Close

b

Dotwork Illustrations by Annita Maslov

Annita Maslov is an illustrator and a tattoo artist working at Heretic Studio in Melbourne, Australia. Her intricate artworks are delicate, enchanting, and macabre little vignettes. She takes inspiration from historical subjects and the occult, such as the Mercy Brown incident of 1892, in which a Rhode Island family was accused of vampirism and the bodies of its deceased members exhumed, with young Mercy showing little sign of decomposition and thus being deemed the undead culprit.

Her pieces remind me of old lithographs and combine cuteness with somberness in portraits of haunted, doll-eyed, flower-enshrouded girls haloed with the accoutrements of animals, feathers, and skulls; and modern Danse Macabres where the level of detail in the flowing drapery of a cadaver, or the waves of a restless sea, is amazingly precise and delicate.

{See more}

b

The Spiral Sacrifice

The Spiral Sacrifice is the thirteenth and probably the last album from Sopor Æternus & the Ensemble of Shadows, the musical brainchild of the ethereal and splendid Anna-Varney Cantodea. It is haunting, beautiful, and enthralling, full of both serenity and almost religious mystery. The distinctive darkwave/neo-medieval sound of Sopor Æternus is here subdued to a modulated theatricality, making it more effective and mature.

Its less blatantly melancholy tone mirrors the emotional development and dignity of the album’s lyrical themes. The richness, playfulness, and delightful atmosphere of its music opens up a vista, conjures an ethereal world – with its quality of medieval cloisters, crypts, cadaverous despairing souls, funereal draperies, obscure chambers, massive ruins, tenebrous fastnesses – with startling immediacy, a world of dark stone, veils, tears and lutes, drawing you into this realm so remote from modernity and present reality, so spectrally dramatic, delicately anguished – you can almost smell the odors of incense and dust, the dried roses…

The cooler and more abstract sound of the instrumentation provides background and juxtaposition for Anna-Varney’s vocals and lyrics, which as usual are highly personal, emotional, and deeply sad, yet also peaceful and not without a certain loving gladness. These songs speak of the agonies and beauties of failed, unfulfilled, or forfeited love and are achingly moving, with the full-hearted generous emotionality that is typical of Anna-Varney, who has said that “a good album should be…like a tombstone…a sepulcher, where a part of the artist lies buried.” They are filled with profound resignation, the final laying to rest of torment. Her lyrics are a pure incarnation of the roiling vicissitudes, the ecstasy and agony, joy and loss of love.

As always, Sopor Æternus is a breath of refreshing iconoclasm and unearthly atmosphere in a sea of musical sameness. It is one of the few projects that truly remind me of no other artist or band. It is the only one able to evoke the spirit and feeling of the Middle Ages in such an intimate way, a unique hybrid dream realm embodying this peculiar penumbral vision. Jubilant, mischievous, ominous, and sorrowful, this album brings together the best qualities of the chimerical Sopor Æternus & the Ensemble of Shadows and is animated throughout by Anna-Varney Cantodea’s lifeblood.

b

Tarot by Uusi

Linnea Gits and Peter Dunham are artists/designers who head the creative studio Uusi. The following tarot and oracle decks are transcendently lovely.

The Pagan Otherworlds tarot deck features 84 cards with images hand-painted by Gits and Dunham using traditional oils, and is inspired by nature, Celtic mysticism, and the “luminous beauty of Renaissance paintings.”

The 56-card Supra oracle deck, illustrated by Peter Dunham, is based on the mingling of Jungian psychology and Gnosticism. The images are at once mystical and personal, partaking of the austere surreality of a Huysmans novel, evoking the communion of the self with the self.

b

Catacomb Divinities: Wearable Works of Art by Hysteria Machine

Cara Trinder of London-based Hysteria Machine creates elaborate, lavish antiqued metalwork headdresses, diadems for royalty of dust and dissolution, bespeaking an aura of tombs, saints, and ancient deities. Reminding one of Hellboy’s Angel of Death, her blind masks are breathtakingly exquisite and exude a sense of eldritch menace and holiness, as of dead yet incorrupt gods. Ominous and beautiful, her creations wed charnel house aesthetics to a delicate fey airiness. Their inspiration is drawn from halos, religious iconography, horns, and skulls, and evokes the bejeweled, brocaded, and fantastically dressed catacomb saints in all their sepulchral splendor.

{See more}

b

Dark Relics: The Jewelry of Mary Gallagher

Mary Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based jewelry designer who draws inspiration from ancient weaponry, weathered surfaces, and religious and occult symbolism. She grew up deeply influenced by the dark history of New England, its abandoned graveyards and asylums as well as the Salem witch trials. Her designs have a sculptural, textured, rugged quality, the feel of twisted wood, rock, of the veins of the earth.

Witchy, tortuous, and intensely beautiful, her metalcraft is instantly recognizable and powerful. It combines the delicacy of gems and precious stones with sharp lines and textures with a deft alchemy, creating a simultaneously fragile and bold style. She has used teeth, horsehair, fossils, leather, likewise garnet and moonstone, opal and pearl, to give her jewels their distinct molding and touches. Her pieces are instruments of protection, both armor and sorcery, investing the wearer with a talismanic power. They are a blend of the natural and the supernatural, and explore the borders or shared realm between good and evil, beauty and nightmare.

{See more}

b

T H R J Á R

Thrjár, from the Icelandic for the feminine plural nominative of “three,” is the jewelry line of Daria Andreson, inspired by her love of nature and her lifelong fascination by Norse culture. Mythical, organic, runic, and rough, these raw and lovely pieces are like sigils or talismans of a primeval heathen world, bedecked with mists, hidden by dark forests, and alive with mystery.

{See more}

b

Häxan

And then they will burn you too,
maiden,
as edification for man,
as sweet scent for God.

Häxan is a fascinating and visually gorgeous Swedish-Danish film from 1922, directed by Benjamin Christensen. It is part history lesson, part dramatization and horror story lush with imaginative imagery and elaborate production. Presented in a documentary style which alternates slideshow images of medieval woodcut illustrations with historical reenactments, this piquant silent film explores views of witchcraft and Satanism during the Middle Ages, comparing them with contemporary perceptions of hysteria and mental illness among women. Häxan draws from Christensen’s study of the 15th-century German manual for inquisitors, the Malleus Maleficarum, and from other treatises on witches and witch-hunting from the era. Christensen amusingly plays the role of the tongue-waggling Devil himself.