The members of the Athenaeum Azostos have carefully collaborated on a series of 13 interview questions in which to ask the “EsotErotic” artist of the pen, the brush, the screen, the chisel, the score, and more. Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule is a magickal and mysterious occult devotional artist of Other; moreover, Orryelle is a pillar in the occultic and artistic communities, traversing areas in which only the connected an extraordinary would dare.
Luckily for us, when the Athenæum asked Orryelle for an interview, we received an enthusiastic “yes.” The below answers are a generous and thoughtful glimpse into the art, the mind, and the magick of a modern-day esoteric muse and bard: Orryelle. May the answers entice, inspire, and entrance every aspect of your wyrd little heart; may the words weave and wander, bewitching wonder and awe in us all.
The Athenæum has chosen to present this and future Interviews in written form so that we may honor, if not return, the power of and to the written word. Moreover, the questions and answers in written form allow translatability in all its forms for our readers – and for you.
As we are the Library of the Ungirt we have to ask: which books, either historical or occult, have inspired your art? Which have inspired your practice?
I will mention early inspirations first as they set me upon my path somewhat, and some may be unexpected: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins – this is a fun romp of a ‘fictional’ novel, yet with profound magical insights (at least as I remember, though I haven’t read it for decades now). As at the time I read it, all ‘magic’ and myth were considered fiction or fantasy anyway (not by myself, but by the conservative people around me); it served as a good launchpad of sorts, inspiring the onset of a possession by Pan which continued throughout my late teens and twenties, and led soon to more ‘serious’ magical texts.
One of these was Peter J. Carroll’s Liber Null & Psychonaut. There are aspects of this work I don’t gel with so much now, as it seems perhaps too much of a dry ‘scientific’ apprehension of magic in some ways, but at the time (for many I think!) it was revolutionary. In a kind of reversal I later went back to some of the source material Carroll was inspired by and/or revolting against – notably of course AOS [Austin Osman Spare] who returned the mysticism and artistry I craved in chaos magic, that which the IOT [Illuminates of Thanateros] had pragmatically shaved off – yet in so doing had made drier and less poetic.
I guess I also did Thelema in reverse, as I wasn’t really turned on to Crowley’s works until after reading Nema’s wonderful Maat Magick book.
Later I enjoyed the works of Andrew Chumbley – but I would like to mention a lesser known (at least in occult circles) work I have found magically and artistically profound: Hans Bellmer’s Little Anatomy of the Physical Unconscious, or the Anatomy of the Image.
Robert Svoboda’s three Aghori books deepened my journeys into Tantra, and it was especially pertinent reading the second one during my initiation (and associated ordeals) to Aghor in India, as my Guru and most of his Kaula have little English – so it was almost like ‘theory and practice’ interweaving reading between rituals. I find your name interesting in relation to this too, as an Ungirt library would surely not be ‘hidebound’; i.e. the Word leaps off the page and into Action, Spell-ings manifest…
You clearly are a magickal practitioner as well as an artist, so, do you have a Patron of Art? If so, how does this Patron factor into your art? How do you divine the pieces that you create?
I have several major patrons, matrons and muses for my art. Who aids or inspires me at different times is often according to either the subject or the medium of my work/play.
There are many deities and spirits who inform my art in relation to what I am evoking or invoking in any particular piece, but my main over-arching patrons/matrons would be Hekate, Kali, MahaKala, Aphrodite/Babalon/Innana, Pan, Baphomet and Hermes.
I write Aphrodite/Babalon/Innana not because I consider them to be the same, but different cultural lenses for similar essential energies are relevant for different artistic contexts.
Hermes has been particularly pertinent lately for me, guiding both my work as a multi-media artist (particularly in film), a poet (his aspects of communication and eloquence), and even as a traveller – this being sometimes intrinsic to my work as a performance artist and one who is often inspired by relations with the Genus Loci or spirits of place.
In the Ancient Greek tradition I will sometimes also call the Muse most relevant to an epic I am (re/)creating; the most extant (and recent) example of this being the evocation of Erato (Muse of Lyric and Erotic poetry) as Prelude to my feature film Solve et Coagula.
