Through the Darkness of Future Past

2020 did not turn out as anyone expected…

The understatement of understatements. Unless you are some kind of psychic, no one saw this massively disruptive (albeit reflective) year a-coming. And forward, no one truly knows what the Future holds. What we do know are certain alignments from the Past. This Eve finds Future/Past doing a promenade through our brainwaves and yet again, we are only left to imagine as we turn the corner into a New (hopefully happier, healthier) Year.

With symbolism always heavy in the Arktoi atmosphere, the recent Winter Solstice and Great Conjunction may ring in a new era for Aquarius (our home Sun sign). The cosmos has a particularly curious Past with Aquarius’ last reign in a Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction. 1405 marked the Fall of Constantinople and, effectively, the seeds which birthed the Renaissance. Saturn’s planetary energies of Death, transformation and structure faced with Jupiter’s “kingdom” of expansion and growth may pull humanity in a direction of lightning fast progress that will spin for years beyond 2021.

Not without struggle, Aquarius is perhaps the most revolutionary of the Zodiac and we are prepping for further revolt in this transitional time frame. The ideology that Aquarius is “peace & love” seems overwrought with cliche, but we’ll save that rant for another day. Though there is a strong want for unity, the reasoning can be quite radical. In true Aquarian fashion, the individual and collective may find itself intertwined and able to coexist (“unique but united”), and our hearts hold to this hope. Continuations of movements that, all over the world, are fighting capitalism, oppression and old guild systems, will be gaining hyperspeed momentum needed to catalyze change. There is also fear of disruptions in food supply and resources, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic that has not seen any changes regardless of a new vaccine yet.

Like the Renaissance’s advancements and almost poetic perspectives in astronomy and science, along with its rich culture, a similar zest may be seen in creative technology. Changes must be made in order for this Planet to be strong, but right now, we ponder the Past.

Archetypical

Annie French

2020’s extremities may have forced many to foster foundations through little else but wavering inner stability. Additionally, those who honored stay-at-home have connected to the symbologies of Hearth on an unexpected and greater level than ever imagined. On Winter Solstice, we looked back to the Spring Equinox, the beginning of the pandemic protocols in the West. 


In March, “cottagecore” had further reason to popularize with renewed interest in homemaking, blossoming out of boredom into bliss. With a once assumed COVID-19 end, whole corners were dedicated to plant babies, vegetables grown from scraps, hardcore review in Astro charts and magickal correspondences, hiking spots found, virtual shop sales, many playlists made. We adopted a demonic kitten, able to observe and enjoy her growth. Along with this, many recipes were tested. Around the December New Moon, we released our SECOND zine in less than 2 months. The first of the Concoctionary series, The Grateful Veg cookbook, came together with contributions from friends, a kitschy collection of American vegetarian comfort foods with hippie-dippie inspiration and vintage graphics. We felt it best to distribute this digizine to those who donated to a worthy cause or individual GoFundMe. Trade in our community has been frequent:  seeds, clothes, pet drop-ins, food and beyond. Mutual aid, in general, must remain in the Future for it to be sound.

Annie French

Now that the chill has truly arrived, a shadow hangs over not just our physical realm. We live in extended uncertainty with less support (and the shamefully small stimulus checks, if they ever arrive). Humans have even more pressure to stay indoors due to weather, awaiting vaccinations. Quarantine in the Spring is a breeze compared to a worrisome Winter lockdown. During the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, in order to not let the panic persist, we take inventory of what feels right in the way of rest. Perhaps some of us have pressures to continue as if nothing is different during this very busy season. Many are in financial straits, which is enough to create complete cerebral chaos, but all the more reason in our isolation to embrace core comfort.

“Cottagecore” manifested to fervent fruition, a dreamy desire of simplicity, a fantasy of enjoying the small things in a world fraught with government control and manipulation of truth. A weirdly appropriate 2020 fantasy, the Archetype of enchanted isolation or small tea times, nestled within nature and stocked up with sweet snacks. We baked, savored books, created gardens, drank Dalgonas with true Present placement, honored the moons more than ever before, returning to what we loved and now had time for… All of this slowing down that we get to keep with us and hopefully weave into our Future world.

What is a “new normal” and have you considered not wanting to go back to the way it was?

