freezing cold where central heating had not yet been deployed to combat
the creeping river air. But all held the warmth of personality – and a welcome
return to traditional English eccentricity.“
Page to Welch: "We often get friends dropping in. We
don’t exactly take part in the village life, but it’s like the New Renaissance
of Berkshire, I suppose. A baronial life
in our palatial country retreats.”
[Bottom Pic] First Edition Cover Man, Myth & Magic: featuring a Painting by Austin Osman Spare. Read more on Jimmy Page’s interest in AOS from a previous post here.
Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural is an encyclopedia of the supernatural, including magic, mythology and religion. It was edited by Richard Cavendish.
Man, Myth & Magic was originally published as a British weekly magazine by BPC Publishing, Ltd.. The printer was Purnell & Sons. Leeds. Publication commenced in 1970, and continued for 112 issues spanning 1,000 articles with some 5,000 illustrations, many of them in full colour.
In 1970 BPC Publishing Ltd put out a very popular hardcover set condensing all 112 magazines into a 24 volume set. It was reprinted as a 21 volume revised edition by Marshall Cavendish in 1995.
More than two hundred academics and specialists contributed to the magazine, and wrote in a generally accessible style.
- John Symonds, author and literary executor of Aleister Crowley was a member of the Editorial Board of Man, Myth & Magic.
- Kenneth Grant authored & contributed articles on Advaita Vedanta and other Hindu topics for Man, Myth & Magic.
- Richard Cavendish’s The Black Arts published in 1967, featured sections on Crowley and the Golden Dawn.
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Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page bathing in lasers, NYC 1977
When asked about Jimmy Page’s involvement in the Golden Dawn at the Oxford Union Society Address, Jimmy Page’s response seemed to pass off “his involvement’ as mere interest and research.
Or was his interest in the Golden Dawn directly integrated into his performance of the music of Led Zeppelin?
leave this subject by saying the four musical elements of Led Zeppelin making a
fifth is magick into itself. That’s the
2008, January – Guitar
World Jimmy Page interview: by Brad Tolinski
[From Wiki] The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was an organization devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as a magical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was active in Great Britain and focused its practices on theurgy and spiritual development. Many present-day concepts of ritual and magic that are at the centre of contemporary traditions, such as Wicca and Thelema, were inspired by the Golden Dawn, which became one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism.
Page’s Involvement in the Golden Dawn is a strange question because most temples of the Alpha et Omega and Stella Matutina closed or went into abeyance by the end of the 1930s, with the exceptions of two Stella Matutina temples: Hermes Temple in Bristol, which operated sporadically until 1970.
Was Jimmy Pages bow solo inspired by Golden Dawn Ritual?
Page’s Bow Solo followed a very similar ritualist pattern at each concert that had him noodling about and then appears to have him pointing his bow in 4 cardinal directions similar to a banishing ritual.
This can be seen in the above video starting at 1:32 where Page slaps the neck with his fretting hand and triggers his Maestro Echoplex resulting in the notes A,G,D,E played four times (the first two with long pauses, the second two faster) and then followed by an ascention and decention of the notes F#,G,A,B,C,B,A,G,F#,D,C,B. With the Echoplex, that is doubled, you have 40 notes, with 10 cycles of four.
Clearly the number 4 is in play here.
If Jimmy Page was performing a ceremonial ritual magick during his Violin Bow solo, what ritual was it? Could it have been his own form of a common Golden Dawn inspired ritual such as Lesser Banishing Ritual or Opening by Watchtower? Let’s explore…
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (or LBRP) was a ceremonial magic ritual devised and used by the original order of the Golden Dawn that has become a mainstay in modern occultism. This ritual is considered by many to be a basic preliminary to any other magical work, so much that it was the only ritual, beside initiation rituals, taught to members of the Golden Dawn before they advanced to the Inner Order.
Description and structure
The ritual is highly dynamic, using gesture, visualization and the pronunciation of certain words of power, combining prayer and invocation as well as clearing and preparing a space for further magical or meditative work. The ritual is perceived as banishing any “chaotic” and “impure” forms of the elements from the magician’s circle tracing the Pentagrams in the air and by the power of certain Divine names followed by an invocation of the spiritual forces ruling the elements to fortify and guard the circle.
