Archives For fashion

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

Witchy fashion? Spring 2013 Saint Laurent collection. (Photo: NYT)

Witchy fashion? Spring 2013 Saint Laurent collection. (Photo: NYT)

  • Witches: Always fashionable. Quote: “Witchcraft and its moody expressions — long weedy hair, peaked hats and pointy boots — have attained a strange cachet of late. No longer the hideous wart-covered crone of folklore and fairy tale, the witch of current films, like “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” and recent youth-oriented novels like “Released Souls” and “A Discovery of Witches,” has swept aside the vampire as a symbol of power, glamour and style.”
  • Glub, glub! We’re submerged in the occult says “ex-Satanists” Jeff Harshbarger! Quote: “Our society is submerged in the occult; Harry Potter has filled the minds of our children for a decade and vampirism meets our teens with the illusions of grandeur. Witchcraft went mainstream decades ago, and Wicca is its offspring.” Sinister!  Maybe all these “former occultists” should spend more time being better Christians instead of trying to sell books. 
  • Zimbabwe seems intent on starting up a moral panic around Satanism with, quote,  “some people going as far as blaming the Witchcraft Suppression Act for “protecting” suspects and witchcraft practitioners.” It has all the hallmarks of America’s Satanic Panic, but with the added danger of people (suspected Satanists) being killed by angry/fearful mobs. This can’t be going anywhere good. 
  • In an addendum to the Salem (Missouri) Public Library occult filtering case I reported on earlier this week, the Riverfront Times publishes the official, quite defensive, statement from the library on the case’s resolution. Quote: “Under the judgment, the library will continue to use the same internet screening provider it has used for many years. This is the same internet screening service provider as ninety percent of public libraries in Missouri. Months prior to the time the lawsuit was filed, the provider used by the library made changes in its minimal screening categories which the Salem Public Library and many other libraries in the state adopted. By agreeing to the consent judgment, the Salem Public Library does nothing more than agree to continue to use the new updated categories recommended by its service provider and adopted by the library before the suit was filed.” Shorter version: we will never admit we did anything wrong. 
T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

  • T. Thorn Coyle writes for The Huffington Post about John Brennan, Sekhmet and the Fires of War. Quote: “We are damaging ourselves, our souls, and the earth. We are dealing out death at a distance, and slowly dying inside. Freedom is hard to bear. But so is war. So is our enslavement and inner blindness. How shall we waken to the light that dawns over the desert so beautifully? If life and death are sacred, what is our role in these wars being fought via real-time video? We try to distance ourselves from the cycles of the earth, but in the long run, this simply is not possible.”
  • The Havasupai Tribe and environmental groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service for failing to adequately protect land sacred to the tribe and moving forward on a controversial uranium mine. Quote: “The complaint (full text) in Grand Canyon Trust v. Williams, (D AZ, filed 3/7/2013) claims that the Forest Service failed to comply with environmental, mining, public land, and historic preservation laws. It alleges, among other things, that while the Forest Service has designated the area as Traditional Cultural Property and has recognized that it is a sacred site to the Havasupai Tribe and has begun consultations with the Tribe, it refuses to carry out a complete “Section 106 process” under the National Historic Preservation Act, which would include developing a memorandum of agreement with the tribe and state historic preservation office before restarting mining operations.”
  • Got caught being a scam artist? Convert to Christianity! It’s a fabulous PR move. Quote: “Chan converted to Christianity and renounced his former practice ofgeomancy just weeks before appearing in court for forging the will of one of Hong Kong’s richest women, billionaire Nina Wang, whom Chan also claimed to be his girlfriend.”
  • The site Pagan Dharma has returned from Internet limbo, Some of the rationale for why it’s back can be found, here
  • Heiner Bielefeld, in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, says that blasphemy laws should be ended, and that they endanger religious minorities. Quote: “Speaking on the fringes of the rights council on Wednesday, Bielefeld said criminalizing concepts like blasphemy was dangerous for free speech because there could be no common definition of what it was.”
  • says the goddess Columbia is cool. Quote: “As a personification of the United States, Columbia is far less sinister and far more charismatic than her coattailed counterpart: She’s the goddess-like figure who inspired all the women in breastplates from the women’s suffrage marches of 1913.”
  • A reality television Witch. Move along, nothing to see here.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

I’ve mentioned more than a few times that the occult, witchcraft, and paganism have been reoccurring themes within the world of high fashion. Now designer Elise Overland is getting into the act, releasing a new short film, directed by Poppy de Villeneuve, that centers on “Wiccan and natural magic”.

