Talking Stick at the much improved local hostelry - the Port Mahon. The discussion on power animals and animal spirit guides. Which brought to mind how several friends had their first contact with 'power' animals in rather traumatic ways. I remember how Chesca said she was once thrown from her horse and trampled, but from then on, the horse was always a special presence in her magical universe. Another friend, Dwina, was once repeatedly bitten by a venomous spider. She woke from a lucid arachnid dream just in time to prevent further bites. I remembered one of those seminal dreams when I was pursued night after night by a large wolf-like or alsatian canid. It only stopped when I turned and confronted the beast - letting it do its worst. Consummed by the dog, there was always a part of me that could not be eaten - which brings to mind the lines from the Bhagavad Gita - that the transcendental Self cannot be killed.
23 August 05 - Pagan Animal Rights
Judith writes, having recently moved to Carcassonne, France, and rather upset to discover that bullfighting is still practiced locally, despite the fact that in August 2001 it was outlawed in Carcassonne as there was no proof that this blood sport had ever been in existence in the area. But somehow the promoters, aided by the Spanish Mayor got their way. Since that date three days in August of every year have been set aside for the killing of bulls!
She is calling upon one and all to help halt the next round of bullfights (Corrida) in Carcassonne, France. And with this in mind constructed a sigil to help provide a focus for those who want to see an end to this brutal practice. The dates we need to concentrate on are the following:-
Friday 26 August
Saturday 27 August
Sunday 28 August
Please forward to others. - May Set be with you.'
[There's a sigil to go with this which i will try to display here]
18 August 05 - Pope attacks Neopaganism
'And in the twentieth century, in the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism, gave rise to the attempt, planned and systematically carried out by the regime, to exterminate European Jewry. ' Pope Benedict, Cologne
It is worth emphasizing that people of many religions, including magicians and occultists, were arrayed on both sides of the conflict, probably more with the allies than the fascist. It is an important issue that IMO needs careful discussion - several occult authors have, in a way, made similar claims.
See for example Hitler and the Age of Horus or Morning of the Magicians. It is probably one of the most important issues facing the neo-pagan movement and the new Pope is very clever to have found that weakness. Personally I see this as all the more reason to engage with 'blood and soil' runesters - and indeed 'satanists', even 'theosophists' and those who promulgate the so-called 'western way' - engage so that they see the error of their ways. This is not to concede the argument to the catholic church - of course it is a smokescreen – fascism is an economic system developed from capitalism - the 'occult' elements are overplayed - more a symptom than the cause. Some would argue that anti-semitism stems as much from the Christian message, others have seen it as even older, coming from events in ancient Egypt. There is a danger that those who aspire to lead the pagan movement - will have a poor understanding of the issues. For a very informed historical background I recommend goodriche clarke's occult roots of fascism. I'v also posted on this blog an old essay, Fascism and the Occult, that discusses some of the history in more depth
BTW: If you don't think it is still a live issues take a look at this passage, reputedly from an interview with Edred Thorson.
'Stephen Flowers and the Third Reich
mc> Can you say a little more - the quote you give below is IMHO a bit ambiguous. What does Flowers mean by 'the Third Reich's dynamism got out of hand' -it sound as if he saying that the third Reich had some positive qualities, at least
when starting out. I could never accept that proposition.
Of course the Third Reich had some positive qualities when first starting out -- every social system does, since it's almost impossible for mankind to invent any system which is 100% evil. If there weren't *some* positive qualities to the Third Reich, it never would have gotten the power it had.
The Third Reich offered a sense of pride to a people that had been trampled into the mud during World War I and insulted terribly and treated like mud in the aftermath of that war.
The Third Reich offered a vitality and a sense of hope to a people who had lost such vision.
The Third Reich, or more specifically those people leading and pushing the Third Reich, used horribly wrong methods to gain more power than they otherwise would have had, and they used horribly wrong methods to maintain that power once they had it.
