“The Magickal Women Conference held on 1 June 2019 was a major international gathering in London celebrating women in the occult, witchcraft, and esoteric traditions. The conference was designed to pay homage to the women of the past who challenged the status quo by embracing mysticism, magic and occultism, and to the women who continue those rich traditions through lived practice, performance and teaching.” (Sue Terry and Erzebet Barthold)
On 25 June the long-awaited publication Making Magic Happen: Selected Essays from the Inaugural Magickal Women Conference 2019, will be released. Making Magic Happen includes Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki’s keynote speech The Art of Survival, and scholarly essays, artwork, and inspiration from another seventeen of the forty speakers who made the Magickal Women Conference 2019 a truly unforgettable event.
Now in her nineties, “Dolores is a living link with the Western Mystery tradition of the great female occultist Dion Fortune (1890-1947) through her own teacher, W.E. Butler (1898-1978). Butler was a member of Dion Fortune’s esoteric group The Fraternity of the Inner Light, which she founded in 1924, which itself stemmed from the late Victorian occult organisation, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Dion Fortune was initially trained by the artist, performer and ritualist Moina Bergson Mathers (1865-1928) the co-leader of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In my essay, I describe her magical personality, creative skrying practice and bright mind. Moina Mathers clearly understood the interdisciplinary nature of the modern world and the cultural need to synthesise art, spirituality and science. I wrote an academic article on her life and Great Work, which is available on open access, here.
“The Magickal Women Conference emerged as a response to a rising tide of interest in the occult in popular culture and increasing academic scholarship in the field of esotericism in the early twenty-first century”. Regardless, in academic and professional conferences on the feminine and the occult, women were always in a minority position. This is gradually changing; as my recent paper at the International Network for the Study of Spirituality demonstrates, we are seeing a growing interest in previously unacknowledged women artists whose work was entangled with spiritual and occult practice or vision.
My masterclass at the conference was converted into an essay, which I wrote and illustrated with original photographs of technoetic rituals. I am truly honoured to be included in this milestone publication and in a lineage of pioneering women whose ideas have generated R/Evolution in art, culture, and various fields of knowledge, embracing the spiritual and the scientific, the ancient and the futuristic.
My essay is entitled: Magic(k)al Visions of the Ultra-modern Woman: Reconsidering the Feminine Aesthetics of Moina Mathers and Maya Deren
This is the opening paragraph:
“Two women summon the sea, one is soaring above it as the mistress of its watery elements (Flying Roll XXIII), and the other is born of it, and quests her place on earth with the senses of an oceanic creature (At Land 1944). They are both trailblazers, the first is modernising magic with an artistic flair, and the second is innovating the art of film through modern ritualistic aesthetics. She makes films akin to ritual-magic. Although belonging to different epochs, Moina Mathers (1865-1928) and Maya Deren (1917-1961) share a common ground that enlightens the processes involved in the intersection of the arts and ritual-magic especially with regards to the role of women and the feminine”.
In addition, I wrote on my practice of Digital Poems of Ritual-Magic, which was inspired by those great visionaries. My essay is featured in the book’s section on Magickal Women and the Arts. It includes Deja Whitehouse’s presentation based on her original doctoral research into the work of Frieda, Lady Harris (1877-1962), the artist whom Aleister Crowley commissioned in 1937 to paint The Book of Thoth, his tarot deck.
The relationship between Surrealism, fantasy, magic and sound are explored by K.A. Laity in her paper on Leonora Carrington’s novel The Hearing Trumpet (1974). Sabina Stent’s introduces the flamboyant personal style of Leonor Fini, Argentinian surrealist painter, designer and author (1907- 1996). Scarlett Amaris shares her private conversation with the artist and witch Una Woodruff (born 1951) who produced a series of paintings that became the book Witches, written by Colin Wilson in 1981. Charlotte Rodgers gives a personal account of her own magical and creative exploration of ‘the dancing serpents of magick and art’, with their potential for deep transformation.
The book’s other sections are: Magickal Women and History and Women and Magickal Practice.
Free Event- Making Magic Happen: Book Launch
An informal event celebrating the launch of Making Magic Happen: Selected Essays from the Inaugural Magickal Women Conference 2019, with appearances from some of the contributors. Online via Zoom, Friday 25 June 2021, 7:00-9:00pm BST.
Making Magic Happen: Selected Essays from the Inaugural Magickal Women Conference 2019
Published by Magickal Women & Company Publications, London, 2021