Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie's Encounter With the Devil

David, ex-wife Angie and son Zowie in the 1970's

The following story comes from Angela Bowie's (David Bowie's ex-wife) biography of him titled Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie. David Bowie himself, in interviews, also refers to this strange experience that he had.

During the mid-seventies, David Bowie entered a low period when he experimented with cocaine and the occult. It was the mid-seventies and he had moved to Los Angeles. Several years had passed since the horrific Manson Murders that Los Angeles was still recovering from. It was during this tumultuous period when David Bowie decided to perform an exorcism in his pool at his house in L.A. Perhaps fueled by a cocaine addled paranoia, Bowie believed that satanists and evil spirits were trying to capture him. He would try his best, using the occult, to stop them. The following is an excerpt from the book as told by Angela (Angie) Bowie:

...That was a beautiful Art Deco house on six acres, an exquisite site property and a terrific value at just $300,000, but he took one look at a detail I hadn't noticed, a hexagram painted on the floor of a circular room by the previous owner, Gypsy Rose Lee.

A great deal of coddling and reassurance got us through that crisis, and I went and found the Doheny Drive house. Built in the late Fifties or early Sixties, it was a white cube surrounding an indoor swimming pool. David liked the place, but I thought it was too small to meet our needs for very long, and I wasn't crazy about the pool. In my experience, indoor pools are always a problem.

This one was no exception, albeit not in any of the usual ways. Its drawback was one I hadn't encountered before and haven't seen or heard of since: Satan lived in it. With his own eyes, David said, he'd seen HIM rising up out of the water one night.

Back to Walli Elmlark* I went, this time with a tall order. David wanted an exorcism.

A Greek Orthodox Church, in LA, would have done it for us (there was a priest available for such a service, the people had told me) but David wouldn't have it. No strangers allowed, he said. So there we stood, with just Walli's instructions and a few hundred dollars' worth of books, talismans, and assorted items from Hollywood's comprehensive selection of fine occult emporia.

There he (David Bowie) was, then, primed and ready. The proper books and doodads were arranged on a big old-fashioned lectern. The incantation began, and although I had no idea what was being said or what language it was being said in, I couldn't stop a weird cold feeling rising up in me as David droned on and on.

There's no easy or elegant way to say this, so I'll just say it straight. At a certain point in the ritual, the pool began to bubble. It bubbled vigorously (perhaps "thrashed" is a better term) in a manner inconsistent with any explanation involving air filters or the like.

As David watched this happening in absolute terror, I tried to be flippant - "Well, dear, aren't you clever? It seems to be working. Something's making a move, don't you think?" - but I couldn't keep it up. It was very, very strange; even after my recent experiences I was having trouble accepting what my eyes were seeing.

We both left the pool in a hurry and David told me to check up on the pool from time to time. I kept my eye on it for the next forty minutes or so, and nothing unusual happened, and so with my heart in my mouth, I slid one of the glass doors open and, ignoring David's panicked screams, went to the edge (of the pool) and looked in.

I saw what I saw. Nothing can change that. On the bottom of the pool was a large shadow, or stain, which had not been there before the ritual began. It was in the shape of a beast of the underworld; it reminded me of those twisted, tormented gargoyles screaming silently from the spires of medieval cathedrals. It was ugly, shocking, malevolent; it frightened me.

I backed away from it feeling very strange, went through the doorway, and told David what I'd seen, trying to be nonchalant but not doing very well. He turned white but eventually became revived enough to spend the rest of the night doing coke. He wouldn't go near the pool, though.

I still don't know what to think about that night. It runs directly counter to my pragmatism and my everyday faith in the integrity of the "normal" world, and it confuses me greatly. What troubles me the most is that if you were to call that stain the mark of Satan, I don't see how I could argue with you.

David, of course, insisted that we move from the house as quickly as possible, and we did that, but I've heard from reliable sources (Michael Lipman for one, the property's real estate agent) that subsequent tenants haven't been able to remove the shadow. Even though the pool has been painted over a number of times, the shadow has always come back!

* In his cocaine addled paranoia and obsession at the time with the occult, which he used to ward off evil spirits and gain success, David believed there were black girls who were trying to get impregnated by him to make a devil baby. Believing he was cursed, David sought a "white witch", named Walli Elmlark, widely known as the "White Witch of New York", who had taught classes in magic at the New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences, and also worked as a journalist. She helped Bowie wrestle with the forces of darkness in his life.