A preliminary initial Thelemic analysis of Stalkers, Trolls and Antagonists

My observation is this: stalkers, trolls and antagonists refuse to mind their own business and stop interfering with other people. Of course, they will say it is their Will to do what they do, but what they are really is a slave to their deep-seated emotional and psychological need for validation; and are not pursuing any kind of True Will, life purpose, of their own at all, but attempting to salve the sucking wounds they suffer from deep seated damaged desires at the expense of others, instead of seeking therapy or properly self-medicating themselves out of the way.

They are, in fact, some kind of Black Brothers, one and all. These creatures captured by their own egos are all unable to reconcile their deep psychological wounds and damaged personalities with the right of others to simply say “No!” to anything more to do with them. And, even this denied right to say “No!” is predicated on the illusion that the other has ever said “Yes” to begin with, and ends up being a kind of broken opt-out mechanism from abuse. What it comes down to is this fact: there are some people who hate themselves so much, and, because they are unable to reconcile that feeling, they will externalize their hate on anyone or someone specific that is a convenient target. After all, it is injustice that they can’t have their infantile demands fulfilled forthwith by someone else! There are sometimes even legendary levels of ultimately meaningless constructed illusion and phantasm completely divorced from reality necessary to justify their actions.

Disingenuous self-justifications may be proffered such as that they are “helping” people but at the core they are focused on what other people are up to and emphatically not doing their own work, or that they are being righteous and seeking justice, but at the core they are focused on getting others to do something that serves not the other but the person doing the interfering.

Maybe a dumb example, but (the primary advantage of this anecdote is that he’s dead now and is thus quite unlikely to throw a tantrum or have a hissy fit): my father used to do things like say he wanted to take me to a shop to buy me a gift. We would then go to some store, usually some place he suggested; and there he would say I should look around for something I liked. However, while I was looking he would do everything in his power to steer me to some specific items he had already selected, under the guise of attempting to “help” me find something I liked. In the end, if I was not amenable to being herded toward selecting as my choice some pre-selected gift he would get frustrated and create some kind of row in order to get out of buying me anything at all other than his gift, or anything at all if I still not a willing to succumb to the inexorable indirect demand to do what he wanted, which he could have simply purchased without my involvement in the process to begin with; thus proving that there was ulterior motive to the drama. In the end, I simply refused to participate in the sham any longer as it was a waste of my time and personally insulting to be expected to act as a puppet in the pantomime.

This kind of “helping” is a deeply suspect kabuki, entirely a constructed plot that the “helper” is attempting to manipulate others into acting out for them, usually in order to get some validation for themselves. In any case, the script appears to be written out of a desire to control others. In other words, these would-be centres of attention and sycophantic demanders of praise are of the vicious and venomous creeping conviction that they are the lead actors in someone else’s story when, in fact, they are not likely to even be more than a voiceless, faceless and uncredited extra, at most.

Stalkers, trolls and antagonists are not following their True Will, but are grasping desperately onto the tails of other people going about their own work and Work. This is fundamentally the opposite of finding and expressing one’s own True Will but is unilaterally and co-dependently demanding to be allowed into orbit around someone from whom they think they can suckle attention and feedback, positive or negative. These people are psychic vampires in need of being staked, and diseased social boils in need of being lanced.

Unfortunately, the heroic and hopeful Van Helsing and Dr Kildare in their attempt to be free from such interfering influences appear to be the aggressive party when they attempt to implement a cure to this parasitic perfidy. Those stalkers, trolls and antagonists fly into hysterics at the affront when confronted, and flop into pseudo-victimized apoplexy; violently dramatizing their plight at the hands of their target who dares try to defend themselves from distracting bites and defenestrate the annoying insects. And, unpleasantly, when one manages to eject the trash, the stench of its passing lingers far too long.

My Right Foot, or the Potentially Awkward Issue of Inappropriately Adoring Body Parts

There has been a bunch of activity around the notion of a Queer Gnostic Mass lately. The notion seems to be that the Gnostic Mass is not currently LGBT friendly because of particular policies, but that it should be. There is a book, Priest/ess: In Advocacy of Queer Gnostic Mass by Michael Effertz, that has been privately published and distributed. There was a review of the book by Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus. And, there was at least one widely mentioned post attempting a rebuttal to T Polyphilus’ review.

As an aside, I have to point out there’s always something. There seems to be some kind of law of conservation of energy at work around Ordo Templi Orientis. What I mean is that I’ve observed that there seems to be a constant background noise of complaint that remains constant no matter what actual rational issues may exist. There are for every issue that comes up, and every side of those issues, a mob of people who seem determined to get attention and validation from taking particular sides in any conflict they find, and seem to have little actual interest in the issues. Around any authentic issue there seems to be a busy buzz of annoying flies that actually ends up drowning out that issue with other agendas. So, as much as possible, I explicitly refuse to entertain or validate the meaningless constant background distraction from this issue with any more notice than this notice that I take no notice of the noise. (One diabolical beauty, of many, I’ve observed of the law of complaint conservation in action is that those buzzing will take refusal to entertain them as rejection of the core issue, because, of course, it’s all about them and their agenda, and not the actual issue; pro and con doesn’t matter for or to them either. The actual issue is just the delivery mechanism for the steamy, stinky payload of their pathological need for validation around which they can happily buzz angrily biting one and all.) And with that, hopefully, I’ve sent those people off on a spiraling tizzy so the rest of us can talk like adults.

Instead, I hope to focus on considering, in solidarity, what I do hear as actual and authentic dissent on this particular issue from LGBT members of the Order and body of the EGC, and try to be an ally to them. The thing about dissent is that it is difficult to hear, but that difficulty is often in direct proportion to the need to hear it. The thing about oppression is that it so often falls to the oppressed to educate the oppressors. The place of an ally and friend is to help create understanding and raise attention for those directly affected. I think I hear something authentic from my LGBT brothers and sisters, and have heard it enough that I think there must be something important there, though it may be hard and may require some more effort to hear. That the LGBT brothers and sisters are speaking out suggests that those of us who are not should redouble our effort to listen to their story.

What I hear is that LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling they are being treated unfairly and unequally within the Order generally because they specifically do not feel they have equal opportunity to take part in roles within the celebration of the Gnostic Mass that relate to their own lives. I hear that they want to take active part in the ritual, in a way that speaks to them, but feel that they cannot and moreover that they are not being heard.

With that said, I’m really only an ally here, or at least attempting to be one. I am particularly unqualified to make any definitive statements one way or the other, and am not a direct voice on this specific issue. On the one hand, I do not identify as queer or gay, and so I am not a member of the group who might legitimately claim to be affected by the issue, except that, in solidarity and community, to harm one is to harm us all. I am also not clergy in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, though I have been active in other roles in celebration of the Gnostic Mass. Nor am I part of the government or any governing body (than my own self, of course) of Ordo Templi Orientis. I am also not privy to the Supreme Secret of the Sovereign Sanctuary (though, let’s be honest, like everyone on born on this planet, and their dog, I do have some suspicions about which I’ll hold my tongue).

But, hey, I’ve got a blog, and some thoughts … and my aunt has a barn, so maybe I’ll put on a show! But, seriously, that’s all this post is: just some thoughts, that people can take or leave, consider or not. I’m just another student of the Mysteries recording my own current thoughts at this place and time.

Basically, this is an ideal opportunity to make a misstep by which I can alienate absolutely everyone involved by sticking my foot in my mouth about the issue, or, you know, something even more entertainingly anatomically awkward. Well … yay, and tally ho, I say! Once more into the breach! YMMV. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

 

The Complaint

The issue is that, for public celebrations of the Gnostic Mass, the officers enacting the role of Priest and Priestess must be gender appropriate. The Priest must be of male gender and the Priestess must be of the female gender. For the purpose of this, a public celebration is any where non-initiates are present. For any celebration using the script of the Gnostic Mass which is gender-bent, or otherwise changed, it must not be public and moreover cannot be called a Gnostic Mass in public announcements.

The current policy prohibits certain kinds of participation. A person whose gender is male, whether queer or not, cannot enact the role of Priestess in a public celebration of the Gnostic Mass and a person whose gender is female, whether queer or not, cannot enact the role of Priest. Someone who is sexually male or female, but is gender identified as something else, however, can enact the role appropriate to their gender. The policy is about gender appropriate officers in the role of Priest and Priestess.

I think it is important to now introduce a distinction between what I’d call a “gender bent mass” and what I would understand to be an actual “Queer Gnostic Mass” but I think these two are getting as conflated as are gender and sexuality. To be clear, I will try to keep the term “gender bent mass” for a celebration of the rubric of the Gnostic Mass by officers in these roles which do not match their gender. I will also try to keep the term “Queer Gnostic Mass” for something which intends to be publicly celebrated with queer officers in roles and celebrates some, as yet unknown, mystery and symbolism of queer sexuality.

Thus, I suspect that there is already a serious confusion in the complaint as I’ve heard it because it conflates gender and sexuality, and conflates “gender bent mass” and “Queer Gnostic Mass”. But, I think there is something being talked about that reveals important things about the nature of the Gnostic Mass relevant to the discussion.

But, this specificity about gender for the roles of the Priest and Priestess means that for a public celebration of the Gnostic Mass, a queer male cannot act as Priestess and a queer Female cannot act as Priest. And, if one were not able to identify with one or the other in the gender binary, then one would not be able to be either.

The Gnostic Mass

The Gnostic Mass, which is the the central ceremony for public and private celebration of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, which E.G.C. is in turn the ecclesiastical aspect of Ordo Templi Orientis, is a eucharistic ritual written by Aleister Crowley in 1913 while in Moscow, Russia (interestingly this was on “The Ragged Ragtime Girls” music and dance theatrical tour). The ritual includes a great number of symbolic and structural influences, but it serves a bold and ambitious purpose:

“In composing Liber XV, Crowley attempted to uncover the hidden Gnostic tradition concealed within the ceremony of the Mass, to liberate it from bondage to the Scholastic theories and dogmas of Christian theology, and to demonstrate the fundamental continuity between this ancient tradition of Wisdom and the modern revelations and liberating philosophy of Thelema.” — T Apiryon [via]

Additionally, the ritual, while being esoteric in nature was also to be precisely specific to Nature:

“I resolved that my Ritual should celebrate the sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disputable metaphysical theories. I would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science. On the surface this may sound difficult; but in practice I found it perfectly simple to combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity.” — Aleister Crowley [via]

The Secret

There is a great deal of writing about the Gnostic Mass and various aspects of the rite, which is understandable since it has such a central place for EGC and OTO, and one can research much of that at the Hermetic Library. But, what should be clear is that the Gnostic Mass has a purpose in existing in a particular way, and in presenting certain symbols intended to reveal particular ideas. One of these ideas is the IX° secret contained in the system of the OTO:

“Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass, is the central public and private ritual of the OTO and EGC, being itself a IX° operation. All of the secrets of the Order are contained within it, in symbol and ceremony.” — Fr V.I.T.R.O.L. [via]

While the secrets of the Order are contained in this ritual, they are at least veiled to some extent in the rite. The secret is enacted symbolically within the ritual, when it is celebrated properly. Theories about this IX° secret are like assholes, but that’s actually a different degree and, at any rate, the secret is above my pay grade. I’ve been privately assured by at least one person I believe to be in a position to know that, in fact, not all the material is out there in spite of how much is that has been revealed. However, I also noted the curiousity that, in his extensive biography about Aleister Crowley, Perdurabo, Richard Kaczynski points out that Crowley’s own understanding of the secret held by OTO continued to evolve as he experimented with it, even after the time when his scholarly and instructional libri about the secret were written, to the point that those libri “were obsolete even as they appeared” (Kaczynski, 275). So, anyway, who knows? Who knows and when did they know it? “And who with And how many times.

