Monday, June 27, 2005

Stonehenge 2005

Just got back from a Paul and Charlotte's handfasting in Cornwall - before that - solstice at Stonehenge, which seemed a lot more mellow this year - fewer belligerent drunks - a more spiritual atmosphere - for me there are always obstacles on the way - two closed roads (one by a narrowly missed car pile-up, the other bridge repairs), police roadblocks etc - it seems part of the journey now. For many years when Stonehenge was closed to the public - OGDOS sought sanctuary at Avebury. When we first went there, it was pretty quiet - but over the years its grown in popularity - so nowadays - if you want to spend solstice at Avebury - you have to commit to it. For old time's sake, we try to stop at Avebury for a drink on route - but those days are gone now -

We drove on past the police road barricades towards Stonehenge - just outside Shrewton, the road was totally closed (shades of paranoia) - we parked up near a traveller van, to study the map for another route - screams and shouts from within the van - so we moved off quickly - the road twisting and turning, then it cleared and we were there.

A few hours R&R, then out for walkabout - 2am - plenty of time till dawn - we went through yet another police checkpoint - before being let onto the path they wanted us to follow, straight down to the henge. But we had other plans - out of sight we wheeled left down a footpath, that leads across fields and roads, until it comes to the end of the mysterious 'cursus', as it pokes its nose through the Fargo plantation. First we must cross an overgrown style - the other side of which is parked a minibus full of police! They look at us but move very slowly in our direction - all is silence - we keep walking - and before the police can get their act together, we are across the road, over a second style and disappearing into
the darkness. Paul is muttering a quiet prayer to keep us safe - but somehow I know we are meant to get through.

And indeed, after much scrambling about in the pitch black of the woods - barbwire and brambles - - hunting for the path - we stumble out under the stars. I mention this - because is you ever do come along to one of these ad hoc quests - you are quite likely to get lost. So back to the cursus - which we had completely to ourselves - the stars were shining above us - not the clearest of nights but good enough. We draw down the plough - to remember the hidden god - before meandering down in the peaceful deserted plain - back to the floodlite henge - whose generous curves, are more than able to absorb upwards of 21K people.

We did our little ritual at the little 'fairy tree', much loved during the free festivals of the 1980s. But now we have to hide again - as an official looking pickup comes up the trail - perhaps the police radioed ahead and they are looking for us - if so - can't think why?? But we gave them the slip in the darkness - blending back into the crowds just at the final checkpoint - then into the melee of the henge - to greet Ra, Seth's father, on his birthday. 'More horns' - that was my thought as I wind my horn to the most magnificent solstice dawn - among all those people - there were only two of us playing - music is a most acceptable offering to Ra at dawn - and works well with the festival atmosphere - so hope to see a few more from this list next time?

love and do what you will


PS: next chance for a meet is at the Omphalos moot in July and September -
if you're holidaying in bath area why not try to come along
- see mandrake speaks for details.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Rise of the 'Zines

It's a sure sign that we are experiencing renewed growth of interest in things occultural when a whole bunch of new fanzines suddenly emerge from the shadows. Back in the 1980s there were dozens of fanzines - ranging from our own Nuit Isis, to Lightning Flash and Chaos International - most now ceased publication. But just recently a number of new 'zines have landed in my lair. The poshest is the very fine Strange Attractor - which has no title anywhere on the front cover but neverthless has a fine selection of extended forteana - Tim d'Arch Smith on Montague Summer, the Marquis de Sade and the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, and another informative offering from Justin Woodman on H P Lovecraft. My favourite is Lost Wax - Blackpool's Passed Attraction. This is an illustrated exploration of the famous wax works - now sadly closed. A very long time ago - when I was a teenager - I went to Blackpool along with a whole! charabanc full of the folk in my street. Sooner or later we were drawn into the waxworks - and I was much intrigued by the 'adults only' section - which despite my youthful appearance, the attendant seemed to want us to see. Reputed to be a real anatomical museum full of medical curiousities and the horrible final acts of diseases such as syphilis, unchecked by the modern pharmacopoeia. Viewing such a museum at an impressionable age is one of those privileged moments - so I was pleased to see it preserved in text - I do hope the models are in storage and not melted down for candle wax.

