Further Thoughts After the Women’s Voices in Magick Panel at Pantheacon 2010

May 3, 2010 by  
Filed under culture, sexuality and gender

Further Thoughts After the Women's Voices in Magick Panel at Pantheacon 2010

At the most recent Pantheacon, I was honored to participate in a panel of authors who contributed to Immanion Press’s recent Women’s Voices in Magick anthology. It was a real treat to be able to take part in a lively conversation on the state of contemporary occultism with women from a diverse range of magical communities. Celtic Reconstruction, Thelema, Chaos and experimental magic were among the stated approaches used by such notable occultists as Erynn Rowan Laurie, Kat Sanborn, Amy Hale, Lupa, and Jaymi Elford. Despite the disparity in our training and in the communities and Gods we choose to serve, there were a number of common threads in our discussion that I feel shed light on compelling issues of contemporary magical practice. Since taking part, the issues have been much on my mind, and I present some of my thoughts on these topics as well.

Heterosexism, Privilege and Magick

All of us affirmed our affection and respect for our male colleagues, mentors and teachers. We expressed gratitude for their guidance and friendship. But in examining our personal experiences with sexism and heterosexism, it was starkly obvious to all of us that neopagan culture was not immune from either of these ills. It has manifested for us, both subtly and not so subtly. All of us have had to deal with criticisms that our hobbies, interests and life’s work, were not “natural” for women. These are not the attitudes of conservative family members, but rather those of our contemporaries and magical peers. We were told that there was something exotic, unusual, or just flat wrong about a woman Thelemite or Chaote. In those circles, we were either tokens or dupes. We’ve been told that we were doing our magick “incorrectly.” One woman spoke about how she and the other women who founded their tradition now feel pushed aside by male colleagues who monopolize conversations and blog threads with arguments among themselves, while ignoring female voices. Many of us spoke about feeling the hostility of male colleagues in traditionally male occult societies, and feeling distrust from other women occultists for working magick outside of a traditionally female context (Wicca, witchcraft, etc).

We all agreed that we had felt, at one time or another, reduced to sexual and biological objects. We were made to feel, by male colleagues, that our function in our spiritual community was to be sexually attractive and available to men, and if we weren’t, this was interpreted as somehow hostile on our part. To encounter this type of attitude in what we had hoped would be safe magical space is disheartening. What made it worse was the not so subtle message in many magical communities that women’s secondary status is “natural,” that it is somehow “natural” for us as women to serve men in all things, because that’s “how it is in nature.” In addition, this “natural” heterosexism asserts itself as phobic against homosexuality and transgender. “Nature” is used as a litmus test for what is “natural” in human sexuality; therefore, heterosex is privileged above all other sexual expressions for being more “natural.”

This construction of human sexuality is faulty and reductionist, and owes far more to the hidebound moralities of our dominant / dominator paradigm than to reproductive biology. This model is limited because it’s couched in polar binaries only, and even in context of so-called “fertility religion,” it provides an incomplete vision of the natural world as a source of gnosis and connection. The mysteries of egg and sperm, of seed and pollen, are ever present. They are primal forces, the engine that runs our planet. These energies are the forces of creation and destruction that we all engage in, everyday, with every breath: they are not exclusive to one sex, gender or orientation. The deepest human need has ever been to understand these forces, and the religions of these mysteries have ever tried to explain the infinite to finite human minds. The male-female heterosexual current is only one iteration of this primal energy. It’s a powerful one, and it is self-evident. From an evolutionary standpoint it has been wildly successful because it yields the greatest genetic diversity. But it is only one of many currents that energize our planet, our natural world, and in no way does it demand the type of oppressive constructions that culture puts on gender and sexual orientation. These are not natural; these are merely prejudice.

It is one of the more demoralizing tricks of the dominator paradigm to take the entire range of human enterprise, experience and emotional potential, divide it in half, give half to one gender and half to the other, and then expect whole, integrated adults to emerge. The most ancient, and truest, magical injunction remains: Know thyself. We cannot be fully human if we accept the limitations of dominator gender roles without question or complaint. As women magicians, we all had felt at some time pressured to abandon our magick in order to conform to someone else’s vision of what a woman should be. Rejecting those values is part of our commitment to our magical work.

Sex, Pleasure and Consequence

Despite having overcome our dominant culture’s sex-negative programming, we all felt that we had all been sexually objectified at one time or another. In many ways, the pro-sexual attitudes and relaxed sexual mores of Neopaganism have been just as limiting to women occultists as the anti-sexual stances against which many occultists have rebelled. Again, this is a reductionist attitude in which women are relegated to only those roles which serve men. Promoting sexual “liberation” for women serves heterosexual male interests, by encouraging and privileging (pressuring) women to be sexually available. This also manifests in how sexual or love Goddesses are lavished with devotion and reverence, while other Goddesses (mothers, crones, virgins, warriors) are given short-shrift except in women-only ritual contexts (Dianic Wicca, Goddess worship, etc).

The reclamation of sexuality as a sacred act of pleasure and connection is a central tenet of many occult traditions. Certainly for me, who follows the path of the Qadesha (sacred harlot), sexuality acts as both a sacred mystery and spiritual practice. Sexual pleasure can be a conduit for gnosis and connection with our most sacred selves and deity. But often the hedonism of Neopaganism frames sexuality as a purely physical pursuit. It sets up sexual pleasure much as the dominant paradigm does, as a commodity, something superficial, available upon demand, and having no consequence. (This is why the dominant paradigm really has no interest in what women occultists are saying. The vision of a sacred sexuality that we espouse cannot be sold to us, nor can it be purchased from us. Therefore, it really has no assigned value in the larger culture.)

The lie about this reductionist vision of sexuality is that sex is reduced to something inconsequential and tame, and it absolutely isn’t. Sex is full of peril: the peril of connection, of vulnerability, of the very real life and death consequences of . . . life and death. We as human beings have by and large removed procreation from a direct line to reproduction, and medical technology has mitigated much of the risk of childbearing. But those risks, that peril, have been part of human sexuality from the beginning and are encoded deeply within us. (Could the intensity of sexual pleasure be evolutionary coded, in order to offset the pain, danger and risk of childbearing?) Sexuality is more than just “scratching the bunny itch” and a sexual philosophy that diminishes that fact is ultimately false. Sometimes this fact is lost in the hedonism.

An example of this is a Beltane ritual I attended years ago, while I was quite pregnant. Our hosts were gracious, their home and grounds lovely and private, the ritual was beautifully executed. But I became profoundly uncomfortable by the “sermonette” in which our priest discussed the “universal” sexual dynamic of the female enticing the male to chase her till she catches him, which is present in the mating habits of all animals everywhere all the time. I found this fairly reactionary, of course, but as the evening wore on, the vibe became even more sexual as folks got flirty, then lascivious. As it was Beltane, it was considered perfectly appropriate. But once the vibe became licentious, I found myself pointedly ignored. My pregnant state put me outside the “fun and games” — I was no longer sexually available or accessible; I was “spoken for,” not by a husband, but by my unborn child.

While it may seem intuitive to consider a pregnant woman sexually unavailable, I don’t feel it was respect for my relationship status that had this effect. I believe I was ignored because I was a reminder of an aspect of sexuality at odds with the vision of the no-strings, sport-sex that was being celebrated that night. The risks, perils and consequences of sex can transcend the momentary pleasure we are driven to experience, and I was a very present reminder of those consequences. It also hints at old concepts of a divided female sexuality, in which the sexual is degraded as selfish and debauched, and the mother is admired as purely spiritual and selfless, almost virginal. This is ironic, of course, in that the only way to achieve becoming a mother is through that nasty sex. It’s this type of cognitive dissonance that keeps women occultists and witches from feeling fully empowered in magical community. The new boss looks remarkably like the old one.

