Set among many enchanting and unusual artefacts, a timely post-Halloween showing of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising felt perfectly at home at UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Preceding this, PhD archaeology student Ethan Doyle White gave an insight into the film’s occult themes.
The talk explored Kenneth Anger’s background, a California-born filmmaker whose short, experimental films would prove to be of great influence over such ‘big name’ directors like Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, and who is also cited as an inspiration for the development of the music video.
Although well-known among experimental film buffs, Anger is hardly a household name, largely because his films revolve around two themes that were not exactly respectable in twentieth-century American culture: male homoeroticism and occultism.
Anger was a practitioner of an occult religion known as Thelema, which had been founded by the English occultist Aleister Crowley (notoriously dubbed the “wickedest man in the world” by the tabloid press of his own day) while on honeymoon in Egypt in 1904.
Allegedly inspired by a sacred text that Crowley claimed had been given to him by a supernatural entity, Thelema proclaimed that the twentieth-century marked the start of a new “Aeon of Horus”.