The Inquisitions: Atrocities in the Name of God

When director, Bruce Burgess, asked if I would present a television series about the Inquisitions, I complied straight away. Details were not important. I was in. He had me, as they say, at ‘hello’.

I have always been passionate about this period of history and had worked with Burgess before, mainly on the UK television documentary series, Forbidden History (I and II), as well as a further, yet-to-be-released project.  We trust each other, which might seem strange to those who had followed the bizarre aftermath of Burgess’s Bloodline documentary, but we have come to know each other well, and we both respect what this project is about – a chronicle of some of the earlier (and most infamous) accounts of genocide.

The five-part series spans the Cathar, Spanish and Tudor Inquisitions, the Salem Witch trials and more. Some of these injustices were motivated by religion, others by politics, but, clearly, what underpinned them all was that each was motivated by ignorance, intolerance and greed; and each was an unforgivable atrocity.

As the weeks passed, I reviewed my reference material and looked forward to meeting up with Burgess and the team in the south of France. However, as filming neared, it became apparent that history was repeating itself and that what we were about to film was no different than what was going on in many parts of the world today, including Syria, the country bordering the one in which I live, Turkey. What was the point, I wondered. Could human nature transcend? Could it learn from its past, just for once?

I arrived in Toulouse and immediately felt a bite in the air. It was autumn 2013. After greeting the team, we hit the road. Spirits were high, but the ebullient mood would not last.

Inquisition

Departing Toulouse

 

Appropriately, we kicked off in Béziers, for this is where the first of the Inquisitions took place. Here, coincidentally, or, more likely, by design, the first crusade against the Cathars, a pure, benevolent and Christian dualist movement, was fought on the feast day of Mary Magdalene, 22 July 1209. The Cathars appear to have had a special appreciation of Mary Magdalene and are purported by some to have been in possession of her (now lost) gospel. This sacred day would have been important to the Cathars and this presented an opportunity for the Church to wage both physical and psychological warfare.  

 

Inquisition

Béziers, site of the first of many atrocities by the Church

 

As the film crew got ready, I rehearsed my lines, which aptly set the scene. I tried to imagine the carnage, almost 800 years ago. In front of where I was standing a huge army of at least 30,000 men, mostly soldiers from pro-Rome northern France, had amassed around the walls of the town. Inside were the 10,000 citizens of Béziers, guarded by only a few hundred soldiers of the local lords and barons who were loyal to the Cathar cause.

Fearing a slaughter, the Bishop of Béziers tried to negotiate. The town was asked to give up its heretics or face the consequences.  And so it was given a list of 222 names of people accused of heresy, mostly Cathars. But it refused to comply.

Then, according to reports, a skirmish broke out at the gates to the town between some soldiers and some lightly armed locals.  This resulted in most of the foot soldiers storming the gates and sacking the city. A bloodbath ensued. Thousands of people were killed, including men, women and children. It would become known as the ‘Day of Butchery’.

About twenty years later, a local historian by the name of Caesarius of Heisterbach wrote about the attack and, in the process, coined what is perhaps one of the most unforgettable lines in history:

When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot, ‘Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.’ The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be Catholics and, after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied, ‘Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius’ – ‘Kill them all, for the Lord knoweth those that are His’.

Kill them all, and let God decide which are his. Could there be a more self-serving justification, and mantra, than genocide in the name of God and government? We finished our shoot and headed to Carcassonne.

The Inquisition moved to Carcassonne a few weeks later, but news of the massacre in Béziers had arrived long before, and so a similar show of brutality would not be required. The crusaders simply shut off the water supply and waited for those who valued their lives to exit the city. Most fled with only the clothes on their backs.

Inquisition

The walled city of Carcassonne

 

Inquisition

At the gate of the city

 

Inquisition

Carcassonne

 

Although I had done my share of presenting in the past, our work in Carcassonne reaffirmed my respect, and admiration, for those who perform the job so well: presenters like Michael Wood, who makes everything look so easy. As we filmed in the busy market, I struggled to walk along the tourist-filled streets, remembering my lines, while hitting a mark on the ground, before turning to walk towards another mark on the ground, where I would deliver my concluding remarks to an imaginary spot three feet to the left of the camera.  All the while, bystanders took pictures – and the mickey!  ‘Cut! Let’s do it once more, just to be safe.’ That was Burgess’s way of saying, ok, let’s try and get it right this time.