Women’s Space or Ghetto?

With so many magical spaces and communities being so hostile, what spaces can we as women occultists create? This was a conflict we had all had: finding that the magical communities and work that we were most attracted to, were not necessarily welcoming to us. Specifically, our male colleagues were hostile to our participation, and demanded that we conform to perceived “male” standards of practice and conduct. Even the magical spaces that we and other women created, we could be displaced out of by our male colleagues taking control of the intellectual space. This type of dynamic happens both online and in person. As the group space becomes fractious or argumentative (as will happen when fine points of doctrine are debated endlessly, or when individuals assert their authority or their place in hierarchy), women tend to feel silenced — they do not wish to step into the fray, and feel ignored when they try to redirect the conversation. As a result, many women occultists feel compelled to go “underground,” to create a parallel conversation among themselves only, in order to speak more freely and push forward their own work.

There are benefits and liabilities to this approach. Certainly, this type of woman-only space has been vital in fostering the work of countless women magicians, and is at the core of feminist activism and Goddess spirituality. Its value, its necessity, to the women who feel silenced outside this space, is incalculable. However, by not speaking outside these safe spaces, female voices become more absent where they need most to be heard. These spaces can become ghettos, where women’s creative expression is tolerated at the same time it is barred from the more prominent position in culture that it deserves.

The challenge for all of us — as magicians, as conscious individuals — is to continue to create the work that is sustaining to us and supportive our communities. The stakes are incredibly high — we are all of us engaged in creating culture that is healthy, sustainable and flourishing. This work of generating culture is now inextricably linked to our survival as a species. We have to work together, and seek connection, and look beyond the minute differences that keep us isolated.

©2010 by Leni Hester.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Ocular Distortion – Persephone

Ocular Distortion - Persephone

Ocular Distortion

About the Artist

My interests in photography and film began in junior high school — a fascination leading me to pursue my undergrad and graduate degree from Ohio State University in cinematography. For the last 20 years most of my work has been in film and video — documentary and narrative film — specifically horror genre. The last couple years I decided to work more in still imagery primarily for the purpose of my desire to photograph pinup and exotic/erotic imagery, preferring to work with models and staged scenes. I have found working in photography to allow me to explore my own artistic endeavors on a more personal level since I do not rely on crew as I need to in film work. The collaboration still exists between myself and the model but it is more on the intimate.

About the Images

These images are of Mistress Persephone. She is one of the first models I started working with when going back to still photography and we have worked quite frequently ever since. My approach is rather simple — I shoot in digital, 35MM and medium format (Nikon and Hasselblad) Specifically, this series was shot with a Nikon D-50 with a f 1.8, 50MM lens. Typically I use hard, hot sources — but I also incorporate color gels influenced by classic Hammer horror films as well as from the films of Roger Corman’s Poe adaptations. For these I experimented for the first time with an Alien Bee B400 flash unit with a light modifier creating a narrow beam producing an edge highlight enhanced through Photoshop via the “glow” effect. My ambient fill is created with a homemade soft box with fluorescent daylight balanced lamps. The box contains 16 lamps (each lamp is 20 Watts — an equivalent of 75 Watt incandescent output). I can engage all 16 lamps or 8 lamps producing my desired illumination. For a touch of back light I use a collapsible reflector on a stand from Steve Kaeser Photographic Lighting and Accessories.

On this particular shoot, Persephone and I wanted imagery in her dominatrix persona — I was not happy with the background so I draped a red net behind her. I carry several pieces or remnants of material with me for just this reason. I love how the black outfit stands out from the red, the look on her face with her, with the whip draped over her shoulder quite elegantly. The other image — the curve of the whip, her face showing erotic pleasure from an instrument of pain. The final image is classic pinup with a black backdrop and stand, also from Kaeser. Leaving the strobe as a hard source as opposed to diffused created the beautiful highlight to her exquisite boots and the extreme contrast with her skin tones; black and red — quite inviting. I would love to hear from you, additional information is on my web site: www.JoeyHorrxr.com.

Persephone 2
©2010 by Jose Cardenas. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Persephone 1
©2010 by Jose Cardenas. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Persephone 3
©2010 by Jose Cardenas. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

©2010 by Jose Cardenas.
Text edited by Sheta Kaey.

Veiled Issues – Chthonic BDSM

Veiled Issues - Chthonic BDSM

Veiled Issues

“This thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine.” — Prospero (The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1)

Geoff Mains, in his seminal work on Leather culture, Urban Aboriginals: A Celebration of Leathersexuality, uses this quote in his introduction to that work. Later, he frames the tribe of Leather (at that time, Gay Leather, the pansexual Leather/BDSM movement, was in its infancy) in terms of Apollonian and Dionysian structure. This dynamic has framed discussions of early SM and later BDSM culture since that period in much the same way that the terms had framed discourse regarding culture from Nietzsche to the present day.

Nietzsche himself, well loved by many for his masculine Ubermenschian ideals, took a pair of Greek gods to illustrate the tension between logos and pathos in The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche discussed this in terms of Apollonian dream of beauty and Dionysian instinct to drunkenness, and wrote that it was in the union of inspiration and ecstasy that true art was found. “Apollonian” is a term often applied as a descriptor of the forces of reason, of structure, of logical process and civilization. “Dionysian” is used to describe the primal, the intuitive, the emotional, the wild and unrestrained — a primordial self. This primordial self was both integral and central to the unified self, the Apollonian consciousness being merely a veil that obscures the frightening Dionysian instinct.

Interestingly, Nietzsche leaned away from a fragile union of the two as the ultimate form of art and self in rejection of the structures of Apollonian reason as his philosophical thought progressed. The Ubermensch is a unified figure unbound by the strictures of conventional morality that creates its own ethos through the power of its own will. The Apollonian veil is one of imposed civilization that creates a split in the primal self by its very nature, blinding the self to its instincts.

The Apollonian/ Dionysian dichotomy was clearly an attractive analogy to Mains, most likely for a number of reasons. The radical sexuality and pleasure seeking behavior of Leathermen admixed with pain captured the vital, Dionysian essence of SM culture at that time. The defining terms, Apollonian and Dionysian, come from the social sciences. This is certainly what Mains was doing — looking at Leather as a scientist. From his application of anthropological terms and concepts to the subculture, to his explanation of the physiology of SM, Mains was uniting those two strong, attractive, and ultimately male role models — the Scientist (Apollonian) and the Leatherman (Dionysian) — within himself.

However, if Dionysus was a deity of ecstatic, drunken orgies symbolizing rebirth who was primarily followed by the bloodthirsty women known as Maenads (a fact which always seemed to be glossed over by gay male writers), then we should also mention Cybele. She was identified with Rhea and Demeter, and was also a deity of ecstatic, bloodthirsty, drunken orgies and served by the Gallai, the castrated and transgendered followers of her son and consort Attis. Evidence suggests that the practices of the Dionysian cult were derived from that of Cybele. Some legends state that Dionysus was actually initiated by Cybele.

Castrated men ecstatically serving a female deity is a threatening concept to most men, regardless of sexual orientation. Castrated, transgendered men. . . This is not the Leather Ideal. The Christ-like, virile figure of Dionysus offering community, solace, and perhaps even redemption is much more palatable to the gay Leather soul. This is especially true if we ignore the troublesome details of the actual cult practice such as the powerful, and very female, Maenads.

This, of course, is the problem.

Towards the end of Urban Aboriginals, Mains notes the rise of faerie (Neopagan) spirituality in the Leather community. In discussing the wide appeal and universal nature of SM, he also notes the existence of the lesbian Leather community as well as JANUS (aka the pansexual BDSM community). While the argument might be made that Leather is inherently masculine, there is nothing to support the notion that the practices of BDSM are.