How deities factor into my work is also diverse – sometimes conscious, as in evoking a certain being or energy into form through mantra, movement, and creative enactment. Other times I drop into trance or instill gnosis in a less directed sense, and just see what comes through onto the page, out of the clay/wood, or through the voice and/or body. So my artistic processes alternate between – and sometimes converge – both divination and conjuration.
You are an impressive visual artist that expresses themselves in a vast array of art forms. We would love to know what medium(s) you prefer to work in and why?
Thank you. I am not sure I have ‘a’ favourite medium per se; rather I favour different modes and forms of expression at different times. I tend to often go through phases of focusing primarily on a particular medium, as then I can go deeper into the trance of its peculiarities, and develop a continuum of skills with it. However I do not believe in the adage ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ when it comes to Art/s! For I also find changing media can keep things fresh and interesting. They can also cross-pollinate each other wonderfully; for instance, a poem becoming a song, or being woven into a play. Or a drawing becoming a sculpture, a sculpture gaining movement to be incorporated into stop-animation film. But even more diverse crossings can also be effective: a painting inspiring some writing, a dance stabilising into a statue. It verges on deliberate synesthesia at times. It is difficult to become creatively stagnant if one works in a variety of modes, for if stuck somewhere a shift to another medium can unblock new avenues of expression.
Have you always been drawn to creating esoteric art? How symbiotic is the relationship between your magickal practice and the act of creating art? Is it one in the same?
It has become progressively more symbiotic for me over the decades, and is indeed almost the same thing now – only the emphasis may shift slightly sometimes, i.e. the fine line between some ritualistic art-making and an artistic ritual. I used to do a bit more specific spell-casting work, but as the patterns and profundities set in motion by these affect my life and creativity, there is more now an almost subconscious sense of purpose which expresses itself artistically with varying degrees of directed intent at different times.
As Alan Moore emphasises: the Artist is the Maker, the Creative Force is the manifestation of Magic.
What did the evolution of your art style look like? When did you realize that esoteric art is a calling? Or, was/is this a stepping stone to something greater and more artistically impactful? And if so, where is that headed, artistically and magickally, now?
Well I’ve done art all my life, and I think it was always intrinsically magical. This just gradually became more conscious, particularly in my late teens/early twenties as I became aware that there were others out there who also knew the reality of magic – for growing up in a conservative environment in Western Australia I was only informed of it as something of the realms of ‘fantasy’ earlier. But even as a child I had a strong attraction to Greek and Norse myths, sensing something more than just stories within them.
I could not pinpoint a time I became an ‘esoteric artist’ however. Art should be essentially magical as the process of creation. I began channeling forces from beyond into manifest forms as soon as I could hold a pencil.
As to further evolution from being an ‘esoteric artist’ to something grander, at first I wondered what this could really portend. And yet I do have a sense of the blurring of this once-perceived between art and magic leading to an even greater transcendance of separations – where this sets the course of life itself ever more integrally. Life, art, magic, merging ever more into a glorious miasma of fantasies enfleshed – creating a sculpture garden which lives and breathes and even *grows* magically, and a veritable empire of mutant wyrd-ness.
But damn, I will still probably have to wash the dishes sometimes.
The Athenæum recently rewatched your full length film Solve et Coagula. Please tell us about the beautiful journey you underwent from Orpheus to Baphomet and how they both relate to your personal and magickal lives, if you will. What made you decide on the journey of, and transformation to, Orpheus and Baphomet?
I have had an attraction to Baphomet for decades, not so much as a demonic entity, but more an HermAphroditic expression of the life-force – of nature, sexuality, and creativity. Since I first discovered in my teens how His form had been corrupted and perverted into the Christian “Devil,” Pan has always been very important to me, yet only seemed half of the picture as a masculine expression of those aspects.
In the years 1999 and 2000 I took oestrogen for nine months as part of a hermaphroditic reification (rather than just to change genders as it is usually used for) journey, and married myself on the EquinoXuluiqE, so Baphomet became even more relevant to me personally then…
My journey with Orpheus is relatively more recent, although as a bard (both poet and musician) he was always a vital archetype for me.
