A Golden Dawn: magic, mystery and madness at the turn of the 20th century

The 20th century dawned and light penetrated occult circles that had previously remained a well guarded secret in the form of daring new initiates ready to break open the boundaries between this world and the next, to rip open hierarchical structures and explore spirituality, sexuality and magic(k) in hitherto unforeseen ways.

Aleister Crowley might be among the most well known of this expansive circle of artists, writers, poets, dancers, drag queens, musicians and crucially, occultists, but he found himself in the illustrious company of many others including Vera Pragnell, Victor Neuberg, Austin Osman Spare, Aubrey Beardsley, Leila Waddell and Herbert Pollit. Together they dreamt and attempted to create queer utopias, foster new ways of relating and forge a new path out of the dreary Victorian age and into one that fused art and spirituality harmoniously.

Their workings, performances, writings, sexual explorations and magical pursuits  are the subject of this lecture, which gives context and detail into this fascinating band of social misfits and their exploratory antics which led to artistic and spiritual breakthroughs and very occasionally utter tragedy and descents into madness.

Join us as we explore the occult subcultures of the fin de siecle and uncover their stories. 

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Jordana Belaiche is a writer, director and dramaturg based in London. Her work centres on class and gender, she has a love of folklore, witchcraft and the occult and is well versed in all things uncanny. She is the author of two full length plays and several short stories.

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