Spells in the Present Tense – 现在时态的符咒

On Halloween, the cavernous tunnels of the Deadhouse, a winding crypt-like space in the underground depths of Somerset House thronged with those gathered to celebrate the launch of Ignota Press. The rough brick walls illuminated purple, atmospheric music from DJs Lia Mouse and TTB, and an intoxicating heady aroma of incense filled the corridors. Founded by Sarah Shin and Ben Vickers, Ignota derives its name from the mystic Hildegard of Bingen’s lingua ignota (unknown language), with the aim of defining it as one ‘that makes possible the reimagining and re-enchantment of the world around us’ through books and events that traverse poetry, technology, and speculative mysticism. Their inaugural publication is the anthology: Spells: 21st-Century Occult Poetry, edited by Shin with Rebecca Tamás, which brings together 36 rising and established voices across 160 pages to explore themes of ‘justice, selfhood, and the transformative power of the occult.’


Spells in the Present Tense - 现在时态的符咒

Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry, 2018, book cover. Courtesy: Ignota Press

The launch event included readings from Spells by poets Amy Key, Daisy Lafarge (who also noted that Hildegard – a medieval nun, mystic, and philosopher – was the first woman to pen a description of female pleasure and orgasm), Rebecca Perry, and ‘Bhanu Kapil’s spectre’. Kapil is a poet and practitioner who works with transcendent practices and healing magic, often translating historic rituals to contemporary spaces. ‘I think of Joanna Macy's “work that reconnects” and the way that ritual allows participants – readers? writers? – to locate themselves “at a point outside of time.” Beyond time,” she wrote to me, ‘And from that place, to remember – in communal ways, non-verbal ways – what it was like to live on the earth.’

The evening programme also centred around ‘NIGREDO’: a trance-like ceremony that involved moments of speech, singing, and the sound of the gong, devised and led by musician Nicole Bettencourt Coelho. In our exchange, she cited Greco-Egyptian traditions, ceremonial ritual, and astronomical movement as influences, expressing how magical thinking is the ‘point at which all things intersect’. Rituals operate as a celebration of liminal space – often a communion between the past and the future – and a blurring of spiritual and psychic boundaries, by deconstructing consciousness and an individual sense of self. ‘Ritual is not only about attaining something,’ she continued, ‘it is also a means of escaping existing narratives. Finding the pulse that exists in all living things. The raw vitality that every human being shares as a uniting principle.’ Or, as Francesca Lisette writes in ‘Ecstasy (Dispersal),’ ‘Each reading is a ritual. It is also a performance … the body is more than a frame. It is a vibration.’


Spells in the Present Tense - 现在时态的符咒

Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry launch party, 2018. Courtesy: Ralph Pritchard

This vibrating energy and raw vitality is a guiding force throughout the pages of Spells. The anthology seeks to encourage societal and spiritual transformation, focusing on how the occult (hidden or occluded knowledge) has offered survival within the oppressions of racist capitalist patriarchy over centuries: ‘your intention must always be to save your own life’, from Jen Calleja’s ‘The Gift’. Survival is a radical act, with magical potential. Talking about her editorial vision, Shin notes, ‘we consider occult poetics as providing a pluralistic magical language; one capable of producing metaphors and symbols that can hold the contradictions of trauma, identity, gender, sexuality and kinship.’ Poetry in the anthology is conceived as a magical discourse with talismanic properties, something to hold close in difficult times, and offering both healing and liberation. ‘Following #MeToo’s revelations of the enormity of rape culture,’ Shin continued, ‘the esoteric is becoming visible in the popular imagination as a sacred space away from everyday experience of sexualised violence and harassment.’

Lafarge agreed, ‘if there is a current ‘generational’ interest in the mystical, its motivations are ethical, existential, and tactical, during carnivalesque world politics, environmental collapse, and the rise of the Right. The identification with occult ways of being isn’t so much escapism or self-indulgence as an alternative to total despond, depression, and anomie.’

