Spirit-Worker Art – A Story About A Very Special Book

Let me tell you a story.

Many years ago, my spirits told me that I would eventually learn to integrate my magical practices and artistic pursuits, that I would begin making “spirit-worker art.” This concept appealed to me but I had no idea at the time how it would actually manifest. I knew it wasn’t just a matter of making witchy-looking stuff (there’s enough of that anyway) but rather a deeper level of utilizing Art to open Doorways. Eventually I came to rely more directly on certain spirits for artistic inspiration, and began seeing an increase in ability too – what They wanted made, got made, even when I didn’t think I possessed the necessary skills. There were masks, and puppets, and many glamourbombs.

And then, over a year ago, They dropped a concept into my head and it grabbed hold of me. It was a book, with glossy black pages, and in it there were antique photographs of gentlemen (elegant, fine, but perhaps a little strange or sinister as well) representing one of the faces those spirits use, and there were also Polaroid photos – with their hazy, vintage feel – of liminal places I knew and of some of the other magical art objects I’d created, representing Their otherworldly home. And these would be placed together with poems – possibly fragments of some of the poetry I’d written about Them in the past. And all of this would somehow express just Who these spirits are – it would be an introduction to Them, a doorway for Them, and an offering to Them.

I had only just acquired a vintage Polaroid camera (also on Their insistence), and I knew nothing about collecting antique photographs, but I dived right in. And over the course of 13 months, that vision came to fruition. I spent countless hours hunting for unusual portraits in antique stores and flea markets (and online), and I took my camera on many numinous walks, attempting to capture the odd little places where I felt the veil was the thinnest. I even made a special trip to a run-down fairytale amusement park and battled rain to get shots of the giant witch and the haunted house.

As I did this, the vision became clearer, I understood better just what I was making. All the smaller details came into focus. However, even as I was wrapping up the images portion of the book (this was back in early February), I still didn’t know what the words would be. Nothing I had written before seemed quite right, but no new poetry was coming (which wasn’t surprising, given that I rarely write it anymore and have only turned out the occasional poem over the past decade).

But, I trusted Them. I followed a set of signs and synchronicities, and it led me to some powerful inspiration, and then one day, I wrote something – or rather, something came through me, because it didn’t really feel like I created it – different than anything I’d done before. A short, rhyming piece that felt more like a wicked nursery rhyme than anything else. And it fit. And then I wrote another. And in 10 short days, 25 of these poems came through me, just enough to fill the spaces in the book. They filled my mind, I could think of nothing else that whole time. And then the ink ran dry, and I haven’t had an idea for one since.

I arranged the images and words across the pages of the book (with all kinds of arcane symbolism and references that make it more meaningful to Them but are probably invisible to anyone else), and I even hid a spell of sorts within the arrangement of the poems (which *can* be found by any reader). I began and ended it with two quotes from the poetry of Jim Morrison, whose words were an early guidepost for me when I first met these spirits as an adolescent. Then, after the books were printed, I hand-carved a rubber stamp (a riff on the all-seeing eye, a symbol of Theirs) for the endpapers, and hammered out the title on copper plates – the title which had come to me at the very start of the project, a line from an old poem of mine, an invocation to the spirits:

“Gentlemen, madmen, things that are not men.”

And finally now I can bring this to the world, although the story behind it will only be shared here. Today, this May Day, marks an important milestone in my life with my spirits, and this is my “senior project” as it were, and one of my most potent pieces of spirit-worker art thus far. Aside from the photographs (many oblique) that appear on my art blog, this book will only be experienced in person, physically – I will not be posting the Polaroids I used, or scans of the old cabinet cards, or sharing most of the poetry. It is a tangible object and it needs to remain that way.

Some might call them fairies, some might call them monsters. They look like gentlemen but they are anything but gentle. They live underground, but they prowl our streets. Every shadow may hide a doorway into their topsy-turvy, twilight land.

I am offering 11 of the 13 copies of this limited edition for sale in my Etsy shop (under a new pen name, D. Venatrix). More details can be found there. The book costs $75 (which frankly only recoups the cost of making the physical book; I consider the purchase of antique photos and expensive instant film as just the cost of being a spirit-worker), and for an extra $25 I will also include three original Polaroid “outtakes” from my adventures (I have been posting some of these to my art blog recently).

Just like with the glamourbombs I leave out while never knowing who will find or see them (or if any human will at all), I have to trust that these books will find their way into the right hands. They are doorways to a strange, uncanny place. Will you open the door?

The mound is cold but beautiful
It sparkles in the candlelight
The revels can be endless here
For underground, it’s always night
But as the flames die one by one
The time has come, their favorite part
When all the lords and ladies
Take their masks off, in the dark

~ by Dver on May 1, 2017.

3 Responses to “Spirit-Worker Art – A Story About A Very Special Book”

  1. […] A fruitful, mischievous, and auspicious May Day to everyone! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be sulking about not having $75 to spare at the moment. […]

  2. Fascinating! I love the small poems, sinister and otherworld-invoking indeed. Blessings.

  3. […] Read the rest here: Spirit-Worker Art – A Story About A Very Special Book […]

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