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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.

Archive for the ‘alchemy’ tag


De Sphaera


De Sphaera aka Sphaerae coelestis et planetarum descriptio is a collection of astrological plates and diagrams showing the symbolic attributes of the planets, and also their relations in the heavens according to the beliefs of 1470. There’s an obvious similarity to the celebrated (and much imitated) plates from the Splendor Solis (1582) plates although De […]

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The recent upgrading of the Internet Archive website has made visual browsing somewhat easier than before: areas visited in the past now offer up items that might have been overlooked. This is one such result, one of the many mysterious documents in the Manly Palmer Hall collection of occult manuscripts. Unlike the handwritten texts in […]

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Weekend links 244


MMOB :: Far West (2013) by Alison Scarpulla. • “…although same-sex love is as old as love itself, the public discourse around it, and the political movement to win rights for it, arose in Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This message may surprise those who believe that gay identity came of […]

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Weekend links 225


Still from The Shaman-Girl’s Prayer (1997), a video piece by Mariko Mori. This page has pictures of Mori’s futuristic/cosmic performances, films & environments. • Time Out of Mind (1979) was a BBC TV series about science fiction writers, five short films concentrating on Arthur C. Clarke, John Brunner, Michael Moorcock, Anne McCaffrey and an sf […]

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Musaeum Hermeticum


More from the storehouse of wonders that is the Getty Alchemy Collection at the Internet Archive. The illustrations here are from the 1678 edition of the Musaeum Hermeticum, a lengthy collection of alchemical texts with engraved illustrations by Matthäus Merian (1593–1650). Merian’s illustrations are some of the most frequently reprinted of all those you’ll find in […]

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A triangular book about alchemy


Triangular buildings aren’t so very unusual, triangular books, on the other hand, are less common. This example is from the Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts at the Internet Archive, not only a triangular book but one where most of the pages are written in a symbolic alphabet. A reviewer supplies the following details […]

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Planète magazine covers


Planète was a French magazine of “Fantastic realism” which ran throughout the 1960s. I’ve never seen a copy but sight of the immediately recognisable covers has always fascinated because this was the magazine established in the wake of the huge success of The Morning of the Magicians (1960), a unique “Introduction to Fantastic Realism” by […]

Posted in {design}, {fantasy}, {magazines}, {occult}, {science fiction}, {science}, {typography} | 7 comments »


Alembic and Ligier Richier


Current reading is Alembic (1992), a curious novel by Timothy d’Arch Smith whose publishings prior to this were all non-fiction, among them a study of the Uranian poets, a bibliography of Montague Summers, and The Books of the Beast, one of the many books about Aleister Crowley. Alembic reflects some of these interests and blends […]

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Atalanta Fugiens


Alchemy (1969) by the Third Ear Band. Design by Dave Loxley. For an idea of how these posts often come into being, this one is the result of the following chain of association: an article by Leo Robson about the films of Roman Polanski > A re-viewing of Polanski’s Macbeth > A re-listening to albums […]

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Weekend links 137


Self-portrait by Jon Jacobsen from his Home series. • Steven Arnold: Cabinet of Curiosities is “a retrospective exhibition of this groundbreaking yet under-recognized queer artist at the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood. The exhibition celebrates Arnold’s radical imagination, presenting many of his tableaux vivant photographs alongside never before exhibited drawings, sketchbooks, paintings […]

Posted in {art}, {books}, {comics}, {electronica}, {film}, {gay}, {music}, {occult}, {painting}, {photography} | 4 comments »


Splendor Solis revisited


1. The Arms of the Art I have something of an obsession with the plates of the allegorical alchemical text known as the Splendor Solis, hence another post on the subject. This new entry is partly a bookmark for my own convenience, and also a pointer for those who keep arriving here searching for these […]

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Weekend links 105


A suspended fluid photograph from Demersal, a series by Luka Klikovac. • “Soon, Mr. Lachman was writing occult music. His song “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear,” which appeared on Blondie’s 1977 album Plastic Letters, was an example.” Gary Lachman: from Blondie to Swedenborg. • Neil Krug’s cover art for the new Scissor Sisters […]

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Sigils & Signs


Every Man and Woman is a Star (detail, 2008) by Jesse Bransford. Observatory in Brooklyn, NYC, hosts another occult-themed group show next month. Signs & Sigils is curated by Phantasmaphile‘s Pam Grossman who says: The fibers of art and magic are woven so tightly together, it’s often said that they are one and the same.  […]

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Weekend links 88


Typographic Composition (1924) by Teresa Zarnowerówna from a post about Polish graphic design at 50 Watts. • “Direct action is a matter of acting as if you were already free… [...] …the link between military and money systems remains the dirty secret of capitalism.” A lengthy and essential interview with “anarchist anthropologist” David Graeber, author […]

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The art of Leonidas Kryvosej


Andel západního okna. Leonidas Kryvosej is a contemporary Czech Surrealist whose work I’d known for a while from an exhibition catalogue. I’d always wanted to see more so it’s a pleasure to discover a substantial set of paintings on the website he shares with Lucie Hrusková. A biographical note tells us that: Leonidas Kryvosej was […]

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John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica


I swear I didn’t go hunting for this. Among the various library collections at the Internet Archive one can find The Getty Alchemy Collection, a substantial gathering of very old alchemical texts scanned in a variety of formats. John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica caught my eye during a random search, a third edition of his treatise […]

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Mister Jarman, Mister Moore and Doctor Dee


Prospero (Heathcote Williams) and Miranda (Toyah Willcox), The Tempest (1979). The Shakespeare who spun The Tempest must have known John Dee; and perhaps through Philip Sidney he met Giordano Bruno in the year when he was writing the Cena di Ceneri—the Ash Wednesday supper in the French Ambassador’s house in the Strand. Prospero’s character and […]

Posted in {books}, {fantasy}, {film}, {magazines}, {music}, {occult}, {theatre}, {work} | 8 comments »


Alchemy & Inquiry


The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back (2011) by Fred Tomaselli. Artistic alchemy has been thriving in New York for the past few weeks. Alchemy & Inquiry is a show which has been running at the Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill, the Bronx, since April, featuring paintings by Philip Taaffe, Fred Tomaselli and Terry Winters. […]

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Alchemically Yours


Ars, Scientia, Magia (2007) by Jesse Bransford. Another art exhibition, and another group show at Observatory in Brooklyn, NYC, where some of my Lovecraft drawings were shown last year. Alchemically Yours is an alchemy-themed contemporary art show curated by Phantasmaphile‘s Pam Grossman, and she has this to say about the exhibition: Like dreams, alchemy speaks […]

Posted in {art}, {occult}, {painting} | 2 comments »


Laurie Lipton’s Splendor Solis


Splendor Solis: Winged (1989). Following from the post earlier this month about the Splendor Solis series of alchemical plates, Thom draws my attention to a contemporary reworking by American artist Laurie Lipton. I seem to recall seeing one of these at Phantasmaphile but didn’t think at the time to see whether Ms Lipton had any […]

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