The principal components of the Qabalistic Cross and the LBRP are drawn from the works of French occultist Eliphas Levi. The text originated as a Jewish prayer, as documented by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in The Hirsch Siddur.
Being that the magician vibrates Hebrew words from the last few lines of the Lord’s Prayer while drawing the 5 points of a pentagram in the each of the cardinal directions. Read more about the LBRP here:
While the LBRP could be at play I think he was doing something much simpler and Opening by Watchtower ritual seems to make more sense.
At the very least Page points his wand / violin bow toward each of the four directions. The Four Classical Elements are more akin to the Pagan beliefs and considering Page’s references to Pagan symbols, such as Pan seen here on one of his compliments cards…
It makes more sense that the Bow Solo / ritual is Pagan inspired. So lets explore the WatchTower idea.
The Ancients divided the world into four basic principles or *elements* earth, water, fire, and air. And in many modern-day Pagan belief systems, there is a good deal of focus on the four elements – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. A few traditions of Wicca also include a “fifth element”, which is Spirit or Self, but that is not universal among all Pagan paths. These *magical elements* are also of some importance in astrology, a topic of well known interest to Page.
In the tradition of the Golden Dawn a watchtower or guardian, in ceremonial and derived neopagan magical tradition, is a tutelary spirit of one of the four cardinal points or “quarters” (north, east, south, and west). The Watchtowers are invoked during the ritual of casting a magic circle.
In the Enochian system of magic, brought to public attention by Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly in the 16th century, we find the inclusion of Watchtowers as complex evocational designs. Some people go so far to believe that the Watchtowers have their origin in the Enochian magic system revealed to the Elizabethan magician John Dee and his scryer Edward Kelley, which was later developed into a working system of magic by S.L. MacGregor Mathers one of the three founders of the Golden Dawn.
In the Golden Dawn magical system, each Watchtower was attributed to a direction and an element:
- The Great Eastern Quadrangle of Air
- The Great Western Quadrangle of Water
- The Great Northern Quadrangle of Earth
- The Great Southern Quadrangle of Fire
The Tablet of Union was rearranged to form a rectangle attributed to Spirit or Ether. The tablets were brightly colored; squares attributed to the elements were painted in the color of that element, with lettering in complementary colors.
- Air – yellow with violet letters
- Water – blue with orange letters
- Earth – black with green letters
- Fire – red with green letters
The use of complementary colors, called flashing colors in the Golden Dawn, means that the Watchtowers belong to the class of talismans called flashing tablets. The flashing colors were supposed to draw energy from the atmosphere. The painted tablets were placed on the walls of the temple during some rituals to symbolize the four quarters. A favorite ritual in the Golden Dawn was the Opening by Watchtower, which was actually a preliminary ritual to purify space and call upon the guardians of the four quarters, similar to casting the magic circle in Wicca.
The use of complimentary colors, also known as color opposites or flashing colors was not foreign to Jimmy Page as demonstrated here when describing in his own words the painting of his Dragon Telecaster in color opposites:
my time with The Yardbirds, I
had taken the decision to Consecrate my [Dragon Telecaster] guitar by painting it in psychedelic color
employing diffraction grating beneath the clear Perspex scratch
plate.” ~ Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page Genesis Publications September 2010.
As part of the Opening by Watchtower, the practitioner uses the elemental weapons to summon the angels of the quarters. In the south, for instance, the practitioner uses the Fire Wand to trace an invoking Fire Pentagram, then summons the angels using the three names of God found in the Fire Tablet.
Notice the naming of the bonus disc of previoulsly unreleased tracks included in the Lucifer Rising – The Second Coming Released March 6th 2015.
01. Lucifer Rising Early Mix (18:59)
02. Sonic Textures 1 – Earth (04:33)
03. Sonic Textures 2 – Air (03:02)
04. Sonic Textures 3 – Fire (01:45)
05. Sonic Textures 4 – Water (01:05)
06. Sonic Textures 5 – Ether (01:04)
Page dedicates these unreleased mixes to the 5 magical elements of the ancients.
