“Is PENDV a Cult?” : The Occult Origins and Philosophy of PENDV

Todd Pendu
In the words of the great Jack Parsons, we say… “only bohemians, musicians, artists, atheists, anarchists, communists, and Satanists need apply.”


.:. Action and Interaction .:.
.:. Will and Imagination .:.
.:. Eros and Thanatos .:.
.:. The Sacred and The Profane .:.

PENDV is not literally a cult, but there is a desire here to build a CULTure around certain foundational ideas collaged together to form an eclectic whole. A cult is basically defined as an unconventional group of individuals bound together through a deep devotion to the same ideal. PENDV’s foundation is built upon an intuited eclectic and syncretic collision of ideas and actions steeped in magickal, transcendental, Taoist, anarchistic, and left-hand path tantric thought; it is a reclaiming of these ideas from the world of burn-outs, hippies, and poseurs. This is something different; although it’s true, there are no completely new ideas here. I don’t claim to be entirely orginal or to have invented these ideas, but the presentation and combination of these ideas produces something very unique and different. The Major Themes include LE PENDV (THE HANGED-MAN), the TRIAD OF OCCULTISM + ADHOCISM + EROTICISM, ART AS ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE, OSTRANENIE, DYNAMIC ECSTATIC TRANSCENDENTALISM, and THEE AKTIONS OV YES.

Le Pendu comes from the French meaning “the Hanged-Man”, and is the 12th Trump of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. The Hanged-Man is a card that has never been agreed on in its meaning. I see this Hanged-Man as a truth-seeker, a mystic who has placed himself in this strange position to see the world in a new way and literally turns himself upside down to readjust… I also see him, as others have, as putting Libido over Reason. Intuition over Intellect. The Hanged-Man to me represents the ‘pairing of opposites’; a synthesis of contradictions; the androgyny of the alchemists. Some have likened him to Buddha, to Odin, to Prometheus, and to Judas Iscariot. What seems to be agreed is that the Hanged-Man is hanging by CHOICE… of his own volition. Whether suffering or not, the Hanged-Man is not being punished for crimes. He is calm, clear-minded, focused, intense. This is not sacrifice. This is not a ‘Christ’ card. This is a transcendental card – a card of meditation. The Hanged-Man shares the numerological value of 3 in the Tarot with The Empress (III) and The World (XXI). It’s as if the Hanged-Man is suspended between the two. By hanging upside down, he also illustrates the principle of Inversion as Subversive Aktion. Taoist, Buddhists, Hindus, Satanists, and many others have used reversals as method. From standing on one’s head to reversing sacred symbols in blasphemous rites, many esoteric groups have used Inversion as a way of subverting dominant modes of thought. Inversion can be subversive and it is in this Aktion of Inversion that the Hanged-man becomes a symbol of defiance. Another interesting aspect of this card in relation to PENDV is that it embodies the Triad of Isms of Occultism, Adhocism, and Eroticism. 1.) Occultism – As a Trump of the Major Arcana, it holds mysteries and secrets of Occult nature.2.) Adhocism in the sense that the Hanged-Man only needs a Tree and a Rope, objects which already exist but are simply re-combined in a new way to produce a new result… 3.) Eroticism – As a card about Hanging, it is a card of suspension. Suspension is ultimately erotic because it is tension that is not resolved; desire without climax. An important aspect of the Hanged-Man hanging upside down is that it puts his Genitals above the Brain in other words, again, Libido over Reason.

