Spiritual Work for Money? OMG! : Veiled Issues

March 16, 2013 by  
Filed under mysticism, veiled issues

Spiritual Work for Money? OMG! : Veiled Issues

Veiled Issues

Disclaimer: In case you can’t infer it all by yourself, these are the opinions of Sheta and Sheta only. If my colleagues agree (and actually see this), they can add their plus-ones or whatever.

It seems to be a thing with artists and anyone who charges for a spiritual service — people are appalled that we actually charge for our work. The reasons for this shock and awe vary, but the general assumption is that we should all work for free. In the last three days, I’ve had people ask me “Is there a charge for this?” or “Is this free?” so often that it’s been suggested I prepare a macro so I don’t have to keep repeating myself. I guess this is my response to those questions, and the reasons why yes I do charge for my services.

Isn’t this a gift? Isn’t it wrong to charge for spiritual services?

The ability to cook extraordinarily well makes one a chef. Chefs do not give away their gifts; in fact, they are paid in accordance to the level of their skills. Why is it that a spiritual gift must be given away? I need to eat and pay my bills, just like you do. Am I supposed to do this for eight hours per day, seven days per week, for free? Because that’s what I did for ten years, before saying, “Enough. I need something back.” Putting a price tag on something immediately weeds out the leeches, and they fall away in great piles of abandon(ment). It hurt a lot, realizing that the people I thought were my friends didn’t think my skills were worth their money, and in fact a lot of them had never even donated anything in return. I’d consider that to be the minimum of courtesies. Or a thank you card. Or anything beyond yet another night of listening and helping you and channeling for you, without complaint. I deserve to be paid, and my price is a fraction of the people on websites like Keen. I offer real benefit, not a crutch. If you’re gaining something from my work with you, why is the question always “Is it free?” This question comes most often from those who would happily monopolize my time with issues I can barely credit. (For those of you who think I’m talking about you — I’m not. This is a special breed of annoying that few manage to attain, but when they do, wow.)

How do I know you’re not a ripoff?

This is a question rarely asked aloud, but which is obviously on everyone’s mind who has a healthy sense of skepticism. The world, and the Web, are full of frauds, cold readers, and people who feel no guilt whatsoever at charging $8-$10 per minute. I’m not one of them. If you’ve ever chatted with me, you know that. If you haven’t, then ask someone who has. You want references? Check my testimonials page. It’s crammed full of real people’s real comments.

Why does it cost so much?

My prices are reasonable, I offer the occasional free class, and have a flat fee for an intro chat in which I tell you what I pick up about your spirit companion (or whatever term you prefer), the latter of which is refundable if I fail to pick up anything or miss the mark completely. That’s less than most skilled tradesmen make, and if you don’t believe me, try hiring someone to re-roof your house. I made a total of $1705 last year in earned wages. I can’t live on that, even with the money I get from disability, even with food stamps. If someone genuinely can’t afford it, I will do what I can to help, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to pester me every night because you’re hungry for validation. I’m fair, but don’t use me. And remember, if I do help you pro bono, please do something nice in return, even if it’s just to leave a testimonial at the above link.

Don’t you feel guilty? Doesn’t it bother you?

I struggled with this decision. Just because I don’t show my agonizing on my services page doesn’t mean it was easy to get to this point. But I was literally 8-12 hours per day online, helping people. I spent two years on one person, about ten years ago, only to have her balk when I asked for something back. Boom. No more friendship. That was it. Those who decided to abandon ship, so to speak, claimed I was abusing their friendship. I guess they didn’t have much sense of the ironic.

Others clamored aboard, seeking (of all things) power, via li’l ol’ me. Imagine my surprise when it dawned on me. And when I noticed it aloud, oh the drama. That was a lot of fun. More friends left, as sides were divided and I struggled to own my mistakes while standing my ground, a real learning experience. As I began to really understand that people valued my time and sometimes competed for it, and that other people were sometimes too intimidated to talk to me, I felt it was time to put some filters in place. I’ve never charged those I consider my true friends and would never begrudge them my time, and I hope they understand this. But there were those who were truly offended that I shouldn’t be at their beck and call whenever online, no matter how heavy or difficult their problems, no matter how much channeling I did. I was supposed to be a machine. Sorry, only human.

So no, after all that, I don’t feel guilty at all. It’s the smartest thing I ever did, and I deserve to be paid for my services. They have real value. You do understand the word “value”?


Image credit: exileden.deviantart.com

©2013 by Sheta Kaey.

Sheta Kaey is a lifelong occultist and longtime spirit worker, as well as Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil. She counsels others with regard to spirit contact and astral work. She can be reached via her blog.

Veiled Issues – The “-ism Schism” – Comments on Atheism vs Faith

Veiled Issues - The "-ism Schism" - Comments on Atheism vs Faith

Veiled Issues

“Death to all fanatics!” — Ho Chih Zen

Donald Tyson’s rant in an earlier issue of Rending the Veil1, calling for a united Pagan/ Christian front against the spectre of encroaching atheism has led to several interesting comments — notably from Psyche2 (who points out the range of atheist positions is far wider than Tyson claims), and Grey Glamer3 (who makes a strong case that atheism and a magical perspective are not necessarily opposites).

I think all three writers are missing an important point.

If there is a tendency that needs to be strongly opposed by people of good conscience who seek common ground in these matters, that foe is fanaticism. Fundamentalist thought. The certainty that your view of the universe is not only the One Truth, but that all those who do not share it are deluded, stupid or actually evil.

This is not a viewpoint exclusive to one belief system. It is rather a habit which can appear in any faith — or lack of it4.

Many years ago, I had a long conversation with a friend and work colleague, who happened to be a committed Christian. Nice guy. We talked at length about our different experience of the Divine, our beliefs and how we acted on them. At the end of it all, he smiled, thanked me for the talk. . . and added sadly, “. . . it’s a shame that you’re going to Hell anyway.” For all that he was in my view a good person, he was a fanatic. A polite one, perhaps — but still fundamentalist, unable to move from his dogma.

Last year, I had an incredibly similar conversation with a friend on a comic book forum (you’d be surprised — or perhaps not — how often such matters turn up among fanboys). Only difference was, he’s an rationalist atheist. And instead of saying I would go to Hell for my viewpoint, he insisted I was basically either delusional or foolish. Which I suppose is slightly better. . .

Needless to say, these two examples are not representative of their belief systems. The majority of folk I know of both Christian and atheist tendency are perfectly capable of discussing matters without retreating to claims of absolute certainty — indeed, many of them have adjusted their views as a result of such discussions (as have I).

But some people simply can’t make that adjustment. Whether due to personal experience, the culture they were raised in or some other factor, they are utterly certain that they have the Truth.

I can understand how this happens. In religious folk, their faith is a bedrock of their entire personality and often their culture. Doubting this is risky, scary — and mentally difficult to even find the words for5. In those of the rationalist tendency, there is the added fear of a return to the horrors of the theocratic world which (in their mythology) was banished by the Light of Reason, and that their worldview has a lot of material support. (Of course scientific work is far from the immaculate quest for knowledge they think it is. . . and often those who work in the field have their own beliefs which are far from rational, and which strongly affect their theories.)

Certainty is an important thing for everyone. I think on some level, we all see our points of view as “true” and those which differ as wrong in some way. There’s also a strong tendency in people to conform to a given status quo, the consensus reality of our culture. Some folk, though, go that little bit further. . . even the possibility of someone having differing views to theirs is seen as a threat, terrifies them. And fear so easily turns to hate.

My own view — and of course I could be completely wrong about this! — is that people who can allow a little slack in their beliefs, some flexibility in their world-view, are not only better adapted to the complex, changing times we live in, but are actually better company. I can honestly say that if I met a person who shared my belief system in every single way — except that they were certain it was The Truth rather than a working model to be adjusted as time and experience dictate — I would dread them.

Fanatical certainty, fundamentalist beliefs and the hatred of those who do not share them, are one of the worst parts of the human world. It is that habit which leads to persecution and atrocity. It seems far more important to me that people of all beliefs and systems ally against that than to pick fights among themselves.

It’s a dark world out there, full of things to fear. Each of us has a small candle, a light in the darkness. Surely it’s a better idea to share our light than argue over what colour the other persons candle is?

