Dr Lila Moore

Magickal Visions of the Ultra-Modern Woman: Reconsidering the Feminine Aesthetics of Moina Mathers and Maya Deren 

Two women summon the sea, one is soaring above it as the mistress of its watery elements (Flying Roll XXIII), and the other is born of it, and quest her place on earth with the senses of an oceanic creature (At Land, 1944). They are both trailblazers, the first is modernising magick with an artistic flair, and the second is innovating the art of film through modern ritualistic aesthetics. She makes films akin to ritual-magic. Although belonging to different epochs, Moina Mathers (1865-1928) and Maya Deren (1917-1961) share a common ground that enlighten the processes involved in the intersection of the arts and ritual-magick especially with regards to the role of women and the feminine. Mathers and Deren were both performers who utilised their body as the powerful nexus of the mythically divine and visionary feminine.

In the Masterclass, which is divided into an enlightening part and a participatory part, Dr Lila Moore will first present Deren's and Mathers' approaches to the feminine body, sexuality and mind. Mathers' remaining illustrations appear embedded with radical messages about the future roles of women in magickal-mystical traditions. The feminine body that she depicts is physically and sexually liberated, liminal and gender fluid. These images correlate with her statements on the inherent natural and magical powers of the feminine body which are not merely linked to biological reproduction but to special feminine intelligence, sympathetic comprehension and universal love. Likewise, Deren, more than four decades later, speaks of the rhythms of her films and their aesthetics of time as deriving from her feminine body and its unique sensibility. Only after her Voudoun initiation, Deren compares the sexuality and love of the goddess Arzulie to the function of art and to the pivotal role of women artists and film-makers. Furthermore, Deren's ritualistic art is technologically and scientifically informed and the bodies that she depicts may be perceived as ultra-modern women, technological goddesses and cyborg seeresses. Ideas and imagery inspired by the sea and cosmos, elements of nature and culture, and the feminine body and mind, will be demonstrated as they were articulated by the two legendary women who sought to interweave the aesthetics of art and magickal occult practice in order to generate influential cultural shifts. Dr Moore considers their legacies in the context of The Great Work and equally important in relation to the challenges faced by women today. Based on her extensive practice-based research of Deren's ritualistic art and film form, the participatory part of the Masterclass will commence with her digital poems of ritual-magic, invoking The Magickal Woman and The Hieroglyphic Body. It will be followed by a guided viewing of a short film by Maya Deren as The Rite of the Ultra Modern Heroine, including a handout of a magickal protocol for further personal experiments. The overall ceremonial aesthetics is intended to summon and authorise novel feminine visions, ideas and futures, in the spirit of Moina Matters' motto: "I never retrace my steps."

Lila Moore

Dr Lila Moore is the founder of The Cybernetic Futures Institute, an independent academy for the exploration of technoetic arts with an emphasis on the spiritual-mystical and occult in art, film, screen-dance and networked-digital-interactive forms of performance and narrative. She is an artist film-maker, screen choreographer, technoetic ritualist and visionary theorist.

Dr Moore holds a practice-based Ph.D. degree in Dance on Screen from Middlesex University (2001) and is a lecturer at the BA programme in Mysticism and Spirituality, Zefat Academic College. Her writings include articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She regularly presents papers in international academic conferences and her artworks and films have been shown in juried and curated exhibitions as well as displayed in archives and collections of contemporary art and film.