New Short Film REGRETS by Independent Filmmaker Alex Badham
World premiere of Alex Badham's film REGRETS in the Dances With Films film festival this Saturday at the world famous TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd..
Voice over cameos by Werner Herzog, Zeena Schreck and others, portraying a multitude of thoughts running through the mind in a moment of inattention that changes everything in this captivating and thought-provoking short film. Produced as part of La Selva Coop workshop in the Canary Islands with Werner Herzog. For information and tickets to the film festival, visit https://danceswithfilms.com/
Alex Badham is currently working on a documentary about F.W. Murnau, for which he interviewed Zeena regarding her 2020 musical release “Bring Me the Head of F.W. Murnau: A Ghost Story in Six Acts,” and her expertise in Tibetan Buddhist death practices.
Photo below was taken at the conclusion of Badham's interview with Zeena at F.W. Murnau's gravesite, Stahnsdorf cemetery, Berlin.
[Posted by T.M., 22. June 2023]
Christy Hallberg shares bonus content from her interview with Zeena!
From Rock is Lit:
"So much of Zeena’s art converges with her spiritual practice. This is definitely true of [her latest album] ‘Transcend’. To celebrate the release of this amazing album, have a listen to this outtake from my interview with her from Episode 22 where Zeena talks about her new album ‘Transcend’, the use and power of Medicine Buddha mantra for spiritual and physical healing, energy transference and mantras as a means for energy transference, approaching Medicine Buddha in the spirit of receptivity and experimentation, the importance of having compassion—even for negative forces—and more.
Zeena has been on the podcast a few times, and each time our conversation tends to branch out and take on a life of its own, which means I always have some bits that don’t make it into the regular episodes, many of which wind up as stand-alone mini-episodes, like this one." -Christy Hallberg
Direct link to the bonus interview from Episode 22:
Direct link to the original interview in the second half of Episode 22, in which Zeena talks about the power certain songs have in spiritual and magical practices, with relation to the plot of Rob Errera's novel Hangman's Jam:
Direct link to order Zeena's new album Transcend:
'Transcend' ready to order at
“If you have strength of character, you can use that as fuel to not only be a survivor but to transcend simply being a survivor, use an internal alchemy to turn something rotten and horrible into gold.”
The three lengthy pieces in 'Transcend' totals nearly 52 minutes altogether, affording the listener ample meditative journeys of contemplation and sonic catharsis, ending with an exhilaratingly triumphant sense of dashing through space and time, releasing the ballast of all pain and suffering, emerging as a Victor.
The succinct titles focus on specific Buddhist themes, directing the mind toward wider and deeper understanding of ones own spiritual path and experience.
The album's official release, June 4th, 2023, is Saga Dawa Düchen, a date of immense Buddhist importance commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana of Buddha Shakyamuni.
'Transcend' debuted at Snow Gallery NYC on June 3rd, 2023, for their third exhibition in a series, 'Movement of the Triangle,' inspired by Kandinsky’s 'Concerning the Spiritual in Art.'
The exhibition also marks the first time originals of Zeena's visual art are shown together with works of her late godfather Kenneth Anger.
Album cover for Transcend is a detail from a larger piece, 'Ladders,' original art by Zeena Schreck on display at Snow Gallery until end of July, 2023.
released June 4, 2023
Recorded in Berlin, Germany.
Sound Engineer: Robert Mayson, NYC.
Promo videos of the album linked below, by Courtney Sell.
Album is in digital download format only.
NEW MUSIC by ZEENA
Zeena's second solo album 'Transcend' debuts at Snow Gallery NYC on June 3rd, 2023, as soundtrack for their third exhibition in a series, 'Movement of the Triangle,' inspired by Kandinsky’s 'Concerning the Spiritual in Art.' The exhibition also marks the first time originals of Zeena's visual art are shown together with works of her recently deceased godfather Kenneth Anger.
All good things come in threes:
The three lengthy pieces in this album total 52 minutes altogether, affording the listener ample meditative journeys of contemplation and sonic catharsis, ending with an exhilaratingly triumphant sense of dashing through space and time, releasing the ballast of all pain and suffering, emerging as a Victor. The succinct titles focus on specific Buddhist themes, directing the mind toward wider and deeper understanding of ones own spiritual path and experience.
*The album's official release is June 4th, 2023, on the day following its debut at Snow Gallery NYC and a date of immense Buddhist importance, Saga Dawa Düchen, the anniversary of Buddha's Enlightenment and Parinirvana.
*Pre-order the album Transcend prior to the official release date to get the first track; email notification on the release date will give you the link to the rest of the album.
Album cover for Transcend is a detail from a larger piece, 'Ladders,' original art by Zeena Schreck on display at Snow Gallery until July 2nd, 2023.
Recorded in Berlin, Germany.
Sound Engineer: Robert Mayson, NYC.
Promo videos of the album by Courtney Sell.
Album is in digital download format only.
For full gallery description of the exhibition and other artists featured, click on the below images or visit: https://www.instagram.com/snowgallerynyc/
Christy Alexander Hallberg of Rock is Lit explains:
"In early October 2022, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Zeena Schreck about her godfather, the avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger[...]. During my lengthy conversation with Zeena, we ventured into a lot of unrelated territory that didn’t make it into the episode. I saved these outtakes because I found them so fascinating, especially the segment in which she talked about her spiritual awakening that led to her becoming a practitioner and lineage holder of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism. I was touched that she would share such a personal journey with me and grateful to her for letting me share it with you here in the Rock is Lit Vault.
Enjoy the interview, [HERE] then listen to the full Episode 6 here or wherever you get your podcasts." -- Christy Alexander Hallberg
To hear the interview click on the screenshot below and scroll to end of this post for personal message from Zeena!
Message from Zeena:
My heartfelt thanks to Christy Alexander Hallberg for publishing the outtakes from our interview. As is often the case when being interviewed, off-topic questions organically come up and in this case Christy was able to inadvertently document what many have asked me about but which I haven't publicly discussed - my spiritual path and how I got to where I am now. As Christy presented this additional interview material to me as a birthday present, I not only thank her sincerely for that but also hope that anything of what I said is of some benefit to others on their own spiritual journey. Remember that every day you wake up and have the advantage of being alive, in a human body with human conscience and cognizance, and all the potential that comes with that, is a gift and a chance to begin a new life of your choosing.
And last but not least, because my root Lama, who I speak of in this interview, also has his birthday so close to mine (same time of the year), I extend all the best birthday wishes and long life prayers to the Very Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche who turns 91 in a few days! Below is a video of last years prayers to him by his monastery in Canada. For those unfamiliar with Tibetan Buddhist types of liturgies and rituals in this video, this gives an idea of the practices to which I'm initiated, for which I'm so very grateful!
As we enter into the dark months of the year, may your heart be filled with light and non-judgment and you become a beacon of radiant compassion and loving-kindness to all sentient beings around you.
-Om Mani Padme Hum-
P.S. As I first listened to the interview, the point where I'm describing the intermediate state of consciousness between one life before reincarnating into the next life, in Tibetan Buddhism known as the Bardo Thödol, which spans forty-nine days, I noticed that the total running time of this interview coincidentally came to forty-nine minutes!
[posted by t.m.]