“Convictions cause convicts.” — Hagbard Celine

Footnotes

  1. Tyson, “Atheism — the Real Enemy,” in Rending The Veil.
  2. Psyche, “Ignorance – the Real Enemy. A reply to Donald Tyson’s Essay,” ibid.
  3. Glamer, “Does Materialism Threaten Paganism?“, ibid.
  4. Vincent, “The Woo, the How and the Why,” in “Oddities and Mutterings.”
  5. Vincent, “Guttershaman — Meanings and Patterns, part 1,” ibid.

(As ever, I am indebted to the work of Robert Anton Wilson.)

©2009 by Ian Vincent.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Ian Vincent was born in 1964 in Gravesend, England to lower-working-class parents. Due to an early manifestation of psi ability, he began study of mythology, mysticism and the occult before he was ten years old. After school, Ian found himself on his first “ghost-busting,” aged nineteen. Ever since, he has found himself in many situations where his ability for dealing with aggressive paranormal activity (human and otherwise) was useful. He founded Athanor Consulting, a specialist paranormal protection consultancy, in 2002. He closed Athanor in 2009 to better focus on studying and writing on the wider aspects of the Art. Ian lives in Bristol, England with artist Kirsty Hall and shamanic healer Jolane Abrams. He blogs on magical theory (under the title “Guttershaman”) and related Fortean matters at http://catvincent.wordpress.com.

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.

Veiled Issues: Anachronism in the Occult

Veiled Issues: Anachronism in the Occult

Veiled Issues

In the world of the occult, that of western magicians, shamans, Wiccans, eastern mystics, etc., there is a disturbing tendency toward chronal1 elitism.

In most schools of mysticism and magic, there is a pervading mentality that in the distant past, humans were more spiritually alive. It seems taken for granted that the greatest of spiritual wisdom and occult science were well known to the peoples of antiquity and that it was, at some point, lost. As time went on, the general public became hostile toward the enlightened soul as the structures of power worked to rob people of spiritual connection through fear and coercion. The result of this shift is the spiritual morass of the modern era; and now, in the post-modern world, we occultists have reclaimed our spiritual birthright and can lead the world back to an era of magic and enlightenment.

Urbanization and technological development — the hallmarks of the modern world — are believed by many occultists to be banes to our spiritual development. They are unnatural, and therefore serve to distance our souls from nature and the spiritual forces we need for our enlightenment. We must avoid cities, and the reliance on modern conveniences if we wish to develop our souls.

All of these beliefs stem from a sense of chronal elitism. This is the general belief that one era should be considered better than another. Amongst secular scientists and scholars, this often manifests in the belief that the present is greater than the past. It has led scholars to disregard the opinions and actions of the ancients, for they were oh so primitive and savage in those times. Today, of course, we are much more civilized and developed. We are better than they were.

It is this very disregard for the beliefs of the ancients that leads spiritual people in our time to react with hostility to modernism. Not only is this anachronistic reaction common amongst occultists, but of orthodox religious followers of every faith. Take, for example, the Southern Baptist who denies the science of natural evolution, or the Shiite Muslim who eschews modern forms of democratic government in favor of theocracy. It stems from the same feelings that lead Wiccans and shamans to retreat from cities. On the other hand, chaos magicians find themselves in line with the secular scholars by declaring the rituals of old to be irrelevant, preferring to experiment with their own, post-modern, and highly individualized methods of magic.

Chronal elitism of any kind is, in reality, equally damaging and narrow minded. And between the polarities of those who worship the past and those who worship the present or future is a middle path in which one can consider all eras objectively, noting the strengths and weaknesses of each. This is the rarest of standpoints, as it is always easier to adhere to an extreme view rather than to examine the world in a balanced and unbiased manner.

Anyone who has spent considerable time studying the rites and magical systems of antiquity cannot deny the efficacy and spiritual development of the ancients. While at the same time, those of us with a firm grip on the developments over the ages can also see where our ancestors have been grossly mistaken due to an ignorance of facts which have arisen in the proceeding ages.


The naturalist magician or shaman reading this might inquire as to how one can deny that humans have departed from nature. Most humans now live in cities or sprawling suburbs. The vast population no longer hunts and gathers for their food, nor spends time on a farm cultivating and harvesting the bounty of the land. Nay, the average human in modern society spends his or her days working in a service or labor job, and exchanges the money earned in his task for his sustenance. Rather than green fields and dark forests, he is surrounded by concrete and glass buildings. Instead of drinking from the cool stream, he turns on the faucet and fills his glass with water filtered through his Brita tap. Is this not a departure from our natural state?

The question which this author proposes is this: How are we to define “natural,” or “nature”? If we are to define natural as the state of the world where humans have made no impact, then anywhere we go is bound to be “unnatural.” No creature can live somewhere without changing the world around them to some extent. And what of nature? Must we define this as the manifestation of all things in the universe, except for man and anything he touches? If this is the case, then man has no natural place in the universe, and therefore it is entirely useless for the human race to try and be a part of nature, as by definition it cannot.

Another definition of nature is simply all which manifests in the universe. By this definition, mankind is incapable of doing anything that is unnatural, for everything in the universe is natural.

A final, and more specific idea regarding nature is to define man’s part in it as a specific type of behavior or niche, and to say that all behaviors which deviate from this lifestyle are unnatural. This, of course, implies that there is some standard of man’s natural behavior, or his place in nature, which exists outside of man, himself. Furthermore, it implies that the species of humanity is capable of breaking out of its niche and living unnaturally. This argument is essentially sound; however, it offers no objective method of defining what our natural niche is supposed to be. There are many pagans and shamans who are all too eager to tell us how we’re supposed to live, but if one asks why we should live in such-and-such a way, the answer is always self-referential. We should live that way because it’s natural. This still skirts the issue of an objective definition for nature.

When termites and beavers tear down trees and build structures in which to live, it is considered natural. When humans exhibit the same behavior, it is not. This author would submit that the city is our natural habitat, just as the mound and the lodge belong to the termite and beaver, respectively.

Serious study into the astral plane might (and I have found that it has) yield evidence for spiritual landscapes unique to the cities themselves. It could be found that the rituals and cycles of the urban habitat might be symbolic of spiritual truths altogether their own. If we listen, we might find that even the concrete and glass may speak to us and sing the song of the city, just as the shamans of old listened to the voice of the forest or field.

None of this is to decry, in their entirety, the arguments of the naturalist pagans and shamans. One of the reasons their outspoken opinion against human development has been so widely accepted is because it contains truth. The human expansion is troublesome. Not because it is unnatural, as this term is meaningless, but rather because it is disharmonious. As a species, we do not live in harmony with our surroundings, and to follow our current path will eventually lead to our own demise. We are suffocating in noxious fumes and destroying wholesale the resources we need to live. It is extremely evident that we must all seek to do our part in finding solutions for the problems of sustainability in our world.

While it is certain that returning to the Paleolithic might keep our species from destroying ourselves, we would also be sacrificing many other developments of use to us as physical and as spiritual beings.


It is often overlooked that the modern era actually affords us many a boon in our quest for spiritual enlightenment. First and foremost is the boon of access.

Due to the development of information technology, the modern magician has access to the writings of magi from all eras and places across the world. From the magical papyri of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, to the transcribed versions of folk tales from the Oglala Lakota, or the sagas and eddas of the ancient Scandinavians, magi today can become privy to information of such breadth and span as would make even the most enlightened of ancient prophets a little jealous. Additionally, many of the texts which have been brought to light through the centuries were, in their time, only accessible to a small and cloistered group of individuals, who kept their secrets well hidden from the general public.

Our sedentary lifestyle today is shunned by many of the more anachronistic in the occult community, but, in truth, magi of all eras lived sedentary lives. In fact, a life somewhat sedentary is required for one to put any serious effort into the Great Work.

In the ancient shamanic cultures, and in their surviving Neolithic counterparts today, the tribal community would have but one Shaman, and perhaps a few apprentices. These communities were primarily hunter-gatherer or sometimes agricultural. This means that the average citizen works at least ten hours out of the day, doing backbreaking labor. The reason only one person in a community can take on the role of Shaman is because the community, at large, can only support one Shaman. The Shaman doesn’t work. He may tend a garden, and do house chores, but he doesn’t spend ten hours a day working himself to the bone. If he did, he wouldn’t have the energy to devote to his spiritual task. And so, food, housing, and all other necessities are provided to the Shaman by his community.

