This is an interview from 1996 that orginally appeared in issue 7 of Esoterra magazine.
There's something ancient about physically gyrating until exhaustion. The resurgence of dance music has been seen by many as a return to more pagan times. Something powerful is lurking beneath the dancefloor, and only time will tell how it has already shaped a generation of clubbers. With so many ravers rediscovering the effects of dancing all night, it's only natural that pagans should take up the call and use their insights to create hybrids of existing music. Occulture has always been a two way street, with information from popular culture infecting progressive occultists' practice and supposedly "hidden" occult memes quietly infecting the mainstream.
It's this process which propels Mother Destruction. Evolving out of ex-Death in June member Patrick O'Kill and his Sixth Comm project, and Amodali's magickal explorations, the group have gathered a large audience throughout Europe and America with very little publicity.
The sound of Mother Destruction is one of joy and release, a far cry from the mechanical sterility that marrs so many attempts at combining magick and music. I spoke to Amodali, Mother Destruction's front-person and vocalist a few hours before their first UK gig.
What is the significance of the name Mother Destruction?
In a nutshell, to me it means transformation through delightful whoredom! In my dreams Mother Destruction creates a bubble in time and space where one can confront a primal reality - the sexual nature of the universe. To experience this one must break down all barriers and resistance within the body and psyche, a painful yet ecstatic initiation. I call this process Mother Destruction.
And how did the group start?
I met Patrick in 1989 in Liverpool. It was just a pure coincidence. I'd heard Fruits of Yggdrasil, which I liked very much, but I didn't know who Sixth Comm was. I just bumped into him in a club in Liverpool - he was only there for one day and not likely to return - it was just one of those things - fate, whatever you want to call it.
What effects would you like your performances to have on the audience?
Well, we hope our performances are enjoyable and uplifting, regardless of the belief systems of anyone in the audience. With Mother Destruction 'live' we try to create a modern Seidr ritual. I attempt to fall into a trance and we try to convey the atmosphere of being 'between worlds'. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. But I feel it's important to show that such states exist, no matter how undignified or insane they appear! I prefer to hold myself up for ridicule and try to express my belief in 'ecstasy under will' personally, rather than write or talk about it.
The crowds in Europe have been pretty good - good attendance at the gigs. We weren't sure at first what was going to happen, because obviously a lot of people might not be familiar with the Mother Destruction stuff, or might prefer Sixth Comm stuff. We've found that a lot of women have been coming to our performances, which I think is excellent because the industrial/darkwave scene is very male dominated. So when women come along it's great for me because I feel like some connections have been made.
Are those the kind of energies you're trying to work with?
In some was - by virtue of being a woman! [laughs]
How does the pagan dimension come out
in the music?
Well, it permeates everything. The magickal element is the roots of the music - that's where it's coming from. I'm a practising [smiles], well "practising" - I am a pagan magickian. I work with the runes, but I'm more of the Vanir rather than the Aesir - I don't make much connection with the Odinists, because again that's very male dominated and hierarchical. I think a lot of women are starting to reclaim the female mysteries of the runic current, that's where I'm coming from. That and Thelema.
Could you briefly outline the differences between the Aesir and the Vanir?
In Northern mythology the Aesir and the Vanir were races of gods. They fought and eventually came to live in harmony with each other. The Vanir gods embodied the values of agricultural matrifocal culture, the Aesir embodied the more patriarchal warrior cults which came later. The Vanir seem to be the logical place to search for the evidence of native European magickal traditions especially shamanism. The most prominent Vanir deities were Njord/Nerthus and Freyja/Frey. Freyja was mistress of magick and the art of 'Seething' (Seidr). Freyja initiated Odin (Chief deity of the Aesir) into the magical arts. The Vanir were gods of peace and plenty, and worship took the forms of fertility rituals, the sacred marriage and so on, which were of a sexual nature. As the Vanir became absorbed by the Aesir and the cults of Odin, their practices became reviled as 'unmanly' or 'unclean'.
I think you're a refreshing change from all the bands that use the runes in a very aggressive, hard, almost neo-nazi way.
