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Ten Ways to Diversify Magical/Pagan Groups

Look around the room. How diverse is your group? Are there ten guys and one woman (the Wendy and the Lost Boys configuration)? Half men and half women, all white? No kids, no seniors, no one in a wheelchair?

Why does it matter if the room is filled only with our friends? It means our message is not reaching everyone who needs to hear it. Also we learn from people who are not like us, it grows our world.

The magical groups I spend most of my time with skew white/middle-aged/childless/able-bodied. Here are some starter ideas for getting more diversity in our groups.

One: Educate ourselves

The first item on any diversity agenda is learning about the experience of people not like us. There is so much information available about people of color, women, transgender and other genders, families, disabled people, seniors, veterans. In my corporation and as a human rights council member I organize lectures and panels which invite subject matter experts to share their knowledge and experience. From these events we learn that fathers need paternity leave, parents need flex time and child care, disabled people need equipment, trans people need non-gender-specific bathrooms, seniors need not to be discounted, people of color need affinity groups.

One excellent place to start is with the works of Crystal Blanton. This writer, organizer and priestess works tirelessly to bring race into the discussion and educate the magical communities.

These books written by Crystal are excellent resources for leaders:

These anthologies Crystal has edited give a platform to many diverse voices.

Two: Educate each other
The next step is to discuss these ideas within our group and communities. We need men to talk to men to get them past mansplaining to women what we already know about our own experience. We need white people talk to white people to get past the initial defensive and racist responses. (“Why are there only white people in the room?” “Don’t they have their own groups?”)

Three: Leverage the diversity already in the group

Are there any people of color, women, disabled folk, families with children in the room? Invite them to speak to the group about their experience in life and with the group. Put them on a podcast or a panel. Ask them for their suggestions about how we can be more inclusive and accepting. Use the listen-and-learn skills honed in the education phase to maximize their time and minimize their aggravation. Say thank you.

Next, implement their suggestions. Open participation for people with different abilities. Notice the needs of people who can’t stand, kneel, or hear well. Set up child care and learn to live with some chaos. Listen to the older folk when they tell stories of the times before you came. Play music that isn’t on the usual playlist. Make non-alcoholic drinks an equal option. Cut back on the hug line phenomenon – model walking in and out without having to hug everyone in passing.

The group’s culture will change and that’s uncomfortable. That’s also the inclusion part. Being open to new ideas makes diversity work.

Four: Build a program

Where diversity doesn’t exist we can go out and get it. Twenty years ago O.T.O. groups were mostly men but we have attracted more women and other genders through focused attention. Pagan groups in the Bay Area are making active efforts to include people of color – Pantheacon 2017 had a Pagans of Color hospitality suite.

In the corporate world we have a Diversity Executive, Diversity Champions and Diversity Ambassadors. If you have a large enough organization you can implement a program. If you’re a local leader you can implement in your area. Find people interested in the same subject and sign them up. You can do podcasts and conference panels, workshops, reading groups. Here’s an example: T. Thorn Coyle’s New Jim Crow study group.

Five: Get out in the community

The Showing Up For Racial Justice chapter I belong to bought a table at the annual NAACP benefit banquet. The Women’s March Huddle I belong to visits the ICE Tacoma Detention Center to bring families toys and blankets. This is different from outreach to proselytize and attract new members. It’s getting your people out to listen, learn, be observed, and contribute and support.

Six: Have interfaith conversations

Social justice work is interfaith work. The entire magical-Pagan population which makes up our friend set is one-third of one-percent of the US population. Half of the country is Christian, so if you get active in social justice you’re going to end up meeting with people in churches. Most of those folk are going to be more knowledgeable and experienced than we are. They have a vocabulary and a history. They talk about the Beloved Community.

In these rooms we are the diversity people. The other folk will be curious about us. We need to have an elevator speech to explain what we do. We can also be prepared to do public ritual work. I did an impromptu invocation of Athena at an interfaith gathering that invited me to participate.

We can learn from the failures and successives of other groups. The Unitarian Universalist Church did some learning earlier this year when groups offered criticism of white privilege. The local church has responded by organizing self-education (see item one) and having hard discussions with each other. A group that has come farther along the road offers this Clergy Anti Racism Preparedness Toolkit which we can model based on our own religions and philosophies.

Seven: Be visible

  • Get out on the street with Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March and Gay Pride.
  • Wear T-shirts with your affiliation.
  • Wear clergy garb to activist events.
  • Take pictures of yourself and your group while out in the community. Post on your own internal media and on social media.

Eight: Set a policy
Stand strongly against racism and sexism and strongly for human rights. Some examples:

Statement from the U.S. Grand Lodge of O.T.O.
Solar Cross Stands for Justice
Covenant of the 9/1/2015 Statement on Black Lives Matter

Nine: Have the difficult conversation
The foundation of the welcoming community is the willingness to confront our own racism, sexism and other biases. We can start that conversation one-on-one with each other. We can bring a community leader in to do a presentation that will lead to a conversation.

It’s okay to take it slow, to make mistakes, to try it again. The important thing is to get started.

Ten. Your idea here

What has worked for your group to become more inclusive? What barriers do you experience to joining or participating in a group? What would you like to see happen? Let’s do this!


