Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult
A Multi-disciplinary Conference
5-8 May, 2016
Candid Arts, London
In 1953, psychoanalyst and anthropologist George Devereux published a collection of works from various psychoanalysts entitled Psychoanalysis and the Occult, which explored the intersection between the practice of psychoanalysis and occult phenomena, including contributions from Freud himself on ‘Premonitions and Chance’, ‘Psychoanalysis and Telepathy’, and ‘The Occult Significance of Dreams’. Additionally, Freud’s paper ‘Notes on the Unconscious’ was published in the journal of the Society for Psychical Research in 1912. Since that time, however, the majority of psychoanalysts willing to traverse occult terrain have worked within a Jungian framework, as the topic itself was central to the split between Freud and Jung, with the former insisting the burgeoning field of psychoanalysis be scientific and not spiritualist. However, Freud maintained an interest in occult phenomena longer than many of his followers would like to believe, and the time has come to explore this aspect of his work further.
Until now, the intersection of psychoanalysis and the occult has perhaps been most richly explored through the arts. Most well known are the Surrealists, who espoused Freud’s theories, and who were fascinated by the unconscious, dreams, synchronicity, automatic writing and chance encounters. These themes and methods are also featured in the work of the Symbolists, Futurists, Dadaists, Fluxists and Actionists, as well as in the work of avant-garde artists of our day.
The purpose of this conference is to bring together a diverse group of psychoanalysts, occultists and artists to share their views on human subjectivity and culture. Through an investigation of the unique modes and methodologies utilized by each individual practitioner, we may explore human experience via the convergence of domains that rarely speak to one another yet often work in similar and complementary ways.
Collected papers from the Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult conference have been gathered into a special edition of The Fenris Wolf, volume 9 (Trapart Books, 2022) co-edited by Vanessa Sinclair and Carl Abrahamsson. There are still a few copies of the original limited edition hardbound that comes with a print of the cover artwork by Val Denham.
Schedule of events as follows:
Psychoanalysis, Art and the Occult
5-8 May, 2016
Candid Arts, London
Friday, 6 May
12-12:30pm – Registration
12:30-12:45pm – Welcome – Vanessa Sinclair & Carl Abrahamsson
Invocation of the spirits of London by Katelan Foisy
12:45-2:30pm – Panel I
Khi Armand – Before and After: Devouring Tigers in the Houses of Darkness
Gary Lachman – Why was Freud afraid of the Occult?
Peter Grey – Fly the Light
Moderator: Langston Kahn
2:30-2:45pm – break
2:45-4:30pm – Panel II
Val Denham – Proclaim Present Time Over
Langston Kahn – The Thing Which Knowledge Can’t Eat: Gods, Archetypes and the Mind
Graham Duff – Sublime Fragments; The Art of John Balance
Moderator: Caleigh Fisher
4:30-4:45pm – break
4:45-6:00 – Cut in Creation, Katelan Foisy & Vanessa Sinclair
6-7:30pm – dinner
7:30-9:30pm – Film screening and Q&A
Sub Umbra Alarma Luna, Carl Abrahamsson
Thursday, 5 May
7-9pm – Opening for art exhibition, free and open to the public
Saturday, 7 May
12-12:30pm – Registration
12:30-12:45 – Welcome back – Carl Abrahamsson & Vanessa Sinclair
12:45-2:30pm – Panel III
Steven Reisner – On the Dance of Occult and Unconscious in Freud
Elizabeth Monahan – Curiouser and Curiouser: The Wonderland of the Occult and the Integration of Psychoanalysis – A Surrealist’s Adventure
Jesse Hathaway Diaz – Diviner and Divined: The Mechanics, Manipulation and Mutability of Fate