Big Thanks to AFRICAN PAPER:
German online music magazine African Paper posted a great review of Zeena's 'Bring Me the Head of F.W. Murnau". Scroll below for the English translation of the original German language review.
Digital downloads of the album are at Zeena Schreck Bandcamp.
Perhaps one has to be well-travelled to realize that they're one of those people who don't settle for the illusion of home - I'm talking about an illusion here insofar as the ideas you have about your own life, that are always illusory in a certain way - you can or want to let those illusions in. The famous silent film director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau wrote to his mother from Tahiti, where he was shooting his last film Tabu, that he only felt homesick to a limited extent, because no country, no house, no person's companionship could really give him any sense of home. He became particularly aware of this on the island at the other end of the world, which he felt bewitched by.
The compact but intense sound collage-like album, which Zeena Schreck - formerly of Radio Werewolf - composed about a fictional post-biographical episode surrounding Murnau, with accompanying videos by a certain Tnopud Salocin, begins with an excerpt of this letter, appropriately framed by the sounds of tropical tides and delivered in a slowed down, androgynous voice. The haunting tale that forms the backdrop to the music is about the abduction of the director's head from the cemetery in Stahnsdorf near Berlin - something that some may think is an urban legend but that actually happened a good ten years ago, and so the master's homelessness outlasts his physical life.
A feature of the album is the constant blending of the director's life and work. “Ill Omens”, whose melange of alienated, perhaps sampled instruments is reminiscent of a slightly sepia-toned grey, could be a congenial score for the bizarre skull robbery, and yet the tension, the coarse-grained and flickering humming and hissing, after which only the death bell remains, is reminiscent of many a film scene from Murnau's oeuvre. "A Drive up the Coast" is like a peaceful little miniature [fairground]: organ and waltz rhythm evoke a carnival atmosphere, and when you hear the sound of rain and the honking of a vintage car toward the end, you might even think of California, where Zeena herself spent her early years.
While the first three tracks have an effect of a soft introduction, the rest of the compositions get more to the point. With ritualistic percussion by drummer Hisham A. Bharoocha, hand drums and rattles, odd reverbs and orchestral quotes, "Tabu," which contains lyrics from the film of the same name, is a furious celebration of the dark side of the exotic, and contains in Zeena's recitation the warning to respect the eponymous taboo. In “The Phantom Bridge”, which draws from a pivotal scene from Murnau's best-known film Nosferatu, the voice sweeps like murmurs through a room, flanked by dusty bright bells. In a whisper, the voice tells of unknown places and things, but also of life leaving the body, while water ripples in the background. For anyone familiar with Zeena's background in Vajrayana Tantric Buddhism, entirely different dimensions might open up here, in the vampire's quotes.
In the final track, “Endlich Daheim”, which opens with the rattling of an old film projector, and whose lyrics are by Zeena herself, the whole spooky story about the open grave is revealed, in which the director seems to have actually found his home, decades after his physical death.
“Bring Me The Head Of F.W. Murnau” is a beautiful, concise piece of music that wraps the aura of old, fantastic film scores in a delightfully experimental guise, and at the same time doesn't seem implausible for a second. All this and the appreciation of the master is in no way disturbed by the fact that the signature of the musician herself is always present and sometimes becomes explicit through small and not so small hints. The already mentioned echo of a faded fairground somewhere in Karloffornia and the reference to tantra could also be purely coincidental and a projection of the reviewer. Less so, however, is the title which refers to an early Radio Werewolf release (and indirectly to another classic film, Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) - but at that time it was about the head of an unpleasant journalist.
When past and present, life and afterlife, one's own and the other's are intertwined in this way, it becomes clear once more how illusionary the perceptions of time, space and what one takes for the self are in the end. The fact that you can still feel Zeena and the world of Murnau throughout is not a contradiction in terms. -admin/African Paper
[Original German Version HERE.]
[posted by t.m.]
Zeena Cover Story in Derailed Magazine:
Since the publication of this extra-long interview with Zeena for Derailed Magazine, many have requested to read it in a more user-friendly format. Specifically, some found the version on the Derailed website difficult to open and navigate to read all the way through whereas some non-native English speakers expressed that they would have liked a way to read the text through translation apps. For those reasons, we're archiving the complete interview text below in this post.
The original full color hardcopy of the magazine (containing visuals not included in this post) is available at: https://www.derailedmagazine.com/april-2021
Many thanks to Daphne Minks Daly at Derailed Magazine for facilitating this in-depth, exclusive interview with Zeena!
[Posted by Thomas]
Eager Student, Humble Teacher
Issue 4, Vol 1 April 2021
Words by Daphne Minks Daly.
All Images copyright Zeena Schreck.
Zeena Schreck has held many titles, avant-garde artist, musician, author, spiritual leader, and High Priestess, to name a few. These days, professionally, she's simply called ZEENA. Of all the monikers she's donned, the one that is truly her most beloved is, of course, that of yogi, or in its feminine form, a yogini. She states, "My life has taken a turn. One where I'm 'becoming.' I'm a yogi that lives out in the forest. I live a solitary existence. And that's somewhat necessary for the kind of spiritual path that I'm on."
Her private existence makes penetrating Zeena's inner circle a difficult but not impossible task. These days, she's kept well-insulated from outsiders, and it's of little wonder why. In the eighties, her father's religious organization was the center of controversy and a worldwide media nightmare, thrusting her already highly publicized family further into the spotlight. Ultimately, at her father's behest, Zeena publicly took up for him and his organization, taking the heat for both while becoming its first public spokesperson.
Although she resigned from her role and severed ties with her father in 1990, many people still mistakenly associate her with events leftover from decades ago. In many ways, the shadows of her past will always be there. In other ways, they're all but a faded memory. Her childhood house, which once stood in San Francisco, California, was demolished in 2001. Known globally as The Black House, the building was, for many, a symbol of opposition and religious freedom. For others, blasphemy, fear, and hatred. But, despite the controversy, for Zeena, it was just home.
Refusing correspondence that addresses her by previous surnames or titles, she has done her best to distance herself from her former identity. A permanent resident of Germany for well over two decades, Zeena says, "My leaving my birth country wasn't just about my family. It was about the country itself. It's about what I went through with that national witch-hunt, the whole experience." The former High Priestess affirms, "In the eighties, there were so many factors that came together, that caused good reason to travel a very extreme distance. My mind was made up. And that was it, I just had to get away. And sometimes you have to go very, very far away in order to get your life and head together."
Zeena thoughtfully explains, "I often compare that experience to a branch on a tree. The tree, representing the family, maybe has root rot and it's beginning to reach up through the trunk of the tree as it's growing. The root rot is beginning to infest with parasites and it's actually toxic and rotten. Yet, there are a couple of branches, maybe close to the top or sticking out at the side, that the root rot hasn't reached fully. It's getting close, but if you can snip them off and replant them maybe they've still got enough life in them that the toxic effect hasn't reached them completely."
Continuing, she says, "Snip it off, replant it, get it into healthy soil with some sunlight and nutrients. Then that branch of the tree can grow and get healthy. But first, it has to be separated from the rot. I feel that about my life here in Europe, that I returned home. That I actually was in the wrong place before."