Talking still of fanzines - at the other end of the scale - is Oracle Occult Magazine - a coated A4 very like Chaos International, but with a catholic range of material - aiming to bridge the gap between magick and witchcraft. Articles are well written ranging from Archaic Witchcraft, Voodoo, to Freemasonry - all interspersed with some intelligent and detailed reviews - as well as more occultural stuff such as Steven Ashe's article on Picasso. So all in all, a welcome addition - and worth supporting at £3.50 (£21 for first six issues - which it is planned to issue annually - which might be a bit optimistic.)

For details of both these publications (actually also has some stock)

Oh yes while I'm at it - have a another very witchy magazine called Dragonswood - which although very much in the Pentacle/Pagan Dawn type genre has a few surprises and is edited by some very cool dudes from Peterborough - worthy of support from

Smallest of the lot - but still packing a punch is the latest edition of Hem Neter - newsletter of the Oxford Golden Dawn Occult Society - available for a modest £2 from (paypal available)

Well that's your holiday reading sorted - have fun - mogg

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Triumph of the Moon - 5 years on (review)

I’ve been rereading Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon, a masterful history of pagan witchcraft, published in 1999. It’s maybe inevitable that a book that covers such a huge spectrum of ideas is bound to suffer from the criticism of individual specialists. For example I would dispute the idea that after 1902, the poet Yeats’ ‘religious ideas reappear only in fragmentary form, embedded thereafter in his later poetry and plays’ (Hutton 1999: 157). I would say that Yeats’ greatest religious and magical revelation comes after his marriage to George Hyde Lees in 1918 with his vision for the phases of the moon. The influence of these ideas about the moon on the contemporary magical scene is something overlooked until quite recently.

But I refuse to fault-judge Professor Hutton’s book given that the overall thrust is so provocative in the best possible sense. There were several themes that particularly stuck in my mind.

Firstly the positive effect of the transference of pagan witchcraft to USA from whence it returned politically refreshed. It’s so easy for the little Englander view of witchcraft to overshadow the novel contributions of our American friends. Hutton shines the spotlight on the latent conservatism of the UK magical world (for an earlier expose see my own book Sexual Magick.) I too remember as a breath of fresh air the words coming from American witch poets such as Robin Morgan. In the 1980s I helped form a group inspired by Starhawk’s groundbreaking Spiral dance. It was then by no means taken for granted that other pagans would share our anti the bomb agenda. The conversion of modern pagans and magicians to these causes was something that had to be worked for – via organisations such as Pagans Against Nukes, the Greenham Women and the Stonehenge free festival, all causes strangely absent from the lips of Professor Hutton’s informants.

Many felt that Tanya Luhrmann’s infamous study of the uk magical scene was itself flawed by its restriction to a very narrow and conservative bunch of magicos, as well as her outright refusal to meet with any representatives of occultism’s new wave. Many linked this with ‘her apparent dismissal of their practices as founded on delusion. Perhaps that’s unfair but then as Ronald points out ‘The feeling of the latter were to some extent enhanced by Luhrmann’s own return to United States as soon as her project was complete, her entry into the academic profession assured and her subsequent lack of any obvious interest in Paganism or magic. (Hutton 1999: 376) It is a feature of the book that Hutton is as hard on fellow academics as he is sympathetic to the magical practitioner.

Professor Hutton levels some very telling criticism of the internecine strife that has been a feature pagan witchcraft since its very beginning. The often-termed ‘bitchcraft’ hardly waned, even when during the 1980s ‘satanic child abuse panic’ when the stakes were very high indeed. Whilst not a complete stranger to wiccan circles, I was at the time firmly within the magical fold. I remember feeling much got at by the intemperate outbursts from wiccans, ‘great and good’. They seemed to be fuelling the press views witch hunt against ‘black’ practitioners. Ronald’s book has at least helped me to get that in perspective. These attacks were not aimed at occultists but at other rival wiccan priests and priestesses! Whether the press saw it that way is another story. In Oxford a local Christian wannabee attempted to get our speaker meetings banned from council property and the ‘oh so liberal’ Bishop of Oxford (still in post), stopped our path working group using the local community centre.