These are the Isms that are easy to understand on one level by everyone and yet misunderstood by by so many. These are the Isms that are far too subjective for most academics to devote much time to. It is out of this triad that the phrase Dynamic Ecstatic Transcendentalism came to life. There are literally endless combinations and permutations. As I look across my books on art and literary history, I have found that this triad of isms connects what I am attracted to in all early art forms of the Egyptians, Persians, Sumerians, Indians, Asians, Mayans, Africans; some may call it the “lure of primitivism”, but I don’t agree with that sentiment. Either way, these themes are continued into Modernism and onward. In Europe, developments from the Renaissance to Mannerism inspired a renewed interest in themes of occultism and eroticism in the arts which was followed by the Romantics, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, on to the Symbolists and Expressionists, and to the Surrealists… Adhocism, newly coined as a term in the 1960’s, but old in its concept reared its head again and was illustrated most acutely in the works of Cubism, Dadaism, Arte Povera, Fluxus, Vienna Aktionists, etc. Marcel Duchamp’s body of post-painterly work is almost entirely adhocist in technique. In fashion, adhocism can be readily seen in the work of Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo. One could also say that Occultism + Adhocism + Eroticism = a kind of formula-non-formula for Surrealism. It is also the triad of great poetry. Occult means secret or hidden. Erotic means to arouse. All good poetry is veiled in secrecy and erotically-charged. That’s what works. That’s what triggers the ecstatic response.

“I believe in eroticism a lot because it’s truly a rather widespread thing throughout the world, a thing that everyone understands.” – Marcel Duchamp
“Of course everything is erotic to me; if it isn’t erotic, it isn’t interesting.” – John Cage

ART AS ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE: Eliciting an Ecstatic Response…
The Arts as Stimuli for Ecstatic States in Mind, Body, and Spirit. To me, it’s not about defining what is art and what is not art. Does it really matter which is called art by some and not by others? Haven’t we had enough books and discussions on this subject. This analytical mode of thinking is a distraction from Mystery, a pulling away the veil. I am interested in the overall effect of an artwork, not necessarily technical prowess by the artist. The artist may find it matters a great deal, but the participator should not have to care. To the participator, it’s not important how an artist gets to the end. Does it stimulate, arouse, or excite? Does it confuse, disorient, or estrange? These are the questions that matter. Automatic writing & drawing, magick, great sex, entheogenic & shamanistic visions, and many many other actions can produce different levels of ecstatic experiences; experiences that are reached through the transcendence of logical and analytical modes of thinking into irrational, euphoric states of being; Dionysian rites incarnate. I’m interested in spontaneous ecstatic actions; emotive outbursts of creativity; raw expression derived from intuition and the pineal imagination; uninhibited tantrums of frenetic and vital energies; visceral and cathartic art forms and artworks. I’m interested in the unknowable; the dark and the secret. I’m interested in immersion; in ‘getting off’; in trance-like states of consciousness; constructing transports to euphoria; manufacturing tangible projections of visions and dreams; visuals, sounds, or writings that excite, that speed up vital signs, that push the blood through the veins a little harder; the give and take of an artist’s physical poetic expression with a participator’s psychical ecstatic reception. Transcending the Ordinary is the goal. We could possibly get away with not using the word ‘art’ at all and instead focus on Ecstatic Experiences only. An Ecstatic Experience is not just about the ‘high’ or the climax, it’s about arousal, suspension, and the rise to climax. Any activity or object or imaginative work that can produce an ecstatic experience is what I’m interested in. My interest begins to decline in any artwork the moment I sense a prudish quality in it… My impulse is always toward sex – from the erotic to the pornographic; not always in a literal sense (although that too), but always in a figurative sense; and not in order to “shock” as some would say. It would be quite difficult for me to find something that was actually shocking. Much of the time I come off as anti-academic, but it’s not the academy I have a problem with in “avant-garde” poetry, film, and music… it’s the lack of sensuality that I find in most of its art. Of course, there are always exceptions and the exceptions are what I’m drawn to.

Ostranenie is a creator’s device that is perfectly suited toward creating Ecstatic works of art. Ostranenie was coined by Viktor Shklovsky in 1917 as a term to describe an effect used by artists for making the ordinary strange or grotesque; to defamiliarize. It’s the use of warping, distorting, weirding, or exaggerating in artworks and literature.

