A Deverills man at the Bladud’s Head
From a ruined doorway peers the hooded man,
And over the hill above such wyrms emerge,
As can encircle even the shadows of Gods.
Liesmaic, Wessex, 125 yf
An interview conducted by MDL
Here we are again; autumn lies thickly in the air, winter is on the horizon and the scent of death and rot (admittedly mostly in the form of fallen apples) is palpable here in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. This is a region populated by villages, church spires, graveyards, copses; a miasma of fields, forests and the ghosts of yesteryear. Those of you who read my article on Ashes will be familiar with the theme of ‘folk horror’ which lies embedded in these very English landscapes, where despite their highly managed appearances there exists a sense of wildness, a feeling of supernatural dread and a sinister presence that rises like the early morning mists at certain points. When walking alone in the shadows of these Wessex hills, hedgerows, ruins and woodlands, one had best look over one’s shoulder. Having relocated to this region, I can attest to the veracity of this statement.
The term ‘sinister’ is of prime importance to this feature, denoting both the atmosphere and intent of the project known as Deverills Nexion. Eagle-eyed readers will at once have picked up on the latter word, a ‘nexion’ being a term used by the infamous and very real Order of Nine Angles (ONA) for a ‘cell’ or practising group/individual. Those who are interested may wish to read up on the ONA, as it will not be greatly discussed here (their manuscripts are easily obtainable on the internet). Suffice to say that one aspect of ONA praxis appears to be highly relevant to this feature, and that is the role which landscape/nature plays in the Sevenfold (or Septenary) Way, particularly (at least, initially) the landscapes of Britain. Emerging from the world of the Marcher lords’ parishes, hidden valleys, moorlands (especially Long Mynd), winding lanes and a Medieval tapestry of fields and rivers, the ONA’s roots in Shropshire make it (aside from a highly individual, secretive and dedicated pursuit) distinctively ‘folkish’ – not völkisch – in aesthetic. The emphasis on landscape and creating sites of worship in rural/wild environments is key to ONA praxis, and within a fascinating essay entitled “Thernn – An Introduction to Natural Septenary Magick” by a certain Coirie Riabhaich, we can find the following discussion of founding temple sites in England:
“In England, the most suitable sites can be found within wild woodland, preferably on ‘common land’ or near footpaths through rough farm land (though as far as possible from human habitation). The site is best near a river/stream, where thorn grows. Alternatively – and it must be a practical alternative – a rocky outcrop on a high peak is most effective, particularly if it is a certain type of rock containing layers of quartz (see the Rite of the Nine Angles MS for details) – such is the description of the hallowed places of the country. Establishing a Sinister temple in other lands will require its own criteria, relevant to the country involved.“
The Devil has long held a place in the vast majority of rural folklore in England, and is commemorated through countless location names (especially of natural features). It is therefore highly fitting that such an approach that prioritises ‘returning oneself to the land’ through sinister magick should emanate from this wyrd Isle. Rather sensationally although in a manner which highlights this ageless, secluded and rural parallel reality (readers are invited to examine the ‘Rounwytha’ path as an example of this), the ONA writings have been described by Nicholas Goodridge-Clarke in his (often highly inaccurate) 2003 publication Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity as evoking “a world of witches, outlaw peasant sorcerers, orgies and blood sacrifices at lonely cottages in the woods and valleys of this area [Shropshire].”
Maintaining this liminal, rustic, and an almost ‘old craft’ approach, the Deverills – a group of villages located in Deverill Valley in Wiltshire, a highly beautiful spot which is steeped in history and hidden pathways – are the focus of this project. Liesmaic from Deverills Nexion (DN) gains the vast majority of his inspiration and atmosphere from developing a close relationship with the valley through walks, research and practise within it. DN emerged on the small cassette label MMP Temple in 2012 with their debut release Sinister musick of the Deverills Nexion, following this with two further cassette releases (Sinister musick of the Deverills Nexion volume II & The voice of the Deverills), a compilation CD (Collected Works), and their newest offering via The Ajna Offensive, The sinister tarot on LP. Along with other MMP Temple releases such as Chants of the ONA (self explanatory and distinctly haunting), the compilation Galactic Reich (focussing on the Vindex concept) and the mysterious, anonymous and highly evocative Behold, the blood from the Moon, they all demonstrate an effort to truly represent and explore the ‘sinister’ element of the English landscape from an ONA perspective through a glass, darkly. This is the subtle and far more atmospheric ‘evil’ of Le Fanu, M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood and even Lord Dunsany in his darkest moments, in which a sense of lone and lurking malefic amidst the trees is constantly present. An eerie perilous power beyond the borders of our vision, shifting beyond perpendicular tracery windows. Scattered workings across the countryside by the light of the moon. A lone carrion crow cursing pole raised in the brambled thickets, leering out against intruders and opfers.