O.T.O. US Grand Lodge Supports Human Rights

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

In the wake of the alt-right/Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville in which Heather Heyer was killed protesting the gathering, many organizations are posting statements affirming their support for universal human rights.

I am a member of Ordo Templi Orientis. Just to brief you on how it works, the Supreme Grand Council is the group within O.T.O. which can issue policy statements. The SGC has done so today. Unanimously.

I don’t sit on the SGC, I report to it. That said, I unequivocally support this statement. Fighting for universal human rights is the center of my work.

Read it here: Statement from the Supreme Grand Council

Love is the law, love under will.

Politics and Religion in Thelema – Standing Up for Freedom

On a day when many of my friends in Ordo Templi Orientis were showering each other with love at our biannual convention NOTOCON, a neo-Nazi killed protestor Heather Heyer. A day after we got home the U.S. President spoke out to defend…the neo-Nazi.

At times like this we need to stand up for each other, for ourselves, and for freedom. National Grand Master General Sabazius X’ has been a fierce champion for human rights for many years. He strongly and unequivocally declares that Thelema means freedom for everyone and it is every Thelemite’s responsibility to defend that freedom from those who would take it from anyone.

The ray of encouragement in my life in this dark week has been re-reading his last two keynote speeches. In 2015 he talked about politics and Thelema, and in 2017 he talked about religion and Thelema.

Political Thelema supports universal human rights.

Speaking of Liber Oz, I have heard some say that these are the rights we claim for ourselves as Thelemites. …Yes and no. Sure, we claim them, but that’s because we assert these rights for all humanity. It isn’t enough to enjoy and guard these rights for members of our little in-group. If we remain silent while these rights are being denied to anyone, then we are not really being true to our principles…

Opposing racial and sexual prejudice is a Thelemic value; even for white, heterosexual, middle-class men–like me. Even if we have to summon the courage confront our own fear of losing the automatic social privileges we have become accustomed to as societal insiders.

National Grand Master General Sabazius X keynote to NOTOCON X, Fire of Motion

Religious Thelema elevates the spirit.

We of Thelema desire to seize the tools of religion and employ them to liberate, awaken and challenge the human spirit by appealing to its nobility, its curiosity, its desire to understand itself, its sense of adventure, as well as its sense of humor. We want you to pursue and experience religious ecstasy. We are, therefore, committed to a spiritual struggle against those entrenched ideas and beliefs that have been spread to enslave, oppress, exploit, and divide the human spirit–against those characteristic aspects of religion that make the very word religion repulsive to many.

National Grand Master General Sabazius X keynote to NOTOCON XI, For the Chance of Union

This is as stirring a call to action as I have heard all year. This is a life work.

I would love to see someone publish a book of these keynote addresses. This is among the best new thought on Thelema and powerful statements of hope and courage in dark times. I encourage you to take the time to read through them (or read through them again). Here’s the set: Speeches given at National O.T.O. Conferences.


The Thelemic Guide to Surviving the Dominionist Theocracy

The Thelemic Guide to Surviving the Dominionist Theocracy

An extreme Christian minority has taken control of administration. How did this happen, and what does this mean for Thelemites?

Whatever Candidate Trump promised, President Trump has proposed policies which restrict liberty and endanger the common good:

  • withdraw from the international Paris Accord climate change agreement;
  • cut legal immigration in half and halt legal immigration from Muslim majority countries;
  • prevent transgender people from serving in the military;
  • end the Affordable Care Act providing health care to millions of Americans;
  • defund public schools;
  • sell public lands;
  • replace the serving judiciary;
  • restrict the freedom of the press.

What ideology is driving these policy decisions?

On July 31 the political website The Hill reported that President Trump and his cabinet attend weekly Bible study sessions. The Christian Bible Network described this as a
“spiritual awakening” of the “most Evangelical Cabinet in history”. This Evangelical Bible study is led by Pastor Ralph Drollinger, a man who has called Catholicism a false religion, labelled working mothers “sinful” and called homosexuality an abomination in the eyes of God. It is clear that these extreme religious views drive the policies of the White House and Cabinet.

The cultural war in America is usually framed as a battle between Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, ultra-rich and everyone else. These ideas don’t adequately capture the radical reformation we are undergoing. We are revisiting the Enlightenment battle between religion and secular humanism. At present the powers of restriction are winning. Dominionist Christians hold many of the most powerful offices in the country. This crisis extends beyond the current President; when Trump leaves office, however late or soon, we will still face a political climate which is inimical to our way of life.

This is a field guide to surviving this dangerous moment for our freedom and helping to steer our Thelemic boat to a safe harbor in the future.

What is Christian Dominionism?

Not all Republicans are Christian, not all Christians are Evangelical, and not all Evangelical Christians are Dominionist.

Evangelicals are pre-millenialists. They believe that the 1000 years of peace and justice promised by the Book of Revelations will occur only afterChrist’s Second Coming which unleashes earthly destruction. Evangelical Dominionists further believe it is their duty to occupy secular institutions and reconstruct them around Biblical principles to hasten Christ’s coming. They are authorized to take “dominion” by Genesis 1:26:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. King James Bible online.

