Saturday, December 8, 2012

A bit of self-promotion: Magical Calendar art project

I said that I wouldn't do this very often, but honestly the things I research and post on Occult Chicago entwine themselves with my artwork enough that I have a hard time separating them at times.  And to be honest, I thought that this project would be of interest to the readers of Occult Chicago.

I'm working on a year-long Magical Calendar project, focusing on themes of magic in the year of 2013.  This stems from my obsession with the De Croze/Orazi Calendrier Magique made for 1897.

I'm releasing one limited edition fine art print each month, and have just released the image for January.

This is a detail of LILITH, the January image.  The original hand colored / painted silver print is being reproduced as a museum quality archival pigment print, signed and numbered in an edition of only 13.

For more information about the calendar project, visit my artwork blog.

To purchase this print, visit my online store.

Thank you,


Mapping the Occult City

It shows how busy I've been that it's taken three weeks to write a response to the Mapping the Occult City event.

The entire day was wonderful - Jason Winslade's students were charming and the morning panel was thought provoking.

Jason and I put together a last minute walking tour of places of occult interest in the Loop, and to be honest didn't expect anyone to take us up on it.  When we arrived, there were 22 people waiting to walk around the city with us.  How flattering!

It was great to finally hear Michael Bertiaux speak.  The evening panel was lively and interesting.  Unfortunately I had to leave before the Terra Mysterium performance, but I've heard nothing but good things.

I had an opportunity to sit and talk with David Metcalfe, who wrote this great article about the day's events for the website Teeming Brain:

Chas Clifton wrote another article for his personal blog:

The entire event was enlightening and uplifting.  While there were people from various different backgrounds, there was still a wonderful sense of community that I'm not used to feeling.  I was able to talk with people that I knew, spend time in conversation with those that I'd only had online interactions with and meet fascinating new people.  I was given great suggestions for material for Occult Chicago, and hope to start posting some of it soon.

I know that there are a few other accounts of the day's events online.  Feel free to send them my way!

Thank you to Phoenix Rising Academy, everyone who came, who asked me to participate and otherwise made the day amazing. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mapping the Occult City

As a reminder, I will be speaking at this event tomorrow.  Take a look at the other people who will be there:  this is definitely an event not to be missed!

Other speakers include:  Jason Winslade, David Metcalfe, David Gordon Wilson, Patricia Boyd, Hayes Hampton, Joseph Futerman, Michael Beriaux, Angie Buchanan, Joan Forest Mage, Lisa Bruber, Preston Klik, and M. Dionysius Rogers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hermetic Brotherhood of Light, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, the OTO and Chicago

There is a bit of confusion surrounding the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light.  What was it, and what was its connection to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor?  Were they one and the same?  Many seem to be under the impression that they were, and it's an easy enough conclusion to jump to. 

There are rumors of a Hermetic Brotherhood of Light operating early enough for Paschal Beverly Randolph to have been a member, and persisting long enough to eventually transform into the OTO.  There are rumors that the highly influential Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor had ties to Chicago.  The whole situation is quite confusing, and it doesn't make matters easier when considering that many of these organizations had habits that included claiming a lineage of over 4000 years, associating themselves with names of those long dead.

Here is what I have been able to determine.  Of course, I would love to hear from anyone with more information.

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was founded in 1870 and premiered publicly in 1884.  The H.B.L. was heavily inspired by the teachings of Paschal Beverly Randolph, though they later drew a bit of distance from him after deeming his suicide to be unsavory.  They also had a bit of a rivalry with the Theosophical Society - despite sharing many similar beliefs, approaches and even members, the two organizations had a bit of a public sparring match.

Despite rumors, I have yet to find any information linking the H.B.L. to Chicago.  The Theosophical Society was already firmly established here, and I have to wonder if they had a mutual understanding to keep their distance.  Still the influence of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was felt in Chicago, with several splinter groups arising here.

"Dr. W.P. Phelon and his wife, both of whom were prominent Theosophists and members of the H.B. of L., founded and ran the curiously named "Hermetic Brotherhood of Atlantis, Luxor and Elephantae," first in Chicago and then in San Francisco, and published a variety of "Hermetic Manuscripts" and a Hermetic Journal." -The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism, Jocelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel and John P Deveny.

