Entrevista publicada en Lux Atenea el 10 de octubre del año 2012.

gerhard hallstatt by gerhard hallstatt, author of the book “blutleuchte”

Quiero dar las gracias a GERHARD HALLSTATT por su cortesía con LUX ATENEA al haber dedicado su precioso tiempo y su inteligente talento a la realización de esta excelsa entrevista tan personal y reflexiva.

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El próximo 12 de octubre, Lux Atenea celebrará su sexto aniversario y qué mejor manera de clausurar este sexto año de publicación que presentar a nuestros lectores esta impresionante y reveladora entrevista realizada por una de las mentes intelectuales más privilegiadas y experimentadas dentro de la escena neofolk actual: el ilustre Gerhard Hallstatt. Para Lux Atenea es un honor y todo un placer el poder publicar esta entrevista protagonizada íntegramente por Gerhard Hallstatt, a quien tanto admiro por su espíritu cultural multidisciplinar más propio de un alma renacentista, y donde estas inteligentes preguntas y respuestas giran alrededor de un eje principal marcado por la publicación de su excelso libro “Blutleuchte”, editado actualmente en lengua inglesa y francesa. Una extraordinaria obra literaria que cautivará a los lectores de Lux Atenea por la sagaz perspectiva cultural y humana con la que Gerhard Hallstatt la ha perfilado de forma tan personal y auténtica. Una realidad existencial marcada por el misterio de lo esotérico, por la filosofía más analítica y reflexiva, y por la contemplación de la belleza más sublime que nos pueda ofrecer la Madre Naturaleza que, en el caso de Gerhard Hallstatt, adquiere ese halo único de revelación trascendental a través de ese largo camino que todo ser humano ha de recorrer en este mundo para poder comprender su universo interior como clave de la compresión del misterio de la vida. En esencia, en su grandioso libro “Blutleuchte” ha logrado condensar su propia experiencia vivida y sentida a través del mágico lenguaje de las palabras transformadas en un radiante mensaje de mayor alcance intelectual por su fuerza simbólica seleccionada. Aquellos lectores que adquieran un ejemplar de su obra “Blutleuchte”, así podrán comprobarlo con sus propios ojos durante la apasionada lectura de cada una de las páginas en este libro destinado inexorablemente a ser releído. Una joya literaria que engrandecerá la biblioteca privada de todo amante de la buena literatura, o sea, de aquella literatura que alimenta a nuestra alma. ¡¡¡Disfrútenlo!!!

Félix V. Díaz

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Gerhard Hallstatt grew up in Upper Austria and currently lives in Vienna, Austria. Apart from writing and publishing several years ago the magazines Aorta and Ahnstern, he also founded Allerseelen, a music group that has released numerous CDs and vinyl records through Hallstatt´s own record company, Aorta, the Austrian label Ahnstern and also the Russian label Ewers Tonkunst. His magical mystery tours throughout many parts of Europe, North America and Russia provided inspiration for his compositions and photographs and also for many tracts in his book “Blutleuchte” that appeared in 2010 in English and in 2011 also in French.

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1- Maybe some of the listeners who know the music of your group Allerseelen are not aware that recently your book Blutleuchte was published in English and French. Could you talk about this book?

In late autumn 2010 the American edition of Blutleuchte was published by Ajna in Oregon, and in early autumn of 2011 also the French edition by Camion Noir came out. It was a magical moment to receive and open these parcels – similar to the experiences that I always feel when a new Allerseelen CD or vinyl has been released. Blutleuchte contains a lot of texts that I had published many years ago in my magazines Aorta and Ahnstern – some of the texts deal with movies like Lucifer Rising by Kenneth Anger or The Blue Light by Leni Riefenstahl, but also with a lot of different things. These magazines were then published bi-lingual, in German and English. So it is a bit strange that the Blutleuchte books were already published in English and French but not yet in German – but maybe this will happen one day too. I was at that time and still am fascinated and obsessed at the same time by dozens of different artists, castles, landscapes, researchers, visionaries: This is why the Aorta and Ahnstern issues were dealing with so many different topics. Blutleuchte also contains several interviews, for example with Varg Vikernes when I was writing about violent Norwegian rites in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or Michael Moynihan of Blood Axis or people who were close friends of the mysterious Austrian artist Rudolf Schwarzkogler. I was also glad to be able to interview Kenneth Anger when he presented in Wien years ago some of his photographs. Unfortunately I could not realize my planned interview with Leni Riefenstahl.

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2- How many issues of Aorta and Ahnstern did you publish? Are these still available?