For decades Evangelical churches, colleges and media have spread Dominionist doctrines among Christians, particularly white Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and Mormons. Movements advancing Dominionist ideas include Christian Reconstruction, Christian Identity, and New Apostolic Reformation. The idea that the Bible mandates Christians to occupy secular authority has become the central ideology for the Christian right.

Which politicians are Dominionists?

Politicians holding Dominionist views may not identify as such publicly. They may belong to churches which stigmatize this extreme viewpoint; for example, Catholic Vice President Mike Pence holds Dominionist views, calling himself an Evangelical Catholic, even though church scholasticism centers on social justice.

Trump’s personal spiritual advisor is Paula White, a televangelist who preaches prosperity doctrine, the neo-Calvinist idea that wealth is a sign of God’s approval and poverty is God’s punishment for personal sins. While Trump did not begin his campaign as a religious extremist, Evangelicals and Dominionists took control of his campaign and maintain control of his administration and Cabinet. In July 2017 a photo surfaced of Evangelical ministers laying hands on the president.

Here are the people attending the weekly Evangelical Bible study sessions:

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions,
  • Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry,
  • Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Ben Carson,
  • Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue,
  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Other administration officials align with Evangelical and Dominionist views, and more Evangelic leaders are being invited to closed door meetings with the White House.

What does this mean for public policy?

It’s hard to understand policy decisions by the Administration which conflict with Trump campaign promises, contradict science, upend successful programs, and ignore broad citizen support. Where are they coming from? It is helpful to understand that extreme Dominionist ideas lead Evangelicals to radical disruptive actions.

Dominionist policies intend to establish the Kingdom of God on earth at the expense of the common good.

Here are some defining characteristics of Dominionist ideology.

Dominionists have the Truth

Dominionists can be highly educated and intelligent. However Dominionism is a closed-loop ideology – it does not admit the possibility that any of its claims can be disproven. As with other adherents of closed-loop ideologies this makes Dominionists almost impervious to reason. The doctrine is always right and does not change; when individuals develop disagreement with the doctrine they fall out of the system.

Appeal to self-interest also does not move Dominionists. Adhering to a doctrine even when it negatively impacts the individual is a sign of commitment; it makes you a hero, a highly valued status. In Far Right Fantasy James Aho notes that this extremism does not focus on the cares of daily life. It’s driven by a sense that what is happening currently differs from the Christian ideal.

Demons must be defeated

Dominionists believe that the secular world is controlled a hierarchy of demons under Satan’s rulership. Dominionists identify seven mountains currently under demonic control which must be taken back by Christians: arts, business, family, government, media, religion, and education. The Democratic party in particular is controlled by demons; President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton are not metaphorically demonized, they are actually possessed by demons.

Dominionists blame real world disasters on the failure to confront demons. The Japanese tsunami in 2011 was God’s reaction to Obama policies, Haiti’s earthquake targeted Voudoun practitioners, the 9/11 terrorist attack reflected God’s judgement on America, among many examples.

Only Christians can be patriots

Dominionists fiercely protest their patriotism. However this patriotism is not a commitment to the Constitution as written. Dominionists see the Constitution and Bill of Rights as addendums to Old Testament Biblical law – these were not documents written by people but handed down by God. All public policy should be found in Biblical law, and if it’s not in the Bible, it shouldn’t be policy.

Dominionists believe only Christians enjoy the benefits guaranteed by the Constitution.

  • America is a Christian nation. The Bill of Rights applies only to Christians. Freedom of religion means freedom for Christian religion.
  • Immigrants should be Christian only. Those immigrants already in the country, legally or not, should be repatriated. Jews should emigrate to Israel.
  • Nonbelievers (this includes Thelemites) should lose freedom of speech and political rights.

Establishing a Christian theocracy requires overturning the First Amendment which guarantees separation of church and state. There are several approaches to this:

  • The direct approach: through a Constitutional Convention. A majority of governors, 34, can call such a convention. Since West Virginia Governor Jim Justice changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican there are now 34 Republican governors.
  • The indirect approach: through enacting laws and policies which restrict the freedoms on non-Christians. This is one of the results of the administration’s reshaping the American judiciary.

Dominionist doctrine is marked by falsity

Dominionist doctrine exhibits falsity in a number of ways.

  • Make your own dragons: it creates problems, like the war on Christmas, confusing its own stories as facts.
  • Contradict Christian gospel: for example, finding money as the root of all good.
  • Subvert public discourse: Dominionist politicians use the language of American civil values while working to overturn the civil contract and establish a religious theocracy.
  • Fail to acknowledge debt: Dominionists benefit from the common good (roads, clean air, healthy food) while working to dismantle it.

Falsity is especially troubling. Dominionists may argue that a given policy would have an economic or public safety benefit which casts the conversation as a normative democratic discussion. When investigated these policies are very often found to be costly and dangerous, enacting the opposite result from what was proposed. Understanding the extreme religious origin of these ideas helps make sense of the contradiction. The end goal is not a healthy economy or a safe country, but a Dominionist one, establishing “God’s kingdom on earth”.

What does a that country look like? The America that Christian Dominionists envision is white, capitalist, and controlled by churches.