Fittingly, we concluded the Cathar Inquisition episode in Montségur. The famous mountain-top sanctuary of the Cathars is now a thriving tourist site and one of the most popular sacred destinations in France. We prepared for filming, before being forced to wait while helicopters lifted some of the overly ambitious (and ill-prepared) tourists from the top of the deceivingly steep and arduous-to-climb mountain to their safety below. The delay was just what I needed, as it afforded me time to reflect.

Inquisition

Reflecting, while the helicopters perform their rescue

 

Although I have been to Montségur on many occasions, visiting the site is a treat, and is always moving. Standing at the monument to the Cathars, I contemplated what it would have been like to have walked, single file, into the pyre, as many of the Cathars did, rather than renounce their faith. The landscape is imbued and imprinted with this memory, as its name, Field of the Burned, suggests. I did my pieces to camera, but found it difficult to hit the mark. Burgess was asking for a relaxed and casual delivery. ‘Show us another gear,’ he said. The problem was that I was in the moment a little too much and found it hard – no, impossible – to be casual while immersed in the memory of it all.

Disappointingly, there is never much time to savour the moment on projects like these. We hurriedly packed up and rushed to the airport for our flight to Spain. I said goodbye to Montségur, and wondered if we could ever reclaim the purity and innocence that religious intolerance so brutally extinguished from this land. The opportunity and responsibility to do so is ours, I thought. We simply have to choose the reality.

John Dee And The Enochian Apocalypse

Doctor John Dee (1527 – 1609), remains one of London’s most intriguing historical figures. He even inspired Damon Albarn, the singer/songwriter of Blur to write and perform an opera about his life in 2012. This should not be surprising, for Dee’s talents are many and his legend seems eternal. Dee was a renaissance man; an occultist, mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and navigator. In addition to his prodigious skills, Dee was a confidant of Queen Elizabeth I, who guided the nation through one of its most challenging eras, partly based upon Dee’s unique blend of alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy. In fact, the Queen had so much faith in Dee’s calculations she had him choose her coronation date.  

By all accounts Dee was a distinctive looking gentleman, respected and admired by many, as John Aubrey describes: "Hee had a very cleare rosie complexion…a long beard as white as milke. A very handsome man…he was tall and slender. He wore a gowne like an artist’s gowne, with hanging sleeves, and a slitt. A mighty good man he was."

Doctor John Dee

Doctor John Dee

 

Dee lived in Mortlake, a West London village mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book. Here, his modest residence along the River Thames provided easy access for Elizabeth and other dignitaries, especially other occultists, for Dee had amassed what was arguably the grandest esoteric library of his day. Sadly, fashionable apartments now stand where Dee once lived, and a block of council flats across the street boasts his name.

Doctor John Dee

The site of Dee’s house and library in Mortlake. . .

 

Doctor John Dee

. . . and a nearby block of council flats

 

What is less known is that Dee was obsessed with the apocalypse, and believed he had opened a supernatural gateway leading to a powerful and disgruntled spirit world. But this came later. During the early part of his career Dee had little interest in the supernatural. He was a devoutly religious man and deeply ambitious. From the 1550s until the 1570s, he honed his skills as a writer, as well as a navigator with unique technical expertise. Few recall that he coined the phrase, ‘British Empire’, and that he helped shape the emerging ideology of the nation.

Dee became frustrated with his perceived inability to uncover more occult secrets than he already had obtained, and so began his fascination with the supernatural. During the 1580s he focused his attention on contacting angels in the spirit realm in order to obtain greater wisdom. Initially, Dee tried his hand at using a ‘scrying’ mirror or crystal ball, each of which can be found in the British Museum.

Dee struggled to achieve the results he was hoping for and thus reached out to someone who professed to have expertise in these matters.

Doctor John Dee

John Dee’s crystal ball, and other tools of divination, at the British Museum

 

Enter the occultist and spirit medium Edward Kelley, who stumbled upon a ration of magical red powder, which he had received from an innkeeper in Glastonbury, who had acquired the powder from tomb robbers. In a different version of the story, Elias Ashmole, who wrote the first account of Kelley’s discovery, recounts how Kelley found a book containing the curious powder in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. Regardless, Kelley’s desire to learn as much as possible about the magical substance, which he believed could turn base metals into gold, led him to Dee, whose library attracted many such seekers.