Anyhow, the point is that there is something there which is being demonstrated by the celebration of the ritual which is of central importance to the EGC and OTO, and the secret that is revealed by the initiatory system.

The EGC Manual

The EGC Manual in use by OTO makes clear in many ways the attention to detail that is given to the proper presentation of the rites so they are “rightly performed with joy & beauty” [Liber AL II 35], especially the Gnostic Mass. Specifically related to this discussion, from the EGC Manual (rev jan 20 ’97):

Section III A 2 a: “A public celebration of the Gnostic Mass is one which is open to members of the pubic; or which is noticed in any official OTO publication under the name “Gnostic Mass”, “Gnostic Catholic Mass” or “Liber XV” or equivalent names. A private celebration of the Gnostic Mass is one at which the individual participants are all initiate members of OTO of at least 0º. Private celebrations of the Gnostic Mass may be held for initiates of higher degrees as well.”

Section III A 2 k: “For public celebrations of the Gnostic Mass, the role of Priest shall be filled by a man, and the role of Priestess shall be filled by a woman.”

So, from these two, if an event is called a Gnostic Mass, even if open to 0°+ only, it would still be public. So, simply calling it a “Mass” or “Gender Mass” or something similar even if publicly announced on a calendar or newsletter would be okay. Also, if not actually announced on an official OTO publication, calling a gender switched Gnostic Mass a “Gnostic Mass” appears to be fine as well. Also, that III A 2 k specifically details gender for public mass celebrations clearly does not prohibit gender bent private celebrations.

My recollection is that there is also a comment somewhere, perhaps in a newer revision, which further clarifies the definition of “man” and “woman” to be something like “living as …” but that may have been something from my Bishop, since I don’t see it in the copy of the manual I have at hand.

The manual specifically states (at III B 1) that modification to the rubric must be approved by the Patriarch, whether for private or public celebration. But, I think, on the topic of a gender bent mass, as a potential change, the permission is implicit without further being sought.

My current reading is that for serious changes to the rubric of Liber XV, one is better off simply writing one’s own eucharistic ritual, and not using more than the structural outline of Liber XV or the text as inspiration and not source material. However, my reading is still that a gender bent private celebration does not reach the level of a “modification” of the rubric, and so, as long as the other issues around performance and how one publicly talks in official publications are followed, gender bent is not just well-contemplated by the manual but completely kosher under the circumstance mentioned.

Also, I suppose, that the Bishop(s) supervising the various participants would have some say as well, in regard to the participation of each individual they supervise. So, that might be a thing.

The Note in the Rubric

There is a note that exists in the rubric, from even the very initial publication of the Gnostic Mass when it appeared in the International, about the officers other than the Priest not taking communion during the ritual:

“The PRIESTESS and other officers never partake of the Sacrament, they being as it were part of the PRIEST himself.” [via]

I find myself coming back to this note often in my thinking about the mass. For me this note makes it absolutely clear that the ritual is a symbolic representation of the work being done within the ceremonial magician, and seems to be a dramatic demonstration of an internal process. If all the roles are part of the Priest then the person enacting the ritual is doing so from the perspective of Priest, and that the role of Priest is in fact an internal aspect of the ritualist. Each role can be seen as an aspect of a single person.

Thus the Priest represents male gender of the ritualist. The Priestess represents the female gender of the ritualist. During the rite, there is an interaction between these two internal genders that takes place. It seems self-evident that these two genders are particular and specific, exist within each person, and are necessary for the ritual to have effect; and that this necessity seems to me to be the reason for the policy around gender bent public presentations of the ceremony. In order to not confuse those attending a public celebration of the Gnostic Mass about the drama being presented, E.G.C. requires the role symbolically representing the male within the Priest is enacted by someone whose gender is male, and the role symbolic of the female within the Priest is enacted by someone whose gender is female. This necessity may also suggest some particularly specific nature to the “sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disputable metaphysical theories.” It seems to me that one element of the symbolism reflects certain natural and scientific facts about the requirements for human reproduction, facts which are necessarily true no matter whether those humans are of any particular gender or sexual orientation. Without the operation of these two gender roles within the ritual and the ritualist, the ritual is not the same, and may, in fact, no longer represent the operation of the secret.

Sexual Polarity from a Male Perspective

In a note about The Saints collect of Liber XV, Helena and Tau Apiryon offer a quote from Hymenaeus Beta, current OHO of OTO:

In his address to the Women’s Conference in 1996 (see The Magical Link, Fall 1997 e.v.), the Patriarch Hymenaeus Beta described the Gnostic Mass as a ‘celebration of the sexual polarities and their cosmic and natural interplay’ from a male perspective, having been written by a man. With regard to the list of Saints, he said, ‘It is a list of the small handful of men and man-gods who, in the opinion of the author of the Mass, understood the divinity of woman. […] Someday, perhaps not soon, but who knows, a woman adept of the Sovereign Sanctuary will manifest the genius to compose a Mass in which the female takes the more active role, and the male the more passive (as with siva and sakti in Hinduism) — in which the Deacon, speaking for the Priestess, can claim communion with the women in history that have perceived the divinity of man.'”

The point here is that the Gnostic Mass is a particular ritual demonstrating particular things from a particular perspective. Other rituals are not only possible but, perhaps, even anticipated, that might offer a different perspective on that ‘cosmic and natural’ sexual polarity.

 

The Metaphor

I’m going to introduce a metaphor. It’s not perfect, but for my purpose it seems useful even so. If all the roles in the Gnostic Mass are “parts of the priest” then one might talk metaphorically about the roles as specific parts. One might talk about the Gnostic Mass as the Left Hand adoring the Right Hand. If one were left handed, one might want to use the Right Hand to adore the Left Hand, or the Right Hand to adore another Right Hand. But, the actual story of the Gnostic Mass is that the Left Hand is adoring the Right Hand. It is certainly possible to write and celebrate a ritual in which the Right Hand adores the Left, or the Right adores the Right, or even the Left adores the Left; but, that isn’t the same story. These changes change the narrative into something else, to varying degrees into a different story.

Now, it may be that in casting the roles in the story of Left Hand adores Right Hand, that the person cast does not for some reason have use of their Left Hand. For example, in the case of Christy Brown, dramatized in the movie My Left Foot, whose only controllable limb was his left foot, it might not be possible. (Gadzooks, but I can already hear the peanut gallery shouting “Are you saying gay people are disabled?!”) In less extreme cases, one might find it interesting to use one’s Right Hand in place of the Left Hand as an experiment in casting against character, or any number of other reasons one might make various modifications to the presentation of the story Left Hand adores Right Hand.

But, the important thing in telling the story Left Hand adores Right Hand is that the narrative not be modified so much that the message is lost. One might put on a performance where a Right Hand is used in the role of Left Hand, but the audience might get confused if the poster didn’t make clear that the performance was intended to be experimental, or they may assume that the story is actually Right Hand adores Right Hand instead, and misunderstand completely.

Moreover, one could write rituals where the Left Foot adores the Right Hand, and so forth, where one specifically means that the Left Foot adores Right Hand, but how does one tell the difference between the ritual Left Foot adores Right Hand from the ritual of Left Hand adores Right Hand where Left Foot is used in the place of Left Hand for some practical reason? The audience is likely to be confused, especially if they are not savvy to the original story, and, really, since the original story is a secret, that’s most people; but also for the person who wanders off the street, and has heard nothing about the ritual at all, there must be a lot of potential of confusion and then consternation at the obfuscation of the intended narrative.

Another Gnostic Mass

It seems like there should be a story about the ‘cosmic and natural’ sexual polarity from other perspectives, and I’m not sure why no one is writing it. Maybe there is, as yet, no one within the Sovereign Sanctuary able or inspired to do so. But that is, again, different than a Queer Gnostic Mass.

For a Female Gnostic Mass, one “in which the female takes the more active role, and the male the more passive […] in which the Deacon, speaking for the Priestess, can claim communion with the women in history that have perceived the divinity of man,” I have found myself idly wondering if such a thing might needs must be written by a queer female writing about the perceived divinity of man from a female perspective, just as Aleister Crowley wrote the ceremony about perceived divinity of woman from a male perspective. For a truly Queer Gnostic Mass, maybe such as thing could be written by a straight member of the Sovereign Sanctuary … or maybe I’m taking my perception of the creative formula a bit too far and strictly, but it amuses me to consider it natheless.

Perhaps there needs to be more LGBT membership in the Sovereign Sanctuary, because from my almost completely limited perspective that body, about which I know very little except for hearsay, seems to be sorely lacking in diversity beyond white hetero-normative committed couples. Does that body match the formula of the Gnostic Mass by chance or design? Is that demographic the chicken or the egg for the issue of LGBT feelings of being treated unfairly? I don’t know about this beyond idle speculation. “Shove me in the shallow waters Before I get too deep.”

I’m not sure what the magical and natural formulae are that would be represented in Queer rituals because there is a specific formula involved in the existing Gnostic Mass, which, while veiled, seems pretty clearly demonstrated. After all, perhaps quite specifically, “I confess one Baptism of Wisdom whereby we accomplish the Miracle of incarnation” in the Creed. If not told well or if the ritual were modified that formula might be obscured beyond recognition. If the Gnostic Mass is a ritual that has a particular narrative built around a central secret, then changing the narrative might start with a different central secret. It seems the narrative should be informed by the source, not the other way around. So, the first thing that might happen is the central secret needs to be interrogated by someone (that knows it, who is a cunning linguist, and is also a prodigious prestidigitator) to figure out if another narrative can be told. And, if there are other related but different Queer formulae, whether different narratives can be told about those different central secrets well enough within the structure of the Order. Or, maybe some of this has been worked by those in a particular degree outside the general plan of the order, but I could only speculate on that.

“… recent researches into the mysteries of the IX° have compelled me to add an XI°, to illustrate a scientific idea which has been evolved by the results of recent experiments.” — Aleister Crowley [via]

A matrix of ritual might be possible which would offer an array of rites to satisfy anyone’s curiousity or general proclivities. But, even a drama queen like Aleister Crowley only wrote the one ritual from the male perspective on the perception of female divinity, and kept it as the single core ritual of OTO. So, it may simply be that there is only that one narrative possible within the structure of OTO and from the secret at the core of the Sovereign Sanctuary; because to change these too much would change the story into something else, or would be to make up a story that is completely fictional and not based on a real secret held by the Order.

Honestly, after so much time no one’s come up with anything, I’m not holding out a lot of hope. If Aleister Crowley didn’t, and no one that’s raised the issue has since, come up with something … but, like so many things, raising an issue and hoping that someone else will solve it is the exact opposite of the fact that raising an issue is really an opportunity to self-volunteer to write original eucharistic Queer ritual rubrics and organize public celebrations of them, and eventually why not a Queer ritual-a-thon? Even if an official Queer Gnostic Mass isn’t available, there’s plenty that could be done. It may not be possible until there is enough LGBT presence in the Sovereign Sanctuary, assuming that there isn’t already, for there to be someone able to make an actual Queer Gnostic Mass, as opposed to just a Gnostic Mass told differently, possible, so perhaps that just means that those who identify as LGBT should redouble effort to advance in the Order so they can seduce the project to fruition by building a firm foundation first.