The Dominionist vision for America

White America

Dominionists believe that white Americans and Europeans are descendants of lost tribes of Israel. They are the rightful rulers of earth; those who are not white or European are meant to be governed by white people.
What this means for people of color:

  • Native Americans: all tribal members should be confined to reservations.
  • Black Americans:some people are slaves by nature and should remain so. African slaves benefited from benevolent masters who took them from unbelieving cultures. The Emancipation Proclamation was inhumane and irresponsible. The Supreme Court should re-affirm the Dred Scott decision that black people do not own themselves.
  • Hispanic Americans: all undocumented Hispanic people should be immediately deported. American citizens who aid “criminal invaders” should have houses and vehicles confiscated and the funds used to build border protections.
  • All non-European Americans: the proposed Pace Amendment to the Constitution should be enacted. This amendment states: No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race. … Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”

Corporate America

Dominionist doctrine adopts the Calvinist belief that good fortune is a sign of God’s favor and a reward for individual virtue, while poverty is a sign of god’s punishment for individual sins. If you can’t afford food, health care, housing, then you don’t deserve them.

The economic policies that result from these beliefs are described as laissez fair capitalism. This favors capitol over labor and is hostile to collective bargaining and fair wages. The corporate “person” is obligated only to increase profits. Capital should be owned only by private entrepreneurs, nothing should be owned by government. Public lands should be sold off. Prisons should be privately owned. Military forces should be corporate; Erik Prince, former CEO of the mercenary force Blackwater/Academi and Evangelical, has suggested that the Afghanistan war be outsourced.

At its most extreme, Dominionist ideology treats the corporation as an incarnation of God’s presence in the world, deserving piety, and takes money as the root of all good. While these ideas run counter to other Christian teachings it has shaped a corporate culture which exalts greed over public interests.

Church Controlled America

Dominionist doctrine calls for the complete dismantling of the social safety net. Any program not mentioned in the Bible should be shut down. This includes social security, Medicare and Medicaid, OSHA, SNAP, WIC, among many examples.

What replaces these programs? Christian charity. Instead of taxes, individuals should tithe 10% of their income to government funnels into church based charities. The churches would decide who can get this charity and what they would have to do to deserve it. The poor must be drug free, well behaved, and repent of the sins that brought them to this state. If they do not they should be left to suffer the consequences: lose their homes, lose their health care, and starve.

Schools should also be church controlled. Public schools at present teach children how to read, write, and think critically, and to support secular civil democracy. These schools should be closed down and children funneled to schools which teach Christian doctrine. Department of Education Secretary Besty DeVos overtly intends to shape public schools to “advance God’s kingdom”.

Thelemites in a Christian theocracy

In his keynote address to the biannual conference NOTOCON in 2015, O.T.O. Grand Master Sabazius sounded the alarm about conservative Christianity: “You know how more and more evangelical Christians are seeking elected offices, and winning. You know–especially here [Texas]–the kind of effects these people can have on your daily lives.”

Strong man rejoicing in his way

Libertarians who favor policies minimizing governmental oversight of individuals and businesses reject the neoliberalism which has governed the Democratic party’s policies for the past several decades. Interestingly, neoliberalism also favors laissez faire capitalism. One factor in the 2016 election was a rejection of neoliberalism, but as we can see this did not result in a shift away from unchecked capitalism.

Not every Republican is Christian; some are Thelemites. Some Thelemites voted for Trump. It’s not impossible to recognize his appeal – he seems to be a “strong man rejoicing in his way”. A vote for Trump may not necessarily have been meant to support Christian Dominionism, but this is how it is playing out. The policies and rhetoric of Christian Dominionists may seem to align with Thelemic values because of their emphasis on individual sovereignty. It is important to remember that the individual sovereignty which Christian Dominionists advocate applies only to Christian Dominionists.

Special threats to Thelemic freedom

Aho points out that the radical right has been a force in American politics for centuries. While anti-Semitism continues to be an issue the most vilified groups have shifted to Muslims and Hispanic immigrants. However Satanists and Witches also continue to be targets; for the far right Thelema registers as a form of Satanism.

Thelemites take the Book of Revelations as a set of spiritual metaphors; Aleister Crowley drew from its imagery, calling himself the Beast, and the Biblical Babylon-the-Whore “Our Lady Babalon”. He vilified Christianity and called it a slave religion. Christian Dominionists on the other hand take Revelations as a literal reality. If you’re enacting the war that Revelations prophesies, we are on the opposite side. Dominionist fantasies dwell on the tortures that people like us would experience in the Christian Apocalypse.

Another specific threat is to women’s sexual freedom. Aleister Crowley was crystal clear: “The essence of my Word is to declare woman to be Herself, of, to, and for Herself; and I give this one irresistible Weapon, the expression of Herself and Her will through sex, to Her on precisely the same terms as to man…The best women have always been sexually-free, like the best men.” The Law is for All, III:55.

For Evangelicals on the other hand women are to be married, express sexuality only in marriage, and be governed by men. There is no clearer example of the incompatibility of Dominionist doctrine with Thelemic values than this.

Fighting for freedom

In his 2015 NOTOCON address Grand Master Sabazius said: “Recall that we oppose tyranny, which is the use of political or economic power in a cruel, unjust or oppressive way. We are against oppression, which is the deprivation of any minority group, or even an entire people. or sex, of their human rights. And we are against superstition–which people understand in different ways, but which I personally understand as the imposition of unscientific or pseudo-scientific beliefs to gain and hold on to political or economic power.”