The Watchtowers were among the Golden Dawn concepts introduced into Wicca (modern witchcraft) by its founder Gerald Gardner. Gerald Gardner’s association to the Atlantis Bookshop, a hub for London’s occult world, is evidenced by his attendance of meetings of The Order of the Hidden Masters in its basement during his formative years, and also held meetings of his own Coven there. The shop not only published Gardner’s first book on witchcraft, the novel High Magic’s Aid, the shop also handled the shipping of Jimmy Page’s 1975 publication Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley edited Goetia.
See my post of Gerald Gardner’s influence on Led Zeppelin III here… It simply points Page’s familiarity with the phrase “So Mote it Be” of which Page had inscribed into the run off groove of Led Zeppelin III.
- The Four Cardinal Directions Page points to in his Violin Bow solo could very well be the Great Quadrangles of the four elements.
- Jimmy Page’s awareness of Golden Dawn ritual Flashing Colors is highly probable due to his claim of painting his Dragon Telecaster in Color Opposites. Flashing Colors association to the four Watchtowers goes back to the 16th century system of Enochian magic.
- The Watchtowers were among the Golden Dawn concepts introduced into Wicca (modern witchcraft) by its founder Gerald Gardner and Page’s awareness of Gardner is evidenced by his inclusion of Gardner’s So Mote it Be into LZ III.
- Page’s choice of track titles for in 2015 demonstrates his awareness of the 5 elements.
I get it, Im reaching here…. but this meditation is fun none the less…
What ever the influence was for Jimmy Page’s Bow Solo, his “involvement in the Golden Dawn” was a well research Experiential Involvement to say the least.
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“Bowie once had a conflict with Jimmy Page at his Manhattan townhouse, and since then he believed that Page had put his soul in peril. He was convinced that Jimmy, who owned the home of black-magic philosopher Aleister Crowley, was in cahoots with the witches and they were out to get him. Hence he stocked all his urine in his fridge to keep it safe from them.”
Rock’s Sympathy for the Devil
April 12, 2012 By davidjones
By MICHAEL HOWARD (1948–2015)—
It was popularly believed in the 1930s that the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, who inspired Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical gifts. It was believed Johnson had the ‘Evil Eye’ and was murdered because of his alleged power over women. He seduced the wife of a beer hall owner who in revenge laced the musician’s whisky with arsenic. Many moralists saw his fate as a punishment for dealing with the powers of darkness.
Johnson is said to have sold his soul to Old Nick during a midnight ceremony at a crossroads. However, that story did not originate with him. In the 1920s and 1930s there are numerous tales of black musicians and gamblers signing a pact with a mysterious ‘man in black’ at the crossroads. Famous examples are the black singer Clara Smith and Robert Johnson’s namesake Tommy Johnston, a decade before him. The dark stranger has been identified by some writers as either the Christian Devil or the West African trickster god Eshu, worshipped in voodoo and taken to the southern states of America by black slaves.
While there is little evidence of modern pop and rock musicians actually ‘selling their souls’ to the ‘Devil’, the link between popular music and the occult is a strong one. Christian fundamentalists have predictably seen the widespread use of magical and occult symbols in rock music as evidence it is the work of Satan, but the truth is far stranger than their religious fantasies.
Sometimes the alleged connections of famous rock musicians with occultism surfaced in apocryphal showbiz gossip or rumour. For example, everyone knows that ill-fated glam rock star Marc Bolan studied as a sorcerer’s apprentice with a magician in a French chateau (in fact he actually admitted it), that the late pop diva Dusty Springfield allegedly belonged to a satanic group called the Temple of the Prince in Manchester, and that Jim Morrison of The Doors married a Wiccan high priestess (which was true).
Then there was the 1970s British musician Graham Bond, accused by his fellow R & B artist Long John Baldry of sacrificing his pet cat in a magical ritual. Bond told his groupies he was one of the illegitimate sons of the infamous ‘black magician’ Aleister Crowley, and that his musical output was designed to contact “higher forces.” Bond also believed he had been cursed by a fellow occultist. When in 1974 the musician fell in front of a train on the London Underground in mysterious circumstances, many thought the curse had worked.