It reminds me somewhat of the Republican Party in the U.S.A. If you look hard enough, you can find some positive qualities in their stated goals of scaling back the federal government, in reversing the moral/ethical decay of modern society, of reducing federal spending, etc. Unfortunately they've hitched their horse to a wagon which has so many negative qualities (belief that morals can come only from
Christian religions seems to be one of them) that it sometimes looks like we're going to have to fight long and hard here to prevent the U.S.A. from becoming yet another Reich.'
end of quote
17th August 05
JD asked me to write up the previous meeting on 'Time' even though i wasn't there - not sure I’m up to it really apart from to say that according to Immanuel Kant, Space and Time are both human abstract concepts - or as i understand it they are human mental concepts that we use to order our world - they have no existence apart from us as human beings. Space and Time were concepts personified in Egyptian wisdom - which rather undermines the idea that the Egyptians were incapable of abstract thought.
Last night we discussed Oxfordshire’s very own 'Blair witch'
i.e. wittenham clumps - a site occupied for millennia and
therefore a happy hunting ground for the odd disembodied Ka spirit. It has several classic ghostly phenomena - the spectral coach and horses - racing down the 'high street' at midnight as a warning of impending catastrophe (I wonder if anyone has seen it recently/). A white lady or goddess who appears near the lake and was exorcised by a whole bunch priests in times of yore. And yes - the clumps were one of the resting places of Bran's head on its journey to London - a spectral raven has been seen hovering over the ditch - and this is said to be the location of buried treasure! In the Green Stone saga, Andy Collins and pals discovers one of the 'lights of knowledge' there (Yesod). Wittenham Clumps is certainly a very spirited place, especially the woods between the clumps and the river.
14th August 05
Bath Omphalos to hear Anton Channing’s thoughtful exploration of six key concepts within alchemy viz: the caduceus, the auroborus, the cosmic egg, the spiral, alchemical trinities, and the hermaphrodite. Nice crowd, including people from Friends of the Witchcraft museum. Things slightly overshadowed by a rather bitchy ad hominem attack in the reviews pages of the Cauldron; aimed at the author of Witcha: a book of cunning, and the OGDOS newsletter (Hem Neter). The target is his article on ‘Cain: the first Satanist’. Informed criticism is no bad thing. Dialectics, is, afterall, a science that emerged within the ancient pagan intellectual tradition. However, it is difficult to answer a critic who is convinced you are wrong but can’t say why.
With The Bull of Ombos now at the printers, and Pan’s Road with a reader, I find myself at a loose end. I plan to start work on the final part of my ‘sethian’ trilogy’ in a few months. In the ‘House of Life’ a book on Çatalhöyük caught my eye. It turned out to be a whole new thread that has led me to a rich vein of Neolithic culture that shares many features with the people of Ombos.
The first 1960s excavation has become a cultural phenomenon. The excavation, restarted in the 1990s, the publication of the new finds, with analysis, is due soon. In the meantime, all sorts of snippets are trickling out via the campaign’s website. The latest, just a few days ago, is the discovery of a beautifully made stamp seal that for the first time, reveals the full identity of one of Çatalhöyük’s most famous, and controversial ‘goddesses’. Turns out to be a bear. A beast is every bit as significant to Neolithic magick as the Red Ochre Bull. Bull and Bear are both ‘Sethian’ animals. The bull was associated in Egyptian astronomy with the constellation known later by the Greeks as Ursa Major – ‘The Great Bear’. At Çatalhöyük the Bear ‘rides’ upon the ‘bull’ – which is an image to conjure with, or maybe meditate upon.
According to the press release, the above-mentioned stamp seals were probably used to stamp designs on skin or clothing. This example shows an animal with its front and hind legs raised upwards. Such figures have been known from Çatalhöyük for some time as plaster reliefs on the walls of houses. An example excavated by James Mellaart is shown in Figure 2. These plaster reliefs have often been interpreted as ‘mother goddess’ figures. But the heads and hands of the plaster relief examples have always been cut off, so it was never possible to say whether the figures were humans or not. But now the stamp seal provides a key. Here the head and the hind paws remain. They clearly show that the figure is an animal, probably a bear. So it is probable that the reliefs with upraised arms and legs are not goddesses but bears. Depicting animals, such as leopards, in houses is common at Çatalhöyük, and so it is not surprising that we should find a bear.