Like Dee, Kelley was a fascinating man; a seer whose ritual expertise in the black art of necromancy, combined with his passion for alchemy, and his quest for the Philosopher’s Stone in particular so impressed Dee that the two soon became inseparable. Together they embarked on a journey that would transform their lives and quite possibly ours too. 

Dee and Kelley held various ‘spiritual conferences’; a quest that Dee believed would render immeasurable benefit to mankind. Kelley’s integrity, on the other hand, is the subject of continued debate and in fact before coming to London he was convicted of forging title deeds in Lancaster. Nevertheless, Kelley became Dee’s regular scryer and the two men appear to have achieved, if not exceeded, their goals, for Dee began to write truly remarkable, albeit sublime, works that he maintained were the product of angels, who spoke in language known as Enochian.

Doctor John Dee

Dee and Kelley’s scrying mirror, British Museum

 

In 1583, Dee and Kelley embarked for Europe, seeking the patronage of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague and King Stefan of Poland in Kraków, amongst others. The two occultists continued their alchemical pursuits on the continent for a number of years. Once incident in particular stands out, which stems from their involvement in necromancy. An inquisition by the Catholic Church proved messy, yet both men were acquitted in 1587. That same year the angels instructed Dee, through Kelley, that the two were to share everything, including their wives, which they did. Dee’s wife gave birth nine months later to what is now thought to be Kelley’s child.

At the best of times the two men had what could be called a terse relationship, and the ‘sharing’ mandate of the angels angered Dee and led to his break up with Kelley, who later died in prison. Dee returned to his residence in Mortlake, only to find that his world had changed. Much of his library had been pillaged and his political stature had fallen. What little that remained of his relationship with the Queen enabled him to assume the office of Warden at Christ’s College, Manchester in 1595. He returned to Mortlake in 1605, where he died in 1609 and was buried under the high altar of his parish church.

Doctor John Dee

The high altar in Mortlake Church, where Dee is buried.

 

Doctor John Dee

A peculiar stone carving in the cemetery, dating from Dee’s time

 

In retrospect, we can glean that the essence of the Enochian dialogues centred upon a coming apocalypse, which Dee’s angels referred to as ‘the Harvest’. Dee and Kelley had succeeded in manifesting the spiritual beings they had summoned, and what followed appears to have been the process of opening the gates to another dimension and obtaining the keys required to activate the angels’ agenda, an apocalypse of the mind – a poisoning of man’s spiritual essence and the rapid degeneration of society. In one instance the angel, Mapsama, instructs Dee as to his role in the whole affair:

Mapsama: These Calls are the keyes into the Gates and Cities of wisdom. Which [Gates] are not able to be opened, but with visible apparition.

Dee: And how shall that be come unto?

Mapsama: Which is according to the former instructions: and to be had, by calling of every Table. You called for wisdom, God hath opened unto you, his Judgement: He hath delivered unto you the keyes, that you may enter; But be humble. Enter not of presumption, but of permission. Go not in rashly; But be brought in willingly: For, many have ascended, but few have entered. By Sunday you shall have all things that are necessary to be taught; then (as occasion serveth) you may practice at all times. But you being called by God, and to a good purpose.

Dee: How shall we understand this Calling by God?

MapsamaGod stoppeth my mouth, I will answer thee no more.

The exchange is intriguing and hints at the angels’ selection of Dee as the wick by which the fuse to ignite the end of days would be lit. Had Dee and Kelley unknowingly ushered in the Enochian Apocalypse?

Three centuries later the Golden Dawn incorporated many of its teachings and one of their initiates, Aleister Crowley, picked up where Dee and Kelley had left off. He wrote: “Much of their work still defies explanation.” Crowley is known to have concentrated on Dee’s ‘Apocalypse Working’, although it is not known whether he accessed the elusive occult key necessary to usher in the apocalypse. Nevertheless, Crowley died in 1947, believing that he had opened the gate of the apocalypse almost 45 years earlier, in 1904, when he had spiritually ‘received’ The Book of Love.

Today, we are uncertain if Dee, Kelley or Crowley did in fact unlock the key of the apocalypse, for it is said that the apocalypse is a slow-working mental transformation within the collective unconscious of the human race.

The year is 2012. Now, as then, we contemplate the possibility that we are living in an Enochian end of days.  Doctor Dee influenced history at the highest levels of government.  His occult legacy influenced perhaps the most notorious of Occult groups, which in turn influenced the ‘New Age’ and modern occult movement.  But was he also instrumental in the opening of a door in human consciousness that would allow the apocalypse to manifest?