MoonAge HoliDayDream

This is the first year in many that we aren’t hosting our “Tropical Winter” shindig full of frothy fruity drinks and tacky holiday sweaters. Sparked by a colleague’s song, alluding to global warming (or Southern hemisphere surfin’ Santas), the event served as a ridiculous “adulthood” re-imagining of an alternate reality “holiday party”, no skimping on the sweets and treats. Alongside maraschino cherries and flamingo swizzle sticks in kitschy cups full of rum punch shimmering in pulsing party lights, Hummingbird Cupcakes, a pecan spice cake with pineapple and coconut frosting, and Frank’s Buffalo Chicken Dip were staples of our Southeastern nostalgic indulgence! Savoring Snickerdoodle space cakes and the sugar high of curated close-knit congregation sparked seasonal happiness and, truth be told, such simplicity would still stand as incredibly fulfilling and heartfelt during the usual Festive chaos of December.

This year we are just Two, plus fur-babies, and it is bittersweet to re-invent what Wintry togetherness means, but also a relief from the annual routine of hyper-social activity.

Mid-century Modern Space Age art

The obligation to entertain takes its own holiday in 2020. Giving oneself a break from expectation and presentation in order to attend to horrific changes in financial hardship, stability, social progress. The internal toolbox to face isolation, depression, and mortality in this specific upheaval moment in Time. The recent Nov. 30th Full Moon AND Lunar Eclipse brought in the rough, ripe for shadow work… We tromp into Eclipse Season wild-eyed with what has surfaced thru more than this pandemic. We face our histories and trauma as alone time nudges us to explore addiction, patterns, family ties, systemic injustice… the list is winding and wounded.

Unknown source of mom with martini at X-mas time

There is a Duality to facing Emptiness. In “cuffing season”, the need to be with others during colder months, Quarantine corners us once again. We are faced with an opportunity to flip the Festive switch while still honoring our work, “treat” ourselves in new ways, embrace comfort and cheesiness (and cheese!). Rest is a welcome replacement for Santa, the Pro-Capitalist Papa of Christianity. This year, we may just be Two sipping hot cocoa while it’s freezing outside, making merriment when there has been nothing but bad news for months, but we are still here and we embrace space to decompress in order to move forward, no matter what the circumstances and obstacles may be.

It is possible to re-examine the ideologies of social constructs and still enjoy silliness. They are not contradictions. Make space for Joy.

Andre Courreges design, 1960’s

Festive Femme Frills

The closest we’ll ever get to a lil Gift Guide, we love these small business creations:

Les Baxter, Space Escapades

MuseMix

If the Holidaze are bearable best with canna-cookies and fairy lights, pairing it with Tiki Kiki, a kitsch collection of “lounge music”, is the campy choice for deep disassociation into cheer. With nods to the original imaginations of Bossanova babes, French poppettes, Samba savantes and the bleep-boops of electric wizards like Bruce Haack, the smooth mood of Astrid Gilberto or Martin Denny is made for light-hearted lift. These tunes were superbly sampled in ‘90s electronic loops, perfected by former Deee-lite DJ, Towa Tei, a master of techno-lounge. He appropriately worked with João Gilberto’s daughter, Bebel, on “Technova”, a prime example of the genre-blend.

Towa Tei “Technova”

Subsets of 1950’s & ‘60s Jet Set sounds had a love affair with Space Age aesthetic, an instantly retrotastic feel that notes the collective corralling towards cosmic (and perhaps psychedelic) interests. Though the often offensive “jungle” record covers were abundant, interest in travel abroad popularized after the Depression, leading to global eye-opening and connection… undoubtedly this also led to a culture of appropriation. The tradition of lounge has been a quirky experimental touch with underground artists like Hermine, Royksopp, Pizzicato Five, and beyond. It is instant easy-listening and paired well with any kind of house activities (cooking, cleaning, organizing) to make the time feel more fluid and light.

The closest environment akin to this campy energy “at home” were Tiki bars, noted as “emotional bomb shelters of the Atomic Age”, a nostalgia we find wildly welcome for quarantine Winter festivities. We are decorating for our mental health and orbiting in a sonic Seasonal strangeness until further notice!  

New or Just Wearing a Different Mask?

For the past few weeks, we have walked through many doors, none of which have entirely shut behind us.  

Halloween’s Taurus Blue Full Moon rang in the ancestral ties of Samhain and Day of the Dead, honoring not just the thinning veil to the Other Side, but a deeper reflection of historical distress heavy on collective minds worldwide. During the extended tension of economic emergency and the passionate protests against militant Republican politics in the U.S., the past 4 years have shown that trauma and grief are literally unavoidable. 

As COVID-19 continues to take lives at alarmingly heightened rates, we see the ways in which even “safety” has broadened to include our human whims. Americans decided that “as long as you wear a mask”, frequent outings were fine, and the numbers have proven this to not be enough. The fault doesn’t fall simply on deniers:  areas where mask mandates are respected still have very large amounts of infection rates. What is happening in small groups is just as important as those embarking in large outings. 

