Social and Political Change, some lessons from Magic

We will start with singer Kasey Chambers: “If you’re not pissed off at the world. Then you’re just not paying attention.”

Following this, I assume you personally wish for the world to be different and take some action towards that aim. If so you may already be familiar with the three, broad ways of changing the world, which I first learnt with the bodacious Joanna Macy decades ago. I will explore these with reference to the current situation in Australia with regards to asylum seekers and refugees. Do click on the links to find out more – there are some awesome people out there!

  1. Interfering with the systems of oppression or injustice via direct action, peaceful or otherwise. Here think Love Makes a Way and Mums 4 Refugees. This approach does not produce direct change, but rather buys time for the other approaches and exposes the systems of oppression – at the very least to the arresting police officers and judiciary.

  1. Changing the system from within – being part of the system of oppression or injustice to whatever degree we can (and can stomach) to change it or dismantle it from the inside. Here, think Labor for Refugees.

  1. Changing the consciousness of the society itself so that the system of oppression is exposed and dismantled. Here think of those artists and storytellers presenting a different version of the myth of refugees to Australia, such the group performing under the tag ‘We’re Better Than This’.

All three approaches have their strengths and can be very powerful. All three however are vulnerable to the systems of oppression they seek to change. Alternate views within ‘the system’ are sidelined or undermined; direct action protests are often outside the law and thus render participants vulnerable to a range of legal problems; and novel modes of consciousness and cultural myths may receive little exposure or funding.

These three approaches can be viewed diagrammatically as a triangle.

three methods triangle

I place the third approach, the change in consciousness of a society as the basal arm because it is required for any lasting change. For example, unless a society has a consciousness which does not see race as a discriminatory factor, all the laws and advances engendered by working the system and all the continued highlighting of injustice will not be enough. Oppression will still continue. Ask a black woman in the southern USA, a country with a black president and an enshrined equality before the law. Speaking recently to friends from Dallas, they mentioned how many folk there still have not accepted that the Confederacy lost the Civil War. The consciousness abides.

The nub of this problem I feel was unwittingly highlighted recently by Ricky Muir, an unlikely Australian Senator for the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party. Honestly I am not making this political party up. This is Australia.

“Crossbench senator Ricky Muir has revealed he switched his position on same-sex marriage after a fight with his wife in which he said he would disown his son if he was gay.

The Motoring Enthusiast Party senator announced his support for same-sex marriage earlier this year, linking the issue to rural mental health. “I did have very opposing views to what I have now, but that’s because it’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’,” Senator Muir told Annabel Crabb in an episode of Kitchen Cabinet to air on the ABC on Wednesday. “You grow up a certain way, you’re told certain things, you go with it.” (source).

Obviously whoever or whatever hegemonic force controls the lead monkey, showing other monkeys how to act, controls the game. As the world moves to embrace same gender marriage it is now acceptable for Senator Muir to hold the pro view. Really though, he is still a monkey. And so, to a large degree, are the rest of us. I remember being convinced that same-gender marriage would occur in my lifetime after reading a Time article in the late 1980s on how large companies were creating advertisements targeting gay couples with disposable income. Economics demanded equality and so it came to pass.

The question then becomes not how to change personally as society changes, but how to get novel and new justice based modes of consciousness embodied within the culture to produce social change.

To explore this, we can relate these three arms, interference, change from within and change of consciousness to the now famous 60’s maxim: ‘the personal is political is spiritual’.

pps three methods

I read this maxim as magician, someone who sees spirituality both in its traditional forms, which includes converse with non-physical beings and in a broader, wider scope that includes artistic vocation among other things. This is not a valorisation of the contemporary ‘spiritual not religious’ self-focus where we pick and mix our spirituality to accommodate our ego. Spirituality, whether traditional, artistic or novel in form must be concerned with the non-personal and the transpersonal. Fr Matthew Fox sums it up: ‘the test of a spirituality is in its justice making: does it create justice?’

The spiritual then, as the basal arm of our triangle is concerned with justice making, personally and collectively (politically). It is for this reason, Australia’s greatest Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, could make this bold statement about Labor governments (and I would say ANY government):

“In any civilised community, the arts and associated amenities must occupy a central place. Their enjoyment should not be seen as remote from everyday life. Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the arts – the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage. Indeed I would argue that all other objectives of a Labor government – social reform, justice and equity in the provision of welfare services and educational opportunities – have as their goal the creation of a society in which the arts and the appreciation of spiritual and intellectual values can flourish. Our other objectives are all means to an end. The enjoyment of the arts is an end in itself.”

This really says it all. If we work for the artistic and the spiritual we achieve it all.

