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Where did Alchemy Come From?

by on July 18th, 2014 in Alchemy Gothic, News | No comment

An ancient, Egyptian mystery? A late Mediaeval ‘science’? A secret Renaissance enigma? Yes, all of these, but in more recent history it’s cultural impact has directly affected more people than all of these combined – but this time from Alchemy England!
Alchemy, like the occult, has always been a great mystery, understood by very few and it’s dark secrets only known and practiced by a handful of dedicated adepts. Shrouded in mythology, magic, religion, spirituality and intrigue, it’s objective has always been to achieve perfection, both spiritual and physical – transmutation, from the corrupt into the pure. This included the transformation of base metals into noble metals, the esoteric purification of the soul, the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, an elixir of life to infuse youth and longevity.

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Wave Gotik Treffen

by on July 11th, 2014 in News | No comment

Wave-Gotik-Treffen is the world’s largest meeting (or “treffen”) of darkly inclined souls. The largest recorded attendance was in 2000 with over 25,000 people and this never drops down below 15,000. I recall my first WGT (not to be confused with the World Golf Tour ;), walking through the gates of the Agra grounds and seeing more goths in one place than I had ever seen before. But not just any goths – these were some of the most beautiful and creatively attired than I had ever seen! Add to this hundreds of bands in over 40 venues spread out across the city, as well as a huge market hall, pagan village, Viking village, club nights, fetish events, picnics, theatre and classic musical shows there really isn’t much time to be bored! In fact finding time to sleep when the club nights close at 5am in the morning and the bands start again at 11am, there’s just enough time to change outfits!

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Horror Legend Dario Argento Hospitalised

by on June 30th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No comment

We’re big horror fans here at Alchemy, so were concerned to hear that Dario Argento, director of such 70s cult classics as Deep Red, Suspiria and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage has suffered a serious accident. In a scenario that sounds a little like something from one of his stylish chillers, Dario fell down a flight of stairs at his apartment in Rome. Happily, he’s now out of hospital, and being looked after by a private nurse at home. Everyone here at Alchemy wishes Italy’s maestro of menace a swift recovery!


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Ielele, the ladies of the dawn

by on June 16th, 2014 in News | No comment

Wake up before dawn, walk towards a nearby lake and wait there…Just wait would you? When dawn makes its presence, what would you see? A lake, you say? Just a lake? Are you sure? Well I’m afraid that’s not what people saw at that hour according to my grandma’s stories and Romanian folklore.

‘Ielele’ a strange word in the English language but it means (I will explain it to you this time…) maidens, fairies, nymphs, daughters of Aphrodite, you name it! Ielele are beautiful, cheerful girls, always barefoot and dressed in white according to the village where my grandma was raised. Ielele love to dance and to have a great time. People used to see them all the time when my grandma was a child. They’d see them levitate and dance in circles above and around lakes. They’d be dancing the traditional Romanian ‘Hora’ (holding hands and going round in circles). They’d be laughing and smiling, their silky hair seducing everything around them, the scent of their skin driving nature mad. An irresistible image you might say. Yet, people said that if you saw them, the most important thing was to not call them out! If you did, then they’d come after you and drown you in the lake… Not so irresistible after all.

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately for you I have no stories told by my grandma about people who were actually killed by the Ielele. Then again, people drown all the time, how can we be sure that the Ielele have nothing to do with it? How would we know? Death is, after all, blind, mute and very good at keeping secrets…

If you are interested in seeing these beautiful and deadly creatures, I have a spell for you. I have no idea where I’ve read this, but I’ll never forget it. It goes something like this:

Wake up before dawn and find a lake. At dawn when it’s just you and the lake out there, make a wish and throw an apple in the lake. Then wait. The Iele will then appear, like the most gorgeous ghosts of your wildest dreams.

I am not sure what would happen next. I’ve never tried it, not because I am scared but frankly because I am way too lazy to wake up at such an inconvenient time. But feel free to try it, watch those nymphs as they dance in circles and steal your heart. But remember this: don’t, don’t call them out!