In the empires of old, magical study was relegated to a very small priest class. The peasantry had little to no access to the papyri of ancient Egypt and Greece, and even if they did, their laborious lifestyles left little time for literacy. And, much like the Shamans, these priests and magi lived a life supported by the labors of the common folk.

While it is true that the observance and recognition of magical power has diminished in our modern era, most people overestimate the occult understanding of the ancient peasantry. While they relied on the mystics and magi, and celebrated the festivals of the seasons and the cycles of nature; the real mystical knowledge of these common folk was more superstition than genuine spiritual enlightenment.

The bottom line is this: If the world today resembled that of the past, the majority of today’s occultists would be peasants. They would not be taught to read, much less to understand the subtle energies of the universe. And even the natural adept, born into such a scenario, would not have the luxury of time to pursue serious personal study and evocations. The labor of the day, for a peasant in a technologically undeveloped culture, takes up all time and energy available. Conversely, even the poor sap scraping by on minimum wage (this author is one such sap) in our modern world will have enough time and the resources to tap spiritual power that rivals any ancient mage or shaman.


To conclude, I leave you with this: It is very difficult for people to look at time objectively. As our limited perceptions can only tell us of the present, we see the now with greater clarity than we do the past. For some, this means that we see all of the beauty of the present, in every minuscule detail, and the past, which we can only perceive vicariously through literary work or the visible remainders, seems dim and ill-lighted by comparison. There are others who use their keen eyesight to spot all the flaws of our current age. Because they can see the corruption of every man around them, and receive only brief outlines of lives long past, they color in the details with an ideal that surpasses the world they know. Both these paths are fallacious, and they are forms of self-deceit.

The hardest and truest path is narrow, and runs down the middle. We must all seek to understand our own era for all its beauty and its flaws. At the same time, it is important that we look at the past with the same clarity, that we open our third eye and allow our spirits to perceive the ancients with pathos and scrutiny at the same time. Let us not be concerned with “returning” to some erstwhile era. This is impossible; time never moves backward. And let us not, either, throw out the wisdom of our ancestors. Let us instead try to lead the world into a new era that uses the best of the past and present, and corrects the problems which have recurred in all ages.

Footnotes

  1. This term comes from the Greek kronos, pertaining to time, much like chronicle, chronic, chronology, chronograph. I suppose the word “temporal” would work, too, but it has other implications like transitory or passing. I like the sound of chronal better.
    1.  

      ©2009 Quentin Marshall
      Edited by Sheta Kaey

Veiled Issues – Ignorance: The Real Enemy

October 22, 2009 by  
Filed under atheism, mysticism, semi-regular, veiled issues

Veiled Issues - Ignorance: The Real Enemy

Veiled Issues

In an absurd tirade ludicrously titled “Atheism — The Real Enemy,” Donald Tyson misrepresents atheism and atheists in general, portraying us as fiendish creatures out to dispel the glamours of religion and spiritual belief from the credulous but duped masses.

Tyson appeals for Christian and Pagans to unite in their common belief in god(s) (of some kind or another) against the rising atheist threat. This simply isn’t necessary. If Christians and Pagans want to be friends, let them be friends for the right reasons, and not simply to become united in hatred against a common enemy, fabricated though it may be, as in Tyson’s vicious portrayal of The Atheist.

Defining Our Terms

We can begin by correcting the definition of atheism Tyson presents in his essay:

The new enemy is atheism. It is the belief — the unfaith — that there are no gods, no spirits, no angels or devils, no paranormal abilities, and no magic of any kind.

Leaving aside the aggressive tone (for now), let’s break down the word and see if we can come to some sort of reasonable understanding of what is meant. The word atheist comes from the Greek; the prefix a- meaning “without” and theos meaning “god.” While at its simplest, theism can be defined as the belief in the existence of at least one god; atheism can be described as the absence of belief in the existence of any gods. To assume that this excludes other “energies” or entities is misleading.

In response to similar misrepresentations, and as atheists become more vocal about their (non)beliefs, a growing movement have began calling themselves “brights.” This of course follows in the tradition of homosexuals coming out of the closet embracing the term “gay.” As non-gays are not (necessarily) glum, non-brights are not (necessarily) dim. Even so, Daniel C. Dennett (Dennett, 2006, p. 21) has proposed a lively new term for theists who might otherwise feel left out. He’s suggested they can call themselves “supers,” because they believe in the supernatural. Now everyone can have a peppy new name: gay, straight, bright, super.

Personally, I have difficulty embracing the term “brights.” It feels overly self-conscious to me, but I like the spirit that inspired it. In the meantime, I’ll continue writing essays dispelling the Evil Atheist myths that people such as Donald Tyson love to threaten theists with. (We’re really quite friendly.)

While we’re defining our terms, there is often a lack of understanding about the philosophical stance of agnosticism, and I’d like to clear up the distinction between atheism and agnosticism for readers who may have the two ideas confused.

The word agnostic comes from the Greek agnostos, meaning “unknown, unknowable”; the prefix a- again meaning “without,” and gnosis meaning “knowledge.” Therefore, literally, agnostic means “without knowledge,” but tends to refer specifically to one who is “without knowledge of god(s).” The term was coined by Thomas Huxley, a British scientist in the nineteenth century who believed only material things could be known with any precision.

To be clearer, atheism is the absence of belief in gods, and an agnostic believes one cannot be certain about the (non)existence of gods. It is possible to not believe in gods (the atheist position), but allow for the possibility of being wrong (the agnostic position). Indeed, most atheists could technically be considered agnostics, but this would be splitting hairs that really need not be split.

For instance, in The God Delusion Richard Dawkins identifies a seven point scale of belief with absolute belief in (at least one) god at 1 and complete rejection of any possibility of any gods at 7. Position 4 is the perfect agnostic, completely impartial, believing that the existence of gods is exactly as likely as not (Dawkins, 2006, 73-74).

Most people would fall in positions 2 or 3 (fairly sure that there are gods), or 5 or 6 (fairly sure that there aren’t any gods), and therefore could technically be classified as agnostics, but most religious people with moments of doubt would be unlikely to classify themselves as agnostics. Likewise, most atheists who allow it’s possible there might be a god, but astonishingly unlikely, would not identify themselves this way.

What does “astonishingly unlikely” look like? Consider Bertrand Russell’s Celestial Teapot:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. (Russell, 1952)

The existence of the Celestial Teapot is sufficiently absurd that one cannot be expected to believe in it. With this example, Russell intended to demonstrate that the burden of proof lies with those who would posit and promote such absurdities, rather than those who elect not to believe things which cannot be proved. It’s simply not good enough to suggest that because one person believes in the Celestial Teapot in the absence of any evidence, its existence must be allowed as a reasonable possibility. It’s not reasonable, and I’ve no qualms about calling myself an a-Celestial Teapotist.

The Gods Are Made of Phlogiston

We are constantly learning more about what it means to be human, redefining ourselves through our ever expanding understanding of the planet around us, and reinventing our place in it. Rather than rejecting what we don’t (yet) understand, we would do better to learn what we can of our world and ourselves.

In the seventeenth century a chemist named Georg Ernst Stahl “discovered” a new element he called phlogiston, after the Greek phlogistos, “to set on fire.” Stahl’s phlogiston theory was proposed to explain combustion. When a substance burns, it was thought to release both “vapours” and phlogiston into the air. The flames and smoke from a burning log suggest the wood is releasing some substance into the air, this, of course, was phlogiston.

Yet the phlogiston theory wasn’t entirely satisfactory. Metals heated in the air do not lose, but gain weight. Therefore it was reasoned that phlogiston must have a negative weight. There were other complications, but, in the absence of a better explanation, this theory won support for much of the eighteenth century.

In the 1780s Antoine Lavoisier recognized and named a new element, oxygen. This “new” element better explained what came to be known as oxidization. As Philip Ball writes in The Elements:

The discovery of oxygen did not just make phlogiston redundant; the two were fundamentally incompatible. Oxygen is the very opposite of phlogiston. It is consumed during burning, not expelled.

