Sexuality alters the flow of that energy in profound ways. Consciously understanding that process, accepting it, and controlling it turns sex into magick.
Brandy Williams, Ecstatic Ritual: Practical Sex Magick
Sexuality alters the flow of that energy in profound ways. Consciously understanding that process, accepting it, and controlling it turns sex into magick.
Brandy Williams, Ecstatic Ritual: Practical Sex Magick
Archetypal Imagination: Glimpses of the Gods in Life and Art by Noel Cobb, introduced by Thomas Moore, part of the Studies in Imagination edited in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Imagination, a 1992 paperback from Lindisfarne Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“This unique book is about freeing psychology’s poetic imagination from the dead weight of unconscious assumptions about the soul. Whether we think of the soul scientifically or medically, behaviorally or in terms of inner development, all of us are used to thinking of it in an individual context, as something personal. In this book, however, we are asked to consider psychology from a truly transpersonal perspective as a cultural, universal-human phenomenon.
Reading these essays we are taught to look at the world as the record of the soul’s struggles to awaken, as the soul’s poetry. From this point of view, the true basis of the mind is poetic. Beauty, love, and creativity are as much instincts of the soul as sexuality or hunger. Thus these essays praise the value and nobility of the imagination, and instead of the usual masters of psychology the exemplars here are the artists and mystics of the Western tradition, Dante, Rumi, Rilke, Munch, Lorca, Schumann, Tarkovsky.” — back cover
Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity by Luc Brisson, translated by Janet Lloyd, a 2002 paperback from University of California Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“This fascinating book collects and translates most of the extant Graeco-Roman writing on human beings, divinities, animals, and other creatures who were both female and male. Luc Brisson provides a commentary that situates this rich source material within its historical and intellectual contexts. These selections—from mythological, philosophical, historical, and anecdotal sources—describe cases of either simultaneous dual sexuality, as in androgyny and hermaphroditism, or successive dual sexuality, as in the case of Tiresias (the blind Theban prophet), which are found through the whole span of Graeco-Roman antiquity. Sexual Ambivalence is an invaluable sourcebook that gathers this suggestive, yet hard to find, material in one convenient place.
In addition to including such familiar sources as the myth of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Aristophanes’s myth of the origin of the sexes and sexuality in Plato’s Symposium, Brisson also discusses cosmogonic mythology in Hesiodic poetry, the Orphic Rhapsodies, Gnosticism, the Hermetic Corpus, and the so-called Chaldean Oracles. He presents the manifold variants of the myth of Tiresias, as well as many other sources.
These ancient stories deepen our awareness of how strongly the polarity of sexuality colors our entire perception of the world and are profoundly relevant to our thinking today.” — back cover
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity by Elaine Pagels, the 1989 paperback edition from Vintage Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“How did the early Christians come to believe that sex was inherently sinful? When did the Fall of Adam become synonymous with the fall of all humanity? What turned Christianity from a dissident sect that championed the integrity of the individual and the idea of free will into the bulwark of a new imperial order—with the central belief that human beings cannot choose not to sin? In this provocative masterpiece of historical scholarship Elaine Pagels re-creates the controversies that racked the early church as it confronted the riddles of sexuality, freedom, and sin as embodied in the story of Genesis. And she shows what was once heresy came to shape our own attitudes toward the body and the soul.” — back cover
Lunar and Sex Worship [also] by Ida Craddock, edited and with an introduction by Vere Chappell, the 2010 hardcover limited edition of 650 from Teitan Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Philadelphia-born Ida Craddock (1857–1902) was a forceful public exponent of women’s rights and sexual freedom whose interest in Theosophy and Spiritualism led her into a profound involvement with the occult. Attacked by conservatives as promoting obscenity and immorality on account of her reforming activities, Craddock became the focus of an organised campaign of persecution. Facing a lengthy prison sentence that she did not expect to survive, she instead took her own life, at age forty-five.
After her death, Craddock’s work on sexuality and occultism attracted the interest of a small number of well-known figures, including Aleister Crowley, who wrote that she possessed ‘…initiated knowledge of extraordinary depth. She seems to have had access to certain most concealed sanctuaries… She has put down statements in plain English which are positively staggering.”