The link to Wessex in DN’s work is constant, and brings to mind (as has been mentioned) the literary geography of Thomas Hardy, whose invented locations echo their real life counterparts and function as ‘alternative landscapes’ that merge with reality when reading. Indeed, Hardy described Wessex as a ‘partly real, partly dream’ country, and DN craft a similar work in their representation of the Deverills Valley, blending the ONA mythos and its aeonic sorcery with the folk landscapes and histories of the parish. Each recording itself is essentially a magickal act, working with the land in producing each piece through field recordings, audial interpretations of locations of significance to Liesmaic. This is particularly noticeable in their recent Sinister tarot LP, which is a musical equivalent of selected cards from the physical ‘sinister tarot’ deck crafted by Liesmaic for his own magickal workings. The eleven compositions are improvisations performed following meditations upon the selected cards, reflecting not only each card’s illustration but most crucially the location in the Deverills which inspired the card’s creation. A detailed essay on this sinister rural ‘psychogeography’ and tarot cartography is provided with the LP in the form of a chapbook, a delightful touch which echoes a certain ‘antiquarian’ element in keeping with Hardy, the spirit of the Early modern era and the atmosphere of the region. Homespun keyboards blend with field recordings from the Deverills, rattles crafted from deceased denizens of the parish accompany ghostly chants and baroque guitar work, conjuring out from the valley an Early modern horror, redolent with influence from the Abyss and the rain dripping from its rotting predecessor; Medieval eaves. The music itself is almost of secondary importance (sublime though it is), as it is the summoning of the Deverills genus loci  which must surely be the focus of the project. From Liesmaic’s writing desk and his tireless tread around the parish we are presented with an antiquated (and timeless) portrayal of the sinister archetype in the English landscape, that which lurks in the shadows on long winter evenings, drifts across the fields with the dusk and early morning mists and which hides itself in lost tangles of bramble and briar, ever watching and ever vigilant. I was fortunate enough to meet with Liesmaic in Christchurch beneath the dreaming spires, and put forth the following questions to him beneath the sign of an eagle and a child.
What drew you to the Deverills that made you choose this small series of hamlets as your sinister parish or landscape?
It was just always there, even if only in the background. An ever-present shadow on the horizon. So I didn’t consciously choose the Deverills as my “muse”, as it were. I rather quickly felt part of its bone-white chalk soil. Those hills accompany me everywhere, undulating in my blood. It seemed natural to try and encapsulate this place and surrounding areas, its very real character, in music. Actually, you could say that eventually the landscape sought to express itself through me, rather. It’s not really the fascinating and ancient history of the area that draws me, rather the environment itself just as it must have also drawn those now forgotten people thousands of years ago. It’s alive and it demands worship, of a sort. I don’t feel so disconnected from the landscape (the Wessex landscape in particular) as modern people tend to. Since a very early age, a silent voice has spoken to me from the chalk downs, a fay and female voice. Not literally obviously, I’m not schizophrenic or otherwise delusional, but it’s there nonetheless. “Foolish and weak is any human love, but my bride, not this…”
The ONA and its mythos have a peculiarly English feeling behind it. The world conjured by Myatt is one that has been described as filled with rural outlaws, cunning folk, lonely cottages etc. DN and indeed the MMP collective as a whole manage to channel this effectively into their music. How do you feel that the English parish atmosphere impacts upon your recording, inspiration and the Sevenfold way?
Yes and that “feeling” has been part of English culture for a long time, probably originating with Caesar’s impressions of this melancholy country – the wild inhospitable landscape, unpleasant damp and dark climate, the mysterious doings of the druids. Britain to the Roman invaders was to them what Africa was to British colonialists many centuries later. The Dark Continent. Savage and uncivilised. And something of that still exists, deep in the depths of memory. Writers and artists have captured it (or tried to) and more recently, from roughly the mid 20th century onwards I suppose, it is music that has been doing most of the artistic exploring. Film, too. Algernon Blackwood and M.R. James were probably the greatest at expressing the “folk horror” aspects of the British (specifically English really) environs in literature. Tolkien too, with his descriptions of the Old Forest, Barrow Downs etc. By the way, it’s sad to see his spirit has entirely abandoned this now vulgar drinking hole in which we’re sitting today, bereft of the atmosphere he must have enjoyed to come here so often.