Yeah! And there's so much more, there are so many other dimensions to it, but it just doesn't come out. Obviously people have the associations with the Nazis and all that right wing bullshit that still goes on, which I find abhorrent. I'm not saying it's my own personal thing that I have to re-balance it all, but I'd like to think that I'm doing my little bit to show that there's other aspects to the runes - because there ARE!
I know that Patrick has had quite a lot of grief for his previous involvement with Death in June...
When I met Patrick in 1989 I didn't know
anything about his history with Death in June. To me he was simply
an inspiring and talented person of great integrity. Patrick left
Death in June in 1985 when he became unhappy with the 'thought
forms' and energy that began to surround the band. I feel that
this may have been caused by the void created by the band's ambiguity
of stance rather than any malign intentions. Having said that
my comments are irrelevant because of my basic ignorance of the
band. Patrick has given many interviews giving his perspective
on his past projects, and with Mother Destruction I have always
been clear on our philosophy and outlook. Our music is essentially
apolitical, but our intentions are life-affirming, we abhore any
doctrine which denigrates any individual or people on the grounds
of race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc.
To put it plainly Patrick is not a nazi, it would be self defeating for me to associate with such a person. Both creatively and personally, my work is an antithesis of the neo-nazi bullshit glorified by some people. I hope this will end any further rumour or speculation.
Also - distinct from the nazi thing, there is this idea that the runes represent "the Northern European Tradition", and it's not a good think to mix that up with other cultures. However you seem quite happy to use tribal rhythms and [as if on cue an Egyptian horn sounds from the stage, making it rather difficult to compose the question] ah, instruments.
Yes, and symbolism, because a lot of the symbols we use are very archetypal, and symbols like the swastika can be found in many different cultures. The way I see what we're doing is that some people think they have to be authentic, "I'll be a shaman working this path or that path and not getting into this or that tradition". We're just working with who we are and where we are. We're just trying to create a dreamtime for now. I was born in the city and I live in the city. I'm not a country person, so I can't say I'm this wild shamaness or whatever. I mean, I really love nature and I love making connections with it, but I think it's important to be able to work with what's around you. My whole thing is trying to find some truth and meaning in my own environment. We just take whatever we think can go into that whole melting pot. It can be anything from something really modern, to using some really old instrument. A really eclectic approach - and I think that's the most honest way, really.
Other than magick coming out naturally in the music, are any of the tracks specifically designed as invocations or whatever?
Absolutely. The first album we did together, Seething, was based on shamanic techniques from the female aspects of the runic mysteries, or whatever you want to call it, Seidr/Seething - which is something I've been exploring mostly by myself for a number of years. That again was purely intuition - trying to find something within myself. It's a vocal practice - chanting runic sounds and trying to invoke certain energies while recording.
Did it work?
It seemed to - I tried my best! When we recorded Seething I was actually pregnant and.. full of energies and that was really strong. It's a magickal LP to me, whether anyone else picked up on that I don't know.
Well, that's the most important thing. There are a lot of records that say they're going to conjure up hideous great demons - and they don't! You seem to be a bit more subtle than that. Music always creates an atmosphere, it's a bit of a waste of time going for the hardest, cruellest energy you can get.
We use many different textures and energies in the music. Some of it is really hard and some of it's a lot softer. We just use what is appropriate. Some of the lyrics are actually channelled during rituals. It's a whole magickal process.
What is Seidr, exactly?
Seidr means the art of 'Seething'. Traditionally an art and science of the Vanir in northern mythology. In the medieval ages Seidr (Old Norse) or 'Sudkunst' (Germanic) were the terms that dealt with the brewing of potions, elixirs, beers and herbal medicine. However the full meaning of the term reflected trance practices in which the body became the cauldron or vessel which would 'seethe' or 'boil'. The Seidr trance is characterised by various degrees of bodily shuddering and vibration, which range from gentle, undulating swaying to extremely forceful abandon and violent movements. The motion stimulates the 'serpentine' life force to move in and around the body. The sensations are often intensely pleasurable. Through this trance and frenzied delirium one reaches a kind of plane of ecstatic engagement, one that is streaming with energy. It's at this point that one can direct the Seidr energy according to one's will, i.e. travelling in the spirit vision, shape shifting, healing, sexual rites.