First off, I always reiterate that I’m only making experiential observations and giving these observations names… I am not inventing anything. One such phrase or term that I created and use often is “Dynamic Ecstatic Transcendentalism”; a term that pretty much explains itself. Combing through my vast eclectic and somewhat eccentric collection of memories and experiences of my past, I eventually discovered a commonality to the wide-range of music and arts that I have surrounded myself by… The Common Thread is found in each work’s ability to produce a kind of experience that could be called Dynamic Ecstatic Transcendentalism: Dynamic in that is always in flux, always changing, always moving, always new; Ecstatic in that it leads to excitation of the body, mind, and/or spirit; Transcendental in that the experiences raise one above Ordinariness and the Mundane. Dynamic Ecstatic Transcendentalism has a lineage beginning with the Cult of Dionysus to the Shamanistic & Entheogenic Cults to Left-hand Path Tantrism to the Abbey of Thelema. Dynamic Ecstatic Transcendentalism through Sex, Magick, Poetry, Music, and Art. When I speak of Dynamic Ecstatic Transcendentalism, I speak of a goal that most interesting art aspires to whether the artist is consciously aware of it or not. It is an effect on the participator, an awakening of consciousness; a vibrational excitement.

Thee Aktions ov Yes! (TAOY!) is Non-Reactionary Pro-Active Dissent; Not rebellion for the sake of it, this is rebellion because the chains must be thrown off! TAOY! is an alternative model to past countercultures. Most so-called counter-cultural ideas are Reactionary and share a symbiotic relationship to the system they rebel against. TAOY! focuses on building a self-contained, self-sustaining system that can survive beyond the fall of the dominant systems in place. YES Aktions are acts of Resistance; Actions based on doing what one wants to do; not based on reacting to things one is told not to do. We say Yes to Pleasure because we love life… NO is the favorite word of a parent to a child. NO is reactionary… NO gives power to that which it opposes. YES, on the other hand, always implies a NO but is not symbiotically tied to it’s counterpart… It is free… It is an offensive position rather than a defensive position… It is a declaration… Yes is pro-active aktion, Yes is your Freedom. Freedom of Will not Freedom from Will. Freedom through Self-Discipline. Freedom through Self-Defined Constraints. Make your own rules, then change them, rewrite them. Your rules should never be fixed or static, they should remain dynamic and in flux. People are always talking about getting away from rules as a path to freedom, arguing that rules inhibit freedom, which sounds logical at first, however this is why so many of them eventually head back to the system they opposed. In actuality, rules are necessary for the existence of freedom, but it is the difference between self-imposed rules vs. rules imposed by others. It is important to create your own system and revise as necessary. Only rules created by yourself or rules that you accept are legitimate. Break the current rules that are limiting to your potential and then create new ones for yourself. Find your True Will. Blaze your own Path, Walk in Light or Darkness… Live within Thee Aktions Ov Yes. TAOY! is self-empowerment which requires self-control and self-restraint and as some will point out, not everyone can handle this mode of thought. There are those who will self-destruct or in some cases impose destruction on others. Excess for some is inevitable. This is not utopia that I am promoting here. It is a dangerous idea but as Wiliam Blake says, “I must create my own system, or be enslav’d by another man’s.” This is what it means to live by Thee Aktions Ov Yes!

“And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“No Gods, No Masters”
“Do Thy Will” – Austin Osman Spare
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” – Aleister Crowley
“Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted” – Hassan-i Sabbah


I designed The ‘Inverted Cross & Triangle’ Symbol used in all of our online and print materials. It is a stylized re-imagining of the Inverted Symbol of Sulphur which in Alchemy was used by the Alchemist to signify the MAGNUM OPUS or the “Completed Work”. It is related in shape to the figure in the “Hanged-Man” card of the Tarot (aka “Le Pendu” in French). It has been used in various incarnations since 2005, when the PENDV brand was birthed. The original symbol used in alchemy appears like this:

It is known as the ‘Inverted Symbol of Sulphur’ or Lapis Philosophorum Elixir. As I designed the logo, I noticed that with a small gap, I could create two images, an inverted-cross with and inverted-triangle. This greatly increased the meaning and worked like a visual pun. The inverted cross is a common symbol used either as St. Peter’s Cross or as a Satanic inversion of Christianity. The inverted Triangle is the elemental symbol of Water and symbolizes the dark subconscious, the origins of creativity. The inverted Triangle also resembles the female pubic region and symbolizes birth, sex, and the unknown. The Lozenge or Diamond enclosing the Inverted Cross and Triangle is known as a symbol of victory and also as an Ingwaz Rune (Fertility), but it is also identified in shape with the Mandorla aka Vesica Piscis (symbol of joining opposing forces as well as the cosmic passageway) and linked as a symbol representing the Female Vulva and the womb. All of these ideas come together to create a symbol that is both aesthetic and substantive, full of meaning.