Though early in its discovery, some scientists were reluctant to abandon the phlogiston theory entirely, and attempted to work elaborate proofs to try and demonstrate phlogiston could still somehow be involved. Eventually, of course, these were rejected as oxygen and its properties were better understood, and found to better explain what was really happening.

We can see parallels between the story of phlogiston and oxygen and the fantastic creation myths of various cultures and evolution. We no longer need creation myths to explain how the world came to be, or how we came to be on it. Science has provided solid, verifiable answers to these former mysteries, and it continues to regularly improve our understanding.

In 1859 a British naturalist named Charles Darwin “first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist” (Dawkins, 1976, p. 1). On the Origin of Species revolutionized our understanding of the natural world and our origins: invisible sky gods were no longer required to explain how we came to be.

Natural selection not only explains the whole of life; it also raises our consciousness to the power of science to explain how organized complexity can emerge from simple beginnings without any deliberate guidance. A full understanding of natural selection encourages us to move bodily into other fields. It arouses our suspicion, in those other fields, of the kind of false alternatives that once, in pre-Darwinian days, beguiled biology. Who, before Darwin, could have guessed that something so apparently designed as a dragonfly’s wing or an eagle’s eye was really the end product of a long sequence of non-random but purely natural causes? (Dawkins, 2008, p. 141)

Tyson warns that “with every day that passes there seems to be more evidence that atheism is a growing movement.” While it’s not as organized as Tyson might fear, certainly more people are open to discussing atheism, and finally the stigma is beginning to lift. Indeed, part of the reason atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have become vocal about their atheism recently is to help raise consciousness, so people realize they have a choice. Too often children are unthinkingly indoctrinated into the beliefs of their parents and left in ignorance of alternative ways of thinking, or worse, actively discouraged from questioning what they’ve been taught.

Yet, in his paranoid essay, Tyson froths:

Atheists don’t regard their opinions as beliefs, of course, but rather look upon them as reality. That this same opinion has been maintained by every fanatical and exclusionary religious cult that has ever existed down through the centuries seems to escape them. All fanatical movements proclaim themselves possessors of the only truth, and are aggressively intolerant toward other beliefs – so it is with atheism, which is really a kind of fanatical cult of science that worships godlessness.

On the contrary, as Jordan Peterson so succinctly puts it in Maps of Meaning, “Adherents of the mythological worldview tend to regard the statements of their creeds as indistinguishable from imperial “fact,” even though such statements were generally formulated before the notion of objective reality emerged” (Peterson, 1999, p. 1).

Indeed, this is perhaps the biggest difference between religious conviction and scientific theory. Certainly, scientific theories are constantly being revised, but religions aggressively resist critical thinking with appeals to “mystery” and “faith”. These smokescreens should no longer be assumed sufficient. Dennett, in Breaking the Spell, gets it right when he says:

Who is right? I don’t know. Neither do the billions of people with their passionate religious convictions. Neither do those atheists who are sure the world would be a much better place if all religion went extinct. There is an asymmetry: atheists in general welcome the extensive and objective examination of their views, practices, and reasons. (In fact, their incessant demand for self-examination can become quite tedious.) The religious, in contrast, often bristle at the impertinence, lack of respect, the sacrilege, implied by anybody who wants to investigate their views. (Dennett, 2006, p. 16-17)

Appeals to “mystery” rather than reason effectively remove these arguments from the table and cannot be entertained in debate.

Raising consciousness about better, verifiable explanations regarding our place in the universe hardly seems “militant” to me, nor are (most) atheists any more (or less) intolerant than theists, many of whom actively seek to recruit new followers (consider “witnessing” and “missionaries,” for example). Atheists, like vegetarians, are often content to let the other side do as they will, however foolish or unappealing it may seem.

A Place for the Numinous

We may no longer need origin myths to explain why and how we got here, but this does not invalidate their meaning. As Peterson writes:

Myth is not primitive proto-science. It is a qualitatively different phenomenon. Science might be considered “description of the world with regards to those aspects that are consensually apprehensible” or “specification of the most effective mode of reaching an end (given a defined end).” Myth can be more accurately regarded as “description of the world as it signifies (for action).” The mythic universe is a place to act, not a place to perceive. Myth describes things in terms of their unique or share affective valence, their value, their motivational significance. (Peterson, 1999, p. 9)

Religion may be outmoded, but mythology certainly isn’t. Many atheists understand the importance of mythology as a part of literary culture. It helps us define who we are and its stories can provide structure to our lives. Richard Dawkins, for example, believes religious education is fundamental to understanding modern culture. He even goes as far as to state that “we can retain a sentimental loyalty to the cultural and literary traditions of, say, Judaism, Anglicanism or Islam, and even participate in religious rituals such as marriages and funerals, without buying into the supernatural beliefs that historically went along with those traditions. We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage” (Dawkins, 2008, p. 387).

Even while we may retain sentimental attachment to tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it’s true many atheists will reject the possibility of disincarnate entitles, the paranormal, and magick. Many theists also reject these possibilities (with the exception of their personal god[s]).

There are those of us, however, who do not reject the spiritual out of hand. We recognize the importance of numinous experiences in identity and self development. Sam Harris, in The End of Faith, (somewhat surprisingly) allows that “there seems to be a body of data attesting to the reality of psychic phenomena,” which he feels “has been ignored by mainstream science” (Harris, 2004, p. 41).

So how can an atheist practice magick? It turns out there are many ways of looking at what magick is and how it works — without abstracting ourselves away from its core. Atheism and the numinous can — and often do — peacefully co-exist.

Bibliography

Further Resources & Reading

©2009 by Psyche
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Psyche is the curator for the occult resource SpiralNature.com, blogs esoteric at Plutonica.net, and runs a tarot consultation business at PsycheTarot.com. She has been published in The Cauldron, Konton, newWitch, Blessed Be, Tarot World Magazine, and her essay “Strategic Magick” appeared in Manifesting Prosperity: A Wealth Magic Anthology, published by Megalithica Books in February 2008.

Veiled Issues – Does Materialism Threaten Paganism?

Veiled Issues - Does Materialism Threaten Paganism?

Veiled Issues

Before I begin my critique of Mr. Tyson’s essay concerning the threat posed by atheism, which appeared in last season’s issue of Rending the Veil, I should like to convey I have nothing but the utmost respect and gratitude for Mr. Tyson’s contributions to the occult community. The author’s Portable Magic has been an especial mainstay throughout my work with elemental evocations over the past year. Moreover, I do not intend for my essay to be an outright refutation of Tyson’s position, though I do call for greater clarity upon certain points which Tyson makes; I humbly suggest the modification of others. And I thank Mr. Tyson for initiating what I hope might prove a most fruitful discussion here on Rending the Veil and throughout the occult community.

With all this said, we should first make one key distinction of terminology which is crucial to understanding my position: What Mr. Tyson calls “atheism” throughout his essay, I term “scientific materialism” throughout mine. Narrowly defined, atheism denotes merely a disbelief in any deity or deities, whereas Mr. Tyson broadens the term to include a denial of the existence of “angels [and] devils, [and all] paranormal abilities.” I agree with Mr. Tyson there is an intellectual current which denies all these things, yet I believe this broad denial of what cannot be seen, felt, and measured more properly falls under the broader umbrella of scientific materialism, which says all things are material, and that which is incorporeal is essentially unreal. The most extreme variations of this position rather absurdly suggest since our conscious experience is essentially subjective in nature, then consciousness itself must be unreal. This sort of radical skepticism I will term scientific materialism throughout this essay.

Additionally, there exists a not inconsequential subset of occult practitioners who would probably self-identify as atheists. LaVeyan Satanists and related schools of thought spring to mind here, although I should think many schools of magical thought could jettison, more or less comfortably, the belief in deities without thereby losing the belief in magic. Such atheism neither questions nor condemns the efficacy of magic, though its magical paradigms circumvent the very gods which theological Paganism would doubtless incorporate. Regarding the existence — if not the nature — of magic, we Pagans have little quarrel with our atheist sisters and brothers across the occult community.

