Sunday, July 01, 2007

Omphalos Magical Fair 2007 (cancelled)

Bath Omphalos at the Chapel
Bath Omphalos at the Chapel

Saturday Evening: Roberto workshop (Zivorod ).

Sunday Afternoon: 'Blood Lust and the Evil Dead' - extended workshop on supernatural assault. Workshop and performance of the Zar exorcism dance; audio/visual installation based around Mark Mirabello's Cannibal Within. Special altar and apotropiac rites. Illustrated lecture by Mogg Morgan based on his forthcoming book: Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt (Seth & Egyptian Magick volume III). More to be announced. A gathering of the clan rather than a commercial event so tickets £2-3 pounds.

Space in the chapel is limited so it would be handy to let the organisers know if you are coming. Bring food.


Yahoo elist: omphalosmagickalfair/
Sunday Afternoon: 'Blood Lust and the Evil Dead' - extended workshop on supernatural assault. Workshop and performance of the Zar exorcism dance; audio/visual installation based around Mark Mirabello's Cannibal Within. Special altar and apotropiac rites. Illustrated lecture by Mogg Morgan based on his forthcoming book: Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt (Seth & Egyptian Magick volume III). More to be announced. A gathering of the clan rather than a commercial event so tickets £2-3 pounds.

Space in the chapel is limited so it would be handy to let the organisers know if you are coming. Bring food.


Yahoo elist: omphalosmagickalfair/

Monday, May 07, 2007

Samkhya Dualism

In ancient India what we now call a philosophy was termed a view (skt darshan). This is in contrast to the western tradition where philosophy can be more doctrinaire in its approach. The Indian intellectual tradition is relativist, any philosophy is a point of view, correct only on the basis of a set of presuppositions. The six most important views were, according to one important text said to be:

Nyaya or the logical school;

Its close relative the school of Vaisheshika or Atomism;

Mimamsa, literally 'enquiry', a school dedicated to the defence of the authenticity of the Vedas;

The Vedanta non-dualist school;

Yoga (1)

The Samkhya or Reasoning School.

Samkhya is widely believed to be one of the oldest of the six and along with the Vaisheshika Atomic school the main influence on the medico-scientific (Ayurveda) tradition and Tantrism. Samkhya represents an extremely important philosophical tendency in Indian thought. All of the later philosophies defined themselves in relation to its theories, either for them or against.

In reality there were many more than six philosophies in India. One important view was preserved by the Raseshvara (mercury lords), ranked as about eighth in an imaginary league table of important views.(2) This system almost certainly comprises alchemical practitioners like Nagarjuna and is closely akin to the later Tantrik and Ayurvedic views. It is worth noting that ideas connected with medical science (Ayurveda) are also extremely pervasive and very authoritative. In fact, there is hardly any text in the Indian intellectual tradition from the Late Upanishads onwards that does not make some reference either directly or otherwise, to Ayurveda.

continued at samkhya

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pagan Federation Wessex Conference

I'm speaking in the afternoon on 'Typhonian Magick'

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Deconditioning - the wrong way (from JSM0

Mogg wrote:
Aleister Crowley recommends that magicians
cultivate the ability to argue the case from both sides -
as in the classical techniques of the sophists.

That kind of practice found its way into Pete Caroll's reworking of the whole
Crowley thing into his first book on Chaos Magick - _Liber Null_.
AFAIK chaos magicians still take this idea quite seriously -
ie i sure i read an article either in Chaos International or Oracle where one high level member of the IOT says how he was a 'lefty' most of his life but then decided he would be a 'fascist' for a while as some sort of intellectual exercise - which strikes me as about rhetoric - perhaps with the aim of deconditioning etc.

Personally i was never that impressed by that idea in crowley et al
- always struck me as 'bad faith' -

Mark said:
Clearly, if one already feels a conscious inclination toward fascism, the sincere adoption of a fascist world-view won't enact any profound de-conditioning. If in fact one finds it repugnant ( another mode of desire to be sure) than an engagement that seeks to find the truth or genius of the perspective might well be productive. Any sincere engagement with abjected material is potentially productive. In terms of Crowley, I immediately think of the squalor of the Abbey--an engagement with a basic form of the abject--filth.