By Niguanta, of Romania. http://niguanta.blogspot.co.uk

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Books of Blood

by on June 10th, 2014 in News | No comment

While the dusty realm of the library’s seldom seen as a hive of excitement, a recent discovery at the library at Harvard University’s Houghton Library has been causing something of a stir. For experts have recently confirmed that a volume in the library’s collection is bound in human skin. Oddly enough, this isn’t the first book belonging to the prestigious US university that was thought to have been bound in this grisly fashion. In 2006, Harvard librarians revealed that they believed they had at least three such volumes in their impressive collections. The practice is known as ‘anthropodermic bibliopegy’, proving that there’s a name for pretty much everything.

The first such volume in the Harvard collection’s Practicarum Quaestionum Circa Leges Regias Hispaniae, a 17th Century Spanish legal text held by the University’s Law Library. An inscription within claimed that ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632’. However, scientific tests subsequently established that the leather bindings came from sheepskin rather than anything more sinister. Happily for fans of ghoulish tales, though, the second such volume to be tested recently by Harvard scientists, held by the Houghton Library, has proven to be the real deal.

The book in question is a slim French volume entitled Des destinées de l’ame, a 19th Century collection of essays meditating on the human spirit. ‘This book is bound in human skin parchment on which no ornament has been stamped to preserve its elegance,’ reads a note from the book’s original owner who had it rebound in this gruesome style. ‘By looking carefully you easily distinguish the pores of the skin. A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering: I had kept this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman…’

Other documentation confirms that our original owner was a medical man, who obtained his materials from ‘the back of the unclaimed body of a woman patient in a French mental hospital who died suddenly of apoplexy.’ Scientist affirmed that tests on the binding ‘clearly eliminated other common parchment sources, such as sheep, cattle and goat.’ Though, while, ‘consistent with human, other closely related primates, such as the great apes and gibbons, could not be eliminated because of the lack of necessary references.’ The philosophical, old school book-lover can only conclude that at least this is something you won’t find on your e-reader. Yet…


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Letters of the broken hearts

by on June 6th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No comment

When it comes to love, we don’t need Valentine’s day to make us feel special. Love is something that should be experienced every day, every moment and every second of our lives. Love is beautiful, but it is also deadly if not answered. I came across a letter, written by a young woman to her love, in 1477. This letter was the the first known ‘Valentine’ in the English language. I decided to close my eyes and imagine the love story, how it was written, who wrote it and to whom, and were they truly in love, were they far away from each other and…were they even human?

“Dear Valentine,
I hate the way we parted. I am quite certain that this letter will not make it better, but I hope it might explain some of the things that I seem unable to say when I am around you.
We cannot be! Us, together – it is impossible. It is insane. It is imaginary! If you would know all the hatred my family carries for your kind, you would know this as well. Or perhaps you do, but reckless as you are you do not care. There is a difference between love, butterflies in your stomach, the feeling that you are the happiest person in the world and, reality, responsibility and consequences. You know that Valentine! You know I must not love you or think of you, as thoughts and eventual deeds will only cause us pain and certain death. I must ask you not to think of me, not to write to me, not to ask of me or even whisper my name! You must not Valentine. Please respect my wishes and my request.

“Dear Gabriela,
I too, hate the way we parted. But no more than this letter you have sent me. Are you jesting? Are you trying to turn my un-beating heart to ashes? I may be seen as cold and undead by your brothers, but what I feel for you…
The hatred your family carries? Must you know what my family thinks of yours? Your race? Your traditions and the full moon ceremonies? But indeed, I am reckless, I am not bothered by such scratches but I am bothered by the deep wound you have left in my soul. I should not think of you? Not ask of you? Should I stop living then? Should I plunge a stake into my heart? Is that what you ask of me? Is that what you truly desire? If you are playing with me, Gabriela, then please stop it at once! If you do not understand the way I feel about you, then for Dracula’s sake, agree to meet me as we have spoken before and let us talk about this! Give me a chance Gabriela. I beg you, do not deny me!
Yours for eternity and beyond,

By Niguanta, of Romania.


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by on May 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No comment

Recently returning from my first trip to Chicago for the 20th annual Goth Convergence, I’m filled with a rekindled enthusiasm for a scene that I fell in love with as a teen and reaffirmed how it is still as relevant to me and my life in adulthood.