With our terms thus more narrowly defined, we must consider the ways by which one intellectual current can threaten another, and herein we discover a second distinction necessary for the discussion at hand. First, one current can threaten another by the sword or by the purse, cutting off or burying the physical means by which we express or communicate some especial belief. In its least subtle guise, this sort of intolerance tears down the temples of the rival belief, and puts anyone espousing the old beliefs to torture, and often to the gallows. Witness the vicious fanaticism of the Christian Inquisition of yesteryear, or today the repressive regime once (and still) imposed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The more subtle approach pours money into political advertisements and lobbying, attempting to bury the opposing viewpoint through public opinion, which in democracy often translates into legal proscriptions. (Prop Eight, I’m looking at you!) Adopting for one moment the information paradigm championed by Patrick Dunn, one might say the belief which threatens does so by flooding the channel of the opposing belief with the noise of fear and distractions. If you can make the rival paradigm physically, legally, and financially difficult enough to follow, reasons this line of attack, you can choke another belief to death.

Now the good news: Across the contemporary Western world, this strategy usually fails, sometimes backfires, and every now and again backfires spectacularly. Genuine democracy contains within itself a belief in the free marketplace of ideas. Given enough time and reflection, people will come to embrace “good” ideas and reject “bad” ones. Critically, we might observe there is disagreement even upon the heading of what constitutes good and bad; here I can only reply that I am an optimist about human nature, and deep down I believe there is something life-affirming in all beings. Now I would rather be an optimist and right than a pessimist and wrong, and yet whether I am right or wrong, there remains the widespread belief in the free marketplace of ideas, recognized in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and elsewhere. This principle protects beliefs, even and especially crazy beliefs, from the sword. Given enough time and good will, life-affirming ideas can overcome the purse.

Barring some unforeseen and catastrophic political revolution, scientific materialism cannot wield the sword. There are no lions awaiting the Christians, and no burning pyres for we who call ourselves Pagan. The very modern developments which enabled the rise of materialism depend upon the free marketplace of ideas, and materialism knows this. More cynically, scientific materialism might simply find the purse more efficacious (or at least less messy) than the sword, since the sword tends to generate martyrs and saints among those who resist. Saturate the airwaves, and one can convince many — though crucially not all — to regard the Witch and the Magician with derision. Pour enough money and technology into the pipeline, and one can theoretically drown out the voices of theism and magic. (Funny aside: I was reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods when Mr. Tyson’s essay came out; I would highly recommend Mr. Gaiman’s novel for those interested in the clash between Paganism and materialism!) Fortunately for the occultist, contemporary technology as likely as not enables the spread of magical beliefs; the very presence of Mr. Tyson’s essay and my own upon this website is itself evidence for this!

Mr. Tyson’s argument falls squarely against the militant variety of scientific materialism, something which doubtless exists throughout the intellectual world, yet here I would argue the real quarrel is with militancy itself, and not with scientific materialism. Militancy is the cancer which threatens with the sword and suffocates with the purse, whether that militancy embraces Christian fundamentalism, Islamist extremism, or even radical materialism. The existential danger to Pagan belief comes not from the content of an intolerant belief system, which can take many forms, but rather from the intolerance of the world view itself, which really comes in only two forms, the sword and the purse.

There are actually two means by which scientific materialism might threaten the existence of occult thought generally and Paganism specifically; the second occurs within the hearts and minds of individual occultists. Superficially, this line of attack can resemble the coercive approach of the sword or the persuasive tactics of the purse, yet the difference here is plain: Whereas the sword and the purse threaten existentially and from without, the explanation — the essential option — proposed by scientific materialism threatens essentially and from within. Nevertheless, there is little new found within this line of attack, though perhaps the argument has gained a certain coherence across the contemporary period. The choice remains the same: To believe or to disbelieve. Doubt is no option here, though doubt exercises profound influence over how we choose and apply one explanation over another. Every moment in time, we stand at the crossroads anew, confronted with sensory data which we can neither confirm nor explain with absolute certainty. There arises the choice: How will we explain our world upon this especial moment? We can choose to explain our world as one capable of magic, or as one completely devoid of paranormal influence. We can choose to believe, or to disbelieve. One choice may be more consistent with the law of parsimony — that is, require less leaps of logic — yet the inescapable choice remains. Always and across every moment — and regardless of our external circumstances — we must choose how we will explain the world which we observe.

Mr. Tyson frames the choice of belief as one between Magic and the Void, and I agree with Mr. Tyson’s contention that Paganism and Christianity share certain broad theological propositions, points of common agreement which make these two schools of thought natural allies against an outright disbelief in things which defy scientific measurement. Still, to regard all scientific materialism, much less all atheism, as the enemy of the Old Ways does a grave disservice to both sides. The Void of which Mr. Tyson speaks is something terrible — this much is true — yet this Void contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, since nihilism offers no essential hope which could sustain those who would believe in disbelief. One might counter that to know the Truth is balm enough, yet the Void is no more (upper case) Truth than any other explanation. The nature of our existence confounds every attempt at certain explanation, including the nihilistic narrative proposed by the scientific materialist. Ever the choice remains.

There exist variations of scientific materialism which reject militancy, schools of secular thought which seek to heal and even to elevate humanity, only without reference to Deities. Do I disagree with their theological starting point? Of course I do, yet as an advocate of religious freedom I acknowledge a common philosophical cause which can serve as the basis for meaningful dialogue. If the Pagan, the Christian, and the secular humanist can all agree upon the need for compassionate and courageous action, then this common ground can defy the divisive and destructive power of militancy. Ultimately, neither the militant materialist nor the benign humanist can remove the essential choices we constantly make, the eternal Crossroads guarded by Hecate: Do we believe?

May the Goddess of Crossroads smile upon you. Blessed Be!

©2009 by Grey Glamer
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Veiled Issues – Atheism, the Real Enemy

Veiled Issues - Atheism, the Real Enemy

Veiled Issues - Editorials, Opinion, and Debate

For decades witches and other modern pagans have been in a war of words, which sometimes escalates to a war of fists, with the Christian churches. Christians are berated in the most uncivil language on New Age Web sites and in Wicca zines for being malicious fools incapable of thinking for themselves, who allow their pastors, priests, and other Christian spokespersons to tell them what to think about the practice of magic and the worship of pagan gods.

The most withering contempt is always saved for the Fundamentalists, who are taught by their charismatic preachers that all forms of magic, and all worship other than their own beliefs, will result in damnation. Pagans regard Fundies, as they are derisively called, with loathing and view them as their greatest enemies. But is this really so?

There is another enemy, common to both Christians and pagans, that has been quietly gathering strength over the past few years. Its presence on the Internet has expanded exponentially, so that whereas not long ago it was almost impossible to locate, today it is equally impossible to avoid. It is a militant movement with its own dogma and it will tolerate no discussion or debate, except under its own terms – and those terms make true debate impossible.

The new enemy is atheism. It is the belief – the unfaith – that there are no gods, no spirits, no angels or devils, no paranormal abilities, and no magic of any kind.

There is nothing particularly wrong with individuals holding such a view. Everyone should be free to believe what they wish. It becomes a problem for Christians and pagans alike when atheists begin to promote their agenda as a movement with militant insistence, and with intolerance toward other beliefs. They are not content to allow others to believe what they wish, but must seek to convert them.

Atheists don’t regard their opinions as beliefs, of course, but rather look upon them as reality. That this same opinion has been maintained by every fanatical and exclusionary religious cult that has ever existed down through the centuries seems to escape them. All fanatical movements proclaim themselves possessors of the only truth, and are aggressively intolerant toward other beliefs – so it is with atheism, which is really a kind of fanatical cult of science that worships godlessness.

For a couple of decades, atheism has attacked the New Age movement under a different guise, that of scientific skepticism. The Committee that was started by prominent skeptics such as the Amazing Randi has systematically assaulted those who practice magic, or who believe in psychic abilities, and has called its campaign of harassment and intolerance “debunking.” Its more famous members have generally avoiding attacks on mainstream religion, although they target charismatic Fundamentalist preachers who employ magic (under another name, that of miracles) for healing purposes. Nor have all of them overtly proclaimed themselves to be atheists, but the writing is on the wall.