“In the Tarot card*, The left leg of the youth is crossed in back of the right “and his arms are folded behind his back in such away as to form a cross surmounting a downward pointing triangle. The figure thus forms an ‘inverted symbol of sulphur’ and, according to Levi, signifies the accomplishment of the Magnum Opus. The picture therefore depicts polarity temporarily triumphant over the spiritual principle of equilibrium. To attain the heights of philosophy, therefore, man must reverse (or invert) the order of his life.” – from Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Palmer Hall

Photo by Todd Pendu
The ‘open hand’ has represented “human creativity” in the symbols of many ancient cultures. This is an open left-hand which represents an identification with Left-Hand Path practices.

XII – The Hanged-Man (Le Pendu)
This image is from a special divinatory Tarot deck that I designed and is illustrated by Jesse Gelaznik. Click the image to learn more and to see the rest of the deck.

ARCANUM XII – Inversion and Suspension
Inversion of Perception
Inversion as Subversive Aktion
Suspension as Eroticism
Arousal of Ecstatic States

“Le PENDV – The Hanged-man, is the initiate into mysteries. He understands the truth because he sees it from a different angle.”

Le PENDV is the 12th card of the Major Arcana from the Tarot. The number 12 in Numerology and Astrology refers to cycles, seasons, completion, and endurance. Example: 12 months / 12 Signs of the Zodiac / etc.

“The Hanged Man (Le PENDV)
The Spirit of the Mighty Waters / Card Number: 12 / Key Number: 23 / Rulership: Water / Hebrew Letter: Mem”
– Aleister Crowley

*Illustration from the Rider-Waite deck drawn by artist Pamela Colman Smith, 1909.

5 Senses
7 Chakras
5 + 7=12

4 points of the tau cross (man)
3 points of the triangle (spirit)
3 X 4=12

Pendu = 539 = 7×77
(Greek Gematria)

Pendu = 309
(Agrippa’s Latin Gematria)
or 3+0+9 = 12 = 12th Trump

Pendu = 360 = Aiwaz, Desire
(English Qabalah, Golden Dawn)

Explanation of the Symbols in the STAR OF MANIFEST WILL
Designed by Todd Pendu
1.) _+_ Two double-lined circles, representing the Black Sun (first stage of Alchemy)
2.) _+_ The circle is divided with 12 lines creating a Zodiac Wheel.
3.) _+_ A 12-pointed star made of 4 overlapping triangles (Earth (N), Water (S), Air (E), Fire (W)) intersected by the lines of the Zodiac Wheel.
4.) _+_ A Pentagram is drawn using existing lines, 2 points facing up (Horns of Heresy).
5.) _+_ An Inverted Symbol of Sulphur (Final Stage, Great Work of the Alchemist) is drawn out of the base of the Pentagram.


Gerard de Nerval and Other Saints of PENDV
Gérard de Nerval was an eccentric literary figure, mystic, and pioneer of the avant-garde from the 19th Century who was made an outsider and finally ‘suicided by society’. In the 1830’s, Nerval was an integral member of the short-lived anti-bourgeois collective known as the Bouzingo, a preeminent gang of artistic rebels pre-dating Dada by almost a century. He is well-remembered for his collection of 12 cryptic and transcendental sonnets known as “Les Chimères” and for the book of prose containing his dreams and hallucinations known as “Aurelia” found tucked in his pocket at his death . He is also remembered for his outrageous behavior in his youth and for the fits of madness that forced him in and out of asylums for the last 10 years of his life. Tragically, while on a late night walk in the cold, Nerval was turned away from a safehouse and as a consequence committed suicide by hanging in the Rue de la Vieille-Lanterne on January 26, 1855. I am currently working on a historical biography of the Bouzingo entitled “Bouzingo Means Noise: Satan, Anarchy, and Les Jeunes-France“.

