Guilty Before Innocent

Damien Echols gives a lecture at The Rubin Museum. Friday March 25th, 2016.

Last night I attended a lecture at The Rubin Museum of Art. Damien Echols was speaking. You might have heard of him. Echols, along with two others were known as The West Memphis Three. The West Memphis Three were wrongly convicted and imprisoned up to 18 years for a murder they did not commit. In addition to spending 18 years in jail, Echols was put in solitary confinement for 10 of those years.  Now, The WM3 was guilty of something – of being bible belt outcasts. The three guys stood out for their penchant of Metal and dressing Goth. Their misfit status along with petty crime records made them an easy target to pin the deaths of three second grade boys. In 2011 after new evidence emerged, Echols, and the other two, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were released under the Alford Plea.

Now, I’m not here to really discus the West Memphis Three case in particular. How you, the reader feels about the unsolved murders is entirely up to you. As for myself, I have no doubt in my mind that innocent people are sent to jail every day in the U.S. There’s many factors that play into this. Here’s one. Reality is, if you’re from lower middle or poor class, chances are you’re guilty until proven innocent. If you have money for a damn good lawyer, or you have, let’s say connections to the judge, well then. More likely you’ll have a fighting chance. If you don’t have either, then you’re shit out of luck. In addition, laws vary state by state. Many a county basically survive off the fines of let’s say, DUI. People screw up, and the U.S. judicial system knows this. Thus the court system depends on people making bad life decisions, such as drinking too much, being in a bad relationship, or just not knowing what the hell they’re doing. Poor life decisions sometimes costs the civilian his or her life. So while yes, real criminals should be convicted to the fullest extent of the law, there are those right now, sitting in a cell for crimes not committed. As they say, the truth is not always black or white. Sometimes the truth is a big muddy gray tone.

Before the lecture. Installations by Breyer/Genesis P-Orridge at the Rubin Museum, March 25th, 2016.

Anyway, enough of the soapbox. I really went to the lecture to hear the viewpoint of an occult artist. It was during the late ’90s when I first heard about The West Memphis Three. A few months ago, an online Vice Magazine article re-peaked my interest. If you’re just getting started in learning about Magick, then you might want to check out what Echols has to say.

Echols began his lecture by discussing the word ‘occult’ itself. One of the meaning of the word ‘occult’ is hidden. The point he makes is, anything can be hidden. Anything you don’t have knowledge of can by mysterious. It doesn’t necessarily have to be of a spiritual nature. For example, you may not know what’s inside your shoe. It was this simple straight approach that made his point very clear. Then he went a bit about how he got into magick. He learned about Golden Dawn practices before he was incarcerated. Along the way, he discovered Buddhism. He then confirmed what I had also suspected. That Buddhist and Ceremonial magick practices go hand in hand.

12795020_270262233305596_6480768354391626928_o (1)
Damien Echols before giving a lecture at the Rubin Museum, Friday March 25th, 2016.

Damien Echols discussed a bit about what life was in prison. He briefly discussed how the prison guards would use his family photos and tarot cards as emotional blackmail while in solitary confinement. This led to his daily practice of meditation. During his stay in prison two things happened. He was ordained into the tradition of Rinzai Zen, a tradition of Japanese Buddhism – and he met his future wife. Discussing his wife Lorri Davis, he mentioned because of his confinement, they couldn’t do the normal things that other couples take for granted. For example, see a movie, or go to a restaurant together. Despite the distance, he explained how they worked around that with other methods. She moved from New York to Little Rock and kept the same schedule as him. They would meditate together but synchronize at different locations. Echols then mentioned there would times when thinking about his wife, despite the hopelessness of prison, he would randomly break out into a smile.

The last part of the hour long talk was amusing. Some people within the Goth subculture can relate. He talked about how he hated beaches during the daytime, how sometimes one can be depressed during the summer, how he appreciate nighttime. It’s the little things that reminded oneself about being sightly different from what’s considered the norm. He hates Facebook, as he thinks it’s full of negativity. For social media he much prefer Twitter and Instagram. Echols doesn’t seem to be fond of the ‘food porn’ concept. Whenever someone posts a photo of their lunch, he immediately hits the unfollow button. Echols also doesn’t understand why people are so attached to their cellphones, and admitted to liking “uncool” bands like Nickelback.