I published twenty issues of Aorta and nine issues of Ahnstern. All of them were produced in a quite primitive manner which one would consider nowadays almost prehistoric: I was working with a type-writer, put the texts and graphics together and finally photocopied the magazines in a copy shop. I had always been interested in writing but already in my youth I was that much individualist that I disliked the idea of writing a text and then sending it to a magazine to ask for publication. I wanted to have as much control as possible. Also I did not want to wait days or weeks or months for a positive or negative answer. And I also thought always of bi-lingual editions, something that normal magazines usually never offer. So I worked like this: I researched and travelled, writing about my experiences and impressions, then I wrote my German text, translated it immediately into English – and the next day I already spent hours at a copy shop to hold my first copies in hands. I had readers and subscribers all over the world who were interested as much in the early cassettes of Allerseelen as in the bi-lingual magazines. This method of working appears nowadays very anachronistic but even today I work sometimes in the same old-fashioned way. 1890 was maybe not that much different from 1990 – whereas 1910 is completely different from 2010. Now it is a question of seconds to find out the birth date of a certain personality – then this could be difficult or almost impossible: I had to go to the library or a bookshop to find the information in this or that book or ask friends to send me this or that information. I was writing a lot of letters these days, and some of the first listeners and readers are still close friends today.

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3- Why did you use the title Blutleuchte?

Blutleuchte is one of the chapters in the book, it deals with the blood mysticism in a small esoteric circle in Munich at the end of the nineteenth century. Its founder, Alfred Schuler, was very anachronistic, he was obsessed with paganism and ancient Rome and also behaved like a Roman in the modern world. He wrote about blood and death and used a lot of myths and symbols in his texts and public readings – the red wheel of the Roman world, the black wheel of the modern world. The Blutleuchte, the blood lamp, was one of his symbols that he frequently used – the pagan light of antiquity which he described as a strong red light. His mystical and historical visions inspired very much Rainer Maria Rilke, especially his Sonette an Orpheus. Rilke had participated in some of his lectures. I thought that this title could be appropriate for my book as I also wrote about the bloody drums of Calanda in Spain and many other topics dealing with music, paganism, mysticism. Maybe for the first time I had read about Alfred Schuler in a book by Hermann Nitsch who founded the Austrian Orgien Mysterien Theater – this artist worked a lot with blood and meat in his performances, and I had been participating in two of his performances as drummer.

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4- Why decided Ajna in North America to publish Blutleuchte?

Tyler Davis of Ajna and I had this idea already in 2003 when Allerseelen and my friends of the North American group Waldteufel made some concerts at the Pacific West Coast, in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. In Oregon and California we were travelling a lot to wonderful places, volcanic landscapes, great mountains. It was June, and we also made a wonderful summer solstice celebration somewhere in the Californian desert – and in these days we were already talking a lot about the details of this book release. I had already stopped the publication of Aorta and Ahnstern to concentrate on music but at many Allerseelen concerts people continued asking for these issues. So Ajna and I started working on the book. This meant a lot of work as my translations into English were far from being perfect. We also had some special ideas for the book – the paper should not be white but parchment-like, the print should not be black but chestnut-brown, and we also had the idea of printing certain parts of the texts in wine-red. It is really a luxury edition, and I am glad how it worked out. When in December 2010 Allerseelen were again touring in North America, this time with Waldteufel and Agalloch, again in the same beautiful area, the book Blutleuchte finally came out and could be presented to the public. And in this time we made a winter solstice fire in the snow on the organic farm of Ajna in Oregon. So a circle was closed.

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5- The English writer Joscelyn Godwin, teaching nowadays at Colgate University in New York State who published a lot of interesting publications about Athanasius Kircher, Robert Fludd, mystery religions and many other topics, wrote an beautiful foreword for your book. I will quote some words: „Like the music which he composes and records under the name of Allerseelen, Gerhard’s writing does not easily fit any ready-made label or category. While the majority of people are content to travel the iron tracks laid down by their religion, politics, peer pressure, or brand-name culture (no matter that they are always crashing into each other), he follows a mercurial path: quick, elusive, and a little mischievous.“ How did you get in contact with him?

I met Joscelyn Godwin when he visited Austria several years ago Vienna. At this time I already knew his book about the occultist and scientist Athanasius Kircher, and I gave him some of the Aorta issues. We stayed in contact, and I sent him all the issues when they came out. I thought that me might be the perfect person to write about it as he knew me personally and also knew and read all the editions when they were published. So I asked him and he agreed. Joscelyn Godwin and I met again in Venice some years ago when he lived there for some months in autumn and winter.

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6- Camion Noir in France published Blutleuchte. Mysticismes anciens & contemporains in September 2011. The French version looks very different from the American hardcover edition. On the cover photograph one sees large drums which are full of blood. Could you talk about the French edition and about this photograph?