The Beatles & the Rolling Stones
The Beatles are well known for flirting with Eastern mysticism and transcendental meditation during their psychedelic hippy stage in the late 1960s. They may also have had darker interests. For instance, the Great Beast 666, Aleister Crowley, is featured (top left corner above) in the photomontage of “people we most admire” on the cover of the Fab Four’s famous album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Antiquarian bookseller and Crowley bibliographer Timothy D’Arch Smith relates how the Beatles attended an exhibition of rare books on witchcraft and the occult he held in Swinging London. Jane Asher, Paul McCartney’s then girlfriend, had suggested the visit to him and, according to D’Arch Smith, encouraged him to buy rare books as an investment.
If the Beatles were mildly interested in the occult, then their main rivals for the pocket money and affection of teenage girls, the Rolling Stones, were definitely involved in a more dramatic way. Despite their respectable middle-class backgrounds, in the Sixties the Stones were deliberately promoted as the ‘bad boys of pop’. It now seems this was a marketing ploy by their then manager Andrew Oldham, and is summed up in the famous newspaper headline, ‘Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?’ If the parents of Middle England had known about their dabbling in the occult, the answer may have been in the negative.
The so-called ‘satanic’ influence on the Stones was through the avant-garde filmmaker, Luciferian and Tinseltown gossip-queen Kenneth Anger. He had become interested in the band’s career and particularly in guitarist Brian Jones and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, a German film actress and model. Jones had some unusual interests, and both he and the pop singer Robert Palmer were fascinated by the master musicians of Joujouka in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in North Africa. These musicians claimed to be still practising the ancient rites of the goat-footed god Pan. Jones went so far as to travel to North Africa to record an album of the tribal music performed by this pre-Islamic cult.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine Robert Palmer described how he had witnessed one of these rites to Pan. He said the dancing tribesmen appeared to be in an ecstatic trance with their eyes rolled back in their heads. Palmer said that when “the power came down” the dancer was suddenly “not there.” In fact “something else” was looking out of his eyes, which began to “glow like ruby lasers” (Rolling Stone, 23 March 1989).
Kenneth Anger believed that Anita Pallenberg and Brian Jones, who was to drown in mysterious circumstances in the swimming pool of his Sussex mansion, were witches. Allegedly, Jones showed the filmmaker an extra nipple he had on his inner thigh and told him: “In another time they would have burned me [as a witch].” Extra nipples were regarded by witch-hunters as a sign of the Devil’s Mark. A friend of Anita Pallenberg, Tony Sanchez, believed she kept her drug stash hidden in an old carved wooden chest in her flat. One day he looked inside. Instead of drugs he found it contained bones and pieces of fur and skin from “strange animals.” Mick Jagger’s one time girlfriend Marianne Faithfull described how she and Pallenberg used to sit for hours reading aloud passages from Robert Graves’ book The White Goddess and studying the ancient Celtic tree alphabet.
In her autobiography Marianne Faithfull claims the gay Anger had a crush on the bisexual Stones’ singer which was not reciprocated. When the filmmaker’s sexual overtures were rejected he became a bit of a nuisance. One day he turned up at the couple’s house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea and bizarrely threw several books by the 18th century poet and mystic William Blake through the window. Jagger responded in disgust at this stunt by burning all the copies of the occult works that Anger had given him by Crowley and the French occultist Eliphas Levi.
Despite this, Marianne Faithfull got involved in Anger’s experimental movie Lucifer Rising, allegedly financially sponsored by Anita Pallenberg, and with a score originally to be composed by Mick Jagger. Initially the Stones’ singer was to play the leading role in the film, but he got cold feet and backed out of the project altogether. In the first version, made in 1967, the lead was taken by his brother Chris Jagger. Marianne Faithfull became involved in the second version filmed in 1972 and she agreed to take the part of the demon-goddess Lilith.