Moderator: Claire-Madeline Culkin
2:30-2:45pm – break
2:45-4:30pm – Panel IV
Katy Bohinc – The Twelfth House: The Unconscious & Art in Astrology
Olga Cox Cameron – Looming from the Celtic Mist: the O-object and the Occult in Irish Literature
Ingo Lambrecht – Psychoanalytic maneuvers in the space of wairua: Following psychic and shamanic contours in therapy at a Māori Mental Health Service in New Zealand
Moderator: Jordan Osserman
4:30-4:45 – break
4:45-6pm – Panel V
Demetrius Lacroix – The Seven Souls in Vodou
Charlotte Rodgers – Stripped to the Core: Animistic Art Action and Magickal Revelation
Alkistis Dimech – Dynamics of the Occulted Body
Moderator: Eliott Edge
6-7:30pm – dinner
7:30-8pm – Book signing with Val Denham
8-9pm – Live music
Val Denham with Oli Novadnieks & Danny Loker
Sunday, 8 May
12-12:30pm – Registration
12:30-1pm – Welcome back – Meditation by Fred Yee
1-2:45pm – Panel VI
Robert Ansell – Androgyny, biology and latent memory in the work of Austin Osman Spare
Sharron Kraus – Art as Alchemy
Ray O’Neill – “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble; Psychoanalysis Burn and Surrealism Bubble” – Uncanny Debts: Dalí, Freud and Lacan
Moderator: Derek Elmore
2:45-3pm – break
3-4:45pm – Panel VII
Eve Watson – Bowie’s Non-Human Effect: Uncanniness in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and The Hunger (1983)
Luce deLire – Necropolitics, Death Drive & the Necessity of Evil
Carl Abrahamsson – Gradual Formulation – On similarities between ritual magic and psycho-analysis
Moderator: Julio Mendes Rodrigo
4:45-5pm – break
5:-5:30pm – Conclusion ritual ceremony by Langston Kahn & Khi Armand
Carl Abrahamsson (b 1966) is a Swedish writer and film-maker who’s also worked with photography and music as artistic expressions. He edits and publishes the annual occultural journal The Fenris Wolf, which collects material from the colourful grey area between art and esotericism.
Robert Ansell (b.1965) is a publisher, art dealer, curator and scholar. His field of expertise is esoteric art of the 20th century with a specific focus on Austin Osman Spare. Through his company FULGUR ESOTERICA he has represented esoteric artists in book form since 1992. In recent years he has also gained note as an independent art curator specializing in the esoteric. Robert is also the publisher and art editor of Abraxas Journal, which has been described as ‘today’s pre-eminent voice for the serious study of occult and esoteric expression.’ He has been interviewed for the BBC Culture Show, the blog Boing Boing, and Dazed and Confused.
Khi Armand is an interdisciplinary artist and a spirit-initiated shaman holding additional initiations in such New World traditions as Haitian Vodou, Brazilian Quimbanda, and the Unnamed Path. He holds a Masters in Performance Studies from New York University and a Bachelors in Ritual Anthropology from Hampshire College.
Katy Bohinc was born November 19, 1983 at 6:04 PM in Cleveland, OH. June 5, 2012 in the Western Roman calendar the planet Venus traveled directly between the sun and earth, an event referred to as the Transit of Venus. Occurring every 100 years or so in 8 year pairs, the Transit of Venus is of unknown and extreme astrological significance. In 2012, the Transit of Venus occurred at 15’44 degrees Gemini, in exact mathematical conjunction with the ascendant and north node of the natal chart of K. Bohinc. Bohinc’s Dear Alain is a poetic epistolary, a psycho-sexual thriller, a metaphor for the relationship between poetry and Western philosophy, a personal address to Alain Badiou. Slavoj Zizek said, “This book should be banished!” She collaborates as Star Arkestress on Tender Buttons Press with Lee Ann Brown in the TornPage House in New York City.