When we superimpose the two triangles upon each other we can see this. The personal links directly to the personal choice to interfere and risk legal penalties. The political is expressed through the political and economic systems that are changed from within. And the spiritual finds equation with the change of consciousness – except that this is seldom fully realised.

The reaction against religion in Australia and the modern secular west means our artistic and other modes of changing consciousness are seldom seen, promoted or empowered as real spiritual events and actions. The artists We’re Better than This, I mentioned earlier, are secular artists, not religious or spiritual. Yet, I would argue that by seeking to change the dominant myth of refugees in Australia they are seeking spiritual ends. Gough clearly equates the two and clearly places them as the raison d’être of government, as does traditional religion. And here is where liberals and secularists get nervous mistakenly seeing the promotion of spirituality and art as throwback to medieval Christendom or Caliphates. Not so of course for Gough who was modern, western and secular but with a vision lacking in virtually all modern politicians.

Fully linking the spiritual traditions and the non-human spiritual realties to the action to change societal consciousness is seldom done. There are a few traditions and churches that attempt this, but by and large the division remains. We can highlight the effects of this division by looking at magic.

One of the key symbols and tools within western magic is the Triangle of Art. This is a physical and outer representation of an inner construct, created in the consciousness of the magician.  A classic example of such a triangle is this:


The purpose of the triangle of Art is to evoke, to bring to manifestation in this physical world a ‘being’, typically an angel or spirit,  that embodies or will carry out the will or desire of the magician. This will, in spiritual magic, is always concerned with the spiritual and personal unfoldment of the magician or some repair or healing of others or the world.

The ‘being’ becomes manifest in the centre of the triangle. Around the arms are written divine names of special significance to the magician. When they are empowered and spoken their interior blessings interact to create the inner construct of the triangle and keep it integral and sealed. It is the interaction of theses blessings that creates the ‘interior atmosphere’ that will allow the ‘being’ to manifest. It is like fish bowl or a space suit in function, allowing something not here already on earth to be here temporarily. This temporary quality is then delivered to the magician by one method or another, and she is changed or she becomes the agent for changing the world.

The interaction and interdependence of these three divine names and powers is shown by placement of a divine name, separated in three sections, at each of the three apexes. Here we see this with the name of the Archangel Michael. This placement leads the eyes and the consciousness around the triangle, connecting each side with each other. Another concept in magic is of the ‘Triune Flowing Light’ which inherently is dynamic and interdependent flowing throughout the triad and bringing the interior forces into manifestation.

An absolute clear principle of magic is that outer actions are always mirrored by and embody inner actions, such as visualisation and prayer. Outer actions alone will never create magic.

So with reference to our other we can produce a social change Triangle of Art thus:

ta refugees

At the centre is the justice we are seeking. At the arms we place the interference of the system, the working within the system and change of consciousness. The ‘atmosphere’ that will allow the change we are seeking, in this case humane treatment of refugees, will come about through the interaction of these three arms, these three approaches.

However, this only represents only the first level we examined, the first triangle. To create magic, to bring compassion for refugees into this world, we need to include the other levels: the personal, the political and the spiritual.

Again, I contend the missing element here is the real, authentic, actual spiritual element that includes the reality of non-physical beings, shared consciousness and interior streams of blessing of hindrance. Without this connection, the spiritual dimension our Triangle of Art will remain incomplete and what we seek to manifest will not occur, or will occur partially or in a distorted fashion.

It is interesting that out of all the possible arenas of magical action, personal wealth, love, employment, healing etc, the most seldom taken up is that of social or political magic. It is rarely taught or even mentioned as a primary reason for magic, as I talk about in this post on the Iraq War. In some form though this approach has often been there in western magical and spiritual circles. To quote from my own post:

“Active political magic is one thing, though very much part of the Western Tradition (for example see Gareth Knight’s The Magical Battle of Britain). The inability or unwillingness to look beyond the obvious is another. Esoteric after all means ‘inner’, occult means ‘hidden’. As esoteric students, pagans or magicians we should be looking beyond what our media and our governments dish up. Otherwise we are not being conscious, which is the essence of all authentic spirituality. And once we become conscious of what is actually occurring, we must be moved to act against it, in some manner. After all, another hallmark of authentic spirituality is compassion.”

So to round things off, this post is a call to do exactly what I believe will create an effective Triangle of Art for manifestation of justice: the linking of the spiritual and the political via the personal. This will fully link the non-physical realms to our work and deepen the interaction of interference, working within the system and changing the consciousness of our world. Without this linking our Triangle cannot fully manifest what we are seeking and praying for.