Faithfull described the baby-slaying Lilith as one of the classic female archetypes and compared her with pagan goddesses such as Diana, Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite and Demeter. However, she added: “From the view of patriarchy, of course, she was the pure incarnation of evil” (Faithfull by Marianne Faithfull with David Datton, 224). Interestingly, the part of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris in the film was played by Donald Cammell, son of Charles Cammell, a friend and biographer of Crowley. The younger Cammell made his own films including the controversial Performance in co-operation with Nic Roeg. It starred Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg and the archetypal English actor Edward Fox. Donald Cammell committed suicide in the 1990s.
The shooting of Lucifer Rising took place in Egypt and Faithfull claims that as soon as the crew and cast arrived in the country it was obvious Anger did not know what he was doing as either a film director or a magician. At that stage in her life Faithfull was seriously addicted to heroin and admits she did not know what she was doing on the set either. The whole thing was a recipe for disaster. The last sequence of the film was a winter solstice rite shot at a Neolithic site in Germany. During it, Faithfull managed to fall off a mountain. She somersaulted and landed on her feet without sustaining any injury. This convinced her that her magic was stronger than Anger’s. In her autobiography she dismissed him as a “kitsch occultist” and “a witch out of a Hollywood tabloid.”
Marianne Faithfull claims that both Mick Jagger and the Stones’ lead guitarist Keith Richards were also sceptical about Anger’s “satanic hocus-pocus” and did not take any of it seriously. However, after an incident involving the magician at the house in London now shared by Richards and Anita Pallenberg, Faithfull became seriously spooked out. As a result, she believed she was under psychic attack. Allegedly, she wore a clove of garlic around her neck and slept in a circle of lit candles for protection. Whether this paranoid behaviour was connected to her heroin addiction is not known.
One of Marianne Faithfull’s tracks on her comeback album Broken English is called ‘Witches Song’. She dedicates it as “my ode to the wild pagan woman I know and have always around me.” Faithfull says she got the idea for the song after she and Mick Jagger visited an exhibition in Madrid of paintings on the theme of the Witches Sabbath by the Spanish artist Goya. Her autobiography also describes an incident when she and Jagger took LSD before visiting Primrose Hill in North London “where the ancient ley lines are supposed to run” and where modern neo-druids hold their seasonal ceremonies. Under the influence of the acid the couple saw “a great face in the sky” they were convinced was the head of the Celtic giant god Bran. This seems to fit with Faithfull’s professed pagan beliefs. In her autobiography she says she believes not in God the Father, but in the Great Goddess and her consort Pan.
Jimmy Page & Aleister Crowley
In 1969 the satanic aura around the rock mega-group Led Zeppelin reached such a pitch that, in echoes of Robert Johnson, rumours circulated in the Los Angeles music scene that its members had signed a pact in their own blood with the Devil to gain fame.
James Patrick ‘Jimmy’ Page’s well-known interest in the occult fuelled these rumours of the group’s alleged satanic activities. Described by the magazine AllMusic as “one of the all-time most influential, important and versatile [rock] guitarist and songwriters,” Page had been interested in alternative religions since childhood. While a member of the Yardbirds, he had hung out with Brian Jones and Anita Pallenberg at their studio flat in South Kensington. Page has never hidden his interest in Aleister Crowley, and Led Zeppelin’s famous album Rune has a photograph of the Great Beast on its cover. In an interview with Soundsmagazine in 1976 Page is quoted as saying that Crowley was “a misunderstood genius of the twentieth-century.”
Jimmy Page purchased as many artefacts and first edition books belonging to Crowley that he could find. In 1969, Kenneth Anger rented Crowley’s old (seriously haunted) house Boleskine on the shores of Loch Ness where he lived in the 1900s for a few months. When it came on the market for sale, Anger suggested to Page he should buy it. This he did and hired an occult artist called Charles Pace to paint suitable atmospheric magical murals in each room. The Led Zeppelin guitarist could be seen driving around the area like a Scottish laird in a Land Rover with a stack of stag’s antlers on the bonnet. Page also visited Sicily and contemplated buying the old villa where Crowley established his ‘Abbey of Thelema’ in the 1920s.
In the early 1970s Page opened an occult bookshop in Kensington called The Equinox. It was done out in a futuristic style with glass bookshelves and display cabinets and chrome steel pillars. Under its auspices, Page published a facsimile of Crowley’s 1904 edition of the medieval grimoire Goetia.