In other words, there may be ways to celebrate the ritual of Left Hand adores Right Hand using one’s right hand in the role of the left, for practical reasons, though it may appear awkward; but maybe it just ruins the narrative to use one’s left foot and that’s not even to mention using one’s right foot in the role. Further, when the My Left Hand poster advertising the event says the ritual is one thing, to tell an entirely different story of My Right Foot seems definitely not correct, and would be right out of order.

The Thelema of these “thelemites”

For the Thelemite to say that the Wiccan, or Christian or whatever, is wrong in their path is not only to deny that it is possible for someone’s true will to be on their particular path, but is moreover to claim authority over another’s self determination of their will. If interference with another’s rights is to give up those rights, then for a Thelemite to engage in this kind of usurpation of another’s course, especially of an actual Thelemite, and presume to tell another what their Will is to renounce their own right to determine their course and their will. Therefore, the Thelemite who cannot mind their own business is not actually a Thelemite at all but is a kind of criminal against the law of liberty. This kind of Thelemite is canonically a heretic against the creeds they claim to profess. The Thelemite promulgating against another’s self determination is not promulgating the law of liberty, but rather merely another recidivistic and intolerant kind of slavery more appropriate to and reminiscent of an old aeon.

Moreover, it seems the blasphemous “thelemite” willing to interfere with another’s Will is merely a shift of whim away from thwarting any other. Blasphemy against any one Will is to blaspheme against all authentic expressions of Thelema, including, since these such are clearly aligned against the Universe, railing due to their own weakness of character against their own weakness of character via the proxy of nosing around another’s Will by claiming difference from their preference is weakness in another’s character, their own Will. This is a textbook case of a hypocrite, “endothermic” and “divided against himself”, exporting and deflecting his own failure onto likely immaculate and innocent others in order to attack what he is too lame and immature to fix in himself. In other words, the religion of this “thelemite” seems to be not much more than a complete failure to embrace the philosophy of Thelema.

The Thelema of these “thelemites” then appears to be an obstacle to the real spread of real Thelema and an attack on the course of every real Thelemite, and deserves nothing more than contempt and resistance from true Thelemites everywhere. This is the kind of righteous internal purity which should preclude the misguided crusades of these pretending inquisitors who aim to crush those that deviate from their deluded conception of things. It is the intolerance of these thelemites which no true Thelemite should tolerate.

If these “thelemites” were to focus where they should, on themselves, they would not be be thwartsome to others, and thus would be of no concern to anyone (ah, there’s the rub for these “thelemites” are so desperate for attention), seeing as they would only be harming themselves, and that merely a form of stupidity instead of a form of criminality. These are traitors in the camp betraying the hospitality they’ve been given. It is in fact the betrayal of this hospitality which is the true failure on their parts, because it is a violation against the ghosti-relationship they voluntarily entered and therefore agreed to uphold. Morevoer, a pack of these traitors claiming to be friends is one flying a false-flag attempting to trick and deceive with the goal of inducing the unweary to mistake a den of thieves for a camp of true friends. These such are cowans missing the true mortar of meaning and message that would prevent their falsely constructed wall from crumbling into the mere pile of rough stones that is, its true nature revealed to be rubble. These creatures lack the craft to fashion truly beautiful architecture.

When these false Thelemites come in constant conflict with others they merely prove themselves false. Especially when they provoke conflict, moreover when intentional, a fortiori when duplicitously claiming not to intend such, they are merely showing one and all that they are willfully set against every true Will, including their own.

The true Thelemite must respond to these false friends by saying simply, “I refuse to be moved from my course by you, I stand in defiance of your continued villainy, and I bear witness that your interference deserves to be resisted by one and all.”

Whatever it is which is the tree from which these false thelemites fall deserves to be chopped down and burned to ashes.

Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo at Sekhet-Maat on Sept 16th at 7:30pm

I’m helping to organize this event, and it’s going to be great. Richard Kaczynski, author of the newly revised and expanded Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, is coming to Sekhet-Maat Lodge 1409 SE Stark in Portland for a lecture and book signing on Thursday, Sept 16th at 7:30pm (Doors open at 6:30pm).

This will be a free event!

For more information: Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.

About the Lecture

This fascinating and informative lecture will begin with an overview of the life of Aleister Crowley and then the audience will have the unique opportunity to select which parts of Crowley’s interesting life they are most curious to discuss in depth (poet, painter, mountaineer, occultist, etc). Richard Kaczynski will be able to cover as many of these special topics as time allows. This will then be followed by a book signing where attendees can have their copies of Richard Kaczynski’s newly revised and updated Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley and other books signed by the author.

About Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley

“Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo: the Life of Aleister Crowley is the one biography that is absolutely necessary for anyone who wishes to know more about one of the most creative, seminal, and misunderstood figures of the last hundred years.” —David Tibet, founder of Current 93

“This is not only the most carefully-researched, detailed, and informative biography of Crowley yet written but also a remarkable insight into the nature of magic itself.” —Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon

The name “Aleister Crowley” instantly conjures visions of diabolic ceremonies and orgiastic indulgences—and while the sardonic Crowley would perhaps be the last to challenge such a view, he was also much more than “the Beast,” as this authoritative biography shows. Perdurabo (the magical name Crowley chose when inducted into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) traces Crowley’s remarkable journey from his birth as the only son of a wealthy lay preacher to his death in a boarding house as the world’s foremost authority on magick. Along the way, he rebels against his conservative religious upbringing; befriends famous artists, writers, and philosophers (and becomes a poet himself ); is attacked for his practice of “the black arts”; and teaches that science and magick can work together. While seeking to spread his infamous philosophy of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” Crowley becomes one of the most notorious figures of his day. Based on Richard Kaczynski’s twenty years of research, and including previously unpublished biographical details, Perdurabo paints a memorable portrait of the man who inspired the counterculture and influenced generations of artists, punks, wiccans, and other denizens of the demimonde.

Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley - lecture & book signing with Richard Kaczynski - Thu Sep 16, 2010 e.v. - Sekhet-Maat Lodge

Tyranny of choice and illusion of choice

Both the tyranny of choice and the illusion of choice are example extremes of strategic conclusions to an enclosure initiated by someone tactically claiming to offer a framework of freedom while actually implementing a rigid proscription designed to interfere with the actual function of that freedom.

This enclosure is enacted by deliberately obfuscating the difference between levels of framework and of action. Allowing this confusion is dangerous and those doing it to another are doubly so.

The defense is not, as it might seem, to simply play Rage Against The Machine on repeat and do whatever one wants, fuck ’em. Rather the defense is to develop one’s own considered code of behavior and stick to that and that alone. Further defense is had by simply not participating in the manipulation game being played on others and being attempted against oneself. The defense against the manipulation of an extrinsic code is to have a solid and sure foundation in an intrinsic one.

These fanatics, these fanboys, are looking not to develop other fanboys, nor are they looking the help people make rational choices for themselves. Rather, these radical enclosure strategies are aimed at creating hostages, unable to make any choice but the one predetermined on their behalf.

These fanboys do not want other fanboys because that would be a potential status threat. Nor do they want rational actors to make their own ways, because then they might chose otherwise, again a threat the the desperate need for self-gratification through vicarious control and validation.

The radical fanboy is in fact a control-freak looking for victims, but using the rhetoric of advertising to negotiate a sale through manipulation. The radical fanboy seeks sycophants to the character flaws of the fanatic themselves as both a way to prop up their position and to marginalize potential threats to that position. The foundation of the radical fanboy is in fact not the ostensible object of their fandom, but rather is the desperate need for ego gratification.

Another form of this that is not deception but is either conscious or unconscious conceit is the way that all Libertarians advocate for individualism but always seem to assume that others will make the same choices as they. People suffering from this form of conceit seem to always be confused when people who have freedom of choice chose something different. I marvel at the similarity to the paternalism of parents that cannot fathom their children’s choices.

And here’s a clue to the nature of this dysfunction: it is at base a form of paternalism. And, when one person assumes this kind of hierarchical position of judgement over the choices of another, they are exhibiting a level of control freakishness that is dangerous to themselves and others. They are in fact insinuating they have the right and ability to know better and more than the other. This is a textbook example of one form of interference in the rights of another, and certainly seems to me to be internally inconsistent with the ideal of Liber OZ and the framework of the Law of Liberty.

At it’s core, campaigns of doctrinal purity are antithetical to actual individual freedom, but the trap of assuming that others would make the same choices is one that many Libertarian thinkers seem to make over and over so that’s a recurring endemic pattern.

No one may tell me what Thelema is or what Thelema is for me. Of course, they can express what Thelema is for themselves, but they no authority to speak. The only authority is to the Class A materials and comments each person for themselves. That does not contemplate in any way someone’s right to determine my will for me, quite the contrary.

But even Thelema within OTO. But, the authority of Baphomet, Hymenaeus Beta and the grand master is the authority on OTO. But the the former is larger than the latter, and the latter is neither sufficient nor necessary for the former. However, the former is necessary for the latter, but not sufficient. Therefore, promulgating Thelema is necessary for promoting OTO, but promulgating Thelema does not require OTO. The corollary Is quite obviously, that anyone trying to tell another that their Thelema is not Thelema is doing so without any authority whatsoever. However, there are authoritative voices which can speak to what forms of Thelemic activity is appropriate for OTO or not, and those are the voices of Baphomet, and the leadership of OTO where that leadership is acting on behalf of and based on the authority of the appropriate office.

Therioi

I’m not sure but it’s most certainly earlier that I started being interested in etymology, but I definitely recall the effect of my meager semester of Latin from freshman year of high school. I know without a doubt that I got a couple extra answers correct on my S.A.T. because of that class.

I find myself periodically lamenting not having been able to take more Latin, but it wasn’t offered again and (really, who am I fooling?) I totally slacked off in that class anyway. I also find myself lamenting the lack of a better grounding in the classics, that I know I would have resisted had it been required, but would have no doubt utilized that often in my life had I had it.

As it is, my Latin joins my French, Spanish, Japanese, Irish, American Sign Language classes and my dabbling informally with another dozen or so (not the least of which are Klingon, Esperanto, Mohawk, and so on and on). All things at quite less than any functional basis let alone fluency, and really more closely resembling trivial acquaintances.

Anyhow, it should be no surprise that when I read years ago a poem about Star Goddess in Victor Anderson’s Thorns of the Blood Rose, I immediately parsed the name in that work, Quakoralina, into the speculative macaronic parts “quak-oral-ina” which to me immediately suggested “quake”, derived from OE cwacian meaning to “shake or tremble”, “oral”, from L os-, or- meaning “mouth”, and “-ina”, from L -ina which is a diminutive feminine ending that my dictionary safari at the time suggested could even mean “Our Lady”. So, ever since then, I’ve connected Star Goddess in Feri to a title “Our Lady Orgasm” in my own mind.

At some point in the last couple of years (apparently this was Dec 2007), I was on another dictionary safari for something or other (was I maybe looking again at the debate between the using “fora” vs. “forums”?) and tangentially ran into the Latin root fera, meaning “wild animal”, and thought of the word Feri. Previously, I’ve made sense of the name Feri through a colocation of Fae and iron and, using the Irish , for “king”, “royal Fae/iron” (Did I come up with that one or did I actually see it somewhere? Not to be confused with Iron Chef at all!) or “workers of the Fey” or as an anagram for Fire, being perhaps a hidden blue flame. But, Feri could be ferī, a masculine plural nominative of L fera, which, since the masculine is used to denote mixed genders, could now equate to “wild animals of mixed genders”. How interesting and fitting given the wild lascivious freedom said to be regained from recovering the Black Heart of Innocence.

