Coronavirus: Black Magic Goes Viral? Part 2: A Vincent Price Double Feature

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By: H.B. Gardner

Current events have confirmed that we are indeed living the plot lines of two films starring Vincent Price.  If self-quarantine and social distancing has you losing your mind like the protagonist in an Edgar Allan Poe story, then you could do far worse than to delight in a diabolical double feature starring Uncle Vinnie.

Both films, The Masque of the Red Death and The Last Man on Earth are from 1964. But these films stand today, each to a certain degree, as prophetical and horrifically relevant to the present coronavirus / COVID-19 (or, can we now say -20?) global pandemic. Let’s take a quick, spoiler-free glimpse at these two films before looking deeper into our current plague.

The Last Man on Earth

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Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan in The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth is a 1964 black-and-white post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film based on the 1954 novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  I Am Legend was remade in 1971 as The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston, and in 2007 with Will Smith. Matheson later said the Vincent Price film was the most faithful adaptation of his book, but he also called the result “inept” and used a pen name for his screenplay.

Humanity is all but wiped out in a global pandemic, a bacterial plague, in which the dead, if not cremated, return as the vampiric undead. The infected are dying too fast and in such great numbers that they must be disposed of via burning pits in mass cremations. All alone, Dr. Robert Morgan (Price) spends his time hunting down the vampires during the day to pound wooden stakes through their hearts, and defending himself from within his home at night when they arise to attack him. Garlic and mirrors ward them off for a time.

In what appears to be an eerie coincidence to our current Coronavirus pandemic, Morgan hypothesizes that he is immune to the bacteria because he was bitten by an infected vampire bat when he was stationed in Panama, which introduced a diluted form of the plague into his blood. In an article shared below we will see the Wuhan coronavirus connection to the bat. Price’s character eventually meets another person and the potential for a cure using Dr. Morgan’s blood – which has built up antibodies to the virus – is attempted, just as is being considered now for the coronavirus. The Last Man on Earth is available to watch for free on Youtube, so what are you waiting for?

“…these films stand today, each to a certain degree, as prophetical and horrifically relevant to the present COVID-19 global pandemic.”

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No one is left untouched by The Masque of The Red Death!

The Masque of The Red Death

Vincent Price is indelibly linked with the macabre tales of Edgar Allan Poe, and this is one of our personal favorites. Price is elegantly evil (as usual) as Prince Prospero – a late medieval period character who is part Gilles de Rais and part Marquis de Sade. As a plague known as The Red Death ravages the land, Prince Prospero invites his privileged, decadent, aristocratic guests to a grand party where he promises protection from the disease without – and much debauchery within – his castle’s walls. But the prince is a serious Satanist longing to go beyond the limits of even his own depravity! He brings a young village girl – along with her father and a young suitor – to his palace as amusement for his guests. Even the prince’s wife gets serious about dabbling in the Dark Arts of Diabolism and Demonolatry.

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Hazel Court brands her breast with the first inverted cross in satanic cinema history! The Masque of The Red Death.

What strikes us here in connection with the Coronavirus is the sheer susceptibility of everyone – no matter how powerful or privileged – to the whims of bacterium! Leaders of nations, royalty, the wealthy, clergy, the religious, people of all nations and races, even healthcare professionals are all in the grip of pestilence when it arises because it has far-reaching effects upon every level of society. We won’t spoil the ending – or the inclusion of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Hop-Frog’ as a side story. But we highly recommend this one as – beneath it’s amusing, vulgar, psychedelic theatricality – it carries a deep truth.

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In an epilogue, the Red Death is seen playing with his Tarot cards with the girl who had escaped the massacre of the remaining villagers. Other similarly cloaked figures then gather around him, each wearing a different colour: the White Death, the Yellow Death, the Golden Death, the Blue Death, the Violet Death and the Black Death.