Her artwork speaks to an old soul with an appreciation for German romanticism. Stating that her inspiration comes from a comfortability with solitude and vivid imagination skills, Zeena shares, "As a kid, I was very artistic. I loved artistic expression. I never wanted what was already prefabricated. I never wanted dolls. I hated dolls, in fact." She remarks, "What I really wanted was art supplies. Or... and this may sound weird, but things that were just for 'survival.' One year, I asked for an icebox so I could keep food in my room, to begin learning how to live on my own. I wanted to know how to be utterly, utterly self-sufficient."
I wondered about her childhood and how growing up in The Black House may translate to her art. "Was I ever a child?" Zeena sarcastically asks herself before responding. "I was left for pretty much the whole day, everyday. My sister would be in school and my parents slept through the day. I developed the necessity, but also the ability...well, I mean, I had no other choice than for my imagination and mind to expand," she explains.
Pondering for a moment, Zeena recalls, "Because they slept all day, my mother would leave my breakfast on a chair next to the crib so when I woke up, I could reach out and take it. She used to brag to her friends, 'Oh, Zeena! She's like a little monkey. I have her so well trained, she can feed herself.'"
Clarifying, she says, "My parents were not 'kids' kind of parents, you know? I didn't really spend a bunch of fun time with them, unless it was my birthday, or a holiday or some other reason. Otherwise, I was very much left to my own devices. I developed the ability to entertain myself." Zeena remarks, "My mother didn't know what I was interested in. She was just working all the time. I would only associate quality time with her after a big blowup between my parents."
Her father, she explains, contributed to her interest in art and music a great deal. "In my earliest life, he definitely spent more quality time with me than my mother, with things that interested me. He would play music or after dinner he'd sometimes draw with me and teach me about classical art and music. He hated rock and metal music and gave long diatribes about how stupid it was. So, I was raised with very traditional musical influences. My father's original profession was musician. That's what's written on my birth certificate, as his profession. That's what he did back then," she says, her voice softening.
Zeena then remarks, "I started reading fairly early, thanks to my grandmother. Every weekend, when I went to their house, she would get me a new book from that series, Little Golden Books. The fairy tale books that I was reading, my mind would wander and kind of discover alternate realities." She finishes her thought by sharing, "In my earliest life, my grandparents were that little bit of stability in my life. Because they led a 'normal, regular life.' There were a lot of changes that happened very rapidly throughout those early years. In my life, in my family, and in my household."
When I ask about her experiences attending school, Zeena's gentle but nervous laugh makes another appearance. She replies, "For the longest time, for the life of me, I could never remember my first day of school. But, when I was dealing with issues after leaving my family, I learned some self-hypnosis techniques. I began uncovering a lot of just very mundane, ordinary memories. One of the things I realized was why I couldn't remember my first day of school. It's because I didn't go."
Zeena explains, "My mother wasn't aware that school had started. So, I started late. I'm pretty sure it was a couple of weeks late." She goes on to say, "I spent so much time alone and was not socialized very early in life. It was a big problem when I started school. I was a little like a wild animal. I didn't really know how to behave for school."
Recalling her first day at school, she describes, "All the other kids were already well-trained. The teacher said, 'We're going to get graham crackers before we take a nap.' And everybody got into 'formation,' to get their crackers. I didn't know the concept of science fiction, but it was all just weird!" she laughs. "When the teacher said, 'It's time to take a nap with your head down on the desk,' I wouldn't put my head down. I thought, 'I want to go outside and play!"
She points out, "Of course, given the philosophy that I was raised with...that my parents made clear in interviews, and this is their words, by the way, they raised me 'by the laws of the jungle.'" She explains further, "I was able to be very independent and of course, that made my parents very happy - less work for them. I always kept to myself. I was always a loner. Unfortunately, that made me easy prey to be picked on and taken advantage of in a lot of ways. So, I learned how to fight early too," Zeena says.
"Most of my life I hated school, but it wasn't that I hated learning. It wasn't that I didn't like my teachers. It was just...the problems I had in school because of my parents' notoriety, definitely caused serious problems for me. So, I took the GED to get out early," she shares.
Zeena details, "It wasn't until much later in life that I could unravel how much of my behavior was a reaction to the way I was treated by other kids, and societal influences. And how much was inherent to my natural character." She discloses, "I've always had one or two very close friends, and I'm still that way, actually. I was never one of these girls that had a gang of girls they hung out with or some club at school that was their own clique."
She expands by saying, "The only places I can recall that I felt safe was with a favorite uncle and two particular friends in my neighborhood. I always used to wish that they would just adopt me." With a childlike chuckle, she elaborates, "I was the stray dog at their door at dinner time. Like, 'Can I just kinda hang out here for a while?"
About her childhood friends, she shares, "Their parents were kind enough to give me a little refuge, some shelter, even if just for a few hours, it was enough for me to get a breather." Taking a more serious tone, Zeena says, "Although I, myself was not a victim of parental physical abuse, there are many studies showing the effects of domestic violence between parents on the children."
The artist emphasizes, "Even if the children are not being physically beaten themselves, it's just as damaging. Because they're living in a constant state of anxiety, of never knowing when something's going to blow up or where they stand. The stability of the household is totally shot." In the early years, death threats, nightly vandalism, stalkers waiting outside of the home, and hate mail were common occurrences due to her parents' notoriety. Zeena highlights, "In my case, I not only had violence in the household but violence outside of the household as well. I really had nowhere peaceful."
"I used to feel like a lone wolf or a jungle cat that must fend for itself, like a jaguar," Zeena details. "I had a very strong connection to animals and still do obviously. My connection to other humans was far weaker. It probably still is," Zeena admits. "I so identified with animals. As I said, I was not socialized when I was a kid. But we did have a lot of animals and I was really tightly linked to them. Not only to our animals but to all animals."
Her family's various exotic pets were also the source of another much-publicized debate. Most of the focus was placed on the family's pet lion, Togare. Zeena remembers, "I made a very strong connection with that lion. My grandparents lived a few blocks away from the San Francisco Zoo. And after he was taken there, they took me to visit that lion every single Saturday."
She maintains, "I came to know Togare better than my parents did, after so many years," recalling, "My parents just dropped him there. They never went back to visit him. So, I was visiting regularly, making a shamanic connection. He was my brother. We were both just show-things in my parents world." The avowed vegan and animal rights advocate quickly points out that she doesn't condone keeping wild animals as personal pets.
Expounding on her connection to animals and how it relates to her Tibetan Buddhist practices, a distinct sound of joy lifts in her voice. Zeena explains, "Part of what I teach is healing practices for people's animals." She says, "I really enjoy being able to guide people through certain spiritual practices, who maybe have an elderly or sickly animal. Or if they've just gotten a new baby animal, I teach how to do certain strengthening and longevity practices. Even choosing a name that will be beneficial to the animal is something Buddhism places emphasis on."
Zeena remarks, "I happen to like all creatures, too, even insects that I've never seen before that are kind of creepy looking. I'll have a curiosity and think, 'Wow, that's neat. I wonder what it's thinking right now.' I try to look them in the eye and relate to them on their level." With a tender laugh, she says, "Some people don't respond too favorably when they see that you like singing to an insect, thinking you're a little buggy yourself."
