CURTIS HARRINGTON WEEK: The Wormwood Star (1956)

The artwork in this film was destroyed in a ritual.

This is the only record that they were ever here.

Harrington said this of the film’s subject, Marjorie Cameron: “Before I made the film I’d heard from Renate that Cameron had spent some time in the desert trying, through magical means, to conceive a child by the spirit of Jack Parsons without success.  Cameron never spoke of Jack directly, but I do remember feeling sometimes when I talked to her, of her going off into a realm that I didn’t understand at all. It was sort of an apocalyptic thing and it’s there in her poetry.”

So who was Cameron?

An artist. A poet. A muse. A cartographer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war. A member of the propaganda machine. An occultist. An actress. Perhaps the Whore of Babylon.

And the love of Jack Parson’s life.

Parsons, the man who helped invent the rockets that got us to the moon, the man whose lodge housed numerous icons of science fiction, a devotee of Thelma and Crowley and the man who had just finished a series of Enochian rites with L. Ron Hubbard to invoke his elemental lover after Hubbard stole his wife.

When Cameron showed up at his home, red hair burning and blue eyes blazing, they ended up having sex for two weeks straight.

After Parson’s death, she started rituals to create a moonchild, which often involved slashing her wrists. As her mental state worsened — or improved, look I have no idea and my belief system is pretty wild myself — she came to understand his purpose in carrying out the Babalon Working that invoked her. On a diet of marijuana, peyote, and magic mushrooms, she proclaimed all the many ways that she saw the world would be destroyed.

Somehow, in a life beset by mental demons and intense drama, Cameron produced art. A woman making art in the male-dominated world of the 50s. She dated outside her race, which was illegal at the time, but she also ran a sex cult, so I don’t think the law mattered, outside of love is the law, love under will.

I’ve been fascinated by her for years and will be for the rest of my life. The Wormwood Star is one of the few ways to see her work and her up close. She’s absolutely terrifying in this film and I can’t even imagine what she was like in person. Similarly, she’s a force of absolute magic in Harrington’s Night Tide.

Life is filled with magic. Find it. Live it. Let it drive you wild, let is make you insane.

As another source of obsession, James Shelby Downard wrote, “Never allow anyone the luxury of assuming that because the dead and deadening scenery of the American city-of-dreadful-night is so utterly devoid of mystery, so thoroughly flat-footed, sterile and infantile, so burdened with the illusory gloss of “baseball-hot dogs-apple-pie-and-Chevrolet” that it is somehow outside the psycho-sexual domain. The eternal pagan psychodrama is escalated under these “modern” conditions precisely because sorcery is not what 20th century man can accept as real.”

You can watch this on YouTube.

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