I have attempted and attempt a number of these actions, the most public and recent for refugees described here. This current post is the beginning of a manifestation of more, where you will be invited to be part of healing the world via your person, your politics, your art, your spirituality and your magic. THANKS :)

Also published on Medium at:

Who’s Your Rosicrucian, Baby?

Currently there is a minor contretemps in cyber-land about ‘the Rosicrucians’. It all started with the webhost of the Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn (ROGD) being issued one of those lovely ‘cease and desist’ notices from a legal firm acting on behalf of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). You can read it here.

Naturally that did not go down too well. On a podcast AMORC was given three ‘gongs of shame’ and other folk, like the Watchers of the Dawn, were not happy. I sent this email to the Grandmaster of AMORC seeking a change of heart:

“Care Soror,

I refer to the website and the statement therein regarding legal threats from AMORC in regard to the use of the phrase ‘Rosicrucian Order’.

As you will know there are many groups who use this term that have antecedents before the establishment of AMORC.

These groups, and many newer groups, have done and do nothing but promote the same mystical and fraternal ends of AMORC.

They are not competitors in a materialist business economy. They are sister organisations to your own.

I would respectfully ask that AMORC reconsider this approach and remove all threats of legal action against the ROGD and other Orders.

Already AMORC’s reputation has suffered badly from these actions and will suffer far worse it they continue. The modern Rosicrucian magician is individual in nature and will not respond well to what is seen by some as meddling or empire building.

Please reconsider your actions so we can all continue in harmony towards Perfect Peace Profound.”

RR et AC Rose Cross

RR et AC Rose Cross

Now, the nub of the matter appears to be the use of the phrase ‘Rosicrucian Order’. AMORC has used this for a number of decades and claims exclusive right to it. Hoh um. It only makes sense if we see the two words as referring to something specific and limited – i.e. AMORC. However, methinks, and most I think do also think, that ‘Rosicrucian’ here is an adjective referring to a spiritual path, and ‘Order’ refers to the type of organisation.

So, presumably AMORC would have no probs with ‘The Rosicrucian League’, ‘Debbie’s Rosicrucian Hair Salon’ or even ‘Joe’s Rosicrucian Bordello’? Equally we could have ‘the Wiccan Order’ or ‘the Crystal Kids Order’. Or wot not. For me it is clear, ‘Rosicrucian’ is beyond any particular group and refers to a form of western mystic, and I believe Christian spirituality (Bob Gilbert agrees).

I find this mess rather distressing for three main reasons:

Firstly, no one should really be calling themselves a Rosicrucian at all, at all. In modern English, the first two principles of the Rosicrucian Fraternity from the Fama itself are:

First, that none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis.

Second, none of the posterity should be constrained to wear one certain kind of habit, but therein to follow the custom of the country (emphasis added).

Seems clear to me, and the Golden Dawn RR et AC is very clear in their oath: “Finally, you must understand that you are never permitted to say to anyone not a member of this Order that you are a Rosicrucian”.

However, folk are free to call themselves whatever they want. I won’t stop them, or even glower at them from the corner. Well, maybe a little – which I confess I did upon my first meeting of a ‘Rosicrucian’, shortly after I’d started on this lark as a youth. The chap wandered up to me at University Philosophy Society’s wine and cheese night and after chatting for a bit on mutual spiritual interests, simply declared ‘I’m a Rosicrucian’. I choked on my cheddar. Being in awe of the Fama I was completely discombobulated. I knew AMORC existed but naively assumed its initiates would keep it all mum.

Secondly, this concerns spiritual groups, you know within the world but not of the world and all that jazz. Copyrights and lawsuits and wot all in this arena are pure farce and contrary to everything true religion and spirituality stands for.

Thirdly, despite it all, I have a soft spot for AMORC – stemming of course from the events in this post. And actually, all the AMORC folk I’ve met are rather nice. True, the AMORC teachings do not inspire me and I do not grok their approach, but they are generally lovely people. Certainly much better than most of the ‘magical Rosicrucians’ I’ve met and whom I’d never invite home to mother. I really do not want to see these folk getting more of a hard time from ‘serious magicians’ than they already do.

AMORC generally comes in for an elitist rap from magical folk, and I’m on record somewhere for stating I found little useful when wading through the monographs of the entire AMORC course, even beyond the ninth degree, held in a Perth library. However, some folk DO find it useful and AMORC does organise lovely tours to sacred sites across the globe. Generally I have found the average AMORC member to be blissfully unaware of their own history and appropriation of other Order’s materials etc. They are simply working through their chosen tradition and not looking too much left or right. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So, I really hope two things (1)  AMORC changes their mind and drops their pursuit of other groups using a similar name, and (2) any pissed-off magicians, some of whom are always looking for a fight, relax and chill and not take it too far. As the ROGD says on their website: “We continue to Work privately, silently, and namelessly.  “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

So I hope what could be a nasty ‘battle’ over names is avoided. If we stopped calling ourselves Rosicrucian, this would all go away anyway. And really, in terms of wanky, magical kudos, wandering around saying ‘I’m a Rosicrucian and it’s OK’ pales into insignificance to, “of course, if I were a Rosicrucian, I couldn’t tell you anyway.”