Amongst her papers, Craddock left two manuscripts, ‘Lunar and Sex Worship’ and ‘Sex Worship (Continued)’ that had been commissioned by her patron, the Spiritualist W. T. Stead. They are effectively studies of sexuality in religion and mythology, as viewed through the prism of Craddock’s own experiences and beliefs.
This Teitan Press edition of Lunar and Sex Worship is the first ever publication of ‘Lunar and Sex Worship’ and ‘Sex Worship (Continued).”‘ It comprises the complete text of both works, edited and introduced by Vere Chappell, an expert on the life and work of Craddock.” [via]
The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.
Here’s an excerpt, pages 1–8, from The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning: A Vindication of Priest/ess and Queer Gnostic Mass in Reply to T Polyphilus by Michael Effertz, which is offered at the Reading Room courtesy of the author. While you may have had a chance to read T Polyphilus’ review previously posted and heard various other responses about Priest/ess, unless you have had access to one of the few privately printed and distributed volumes, this may be your first glimpse of Effertz’s argument, as well as the tone and tenor, as it appears in the book; and unless you have acquired one of the new editions with which it is offered this may be your first chance to read some of the substance contained within the new pamphlet.
I thank E.G.C. Bishop T Polyphilus for his critical review1 of my book, Priest/ess: In Advocacy of Queer Gnostic Mass. Polyphilus kindly prefaces his critique with the observation that “significant expense and care” went into the production of what became an “attractive little book.” In writing and designing the private edition of Priest/ess, I resolved to evince the same commitment to quality that Crowley once stressed in a letter to Frank Bennett, writing that “it has always been a point of honor with us to make our publications physically worthy of their contents.”2 The Bishop may not share my estimation of Priest/ess’ contents, but his praise is nevertheless well received. It is for this reason that I have endeavored to ensure that the trade edition, handsomely bound in hardcover and released in both a standard and deluxe edition, will likewise please the reader in form.
With this supplementary essay, I offer a reply to Polyphilus’ review in the same spirit as the arguments given in Priest/ess. As such, I will neither speculate as to Polyphilus’ motives nor ascribe to him any ill will in criticizing my work. I cannot say with certainty, and so will not assert, whether the errors in his review indicate an accidental or a willful misunderstanding of my arguments. I will, therefore, focus on the content of the review itself, checking its claims against the facts of each case rather than dwelling on the character of the author or his possible intentions. Where a misunderstanding is evident, I lay the fault squarely on my own deficient exposition; this will require the occasional reiteration of points originally made in the Priest/ess, in which I anticipated several of the criticisms made in Polyphilus’ review.
In his brief review, Polyphilus makes a series of claims about Priest/ess, the Gnostic Mass, and related subjects, which I will address seriatim. These include the claims that:
- I am wrong about the purpose of E.G.C. clergy,
- Nobody has the generic right to ordination or to serve as an ordained member of the clergy in the performance of E.G.C. rituals,
- Clergy do not have the authority to impose their own interpretation on the Gnostic Mass, because it is not a vehicle for personal expression,
- I obscure and misrepresent E.G.C. policy concerning private and public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass,
- For public Gnostic Masses, E.G.C. policy requires Priests who are socially masculine in their life outside the temple and Priestesses who are similarly feminine,
- Restricting queer Gnostic Mass to private celebrations enhances it, and
- Prohibiting public queer Gnostic Masses does not “closet” queer personal relationships.
In addition to these explicit claims, Polyphilus insinuates that there are still more issues at stake and criticisms to be made, but opts not to specify in the course of his review what those issues are beyond alluding to their magical and doctrinal nature. E.G.C. policy, he argues, is constructed with a view toward assuring the simultaneous fulfillment of three effects or purposes of the Gnostic Mass (magical, communal, and doctrinal), even when individual celebrants do not consciously comprehend all three. Polyphilus directs the reader to his essay “Discourse on the Sixth Article,” wherein he elucidates his views on these three purposes of the Mass. The essay genuinely rewards study. Contrary to settling the question of queer Gnostic Mass against its acceptance, the three purposes of the Mass proposed by Polyphilus provide us with fertile ground for defending the propriety of its public celebration. While we cannot scrutinize his reasons for dismissing queer Gnostic Mass on magical, communal, and doctrinal grounds, since those reasons are not divulged in his review, we can make our own assessment of the merits of public queer Gnostic Mass as it might pertain to these matters with reference to the wealth of published and publicly available writings by Crowley on the Mass, the Eucharist, the O.T.O. and its various degrees, magick, sex and gender, and other kindred subjects. As Polyphilus’ review is consciously informed by his concept of the three purposes of the Gnostic Mass, we turn first to an evaluation of the magical, communal, and doctrinal considerations at the heart of his critique.
