The subject of cultural appropriation is — necessarily — an important part of the modern occult conversation. Issues around occultists and Pagans making use (or misuse) of the symbols and rites of indigenous and ancestor cultures have to be examined: though there is often a tendency for various sides of the debate to accuse the other of “doing it wrong.”
I think it might be interesting to look a sideways example of this — of the symbolism of the occult being appropriated by mainstream culture.
The symbol at the top of the page is probably familiar to most modern practitioners. It’s the unicursal hexagram, the symbol Aleister Crowley designed to represent the religion he founded, Thelema, and as a symbol of the cosmos.
Since last year, however, it has acquired another meaning: the symbol of the Men of Letters organisation of occult scholars in the TV show Supernatural, where it is called the Aquarian Star. Continue reading
Confessions of a Black Magician, by Nathan Neuharth
Original Falcon Press, 9781935150794, 191 pp., 2010
Our hero in this tale is the author himself, and as no occultist anywhere ever had but one name, he’s known variously as Nathan Neuharth, Frater Parsifal, and Natas, or Saint Natas.
The book opens with his initiation into the Golden Dawn, introducing a colourful cast of characters in his new fraters and sorors. Neuharth allies himself with Fater Azazel, a brother in the order who shares his affinity for Aleister Crowley and Thelemic magick. His experiments lead him to encounters with angels, and devils too, not to mention aliens and Atlanteans who offer him questionable messages.
Inspired by Jack Parson’s Babalon Working, Neuharth seeks to undertake a similar project he called the Babalon Isis Working. Various incarnations of Babalon appear as she is won, lost, regained and eventually walks out of his life. In the process Neuharth loses his wife, his kids, his job and very possibly his mind. Continue reading
Abraxas, Issue One, Autumn Equinox 2009, edited by Robert Ansell and Christina Oakley Harrington
Fulgur, 128 pp., 2009
Abraxas isn’t just “An International Journal of Esoteric Studies”, this first issue is also an art book. At 290mm x 232mm it’s a large quarto, beautifully bound, and printed on high quality paper, including a handtipped sheet. Richly coloured paintings are beautifully reproduced, along with many lovely illustrations in monochrome. And then there’s the text.
This first issue focuses largely on witchcraft, and while I can’t detail every essay that appears, I would like to highlight several that I felt stood out in this already exceptional collection.
Stephen Grasso’s piece “Skip Witches, Hop Toads”, illuminates Continue reading