Their creed is unbelief, or rather a fanatical belief in the unreality of all spiritual things. They maintain that there is no magic in the world, of any kind – no spirits, no angels, no miracles. The universe they believe in with such fanatical and absolute certainty has no room for the occult or the paranormal.

The debunkers are only the leading edge of the growing atheist movement. The ultimate goal of atheism is to destroy all forms of religion, and this includes both Christianity in its many varieties, and all types of New Age beliefs that worship pagan gods or use magic, such as modern Wicca and Druidism, and even occult movements that arise from traditional Christianity, such as Spiritualism.

This essay is a plea for tolerance and unity. Pagans should reflect that in spite of their long history of conflict with Christianity, it is still a supernatural belief system that acknowledges magic, even though it refuses to call it by its true name. Christian miracles are a form of magic. The healing done by Jesus was done with magic. The exorcism rite still used by Catholic priests to drive out demons is a form of magic rite. Pagans know this even if Christians do not.

The differences between pagans and Christians are not really so deep as they appear. Both believe in higher supernatural beings. Both groups believe that such beings have servants or messengers who mediate between these beings and humanity. Both recognize that such beings can initiate or enable acts that seem to transcend the normal laws of nature. Both are focused upon spiritual discovery, spiritual evolution, and spiritual perfection as the highest goals in life.

It is unfortunate that Christians have been taught for so many centuries to hate and despise pagans, because at root, both movements are engaged in the same kinds of activities, and hold similar views concerning the survival of consciousness after death, the importance of intangibles such as the soul and non-physical realms of experience, and the possibility of intervention by benevolent higher powers in our lives, who act to guide and protect us.

By contrast, atheists reject God and the gods alike. They reject angels, the existence of the soul, life after death, supernatural intervention, ghosts, poltergeists, channeling, possession, divination, miracles, the paranormal, nature spirits, and any higher morality or code of conduct that is communicated to mankind by wise teachers not of the flesh.

What the atheist faithful worship – and make no mistake about it, worship is the only word for their fanatical and intolerant devotion – is the Void. It must be capitalized because the Void is their anti-god. They worship a lifeless mechanism, a cosmic clockwork with no Maker, a world devoid of hope or inspiration, a world purged of all traces of magic both Christian and pagan.

With every day that passes there seems to be more evidence that atheism is a growing movement. You probably remember the campaign of bus signs proclaiming that God does not exist. Such campaigns cost money. Somebody organizes them, and somebody funds them. Make no mistake, atheism is more than simply a collection of skeptical individuals – it is a cohesive unfaith that has as its ultimate purpose, not only the eradication of all religious beliefs and practices, but the destruction of all forms of magic and the supernatural.

Atheism has the potential to become a much greater threat to witchcraft, paganism, and New Age practices than Christianity ever was, even in its darkest and most intolerant days, because even then, when witches were being burned at the stake throughout most of Europe, both pagans and Christians shared a belief in higher spiritual powers and in supernatural agencies.

Atheism is a kind of many-tentacled monster of the Void that will eventually devour all forms of faith other than its own merciless, unforgiving worship of what is dead and empty. If allowed to grow unchecked, it will do immense harm to the human race, by cutting off avenues of communication between human beings and spiritual beings. As we all know, belief creates reality in the astral realms, and the fanatical belief of atheism is in sterility and non-existence.

Not all Christians are Fundies. Many are open to belief in various forms of magic. It is time to stop indiscriminately attacking Christians, and to attempt to find a common ground with them against the growing threat of the atheist movement. It is no longer a case of which god we worship, yours or mine, but whether we are allowed to worship the gods at all, or are forced to abandon them through a misguided ignorance that masquerades under the guise of scientific rationalism.

Science was never designed to deal with spiritual issues, and it is no more capable of commenting on things of the spirit today than it was five centuries ago. Yet atheists have seized on the jargon of science to promote their fanatical unfaith in the Void, and their increasingly militant movement of anti-spirit.

Once atheism is recognized as a threat to spiritual belief as a whole, a threat to all faiths and creeds and practices both Christian and pagan, it can be effectively countered, because at root atheism has nothing to offer – nothing but nothingness, not hope but hopelessness, and as we have all come to understand in our lives, there is more to the universe than the empty worship of the Void, the anti-god of the atheists.

Veiled Issues is a semi-regular column featuring opinion and debate topics. If you’d like to write a rebuttal for this article, send your proposal to admin@rendingtheveil.com and if accepted, we’ll feature your opposing article in the next issue of Rending the Veil.

Donald Tyson is the author of Sexual Alchemy: Magical Intercourse with Spirits, Familiar Spirits, and Soul Flight: Astral Projection and the Magical Universe, among other works. You can visit his website here.

©2009 Donald Tyson
Edited by Sheta Kaey

The Rapier’s Edge – Follow-Up Interview with Donald Tyson

The Rapier's Edge - Follow-Up Interview with Donald Tyson

The Rapier's Edge - Exclusive Interviews with Extraordinary Individuals

Nearly a year ago, I interviewed Donald Tyson regarding his then new book, Grimoire of the Necronomicon. Since then, my review partner, Lon Sarver, and I have been working with Tyson’s system and we’ll present our findings in this the next issue. Mr. Tyson was kind enough to agree to a follow-up interview; you’ll find it just below.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

How did you first become acquainted with H. P. Lovecraft’s writings?

Donald Tyson

Pure accident. Way back in 1967 I bought a Lancer paperback titled H.P. Lovecraft: The Colour Out of Space and Others. It was a collection of seven stories by Lovecraft, including “The Call of Cthulhu,” which is generally regarded as the initiator of what is now called the Cthulhu Mythos, although I prefer the term Necronomicon Mythos myself. The stories impressed me with their strangeness — they weren’t like the usual horror stories I was reading at the time. Over the years I read as many other stories by Lovecraft as I could find.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Did you ever think back then that someday you would write books about Lovecraft?

Donald Tyson

It never even entered my mind. At that time I didn’t even know that I would become a professional writer. I just enjoyed reading his stories.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Why did you decide to write your own version of the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

It was pure hubris. I was participating in a newsgroup where different versions of the Necronomicon were being talked about, and I suddenly thought to myself, “I can write a better version of the Necronomicon than this.” So I did.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What makes your version better than, say, the Simon Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

Whether it is better or not is ultimately for readers to decide, but I tried to make my version better by posing the question to myself, “If the Necronomicon really existed, what would it contain?” I figured that it would not be just a collection of spells and sigils — that is not how Lovecraft described it, and it doesn’t match up with the quotations from it that he included in his stories. I figured it would be more of a history of the earth before the rise of the human species, describing all the alien races that had existed on it back then, coupled with a description of the strange places the author of the book, Abdul Alhazred, had encountered during his wanderings around the ancient world.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

So you don’t like the Simon Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

It’s not that I don’t like it — the Simon Necronomicon is fine for what it is, a grimoire associated with the Old Ones. I just don’t believe it is very much like what the real Necronomicon would be, if it existed in our world.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

There are monsters in your Necronomicon Tarot that don’t exist in any of Lovecraft’s stories. Where did they come from?

Donald Tyson

The short answer to that is, I made them up. As you know, the Necronomicon Tarot is closely based on my version of the Necronomicon. I didn’t want my book to be limited to only what Lovecraft had written about the Necronomicon, because for one thing, Lovecraft didn’t write all that much about it. The total number of words that Lovecraft put into his stories as supposed direct quotations from the Necronomicon doesn’t amount to more than a few pages — it’s not enough for a book. Also, I’m a creative writer, and I wanted my version of the Necronomicon to reflect some of my own creativity. I did try hard to avoid directly contradicting anything Lovecraft had indicated to be in the Necronomicon, and I tried to include in my book everything that he had written about it. In those respects my version is more faithful to Lovecraft than any other version. It contains all that Lovecraft wrote about the Necronomicon, but it also contains a lot he never imagined.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Talk about some of the monsters you created for the Necronomicon Tarot

Donald Tyson

Well, there’s I´thakuah, an ancient crone who works a kind of witchcraft in front of her fire in the dry cisterns deep under the ruins of the lost city of Irem. She is so old it’s almost impossible to tell whether she is male or female, or even whether she is human. Her hands are like great claws and her arms are long and powerful, the better to catch the rats upon which she feeds in the total darkness. She has lived under the ruins of the city for so long, even she doesn’t remember when she first entered the cisterns. She serves Nyarlathotep, one of the seven Lords of the Old Ones, who communicates with her through his deep-dwelling inhuman agents when they approach and converse with the old hag.

