Hetty MacLise 1931–2011

James Barrett
4 min readJun 28, 2017

Hetty MacLise (pictured right with her late husband Angus) speaks about ironing and ‘those ghastly catalogues’ in this video from 2007.

Hetty, London 2010

Hetty had a much greater story to tell. She was literally at the centre of the American avant gárde in the late 1960s and early 1970s as an artist, musician, poet and muse. She inscribed a brief memoir of the time on a blog that was updated in 2008 and 2009 called Phantomlyoracula (since taken down) — from living with The Grateful Dead, performing in the underground art music scene of the time, early work with tape recorders, as a staff artist on The San Francisco Oracle (as Hetty McGee). Her time at The Oracle is described in this article about female graphic designers working with psychedelic motifs in the 1960s, which states “The late Hetty McGee, who has been described by friends as “a wild woman who danced with ribbons and lace” and brewed tea the prim English way, in a porcelain pot (she was from Liverpool). More often than not, McGee didn’t sign her Oracle illustrations.” Hetty traveled to India, Nepal, London and all over the USA and Canada, to the communes, city collective, working with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol and as a mother to Ossian, a recognized incarnate tulku lama.

You can download Phantomly Oracula By Hetty MacLise, a PDF 73 pages of writing by Hetty about her life. There is music featuring Hetty here (along with her husband Angus (1938–1979). In an account of Katmandu in the 1970s, including stories about Hetty and Angus around the Spirit Catcher bookstore and their Bardo Matrix publishing enterprise it states “By late 1971, Chick and Heavey had been joined by Ira Cohen and Petra Vogt, and Angus and Hetty MacLise, two couples that Mark Liechty says, in his book Far Out: Countercultural Seekers and Tourist Encounter in Nepal, were “part of nearly every iconic movement and happening that we now associate with the 1960s youth counterculture. In Liechty’s words, these two were to become ‘pillars of the Kathmandu hippie expat community’”. Hetty died in London on the 10th June 2011, aged 80.

Hetty in Nepal in the 1970s

Hetty played organ, tampura, and other instruments in the Universal Mutant Repertory Company, which played psychedelic drone trance music with an Indian flavor. Hetty and Angus produced a magickal child, a son by the name of Ossian.

Poem by Hetty MacLise

Hetty and Angus moved to Kathmandu, Nepal where Ossian was later 100% recognized as a Tulku (an incarnation of Sang gyes Nienpa Trulku Rinpoche) at the Swayambu Buddhist Monestary by His Holiness, The Gyalwa Karmapa! A Tulku “literally means, an emanation body; a term used for the incarnations of Buddhas, Arya Bodhisattvas and Bodhisattvas, as well as for the reincarnations of spiritually achieved practitioners or Lamas”

Hetty MacLise, Photo by Sadhu George Farrow

One track by the Universal Mutant Repertory Company, “Heavenly Blue Pt. 4 & 5,” appears in The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda, a collection of musical endeavors in which Angus MacLise participated between 1968 and 1972. The 39-minute title piece, a live improvisation while Ira Cohen’s Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda film played at St. Mark’s Church in New York. It is not explicitly credited to the Universal Mutant Repertory Company, but the five musicians listed, including the MacLises, are the ones that comprised that group. The MacLise’s work has made them bona fide legends among vintage psychedelia enthusiasts!

Invasion Of Thunderbolt Pagoda Film by Ira Cohen. (1935–2011)
First page of 3-page letter from Hetty MacLise to Ira Cohen, ca. 1970.

“IRA ITS ALL SO FUCKING INCREDIBLE no ersatz shit happening strong unflagging energies out poring of creative heart enjoyment w/o reservations…” Believed to have been sent from Hornby Island, British Columbia.

Hetty and Angus in New York early 1960s

Originally published at www.soulvlog.com on June 28, 2017.



James Barrett

Freelance scholar. Humanist. Interested in language, culture, music, technology, design & philosophy. I like Literature & Critical Theory. Traveler. I am mine.