After moving to San Francisco, the Phelons apparently shortened their organization's name to simply "the Hermetic Brotherhood," with their publishing company being the "Hermetic Book Concern."  Their chosen symbolism is interesting in that it employs an ouroboros lifted directly from the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, with a winged swastika, combining symbolism from both the H.B. of L. and the Theosophical Society.

Another organization following the H.B. of L. with links to Chicago was the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light:
"Finally, there was the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light, founded or reorganized in Chicago or in Boston in 1895, whose teachings fed the streams of sexual practice flowing into the Ordo Templi Orientis of Theodor Reuss and eventually into the works of Aleister Crowley." -The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism, Jocelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel and John P Deveny.

Information regarding the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light is scarce.  Even authorities on the subject seem unsure as to its origins - was it a group inspired by the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, or was it the other way around?  What is known is that the teachings of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light went on to inspire, if not itself become, the Ordo Templi Orientis.

From the 1917 constitution of the OTO, by Theodor Reuss:
"While numberless societies, associations, orders, groups, etc., have been founded during the last thirty years in all parts of the civilised world, all following some line of occult study, yet there is but ONE ancient organization of genuine Mystics which shows to the seeker after truth a Royal Road to discover the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity and to the Unveiling of the One Hermetic Truth.
This organization is known at the present time as the:
Ancient Order of Oriental Templars
Ordo Templi Orientis
Otherwise: The Hermetic Brotherhood of Light."

 Did a Chicago organization have a hand in the eventual organization of the OTO?  Perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising, considering the fact that both Aleister Crowley and Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad) lived here at one point.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Walking to work

 When weather permits, I like to walk rather than take public transportation.  Here are some things I found while walking down North Avenue the other day.

"Mage" tag

 Catalog card for John Zorn's Arcana IV.  This book came out in 2009, so honestly I'm not sure why there would be a catalog card for it.

Another seal of Amon.  Is this someone's tag?  It was found down the block from the place where I found the last one.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

supplemental materials for a recent lecture

I was kindly asked to speak yesterday at DePaul University.  I gave a presentation for Jason Winslade's class, regarding the history of the occult in Chicago.  I discussed personalities, publications and organizations.  After my lecture, the students went on a brief walking tour to spot some locations of interest.  When they returned, I had a few publications sitting on the table to spark a bit of conversation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chicago Pagan Pride today

Don't forget that today is Chicago Pagan Pride.

Unfortunately I can't make it today.  I hope to hear all about it from everyone.  Have fun!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New website - Occult Guide

Hello, everyone!

I recently got back into town from our honeymoon in Vienna, which was completely amazing.  Upon arrival back home, my wife and I are now launching a new website dedicated to mapping locations of occult significance worldwide.

I have received quite a few messages from people outside of Chicago telling me that they wished a resource like this blog existed for their own city.  Likewise, we have traveled and wished that such things existed so that we would know of good places to visit.

So now we present to you, OCCULT GUIDE

Occult Guide is a site powered by member submissions:  add locations in your own hometown to be added to the worldwide maps.  Occult Guide is also a fully functional social media website, complete with forums, member profiles, user groups and more.

We are incredibly proud of our new creation, and hope that you find it interesting enough to join in.  Help us to map the unseen hiding in plain view!

Monday, August 6, 2012


Hello to all of the amazing followers of Occult Chicago!

If things have been just a little bit slow around here lately, they are bound to be even slower as my wedding quickly approaches.  Not only will posts here resume when life settles down, but a brand new project will also be unveiled - something of interest to every single person who has ever read this blog.  Really!

I'll still be around for a few days, so please continue to contact me with questions and submissions for the Occult Chicago calendar.

Thank you again for reading!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chicago, Satan's Sanctum

Unfortunately this 1899 book is about local crime.  Still, the cover is charming enough. 
The entire book is available to download as PDF from archive.org

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Nature of Ghosts and the Human Spirit

Speaking of Leadbeater, he's mentioned in this offer to make some cash in exchange for proving that ghosts exist.  Take a look at this wonderful artwork!

Chicago Examiner, 1908

And for even more amazing artwork...  "After You Are Dead."

Also from the Chicago Examiner, 1908. 

Steinway Hall

Built in 1896, Steinway Hall was located at 64 E Van Buren St.  The building went through a variety of name changes over the years and also housed a number of activities of interest to readers here.

Image courtesy the Steinway Hall Wikipedia page.