Here I would suggest that the Dionysian steps aside for the Chthonic. This term is one of the Underworld, of darkness, of death. The Greeks didn’t divide their own gods into Apollonian and Dionysian, and modern scholars have developed a more nuanced division of the deities into Olympian and Chthonic: the younger deities of the Heavens and the older deities of the Earth. The Chthonic is a black female yin to the white male Apollonian yang. This is eminently and inherently unsettling to a dialectic formed of two male ideals, the philosopher-king and the wild man of the woods.

A darker, less noble truth is ignored.

The Erotic and the Thanatotic are closely linked to the Altsex community these days. The community — Leather, pansexual, transgender, and fetish — has been living and dying under the specter of AIDS for a quarter of a century. This community has been dying for other reasons as well: domestic violence, hate crimes, and the banalities of choking on food, car accidents, and slipping in the shower. This is the inescapable Darkness.

Writing in 1984, Mains himself noted that AIDS was changing the landscape of Leather. Now, more than twenty years later, I would suggest that Dionysian is only a portion of the dynamic that we see in the current Altsex community. While Apollonian is also descriptor of light, of the sky and heavens, Dionysian might be viewed as descriptor of darkness. But its connection to the earth is one of vitality and life, the vine and the grape, the passion that brings forth life in orgiastic frenzy. He is unconquerable life, the rebirth after death, not death itself.

Today, you practically cannot open a book on BDSM without a hip and often trite discussion of the Jungian Shadow in terms of BDSM. The Shadow is often equated with all the scary things about BDSM: the untamed sexuality, the ownership of desire, the passion of pain, the heady bouquet of blood, sweat, and tears. It is a Gothic ideal of a radical underground, a sensual aesthetic that provides psycho-spiritual justification for the sorcery of the dungeon.

But the Shadow, as closely linked as it is to darkness, is not in fact Darkness. It is merely what we pass through to get there at the end of one road and the beginning of another. The Shadow is that part of the Self that is formed by the fundamental struggle between the light of our own consciousness as it attempts to deal with its brushes with death. Not so much the death of the ego, though that is involved, but the death of the body, the final Darkness that will claim us all.

The Shadow has become so romanticized that its intrinsic nature, the battleground between Light and Darkness, has become lost. Instead of engaging in a dialogue with the Shadow about the Darkness, the discussion has become a self-absorbed dialectic with the Shadow about itself.

The question becomes: How do we retain the discussion with the Shadow and regain the dialogue about the Darkness?

To this day, despite the pansexual appeal of both BDSM and Leather, discussions of Jungian archetypes, and rise of the shaman-styled divine androgynes, there is continued homophobia in the “pansexual” BDSM community, a strong undercurrent of misogyny in gay Leather subculture, and Transfolk are still looking for a place to safely call home. Just as the mainstream gay and lesbian communities ostracized Leather out of disgust and fears of public-relations disasters, the Altsex community itself polices those who play on the edge for the very same reasons. Rather than a frank discussion of domestic abuse and mental illness within the Scene, the community engages in self-congratulatory discussions of how evolved and self-actualized it is to be kinky compared to “vanilla” folk.

These are the Shadows that should be dealt with.

©2009 by Edward Dain.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

“Edward Dain” is the long standing pseudonym for a “squicky, neoshamanistic, Ordeal Path, Leatherman.” Given his skills and focus, he has been known to introduce himself as “the guy your High Priestess warned you about.” Despite this people still tend to think he is a nice person and seem interested in the opinions he has formed over a quarter-of-a-century of esoteric practice. A practicing therapist who specializes in sexual minorities and relationships, “Edward Dain” also values his work with religious and spiritual minorities. Currently he is completing his internship, the final requirement for the award of his doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Beyond the Veil – Lilith and Eve

Beyond the Veil - Lilith and Eve

Beyond the Veil

As told by one Misha McFatter:

In the beginning Sophia created Lilith and Eve in her image, and set them in an Edenic world of bliss where, in the passion of their love play, new ways of being were brought into existence, incarnating as various animals, plants, rocks, storms, rivers, stars, moods, ideas, flavors, and every conceivable thing. Lilith and Eve were not just the pinnacle of creation, they were active participants in the creative/generative process.

This continued for Seven Ages of Seven Ages of the world. The created world and the creative process were nearing perfection, making the abode of manifestation, of animals, matter, spirits, thoughts a worthy counterpart and Adorer of Sophia, mother of wisdom.

At the end of what was to be the penultimate session of love play between Lilith and Eve, a generative orgasmic celebration of duality that started with the vernal equinox and ended two weeks past the summer solstice, the mother of all Storms was born, casting forth lightning of both creation and destruction, of blissful culmination and agonizing annihilation, of rains cold and warm, of unstoppable passions and glacial detachments.

And winds never before seen in the Garden of Eden, which was the world up to that time.

Lilith and Eve held tightly to each other as the fingers of the wind tried to pull them apart, and finally, exhausted by more than three months of lovemaking and four weeks of Storm, the two primal lovers were pulled apart, and thrown to different sub-angles of the Garden.

Eve landed in woodland that was only partially thrashed by storm. The great wind of galaxies only lightly shook the trees, though a heavy rain fell. All the small fury woodland creatures peeked out of their burrows when they heard Eve crash to the ground, and recognizing the image of god that had called them into being, raced to her side, checking her for injuries. The bears acted as transport stretchers for Eve and, with the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks covering her naked body up to her chin, took her deep into the heart of the wood to the bower of bliss whereupon no storm could ever touch.

It was August 1st, and Eve would sleep well past Labor Day in the first week of September, when the Storm finally spent itself and a cooler, late summer breeze caressed the Garden.

Lilith was tossed about on the Winds of Dispassion and Feeling for a week longer, taken high into the sky where the Storm slapped hands of rain and fingers of lighting on the moon, to finally be dropped down in the most remote and mineral sub-angle of the Garden of Eden.

The Storm, done with her, deposited her in a rocky place of caves and hot springs, where deep below molten rock churned like her and her lover’s passions. Lilith found herself on her knees, naked and Storm tossed, hair wet and matted, wishing that she and Eve had gotten around to bringing tobacco and cigarettes into existence, because after all that she really needed a smoke.

Cold rains beat on her naked and spent form and on the land around her, making steam rise from the mud pots and mineral pools. Realizing a cave opened before her with a dull red glow, she crawled in on all fours,. Before she knew it, she was crawling up to her chin into warm, welcoming, comforting mud. The bottom gave out and she thrashed tiredly in the warm ooze, dirtying all but her face, and finally finding a slanted ledge to lie against.

It was August 7th, and Lilith slept that way for a week.

She awoke lonely and horny on the morning of August 15th. As the first emanation of Sophia, she had a semi-conscious comprehension of the map of generation, and comprehended that the last round of over-the-top lovemaking was the penultimate union, and knew that the next time she and Eve embraced would be the final culmination of the universe of manifestation, and in the terminal orgasm of their lovemaking the universe and the goddess would be united, for eternity, in an orgasmic state beyond all possible manifest orgasms.

The prospect daunted her. After the rites of spring and the spawned Storm of all passions, what could be done?

Lilith wished that there was some new way she could be joy and the ultimate final rapture to her lover Eve, some as yet unknown way to create the ultimate in sensation and orgasm, other than the use of tongues and fingers and their organs of creation joined in the lightning flash of climax. Perhaps if she had a way in which her gateway of being could enter into Eve’s gateway of being, instead of the doors of generation opening to each other. . . a way that her door would open within Eve’s door.

Up until this point, Penetration did not exist in the act of lovemaking and creation.

Laying there in the mud, hot and horny, Lilith tried to imagine her gateway of being as something completely different, not something that new things passed thru, but something, like a person, that passed through gateways.

