On Glamour(s) and Parallel Worlds
[Glamour Bomb] • "A glamourbomb ... is an anonymous act that causes people to feel brushed by the divine, the supernatural, or the realm of faerie, and plants in their minds the sense that maybe there is more to the universe than meets the eye."
--S. Ariane Nadii, founder of the Darkfae-L online form where the idea of glamour bombing was first conceived and put into practice.
Recently, walking along an industrial stretch of Gray's Inn Road between Holborn and King's Cross station, I passed a group of teenagers with a menacing, thickset dog in a studded harness. They parted to reveal the entrance to a lush green community grotto planted with flowers and traversed by a ramshackle wooden bridge. The garden was a jewel coloured sliver, a parallel world that surfaced unexpectedly through a seam in the concrete, a reminder that magic exists. It was a glamour bomb.
Glamour bombs are subversive interventions into the fabric of the real, portals to glamour worlds. They don't require complicated or stagily esoteric ingredients. In Manhattan's Hamilton Heights district, where I used to live, homemade glamour bombs abounded. For example, anonymous sidewalk novena candle arrangements surrounding flower bouquet filled chalk outlines. Mysterious, portable kiosks hung with plastic 25 cent supermarket coin dispenser toys, selling tropical, neon syrup drizzled shaved ice. Ornate graffiti tags.
What is a glamour? Wikipedia describes it as a form of magic which affects vision and makes objects and places appear different than they are. W. Black's "The air filled with a strange, pale glamour that seemed to lie over the valley", accents the anonymous, out-of-nowhere quality that traditionally characterizes glamours, and their association with subtle shifts in light and atmosphere reminiscent of a piece of coloured cellophane passing over the sun, or a klieg lamp. In its modern incarnation glamour often refer to the big budget movie world, whose magnetic, mind altering concoctions are presided over by a glittering mirage, a faerie court of celebrity stars. Not all magic is life affirming.
I dream of parallel worlds superimposed acetate sheet style over the real. In my dreams they are gardens, placeless locations where time and space and categories of literal and metaphorical collapse. Rocks, trees and flowers speak. Colours are odours are sounds.
Glamour is the Scottish derivation of grammar (grammarye). In Middle English grammar was often a synonym for Latin, which most lay people could not understand. So an ability to read Latin conferred special power, a power held by priests. The Middle English word grammarye bridges a connection between grammar as the term is understood today, and arcane knowledge, the preserve of the initiated. Following this lineage, written language is inextricably embedded with metaphors of magic, secrecy and depth, of above and below, that mirrors magickal concepts of parallel overworld and underworld realms invisible to the baldly rational eye.
In her modern grimoire Tarot Power, contemporary Wiccan priestess, author and healer Lexa Rosean links glamour to the major arcana card The Moon, which represents border-less states of illusion, the unconscious, intoxication, mystery and romance. She transcribes a potent glamour spell provided by a Strega, an Italian witch. Glamour is associated with women. Traditionally, glamorous women are irresistible and therefore perilous. They bewitch and obscure clear sight. Conversely, corruption is often feminized. In Hollywood movie The Craft, teen witch Sarah (Robin Tunney) conjures a glamour to temporarily lighten her hair. The scene echoes one in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie, where the title character dyes her hair platinum as part of a new identity whose pathological behaviour is facilitated by her capacity to fascinate, to lure.
Glamour bombing restores a democratic, Do It Yourself element to magick. It's about play. If you want to make glamour bombs remember you're a channel, not an author. The object is to foster wonder, to lift the illusory veil between worlds. Glamour bombing, like all the best magic, is creative, not escapist. More Info.
Drawings by Rachel Lowther
1. The Astronaut At The Centre Of The Universe (1999).
2. The Man With Robes Under His Skin (1999)