In its early days, the 11-story office building housed a number of architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright (who remained in the building until 1908). During this time, Steinway Hall was briefly being advertised as a "Temple of Magic."

Image courtesy the Chicago Magic blog.  While focusing on stage magic, there is definitely information of interest.

Image of the theater during it's run as the "Punch and Judy Theater" courtesy the Cinema Treasures website.

The 850-seat theater in the building originally was a branch of Ziegfeld's theaters (while the Follies were taking off in New York, Flo Ziegfeld was originally from Chicago).  The theater was home to acts such as Sophie Tucker and Fatty Arbuckle.  In 1915 the theater's name was changed and Shakespearean plays were produced.

The same theater was rented out by the Theosophical Society, who secured every Sunday for a six month period of time.  During this time, Charles Leadbeater lectured on a variety of subjects relating to the occult and Theosophy.  Leadbeater, having just arrived from England, packed the theater to the extent that would-be listeners regularly had to be turned away at the door.  His lectures here in Chicago would be published as the book Some Glimpses of Occultism Ancient and Modern.

In 1941, after the schism of C.F. Russell's Choronzon Club, one of the splinter groups housed itself at Steinway Hall (practically around the corner from the Fine Arts Building where they had previously met).  They would remain here until the 1960s, when they would return to the Fine Arts Building.    For more information on this, please visit my previous post regarding C.F. Russell and the Fine Arts Building.

Around this time the theater was being used to show adult movies.  Public sentiment had swayed against the building, and it was demolished on April 5, 1970.  Apparently it was written in the Chicago Tribune that “Few, if any, will mourn it.”

In its place, we now have a parking lot.

Monday, July 30, 2012

readings regarding the Ordo Adeptorum Invisiblum

Since the last post regarding the OAI received so much attention, I thought that I would post a follow-up with some additional readings.

of the
Ordo Adeptorum Invisiblum
Don Karr
(Readable online or download)

The website Digital Brilliance hosts several PDFs of interest, written by Don Karr, 416 and others associated with OAI.
Liber Samekh He, The Process of Initiation and many more.

The Hermetic Library elaborated on my post, filling in many gaps.  Thanks to them I learned that Nema is still around, and her writings are to be found in a number of places.  While not from Chicago, her writings influenced the OAI, and will no doubt be of interest to many readers here.  She authored the book Maat Magic, A Guide to Self Initiation, which was published by Weiser.

Official Transcript of the Incoming of the Aeon of Maat

Beta:  A Comment on Communications From the Aeon of Maat

Interview with Nema

An interview with Nema on the now defunct Thelema Coast to Coast podcast.  I am about to listen to this so can't fully comment, but it appears that her portion is a small bit of a much larger show.

William Walker Atkinson, the Kyballion and the Yogi Publication Society

I've been putting off posting about William Walker Atkinson due to the fact that there is such a wealth of information that I honestly don't know where to begin.  Simply put, Atkinson was a writer, publisher and major player in the New Thought Movement.  The full story is much more complicated than that.

Atkinson (1862 - 1932) worked in a variety of professions, settling into the role of lawyer while in Pennsylvania.  After a variety of ups and downs in his personal life, he disappeared for six weeks around the turn of the century with a renewed passion for life and interest in the occult.  At this point he immediately moved to Chicago and began writing articles under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms, including Theron Q. Dumont and Yogi Ramacharaka.

In Chicago he also founded the Yogi Publication Society, which was located in the  Masonic Temple building - the name sounded great for the publishing company, but there was actually no Masonic affiliation with the Yogi Publication Society.  The Masonic Temple was the city's first skyscraper - the Masons met on the top floors, the rest were rented to a variety of different businesses.

The Yogi Publication Society published the Kyballion, a book of Hermetic teachings which was compiled by "Three Initiates."  Shrouded in mystery, it is now accepted that Atkinson himself wrote this book.

The Chicago Examiner, in 1910, with an article introducing yoga to the general public via Atkinson's pseudonym, Yogi Ramacharaka (here spelled Ramachakra).

The Yogi Publication Society still exists, though their website leaves a bit to be desired. 

Luckily for us, Philip Deslippe has dedicated himself to unraveling the mysteries surround Atkinson's life and abundant literary output.  He has recently released a definitive edition of the Kyballion.

