OCCULT L.A.: Season of the Witch sold out the Silent Movie Theater Saturday night. It was Standing Room Only, or more like Sprawling on the Floor Room Only. In these days of YouTube and TiVo it’s easy to forget the pleasure of sitting in front of a flickering screen all sharing a new experience. It was a good choice of venue. The Egyptian Theater is too big to give the audience the intimate vibe and camraderie of the Silent Movie theater.
Between film clips, organizers and presenters Jodi Wille of Process Media and Maja D’Aoust, The White Witch of Los Angeles added informed commentary and clever asides. Maja D’Aoust is so well-informed and articulate that the event was reminiscent of a University lecture.
When we arrived halfway into the presentation, Jodi and Maja were just wrapping up some commentary on the history of persecution of witches, which is often less about the supernatural and more about man’s fear of nature, the mystery and the power of women. Maja wrapped it up with perhaps the most truthful and memorable quote of the evening, “It all comes down to boners and periods.”
There were clips of images of witches in the media. Although these depictions seem laughable, Maja believes the images cause harm as they seep into the collective consciousness. They can be especially damaging to primitive, supersticious cultures like the religious right [Editor’s note]. One of the more amusing scenes onscreen was Kim Novak working her seductive charms on Jimmy Stewart in this scene from Bell, Book and Candle. Note the cat-o-vison near the end.
The latter part of the evening featured short film made by witches themselves to show their rituals and faith. There were the typical gothic images of a lone figure in the woods, keys, roses, bones and creepy dolls. But the event also featured the LA premieres of “new, witch-made films by Sera Timms and Micki Pellerano, never-shown Source Family white magic rituals on film, a newly restored 16mm print of Curtis Harrington’s The Wormwood Star presented by artist-occultist Brian Butler.”
The Wormwood Star was the most striking film. Artist Cameron considers her artworks to be talismans, and burns them after they have served their purpose. The burning was part of the ritual. As an art aficianado, the idea of burning your own art horrified me at first. But watching the film, I have to admit there were some damn creepy images, and Cameron has an intense, unearthly presence. If she felt they needed to be burned, then I’m very glad she burned them.
There was a short question and answer period, after which, invited practicioners collected on the back patio to answer questions, sell books and natural herbal remedies. I found myself drawn to healer and intuitive Aiden Chase, and I hope to work on some collaborative posts about Los Angeles with him.
The Beat will keep you posted on upcoming presentations by Jodi Wille and scheduled lectures by Maja D’Aoust