‘I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things’. (Isaiah 45:7)
Since the Palaeolithic age art, religion, myth and magic have combined to represent man’s impulse to reach beyond his physical limitations; to communicate, comprehend, harness and overpower both benevolent and malevolent forces of nature. Significant passages in the lives of individuals and societies were and are marked by symbol and ritual whose genesis lay in Pagan rites and Wicca: birth, death, marriage, fertility, harvest, coming of age.
Throughout the ages magical and spiritual systems developed organically but also, of course, suffered extreme subjugation and suppression. Monotheistic religions appropriated, banished, persecuted and condemned in order to subdue the threat of age old beliefs. In 1484 Pope Innocent III issued a Papal Bull that denounced witchcraft, declaring that witches were harming fertility by associating with demons. Soon afterwards ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ was published and became the bible of the inquisitors, hammer of the witches. The horned Hunter God and other deities were demonised, newly cast by the church as malevolent and malicious, and the end game was in place. An omnipotent religion had strangled a set of traditions as old as man himself, and the Gods of the old religion became the Devil of the new.
Throughout this time sorcerers have maintained that they can summon demons in order to do their bidding. From locating treasure to curing disease to inflicting madness on one’s enemies, demons have apparently been pressed into varied services. But of course the practitioner must take care to protect himself during any such rituals or risk unleashing malevolent spirits or indeed possession.
‘Demonology’ is a call to investigate and embrace this other, lost world, and in some ways draw parallels between the practices of art and magic: creativity, instinct, flux, becoming, myth, imagination, individualism and the workings of the great unconscious standing against prescribed and immutable doctrine. Magic, beasts, curses, apparitions and the after-life; all can be found here in paint, pencil, collage, video, ceramic, photography and performance.
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