She goes on to explain, "Of course, I know the bug doesn't speak English. But you know what? I also know that if you're in a foreign country and you don't understand the language, but someone's genuinely kind to you, you're going to understand it. You don't need to speak their language."
Zeena shares, "So often, I hear people coming to me saying, 'I'm so lonely.' Especially in these times, with coronavirus, lockdowns, and everything. People are so lonely. Depression and mental illnesses are getting worse because of isolation. I always try to remind them that if they open their mind up to all the life forms around them, visible and non-visible, it's literally impossible to be lonely."
She kindly points out, "There are so many small life forms that you could be devoting your attention to, which could benefit from your positive attention. Just as you're feeling lonely, wishing someone would give you attention, so does that dog sitting next to you, or a spider in your kitchen!" Zeena suggests, "Just talk to them like a normal person talking to another person. They'll feel your intention. They'll feel your kindness. And that whole process transforms you, then you don't feel so lonely."
As a yogini, Zeena instructs students privately, teaching Buddhist philosophy, rituals, meditation, and magic techniques. On a secular level, she offers private life-coaching and spiritual-based counseling to anyone of any religion. Offering lectures, seminars, and workshops to the general public, she believes in the importance of continually learning and challenging the mind. Zeena frequently partakes in solitary Buddhist retreats to expand, deepen and master her own practices.
"I've been teaching since I was 16 years old. Metaphysics and magical sorcery when I was younger. Not so much sorcery anymore," Zeena clarifies, "but teaching spiritual practices and meditation for a very long time." She describes, "The core of my life is maintaining my spiritual practices. Like the hub of a wheel, from which everything else in life expands like the spokes."
Zeena confesses, "Partly my biggest challenge these days, with my own spiritual practices, is compassion for humans. What I mean by that is, to have compassion for humans but not for their disruptive behavior. That is the important distinction." I then inquired about her path toward Buddhism. I wondered what it was that drew her to its time-honored traditions. She replied, "For me, it was the result of several personal tests that I had to go through. My life was changing in such a way that I really needed some spiritual direction of a metaphysical type."
"I was not interested in psychotherapy. I explored that earlier in life. It was as good as it could have been for the people who were providing it," she explains. "But, you know, it just didn't work for me. It was not my solution. I had specific things that I was going through in life." She elaborates by saying, "The advice. The empowerments. The initiations, and training that I've received from my Buddhist teachers awakened the ability to make clear spiritual, metaphysical, and even health-related changes more rapidly than ever before."
Zeena explains, "The compassionate manner, the way they also taught by example, activated deeper understandings about the true nature of the world we live in. About life in general, and about how the mind operates. That proved to me the pure and magical nature of these Tibetan Buddhist practices, which is still a living thing."
She is quick to point out, "As I was undergoing all of these challenges, lessons, training, and initiations this was all interconnected, happening simultaneous to my creating art, which is my profession." However, Zeena notes, "My spiritual life is my private life. It's not an identity. It's just my existence, how I am. It's like saying I have hazel eyes, you know? But I'm not going around saying, 'Hey, you know what? I have hazel eyes!' It's just who I am."
After a short pause, she says, "Buddhism is, in fact, realism. It's neither nihilism nor utopian. The mystical and metaphysical techniques that I use these days are very different from when I was younger." Pausing for a moment, she states, "I suppose that's the process of evolution." Continuing her thought, she reflects, "In recent years, the accumulated effects from decades of meditation and other practices have allowed me to transform the process by which I do my art as well.
"I do much more observing and listening now," Zeena explains. "I take more time to open my mind up and allow what organically comes up without imputing, forcing, or steering a precise meaning or goal onto something." Elaborating further, she relates, "Sometimes, when something I hadn't initially meant to do develops, which is more meaningful than the original plan, I think, 'Yeah, okay. So, this is what I was really meant to do.'"
Zeena tells me, "Observing what naturally arises, it's often not even what is in the forefront that reveals itself as so important, but what's on the periphery or in the background. There are many levels of awareness happening simultaneously." She expounds further, professing, "I have a certain exercise that I guide some of my students through, which I call 'The Incidentals.' The incidentals are not the thing that's in the forefront of your view."
Simplifying, she describes, "If you go to the zoo, for example, you go with the thought in mind that you're going to see tigers, bears, and elephants. The 'big things.' You're not really thinking that there's also going to be city sparrows there. Or a mouse stealing from feed trays. Or, other things like the people working there, who you didn't really pay to see. But they're there, also living beings. They're what I mean by 'the incidentals.' It's what we often overlook." She asserts, "Of course, there's much more to this exercise than only that! But that's how my art is ever more integrated with my spiritual practices."
"Another aspect of artistic inspiration," Zeena says, "is that I'm very drawn to, and had early life experience exploring symbolism and the Symbolist art movement." There's also a vital source of inspiration that comes from her dreams. She explains by saying, "In that sense, I'm influenced by the same things that the Surrealists and Expressionists were. For decades, I kept a dream diary. Although these days, I don't need to so much anymore."
When it comes to her students, I can't help but wonder how she feels about 'internet followers.' Upon asking her about social media and its role in her life, she candidly replies, "I've never wanted 'followers.' Since the beginning of the internet, I've been against its narcotic effect on people's minds and never wanted anything to do with it." Zeena reveals, "The only reason I opened certain accounts, got a website, and began an online presence at all was because there were so many impostor pages... claiming to be me...even speaking as me at times!"
She continues, affirming, "As for my students, I encourage them to refrain from excessive online use, or to develop mindfulness with how they use it. Set a timer and not go beyond a certain amout of minutes per day. Turn everything off at a certain hour, and do whatever is necessary to not get hooked by the toxic influence."
Zeena advises, "Taking regular digital detox days or weekends is also helpful. Be as vigilant with online use as you'd be entering into a toxic waste dump. We're already navigating through enough illusions in real life. Letting yourself get caught up in even more illusions through virtual reality is beyond illogical, it's insane. I would not be sad if the whole internet just disappeared tomorrow."
Zeena then reflects on a quote she once read in a German magazine. She thoughtfully recalls, "A famous Tibetan Buddhist, The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was asked if he uses modern conventions like the internet or email. Well, he sort of scoffed and said, 'With whom should I email? The internet only provides the illusion of information. It also creates a lot of confusion.' That quote was such a great little teaching, in and of itself."
She remarks, "It's a very sick society that we're living in now, requiring radical rebellion. This is something I try to impart to people I know." Rhetorically, Zeena asks, "What is radical rebellion?" She responds with, "The way to be radical is to stop a lot of insane mind-damaging behaviors that have become addictions. That's how to become radical."
Explaining further, she says, "Being radical is getting a grip on yourself, on your mind and not being seduced by the newest, latest thing. Not being emotionally dragged down because you think you should be doing whatever your peers are doing. How to be radical in this day and age is to think of the consequences of your actions. That's how you'd be radical. Don't just do things mindlessly and impulsively."
Zeena tells me, "Being radical is stopping destructive, habitual behavior. Don't care about what your neighbors are doing. Don't care about what some politician is doing or saying. Who the hell cares? Care about what you are doing. Care about how compassionate you are to others." She imparts, "A lot of people might think, 'Why should I be compassionate when nobody else is?' Well, when has it ever worked out that two wrongs create a right? Not paying attention or caring about one's own actions and consequences is why the world is in the state it's in."