Aten’t Dead: public occultism and wot not

Well, Nick Farrell has done it again: produced a blog that pissed several people off and started much discussion. Not that there is anything wrong with that :)

Nick’s topic this time is the failure of public occultism, and his thesis is nicely summed up in the title, ‘Ten Reasons Why Public Occultism Is Dying’. Technically this is a little bit of an oxymoron, but you know what he means, so best not to nit-pick, wot? Some of the responses to Nick’s blogs have been great, but a few have attacked him personally. Not so great. No soup for you! I had my own ideas when reading his blog and these are a few of my thoughts. I am going to start by quoting the sainted Dion:

The pseudo-occultism of the present day, with its dubious psychism, wild theorizing, and evidence that cannot stand up to the most cursory examination, is but the detritus which accumulates around the base of the Mount of Vision. All such worthless rubbish is not worth the power and shot of argument; in order to form a just estimate of the Sacred Science we must study originals, and try to penetrate the minds of the great mystics… whose works bear evidence of first-hand knowledge of the supersensible worlds.

This is from ‘Sane Occultism’, back in 1938 CE when, interestingly, Dion was about the same age as Nick and with about the same many decades of experience in these matters. In a Facebook post regarding a reply to Nick, a wise occult historian made notice of an important fact: the ‘golden age’ of public occultism was actually between about 1870 and 1930 CE. Dion was writing at the tail end of this era, a time when several occult schools were closing or getting ready to close. She had directly experienced both the stellar peaks of British occultism and the less salubrious forms – and by Jove there were plenty of them.

dfmmI imagine Nick has had similar experiences. His and Dion’s views are certainly similar in parts. Nick expects that in a short time ‘public information on real occultism will slowly disappear’ and ‘the whole thing will fade, with occultism being part of the shadows again’. He writes:

The idea that if we put information out there humanity will work at it and watch it develop is a fallacy. It turns out, that the magic which is so freely available, is not the real thing at all. All a book, or a webpage can present is a fact, or opinion – a shadow on the wall. It does not make us the singers of the woven words than owning a cookbook makes us a great chef.

Dion said the same thing repeatedly in many books and articles, as have many other folk. Because in actuality the mysteries behind occultism have always been ‘in the shadows’, have always been ‘underground’ and hidden. There could be a hundred Orders in small city but the actual heart of it all is always behind the veil, large scale public occultism or not. This is the ‘first-hand knowledge of the supersensible worlds’ Dion refers to. It is the ‘True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order’ referred to by Paul Foster Case. It has been said that the secrets of Masonry (and other systems) could be shouted from the rooftops, but they would not be known as such and seem meaningless to those unprepared to receive them. My own experience is that this is spot on.

With reference to any ‘fear’ that public occultism will die, that the mysteries may be lost and wot not, I am reminded a of a chat I had with a couple of aboriginal elders a number of years back. I asked about the changes, the decimation of their culture, the challenges they faced with addiction and ingrained prejudice. Did they worry about their traditions getting lost? They replied that what they and their people knew came from the Land, and even if they were all removed from the Land, or killed, it would still be within the Land. And could be taught again to any who lived with the Land.

So, I am not all worried about authentic western traditions surviving; where they came ‘from’ is beyond all stain, damage and division and this source will always be ‘there’. Individual schools and Orders, traditions of practice may, and will, come and go. The song will remain.

ctAnd it seems to be these individual orders and schools that Nick has concern for. Most of his post addresses problems of approach, either the schools approach to the occult systems he obviously has so much respect for, or modern students approach to the schools and systems which are not respectful at all, at all. One of these schools is, of course, my love, the Golden Dawn :) Nick writes:

‘The “real stuff” might continue but it is going to be even more exclusive than it has been. The great experiment in semi-public occultism which the Order of the Golden Dawn started has been a failure.’

Certainly, this appears to be the view of the Secret Chiefs of the AO who instructed members of the Order to cease active work and let the temples close post WWII (as described in these posts). Of course, the ripples from the GD are still actually moving outward. Nick himself was trained through one of these, the Inner Light tradition. Each day new folk are reading the published material and though ‘the Golden Dawn’ itself may be dead, the spirit behind it may easily be moving and using new vessels that have sprung into existence based on the literary and mythic presence the order still has. It all depends what we see as the limits of the ‘experiment’.

