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Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron Paperback – Large Print, 1 Jan 2011
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"Wormwood Star is a superb effort on every level, incorporating impeccable research and very well observed viewpoints. It brought Cameron alive for me. This very well written, entertaining and exciting work deserves to be widely regarded as one of the best books of 2010!" Stephen Sennitt, author of The Infernal Texts: Nox and Liber Koth.
"Wormwood Star describes a magickal woman and artist, not as a tragedy but as a true Babalon. A woman and creative being in her own right who, rather than change to the dictates of oppressive society, became a defining part of a changing one. Fabulous!" Charlotte Rodgers, author The Bloody Sacrifice.See all Product description
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In the meager writings by and about Jack Parsons Cameron was elevated somewhat to celebrity by osmosis, being that she was Parsons' 'scarlet woman' for a bit.
When Parsons died tragically in an explosion Cameron was not heard from again, by me anyway, and I yearned to learn about her life after Parsons.
This startlingly good bio from Spencer Kansa has put put Cameron back into the public eye.
I imagine that it's a daunting task to write a bio of a woman as mysterious as Cameron.
Since so little was written about her there is no chance of doing a hack job, a book that is a mere rewriting of other books and newspaper items.
Writing about Marjorie Cameron's life would take research and Spencer Kansa did just that, and then some.
Just the right amount of time is spent on Cameron's interesting childhood and early adulthood which led to her meeting Parsons and taking part in the occult rituals that he was performing in 1940s California. It was also interesting to learn that Cameron also did a stint in the military during WW2.
After Parson's death the life that Cameron led was astounding from her early beatnik days of living alone in a remote shack, to her time in the art scene of 50s California, her continual dabbling in the occult and her unsuccesful trip to Europe to meet Crowley. He died before she got there.
Through all her changes Cameron stayed true to her art and painted extremely interesting and frightening works, many of which she destroyed for reasons of her own. All data that I was totally unaware of before reading this book.
Falling in with film director Kenneth Anger Cameron starred in some of his works and stole the show as she did in the Curtis Harrington film 'Night Tide', with Dennis Hopper.
The book shows how effortlessly Cameron moved from the beatnik era to the hippie era, like a female Neal Cassady.
Check out the photos of a young tough chick Cameron, red hair up, ciggie in hand, with Parsons in the 40s. Then check out her mid life photos in long hair and hippie garb and in later life, grey hair down to her shoulders and hugging a tree.
Never have I read a bio where the writing and the photos mirror each other as in this book and I have read a lot of bios.
Highly recommended for anybody interested in the life of a very interesting and exotic woman artist who lived by her own rules.
I read somewhere that a Herbert Huncke bio is in the works. I can only hope that Spencer Kansa is the author of that book.
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From her early years in rural Iowa where her artistic and eccentric temperment was formed, to her service during WW2 and her move to California where her family had relocated. We see an initially reluctant student of Magick who only gradually assumed her occult life through the tutelage of aerospace pioneer and Thelemite Jack Parsons. With his untimely and tragic death in 1952, Cameron embarked on a singular path as Magician, lover, artist and actress who never looked back in regret on her chosen path in life.
Kansa is correct when he says Cameron easily stole the show and became the central image in Anger's phantasmagorical film 'Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome'(1954). Her appearance as the Scarlet Woman burns itself into the mind of the viewer forever. Interviews with those friends and students who knew her best provides a three demensional figure fully human and noble in her refusal to compromise her views on the inner life and tragic in her lack of common sense. She remained a tenacious survivor through all that life threw at her. Interviews with Curtis Harrington and Dennis Hopper on Cameron's appearance in the 1961 cult movie classic 'Night Tide' is revealing as to her powerful presence on camera though she appears for less than 10 minutes on screen.
If I have any complaint about this book it is that Kansa fails to provide details or analysis on her magickal practices and her personal thoughts on the Thelemic system of magick developed by Aleister Crowley. Tantalyzing hints are in the book of an extensive correspondence between Cameron and Jane Wolfe, silent film star, OTO member and resident at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily with Crowley. These letters and any surviving magickal diaries kept by her may yet see the light of day and would provide further insight into this remarkable magickal woman.