The Light of Sex: Initiation, Magic, and Sacrament, by Maria de Naglowska
Translated by Donald Traxler, Forward by Hans Thomas Hakl
Inner Traditions, 9781594774157, 125 pp. (incl. appendices, notes and index), 2011
Maria de Naglowska (1883-1936) was born as Mariya Naglovskaya in St Petersburg. She left Russia for Berlin before settling in Geneva; lived in Rome, and later Paris. The rumours surrounding her fly: she may have known Rasputin, she may have had a love affair with Julius Evola, she may have been a member of this or that secret society. We do know that she was a journalist, a poet, and she has several books to her name.
Today de Naglowska may be best remembered for her “translation” of Paschal Beverly Randolph’s Magia Sexualis, which, as I learned from the Donald Traxler’s introduction, seems to have included much of her own material, as well as that from other sources. Though with this new translation of The Light of Sex — the first time it has appeared in English – and several other translations of her work forthcoming from Inner Traditions, her renown is likely to grow.
In Paris de Naglowska earned the nickname “La Sophiale de Montparnasse” for her teachings on “Satanism” and sex magick. Though she called herself a “Satanic woman,” her views on Satanism were not based on traditional Christian mythology. She equated god with life, and Satan with the negation of life, and both aspects are a necessary part of being human. Continue reading
John L Crow hosted the popular podcast Thelema Coast to Coast, and is currently pursuing a PhD. in American Religious History at Florida State University.
This interview was conducted on Saturday, September 4th, 2010.
Psyche: Thelema Coast to Coast was an excellent podcast running from 2005 to 2007, one of the first of its kind and I believe the first to be solely dedicated to Thelema. It’s been almost three years since your last episode. Do you miss it?
John L. Crow: Yes and no. The podcast was certainly a product of its time and filled a particular need within the Thelemic community. I miss the interaction with the larger community, the feedback and so forth. But I honestly don’t miss producing the podcast itself. It was a lot of work and now that I am in graduate school, I simply do not have the time.
I have been asked if I will ever resurrect the show. Continue reading
Soul Centered Astrology: A Key to Your Expanding Self, by Alan Oken
Ibis Press, 9780892541348, 410 pp., 1990, 2008
Oken, an astrologer and lecturer for many years, believes that humanity is transiting into a New Age, and that there are “certain dynamics of human psychology and relationship that current trends in astrological interpretation and counseling no longer satisfy.” As such, he puts forth to combine traditional astrology (or exoteric astrology in his language) with the teachings of the Theosophical Society, Alice Bailey, and the Ancient Wisdom Teachings.
The premise has me in mixed opinions. Continue reading
The Mentalist’s Handbook: An Explorer’s Guide to Astral, Spirit, and Psychic Worlds, by Clint Marsh
Weiser Books, 9781578634217, 196 pp. (incl. indexes), 2008
Above, below, and throughout the world you and I call home, the aetheric plane dwells also.
In this book, Marsh helps the explorer, the “mentalist” in his language, learn to command the aether inside of and around them to access and manipulate various layers of reality. While this is a modern book aether and psychic abilities, much of Marsh’s attitude and language draws from and is an homage to the writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, admitted even in his use and spelling of aether. He also admits having ideas influenced by the Theosophist which is clearly shown in his use of the Dweller on the Threshold and Secret Masters, and his writing is in “the grandiose style of a master mentalist, one who already had all the answers”, not because he believes he has those answers, but because he was so influenced by the authoritative writings of early psychics in secret societies. If he did not Continue reading
The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, by Alex Owen
University of Chicago Press, 9780226642048, 355 pp. (incl. notes, bibliography and index), 2004
Alex Owen is a social and cultural historian who specializes in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain. Owen defines the “place of enchantment” as spanning “the period between 1880 and 1914, those crucial ‘hinge’ years during which reference to ‘the modern’ and ‘we moderns’ took on a new and urgent meaning.” The Place of Enchantment, Owen’s second book, looks at the social and cultural effects occultism in Britain during this period — a theme not much explored by scholars.
Owen writes that “[a]lthough historians are certainly aware of the new ’spiritual movement,’ it received remarkably little scholarly attention, possibly because the very notion of mysticism and the occult seems to run counter to our conception of modern culture and the modern mindset.” There seems to be a preference for conceiving of the rise in scientific thought as being more progressive, overriding what is interpreted as the superstitions of the past. Owen continues, “[t]here remains among historians little developed sense of what such an interest might represent or involve – and this in spite of the fact that the ‘rising tide’ of new spirituality in the years preceding the Great War is clearly evident and demonstrable.” The Place of Enchantment does a remarkable job of filling this gap in fin de siecle Britain. Continue reading