Social distancing is about staying home and continuing to be selective about seeing friends and family. As 2020 confronts what we know to be stable and secure, we are preparing for many new deaths. We have to consider the ways in which humans resist reality to find enjoyment or, in some cases, financial survival. This recent Pagan New Year on October 31st brought personal patterns to the forefront of the magically minded as well. Some of the same questions that have been on our minds all year continue to marinate:

  • Who are the selves that no longer serve us? 
  • What are the narratives that have kept us cut off to Joy?
  • Alternatively, what indulgences in Joy hurt or ignore the experiences of others? 
  • What parts of our identities too often lead to self-sabotage or self-destruction? 
  • What reactions are Ego and what interpretations are rooted in a lack of empathy?

A few days after Halloween, the Presidential Election happened… and extended into the week with absentee ballot counts, neck to neck. The country made a decision to not continue with Trump’s political tyranny, in hopes of supporting better leadership for the pandemic, systemic racism, climate change, protection and support for vulnerable identities. All of the early voting and campaigning happened within a torrid Mercury and Mars Retrograde (the latter of which ended over the weekend). Combined, these energies usher the moon-attuned towards remembrance but also release. 

2020 will forever be known as a year of intense change along with devastating mass losses, but also can be seen as a period of adaptation, reconfiguration and reawakening. Yesterday’s early AM New Moon in Scorpio created a ripe environment to take a deep (and painful) dive into the patterns that may serve us superficially but slowly kill our spirits. This New Moon also held many factors as a powerful catalyst for change and beyond. Digging with honesty and vulnerability, the cosmic energy is ripe for realization. 

We just released our first zine, Symposium Vol. I, which sold out within a few days of its amazing release on Halloween, and has recently been reprinted (see SHOP to purchase). This last batch of this group zine, containing poetry, musing and recipes, was to be available at the O4W Market on Sunday November 22nd, but we collectively have decided to do the safest action for our community and pull out of the event. We will keep everyone informed on rescheduling and online events. 

Stay safe, stay home, be well and be careful! xo

All artwork in this post by Hilma af Klint

The Lady is a Vamp

In imbalance, Venus becomes Vampiric…

Obstructing reason with obsession, taking and never giving, the Earthly material aspects of her gifts (luxuries, money, attraction, attention, sex) metamorphs into addiction. Libra is ruled by Venus, a Planetary Goddess whose cliches of Love and Beauty turn monstrous if She succumbs to Dark Desire. The Libra New Moon, among multiple retrogrades for Mercury, Mars, Chiron, Uranus and Neptune, holds conflicting intentions midmost economic deconstruction, morale in rearrangement, pandemic peril:

We question our identity to “want”.

Archetypical

Elizabeth Bathory was a powerful Hungarian countess during the late 1500’s, known to have tortured and murdered roughly 600 individuals, primarily young women.

Thus, Bathory is considered to have the highest number of victims, her body count surpassing most serial killers by double, if not triple, making her the most prolific murderer in history.

Bathory’s similarities to other legends of the time and region are undeniable, specifically with Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula (also argued to be Hungarian, not Romanian, a Euro region historically known for vampire folklore). Both infamous figures executed with brutality and lack of sympathy; however, Bathory more truly resembled the Dracula character compared to Vlad, whose victims were mostly killed in prison or during the Crusades wars. Like Dracula’s castle, with servants and guests-victims in all its creepy finery, Bathory’s habits involved luring young virgins onto the estate, entertaining them until ritualistic slaying. Furthermore, Bathory’s murders were part of her personal care:  she fervently believed that bathing in the blood of her victims would restore her youth. Centuries before the cosmetic industry sold “anti-aging” by the billions to gullible consumers, Bathory was slicing girls to bits to ensure her own glow (Kim Kardashian’s “Vampire Facelift” pales in comparison to Bathory’s beauty regime).

Other myth states that Bathory drank blood, dabbled in black magic, had lesbian lovers that were also accomplices in the elaborate methods of killing virgins which included sadist non-consensual sexual acts. It’s difficult to say if these accounts were true considering the centuries passed and that, word against word, tall tales were strategically used to bring entire royal families down. It is, however, known that Bathory lived from 1560 to 1614 and died in a stone room without a door, a precaution deemed necessary and perhaps some proof that she posed a real threat to the local villagers.