Well, I don’t know why it took so long, but in the last couple weeks it suddenly flashed to mind that the Latin word fera is related to the Greek root thēri- which, of course, is in the word thēria, “wild beasts”, and thērion, “wild beast”, which last along with ΤΟ ΜΕΓΑ ΘΗΡΙΟΝ, “The Great Beast”, are names used by Aleister Crowley.

And, of course, now that’s present in my mind, it’s like a wild beast in its obviousness tromping through my china shop. For example, it’s plainly staring me in the face on the Wiktionary page about the Latin ferus, so how did I not see it before now?

I know it’s a speculative thing really, but this flashed to me as another possible way of creating connection and reflection for myself, at the very least through the process of hermetic drift, between the ideas and traditions of Feri and Thelema. And, you know, could conceivably, though this is not attested anywhere I’ve seen and may be controversial, be more possible evidence of some measure of influence between the two.

I probably should have said this at the outset, but better late than never: I’m not speaking from any authority about Feri; in any case, I’m only speaking from any authority to, for and from myself; my mind is my own, in several senses of meaning. I suppose at this point at most I’m an interested outsider anymore. But, at the very least this can’t be shocking to anyone else from Reclaiming or Feri that’s participated in a Gnostic Mass and therefore has surely also seen reflection of Star Goddess on the altar there, right? And, anyway, I’d already suggested this when I noted the quote in ABA of a connection between Aiwass and “the God of the Yezidis” that in turn suggests, and is further explored in the footnote in that source, Crowley had connected Aiwass with Melek Taus, including that both are “messengers”. Although not really “explicit” in the direct quote from Crowley as I wrote then, this connection is pretty damned apparently being made. In spite of an almost psychotic flurry of messages to me via every possible method of contacting me once I’d pointed it out, I was excited and surprised to have that other flash of connection then too. (Though I was quite a bit less so once I returned from being out and about and I found the hounds had started hounding and bounding around; especially after all that to then finally agree and even get enthusiastic about finding peacock feathers. Yeah, not that I’ve anything against hounds per se, but I’m really more of a cat person, my own self.)

(I’d sure like to get my eyes on a list of books that were in Victor Anderson’s library out of curiosity! It seemed like there was some idea of a list in something I read about pentacles and trees by Valerie Walker)

And, through backpropagation, as a Greek equivalent to the Latin, I can also personally see using Therioi as an equivalent to Feri.

Update 30mar10 @ 8:07am:

I keep meaning to note somewhere and never seem to find a place, and here is at least as good as anywhere, if not topical: every time I see Liber AL II.28, I am struck by the homonym/synonym there:

“None, breathed the light, faint & færy, of the stars, and two.”

So not to be all, you know, interpretive of Liber AL, but, one could say the light of the stars is faint and færy; the light is star goddess. Nuit is a færy light. And, elsewhere one could find that her colour is black, but really blue and gold.

You know, just sayin’.

Heliocentricity

I’ve found myself thinking off and on over the [insert your favourite lengthy time interval here] about calendars. I’ve been interested in various calendars at various times, for some value of “interested” which ranges from genuine curiosity to amusement. A few of the calendars that come to mind off-hand which I’ve found interesting include the history of the Gregorian, the Discordian calendar, (although not strictly a calendar rather than a system of coordinated metric time) the Swatch @Beat, various cultural/ritual Lunar calendars, the 13 Moon calendar, the French Revolutionary calendar, and, recently, the Thelemic calendar.

Believe me when I say that I’ve gone on many an Internet safari looking over various articles and also seeking a pocket watch which only displays the solar and lunar locations, at the minimal, or more recently offers the functions of a planetarium.

Among the various thoughts I’ve had recently is the increasing sense that the Gregorian calendar appears to me to be more heliocentric than the Thelemic calendar. The Thelemic calendar system is supposed to be more appropriate than the Gregorian for a heliocentric age as it is purported to escape the unscientific notion of geocentric arrangement in the heavens. Of course, the reality of scientifically appropriate and accurate relativism means that any point can be the apparent center around which things more or less orbit, even if Occam’s Razor does preference some answers over others, but to intentionally build a system which places that point of reference at a solar center requires a notation that reflects that viewpoint, not another; or else the message of the system undermines what it is meant to mean.

The indicators for the Thelemic calendar are the zodiacal house and degree in which the Sun appears and the house with the degree in which the Moon appears, both of which are notations of the apparent path of those bodies through the heavens as they move from the vantage point of the Earth. This notation represents the viewpoint that the Sun and Moon move, or at least tracks their apparent movement as if from a stationary Earth. Although this does use the only two celestial bodies for which retrograde motion isn’t an apparent issue, which is merely a mask that the model still presents this phenomena if other bodies are looked at in the very same way, it’s still from the perspective of those bodies moving as if around Earth. This calendar also has the further disadvantage of not necessarily being coordinated universal time, and instead can offer not only different calendar notations from different places on Earth, but is also ambiguously unclear about whether the notation is from one place on Earth. For example, one might use the Thelemic time server to read out time from a coordinated time or from the apparent notation where the observer is standing on Earth. Again, this is not only ambiguous but is conditional based on the apparent movement of the heavens as it appears from some point on earth. That’s pretty darned geocentric for a system adopted in order to represent a heliocentric intent.

A discussion of this notation as a way of “tracking of the sun and moon through the zodiac” can be found at Thelemapedia’s Calendar article. The specificity of the system clearly implies a mobile Sun and Moon from the viewpoint of the Earth and the observer.

The Gregorian calendar, however, is actually a bit more ambivalent. It could be said of the Gregorian calendar that the year marks the point at which the Sun returns to the same point in the sky as viewed from Earth, but could also be said to represent the Earth returning to the same point along its orbit around a stationary Sun. The advantage here is that whether from a stationary Earth or a stationary Sun, the notation is the same, and thus is flexibly useful across paradigms. Further, the notation is universally coordinated for users of the same calendar except for the minor caveat of the International Date Line. Thus, since the Gregorian calendar is, aside from a minor issue, more universally coordinated (not talking about the clock here, but the calendar) no matter where on Earth one is, and can be said to represent the journey of the Earth around a stationary Sun, it is definitely more heliocentric than the Thelemic calendar.

In other words, one of the useful things about the status quo Gregorian system is that it is amenable to various paradigms of thought on centricism. This flexibility of meaning, this ambivalence, is part of the system’s longevity. Any novel proposal must somehow overcome this utilitarian and somewhat universal appeal to have any hope of general adoption.

However, and here’s a comparative-benefit alternative affirmative case, there’s a way to create a more heliocentric calendar than either the Gregorian or Thelemic systems. Simply use instead the apparent house and degree of the Earth from the viewpoint of the Sun, instead of the apparent house and degree of the Sun from the viewpoint of the Earth. Essentially, this is diametrically opposite a position in the sky from the Thelemic notation of the Sun from a geocentric position. This is nicely metaphorical and poetical, since the one-hundred and eighty degree dichotomy neatly mirrors breaking from geocentric to heliocentric as well moving radically between Aeons.

(I’ll avoid the obvious preciousness of calling this alternative the Griogairian system. “Oops! … I did it again.”)

For the minor indicator, one could use the Moon, assuming the realization that this is as the Moon travels about the mobile Earth, which makes some sense to me since it nicely echos the Collect language, “… so that we may in our particular orbit give out light and life to them that revolve about us …” [see], but using a lunar notation from the viewpoint of the Earth is by definition geocentric, even if it is the minor index of the notation, and thus counter to the intent of switching to a heliocentric model; and, a lunar position from the viewpoint of the Sun would just simply be unreasonably confusing, violating Occam’s Razor, and thus run counter to the intent of switching to a more rational, modern and scientific calendar.

One might decide instead to use for the minor index, say, the house and degree of fast moving Mercury’s apparent position from the viewpoint of the Sun. Mercury, the messenger, king of jesters and jester to kings, as it dances like a crazed piper close to the throne of the gravity well. (Mercury sure holds appeal for me because of that correspondence, if this were about advocating my own personal system. But, there may actually be something which will remain unexplored here about using personally or situationally relevant planetary influences to mark time.) Another possibility is to use Mars, since there’s some correspondence with Ra-Hoor-Khuit that is particularly sub-culturally relevant. But, the point remains that the major indicator should be the movement of the Earth around the apparently stationary Sun, or else the notation is simply not heliocentric, in spite of claims otherwise.

One could go further, and like the concentric rings of the Mayan calendar stone, develop a notation for larger periodic movements. The precession of the equinoxes may not be suitable, since it’s the apparent precession from the viewpoint of the Earth; but, could be used for its symbolic relation to the Aeons. Another option is to develop some indicator based on the travels of the Sun around the galactic core, but the gap between the cycle of the Earth around the Sun to the cycle of the Sun around the galactic core may simply be too wide to be useful. Perhaps one of the other planets as it moves around the Sun, or the periodicity of a particular comet, would be suitably longer in period while still being a notation from the viewpoint of the Sun. The most useful of these longer periodic movements would be ones that could be verified visually in some fashion through reasonable astronomical observation and some calculation, instead of something that would not be verifiable through some observational technique or only through calculations.

It seems to me the Thelemic calendar actually moves further away from a heliocentric notation, not toward it; and fails to provide a suitable universally coordinated notation, since it offers two plausible notations for date-time at each geographic location.

For example, depending whether I am using my timezone or not as my point of view, January 1, 2010 EV at 00:00:00 could appear as either (using no offset):

Sol in 10° Capricorni : Luna in 13° Cancri : dies Veneris : Anno IVxvii æræ novæ

or (using an improbable, but funny, offset of -666 minutes, near the International Date Line):

Sol in 10° Capricorni : Luna in 20° Cancri : dies Veneris : Anno IVxvii æræ novæ

Further, January 1, 2001 EV at 00:00:00 could appear as either (using no offset):

Sol in 10° Capricorni : Luna in 18° Piscis : dies Lunæ : Anno IVviii æræ novæ

or (again using an improbable, but funny, offset of -666 minutes, near the International Date Line):

Sol in 11° Capricorni : Luna in 24° Piscis : dies Lunæ : Anno IVviii æræ novæ

While these examples only demonstrate differences by degree, other specific times on this planet will also have more dramatic differences in zodiac as well, but certainly minute and second. And, to be fair, the documentation of the Thelemic Time Server does make clear that the difference in degree based on location on Earth is negligible, natheless it does exist. And, since we’re talking about science, accuracy is a matter of sensitivity in measurement.

And, most importantly, notice that the canonical Thelemic notation offers no indication of what offset is being used, are approximately twice as long, and are more syntactically complex than the alternative status quo. Canonical date-time in Gregorian would generally offer some time zone indication, be shorter, and quicker to parse. It’s possible that the time and time zone would be also specified in conjunction to the Thelemic notation, but this would mean using neither canonical nor purely Thelemic notation.

These examples of Thelemic notation also mix diversely different symbol sets, since each have different bases. There’s base-10, base-12, base-26, and so on. There’s alphabetical and numeric and symbolic. This notation also mixes two languages which makes it either detached from the vernacular or else makes it pseudo-Latin. These two points alone suggest that the notation is unnecessarily complex and not well designed.

It may be worth noting here also that by being more granular than the smallest unit used by the Gregorian, a day, the Thelemic calendar is actually overlapping two different systems. The Thelemic calendar actually offers a granularity which requires two systems under the status quo, the Gregorian calendar and the system of time told by a clock. This might seem to be a useful simplification, but rather, and very often, the Thelemic calendar system is used in conjunction with times given by clock, thus it does not actually simplify over the symbiotic relationship between calendar and clock of the status quo since that relationship is maintained. Also, generally, the proponents of the Thelemic calendar do not rail against the clock, rather only against the calendar of the status quo; so, those proponents cannot be said to actually be proposing the simplification of dissolving the two into one … at least, um, in this case.

