It was then that I got a true taste of a small group of Thelemites together. Yet there were problems that I would later realize were examples of bigotry – male domination, misogyny ( (see here
as general examples, and here
for Paul Rovelli), emotional abuse and sexual harassment. Any women in that lineage, or even in Thelema, were overshadowed and spoken over by men considered the gatekeepers of knowledge and truth, since they (women) were treated however they were subjectively defined at the time (some form of property, and hence non-existent outside of their relationship to and definition by men and masculine values). There was also a lot of mudslinging between groups and even infighting in cliques. The fact that the only consistency was that their personal views frequently changed in order to best serve their own self-interests, spoke to me of a lack of integrity and a whole lot of solipsism and navel-gazing. To speak of any merit in someone’s work requires weeding out of those aspects that support the status quo since taking on even a freedom-loving religion/philosophy such as Thelema does not automatically mean one has given up their bigotry: racism, sexism, and homophobia, to name a few.
However, mysticism is necessarily counter-culture, the opposite of organized religion’s “divide and conquer” colonialism. Lundy Bancroft stated that abusers have a problem with values, not of psychology. The values of a sick society do not have to be the same values for spiritual people. Same with ethics. If ethics are the basis for our behavior towards other people, then obviously in creating a community or an institution (such as a church) entails having ethics.
For some reason, for some people, it is always okay to look past really, really bad things that someone says and does just because they say and do some good things too. Obviously we shouldn’t write off everyone who makes a mistake or who we disagree with on some point, but I’m talking about some issues quite more significant than that. Do we really need to be so desperate to hold on to horrible people? And why make excuses for the positions they hold which are harmful?
Ivory Towerism is killing Thelema. It is on the skids because “official” groups largely offer no answers to tough questions or criticism, and their followers are armchair philosophers who enjoy profiting from books, copyrights, and turning everything into abstract symbolism or a mere idea that cannot be related to in real life (or material reality) in the hopes of walling off the same ideas from criticism. For example: gender essentialist views or apparently woman-hating writings, and how we as magickians are supposed to reconcile that with our daily practices. These leaders and teachers are not saints, their words are not Sacred Writ; in fact, the Caliphate OTO is going to present an edited version of Liber AL vel Legis
(specifically condemned in the same book!). The movement is fragmented, and with most people into choice politics and individualistic bubbles, there is no sense of community, either. Of course, someone will think that the existence of Thelemic organizations is “proof” that Thelema is alive and well, without saying anything about their actual value. Until people are held accountable for their mistakes, they will be concerned with The Bottom Line: Thelema as Organized Religion
, and by association, a Business.
It seems to me that if Crowley was indeed a product of his time, upholding the status quo to an extent, then his works were a product of his time as well. It is such moral relativist nonsense. How is it any different from saying,”It’s his culture, he just doesn’t know any better?” Stop making excuses for him and the behavior of male Thelemites (and their handmaidens) whose bigotry persists in spite of an equal minority of radical views calling for health and change, largely silenced, harassed or ignored. The cult of personality fostered by Crowley’s followers could only be a barrier to criticism, insight and individual development. This then necessitates people to make new insights, discoveries, and create new works; not just for themselves but to share with others as a community, not a cult. We are intelligent, sentient beings: we need to act like it.
And as part of the tradition of historical revisionism, women’s history was downplayed where their roles were but a footnote and they were treated as over-idealized, unreachable abstract symbols and sex objects rather than human beings. Women were philosophized away and seen as a means to an end, rather than invited near. To wit: “You don’t put women on a pedestal and then complain that they are hard to reach.”
Pedestalisation of women as goddesses is as damaging as portraying them as sex objects. Both dehumanise women. Both leave no space in between for women to exercise their will or have feelings and opinions and flaws and desires as human beings. Trapping women into images of a supposed ideal is one of the oldest strategies of patriarchy – and if we do not fit the image, it is deemed alright to ‘punish’ and violate us.
It is a double standard to regard one or a handful of women as sacred, while women as a whole are still treated as evil temptresses and not to be trusted or deserving of full rights and sexual autonomy. If women are to reclaim their power, then let’s go beyond mere lip service and theories into material practice and realities.
8/28/2014: This one is of Circe and the enchantment. Odysseus and his men went to her island for a year. Circe, disgusted at their behavior, changed them into pigs to reflect their natures. Very fitting if you ask me.
“Men have been adjudicating on what women are, and how they should behave, for millennia through the institutions of social control such as religion, the medical profession, psychoanalysis, the sex industry. Feminists have fought to remove the definition of what a woman is from these masculine institutions and develop their own understandings.”
— Sheila Jeffreys, Gender Hurts
“It is women ourselves who will have to expel the Father from ourselves, becoming our own exorcists.
Patriarchy has stolen our cosmos and returned it in the form of Cosmopolitan and cosmetics.
…they rob us of everything: our myths, our energy, our divinity, our Selves.
Overcoming the silencing of women is an extreme act, a sequence of extreme acts…it requires Amazonian Acts of Courageous Battling.
There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this
assessmment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to
do so. ”
– SIN BIG
By Mary Daly, The New Yorker, February 26, 1996
“May we comprehend that we cannot be stopped. May I learn how to survive until my part is finished. May I realize that I am a monster. I am a monster. I am a monster. And I am proud.”
— Robin Morgan
“Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”
“The Lord is my weapon, I see him shoot pawns
Woman is the Devil, your God is a fraud
Everything you knew, everything you’ve ever done,
Suffer for your freedom, or die by the Law.”
“These are fools that men adore; both their Gods & their men are fools.”
— Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of the Law), chI v11
“I think there is too much darkness in magic. I can understand that it is part of the theatre. I can understand Aleister Crowley – who I think was a great intellect that was sometimes let down by his own flair for showmanship — but he did a lot to generate the scary aura of the magician that you find these sad, Crowleyite f**ks making a fetish of. The ones who say “oh we’re into Aleister Crowley because he was the wickedest man in the world, and we’re also into Charles Manson because we’re bad. And we are middle-class as well, but we’re bad.” There are some people who seek evil – I don’t think there is such a thing as evil – but there are people who seek it as a kind of Goth thing. That just adds to the murk to what to me is a very lucid and flourescent subject. What occultism needs is someone to open the window, it’s too stuffy and it smells. Let’s get some fresh air, throw open the curtains – I can’t go for that posturing, spooky guy stuff.”
— Alan Moore, in an “Alan Moore Interview” by Matthew De Abaitua (1998), later published in Alan Moore: Conversations (2011) edited by Eric L. Berlatsky