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Trans-States: The Art of Revelation


  • University of Northampton Waterside Campus, University Drive Northampton NN1 5PH United Kingdom (map)

We’re delighted to return to present and perform at Trans-States: The Art of Revelation in September this year. The first conference, The Art of Crossing Over, was a highlight of 2016, that brought together academics, practitioners and artists in an intellectually and occulturally stimulating event. Papers given in 2016 were recorded and are archived at Trans-States and on YouTube.

This year’s conference ‘will explore the complex interrelationships between contemporary occulture, revelation, non-ordinary states of consciousness, power, structure, textuality and deconstruction.’ A boundary-breaking programme of speakers, practitioners, performers and artists has been announced.

The full line-up is up at Trans-States: The Art of Revelation. Tickets are on sale now, through the conference website. The abstracts for our talks and the performance by Alkistis can be read below.


The Blood of the Saints

The blood of the saints is an account of a personal ritual process of engagement with, and deconstruction of, the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation 17:6, ‘And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.’ Attention will be given to the vision of the cup and intoxication, the destruction of the world, and the mingling of prophecy and sainthood in John the Baptist. I go on to consider the centrality of the athletes of death, as well as sainthood and virginity in the eschatological hermeneutics of later Christianity.

The Revelation of St John the Divine is the lens through which Western culture has understood social, religious and ecological crises. St John’s vision has informed twentieth century occult discourse on blood and annihilation of self, and has inspired feminist readings and literary counter traditions. It is the symbol set that has created and will be used to language the anthropocene, giving impetus to the urgency with which their deconstruction must proceed.

My primary focus is upon the disquieting revelation of the source text and its antecedents, in particular the Enochic corpus, which are accessed through ecstasis. By returning to the source, which is understood as a point of origin but not final authority, the text is worked to produce not a singular formula, but a series of readings, a river of blood in which the world and our culture have been baptised.

The presentation is intended to be a hybrid of ritually accessed revelation and exegetic discipline that combines biblical scholarship with the insights of postmodernism and the actions of a practicing magician.

Mantic visions and the subtle eye of matter

‘Vision is through the veil, and inescapably so.’ – Ibn ‘Arabi

Esoteric or occult knowledge is revealed in revelatory episodes, in mantic visions that are felt to descend on us when we are engodded, or, when dreaming or enraptured, we are transported to a visionary realm.

If the living body is, as phenomenology understands, the basis of being and knowing, then all forms of knowing, including the visionary, should be considered in terms of the flesh. In this talk I will explore visionary states in relation to embodiment and animate life, showing the visionary as grounded in corporeality, in the physiology of the living body.

It is through the mediation of the body that the invisible makes itself known to us. I will consider the dark senses of touch and kinesthesia and their synaesthetic involvement with vision, how the tactile kinaesthetic awareness of the living body is in continual conversation with the visual.

I propose that we think of a continuum of embodied states between incarnation and excarnation, from out of body and near death experiences to the weakly embodied dreaming and psychedelic states to the immersive deep embodiment of possession and performance. To each of these states belong distinctive modes of seeing.

These perspectives are drawn from my experience of creating dance; working with dream and visionary states to support movement explorations throughout the choreographic process, and in the translation and transfiguration of images into flesh in performance.

Visitation

‘Mantis, this landscape is hidden from all but the most holy eye.’ – The Book of Going Forth by Day

visitation-mantis.jpg

Visitation is a ritual performed within the circle or chorós, the dancing ground. The concept for the dance arose from my desire to see Venus, the heavenly body that rules erotic love and the occult sex of women, inspired and tantalised by imagings of the topography of the mysterious, cloud-veiled planet, and especially the colour photographs of the Soviet space probe Venera 13.

The dance is intended as a chorography of this landscape, and a glimpse of its elusive numina, revealing through the body a clandestine vision of the divine: the visitation.

I am developing the choreography through an experimental process inspired by the affective mysticism of Thomas Gallus, through visionary experiences and entranced, engodded states sought through movement and entheogens, in dreaming, and in a series of ritual workings with Venusian spirits. In process, and in performance, I ask how we see and make visible what is hidden. I consider the body as a place of seeing (theatron) and as the place of the god/dess (theos/thea), and the dancing ground as a space within our commodified, secular culture where the sacred can reveal itself.

Visitation is a collaboration with sound artist Anji Cheung, who will create the soundscape for the ritual.