The Magical Purpose of the Gnostic Mass
Polyphilus cites magical issues as under the purview of the E.G.C. in the oversight of its clergy, which issues motivate and guide the construction and enforcement of E.G.C. policy in prohibiting public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass. In so stating, Polyphilus implies, without evidence or explanation, that public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass could not fulfill the magical purpose of the Mass. Presumably, the problem of magical bankruptcy is evaded through private celebration.
Of the magical purpose of the Gnostic Mass, Polyphilus writes:
The Magical effect for the individual
Is the one that Crowley explains in Magick in Theory and Practice:
The communicant is gradually made divine,
Being brought swallow by swallow
Towards Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel
And to the ultimate attainment that lies beyond.
And this effect is secret in the sense that it is utterly ineffable.3
We may then reasonably infer Polyphilus to contend that communicants in a public celebration of a queer Gnostic Mass could not be “gradually made divine, being brought swallow by swallow towards the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and to the ultimate attainment that lies beyond.” Such a suggestion is contradicted by Crowley’s teachings concerning magical ritual and the Eucharist, as documented in his diaries and other works. For example, in defining the universal object of magical ritual, Crowley instructs the magician to use ritual to confront weaknesses in his understanding and offers sexual identity as one such area for exploration:
There is a single main definition of the object of all magical ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.
All other magical rituals are particular cases of this general principle, and the only excuse for doing them is that it sometimes occurs that one particular portion of the Microcosm is so weak that its imperfection or impurity would vitiate the Macrocosm of which it is the image, eidolon, or reflection. For example, God is above sex; and therefore neither man nor woman as such can be said fully to understand, much less to represent, God. It is therefore incumbent on the male Magician to cultivate those female virtues in which he is deficient, and this task he must of course accomplish without in any way impairing his virility. It will then be lawful for a Magician to invoke Isis, and identify himself with her; if he fail to do this, his apprehension of the Universe when he attains samādhi will lack the conception of maternity. The result will be a metaphysical and—by corollary—ethical limitation in the Religion which he founds. Judaism and Islām are striking examples of this failure.4
Ritual offers the magician one avenue for symbolically uniting diverse elements within his being, though it is by no means the only method for achieving such union:
The doctrine here put forth is that the initiate cannot be polluted by any particular environment. He accepts and enjoys everything that is proper to his nature. Thus, a man’s sexual character is one form of his self-expression; he unites Hadit with Nuit sacramentally when he satisfies his instinct of physical love. Of course, this is only one partial projection; to govern, to fight, and so on, must fulfil other needs. We must not imagine that any form of activity is ipso facto incapable of supplying the elements of an Eucharist: suum cuique [Lat. “to each his own”]. Observe, however, the constant factor in this enumeration of the practices proper to “hermits:” it is ecstatic delight.5
The actual or symbolic union of the self with another, or even of different aspects of the self within oneself, is characterized by Crowley as the key to preparing the Eucharist, which process may be carried out through methods proper to the nature of each individual. This notion resonates alongside the previous passage with Liber A’ASH, which proclaims:
All holy things and all symbolic things shall be my sacraments.6
Among those Gnostic sacraments is semen, which Crowley says may possess different potencies depending upon one’s point of view:
Semen itself is mercury, the river of life flowing throughout the generations. That is fluid mercury. What is (from the point of view of life) waste, is knowledge. Hence the opposition between knowledge and life. One is homo- and the other heterosexuality. Those are reconciled in Mercury, who is wisdom.7
As with all opposing points of view, it is the work of the magician to reconcile these contradictions in a higher understanding. In this “fluid mercury” Crowley finds one resolution to the “opposition between knowledge and life” in a single Eucharist, which may elevate the communicant to divinity. Crowley provides us with an unambiguous illustration of the transformative power of this type of Eucharist in his notes to the Cephaloedium Working, which sacrament was prepared initially by two men together:
(7) Make Iacchaion God, by Ether.