Then he discussed his current residence, which is New York City. It takes someone like Damien Echols to make one wake up and appreciate NYC for what it is. Hearing him proclaim his love for the city was yet another reminder of what others take for granted. Take that you bitter NYC haters.

What struck me the most was his lack of bitterness. Perhaps it’s the effects of Zen Buddhism, but we can all learn from this guy. After a few traumatic experiences, it’s easy to be hateful, miserable and bitter. Too easy. What Damien Echols discussed in very few words how one can take extreme pain, and transform themselves into being a better person, on one’s own terms. Perhaps it’s a bit like ‘crossing the abyss’ as they discuss in Western Magick.

After the lecture was over, Echols went over to an older woman, graciously collecting a poem wrote about his experience. Afterwards, I checked out the sixth floor, looking at various installations, art and sigil work by Breyer/Genesis P-Orridge. Echols’ talk gave me some inspiration. However, I still can’t into Nickelback.


Elements 2016

Started this sketch back in January, two weeks after David Bowie died. Suppose it was the Aladdin Sane influence. Started to color it in with colored pencil, but then decided that the Prang brand wasn’t good enough. Needed my pack of Prismacolor. Couldn’t find the Prismacolor colored pencils, so I put the sketch aside.

March rolled around, and came across this sketch. I shrugged, since I couldn’t find the Prismacolor. Figured maybe it was best left alone and considered it finished. By then I was going through my old esoteric books and looking at retro Sci-Fi fantasy art online.

Yesterday I was looking for my King Crimson CD. The classic one “In The Court of The Crimson King.” Of course, I then couldn’t find my CD, ’cause I’m so organized. Guess what? Didn’t find the CD, but instead found – you guessed it – my Prismacolor colored pencils. It was tucked away near my CD collection.

So next time I’m looking for something else completely different, that’s when I’ll be able to located the missing CD.

Elements 2015. Colored pencil sketch drawn by Michele Witchipoo, completed March 2016. Also on DeviantArt:

The sketch has also been posted to my DeviantArt page. Eventually it’ll also be posted to my Tumblr account.

MoCCA Fest 2016

On the weekend of April 2nd and 3rd, I will be sharing a table with three other artists at MoCCA Fest 2016

Art for MoCCA Fest 2016. Artist: Noelle Stevenson.

You can find me at table F 219. Here’s the links for everyone at the table:

Michele Witchipoo (WitchesBrewPress):

E.J. Barnes (Drowned Town Press):

Jonathan Todd:

Paul Curtis:

Books, comics, prints, and greeting cards will be for sale at this event. So drop on by.

Psycho Bunny Hates St. Patty’s

Yeah, like I want to celebrate a day where supposedly Pagans were driven out, and then get obnoxiously drunk. This Irish man had the right idea:

Anyway, without further ado, here’s Psycho Bunny. He hates St. Patty’s, ’cause it interrupts his regularly scheduled boozing. He doesn’t have time to deal with amateurs.

Psycho Bunny hating on Saint Patrick’s Day. Based on the comic by Michele Witchipoo. March 2016.


And remember folks. You can always order your own copy of Psycho Bunny through this website:

Pretty Pictures

Just when living in the re-branded NYC was getting me down, I had an opportunity to attend two prestigious art fairs: VOLTA NY , and The Armory Show. This past weekend had a whole slew of fine art festivals, but only so little time to explore. I was given a VIP on Sunday, which left me exactly four hours to check out everything.

VOLTA NY focused more on fine Modern and Post-Modern art.

It’s always amusing to see subcultures you grew up with, now considered to be ‘fine art.’ As with the case with artist Paul Brainard.

Continuing with VOLTA, I stumbled across artist Skylar Fein‘s work. The over-sized installations put the spotlight on items past.

Realizing I hadn’t seen The Armory Show yet, I went next door. First sight was Joan Miro‘s work.

Artist Joan Miro’s section.

This was one of my top favorites. From artist Charmion Von Wiegand.


Before my cellphone battery died, I managed to take a snap of this Andy Warhol piece.


Downstairs was another section, featuring more contemporary art. Unfortunately, my cellphone battery died at this point. These photographs should give you a general idea. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend these two events again, in addition to more next year.

Right before The Armory Show closed. Artist Joan Miro. Photo by Michele Witchipoo, March 2016.
All photographs by Michele Witchipoo, 2016.