Pamela Love, Poppy de Villeneuve, Elise Øverland, and Aimee Mullins.

Jewelry designer Pamela Love, wearing a long Elise Overland frock, designed pieces especially for the film. “I based it on geometric shapes, specifically the circle and the diamond, and a lot of imagery related to the phases of the moon,” she said, emphasizing the femininity of the lunar cycle. “It was an amazing experience to be out in the desert with three women I really admire.” De Villeneuve added, “I like the kind of dark side of Elise’s designs.” She recalls beginning the film with “the idea of Wiccan and natural magic.” Dark subject matter, but a lot of fun, as she explains: “I think with some of the fashion films, it’s a good ambition to not to try to be too serious.”

The star of Say Good Morning to the Night is Aimee Mullins, an athlete/actress who had both her legs amputated as a child, and subsequently  gained worldwide recognition for her accomplishments using a series of cutting-edge artificial legs. Mullins has a history of working in art-films, most notably with Matthew Barney, so she seems the perfect channel for a work that “fused fashion, film, and art.”

In a world where it’s hard to create anything without a marketing plan behind it first, Elise Øverland is bucking the trend. Last week the Norwegian fashion designer, known for her edgy rock ’n’ roll aesthetic, decided to produce a short film about Wicca—for no real reason other than just because. “We thought we’d shoot the film and then see what happened,” … Øverland’s friend Val Kilmer let the gaggle of girls shoot at his ranch in New Mexico. “It feels very spiritual,” Øverland said of spending time in the desert.

Whether any of them have any serious inklings towards Wicca seems somewhat doubtful, but it’s interesting how Wicca, the occult, “lunar cycles”, and “natural magic” have so deeply penetrated this playground of the rich and famous. That Wicca and witchcraft would become a well that numerous designers and artists would visit in order to find inspiration. I think it’s a sign that modern Paganism, in some form or another, has become deeply enmeshed in America’s cultural DNA and isn’t leaving any time soon. As for Say Good Morning to the Night, I’d love to see it, but who knows if us plebs, who are rarely invited to parties with Salman Rushdie, will ever get the chance.

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

We start off with the sad news that author and surgeon Dr. Leonard Shlain passed away on Monday at the age of 71. Shlain is perhaps best known within the Pagan, Goddess, and New Age communities as the author of “The Alphabet Versus The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image”.

“In this groundbreaking book, Leonard Shlain, author of the bestselling Art & Physics, proposes that the process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture. Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects including brain function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain’s linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one. This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and, in literacy’s early stages, the decline of women’s political status. Patriarchy and misogyny followed.”

You can read obituaries for Leonard Shlain at Boing Boing and on his own web site. My condolences to his friends and family, may his spirit find rest and comfort.

If a journalist “outs” your religion to the wider world in the process of an investigation and you lose revenue because of it, is the journalist liable for your losses? A judge in Quebec thinks so, and has ordered Sun Media Corp. to pay 9000.00 dollars to two members of the Raelians.

“When newspaper reporter Brigitte McCann spent nine months undercover as a member of the Raelian sect in 2003, the resulting articles caused a stir in Quebec and won her the province’s top journalism prize. Her Journal de Montréal reports revealed a darker side of a group generally dismissed as UFO-believing clowns: Its leader believes he has been targeted for assassination by the CIA, he demands generous contributions from his 55,000 followers and his entourage includes “angels” prepared to die to protect him … The plaintiffs, whose names are withheld in the published judgment, both said they had suffered embarrassment and loss of revenue after being identified as senior figures close to sect leader Claude Vorilhon, who goes by the name Raël. Their photos, taken from a pamphlet distributed at a Raelian gathering, were published.”

Naturally the Raelian Movement hails this decision, though some journalists and lawyers are saying that this chills the exercise of free speech. However, the judge ruled that these individuals’ expectation of privacy had been violated because information about the sect was freely available, making an undercover infiltration excessive and unjustified. You can read an unofficial English translation of the court’s decision, here. This decision could have wide ramifications in Canada regarding the investigation and reporting on non-mainstream and minority faiths. After all, even loony UFO cultists deserve some expectation of privacy, don’t they?

