I was Wiccan for several years. It was my first exposure to Paganism, as it is for many people. I enjoyed feeling connected with nature, I was happy to find a faith that didn’t shame me for having a vagina, and of course, like most geeky 11-year-old girls would, I relished the feeling of empowerment that knowledge of magick brought.
It wasn’t long before something in me I couldn’t quite identify began to butt heads with what I was reading and practicing. There are many aspects of the Horned God I felt (and still feel) a connection to, such as his associations with wild nature, magick, and the death and rebirth cycle, but I felt discouraged from exploring these ideas because they were deemed “masculine.” Instead, I tried to explore the mysteries of the Goddess as I felt I was “supposed” to. Despite being young, I felt unable to relate to the Maiden, and I felt stifled by the seeming inevitability of becoming a Mother, then a Crone — neither of which particularly appealed to me. It was also around this time that I began to realize I was gay, which only served to intensify my feelings of alienation. How could a spiritually necessary “union of opposites” occur when I didn’t even find my so-called “opposite” attractive? Continue reading
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
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