Then there is the Beast of Babylon that lives in the ancient brick sewer tunnels under the ruins of Babylon in Persia. It was upon the folklore of this Beast that the Biblical beast of Revelations was based. It is a great animal the size of a horse, with massive wings that allow it to fly through the air, when it emerges from beneath the ground at sunset to hunt its human prey, and seven heads on seven long, snake-like necks that ceaselessly bud forth and then shrink away by turns. The heads are formed from the heads of all the human beings the Beast has captured and consumed over the millennia, and they are conscious and babble in their own languages about their pain and sorrow, laughing and weeping and screaming during the brief periods of their presence on the necks.

Those are two of my creations, I´hakuah and the Beast.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Did you scry any of the strange creatures in the Necronomicon Tarot using a crystal or a black mirror?

Donald Tyson

Not in a formal sense, no. I never sat down before my crystal ball and saw images of these beings. But over the months it took to write the book, I had my mind on Lovecraft and Alhazred and the Old Ones night and day. They started to creep into my dreams, and I even began to notice strange things happening around me.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What sort of strange things?

Donald Tyson

Noises that had no cause. Movements at the corner of my eye that were like flashes of shadow sliding past. Objects that disappeared with nobody around to move them, and then just as strangely reappeared days or weeks later. Strange looks or words from complete strangers I passed in the street.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What do you think was happening? Were you under some kind of attack?

Donald Tyson

I don’t know. I got the sense that something was trying to communicate with me, but that it was so alien, it didn’t quite know how to even make the attempt. It kept fumbling around, using whatever was available as a conduit. It didn’t so much feel malicious as it felt unnatural — like something out of place, or something that didn’t quite belong in our world. I think maybe when I started to write the Necronomicon, this intelligence took notice of me, and that maybe it communicated psychically some of the creatures I wrote about. But no one can prove a thing like that, it’s just a sense you get, like a kind of feeling.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Do you believe the Necronomicon really exists in some form?

Donald Tyson

At one time I would have said no, but today — yes, I believe that the Necronomicon does exist. It was never published in the usual way as a book, of course, but I believe that Lovecraft didn’t invent it from nothing. He was a sleeping seer. When he dreamed, he saw visions of astral planes that are deeper and stranger than most people ever visit during sleep, and he brought things back from those planes that he put into his stories.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What kinds of things?

Donald Tyson

Like the Old Ones, who are invisible creatures that inhabited the earth long before the evolution of the human race. They are so strange, so unlike anything we know in this world, that our eyes can’t even see their color. They floated through the air, and lived in black stone cities without windows — they didn’t need windows because they had no eyes. They perceived the world with senses we wouldn’t even comprehend.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

There is more than one kind of Old Ones in Lovecraft’s stories, isn’t there?

Donald Tyson

Yes, several species are called Old Ones or Elder Things or The Elder Race by Lovecraft. He used the term Old Ones as a general term for those intelligent alien species that inhabited the young earth before the coming of mankind.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Did the Old Ones write the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

According to Lovecraft, the Necronomicon was written around the year 730 by an Arab poet of Yemen named Abdul Alhazred. He went insane, and he wrote the book based on what he had seen in the desert, in abandoned cities and old tombs and caverns deep beneath the sands, and what the creatures that have always lived in these remote desert wastes and deep places whispered to him when he talked with them.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Maybe writing the Necronomicon drove him insane.

Donald Tyson

The book was written when Alhazred was an old man, so he must have gone insane at some earlier stage in his life, since he was known as the “mad Arab” in Lovecraft’s stories. But whether the process of writing the book drove him mad, or whether it was his madness that allowed him to gather the information that went into his book, there’s no way to know.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

You talk about Alhazred as if he were a real person.

Donald Tyson

That’s how Lovecraft wrote about him, and about his book. That’s one of the reasons they seem so real to us today. But I believe that maybe Alhazred did write the Necronomicon, not while he was awake, but while he was asleep, in his dreams. That is how Lovecraft was able to see the book so clearly. Alhazred created it in the dreamlands, as Lovecraft called them, and Lovecraft in his explorations of the dreamlands was able to see the book and learn its Greek name.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Your Necronomicon and the Necronomicon Tarot are only two parts of a trilogy of works from Llewellyn Publications. What is the third part?

Donald Tyson

The third part of my Necronomicon Trilogy is my novel Alhazred. I refer to the three works as a trilogy because they are all based on the same content, the text of my Necronomicon. The Necronomicon Tarot illustrates pictorially the things I wrote about in that book, and my novel Alhazred relates the events in the book from Alhazred’s point of view, as he experienced them during his wanderings.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What about your other book, the Necronomicon Grimoire?

Donald Tyson

The Necronomicon Grimoire is not a part of the trilogy, but it is closely linked. I wanted to create a practical grimoire based on Lovecraft’s mythology of the Old Ones, with a ritual structure that could be used by serious magicians for practical purposes. I based the grimoire on information in my Necronomicon, so the two books are in harmony with one another, but whereas the Necronomicon concerns strange monsters, alien races, and hidden places of the ancient world, the grimoire lays down the precise details of a system of magic, and sets forth the outline for an occult society based on its rituals that I’ve named the Order of the Old Ones, or OOO for short.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Is the Order of the Old Ones an actual occult society?

Donald Tyson

It will be, if enough people want it to be. I look upon it in much the same way that I regard the Necronomicon of Lovecraft — both are real in an astral sense, and that reality can bring them forth into the world if enough individuals seriously want them to exist.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Are you planning to write any more books based on the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

Yes, I have two more in the works, which I won’t talk about in detail here. It seems that Lovecraft hasn’t finished with me yet.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Do you get the sense that Lovecraft is telling you to write these books?

Donald Tyson

I get the sense that his ghost is standing at my shoulder as I’m writing, reading what I’ve written. What he thinks of it, I don’t know, but I hope he approves. I’ve done my best to honor his memory and his mythos, and to add to its occult current rather than merely drawing from it. A lot of writers had reason to be thankful to Lovecraft while he was alive, because he was unfailingly generous to young authors. He would write endless letters encouraging them to write, and giving them helpful advice about how to improve their stories. Today, in a strange way many writers still have reason to be thankful to Lovecraft, because they are building upon the foundation he laid down, writing books that are part of a mythos that would never have existed without Lovecraft’s genius.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Donald Tyson

I always enjoy talking about the Necronomicon and the Old Ones. It’s the thoughts and dreams of all of us that give life on the astral level of the dreamlands to both the book and the things it describes. As long as people continue to read Lovecraft’s stories, the Necronomicon will never die.

The Rapier’s Edge is a semi-regular column featuring interviews with our contributors, other occult authors, and celebrities of interest to RTV readers. If you’d like to be interviewed, please contact admin@rendingtheveil.com and we’ll be pleased to consider such an interview (especially if you have suggestions for questions!).

Donald Tyson is the author of Sexual Alchemy: Magical Intercourse with Spirits, Familiar Spirits, and Soul Flight: Astral Projection and the Magical Universe, among other works. You can visit his website here.

Sheta Kaey is Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil and is working on her first book, Infinite Possibility. You can read her blog here.

©2009 by Sheta Kaey
and Donald Tyson.

The Rapier’s Edge – An Interview with Donald Tyson

The Rapier's Edge - An Interview with Donald Tyson

The Rapier's Edge - Exclusive Interviews with Extraordinary Individuals

In 2004, Llewellyn published Donald Tyson’s novel, Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred, based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. While former Necronomicons were written as grimoires, Tyson took a novel (ahem) approach to the text, having fun with it and viewing it, as he told me at the time, as “entertainment.” He followed the following year with Alhazred: Author of the Necronomicon, a much thicker novel relating the travels of the mad Arab from a first-person perspective. Later, he introduced the richly illustrated Necronomicon Tarot, and this year he releases the long-awaited Grimoire of the Necronomicon.

