In the run-up to Halloween, we're re-posting some of Zeena's past Samhain-specific articles and vintage pictures. This first installment is from Zeena's VICE Magazine column titled, "Halloween in a Satanic Household"
To the article:
"As I write this, I'm already decked out in orange and black apparel in preparation for the most wonderful holiday of the year. I'm happy Berlin's finally caught up to the joys of that kooky American custom Samhain, because for the first quarter century of my life, back when I was the devil's defender, Halloween wasn't the fun and merriment it was for many others.
Statistically, crime rates rise on Halloween night, so you can imagine the kind of mayhem the HQ of the Church of Satan—a black house centered in one of San Francisco's most conservative, pastel-lined districts—invited upon itself. Early 70s San Francisco was hit by a steep spike in the crime rate, with a special twist of Barbary Coast weirdness added by such local lunatics as the Zodiac Killer, who brought fear into the city even when it wasn't Halloween.
My parents didn't allow my friends to visit our house—my daily routine consisted of coming home from school, checking in for headcount, immediately escaping to a friend's house or going out alone to play, then reporting back for dinner at our kitchen's grim mess hall before bed check.
You might expect that this drill would be different on Halloween in the most celebrated Satanic household of the 70s, but Halloween was the same old same old. Rituals were only held for the rubes—no special ceremonies necessary for family, who were all a part of Chez LaVey's mitt-camp (criminal fortune-telling rings of the carnival). We didn't spend Halloween celebrating spooky self-indulgence. We spent the harrowing night warding off the many thrill seekers who picked our infamous dwelling as the perfect target-practice for Halloween vandalism. It was bad enough this was a problem every night of the year, but on Halloween it was guaranteed that maniacs would use our house for even more imaginative drive-bys.
Like a Dickensian feral child, I always found other neighborhood kids whose parents let me tag along on Halloween nights, to make sure I was safe.
When I was eight years old, I thought I had my Halloween strategy all worked out. One of my best friends, Frankie, a Chinese boy with a Siamese cat named Mamacita, persuaded his father to take us trick-or-treating. Frankie would dress as Batman, and I would dress as Catwoman. We spent weeks preparing for Halloween, ardently studying Batman reruns, learning our lines, staging dress rehearsals, and getting all our gear in order for the big day.
Frankie and I had a lot of adventures together, encouraging each other into mischief. One day when I showed up for our Halloween training, Frankie was particularly excited about something. In hushed tones, he said he had something to show me. We went into his parents' room, and as he pulled a cardboard box from under his father's bed, he enthusiastically told me, “I found a Q-U-I and other cool magazines! You won't believe it!”
What the hell is he talking about? “What's a Q-U-I?” I asked.
“You know,” he said, “magazines for men!”
Oh! Just as my eye landed on the title, it hit me, “You mean Oui! Sure, I know Oui. My father's got tons those kinds of magazines.” (Frankie misread the title of the October '72 premiere issue as beginning with a “Q.”)
Okay. So soft-core porn was a big news to Frankie, but it was small potatoes to me, considering I belonged to a family who first come to prominence having salacious rites covered in porn rags. Cute, I thought. But let's get back to Batman. So we didn't give it much more thought about the magazines... until the big day.
Halloween night 1972: I methodically got all decked out in my sexy hand-me-down black leotard, tights and turtleneck sweater. Applied my whiskers, tail, and cat ears. Added some Julie Newmar eyebrow pencil and super sneaky-silent ballet slippers for paws.
Every good little ghoul knew it was bad luck to begin trick-or-treating before sundown. But by 5 PM, I couldn't contain myself any longer. I bolted out of that black house like a cat out of hell. Pillowcase in hand, I charged over to the corner grocery store where Frankie lived in the upstairs flat. After a while, I banged impatiently on his door. I could hear Frankie padding down the stairs. Good! I thought. Now we're getting somewhere!
When Frankie opened the door, NOT in Batcostume, my heart sank. What happened? Frankie simply said, “I can't go with you tonight. My father found out about the Q-U-I,” and then shut the door.
To keep San Francisco safe, Catwoman prowled the darkened streets without the Caped Crusader. I spent a very scary couple of hours stalking the avenues alone, ardently fulfilling my Halloween vow: Give me trick-or-treat or give me death.
That Halloween night abruptly came to an end when I knew I'd gone to the wrong house. I ascended the stairwell to a flat absent of festive Halloween decorations, but took my chances ringing the bell in pursuit of one last Snickers bar or pack of Fizzies. The creepy, disheveled occupant looked at me like a trap-door spider looking at its prey.
He grinned with an unfriendly smile and said, “What do you want?”
Immediately, I realized I'd come to the wrong door. I made something up about confusing the house with my friend's and pivoted to leave. But he grabbed my arm and said, “That's okay, I don't have any candy, but you can come in, and I'm sure I can find something.” In a nanosecond, the survival fear-reflex propelled me down the stairs and straight home.
