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.

The most common reaction reaction to the above was a dropped jaw, and a private resolution to never attend such events again.1 And they don’t. Yet many (men, usually) seem bewildered by low attendance of women in their groups, temples, and lodges.

We have lost and are continuing to lose essential voices of dedicated magickians because they were treated poorly, and are being edged out of the public sphere. Women, trans, genderqueer, and other silenced voices continue to post profound things in friends-locked spaces on LiveJournal, are brilliant on IM, in private conversationĀ  and other “safe” spaces where they won’t be shut out. Few publish books, and those that do stick to other “safe” topics like occult biography and history.

For instance, see Mary K Greer’s Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses, which is excellent and much needed, but can you name a single contemporary female author who’s written about the Golden Dawn from a practitioner’s perspective? Alex Owen’s The Place of Enchantment was incredibly informative (my review here), but again, focuses on historic practitioners. I haven’t yet read Owen’s The Darkened Room, but Jaq D. Hawkin’s treatment of a similar subject in contemporary occultism I found lacking. The archetypes presented in Women of Power were limited, and I couldn’t find a place among them for myself (my review here).

Women are offered a very narrow space for self-expression in the occult community. How did we let this happen? What can be done about it?

First published on 15 February 2010.

Image credit: Dennis Skley

  1. I made a point of speaking to the man handing out the stones. []