This year we’re remembering the passing of Rosaleen Norton, 35 years ago in 1979. The infamous Australian occultist and artist lived the bohemian life of an artist in the red light district of Kings Cross, Sydney. Norton lived openly as a witch and created then-shocking paintings that found her demonized in the tabloids and targeted for harassment and censorship by the powers that be. However, it seems that Norton’s only real sin was being a strong-willed independent woman born decades ahead of her time.
Here’s the Wiki…
Rosaleen Miriam “Roie” Norton (2 October 1917 – 5 December 1979), who used the craft name of Thorn, was an Australian artist and occultist, in the latter capacity adhering to a form of pantheistic / Neopagan Witchcraft which was devoted to the god Pan. She lived much of her later life in the bohemian area of Kings Cross, Sydney, leading her to be termed the “Witch of Kings Cross” in some of the tabloids, and from where she led her own coven of Witches.
Her paintings, which have been compared to those of British occult artist Austin Osman Spare, often depicted images of supernatural entities such as pagan gods and demons, sometimes involved in sexual acts. These caused particular controversy in Australia during the 1940s and 50s, when the country “was both socially and politically conservative” with Christianity as the dominant faith and at a time when the government “promoted a harsh stance on censorship.” For this reason the authorities dealt with her work harshly, with the police removing some of her work from exhibitions, confiscating books that contained her images, and attempting to prosecute her for public obscenity on a number of occasions.
According to her later biographer, Nevill Drury, “Norton’s esoteric beliefs, cosmology and visionary art are all closely intertwined – and reflect her unique approach to the magical universe.” She was inspired by “the ‘night’ side of magic”, emphasising darkness and studying the Qliphoth, alongside forms of sex magic which she had learned from the writings of English occultist Aleister Crowley.
Check out this intense slide show featuring snaps of Norton and her diabolical art…