Personally I wonder whether the abusive and bitchy nature of many covens is perhaps linked to the unhealthy influence of the fourth way philosophy of Gurdjieff or indeed the worst excesses of some of Aleister Crowley’s training regimes?

There is a common misconception that Professor Hutton has somehow undermined the basis of pagan witchcraft. I didn’t really get that impression, if anything he has cleared a space in which it can thrive. If anything his work reminds me of the kind of approach taken by the late Andrew Chumbley, whose credentials are anything but undermined by this book. I once asked Andrew about all these claims to a lineage older than the 1940s emergence of Wicca and he replied that although initiated by traditional witches with a long pedigree they didn’t actually know very much. It was still down to him and his colleagues to reinvent or flesh out the tradition.

Likewise on the topic of the goddess, the learned professor’s position is really a form of enlightened agnosticism –

‘The effect [of the ‘Murrayite’ fall from grace] upon professional pre-historians was to make most return, quietly and without controversy to that careful agnosticism as to the nature of the ancient religion which most has preserved since the 1940s. There had been no disproof of the veneration of a Great Goddess, only a demonstration that the evidence concerned admitted of alternative explanations.’ (Hutton: 1999: 282)

Which does not mean that goddesses were not worshipped in prehistoric times or that none of them achieved to greatness. For example Isis; who may not be a prehistoric goddess but is certainly the first to go global. Ronald Hutton’s book is a reminder that a god or goddess wants you to encounter them as they truly are and not as a mere cipher with which to work out your frustration or bitterness about the way your life is going just now.

'In Our Time' - BBC R4 - Alchemy (Comment)

'In Our Time' offers such promise but rarely delivers.
The discussion on Alchemy (22.2.5) being a case in point.
The programme's two major faults are ethnocentricity and snobbery.
Ethnocentric because it rarely ventures east of Suez; snobbishness because it hardly ever steps outside the academy. Hence in a discussion on Alchemy there is no mention of its probable origin in South Asian philosophy of the body, 'Ayurvedic' medicine and the important discipline of plant alchemy.

Intellectual snobbery means that the views of expert 'practitioners' are rarely if ever heard - even when it becomes obvious that the so-called experts don't really have a very good grasp of the topic - or worse have merely jumped on a bandwagon set in motion by independent scholars.

Melvin Bragg, I'm a fan of the show but does it have to be this way?

Liber T: Tarot of Stars Eternal (review)

Liber T: Tarot of Stars Eternal (review)
by Roberto Negrini, artwork by Andrea Serio
review by Mogg Morgan

Liber T is a new rendering of the famous Crowley/Harris Tarot deck into what some might say is a more contemporary mode. The person who first drew my attention to the deck - assumed, perhaps rightly, that the pun on liberty was another blow in the 'fightback' against the current corporate copyright holders of Crowley / Harris deck. It is said that it can be difficult to gain the appropriate permissions to reproduce images from the old deck and there are rumours that those who have managed to do so have lived to regret the experience. How much of this is true - i dunno - but such are the rumours that go round bookfairs. Redrawing an image is one way to circumvent any existing copyrights - and the result is often quite pleasing - as in this case the colours seem fresher. The style is distinctly stellar.

Overall this is a nice deck, and the artwork is of very high quality. The deck claims to sponsored by the OTOA - which according to the rather informative page of Albion Lodge of the (Caliphate?) stands for 'Ordo Templis Orientis Antiquas [whose] history . . based upon suggestive charters and few documentations about its historical facts. [Let's not forget that there were times when even Crowley mislaid the odd certificate!] In spite of this its egregoric power and dynamic has proved to be resistant to falling into sleep and forgetfulness. By this fact one can at least assume that the line is capable of a certain power. In a letter to Peter Koenig, Bertiaux said the following: "Whether or not the Jean-Maine lineage was linked to the OTO of Reuss probably can't be ever proven" (Bertiaux, letter dated 4 April 1990). So from this let us proceed in the history of an order that started in the same place as all other OTO bodies with Theodor Reuss.'

