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A Brief History of The Westgate

Beginning in the mid-seventies, the voice of Azrael was just a whisper. Westgate press was born under the name of Undinal Songs, the world's first, and at that time, only periodical to focus exclusively on Necromantic Art & Literature. Specifically material dealing with the personification of the Angel of Death. It was primarily a forum for extraordinary works considered too bold and daring for more traditional outlets. Often "shocking", this "Magazine of the Macabre" was the only publication of its kind in the world. The first viable effort to deal openly with such topics as Death as a lover, Necromantic practice, and other "taboo" subject matter explored both in myth and especially as fact. We encouraged our audience to share their paranormal experiences and encounters with such entities as the personified Angel of Death, and other, similar souls patently designated as "dark" and "menacing" by a world that had little understanding of such melancholic figures. In its day, Undinal Songs and its contributors won many awards in the independent press field, and in 1982 was named by Writer's Digest Magazine as one of the top 50 publications in the field. It also served as a respected launching pad for some of today's successful genre writers, artists, & editors.

In 1983, the effort underwent a major restructuring. Undinal Songs became The Westgate Group, which then consisted of a publishing house,  art studio, & an informational service specializing in many metaphysical & occult areas. One thing led to another, & in 1984 the Westgate Gallery formally opened. The concepts & ideals that Westgate had been expounding in print, finally had a visual expression. Originally located on Long Island in New York State, "The Little Black Box", as the gallery was then called, served as a unique, if somewhat dark gateway point for people on their way to the sunny Hamptons.

In 1988, the origination & purpose of The Westgate was finally & concisely put into concrete form through the publication of The Book of Azrael, An Intimate Encounter with the Angel of Death, which was hailed by reviewers as "the most fascinating book of the 20th century."  Since its publication, Westgate has been coined "The Voice of Azrael", and we are comfortable with being recognized as such on an international level. Our books, art & other items are available worldwide through bookstores, mail order, online, specialty shops, & distribution agents. We have long endeavored to print an indelible mark upon the spirits of all who read our titles, and engender the enlightenment of mankind as a whole. We do this by cultivating & nurturing The Azrael Project  in a slow & steady fashion to insure that His message will remain viable long after we have left this world.

When the 1990's came, so came even greater changes for The Westgate. In 1990, after a four day vacation to New Orleans, we fell in love with the spirit of the City of Enchantment. It seemed to have been chosen by Azrael Himself as a viable gateway through which He might emerge into the world. A city where many spiritual gates lie open. An unsettling threshold in its own right, where Life & Death merge behind a feathered mask. Where spectres weep in shaded courtyards, and magick recedes behind weathered shutters.  It was during this year that a special soul joined our cause with almost magical coincidence. Daniel Kemp came on board; A walking piece of the Night sky, and a perfect companion to Death. He had "this book in him", The Book of Night, but not a forum with which to bring it to fruition. On a deeply spiritual basis, Leilah and Daniel found that they had so much in common that their timely pairing was quite uncanny.

That year, Westgate moved lock, stock & barrel to the Crescent City's famed Magazine Street where it stood as both monument, and museum/Temple to the Angel of Death.  The opening of the Westgate signified that the time has come for mankind to reconcile Life with Death. The place stood out like a beacon, calling to all souls who feel an affinity to what it represents; A physical & symbolic manifestation of the true Westgate through which we all pass upon our death. "The House of Death", as we were more commonly called, was a place for special souls, and you know who you are, to gather & feel at home. After all, it is His house!

Our purpose remains to put forth the word of the Angel of Death & thereby conquer fear through understanding. We endeavor to make people aware of the essential nature of Death & to help humanity see their universe through His eyes, & thereby gain a macrocosmic understanding of both, Life & Death. We must loosen this last remaining fear that keeps many tethered to the narrow view & burdened by the weight of flesh. We must learn to view the world from neither side of eternity, but rather from the threshold between the dimensions of space & time. For over three decades, The Westgate has been rekindling primeval memory, & replacing fear with love and serving as a point of contact between Life & Death. A place where folks can come & be touched by the melancholy spectre of the Angel of Death, & hopefully come away with a new & poignant understanding. It is a threshold between two worlds & a place where Love & Death embrace unabashed by their own spectacle.

