Saint Leonard has long been in tune with the forces around us. A practitioner of magick, he’s sought out ways of creating that emphasise chance encounters, the push and pull of the universe around us.
From recording in Stanley Kubrick’s abandoned mansion to spoken word performances in Berlin, Saint Leonard tends to take inspiration wherever he can find it. This year a flurry of releases have been tied to the Lunar cycle, with ‘Tell Me The Truth’, ‘God Give Me Strength’, acting ‘Bells & Ecstasy’ as a Full Moon trilogy.
A time to set intentions, to embrace the powers around you, this month’s Full Moon presaged Hallowe’en – a time when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.
Never one to miss an opportunity to connect, Saint Leonard has shared something new. Part of his incoming album ‘The Golden Hour’, new single ‘Tell Me The Truth’ demands honesty, both from the creator and his audience.
A key segment of the album as a whole, ‘Tell Me The Truth’ carries whispers of the journey that has taken Saint Leonard to this point. It hints at his travels to India, his audiences with spiritual leaders, and the excess of his Berlin period. It even features two members of the Fat White Family, who assist on the album as a whole.
In this essay, Saint Leonard muses on magick, the passing of the seasons, and the necessity of truth.
If I had a human soul for every time I’ve come off stage and someone has asked me ‘Are you a witch, a sorcerer or some kind of satanist?’ then I would have a vaulting candlelit New York penthouse apartment draped with carmine velvet, adorned with a golden altar and a bulging black book of names, and I would, in the word’s of Taylor Swift ‘Be laughing up at you from hell’ as I type this.
‘No no, don’t be so silly’ I always reply ‘I am a Jungian, I’m just a song and dance man…’
I understand why the question arises. All three of my albums have bat squeaked occult themes, and Magick is but one of many healthy fascinations. I write about my life and it’s true I do practise ritual magick and I do read the tarot daily, but I contain multitudes. I have relationships, I fall in love, travel, overthink, overdrink. I fall prey to lusts, rages, and inscrutable emotions. I succumb to deadening fatigues and I experience vertigoes. I have complete strangers liking songs I wrote about my most private feelings. I have total strangers telling me they hate me because of lyrics I wrote one afternoon alone poolside in Palm Springs five years ago. I have my ups and downs. I write about touring. I write about sitting at home on wet Wednesday afternoons listening to Kanye. I write about being in the uneasy spotlight. I write about being miserable. I write about gentlemen’s tailoring and I write about ferocious rows with people close to me. I write about Arthur Rimbaud and Caravaggio. I write about fifties playwrights and obscure Norwegian diarists. I write about friends and enemies and tulpic entities I imagine into existence. I write about trying to quit smoking for the nineteenth time. I write about my imaginary friend Count Alucard. I write about regrets, self-belief, hubris and ecstasy. I write about my inner world and magick is just another psychic shard with which I can pierce the fleshy meniscus of numinous existence. The whole knotty and sprawling subject of the occult to me is a handy, psychologically-ornate set of forceps with which to peel away the caul of ennui and peer at what’s really writhing away inside my soul.
My collaborators Alex and Nathan of the Fat White Family soon noticed my occasional reference to more arcane ideas when we began working together in Berlin. The odd arched eyebrow was cast in my direction as I scribbled down lyrics and half-incanted melodies. However they soon grew accustomed to utilising my esoteric stylings as a prism that the work could pass through in order to illuminate an otherwise occluded sonic dimension in the music.
As a general rule I am not a fan of music videos. I often feel they damage the song or in some way bastardise the imagery and meaning already woven into the music. On this occasion I did have an idea that I wished to explore. I had in mind to turn the actual music video itself into a kind of ritual. The idea was relatively simple: I would conduct a small group of friends and fellow occultists in an ancient Dionysian ritual at a remote spot, and we would invite a film crew to capture as discreetly as possible the events that unfolded that evening. I imposed strict stipulations on the filming process. The ritual was entirely authentic, and performed in accordance with rigorous attention to magickal detail. The film crew were asked to keep their distance and in no way interfere or interact with us during the working. My intention was to reveal the imaginal world of the song as authentically as possible, but avoid any implied narrative or fictive meaning. As with any art I believe that the artist does well to provide fifty percent of the material and allow the viewer or listener to generate or conjure the other half themselves, in a sense all good art is a collaboration between the artist and the person experiencing it.
Hence I think I may well have said enough on the subject already, there are some things of which we simply cannot speak. What was it that Wittgenstein said, ‘Whereof we cannot Speak, thereof we must remain silent’…? Yes, yes I think it’s best for everyone involved if I leave it there. Anyway, I am writing this by the Port of Marseille in Provence, and a rare antique bookshop closes in an hour and I really must get there in time to purchase a particularly hard to find volume of ancient and forgotten Lore.
Enjoy the video, enjoy the music, yes, yes enjoy.
(Marseille & Arles 2023)