rosemary's bowie



Rom. Dost thou not laugh ? 

Ben. No, coz, I rather weep. 

Rom. Good heart, at what ?

When my 7th grade class was led through a detailed reading of (Shakespeare/ Marlowe’s) Romeo and Juliet by old Mrs Shaw, a giggle-wave rippled all the way to the back of the class room as we, of 1971’s South Side of Chicago,  discovered that fictional, 16th century, Veronese Mercutio, Paris, Tybalt, et al, were calling their chums (and  fellow gang-members)   “coz,” short for “cousin”… just like us. Well, to be honest, I don’t remember doing it but all the tough kids I went to school with did it… “Yo, cuz!”… and to discover Shaky’s characters speaking in any way like us provided a shocking (if only temporary) sense of connection to the linguistic patrimony the kids on the literal other side of the tracks were taking for granted. What might have blown our minds even further, had we known:  the school we were sitting in was named for a famous 19th century Black, Anglo-American, Shakespearean actor … but nobody bothered to tell us that and I suspect that’s because nobody knew. The perils of the Pre-Googlian Epoch. Anyway: watch,  gentle coz, learn…




2. SINISTER ARCANA (to top up your parapolitical week)


It’s all a very clever sting operation. I mean all of it. Even the guy with the cool hair; the guy with the cool glasses; the guy with the cool new gender… witting or not.  A sting. They’re testing and closing system vulnerabilities, taking out serious leakers and scaring off the rest. The stuff they allowed to be “leaked” was  already known or low-grade or fake or damaging to rival powers. We think we’re smart: They Are Smarter. Our crucial challenge: Wising up.  Naivety’s End? Read…



“The POWs also found friends in the most unlikely of places, as they worked alongside African Americans hoeing and picking cotton, talking away long days in the hot sun. African American field hands were painfully aware that white Americans treated Nazi prisoners far better than they did people of color. African Americans waited on POWs when they were transported in Pullman cars to their camps, and prisoners were also allowed to eat in whites-only cafeterias. At the camp, they were dealt the most menial jobs, including spraying the prisoners with delousing foam. The slights hurt all the more because African-American soldiers fought diligently during WWII in all-black units such as the renowned Tuskegee airmen.

Yet, on an individual level, they got along with the Germans. And Germans were fond of them, in part because African American soldiers had protected them from the mobs of people who wanted to kill the POWs.

Surprisingly, given the blatant racism of the Nazi party, some of the German soldiers were also shocked by the shoddy treatment of their fellow farmworkers. “The blacks…didn’t do much better than us,” remarked one POW. “They were just in front of the wire, and we were behind the wire.” Another German soldier, who was a farmer in his civilian life, noted that African American were expected to pick two to three more times the cotton required of the POWs. “You have to see how they lived,” he said after the war. “These people were so exploited.”

At the time, Huntsville was conducting a re-education program for German prisoners, and the status of African Americans made Germans look askance at their classes on the land of the free. “They were being taught the meaning of ‘democracy,’” explained historian Matthias Reiss, “while outside the southern camps no black citizen dared to step on the sidewalk alongside white Americans.”





That is one seriously unearned “Thus…”

“But in the post-Gutenbergian (McLuhan), posthistoric (Flusser) world of today, writing and linearity have been scaled down and peripheralized by the rise of electric media such as the television and the computer. The visual sense which printed writing favors in abstraction from all other senses has been stepped down, while the acoustic and tactile senses have been stepped up. Thus, the acceleration into light speed causes a reversal of letters back into the sculptural, tactile and mythic qualities of the iconic.”







[Augustine’s note: well I knew most of this already, as did you, probably, but the real meaning of the “don’t look at the carpet” line, from “Breaking Glass,” is a nice little shock, as is the ritual significance of the baffling pose DB struck at the end of the ’79 SNL performance of  TVC15: it never occurred to me that the pose actually meant something… ]

excerpts below:

“So what has David Bowie got to do with occultism? He answered this question himself in his 1971 song ‘Quicksand’:

I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley’s uniform of imagery.

In the 1976 song ‘Station to Station’ he mentioned the occult doorways to other plans of reality when he described how to travel down the Cabalistic Tree of Life

from Kether to Malkuth

that is from Godhead to Earth.

On 25 November, 1995, he finally admitted that in 1976 “My overriding interest was in cabbala and Crowleyism. That whole dark and rather fearsome never–world of the wrong side of the brain. … And more recently, [in 1995 he stated] I’ve been interested in the Gnostics”. [Steven Wells: “THE ARTFUL CODGER” in ‘NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS’ on 25 November, 1995.]”



Angie Bowie recalled a good deal of occult activity during the LA period of 1974–76; it was also clear that Bowie was vulnerable to the influence of sycophants and hangers–on while he was heavily into cocaine. It has been alleged that at this time he scribbled frantic cabbalistic calculations on his own correspondence, stored his own urine in a fridge of Michael Lippman’s home where he was living then, and was obsessed about preventing anyone else getting hold of his nail–clippings and hair–trimmings, so they could not fall into the hands of those he thought wished to put spells on him. This sort of voodoo superstition — a fear that bodily waste could be used for evil purposes by occult enemies — can also be found in Aleister Crowley’s more secret teachings.
Here is one of those ‘secret teachings’: “All bodily excrements, such as cut nails, and hair, should be burnt; spittle should be destroyed or exposed to the Sun; the urine and faeces should be so disposed of that it is unlikely that any other person should obtain possession of them.All bodily excrements, such as cut nails, and hair, should be burnt; spittle should be destroyed or exposed to the Sun; the urine and faeces should be so disposed of that it is unlikely that any other person should obtain possession of them. It is even desirable in theory that linen should not be washed by strangers, and that old clothes should not be given to the poor until some time after the occasion of wearing them.” (Aleister Crowley: “Of the Secret Marriages of Gods with Men.” Published for example by Francis King: “The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O.”, London 1973).