At the thought of this she felt her organ of generation burn with desire, and her breasts and nipples felt swollen. The warm caressing mud also felt reminiscent of Eve’s body wrapped around her; she cautiously moved her left hand down toward her heat, and when she touched the center of her creative fire, lighting raced through her body and she began to writhe and trash in the mud.

For the first time since she and Eve came into being, Lilith made love to herself, the image of the door that is not a door burning like an exploding sun in her mind. After seven days of bigger and bigger orgasms, the eidolon of the Enterer blazing firmly in her soul, it finally happened: orgasm and image became one. She saw the long sinuous shape of the enterer with its hooded head, and in the final moment combined of longing and loathing, she screamed in her passion “IALDABOATH!”, shuddered, and passed out.

She lay thus in the warm, welcoming mud for two weeks before awareness returned, but only awoke because she felt a stirring behind her gate of generation. Too tired still to move her arms to check what was going on down there, she felt her thighs spread apart on their own, and her pelvic region convulsed in undulating waves. Then she felt something biting, yes, biting like teeth, on the inner side of her veil of being. Biting, biting, tearing, through, pushing o my goddess what is happening and then she remembered her week long trashing in the mud, and as it finally brought through and pushed out of her, she was panting “oh no! . . oh no! Not Ialdaboath… oh no!”

And she felt something slide out from her and rise out of the mud between her legs, its hooded head shaggy with mud, eyes like hot coals staring into her tired orbs.

“Thank you mother, for giving me life. Now I go to do what you cannot. . .” and with that the Enterer slid out of the pool of mud, and then out of the cave and into the last of the Storm of Passion. The rains washed the mud and blood from his glistening, sinuous body.

It was August 28th. On August 31st, the Storm blew away, and since this year it fell on a Friday, Labor Day was just a few short days away. The Enterer could smell where Eve was, and knew it was several days slither before he reached there. From the taste of her on the winds, he knew she was still asleep, but about to awaken.

The Enterer had but one purpose in life: to be the instigator of the ultimate orgasm that finalized the creation. For he was the bud-will of his mother Lilith’s intention. Nothing else mattered. He must cause Eve to have the best Orgasm ever, and nothing must get in his way.

So he slithered as fast he could, and arrived near the bower of peace just as Eve was waking up. Climbing into a tree, he watched Eve stand, and was totally taken by her Beauty. He must have her, he must make love to her, for he was an incarnation of Lilith’s lust for Eve and his will was the act of creation.

But from his mother’s own horror at him, he knew that Eve would never love him, never want him. Being born of his mother’s creative power, he had some few small creative acts left in him, so he willed himself to something like Lilith: The blue-blue eyes, the long dark hair, the heart shaped face, the full and able breasts, the curves of hips and legs. He could make himself over into all of that, but where his gateway of passion and creation should be, a smaller version of his true self hung, attached to his body, and seemingly with a will of its own.

Ialdaboath combed his long dark hair, looking something like his mother, and ambled around some shrubs, and stood before Eve with arms open.

Now Eve had taken a blow to the head when she fell in the forest, and after a Season and some of having her brains fucked out she was also a bit loopy, so when she saw the Enterer she said:

“Who are you?”

The Enterer was taken by surprise, having hoped he would be mistaken for his mother. He sputtered and said,

“Oh, I’m just A dame,” which the patriarchs were later to misreport as “Adam.” He continued “I’m Lily, Lilith’s twin Sister. That little Storm of yours blew her right back to the realm of Sophia, so I was sent to find you.”

“Hi Lily,” said Eve. “You look almost exactly like Lilith, except what is that where your gate of being should be?”

Ialdaboath was a bit stumped, but then the geis of his being took over his mouth with the following lie: “This is the key of creation. Sophia gave it to me in place of the gate of being. With it, I was to find you and stand in for Lilith for the final act of creation, the last series of orgasms that culminate in the ultimate climax that unites the created world with the Goddess.”

Eve, still a little loopy, but not totally dumb, asked, “What happened to Lilith?”

The Enterer told one more little lie. “She was blown about longer and harder by that Storm you two made, and was hurt beyond her own ability to heal. She sleeps with her mother now.”

Eve stepped a little closer, and looked into the Enterer’s blue eyes that were flecked with chips of red. Breathing the scent of Lily and reaching down to touch the serpentine key, she said, “Oh Lily, be Lilith to me, let us complete the creation in one final rush of passion and join with the Goddess for Eternity.” And as she grasped the key, it stiffened into its active form, and Lily suddenly knew how it was to be used. He lay down upon the turf as Ialdaboath and tore through a veil of generation for the second time, but this time from outside. Initially, it hurt for Eve, it hurt bad, but once that was passed the sensation was unlike anything Eve had ever known, and the orgasms that slowly came were more like earthquakes than lightning in a bottle.

And Ialdaboath, who knew he was the instrument of the final orgasm, was surprised to find that he, too, was about to know Orgasm, and for being created via half the mode of being, he had within him a partial fragmented version of the creative power, which rocked forth from him as a liquid light, entering into Eve.

It was different than Eve had ever known. Instead of something coming into existence in the world from lovemaking, now there was something inside her. As the Enterer slowly pulled out she felt that diminution, with a little bit left. Hot and sweaty, they both soon fell asleep.

The next day when Eve woke up, she felt the liquid light dripping out of her. Its draining departure made her want more. She saw that Lily was asleep, and that the serpentine key was in its solid and active form again. Wet with her own desire, she slowly rolled Lily onto her back and slid down upon the key of creation, slowly moving on it, and Ialdaboath awoke with surprise to find himself inside of Eve again, with her slowly working out the liquid light.

This continued on day after day, with Ialdaboath and Eve making love, falling asleep, waking up to make love, wandering around Eden eating fruit, and laughing.

The liquid light of Ialdaboath had another property besides creating a desire for more of itself. It caused memory to fade. Eve began to call her lover Lilith, and completely forgot about waking up to find Lily with the key of creation; it had always been this way.

On September 10th, Lilith came to herself, still in the mud, which had solidified a bit, becoming more plastic. Slowly working her way out of the once more liquid earth, she crawled out of the mud, crawled out of the cave, and stood looking at the world after the Storm of passion. She dried out a bit, recovering, and felt under her covering of clay that her gateway of being had been torn and sundered, but would heal. Dreading what her son might be up to, she followed the baked serpentine track through the mineral land, and as she traveled the sun baked the mud on her body into a fired clay. Her matted muddy hair became like fossilized kraken tentacles, her beautiful body obscured by earth and rock.

After several days, she came to the end of the trail of the Enterer, baked into the land by the sun, and knew from the direction he was going that the final destination was the Bower of Bliss.

Frightened, angry and desperate, she began to walk as fast as possible through fields and woods, a look of terror on her face, and all before her fled in dread.

On September 21st, the day of the Autumnal Equinox, she burst into the Bower of Bliss to find the Enterer and Eve fucking madly, the Eidolon of the Slitherer as firm and thick as a tree limb, battering its way into Eve’s Gateway of Creation.

Lilith screamed in rage, throwing back her head and shouting, “Ialdaboath, what the hell are you doing with, doing to, my girlfriend?!?!”

Ialdaboath, startled and afraid of his mother’s rage, let loose the liquid light sooner than he wanted to and fell out of Eve, hiding behind her.

“Uh, hi Mom. I’m just doing what you could never do.”

Eve looked to the Enterer and said: “Who is that Monster, Lilith? And why does she call you Ialdaboath?”

Lilith looked shocked and disgusted, as she saw Eve’s gateway of creation torn open, and the latest liquid light of Ialdaboath dripping out of her.

“Eve, it’s me, Lilith.”

Eve said “No, Lilith is behind me. You are some kind of Mountain or Rock Monster with my lover’s face.”

Lilith screamed with rage, leaped forward and moved Eve aside, grabbing Ialdaboath by the short hairs and yelling, “You little brat! You bastard abortion! Who did you tell my girl friend you were? Sophia?”

