I've got two excellent events happening at Observatory this week. Do come along to one or both!
A Fate Worse Than Death: The Perils of Being a Famous Corpse
Most of us know what our afterlives are going to be like: eternity in the ground, or resting in an urn on some relative’s mantelpiece. If we’re lucky, our children might occasionally bring us flowers or a potted plant, and that’s about as interesting as things are going to get.
Not so the famous deceased. For millennia, they’ve been bought and sold, worshipped and reviled, studied, collected, stolen, and dissected. They’ve been the star attractions at museums and churches, and used to found cemeteries, cities, even empires. Pieces of them have languished in libraries and universities, in coolers inside closets, and in suitcases underneath beds. For them, eternity has been anything but easy.
The more notable or notorious the body, the more likely it is that someone’s tried to disturb it. Consider the near-snatching of Abraham Lincoln, or the attempt on Elvis’s tomb. Then there’s Descartes, who is missing his head, and Galileo, who is spending eternity without his middle finger. Napoleon’s missing something a bit lower, as is the Russian mystic Rasputin, at least if the rumors are true. Meanwhile, Jesse James has had three graves, and may not have been in any of them, while it took a court case and an exhumation to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald was in his.
In this illustrated lecture, Bess Lovejoy will draw on her new book, Rest in Pieces, to discuss the many threats faced by famous corpses–from furta sacra (“holy theft” of saintly relics), to skull-stealing phrenologists, “Resurrection Men” digging up cadavers for medical schools, modern organ harvesters, the depredations of crazed fans, and much more.
Rest in Pieces will also be available for sale, and wine will be served in celebration of its release.
Bess Lovejoy is a writer, researcher, and editor based in Seattle. She writes about dead people, forgotten history, and sometimes art, literature, and science. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, The Boston Globe, The Stranger, and other publications. She worked on the Schott’s Almanac series for five years. Visit her at BessLovejoy.com.
Heart Magick Ritual Workshop
With Pam Grossman
Date: Sunday, April 28th
Admission: $20 ***You must RSVP to phantasmaphile [at] gmail.com, as class size is limited.
Presented by Phantasmaphile
Beltane is just a few days away, so it’s the perfect time to focus on heart-centered magick. Spring is blooming, bonfires are burning, and love is all around us. This is traditionally the time of year when fertility – in all its forms – is celebrated. The concept of union (what the alchemists call conjunctio) is key to meditate upon now, as we focus on ways to balance our own internal opposites, and work towards inner completion.
In this ritual workshop, we’ll discuss ways to heal our hearts, and make them more fertile places for love and creativity. We’ll learn about herbs for both physical and spiritual heart-health – as well as a few aphrodisiacs for good measure! Each attendee will also craft a love spell, whether for someone you know, for yourself, or for the wider world.
-A candle with a candle-holder.
-Any altar objects you like. These can be decorative and/or personal objects which you’d like to have charged.
-A cushion, pillow, or fabric, as we will be sitting on the floor (chairs will be available for those who need).
Note-taking is welcome. This workshop is open to men and women, novices and advanced practitioners alike.
Pam Grossman is an independent curator and lifelong student of magickal practice and history. An initiate in the wise woman tradition, she is a graduate of Robin Rose Bennett’s 3-year green witch apprenticeship. She is the creator of Phantasmaphile, a blog which specializes in art and culture with an esoteric or fantastical bent, and Associate Editor of Abraxas Journal. Her group art shows, Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists, VISION QUEST, Alchemically Yours, and Sigils & Signs have been featured by such outlets as Art & Antiques Magazine, Boing Boing, CREATIVE TIME, Time Out New York, Reality Sandwich, Juxtapoz, Arthur, 20×200, UrbanOutfitters.com, and Neil Gaiman’s Twitter. She is a co-founder of Observatory, where her programming aims to explore mysticism via a scholarly yet accessible approach.