She highlights, "Get yourself healthy. Get yourself as strong as possible... your body and your mind. This is what's radical. Why is it radical? Because it actually requires more mental strength and discipline than just falling apart every time something offends and having a toddler tantrum." Clarifying her thought, she explains, "We enter life, and we're given these identities from our family, from our society, from our schools. The conditioning comes from both outside of ourselves as well as self-generated."
Zeena says, "Are you going to go into this profession or that profession? What is your identity going to be? What are your politics going to be? What will be your religion? Or no religion? What are you going to do with your life? We place a lot of thought and expectations into 'I'm this,' 'I'm that,' 'I'm not this,' I'm not that.'
She advises, "For those on a true spiritual path, eventually one begins to feel a healthy disgust for all identity labels. You don't want or need them anymore." Expanding further, she explains, "Gradually, all of that begins to drop away. Even your own ideas and definitions gradually dissolve and drop away, so that you don't need to be defined by any comparisons or points of reference."
Zeena concludes by stating, "You become pure existence. You just are. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a way of describing this. My root Lama, Thrangu Rinpoche, explains it as attaining a state of 'suchness.' Such a beautiful word in its simplicity. 'Suchness.' Pure existence. Not this. Not that. Not both. Not neither. Just relaxing in a pure state of being. Simply being."
Updates have been made to the Teachings & Consultation Page:
For general information regarding Zeena's teaching and consultation sessions, and how to book a session, please refer to the newly updated Teachings Page on this site at https://www.zeenaschreck.com/teachings.html
The Spring 2022 update at the end of the Teachings Page doesn't mean any change to established students' continued training.
Any questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
[posted by Thomas]
Exclusive in-depth seven page interview with Zeena in the April '21 edition of Derailed, a new magazine for cynics, renegades and survivors of the unimaginable, describes the article: "The Artist Discusses Inspiration, Early Life & 'The State of Suchness.'"
"My leaving my birth country wasn't just about my family. It was about the country itself. It's about what I went through with that national witch-hunt, the whole experience." -Zeena Schreck
To read online, go to Featured Story in the April 2021 Issue.
Order the print edition at: www.derailedmagazine.com/
Den of Geek magazine consults Zeena about Tibetan tantric Buddhist practices of astral projection and traveling though netherworlds in relation to the new film 'Insidious,' and its portrayal of a realm called 'The Further'.
Selected excerpts of Zeena's interview below.
The entire article can be read at:
DoG: Among true believers, “the Further” is also called Liṅga Śarīra, Akasha, and prana. But it’s probably best known as the astral plane, a shallow tag in itself.
“The term ‘astral plane’ is a poetic description, at best, or more accurately a misnomer,” says Zeena, a Tibetan tantric Buddhist yogini, and iconic occult authority and artist. “When our consciousness pierces the veil of our ordinary, everyday scope of perception, there are infinite other realities one might experience, not just one ‘astral plane.’”
DoG: In Insidious, the paranormal hunting psychic Elise explains that Dalton is a “traveler,” who was born with the ability to pierce that veil.
“Everybody possesses the potential for astral projection,” Zeena says. “It’s a natural part of being human, just as many other metaphysical or paranormal experiences can naturally occur. But the ability to actualize it is relatively rare, and the effects from the occurrences vary greatly depending on many factors.”
“Astral projection during deep states of unconsciousness like sleeping, fainting, or coma, could be achieved by a master of such techniques,” Zeena says. “For one who’s trained most of their life in the esoteric method of willed astral projection, and has become highly skilled in the ability to focus the mind under all circumstances, then deep states of unconsciousness wouldn’t impede their ability.”
DoG: Zeena confirms people can be guided through the experience, but insists “it’s a very delicate process requiring a qualified teacher from reputable metaphysical lineages that specialize in that. And even then, astral projection, or directing one’s consciousness, is not the main goal, but rather a way to gauge preparedness for more advanced training on the path toward spiritual enlightenment. When done improperly, the results of attempting astral projection simply for experimentation, entertainment, or curiosity can be disastrous.”
DoG: The different practices are often mistakenly considered interchangeable, but are quite different.
“With astral projection, one is sending one’s consciousness–either in part or fully–away from their body to a designated place or realm, in this world or others, for a particular purpose,” Zeena explains. “Remote viewing is when consciousness remains in the body but one can view anywhere else from afar. These two phenomena are also different from the involuntary experience colloquially known as OBE (out of body experiences), which usually spontaneously occurs in conjunction with trauma, near death experiences, or extreme stressors or ecstasy.”
[End of excerpts]
FAQ General Info Letter To People Who Newly Discover Zeena based on outdated, last century interviews with her.
With so much misinformation, disinformation, conspiracies and outdated or vestigial sources saturating the so-called information highway of the Internet, there are always those who discover Zeena from very old interviews found online dating back to the 1980s during the "satanic panic" era in America. Because we get a bit tired of answering the same questions about what is easily found in a couple of seconds' web search, we've compiled a concise general info letter with facts about Zeena's personal and spiritual evolution and current status. For easy reference, this FAQ letter is now a permanent page within Zeena's website. We hope it helps to clarify some things. And if inspires you to unsubscribe, we're happy to have helped you to make that decision too and wish you all the best!
-Thomas M [webmaster]
In 1990, Zeena left the Church of Satan, an organization within which she was raised and groomed to become its High Priestess and first public spokesperson. From 1985 to 1990, she publicly defend her father's organization at his request during the U.S. witch-hunt known as "the Satanic Panic" (a moral panic characterized by allegations of Satanic ritual abuse). Many at the time rhetorically asked Zeena why her father didn't confront his accusers himself. Strong philosophical, ethical and administrative differences grew between Zeena and her father, as well as parental jealousies surrounding renewed attention garnered for the church from the impact of Zeena's media appearances. The final straw precipitating her abdication was her father's threatening her life in the presence of a witness. After this ideological and familial breaking point, Zeena severed ties with her father, publicly exposing him and his organization as fraudulent and hypocritical. Her final ritual of severance from the Church of Satan, on Walpurgisnacht of 1990, sent shockwaves through the occult world that knew her as her father's strongest public defender up to that point. The event was referenced in a 1991 Rolling Stone article by Lawrence Wright who wrote, "Later I learned that earlier in the evening, LaVey's younger daughter had chosen this special day to renounce her father. 'I officially and ritually ended my positions as Church of Satan representative-defender and daughter of Anton LaVey,' Zeena declared in a letter." The ensuing character assassination, spin-doctoring, rumor mongering, and threats from her father's dwindling die-hard supporters continue to this day. Zeena is unfazed, describing LaVeyan Satanism as "Uptight Dark Triad personality disorder ninnies with cosplay and ritual fetishes."