Dr. Olga Cox Cameron is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Dublin for the past twenty seven years. She lectured in Psychoanalytic Theory and also in Psychoanalysis and Literature at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and Trinity College from 1991 to 2013 and has published numerous articles on these topics in national and international journals. She is the founder of the annual Psychoanalysis and Cinema Festival, now in its seventh year, to be held at Collins’ Barracks Museum, Dublin, the 2016 event having for theme; Revolution.
Claire-Madeline Culkin is an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College in their Non-Fiction program. Her work – equal parts personal narrative, theoretical analysis, and criticism – aims to reconcile the artifice of theory with the reality of lived experience by using her subjectivity means of approaching her subject matter. “Beds, Bodies, and Other Books of Common Prayer” was previously presented at the Das Unbehagen sponsored conference, “Psychoanalysis on Ice” in Iceland. A detailed description of her creative and professional work, can be found on her website www.clairemadelineculkin.squarespace.com. There, you can also find ways to be in touch. She loves hearing stories of the personal mythologies of one’s birth, crises survived, and all the ways to fall out of love, so don’t be a stranger.
Luce deLire connotes a cloud of identities that holds degrees in gender studies (BA) and philosophy (MA) from Humboldt University in Berlin, German Literature (MA) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Media & Communication (interdisciplinary studies) (MA) at European Graduate School in Saas Fee, to the latter of which she has since served as Deans Assistant on a frequent basis. Despite this, she worked as a curator („What is Queer Today is Not Queer Tomorrow“, Berlin), a theatre director („tntls.sys“, Berlin, Bremen etc.), a political activist („Trans Inter Queer“), an astronaut, a time traveler & a simulacrum. etc etcetera. Also, she loves institutions. Very much so. She is currently pursuing a joint phd in Philosophy and German Literature at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and functions as the Artistic Director of the „(Re)create“ Art Residency in New York. She recently published „Kritik Praxis Krankenhaus“ (xenomoi 2015), a collected volume of texts by medical professionals and philosophers based on an interdisciplinary symposium in Berlin she organized in 2013.
Val Denham, born 14.11.1957 in Yorkshire is the kind of artist you’d normally expect to learn about only after their passing, when crates of wonderful obsessively detailed artworks and diaries would be revealed Darger-like to an unsuspecting public. Because unlike the majority of her generation of UK artists, neither her interest (nor her talent!) is first and foremost in self-promotion but in the obsessive creation of her art, the expression of her uniquely personal vision, her obsessions, her manias, her struggles and her life-path. Formally trained at Bradford College and the Royal College of Art in London, she has been originally associated with that true counter-cultural revolution of the late 1970s and early 80s which came to be known as “industrial culture”, creating a lot of the visual hallmarks of that genre and releasing her first own musical efforts via the then thriving tape scene. Apart from creating richly detailed works which deal with personal themes like her OCD, gender dysphoria and transgender issues, she is also an accomplished portrait artist. Her style is easily identifiable even though she has never limited herself to one particular mode of expression only, she is equally versatile in life-like figurative art as in abstract forms. Two volumes of her art and thoughts have been published by Timeless Editions out of Toulouse in 2012 and 2015 respectively and met with wide approval. Apart from releasing her series of handmade CDs of music Val has also collaborated with various bands on her sound works.
Jesse Hathaway Diaz is a folklorist, diviner, artist and performer living in New York City. With initiations in several forms of witchcraft from both Europe and the Americas, he is also a lifelong student of Mexican Curanderismo, an initiated Olosha in Lucumí, and a Tatá Quimbanda. He performs with Theatre Group Dzieci, an experimental theatre group based in NY exploring the sacred through the medium of theatre. He is also half of Wolf & Goat, wolf-and-goat.com, a store specializing in Occult Art, Materia Magica, and Esoterica from Brazilian Quimbanda to Traditional Witchcraft and Conjure.