As of 2015 the Christian population in America is declining. According to the Pew Forum, from 2008 to 2015 adults identifying as Christian dropped from 78.4% to 70.6%. Of these 25% identified as Evangelical (Pew does not distinguish Dominionist Evangelicals). This is the largest single religious group in the country. The second largest group is unaffiliated at 23% (56 million).

There may be as many as 1.2 million Witchs, Pagans and magical folk in America. That’s less than 1% of the voting population. The several thousand Thelemites in the country would work out to a statistical error in that total. We don’t make up a voting block.

How can a group which comprises a vanishingly small percentage of voters affect public policy? Like any other small group we can join with others and ally with groups and politicians who align with our values. Grand Master Sabazius suggests that we can be guided in our efforts by Liber Oz. Sabazius notes that while Thelema does not hold democracy as a core principle, the tiny population of Thelemites in the U.S. lives within a democracy. “Hold onto your own vision and principles, and vote them. If you can find candidates who actually advocate your principles, support them. Perhaps more importantly, actively oppose candidates who espouse views and policies that are inimical to your principles.”

American civil democracy is far from perfect. We continue to confront the legal and cultural legacy of slavery, colonialism, and overt control of women. We have a lot to do to bring the promise of liberty and justice for all. However, given a choice between Dominionist America and an imperfect secular civil democracy, only one of those supports our way of life. In particular, “freedom of assembly” protects our meetings, and “freedom of religion” protects our public celebrations of the Gnostic Mass and tax-exempt status for Thelemic religious organizations. Civil policies based on a covert design to limit Constitutional rights to Christians only clearly threatens our way of life.

Here are some ways we can work within the current political system to advocate for the rights of Liber Oz.

Support an organization

Groups working to protect civil liberties include the ACLU which protects religious freedom and and Americans United which specifically advocates the continuing separation of church and state. Human rights commissions exist in many counties; if there’s an opening you can apply to be appointed. I currently sit on the Kitsap County Council for Human Rights.

Join the Resistance

A number of progressive groups have sprung up since the 2016 election. These include Indivisible, MoveOn’s Resistance Summer, and the Democratic Party’s Resistance Summer.

In The Resistance Handbook Markos Moulitsas points out how important it is not to condemn any group whole cloth, including Christians, Republicans and corporations. Christian leaders and moderate Republicans
oppose administration policies. Corporations are dismayed by the economic and financial impact of draconian immigration actions.

Talk to your neighbors

Trump didn’t invent racism but his rhetoric galvanized American white supremacists. If you’re white you can educate yourself about racism and talk to your family and neighbors. If you’re a man you can talk to other men about sexism. Those who identify with a gender can all support transgender people. We can reach out to people of other faiths to work together to protect religious freedom.

Finally, we can encourage each other in our efforts. One example of this effort is the Facebook group Thelemites Against Injustice.

Whatever our path, remaining informed and keeping an eye on the White House is prudent and an important step in defending our liberty.

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How to save the future

Antennae_Galaxies from Wikimedia

Recently I had a wonderful conversation with some friends. One of them challenged me to articulate how to change the future. Western magicians have ceded our ability to change the world, discouraged by the psychologization of magic and the scientific skepticism that what cannot be measured does not exist. Magicians in earlier ages just did the magic. Here are some ideas for the contemporary age.

1. Know the future you want.

Understand it clearly. The future I wanted at twenty is the future I am living in today: one in which nuclear war is averted, in which I have a place to live and a good job, love and friends, and published books.

The future I want today is one in which nuclear war is averted, the climate settles into a sustainable pattern, I have a place to live, funds in retirement, love and friends, and finish the additional books I need to write. My future also includes progress toward these human goals:

  • Every living human child is fed, housed and safe.
  • All war has ceased and there is peace everywhere on earth.
  • Every person is accepted as they are, able to work and love and live as they will.

The specific visualization I have for this is a family picnic at a local park. This park has green grass and trees and sits along the water. The people I love are all there eating delicious food and enjoying each other’s company. Around the park people of all ages, genders, races and cultures play in the ball parks and playgrounds. It is paradise. I am having an iteration of the picnic in this weekend.

2. Cling to it fiercely

Once you know the future you want, forsake all other futures. Ruthlessly banish images of desolation, of the end of life in nuclear war or climate change. Whenever people talk to you about their fears, focus on the positive actions they can take to steer toward the future you want.

Some may object that it is already too late, that the climate has already changed too much, that human nature will prevent our development as a species. 350.org says it is not too late and we know what we need to do. Changing human nature is what the psychologization of magic is all about. Are you advocating to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to renewables? If you are, excellent. If not, do it. Sign up for Climate Change Theater and host an event in your town/valley. (My favorite play is The Hope Project).

3. Get good at manifestation

I have a perfectly good book, Practical Magic for Beginners, which trains this skill. If you hate being seen reading a beginners book (even though it’s more sophisticated than that) put a cover on it. There’s also Denning and Phillips’ Practical Guide to Creative Visualization and Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization if my work isn’t to your liking.