Since leaving the Church of Satan, Zeena also totally rejects, is not a part of, nor condones, any form of Satanism, or western occult trends such as Luciferianism, Crowleyism, Thelema, Chaos Magick, Theosophy, The Golden Dawn, Freemasons, Temple of Set, etc. Her reasons for this disavowal are due to her own life's experience witnessing how and why such pseudo-religious, occult or otherwise hierarchical esoteric groups and practices are not a viable route to freedom, liberation and enlightenment. Her first-hand experience in such groups proved they're just traps, often leading to worse manipulation, abuse, exploitation, mental and physical suffering and decay than conventional religions. Zeena teaches that oppressive religious or ideological zealotry can happen within any system and that the antidote to that is not to flip to the opposite extreme or competitor, in a reactionary maneuver.
After leaving the Church of Satan, Zeena began practicing traditional Indian tantra* (*traditional Indian/Vedic tantra is not to be confused with the degraded Western forms of tantra, called neo-tantra and most often associated with sexual abuse and exploitation; that's not what traditional Indian tantra is.).[*Ref: Zeena's book "Demons of the Flesh", 2002, co-authored with Nikolas Schreck.]
Within the framework of traditional tantric spiritual practices, Zeena was initiated specifically into the Kali-Shakti practices. These practices led her to discover, evolve, and formally convert to Tibetan Buddhism, in the Drikung Kagyu, Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.
As a yogini, Zeena has taken full Bodhisattva vows and completed the traditional Tibetan tantric Buddhist three year retreat training (i.e., initiation and practices which include Vajrayogini, the Six Yogas of Naropa and Mahamudra). She is an established religious teacher in the field of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism and of Mahamudra and Karma yoga meditation. She teaches Buddhist philosophy and meditation techniques at the longest standing Buddhist center in Berlin, Germany (BGB) as well as giving lectures, seminars, workshops, instruction in ritual practices, private coaching, and spiritual counseling on these topics. She also takes regular retreats to deepen and master her ongoing practices.
In 2015, Zeena and her former husband Nikolas Schreck divorced, also ending their collaborative work, and they now live totally separate lives. However, Zeena chose to keep her married name stating that she would not reinstate her born surname (LaVey) "due to the heavy weight of negative karma that travels with it."
If one only knows her from her 20th century U.S. interviews while defending her father's religion during the heat of a national moral-fundamentalist hysteria, it's important to understand that Zeena was never against Christianity, or any religion. She was and is against ignorance and closed-mindedness - including ignorant Satanists and closed-minded occultists. Zeena is apolitical and believes in freedom of religion, choice and lifestyle for everyone. She also feels that ones religion should be their own private business just as politics, sexual orientation or any other personal preferences should be. So, whatever her religion is - or has been - it should not be confused with her profession and career which is that of artist, musician and writer.
For more about Zeena's disavowal of Satanism and her life in the last 30+ years, please refer to these links:
Wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeena_Schreck
Zeena's Teachings Page: https://www.zeenaschreck.com/teachings.html
Interview for VICE magazine describing her rejection of Satanism http://www.vice.com/read/beelzebubs-daughter-0000175-v19n4
Zeena's YouTube Channel with recent interviews: http://www.youtube.com/user/ZeenaSchreckOfficial
[Last updated: 13 March, 2021]
The title of this post, "Last Day of a Bummer Year" is a reference to the below 1988 letter to me from my godfather Kenneth Anger, penned on his personal stationery bearing beautifully intricate artwork by Bobby Beausoleil.
If '88 was "A Bummer Year", then thirty-two years later, as we come to the end of 2020, how should we classify this year? Surely Kenneth, and most of us, will be happy to see the door shut on this year.
Whatever your usual New Year's Eve celebrations, most everyone throughout the world will be having a quiet, lockdown New Year's Eve this year. There are myriad self-help articles and endless updates on every platform about the pandemic and how to deal with it in practical medical and psychological ways. I don't have anything to add to all of that, on that level.
I know many who have lost loved ones this year, not only to Coronavirus but countless other ways. Many are feeling grief, pain and sorrow because they couldn't see their loved ones one last time before they passed. Others have been separated from family, friends or partners, unable to travel due to quarantine or lockdowns. In times like this, it's important to remember that we're never truly separated from the mind streams of those we love, not even after physical death. If you consider yourself a true mystic, magician or spiritual being of any kind, it's important to develop the mind, and the ability to focus, so that we may connect with those we've lost or are unable to physically be with.
This WWII song "We'll Meet Again," sung by Vera Lynn who died this year at the age of 103 years shortly after the first lockdown, is as relevant to our feelings of loss and disconnect in the current world-wide situation today as it was eighty years ago.
I extend my wishes and prayers that all of you stay physically and mentally healthy, that you have strength to get through these difficult temporary times and that you try to do whatever possible to generate loving-kindness, joyfulness and life affirming thoughts for yourselves and others. Try to not spend too much time taking in disaster oriented news but do stay connected to animals, nature and real-life offline experiences within your immediate environment. It is more important to stay grounded and compassionate than hateful, divisive and accusatory, which doesn't help to heal anything. If we remember that everyone is experiencing their own pain and suffering through all of this, and their own experiences of Impermanence, we can hopefully try to remain calm if and when heated and stressful situations arise.
My thoughts and blessings for a strong and healthy New Year 2021 are with you all. Through the power of our combined magic and prayers, may we see positive changes in the year to come!
I close now with the closing words from Kenneth Anger's above letter to me, "Keep Well" !
Om Mani Padme Hum & SLM
Medicine Buddha mantra blessings to anyone ill or experiencing mental and psychic disturbances, also for the wellbeing of all animals:
Tayatha Om Bekandze Bekandze Maha Bekandze Radza Samudgate Soha
Amitabha Buddha mantra blessings, for those who've passed this year:
Om Ami Dewa Hri
To celebrate October World Animal Month*, Zeena honors our non-human companions in a limited edition 2021 photo-art calendar. Vibrant original works for monthly contemplations on themes of animal rights and spiritual liberation.
The calendar is printed on fine art quality premium paper suitable for cropping and framing after use.
Dimensions: 300x200mm / 8”x11½”
Personalized autography option located in the drop-down menu. If you have animals (or a group of animals) for which you'd like Zeena's personalized blessings, simply send your and their (the animals) names to email@example.com to be added to her personalized message. To ORDER click HERE.
To U.S. Customers: If you're ordering this as a gift, please consider that due to severe restrictions on parcels entering the U.S. from overseas, delivery is only allowed via ship and can take up to 8 weeks to reach destination. You will receive an email notification the day your order is sent, with tracking number, so you can follow its status.
Message from Zeena about the calendar below.
*A brief history of World Animal Day (and month) at the end of this post.
Message from Zeena:
“How many of our lives would feel incomplete without our magical familiars, totem animals, or service and emotional support animals? How many of us also feel compassion for the unseen, forgotten, unloved, feral or endangered animals? Within my 'Blessed Beasts' calendar, each tableau reveals the deeper emotional intelligence of the lovely creatures depicted. Sometimes it's in their expression, their body language, a knowing glance or an attitude which conjures a sense of loyalty, companionship, nobility, or wisdom. For pagan and shamanic religions, all animal species have inherent magical powers associated with and symbolizing different aspects of different gods. On the basis of my Tibetan Buddhist yogic training, I patiently develop a rapport with the animals I photograph by chanting specific tantric Buddhist mantras which gradually relax and open the beasts to loving-kindness and the liberating vibrations of these ancient sacred syllables. Hence the title, 'Blessed Beasts.'
