Tuesday, October 6, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 6): Witch-sploitation?

Witch-sploitation isn't really a word,
but along with all of the exploitation that was going around in the late sixties up through the seventies, there were a lot of schlocky horror and psychedelic pictures being made to cash in on the "Age of Aquarius" and the latest wave of spiritualism that led many down the path of old pagan ritual.

And here, I present three such films in all their grimy glory via the magic of YouTube...
enjoy them if you dare.  Stomach them if you can!

Simon, King of the Witches

 In this early 70's bit of psychedelia... Simon Sinestrari is a magician on a quest for godhood. However, he lives in a sewer, selling his charms and potions for money to live on.  He befriends a male prostitute named Turk who introduces Simon to his world of drugs, wild parties, and hysterical rituals featuring a goat and Andy Warhol star Ultra Violet.  Death, mayhem and love follows.



In which a psychic researcher and his assistants investigate a series of murders of beautiful young women.


The Naked Witch

A student researching the German settlements of Central Texas unearths the grave of a witch.  The witch (who happens to be naked) rises from her grave and embarks on a campaign of seduction and murder against the descendants of her persecutors.  It's up to the student to stop her if he can resist her evil beauty.

Monday, October 5, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 5): Prob'ly he was a witch

Shirley Jackson died 50 years ago at the age of 48 in 1965--
just two years after the film based on her most popular novel, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, had scared audiences with it's powerful use of
atmosphere and acting to portray ghostly horrors.

She was, of course, most famous for her short story "The Lottery" which was first published through The New Yorker.  It caused the largest response from it's readership ever before or since--mostly hate mail.  Some demanded an explanation, some were simply outraged.  Of course, it is now required reading in most U.S. high schools and one of the most well known short stories of the 20th Century.

Lots of her stories can come off that way, leaving the audience to judge for themselves and interpret them differently.  As is the case with my favorite of Miss Jackson's short stories, "The Witch".  And, sadly, it is all too short a story--though perfectly paced and appropriately presented.  In fact, it's so short (coming in at just over eight minutes on the audio recording below) that I'll wait here while you give it a listen.

Don't worry, I'm always happy to hear it again...

An excellent examination of the tale can be found here:

And another here:

Miss Jackson’s Obituary from the New York Times:

Sunday, October 4, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 4): Is That A Broomstick Between Your Legs Or Are You Happy To See Me?

When thinking about the traditional or stereotypical view of the Witch from today’s perspective, it does mirror the view of them from as far back as the 1400s, when broomsticks were first associated with them.  Now as history goes, it’s not all so cut and dry as this, but the use of brooms in pagan ceremonies go back possibly earlier than we can know and continues to this day in marriages.  The handle representing the male phalus, the bristles representing the female genital area.  It is a fertility thing, a helper in rites that related to good fortune for a family and their farm.  The broom was also seen as a way to clear out evil spirits

And being that the broom is handy in the home and kitchen, it’s really not that hard to see it’s handle being used to stir stews and brews in bigger cauldrons, in fact it may well be that the practice of “riding” broomsticks evolved from an accidental exposure to a mold called “ergot” which grew in rye bread.  In high doses, it can be lethal, but in smaller doses, ergot is a powerful hallucinogenic.  It soon became popular to those who experimented with folk cures and herbalism.  It became the main ingredient in the ointment that witches rubbed their broomsticks with before they hopped on to go for a “flight”.

When absorbed through the skin, particularly the thin skin of the genitals, the hallucinogenic effects were more pronounced and led to less sickness and death.  And so this was the practice of many a witch.  Getting high was symbolic and flying was more a side-effect of the drug which produced euphoric and powerful feelings and imagery:

“My teeth were clenched, and a dizzied rage took possession of me … but I also know that I was permeated by a peculiar sense of well-being connected with the crazy sensation that my feet were growing lighter, expanding and breaking loose from my own body. Each part of my body seemed to be going off on its own, and I was seized with the fear that I was falling apart. At the same time I experienced an intoxicating sensation of flying …. I soared where my hallucinations—the clouds, the lowering sky, herds of beasts, falling leaves … billowing streamers of steam and rivers of molten metal—were swirling along.”

And so, in answer to the question—What’s the connection between witches and brooms?—there seems to be a pretty solid consensus.

The Atlantic published this informative article:

Atlas Obscura produced this piece:

And livescience.com had this to say:

I Fucking Love Science said:

Here’s a brief illustrative comic about riding on broomsticks:

But of course, there’s more of a spiritual side to the broom too and a bit of that knowledge can be gained here:

and here:

Friday, October 2, 2015


It's my favorite work of Shakespeare
and that's probably because it's his darkest--
it not only projects tragedy, but goddamned,
unavoidably FATED death
and doom and utter

And it doesn't hurt that it has witches and not just one or two,
but THREE witches--that magic number that adds great
meaning and power to the proceedings...

“When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”

So say the Three Witches at the end of their brief meeting at the beginning of MACBETH, Shakespeare’s darkly tragic tale of ambition and fate.  These gals aim to misbehave and boy do they weave the fates of those in the play.  Their words give them away throughout…

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.”

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

“For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

The Three Witches or Weird Sisters of Shakespeare’s play are certainly creations of the author, however they link obviously back to The Norns of Scandinavian legend and The Fates of Greco-Roman mythology.  They are magical beings who are prophets of the future to come—bad and good.  And, in some sense, because of their knowledge it almost comes off as if they are responsible for the fates of those in the play--the power of their knowledge does shape the fates of all involved.

These days they are mostly referred to as Weird Sisters, though Shakespeare never referred to them as such.  In fact, he called them “The weyward Sisters”, though it is not clear what exactly he meant by this, it could be interpreted that they were not with the Church—indicating an otherness that definitely implied a dark power and an evil intent.  And indeed, they seem to have plenty of both--or at least enough to lead us into temptation and, therefore, damnation.

And now, for the lighter side...