For more information visit:
5th August - Hiroshima Day
The topic of last night's 'talking stick' moot down the pub, was the Pagan response to current world events. Contrary to what G Fukiyama wrote in his book, 'The End of History' - it's not all over but the shouting. The issue he thought a dead one is our relationship to Islam. For me this is as a pagan. Perhaps the answer is to say we're all muslims really - we're certainly not 'unbelievers' - we pagans are definately believers - some even share the concept of AL & LA (see Crowley, Liber Al vel Legis). The same discussion came up in another forum - and what I wrote there may also be of interest:
Seems like there is a difference between ‘Muslims’ considered as a historic/cultural people – - presumably a community of people who emerged in about the 6-7th century. The ups and down of those people, and indeed whether they still exist, is a moot point, that can be separated from ‘Muslim’ considered as a religious ideal. This could mean that a ‘Muslim’ is anyone who regards themselves as ‘one of the peaceful’. Of course, like any religion, there are centres of doctrinal authority and more dogmatic manifestations of the ideal. As in many other religions, Hinduism, Buddhism etc, the body of primary and secondary texts tends to grow through time – but the essence is the mantra like ‘There is no god but Allah’ – ‘there is no God but the principle of divinity itself’ – who could object to that?
At that point, someone remembered a telling parable from the life of the prophet –
Every morning, whenever he went out to teach, he found his doorstep littered with rubbish, thrown there, so it is said, by a lady of another faith. This went on for some time, years maybe. Then one day, there was no rubbish anymore. The prophet asked why and was told the culprit was ill. So, being a wise and kindly soul, he went round to see her, took her a present, helped to nurse her back to health. Why, she asked, did you help me, when I was your enemy? Because, he says, one should always respond to ‘evil’ with kindness’. Now there’s a thing you don’t hear everyday?
1 August 05 'Lammas Day'
That well known pagan chant can be heard in many a newly mown meadow - 'lammas day is the devil's day' - well not quite. Although someone in the Bath omphalos group did suggest that this was the beginning of the 'Sethian' year - an idea that does has something going for it. The myth of John Barleycorn springs to mind - sung beautifully at last night's ritual by Sharron. Who is JB but another form of the ancient god of the harvest - Osiris - here cut down, dismembered and baked into the lammas loaf - all washed down with beer, the product of fermented bread - died with red ochre - the bloodlike 'desert' of the gods?
31 July 05
There is talk of doing even more work on a local urban cemetary to convert it from a vandalised wasteland to a nature reserve. But having begun to read Ken Worpole's Last Landscapes: the architecture of the Cemetery in the West, I see it from a different point of view. He argues that turning this graveyard into another nature reserve is not necessarily the way to ensure a valued future. People value a space like that when they have some of their own relatives and friends buried there. A space full of the names from a hundred years ago has very little meaning to the current generation. In Europe, they have many fine cemeteries, much loved by the local families that use them. In UK our cemeteries are full, and often neglected and vandalised. The difference is that Europeans allow reuse of the same plot after a decent interval, the bones are re-interred in a charnel house. In UK graves are sold in perpetuity. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the way to revitalise our urban cemeteries is to adopt the European model. Otherwise we are forced, if only by reason of cost, to opt for the ecologically damaging option of cremation - and our once loved cemeteries are places of neglect.
A version of this was published in the Oxford Mail 4:8:05)
30 July 05 - 'The means determines the end'
Is it maybe time for us to devise arguments to counter the fundamentalists but from the more tolerant 'pagan' perspective? One lesson might be that using violent means to achieve some sort of 'Islamic' utopia of social justice - will fail - such efforts usually do. Polical violence is a like the djinn or a genii in a bottle - once used, it's difficult to know when to stop.