It’s no wonder that Bathory’s story paved a path to fantastical characterization. Mix vanity, control and murder, and it is easy to imagine a modern day heiress who feeds off the young, easily overtaken by jealousy, relinquishing in her dirty rich world and most certainly donning Chanel’s “Rouge Noir” on her talons (as transcribed in ’90s fashion mags, the nail polish shade was simply known as “Vamp”). Like some hyper-sexualized portrait that fashion photographer Helmut Newton would shoot, even though feminist critics argued that Newton’s gaze of women reduced them to upper-class sex dolls, objectified and reduced to her prowess, there is no denying that in her blood red lipstick, the part seductress, part man-eater Bathory archetype fascinates by defying feminine morale, easily stabbing holes in any foe who crossed her path with the spike of a very dangerous high-heeled shoe. (The Femme Fatale is a favorite subject, previously written about via WUSSY.) Bathory embodies a perverse entity many 1st world women reflect, writhing around in the 7 Deadly Sins, toting cocaine in a designer handbag, grotesquely fashionable and always getting her way.

Bathory’s first album

Bathory’s likeness has inspired troves of works, including a few Hungarian operas and the glam-horror of Neon Demon (we recommend the poetry-drenched fiction of Romanian-born Bathory ancestor Andrei Codrescu, The Blood Countess). It’s no surprise that Bathory was a cornerstone in the metal genre, starting with the hugely influential ‘80s Swedish band of her same name. Bathory‘s primary songwriter Quorthron (“a prince who’s half-human and half-demon”) incorporated synth and Norse Mythology and, regardless of interest in evil, was not the Satan-worshipping anarchist who burned churches or ate friend’s brains like other Lords of Chaos tales. Quorthron was a vegetarian who loved Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love.

Sunn 0))) houses a song under Elizabeth Bathory’s native name, Báthory Erzsébet:

Here. Decompose forever, aware and unholy, encased in marble and honey from the swarm, a thin coat of eternal whispering that bleaches from within, a darkness that defiles thought, stolen by the wingless harpies whose memories lay waste the valley of diamonds, where the great One sleeps, her eyes, placid pits of violent tar and bitumen regurgitated by demons chained to misery, eyes that see nothing for there is only the darkness that wells up from inside, a great viscous cloud smothering hope, a blanket woven from the dung of the old ones, their disease the tapestry of all that is futile, her gaze burning holes in the veil that protects the chosen, her breathe a plague that unleashes the frozen wolves, blind, their tongues paint your heart with scorpions, their pestilence an invitation to the only one that matters for She is the presence that is all that is un-named, for it is Her, the unbegotten Mistress of the eternal hunger, dwell forever in her great unholy stomach where the damned befoul themselves in the glory of her fecund and bloody history, worship in the torment of a million wasted lives, bathe in the horror that the blood of time carries with the plague, and befoul yourself with worship, for she hates you eternally with the ferocious lust that binds all that inhabit the wasted and forgotten, the blissful loathing of you is now all that remains, alone, forgotten and Damned.

The Hunger

Cinematiste

Vampires are often portrayed as aristocratic, surpassing more than power in the monster world but also socio-economic status in human society. Hungry to enjoy the finer pleasures that money can buy and/or the power that they have violently obtained in mortal life, the “female vampire” seems to follow an aesthetic life and style (a la “Glampire”), another decadent aspect of her thirst. The Undead’s new lease on life is highly motivated by the endless consumption of resources and yet there is something seductive and picturesque about a feminine entity in bloodlust that is poetically transgressive. Of the fashionable femme Vampires films to note:

  1. The Hunger (Catherine Denuevue) – “woman” as the vampire origination, science vs. goths, queer overtones.
  2. Vamp (Grace Jones) – ‘80s flick of camp central, parallels with sex industry, stylish slick B-movie. 
  3. Death Becomes Her (Isabella Rossellini) – High Priestess of the potion, not exactly vampire, but an Undead Mary Kay in a satirical comedy reflecting on the pine for eternal beauty and youth.
  4. Queen of the Damned (Aaliyah) – imperfect pop culture must, in alternative to the Claudia character (Kirsten Dunst) of the Anne Rice vampire world.

MuseMix

Cupid-Bow Bitch muses the old and new of a few waves: cold-, minimal-, synth-, dark-… All Goth goodness to accompany the season and a showcase of underground outfits from a variety of countries, spanning 40 years.

Fire Walk With Me

Reflections on the Aries Full Moon on October 1st, consequently also stationed in Mars during its Retrograde: Aries is, in so many ways, a Warrior Goddess. Her reactionary tendencies can be that of a wounded wild animal, a victim ready to attack.

It’s important to look at how we define Anger outside of mere defensiveness. Is Anger doomed to live in a realm of resentment, a perpetual pursuit of protection, or can it possibly harbor wisdom that resonates with compassion, even when unwilling to compromise boundaries? During the Harvest Moon, there were many discussions about Aries energies as it relates to Mars, Fire, War. Upon deeper inspection, we came to discover that Chiron, the Wounded Healer, also has the Ram staying as its guest. 

