Monday, 27 July 2015

May Queen throne in Lustleigh

Earlier this summer I went on what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to the South West of the country - an area thick with folklore and legend. While there I was taken to the village of Lustleigh in Devon. Visitors to this picturesque civil parish are greeted by the quaint little church and the stone cross on the tiny green in front. However, there are older traditions kept alive in this settlement.

Further down the hill is an orchard bounded by a tiny brook. The field has been put to use as a children's play area, but looming over the grass is the largest of the many boulders which protrude from the earth and the top of this stone has been carved into a throne. This is the seat of the May Queen - the girl who, in true Wicker Man style is chosen to personify the May Day holiday and the fair weather and fecundity of the spring. My guide told me that, once a year, all the young girls are dressed in white smocks and line-up in front of the church to be blessed by the vicar, in a ritual that seemingly embodies the Christian aptitude for subsuming much older customs into liturgical practice.

The names of the Queens are carved onto the rock face and date back to 1968. No doubt the re wakening of public interest in folk ritual was the impetus to begin carving the names. I'd be interested to learn if earlier names are recorded anywhere, or if the tradition was broken before that year.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Occult iconography on film: Hardware

Blogging's been a bit slow here due to lots of renovation work on the Tears of Envy secret bunker. But with a bit of down-time I'd like to start what will hopefully be a series of posts. Then again, "The road to Hell..." and all that. So we'll see.

After seeing the excellent Lost Soul... documentary I've been re-watching Richard Stanley's back catalogue. I was surprised to see in Hardware the appearance of a pentagram. It appears when the killer robot is in its death-throws, and the viewer is taken 'inside' its head to see its virtual circuitry. The symbol appears for just a moment, but it's enough for us to register and so speculate on the nefarious origins of this maniacal machine. Was it programmed by occult fanatics? Has it been infected and corrupted by evil magicians? The possibilities are enticing.

While the evil connotations are adequately conveyed, it's worth noting that the pentacle, or pentagram, is 'good' side up. One point stands at the top and the 'horns' point downwards. Some authorities including Eliphas Levi assert that the symbol is only a mark of evil when the dual points are reared, mimicking the horns of the goat (and so the devil himself). Prior to the middle ages, the symbol is not uncommon, but seems to carry no evil association.