The Conspiracy Olympics

From the balcony of my Shoreditch flat I can just about make out London’s Olympic Stadium in the distance. Should any of the 2012 Olympic ‘conspiracy’ rumours come to fruition then I am assured of having a bird’s eye view of the proceedings. Let’s hope the most memorable thing about the Games is the athletes. 

The 2012 London Summer Olympics marks the first time a city has hosted the coveted spectacle on three different occasions. The first was in 1908 and the second in 1948 after a delay owing to World War II. Then, like now, the event was mired in controversy before it had even begun.

The bid process for the 2012 Olympics got off to an inauspicious start when London unveiled its Olympic logo on 4th June 2007. Those who did not ridicule it expressed their bemusement at its amateurish design, despite the fact that it cost £400,000. Then came the controversy over it’s overtly, some would say brazen, depiction of the word ’Zion’ in the numbers 2012, complete with a dot over the ‘i’. Proponents of the logo’s occult associations believe that the emotive word signals the start of a New World Order, and that the London Olympics will be its stage.

London

London’s unimpressive and peculiar 2012 Summer Olympics logo

 

Further suspicion was raised in what amounted to a surprise selection of London as the 2012 Summer Olympic host city. Paris had been the heavy favourite, but on 6 July 2005 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that London had won. The face of the former Olympic champion and London 2012 bid Chairman, Lord Coe, said it all. He appeared stunned. Coe and his team only jumped for joy, but also seemed startled by the news. It was later revealed that some of the votes may have been placed ‘in error’.

Tragically, London’s celebration was abruptly curtailed the very next day, 7th July, when a series of alleged suicide attacks occurred on three London underground trains and one bus during the morning rush hour. Four UK resident Islamists were identified as the guilty terrorists. Each was killed in the blasts, along with 48 other commuters, and more than 700 others were injured. Disturbingly, survivors commented on how the explosions came from under the seats of the trains. Inexplicably, no formal inquest was held, due to the fact that an investigation would, in the words of Prime Minister, Tony Blair, "undermine support" for the British Intelligence Agency, MI5. Were the bombings a form of retaliation for the IOC’s selection, or was there another motive? Many believe they were an inside job and that we should expect another ‘False Flag’ at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.

London

Chaos at Russell Square tube station during the 7/7 bombings


London’s 2012 Olympic odyssey continued on 19 May 2010, when the Games’ official mascots were introduced; two peculiar looking metallic figures by the names of Wenlock and Mandeville. One is blue and the other orange, and each has one eye. Curiously, each looks more like an alien caricature from a 1950s B-movie than a collection of molten steel consumed during the construction of the Olympic stadium that they are supposed to represent.

London

One-eyed Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville

 

Those who believe that the 2012 Summer Olympics are linked to an occult agenda also cite the Games’ East London stadium location as proof that ominous forces are at work behind the scenes. Their concerns stem   from the biblically inspired street names that surround the stadium, names such as Great Eastern Road, Carpenter’s Road, Angel Lane, Temple Mills Lane and Church Road.  They also question why the stadium grounds remained vacant so long, suggesting that it had been earmarked for this special occasion for a long time.

Conspiracists believe that the ‘Zion’-inspired logo, the bible-inspired street names and the alien mascots are all part of a plot to instil a New World Order. Rumours persist, albeit entirely unsubstantiated, that either one of two events will be simulated during the Games. The first is the return of a legendary messiah, such as Jesus Christ or Mohammed, in what amounts to a modern-day rapture, and the second is that aliens will descend on the stadium. In each scenario it is believed that holographic technology will be deployed to produce the illusion and, although the manipulation will be apparent to many, the majority of people will feel the events are genuine.  Proponents of this theory reference a curious incident at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, when a flying saucer landed in the stadium and an alien addressed the crowd.  They believe this was a foreshadowing of the real alien landing that will occur during this year’s Summer Olympics.

Conspiracy theorists thrive on symbolism and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, with their many rituals, including the highly symbolic passing of the torch, provide considerable fuel for their fire. Advocates also cite the symbolism and significance of numerology and, of course, 21 December 2012 is purported to mark the end of the world, according to the belief that the Mayan calendar foretells the end of days as we know them.  Numerologists believe that a New World Order will be ushered in, led by Prince William, due not only to his royal bloodline, but also the fact that he turns 30 on this year’s Summer Solstice and that this year is the 30th Olympiad, or XXX in Roman numerals.