For an excellent interview with Deslippe regarding Atkinson, visit this podcast on Occult of Personality.  After you listen to that interview, listen to all of the remaining on the site, as they are all excellent.

Of note to those paying attention, Atkinson co-authored one book with infamous local L.W. de Laurence entitled Psychomancy and Crystal Gazing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thank you!

Occult Chicago has existed for just over three months now.  I'd like to take a minute to thank everyone for reading.  I've received tons of positive feedback, met some great people and learned a lot from the correspondences of readers. 

In particular I would like to thank some of the wonderful blogs that have repeatedly posted about Occult Chicago.  Each of these is well worth following and reading on a regular basis.

Witch City Chicago Lughnasadh ritual

This weekend is really filling out here in Chicago.  Just take a look at the Occult Chicago calendar.

The newest addition is the Witch City Chicago Lughnasadh ritual on Friday at Alchemy Arts.  In their words:
"Friday, July 27, 2012, 7:00 PM-- Witch City Chicago Lughnasadh ritual. Everyone welcome! This will be a ritual for Lughnasadh. As with all our Sabbats this is potluck and beginner friendly."
A few of the other events this weekend:  two separate events with Gede Parma,  the Curse Tablets lecture at Owen and Engine and the open Gnostic Mass at Aum Ha Lodge.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

the advertisements of L.W. de Laurence

I've held off posting more about Lauren de Laurence, as I assumed that others were probably getting tired of hearing about my personal favorite local dubious historical publisher.  After some positive feedback, I'm giving in and posting a few things that I've come across.

Firstly, Michael Nowicki has posted several images from de Laurence's catalogs, along with an amusing story on

 According to Nowicki, the de Laurence company was still in business in the 1960s (despite the fact that de Laurence himself died in 1936).  Rather than post his story here, I'm just going to suggest that you visit the website to read his anecdote about visiting the de Laurence company.

A Tarot website at includes many images regarding the de Laurence Company's Tarot deck (a blatant copy of the Ryder-Waite deck).  The author goes into great detail regarding different printings of de Laurence's deck and related books.

"The Key to the Tarot: Oracles Behind the Veil, by Dr. L.W. de Laurence. It is, or should be, common knowledge that this book is AE Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot word for word!"

A very interesting read for those interested in the history of occult literature.  Start here for several pages of scans and information:

Website Church of Good Luck includes scans of de Laurence's catalogs.  Follow the link to see several advertisements.

"Artist's Conception of de Laurence Wearing a Turban and a Tunic"

"De Laurence wrote a lot of his own material in addition to his habit of "borrowing", and what he wrote best was ad copy.  He managed to fill over 500 pages in his 1931 catalog, and it stands to this day as a monument to bombast."

And so that I am able to contribute something of my own, here is a snapshot of the back page of an issue of Occult Digest from 1933 (three years before de Laurence would pass away).  Included are ads for Practical Lessons in Hypnotism and Magnetism, and The Great Book of Magical Art, Hindu Magic and East Indian Occultism.  The latter, you may recall, was found in a local bookstore (with alternate "Hindoo" spelling).

Chicago Pagan Pride

New event added to the Occult Chicago calendarChicago Pagan Pride.

Chicago Pagan Pride Day 2012 is Sunday, September 09, 2012 at Historic Pleasant Home on Mills Park 217 Home Avenue Oak Park, Illinois 60302
11 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

Pleasant Home is a beautiful location.  Visit the Chicago Pagan Pride website for more information.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Curse Tablets: Getting Ahead the Old Fashioned Way -

Another event for the July calendar, via The Owen Society for Hermetic and Spiritual Enlightenment.

July 29th, from noon until 3pm.
Come and discover how the ancient Greco-Roman world used small etched lead sheets to seek not only revenge and retribution, but also love and happiness. In addition to a discussion of the purpose, production, and use of curse tablets, this presentation will show participants how to make their own in case the need ever arises.

Eitel August Wilhelm Adelbert Oskar Joachim Viktoria, Graf von
Pappenheim, is a specialist in ancient evil manuscripts working in the
service of the German Reich.

Jim Kollenbroich has a PhD in History and works in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Due to the space constraints at Owen and Engine, our Society may either have a maximum of 15 people for the parlor room or we may use the entire upstairs, but must purchase $1000 in food and drink as a group (this means a minimum of 40 attendees buying a full brunch and drink, around $25 before tip and tax). So, in order to plan for the event, we ask that you RSVP by emailing the professor at to confirm that you will be attending the lecture.