As to playing at fascism, one need look no further than the west coast post-punk demi-monde of the 1980s, a'la Exit and ReSearch magazines,Feral House Press, Boyd Rice aka NON etc. Clearly the engagement exhibited by this group is as much about an interrogation of fascism as it is an embrace.

mogg said:
Thanks - that does help clarify the issues -
i suppose 'abjection' works on, or implies that these are arranged in some sort of binary pairs of opposites.
The middle way or equipoise (ie deconditioning)
comes by using them for some sort of intellectual kartharsis.
hence the famous binaries of hindu philosophy - pleasure/pain, attraction/revulsion etc

But I suggest that there is an unlimited number
of choices available to someone wanting to engage -
the other points of view -
and that some things (eg: fascism)
can be viewed as sui generis -
i.e. they don't stand in any meaningful
contrary with anything -

Of course the Buddhism philosopher might also say that the
idea of contraries is also an illusion -
ie: just a construct of some kind -
ie: in what sense is black really the opposite of blue ??

'love and do what you will'


ps: There is also the issue of ego -
imo an egotist believes that their personal development is more important than the suffering of others - but ego is the enemy of liberation - so they are caught in a paradox??

mark said:
Of course the abject can also be a function of suspended opposition. Those things considered monstrous or Other are abjected because they violate presupposed oppositions. Indeterminate race and/or gender is often construed as abject. The various figures of the undead also enact the kind of boundary crossings that call forth banishment. Most conceptions of the left-hand path--utilization of bodily pleasures or identification with "evil" as paths to spiritual elevation--enact this "impossible" co-presence as well. All of which is to say that the embrace of the abject may serve to reveal the illusory nature of binary opposition.


Dear Mark

that's very well put but a bit tricky for me to understand ; )
But guess you are talking about the nature of taboo ?
I.e. that the ideas of constructing a set of binary opposites -
often involves a lot of unexamined presuppositions
about what is 'good' and 'bad'?

So for example in
'tantrik' praxis a 'low caste woman' may be seen as defiling
and therefore as a source of powerful, liberating encounters.
But we might well question the initial assumption of
'low caste women' = 'impure'
- that kind of thing??

'love and do what you will'


ps: in western magick the equivalent of the 'middle way'
is AFAIK the 'middle pillar' - which lies between
the twin poles of 'mercy' and 'severity' -
perhaps an idea influenced by Buddhism?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Blood lust and the 'Evil Dead' in Ancient Egypt (talk)

A talk in march at the Dark Arts Society, Deveraux Public House

I intend to continue my admittedly 'leftfield' exploration of the darker aspects of Egyptian folk magick.

The 'Zar' cult is probably a survival of a popular ancient Egyptian cult that involved 'demon dancing'. I will touch on this at some point in the talk although it might be even better to have someone demonstrate the Zar dance - perhaps one of the regular dancers might be able to have a go - as I believe Zar is part of the modern repetoire. I was wondering if anyone had a copy of Hassan Ramzy's 'Introduction to Egyptian Rhythms'.

Jan Fries has written an interesting chapter on Zar in his Seidways: shaking, swaying and serpent mysteries - he based that on the work of a eminent german anthropologist Enno Littmann, whose results are not otherwise readily available in English. I was pleased to find a connection between 'seething' and egyptian magick.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Magus: The Invisible Life of Elias Ashmole (Review)

By Tobias Churton, 2004, Signal Publishing.

'Elias Ashmole is a particularly striking case of someone who did well out of the Restoration through his flair at 'remembering' a largely apocryphal golden Stuart past before the civil war. His lasting fame and 'name' rest (in the title of the Ashmolean Museum) upon his dubious acquisition of another man's lifetime collection of rarities, and his subseqent gifting of them to the University of Oxford'

Lisa Jardine (2002) On a Grander Scale , her biography of Sir Christopher Wren, quoted by Tobias Churton.

The above quote from Jardine provides the raison d'ĂȘtre for Churton's less eloquent but arguable more informed study of the life and impact of the famous antiquarian Elias Ashmole. The house that Elias built as a repository of one of the world's' first museums, is still Oxford's small but wonderful treasurehouse of scientific history. Recent work to extend the basement turned up Ashmole's alchemical laboratory complete with instruments and human and animal remains. The main exhibit is now divided between the Bodleian library, and the founders room of the new Ashmolean in Broad Street - surely one of the world's great museums. Tradescant's original collection of curiousities is still on display - along with the only known portrait of John Dee and one of Ashmole himself, along with the gold chain presented to him by a Swedish monarch in gratitude for his monumental History of the Order of the Garter. It is said that the actual chain is missing a few links, a sure sign of the frequent ebbs and flows in the fortunes of the old magus.

