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. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Temple of Set graffiti

This...  tag(?) is particularly mysterious because Temple of Set's website is Xeper.org.  Nothing lives at TempleofSet.com. 
Found on the side of Aldo Shoes, at the corner of Milwaukee and Ashland.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Psychics - card found in local 2nd hand book

The person who owned this book previously seems to have been taking notes regarding some local readers, most likely in the late 1970s.  Kimchen was a local palm reader. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chicago event calendar updates

 I just wanted to point out that there have been several updates to the event calendar.  Mainly events related to the Occult Bookstore, whose calendar I had a hard time accessing before for some reason.

Of particular note:  monthly talks with Michael Bertiaux, RSVP only.


two art exhibitions featuring Rik Garrett

Yes, that's me.  I didn't start this blog with any intention of self-promotion.  There have, however, been a few requests for more information about myself.  And since I do have two art exhibits in Chicago this month (whose subject matter is pertinent to the subject of the blog), I thought I would let everyone know.

One of the exhibitions is a solo gallery show of my series Earth Magic.  This is a set of photographs taken with the wet plate collodion process.   These black and white photographs will be on display for one night only, June 21 2012 from 5-9:00 pm at Morpho Gallery's Loop location.

Chris Elmore of music blog Hammer Smashed Sound kindly designed these postcards for me.

With Earth Magic I've envisioned a matristic, nature based world; a female-centric, ritualistic community completely apart from the rest of society. This is a history of "witchcraft" devoid of "witch hunts," a race of women who draw their energy and inspiration from the Earth itself. What if there were a truth to the myths of Amazons and the books like Aradia, Gospel of the Witches? What if the fierce Maenads of Greek mythology still existed today, hidden from view?
What if these truths were presented faithfully?

A Facebook invitation for this event can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/338802882858010/

The second exhibition is a group show at the new Leroy Neiman Center.  "Act II:  Fiction Brings it Closer"  will include several images from my Symbiosis series.  While this exhibition opens on June 19th, there will not be a reception until the closing event on July 7th.  If one was so inclined, they could take a look at these images on their way to the opening reception of Earth Magic - both galleries are around two blocks away from each other.

This series of small mixed media photographic works draw inspiration from a variety of (what I see to be) related themes:  Alchemical symbolism including the Rebis, sigil magick, love, desire....

So if you are interested, please consider attending these events.  Feel free to come by and introduce yourself.

More information:

Process Church of the Final Judgement in Chicago

Much has been written about the Process Church of the Final Judgement.  Most notably as of late, Feral House has published a book on the Process, "Love Sex Fear Death," along with reprinting their themed magazines.

In short, Mary Anne and Robert De Grimston met in London through the Church of Scientology, which they split from rather quickly.  In 1965/66 the Process began in earnest, having chapters in many cities around the world.  They attracted a good deal of controversy for their belief system, which involved a "worldview that accepted Lucifer, Jehovah, Satan and Christ as partners in a larger godhead." (Quote courtesy the Gnostic Liberation Front, whose information regarding the Process is quite extensive)  Some referred to them as Satanic, some as a cult.  It was alleged at one point that Charles Manson was a member, though this was found to be untrue.  

This image from the "Death" issue of the Process magazine, blatantly stolen from Gnostic Liberation Front.
I've found three locations in Chicago which somehow related to the Process in the 1970s.  According to Feral House, the Chicago Chapter was founded in 1970.  As a testament to the prevalence of Processians in Chicago during this time period, I happened upon an article in a friend's zine collection which described how the black-caped Processians would be seen around town, spreading the word (if I can track this article down again, I'll post it here).  Another mention of both their capes and their magazines made its way into the Chicago Tribune, August 11 1974.

In 1972 the Process was operating out of a home on W. Deming place, only a couple of blocks from the Sabaean Order of Amn and El-Sabarum Occult Store which was in operation at the same time (I'm not posting the full address as I believe it is someone's residence now).  At this location they held weekly meetings open to the public on Fridays, from 9 to 10 pm. 

