The past decade or so has seen an intermittent but healthy blossoming of various conferences and festivals celebrating intercourse between esoteric thought and the wider culture, between academic and fringe archaeologies, between the many varied disciplines and perspectives that any serious-minded, open-hearted student of consciousness gets embroiled in. Thankfully there’s been no centre to this flowering, no bloom that has easily outshone the rest; but the Occulture Festival, back after a 6-year break, has been one of the more colourful (see my review of the 2003 event).
The term “occulture” was a neologism waiting for the 20th century, when supra-cultural and sub-cultural exploration of consciousness burst the confines of eccentric little clubs and spilled into the mainstream. This represented a chaotic, perhaps unfulfillable, but certainly vital rejoining of wider cultural practices and gnostic spirituality—arenas which “religion”, etymology notwithstanding, has torn ever further apart since the dawn of civilization.
The Occulture Festival espouses “tolerance, open mindedness and celebration of life”, reflecting a rejection of the kind of naive political ambitions that have marred some attempts to promote modern occultism, whilst holding fast to the belief that this maturing phenomenon has a positive role to play in the future. For every caricatured, visible example of the all-too-familiar failings of modern esotericism, I feel that dozens of inspirational fires are quietly ignited in every walk of life. At their best, gatherings like Occulture promise to bring some of those flames into public view, and fuel them with new connections before they disperse back into society.
Leading proceedings for Occulture this year on 23rd May in The Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton, is the prolific chronicler of recent esoteric currents, Gary Lachman. Also lined up are speakers from Scarlet Imprint‘s expanding catalogue, Iain Sinclair introducing his psychogeographic circumambulation of the captial, London Orbital, a premiere of Disinformation’s film on the 2012 phenomena, and performers such as Dreamflesh contributor Orryelle Defenestrate Bascule. More information and tickets available on the website…