I started with Silva Mind Control when I was eighteen. I started with finding change on the sidewalk.

4. Change the past.

Rev. Koichi Barrish of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America says: “Those who are aware of mission (future) and boil their blood to do their best in their lives (present) are able to alter the currents ([and purify] the past) of fate.” There’s a similar quantum theory. This is an idea worth exploring, magicians.

5. Steer the boat of your life through the multiverse.

Physics just now is playing with the multiple world theory that each probability splits into a new world. To give credit where it is due, I first encountered the idea through Jane Roberts in Seth Speaks. As I remember she said something like this: we shift worlds all the time, and where the new world differs from the old, we rationalize the difference. You can give yourself the idea that next time you will just notice the change. Like the library on the corner that wasn’t there yesterday, or the vacant lot that turned into a fifty-year-old apple orchard.

If the world continually splits along probabilities, and magic gives me the ability to choose the path I am on, then I choose the world which looks like the one I am visualizing and manifesting.

In closing

I’m not going to tilt at windmills – it is the tenor of the age to doubt that magic is real. Fortunately I don’t have to convince anyone to keep saving the future, and neither do you. All you have to do is do it. Due to scientific skepticism and the psychologization of magic, the second bullet is the hardest. Trust yourself to know what you know.

The Disputation of Reason and Love

House of Mars and Venus in Pompei. By Carole Raddato via Wikimedia Commons

For Harper.

Love came to Reason like a Greek god with oiled hair and a handsome peplos. “You need me,” Love said.

Reason answered Love like Grace Hopper in a Navy blue service coat. “Need you! No, not I. You are the distraction that keeps me from work. You are the lover who abandons the pregnant mother and leaves her without support. I cannot afford you.”

Power whispered in Reason’s ear, “Come with me and you will accomplish without limit.” Reason took Power’s hand and harnessed Fire, channeled Water, captured Wind. Reason dug metal and stone from deep within the Earth and found uses for them. Reason investigated Life as if it was not alive, ignoring the screams, and turned trees and creatures into materials for use. Finally Reason turned upward to count the stars and was cast without warning adrift, alone in the hostile void. Then Reason looked for comfort on the green earth and found only blasted forests and broken creatures. Life withdrew from Reason, saying “Who cannot comfort finds no comfort,” and Reason wept alone.

Reason came courting with slicked hair and fancy vest and a massive bouquet of fragrant flowers. “I need you,” Reason said.

Love answered Reason like Diotima in a flowing chiton writing on a scroll. “How do you need me? To take my voice and speak it as your own? To comfort your bruised heart so you can go on mastering without compassion? You have not given me my due.”

Power whispered in Love’s ear, “With me you will be worshipped wherever you go.” Love travelled the world and Life sprang up in abundance. The forests greened and creatures multiplied. Human heart met human heart with open gratitude. Yet pitiless Love sparked desire without care for mortal limits. Where desire was not matched lovers wasted away. Love was cursed by those who begged for Death’s blasting touch. Alone, Love could not bear the scorn.

Love came to Reason and said “I forsake Power for you.” Reason met Love and said “I forsake Power for you.” Each yielded to the other and remained strong. Where Love would run untrammeled, Reason taught prudence. Where Reason would torture Life, Love taught compassion.

Then Power raged. “I renounce you, Reason! I scorn you, Love! I will work as I desire.” Power invoked Wind and Fire and Rain so that they rampaged without limit. Power struck until the Earth shook pitifully. Power trapped creatures in misery and swept away whole forests at whim for momentary gain. The balance was broken and Death swamped Life.

Earth and Wind and Fire and Rain and Life and Death together cried out for help. Then Love and Reason came together and bore Wisdom. When Power lifted a hand to strike down Life and leave only Death, Wisdom came like a Fury, an angel, an implacable Fate, a hope fulfilled. Power sent up a single wordless scream, but Wisdom ate Power, scream and all. Then all things returned to their channels and Death stepped back into place as Life’s renewing healer.

When Power whispers, call Wisdom, who knows when not to use it.


10 Ways Thelemites Can Resist Injustice

The top question I am asked by Thelemites Against Injustice is “what can I do?” Here are ten ideas to get us all started.

One: Liber Oz selfie.

Take a pic of yourself with a sign saying “Liber Oz inspires me to…” End the sentence with an action you are taking. Bonus: add the relevant Liber Oz line at the bottom of the sign. Make a bunch of these and post them everywhere!

Two: Read about human rights.

If you follow my Facebook account you know that I serialize these. Just now I’m doing Olympe de Gouges.

Three: Get out in the streets.

Meet your neighbors! There are human rights events everywhere. Web searches and Facebook will almost certainly turn up something in your neighborhood. Here are some of the local events I’ve attended/organized since January:

  • Kitsap County Council for Human Rights – council meetings, Immigrant Forum, LGBTQ Forum, annual conference
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice Kitsap – meetings, training
  • Black Lives Matter – standing on street with sign when they call for direct action. Knit a black beanie (the Seattle march in April asked us to wear black beanies)
  • Womens March – marched in Seattle, attend local group meetings, knit pussy hats (a dozen so far in many colors)
  • “Build Bridges Not Walls” community march on local bridge

I have met with groups in taverns, in churches, at events and on the street. It is inspiring and hopeful to connect with other people in real life. It grounds us in the humanity of the work.