In relation to the theme of the 2021 calendar, as well as October being World Animal Month, I ask you to consider donating or volunteering to any animal welfare organizations of your choice (if you don't already). In these difficult times, during the world-wide pandemic and its collateral damage, let's not forget the brave warriors who risk their own safety, health and emotional well-being to continue caring for animals in need. I have my preferred animal aid organizations to which I regularly contribute. But it really doesn't matter whether you do so for a small animal protection group in your own town, or to the neighborhood feral cat lady or bird man who contributes their free time caring for injured and sick wildlife, or whether you choose a reputable international organization – please consider making a donation to help any of them!
For more information on spiritual practices for your animals, including prayers for sick and dying animals, I recommend Lama Zopa's Enlightenment for the Dear Animals website at https://enlightenmentforanimals.org/
In closing, I send blessings and prayers to all animals and those humans who help them, and especially those who have suffered and perished this year as the result of natural and man-made disasters.
May the creatures you aid today return to you as Enlightened Mother Beings of your future lifetimes!
-Om Mani Padme Hum-
Brief History of World Animal Day/Month:
'World Animal Day' is celebrated each year on October 4th. World Animal Day was originated by the specialist in canines, Heinrich Zimmermann. He organized the first World Animal Day on 24 March 1925 at the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. Over 5,000 people attended this first event. The event was originally scheduled for 4 October, to align with the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, a nature lover and patron saint of animals and the environment. However the venue was not available on that day. The event was moved to 4 October for the first time in 1929. Initially he found a following only in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia. Every year Zimmermann worked tirelessly on the promotion of World Animal Day. Finally, in May 1931 at a congress of the International Animal Protection Congress in Florence Italy, his proposal to make 4 October World Animal Day universal was unanimously accepted and adopted as a resolution. Today, World Animal Day is a global event that unites the animal protection movement agencies and has expanded to encompass the entire month of October with different events globally.
A personal message from Zeena:
I'd like to share an important three-part film project, which I endorse, called "Women vs. Warlords". The film aims to bring greater world-wide awareness of the struggles and oppression of Afghani women under the current Taliban rule. The most urgent goal right now is for filmmakers Diarmuid Brannick (Co-ordinator) and Tim Hood (Camera Operator, Director) to get into Afghanistan next week to interview Malalai Joya, activist for women's education and literacy in that country. An extremely risky undertaking as Malalai Joya has suffered assassination attempts; a risk which could extend to Western filmmakers attempting to reveal the current plight of women in Afghanistan.
My reasons for endorsing this project:
The Afghanistan region gave birth to the origins of Tibetan tantric Buddhism as we know it today; a religion of peace, loving-kindness and in particular, reverence for the feminine principle within the mystical practices of tantric Buddhism.
Prior to the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan between the 7th to the 10th centuries, Buddhism was a major religion in the region. Around the beginning of the 21st century, among other oppressive and destructive actions, the Taliban destroyed two of the largest and oldest Buddha statues in existence, dating back to the 6th century, C.E., a blatant display of disregard for world protests and world heritage sites.
The Buddhist Master Padmasambhava (or Guru Rinpoche) was born in the 8th century in South West Odiyana, also known as Lake Danakosha, located on the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier. Padmasambhava brought tantric Buddhism from this region to Tibet and as a result Tibetans consider him “the second Buddha” to the Buddha Shakyamuni. Tibetan Buddhism is one of the few world religions which reveres its female religious leaders, feminine deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, dakinis and yoginis equally to their male counterparts.
As a Tibetan Buddhist yogini who has been initiated in the mystical practices and teachings originating from this region, I believe that the empowerment of the women of this sacred land to be of utmost importance.
The full description of this ambitious project can be read at THIS LINK.
(An excerpt is posted below.)
If this project moves you as it did me, please consider any donation toward funding - it would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for taking the time to read this!
OM MANI PADME HUM and Š-L-M
An Excerpt of the Filmmakers' Description:
Today in Afghanistan women are fighting for their lives, for their future, for everything.
We are seeking to send an Irish film crew, 2 people, to Kabul, Afghanistan for 4 days in late December 2019 for the purpose of conducting an extended interview and short film with Malalai Joya, a prominent human rights and literacy activist, who despite assassination attempts and smear campaigns continues to fight for her people.
The interview will be the first in a planned series of feature length interviews with three of Afghanistan's bravest women: Previously mentioned Malalai Joya, Journalist and women’s rights activist Farahnaz Forotan and celebrated educator Dr Sakena Yacoobi.
The focus of these in-depth conversations; the fight for women's rights and the power of literacy in that fight.
By amplifying the voices of these women, starting with Malalai Joya we seek to strengthen their resolve, the resolve of their supporters and share a deeper more intimate insight into their lives.
With the emerging presence of Islamic State in Afghanistan and the US negotiating with the Taliban, supporting, safeguarding and emboldening female leaders in the country is the single most important thing we can possibly do.
Afghanistan is widely considered to be the worst place in the world to be a woman, and is one of the only countries in the world with a higher female suicide rate than male. The situation for some women and girls is so bad they actually set themselves on fire in desperate protest or as means of ending their lives.
Amid government failure, among the fundamentalists, warlords and criminals battling for control and resources, through the years and different phases of dominion, despite widespread unquestioned misogynistic traditional beliefs many ordinary Afghans, especially women have risked their lives to empower their people. They have risked their lives to bring the light of literacy and smash the bonds of subjugation.
Please support us!
Update DECEMBER 16, 2019 by Diarmuid Brannick, Organizer
We have just over €2000 left to raise, all our costs have been brought to bare minimum to make this important project happen. If you can pledge a final donation or know anyone who could, please ask them. €10 or €20 at this point from enough people will make it all possible. Thank you!
Detailed information in this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/women-v-warlords
The below article was originally posted in San Francisco newsgroups for Halloween by Jeff Farris, who shares first-hand impressions of Zeena in early life. Farris and Zeena attended the same schools yet have never met. Many thanks to Mr. Farris for allowing us to reprint his article here! An afterword from Zeena follows his article:
Lucifer's Daughter in the Richmond District by Jeff Farris
In San Francisco on California Street, between 23rd and 24th Avenues in the Richmond District, there once was a house that was painted pure black long before it was fashionable or cool to do so. The home was rumored to have a real live roaring lion as well as human occupants, we were warned, who were devotees to the Prince of Darkness himself. Other than the austere and gloomy color, it was an unassuming little home just a few blocks down the road from where I grew up.
A typical San Francisco A-framed, 3 story Victorian, The Black House, as it was known for many years, was the official First Church of Satan and the home of Anton LeVay, aka, The Black Pope and Lucifer’s Great High Priest and author of the Satanic Bible, as well as his family, including 2 young children and his companion, the self professed sorceress and High Priestess, Diane Hegarty. An ex-carnival worker and notable chronic liar, Anton established the Church of Satan in 1966 where it had a run for about 35 years until it was eventually torn down in 2001, only to be replaced, unceremoniously, by a cheap, 4 unit apartment complex commonly known among locals as a Richmond Special. The son of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants who had arrived in the United States sometime near the turn of the 20th Century, Mr. LaVey had finally made a name for himself in the late 1960’s with his audacious ambition to create the first church of Satan ever, anywhere.
