If possible, of course, some bad luck could be produced for the victims or for their institution. Pranks, you know. But again, this is not necessary, and may even get in the way of our pure experiment in mind-fuck and image-manipulation. Let the bastards produce their own bad luck out of their inner sadness at being such evil assholes, out of their atavistic superstition (without which they wouldn’t be such media-wizards), out of their fear of otherness, out of their repressed sexuality. You can be sure they will – or at least, that they’ll remember the “curse” every time something bad happens to them.
The sex-instinct is one of the most deeply-seated expressions of the will; and it must not be restricted, either negatively by preventing its free function, or positively by insisting on its false function.
What is more brutal than to stunt natural growth or to deform it?
What is more absurd than to seek to interpret this holy instinct as a gross animal act, to separate it from the spiritual enthusiasm without which it is so stupid as not even to be satisfactory to the persons concerned?
The sexual act is a sacrament of Will. To profane it is the great offence. All true expression of it is lawful; all suppression or distortion is contrary to the Law of Liberty. To use legal or financial constraint to compel either abstention or submission, is entirely horrible, unnatural and absurd.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus Reviews The Sexual History of London: From Roman Londinium to the Swinging City—Lust, Vice, and Desire Across the Ages [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Catharine Arnold.
Arnold’s Sexual History of London boils down to a history of prostitution, pornography, and sexual scandal, with not much besides. Although she notes her sources, there are only about a half-dozen of these for each chapter, and this book really falls in the category of “entertaining non-fiction” rather than scholarship. It is happily full of thumbnail biographies of colorful characters, even if it does at times give the impression that sex is an activity reserved to prostitutes, their clients, and homosexuals.
Although the primary organization of the book is chronological, the author has a tendency to jump back and forth in her pursuit of selected subtopics, and her ostensible “medieval” chapter is loaded up with anecdotes from the Renaissance. Her later treatment of the Whitechapel murders of “Jack the Ripper” seemed to strike a reasonable tone, but I thought there was just far too much of it on its own terms, and not enough done to tie it back into the central topic of sex and sexuality.
Arnold’s narrative voice is pleasant and easy to follow, although she has a recurring tendency to ape the diction of her sources, as when she references (without quotation marks) “base and filthy lucre” (87) and “actors … whipped at the cart’s arse” (89). The book shows sympathy for the historical individuals whom it covers. It reads quickly, but there is quite a lot of it, so it can make a pleasantly extensive reading project for someone looking to read it straight through.
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).
Nostalgia can be contained and marketed—but actual difference would threaten the hegemony of the one worldview. The “Gift Economy” of some nearly-extinguished “primitive tribe” makes excellent TV; our mourning for its disappearance can only boost the sales of whatever commodity might soothe our sense of loss. Mourning itself can become fetishized, as in the victorian era of onyx and jet and black-plumed graveyard horses. Death is good for Capital, because money is the sexuality of the dead. Corpses have already appeared in advertising—”real” corpses.
Hakim Bey, The Obelisk
We are still faced with the challenge of understanding the complex ways race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, and ability are intertwined—but also how we move beyond these categories to understand the interrelationships of ideas and processes that seem to be separate and unrelated.
Angela Y Davis, ed. Frank Barat, preface by Cornel West, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]
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