Nick Farrell wrote a blog post recently entitled,”Why Watchers of the Dawn is important to the esoteric community.” His arguments look more to me as supportive of the concept of having a call-out website rather than for the Watchers of the Dawn site itself.
The site reads like The Sun, and it’s incredibly sensationalist. Its problem is that it is invested in rumor-mongering. One of the posts on there not too long ago on Paul Rovelli, for example, involved baseless accusations such as saying he is head of “the A.’.A.’.”. A quick Google search, however, would have provided the writer with actual information and facts of the questionable things he did do, such as being a raging misogynist (proof here, and more forthcoming in my Spiritual Misogynists series). The 9/11 poem he wrote (a perfect example of American Exceptionalism) was amended years later with no sort of acknowledgement that he was wrong, but simply that his views changed. Humility is not his strong suit, though he talks a lot about how important it must be for others.
Righteous anger does not coincide with bigotry, and bigotry is not just an opinion, much less equally valid as any other view. Instances of Thelemites hiding behind Liber AL verses to justify or rationalize away their bigotry, is more demonstrative of a dogmatic mindset than anything else. Then again, the men are simply parroting what the rest of society has always told them: they are right, logical and rational, and can do no wrong, and if there are few to no women who support them or who do not end up scared away then it must simply mean the women lack confidence or are otherwise inferior. This cognitive dissonance is meant to avoid examining their own behaviors. As Paul Rovelli liked to say,”There is nothing wrong with the world, just your relationship to it.” This saying is a lot like wishful thinking and shows cognitive dissonance. I mean, how dare we change a sick society to a healthy one, right?
“Modifying one’s opinions to bring them into line with one’s actions or planned actions is the most common outcome of the process known as ‘cognitive dissonance,’ according to the social psychologist Leon Festinger. No one likes to think of himself or herself as a bad person. To treat badly another person whom we consider a reasonable human being creates a tension between act and attitude that demands resolution. We cannot erase what we have done, and to alter our future behavior may not be in our interest. To change our attitude is easier.” (James Loewen)
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
— Frantz Fanon | Black Skin, White Masks (1986)
In regards to misogyny and other “masculine” personality traits:
“Ours society says that men should be aggressive, violent, ruthlessly self-interested, sexually callous, “rational” (which in practice means cold and calculating). These are real personality traits that far too many people (mostly men) do have. These traits are not merely beliefs or ideas. In fact it is possible for a person to believe that they do not have these traits, when it fact they do (e.g. some men say “I’m a nice guys, not like those other assholes”, but in reality their general way of behaving towards women is nasty and aggressive.) So these personality traits, and personality traits in general, must be real in some way and we can either have a correct or incorrect understanding of our own and other people’s personalities.” – Independent Radical
When secular men have views with the sole merit that they help them deal with or be successful in the world, I am reminded of religious people telling themselves there is an afterlife in order to be able to deal with death. It makes them feel comfortable, but feel-good rhetoric doesn’t make it true. In fact, the belief in moral/cultural relativism and the unconditional belief that everyone is doing their “true will” for fear of criticism is a welcoming environment for injustices to happen, harmful views imposed on others, and people to engage in blind ambition at others’ expense or against their will.
Also, Paul Rovelli is head of his own A.’.A.’. lineage as the A.’.A.’. is a spiritual lineage and not a mundane one, so there is no official representative; this can easily be corroborated by asking anyone who has ever been in the A.’.A.’. Therefore, he cannot be “head of the A.’.A.’.” With that debunked, there is nothing else to that post, because it implied that anything wrong being called out is only important if is done by some important leader such as “head of the A.’.A.’.” This is worshipping a hierarchy, not rebelling against it. So it’s not concerned with wrongdoing at all, but simply gossiping about anyone who has a modicum of power in the hopes that they’ll be usurped. It’s a game, a capitalistic power grab.
That the courtesy of truth-seeking and open communication and exchange is not even a given, should be automatically suspect. It assumes that people are dumb enough to believe everything they read, and cannot research for themselves. If they didn’t need some authority to tell them what to think, then there’d be no point to such a website. It goes without saying that one of the problems in the esoteric community is rumor-mongering, a lack of fact-checking, and not getting all sides to a story – something that Watchers of the Dawn also does. And then people wonder why the occult is said to be the domain of the deluded, megalomaniacs and/or gullible.
For people who think this means I am implying nobody should say anything about anyone ever, I am not. I think some people have legitimate concerns. But there’s not going to be a focus on legitimate concerns if groups like Watchers of the Dawn can’t weed out the lies from truths. All they end up doing is validating abusers’ sense of self-importance.
“One of the problems of esoteric societies is that they keep their dirty linen locked away with secrecy and a bogus morality which requires you to keep silent even after a group or its leader has committed some form of atrocity.”
This quote will ring true for anyone who has been in the occult for a while. The cult of personality and abuse of power is a real thing, and any legitimate concerns are dismissed as mere slander or libel; at the same time few will actually go to a publisher, for example, to bring up plagiarism (the appropriate response) and they will probably be sued in court, especially if there is no hard evidence. So too is it dangerous to get involved with groups or leaders who have political influence and financial/legal power. As it stands, the tendency in the occult is to fawn over the famous/powerful and support them uncritically. Social ostracism is a powerful deterrent, and can be used against unethical behaviors to encourage a culture of autonomy and equality, and make visible and unacceptable the abusers and bigots who would otherwise believe their behavior is normal. In a culture where sexual harassment, racism, etc. are not the norm, abusers and bigots would find no sympathy and protection if the rest of society, and their communities, do not share their values. Why then should esoteric communities be the exception and have immunity to all the benefits that other types of communities have in common, but remain with all the flaws? Per Lundy Bancroft, abusive people have a problem of values, not of psychology; one of their traits is that they refuse to allow their victims to feel anger. To them, anger is always wrong. The human male socialized into traditional masculine values is very good at double standards.
However, I’m going to have to disagree that Watchers of the Dawn is the site to air the dirty laundry, sotospeak. It’s gossip, pure and simple. When I surf through selfies and gossip of Thelemites, I get the impression that they are no different from consumer Americans. There is no reason why individuals cannot call out groups and leaders themselves, or need another group to do so on their behalf, unless there is no consideration of the individual as legitimate to begin with. And Watchers of the Dawn does not have the least amount of credibility. If people want to create a call-out group and public aliases, or safe spaces for talking about their own experiences and as protection against threats, harassment, and being singled out for silencing, I can get behind that. But nobody is obliged to support Watchers of the Dawn in order to support calling out unethical behaviors, because it is not much better than the people it purports to call out. Even if the (claimed) intent is sincere, the result is not.
Believe me, I get why people want to have a sense of community; the desire to belong to something “greater” is a powerful force in our lives. But if many occultists are really behind Watchers of the Dawn as a somehow “legitimate” resource, then I place no confidence in the occult, much less Thelemite, community as a whole (if it can be called that).
By the way, here is a funny video on how “people have the right to be bigots,” which seems to be the same underlying argument – along with the “might is right” philosophy – when people want to defend questionable Thelemites. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Watchers of the Dawn still has the article about Rovelli with “A.’.A.’. boss” in the title but in the article they have changed it to “head of the Gnostic Church of LVX.” It’s still crap, though.