By 2010 I’d been a practicing magician for some 15 years. I’d explored Paganism, Satanism, chaos magick, ceremonial magick, various forms of divination, and so on. I underwent the Abramelin ritual and was underwhelmed by the results. I felt I’d gotten as far as I could on my own, and I wanted to meet with people who were dealing with the same challenges I was. People I could talk to face-to-face, and share coffee with. I wanted to really feel like part of a community — an offline community. Much as I loved the online communities I’d found (the zee-list, chaoskaos, alt.magick.*, Irreality, etc.), I need to find people I could see. People I could learn from.
Whatever else I think of Aleister Crowley, I believe he was an exceptional magician, and many of his books remain the best ever written on practical magick. The Ordo Templi Orientis, the order he entrusted his legacy to, seemed a likely choice. I got in contact with my local lodge, and, after some months, finally met with representatives from that lodge at a pub. They seemed like good folk, and, after a few more months, I was in.
I’ve written before about sexism before, particularly as it relates to contemporary occulture, but systemic sexism is something that affects all of us, pretty much all the time. Continue reading
The comments section for “Sexism in contemporary occulture” and “Gender and the elements” flared up when they were originally published on Plutonica.net, and it became clear that the larger conversation is far from over. If you haven’t read these posts yet, they’re a good place to start.
Two new essays have appeared recently on this theme, and they bear a closer look.
In an essay on Enfolding.org titled “Occult gender regimes: Polarity and Tradition,” Phil Hine gets to the heart of what makes so many uneasy broaching the subject in the first place. He writes,
the very act of questioning the inevitability of gender polarity is a radical step – and one which potentially shatters the foundations of the occult implicit-order – itself a reification of the wider gender-order of Western Culture. Gender polarity is often reified in occult texts as an earthly reflection of cosmic or otherwise essential principles – which are held to be inevitable and juridical (“Laws”). Frequently it is asserted that gender polarity is inevitable because it occurs on the “higher planes” or is a reflection of essential qualities of deities, archetypes, etc – it is universal and timeless – part of an unchanging/unbroken tradition which has only been challenged very recently…
Hine traces the origin sexual polarity to Aristotle via Plato, and the absurdity of enshrining these views in “tradition,” further shattering the idea that these ideas represent some “unbroken” mystic tradition. It’s good stuff. Continue reading
It’s hardly surprising that something called chaos magick is constantly in flux, both in terms of what gets classed as chaos magick and the people it attracts.
I was first introduced to the subject by some English bloke on IRC in a random Wiccan chatroom who later, through a series of unlikely circumstances, became my partner. He introduced names I’d never heard of before: Austin Osman Spare, Peter J Carroll, Robert Anton Wilson – people with three names writing weird and wonderful things. Continue reading
The four classical elements date back to the 5th century BCE. In the fragmentary writings that survive from Empedocles, he established , among other things, the four roots (later elements) as Earth, Air, Fire and Water, and that these roots (or elements) are associated with specific gods: Hera, Zeus, Hades, and Nestis (Persephone), respectively.
These associations had complex geographical and mythical attributes which are rarely (if ever) taken into consideration. They don’t specify mystic sexual or gender-based properties inherent in the elements themselves, but rather describe mystic attributes relevant to these specific divine couples. (For more on Empedocles and the establishment of the four classical elements, I recommend Peter Kingsley’s Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition.)
Taken out of context, the elements often get (mis)classed as: Earth/female, Air/male, Fire/male, Water/female. This tradition has become entrenched in modern occultism, and it is patently absurd. Continue reading