25th July 05 - 'When Your Guru Goes Gaga'
I forget the exact date of my initiation into amookos but it was some time in the early 1980s. It was at about the same time as I was being expelled from Kenneth Grant's Typhonian OTO - indeed my membership of amookos was a factor in that whole affair but that’s another story. Sometime in the summer of 1989 a fat envelope dropped on the mat. Amongst its enclosures was the following communication from Dadaji, the last guru of the tiny sect of Tantrik magi that I had joined some years earlier. What I read, with sinking heart, gave me an acute sense of déjà vu:
'Guru Purnima, Tuesday, 18th July 89
THE SPLENDOUR OF THE BRIGHT SHINING
(A Corrective to Corruption) etc etc'
Had my guru gone gaga? Either that or he had turned into a total arsehole like every other guru before him. Certainly over the recent years he had suffered a series of strokes the most obvious symptom of which was his current inability to write cursively (you can see examples of this on ION’s website). There were also several glaring errors of fact in the letters he sent. The immediate one concerning Lokanath, was the possible accusation of a treacherous conventional marriage by conventional Christian based ceremony. Lokanath had in fact married in 1978, just after his return from meeting Dadaji for the first time in India. It was no secret. Indeed contrary to what Dadaji says the nath traditon is very diverse and has often included married householders. Perhaps Dadaji resented it at the time but said nothing for the ten years of highly productive work. He finally snapped in 1998, a few years before his death. The full truth will probably never be known.
When i wrote this, circa June 2004, I was in the middle of an exchange of emails with Kapilnath (John Pilskog) the editor of Open Door and the person who ‘benefited’ most from Dadaji’s volte face. Once upon a time I had the ultra leftist type opposition to marriage but nowadays I must say it doesn’t seem that important an issue. But the fact was that Mike had married way back in 1978 and so it was hardly a recent revelation? When Mike returned from his fateful first meeting with Dadaji in the early part of 1978, he resolved to marry his longtime partner Jan, thus putting his affairs in order. I remember he said how lonely he had been during is stay in India, and that obviously influenced his decision. Perhaps when he wrote to Dadaji and told him what he’d done, he had inadvertently infringed one of Dadaji’s own taboos?? Even so the work continued , AMOOKOS was born and began a fitful, painfully slow growth.
Another issue was whether members of AMOOKOS could claim to be Adi-Naths. The problem started with the original charter, written in Dadaji’s own inimicable style. Whatever the ambiguity of the wording, noone claimed to be an Adinatha sannyasi. The documentary evidence shows that Lokanath certainly made no such claim. In fact, he stated that ‘when my dear Gurudev Mahendranath initiated DC in India in Spring 1978, we decided to transform the tradition into an international and cosmopolitan order. This is in line with the Adinatha tradition of old, who always sought true spiritual values and repudiated the artificial.’(Azoth: 13, Spring 1981). Towards the end of his life perhaps Dadaji did regret the ambiguous wording of the original charter, and, as he had done with the Uttara Kaulas, found it easier to pretend the whole thing had never happened.
It was about 1981 that I made contact with Lokanath, after buying a copy of his celebrated occult fanzine Sothis. Lokanath was an influential member of the UK's growing occult scene of the 1970s, and next in line to be head of the typhonian OTO. What I learnt of Dadaji was from his excellent articles in Sothis magazine. In an important sense - Dadaji and amookos were guru each to each.It represented a new covenant which aimed to transcend the past’s inadequate magical organisations. A switch from the dominant ‘masonic’ model to a more freeform ‘rosicrucian’ mode. When Dadaji went gaga he forgot all this. But whatever these are the bare facts. It was never going to be clear cut. Perhaps it is a good thing that there is confusion right from the very beginning
postscript: well now i've received a communication from a Nath from another lineage -
so perhaps the order blown apart by its own guru will come together - watch this space.
24th July 05 - 'Mystical Vampire' in Independent on Sunday.
Mystical Vampire is the new and only biography of Victorian Theosophist, Mabel Collins. The Independent is really proving its name by publishing Gary Lackman's humourous and informative review of Kim Farnell's biographical efforts. Judging by the review, which takes up three quarters of the page. I love some of the bullets - viz: 'Mabel Collins - a writer who knew what upper-class ladies really did with their lap dogs'; 'Theosophists? I take them two at a time' or 'Kim Farnell has done devotees of gaslight a service.' Gary obviously enjoyed reading it?