Further, it’s worth noting that the Thelemic date system is computationally obfuscated when compared to common numerical representations of the Gregorian date system in the same way that the Roman numeral system is computationally obfuscated when compared to the Arabic numeral system, as there is no canonically correct way to note a Thelemic date in purely numerical notation [see]. Whereas, for example, even the 13 Moon calendar has a computationally useful canonical notation, such as representing December 20, 2012 as:

12.19.19.17.19

which is computationally convenient. That’s not to say that the Thelemic notation is impossible, as is clearly demonstrated by the reverse lookup facility of the Thelemic Time Server [see]; but, rather that it’s more obfuscated and thus has less comparative utility because it does not offer a clear and canonical numerical notation.

For example, a decimal notation for the Thelemic calendar could be something like:

ANO::CC:DD:MM:SS::CC:DD:MM:SS

where the order is from greater to lesser, with year first followed by the major index and then minor index (which, by the way, is also disordered in the current Thelemic notation as major, minor and then followed by the greatest index of year). The first CDMS is the constellation, degree, minute and second of the major index, and the second is the second; and finally the digital representation of the Thelemic years since The Equinox of the Gods in 1904. This notation could be used in a less granular way, say by dropping minutes and seconds, like representing January 1, 2001 EV at 00:00:00 (using no offset) as:

96::10:10::12:18

(which means Sun in 10° Capricorn and Moon in 18° Pisces in the year 96). Additionally, for even more granularity, the seconds could include decimal fractions.

“96::10:10::12:18” is significantly simpler, of greater utility, and more concise than “Sol in 10° Capricorni : Luna in 18° Piscis : dies Lunæ : Anno IVviii æræ novæ”. This decimal notation is also less obfuscated and still simpler and of greater utility than the more abbreviated Thelemic notation which uses mixed symbol sets of alphabet and zodiac. Obvious proof of this is that this decimal notation could appear on a simple LED digital clock and be understood.

Therefore, it seems to me a reasonable conclusion that a more properly heliocentric time notation than either the Thelemic or Gregorian calendars offer would be to use the universally coordinated, and unambiguous, position of the Earth relative to the Sun instead of the apparent position of the Sun relative to the Earth.

I also feel it worth reflecting on the fact that in general novel time and calendar systems have to my eyes failed because they are more complex, and thus more unwieldy, or less precise, and thus less useful, than the status quo system of notation and calculation. For example, the Swatch @Beat was actually less granular than the standard second, though it was universally coordinated and metric; and that lack of granularity actually was one reason, but certainly not the only, why it did not develop a wider following. (Another relevant criticism of the Swatch @Beat was that while it was universally coordinated, it used as the mean the location of Swatch HQ in Biel, CH. Using an UTC based on Boleskine in a Thelemic system would also be subject to this same criticism.) In this case, the Thelemic calendar appear to fail, as demonstrated above, to improve on the Gregorian calendar system in both of these areas: ease and precision. It fails ease because of the difficulty of conversion and use in daily activities for general application. It fails in precision because it requires much more notation to mark precise date-time, and even if a more precise degree is noted with both minutes and seconds the notation is still of ambiguous offset.

Obviously a ritual or religious calendar has less necessary need to oblige the users with general ease and unambiguous precision than a civic or secular calendar; but offering both is something that will aid in the cross-over of a primarily religious calendar into common use for civic and secular purposes.

But, even aside from these issues, the Thelemic calendar fails to actually deliver on the intent of being more suitable to a heliocentric worldview because it is actually quite geocentric in notation. The claim that the Thelemic calendar notation is more heliocentric that the Gregorian is simply false, and there is a demonstrably better notation in which it is possible to be more heliocentric than the Thelemic calendar. Though this alternative I’ve explored does not answer the issues of ease or precision either, my alternative suggestion succeeds as a comparative benefit because it more fully meets the intent toward heliocentricity.

A true and obvious advance in ease and precision is needed from any novel proposal in order to have the chance for civic and secular adoption, and the current Thelemic calendar system and notation does not meet that test of modern utility and applicability no matter how laudable as a poetic, symbolically-rich, religiously significant or qualitative system it may be. This and it’s utility to sub-cultural identity formation by simply being different actually seem counter-productive to adoption in the mainstream of the core meaning of heliocentricity.

Conclusions

Not only does the current Thelemic calendar and notation system fail to best the Gregorian for utility and adoption, but it also fails to be the best way to present a heliocentric model and paradigm when compared to either the Gregorian or an alternative. In fact, the Thelemic system is not only geocentric but also opaquely observer-location dependent; which would fit with the Aeon of the Child if it were indicated, but would be even less convenient or universally coordinated.

Based on this thinking, I have a few concluding suggestions that might be adopted to improve the Thelemic calendar and notation system. One or more of the following could be adopted:

  • Change the major index to the heliocentric model by rather noting which constellation the Earth is in from the viewpoint of the Sun, which would be canonically and clearly heliocentric.
  • Change the minor index to the heliocentric model of noting which constellation some other body, Mercury or Mars, is in orbit around and from the viewpoint of the Sun. It would be nice for this minor index to offer at least as much, if not more, granularity than a clock in order to allow the simplification of resolving both calendar and clock into a single system, but if one continues to use a clock in symbiosis then that is not as necessary a feature, and perhaps even undesirable to have overlap.
  • Consider adding an even longer index, such as the Great Year or more to the point some index which represents the motion of the Sun around the galactic core, which adds that the Sun also moves, not around the Earth, but around another larger center.
  • Create a standard decimal notation which uses only numerals in base-10 with only the minimally necessary punctuation for clarity, such as ANO::CC:DD:MM:SS::CC:DD:MM:SS or optionally ANO::CC:DD::CC:DD when less granularity is needed. Even if the larger issue of the model isn’t made more heliocentric, the utility of a simple decimal notation added to the status quo for both humans and machines would be an improvement.
  • If an actual heliocentric model and notation is not adopted, at the least the existing system could be standardized on an universally coordinated viewpoint, from Boleskine for example. This would mean that there would be no ambiguity about parallax from one location on Earth to another. Otherwise, some method of indicating offset should be included in the current Thelemic notation.
  • Beyond all of the above, knowing that a nano-century is PI seconds long, means to me that the Gregorian system is cool and interesting. Some detractors of the Gregorian system (especially the 13 Moon people who are constantly crying that “it makes no sense!”) tend to miss how interesting it actually is and might consider being more friendly and knowledgeable about the historicity and story of it.
  • In general, detractors of the Gregorian system (especially the 13 Moon people) seem to not know much about other more or less modern attempts to change calendaring systems. Becoming more familiar with those other attempts might offer insights into why they weren’t effective that can be used to further reflect on the calendar change they support, and offer ways to modify their proposal to be more likely adopted.

Update 21jan2010 @ 2:44pm:

Clay F. suggests to me that the paradigm for the Thelemic system is egocentric not heliocentric, which is a possible paradigmatic meaning of the system.

However, while the Thelemic system is inherently observer-dependent, it fails to note even the possible use of the offset of the observer, if used at all, and thus does not clearly specify an egocentric over geocentric paradigm. Thus, if it is meant to be egocentric, it also fails at that. To succeed it should include at least the offset, but might fully specify the location on Earth by latitude and longitude and maybe something about which individual it is that is making the observation, such as a short biographical statement or motto. But, a truly egocentric model would include epicycles, and other subjective notions. Even Earth would be tumbling about underneath Ego like a spirograph. Oh, so very post-modern in a neo-romantic way. But, then it continues to fail utility and convenience, and is still and moreso certainly not likely to be widely adopted.

He also pointed out that another issue I didn’t mention with the minor lunar index is that it is not unique to a particular date, and that without more accurate notation, a particular solar and lunar set of degree can reoccur for times separated by a lunar month. His suggestion to resolve this specific fault is to drop the lunar index but include the planetary day in the notation, such as “sol in 1° aq., dies jovis”.

He also pointed out as an oddity that the Thelemic system is using the tropical not sidereal zodiac.

Update 25jan2010 @ 9:54am:

Stephen C. suggests an interesting possible paradigmatic shift for the Thelemic system which didn’t really occur to me, and that is to see the system as not to really focused on the observer location but on Sun as being in the center on a line between Earth and the sign.

This is sort of seeing the relationship as being like a teeter-toter, with Sun as a pivot, or fulcrum. Instead of Sun constantly cock-blocking the current constellation, like a cat always trying to sit between you and the TV, Earth and the current degree along the zodiac chase each other around Sun, like Enterprise and Reliant around Regula I in The Wrath of Khan. There’s something about this that seems interestingly reminiscent of the notion of an alternate Earth in the opposite orbit from Earth prime, hanging out in L3, like divine brothers, sons of Sun, battling over solar inheritance. There’s also something to this that seems appropriate to the switch from LVX to NOX, with a persistent shadow of sorts marking time as a celestial-scale sundial.

However, I think if this were the paradigm one wanted to suggest, then the notation might better reflect that by iconographically representing this relationship. It also doesn’t address the other issues about which I made suggestions.

Thelemic marriage

There’s been lots of talk about whether vulgar events should be celebrated, whether holy days or holidays, at the lodge. But, should events that people are going to do anyway remain unmolested by Thelemites? For Thelemites to ignore them is to say it is better to have these events occur without explicit and overt Thelemic themes and relationship, than to have them but inject them with Thelemic philosophy so that they are infected with something more than an unexamined and old way of being in the world. A perennial example is the hand wringing over whether to have some event at the lodge for Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, which I feel is an example of the dangerous slide toward alienation from engaging in and living in the world while at the same time to not celebrate them with the contagious virus of a Thelemic message is to leave these things unexamined from an intentional, experimental, and hopefully radical social perspective.

Recently at the lodge we’ve had several weddings. These events were beautiful ceremonies were two people celebrated their desire to be joined together. However, the ceremonies themselves, while appearing to be Thelemic, being part of a Gnostic Mass, and being based on the unofficial wedding ceremony by Helena and T. Apiryon, even after all that, really did not seem to me to fully realize an explicit expression that the result of the event was different than any of the other many marriages past or present.

One can apologize for the ceremony, for example by saying that it merely celebrates publicly an existing natural union, but even that need for apology just further demonstrates an essential disconnect that isn’t fully or sufficiently expressed or resolved. And, even the apology for form doesn’t itself realize a distinction between natural union and the lineage of marriage in intent. If a ritual design doesn’t clearly and conclusively enact the intent, then it’s not the right rite.

There’s also been a recent series of interesting exploration from a Thelemic perspective over at AC2012 of same-sex marriage, which then also necessarily reflects more generally on the idea of marriage itself.

I remember reading A History of the Wife and hoping for a happy ending which never came. Traditional weddings are events which already and obviously reflect many outmoded ideas not commonly held as well as many lingering vestigial notions still cherished. Marriages tend to include a lot of cultural baggage, including the ownership and oppression of women. They are commercial enterprises wrapped around commercial transactions. They are life-long commitments. They are monogamous.

As transactions, marriage is human trafficking. Although there are actually few cases, perhaps notably marriages of convenience, where any of the primary focus of the union is on a financial exchange or economic arrangement; the human transaction is mostly historical in the West, but continues in many cultures as a transition of ownership. (Mind, this is wholly different than the massive industry of marriage, which is focused entirely on the financial to the exclusion of the human, but that’s a fortiori!) The historic bride-as-property is still, however, some of the baggage of marriage; and, the protected, gated community of legal marriage is a de facto function of privilege and prejudice which offers social and economic bribes to the happy couple for playing along in the pantomime of putting others down.