The main premise of the film stemmed simply from considering that Baphomet was historically purportedly an oracular disembodied head – at least in His first known appearance under that particular name – in relation to the Knights Templar.
When first hearing the tale of Orpheus being torn apart by the Maenads, and yet being unable to die due to having already returned from the Underworld, the image of His head floating downstream still singing haunted me. I wondered what had become of that immortal singing head over the millennia – where did it go, what did it do? Such a strange state to be in forever, removed from one’s body yet still bound to the realms of the flesh. So eventually I put two (Baphomet) and one together and explored the idea of the Templar head being the ancient vessel of Orpheus, some two thousand years later…
In Solve et Coagula this head has learnt a few things over that period, and is now (too late?) aware of the importance of presence and embodiment – my theory being his failure to realise this earlier as the reason for the Maenads tearing him apart – he was lost in the past and his own loss of Eurydice and these creatures of instinct, impulse and immediacy could not comprehend this.
So encouraging others to make the most of their bodies while they have them, the later medieval Orpheus-Baphomet creates a new body via vicarious experience (through the remaining senses in his head, touch being removed) of others enjoying theirs. Thus it is a composite torso formed from the forms of many others conjugating. Being both male and female and born from the union of complementaries, the hermaphroditic aspect comes into play. This drawing I had done years earlier, ‘Baphomet as Sabbat Egregore,’ was an inspiration for this, morphing media from pencils to wax (a composite statue stop-animated in the film) to flesh…
Erotica is a major aspect in Solve et Coagula. How did you land on the type of erotic expression featured in the film? Also, how does this expression compare to your devotional practices outside of a creative space?
Eroticism has always been a major part of my art and/as magic. It is the creative life-force, the kundalini, which inspires both. So for me they have always been entwined.
Sexual-creative energy is the most potent force to harness and channel magically, so it seems natural to me to express the erotic aspect of it through Art.
I have always been confused by some of the taboos around sexuality in society, although these seem to be at least slowly lessening. Yet censorship (or at least ratings) remains more extreme around even just full nudity than extreme violence, surely an indication of a sick civilisation?
Part of my intent in not holding back with the eroticism in Solve et Coagula is to reverse the usual endemic formula of redemptive violence so prevalent in most modern media (especially films). This formula is ‘bad’ person/people do bad (and usually violent) things to others, so that later in the production when some awful violence happens to them (but by ‘good,’ or at least just, people so that’s okay!), a feeling of delight that they got what they deserve is evoked, thus continuing the negative cycle. In Solve et Coagula there is some violence early on as its necessary to the back story of Orpheus, but from there my speculative ‘new myth’ goes in a different direction. The primal impulses of the Maenads are transformed into eroticism, ecstasy, and dance. The chain is broken.
My devotional and magical practises are also often erotic, as this does not always diverge from my creative expression. Sexual energy raised can be sublimated into art, but for me this is through it being circulated (i.e. employed) rather than abstained from; only release is diverted or postponed to prolong the creative-magical trance, and even then the energetic release is usually turned inwards and upwards to increase the gnosis.
These kinds of Tantric and Taoist practises can create a creative continuum of erotic lucidity. They do also further entwine sexuality and creativity, as is often reflected in my esoterotic imagery.
Which artists (either traditional or not) have influenced your artistic work and world, your creativity, and your praxis? Similarly, which of your pieces is your personal favorite and why?
I guess [Austin Osman] Spare is one of the most obvious candidates here, although it is interesting that I actually first found his work because people kept comparing mine to his (in my teens before I had discovered ‘occult art’ proper), until I looked him up! Same with Rosaleen Norton. So I guess we have tapped into similar magical-artistic currents… Wound into the same lineage of artist-magicians somehow, one I have seen in altered states as a literal line, a long and rather winding one upon the fun-ambulatory way, what AOS called a ‘continuous, masturbatory line’ perhaps?
Other artistic influences and inspirations are Zdzisław Beksiński (surely one of the greatest painters ever), the later work of James Gleeson, Ernst Fuchs, Leonora Carrington, and Jean Delville.
Some of my favourite living esoteric artists are Denis Forkas Kostromitin and Agostino Arrivabene, who inspired me to explore texture and colour more after many years of flatter works aimed at print and publication.
