Once in a while our photographer gets up to something sinister – last year he commemorated the launch of his portrait photography business with the release of the Woodwitch photo series (prints from which some of our Vancouver readers may recall having seen at Covenant Festival 2016) – and today we have the exclusive honour of sharing his latest photo series – a visual observance of Walpurgisnacht (alternately “Hexennacht”), the day marked by European folklore as a high festival of witchcraft and arcane rituals on distant mountaintops.
“To my mind, black metal represents a disavowal and rejection of institutionalized religious dogmas that instead asserts the individual in nature as the only authoritative source of spiritual experience and communion.
As a newer and relatively small subset of the heavy music scene in Vancouver, the black metal community here, as in most places, naturally rallies around music events; but the Romantic ideals that inform black metal are part of a broader world view which, I think, values a superstitious folk tradition like Walpurgisnacht as a gateway to explore darkly holistic spiritual ideas.
As my Woodwitch series addressed, Nature is so much more than a benevolent mother who passively condones our worst commercial, political, and environmental atrocities. While our actions and scientific or technological advances may appear to supersede the natural order, we remain subject to it as but one species in the web of material life.
In my view Walpurgisnacht, then, is a dark alternative to Earth Day that allows us to acknowledge and embody Mother Nature’s shadow self. The stark face of black metal’s visual aesthetic (i.e. corpsepaint) personifies the gnarled limbs and hidden twisted roots of the forest – a testament to the creeping slow, steady persistence of life on this planet – and rejects the frail authority of human ideals and institutions to show the chaotic material order that reigns over all life in the universe.
The Black Metal Walpurgisnacht photo series – inspired by both the engravings of Gustave Doré and several scenes from filmmaker Lars Von Trier’s cinematic masterpiece Antichrist – explores alternative themes of community through the depiction of surreal, dark rituals in natural surroundings. All of the pictured practitioners are members of the lower mainland’s dark creative community and I am grateful to them, and our talented makeup artists Gayle Lett and Erin Brandsness, for their enthusiastic support and participation in this project.” ~ S. Lange
Without further ado, we wish all our readers a darkly transcendent Walpurgisnacht.
(click to enlarge photos)