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Songs for the Witch Woman

£40.00£140.00

Songs for the
Witch Woman

John W. Parsons and
Marjorie Cameron

Details
– large format (305mm x 240mm)
– 176 pages
– premium 135gsm Italian paper
– essays from William Breeze, George Pendle and Margaret Haines

Deluxe Issue £140.00
– 156 hand-numbered copies only
– hand bound with black morocco spine
– blocked in blue cloth boards
– custom lined slipcase

Hardback Issue £40.00
– limited edition
– custom blocked cloth
– premium brown endpapers

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Product Description

There are few modern love stories as passionate and poignant as the relationship between rocket scientist Jack Parsons and his artist lover, Marjorie Cameron. At once a muse, occult student and primal force of nature – a woman he proclaimed as his ‘elemental’ in a letter to Aleister Crowley – Cameron fascinated, troubled and inspired Parsons.

Songs for the Witch Woman is a project born from this turbulent love story. A series of poems written by Parsons reveal his feelings toward his often absent lover. And beside these words are images from the hand of Cameron, illustrating and echoing the intimate themes.

After Parsons’ tragic death in June 1952 we find the notebook in which this work was recorded continues, as a bereaved Cameron keeps a diary of her magical working in Lamb Canyon, California. In the dark desert her words become a raw lament as she attempts to gain contact with her Holy Guardian Angel. And throughout the working, the memory of Jack is never far from her mind.

Now published more than sixty years after it was written, Songs for the Witch Woman stands as a testament to lasting power of love and loss.

This book represents a creative collaboration between two of the most important names in 20th century occultism. It includes:

  • The poems, drawings and diary entries published together for the first time.
  • A facsimile of the original 1950s notebook with text by Jack Parsons and illustrations by Marjorie Cameron.
  • The texts have also been corrected and typeset alongside a second suite of pen and ink drawings that Marjorie Cameron produced for the work after 1952.
  • Contextual commentaries from William Breeze, George Pendle and Margaret Haines.

 

Marjorie Cameron was born in Belle Plaine, Iowa in 1922. The fiery and uncompromising character for which she would later be known manifested from an early age. School friends and teachers alike defined her as a peculiar child who by nature looked at the world from a different angle. After the outbreak of the Second World War Cameron enrolled in the Navy and after a period of training became a cartographer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Discharged from the military in 1945, she joined her family in Pasadena, where less than a year later she met the man who would change her life.

Cameron was twenty-four when she met Jack Parsons, a young and charismatic rocket scientist at the peak of his public career, associate founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and acting master of the O.T.O. Agape Lodge. For the following seven years Cameron and Parsons worked together in magick, love and art, giving birth to one of the most legendary magico-artistic partnerships of the century. Firmly believing that Cameron’s appearance in his life was the result of an intense series of magical workings carried out in the weeks preceding the encounter, Parsons famously wrote to Crowley, ‘I have found my Elemental’. In the first years of their relationship Cameron was not only unaware of such goings-on but also uninterested in Jack’s spiritual path, preferring art and love over the practice of magic.

But as time went by Parsons assumed another function in Cameron’s life as he gradually became her magical mentor. He renamed her Candida, recommended books, prescribed rituals and meditative practices to deal with her depressions. When Jack Parsons died in an explosion at the age of thirty-seven, Cameron was left alone, wondering whether she was human or not.

A very dramatic period follows for Cameron. For a time she withdraws into the desert, where she attempts to connect with the spirit of her lost lover through a series of magical workings. A few years later she comes back to Los Angeles, where in 1954 she appeared in Kenneth Anger’s landmark film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. She also met the director Curtis Harrington, for whom she appeared as herself in the short film Wormwood Star. In 1955 she was featured on the cover of the first issue of Wallace Berman’s artistic and literary journal Semina, so marking her firm arrival in the Hollywood artistic counter culture.

Cameron spent the last decades of her life in West Hollywood, painting, writing and mastering the art of t’ai chi. She died of cancer in 1995 at the age of seventy-three.

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