After this, the exact timeline of Chicago residences gets a bit hazy. 

Feral House states that the Chicago chapter was founded on Wells Street. I have an address for the Foundation Church of the Millenium (a later variant of the Process after a schism erupted when Mary Anne and Robert DeGrimston separated) in 1976 at 1529 N Wells St. This location is now home to a Subway sandwich shop.

At some point the local chapter of the Process was located a mile away from the Wells location, on Burling Street.  This is a 1892 square foot home built in 1869.  This area of town is very affluent now, though I've seen some mention of it being "slums" at one point.  There is a mansion across the way, but I found that it wasn't built until 2001.

A quick Internet search finds a poster going by the name of "stubby" on a Chuck Palahniuk message board who says that he was a member of the Process for three years in Chicago.  He says that the chapter house was on Deming and the Process's coffee house was in Old Town, which I assume to be the Wells location.  The fact that the Process was potentially operating out of two locations simultaneously in the city says something about their size.

I'm posting another article about the Process below, though it is only related by a single woman who murdered a man.  The woman in question appears to have joined (or claimed to have joined) every occult organization possible in Chicago, and the local community speaks out.  Chicago Tribune, February 4th 1981.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Choronzon Club ad, 1933

Here is one of CF Russell's ads for the Choronzon Club, the same that caused much controversy for his "abbreviated" rituals and shortcuts to the eleventh degree.  This ad is from the Occult Digest, 1933 (the same year that a massive schism affected Russell's organization).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hauntology: OPC Seminar Exhibition, June 7

I don't know much about this exhibition - the actual link to the esoteric may be completely academic.  Still I thought it may be of interest to some readers.

Link to more information on Artslant.

Facebook event page

Chicago Followers of Strange Religions

Chicago Tribune - April 16, 1899

Isis Worshipers, Martinists, Hermeticism and more. 

UPDATE:  Blogspot reduced the size of this image.  I've uploaded a larger, legible 6.3 mb  jpeg of this article here:  http://www2.zshare.ma/r1gm8ufd5efv

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Occult Chicago events calendar

There is still much to be added, but I've finally put together an Occult Chicago events calendar.


As of right now, most of the events have been taken directly from the Alchemy Arts and Aum Ha Lodge online calendars.  Some events I will post about shortly.  But let it be noted that if you would like to attend a beach party with the OTO, it looks as if you will have TWO chances to do so this month one opportunity each month this summer to do so.

If you have any events that you would like to suggest, please post here or write to the new address:  occultchicago at gmail dot com


Friday, June 1, 2012

local supplier Quadrivium Supplies ritual oils

I love when I hear about someone who obsesses over the little things - someone who takes something that anyone could pick up and fixates on the details, making the very best thing possible.  This is exactly what Quadrivium Supplies oils are about.  Quadrivium Oils "are hand-made ritual oils, created according to the lunar calendar and planetary hours. Certain oils are electional, created at times determined by an expert astrologer trained in this discipline."

She uses the highest grade materials possible, takes her work very seriously and makes some seriously amazing supplies.

For more information, visit the Quadrivium website
Get updates on the blog and Twitter

You can stop by the Occult Bookstore at 1164 N. Milwaukee Ave. to check the oils out in person and make a purchase (exactly what I did - the "Crown of Success" oil is something very special).  Those of you who live outside of Chicago can purchase her oils through Etsy.

Essence of Hermetic Light Church

The Essence of Hermetic Light Church was once housed in the penthouse of this building at 27 E. Monroe Street (this photograph taken from around the corner, at Wabash).  Yes, they met in the penthouse of the Palmer House Hotel.  They are listed as having their headquarters there in 1976.

I've yet to find much about this organization, but they must have had considerable connections to have their offices there. 

The Palmer House website describes this as " a dramatic penthouse suite costing over $1.3 million dollars."  Some modern day photographs of the penthouse can be found online:  take a look at that floor!