In their introduction to the anthology, ‘The Broken Open’, the writer and activist So Mayer expands further on Shin and Tamás’ notion of poetics as an enchanted discourse: ‘This isn’t about God making the world with the Word. It’s about the witches who’ve been remaking the world, unmaking the mess he made … To be a witch, then, is to know words … Make no mistake: when we encounter such voices – feminist, queer, decolonial, dis/abled – there is magic at play beyond the ordinary.’


Spells in the Present Tense - 现在时态的符咒

Moongate. Courtesy: Lando and Optigram

These spell-poems work together to forge a space of collective care, vulnerability, and generous sense of feeling. In ‘Camisado’, CAConrad writes, ‘poetry is the opposite of escape / but makes this world endurable / how the smallest puddle / reflects the entire sky’. These words iterate Mayer’s invocation of poems that ‘reorder [history], reorganise it into new lines that reveal the obscured … slow us down, dance us to their rhythm, turn time from a line to a circle’. The domestic and the quotidian are often cast in new light: shrines are built in bathrooms, or attention is paid to quieter moments of self-care and preservation, through cooking, on buses, making lists, watching YouTube.

Spells opens with Kaveh Akbar’s prayer for self-love – ‘my gurgling internal devotion / to myself’ – and throughout the publication, this desire for selfhood runs throughout. As Kayo Chingonyi’s incantation later puts it: ‘Did no one tell you / naming is a magical act / words giving shape / to life, life revivified / by utterance, / so long as proper care / is taken to pronounce / the words correctly / thereby completing the spell?’ To read this collection, and to conjure these poetic spirits and listen to what they have to say, is another kind of ritual. The polyphony of these voices, images, and incantations offers an opportunity for the reader to leave the confines of their own narrative for a moment, and to see the world anew.

Main image: Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry launch party, 2018. Courtesy: Ralph Pritchard

Philomena Epps

Philomena Epps is an editor and writer based in London.