Ialdaboath sputtered, “Mom… I just told her I was ‘A dame’ and then I told her my name was Lily, your twin sister.”

Eve blinked in more confusion, “Lilith, why do you call that thing your mother? Sophia is our mother.”

The Real Lilith, tired of the confusion, grabbed both her lover and her son by the hair and angrily dragged them to the river that flowed out of Eden, threw them in, and plunged in afterward.

As the two recent lovers spluttered Lilith washed the clays from her body and hair, and the river milked up with silt. Her long black hair clean for the first time in a month, she plucked her girlfriend and her son from the raging waters and brought them to the shore, gasping like frightened fish.

Between the terror of being caught by his mother, and the plunge into the cold raging waters of the river of Eden, Ialdaboath’s image of his mother had faltered. While his face still appeared an echo of hers, now the peach fuzz of a beard graced his cheeks and chin, the breasts had flattened into hard, firm pectorals, and the curves of hip and leg were gone. While he reflected an image of god, it was all angles and hardness, centered around that which remained of his original serpentine form. And the blues of his eyes were replaced by red.

Eve looked at her first lover, with whom she had brought most of the manifest universe into being, and then at the second lover, whom she had thought was Lilith, who had taught her a new and deeper way to bring about the orgasm of creation. She found herself confused and torn, in love with them both.

And then, after nearly three weeks of being entered with the liquid light raining inside her she realized something had changed. While her lover’s latest shower was even now still dripping out of her, she realized that something had come into being within her.

As Lilith and her son argued back and forth about what he had done to Eve and why she had called him into existence, Eve announced, “There is a new life within me. A creation from inside, a new manifestation of the image of God in the universe. Lilith, from me, with the aid of your Son, I shall be the Mother of an entire race of sleeping gods. Sleeping gods who will experience the creation from the lowest level up, and after much striving will be finally worthy to join with God in Eternal Union.”

Lilith slapped Eve across her left check, living an image of her hand. “You cum drunk whore! You’ve gotten yourself knocked up, just six months short of our culmination of the manifest universe. We’ve gotta get that out of you now. This shithead over here tore me up on the way out.”

“No Lilith! The child is mine. Mine and your son’s. I’m going to keep it! And we will have more! The Key of Creation is the best thing ever! You need to try it!”

Lilith was completely disgusted. “Fuck no, you little bitch! This bastard tore me up on the way out. There’s no way I’m letting him back inside of me, no matter how good you think it is. You need to come to your senses, get that out of yourself, and come back to me.”

Eve, for the first time ever, began to cry and sob, looking back and forth between Lilith and Ialdaboath. “Don’t say that! Don’t make me choose! I love you both.”

“It’s him or me, bitch.”

Eve screamed: “Then it’s going to be him, for he can fill me with new life again and again; all you can do is make flowers bloom in the night sky!”

Lilith stood, shaking with anger, and yelled at Eve as she ran away into the woods “Fine, be that way. Know then that Childbirth will be painful and tear you apart, as the image of God is too immense to pass thru the gateway of being. And once that little beast pops out, you’ll be embarrassed on how it came to pass, and will hide your beautiful body, the image of all that is perfect, under the skins of your animal friends, which you will kill to assuage your guilt!”

Lilith looked at her cowering son and said, “Thanks a lot, Junior. You’ve just fucked everything up.”

Then, in a moment of remorse for what she had said, Lilith cupped her hands and broadcast her voice into the woods and said, “Eve, I’m sorry! If you can ever forgive me, come back to me.”

And this is why the world is the way it is.

And this is why the autumn is called the fall, since Eve fell away from her true path when she conceived on the Autumnal Equinox.

And this is why all men are snakes, as each one carries the image of Ialdaboath on his body.

And this is why some guy will try to steal your girlfriend.

Beyond the Veil is a regularly appearing column featuring fiction, including occult, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. If you’d like to contribute a story, please contact admin@rendingtheveil.com and we’ll be happy to review your submission.

©2009 J. Michael Glosson
Edited by Sheta Kaey

News in Magick #13 – Call for Writers: Queer Magic Anthology

News in Magick #13 - Call for Writers: Queer Magic Anthology

E-mail for inquiries and submissions.

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A.) is seeking submissions for an anthology on queer magic and/or ritual.

What We Don’t Want

For the purposes of this publication, “queer” is primarily defined as anything of a non-majority sexual orientation (e.g. gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc.), or atypical gender identity (e.g. transsexual, transgendered, intersexed, genderqueer, metagender, etc.). Other things may be part of the widest understanding of “queerness,” including relationship styles (e.g. polyamory, etc.) or sexual practices (e.g. BDSM, fetishes, kink, etc.), and indeed magic, occultism, and paganism themselves (since they are “non-normative,” which is an agreed-upon definition of “queer” within many academic circles), but the focus of this volume will be on queerness particularly as it applies to gender and sexual orientation.

This is not an anthology that is intended to be about personal stories of the intersection of magical, occult, pagan, or spiritual identity and queerness, but instead about queer perspectives on magical, occult, and esoteric topics especially, but also possibly the impact of queerness on pagan or spiritual topics (e.g. theology). Further, where and when these topics of paganism and/or spiritual identity and affiliation might be addressed, this is not an anthology about coming out spirituality (e.g. the idea that it is okay to be LGBTQ and pagan/ Thelemic/ Santero/ Hellenic/ whatever/ &c.; “coming out” as ritual, initiation, etc.), nor should essays primarily be about how queerness of whatever sort gives one a better perspective or understanding on energy polarity or gender wholeness within any of these magical, occult, or pagan paradigms (e.g. the idea that gay men are more naturally gifted, magical, or shamanically-inclined because they are more in touch with their femininity, etc.). The latter has been done to death already; the former is an important first step in these matters, but as with all Megalithica publications, the intention with this anthology is to go beyond introductory matters whenever possible.

Personal stories that are primarily about alienation from mainstream magical, occult, or pagan circles because of one’s queerness are not the focus of this volume; if discussion of such is relevant to the wider aims of one’s essay, that’s fine, but having those wider aims is a necessity. If you want to do a piece on “queer love spells,” it would be better to address theoretical issues of how they’re different or in what ways their methodology is unique and presents challenges or enrichment, rather than giving templates or sample ritual/ magical texts. Essays on how to adapt “non-queer” spells, rituals, or practices to a queer context, or lists of correspondences and deities for particular queer issues, are not very desirable… unless they’re extremely innovative and unique!

What We Do Want

Some particular issues of interest might include:

  • How does one’s queerness suggest different viewpoints on particular aspects, methodologies, or theories of magical practice?
  • Just as one’s queerness may give one more useful insights on some magical or spiritual matters, are there likewise blind spots that one’s queerness may cause, and how can one address those usefully from a queer perspective?
  • Are there historical precedents or particularly interesting figures in relation to queerness within one’s magical or spiritual tradition?
  • Are there any useful practices or texts from the past (e.g. the Greek Magical Papyri; mythological tales featuring queer figures; established traditions with queer themes; historical figures who were known to be what we understand as queer; etc.) which can be used today, usefully adapted, or mined for insights for use in the very different contexts of the modern world?
  • What are some magical methods or procedures that one might use to creatively deal with what are viewed as queer-specific issues, like homophobia, transphobia, etc., safer sex practices and education, forming and interacting with the LGBTQ communities, legal and political activism, LGBTQ rights and equality struggles, etc.?
  • Are there “pop cultural” and “multi-media” magical techniques (see Taylor Ellwood’s various publications for further ideas/information!) or practices that can be employed in interesting ways for queer folks? Ideas may include:
    1. use of personals websites/Craigslist for spell casting or divination
    2. drag performances as aspecting/invocation
    3. uses of cruising and the entire bar/club scene for ritual work (which can be rather edgy, and not always in a good way, but nonetheless it’s a possibility)
    4. using queer-themed literature and films as bibliomancy or interactive ritual texts and/or sacred drama (on the latter, think The Rocky Horror Picture Show as ritual/ liturgy, but with other possibilities for the film that is the subject of the interaction)
    5. use of historical figures (e.g. Harvey Milk, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein), living personalities (e.g. RuPaul, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John), or characters (e.g. Valerie from V for Vendetta, Sterling [Patrick Stewart] from Jeffrey, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist from Brokeback Mountain, etc.) as archetypes or spirits, deity-forms, egregores, etc. for queer magical/ spiritual work

    and so forth.