The ideals of the Westgate are a quantum leap beyond the veil of fear that still exists, even among the most "enlightened". We stay with love & commitment to our cause in being the voice & vision of the Angel of Death. Our determination & success over the past 33 years has spear-headed His message from the fringe, to the forefront of a wave that sweeps beyond current revelationary thinking into an area that The Westgate alone has charted.

About the Founder of Westgate;

As a child, Leilah Wendell grew up shadowed by a powerful & dark entity. Unremembered to her at first, this spirit became the host of numerous paranormal & extraordinary occurrences. These haunting events led her on a life-long excursion into the astral world. More precisely, into the "Valley of the Shadow." She has spent most of her life researching, writing & teaching matters pertaining to the necromantic & metaphysical, particularly the grey areas where light & darkness merge in a most necessary & important balance. Through her unique relationship with the Angel of Death, Leilah endeavors to impart His message to all.

A member of the Author's Guild/Author' League of America,  Leilah Wendell is the world's foremost recognized researcher of Death personifications and encounters.  Author of 14 books and scores of articles on the subject, she is also a fine artists, poet and originator of The Westgate Museum in Louisiana, the first and only gallery devoted exclusively to Necromantic Art & Literature. Dedicated to Azrael, the Angel of Death, the gallery featured fine art, prints, posters, books, cards, sculpture, artifacts, jewelry & one of a kind items.  Born in New York and best known for her ground-breaking title Our Name is Melancholy- The Complete Books of Azrael, and over 40 years of research and documentation via The Azrael Project. She currently resides in Opelousas, Louisiana.

About the Curator of the Westgate Gallery;

Daniel was also born on Long Island, N.Y., and currently resides in Opelousas Louisiana. Rather than being shadowed by the Angel of Death, Daniel had his own spirit in attendance, the Lady, who, since childhood's hour has been both friend and paramour. She is the universe we all exist within, and our tiniest breath. She is existence within the infinite, looking out upon the grand panorama that is. With the publication of Daniel's first book in 1990, The Book of Night, he decided to share her visions with the world at large. Since then, he has authored three additional books as well as becoming an artist and musician in his own right. Currently he is involved in several VSTI projects. You can check out Daniel's current endeavors by visiting Westgate Sounds.

Legend of The Westgate Name

Although we began our mission in 1975, it wasn't until 1979 that we finally settled upon a company name that best exemplified our continued goal. Over the years, many have inquired, "Why Westgate?". The best way we can answer that is simply by saying that The Westgate symbolizes the journey "home".

The four "Gates", East, West, North & South represent transitional points. Very much like the 4 seasons, 4 elements, 4 quadrants, etc. Concisely put, the East gate represents our birth into the flesh, & is balanced by the West, a symbol of our shedding of the material body. The South & North gates also balance each other, with the former representing the consummation of all in the Fires of Truth, & the latter symbolizing the phoenix that rises from these purifying flames. "From the East commeth Light & from the West emergeth shadow. From the South cometh the fires of consummation & from the North riseth the Phoenix. " The Westgate also symbolizes the reconciliation of Life with Death. Overcoming fear, ignorance & the "comfortable lie". It is said that we never truly live until we understand & accept the fact that one day we shall die.

The Westgate casts shadow into light, thereby causing a balanced perception of All Things. Death is, after all, the crowning glory of Life, the journey home, our great reward for the fulfillment of our purpose here. For all the "waning souls", and in the spirit of the Great Work at hand, I thank you for these many years of  faith & support. There is much yet to be done. Though, look how far we have all come together to reach our journey's end.

AMORTE

Leilah Wendell & Daniel Kemp, 2007