I had seen some publications on magic and music by Camion Noir in the past and was glad that they were interested in a French translation. Nadège Gayon-Debonnet translated my texts, from time to time we worked together on some difficult details – I had learnt French in school and also practiced this language a lot when I was travelling in South France. The bloody drum on the cover is a photo that I took in Calanda, the little Spanish village where Luis Bunuel was born. He had used the rhythms of these drums also in some of his movies. I had read about the wild Semana Santa with hundreds of drums and also owned the vinyl edition of the Catalan project Vagina Dentata Organ: The Pagan Drums of Calanda and was immediately obsessed with the wish to travel there. I was two times in Calanda, and both times I was very impressed. I intend to go there again. I like this photograph a lot, it symbolizes for me a perfect synthesis of faith and music and intensity.

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7- Will there be one day a German edition or further translations?

At the moment I do not know but of course it would be a great idea to have one day also a German or also Spanish and other editions. In these days I am talking to someone in Italy about the possibility of an Italian release – we will see if this will turn out.

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8- I read your text about Montsegur. You did not only visit this famous fortress of the Cathars but stayed there over night.

Actually this had not been planned. I had taken a train to Bolzano in Italy and then hitch-hiked through South France to Montsegur. It was a wonderful travel, very intense and also quite hard as I was always sleeping in the open air in my sleeping bag. I decided to walk up to Montsegur and to stay there overnight. This was definitely a mysterious night as it was raining all the time. The fortress was hidden inside clouds, I could not see the walls surrounding me and suddenly felt like being the only passenger on a ship sailing through a white terra incognita. I also stayed over night in other fortresses of the Cathars too, in Queribus and Peyrepertuse. This were impressive travels. Years later, I visited again Montsegur but then with a rented car and my girl-friend. It was the same fortress, but being there was far less impressive like the first time. Still today I have a very strong desire to go there and to several other places again alone, on my own, just with my backbag. Actually I was very close to visit Montsegur again in spring 2011 when I visited in Catalunya my friends from the group Arnica. I was climbing the magical twin peaks of Pedraforca. Close to the mountain I suddenly saw a sign for a path that the Cathars had used in the past from France to Spain to escape from the Catholic crusade against them in the time of the persecutions to escape. I was close of walking there – and I hope to do this another time. I have a very strong desire for these kind of archaic travels. I was inspired a lot in my youth by the writings of Arthur Rimbaud and also Jack Kerouac.

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9- Did you publish other writings in the last years?

I contributed three texts to the magazine Hex in Oregon, one about a winter solstice night that I spent alone on an Austrian mountain, another one about a tumulus in Andalucia and one about rock inscriptions in Carinthia, Austria. In these days I am working on my Croatia diary for a book compiled by a close friend of mine in Ireland, Thor Einar Leichhardt. This diary, dealing with my days in the Croatian Paklenica mountains and the ritual burning of a wooden boat on a Croatian island, will probably be accompanied by some photographs that I took there.

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10- Do you have plans for a new book?

Yes, and I already know how it will be called. I am always writing diary, at home and when I am travelling. I also have a strong desire to visit some of the places which I visited again – to experience again the intensity of travelling alone. For example to the octogonal Castel del Monte in La Puglia, Italia, with its eight octogonal towers. Castel del Monte is already a chapter in Blutleuchte but I really would like to plan another magical mystery tour to this enigmatic castle – and to write again about it. It happened quite often in the past that after the publication of a certain Aorta or Ahnstern issue, I was receiving letters from friends and readers sending me additional or brand-new informations that would have been perfect to have been included in the original text too. So many Aorta and Ahnstern issues were like doors to new areas with new visions. Some issues also changed my life. When I was travelling to all these places so many years ago, I took a lot of slides, the best of them have been used in the American and French Blutleuchte editions. In the last years I have been travelling a lot, with Allerseelen we have been in a lot of countries, Russia, Romania and many other places, I always try to combine concerts with travels – so I very often come back from countries with dozens or hundreds of new experiences and impressions. And some of these diaries, combined with photographs, could be a perfect starting point for another book release.

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11- You seem not also to travel but also to read a lot? What are you reading currently?

I always have books with me when I am travelling, when I am going somewhere in Wien, when I am working, and of course at home I am living a Steppenwolf life surrounded by hundreds of books. I could not imagine a life without books. At the moment I am inspired a lot by the impressive German artist Anselm Kiefer who works a lot with lead – he became that rich with his art, so rich that he was able to buy the old lead roof of the dome in Cologne! I am reading a book with several interviews with him where he talks about alchemy, history, mysticism, symbolism, war…

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12- What are your plans for 2012 and 2013? What will be your next travel?

I am looking forward to several concerts with Allerseelen in winter and spring which I will try to combine with travels. In these days we are working also on the next Allerseelen CD which will be called Terra Incognita. Allerseelen have an invitation to perform in Finland in winter. So I started doing some researches about special areas in Finland. I saw wonderful photographs of the light phenomena of aurora borealis, so I hope to be able to travel somewhere where I may experience these wonderful northern lights.