Churton's excellent redaction of the life is only made possible by the five volume compilation of Ashmole's diaries, autobiographies and related notes published by OUP in 1966. The author, Conrad Hermann Hubertus Maria Apollinaris (Kurt) Josten (Pheeww! you don't get names like these very often these days) solved Ashmole's cipher and was thus able to do the work. Awarded an honorary DLitt by the university for his troubles, after his retirement as curator of the science museum, he become curator emeritus.

Which all goes to show that Jardine has probably got it wrong and Ashmole was no Hasolle and does deserve his fifteen minutes of fame. If you need more persuasion read Churton's book. Perhaps aimed more at the museum bookshop than the serious contemporary magi, it does nevertheless contain some gems, especially concerning his struggles to remake himself after the defeat of the royalist cause (hurrah) during the protectorate of Cromwell (booo). Ashmole tells how he "went to Maidstone assizes to heare the Witches tryed, and tooke Mr Tradescant with me." The six witches were hanged, accused of bewitching nine children, a man and a woman and £500 worth of cattle lost and corn at sea by witchcraft.'

Or account of his relationshp with otherwise puritan ministers who nevertheless had a perchant for 'sorcery'. Mrs John Pordage, whom he was amazed to see 'Clothed all in white Lawne, from the crown of the head to the sole of the Foot, and a white rod in her hand. She was hailing as a prophetess by those dancing country dances about her 'making strange noises". Explaining that they were rejoicing because they had 'overcome the Devil.' Dr Pordage then appeared 'all in black velvet' and pressed everyone to join in.'

or even the more intimate touches of Ashmole's struggles to find a wife or love or was it both? It's difficult to see whether his failures were down to a lack of good looks or the necessary finances : 'I dreamt in the morning that I put my hand into Mrs Marche's placket (slip) and then to her next petticoat and then to her third and then to her smock, and then pulled it up, and with very little struggling felt her bare cun(?) - well who hasn't had a dream like that??

This is a lively picture of the times. I could have had more information on the magical work but I learnt a hell of a lot from this densely illustrated and well made book. If you've an interest in the times then buy it. - mogg

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Legend of the Witches (Review)

Written and Directed by Malcolm Leigh
Produced by Negus-Fancey
Edited by Judith Smith
Lighting Cameraman: Robert Webb
Border Film Production (London) Ltd
Year: 1969
Featuring: Alex and Maxine Sanders and their beautiful coven.
Format: DVD

‘In the beginning was the Moon, Diana. Her lover was the Dawn, Lucifer - God of Light. They created man, and built the monuments, which tracked their paths across the skies. Now man could predict the movements of the Gods, he sought to control them, through priests and ritual…’

Originally X-rated, this newly released DVD, is a real period piece this, documenting the beliefs and practices of Alex Sanders and the circle of witches, which under his leadership, electrified the popular imagination and attracted many into the Wiccan path.

The film's leisurely pace requires the modern viewer to make some adjustment to their viewing habits. Nevertheless this is a minor masterpiece and really manages to tell one of witchcraft's many 'stories'. We've perhaps become a little too knowing to accept all of the certainties of 1960s Wicca - but nevertheless we can all agree, that this 'warts and all' view, really does capture the spirit of the time. It's a beautiful film, shot I think in 16mm black and white, which lends it a very artistic feel, reminding me most of the experimental films of Maya Deren or indeed UK classics of 'socialist realism' such as 'Night Mail', the 1936 movie by John Grierson, with music by Benjamin Britten.

The documentary begins with lovely sweeping shots of seascapes and ancient, elemental landscapes over which the film's narrator begins his tale of the ancient witch mythology, of the Goddess Diana and her consort Lucifer, the sun. Now whether or not one buys into this spirited mythology, we have strayed into controversy almost immediately. Who amongst the current glut of media witches even dares to mention that name - Lucifer?

Almost half the film explores these ideas, covering issues such the mysteries of earth energy, altered states, the pagan traces that survive in pre-reformation churches, the persecutions and the rebirth of the old religion. It's foundation myth, easy to sneer at, but strangely wonderful just the same.