Kenneth Anger approached Jimmy Page and asked him to provide a soundtrack for his ongoing film project Lucifer Rising. Unfortunately, the two men fell out when Page only managed to produce 23 minutes of music and Anger wanted 28 minutes. The filmmaker accused Page of being a mere dabbler in the occult and a drug addict so out of his mind he could not finish the film score. However, in 1976 Page lent Anger the basement of his London house for film editing purposes. Again, the two men did not see eye to eye and Page allegedly cursed the filmmaker. Page later branded the incident as “silly and pathetic” and said he still respected Anger as an occultist.
There has been a lot of debate about whether Jimmy Page ever belonged to one of the modern versions of Crowley’s magical group the OTO (Ordo Templis Orientis or Order of the Eastern Temple). In fact, the jury seems to be out on whether Page is an actual magical practitioner at all. In this respect New Musical Express journalist Nick Kent dismisses rumours the guitarist spends his time with “his head in a cowl ritually slaughtering various species of livestock.” Kent instead says from his experience Page is “just another seeker after esoteric knowledge, a collector of dusty old books, and committed student of the ‘magical’ information that was supposedly contained in their yellowed pages.”
Although Jimmy Page’s interest in Crowley and the occult is well known, his Led Zeppelin colleague Robert Plant also has esoteric interests. These manifest in a study of folklore, Norse and Germanic mythology, and reading ‘sword and sorcery’ novels. Plant spent most of his life living on the Welsh Border and in an interview with the rock music magazine Kerrang! he said he often visited the Black Mountains in South Wales. There he rediscovered his roots in the local Celtic culture. Using an ordnance survey map, he wandered the hills visiting Bronze Age sites and places where the Welsh had battled with the Saxons.
Another famous rock star who openly admits an interest in the occult, magic and Crowley is David Bowie (born David Robert Jones). In the 1970s he says he studied the Kabbalah and “Crowleyism” and more recently became interested in Gnosticism. On a practical level the singer used Tarot cards and a crystal ball for divination, an ouija board to contact spirits, and performed magical rituals for exorcism and psychic protection. His early album Hunky-Dory features a song called ‘Quicksand’ that references both Crowley and the Victorian magical group Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
According to David Bowie’s wife Angie in her autobiography, her husband’s interest in the occult was due to his desire to outdo Jimmy Page. Allegedly, he saw the Led Zeppelin guitarist as a magical rival. Bowie eventually decided, possibly because of Page’s interest in him, that Crowley and his works were “small shit.” For that reason he began studying Tibetan magic which he claimed was far more powerful than anything the Great Beast or Page had ever done.
In an interview with New Musical Express (February 1997) David Bowie admits he had been into “old fashioned magic” in the 1970s, and said he always believed Crowley was a charlatan. He reveals that Arthur Edward Waite, a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Welsh-born occultist Dion Fortune, author of Psychic Self-Defence, have been important to him. In fact, Bowie used Fortune’s book extensively when he believed he was under psychic attack. Talking of a house he rented in Los Angeles in 1975, Bowie said he decorated it with ancient Egyptian artefacts. This was because, “I had this more than passing interest in Egyptian mysticism and the Kabbalah…” (Stage Fascination: David Bowie the Definite Story by David Buckley, 235).
Angie Bowie says the musician was heavily involved with occult activities in 1975-76. This coincides with a period when he used cocaine and she believed this made him paranoid. Apparently, Bowie stored bottles of his own urine in the fridge and carefully disposed of his nail and hair clippings. This was in case magical practitioners obtained these personal items in order to cast spells on him. He also set up an altar in his sitting room with black candles on it, painted occult symbols on the walls, and performed magical banishing rituals for protection. Angie Bowie once witnessed him exorcise a swimming pool he believed was haunted.
When the couple were viewing properties to rent or buy in Hollywood they came across an old house with a pentagram of five-pointed star painted on the floor. Bowie freaked out and said he could not live there as the building had been used for black magic rites. One day he phoned his wife and told her witches were trying to steal his semen. Allegedly they wanted to create a test-tube baby and then sacrifice it in a satanic rite. It turned out the ‘witches’ were just some innocent groupies he met in a bar.