Convergence is the yearly goth festival held in America. Initially started by the net.goths from the Usenet group alt.gothic as an opportunity to put faces to avatars, over the years its patrons have been drawn from every corner of the goth scene. What’s slightly more unusual about this gothic gathering (as opposed to the ones in the UK and Europe) is that its location changes year on year. Cities bid to host it and the winning city forms a committee to run the event. In a country as large as America, this does make sense and it also means each festival really has its own flavour as well as giving a number of people the opportunity to play a key role in the scene rather than this honour going to a very select few.

The very first convergence in 1995 was held in Chicago, as was the tenth. So it was only fitting that the twentieth anniversary should be Chicago too. The committee was headed by scene veterans Scary Lady Sarah (DJ and event organiser extraordinaire) and William Faith (of one of my favourite bands Faith and the Muse), who incidentally also have their own band together called Bell Weather Syndicate

The festival consists of two main nights of bands, a club night, a fashion show and a Bizarre Bazaar where goth designers and artisans peddle their wares. The band line up consisted of The Gothsicles, I:Scintilla, Arch Visceral Parlor, Peeling Grey, Ending the Vicious Cycle, Sunshine Blind and two of our very own home-grown bands: Pretentious, Moi? and The March Violets.

Although I may be slightly biased (since it’s my husband’s project) I do think Pretentious, Moi? are one of the best new bands on the scene and perfect the 90s Goth sound, which is my particular favourite. I am reassured by the fact that Scary Lady Sarah has been an avid supporter of the band ever since Tim started it as a side project in 1994 and the astounding reception they got from the gig, that my opinion is justified! Added to this is the high pedigree of musicians he has assembled to form the band: Rachel Iden (Die Laughing), Gordon Young (ex-Dream Disciples), Christian Tonkin (Manuskript) and Matt Helm (Red Sun Revival), that you know it’s going to be something worth listening to.

The final headliners of the weekend were The March Violets. Formed in Leeds in the post punk era at the very start of the 80s, they were one of the 4 dark Northern Bands that are often blamed for starting the Gothic scene (along with The Danse Society, The Sisters of Mercy, and The Southern Death Cult). We thought they were lost to us until three original members reformed in 2008 and have been painting stages purple once again and this time round they were joined by William Faith on base. They were wonderfully received by fans who loved them the first time round alongside the newly initiated.
And Britain was also represented in the form of Alchemy there too! I spotted a number of pieces in the crowd and of course had to wear some of my own.

It was great to have scene veterans (a number of whom were even at the first convergence) dance alongside fledgling goths and feel a real sense of unity, belonging and a feeling of a common understanding, something I haven’t really felt since my first days of descending into the underground clubs of Johannesburg in my late teens and early 20s. Perhaps though it’s also because the dance style and music affinity of the Americans do seem a lot closer to the South African tastes than that of elsewhere. However I do think in many ways this is something many of the larger European festivals lack and even Whitby Goth Weekend feels to me that it’s lost its soul to a degree… although I will again be attending and reviewing both Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig and Whitby Goth Weekend in Whitby this year… so it’ll be good to make the comparison with fresh eyes.

Although I do know my feelings of this particular festival were echoed by most of the attendees, with wonderful messages flooding into the facebook group before our plane even landed back on UK soil. Kyla, a C20 attendee who found goth slightly later in life (and you know – it’s never too late ;), describes it thus, “I found the festival euphoric. Anything that keeps the spark of my first and foremost passion – music – alive and burning bright is a wonderful thing. Additionally, it was a true joy meeting other people from around the world who are drawn to the same things as I. Someone said once by the time people reach their 30-40s, they find their tribe, and indeed such a statement is true for me.”

Through the years the festival has varied in size attracting between 400 to 1,500 attendees and it seems to have been a conscious decision a few years ago (along with waning scene interest) that it be kept as close to the original idea as possible rather than allowing it to become commercialised and watered down with too many fringe elements. However it remains a place where you are fully welcomed if you truly want to experience and be part of the dark collective. I think it is this more intimate gathering of a like-minded group with a real passion for all the scene has to offer, in an event by-the-people-for-the-people that really set the tone for the festival. This is definitely a festival to earmark for the dark at heart! See you at Convergence 30 Chicago!