“Sic transit gloria mundi”

(Latin for “Thus passes the glory of the world”)

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90094919_10217946751479572_3704477505470595072_nCommunist Chinese censorship has far reaching tentacles…

…and pincers, and fangs. Actually, many political systems, governments and ideologies rely on fear and ignorance for fuel these days. In part 1 of this article: Coronavirus: Black Magic Goes Viral? we mused, in an admittedly “not-too-serious” manner, upon the Chinese sorcery aspect of Ku or Gu poisoning and how it relates to the Wuhan Coronavirus / COVID-19 as a pestilence born from humans  meddling with things they are unable to control. We would just like to reflect here upon the certain knowledge of communist China’s well known censorship and propaganda machines, its merciless suppression of anything outside communist party approval, and the control its almost limitless economical weight has over the entire world. Don’t believe everything just because you hear or see it on the nightly news, TV talk shows, or media. All of it is doubtlessly being promoted by big money; and these days the biggest money is in China. Look at history, consider what happened to Tibet, what’s been happening in Hong Kong and Taiwan and try – we implore you – to think for yourself. We know that is asking a lot in this day and age; but it is imperative.

“Look at history, consider what happened to Tibet, what’s been happening in Hong Kong and Taiwan and try – we implore you – to think for yourself.”

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The “Masque” of The “Red” Death

There is much to unpack on this topic but we would point those with a serious interest to the following links; and to the censored text to an article by Chinese researchers pasted below.

Link:

Yes, the Virus Came From Wuhan

“And what puzzles us most, in this storm of information, impressions, opinions, expertise, real or alleged, is that no one is asking China, a country with an already horrible record on humans rights and disinformation, to explain plainly what happens in those research centers, one at less than 300 meters from the Wuhan market and the other at only 12 km.”

Link:

Experts think bats are the source of the Wuhan coronavirus. At least 4 pandemics have originated in these animals.

“”Poorly regulated live-animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts into the human population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.”

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“…in mid-February two Chinese researchers, Dr. Botao Xiao from South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, and Dr. Lei Xiao, from Wuhan University of Science and Technology, recognized bats as the real source of the infection. Interestingly, the paper has since disappeared from the international scholarly data base Research Gate, not the first such incident for texts from China the CCP does not like,”

The Censored article that disappeared:

The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus〉 (Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao)

The 2019-nCoV coronavirus has caused an epidemic of 28,060 laboratory-confirmed infections in human including 564 deaths in China by February 6, 2020. Two descriptions of the virus published on Nature this week indicated that the genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis. It was critical to study where the pathogen came from and how it passed onto human.

An article published on The Lancet reported that 41 people in Wuhan were found to have the acute respiratory syndrome and 27 of them had contact with Huanan Seafood Market. The 2019-nCoV was found in 33 out of 585 samples collected in the market after the outbreak. The market was suspicious to be the origin of the epidemic, and was shut down according to the rule of quarantine the source during an epidemic.

The bats carrying CoV ZC45 were originally found in Yunnan or Zhejiang province, both of which were more than 900 kilometers away from the seafood market. Bats were normally found to live in caves and trees. But the seafood market is in a densely-populated district of Wuhan, a metropolitan of ~15 million people. The probability was very low for the bats to fly to the market. According to municipal reports and the testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors, the bat was never a food source in the city, and no bat was traded in the market. There was possible natural recombination or intermediate host of the coronavirus, yet little proof has been reported.

Was there any other possible pathway? We screened the area around the seafood market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus. Within ~280 meters from the market, there was the Wuhan Center for Disease Control Prevention (WHCDC). WHCDC hosted animals in laboratories for research purpose, one of which was specialized in pathogens collection and identification. In one of their studies, 155 bats including Rhinolophus affinis were captured in Hubei province, and other 450 bats were captured in Zhejiang province. The expert in collection was noted in the Author Contributions. Moreover, he was broadcasted for collecting viruses on nation-wide newspapers and websites in 2017 and 2019. He described that he was once by attacked by bats and the blood of a bat shot on his skin. He knew the extreme danger of the infection so he quarantined himself for 14 days. In another accident, he quarantined himself again because bats peed on him. He was once thrilled for capturing a bat carrying a live tick.

Surgery was performed on the caged animals and the tissue samples were collected for DNA and RNA extraction and sequencing. The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were source of pathogens. They were only ~280 meters from the seafood market. The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic. It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.

The second laboratory was ~12 kilometers from the seafood market and belonged to Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. This laboratory reported that the Chinese horseshoe bats were natural reservoirs for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) which caused the 2002-3 pandemic. The principle investigator participated in a project which generated a chimeric virus using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, and reported the potential for human emergence. A direct speculation was that SARS-CoV or its derivative might leak from the laboratory.