It is easy to be sceptical and to criticise many of the so-called occult elements of the London 2012 Olympic Games. For instance, I live in East London and can confirm that there are many biblical street names in this part of the city. I can also see loads of underdeveloped areas from my balcony. Nevertheless, proponents point out that the first London Olympic conspiracist to go public with these ideas was a 28-year-old man by the name of Rik Clay, who managed a blog called the Cosmic Mind. Clay was found dead in August 2008, 3 months after exposing the London Olympics’ occult connections. Those sceptical of foul play reference the fact that he was simply regurgitating ideas that had already been developed by the British researcher, Ian R Crane, who had a considerably farther media reach than the young blogger. Furthermore, Clay’s parents acknowledge that their son had been depressed and are comfortable with the cause of death being suicide.

Ironically, the Olympics are, in fact, based in occult tradition, starting with the fact that they appear to have originated in Minoan Crete; a civilisation that is thought by many historians to be the historical Atlantis. Here, the Mother Goddess, Rhea, is said to have presided over sacred games, perhaps even bull leaping rituals, of which there is ample evidence. As with many cultural inventions, the Minoans influenced the Greeks in many ways, and of course it was the Greeks who adopted the more formal, if less feminine, version of the games that we have today. I wonder what the ancients would make of our version of their games, rituals and occult traditions. I suspect that they, like me, would conclude that the Olympic conspiracies are mostly bollocks.

Everywhere But No Place

I need to tell you about a great new book, but before I do let me say this: I hate fiction. I mean I loathe it. I really don’t care what colour someone’s eyes are or how soft their voice is. Frankly, most adjectives make me cringe.

When I was filming the National Geographic documentary, The Truth Behind King Arthur, I got to talking to the film crew about fiction and how much I detested Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and how I was horrified when two of my best friends threatened to disown me, implying that I was too thick to appreciate its subtle splendours. At the end of the documentary the guys presented me with a signed copy of the book as a gag. I love those guys, but still hate the book. Fiction – pift!

I am pleased to say that Everywhere But No Place by Mark Foster is an exception to my rule. When the author, my good friend and designer of my Arcadia website, asked me to read it I was worried. I mean, I was really concerned. He is such a good mate. What if I hated it like some of the other fiction I’d read? Fortunately, I needn’t have worried. The book is fabulous. I could not put it down. I was hooked. I was moved. I was relieved. It is now on Kindle. Buy it! I faced my fears and was amply rewarded. You, on the other hand, have nothing to worry about.

Everywhere But No Place

The Stone

I love horror films. Mind you, not just any scary movie. I’m talking about vintage, genre-defining works, such as Hammer Horror productions and cult classics, like The Wicker Man. In addition to horror, these films offered a sublime blend of drama and sex appeal that has never been equalled.

The sexy, but convincingly mystical, Britt Ekland, in 1973’s The Wicker Man

 

There is a new film, however, that pays homage to the genre, and it’s called The Stone; a supernatural horror film, set in England, about a group of paranormal investigators who travel to a haunted old manor, in the hope of freeing souls that have become trapped in the afterlife. Along the way they encounter more than they bargained for; they uncover a mirror into the darkest recesses of their souls. The film is engaging and fast paced, and features a rogue cast full of fresh new faces and a director with an eye for the esoteric. Oh, and I’m in it.

The Stone Poster © Philip Gardiner

 

How I came to appear in a motion picture, let alone star in a supernatural thriller directed by Philip Gardiner, and distributed by Warner Brothers, is not entirely clear. All I know is that one minute I was assisting Global 1000 companies with their customer experience strategy and the next I was walking around Annesley Hall, the former estate of Lord Byron, and one of the most haunted sites in Britain, with a script in my hand, muttering, “What’s my motivation?”


In character – questioning my ‘motivation’ © Philip Gardiner

 

Although I have appeared on television and in documentaries, and am a regular on the speakers’ circuit, I was apprehensive about acting. Let’s be honest. I was scared senseless. I did not have much time to prepare, and in the weeks preceding I frantically solicited acting lessons from drama students and friends, such as the accomplished author and playwright, Patrice Chaplin. The instruction helped and allowed me to discover that my character, the Crowley-inspired ‘Alister’ (an occultist of dubious authenticity, who is addicted to women and whisky and passes himself off as an esoteric guru), was someone I knew more than I cared to admit. 