Until next time,
Gothically yours,

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Download 2014

by on May 23rd, 2014 in News | No comment

One of the UK’s biggest metal festivals will be taking place between 13-15 June at Donington Park near Derby. Download has been running for the last 11 years – it took over from the annual Monsters of Rock event – and this year there will be more than 100 bands playing across five stages with more acts being announced in the run-up to the big weekender.

Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and Aerosmith have all been confirmed as main stage headliners, with Trivium, Opeth and Killswitch Engage also on the bill. If you’re going, make sure you come and say ‘hello’ to us at the Alchemy stand where we’ll have a selection of best-sellers and some festival specials.

Get your festival wardrobe sorted with some of the latest Alchemy apparel. Try our classic fit Reaper’s Ace t-shirt [BT736], which is available in medium, large and extra large. This versatile piece features Azrael, the Angel of Death, and is printed in full colour on a black 100% cotton tee. And Alchemy England Apparel’s Cursed Girlie Poncho hood [2378] with front print is perfect as a light cover-up when the sun goes down.

For the latest news about Download Festival and to buy tickets, visit: www.downloadfestival.co.uk

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X-Men: Days Of Future Past

by on May 19th, 2014 in News | No comment

The latest X-Men movie will be hitting the big screen on 22 May. X-Men: Days Of Future Past takes characters from the original action trilogy and weaves them into a time-travelling story with a star-studded cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. The new film revisits the past when the mutant superheroes join forces with their younger selves to save their species from the threat of extinction.

The characters are based on the original and hugely popular X-Men comic books, which were created by Spiderman writer Stan Lee in the 1960s and are still published by Marvel. Their name comes from the additional X-gene that they carry, which gives each one a special ability. A follow-up film called X-Men: Apocalypse has just been announced for tentative release in 2016.

Get inspired by X-Men’s blade-fisted Wolverine with Alchemy’s solid pewter and blue enamel howling Wulven belt buckle [B74] – its name comes from the Old English word for ‘of the wolf’. For a more discreet but deadly accessory, try our Wolf Bullet faux-stretcher earring [E326], which depicts a wolf’s head on the end of a 7mm bullet. This piece can also be custom-ordered in silver for added authenticity!

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Here Be Monsters!

by on May 16th, 2014 in News | No comment

When we heard that monsters were loose in Rome, we despatched our most experienced monster-hunter, in the intrepid shape of Gavin Baddeley, to investigate post haste. He returned with the following report…

This summer, Italy’s National Rome Museum is playing host to a temporary exhibition dedicated to Monsters: Fantastic Creatures of Fear and Myth, featuring over a hundred artefacts depicting mythical beasts drawn from the Ancient World, from the lethally seductive Sirens to the grotesque, snake-haired Gorgons. ‘Monsters are part of the myths of every culture, every civilization,’ the exhibition’s co-curator Elisabetta Setari told Art Daily. ‘They have characterised our civilization from the dawn of time until now.’ Housed in a gallery constructed to resemble a Minotaur’s labyrinth, each twisting shadowed corridor leads you to a chamber dedicated to a different example of the many curious and fearsome entities to be found in classical folklore and legend.

Clear, informative plaques fill you in on the background to each imaginary beast, from their birth – usually the progeny of unholy couplings between mortals, gods and animals – to their ultimate fate, conventionally slain by a valiant hero. Some monsters enjoyed diverse reputations in different times and places – for example, the sphinx was regarded by the Ancient Egyptians as a benevolent guardian, but dreaded by the Greeks as ‘the strangler’ who despatched and devoured all who failed to answer her fiendish riddles. ‘Monsters are aggressive creatures,’ explains Setari. ‘They are part animal so they have an animalistic force. Monsters in antiquity were above all protectors, for example of tombs where they appear on gravestones.’

The exhibition has borrowed pieces from over 40 collections – mostly from Italy, but also from as far afield as the USA’s J. Paul Getty Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each artefact is skilfully displayed to bring out its unique character – some are beautiful, others whimsical, a number still somewhat sinister – they reflect changing attitudes to the monsters they depict. We have always enjoyed an ambivalent relationship with monsters – somewhere between fascination and dread, between hatred and pity – that’s evoked powerfully in this captivating exhibition.

Monsters: Fantastic Creatures of Fear and Myth is only on until June 1st, so time is running out for anyone hoping to explore the labyrinth at the National Roman Museum. For further information,
click here.

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