Blackstar, Tyson, Constantine

I wasn’t a particular fan of David Bowie before he died. I mean, I liked Bowie well enough, but wholly casually. I knew “Life on Mars,” “Under Pressure,” Jareth, etc., but Bowie got lumped together with other associations that didn’t appeal to me. Those associations were mostly about who seemed to be Bowie fans. Then I heard he died, and Blackstar had just come out. I pulled up the “Blackstar” video, and, for me, it made an eerie and an almost perfect sense: otherworldly journeys, grass blowing in the wind, strange women motoring your body, possessory and shaking/seething trances, hints of quite a bit more. Then I basically wound up crying four times over the next several days over the fact that Bowie had left this world and I hadn’t really known his work previously. I’ve been working on correcting that in the last several weeks.

Anyway, I was watching and listening to “Blackstar” last night, and I went looking for references to black stars in an occult context. I quickly went to Google Books and, after weeding out several fantasy and science fiction B-novels using “blackstar” for various ends, I find a reference to one ancient astrologer arguing that eclipses were caused by a “black star” between the sun and moon. Of course, the video for “Blackstar” features an eclipsed star image prominently in the early part of the video, and I can see the Earth’s shadow and the various associations that can emerge from its role in eclipses (with gestures at the Abyss and mortality and Otherworlds) having pertinence.[1]

The other immediate reference leads me to the reason I started writing this particular post tonight. I found a reference in Donald Tyson’s The Magician’s Workbook: Practicing the Rituals of the Western Tradition, which Tyson frames as “distill[ing] the essence of [his] daily practice of ritual magic” in order to offer newbies a thorough explanation on how to physically and imaginatively perform various skills that are handy in hermeticism. By the way, the reference comes later in the book in an exercise on rousing and channeling magical energy into a “black star” visualization.

Anyway, I go back to this book tonight to take a closer look at it, and as I am wont to do, I begin with the introduction. And–ahem–I have to admit that I immediately begin railing at Tyson’s biases and rhetoric. Before I decided that I wasn’t getting anywhere other than aggravating myself, some of my comments included:

  • “No, Donald, don’t be a #&$^head.”
  • “Because the passive voice obviously negates the ego. And you can just refuse to answer your boss? Really?”
  • “Appropriation, Donald, my dear…”
  • “Oh JFC you absolute tosser.”

Apparently, Tyson triggers my own internal Joanne Constantine–who I didn’t quite realize was there–to come out and begin providing an over-the-shoulder MST-ing. And that image is what I wanted to share with you now, friends.

Image: A tunnel under Paris by Nicolas Vigier

[1] In tracking down my source from last night, I note I find more “black star” astrological (and alchemical) references now, with many pointing to Saturn having been seen as a “black star” in juxtaposition to Sol.


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