I garnered a lot of information on the deck from Diane Wilkes review for the principally that: the subtitle of the deck (Tarot of Stars Eternal) hints to the impetus behind this deck; the revisions to the Minors are based on the Decans, also known as the 36 Symbolic Constellations of the Egyptian Star Cult, the SIBU SEPESU (Eternal Stars). Negrini's sources of inspiration include Liber Hermetis of the Corpus Hermeticum, Indian (Vedic) astrology, Picatrix, and the writings of Agrippa and Bruno. The deck is intended for ritual use, based on the spread/ritual provided in the Little White Booklet (LWB).' There is also a useful table setting out the differences in keyword between the Crowley / Harris and Liber T. So probably a deck for those caught up in the OTOA trajectory, but may also be of interest to any lover of the Tarot. - mogg

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Works of Michael Aquino

Until 1996, Michael Aquino was the founding High Priest of the Temple of Set; before that one of the illuminati of the Church of Satan. I've just been reading two new monumental ebooks published by Michael Aquino and, remarkably for such extensive works, are available free of charge. setanic groupings are viewed from a critical distance by most LHP magicians. One informed commentator recented wrote to me: 'that the isolationist 'black brother' approach is flawed, . . . the TOS seem to equate the LHP with this position and that the aim of magick is to become an isolated, inviolate self.' I'd add that I think any truly sethian magical organisation would be more rosicrucian than old style 'masonic'. The TOS say they are closer in spirit to Crowley's AA, and although that involves the wellknown sequence of 'masonic-type' grades, they still see in this a valid magical structure. And, it has to be said, they do not charge for initiation. Even so, the Temple of Set and before them, the Church of Satan stumbled onto a mythos which is uniquely relevant to modern magick and for that they deserve credit and indeed respect. I haven't read either book through yet (one is 1000 pages of detailed research with over 50 photographs) but whatever the possible bias i! t's sure to be crucial reading for anyone who really wants to understand the magick of this important emerging archetype. - [mogg]

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion (review)

Andy Worthington, Alternative Albion 2004 Isbn 1872883761, 14.95pounds
(the book is available from mandrake, plus a few independentbookshops as well as AMAZON. But as is often the case you probably won't find it in one of the corporate bookstores)

'This innovative social history looks in detail at how the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge have brought together different aspects of British counter-culture to make the monument a 'living temple' and an icon of alternative Britain'

And indeed everything you could want to know about the stones from the Druid revival in the 18th century, Gerard Gardner's celebration of the 1951 repeal of the Witchcraft Act (complete with bagpipes), to the events of the Beanfield in 1985 (that's twenty years ago this year folks). The counter culture didn't end that day but rather it mutated into the Rave Party scene, the Road's protest and Neo-paganism. It's poised and ready under the banner of the Save Stonehenge Campaign to respond to government's latest scheme to run a dual carriageway just west of the circle.

They say history is written by the winners, and in this instance there are many who wish to claim the victory. As a pagan I was surprised to sense the animus among anarchists et al, against what they call ' uniformed druid hierarchy' (see Frazer Clark's Parallel Youniversity UP!223). How could it be that the druids are seen by many as the enemy of the counter culture? Surely it was not always so? Well read this book and you learn a little how a 'small section of the druids' (and indeed the pagan) movement appeared at times to support the establishment's attempts to ban free festivals and make access to sacred sites for a small self promoting elite only. But this isn't the whole story - these people are expert self publicists and in the absence of accurate information they managed for a time to monopolise the truth about places like Stonehenge. As Andy says:

Not all Druids are 'a bunch of middle class accountants and dentists'. The Druids at Stonehenge come in many forms. These include:

- The Ancient Druid Order, who may well fit your bill these days, but
who were the original agitators for solstice access after the first fence was
raised around Stonehenge in 1901.