All RSVPs will be served on a first come, first serve basis. Should we reach 40 confirmed attendees, everyone will be welcome (and welcome to bring guests too). Otherwise, your name will go on our waiting list for one of 15 coveted slots in the parlor room and you'll be notified the week of the event!

As always, neo-Victorian and Steampunk dress is strongly encouraged at all meetings of the Owen Society.

Vienna suggestions?

One month today, I will be leaving on my honeymoon to Vienna.  Pretty exciting.

I was wondering if any of the wonderful readers of Occult Chicago have any suggestions as to where to visit.  We already have a massive list of museums to visit.  However I wonder about other places of interest.

I know that Mesmer, von Reichenbach and Wilhelm Reich were all in Vienna at some point.  So clearly there is something regarding subtle energies in the air in Vienna.  Both Carl Kellner and Rudolph Steiner lived there.  There have been plenty of organizations (some decidedly dubious) originating in Vienna over the years. 

Any suggestions regarding archives, displays, places of historical interest and etc. would be highly appreciated. 

Thank you again for reading Occult Chicago!

Gede Parma ceremonies and workshops this month

I've been contacted regarding these upcoming events.  Both have been added to the calendar.

Gede Parma will be returning to Chicago this July! Gede’s new book “Ecstatic Witchcraft: Magick, Philosophy, and Trance in the Shamanic Craft” was just released through Llewellyn publications. The Brotherhood of the Phoenix is proud to present two opportunities to meet and learn from Gede. Both these events are open to the general public.

Friday, July 27th at 7:30pm: Gede will present a ceremony of Ecstatic Witchcraft, which embodies the principles of his newest book.
Cost: Sliding scale $10-$30
Location: 2nd Unitarian Church, 656 Barry Avenue.

Saturday, July 28th from 10-4pm: Gede will present his day long intensive workshop “Initiation and the Path of the Shamanic Witch.”
Cost: $90 for the day
Location: Life Force Arts Center, 1609 W. Belmont Avenue.
In order to attend this workshop you must RVSP to Keith Green at Detailed information about the event will be sent to you with your confirmation e-mail.

More information about the workshop:
Initiation and the Path of the Shamanic Witch (Full-day Intensive)
This workshop explores the etymological origins of the word ‘Witch’ and how, through history, sociology and cultural anthropology we can understand the European phenomenon of Witchcraft to be equivalent to the tribal ‘shamanism’ of many of the world’s indigenous societies.

Since the Pagan renaissance and revival (from the mid-1800s onwards) a high degree of ceremonial magick has been integrated with what once was pure and simple shamanism. Many of the Wiccan traditions tend towards the ceremonial; however Gede Parma (author and initiated Witch) will introduce a practice of Witchcraft that is informed by the definition – ‘ecstasy-driven, Earth-based, mystery tradition’. The Craft, seen and lived through this lens, is also a system for and of personal and communal empowerment, deep paradigm and consciousness shifts (altering consciousness), transformation, healing and initiation.

This full-day intensive will work through the three-tiered shamanic cosmology generally accepted as – the Upperworld, the Middleworld and the Underworld. These realms correspond with our Superconscious Selves, our Conscious Selves, and our Unconscious Selves, respectively. To bring wholeness to all, and to accept and integrate the Shadow/the Unconscious (the Veil separating us from realising our true divinity) we activate the World Tree within, which affirms our eternal connection to all realms, to all times; in the Forever Here and the Eternal Now.

Facebook event Page:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ordo Adeptorum Invisiblum

While the Ordo Adeptorum Invisiblum was originally founded in England in 1979, their United States headquarters were established in Chicago in 1981.

From what I can determine, the OAI practiced a form of feminist Thelema.

The OAI also adopts feminist principles and practices—not the anti-male separatist variety—but in its non-sexist androgynous philosophy. Women are not the vehicle of a male seed, a male High Priest. They are magickal people in their own right. The history of female magickal energy is far older than that of the male, but it has been overshadowed by the masculine principle. The OAI seeks to rectify this by balancing the imbalance through women seeking to rediscover and reassert themselves, while male members minimize as far as possible their aggressiveness and dominance. In turn, this will lead to a more directly  visible equality and non-hierarchical structure within the group and in rituals.