When growing up I quickly consumed my parents’ library of late 19th, early 20th century works, including the above writers. Also Mary Stewart’s Arthurian novels, even ’80s television like Robin of Sherwood (including the brilliant soundtrack) had an influence on young minds with a mystical persuasion. In the ’70s and ’80s there was a resurgence of such themes in popular culture. People like Christos Beest were inspired by these things, and the leader of The Temple of Fullmoon in Poland took his name from a character in Robin of Sherwood, ha! But it’s a minor point ultimately. Even without growing up with such influences as these, I’d still have the same inclinations, if I can put it that way. We’re all more than the sum of our influences, which after all are only expressions/emanations of that same thing which draws us to them in the first place.
I explored the countryside as far as I could around me (on my bicycle, or just walking) and basically lived in a world that didn’t really exist anymore, or perhaps never did except in the imagination. And yet somehow I felt, on my own out there, that it was indeed, sometimes, possible to feel something akin to that which those writers (and various folk myths I was discovering) had expressed, because they themselves had experienced it. As I grew older I sought out such experiences and hoped for them, cultivated them. If I had been born in some other country/region, some other culture, I imagine my music would reflect that and be specific in a different way, though ultimately of the same essence. But here I am in Wessex, and Deverills Nexion‘s music is the shadow of the hills looming larger over the medieval church built on top of the most ancient ritual site where a wyrm, manifestation of the Dark Gods, once coiled around the sacred mound and was adored…
MMP Temple is primarily responsible for the cassettes of ONA sinister music (apart from the DN debut album, put out by Ajna), how did this label begin and what were its primary aims?
The label actually began at least a decade ago, under another name (now abbreviated to MMP) which released a few tapes of some underground artists at the time. It was run by a friend from York and myself. We resurrected it recently, both of us now in quite different places to where we were back then. Quite literally in the other fellow’s case; he’s living in India (which has caused some issues with the label and other things admittedly, but never mind). The primary aim of MMP Temple was as a vehicle for the music of Deverills Nexion but also for any other relevant things that could represent the mythos/esoteric philosophy of the ONA in what we considered to be a tasteful and meaningful way. No music just for the sake of music.
“There has to be a genuine reason for making a recording,
not merely the self-indulgent need for “self-expression”,
which I spit on.”
However we’re slowing our activity with MMP and will soon mothball it for a time, once we release a final cassette compilation. Unless some new and vital idea springs to mind. The point is that we in all things aim to achieve a specific goal (which I/we have pretty much accomplished with The sinister tarot LP) and then move onto other things. We’re not here to fall into a rut and repeat ourselves meaninglessly. That’s not to say that Deverills Nexion won’t record any new material, but just that I won’t ever be sitting here thinking, “well it’s time for a new album”, like I suppose most profane and non-spiritual musicians do. There has to be a genuine reason for making a recording, not merely the self-indulgent need for “self-expression”, which I spit on. The spark of Satan should be lit within you, urging you to create. My advice is to forget the idea of expressing “yourself” and focus instead on letting what lies beyond manifest through your works. And for those of a supposedly “satanic” disposition, go out and do what you consider to be evil, in whatever form takes your fancy, in that way you’ll be the more open to presence works of art redolent of Satan, as it will truly be from that dark entity from whence your most genius works derive, I promise you.
Improvisation seems to be a primary driving force behind DN, reflecting a raw interpretation and experiencing of the woods, fields, hidden hollows and numinous encounters around the area. To what extent are the recordings ‘prepared’ beforehand or do you work with direct inspiration ‘off the cuff’ so to speak?
Yes, it’s mostly all improvised. But that obviously doesn’t mean I get the instruments out and then record whatever happens to manifest at the time. I have an image in my mind of how the music should “look” rather than sound, best exemplified by the method of creating the tarot recordings. Images derived from meditation on the cards need to be built into a structure of sound. I’m not composing songs, I’m painting landscapes. These need to be fresh and not overworked so as to preserve the spirit, the essence. That way it’s raw and unpolished but perfect in its rough beauty, like the Wessex landscape itself. Improvisation is important in the way I work, because I personally feel it allows a more direct channelling from “outside”; through to mind, to hand, to instrument. Some people of course find it better to work in a more deliberate and painstaking way, developing compositions over long periods of time. Either way, it’s a magical act always, this process. This can be said of many musicians, artists of all kinds, whether they understand that to be the case or not. Knowingly or unknowingly they are of the Devil’s party.