Alkistis Dimech is a dancer/choreographer, artist, writer and magician, whose practice is principally grounded in the ankoku butoh of Hijikata Tatsumi, a discipline/philosophy of dance that she has trained in and performed since 2002. The sabbatic dance is her personal progression of this ‘dance of darkness,’ a project exploring the intersection of the dancing, affective body, consciousness and practices associated with magic, witchcraft and shamanism. Her dance work is documented at sabbaticdance.com. With Peter Grey she co-founded the esoteric publishing house Scarlet Imprint in 2007. Her essays will be gathered in The Brazen Vessel later this year.
Graham Duff is a prolific screenwriter, producer and show runner. He created and wrote the Sky Arts anthology horror series ‘The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells’ starring Michael Gambon. He also created and wrote all 53 episodes of BBC3’s dark comedy drama ‘Ideal’ starring Johnny Vegas, three series of Radio 4’s sci-fi sit-com ‘Nebulous’ starring Mark Gatiss and BBC2’s ‘Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible’ starring Steve Coogan. He script edited the movie ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ as well as seven series of Radio 4’s Sony award winning ‘Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show’. As an actor his appearances include Doctor Who and the Harry Potter films. He also writes about art, music and underground culture and owns a modest collection of contemporary and surrealist art.
Eliott Edge is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, philosopher, humorist, and netizen who operates under the online handle OddEdges. Edge describes Odd as “A prolific noösphere squatter spreading Awareness Awareness.” Edge’s primary occupations include cyborg anthropology, universal free education, simulism and digital mechanics, virtual reality and media literacy, psychedelics and psychology, ethical transhumanism, culture jamming, liminality, esoterica, meditation, and consciousness. His artwork has appeared at the Museum of Computer Arts, Stevens Institute of Technology, Anthology Film Archives, and other galleries. He is on the advisory board of The Lifeboat Foundation, a member of Das Ubehagen, the founder of EducatingEarth, and published in The Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He is also a poet, blogger, and YouTuber.
Derek Mathew Elmore is an artist and art conservator living and working in New York. He has studied Studio Art in London and Italy and received a Masters for Conservation of Works of Art on Paper in London. As an artist his work attempts to expand the “periphery of consciousness”. He cites his fundamental influences as sequential art, the Italian Renaissance and Surrealism. In the field of art conservation Derek has always sought to work with visionary art or objects with sacred qualities. He has worked as a conservator or archivist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, John Latham’s Flat-Time House, The 9/11 Memorial and the Nicholas Roerich Museum. He is currently completing work for a solo exhibition.
Caleigh Fisher is an artist and art educator. For the past quarter century she has been concerned with the healing potential of play, myth, the arts, community and their intersection. She has lectured and conducted workshops in Canada, the United States and Columbia, and she is honored to be here today.
Katelan Foisy is a multimedia artist and writer. Her fine art pieces have been displayed at The Worcester Art Museum, Ohio History Museum, MODA, WEAM, A&D Gallery, and Last Rights. She has graced the pages of the Grammy Award programs and the stage of Cynthia von Buhler’s immersive historical plays “Speakeasy Dollhouse” and “The Brothers Booth.” Katelan has been featured in NY Times, Elle magazine, Paper magazine, GQ Italy, Time Out NY, and many others—for her work both as an artist and curator. She has written for Motherboard/VICE, Electric Literature, Luna Luna, ERIS magazine, and COILHOUSE. She will be holding events with Atlas Obscura in NYC this Spring and Chicago come Fall. She was called a “Female Jack Kerouac” by Taylor Mead and a “Modern Day Francesca Woodman” by Cynthia von Buhler.
Peter Grey is a writer and co-founder of occult publisher Scarlet Imprint. He is the author of three books, The Red Goddess, Apocalyptic Witchcraft and Lucifer: Princeps. His essays have been disseminated widely in print and online, and he has lectured internationally. An exponent of low witchcraft and high ritual; he is particularly noted for his work on eschatology, ecology and Babalon.