The OAI teachings followed Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons and an Ohio woman known as Nema, following a Maatian Current. 

From Western Esoteric Family III: Magick:

The Ordo Adeptorum Invisiblum (OAI) is a British-based thelemicist order aligned
to the Maatian magical “current.” It grew out of the proclamation of the magical
Aeon of Ma (or Maat) proclaimed in 1948 by Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld
Jones). Maat is the ancient Egyptian goddess of Truth and Justice. The order looks
toward a planetary manifestation of the presence of Maat, whose coming has been
heralded by three twentieth-century trends: the great liberation movements lead-
ing to the recognition of human rights; the attempts to balance male-dominated
Western magic; and the nonelitist androgynous approach to magic practiced by
Maatian groups. In recognition of their acceptance of feminist liberation concerns
and the nonsexist nature of their magical workings, members of the OAI have
dropped the use of common designations of male and female members as frater
and soror in favor of the single designation persona.

The OAI began in England in 1979 in the informal workings of three Thelemic
magicians (two women and one man). In 1980 they made a formal alignment to
the Aeon of Maat and thus the OAI came into existence. At the end of the year, the
three original members separated. One went to Fez, Morocco, and the following
year, one came to Chicago, where the first members of the OAI were received.

The order has developed as a very loose confederation of otherwise independ-
ent magicians pursuing their own magical experiments in alignment to the
Maatian Aeon. Periodically, members will gather for group rituals. New initiates are
received after their successful performance of Liber Samekh He, a revised version of
Liber Samekh, a Thelemic ritual designed to promote conversation with one’s Holy
Guardian Angel (higher self). The order is nonhierarchical. Leadership can be exer-
cised by any member and teaching is a matter of sharing the results of individual
ritual workings with the larger membership. All members have access to all mate-
rials possessed by the order.

Membership: In 1985 members of the order, reported to number less than 100,
could be found in England, the Chicago metropolitan area, and California.

While their history and manifesto is easily found online as a PDF, their many other writings are much more difficult to find.  I've yet to find a listing for their Chicago headquarters, or any other information for that matter.  As always, those with information are encouraged to make contact.

Occult Digest covers

Lucky for us, Tumblr user onanhero has scanned many of those early, hard to find painted Occult Digest covers.

Many more on the original post here:

Thank you for sharing these, onanhero!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quest Bookstore and the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, IL

It wasn't until I buried myself in this blog that I learned that the Theosophical Society's national headquarters are just outside of Chicago in Wheaton, IL.

The grounds are beautiful and include a Labyrinth walk.  A wonderful day trip to escape the city.  Apparently I was too distracted by the greenery to photograph any of the buildings.

Also on the grounds is Quest Bookshop.  While one wall is dedicated to Theosophical texts, the store itself caters to all paths.  There is a great collection of new books (and a small collection of used), along with crystals and gemstones, statuary incense and more.  If you don't mind a bit of a drive, the grounds and the bookstore definitely warrant a visit.

This photograph of the bookshop courtesy the store's website.

Of potential interest:  
July 20-24th

Also, the Theosophical Society is now seeking vendors for the yearly TheosoFest, to take place on September 8th.  Visit their website for more details.

1926 N Main St
Wheaton, IL 60187

Squaring the circle with local fundraisers

I noticed this neon sign while going for a walk the other day on Wabansia.  Besides the Philosopher's Stone, they also had two signs advertising "Free Hugs."  

A bit of research reveals that this is the headquarters of Give Forward.  I hadn't even realized they were located in Chicago.  On a personal note, I'm glad that Give Forward exists, as it provides a way for those in need to raise money. 

On top of this, they are apparently Alchemists.  And generous huggers.

Edit: Give Forward informs us that the sign is actually courtesy design-savvy friend Morlen Sinoway Atelier.  The Free Hugs offer still stands, however.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July events

Somehow it's July already.  The calendar is already packed with plenty of the standard weekly and monthly events, but if you know of other events that should be listed, please get in touch!

Eye of Providence street art in Wicker Park

Found on Milwaukee Ave., near Wolcott. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spirit photography - W.K. Dunmore, Photographing the Unseen

Looking through an issue of Occult Digest, I saw a listing for a book by local spirit photographer W.K. Dunmore, "Photographing the Unseen."  After a variety of fruitless searches I worried that this book was lost to history.