As life-long, marriage is dead. Divorce and cuckolding rates alone disprove that marriage is actually what it pretends to be as a life-long commitment and that’s enough to move on, though more could be said. But, at least, divorce and cuckolding offer some kind of discharge from, to name a few fates, misery or suttee. And, for the most part we’ve laudably managed as a culture to give people a more reasonable chance to grow up before locking them in the first place into a myth without rational escape from emotional damage when things don’t work out, by jettisoning underage and arranged marriages. But, these escapes and modifications merely represent the frayed edges of the moth-eaten tapestry which still hides the truth that marriage as life-long is essentially escapist fiction.

As monogamous, marriage is impossible. (Or, at least impossibly rare!) Most people misuse the term ‘monogamy’. Its literal meaning is one marriage or union, but has come in common use to describe the habit of ‘one partner at a time’. And yet, people find it necessary to create sub-classifications such as ‘serial monogamy’ to clarify; but even that is technically an oxymoron. If either participant has ever had another partner in their life, then they cannot be called monogamous. If they ever take another partner in the future, then they are not ultimately monogamous. Again, the rates of divorce and cuckolding put the lie to this notion. The occasional diminishing exceptions, where not suspect, are remarkable, which remarkableness is merely more proof of this point.

Marriage itself as a term and a sacrament is not rationally based. The cultural understanding of what marriage is, is false on the face of it. It’s a lie of convenience. My tendency is to blame the whole thing on advertising and consumerist culture, but it could just be that people want to believe the romantic notions in spite of reality. But, that’s a form of insanity.

Marriage has always been about restriction. It’s a restriction of person as property, a restriction to bind people to unnatural behaviour, and it is an economic and social restriction. How much more un-Thelemic can it get than that?

Frankly, I think no government should have any say in who can or cannot consensually marry. (Mind, this is wholly and completely separate from legal protections from and punishments for abuse or rape, which should still stand severe.) All legal definitions and delineation of marriage should be abolished. The legal construct of marriage is used as a way of creating second class citizens, previously and still the wife and now moreover those excluded, and is a form which should be dissolved.

However, if abolition of marriage is not possible in general, then it should for Thelemites be specifically and consciously injected with more overt and explicit Thelemic meaning. It should be rationally based on the essential impossibility of exclusivity and the myth of monogamy. The institution needs to undergo a radical analysis and the ritual written to read aloud a radical message, or the event simply weakly represents the participants’ resignation to, and ratifies, a status quo of restriction. Unless it’s radically redrawn, it’s ritualized recidivism.

So if ‘monogamy’ is a lie and the term is misused, how does one talk about ‘one partner at a time’?

In the poly community, one way of talking about partners is to say, for example, “my primary partner, and I’m not seeking others now.” There’s language in the Gnostic Mass [see, also] which may be useful, as the language of the Collects. One can say a partner is “chosen and preferred”.

So if marriage is not of the things that it pretends, what could it be?

It is my view that marriage is a magical oath. It is an activity taken on for a particular period of time for a particular purpose. It is an inter-, intra-, extra- and supra-personal act of magick.

That is not to say that in the new aeon people cannot chose to be exclusive partners. After all, the collect offers “chosen and preferred”. However, a rationally based notion of marriage would contemplate explictly that the nature of relationships change, that people change, and that oaths are worthy experiments which are not always successful in accord with their worth as opportunities to learn.

The purpose of a magical oath is to learn, to grow, to experiment. It is a method of self-discovery. And, it’s one that can be made with any other regardless of any category, or even alone. And, moreover, a magical oath requires no artificial legal or religious structures to keep people in or to keep people out.

When celebrated in this way, marriage can be rational and ritual, and can be renewed, in a year and a day or at some other periodicity, but is no longer a form of social, economic, mental or spiritual slavery of self or others.

At the same time, I recognize that I have still my own romantic notions to dispel, and my tears at witnessing these recent wedding ceremonies were full of yearning for myself, for another, for together; but it seems, within the current context of marriage, these are the remnants of cultural conditioning. Contrary to that conditioning, I still believe there’s a profound place for such ritual and magick union, and yearning for union, but not marriage at the price of being unconscious or silent about the implications.

(Hat-tip to Fr. Khabs Kaos for the conversation which led to writing.)

Hermetic.com

And now the method to my madness … probably still makes no sense. However, the reason I was thinking about the meaning of the term “hermetic” a while ago should be clear.

But, the thing I’ve been madly working on for at least a hundred hours this week? What have I been hammering and sawing on? Sanding and painting?

Well, the cat’s out of the bag now! Al Billings has transfered The Hermetic Library and the Hermetic.com domain to me. I’ve become the custodian and caretaker of one of the most important esoteric sites on the Internet, and one that’s been online pretty much since the beginning.

The Hermetic Library

The Hermetic Library was created in 1996, in the early days of the commercial Internet, and is one of the most comprehensive and popular resources on the Internet for the kind of information in its collection. Hermetic.com is justifiably famous, and perhaps a little infamous, as the source for an amazing collection of information useful to every researcher and student of esoteric studies and the modern Western tradition. Many students over the last decade found their start and much information useful to them by perusing the materials of The Hermetic Library and started their own electronic libraries by downloading pages and pages of content for their use and research.

Over a decade after being founded, Al was looking for someone to take over The Hermetic Library and Hermetic.com, and my name came up in a couple conversations. Introductions were made, memories remembered and the library was transitioned to a new caretaker. The rest, so to speak, is history yet to be written.

The Content

The collection is, by and large, of a spiritual focus but not the areas of spirituality that you will generally see within the mainstream of Western culture. The collection at the library houses materials related to Hermeticism and magic that would not otherwise be available, especially online.

The content currently exists in two main groups. The first group is content that is archived and presented which otherwise might not be available because there’s no one to maintain it or for some other reason. The other group of content is the sub-sites for particular luminaries.

It would have been unfortunate to lose this amazing archive or any of the sub-sites to the Wayback Machine. If The Hermetic Library didn’t exist people would probably go to Wayback or a torrent to get it … or worse and more likely to a site unfriendly to O.T.O. But, keeping Hermetic.com alive on the web means that it can be leveraged to increase traffic to local body sites, Grand Lodge and International. It can also lead to book sales, through linking to the published books with related content. In fact, I’m already seeing this begin to happen as I’ve added such links. And, it can lead people to becoming interested in membership and initiation in the Order, or at least in Thelema.

The loss of Hermetic.com wouldn’t stop people from getting the content. It would stop people from getting that content from a quality independent site. It would stop people from getting the content in a manner that supports O.T.O. and can be leveraged to bring O.T.O. more eyeballs and book sales and members. The loss of Hermetic.com would silence a supportive voice for the Order and Thelema.

I will, no doubt, stand up and be counted as believing that having this content online on a site which is fully part of the thelemic and O.T.O. community and, moreover and a fortiori, that is friendly to the Order; will do more to help both the Order and members than any alternative. Well, that’s just pure physical and spiritual gold. Hermetic.com is a voice speaking to the good against any other site which might not.

Hermetic.com is an existing powerhouse for promulgation and I only see that increasing if it can continue building. The more content there is in The Hermetic Library the more valuable it is to the people that use it, to our esoteric community, and to O.T.O. specifically.

The content on Hermetic.com has been an important part of the esoteric community for so long. The relationship has obvious reciprocal benefits as people can find what they are searching for and more people are attracted to the site, but the loss of interactive history when there is no such archive is something I work to avoid. I’m looking forward to working with luminaries new and existing who want to be on the site, not because they’re a luminary, to which I’m mostly immune anyway; but, because it’s about shared history as well as the future. The past is what helps the future become and become more through feedback.

I see sponsoring sub-sites on a high-traffic site like Hermetic.com (it’s really phenomenal looking at how fast the traffic adds up as I add tracking to pages) as being either a service to luminaries that do not have sites (for whatever reason) in order to get them exposure, or as a way to feature a luminary with a primary site in order to get people to see both their content and to find their primary. I plan on developing more such relationships in the future as well as work with those that have been on the site to increase the value to everyone of being part of The Hermetic Library. Either way, being on a sponsored sub-site is free advertising.

I have so many plans that involve the site as a part of the community, fully engaged as a partner in the online presence of the Order, and as a service to the world in promulgating the message along with the Order. But, also as a service in general to the world, which I feel is sorely in need of more Hermeticism and all that entails.

The Future

This opportunity to take on Hermetic.com is huge, and exactly the kind of thing that I love to do. I’ve got years and years of plans already in the works. I’m actually really freakin’ happy to get to do this stuff. It’s the kind of thing I’m meant to do, I think.

I look forward to working with the people with content already on the site as I continue to update and improve the site. And, I’m going to be looking for new content and building new relationships.

If you are familiar with the site you may already notice a few changes, but I will be rolling out some more as time goes by. I have in mind to keep to the spirit and excellence of the site, while adding content and improving the old pages. I’ll also be working to introduce the site to a wider audience, including adding a presence on social networking sites and other ways to engage the audience of people coming to the site.

There’s also the idea of using excerpts and samples to draw people to full articles or the additional article on an author’s primary site. Even a fully developed article on Hermetic.com that duplicates content from an author’s main site can be beneficial if it draws traffic to their primary or gets that article exposed to more people. There’s a lot of synergy in cross-posting content, and creating relationships with other sites.

As an example of a totally new project, one of the things that I have in the back of my mind is to create an oral history project page for The Hermetic Library with materials to help people create oral histories with the people they feel have been important in their lives, in their work and Work – this is to say, preservation of history is something I whole-heartedly support.

Also, I’m going to be working to get in the loop with any changes or updates that people with content on the site have going on. I have all kinds of ways I can feature the news about a new book or event through the site, and that’s just the kind of updates I hope to offer the site’s audience about those people with sponsored sites.

The Social

I’m pretty focused on exploring how to leverage the site, and the content to drive interest in the published books, O.T.O. as an organization; and, to create a lot of synergy with other sites, local bodies, individuals and so on. I think one of the biggest advantages to having me take on the domain is that I’m really interested in the synergy the site can generate to increase awareness and traffic to O.T.O. sites, and for individuals who have sponsored sub-sites.

As I’m beginning to see just how many people come to the site, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of traffic. I’m only tracking a small set of pages, and already the trend on that set will be millions of eyeballs every year. Who knows how many there are total? I’m going to be watching this as I make changes too, to see if the numbers trend up.

But, really, a supply of millions of fresh esoteric eyeballs? I mean, what would you do with millions of eyeballs? I know! Right? Build a freakin’ monster, of course!

For example, in the coming months, not only will I be doing basic updates and improvements, but I will also be introducing new ways to increase interest in the material and O.T.O. both. These include social networking, which I’ve already begun, and other projects.

I know there are things I can do to maximize the benefit of having content on Hermetic.com especially now that it’s likely going to see even more content and more traffic as I add and improve the site. I’m looking at ways to becoming more synergistic with other resources and social networking, and so on, including cross-referencing with Thelemapedia, and other ideas I have.

Another thing that’s new is connecting with social networking. I can make announcements featuring incremental or monthly updates to the site, to keep awareness about the site fresh by posting those to The Hermetic Library accounts on Facebook, Twitter and even Delicious links … and from there inform the world!

I can make the site more friendly and easier to navigate. I can also make it easier for users of the site to let others know about the content by adding social bookmarking links to each of the pages. I can add links to purchase books through Amazon for not only content that’s on the site but also for content that can only be found in print, so people can easily find the material to build their their personal library even as they might also use the site to search for a quote or material.

