Thursday, 8 November 2012

12th December, 1966

That old black magic has me in its spell
That old black magic that you weave so well
Icy fingers up and down my spine
The same old witchcraft when your eyes met mine

~ Johnny Mercer ~

International Times, Volume 1, Issue No.5 ran the above classified advertisement in its back pages.

Note of interest is 39 Hilldrop Crescent, infamous for the murder of Cora Crippen (aka Belle Elmore). The accused was her husband, Dr.Harvey Hawley Crippen, originally from Coldwater, Michigan. Michigan also being the "birthplace" of the Paul Is Dead rumours of 1969. Not trying to say it's related, merely noticing the correlation. Of interest:

Solanaceae III: henbane, hags and Hawley Harvey Crippen

MR Lee
Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

ABSTRACT Hyoscyamus, the henbane, is one of the drugs of the ancients. Initially
used both as a poison and narcotic, it was widely adopted by witches, wizards and
soothsayers as a component of their hallucinatory and flying ointments. It was also
used by notorious poisoners such as Madame Voisin in France.
Eventually, in the nineteenth century its active principle was isolated by Ladenburg and called lhyoscine. It proved to be a tropane alkaloid very similar to atropine. These two alkaloids proved to be very important in the study of the parasympathetic
component of the autonomic nervous system, and together with physostigmine,
allowed the major neurotransmitter acetylcholine to be isolated and its
mechanisms of action to be characterised. 
The Crippen murder case in 1910 gave hyoscine further fame, indeed, notoriety. The unassuming homeopathic doctor murdered his wife with the alkaloid and then decamped for Canada with his mistress Ethel Le Neve. The case became a worldwide sensation for several reasons: the arrest of the fugitive couple by wireless telegraphy (Marconigram) and the extensive chemical and histological evidence presented by Willcox and Spilsbury. Some authorities claim that this was the beginning of the science of forensic medicine in Britain. Hyoscine is now hardly ever used in modern
therapeutics but its history from antiquity to the witches and on to Dr Crippen
is both bizarre and fascinating.

Further research of Hilldrop Road turns up The Sette of Odd Volumes, and the name James Roberts Brown, early alchemist who I believe lived at 14 Hilldrop Road. Author of 

Loves Garland: 

Or, Posies for Rings, Hand-kerchers, & Gloves : and Such Pretty Tokens that Lovers Send Their Loves. A Reprint. Whereunto is Added a Collection of Posie Mottoes ... Entitled, Ye Garland of Ye Sette of Odd Volumes. To which is Prefixed an Introduction, in which Some Trite Things are Said Concerning the Efforts of the Early Alchemists to Transmute the Baser Metals Into Gold

The Sette of Odd Volumes was a club of book collectors that was founded in 1878 by the noted London book dealer Bernard Quaritch. The club held a dinner every month, and the members, many of whom were noted authorities in their own area of specialty, took turns to give fascinating and erudite after dinner talks. These were often subsequently privately printed as small books which were circulated to the members. Another search yields 

"Two Odd Volumes on Magic and Automata" is of interest, even though its reference is to the art of Magic & Illusion, not necessarily Magick and Ritual.

Hmmmm this came up in a search, as these names are well familiar in the pages of the International Times:
29. [BURROUGHS (William S)] (Contributor).
NUTTALL (Jeff) and as DE BERRY (Walter)
(Editor). My Own Mag Nos. 1–17 [all
First editions. Foolscap, mimeographed on
rectos only, stab stapled thrice, with
found/appropriated images, typed cards, a
burning, perfuming, staining etc, with a corner
stapled, with an unrelated mimeographed 3pp.
‘Statement’ by Nuttall on ‘sigma’ and other
matters, #12 a signed, inscribed presentation
copy from Nuttall. London, Homsap Inc., 1963–

Perhaps where the name Clifton De Berry is derived in the illustrated submissions to the magazine from Jeff Nuttall. This came up in a Google search of Aleister Crowley + Hilldrop Road. It came up with THIS. Further reading must be done by myself to see why this came up. Relevant text being " Life at Hilldrop Crescent. Told by ...... any mystical fluid or occult magical power "


  1. You should cache part of the last link (pdf about Magick). Things disappear on the Web over time (or by censorship, when quoted by others sometimes, which intel don't want quoting). I guess the name Hilldrop is what started this line of inquiry for you?

  2. Exactly. I thought that was an interesting classified advertisement. Especially the mention of Fakes. So it just seemed to me that it was best to find out what that area of London had in it, as far as history, residents, and the general vibe of it.

  3. I wonder if it Polanski who placed the ad? He must have been wrapping up production and editing of "The Fearless Vampire Killers", if this was the issue printed "it5 Dec 12 – 25th 1966", since it came out February 1967, he was living in England at the time and would have likely begun working on the seeds of "Rosemary's Baby, released in June 1968.

  4. That's a good question. I wonder if it was Polanski. That would be interesting.