22 July 05
'The Day of Rams'
This week, the faceless members of a Pagan Federation 'committee' decide to cancel its national conference, because London was getting too dangerous. They say they were prompted in their action by the withdrawal of three speakers and two stall holders. So at a time when the whole country is discovering a new stoicism in the face of concerted terror - one slightly moribund pagan organisation has decided to bottle out. So all that talk of 'never again the burning times' was just talk. They heard on the radio that the muslims want to get the pagans - and that is it - they crumble. I feel deeply ashamed and upset that this organisation - which I've supported for many years - has whimped out. It must the one the final acts of non-leadership in the last declining years of what was once a good idea.
PS: silly syncronicity - at exactly the time the second lot of bombs were due to go off - the plug shorted out in my room - and one of the computers went down. People near the failed bombers said they could smell burning electrical cables. I only mention that because since 7th July the amount of spam I get has dropped off from 400-500 a day to almost none - not sure why - ghost in the machine perhaps??
17th July 05
A book about magick in the review section of the Independent on Sunday - not Harry Potter - but Now That's What I Call Chaos Magick by Julian Vayne and Greg Humphries, from my own firm - Mandrake of Oxford. Reviews of books from the actual practitioners of magick are rare, but becoming more common. They are usually dismissed by review's editors as either 'genre' or just too 'left field' for their gentle readers. So a third of a page in the reviews section makes me feel very happy. And I really like this book - for me it has the final word on the significance of the neo-pagan art of 'chaos magick'. Gary Lachman's informed and intelligent review, traces the roots of Chaos Magick, to Eliphas Levi's 19th century redaction of magick to its real essence - 'will and imagination' or in Gary's own words 'Free your mind - and your spells will follow.' Independent on Sunday (ABC magazine 17:7:5)
15 July 05
Another very hot day in London. Kym and I are there for the launch of Kim Farnell's biography of Mabel Collins - Mystical Vampire. Mabel, a theosophist, despite her interesting life, or should it be lives, has languished without one. Known outside of Theosophical circles as the 'mistress' of Robert Donston Stephenson - one of the suspects in the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' murders of 1888.
Despite the heat, and the aftermath of the July 7th bombings - there was a reasonably showing. The was still much talk of Islamic fundamentalism - which seems to be becoming more rabid than its Christian cousin. IMO it is that whole 'choosen people' thing - that's the heart of the matter. What the world needs now is a bit of pagan style tolerance and pluralism.
10 July, year 05
A very hot day at Kensal Green Cemetary Open Day. Shame that the WW2 veteran's event was cancelled due to security concerns from the police. Now is the time for us to be strong - as the 500K people at the main commemoration in the Mall demonstrated - I guess. This year took the tour of General & Military graves - included the 'common' or 'pauper's plot' also know as the 'guinea' graves - many of the obligatory military funerals were put in this plot! But there again, what does it matter - the whole story of Kensal Green, is really just a variation on the theme of human vanity afterall.
1 July, year 05
The Connaught Hotel, Drury Lane, right next door to Freemasons Hall - and incidentally it is owned by the craft. I was there to do my 'talking head' bit for a forthcoming BBC4 documentary about Dennis Wheatley - 'prince of thriller writers'. DW is well known to the community through eight 'black magic' thrillers - the first of which, The Devil Rides Out, written in 1934, is still regarded as a minor modern classic. Despite a massive peak of sales, running at 500K per year in the 1960s, all of DW's books are currently out of print. Book Club Associates plan to reprint half a dozen of the occult books later this year. Despite the total lack of political correctness, DW stills has a nostalgic attraction to the many fans of 1960s 'crap books' - everyone i've told about the show has said they now want to get a copy and revisit those glamourous 'satanists'. My line was, although things have moved on - DW did still hold some sort of mirror to the magic of his times, albeit one that was a very twisted and distorted.