Opinion /

Ignota Press
Hildegard of Bingen
New Age
Somerset House

在万圣节前夕,这座死房子的洞穴隧道,是塞默塞特住宅地下深处的一个蜿蜒的地下室,与聚集在一起庆祝伊格诺塔出版社的人们聚集在一起。粗糙的砖墙照亮了来自DJS LIa鼠标和TTB的紫色、大气音乐,充满了令人陶醉的香气。IGNOTA由Sarah Shin和Ben Vickers创立,源于宾根语言IGNOTA(神秘语言)的神秘希尔德加德,其目的是通过遍历诗人的书籍和事件来定义一个“使我们周围世界重新想象和重新魅惑”的“语言”。RY、技术和推测神秘主义。他们的就职出版物是《文选》:二十一世纪神秘的诗歌,由Shin和Rebecca Tam共同编辑,它汇集了160页的36个不断上升的声音,探讨了“正义、自我和神秘的变革力量”的主题。VPYJPG.JPG Spells in the Present Tense - 现在时态的符咒拼写:二十一世纪隐匿诗,2018,书封面。礼仪:伊格诺塔出版社。启动活动包括诗人艾米·凯、黛西·拉法吉(她还指出希尔德加德——一位中世纪的修女、神秘主义者和哲学家——是第一个描写女性快乐和高潮的女人)、丽贝卡·佩里和“Bhanu”的朗诵。Kapil的幽灵。卡皮尔是一位诗人和实践者,他以超凡的做法和治疗魔法工作,经常将历史仪式翻译到当代空间。我认为Joanna Macy的“重新连接的工作”和仪式允许参与者——读者?作家?——在“时间之外的某个时刻”定位自己。超越时间,她写信给我,“在那个地方,以集体的方式,非语言的方式,记住生活在地球上的感觉。”晚上的节目也围绕“NIGREDO”展开:一种恍惚的仪式。演讲的时间,歌唱,以及锣鼓的声音,由音乐家Nicole Bettencourt Coelho设计和领导。在我们的交流中,她引用了希腊-埃及的传统、礼仪仪式和天文运动作为影响,表达了神奇的思维是“万物相交点”的方式。仪式通过解构意识和个体自我意识,作为对极限空间的庆祝——通常是过去和未来的交流——以及精神和精神边界的模糊。“仪式不仅仅是为了获得某种东西,”她接着说,“这也是逃避现有叙述的一种手段。”找到生命中存在的脉搏。“每个人作为团结的原则而共有的原始生命力。”或者,正如弗朗西斯卡·丽赛特在《迷魂(散布)》中所写的,“每次阅读都是一种仪式。”它也是一种表演……身体不仅仅是一个框架。这是一个振动。礼貌:拉尔夫·普里查德(Ralph Pritchard)这种振动的能量和原始的生命力是贯穿法术篇章的指导力量。这本选集旨在鼓励社会和精神上的转变,着重于神秘(隐藏的或封闭的知识)如何在几个世纪以来的种族主义资本主义父权制的压迫下提供生存:‘你的意图必须永远是拯救你自己的生命’,Jen Calleja“礼物”。生存是一种激进的行为,具有神奇的潜力。在谈到她的社论愿景时,Shin指出,“我们认为神秘诗学是一种多元的魔法语言;一种能够产生隐喻和符号,能够容纳创伤、身份、性别、性和亲属关系的矛盾的语言。”具有护身符性质的神奇话语,在困难时期可以紧紧抓住,提供治疗和解放。“在‘MeToo’揭露了强奸文化的巨大性之后,”Shin继续说,“神秘主义在流行的想象中正变得显而易见,成为一个远离日常性暴力和性骚扰经历的神圣空间。”在狂欢式的世界政治、环境崩溃和右翼的兴起过程中,人们对神秘主义的兴趣,其动机是伦理的、存在的、战术的。对神秘存在方式的认同,与其说是逃避现实或自我放纵,还不如说是对彻底的沮丧、沮丧和失范的替代。“在他们对选集《破碎的开放》的介绍中,作家和活动家苏·梅尔进一步扩展了信和谭的观念。”诗学是一个迷人的话语:“这不是上帝用词创造世界。它讲的是女巫们改造世界,化解他所制造的混乱……那么,成为一个女巫,就是知道话语……千万别搞错了:当我们遇到这样的声音——女权主义、古怪、非殖民、无能——有超乎寻常的魔力。WAPP6024602IMG MOUNATE。礼貌:兰多和Optigram这些拼写诗共同营造了一个集体关怀、脆弱和慷慨情感的空间。在《卡米萨多》中,卡康拉德写道,“诗歌是逃避的对立面/但是让这个世界变得可忍受/最小的水坑/如何反射整个天空”。这些词重复了梅耶尔对诗歌的援引,这些诗歌“重新排序[历史],把它重新组织成新的线条,揭示出模糊的……放慢我们的脚步,按照他们的节奏跳舞,把时间从一条线条变成一个圈”。家庭成员和普通人经常被赋予新的光芒:神龛建在浴室里,或者通过烹饪,在公共汽车上,列清单,观看YouTube,关注自我照顾和保存的更安静的时刻。法术开始于卡维·阿克巴对自爱的祈祷——“我潺潺的内部奉献/对自己”——在整个出版物中,这种对自我的渴望贯穿始终。正如Kayo Chingonyi后来的咒语所说:“没人告诉过你/命名是一种神奇的行为/词语,它塑造/赋予生命,使生命复活/通过发音,/只要适当注意/发音/词语正确/从而完成咒语?”“阅读这些藏品,召唤这些诗意的精神,倾听他们所说的话,是另一种仪式。”这些声音、图像和咒语的复调为读者提供了一个机会,让他们暂时摆脱自己叙述的局限,重新认识世界。主要形象:二十一世纪:神秘隐匿的诗歌:发射党,2018。礼貌:Ralph Pritchard.Philomena Epps.Philomena Epps.Philomena Epps是总部设在伦敦的编辑和作家。《意见》/《伊格诺塔出版社》关于宾根新世纪萨默塞特之家的神秘诗歌小说《希尔德嘉德》


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