San Francisco, at the time, was ripe for such a plan and Anton soon found himself at the center of controversy along with much welcomed attention from the ranks of luminaries such as Hollywood elites, avant-garde artists, and rock superstars of the time. One of his first and most celebrated religious ceremonies held at The Black House was the “Baptism” of his youngest daughter, Zeena, in 1967, when she was just 3 years old.
You may have some familiarity with Anton LaVey, but it’s his daughter, Zeena, that I am most curious about today. Anton, who died in 1997, seemed more like an opportunist and a showman than that of a bonafide Satanist, but not Zeena. She was destined for a much more televised profile than her father, becoming the official spokesperson for the Church of Satan in the mid-1980’s during the days of what is now called the “Satanic Panic” wherein born-again, Christian fundamentalists and the U.S. media sensationalized what they said was rampant Satanic Ritual Abuse all across America, especially towards children. In actuality, there was really none happening at all.
Some say that it was a modern day witch-hunt fueled by rumors and hearsay, but it was not without serious repercussions when innocent citizens, mostly teachers and staff from 19 daycare centers and pre-schools, were convicted and some even imprisoned based upon the fabricated testimony of toddlers and therapists who said they had uncovered memories of ritual abuse after hypnotizing previous students. Basically, Christians giving false testimony and acting more like Satan, than, well... Satan.
Zeena was invaluable during this time, advising police departments throughout the country with a general understanding of Satanic practices which helped quell, at least some, of the satanic ritual abuse allegations. I guess that one could say that the first person to have ever been publicly christened, if I can even use that term, for dedication to Lucifer, could have no other destiny in store for her other than to set the record straight regarding the activities of Beelzebub and his followers.
Zeena was one year younger than I, born in 1963, and we went to the same middle school, Presidio Jr. High, on 30th Avenue in between Geary and Clement. I remember her as a very attractive young girl with sensuous lips and an almost ever present furrowed brow. I didn’t know her personally, but being that her father was a somewhat famous, or better yet, infamous San Franciscan, everyone knew who she was, even I. She got pregnant in the 8th grade, at the age of 13, which didn’t help her reputation at all. Vicious rumors went around school stating that it was her father who had impregnated her. Kids can be so mean but, to my knowledge, not one of them had the guts to ever confront Zeena personally. We were all afraid of her clan and no one was brave enough to start trouble with Lucifer’s very own baptized child.
Anyhow, as the years have transpired, I have kept my eye on the life and times of Zeena LaVey, or Zeena Schreck, which is her current last name. I wouldn’t say that I am a stalker, but I have always felt for her as one would feel towards any misunderstood outsider. I felt bad for her, actually, not that she needs my sympathy and she could probably care less of what I think, for that matter. But I’ve always believed that she was a good soul under extraordinary pressure from circumstances beyond her control. She was a San Francisco kid, caught up in those crazy times, no different than I, but definitely more complicated and dark.
As you can imagine, Zeena and her family weren’t very welcome in our working class, multicultural, mostly Catholic, and Asian, and Russian Orthodox neighborhood. In a 2012 interview with Vice Australia, she explains that she had to transcribe for the SFPD death threats left for her on her father’s answering machine wherein she was to be raped and killed. She was 11 years old at the time. She also states that her father may have haphazardly fallen into the role of The Black Pope by sheer accident and that the Church of Satan was created after a local publicist described Anton as a neighborhood eccentric and “the first priest of Satan.” Anton then seized the idea and transformed it into a religion and that it all took off from there.
To be clear, Anton’s belief system did not include an actual deity or entity that one would call Satan or Lucifer, the Angel of Light. He believed that there wasn’t a devil at all. It was an ego driven theology. Each person is a God, in essence, and the tenets of the religion are almost all selfishly motivated and self aggrandizing. It’s also important to note that the Church of Satan, for the most part, was ultimately a failed venture leaving Anton destitute by the time he died. He sold his soul for nothing more than a limited and fleeting run at popularity, poor thing.
By 1990, Zeena had renounced her father’s church and belief structure, and likewise the Church of Satan vehemently denounced Zeena, commencing a campaign to discredit her name. I don’t think she ever had contact with Anton after that. She claimed that her father was basically a charlatan and a con artist and that he never had the depth of knowledge to be a true Satanist and that it was all for show and celebrity.
Whether or not I believe her completely is predicated upon the publication of the Satanic Bible, which is still the definitive go to resource for anything Satanic. It is clear that he gave that book some thought. Nonetheless, Zeena then applied her spiritual endeavors towards the Temple of Set, which could best be described as a pre-christian, Egyptian mystery religion, but highly influenced by other ex-members of the Church of Satan and the writings of Aleister Crowley. But even here, Zeena failed to find an environment that was to her liking and she resigned from her post as High Priestess in 2002. She then formed the Sethian Liberation Movement, donned with a title that could only be conjured up by an ex-San Francisco kid who survived the citywide pandemonium that the Symbionese Liberation Army caused when they kidnapped Patty Hearst in the early 70’s.
Currently, Zeena is a self avowed Tibetan Tantric Buddhist and she offers counseling services and specifically ministers to victims of extreme circumstances, the socially stigmatized, outcasts, and those otherwise subject to prejudice. By use of yogic, meditative and shamanic exercises, she offers short-range treatment, she says, without having to become an initiate of any particular spiritual path. Like the Phoenix, she claims that she can help you rise from the ashes of difficult experiences, find your own inner mystical resources, and have a spiritual awakening towards a foundation of inner strength.
Personally, I believe in her and I want her to succeed. If anyone has experience of overcoming difficulties, Zeena is among those who have. It seems poetic to me that a young girl from San Francisco, without any act of her own volition, was baptized at the tender age of 3 into the milieu of post-modern sensationalized Satanism, only to come out the other side finding peace and stability from the teachings of someone as self effacing and modest as the Buddha. I sincerely hope that she ultimately finds the peace that surpasses all understanding. As a fellow San Franciscan, I am rooting for her. How about you?
– Jeff Farris
San Francisco, Halloween 2014
Afterword by Zeena:
Thank you Jeff, wherever you are! Though it's true we never met, nor shared any words in those years, I never forget a face and knew it was you, because you still look the same, some 40 years later. You are correct that most people didn't have the guts to speak to me then in school, unless antagonistically. The same character traits usually remain on into adulthood. People who refuse to educate themselves about what they're frightened of, find comfort in remaining ignorant. So thank you for your curiosity to educate yourself, and for your candid recollections.
And, as you alluded to, I have found peace and contentment. When we have peace within ourselves and develop intrinsic happiness and relinquish hope for extrinsic sources of happiness, we have peace and joy wherever, and in whatever, situations we find ourselves.
Wishing you [all] a fantastically Happy Halloween.
SUPPORT FOR WORKS IN PROGRESS
Zeena is an entirely independent, self-funded artist.
Her livelihood and funding for creative projects rely solely on commissioned artwork, teaching and lecturing engagements, performances and purchases of her products and music, as well as from donations from private patrons and sponsors.
If you would like to pledge your support towards the production costs of current works in progress, please use the PayPal donation button at the top of page.
Thank you for your support of Zeena's work!