Humanizing traditional magic

I am deeply committed to humanist values. I know as a fundamental truth that every human soul is equal to any other regardless of the body that soul currently wears. Women are as valuable as men, other genders are as valid as the man-woman binary, skin color and ethnicity are no bar to ability, disability is not an indicator of worth, all religions are paths to the divine.

I am also committed to magic. Lady Tradition allowed me to sit at her feet and her lessons have framed my life. I owe my health, friendships, love, prosperity, and meaningful life work to her tutelage.

Western Traditional Magic (Golden Dawn Ceremonial, Thelema, and Gardnerian-style Witchcraft) is the repository of several thousand years of Western philosophy, theology and ritual. It is a magnificent edifice, a cathedral of human wisdom. That said, it is technically eclectic, layering newly acquired knowledge and technique atop what came before. The awkward joins reinforce the impression that the structure is more of a bricolage than a system. Furthermore, the tradition has grown less responsive over the past few centuries and has yet to confront the challenge of the Enlightenment or to incorporate humanist values.

My work challenges Western Traditional Magic to identify and update racist, sexist and colonialist aspects of the tradition. This puts me at odds with those who believe that Mathers, Crowley and Gardner wrote the last word on magical practice. Fortunately I am not alone, there are others working in magic today who similarly seek to update the tradition, all of us driven by an understanding that it does not adequately serve the multi-gendered multicultural people of our time.

I have sympathy for magical revolutionaries who reject the tradition on these grounds and seek to build something completely new, but I often detect elements of the tradition in their work. Magical metaphysics are based on metaphysics – magical culture and popular culture share the same underlying philosophical-theological structure. You have to know what came before to know if you’re building something new.

My path is reform. I study deeply and analyze the tradition. I learn from Lady History, Lady Science, Lady Culture, Lady Theology and Lady Philosophy, each of them providing me with new language and tools. This enables me to propose new structures built for all genders and races, a human-centered magic.

Every book I write, every blog post and article and conference presentation takes a step toward that goal. Making esoteric magic accessible means updating magic to humanist values, helping to make it more welcoming, inclusive, fair, and true.

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