As some of you know, I like to keep track of Pagan and witchcraft-related themes in the world of high fashion design. Well, another line of clothing has come to my attention that you may want to check out. An Allure article trumpets that goth is back in fashion (again) and mentions in passing a “Witches” line of clothing by Lauren Alexander and Gabby Applegate as part of the trend. So I tracked down some photos and exposition concerning the line at NOTCOT.

“Promising… “WITCHES” the new shadowy, supernatural, and chic collection from Lauren Alexander and Gabby Applegate. An incredible editorial presentation in vignette style to showcase the occult collection. Friday, the Thirteenth of March, Seven to Ten in the evening. Chateau Marmont, Bungalow 4”… fascinating part, not even the Dietch PR folks had seen the line before this evening… the designer’s description? “”This line is a modern take on Goth, Grunge, and Victorian dressing. The entire line is comprised of black lace, velvet, silk, and spandex. The collection includes everything from floor length velvet cloaks to lace cocktail dresses with rope details. The goal has been to combine all of these style elements to create something that we feel has been missing in our closets. This collection truly embodies the idea of a “modern witch”.”

The line is very occult-goth chic, do go check out the photos if that’s your bag.

Remember how we all rushed to embrace actress Cybill Shepherd for thanking “the Goddess” at an awards ceremony years ago? Well the FoxNews “Pop Tarts” column talks with Shepherd about Prop. 8, Obama, and her rather complex personal theology.

“I’m a Christian Pagan Buddhist Goddess worshiper, but I’m also a feminist. I think the ultimate glass ceiling is God, in another words, if we think God is a man, then we make man a God, and I studied and learned that there is a whole other history of the worshiping of the great mother,” she explained. “I really think that probably God is a woman, that helped me to break through that celestial glass ceiling.”

So she is a confirmed Goddess-worshiper, but in a Christian/Pagan/Buddhist sort of way. I suppose she has all her bases covered no matter what lies beyond this life.

Earlier this week Brownsville, Texas held an election for three seats on its City Commission, and if you believe local reverend and activist Alex Resendez, no withcraft or brujeria were involved in shaping the outcome.

“During Resendez’s April 28 invocation, candidates stood ready to address the standing-room-only crowd in the Brownsville Public Library. But after Resendez’s invocation, today’s election should be free of unknown, unwarranted and unwel-come intervention after he banished evil spirits from affecting the candidates and electoral contest. Resendez, a reverend and political activist, is different in his approach to politics. He believes that evil spirits are real in the world and wants to keep them out of the electoral process. He fervently believes in the democratic process … He also believes that witchcraft, or brujeria, has no place in elections and, just prior to the forum’s start, beseeched Christ during the invocation to banish any witchcraft attempts against the candidates and the election. “Si existe (it exists),” Resendez said Thursday of brujeria, in which one casts spells for a given out-come.”

Resendez also casts out demons as part of his ministry, but not from any of the candidates (so far). Of course we have no way of knowing if the reverend’s invocations were truly effective, perhaps they can poll any local witches or brujas living in the area? Were their spells thwarted? Did their preferred candidates lose? These are the kinds of things I want some follow-up on!

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 10, 2008 — 2 Comments

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

Politics! Litigation! Evangelism! Looks like we need to take a break and explore that heady intersection of fashion and the occult. British lingerie brand Agent Provocateur has unleased its newest collection: “Season of the Witch” (just in time for the Samhain season).

“The “Season of the Witch” ad shows a flame-haired high priestess presiding over a disrobed virgin in a sacrificial ceremonial scene. Her raven-haired witches crowd around while semi-disrobed soldiers lie helplessly at their feet.”

The photo shoots seem to nod towards a Hellfire Club/Secret Society sort of diabolic decadence. The roll-out of the new collection has gained a remarkable amount of press due to the inclusion of Bob “Live Aid” Geldof’s daughter Peaches. You can explore the (Not Safe For Work) collection at the Agent Provocateur web site.

BBC News profiles the life of Susanne Wenger, a 94-year-old Austrian artist who became a convert to the Yoruba faith. Arriving in Nigeria in 1950, Wenger went on to help preserve the Osun sacred grove in Osogbo town, and fight attempts by Muslim and Christian missionaries to wipe out Nigeria’s pre-Christian religion.