Aleister Crowley: “I note that Cocaine first excites imagination and apparently […]confers a quite peculiar point of view, with a strangely intense and almost drunken pleasure equally unknown to those who have not taken it. This point of view seems to be that of the animal–subconscious; it owns no censor, moral or mental, and may be criminal or insane without qualm. It possesses one, like the ‘devil’ in the old pathologies. (Perhaps these describe and explain facts as well as or better than, the new.) In me, of course, such tendencies are rudimentary; and the mental and moral inhibitions would cry ‘Halt! Who goes there?'”

[John Symonds and Kenneth Grant: “The Magical Record of the Beast 666. The Diaries of Aleister Crowley 1914–1920”, London 1972, page 228.]


Bowie constructed an altar in the living room and he graced the walls with various magick symbols which he hand–painted. Candles burned around the clock, he regularly performed banishing rituals, and he protected his friends by drawing sigils on their hands.
The seventeen–year–old Cameron Crowe allegedly found a stirred–up Bowie burning black candles against an aborted magical ritual during the LA period. Eventually Crowe published several narratives in ‘Rolling Stone Magazine’ and ‘Playboy’ of Bowie drawing black magick symbols, seeing disembodied beings, thinking he was the Messiah, keeping bottles of his urine in the fridge, etc., etc.


By 1979, the whole Pop–universe seemed crowded with more or less accurate Bowie–clones, among whom was the opera–singer Klaus Nomi [know me]. As a pure gnostic, Bowie ‘consumed’ Nomi, by performing with him; both wore stiff plastic Pierrot costumes à la Tristan Tzara (a Dada–artist) when they sang of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, who had “died a long long time ago.”

At the end of the Song ‘TVC15’ Bowie performed a Golden Dawn Posture, called “The Enterer”, invoking the aid of the elements.



You might find this association intriguing: in ‘Let’s Dance’ (1983) the lyric runs “Under the moonlight / the serious moonlight”, which bears a resemblance to Aleister Crowley’s ‘Lyric of Love to Leah’ from his diary for 1923: “Come, my darling, let us dance / To the moon that beckons us / Come, my love, let us dance / To the moon & Sirius!” A product of a ‘cut–up’? A deliberate play on words? There are semantic connections between the two — as in “If you should fall into my arms / If you say hide we’ll hide …” and Crowley’s “To dissolve our soul in trance / Heedless of the hideous / Heat & hate of Sirius.”

Also compare:
[Demon Dog] Diamond Dogs = Dog Star = Sirius = Serious Moonlight


There’s an anecdote about Bowie’s fear of other people magically using things he touched.

    1. In 1983 and 1984, the late Derek Jarman wanted to do a film called ‘Neutron’. Prospects looked really good financially as he had lined up an impressive cast–list and who else than Bowie wanted to play the lead. The two had a meeting in Derek’s apartment and everything seemed hunky–dory. But then Bowie suddenly started chain–smoking and Jarman noticed that his guest was getting more and more nervous and was shooting furtive glances at one of his bookshelves plus some drawings on the wall. Then suddenly in the middle of a conversation Bowie stood up, made a lame excuse and left. Twenty minutes later Bowie’s driver and bodyguard came back to the flat and said that the master had forgotten something and then proceeded to remove the cigarette–stubs from the trash… Needless to say Bowie backed out of the project which then collapsed. Jarman never did have the time to explain that his John Dee books and the Enochian squares on the wall were souvenirs from the time when he made ‘Jubilee’, a film in which Dr. John Dee, Elizabeth the First’s astrologer, had been one of the main characters.
    1. Dee’s ‘Enochian’ system of magic, with its complex magical diagrams, was an important part of Golden Dawn teachings.


Since the late 60s Bowie performed a little trademark gesture of reaching above him and then touching the ground while delivering the ‘magical movement from Kether to Malkuth’ line, a move that crops up in several videos.

Early use of that move by Bowie – at that time rather a Rock’n’Roll posture – appeared in ‘Let me sleep beside you’ for the 1969 promotional film “Love You Till Tuesday”:

‘Ashes to Ashes’ [move executed by Steve Strange] (1980), Mick Jagger and Bowie in the clip for ‘Dancing in the Streets’ (1985), ‘Fashion’ (1980): 


Angie Bowie witnessed her husband exorcising the swimming pool: “When he did the exorcism he cited from one of the books I got for him from the magick store in Hollywood [for example, the so–called ‘Rituale Romanum’] . Some exorcism spell, who knows? I offered to bring in the Greek Orthodox Bishop from Santa Sophia’s Cathedral in Los Angeles. I though I might humiliate him into behaving himself, stop doing so much cocaine and have to receive a house visitor; but that didn’t work. David performed the ‘Swimming Pool Exorcism’ himself… in fact, when I found a house in California in Los Angeles, an old Hollywood house with a second–floor solarium with a pentagram painted on the floor, he nearly had a heart attack and said we couldn’t live there! David loves to play weird. He just can’t stand not to be the head Ho Ho.” [My interview with Angie Bowie in 2003]

Bowie asked someone for a mezuzah, a talisman against demons used by Qabalists. In April 1974, while in London, Angie Bowie received a phone call from her husband in LA, who claimed that he was kidnapped by a magician and two witches who wanted to steal his sperm. Allegedly, they intended him to father a Baby for Rosemary.


Despite all this, in March 1987 he is going to utter: “I don’t think I ever was particularly in the Occult” 


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