  • What are the challenges that can be encountered with the interactions of LGBTQ people and non-queer folks in magical/ spiritual communities, and (most importantly) how can they be overcome creatively? What are the challenges that can be encountered with having interaction with a non-magical/ non-spiritual person in one’s personal life as a lover/ partner/ relationship, and (most importantly) how can they be overcome creatively? (By “overcome creatively,” what is meant is anything non-manipulative, non-triumphalistic, and non-resentful that can be done to address and/or alleviate the issues in a situation — which is to say, specific actions, not adoption of attitudes or viewpoints that run the gamut of “try to be open-minded, understanding, and compassionate; deal with people on an individual and context-specific basis,” etc., as the main resolution offered. These should be things that are tried and tested, not theoretical matters. In this type of essay, of course personal experience and sharing of stories are necessary, but if the one you’re considering does not meet all of the above criteria, it will most likely not be considered for inclusion in this anthology.)
  • And anything else you might think of which is innovative, interesting, different, new, unique, fascinating, scintillating, wonderful, and fabulous that involves queerness of whatever type, and its relation to and intersection with the practice and theory of magic, occultism, paganism and spirituality!

Requirements for Submission

  • Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material
  • Bibliography for works cited
  • Format should be “Vancouver Style” footnotes — look it up if you are not familiar with it!

Do write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely speaks in the first person about your own experience, that is also permissible, but please use a more formal writing style for as much as possible in your piece that is not quoted speech. Unless you do so sparingly, or define your terms (either in the main text or footnotes), do not use lolcat-speak, text message speak, or anything else that could be considered para-English.

Rough drafts are due August 15, 2009. These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editor. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it — we can discuss this during the editing process. Do drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Compensation will be ($25) (paid via twice-yearly royalties from book sales) plus a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Phillip A. Bernhardt-House. Phillip is the author of several articles (academic and non-academic) on religion, spirituality, mythology, theology, Celtic Studies, paganism, queerness, werewolves, and a variety of other topics, as well as a published poet, and is a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (queer Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheism dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian). Phillip’s e-mail address for this anthology is aediculaantinoi@hotmail.com.

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine in 2003, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at immanion-press.com.

News in Magick appears as often as we receive press releases. If you’d like to send us a press release of potential interest to RTV readers, please email your materials to admin@rendingtheveil.com and be aware of our issue publication dates.

©2009 Taylor Ellwood
Edited by Sheta Kaey

How to Be a Mother When You’re Not a Mother

April 30, 2007 by  
Filed under culture, sexuality and gender

How to Be a Mother When You're Not a Mother

I don’t want children. Not now, not ever. I don’t have anything against them, per se. I simply have no desire to procreate, adopt, or otherwise add any more human beings to my happy little two-human, one-cat, one-lizard household. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember — when other little girls were playing with dolls and talking about who they were going to marry and how many babies they were going to have, I was more concerned with seeing what sort of bugs, snakes and other critters I could find by overturning rocks in the woods.

So when I discovered the joys of neopaganism, one of the first things I encountered that caused me to look askance was the trinity of Maiden, Mother and Crone in Wicca. Understandably, Wicca is a fertility religion, among other things. However, modern Pagans do many things that our forebears in earlier fertility-based religions did not. Few of us are concerned with agriculture aside from trips to the grocery store, or maybe tending a garden in the back yard. Our meat is usually killed by someone else, drained of blood, and wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam.

Most importantly, we no longer have a high child mortality rate, and therefore have no need to produce a dozen or more children per family, in hope that a few will survive to adulthood and further procreation. This has led to better and more effective forms of birth control, most notably hormonal methods such as the Pill, which can be up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Some women even opt for permanent sterilization through tubal ligation or hysterectomies. Men have the option of vasectomies, which can be left permanent or reversed if so desired.

A couple of hundred years ago, I would have had no choice in whether or not to have children. Women were expected to have babies for both social and financial reasons; single women were few and far between, and laden with the “spinster” stigma. These days, though, more and more people are choosing to delay having children or to remain permanently child-free.

Because the pagan community is generally accepting of other subcultures, a number of transgendered women have found safe haven within. While incapable of physical childbirth, they aren’t lesser women, just as sterile or child-free cisgendered women aren’t judged as “partial women.” The archetypes of Maiden, Mother and Crone, as well as other aspects of Female Divinity, don’t discriminate based on the accident of a female birth. (To those who disagree, I point out that the anonymous quote, “You know you have created God in your own image when your God hates the same people you do,” works with the Goddess as well. “Hate” may be inaccurate terminology, but the concept is the same.)

So where does that leave pagan women who identify with the life-stages of the Goddess? While some people have added the Warrior role to the trilogy, some women may want a gentler role — without children. Fortunately, the Mother is an adaptable Goddess indeed!

The Birth of Creation

Childbirth is a primal act of creation. Some would say it’s the ultimate creative act, as it’s necessary for the propagation of humanity. But creation covers other processes and results as well. The “Mother” is the act of creation, regardless of focus, the “Maiden” is potential, and the “Crone” is reflection and teaching. These don’t necessarily have to coincide with your own physical age. All aspects of the Divine, whether the Wiccan Goddess trinity, the many deities of polytheistic cultures, or the All-in-One of pantheism, are accessible to all people; it’s just a matter of learning to connect with them. The Mother archetype is no different.

I connect to the Mother most easily through artwork. I am able to take raw materials and create something new with them. A tube of paint is the contained potential of the Maiden until I spread it upon the canvas with the Mother’s paintbrush. The result of this painting process may not be a flesh-and-blood child, but it is intimately dear to me. I have put hours of energy and effort into my art, to bring the image in my head to life in as exact a manner as possible.

The motif of rebirth shows in much of my artwork, as well. I frequently work with leather, fur, feathers, bones and other animal remains, often reclaimed from taxidermy mounts and clothing. The act of creation is coupled with a purification and rebirth process. While the soul of the animal has long since fled the body, there remains a spirit of sorts, soaked into cells that no longer divide. I work with these spirits to help them become something beloved — a ritual mask, a sacred piece of jewelry, a totemic tapestry. No longer mere “trophies” to human vanity, they become holy objects through the magic of rebirth and re-creation. It is a different sort of reincarnation than seeing an old soul in the eyes of a baby, but it is magic nonetheless.

Magic itself is perhaps one of the most powerful creative forces we can access. It is a manner in which we can take control of every level of our lives, rather than allowing others to make the decisions for us. Most people consider magic to be comprised of formal rituals, spells, and prayers to the Divine. But any intended act, no matter how seemingly mundane, is magic if it is done to create meaningful change in your life. Magic allows us to create our reality, and its channels are limited only by our perceptions. We give birth to our own lives when we make decisions with purpose. We forget sometimes that this power is in our hands, because we’re conditioned to be powerless.

We are powerful beings. Most of us have acts of creation we embrace. This can be as complex as composing symphonies for full orchestras, or as simple as creating a good meal for one. We paint, sing, dance, sculpt, and manifest our desires into reality. And the Mother is there in every painting, song, carving and act of Will.