As I move the site into more interactive space, with social networking, any interactive tools I implement might attract the crazy. This is a good heads up to me about creating interactive services which might be abused. I will need to include this in my thinking, as something to be on guard about. But, as long as there’s some way to deal with that, the benefit for the site, and thus also to the users of the site only increases.

This increasing benefit from interaction means not just the context of the text, but of the audience to the text, the authors to the audience, and the audience to the audience. That means also relationships with partner websites, and organizations, such as various local bodies, sites like Thelemepedia and O.T.O. [also] itself.

I’m trying to create the ideal conditions for the emergence of an integral esoteric bio-mechanical social web of interdependent physical, intertextual and hypertext forms … or, to coin a term, the Interintegregor!

I think I’ll come to Halloween dressed as this new superhero. It’s a superhero. It’s a freakin’ monster. It’s a desert topping!

The Feedback

Well, this is where you come in. Yes, you. You’ve been to the site, maybe even been a devoted user. But, even if you’re new to the site and have just started to explore what’s there, you’re part of this. Thank you very much for being a part of the history of what has made Hermetic.com a great site on the Internet, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Hermetic

The term “hermetic”, or “hermeticism”, is one that gets used a lot in esoteric study. There’s several meanings for this term, and there’s oppositional terms. Inspired by the possibility for a project recently, I thought that one of the first things I would do is to outline my own thinking about the term and how I use it. I wanted to do this so that I could think about the scope of what a project focused on hermeticism or using a hermetic viewpoint would look like. This is not so much meant to be a serious treatise on the topic, but rather an exploration of my current thoughts and ideas. This is more of an exploration than an essay, a marker at the beginning of a journey to help me see where I was when some point down the road I look back.

Hermes Trimegistus

The term hermetic is related to Hermes Trimegistus, the thrice-great. In fact, the late Latin term hermeticus is as much to say alchemical, and is derived from the name Hermes Trimegistus [see,amzn,amzn]. This is the hellenic Hermes-Thoth and, also like Ganesha being the scribe of the Mahabharata [amzn], is an archetypal magico-religious figure.

You know, one of the earliest references may not be to thrice-great but rather to triple-hero. This makes me instantly think of Triptolemos, literally threefold warrior, a demi-god in the Eleusinian mysteries [amzn,amzn] who was sometimes priest of Demeter, sometimes inventor of the plow (which is then a kenning or synecdoche for agriculture). Also, in the tripartite social structure of indo-european society [amzn], the semi-divine hero often fulfilled all three categories, being magician-king and warrior-poet and farmer-laborer combined. For example, Triptolemos already mentioned; and Orpheus who’s magical music commanded even the rocks and trees to his bidding, who was one of the warrior-poets of the Argos in the Odyssey [amzn], and who cursed the bees of the bee-keeper. These semi-divine heroes walked the line between human and divine with the task of both upholding and challenging the world-order [amzn,amzn]. Also, it seems to me that to pass into life and through the two veils of the tree of life, that of Paroketh and of the Abyss, is to be thrice-born.

So, the term hermetic means related to Hermes Trismegistus or the many materials he was supposed to have written on the topics of alchemy and magic.

The term hermetic is also a more general term for the overall syncretic tradition that is evidenced in much of the specific Western esoteric traditions. In other words, the term hermetic, includes those parts of the western tradition which use the hermetic modality in their thoughts and works. These include a cornucopia of what often seem to be wild-eyed, fridge, and alternative groups throughout history: Alchemists, Rosicrucians, esoteric Christians, Kabbalists, Theosophical and the Illuminist or Perfectibilist currents within Freemasonry. This current continues in many of the modern occult and esoteric traditions, especially with so many having some connection or exposure to the materials from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a true nexus point in the Western tradition.

This is to say that the hermetic philosophy is a kind scientific illuminism, which further term is familiar to those who’ve read Crowley [amzn]. This hermetic modality is a philosophy that attempts to relate, perhaps universalize, magico-religious principles. To the extent that this universalization denatures the originals, I think that’s not a good thing; but to the extent that this philosophy is one that normalizes the diversity of human understanding of the human relationship to the more-than-human, in essence facilitating the conversation between the blind men about the elephant, there’s enormous value.

Hermetic vs Mosaic

One way I often use the term hermetic is to mean esoteric and symbolic. So not more generally semiotic, but more specifically symbolic within philosophical, spiritual and religio-mythic contexts. Although, clearly, semiotic analysis and interpretation are useful. An example of this in use is from Campbell’s An Open Life [amzn]:

“Now, the distinction between the Mosaic doctrine and the Hermetic doctrine is that the symbols which are shared are interpreted historically by the Moasaic tradition, and in the Hermetic tradition they are interpreted spiritually. So there grew, during those first centuries of Christianity, a whole literature of the Hermetic sort in which the symbols, interpreted in the orthodox Christian tradition as historical, were being read in a proper mythological sense. And these then began to link the Christian myth to pagan analogues. The Gnostics, for instance, were in that boat. But the orthodox Christians insisted on the historicity of all these events.” (p77)

Notice that this introduces the oppositional relationship between hermetic and mosaic. I suppose it’s quite possible and reasonable to see Campbell as the source from which I started to use the terms hermetic and mosaic as meaning symbolic and literal. I don’t know now where or when I started to use these terms, so it seems as likely as any.

These two oppositional terms also for me have connotations of fun vs. boring as well as flexible vs. uptight, permissive vs. strict. Beginning to become more poetic in my analysis, I also see this opposition as curious vs. close-minded and multivalent vs monovalent and polysemious vs. synonymous. Maybe even to go overboard I also think of many other oppositions when using hermetic and mosaic: nominalist vs realist, existential vs essential, freedom vs slavery, existentialist vs positivist, empiricist vs realist, allegorical vs tautegorical, antinomian vs legalist. I could go on and on.

Clearly, I have some value judgements about this pair, and have a bias toward the symbolic, mythical side. I feel that the hermetic thinker is one that is curious and skeptical, one looking to test propositions instead of blindly accepting them. The discipline of symbolic thinking seems to me to be one that is necessary in the face of a modern world where propaganda and persuasion, in the form of not just political discourse but also in marketing and advertising, seem the most common styles of communication. Many times I find myself baffled by people who’s mode of thinking is mosaic, and most likely they by me.

To make my string of comparisons less pejorative to the literal, perhaps these can also be seen as meaning, to hint at the Tantric, expansive vs contractive, and thus akin to the Alchemical solve et coagula. Following this thought, these two form an functional set necessary for change to occur, just as the action of solve et coagula results in transmutation. This is the tug of war between the Asuras and Devas that results in the churning of the waters of the world through the action of the Axis Mundi so beautifully represented at Angkor Wat [amzn]. This is the analysis and synthesis of the ancient dialectic, the thesis and antithesis of Hegel leading to synthesis, and the dialogism of Bakhtin [amzn]. Seen this way, these are the yin-yang, the unity of duality, and here were now back full-circle to ideas of Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism and more, which can be seen as coming under the umbrella of Hermeticism; thus, the opposition is contained by one of the polar pairs, just as the yin contains the yang.

It is to me no small irony that another meaning for hermetic, which I’m not talking about except for here, is to be tightly sealed or impervious to outside influence (although also derived from Hermes Trimegistus) [see]. Because this seems to me to be generally the opposite of the meaning I’m exploring. Hermetic is a one word oxymoron. But, then again, here’s the unity in duality. And, indeed the universalist movements within the overall hermetic umbrella are a form of this contractive, simplifying, unifying effort even within what I take most often to be the opposite.

This opposition-within-position is completely non-Aristotelean, and warms the cockles of my evil little black heart. This is philosophical wabi-sabi. Put that in your pipes and smoke it, you frakkin’ Randroids!

Hermetic Drift

I’m not sure where I first heard the phrase hermetic drift but it’s a great description of the kind of lateral surfing through correspondences that often happens when thinking about esoteric topics, ideas and terms. Connections can be made between things which are symbolic, even poetic; not based necessarily on logic or science. The risk seems to me that this can become a trap in Chapel Perilous or a dinner-date with Choronzon (Watch out for those meat pies, Saturninus! [see]). There’s a term for the mania of seeing connections and patterns everywhere in meaningless or random data, apophenia. It is possible to get lost in Chapel Perilous and go insane unless one is prepared.

I’m not saying hermetic drift is a Bad Thing™. I’m just saying it’s a double-edged sword, so be conscious of where you’re swingin’ that thang.

Some of the worst of the new age is an overbearing universalism, which seems to me to even become appropriation. This denaturing of difference is the worst kind of old-school anthropology, like the Romans trooping around always engaged in a procrustean project to transform others into the familiar: “Oh, when you say Odin, you mean Mercury! Why didn’t you say so?” This seems to be one of the major projects, and thus I think failings, of movements like Theosophy; this essentially anti-intellectual, anti-academic haze that everything is the same and differences are mistakes in people’s understanding of their own traditions; it’s hierarchically arranged so that the so-called expert always knows better than the actual practitioners. This kind of expertise is really just another hall of mirrors, the echo chamber for the expert to see only what they are already conscious of in themselves everywhere else [see]. That kind of expert might as well be a brain in a jar never really engaging beyond their own illusions of self.

But, hermetic drift can be fun at parties, but probably not that useful for panty raids. Then again, no reason not to try anyway, I suppose …

Hermetic man vs Mosaic man

The old Golden Dawn was really uptight about the use of the inverse pentacle. Seeing the pentacle as the five elements, with spirit being the point either up or down; the inverse pentacle had spirit beneath the rest of the elements. The triumph of matter over spirit could be seen as being lost in the world of illusion. However, it’s also possible to see the inverse pentacle as being the process of manifestation, and thus an appropriate pair with the upright pentacle; this is the lightning path bringing manifestation down and the snake wending back up the tree of life.

In a pyramidical arrangement, the elements form the base with spirit as the apex. The capstone of an ancient pyramid was said to have been golden, and seems like a better representation of the perfect ashlar. This perfect ashlar is not cubical but rather, like the Benben, representative of the primeval mound that rose from the primordial waters before the beginning of time, sacred as the place where the first rays of the sun-disk fell to create the universe. In the Amarna period, the Aten disk’s rays were hands extended giving the symbol of life, the ankh.

From Yates’ Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition [amzn]:

“The Egyptian Adam is more than human; he is divine and belongs to the race of the star demons, the divinely created governors of the lower world. He is even stated to be ‘brother’ to the creative Word-Demiurge–Son of God, the ‘second god’ who moves the stars.” (p27)

Indeed, “Every man and woman is a star” [see,amzn], and “… a star in the company of stars …” [see] ring true to my ears. And, moreover, part of my own daily practice has been what I’ve called an Orphic spell, reconstructed from my reading on such things, a spell spoken to the guardians of the underworld by the initiated:

I am a child of earth and starry heaven. But my race is of the stars, as you well know. I have come here guided by the gods themselves. I am parched and dying of thirst. Let me drink from the well of memory.

Moreover, from the short “The Crimson Permanent Assurance” from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life [amzn]:

“Exec #1: Item six on the agenda: “The Meaning of Life” Now, uh, Harry, you’ve had some thoughts on this.

Exec #2: Yeah, I’ve had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we’ve come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: People aren’t wearing enough hats. Two: Matter is energy. In the universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person’s soul. However, this “soul” does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.

Exec #3: What was that about hats again?”

