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
Sexism 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.
The most common reaction reaction to the above was a dropped jaw, and a private resolution to never attend such events again. And they don’t. Yet many (men, usually) seem bewildered by low attendance of women in their groups, temples, and lodges. Continue reading
In a recent discussion on AIM, 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?
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