“Hmm. Hardly a stretch then, is it?” Chaplin mused, as I described my character to her on the deck of her north London flat. “That’s exactly my point,” I retorted defensively. “Being typecast is not as easy as you think. How will they know I’m acting?”

My preparation did not stop with acting lessons. I also had to look the part. I struggled, at times, with how a neo-occultist should look, but I had a vision in my head and several trips to the gothic clothing boutiques in London’s über-trendy Camden Market soon produced the statement I was going for: pretentious and retro.

Camden Market © Andrew Gough

 

In the days leading up to the film I helped direct the expert interviews for the opening sequences. We had selected the interviewees with great care and I was keen to hear what they had to say about the role of sacred stones in history and mythology, i.e. the Grail Stone, the Black Stone at Mecca, rune stones, standing stones, etc.

The Stone interviewees: from left to right, Zachary Miller, Robert Feather, Franky Ma and Nick Pope, with The Stone Director, Philip Gardiner, and The Stone co-star, actress and model, Layla Randle-Conde © Andrew Gough

 

The interviews were a great success and created some momentum leading into the film. A week later, I arrived on set after a memorable, if not harrowing, Saturday night train journey from Nottingham to Mansfield – a trip reminiscent of the film Terror Train, only worse – and reacquainted myself with the cast and crew, most of whom I had met at a promotional event a few weeks earlier. We commenced filming with little ado. Disappointingly, I struggled with the first and, arguably, easiest scenes, but found my way with the more dramatic ones. The explanation was simple: it’s easier to be dramatic and scream than it is to be conversational and subtle.

The first of three clips from one of my many intense scenes in The Stone © Philip Gardiner

 


Looking for an explanation; with my talented co-star, Sarah Dunn © Philip Gardiner

 


Confronting the terror © Philip Gardiner

 

I’d known Phil for several years. He was a mate, but on the set he was all business. My pleas of “can I try that scene again please?” were not only mostly in vain, they were frequently countered with a terse “No. I have what I need, thank you, now let’s move on.” Similarly, in one scene I stumble, dazed, down an abandoned hallway and unleash a blood-curdling scream as my character falls downstairs. Thinking I’d nailed it in one, I was cheekily dusting debris from my soiled shirt and trousers when I heard Phil’s dead-pan voice deliver an unsympathetic, “Cut! Do it again, and this time don’t scream like a girl.” Eleven takes later we had a winner, but I was unsure which had taken a greater beating, my ego or my knees?  I was hurting, but did not want to let on; after all, “what’s a flesh wound amongst friends?” I thought. “And anyway, no sacrifice is too great for the film, right?” I would soon discover just how true this was.

Lying at the foot of the stairs, extending the John the Baptist gesture (the index finger pointing upwards in defiance, as depicted in classical art of the Saint) in my left hand, just like I had in the movie poster, with my right hand; my ode to the now lost painting of John the Baptist that once hung over the fire place in Annesley Hall.  © Darren Washington

 

My last scene was certainly the most surreal and would test my resolve like no other. I was buried vertically in a pit with only my head protruding above ground. One by one, maggots, leeches, crickets, and other assorted creepy crawlies, were placed on my head, face and neck, including a tarantula. Within seconds, as if in unison, they began to slither across my eyes, nose and mouth. Oddly enough, I experienced a sense of calm throughout. I attribute this to having watched my brave and beautiful co-star, Layla Randle-Conde, endure a similar scene a few days earlier. That, and the fact that I was warned that if I flinched, the tarantula, which is hypersensitive to vibration, would sting! “Ah, being still is the key” I thought. And in that one scene I learned the true essence of acting.

Watching my pit being dug. Buried with insects crawling on my face. © Philip Gardiner

 

The entire experience was amazing and I am grateful to Phil for the opportunity to have given it a go. I learned a lot and cannot wait to do it again. Phil’s already planning the next one, Paranormal Haunting: The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn, and it sounds as though it’s going to be every bit as scary as The Stone. And that’s saying a lot.

I’ve always loved horror films. Now I love being in them. 

Also, look for the accompanying DVD, Secret Societies and Sacred Stones: From Mecca to Megaliths here.

And don’t forget to check out the following videos:

The Stone Trailer

Behind the Scenes video