(8) Sacrifice him to the Beast, who thus becomes God. Use here the accendat & the right Mantram, the Tu qui es & the Quia Patris.8
The “accendat,” “Tu qui es,” and “Quia Patris” all refer to the Grimorium Sanctissimum, ritual instructions for a mass along analogous lines to that of the Gnostic Mass (e.g., the consecration and dressing in ritual vestments of the “priest” by the “maiden,” speeches from “The Ship,” etc.) Another queer interpretation of the mass formula given in Grimorium Sanctissimum is provided in the Paris Working, during which Crowley assumed the role of “maiden” to Victor Neuburg’s “priest.” Throughout his diaries and instructions, Crowley evinces an understanding of the Eucharist that reconciles heterosexuality and homosexuality, life and knowledge, in one transcendent wisdom.
Polyphilus’ implicit contention that a Eucharist produced by a queer pairing cannot lead one “swallow by swallow” to Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel seems especially strange, given Crowley’s description of the relation between the Adept and his Angel:
In a secret code the Adept affirms that he is of the same sex (so to speak) as his Angel. It is not a union of opposites to produce a tertium quid [Lat. “third thing”], but a realization of identity, like the return to consciousness from delirium, whose ecstasy bears no fruit involving new responsibilities, new possibilities of sorrow, but is all-sufficient to itself, with neither past nor future.
The “peeled wand” is the creative Energy of the Angel, stripped of all veils, pointing to the Zenith, ready and eager to act. The Adept exclaims with joy that he has aspired to unite himself with this Idea, and has attained.
Thus concludes the description of the relations of the Adept and his Angel so far as the element of Earth, the concrete and manifest aspect of Nature, is concerned. The whole illusion has been destroyed; the bread has become the body of God.9
As was delineated above, the sacrament by which bread is transmuted into the “body of God” may take any of various forms. Heterosexual union, whether actual or symbolic, is a commonly cited formula for effecting this transmutation. In Liber Aleph, Crowley provides commentary on “the ultimate attainment that lies beyond” and the manner in which homosexual formulae are efficacious in achieving this attainment:
O my Son, behold now the Mystery and Virtue of the Silver Star! For of these Four Works not one leadeth to the Crown, because Tetragrammaton hath His Root only in Chokmah. So therefore the Formula of the Rosy Cross availeth no more in the Highest. Now then in the Pentagram are Two Lines that invoke Spirit, though they lead not thereunto, and they are the Works of Hé with Hé, and of Yod with Vau. Of these twain the former is a Work Magical of the Nature of Musick, and it draweth down the Fire of the HIGHER by Seduction or Bewitchment. Shall I say Enchantment? Shall I say Incantation? It is Song. But Bewitchment is a Work opposite thereunto, whose Effect formulateth itself by direct Creation in the Sphere of its Purpose and Intent. But there remain yet Two of the Eight Works, namely the straight Aspiration of the Chiah or Creator in thee to the Crown, and the Surrender of the Nephesch or Animal Soul to the Possession thereof; and these be the twin geodesic Formulæ of the Final Attainment, being Archetypes of the Paths of Magick (the one) and Mysticism (the other) unto the End.10
If we agree with Polyphilus and assert that the magical purpose of the Gnostic Mass is to lead one to the “Final” or “ultimate attainment,” then one may reasonably maintain that the formula of the Gnostic Mass must be, by that fact, robust and flexible enough to find expression in “the Works of Hé with Hé, and of Yod with Vau” as well as those of Yod with Hé and Vau with Hé.
Though it remains unclear why, from the standpoint of E.G.C. policy and its hierarchy, a private celebration of queer Gnostic Mass could adequately fulfill the magical purpose of the Mass while a public celebration could not, a thorough survey of Crowley’s writings on the subject of the magical effect of the Mass, as Polyphilus describes it, offers decisive evidence in favor of the efficacy of queer Gnostic Mass, public and private.