Langston Kahn is a shamanic practitioner specializing in emotional healing. His practice is informed by Inner Relationship Focusing and African American Conjure with a foundation in the contemporary shamanic cosmology of the Last Mask Community. You can find out more about his work at Occupy-Your-Heart.com
Sharron Kraus is a folk musician and composer inspired by traditional music, psychedelia, horror soundtracks, surrealism, mythology, and gothic and magical literature. She has released five solo albums, the first of which, Beautiful Twisted, was named by Rolling Stone Magazine in their Critics’ Top Albums of 2002. She is one of the musicians focused on in Jeanette Leech’s Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid, Psych and Experimental Folk. She has a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Oxford and has written on many themes, including creating music in response to landscape; Harry Smith and the weirdness of folk music; magic as portrayed in chidren’s literature and The Wicker Man.
Gary Lachman is the author of many books about culture, consciousness and the western inner tradition including Jung the Mystic, The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus, and most recently The Secret Teachers of the Western World. He is Assistant Professor in Transformational Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies and in a former life was a founding member of the rock group Blondie. In 2006 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Demetrius Lacroix has dedicated his life to the study of the occult, spirituality and religion of Traditional societies in the ancient and modern world, having studied many forms of traditional belief. From his own upbringing, and later initiation into Haitian Vodou, Lacroix comes from a multicultural background, offering a worldview shaped by his immersion into misunderstood and vilified cultures. Lacroix seeks to present the underrepresented “occult” in an understandable and edifying way. Lacroix is a professional Psychic, spiritual counselor and advisor in Salem, MA.
Dr. Ingo Lambrecht is a consultant clinical psychologist working at Manawanui, Māori Mental Health Service in Auckland, New Zealand. He has also been trained and graduated as a sangoma, a South African shaman. He has published and presented widely on the complex relationship between shamanism and psychoanalysis.
Danny Loker’s musical career began in Bradford’s Latvian club, singing and dancing to the crackling strains of Thin Lizzy and the Bonzo Dog Do Da Band on the ancient jukebox. These impromptu musical homages were the start of a long musical association and friendship with fellow Brad-Lat Oli Novadnieks. At the age of 17 Loker swapped his hand-embroidered cream Latvian dancing outfit for his Mum’s astrakhan and picked up his first bass guitar with an eagerness to perform live. He soon formed a band with Novadnieks and other likeminded lovers of long hair and music and ‘Man Ray’s Haircut’ stormed the Bradford scene in the late 70s. He has made films and participated in a series of performance art projects with art collective ‘Communication’ touring New York & L.A. Wary of being swallowed by the highfalutin art scene he kept his feet firmly on the ground by expressing his love of thrash music through performances with experimental band ‘The Apology’ & collaborations with Denham and Novadnieks for ‘Silverstar Amoeba’ in the 1980s. The wisdom of age means Loker now realises that half the songs he once dismissed as boring or crap are actually some of his favourites. There are now no songs to be too embarrassed to like and there are few genres of music beyond his appreciation. His broad love of music has given him a unique perspective on what makes music and what it takes for him to make music. He doesn’t so much play as create and every performance is a unique and unrepeatable experience. Born: 11 June 1962, Music Groups: Man Ray’s Haircut, Communication, The Apology, Silver Star Amoeba, Death & Beauty Foundation.
Elizabeth Monahan is a senior lecturer in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Dublin. She is involved with A.P.P.I. and is also a member of the U.S. based Affiliated Psychoanalytic Workgroups (APW). Liz works in private practice (www.sentioclinic.ie) and in the Carysfort Clinic a family medical practice Co. Dublin. She is currently researching the effects of psychoanalysis on art.