Four: Donate.

Donate $1 or $5 or $500, whatever amount you can afford and you choose, to whatever cause you like. Here are some ideas:

  • Candidates you support for political office
  • Planned Parenthood
  • ACLU
  • Local immigrant rights group
  • Food banks and homeless shelters

Whenever I drive by the local Planned Parenthood and see fundamentalist “protesters” outside I drop in and give them money. In Washington state the initiative “Great Give” sets up web sites and makes it easy to donate to dozens of organizations. For the Kitsap Great Give I gave small amounts to every county organization feeding and housing people, especially kids.

Five: Prank the autocrats.

Thelemites are well known for our acerbic wit. Put your waggishness to good use! Humor deflates oppressors.

Six: Become an ally.

We can educate ourselves and listen to people who are experiencing injustice speak in their own voices. Here are some places to start.

Seven: Already an ally? Be a better ally!

Eight: Get really smart about one thing.

Pick one topic and drill down into it. Learn everything you can. Write a paper and post it somewhere – ping Thelemites Against Injustice if you don’t have your own web site. Here are some ideas.

  • Healthcare (systems around the world, US single payer ideas)
  • U.S. school to prison pipeline
  • U.S. gerrymandering and vote suppression
  • Poland’s slide into an authoritarian regime
  • Turkey’s slide into an authoritarian regime
  • How colonialism generates refugees
  • Tell us what you know!

Here are three essential books to start our education.

Nine: Start a local Thelemites Against Injustice chapter

Are there other Thelemites in your area who also resist tyranny? Get ’em together for coffee. Go as a group to marches. Contact the local immigrant assistance center and ask how you can help. Join the NAACP chapter, or Showing Up for Racial Justice chapter, or both. Attend fundraisers for food banks and homeless shelters. Most importantly share your own stories, pool your information and resources, and support each other in the work.

Ten. Live free.

Work, play and rest as you will.

Write, draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build, dress as you will.

Love as you will.

Our freedom of thought and action stands against tyranny and manifests Thelema in the world.

Are Thelema and the Golden Dawn incompatible?

I am a Thelemite. I am also a Golden Dawn initiate. I see these as complementary rather than competitive, and I’m in good company!

I had the interesting experience of sitting on a panel on Ceremonial Magic in the Llewellyn suite at Pantheacon 2014. The subject was “The Way In”. How do you get started on the Ceremonial path? Lon Milo DuQuette represented Ordo Templi Orientis, Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero represented the Golden Dawn, Bruce McLennan (aka John Opsopaus) represented theurgy, and I represented women’s rituals.

Chic said that he started his magical career in both Golden Dawn and O.T.O. lodges. He had two temples in his house. At one point his higher-ups came to him and told him he had to specialize in one or the other and he chose the Golden Dawn. We all know the result – his work moved the order forward in time, he personally taught people who have become teachers of others, he wrote and co-wrote books whichpreserve rituals and knowledge. He made Golden Dawn magic accessible to our age.

Lon expressed the expectation that those who study Thelema should know the Golden Dawn rituals. If you have his how-to book The Magick of Aleister Crowley (or The Magick of Thelema if you have an older copy) you know that he explains how to do the Golden Dawn pentagram rituals before launching into a discussion of the Thelemic versions.

I started my Ceremonial career studying the Golden Dawn system with my partner Alex. We worked from Regardie’s un-indexed brick of Golden Dawn material. With no group around us we weren’t able to pull off initiations; the book did try to tell us how to do self-initiation but we gave it up as too complicated for us to figure out.

My first Ceremonial initiation was the O.T.O. Minerval. Eventually I worked through the Man of Earth initiations. Later a group formed locally to perform the Golden Dawn rituals and I jumped at the chance to finally experience these in person.

This was a different experience than the Man of Earth initiations. Where O.T.O. initiations are meant to be secret, the GD group worked from the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn rituals, and we made our own redactions. Also, O.T.O. initiators must have a charter and must have achieved a higher degree than their initiates. Temple of Light and Darkness conducted the Golden Dawn rituals by the bootstrap method, which meant that sometimes we were acting as officer before we got to be the candidate. Interestingly, that didn’t seem to matter for the candidate, the ritual still packed its intended wallop.

Nothing in either set of rituals precluded participation in the other for me. Members of both groups do both sets. Remember Aleister Crowley himself undertook the Golden Dawn initiations to the grade of Adeptus Minor! Today the relationship between individual G.D. and O.T.O. members is generally cordial and collegial.

Of course it isn’t necessary to do both sets of rituals. Chic had a point, if you are going to delve deeply into a system you may decide to dedicate yourself to it. There is enough material in either system to last a lifetime. But if you are an initiate of one and are curious about the other, you may discover that you already have friends with a foot in both orders.

When Rose Kelly heard voices

From Wikimedia

Aleister Crowley was determined to impress his new wife, Rose (nee Kelly). For their honeymoon he planned a world tour. He showed off his big game hunting prowess. He organized a night in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid where he performed a goetic invocation. One night in their Cairo flat he invoked the sylphs. Rose began to speak, saying “they are waiting for you.” This happened again the next night. On the third night the message clarified: “He who waits is Horus.” To test the channel Aleister took Rose to the Cairo museum and asked her to point out Horus. She led him to the funerary stele of the priest Ankh-f-n-khonsu which depicted the composite Ra and Horus, Re-Horakty.