“When she arrived here, she found traditional culture in abeyance, all but destroyed by missionaries who branded it “black magic” or “juju”, a word Mrs Wenger reviles. Friends paint a picture of a dedicated, tough and far-sighted leader who has helped revive a culture thought destroyed by Christian and Muslim evangelists, and secured protection for one of the Yoruba tradition’s most sacred sites. But she is very humble about her achievements. “Osogbo is a creative place, it is that by itself, it didn’t need me,” she says.”

Locals hold her in high regard, and believe the goddess Oshun has channeled into her body, granting her wisdom and knowledge of their ways far beyond that of any other European. This is an inspiring story, be sure to read the whole thing and check out the video of an Oshun offering. Thanks to Dave Haxton for pointing it out.

The South African Pagan Council shares an official media statement by South Africa’s (re-re-established) National Party regarding Paganism. This comes in the wake of the party promising to “suppress” Satanism and witchcraft should they come into power.

“We would like to state it unequivocally that the National Party does not hold any ill feeling against the pagan community. On the contrary, the National Party would endeavour upon election to protect the rights of the Pagan community. We understand the response from the Pagan community regarding our policy towards Satanism. It is well known that paganism has wrongly, and to the great detriment of the Pagans, been associated with Satanism by ill-informed officials. However, the National Party wishes to advise that we fully support freedom of religion and that there would be no witch-hunt of any practitioners of Wicca, Odinic Rite or any of the other Pagan practices.”

SAPC representative Luke Martin greeted the NP’s statement warmly, though forcefully reiterated that the South African constitution guarantees religious freedom for all, even Satanists, or other faiths they may find distasteful. This is another example of how South African Pagans have gotten active in local politics in order to protect their rights and freedoms.

BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell shares the news that Pagan-folk band Omnia member Joe Hennon is assistant to EU official Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication.

“I am of course ever on the alert for any signs of witches and warlocks haunting the corridors of power. So what do you make of the fact that Commissioner Margot Walstrom’s spokesperson is a leading exponent of Pagan Rock?”

Mardell confides that the post was made so he could link to Omnia’s latest promotional video, and we should hope so, because Hennon’s job in politics was extensively reported on nearly a year ago by Expatica.

In a final note, French composer and record producer Hector Zazou passed away on Monday at the age of 60.

“Algerian-born French composer/producer Hector Zazou had a surprise waiting with each new record: twisted rock, neo-classical compositions, world music (from Africa to Central Asia), string quartets, pieces for wind instruments, voices or synthesizers, he’s been using a wide variety of genres to create the most unexpected and subtle blends…”

His ambient and neo-classical works found a wide assortment of willing collaborators, from Siouxsie Sioux and Bjork to indigenous shamans. Zazou’s most famous release in America is probably 1992’s “Sahara Blue”, a tribute to Arthur Rimbaud that featured the talents of Dead Can Dance, David Sylvian, and Gérard Depardieu. His creative vision will certainly be missed.

That is all I have for now. Have a great day!

It looks like “Pagan chic” within the fashion industry isn’t going anywhere. British designer Luella, following in the footsteps of Alexander McQueen, has introduced a Pagan/Witch themed motif for her Fall 2008 line.

“And now here’s Luella Bartley, talking about “Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man and the witch museum in Boscastle, Cornwall, where we live,” before adding, “I wanted something a bit raw and pagan.” What’s this? Generalized cultural anxiety seeping to the surface in the form of fashion?” may kid about “cultural anxiety”, but if you look at the news lately, you’ll see witchcraft is very much on the world’s mind. You have Scottish Parliment looking into pardoning the last woman (Helen Duncan) convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735, Middle-Eastern countries lining up to start executing women for crimes of “witchcraft”, and the particularly unsubtle criticisms of Hillary Clinton, just to name a few examples.

Yet, I can’t quite see anyone outside of Salem regularly wearing a conical “witches” hat any time soon. Aside from that, the collection is quite sensible. Check out this runway video:

Perhaps this just proves that Paganism never really goes out of fashion. Thanks to Sexy Witch and The White Witch for bringing this fashion story to my attention.

The fashion/celebrity blog Jezebel takes a look at the latest issue of French “Vogue”, and a fashion photo shoot “realized” by editor in chief Carine Roitfeld that focuses on the occult.

“…inside, we found the “Sacrement Inspiree” fashion shoot photographed by Terry Richardson and “realized” by editor in chief Carine Roitfeld. The theme? Voodoo/wicca/satanism!”

Fashion design by Alexander McQueen, photo by Terry Richardson.

