following from Amy Hale’s excellent interview introducing Ithell Colquhoun I thought to share a recent article that she had written on Ithell which gives further insight into this incredible woman and her work. BWH
Hawks Nested in Her Hair
The Magic of Ithell Colquhoun
By Amy Hale
for SABAT MAGAZINE
Ithell Colquhoun (1906–1988) was a radical magician and Surrealist artist who gave no fucks. She wrote about parthenogenetic nuns and sacred sadomasochism, and she was rejected from more than one magical order for asking too many questions. In 1941 she had a male full-frontal nude pulled from exhibition, for which she was in no way apologetic. She painted beach caves as giant, gaping vaginas, and she claimed to have eaten human flesh. That last bit may have been for dramatic fictitious effect, but maybe not. It’s hard to tell.
Ideally, she would have wanted to cultivate the elements in balance, but everything about her simply blazed.
Colquhoun was perhaps the most committed and engaged female occultist of the twentieth century. She was the embodiment of elemental fire: doggedly driven, relentless and uncompromising. Ideally, she would have wanted to cultivate the elements in balance, but everything about her simply blazed. She pursued the mysteries with every breath and used that passion to fuel an incredible output of art and writing. Throughout her life, she created thousands of pieces of visual art, wrote, published and performed hundreds of poems, wrote several novels and three travel guides, wrote a history of the Golden Dawn magical order, drafted radio dramas, produced philosophical commentaries and quite a large number of articles on thick occult theory. But her art was always in service to her magic. Through Colquhoun’s work, we have the rare privilege to be witness to one woman’s intensive, lifelong magical practice……….
……..Yet Colquhoun became a Surrealist only because she was an occultist first, having developed an early interest in alchemy and the Hermetic magic of the Golden Dawn in her early 20s. She was involved with a staggering amount of occult and esoteric orders including the O.T.O., The Society for Inner Light, Co-Masonry, Martinism, the Ancient Druid Order and The Temple of the Pyramid and Sphinx (a Golden Dawn influenced order focused on Enochian magic) — this isn’t even the complete list! She also believed that she had Celtic blood in her veins, and that as a Celt she was more inclined to visionary states. In her mind this made her well suited for the dreamy world of Surrealism which focused on techniques for accessing the symbolic world of the collective unconscious. Yet even among the Surrealists’ who often fetishized the occult, particularly alchemy, tarot cards and folk magic, Colquhoun was unconventional in her commitment to occult, and specifically Hermetic, practice……..
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