Any music which is inspired by locality in some way acts as a conduit for the area’s genius loci, wonderfully illustrated by the field recordings in the DN tape Voice of the Deverills. Could you tell us more about the folklore and your experiences with the spirits of the land of the Deverills parish?
Voice of the Deverills was pretty successful in that respect I think, yes. But there are things I would change now maybe. Still, it’s highly original and evokes all that it should and was intended to do. A numinous and almost perfect musical synthesis of man and environment.
“The flag of Wessex bears the mark of Satan, let it be known.”
Experiences of such things as you’re asking me to describe tend to be hard to define and explain, hence why people rather attempt it through music or painting or some other means. In words, numinous experiences can sound hollow and far removed from anything approaching what was felt at the time, rather like how explaining a dream to someone never conveys anything close to the effect it had on you whilst asleep. In fact it bores people and even the act of gropingly describing it reduces its significance in your own mind as well. I’ve given up trying to do so and prefer instead the very real magic of music. My experiences can best be heard and imagined for yourself in the aforementioned recording.
As for folklore, well the entire area is literally soaked in the blood of past (and present) centuries and countless ghosts wander endlessly. Cold Kitchen hill, an Anglicised corruption of Col Cruachen, which means “Hill of the Wizard”, the name no doubt a memory of ritual activities connected to the ancient tradition of Albion which the ONA inherited; was marked by each successive generation for centuries, until recent times. Long barrows and earthworks mark old settlements and religious sites; Romans built a temple there, no doubt over an older ritual place as was their custom; it was part of the landscape where King Alfred rallied the Saxons against the Danish invaders (remembered in nearby place names) and the usual many rumours associated with time-worn hilltops. “Dragons” were in past eras said to haunt hilltops especially, and what were they if not intrusions of one or more Dark Gods into our material realm? The particular dragon/wyrm associated with Col Cruachen was known as Sulphure (apparently due to its stench) if local legends are to be believed, though its supposed period of dwelling there predated even the Romans. The dragon is also the ancient symbol of Wessex, appearing on English banners depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, though it was already old and perhaps of mostly forgotten derivation even in 1066ev when held aloft against the Normans. Still, the flag of Wessex bears the mark of Satan, let it be known.
The ONA has a reputation which to the casual observer seems based upon shadowplay, rumour and highly constructed propaganda, in that one rarely (if ever) actually meets someone who reliably follows the Sevenfold way and can speak in an informed way about it. To what extent do you feel that the games of trickery and rumour aided the ONA in its development and portrayal of itself?
I believe it’s because such genuine people have no interest in spouting opinions on the internet or wherever but rather prefer to keep their activities away from public scrutiny, or if they are in the public eye anyway, not to be associated with something like satanism. Or really, I imagine they can’t see the benefit in talking to “casual observers” about such things. Most real achievers, in any walk of life, don’t generally feel the need to gain the ego-affirmation of other people’s approval or interest in their activities.
Well, the rumours and mystery surrounding the ONA inevitably add to the mystique, which makes it all the more attractive to people, myself included. No doubt the resulting confusion and misunderstandings also serves as a useful gatekeeper as it were. Basically, people think too much about all this, rather than just getting on with things. Download, print, copy, borrow, steal a copy of NAOS, and see where you end up. Desperately trying to unravel an enormous tangled ball of string won’t lead you far, be like Alexander and cut through it with a sword!
For your most recent work The sinister tarot, you present a selection of musical representations of your own crafted Sinister Tarot set, and in the accompanying text it mentions that a full recording for the deck will materialise (privately) in the future. What in particular lead you to choose these eleven cards to work with for the album? Will the illustrations themselves see the light of day outside of your own circle?
Some of my tarot illustrations are already out there, sometimes only excerpted details of them, but most of them are (or likely will be) too personal to share with outsiders. This being because they generally feature real places, events or incidents (mostly “trivial” from someone else’s point of view, especially personally involved ones), people that have significance and relevance to the card in question, for whatever reason. I’ll have a set professionally printed when I’ve finished the entire deck, and the way printing shops work means I’ll likely have some extra sets. These I’ll give away as gifts to a few individuals here and there who may find them of interest.