For those of us who have felt attacked, especially in family ties or romantic relationships, trauma’s stronghold can temporarily define us, if not create a long-term chain. Americans who are deeply frightened of the fascist regime (that has been in power for the past 4 years and is a looming threat for 4 more) acutely feel the ways in which our private relationships with abuse and narcissism are triggered daily through the news. We are currently walking “in the Darkness of the Future-Past”, unsure of where history may repeat, unable to take a breather from the perpetuating victimization brought forth in our everyday reactions. 

Victimization as an identity is difficult, and though we are not to blame for our trauma, we are responsible for our Healing. Without denying the reality of our experience, this recent Full Moon has brought to light the ways in which resentment can be like swallowing a pill and hoping for our own abusers to die, killing us instead. In grave timing, we hope to build a bright hot fire to burn through our self-doubt and free us (as much as possible) from the struggles we have cycled through, without delusion or denial, moving forward to create a better path. 

Oftentimes, reactionary behavior says more about what we have suffered through, or how we truly view and criticize others, than it does about the other party. Projections of primal perspective informed by insecurity can be tamed through pause. Learning to be soft is just as strong as the perceived picture of destruction and death the Warrior can bring. Dealing with the Demons inside of us is a battle of the heart. So we do not become what has hurt us in the Past, we must wade through the negative self-beliefs that only serve to sever us from the Joy of true human understanding.

Still from Hausu

Cinematiste

What with the news all year and the upcoming election, in order to stay reality-aware and well-read, it’s been ideal to embrace fun and fluff when it comes to films. Some favorites of the Scary Season happen to also be goofy girly movies, brimming with ghouls galore and bitchy witches. Childhood favorites are quick pick-me-ups, like Hocus Pocus (whose sequel is in production for 2021) and Anjelica Huston in Addams Family and The Witches (whose remake trailer is now available, the cast including Octavia Spencer). Teen cult classics like The Craft also received a reboot:  the 2020 sequel will be available to stream on October 28. Nostalgia comes in troves regarding women finding their power through the occult. Glamour camp like Death Becomes Her, the lite-feminist single mom coven of Witches of Eastwick, sisterly love of Practical Magic. B-movie babes like Elvira: Mistress of the Dark can lead one down a huge Halloween wormhole. 

Hausu poster

One extraordinary creepy/campy comedy for the Season comes to mind: Hausu (Criterion Collection, 1977).

A surreal and ultra-dreamy Japanese film loaded with gore, experimental edits and lots of giggles, the cast is primarily women, following a group of carefree school girls who stay in a haunted house possessed by a cat and an elderly aunt with a deceptive past. It is psychedelic, sentimental, adorable and absolutely oddball. Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, who passed away in April of 2020 at the age of 82, many of the ideas were said to be presented by his daughter, Chigumi, an endearing detail which explains some of the outer limit creativity of the film.

Sevdaliza’s ISON album art

MuseMix

Pandora’s BeatBox is the title for our first Symposium zine, due Halloween in a limited edition run. Our (first) Full Moon playlist of October (there are two!) honors the emergent energy of Dark Femme Fire. Restraint, disintegration, identity, empowerment are common themes within this visual and written collection. These sonic sirens of electronica, industrial, experimental echo some of the lust, loss, lament of the group zine’s theme. Trance-like loops are put on the highest pedestal in this musical muse, including artists like Boy Harsher, Aurut, Shygirl, Abyss X and more.

Shadow, Take Me Down With You

When Zeus secretly allowed the abduction of Persephone, trafficked from a flower field and dragged to the depths of the Underworld, the terrified Earth-Mother Demeter searched the lands in agony, leaving the crops without her nourishment and attendance. Realizing the err of this arrangement as the food supply withered, Zeus demanded his daughter’s return from Hades, but the Dark Prince had another idea in mind. His offering of pomegranate, a sacred fruit of fertility for Early World Religions, sealed Persephone to the realm. Once she savored its seeds, she was bound to return to Hades’ Hell as his wife for part of the year. Thus the mythological explanation for the Autumn and Winter was lored.

