Lunar and Sex Worship is an initial, long-posthumous publication of two chapters of a projected larger work on comparative religion by the American sex-reformer and mystic Ida Craddock. As it is, these two chapters make a hefty book. Barely 50% of the verbiage is Craddock’s own, since she quotes at length from her preferred sources, who include Thomas Inman, J.G.R. Forlong, and most prominently Gerald Massey (who is probably the least credible of the lot, alas). For those familiar with the earlier works on which Craddock depends, there may not be much new here, other than her particular feminist perspective on the material. The book does stand as a pretty accurate and accessible digest of 19th-century solar-phallic theory of religion, however.
Surprisingly, Craddock has interesting contributions to make on the topic of “aeonics,” or the historical succession of global magical formulae. She uses a novel strategy in an attempt to pinpoint what Thelemites will understand as the transition between the Aeons of Isis and Osiris (19-21). She also discusses the messianic moment corresponding to the advent of the Aeon of Horus (264).
Editor Vere Chappell has been a relentless 21st-century researcher and champion of Craddock, and his introduction contextualizes Lunar and Sex Worship well enough for contemporary readers. I am grateful that he also furnished the book with an index: considering the wide range of topics that it covers, with no subheadings within its two enormously long chapters, the index is a crucial feature–even if it fails to have an entry for “ass” (Craddock’s passage on lunar onolatry may be found on 94-95)!
The best part of the book is the closing pages, where she decries the sexual repression of modern Christianity, and calls for a return of phallic religious sensibility. She holds out hope that the “storehouse of symbolism” in Catholic Christianity may yet contribute to a restored worship of the generative power, enhanced by scientific knowledge and an ethic of universal brotherhood (252).