In summary, somebody was entangled with the evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in high risk biohazardous laboratories. Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.

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Note: We do not consider the Chinese people at fault for the viral contagion. It is the lack of transparency, censorship and disinformation of the repressive communist government that needs to be addressed.

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The Details In the Devil – Tarot

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The Red Death prepares to deal some Fate in The Masque of the Red Death, 1964.

By H.B.G.

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A Tarot Death card, from the end credits of The Masque of the Red Death, 1964

Occult: From the Latin meaning hidden or concealed or secret. That which is hidden from view, …or seen only by the few.

A fair number of supernatural, religious, diabolical and occult horror films commonly present occult regalia such as crystal balls, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, magical diagrams, mysterious or forbidden books and all the elements commonly associated with Witchcraft, Voodoo, Black Magic or Satanic ritual. A prime example is Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist plays with a Ouija board which opens her up to demonic possession.

In real life these tropes can trigger – as experience has showed us time and time again – reactions ranging from suspicion to fear, or from derision to curiosity, fascination and even genuine interest. This path opened for us at a tender young age. We got our first printed deck of Tarot cards at age 13 (there was an early attempt at creating our own but the task was quite formidable due to our youth and ignorance) and have a real abiding passion for the Art. Our collection is now around 50 different Tarot packs.

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Many encountering the Tarot cards in person for the first time prove inquisitive. There is a genuine interest in the symbolic imagery – the weird yet somehow strangely familiar hieroglyphic language of the Tarot. The cards first appeared in Medieval Europe and the earliest examples of Tarot cards date back to Northern Italy in the early 1400’s, though their provenance has much earlier origins. Many people have some passing recognition of the cards from either horror films like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors [1965], or Masque of the Red Death [1964]) or from a unique roommate they knew in college. Others have had a deeply suspicious (i.e. fearful) religious programming inculcated from a young age which, in no uncertain terms, deems such items as Runes, talismans and the Tarot cards as treacherous gateways towards eternal damnation. This idea has been fostered by Hollywood time and again in numerous films and television dramas. Church groups actively work to warn their congregants of the dangers of the Occult. it is their ignorance and misunderstanding of the deeper spiritual mysteries concealed within these divinatory tools that causes such fear.

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The wonderful Peter Cushing spreads the Tarot and deals the fates of men traveling by train in Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors.

For some, the call of the exotic and the taboo can prove both irresistible and upsetting. The twinkle which catches one’s eye can upset the balance of a mind confronted with  the dilemma faced when their firmly held beliefs and religious views are called into question. While trafficking with spirit boards or dabbling with divination can offer a thrill, it can also upset those who find more Truth and Wisdom about themselves than they ever expected, or even guessed, they would discover beneath the veil of mundane life. Whatever preconceived ideas people have of the Tarot cards there is often a dreaded yet curious fascination towards one or two of the 22 Major Arcana “Keys” or “Trumps”: namely XIII DEATH and XV THE DEVIL.

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THE DEVIL from The Aquarian Tarot

A very real Fear of looking into your own shadow-reflection, the darkness within, exists in most people. The Shadow, in psychological terms, is the Ego’s blindspot. Even when one has spent years in spiritual practice, and has done serious meditative work with one’s own psyche, there will always be a risk of being surprised by what lies within the inner abyss of the individual soul. Very, very, few are able to completely transcend the chains of material bondage over which The Devil so delights to lord.

The Shadow, in psychological terms, is the Ego’s blindspot.

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In a manner of speaking, The Devil in the Tarot is one’s own Shadow. Those aspects of our deepest, and most natural or instinctual (dare we say… truest), selves which we hide away from the world – and even from ourselves. All our secret traumas which have been unconsciously repressed. All our unrepentant animal urges and emotional energies we consciously suppress, (yet – to tell the truth – secretly long to exercise). Sometimes a person may seem “possessed” and the “Devil cuts loose”.  We wonder “Whatever could have possessed me?”, and say “The Devil made me do it!” We often cannot accept or even understand our own emotional responses or why we sometimes act in certain ways.

The Tarot Devil usually depicts two people, or satyrs, chained and bound to the Lord of Darkness who stands or squats menacingly above them. But either their chains are of their own making or their collars are at least loose enough to slip off if they chose to do so. But Mardi Gras is fun – though there are good reasons why we cannot have it every day; and some people have difficulty stepping away from the betting table  even when they are about to lose their shirt – or even themselves!!