Still from Waiting for Spring, a short film depicting “the pomegranate not as a punishment as in the Greek myth but instead for it’s healing properties to help her survive and re-integrate into the world”, by environmental artist Nicole Dextras

Further interpretations of Persephone’s plight as paramour to Hades are abundant. A kid-friendly version speaks of a mother without her sunshine, the indulgence of the pomegranate perhaps willingly dared so that Persephone could be her own person. However, many versions suggest Persephone was sexually assaulted by Hades. The differing ideas that she was attracted to a toxic relationship, simply embracing her sexuality, or that the lore insinuated the chains of the marriage contract, are all valid. The article Rape or Romance? questions the use of retelling these horrors as tomes of empowerment and includes a critique of Nikita Gill’s beautiful (but indeed fluffy) poem: 

via Tumblr

The Autumn Equinox (and pagan holiday Mabon) land on Tuesday September 22nd, 2020 for the Northern Hem, shortly after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Both Mabon and Rosh Hashanah are introspective, reviewing the behaviors of the recent past and preparing for the future ahead. The 22nd also closes out Virgo’s reign in the Astrological Wheel, a sign which is ruled by Mercury, of Earth and symbolized by the Maiden (much like Persephone). In a moment of perfect balance, Darkness begins to encroach on the Light, and we soon approach Winter. With this in mind, we pay homage to the archetype duality of a film genre abundant with shadows and fog, dark and light, danger and dreams:

The analytical interest that is the Femme Fatale and the Damsel-in-Distress.

Bound (1996), Lana and Lilly Wachowski

Cinematiste

With the chilly autumn air creeping in around the corner, the erotic 1996 feauture film, Bound, is a worthy thriller to warm the blood with. As soon as the shock wears off from learning the Wachowski Sisters (Matrix Trilogy) wrote and directed this sexually charged lesbian neo noir, the nostalgia starts to kick in at the sound of Jennifer Tilly’s voice seducing a greased-up ex-con played by Gina Gershon (Showgirls).

We begin with a sultry introduction of the two leading ladies. Violet, the deeply unsatisfied gangster’s wife, meets the Brando-esque handy woman, Corky, in an uptown elevator. Sparks immediately fly between the two mysterious creatures and after a very steamy couch scene you start to think “this is a softcore porn”, ‘til suddenly we descend into the underworld of a violent, shocking and, at times even, offensive puzzle of money, murder and paranoia. 

While the plot thickens to viscosity with 2 million dollars on the line and one faulty twist after another, the cinematography hauls masterfully through some brilliant sequences, creating a sumptuous air around the comically macabre. Consensus says, no matter how tight you may keep your proverbial halo, this piece of cinematic diablerie is bound to have you gripping for it.

Bound is free to stream on PlutoTV. – Soph

Isabella Rossellini in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet

MuseMix

Flirting with danger, portrayed too often from view of the male gaze, the Femme Fatale eyes a loophole out of an oubuliette, always somehow still a Damsel-in-Distress. Even where this duality is dressed wanton and ready, she is cagey, holding cards close. The Femme Fatale lavishes in the role, entangled to save herself, or waiting for someone else to save her, if only (t)he(y) could see her true self. Between the lines it is read:  fear follows her feminine wiles, desperation like invisible daggers against a skintight dress. Lurking in the shadows, she pretends she is not there at all, hoping to vanish…

Yet, there is courage, too, for without it, there is no story.

Sean Young in Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner

The juxtaposition for the women of the Noir genre allows depiction of grim realism and psychic + physical violence, flaunting men’s capitalization of women as objects… sexual, labored… and yet for the “hero”, women are objectified, too, often romantically, to provide love, light, loyalty. The relation of femme to men (and what role she serves) is a grotesque commentary of a woman’s context in industry, the home, ownership, subject. The gauzy hopes to which these characters cling, to be seen, safe, are familiar. Any decent Noir film contains these complexities with a yearn for freedom. Even if she’s crafted in relation to a man’s journey, serving the plot as a derailment, counterpart to a crime, an escape or a renewal in Love itself, she’s life-altering.

Chromatics at David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Return premiere

Neon Noir showcases some of the moods and motifs of Noir soundtracks, the music of smoky chanteuse, pacing mysteries, plot anxieties, dramatic seductions and tragedy. The persona of the Femme Fatale and Damsel-in-Distress have been prime in the works of David Lynch, exemplified thru the music of Julee Cruise and Chromatics. Rewind into the dark-laced synth pop that walks in rhythm with a “futuristic” future-past archetype. The creation of robot women as political assassins or victims of technology alike, prominent as early as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), are revisited in the romantic Noir of Godard’s Alphaville (1965) (French New Wave all over the Neo-Noir reinvent), and furthermore into the Sci-fi masterpiece of Blade Runner (1982). Queue minimal wave music and beyond, we dance in drama club cadence, ushering in leather weather. 