Seamlessly, the film now deliverers us into the hands of a modern coven. We see them perform a variety of rites. First, an outdoor initiation. The candidate, referred to throughout as Michael, not because that's his real name but presumably because of the ancient folk myth of 'crazy man Michael', Britain's very own 'holy fool'. The priestess repeatedly calls 'Michael' to various encounters with elemental forces, the whole rite done at Alderley Edge in Cheshire, itself a place of power, just a stone's thrown from Lindow Moss, where in Iron Age times, other, darker rites were done by our pagan ancestors.

Now the action moves into the temple, after some exploration of the many cursing exhibits, still to be seen at the Boscastle's Witchcraft Museum, we are prepared for the notion that witches sometimes curse. The coven, prepare such a curse, using the traditional and extremely ancient technique, in which a poppet is given life through the agency of Alex and Maxine's act of sexual magick - fascinating stuff.

We even get to see something seldom alluded to these days - the so-called 'Black Mass.' completed with a very lifelike 'sign of Osiris slain' - . These witches, known these days as Alexandrians, do not see such as mass as any form of inversion of Christian principles. They knew something that we have all perhaps forgotten - there is no impervable barrier between primitive Christianity and classical paganism. It was around this time that Professor Morton Smith wrote his groundbreaking book Jesus the Magician. The 'Black Mass' is only 'black to the blind' - it is in fact a celebration of life in all is bounty.

The film concludes with a nod to the future, when the special powers of the witch will be understood more in terms of the newish science of ESP and indeed the 1960s first forays into the psychedelic, encounter groups and other techniques of obsession and transcendence. Of course some in the new millennial will find this all too embarrassing and bad for business - but what do they know? Who are then the true successors to Alex Sanders and the witches of the 1960s? If they were still here I'd say the Temple ov Psychic Youth would be a likely contender. The film will outrage some but inspire others to take up where they left off after a generation or more of stoney sleep. Buy this and be refreshed. - Mogg Morgan

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ardhanarisvara or Ardhanari - Notes (in construction)

A modern cult of Ardanari draws upon its ancient manifestations but differ in many important respects. For example the historical Kaulas worshipped a Goddess possessed of special abilities including the ability to produce an androgynous elixir or 'goddess semen'. The experts say that Ardanari was viewed as androgynous in a different way and that this does not include the production of male and female seed or both semen and menstrual blood. see (White 2003 : 278)

The modern cult would be more flexible in its mythology - but is still able to draw inspiration from older sources for the idea that the male and female adepts can be the source of a (if not the) androgynous elixir. Inspiration for this could be drawn from the Tantrik kingship rites of Bali and Java - medieval centres of the Ardanari cult:

'An Old Javanese court poem, the Smara'Dahana ("The Burning of Kama"), translated and commented by C. Hooykaas, ends on the following verses:

Such is her loveliness, moving and sweet,
to be compared with mead in a chalice;
together with her as his principal spouse
did Smara come down to earth;
King and Queen as Ardhanaresvan
continuously on the jewel lion-throne;
King Kamesvara in [the] lotus' inner part,
having as sakti the eight goddesses after their arrival.45

This poem is in fact a reference to the Indonesian royal consecration, which was Tantric. Hooykaas explicates this verse on the basis of Balinese Saiva ritual, in which Ardhanaresvan is praised in the following terms:
"Hence a rain of nectar pours down, therefore on all the limbs and junc-
tions, born from the meeting of husband and wife, this is proclaimed to be
the 'real life.'"46

Here, the king and his queen, husband and wife, embody the divine pair Siva and Uma, who together are called amrti'karam, the "making of nectar, holy water." It is at this moment in the ritual, in which nectar or holy water is said to descend from the sky to earth, that the water in the vessel before the priest becomes transformed into holy water.47

This is the central mystery of Balinese Hindu religion. On the one hand, this consecration ritual transforms a man into a king: whereas as a boy, the king may have had an ordinary name like Ayam Vuruk, the Young Cock, following his abhiseka he is given the official name of Kamesvara. On the other hand, it transforms him and his spouse into the central deities of the Tantric mandala, vivifying the world with the nectar of their union:

in the moment of their consecration, the newly consecrated King Kamesvara and his spouse are identified with Siva and Uma bestowing the nectar of their supreme bliss upon humanity.48 The mandala is completed by the array of women that surround the royal couple: the king, together with his spouse, as Ardhanaresvan, are said to be seated in the padma'guhya, the hidden recess of the lotus, where they are surrounded by their eight Saktis, perhaps the king's lesser queens.49 However, as we noted in the previous chapter, the lotus and its heart are, in Tantric parlance, none other than the female sexual organ, and certain Kaula groups represented the Sri Cakra as a yoni surrounded by eight lesser yonis.50' (White 2003 : 135)