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” But it lies buried.

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The Devil is numbered XV = 15 in every Tarot deck. Numerology links 15 to 6 (1+5=6). 6 is The Lovers in the Tarot. The comparisons between The Devil and The Lovers are striking in many Tarot decks. The Lovers are often in an ideal setting and are receiving benediction from an angel on high. The Devil card is like the Shadow version of The Lovers card. The blissful situation has soured or sunk to a lower level. This in itself does not indicate “evil,” however.

We will not be delving deeply into divinatory meanings here, but The Tarot Devil can, at times, be seen as inverting or perverting the divine union of The Lovers into a kind of sick co-dependency, or bondage through materialism. It can also offer us a sense of play, mirth and delicious enjoyment. rapture of the flesh rather than the spirit (but the two are really one, you know).

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THE LOVERS illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

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THE DEVIL illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith

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The Lovers in a Marseilles style deck

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The Devil in the Oswald Wirth Tarot

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STRENGTH card from The Morgan-Greer Tarot.

However, beware of casting out your Devils that you do not lose the best part of yourself, your fundamental creative impulse, your Daemonic genius. As Joseph Campbell said: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” But it lies buried. We find it beneficial to care for and nurture your inner demons just as one would for wild beasts – cautiously and with close attention and strict guidelines. Just as the woman in The Strength card (Arcana VIII or XI – depending on the deck, which Aleister Crowley re-titled “LUST“) tames the lion with gentle ease.

“Be careful when you cast out your demons that you don’t throw away the best of yourself.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra

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LE DIABLE from a Marseilles pattern deck

 

Additionally, The Devil in the Tarot can be an addiction to a habit or condition which has become overpowering and possessive of one’s soul, causing the individual to surrender his free will to the whims of a desire grown monstrous or even poisonous. A common example would be when instead of drinking alcohol the alcohol begins drinking you! Intoxicants, stimulants and sex can be used as rocket fuel to the Divine. They can cause ecstasy and transcendence. As stated in the Kularnavatantra: “One reaches heaven by the very things which may lead to hell.”

“One reaches heaven by the very things which may lead to hell.”

– Kularnavatantra

However, as Kenneth Grant points out in his Introduction to ‘Cults of the Shadow’: “if the sexual energies are not properly controlled and polarized, destruction awaits the practitioner who uses them without fully understanding the formula of the Left Hand Path which is, of all paths, the swiftest and the most dangerous.”

This gives credence to the ancient Tantric dictum: “The knower of truth should go about the world outwardly stupid like a child, a madman or a devil.”

– Mahavakyaratnamala

“The knower of truth should go about the world outwardly stupid like a child, a madman or a devil.”

– Mahavakyaratnamala

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Arcana XIII – Card number 13

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From an 18th century Florentine Minchiate Tarot (Etruria)

Most People dread thinking about their own death . Displaying a picture of The Grim Reaper, or turning over the Death card before their eyes will cause them to wince and whine. People hate to be reminded of their own mortality. In early decks this card is often left unnamed, only the image and the number serves to give it’s meaning.

In horror films, the appearance of the Death card inevitably means something terrible is about to occur. In reality, this card usually indicates a tremendous change to one’s circumstances or a metamorphosis taking place from within one’s soul.

But this is precisely the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, Memento Mori – Remember Death, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. In our shallow, materialistic culture of today, which celebrates and promotes youth and beauty and shuns acknowledgement of  the aged and our inevitable end of existence, we seem to fear and try to fight off Death as something hateful and bad.

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ARCANA XIII from Jodorowsky’s  restored Marseilles pattern deck.

When one is capable of not only accepting the inevitable disintegration of one’s own organism but to even fully embrace it – and thereby to even more fully live, then we have to ask the question…

“O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”

“O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55

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DEATH tramples upon King, Pope, Maiden and child in the Tarot illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith for the Rider-Smith deck.

Here is an instructional video we made for our Arcana Tarot Study Group here in Osaka, Japan. @ArcanaTarotOsaka on Facebook.

Click on link below for youtube video…

How to read the Tarot: Celtic Cross spread