My favourite pieces of my own are:
Melek Taus and the Path of Venus (in Distillatio, Fulgur Press 2014) for its luminosity – it was a breakthrough for me to use such vibrant colours, but how could I not when depicting the Peacock Angel!
Time and Fate – this large painting has the right blend of sur/realist elements and semi-abstract expression, following a period of exploring each mode more separately.
Carouselle au Naturelle – pleased with how I used oil paints to blend from winding wooden roots into clay continuations of their forms in this intricate circular sculpture. This merging is something I continue to explore in more recent and as yet unfinished works to be revealed soon…
Recently some major pieces of your art were horrendously vandalized. This goes without saying how this must have affected you; moreover, it affected and shook the occult community and your fans. What do you think the collective implications of this sort of religious hate are, and how do they concern the occult community at large?
Thank you for understanding the effect of that! It was certainly a horrific shock for me, but even more perhaps because I don’t think it actually was even religious hate as such – there seemed no obvious motivation, most likely just bored drunk youths in a rural area showing off to each other. The same kind of utterly mindless destruction occurred to a friend’s caravan nearby, probably by the same idiots.
While the deity statues they smashed may have been an affront to conservative Christian upbringings, I don’t feel there was an actual ‘religious’ motive.
They were two of the most epic and time-consuming works I’ve done: larger-than-human size statues (one 7.5 feet, the other about 8 feet tall) of Hekate and Cernunnos, having taken about six months each to make due to practical considerations of structural integrity (not my forte!) allowing them to stand at that scale.
Hekate’s three faces were smashed in with my own axe which they found in my yard, and they actually managed to completely topple Cernunnos so He was unrepairable as a whole form. Ironically this happened while I was away chanting His name at a concert for my exhibition Finissage in Antwerp.
Nevertheless, I managed to make the most of a terrible situation, and turn it to new creative ends. It was the only thing I could do, of course, to avoid sinking into a pit of despair, was to find some strange ‘reason’ for the occurrence by adding new elements in the restoration of the pieces.
I temporarily replaced the broken faces of Hekate with animal skulls I happened to have which were aptly representative of some of Her most known zoomorphic aspects: horse, dog, and serpent (the latter being a clay beast from Her skirts rather than real skull), emerging from the remaining fragments of Her human faces.
This looked good, oddly reminiscent of David Herrerías’ wonderful cover illustration for Jack Grayle’s Hekataeon. But there were enough larger pieces of Her original faces intact that I wanted to restore them.
But there were enough larger pieces of Her original faces intact that I wanted to restore them. In the process I stop-animated the transition, later reversing the sequence to create the filmic effect of Her human faces cracking then splintering as the animal forms burst forth from them. I’m very happy with the result, and it will be released upon refinement of the rendering.
Cernunnos was more of a mess; His body was irretrievably damaged. It did seem somehow horrifically poetic in an area where – as is happening all over the planet at a devastating rate, forest increasingly gives way to farmland and industry – that the God of the Wilderness should fall.
And yet this was All the more reason for His resurrection! …For the wilderness will always find a way, like vines winding up between the cracks in the pavement. I made a cairn – a Celtic grave-mound of piled rocks – around the fragments of His clay carcass, then pieced together the face and shoulders, filling in missing (too splintered) sections with new clay-work. Again the re-creative process was stop-animated, so His hands reach out (long fingers clawing the earth), then head and shoulders rise from the Cairn and re-form, with the erect phallus being the last part to emerge from the moss in front of the mound of stones…
So I was happy in the end with the way these pieces were transformed by this incident (though I do sometimes miss having the fully standing Cernunnos in my backyard!). A life of constant challenges as a traveling (and occasionally almost destitute) improvising artist has made me very adaptable.
The problem which remains for me however is my longer term goals with the place – Le Chalet Crepuscule in the Ardennes, Belgium – which I got primarily for the purpose of making larger works and eventually opening to the public as a sculpture garden. Making big statues there feels futile currently without knowing if such a thing could happen again there (despite increased security – as it’s not really in a fully guardable area and I often go away for performances, etc.), so I’m having to reassess my plans.