Many of the other problems Nick describes are not confined solely to occultism but are a cultural phenomenon; the quick fix mentality, the impact of internet and social media in the devaluing of expertise, the conflation of systems, the creeping presence of pop-psychology, the lack of respect for elders, etc. As the sheriff in ‘No Country for Old Men’ laments, ‘It’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It’s not the one thing.’ How do we change the tide? That’s a whole cultural task, not possible for little MOTO to work through :)


The question for me is not so much about occultism having a public or hidden face, but how we help folk to move beyond the sensible, beyond the veil into the heart of it all. Nick suggests he knows how: “I have had a few breakthroughs that have provided me with all the answers I needed to make magic work and why it doesn’t.” Nice.

This is assuming he is here talking of spiritual, transformative magic, not operative magic that will win us the lottery. So, that’s great, then. Nick suggests he won’t be sharing this publicly, like he has generously shared much in the past: ‘unlike the other revelations which I have tended to share with the wider occult community, I don’t have much impulse to share any of this outside my own magical order.’

Without any disrespect for Nick, I can’t quite work out the point of sharing that you’re not gonna share something really important. From my perspective, and I would say from the traditional esoteric perspective, these ‘keys’, as mentioned before simply cannot be shared, they have to be experienced. Good teachers and schools can point the way to that experience, but that is all. I imagine this is what Nick is writing about here.

Moving folk towards this inner experience, which must be undertaken by themselves, is one of the holiest and sacred tasks anyone can have. It is an awesome task and an intense privilege. I rate it as only slightly less awesome as helping someone die well. Sadly, most of the western occult systems are, to quote the Rev Dr Cynthia Bourgeault ‘merely fine-tuning the ego’. For me, as always, a way forward is service. We remove ourselves from the equation as much as we can, and we become more who were really are. To quote meself:

…modern 21st century magic should be about moving the mage from the centre of the circle, controlling all the forces he invokes (which is like, so medieval) to an awareness that at the centre we are interdependent on the entire circle of life, on the One and the universe that forms around us.’


Monogamy and wot all

Another gonzo post, though I have been mulling this over for a few days following a coincidentally timed Facebook post by one the bestest Priestesses I know :)

So … of the top of me head …

Here I am not really making any comments on the idea of monogamy vs polyamory. I think this is a silly meme. How boring. Both can be wonderful. Both can be woeful. Which makes sense since both involve humans, and we are both wonderful and woeful. Often at the same time :)

I have no problems with folk in poly relationships. I have no problem with folk in monogamous relationships. I have no problems with folk outside relationships and practicing ‘free love’. I have no problems with folk in celibate relationships or people who practice celibacy outside relationships, consecrated or otherwise.

I am not interested in, and simply unable, to judge anyone for their sexual and intimate lifestyle.

I do however wish that all of these, and many other, relationship choices were simply, but profoundly that – CHOICES.

Now these choices may be made as a result of following our sexual orientation: that is some folk see monogamy, polyamory and wot all as sexual orientations. Personally, I am not completely sold on this model yet. If it is correct, it means that in today’s modern west folk have more options for fulfilling their orientations than ever before! And that’s a good thing, eh? :)

Sadly though, many folk simply slot into the societal mode of relating and do not make a choice (towards or away from their orientation?) at all – they simply follow how they have been raised or what is around them. And so of course, we need to examine the idea of choice, agency and informed consent as well in all this.

One thing I have noticed, personally, that the poly lifestyle (whether an orientation or not) has, since the 1980s, become more prevalent in the Pagan community. If it becomes a default mode of relating, that would be as unhelpful as default monogamy without conscious and careful reflection.

Advocates for the poly lifestyle often have many wonderful and valid critiques of unthinking and default choice monogamy. And so they should. However, some folk also say things like polyamory gives tools for expansion of consciousness and self-exploration.

Again, I am not sold on this idea. Polyamory gives no special tools. Nor does monogamy. Nor does celibacy. These sexual and intimate orientations are not tools for change. Tools for change are self-reflection processes, introspection techniques, methods of honesty, sharing with partner(s), meditation etc. All of these can and are worked with by monogamous and celibate folk as well as poly folk.

