Lecture8 BS.

Many magicians today think of bizarre magick as something new, or perhaps just a fad that will pass. In truth, it is one of the oldest forms of magic and will continue to be with us for a very long time. In days of yore it was used to keep people in line, today it is used to bring back the sense of wonder to the performance of magic. Some call it bizarre, others, storytelling. It is really one in the same. You can't do bizarre magick without a story, and it is the story that holds your audience on the edge of their seat and makes them leave the performance with that sense of wonder.

I can speak of the current trend in bizarre magick only from my point of view. I count myself fortunate indeed. The people I will talk about are all close friends. Sadly, some are no longer with us, except in cherished memories.

Perhaps because I am a Witch, or if you wish, a Pagan,  it was easier for me. In the beginning,  there were practitioners of bizarre magick who thought they were alone, they had no idea that others were doing it, they thought they were, for some strange reason, unique.

Then in different places in the world they became aware of others. In Germany, Punx was doing stage shows like no others. He like to call himself a Storyteller and his stories would move people while his magic proved his stories were true.

In Scotland, Charles Cameron put out a magazine called "The Cauldron" which contained not only effects and routines of bizarre magick, but also the names of those who created them. He also produced a very spooky show that ran for a long time in an old castle. A dwarf named Igor was the guide. In the course of the tour the guest were led into an open court yard where life size statues of monsters, were standing on pedestals. There was the Wolfman, Dracula, The Frankenstein Monster, and others. Later in the tour, after a number of spooky things to get the nerves on edge, they were led back to the courtyard. Everything was the same, except now the statues came to life. You never saw people run so fast.

Charles also had a long running radio show in Scotland where he told strange stories.

Tony "Doc" Shiels was using ritualistic magic trying to raise the Loch Ness Monster, and getting world wide publicity. Some may call him the ultimate con man but he too keeps the world of wonder alive.

Here in America, Tony Raven brought us together with his publication called "Invocation" filled with things that  would create a feeling of awe in an audience, and again the names of the people who created these things. He was also one of the founders of The Psychic Entertainers Association and the first few annual conventions were laced with many bizarre performances. At the first one I got to put a face on Masklyn ye Mage. We had communicated by letters and tapes for a long time and now we finally met. We were kindred spirits. Unknown to each of us, we both set up our rooms with an altar, candles, skulls and very strange looking things. The downside was, housekeeping, after one look at our rooms, they refused to enter them again.

I feel very fortunate that I can claim all of these people as friends.

Tony Andruzzi, or as we all called him, Masklyn ye Mage brought us all together with his wonderful "Invocationals"  I was very pleased and honored to introduce Charles Cameron to his American audience at the first Invocational. Before Tony became a bizarrist he designed many top illusions that are still in use today. In Texas, under the name of Tom Palmer he had an award winning
comedy act. When he moved to Chicago Masklyn ye Mage was born. The books and scrolls he produced are now all collector items and sought by many.

Those who knew him well could spend hours telling Andruzzi stories. If I started on them now it would fill the magazine.

And when Tony passed on to The Big Rock Candy Mountain in the sky, Docc Hilford picked up the torch with his Weerd Weekends, another haven for bizarrist and a big party. Docc introduced the younger ones of the group to the old Spook Shows.  With Docc's  storytelling, he got a standing ovation from old work horse, "Fatima Was A Dancer Gay..." at a performance for the public in a 650 seat theater. Hard to imagine with that old effect, but I was there, standing with the rest of the audience. Once you see Docc perform any one of his signature pieces you will never forget it.

Through Tony Raven I met Punx who became a life long friend.

There were others, and I am going to get into trouble because I failed to mention them all, but the beat goes on. Mary Tomich who puts out a wonderful magazine called "Altar Flame" and is now also publishing books on all phases of Bizarre and Storytelling Magick, one of her most recent is "Restless Plots by Mark Edward" and soon volumes by that great storyteller, Gene Poinc.

Todd Robbins, The Purveyor of Amazement, who keeps alive the magic of the old Ten-in-One shows, a marvelous performer and one of the truly strange.

Jack Camp master of the Pagan Arts....and on and on.

Jim Magus has carried the torch with his writings, as has Christian Chelman, and of course, Tony "Doc" Shiels' "The Cantrip Codex".

When we all got together it is like no convention you have ever seen. Spells are cast to break a heat wave, Sky Clad Rituals to call down the blessings of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades, strange creatures hovering in dark corners, and all sorts of fun things. But make no mistake, we all take our art very seriously.

Because of the work of these people, we bizarrists got to know each other. When Andruzzi ended the Invocationals, I started the Shadow Network so the friendships we made could be kept alive. It is still going strong with over 200 members from all over the world, and it is a very sharing network.

The Inner Circle of Bizarre Magick (or "I.C.B.M.") was formed in 1991 c.e. by four magicians: Joe Cabral (Grand Magus). A group dedicated  to their art. They too have an annual meeting and I have never seen a group so deeply involved in what they do. I've watched young menbers, who they have taken under their wings, develop into fine performers.

In England, under the guiding hand of the late man they called "The Godfather of Bizarre Magick, Charles Cameron, a group called "The Magik Club" was set up to keep the art alive with their Annual Gatherings in the wonderful old town of Edinburgh.

Keith Black Hart with his shows.

Hugo Vesper from Sweden and Robert Gillard from England, names you may not be familiar with but two of the most creative thinkers in the field of Bizarre Magick and both happy to share their thoughts with you.

Karl Bartoni from Blackpool and one of the past top escape artists in the world now devotes his passion to Bizarre Magick and is a work horse for promoting bizarre magic especially for newcomers to the craft in Britain.

To those other most deserving of mention but have been left out, I ask your forgiveness and blame my aging memory. Please place no curses on my head.

In America, north, east, south, and west groups are popping up like the flowers in spring.

Just recently Alain Nu with the help of his many friends, put together The Pheonix Gathering 2000, a convention for storytellers who want to bring the sense of Wonder to magic. I feel this will be an annual event for years to come.

One thing I can say about all of them is,  I never met a group of people who were so dedicated to spreading the word about the art  form they so dearly love, be it in their performance or their writings, or their get togethers.

There are many misconceptions about Bizarre Magick. Many people feel that it is always performed by candle light, by people in robes chanting strange sounding rituals. Others feel it must be frightening, peopled with ghost and spirits.

These are valid presentations of our form of magic, but there are others. I would like to quote these wise words of Punx.

"Do not call me just a magician or conjuror;
 storyteller would be just right....
Come, sit at my feet and smile.
Forget there was a yesterday
and that tomorrow will come.
Forget there are laws,
of gravity and impenetrability,
laws that compel.
I will repeal them for you.
Open your heart to wonder,
so you can be more human than you always are.
Believe and smile, for you are godlike for awhile.
Don't ask, let the merciful veil
of secrecy cover the mystery
you have attained, that I would like to give you:
weightlessness and a bit of childhood in our hard lives."

Ponder those words for awhile, for they are the stuff of magic.

Brother Shadow.


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All the material in this lecture is copyrighted with all rights reserved to Carl Herron, 2000.