– Sun

Like A Dream, Glides Away…

As known, Full Moons magickally function to release or heal, and the heavy Pisces haze, arriving pre-Autumn-Equinox in the Harvest-season, is ripe for inner child work

Christy Lee Rogers

September’s Full Corn Moon snuggled up in dreamy Pisces early this AM at 1:22 EST tapping into our subconscious sleep sectors and creative cores alike. The deep waters of late have forced us to “go with the flow” or face an emotional pit, challenging our attachment to control and concepts around resistance and acceptance. All the more important to center oneself with solutions and kindness in mind. We are so hard on ourselves, obsessed with success and how others see us. Instead of emphasizing insecurity (a trait sprung from a wounded inner child), this is a prime time to revisit the sweetness of our true selves.

Christy Lee Rogers

As an unbiased core self that has existed since (surprise!) childhood, our creative kid selves can be a helper in the chaos. We often find our childhood dreams dismissed or diminished by social conditioning, the belittling and bullying of peers and, the biggest wound makers of all, our parents. This inner child entity exists within all of us, no matter how repressed, and usually plays out in our reactions, reluctance, shame and denial of our core joy. Quarantine has been prime time to return to our truest authenticity.

Christy Lee Rogers

Following the mysterious psyche of the feminine in 1970’s film (a la our past Museletter with 3 Women), we have another film review also set in the sweltering of summer, as we wind down the season, in the words of Sarah Helen Whitman:

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.”

Picnic at Hanging Rock, Peter Weir (1975) Criterion Collection

Cinematiste

To say Picnic at Hanging Rock leaves you in a state of bewilderment would be an understatement.                                        

Originally, the story was born as a published novel by the gothic satirist Joan Lindsay. The clever sheila neither denied nor confirmed whether the tale she scribed, involving the disappearance of five Aussie boarding school girls at an ancient geological site, had been based on true events. 

With Lindsay’s sun in Scorpio, she certainly understood the power a story keeps when an air of mystery is shrouded around it, not to mention the last chapter of the book only being released after Lindsays death.  Such a novel is ripe with potential for experimental directors such as Peter Weir, who actually had the privilege of meeting Lady Lindsay before the making of the 1975 mystery drama. While Russell Boyd’s cinematography glides us through the films epic exteriors in an artistically soft focus, Victorian fashion, the reel suddenly ends with a legacy that yearns for resolution. Certain arrangements throughout the film encompass the mystery of this antique world quite well without falling victim to the cliches of the horror genre; but a slight residue of the directors masculine “impression” of feminine expression can be felt in certain scenes. 

At first, the viewer assumes a detailed account of the haunting ordeal will reveal itself eventually, but you realize quickly the film leaves one with more questions than answers. For some, especially an American audience, the lack of an ending can seem rather off putting for the “solutions” mentality of our culture. Whereas the European arthouse crowds would possibly appreciate more the aloofness that leaves you contemplating. An element that stood out as reason to hang on was the significance of the Aboriginal origins of Hanging Rock; touching on concepts surrounding the intrusions of colonialism, the retributive forces that nature grants itself through mystical acts and the responsibility of man to accept the unknown. I recommend reading the book first and foremost, but this film is most definitely recommended as a thinkpiece to contemplate over a full glass of wine. – Soph

Strawberry Switchblade

MuseMix

Despite having an intense middle school love of The Cure, my years long musical obsession was knocked off its angelic pedestal-esqe cloud by one single song on a mixed tape by a proper LARPing corset-clad vampire goth named Victoria who so kindly wanting to educate me in the realm of Dead Can Dance and Peter Murphy’s solo stuff. Hearing “Cherry-Coloured Funk” by Cocteau Twins for the first time was some kind of freakishly ethereal awakening. Soon thereafter I acquired every single song by the group (including their Fruitopia commercials and the Christmas songs). When pressed, they are my “favorite band” even long past the teen girlhood of black eyeliner as lipstick and the most morosely goofy poetry penned at any available moment.

Book of Love

The tiptoe between goth and pop is something I’ve felt attached to regardless of age or time. Whether older (Book of Love, Strawberry Switchblade) or newer (Tamaryn, Light Asylum), the dreamy quality whether peppy or in yearn has sunk its teeth into my heart and is difficult to resist. As the Autumn approaches, SugarSpun Kisses is made of purple-pink sunsets, meddling into blazing coral, dancing in the fireflies, carefree and dreamy, with a hint of darkness as we inch towards Halloween. It is the dream in which to live romantically and fantastically. – Sun

Tamaryn from her self-directed “Angels of Sweat” music video

Late Summer Lioness in Leisure

Welcome to our Museletter. 

We are living in a strange time of conflict and chaos, under a reign of terror and abuse of power,  and finding the balances of our lives shifting dramatically under the rearrangements that have of COVID-19. When the idea for this collective began, we never imagined we’d ever experience anything of this magnitude in our lifetime. Ironically, we’ve found that quarantine has solidified our need for creative expression AND carved the time for it. We need all the outlets we can muster in the midst of this wake-up call and war on the people.