A poly life does not automatically bring about more tools for change – it is what we DO with the reality that our partner is bonking another person on Wednesdays and alternate Saturdays that makes the change. I have known plenty of poly people handle these things as badly as monogamous folk handle things. And boy do monogamous folk, on the whole, handle things badly! I remember one radio report that DNA testing showed that one in four children in the working class areas of Liverpool in the 1990s were not fathered by the man claimed as the father. :(

However, in a monogamous relationship we can learn to love the general by utter, conscious, deliberate focus on the specific. Through the love of the one, we love the many. Which is of course the aim of our spirituality. It is for this reason marriage became to be seen as a Sacrament within the Christian churches, and the only one that is administered daily by layperson to layperson – through the love of partner to partner. The importance of this sacrament is clearly shown by these words within the rite of Solemnization of Marriage from the Book of Common Prayer:


A mighty and telling piece of liturgy :)

As (I hope) a somewhat conscious and focused monogamist, my partner IS the Most Beautiful Woman in The World (she really is!). My focus on her makes this so. I know this as much as I know the Body of Christ is present for me in the Eucharist. And so, privileged to be intimate, to love and adore the Most Beautiful Woman in The World, I am moved to acts of utmost humility and surrender. This beholding of her as the Most Beautiful creates that reality between us.

Conscious monogamy means we focus on a single person who, like everyone, is a reflection of divinity. In Hermetic terms they are the microcosm of the macrocosm and have reflected within them ALL the divine powers. In Christian terms they are created in imago dei, an image of the One. By conscious focus upon this single one, we access the One. By consecrating our focus, our sexual expression and our intimacy upon the centre of the circle, we receive the whole. Our partner, for us, becomes the gateway to the unlimited.

Through the love of a single one, we receive infinity; as they are unlimited. And we become unlimited by their love and sole focus. So there is no limitation inherent in monogamy – a common critique from a few polyamory folk.

In fact, my own experience is that it is the exclusive consecration of our sexual expression towards our Beloved that enables them to become more unlimited, provide more avenues towards spiritual communion and more unique ways of deeply relating than engaging with several partners in a poly relationship. But that is my own personal experience and in no way do I place it over others.

Thanks :)

Review: Letters of Light – the magical letters of William G. Gray to Alan Richardson.

I am not usually prone to envy. I did however, get a taste of that emotion when contemplating the subject matter of this book – Alan Richardson’s youthful correspondence with magical great, W.G. Gray. The lucky, lucky bastard.

The book is simple: a reproduction of many of Gray’s replies to Richardson’s magical and spiritual queries from 1969 through the mid-1970s. The wisdom, depth, compassion, simplicity and utter grounded spiritual presence moved and amazed me. And I was already highly appreciative of Gray and his place in modern magic.

I was expecting the letters to be more an outpouring of Gray’s personal opinions on topics mixed with material I was already familiar with. Instead the letters were alive and the answers from Gray touched on magical and spiritual topics were so succinct and honest they, at times, shook me. The spiritual and magical ‘currents’ behind the words, typed on an old Remington typewriter, remain present today. God knows how the young Alan Richardson coped with reading them.

For example, straight away in the first letter the statement of a constantly repeated theme:

This will probably sound awfully disappointing to you, but no matter where you go, who you meet, what sort of situations you get into, you will always be thrown back on yourself in the end, so –  you might as well start there in the first place and save an awful lot of time, worry, expense, and what have you’.

Simple. No inclination towards magical or spiritual jargon, yet the heart of magic. And within a month Gray, in a few lines, presents more sense on magical ‘contacts’ than that found in many groups and books:

By the way, don’t attempt to ‘hear words’, ‘just get it by contact”. The contact will sort itself out into English via your mind in its own time. In fact it is silly to expect English or any other human language on that level, for no one speaks like that there. Once you have build [sic] up your symbolic translating machine via the “Letters”, and so forth, the sense will “come English” all right.”

Brilliant. And likely more than a 17 year old could understand at all. In fact, the letters throughout the book provide a great amount of real, practical and thought out information on magical contacts and spiritual entities, proven over the years of Gray’s life. I’ve not read better aside from Dion Fortune and Gareth Knight:

It [the contact] will only answer you from the information you have “banked” with yourself, but the way the information comes out and the new knowledge you gain from this should have come from [the contact].


Put in childish terms (which are often clearest) the HGA [Holy Guardian Angel] is something (or someone) you and God invent between you as a communicating agency.

The same clarity of thought and obvious experience is present in Gray’s comments on many topics and questions, as relevant and as crucial today as then. In fact, many of the topics covered in the correspondence, even the same questions, are now being asked by newcomers on Facebook groups. The answers they receive (when they do) have to be filtered from masses of garbage and still pale against the wisdom Gray imparted to Richardson. This includes subjects such as: why do so many adepts prance about like dickheads; the role and place of sexuality in magic; the tension between tradition and innovation; and the pros and cons of joining magical groups.