At this difficult point in his life Bowie also flirted with neo-Nazism. He explained in an interview with the British rock music journalist Tony Parsons in 1993 that this was only because he was fascinated by the use of occult symbols like the swastika by the original Nazi Party in Germany. He was interested in their quest for the Holy Grail because he was also searching for its meaning (Stage Fascination: David Bowie the Definite Story by David Buckley, 235-236). Bowie once said that it might be a good idea to have a fascist dictatorship in Britain, although he later denied he was serious and claimed it was a joke.
Black Sabbath & Heavy Metal
Partly as a reaction to the hippy ‘flower power’ and ‘peace and love’ movement of the late Sixties, heavy metal bands began to appear using violent satanic imagery and playing loud over-amplified rock music. Groups such as Warlock, Saxon, Venom, Motley Crue, W.A.S.P., Slayer, Iron Maiden, Incubus and Bathory put out albums with covers decorated with human skulls, pentagrams, hooded figures, gravestones, goat-headed demons and vampires. One of the most famous and pioneering heavy metal bands Black Sabbath came out of Birmingham in the industrial Midlands of England in 1969. They combined heavy guitar riffs with satanic inspired lyrics and an obsession with the gothic dark side that soon gave them a dedicated, if rather odd, fan base.
The band’s distinctive name was taken from an old horror movie starring English actor Boris Karloff, famous for his movie interpretation of Dr. Frankenstien’s monster. Originally, Black Sabbath started out as a jazz-blues band until they became influenced by the ‘black magic’ novels of the thriller writer Dennis Wheatley and books by Aleister Crowley. Their leader ‘Geezer’ Butler was lent a 16th century grimoire or book of magic. Its contents so freaked him out that he locked it in a cupboard before going to bed. During the night he had a spectral visitation from a dark shadowy figure who stood at the end of his bed. In the morning when Butler opened the cupboard the grimoire had vanished and it was never seen again.
Butler claims the band was invited to play a gig at a Witches Sabbath at Stonehenge, which sounds like something out of a Dennis Wheatley novel. When the boys refused the chief “warlock” of the coven ritually cursed the band. Geezer says he consulted a “white witch” to get the curse lifted and was told the band had to wear crosses to ward off the evil forces directed at them. Apparently, lead singer Ozzy Osbourne’s father, who was a bit of a handyman, made the crosses for each of the band members to wear.
Ozzy Osbourne always denies he was seriously into the occult, although he did have his Tarot cards read – twice. Famously he said the only evil spirits that interest him are whisky, gin and vodka! He describes the strange people attracted to the band, who habitually wear white face make-up and black hooded robes, as “freaks.” Ozzy says the only good thing about all the satanic stuff is it gave the band free publicity increasing their record sales and bank accounts.
Some of the heavy metal bands took their interest in witchcraft and magic more seriously. One of these, for a while, was Black Widow who played a mixture of progressive rock and folk music and used demonic imagery in their act based on serious research. In 1968 the group’s manager approached Maxine and Alex Sanders, the so-called ‘King and Queen of the Witches’. He wanted to know if the couple could recommend a nubile young witch with dancing skills to take part in their new stage act. This featured a magician played by one of the band’s members conjuring up a demon who was once an ancient goddess called Ashtaroth.
Several professional dancers auditioned for the part of the demon-goddess. Each one suffered fainting fits during rehearsals and felt they were being possessed by an evil spirit. In desperation the band wanted to hire a real witch who would not be fazed by the magical goings-on. Black Widow’s manager said the Sanders were happy to help and he described them as “clever business people” only interested in making money in any way they could.
A member of the Sanders’ coven volunteered for the role and the rehearsals were successful. Unfortunately, on the day of the first performance at the Lyceum Theatre in London, she fell ill. Alex Sanders volunteered his wife and the high priestess of the coven Maxine as a suitable stand-in. When the lead singer of Black Widow playing the sorcerer invoked the demon-goddess and accidentally stepped out of the protective magical circle, she was supposed to attack him. In her autobiography Maxine Sanders says the singer complained afterwards about the bruises he suffered from the physical assault by the ‘Queen of the Witches’.