“Our dreams are a second life. I have never been able to penetrate without a shudder those ivory or horned gates which separate us from the invisible world.” – Gérard de Nerval

Other Saints of PENDV:
Judas Iscariot – betrayor of Christ
Ian Curtis of Joy Division
Rozz Williams of Christian Death
Michael Hutchence of INXS
Arshile Gorky – Painter
Phil Ochs – Folk Musician
David Foster Wallace – Writer
Pete Ham & Tom Evans of Badfinger
David Carradine – Actor
Alexander McQueen – Fashion Designer


Pendu references from Tarot to Duchamp

*Le Pendu Femelle is featured in the top half of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass. “… the Bride or the Pendu femelle is a ‘projection’ comparable to the projection of an ‘imaginary entity’ in 4 dimensions in our world of 3 dimensions (and even in the case of flat glass to a reprojection of these three dimensions on a surface of 2 dimensions).” – Marcel Duchamp*Le Jeu du Pendu is what the french call the vocabulary game “Hangman”

*Le Pendu – title for a song made famous by Jacques Brel

*Ballade du Pendus – one of the most famous poems from French Medieval poet, François Villon

*La Maison du Pendu (painting) – famous work by Paul Cezanne

* L’Homme pendu; orchid – The French name means “hanged man” because of the shape of the orchid which looks like a hanging body.

*Court-Pendu – A kind of apple

*Pendu is also a Punjabi word meaning simpleton, usually considered a perjorative… a negative term for under-educated, rural peoples.


What comes before and opens doors…
Syncretism . Eclecticism . Nomadism . The Elliptical Path of Infinity . Ka . The Third Meaning . The Fourth Way . The Left-Hand Path . The Smaragdine Table & Hermeticism . Alchemy . Jainism . Numerology . Tarot . I Ching & Taoism . Gnosticism . Tantra . Pataphysics . Rhizome Theory . Temporary Autonomous Zones & Pirate Utopias . Chaos Magick . Coniunctio Oppositorum

Cult of Dionysus . The Bouzingo . Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn . A.’.A.’. . Die Aktion (magazine) . Cabaret Voltaire of Zürich . Acéphale . Fluxus . Letterism + International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus + Situationist International . Vienna Aktionists . Art Brut . The Dreamachine . Neue Slowenische Kunst . CRASS . COUM Transmissions + Throbbing Gristle + Psychick TV + Coil + TOPY / TOPI

Pythagoras . Diogenes . Pyrrho . Heraclitus . Giordano Bruno . Emanuel Swedenborg . Franz Mesmer . William Blake . Madame Blavatsky . Gérard de Nerval . Isidore Ducasse . Friedrich Nietzsche . Pascal Beverly Randolph . Austin Osman Spare . Georges Bataille . Max Stirner . Alfred Jarry . Henri Bergson . Tristan Tzara . Max Ernst . Aleister Crowley . Marcel Duchamp . Kurt Schwitters . André Breton . Aimé Césaire . Witkacy . Bruno Schulz . Gertrude Stein . Stefan & Franciszka Themerson . Roberto Matta . Brion Gysin . Isidore Isou . John Cage . Allan Kaprow . George Maciunas . Dick Higgins . Robert Rauschenberg . Sun Ra . Jean Dubuffet . Amiri Baraka . Anton Szandor LaVey . Albert Ayler . Mike Kelley . Sergei Parajanov . Alejandro Jodorowsky . Hakim Bey . Robert Anton Wilson . Carolee Schneemann . Marina Abramovic . Brian Eno . Genesis Breyer P-Orridge . Cosey Fanni Tutti . Chris Carter . Peter Christopherson . Jhon Balance . the NWW list . Nick Cave . Kaoru Abe . Thurston Moore . Kenneth Anger . Masami Akita . Pushead . Steven Stapleton . David Tibet . Yohji Yamamoto . Vivienne Westwood . Jean Paul Gaultier . Martin Margiela . Rei Kawakubo . Alexander McQueen . Rick Owens . Martin Margiela . Rei Kawakubo . …

…and on and on and on… so many more unlisted here… here’s to all the Zetetiks, Heretiks, Ekcentriks, Mystiks and Frenetiks of the Past Present and Future.

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