Thus we read in
Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit:

'Ardhanarishvara "The Lord Whose Half Is Woman" represents a transgendered being created by the union of the Hindu deities shiva (male) and shakti (female). Ardhanarishvara, above all, speaks to the totality that lies beyond duality. In Chinese Taoism (or Daoism), this concept is symbolized by the coming together of YIN AND yang in the Tao (or Dao). Like the Greek god Hermes, Ardhanarishvara is associated with communication; the intermediate being often serves to mediate between women and men, mortals and deities, and between other entities. For this reason, Ardhanarishvara is said to dwellin the chakra (sacred center of the human body) of the throat. In tantra, this chakra is also sometimes associated with oral intercourse, linking the deity not only to androgyny but also to homoeroticism. In the past, Ardhanarishvara was served by gender variant, cross- (or mixed-) dressing, priests.

Alain Danielou* writes, "The hermaphrodite, the homosexual, and the transvestite have a symbolic value and are considered privileged beings, images of the Ardhanarishvara. In this connection, they play a special part in magical and Tantric rites." To devotees, Ardhanarishvara, like Ganesha - Shiva's non-biological son and a companion of Ardhanarishvara - brings prosperity. In artistic depictions, Ardhanarishvarais typically shown with the left half of his body being female and the right half, male. The female (Shakti, or parvati, or Uma) half is usually garbed in red and often holds a lotus, while the male half (Shiva) wears a tiger skin or an ascetic's cloth around the waist. The skin of the female half is tan, while that of the male half is light blue. His/her gaze is pensive, serene; his/her pose sensuous, inviting. The cult of Ardhanarishvara appears to have reached a pinnacle during the tenth through the twelfth centuries and again in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when he-she became a popular subject in sculpture and painting.

*Danielou, Alain (1907-1994) French musicologist, writer, translator, musician (especially of the vina), dancer, and sportsman known especially for his works on Hindu music, mythology, religion, and mysticism, which include Hindu Polytheism (1964), The Ragas of Northern Indian Music (1968), Shiva and Dionysus (1982), and While the Gods Play (1987). Inspired by a deeply religious mother, at age four he constructed a sanctuary in the woods with images of the Virgin Mary and small crosses. His attraction to the sacred eventually led him to explore other spiritual traditions, particularly Hinduism, and to view eroticism as a bridge to enlightenment. He described his first homosexual experience in beatific terms - he felt suddenly "infused with light." "In that moment of intense pleasure, a god of sensuousness, happiness, and light was revealed to me - that god of love whom mystics [of ancient Greek religion, Sufism, Christianity, and Tantra] write about, the god of Jalal al-Din RUMI and Saadi, of Saint John of the Cross [San Juan de la Cruz] and Saint Theresa of Avila [Santa Teresa de Avila], of Dionysian and Tantric rites."

In the 1930s and 1940s, with his lover Raymond Burnier Danielou immersed himself in Hinduism, visiting, photographing, and writing about many otherwise neglected Hindu temples. In Fools of God (1988), one of his works which depicts the interrelationship of homoeroticism and the sacred, Danielou describes the erotico-spiritual dimension of the lives of certain sadhus(Hindu ascetics). For these, he insists, "the repression ofs ex is out of the question. The path of complete abstinence is considered impossible in the age of strife in which we live... The man who wishes to conquer heaven and earth must cultivate both sexual and mental energies and at length learn to channel the one into the other." While some sadhus have female companions, others, for reasons including the desire to avoid fatherhood, have male companions Danielou confirms that "relations between person same sex are . .. very widely practiced." Observing"this connection between homosexuality and spiritual life, and the sacred view of this kind of relationship, are well known in all religions," "Sex allows the pupil-teacher relationship to achieve fullness in which the flowering of the body leads to ennoblement of the soul."

see also

david white the alchemical body
david white, the kiss of the yogini
Sahajanath's Tantra Sadhana

website: O Grand Bucca, both Dark and Fair, divine androgyne, be in all heartsand on the tip of every tongue. For your time has come again as it does with the beginning of each moment! )