Currently I’m working on a series of smaller (more exhibitable elsewhere) sculptures there, and making the Labyrinth of webs between the trees more intricate for further Sabbat journeys there…
Congratulations on being a presenter at both Trans States and the Occulture Festival/Conference! For those of us who cannot make either event, would you please summarize what your presentation(s) will be and how they may or not play into future projects?
At Occulture (in Berlin in early October 2022) I will be exhibiting several new artworks around the theme of ‘Skin Surface Substance’ and doing a short ritual dance-theatre performance with this name, in interaction with some of the works therein.
This piece has only been performed twice before, originally in the Edge Gallery in Maldon Australia on Samhain 2021, then again in more condensed (current) form at Haekem Gallery in Brussels (both aptly on Samhain as it occurs 6 months apart in the Southern and Northern hemisphere). Dedicated to Hekate, I am looking forward to seeing how the work evolves further at Occulture…
Trans-States will probably be already happening or even have happened around the time of this interview being released. I will be presenting theatrical dance ritual there too, in conjunction with a short musical film. An invocation of Hermes, it is a new piece which will be presented for the first time at this event.
As to how these play into future projects, please see the following question’s response…
On that note, can we look forward to any future occult projects/books featuring your artwork? (We hear there is a book and album.) Please divulge curious minds and tell us what is next for the great Orryelle Defenestrate.
Well that does segue nicely from the previous answer, as the Hermes song which the film and performance at Trans-State illustrates is on said album, and the lyrics thereof in the accompanying book…
Esezezus is about the ‘Magic of Language.’ Originally an illustrated collection of my esoteric poetry over the years, proetic essays therein expanded and gave it self-referential continuity. A lot of new and unpublished visual art – in colour and in black and white – graces the pages also. And as there was an unavoidable irony in writing about the vibrational rather than merely page-bound powers of language (the word made flesh, ‘Tongues’ as both langue-age and its modus operandi), it was decided that an album would come with the book too. I had already used many of the verses in the book as lyrics or orations in songs and musical jams with accomplices, so it seemed a natural evolution and presentation of my multi-media praxis.
I am excited that the book and album are to be published by the new Grayle Press – Jack Grayle, as well as being one of my favourite magical authors and a most eloquent speaker, is totally on the same page (quite litera(ri)ly it seems!) as me, with the confluence of magical ritual and theatre.
The book is finished, some of the album still being mixed and mastered, but unfortunately no more definite timing for publication has yet been ascertained than ‘probably this year.’
I will also be performing at Conjuring Creativity in Stockholm, Sweden towards the end of October – a semi-live piece revolving around the Coagula Act of my Solve et Coagula film. Then back to my Chalet Crepuscule for a Samhain gathering and interactive Labyrinth there.
What words of wisdom would you share to artists in the occult/esoteric space that seek to express their devotion in a creative format?
Hmm. Don’t think too much! Devote yourself to what or Whom you wish to channel and induce trance; allow the Gods or spirits to direct the work/play. Passion is key rather than mentation (though a bit of that can help too!).
Immerse yourself thoroughly in Creative Expression of whatever form/s you Will. You shall need no other sacrament.
If you could recommend one book to neophytes or potential artists, what would it be and why?
Well, if only one!:
The Book of the Spider. And I don’t mean my fragments of interpretation [in Time, Fate and Spider Magic, Avalonia Books 2016] or Kenneth Grant’s Liber OKBISh (in The Ninth Arch), I mean the great Web of Wyrd.
The tome of all pictographs, cipher of vibrations and grammoire of glyphs.
Study the wondrous weavings between the trees, twixt the telluric and celestial, connecting the cosmic and the bestial – the angular runes and harmonious spirals in their geometries, the dewdrops scintillating thereon, the air currents and the slight susurrations of sound in the subsequent swaying of their gossamer strands. Feel the subtle spindle of the nimble fingers of the spinners hands. Hear the silent SphinX, and see the ears of Heimdall twitch. Know the gnawing gnosis, and scratch the itch in your soul for enchantment.
Thank you members of Athenæum Azostos for the thought-provoking and multi-layered questions, and for sharing my work/play.
Check out the links below to learn more and to stay updated on future projects by Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule.
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