At some point I realized that this book was taken from a collection of essays in Occult Digest's predecessor, Psychic Power magazine.  So I tracked down the appropriate issues in archives and took the time to scan each article, collecting them into a single PDF.

So if you are interested in the methods of a Chicago-based spirit photographer from the earlier part of the 20th Century, visit this link:

The file looks much better when downloaded than when viewed in a web browser.

For more information about W.K. Dunmore, see this earlier post regarding Psychic Power magazine.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sigil of Amon street art

It looks as though someone was summoning Amon on the North Street bridge.

For the record:
"AMON, a strong and powerful marquis, who appears like a wolf with a serpent's head, and vomiting flame.  When so ordered, he assumes a human shape, but with the teeth of a dog.  He discerns past and future, procures love, and reconciles friends and foes."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Events today

As previously mentioned, today is a day of events in Chicago.

Take a look at the calendar if you are looking for something to do today.  Unfortunately I am stuck at home, finishing some projects today.  A shame, as I had to opportunity to meet Dr. George J. Sieg the other night and would have loved to have attended his lecture at Alchemy Arts.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Art show tonight

Another shameless bit of self promotion as I remind everyone that I have a one night art exhibition tonight.

Please stop by and say hello if you are free.

Facebook event invitation
My art website

Thank you again for following Occult Chicago!

Sabaean Religious Order update

Luckily for us, a reader named Esu Miwa responded to a previous post, letting us know that the Sabaean Religious Order is still thriving.

Hi, as a member of the Sabaean Religious order for the last 15+ years, the Temple off the Belmont Elevated has been closed and turned into condos, the lions tho, from the temple are still in front of the building.

Sadly, Odun has past away, however his 200+ god-children, I being one of them, still practice and guide the Sabaen religion.

The rumors of human sacrifice are greatly exagerated......

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Bangs Sisters - Chicago's spiritualist portrait painters

Mary "May" Bangs (born 1864) and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Snow Bangs (born in 1860) were mediums, getting publicity for contacting the dead at a very early age, with written reports of their seances dating at least as early as 1872.  Eventually the duo would become famous for materializing painted portraits of the dead.

The pair gained quite a following, with patrons regularly attending seances at their home in Chicago.  They also were the subject of numerous venomous newspaper articles and police raids - in 1888 one raid resulted in the death of Lizzie's 7 year old daughter.  After this incident, the sisters released this card:

Even marriage was scandalous for the Bangs sisters.

There was a lot of speculation regarding the method employed in the creation of the portraits of the dead.  Many believed that they were painted over enlarged photographs and/or painted by students hired from the Art Institute.

Video showing many of the Bangs Sisters' "precipitated" portraits, with some notes about the supernatural nature of the paintings themselves.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


From Retrospace blog's post on "Occult Lameness."

Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell

A couple of weeks ago I posted this press photograph that came into my possession:  Dance of the Witches in Front of Chicago Federal Building, 1969

I loved the photograph, but had been unable to find any background information.  Luckily for me, there are some great people who read this blog.  Jason Winslade pointed me in the direction of W.I.T.C.H. - Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, who were a loose collection of independent feminist groups in 1968 and 1969.  W.I.T.C.H. was formed in New York, but the Chicago "coven" seems to have been particularly active, using the imagery and tools of the occult to bring attention to women's issues.  They combined guerrilla theater, camp and serious political activism - and apparently created quite a stir. 

 W.I.T.C.H protest in support of the Chicago Eight 1969, as found on Tumblr

The Wikipedia entry for W.I.T.C.H. states:
"Their activism mainly took the form of "zaps", a form of guerrilla theater mixing street theatre and protest, where they used attention-catching and humorous public actions to highlight political and economic complaints against companies and government agencies, frequently involving the use of witch costumes and the chanting of hexes. Witches often appeared as stock characters in feminist Left theatre, representing the misogynist crone stereotype."

 W.I.T.C.H protest in support of the Chicago Eight 1969, as found on Tumblr

From an article by Jo Freeman, posted on her website:
"Slowly, solemnly, the Witches filed around the Federal Building, faces dead white, staring straight ahead, flowing black capes swirling around them. "Our sister justice lies chained and tied," they chanted. "We curse the ground on which she died."
This was Halloween, the annual religious festival of the druidic witches, and a Chicago "Coven" of WITCH (Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell) had chosen the day to announce the beginning of a new, militant phase of the Chicago women's liberation movement."
University of Chicago WITCH hex.  Photograph by Jo Freeman, taken from her website

"Because WITCH actions could be done with a small group and were both fun and political, they quickly spread around the country. Boston women hexed bars. DC women hexed the Presidential inauguration. Chicago women zapped everything. On January 16, 1969, eight undergraduate women at the University of Chicago hexed the chairman of the Sociology Department, which had recently fired a popular woman professor. Dressed in black with their faces painted white, they told him to "beware of the curse, the witch's curse.""