Another more contemporary band called Tool and its lead singer Danny Carey are well known for their interest in all things magical. Carey collects rare limited edition publications by such modern occult practitioners as Crowley, Kenneth Grant, Austin Osman Spare and Andrew D. Chumbley. During their recordings of albums, Tool use magical banishing rituals to get rid of unwelcome influences left in the studio by previous performers. They have also been known to employ talismans and occult sigils used by the Elizabethan magician and astrologer Dr. John Dee in their gigs. During a South American tour, local Christian workers refused to handle the band’s equipment because it was “satanic.”
The 1990s saw a sinister link established between rock music and Satanism with the rise of the so-called ‘black metal’ or ‘death metal’ groups. These new bands were committed to an anti-Christian philosophy of anarchism, nihilism, violence and an obsession with death that made Black Sabbath stage appearances look like a vicar’s tea party. Possibly the most dramatic and violent manifestation of this new trend was in Scandinavia. A new cultural trend united satanic beliefs with atavistic forms of neo-paganism and extreme nationalist right-wing politics promoting racism and white supremacy. This deadly combination was to lead to arson and murder.
In 1992 an ancient wooden stave church was burnt down in a firebomb attack. Rumours began circulating that hard-core black metal fans were responsible for the outrage. It was alleged they were pagan Viking revivalists who expressed neo-Nazi views. Further church burnings and graveyard desecrations took place followed by murders involving rival groups of black metal fans and biker gangs. Media reports said that self-styled teenage satanists saw neo-Nazism and rock music as cultural stepping stones to a revival of Aryan-based paganism. Because the historic Christian churches were built on the site of pagan temples, they had to be destroyed before the heathen ‘old religion’ could be established again.
Today the number of rock bands using satanic and occult imagery is increasing. The new ‘high priest’ of the Church of Satan in the USA, Boyd Rice, is himself a musician. Critics have dubbed his musical output as “sonic terrorism as an art form.” Strangely enough, his satanic master, Anton LaVey, who found the Church of Satan in the 1960s, preferred Gershwin and Cole Porter with his bedtime cocoa.
It seems certain that in the future wherever and however rock music is played, there will always be those who claim, quite literally, the Devil has the best tunes.
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Heavy Metal Thunder by Neil Aldis and James Sherry, Mitchell Beazley, 2006
Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie by Angie Bowie and Patrick Carr, Orion, 1993
Stage Fascination: David Bowie the Definite Story by David Buckley, Virgin Books, 1999
Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page & the Solo Years by Neil Daniels, Independent Music Press, 2008
The Lives of John Lennon and the Beatles by Hunter Davies, McGraw Hill Books USA, 1985
Hammer of the Gods: Led Zeppelin Unauthorised by Stephen Davies, Pan Books, 1995
The Book of the Beast by Timothy D’Arch-Smith, Mandrake Press 2010
Faithfull by Marianne Faithfull with David Datton, Michael Joseph, 1994
No One Gets Out of Here Alive: Jim Morrison and the Doors by Danny Hopkins and Sugarman, Warner Books USA, 1980
Apathy for the Devil: A 1970’s Memoir by Nick Kent, Faber and Faber Limited, 2010
I Am Ozzy by Ozzie Osbourne with Chris Agnes, Sphere, 2009
Firechild: The Life and Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’ by Maxine Sanders, Mandrake Press, 2008
Bowie: Loving the Alien by Christopher Sandford, Little, Brown and Company, 1996
When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin by Mick Wall, Orion Books, 2008
Led Zeppelin: From Early Days to Page and Plant by Ritchie Yorke, Virgin Books, 1999.
MICHAEL HOWARD (1948–2015) was an English practitioner of Luciferian Witchcraft and a prolific author on folklore, paganism, and esoteric topics. From 1976 until his death he was the editor of The Cauldron magazine. The author of over 30 books including Pillars of Tubal Cain, The Book of Fallen Angels, Children of Cain, and Secret Societies: Their Influence and Power from Antiquity to the Present Day, Michael Howard was an exemplary practitioner and teacher of traditional craft.
The pic I use on my screen