The way the complete tarot musick recordings have been emerging, is that the minor arcana tend to be variations on a theme for each suit, which would be rather boring to present on an “album”. Therefore only major arcana recordings were selected for the LP, as these are more individual. I have in fact actually felt the need in some cases to record yet further interpretations of certain cards, exploring them further. There is another representation of “Hel” for instance, in a vaguely similar vein to the recording which appears on the LP. It has the same quality of unrequited deathly longing, at least.
The specific recordings comprising the LP were chosen because they were the most resonant of all those made at the time and together formed a satisfying complete artistic work. There are more involved reasons why I chose to feature some over others, but the booklet enclosed with the LP explains why I don’t feel the need to be more specific. It’s not to appear more “mysterious” that I say this, it’s just that I’m sincere in what I do and some of the tarot images would expose my deepest inner recesses to those who might know what to look for.
The hotly debated question of ‘authenticity’ surrounds much music which lurks on the ‘outer fringes’ of public consumption (especially in areas such as ‘black metal’ etc.), yet so little seems to be echoed in practise. With the Deverills Nexion (and the MMP collective) it is clear that this is very much a ‘lived art’. What are your thoughts on the necessity (and lack of) a truly ‘authentic expression’ of the sinister in the current musical quagmire?
Judging from what I’ve seen recently, specifically regarding your example of black metal, I don’t think it’s a particularly “hotly debated” topic these days actually. People don’t seem to care anymore; in general there’s a lack of standards and far too much acceptance of outsiders and dilettantes. It’s apparently okay to be a poser nowadays, anything goes. I thought things were bad in the ’90s when the “goth vampire” invasion happened, but it was nothing compared to what I see now. The fact that it even has to be argued or discussed that certain bands and projects (remaining nameless here) are fake through and through is amazing to me. What a travesty. Without wanting to sound like someone’s grandfather, I remember when people would spread flyers with lists of fake bands from their respective countries. Today this is seen as immature and taking things too seriously, but actually it was a healthy attitude even if expressed in a juvenile way. A nowadays “cult” band like Moonblood were denounced as “fake” at one time (if the German circle around Morke were to be believed), so strict were the standards people held. One of the Moonblood duo probably just wore the wrong band t-shirt one day. Of course that’s absurd, but compare that to today when any group of failed dregs banished from the Indie-rock scene can find acceptance and a warm welcome in the modern easy-going black metal movement. I was once asked to write an English scene report for a Polish black metal magazine (this was over 10 years ago) and the editor of this fine publication was keen to impress upon me the fact that his main interest lay in sorting out the bands which were uncompromising and individualistic (the “true” bands) from the poser bands who just wanted to participate in the “scene” or be accepted by mainstream media etc. Those who had vision and fire from those who were just musicians and imitators, fanboys. I considered there to be about 4 such genuine bands in England at the time, by the way. That was the attitude people had regarding authenticity, it was hugely important. Even if musically a band could be good, if they were just musicians without any genuine obsession for their subject matter and the expression of it, it was worthless. People have forgotten that, mainly I suspect because they don’t value music like they used to. If you were going to dedicate time to listening to an album, it had to have a true sense of death and night and blood or it’s just a waste. But well, if you only listen to music on the bus to work, or while doing the dishes or checking social media, then of course, who cares? It’s just music, something to pass the time, background noise…
As for the “necessity” of an authentic expression of the sinister in music. Well there’s no necessity as such, it just occurs. People are driven to express such things from outside of themselves. It’s a very old phrase that “the Devil makes work for idle hands” and the truth underlying it is that such entities make themselves known through the works of men. Not always obviously so. Christos Beest once gave the example of Arvo Pärt‘s Passio, a recording of which was coincidentally released by Ajna at the same time as the Deverills Nexion LP. This musical/artistic expression as you put it, or manifestation, of the “sinister”, of Satan, will never cease but will appear in different forms, evolving always. Despite the mass of mediocrity and inauthentic surface-aesthetic imitation crowding out the genuine works, it’s easy enough to feel intuitively which ones have sprung from the Devil’s seed and which ones are merely the sordid outpourings of human hands and minds. There’s no debate possible.
And with that it was time to retire back to our respective Wessex parishes. My thanks to Liesmaic for his time and his words. Long may the Deverills Nexion continue to bear its sinister fruit.
 Read the article “Waldheimat” in Black Ivory Tower magazine #2 for a more thorough exploration of this concept.