Our world is in pain. 

Perhaps our little corner is of escapism, eating glitter limes and rainbow-sprinkled fairy cakes, the stringing silver bubbles in the forest trees, analyzing Fairy Tales and Goddess iconography. We are typically happy, content-ish, but not unfamiliar to our the ails of ourselves and how it relates to past art:  confessionals, Ego bloodletting, medication, mental yoga. All happy femmes need outlets, all happy femmes also still have hatreds.

Let it be known, we may like our things raspberry or coffee-flavored and prefer heavenly or robotic sounds from one day to the next. Akin to the mysteries of the misters, we can wear a business suit under ballroom gowns and make weapons of ballpoint pens, size 17 knitting needles or a 1960’s Asahi Pentax. Shit brand guitar catastrophes, bouts of catty fatalism, lovechild optimism or a happy wok… Our interests are many and very messy. We will likely infographic runes & then review The Penal Colony. That’s just how we roll. 

We like baking, sleeping, dreaming, collaging (and other such things involving scissors and glue), crafting head dresses and crowns, playlisting arrays of obscure music, parse screen printing, reading (especially children’s literature, feminist philosophy, satires and poetic Medieval sprung pieces), design, film, vigilance, bedroom dancing, park visitation, friendships, bicycles, portraits…

Perhaps this little nook is just like one scratched out in the yard with a stick. This is us as a worm, snuggling into earth caves, not solely to drain inner disturbances, the lunacy of moon’s tide and heartaches heavier than brick (though non-elephantine). We want to share our exploration into the future with a heavy appreciation of and look into the past. Please be aware of the ridiculous, the fresh, the sweet, the sting, the depressed, the embarrassing & the Joyous. A thanks to you who have arrived, taken moments to pause and view the material. There is much more to come.

Your grateful hostesses,

Sun + Soph

3 Women, Robert Altman (1977)

Cinematiste

Starring Shelley Duval, Sissy Spacek, and Janice Rule

There is something to say about a film that can keep you fully creeped out with no overuse of blood and gore. Between the jarring tones of ominous flutes to the puzzling analogies of the feminine condition (water being a constant rune throughout the film), 3 Women leaves you in a state of unsettled daze. Rumor is the 1977 psychological thriller by the prolific Robert Altman is a script derived entirely from a dream. Not only was 3 Women manifested in the lucid kingdom, it was also never written into a proper screenplay, simply 50 pages of treatment filmed according to daily improvised scenes written by Altman and Patricia Resnick. 

Altman does an excellent job of connecting his audience to the human behavior of his characters through colors, strangely banal dialogue, subliminal choices in cinematography and most importantly through the casting of Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Janice Rule. Shelley Duvall walked away as “Best Actress” at Cannes for her role as the garrulous priss, but Sissy is hard to forget as she naturally transforms, so believably, from the sheepish, furtive teen to the sultry kitten and back again. Janice Rule awakens the beguiling spirit of the film, pregnant with a scoundrel’s child, yet portraying the strongest female energy of the 3 Women

If you’re looking to get lost in a peculiar vortex of ethereal feminine nuance while drinking a beer in your quarantine pants, this would be the choice.  – Soph

MuseMix

Since lockdown began mid-March, it’s been difficult to listen to sad songs. 

Continuing to observe safety measures/social distancing as we approach Fall, our music choices have HEAVILY leaned towards the cornball category. Queue Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September”. Amid the heartbreak of our everyday American news, the grooves of 1970’s mellow-pop offer only a temporary relief, but nonetheless have been of particular interest in our rotating playlists.

Mom & Pop Rock compiles the hits of the 1970’s, especially popular with Stevie Nicks margarita moms and boosting the genre best known as “dad yacht rock”. 

As the sweat and stench of late summer lingers, the weirdlings of “back-to-school” (ahem, Virgo) energies and a yearn for the Autumnal, turning towards the posi-nostalgic-wonder of slick soul, funk and folk pop mash-ups finds the zap of the Stupid Daystar (a.k.a. the Sun) much more bearable. Mom & Pop Rock is our primo playlist for these 1970’s smooth moods (not that we have ever existed within that decade). You’ll find plenty of boho-hits from the likes Fleetwood Mac to the lovey-dovey of the late Bill Withers, ushering in the remainder of the Summer season with a smooth groove. – Sun

Asmrtist

A great explanation of today’s Leo New Moon, especially as it relates to the upcoming Mars Retrograde, with a meditation + mantras by the amazing Alina Alive. Please check out her YouTube channel and Instagram for more amazing content.