Again, from Yates:

“… the difference between Hermetic man and Mosaic man, the one created divine, the other created out of the dust of the earth. The fall of Hermetic man is more like the fall of Lucifer than the fall of Adam.” (p27 footnote 1)

This distinction reminds me also of the notion I recently read in a collection of Steiner essays, The Temple Legend [amzn], of the Sons of Abel, or sons of God, and the Sons of Cain, or the sons of Man; those of Men to prepare the worldly and those of God to prepare the divine.

To equate hermetic man with the one created divine versus the mosaic man who is divinely created but of the earth is like the dichotomy between the upright and inverse pentacles. One is spirit triumphant over matter, the other is matter triumphant over spirit. Both are necessary parts of the process of creation, or existence.

The person that is developing a relationship with their divine self, whatever term one wants to use for that, and whether one thinks that that exists ab initio or is created through the process of communicating with it, either way this connection is made through developing a relationship; is a process by which one might be said to be remade from a mosaic into a hermetic being.

Then, in combining the two ideas, I might suggest that to think symbolically is to be closer to divinity. It is the mythological level which is more divinely imbued and more divinely directed. This is, I think, to say something very similar to how practitioners of traditional chinese Feng Shui talk about Chi, and that the information form is more important than the physical form [amzn].

I have running through my head right now the spoken word by Robert Anthony on Trance Mission’s track “Every stone’s dream” [amzn]:

“Every stone is light slowed down, tied in a knot; and light is every stone’s dream.”

Further, therefore, allegory and symbol seem then to be the way the mind of the divine works. To understand even a bit of the divine is to understand art, poetry and music; to be touched by metaphor and myth; and to realize that all is metaphor, all is in flux; and, flux is merely the appearance of waves on an ocean too vast and deep to ever be fully comprehended.

J. Daniel Gunther at Sekhet-Maat on May 2nd at 7:30pm

Initiation in the Aeon of the Child

This is a lecture and book signing for the new publication Initiation in to the Aeon of the Child about which some pretty great things are being said. My understanding is that not only is this not simply a whistle-stop on a book signing tour, but this is the only planned event for the book, with books available for purchase at the event; but, I suspect they will go quickly so reserving a copy when registering for the event will be a good idea. The signing will also be a reception with food and drink and even some vending such as other valuable and rare books from Seattle’s Night of Pan Books.

Time to buy that new red dress for your Scholar’s Mistress and take her out for a night on the town …

J. Daniel Gunther is a life-long student of esotericism, mythology, and religion. A longtime member of A∴ A∴, the teaching Order established by Aleister Crowley, he is considered one of the foremost authorities in the field. He serves on the editorial board of The Equinox and acts as a consultant and advisor for numerous occult publications.

In this ground-breaking book, author J. Daniel Gunther provides a penetrating and cohesive analysis of the spiritual doctrine underlying and informing the Aeon of the Child, and the sublime formulas of Initiation encountered by those who would probe its mysteries. Drawing on more than 30 years of experiences as a student and teacher within the Order of the A∴ A∴, the author examines the doctrinal thread of Thelema in its historical, religious, and practical context.

Initiation in the Aeon of the Child - lecture & book signing - May 2, 2009 e.v. - Sekhet-Maat Lodge
Initiation in the Aeon of the Child – Sekhet-Maat Lodge – May 2, 2009 ev

Pentacle of iron for thelemites

In “The Pentacles and the Tree: Are There Crowleyian Influences on Feri Lore?” [see], Valerie Walker makes connections between the various pentacles of Feri with the Tree of Life, mapping some correspondences between sepherot to the points of the pentacles.

Beginning there, as background, I’d add that I was struck by the following fragment from Liber Librae [see, et]:

“12. Remember that unbalanced force is evil; that unbalanced severity is but cruelty and oppression; but that also unbalanced mercy is but weakness which would allow and abet Evil. Act passionately; think rationally; be Thyself.

13. True ritual is as much action as word; it is Will.”

This notion of acting passionately hints at the ferocity of innocence I once found in the word feri itself through somewhat fanciful etymology. The root of feral is fera, or wild animal. The plural latin ferae poetically reminds me of the word feri. This untamed, natural state is to be unreservedly and naturally passionate; but, without being unbalanced or psychotic. Wild animals are not crazy, but being unreservedly themselves.

In this point about the unbalanced force, I find an echo of the notions of the unbalanced reflections of iron, the gilded and rust pentacles [see, also]. (Strange that there’s not a lot useful that comes up quickly about the rust and gilded.) Although this excerpt is about the two pillars, which are each in a way unbalanced versions of the central pillar and so there are fractals within fractals, the notion of the unbalanced can be applied to any sepherot, and thus, to any point of the corresponding pentacles.

On an elemental level, this is further reflected as Liber Librae continues:

“… Establish thyself firmly in the equilibrium of forces, in the centre of the Cross of the Elements, that Cross from whose centre the Creative Word issued in the birth of the Dawning Universe.

19. Be thou therefore prompt and active as the Sylphs, but avoid frivolity and caprice; be energetic and strong like the Salamanders, but avoid irritability and ferocity; be flexible and attentive to images like the Undines, but avoid idleness and changeability; be laborious and patient like the Gnomes, but avoid grossness and avarice.”

This occurred to me as like a great place to start developing a mutual language within some kind of “Iron Pentacle for Thelemites” exploration. The practices of running the pentacles is maybe an energy practice of interest when working with the sepherot and the extra information may be interesting as part of a rich relationship with the point of the pentacle. Anyhow, something to explore at some point.

stele of revealing 2

revealing five and a fraction quatorzain in free pentameter

0

In the infinite twilight curve above
a descending point of sunlight is love
both are witness to this declaration.

I

In the finer infinite horizon
cycle from rise to set and set to rise
tracing time traveling eternally
here then stands a man, dead but immortal,
in the holiest of holy places
confidently aloud with pure voice raised
he has taken the communion of blood
and by the moon has already been judged
within view of the royal golden throne
this priest of the scorching ruby sun
with funereal offerings of bread, beer
and many prepared meats from land and air
to the lord of power and dominion
he says as the sky’s veils are opening,

II

“O, be praised on high, ineffable one
ruler of gods through power and dominion,
who shines forth from horizons as his throne
make clear pathways beyond death and through
for my soul, my shadow, and my spirit
in true mysteries I am an initiate
so that I myself might shine forth at death
as one illuminated by the presence of truth
past dangerous tricky traps through the west
make clear a way for me to the place
of creator and complete creation,
the height of noon and setting of the sun,
of becoming motion and milky rest,
the rising and enwombed midnight distant.”

III

“Although I am dead, immortal I am
for having partaken of communion.
I see yet another approaching dawn.
Prepared as priest of the scorching sun,
I passed sentinels and was judged worthy
proving I am from the fraternity
of those much like myself sworn to protect
and initiated into secrets
I am also the son of a woman
who knows the celestial music sung
by artful and devoted advocates
heard in their spheres by the planets
but know that melody in truth is hers
mistress of mistresses of the universe.”

IV

Witness now this man saying to his self,
“Oh, heart, to me from my mother a gift
you faithfully kept me alive on the earth
do not then testify in the trial of my worth
do not stand as a witness against me
do not fail that faith now you are free
under the the eminent, immanent sun
to speak in the presence of my judge,
the lord of afterlife resurrected.
My body may have died and descended
dissolving again in mother’s embrace,
by death my immortal self thus released
has in the sky the other stars rejoined.
Though dead, I am remembered and reborn.”

*

Those left behind will remember and say,
“Giver of life sustaining ecstasy
give in reward the gift of renewed life
when this beloved traveller arrives
in the holiest of holy places
confidently aloud with pure voice raised
he has taken the communion of blood
and by the moon has already been judged
within view of the royal golden throne
this priest of the scorching ruby sun
has with diligence and devotion learned
to fulfill his true will while on the earth.
He shall live under the warmth of the sun
with love and fear among the living again.”

stele of revealing 1

In the infinite curve above is a point of love
both are witness to this declaration

In a finer infinite of time
stands a man, dead but immortal,
in the holiest of holy places
he has taken the communion of the moon
and has been judged worthy
in view of the throne
this priest of the scorching sun
with offerings of bread, beer
and many meats from land and air
says to the
lord of power and dominion
the opener of
the veils of the sky

“O, holy one, may he be praised,
with power and dominion,
who rules the gods,
who shines forth
from his throne of horizon
make clear pathways beyond death
for my soul
for my spirit
for my shadow
I am initiated in the mysteries
so that I myself might shine forth
as one illuminated by truth
make clear a way for me
to the place
of creator and creation,
the noon and setting of the sun,
of becoming and rest,
the rising and distant resting place of the sun.”

“I am dead but immortal
when I can see the horizon
as a priest of the scorching sun
I have taken the communion of life
and have been judged worthy
I am from the fraternity
of those like myself
protectors and initiates
of and into the secrets
a child of midnight
the son of a woman
who knows the music sung
to the celestial sphere of the sun,
mistress of the universe.”

Says this man to his self,
“Oh, my heart, gift from my mother,
you faithfully kept me alive on the earth
so do not testify in the trial of my worth
now as a witness against me
do not fail that faith in me now
in the presence of the sun,
lord of the afterlife.
Although my body has descended
into the earth
and in death my real self
has become a star in the sky
may I be remembered and reborn.”

Those left behind remember and say,
“Oh, deliverer of those still alive under the sun,
definitely give the gift of resurrection
so this man, dead but immortal,
and who has taken the communion of life,
shall live under the warmth of the sun
to fulfill his true will while on the earth
with love and fear among the living again.”

stele of revealing notes

I was thinking about a project for myself. I was going to check the Stèle of Revealing and figure out the best modern translation of the hieroglyphics into my own interpretation. Well, I forgot about the modern transcription of the Stèle in the back of The Holy Books of Thelema. So, I took that and did the rest of the project. I didn’t go to The Book of the Dead and use the passages that the text of these things is based on, but that is something I could do.

I started with two additional ideas. The first is that for egyptian art, images are also fully meaningful words. This is based on ideas from Reading Egyptian Art. The second is that I wanted to tease out the meaning of the names of places and entities instead of leaving them opaque.

So here’s my notes, which I didn’t do a great job of keeping track of my sources; since this is mostly an artistic project. But, I may want to go back at some point fill that in with good ones. I honestly didn’t get too strict about where I got my information from if it seemed mostly reasonable to me.

  • behdet: the winged solar disk, Heru of Edfu, he with coloured
    plumage, world saviour, protector of the sacred
  • re-herakty: horus on the horizon, all time, beginning to end
  • wesir/osiris: he sees the throne, immortal dead, the deceased
  • sem priest: funereal high-priest, shaman
  • monthu: nomad, war god, struggle, striving, scorching sun
  • thebes: waset, was; power; cult center for The Powerful, wasret;
    power, dominion; bull penis; animal of set
  • karnak: The Most Selected of Places
  • ankh-af-na-khonsu: he lives for khonsu
  • khonsu: the wanderer, the moon, devourer of hearts (devourer of hearts ~ eucharist, love under will)
  • justified: pure of voice, judged worthy
  • seat: throne, from the horizon
  • re: noon sun, the creator
  • atum: the first, the creation, the completion, setting sun, to be
    complete
  • kephre: the motive force, the becoming, the rising sun, self created
  • hathor: House of Heru (the falcon, the distant), the place of rest, the milky way, mother of light
  • son of a man: inheritor / in the traditional role / from the family
  • bes: protector – introduced, initiate
  • en: to, for, belonging to, through, because
  • mut: world-mother, primeval waters, uniter of two lands, queen of heaven
  • bes-en-mut: child of midnight, initiate into secrets, fraternity of initiates
  • amun-re: setting sun – noon
  • taneshi: land of nesh?