I've found that within Seidr one can find a sexual gnosis of great depth and complexity. I've invoked the goddess Freyja many times, she is the source of Seidr Wisdom and represents the power of the magickally and sexually awakened female. Within her vibration it's possible to build a mandala of orgasmic Seidr knowledge.
There are many similarities between Seidr practices and the techniques of Wilhelm Reich. Reich sought to cure his patients by stimulating the flow of Orgone energy in the body, the desired result being a full body orgasm which often eradicated psychological imbalance. Seidr practices take Reich's work into the realms of magick and shamanism, as instead of the normal fall in tension and energy which is normally expected after orgasm, the Seidr practitioner can sustain and transform the orgasmic state over hours.
Do you see Mother Destruction as a vehicle to get your spirituality across to other people?
Yes, just to invoke the energy. I think it's in contrast to male dominated industrial (or whatever you want to call it) music where everything is extreme, or aggressive or dark. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think ecstatic energy can be just as powerful, if not more powerful. And to invoke that power and share that with people - it's not a 'weak' think to do. I'd like to take the ecstasy to the extreme and make that as powerful as and strong as the other energies.
Environmental issues seem to play an important role in your work...
It's something that feels completely natural to us, and we try to bring those issues and the shamanic aspects into it. We feel it's a natural progression to support those things. Not in a strictly political way, but just to see what we can do. So we've worked with Monica Sjoo who does very interesting things with art, working with sacred sites. And Patrick's more interested in the more political aspects of it. I'm coming at it from a more magickal point of view.
Your next LP is going to be called 'Mother Fucker', which is a phrase I've heard most as a term of abuse - ah - explain please?
'Motherfucker' as a title is a tribute to all the 'Hieroduces of Heaven', the sacred prostitutes and the goddesses they embodied. It's indicative of the misogyny in our culture that' 'motherfucker' is a term of abuse. In ancient cultures the fabric of society was held together by the 'sacred marriage'. In these times the metaphysical ideas were embodied in sexual intercourse performed ritually in temples. Creativity of the goddess was a constant state, and the fertility of all aspects of creation was her epiphany (i.e. her manifestation as a super-human force or creatrix). The well-being of human, animal and plant life depended on this ritual. I feel that this primal longing still exists, and although godess religions were wiped out by Christianity, one can see goddess worship submerged in some ways in phenomena such as pornography.
With the LP itself - just again - exploring
a similar thing to Seething, but taking in more aspects.
Magick is endless and you start in the middle like with a mandala
and we take it in whatever direction we feel is right. This album's
going to be a lot harder, it's not going to be so ethnic sounding.
It'll be more triggering samples - a harder electronic edge to
it. Still quite sort of dancey.
Would you ever consider doing a techno record?
Yeah - I think that would be fine if we could still keep the edge, the magickal content of the music. I mean, The Prodigy at number one - I think that's excellent - I think that's a really magickal record! We just want to reach people - we've been sort of ghettoised into the gothic scene in Europe, which is not where we are. It's kind of ever decreasing circles - I think the dance scene has a lot more innovation, though I am coming from an industrial and punk background - that's my roots.
Seething - ltd edition LP. 900 copies with
hand painted sleeve (Kenaz 1990)
Seething - LP/CD (Kenaz 1991)
Ascending The Spiral Groove - miniCD (Kenaz 1993)
Pagan Dance - CD (Kenaz 1994)
Hagazussa - ? (1998)
Helrunar - Jan Fries (Mandrake of Oxford)
Seidways - Jan Fries (Mandrake of Oxford)
Gods & Myths of Northern Europe - H.R. Ellis Davidson (Penguin)
The Function of the Orgasm - Wilhelm Reich (Souvenir Press)
There was a great Mother Destruction Home page run by Gabor Komarmory, but it seems to have vanished. Let me know if you see it.
Mother Destruction interviewed by Jan Hagemann June
Dance Meditation by the OOO
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