2. Crowley, Aleister. The Progradior Correspondence: Letters by Aleister Crowley, Frank Bennett, C.S. Jones, & Others. Ed. Keith Richmond. York Beach, ME: 2009. 84.
3. T Polyphilus. “Discourse on the Sixth Article.” Vigorous Food & Divine Madness. The Hermetic Library, n.d. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://hermetic.com/dionysos/art6.htm>. [Formatting and emphasis as in original].
4. Crowley, Aleister. “The Principles of Ritual.” Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4. 2nd ed. York Beach: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2004. 144. [emphasis in original].
5. New Comment to AL, II:24, Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law. Symonds, John and Kenneth Grant, eds. Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1974. 200.
6. Liber A’ASH Vel Capricorni Pneumatici, 20. The Holy Books of Thelema. 1st ed. York Beach: Samuel Weiser, 1983.
7. “The Paris Working.” The Vision & The Voice with Commentary and Other Papers. Boston: Red Wheel/Weiser, 1998. 363.
9. “Commentary to Liber 65 – Chapter I.” Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers. York Beach, Samuel Weiser, 1996. 98-99.
10. “On the Four Major Operations of the Microcosmic Star.” Liber Aleph. York Beach: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2003. 107.
Scarlet Imprint just announced pre-orders for Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba Nzila by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, their newest title and a follow-up to Palo Mayombe – The Garden of Blood and Bones. There’s currently two editions the Salve Regina!, just mentioned, and a fine bound Rainha da Figueira do Inferno version; an unlimited Bibliothèque Rouge of this new work is scheduled for later this year.
“A significant study on the cult of Pomba Gira, this is the most comprehensive work in the English language on the Devil’s mistress, whose Brazilian cult has bewitched so many. It is a book that those seeking congress with the current of strong female magical sexuality have long desired.”
Here’s a bit of dialog at “Roots of Gay Activism” which is an interesting example of the kind of weak thinking which results in and from the Crowley Corollary. In this example, the person tries to link homosexuality to satanism by linking Crowley and satanism. The reasoning throughout this reminds me of nothing less than the horrific anti-intellectual nonsense that comes from the mouths of news anchors trying to ad lib.
Shofarsound: You believe that homosexuality and satanism have a direct link. Tell me about that.
Pastor Joe: In my estimation that would be the most notorious Satanist of the last century, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947). [Crowley died just three years before organized homosexual activism took root in America]. Crowley stated that he had gone over to “Satan’s side” and wanted to become Satan’s chief of staff. Crowley was a bisexual, and his “Abbey of Thelema” or sex temple in Italy was found to have biographical graffiti, depicting orgies that included little children. We document this from is own admirers in our documentary, The Kinsey Syndrome. He influenced the sexual revolutionary thought processes of everyone from Alfred Kinsey to Harry Hay. It is important to know that Crowley’s end goal was the ushering in of the age of Horus and the coming Antichrist, the man of sin. He literally signed his name “The Beast 666.”
Shofarsound: What was Crowley’s purpose in partnering with the agenda of homosexual rights activists?
Pastor Joe: Crowley stated that he was out to “sodomize the boys of England,” and wanted his diabolical teachings to be “circulated among the young.” He later stated that he would target the USA to push his satanic agenda. We document that in our video “They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll” that Crowley’s teachings provided the social architecture for the counter culture revolution of the 60’s. We prove that many of the leading social revolutionaries and academics of that era, as well as a host of top rock stars, have done Crowley’s bidding and were, wittingly or unwittingly, major change agents.
Shofarsound: Crowley’s views certainly mirror those of homosexual activists we see in the spotlight today. How did he view the nuclear family?
Pastor Joe: Crowley not only stated that he had gone over to “Satan’s side” but proclaimed the family to be “public enemy number one.” His licentious motto was “Do What thou Wilt,” and he taught that the word “sin” is “restriction.” This kind of thinking will destroy both family and society, once it is embraced.
Well, there it is. It’s enough to make me want to destroy family and society just to get away from morons like those.