Nurturing Community — And the Self

The Mother is present, too, when we work for change within our community. Another bailiwick of this archetype is nurturing and caring. Unfortunately, this is sometimes stereotyped as June Cleaver-esque “weakness”; we live in a cynical society, and anything that’s deemed even “too nice” is open to attack. The result is that we can forget to show affection to others, and ourselves.

Relationships with others are, in a way, living things. They require attention and nourishment to survive and be healthy. The Mother shows us how to cultivate healthy relationships, whether with friends, family members, romantic interests or even strangers. Walk down a street sometime, and smile at everyone you meet. See how many smiles are returned, and how you feel in response. This is just a tiny example of what a healthy interpersonal relationship can be like.

Balancing large-scale relationships is trickier, but still doable. Most of the healthy, successful Pagan and magical groups I’ve been in contact with had strong-willed, intelligent women at their center. Even in the cases where the women had strong male partners, they complemented each other rather than fighting for dominance. These women weren’t in it for the power trip; they genuinely cared about other members of the community, including outside their own groups.

Nurturing doesn’t mean being a lovable, cuddly pushover. Even the nicest parents have to provide limits for their children in order to keep them safe. The Mother archetype isn’t always one of softness and comfort, as anyone who has worked with Kali knows! While the Father is more commonly associated with boundaries and discipline, the Mother has her say in this as well. Healthy leadership depends on a balance of soft-spoken concern and tough love. If someone’s causing a problem, baking a batch of cookies is not the solution. The problem needs to be faced, and the Mother is strong enough to do so (though she may offer cookies to the people involved, while discussing the issue).

“Community” doesn’t only refer to humanity, either. For many of us, other living beings, and the delicate ecosystem we all require for survival, are parts of our community. The Mother isn’t afraid to stand up and speak out when her “children” are threatened, regardless of species. We can find her while canvassing as environmental activists, while attending public meetings on community issues, and while writing letters about human rights to our elected officials.

Finally, she reminds us not to neglect ourselves. From childhood on, we are exposed to increasing amounts of stress, negativity, and other unhealthy influences. Even the Mother needs to take a break now and then, whether her children are literal or not. Treat your internal “Mother” to a dip in a hot tub — or at the very least a hot bath (with or without bubbles). Set aside “you” time every day; even half an hour can make a huge difference in your internal balance and well-being. Eat properly, and get enough sleep. Spoil yourself when you can; one of my favorite guilty indulgences is buying a new book to read.

Healing

Mothers are commonly associated with healing (not that Fathers aren’t capable). When I was young, it was Mom I ran to first when I got a cut or scrape. As an adult, I still go to Mom more often for sympathy when I’ve had a bad day.

Healing involves both creation and nurturing. Healing a wound involves the creation of new tissue (real or symbolic), as well as the delicate task of cleaning and caring for the wound as it’s restored to health. Without creation, the bandages continue to cover a gaping hole. Without nurturing, the injury can increase or intensify.

Cultivating the Healing aspect of the Mother means reacting creatively to a situation. No matter how many first aid classes you take, nothing prepares you for the first time you see a compound fracture or a third degree burn. The same thing goes for psychological wounds: mental illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder can’t be cured with simple reassurances. If you’re training to be a professional healer, whether traditional or holistic, more power to you! But as you’ll find out, every situation is unique and calls for a unique response.

Those in need of healing are often in distress. Nurturing and caring are needed to relax them so they can be helped, but a firm hand is also required to keep them from disrupting the process. Communication is of the utmost importance; talk to more experienced healers about what they’ve learned over the years in dealing with people (or animals, if in the veterinary field), and don’t be stingy with passing the advice to others later.

The Mother knows when something is beyond her expertise and she needs to ask for help. I am not a trained healer in any sense of the word. I can deal with a small cut on my hand, but if I break an arm, I know I need to get to a hospital. In my opinion, there are people who are so enamored of the title of “Healer” that they let it go to their heads and refuse to consider certain types of healing. This applies to both traditional and holistic healers: if what you’re doing isn’t working, put your patient before your pride and do what is necessary to promote healing — even if it means passing the patient on to another.

The same advice applies to non-professionals. There have been instances when I would’ve liked to have gathered all the people involved in a particular Witch war, sat them down together, and made them talk the situation out. But I know my limitations. I’m not a trained arbiter, and any outside attempt I would make to reconcile these issues would likely seem arrogant. When I slip into the Mother role in these cases, I know that it’s best for me to hold back and let things work themselves out. Nobody wants smothered instead of Mothered.

All aspects of the Mother are needed, not just the literal childrearing one. Each one of us has the capacity to embody the Mother archetype, regardless of our age or stage of life. No one owns the Divine, and it is up to each one of us to determine how we relate to Her/Him/They/It. And if that means being a child-free Mother, so be it.

©2007 Lupa. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Polarity in Sex Magick

December 21, 2006 by  
Filed under culture, magick, sex, sexuality and gender

Polarity in Sex Magick

Editor’s note: This is a joint piece by Lupa and Taylor Ellwood. Links to other material by Taylor may be found at the bottom of this page.

One issue that occurs with both Western and Eastern sex magic is the polarization of the sexes. This kind of thinking about the sexes can be found in nineteenth century occultism (and even further back). “One calls the forces positive and negative, and one rediscovers them in good and bad, emission and reception, life and death, idea and action, man and woman (positive and negative magnetic poles) in the material plane and, conversely the woman (active pole) and man (negative pole) in the mental plane.1” The division into polarity is often used as a way of explaining the unity found in sex magic. In other words, it is the union of opposites. Intriguingly, “enough love” is often cited as a necessary ingredient of sex magic, in order to make it particularly effective. We are inclined to agree that love, in sex magic, can be very important as an energizer. Whether the polarity is necessary is another case, as the union of opposites is by it’s nature a negation of polarity and the need for it. We feel polarity is an unnecessary approach to sex in general, that has caused far more harm and misunderstanding precisely because it is cultural, as opposed to biological.

And yet incorporation of polarity occurs all too often even in modern texts. In Shaping Formless Fire: Distilling the Quintessence of Magick, Stephen Mace states that “The difference between men and women — in both anatomy and quality of energy — is conspicuous. Men eject the quickening jolt, the surge of power, that animates the enterprise. Women provide the form that can thus be stirred to life.2” Unfortunately for Mace, this statement reveals his ignorance of female anatomy. The majority of men are ignorant of the fact that women can actually ejaculate fluid as well, and as such, by his criteria, are capable of that same quickening jolt.

Beyond that, it’s not unknown for a woman to be the active magical worker. A female magician may also use her vagina to draw in a male magician’s energy and work the necessary magic with it, rather than simply being a vessel for the magic he works. In this way, the man could simply be a generator of energy, while the woman is the one who shapes it and creates the magic. In one case, a woman has actively vamped sexual energy from men, without them knowing it, and then directed that energy toward her own purposes.3 While we don’t condone her ethical values (as we think using a person’s energy without hir permission is harmful to the person) it does illustrate that a woman can be the active principle.

Polarity automatically buys into an attitude common in both Western and Eastern sex magic texts: the idea that having a vagina makes a person automatically passive/receptive, whereas the penis endows one with active/projective energy. The stereotypical polarity not only thrusts people into limiting roles, but it also oftentimes relegates the biological woman to being a convenience rather than a participant in magic, a mere cauldron in which the male magician stirs the elixir of life. But in sex magic, polarity is not a biological fact. “Our physical gender does not determine the type or amount of energy we have access to, and does not determine the roles we must play in sex magic workings.4” It’s important to remember that we are not defined by our sex when it comes to magic. Instead, if sex is something which must be defined, let it be defined in a way that is helpful, as opposed to harmful.

