Familiar Shapes at the Museum by Heather Freeman

Familiar Shapes at the Museum by Heather Freeman

We have been delighted to have Heather Freeman with us in the Museum for the past couple of weeks.  Here she summarises her time at the Museums so far…
 
I’ve been at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic for about two weeks now, researching for the documentary Familiar Shapes https://www.familiarshapesthemovie.com/, photographing objects in the collection relating to spirits and familiars, and using Boscastle as a home base when I conduct interviews at nearby universities later this month.  

But I’m also using my time here as an ad-hoc artist residency.  While I love working on narrative films, it’s very different creative process than when I make prints or drawings.

It was a stroke of good luck for me that my visit happened to overlap with the Museum’s 2018 Annual Conference Dew of Heaven: Objects of Ritual Magic.  While all the panels were really quite fantastic, and my brain is still buzzing from the great information presented, I particularly enjoyed Judith Hewitt’s “in-between” talks, which built up a fascinating picture of Cecil Williamson’s interest in the work (and person) of Aleister Crowley.  I won’t try to summarise, but I’m sorry I never met him. But it got me thinking about the Golden Dawn, Crowley, and what these ritual magic structures can offer to any creative practice (and if anything, witchcraft is a deeply creative practice.)

Inspired by the dynamic of Aleister Crowley’s influence on witches and magicians from various traditions and vantages, I’ve started a series of small watercolors and drawings based on Crowley’s Liber CLXXXV: Liber Astarte vel Liber Berylli – On uniting oneself to a Deity.  

 
Crowley writes: 

“Let the Philosophus prepare a powerful Invocation of the particular Deity according to his Ingenium. But let it consist of these several parts:

First, an Imprecation, as of a slave unto his Lord.
Second, an Oath, as of a vassal to his Liege.
Third, a Memorial, as of a child to his Parent.
Fourth, an Orison, as of a Priest unto his God.
Fifth, a Colloquy, as of a Brother with his Brother.
Sixth, a Conjuration, as to a Friend with his Friend.
Seventh, a Madrigal, as of a Lover to his Mistress.

And mark well that the first should be of awe, the second of fealty, the third of dependence, the fourth of adoration, the fifth of confidence, the sixth of comradeship, the seventh of passion.”

Starting with the Imprecation on the first day, I focused my attention on that particular alignment to a deity (the Goddess of the Moon for this first set.) Each day, I work through the set so that each drawing is the result of a particular method of alignment.  Next, I’ll go through this cycle for another seven days, aligning to The Horned God. Before each drawing, I write about this alignment (usually prose poetry, sometimes more prosy, sometimes more poesie) before I begin the drawing as an automatic action.

Above: Imprecation

Above: Oath
Above: Memorial
Above: Colloquay
Above: Conjuration
Above: Madrigal
Above: Adoration
 
Full disclosure, I did a version of this process in Fall 2017, inspired by Ithell Calquhoun’s Decad of Intelligence.  http://heatherdfreeman.com/section/457346-Automatic-Evo-divinations-2016-2017.html I’ll continue this current series through my stay at the Museum.

Bonus: And here’s my take on Ben the Familiar (below). He’s a pretty special fellow.
 
Thanks so much to Heather for writing this and sharing her beautiful artwork.  We will keep you updated on the project as it progresses.
Thanks also to Heather for taking some photographs for the Museum – here is the first one of a horse skull in our Protection Magic display.  
 

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