Olavs Marcus Novadnieks is a freelance artist working in film & television. Early days were spent listing to an eclectic mix of music from Latvian folk songs to The Beatles & Hendrix, whilst at Bradford Art College in the 70’s he joined forces with Danny Loker & formed Man Ray’s Haircut, it was here he first met Val Denham & since then has collaborated on various projects such as DBF, Silverstar Ameoba & The Fathers. He continues to record & make Art when not immersed in the world of film, live performances are a rare occurrence. Born: 16 May 1961 (aged 54) Bradford, West Yorkshire, Music Groups: Man Rays Haircut, Bert Bermuda’s Triangle, God Dog, The Death & Beauty Foundation, Us or Them, Silver Star Amoeba, The Fathers.
Dr. Ray O Neill MA, MSc, MPhil is an Irish writer and psychoanalytic psychotherapist working in private practice in Dublin, Ireland. As Ireland’s only resident male Agony Aunt, Ray works significantly (and sometimes with significance) with the media in discoursing love, relationships, and desire in the twenty-first century. Current research includes explorations of the inter-relations between contemporary desire and technology; and that transmission of trauma across generations, with particular emphasis on the Irish experience.
Jordan Osserman, once a practicing Wiccan, is now a PhD candidate in Gender Studies and Psychoanalysis at University College London. His current project examines people’s stances towards male circumcision with the aid of psychoanalytic ideas. He is particularly interested in Lacan, feminist/queer debates over “sexual difference,” and the intersection of psychoanalysis and leftist politics.
Steven Reisner, PhD, is a Psychological Ethics Advisor to PHR and was a co-author on Experiments in Torture. A founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, Dr. Reisner is also on the primary faculty of the International Trauma Studies program at New York University and is an Adjunct Professor in the Program in Clinical Psychology at the Columbia University Teachers College and at the New York University School of Medicine.
Charlotte Rodgers is an animist and magickian. She is also a writer, artist, performer and public speaker. Charlotte has contributed to many magazines and anthologies and wrote the books, The Bloody Sacrifice and P is for Prostitution: A Modern Primer. She conceived, introduced and co edited A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead (all published by Mandrake of Oxford). The Sky is a Gateway not a Ceiling (illustrated by Roberto Migliussi) published in Italy, is a recently published collection of her work. She has exhibited her totemic, talismanic art work which incorporates bones, road kill and elements of death, in numerous galleries including London’s Chelsea Gallery and the Bath Royal Institute and has given presentations at Edinburgh and Leicester University.
Júlio Mendes Rodrigo, writer, researcher and broadcaster, is a votary of Fragmentary Wisdom and a devout of the Knowledge transmitted through the interacting shards that make up the art of quotation. ANDRÓMEDA – Management & Production, the entity he currently administers, usurps its name from the shackled-up princess of pagan Antiquity, with the intent of embodying a creative device for mythical epiphanies. The author is willing to admit that the “science of legend” is the “science” of circular motion, always at the same distance, around an inaccessible centre: Myth. EDUCATION: degree in History (1998) and high degree in Museology (2004), both at Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, Portugal.
Vanessa Sinclair, Psy.D. is a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. She is a founding member of Das Unbehagen: A Free Association for Psychoanalysis, which facilitates psychoanalytic lectures, classes and events in and around NYC. She contributes to various online and print publications including The Fenris Wolf, DIVISION/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum, ERIS Magazine and the Brooklyn Rail. She hosts a lecture series on Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult at Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, NY.
Eve Watson, Ph.D. is is a psychoanalytic practitioner working in a city centre practice in Dublin, Ireland. She also works at American College Dublin in the delivery of academic and clinical programmes in Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis. She is affiliated with APW and is a registered practitioner member of APPI and is organisationally on the APPI Executive Committee and the editorial board of Lacunae, the Irish Journal of Psychoanalysis. Published in the areas of psychoanalysis, critical psychology, sexuality studies, poetics and social/critical theory, she has co-edited a book with Noreen Giffney entitled Clinical Encounters: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory due to be published in 2015.
Fred Yee is a NYC based meditation instructor. He focuses on direct felt experience. Influenced by his Taoist heritage and a D.I.Y. approach to magic.