Western sex magic generally involves heterosexual intercourse, with the focus being primarily on coitus. It is assumed that the climax of the magic will occur when the man ejaculates, regardless of whether the woman has an orgasm or not. (And we don’t care how good your magic is — there’s no way to guarantee simultaneous orgasm!) The magic is not considered complete until there’s sperm floating around in the mix. In addition, on an energetic level, the focus is on the energy raised when the man orgasms, while the woman is the container for this energy. In short, the woman serves no purpose that could not also be filled by another man, a blowup doll, or the male magician’s own hand.

Part of the problem is misunderstanding or downplay of the female orgasm. In Lupa’s experience, at least, a clitoral orgasm is much stronger than a vaginal orgasm. This is a common trait among biological females, though not universal. The difficulty for many women to have a clitoral orgasm during coitus can be seen as a distraction not worth bothering with until the real ritual is over — if even then. We wonder how many women have never had a chance to discover the clitoral orgasm exists simply because they end up with partners who can’t give decent face or hand (or who are too focused on their own pleasure to try).

The vaginal/uterine emphasis bolsters an unhealthy attitude — the idea that the highest function of a woman is to give birth, whether figuratively or literally. This strengthens the idea that effective sex magic can only come about through coitus, and that anything else is less effective because only coitus involves reproduction. While symbolic reproduction can be useful in creating effective magic, it is not the be-all and end-all of sex magic. Otherwise why would so many magicians of all sexes use masturbation to cast sigils? Yet from Cerridwen’s Cauldron to the Holy Grail to the ceremonial Cup, women are limited in symbolism only to their uteri. The clitoris is left out in the cold.

This emphasis also puts lots of pressure on men. The need to perform, to be hard in an instant, and ready to have sex (whether you want to or not) is something that men experience, but which is also frequently unnoted, because of the supposed male privilege. And yet even as not all men are ripped and buff (an image which is portrayed as the ideal man), nor do all men have a high sex drive, or for that matter an overwhelming need to have sex all the time. Nor is sex the only thing that is on a man’s mind. And yet inevitably men will be accused of “thinking with their dicks,” or be portrayed as sex crazy idiots. This stereotype is very harmful to men, putting pressure on them to conform to these images and yet also shaming them for having a perfectly natural desire for sex.

The secret to breaking this dichotomy starts at the very source of our genitalia. Every human fetus starts out as female. It is only after three months that some fetuses change over to being male. This means that everyone’s genitals start out from the same basic little buds of developing flesh. The penis and the clitoris are analogous to each other anatomically speaking, as are the testes and ovaries.5

There is no biological truth to polarity, because polarity is a cultural concept, with meanings associated with it that are used to define it. It’s true that the bio-males and bio-females have different physiological functions. The man can produce sperm and the woman can produce an ovum, but these functions still are focused on the same end goal and are rather similar in terms of what occurs, i.e. the sperm is produced by the man’s body as part of the procreation function, just as the ovum is produced by the woman’s body for procreation. The difference is that a woman can actually carry a baby to term in her body, and a man cannot…but the woman still needs a man in order to produce the baby. Even with that difference noted there is no definitive polarity about it. The reason is because that difference is related to a biological function as opposed to something more meaningful.

Also if we associate polarity with biology we leave out (in just the human race) the intersex people, the androgynous, the gay and lesbian community, the transgendered community, and the people who don’t have the full biological capacity to produce sperm or ovum — needless to say polarity becomes a confining system that tries to ignore the inconvenient truth that biology is capable of more diversity than just the dualistic male and female ends of the spectrum. Other species can also be pointed to as an example of the fact that polarity is not a biological constant. That people associate it with biology is a result of cultural beliefs about biology. It’s also a rather limited human-centric perspective on biology, one which tends to focus only on the human experience as opposed to trying to understand the variety of biological diversity that exists.

Polarity is a cultural concept precisely because it is an attempt to define biology outside of its functions and in ignorance of what those functions are. So we define certain “values” with polarity. Men are the active principle and women are the passive principle in sex for instance…but is that a biological reality? It is not. It is a cultural definition and a shoddy one at that. It focuses on assigning attributes to biological roles without providing any biological basis for these attributes. Unfortunately this assignation of roles is cultural and has ultimately been harmful to women precisely because it has tried to minimize them and control their capacity to enjoy sex. It harms men because it’s helped to create a stereotype where men are sex hungry creatures that only think about having sex. It’s also harmed any person who’s gender falls outside the traditional heterosexual sex roles. We’ve noted with some dismay that the majority of books on sex magic don’t, for instance, offer much to the gay and lesbian community on sex magic for them.

Now some people might point to energy work as part of biology and say that is where this concept of polarity and men being active and women being passive comes from. And yet while energy is an intrinsic part of the human organism and part of the biology of a person,6 any associations/meanings made about it are cultural. We need to examine those cultural assumptions and ask why they have been emphasized and who it benefits to emphasize those assumptions about sex, energy work, and polarity.

In our own work with energy, we’ve yet to find it true that women are passive and men active. We think it’s a case of associating the biological functions of the body with energy work. But can we prove that the biological functions make a man active and a women passive? Just because a penis thrusts into a vagina does not make it active. If anything we’ve found that such “polarities” are switchable in sex magic and that women can be the active principle while men are passive. Indeed, at least in Taylor’s case, he prefers for the woman to be the active principle, directing the energy and focusing it as she sees fit. That preference is both a personal turn-on, and a recognition that a woman is just as able to do magic the way he does it (regardless of the difference in biology). In other words, there is no difference (beyond the biological level) unless people make a distinction of difference. Any difference on the biological level is a difference of function, but not a difference of polarity.

It would ultimately be better to do away with polarity and the duality it inspires. Sex can be active for both participants or passive, but as long as it’s good sex does it really matter who is active or passive? By overthrowing the reliance on polarity we undo the cultural harm it can cause to people of any gender. That harm is manifold as is witnessed by the murder of transgendered people, people who refuse to fit into the sex role of their genitals, and instead choose their own gender. They are murdered for simply making that choice and this is because the cultural memeage of polarity only allows two genders, as opposed to any others. As magicians, we owe it to ourselves and to other people to not use this kind of cultural meme in our magical workings as we only reinforce the kind of hatred that can destroy so many people. And of course, limiting yourself to polarity leaves out a lot of potential fun to be had with other people!

With that recognition about the cultural values that have infiltrated our notions of sex and sex magic, we can free ourselves of them and recognize that polarity is entirely a cultural meme, infecting us with values that are oppressive, restricted, and ultimately useless to the process of sex magic. Indeed we can then accept as well that whether it’s hetero, homo, or pan sexuality being explored what meanings we make of what occurs is entirely our own responsibility and a way of making the sex act more meaningful and intimate…more a celebration and less a reinforcement of stale cultural norms.

Footnotes

  1. Randolph, Pascal Beverly. (1988). Sexual Magic. Trans. Robert North. New York: Magic Childe Publishing, Inc. Page 10.
  2. Mace, Stephen. (2005). Shaping Formless Fire: Distilling the Quintessence of Magick. Tempe: New Falcon Press.
  3. WitchWitch. (2006). Witch does vampire sex magick. P. 6. Widdershins, 12.1.
  4. Williams, Brandy. (1990). Ecstatic Ritual: Practical Sex Magic. London: Prism Press.
  5. http://www.the-clitoris.com/n_html/n_develop.htm
  6. Lipton, Bruce. (2005). The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles. Santa Rosa: Mountain of Love/Elite books.

Additional Reference

This article originally appeared on Spiral Nature.com and is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Kink Magic.

©2006 Taylor Ellwood & Lupa. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Taylor Ellwood is the author of Space/Time Magic, Inner Alchemy: Energy Work and the Magic of the Body, and Pop Culture Magick, among other works. You can visit his blog at http://magicalexperiments.com/.

Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at http://therioshamanism.com and see her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.

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