Just one of many close calls in my life. But as you can see by the photo of the booty I plundered, my rat Orwell was happy I returned home safely.
After renouncing Satanism in 1990, in favor of sharing life with more considerate and generous entities, I'm freed up to fully enjoy Halloween as I never could when I served in defense of an ungrateful devil." --Zeena Schreck
Posted to VICE magazine website on October 26, 2013, 3:00pm at: https://www.vice.com/en/article/4w7dg3/halloween-in-a-satanic-household
As we're upon the The Witching Hour of Walpurgisnacht, I'm sharing how I celebrated this holiday twenty-eight years ago in the Harz Mountains of Germany. Filmed in 1992, this footage is of the first public Walpurgisnacht festival after decades of being banned by the former DDR. The footage is from my film 'Germania: The Theory of Ruins'. Some described this scene as eerily reminiscent of the Danish silent classic 'Häxan', but in color.
While this world-wide pandemic has had varying effects on everyone, and public events must now be cancelled, we can take heart in the fact that for many years, many people weren't able to partake in the sort of celebration shown in this video. If they were able to maintain a continuum to their spiritual roots and folk traditions, even if practicing privately, certainly we too can find ways of making the best of this holiday.
Whatever you do tonight, worldly or other-worldly,
may you have a very wonderful Walpurgisnacht and May Day!
Many blessings and stay well!
Walpurgisnacht 1992 is an excerpt from the Originally titled GERMANIA: The Theory of Ruins, A Film by Zeena Schreck.
In 1992, during a pilgrimage to several Germanic pagan holy sites, Zeena filmed scenes at the first publicly organized Walpurgisnacht celebration in the Harz Mountains since WWII. In an attempt to remove all traces of religion, including pre-Christian Germanic pagan customs, from the East German Democratic Republic (DDR), public Walpurgisnacht celebrations were banned. Therefore, this footage is a pure document of the people in the Harz region of Germany - the original birthplace of Walpurgisnacht - reviving a long lost tradition, pieced together from scraps of relics and memories from the elders of their community.
An exhibit in the Walpurgishalle was held that year to display Walpurgisnacht folk costumes and decorations which had been gathered from cellars and attics, unused for decades.
The twilight performance footage seen here was held at the outdoor theater, Das Harzer Bergtheater, on the Hexentanzplatz.
From these modest beginnings, the Harz Region now enjoys a thriving tourist industry dedicated to the magnificent Walpurgisnacht festivals they host every year. For information visit www.harzinfo.de
Music in this video is Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Op. 60, Ouvertüre: I. Das schlechte Wetter (Bad Weather) by Felix Mendelssohn. Performed by Kurt Masur, Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Video footage copyright Zeena Schreck 1992/2020
All rights reserved.
Beginning NOW until Monday Dec 2, use this code: blackweekend19
2020 Calendar - Meditations on Death and Impermanence by Zeena - with autograph option. Whatever your religion, sexual orientation, race, or political leanings, there is no escaping the one great unifier: Death. Each image reveals Zeena's eye for minimalism, composition, symbolism and tableaux. Several of the artist's first-hand experiences from serving as death's midwife to humans and animals are revealed.
'To Remain Silent' - Unisex T-Shirt this image is one of nine in Zeena's photo montage/mixed media suite entitled, "God Bless Charles Manson" from 2009. It features a quote by Ezra Pound that Zeena found fitting to the conditions of both animals and humans who are on death row.
The Vinyl Solution - Analog Artifacts: Ritual Instrumentals and Undercover Versions – CD, with autograph options. This CD compiles newly remastered re-releases of 12 ambient sonic magic tracks from Zeena and Nikolas Schreck's rare Radio Werewolf vinyl recordings between 1989-1992 as well as 2 bonus tracks never previously released to the public by Radio Werewolf.
SLM Polo - Black. The SLM symbole, signed by Zeena for the Sethian Liberation Movement, is embroidered directly onto this polo and is a discrete way to show your solidarity with the The Awakened One, the SLM and Hemet-neter tepi Seth.
Supposing truth to be a woman. This original illustration by Zeena was published in Exit Magazine, Issue #5, 1991. George Petros (founder of Exit), described his magazine as “… an outlaw Pop Art magazine in opposition to both the underground and the establishment."
For this issue, the theme was Friedrich Nietzsche. Various Nietzsche quotes were assigned to notorious underground artists to illustrate.
Dakshineswar - Kali & Shiva Unisex T-Shirt. This is one of Zeena's illustrations for her book 'Demons of the Flesh, now for the first time, this vibrantly colored piece is presented in its original form for this shirt.
Kiss Kiss...Bang Bang from the Retro-Zeena Collection. This 1988 photo of Zeena was later featured on the cover of 'Beatdom' magazine Crime Issue #12.
Vintage Original Radio Werewolf Poster-Summer Solstice 1991. This concert was the first of many cancelled by local city government officials. The reason given was that it would be ”Jügendgefährlich” ("too dangerous for youths").
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