- The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, founded in 1964 after a schism
in the Ancient Druid Order, who abandoned Stonehenge on a point of principle
after members of the public were prevented by the authorities from attending the
solstice in the early 1960s. the original donor having stipulated full public

- A number of newer Orders, whose founders were part of the Stonehenge
Free Festivals' vast congregation, and who campaigned for open access to
Stonehenge after the festival was brutally suppressed at the Battle of the
Beanfield in 1985, >> which i always refer to as the Beanfield Massacre a
more accurate description, despite how half a dozen hardened mushy & special
brew nuts might have told it in the pub that night :)

- Arthur Pendragon's Loyal Arthurian Warband, the Secular Order and the
Glastonbury Order.

That's why Andy's book is so important - it sets the record straight and arms the reader with all that facts they need to counteract lies and prepare for what is to come. The truth is that the pagan / new age movement and the free festival scene are intimated connected, always were and will be again. The editors of the recent Channel Four 'Banned in the UK' would have done better had they read Andy's book. How else could they have failed to recognise the connection between the UK government's ban on Acid house and 'repetitive beats' with the earlier assault on the Free Festival scene including that at Stonehenge. Perhaps it needs someone like Andy to document all this and as Professor Hutton points out, he does such a thorough job it's likely to remain the standard history for a very long time to come. See you at Stonehenge.

PS: to see my pictures from the 1999 'Return to the Stones' go to:

Sunday, June 05, 2005

'Concentration Camp Guard' vs 'Jobsworth' (comment)

Johann Hari thinks that

'human rights abuses commited by Jews provoke far more rage
across the world than human rights abuses committed by any other group'
(Independent 23.2.5).

Which is an odd way of seeing things. If it were true then surely Israel would have been bombed and invaded by now? I guess that Israel gets away with a lot because of European guilt about the holocaust. From a Middle East perspective this latitude seems unfair given the fact that that particular piece of genocide had nothing to do with Arabs and yet they have to pick up the bill. Surely it should be the Germans who are expelled from their land to make way for the new state of Israel - its the least they could do - an outrageous suggestion I know - but it seems ok when those asked to pay have brown skins and live far away.

Ken Livingstone's remark may be a bit OTT but lets remember that 'concentration camp guard' is a common figure of speech - signifying those who are basically just doing a job without worrying too much about those on the receiving end. It's a stronger version of 'jobsworth' - sometimes you have to sting people if you want them to wake up to the fact that whats good for their career is trampling on my head

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Exorcism! C4 (25.2.5)

Well maybe not - after the big build-up - the spooky credits, dry ice and discordant musick, the stentorian tones of the presenter, author, so my informant tells me of several best selling 'self help' titles. Krisnan Guru Murti - strained and came forth . . . with a gnat. C4 late night exorcism was a bit of a damp squib. If you're going to scan someone's brain better make sure they got one.

Krisnan struggled to extract some blood out of the panel of stone faced talking heads - many of them sporting dog-collars or the earnest look of the recently delivered. It was definitely a case where the advert was more interesting than the product.

After all the recent publicity concerning the so-called god spot - one wonders if that theory is going to go the way of that other G? Take some fundamentalist Christians, with a few other Abrahamic types for 'balance' - then a willing subject - although this one found it hard to conceal the fact that he had rehearsed - well more than that actually - this was not his first exorcism - or 'deliverance' to use the nice new term suggested by the COE PR department. Our subject turns out to be well known to the exorcist - well his friend actually - having been exorcised for something or other most weekends at his local church - this week is was a nice gentle demon called 'paranoia' which duly upped and left at the first mention of 'the mighty name of Jesus'. Lest we forget that JC was first and foremost an exorcist. Thank your lucky stars it wasn't a more intractable 'demon' like 'homosexuality' or sparks really might have flown. Come to think of it might have been more interesti! ng.

Those clever scientists had to work very hard indeed to find anything significant in those brain waves - other than the kind of changes that might occur possibly during meditation or even - dare I say it - the kind of changes in brain chemistry that might occur if someone touches you in a kindly way on the chest. (mogg)