Among the designers highlighted in the shoot is Alexander McQueen, who recently unveiled a witch-themed fashion line.

“McQueen, the greatest theatric in fashion, didn’t just focus on witches, but ruminated visually on the occult, paganism and Egyptian devils. The only surprise is that the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano has not since penned an editorial condemning the show.”

As for the shoot itself, Roitfeld seems to be a fan of left-hand fashions and has inserted serveral “Satanic” symbols to spice up the mix, prompting Jezebel to exclaim that “Devil worship is the new black!”

Satanic fashion?

Will occult and Pagan themes continue to influence high fashion? Will any of the more sensible designs be co-opted by the masses? Will Satanism find new life in Haute couture? Does this predict a future in which Pagan festivals set the tone for fashionistas everywhere? These questions, and many more, remain to be answered.

Lately it seems that everything old is new again in the world of high fashion. Earlier this year you had the witch-themed fashion line by British designer Alexander McQueen, then last month their was reporting on “antler chic”, now one of the world’s most famous fashion designers is making an explicitly pagan statement … for peace.

High fashion and high ideals merge for Valentino’s 45th anniversary.

“As bombs fell during the first Gulf War, Valentino designed a simple, white column dress with the word ‘Peace’ embroidered on it in 14 languages. That ‘Peace’ dress is now the centerpiece of Valentino’s 45th anniversary fashion exhibition, surrounded by 300 more of his most glamorous evening gowns at Rome’s Ara Pacis monument commissioned by Emperor Augustus. ‘This monument is so amazing that we decided if you can’t beat it, join it,’ Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s business partner, said to reporters before the opening. ‘We decided to create a pagan procession of women honoring the Ara Pacis.'”

The Ara Pacis Augustae (altar of majestic peace) personifies peace as a Roman goddess, and celebrated the Pax Romana, an era of relative tranquility after a number of wars (both civil and foreign). According to the organizers of the event, the show is mean to be a “spiritual journey” with the gowns embodying “floating ideas”, and unlike the hostilities to pagan displays in Greece, Italy seems to have no compunction at such an “unChristian” display of extravagance.

“Among the visitors to the exhibit was Italian Premier Romano Prodi. On hand to congratulate the designer at the opening was Rome’s Mayor Walter Veltroni, who announced the opening of a museum dedicated to Valentino and his fashion in a former city garage near the Roman Forums. ‘Rome is making an effort to keep up with the beauty of Valentino’s work,’ he said.”

Also attending the gala event were Sienna Miller, Sarah Jessica Parker, Joan Collins, Mick Jagger and Annie Lennox. Proving that while the UK and America may have jump-started the modern Paganism movement, the Italians remember that ancient paganism walked hand-in-hand with pomp, glitz, and high ideals, just like in the (very) old days.

Pagan Fashions

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 7, 2007 — 3 Comments

Recently, two of my posts that touched on fashion within the modern Pagan sub-culture have drawn a surprising response. So it seems like a good time to report on the recent Witch-themed fashion line by British designer Alexander McQueen.

Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2007/2008 collection

“The macabre British designer, Alexander McQueen, dedicated his dramatic presentation at the Paris pret-a-porter season last night to a distant relative, Elizabeth How, one of the Salem witches. The models emerged like members of a coven, walking on a pentagram painted on a bed of coals, beneath an inverted pyramid on which were projected images of flames, naked women and locusts. The collection was one of the designer’s sexiest and appeared to have been conceived with a little help from the magic arts. It featured burnished metal bodysuits, extreme tailoring in denim and fur, carapace-like capes in plated leather and “sorceress” gowns in chiffon and velvet, emblazoned with gleaming metallic flames or in see-through stretch tulle, embroidered with enchanting symbols.”

Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2007/2008 collection

According to Fashion Wire Daily, the show was pagan through and through (and perhaps a bit demonic as well).

“McQueen, the greatest theatric in fashion, didn’t just focus on witches, but ruminated visually on the occult, paganism and Egyptian devils. The only surprise is that the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano has not since penned an editorial condemning the show.”

This is certainly a far cry from ordering some Renaissance gear off the Internet, slapping on a pair of horns, and hitting the local Witches’ ball. Drama! Majesty! Metal chest-plates! Could this be the start of a new “Pagan chic” within the glamorous world of fashion? It would certainly add a new twist on the debate over how modern Pagans should dress.