This began the working that founded Thelema. Rose instructed Crowley how to perform a spring equinox ritual to Horus. Then she informed him that the entity who was instructing her was not Horus but Aiwass. A few weeks later Rose instructed Crowley to prepare himself to take dictation. For three days the entity Aiwass dictated to Crowley the three chapters of the Book of the Law.

Crowley came to understand himself as the reincarnation of Ankh-f-n-khonsu and eventually took the name Aiwass as the name of his Holy Guardian Angel. Even in his last years he continued to puzzle at the nature of the entity. Was Aiwass discarnate? Had he been a human being, possibly Assyrian? Crowley decided he did not know.

If all this seems extraordinary to us now it is because we have forgotten how important Spiritualism was as a religion. At the time Rose and Aleister were performing their workings there were eight million Spiritualists in America and England. In upper class drawing rooms all across the English speaking world women and men sat down at tables to communicate with the spirits of the dead.
Both women and men developed as mediums, but women were known to pick up the techniques more quickly.

In The Darkened Room Alex Owen traces some of the reasons Spiritualism attracted women in large numbers. The medium received messages from spirits; this played into the Victorian understanding of gender, contrasting the genteel passivity of upper class women with the coarse activity of working class women as well as masculine will-power. Laced into the corset of upper class morality, confined to the home and a narrow band of interests and influence, upper class women discovered they could escape these strictures in Spiritualist trance. Women rapidly assumed positions of power in a religion that validated feminine authority.

Edwardian occultism was an upper class phenomenon; the artists, actors, poets and writers who became magicians often lived on their own or other people’s inheritances. Upper class women held positions of authority not only in Spiritualism, but also in Theosophy, the Golden Dawn, and Ordo Templi Orientis. In the magical orders women and men engaged in visionary work in trance and in dreams, talking to spirits and flying from their bodies to visit one another and explore astral realms.

Interestingly, although their techniques were similar, many occultists took pains to distance themselves from Spiritualism. Anna Kingsford received visions which her scribe Edward Maitland recorded, but she held that these came not from discarnate human beings but from her own higher angelic self. The Golden Dawn also objected to the loss of consciousness involved in Spiritualism, where mediums could relinquish control of the body to the possessing spirit. The Neophyte Obligation from 1988 specified, “I will not suffer myself to be hypnotized, or mesmerized, nor will I place myself in such a passive state that any uninitiated person, power, or being may cause me to lose control of my thoughts, words or actions.”

Although both women and men received occult visions, in the magical orders it was very common for a conscious man to conduct the working with a woman in trance. There is some indication that Moina Mathers channeled rituals for the Golden Dawn under the direction of her husband Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. In The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor Godwin et. al. list other couples who created occult texts through operations led by the man and channeled by the woman, including William Butler and Georgie Yeats, Laurence and Mary Oliphant, and Mary Ware and Max Theon.

In this context then it is unexceptional that Rose would fall into a trance during one of her husband’s workings and it was not unusual that she would dictate a ritual to him. Context also helps us recover the nuances of the working. A Pagan today would expect the ritual to be given by the deity Horus; a ceremonial magician would expect Crowley to receive dictation from his Holy Guardian Angel. But Rose heard Aiwass too, and Aleister kept the possibility open that Aiwass had been Assyrian. Remembering the importance of Spiritualism helps us make sense of that part of the story. The religious and occult milieu in which the Crowleys moved allowed for fluid exploration of the world of the spirit.

What we lack is Rose’s own description of her experience. Crowley said he heard Aiwass speaking from behind his shoulder. Did Rose? When did she know the voice was not Horus – when did he speak his name? What did she think the voice represented? Did she also experience the entity as her Higher Self? Did she hear it even when her husband wasn’t making an invocation? Did she hear it later in life? When she said “they” are waiting for you, who else was speaking?

It appears Rose did not practice magic in the same way that her husband did. In the historical record she appears as the perfect passive participant, speaking only to pass along messages. In her post-Aleister life she did not appear to continue to associate with magicians. If she left diaries or letters these have not reached print; she didn’t seem to leave any kind of record of her work. She may not have thought of it as hers at all, just as most biographers and magicians today treat the working as Aleister’s and not Rose’s. But she shared the experience, and we would know more about Thelema if we had her perspective on it.

Read more:
Rose and Aleister Crowley: Richard Kaczynski, Ph.D., Perdurabo
Spiritualism and women: Alex Owen, The Darkened Room and The Place of Enchantment
Neophyte obligation: David Griffin, Astral Masters and the Golden Dawn
Occult couples: Joscelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel, and John P. Deveney, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

The Stele of Revealing Translated

Doug Blake visited Egypt in 2013 in a spiritual pilgrimage. While he was not able to see the stele, as it is still packed away, he traveled extensively, speaking in Arabic as well as reading the hieroglyphs wherever he went. He has produced the newest translation of the stele, detailing exactly what the images represent and what the texts say, as well as speaking the texts. This work of devotion offers an immersion into the language of the stele.