Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Birth Caul (1995)

In 1995 Alan Moore had recently "come out" as a practicing magician. He did a spoken word performance called The Birth Caul (A Shamanism of Childhood) with music by David J and Tim Perkins, which was soon released on CD. It was staged at the Old County Court in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 18 November 1995.

The birth caul is a thin piece of placenta sometimes present at birth covering the face like a veil. It is kept traditionally as a good luck charm. When Moore's mother dies he finds her birth caul amongst her effects. The Caul represents a map of humanity which Moore proceeds to read from. The text is essentially an examination of the connections between our language, our identity and our perceptions of the world. The narration regresses from early adulthood, adolescence, childhood, infancy and prenatal existence in a quest for a primitive consciousness existing before language. Ultimately the quest aborts as there are no words to describe that consciousness.