Magick

Practical magick.

Sexism revisited

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Static - Marc FalardeauThe 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


Chaotes then and now

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Roots, image by Peter RosbjergIt’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


Gender and the elements

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Elements - erix!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


Sexism in contemporary occulture

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Matches, photo by Dennis SkleySexism is a topic that came up in a forum I recently started participating in. None contested that it was endemic in occulture, but few seemed interested in exploring why this was.

I know women who have been asked “who are you here with?” when they attended events. Several have had men try to “explain” technical points to them, unprompted. In my own experience, at a public gathering, after choosing a stone to represent an element, I overheard a man complain that I should not have been “allowed” to choose Fire. Continue reading


Can tarot make decisions for us?

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Tarot, photo by Marilyn RoxieIn a recent discussion, I was asked about tarot’s role in decision-making. We’ve looked at tarot and accuracy, and sharing bad news with a client, but what happens when they want you or the cards to make a decision for them?

SPJ asked:

I’ve heard it’s not “good” practice to expect the tarot to make decisions for you and it may be better to only ask it what the outcomes to things might be if you continue down the same path?

Many will suggest that the mere fact the querent is aware of new possibilities may alter the outcome, but past experience has demonstrated that it is incredibly rare for someone to radically change their character, even when it may be in their best interest to do so. Continue reading


The etymology of tarot

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Tarot, photo by Derek GaveyRecently  I posted a list of my top five foundational books on tarot – books that give a solid grounding in tarot’s history and practical use.

Ankh-f-n-khonsu commented:

I’m no tarotist scholar, and I found Decker’s article in Gnosis (#46, Winter 1998) convincing and enlightening. However, I was left unconvinced that there was no connection to esoteric Egyptian tradition. Tony Bushby…suggests that 22 Hebrew characters were ‘occulted’ in the Egyptian Book of Thoth/God, and that ‘tarot’ is a plural form of Torah. […]

In tarot’s fairly well documented history (letters, accounting ledgers, early examples of tarot cards and “regular” playing cards, etc.), there is absolutely no suggestion whatsoever that tarot cards were intended for use as anything other than an innovating card game. Serious tarot practitioners know this, it’s the occultists who resist reading anything in depth outside their genre – and I say this as an occultist myself! (Probably because occultists have invested so much in the mystification of tarot they figure it’d be a shame to stop now.) Continue reading


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