University of Chicago WITCH hex.  Photograph by Jo Freeman, taken from her website

Another quote from the same article:
"Another coven soon hexed the Chicago Transit Authority at its headquarters in the Merchandise Mart to protest a fare hike. They danced around a caldron while chanting:
Witches round the circle go
to hex the causes of our woe,
We the witches now conspire
To burn CTA in freedoms' fire.

Bankers gall, politicians guile,
Daley's jowl, lackey's smile,
Trustee's toe, bondholder's liar
These we cast into our fire.

Meetings held, messages sealed
When the fare hike is revealed
We, the people, are the prey
Of the demon, CTA...."

University of Chicago WITCH hex.  Photograph by Jo Freeman, taken from her website

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday, June 24th

As evidence that Chicago's stake in the occult is not just historical, I'd like to post a screenshot of the Occult Chicago calendar on Sunday June 24th.

Alchemy Arts is hosting two events, including a lecture regarding the distinction between the Left vs. Right hand path by Dr. George J. Seig.

Aum Ha Lodge is hosting their free monthly Tarot for Fun and Prophecy class, as well as their monthly public performance of the Gnostic Mass.

Occult Bookstore is holding their monthly lecture by Michael Bertiaux.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Terry Taylor and Satanism in Chicago during the 1970s

In 1966, Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in San Francisco.  He would publish the Satanic Bible in 1969.  CoS "grottoes" would pop up across the country, though oddly enough it appears that there was not one in Chicago.  Instead Chicago had Terry Taylor.  To introduce Taylor, I'll quote from Arthur Lyon's sensationalistic-yet-level-headed 1988 book Satan Wants You.

"The Orthodox Satanic Church, in existence from 1971 to 1974 in Chicago, which at its height claimed more than five hundred members, taught a similar system of beliefs (to The Lady of Endor Coven, located in Ohio).  The group's anti-LaVey philosophy taught that God the Creator created Satan, who, in turn, became the teacher of all knowledge.  Through ritual, prayer, and songs, held every Saturday night at Chicago's Occult Book Shop (*), members were exhorted to absorb as much of Satan's wisdom as they could.

"In 1974, this group broke up after its leader, Terry Taylor, owner of the Occult Book Shop(*) was taken to court by his ex-wife to keep him from bringing his daughter to the cult's rituals.  Taylor, she claimed, not only drove the girl to the shop in a hearse but also slept in a coffin.  A splinter sect, Thee Satanic Church, was started by Dr. Evelyn Paglini, of the International Psychic Center, but it folded shortly thereafter."

Taylor's store was actually called House of the Occult, located near Belmont and Central Avenue.  He did not own the Occult Bookstore.

Despite only having been in existence for a few years, Taylor seems to have gotten quite a lot of press.  I've found very little regarding his beliefs, or anything incredibly specific regarding The Orthodox Satanic Church (which at one point was known as Thee Satanic Orthodox Church of Nethilim Rite).  Still, his name shows up in quite a few publications.

Below is the beginning of an interview with Brad Steiger:
"We've had our windows at the House of Occult smashed six times in the last six months," he said.  "Salt has been dumped in our gas tanks.  We've been threatened twice with a gun.  Someone set street gangs on us.  We wrote to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., and now we have police protection."

Despite the fact that Taylor is regularly described as being a Theistic Satanist (and at least one local organization claims to be following in this lineage), Taylor has this to say:
"...(W)e just do not believe that there is a devil.  There is an active and a passive section in our minds, but neither is necessarily good or evil, plus or minus."

Chicago Tribune - March 8, 1974.

"They think I'm in league with the devil and have an 'in' with him," he said.  But Taylor neither believes in the devil - "a Christian invention" - nor performs exorcisms.

Chicago Tribune - March 26, 1974

Anyone with more information about Taylor and associated organizations is encouraged to make contact.