Gray, typically, is very direct and blunt in his answers. Witness this reply to Richardson’s melancholic account of the ending of his relationship:

In this life you will not only have to learn how to be “alone” in your Self, but how to succeed spiritually with this process, so that you can become an Individual Entity in your own right … You are not looking for a mate really. You are looking for missing parts of your Self which you know “deep down” must be evolved.

and … something even more relevant to today with self and internet publishing:

Another question to ask yourself. Just how many what I call real occult books have been published in the last few years? The “occult explosion” is a myth invented by publishers to launch rubbish on the market.

Gray of course published many books, all of which were ‘real’ occult books, as is the one under review. Despite sharing (or whinging!) about how little money and reward publishing brought in (‘so much Malkuth for so little Kether’), he never succumbed to temptation to join the ‘occult explosion’:

Christ, I could write crap as well as anyone, inventing phoney “spells”, “masturbation by moonlight”, and all the bloody stupid irresponsible rubbish that hits the sales counter. BUT could I live with myself afterwards even if surrounded by rising royalties? No.

Despite these and other comments, I did, as Richardson suggested in his foreword, find myself surprised. Underneath these letters is one overriding quality: love. Gray loved magic, loved sharing his information and loved that the work may continue. This set of letters does this wonderfully. It has deep treasures and is actually much more relevant to the internet generation of modern young magicians than a single young man from the North of England.

Forget magical forums, forget searching for relevance on Facebook posts – this slim volume will enrich newcomers and experienced alike. A must for anyone wanting to apply magical principles to their life. Highly recommended.

Letters of Light – the magical letters of William G. Gray to Alan Richardson. Alan Richardson (editor). Skylight Press, 2015.

Amazon | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Skylight Press.

The penis and male force – a snippet from Isis and Osiris

If men are not led onto journeys of powerlessness, they will always abuse power. ~ Richard Rohr.

Out of all the myths worked into modern Paganism one of the most moving and powerful for me is that of Isis and Osiris. There are several different versions and several different components of this myth. And like all myth it is a living symbol, expressing eternal verities into temporal consciousness and conditions. There is no single ‘meaning’ to the myth; the meaning for any one individual is different to another, just as the meaning for us changes as we change from youth to maturity to old age. We live and embody the myth and are changed by it.

The snippet of the myth I wish to focus on here is that concerning the right, the correct, the Maat relationship of men and male sexuality in regards to the earth and to women. I am of course relating this from my own (mis)understanding and limitations and therefore am speaking only of cisgendered men; I cannot speak from the perspective of other gendered men.

In the myth, the evil Set, half-brother of the rightful king, Osiris, kills and dismembers Osiris into 14 parts. Afterwards the Goddess Isis, his queen and sister, gathers up the parts of Osiris to revive him, but cannot find his penis since it was thrown into the Nile River where it was swallowed by a bottom dwelling fish. Isis then creates a new penis from clay, affixes it to Osiris and breathes life into him to enact his resurrection. Only then does Osiris become lord of both the upper (earth) and lower worlds.

At this point we reflect on the words of Richard Rohr above: Osiris, through loss in battle, subjugation by his half-brother and physical dismemberment becomes utterly powerless. The thematic connection with aspects of the Paschal Mystery is obvious. It is this loss of power that enables Osiris to later become a just and wise ruler and king. He needs to die to his inherited and assumed male role and become utterly impotent.

Osiris’s restoration, the myth continues, is at the hands of and through the love and magic of Isis. The once powerful king is rescued by a woman, who herself in some versions of the myth becomes disempowered and forgetful of her divine nature during her grief stricken wanderings. The relation of divinity to power is profound in this myth, as indeed it is in the Paschal Mystery.

However, even when restored Osiris is lacking his most vital and visible symbol of potency, his penis. The myth is clear – in order for Osiris to rule both the worlds, upper and lower, conscious and unconscious, he needs to give up his penis, his male power. He needs to accept the assistance of his wife and Goddess and have a new penis, one made from and connected to the earth. Only then is he fit to rule in truth and balance, linked to the greater Earth.

