“The idea was, is it possible to take the celebration of the best concerts and events and take it further than just enjoying it that night?” said Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in our recent interview, of the founding of her occult artist collective, Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth (TOPY). “Can you use that energy to create a way of life that makes more sense, and expresses how you feel about yourself in regards to society?”
Beginning in 1981, P-Orridge and TOPY shook up Britain with radical ideas of self-actualization, self-acceptance and shamanism, ultimately being deemed the “Wreckers of Civilization” by Parliament. Birthed in the aftermath of punk and industrial as a means of provocation, the group served as both a religious experience and artistic collective, bringing together like-minded people in what Genesis calls “a think-tank of people who were artists, writers, philosophers, technicians, hackers, whatever, […] trying to actually have an effect on the outside world—not [retreating] from but trying to change it by example.”
Now, a new documentary is in the works, tracing TOPY’s history and legacy. Directed by Jacqueline Castel, A Message From The Temple, will combine interviews with archival footage to showcase Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth and its cultural impact, exploring its rituals, philosophy and dissolution, as well as its controversial leader.
“Did TOPY ultimately relent to the systems of control it sought to transcend? Or was its existence an illuminating flash of the potential for the autonomy of the individual, poised to spark again?” reads the film’s press release. For Genesis, TOPY’s ethos permeates her daily life, and seem, even 35 years later, more relevant than ever.
“The conclusion we came to was that the ideas in Thee Psychick Bible, which are demystified ideas about magic—that the first step has to be, to fully integrate yourself and to strip away all the distractions and all the inherited conditioning, all the social mores, and write the narrative of your life everyday, yourself,” Genesis told BULLETT. “[…] When you get to that point, the real lesson that should be learned in any discipline is, this means nothing unless I give it back—that being one individual ego has no value in itself. It’s only value is its relationship with everyone else, and that should be based on generosity, kindness, love and practical change, where you let go of the whole ego, me me me thing, and that’s desperately needed right now. The Internet has turned a lot of people into rampant narcissists and they’re not thinking about anything else but how they’re projecting into the world as an individual—as an ego.”
Currently in production, A Message From the Temple has no official release date, but the filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help support production, and will be holding a benefit, featuring a moderated discussion with Genesis and TOPY members, in Brooklyn on October 15.
Watch the trailer, below, and read our complete interview with Genesis, here.