On an esoteric level, this myth installs within us (when worked) the eternal verity that the male force, including sexuality, is not the prerogative of the individual man, but is a gift from the Mother, from the Earth. That is, sexual force in men and pubescent boys is not their own force but flows through their body via their connection to all life, and when transformed, respected and controlled, is a means by which they can connect more deeply to all life, to the Earth.

loversThis verity runs in direct contradiction to both conscious and unconscious attitudes to men and the male force within our culture. Common idioms and sexual slang position the penis as its own entity, its own force and it is not uncommon for pubescent boys to become so focused on and enamoured of their penis they give it a name. The penis, so the boy learns from the world around him, has its own agenda, often in stark contradiction to the boy or man himself. This was graphically illustrated in the comedy show Seinfeld, where ‘Jerry the brain’ played a chess game against ‘Jerry the penis’ to decide if Jerry the man should continue dating and having sex with a woman he actually despised. Underlying the humour here is a dangerous meme of knowledge; the penis is separate from the man, yet it can control a man’s actions. Men, we are told, think more with their dicks than their brain.

The Osiris myth opposes this enculturated view; his penis is from the earth, loving crafted by Isis – he rules by his acceptance of impotence and connection to both the earth and women. This truth is also shown forth (as well as many other things) in the Lovers Tarot trump as painted by Pamela Colman Smith, where Adam looks to Eve who looks to the angel.

“Don’t care if it’s brain dead. Don’t care if it’s limbless. If it has a penis” ~ Garunkel and Oates.

On a social level this verity indicates the need for men to give up male privilege. To accept we have assumed power, vitality, respect and force only through the fact that we are male, that we possess a penis. The power needs to be given back to whence it came, the larger world, women and the earth and we needs to accept true, equal partnership with women – this is not a sexual partnership and applies equally to straight and gay men.

The myth of Osiris and Isis gives us all this – and far, far more – no wonder it is a favourite of the Pagan community. Of course, we need not only to read but to embody, chant, work and enact the myth. Then we will understand. Thanks :)

Sharing – a rant

This is kinda a follow up to the last post. And then I’m done, as these problems seem to be more and more prevalent in the magical-Pagan communities since the internet. I’ll have said my piece and will move on to bunny pics or good news stories :)

First off, it should go without saying that I view the people mentioned (but not identified) in this post as images of the One, whole and divine and that I do not – cannot – judge their spiritual life. I am simply responding to what they say and do.

The other day I noticed on Facebook a rather new beginner to all things magical produce a nice little chart of the Kircher Qabalistic Tree of Life, complete the 22 paths, superimposed over the human body for meditation reference. Very nice and kind of him to make and share this publically. However, there was a mistake – he confused the non-Sephira of Da’ath with the Hebrew letter Daleth (and associated Path). The result was the path curved down in an arc to pass through the throat, as this is where Da’aath is most often corresponded in modern western magic.

The good chap responded well to my correction and changed the diagram. However, that is not the point: the fact that a beginner could even THINK of producing something for public consumption within their tradition astounded me. That he made a mistake did not: we all do that. It is the role of our elders and teachers to correct our mistakes – and it is our responsibility to accept the correction and not to share – or even worse ‘teach’ the mistakes.

Talking of Da’ath, I was once guest in a ‘traditional Witch coven’ who, among other things, worked the Middle Pillar exercise (cos traditional medieval Witch traditions were just full of modern magical Qabalah). When I asked if they taught the meaning of the Godnames associated with the exercise, their leader very proudly affirmed they did. However, when describing the name associated with the heart centre, YHVH ALH V DAaTH, he said it meant ‘God who is just below Da’ath’. At which point:

Of course, the High Priest had ‘figured out’ the name for himself – and well, yes YHVH is kinda translated as ‘God’ and the heart is below the throat … so it had to be right, eh? And he had TAUGHT this for years and a Coven had hived off from his coven with this ‘knowledge’. The point here of course is that his initiative to ‘figure it out’ was mistaken; he did not have the humility to even read correctly, let alone ask an experienced Golden Dawn magician. He did it himself. All hail the modern world!

I was also once asked to help a generic magical group with ‘a few problems’ they were having. I discovered their teacher had included the rubric directions for several GD rituals they were using. So they would literally stand up, wave arms around and recite:

“Say the Sign of Osiris Slain. Cross arms on breast. Give the L sign and say the Sign of the Mourning of Isis … “

It boggled me mind … and still does … Once more, this came from the leader’s personal ‘initiative’ without cross checking. All this comes from people thinking, “Yeah, I’ll have a go at this …” Which is kinda laudable, but without serious learning, humility, elders and tradition falls down so fast it’s painful.

So the message is simple: do not, do fucking NOT, share any information, teach people or whack some half-arsed muck up on the internet when you are a student or beginner. Wait, wait, wait until you are recognised by your tradition, by your elders, as qualified and empowered to teach.

Don’t have elders or a tradition? – bury your pride, accept some ego discomfort and get them – even if they do not ‘feel’ completely right to you. In any case,  as a beginner do not, ever, assume you know anything unless it is checked by someone you respect and does actually know things.

‘Nuff said. :)