In my talks with Don and Llewellyn publicist Marissa Pederson, I came up with a plan to review the Necronomicon series in a way that readers of Rending the Veil can uniquely appreciate. We begin with an interview with Donald Tyson on his new release. Then I, along with magician Lon Sarver, will test the efficacy of Tyson’s system for a few months. We will follow up with a joint review of the system from the evocation and the tarot angles, and another interview with Don. We’ll keep you posted. For now, let’s see what Don has to say.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

If H. P. Lovecraft invented the Necronomicon, why do so many people think it is a real book?

Donald Tyson

Lovecraft did not invent the Necronomicon, he dreamed it into existence. He saw the book repeatedly in his dreams, and he even dreamed the title without understanding what the title signified. It was only later that he researched the name and was able to offer an opinion as to its meaning — he wrote in one of his letters (Selected Letters: 1929-1931. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, V, 418) that the word was Greek and meant “an image of the law of the dead.”

Lovecraft presented the Necronomicon as an actual occult work in his stories, even quoting from it. To make it seem more plausible, he mentioned, alongside it, various genuine works on occult topics, such as The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray, Daemonolatreia by Remigius, and Wonders of the Invisible World Being An Account of the Trials of Several Witches Lately Executed in New England by Cotton Mather. The titles of the books he referred to were obscure to most readers, so the Necronomicon seemed to fit in with the others, particularly since he described minor details of the book that would only be known by someone who had studied it.

Other writers of horror stories who were Lovecraft’s friends took up the game and began to mention the Necronomicon in their own stories as though it were a genuine work; and to return the favor, Lovecraft included the names of some of their fictional grimoires in his stories. For example, the creator of Conan, Robert E. Howard, created a book on magic called Unspeakable Cults (Unaussprechlichen Kulten) as a plot device for some of his supernatural fiction, and Lovecraft used the title in his own stories as though it were a real work, sharing an inside joke among his writing circle.

Fans of Lovecraft began to also treat the Necronomicon as though it were real. A few rapscallions inserted cards into the card catalogues of various libraries in North America and Europe listing the Necronomicon as one of the works carried by the libraries. Alas! when someone requested it, the librarian who searched for it found it to always be unavailable. Antique book dealers sometimes listed it in their sales fliers, just from a sense of fun. Fans would go into bookstores and ask for the Necronomicon, then pretend to be puzzled when the store clerks could not find the book among their catalogues of books in print.

In this way the myth of the Necronomicon grew. Finally, the inevitable happened, and in 1973 someone published an actual book purporting to be the genuine Necronomicon. The first edition was titled Al Azif: The Necronomicon (the supposed Arab name of the work) and was introduced by the science fiction writer and biographer of Lovecraft, L. Sprague de Camp. Other writers began to do the same, and now there are more than a dozen versions, including my own. The existence of real books that bear the title “Necronomicon” only increases the confusion of those who think Lovecraft may have been writing about a genuine occult work.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

How is your book, Grimoire of the Necronomicon, connected? How would you describe a “grimoire”?

Donald Tyson

The Grimoire of the Necronomicon is connected to Lovecraft’s dream book by the Great Old Ones, who were supposed to figure prominently in Lovecraft’s book. In one of the quotes from the Necronomicon, Lovecraft described the Old Ones. He also mentioned the Long Chant, used to call them forth, as being part of the Necronomicon, although he never actually gave the chant itself. No one knows the exact contents of Lovecraft’s dream book, apart from the few quotations he left in his stories, but the Grimoire of the Necronomicon is based on the contents of my own version of the Necronomicon, so that the two form companion works that may be studied together. In my grimoire I provide the Long Chant in the Enochian language, with a phonetic pronunciation guide and an English translation.

A grimoire (French: grammar) is a magician’s workbook. In it, a magician sets down his personal system of magic, for his own use or perhaps for the use of his son or apprentice. During the times the most famous grimoires were created, there were no printed books in Europe. All books were written out by hand with pen and ink, and unless copied by someone else, were unique. The oldest of the grimoires that survive were just such works. They are highly practical in nature, and contain descriptions of rituals, sigils, names of spirits, incantations, exorcisms, astrological procedures, and similar material for dealing with the spirit world.

My own Grimoire of the Necronomicon is of the same nature — a highly practical guide for summoning and communicating with the Old Ones and their servants.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What are the Old Ones? Is there any evidence that they’ve ever existed, or were they just figments from Lovecraft’s dreams and imagination?

Donald Tyson

The Old Ones revealed themselves in Lovecraft’s dreams. Edgar Cayce is sometimes called the “sleeping prophet” but I believe that this title should be given to Lovecraft. So much of his fiction was not invented at all, but was merely copied from his repeating nightmares and dreams, which had a visionary or prophetic quality.

The term Old Ones is used loosely by Lovecraft in different stories over a span of years to refer to several races or hierarchies of alien beings who came to dwell on the Earth in the distant past, before the rise of humanity. This multiple use naturally causes some confusion, but most commonly the Old Ones are assumed to be the beings described in the quotation from the Necronomicon that appears in Lovecraft’s story “The Dunwich Horror” (published in 1929). The quotation reads:

Nor is it to be thought … that man is either the oldest or the last of earth’s masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They had trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can men sometimes know Them near, but of Their semblance can no man know, saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind; and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man’s truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraver, but who hath seen the deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles? Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.

Mentioned in company with these Old Ones are several great beings that I have characterized as their lords: Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath. In other stories Lovecraft refers other great and powerful beings, and places some of them in the Necronomicon. Not all of these great beings can be directly linked with the Old Ones of the “Dunwich Horror” but it is not a great leap to suggest that they are related. In addition to the three lords above, I have made use of four others — Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Dagon and Yig.

As to whether the Old Ones are real, it is my belief that Lovecraft was connected on some deep, subconscious level with higher dimensions of reality, and that he saw things in his dreams that have existence on those higher planes. His creations have a archetypal, mythic quality that gives them resonance in the imagination. I believe they have as much reality as many other astral beings that occultists regard as real, such as fairies and elementals.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Do you feel that dreams have any connection with astral projection? Could Lovecraft have been encountering these beings on another plane of reality?

Donald Tyson

As I mentioned, I regard Lovecraft as a sleeping prophet. He did not so much invent his stories as dream them, often dreaming them over and over for months or years. One of his strangest and greatest characters, Nyarlathotep, was copied from a repeating dream, which Lovecraft gave almost verbatim in his story “Nyarlathotep” (published in 1920). Dagon also appeared to him in a repeating dream in which a strange island rose up from the midst of the ocean bearing ancient monuments. He described it in his story “Dagon” (published in 1919). Years later, Lovecraft used the same plot device for his story the “The Call of Cthulhu” (published in 1928).

I do think that Lovecraft was unconsciously projecting astrally while asleep, and that his astral experiences came to him in the form of vivid dreams. Lovecraft would never have admitted this to anyone, and probably would not have admitted it even to himself. He was a hard-headed scientific materialist. Even though he wrote about the supernatural, he claimed not to believe in any of it.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Is the Necronomicon black magick? Are the Old Ones demons? Why or why not?

Donald Tyson

This depends as much as anything on your point of view. Remember, Lovecraft was writing horror stories. His characters encounter alien beings and occult forces as antagonists, ignorant of their true nature. They are naturally terrified of these beings and seek either to flee from them, or destroy them.

Lovecraft himself did not regard the Old Ones as evil. To Lovecraft, they were above human concepts of good and evil. The affairs of humanity were so trivial as to be largely unimportant to them. There are exceptions. Nyarlathotep enjoys the company of men, and sometimes deceives or torments them for sport. Cthulhu relies on his cult of human worshippers to free him from his stone house on R’lyeh, once the stars come right in the heavens, and sunken R’lyeh rises from the depths of the ocean. Shub-Niggurath also appears to welcome the worship and sacrifices of human beings. Lovecraft associated this lord of the Old One with witchcraft and the sabbat.

Just as witchcraft is looked upon as evil by Christians (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”) but as wholesome and life-affirming by neo-pagans who have embraced the Goddess, so can the Old Ones be viewed in a more positive light by those who serve them and who receive aid from them. The ritual worship of the Old Ones, or their service, would undoubtedly be regarded as black magic by Fundamentalist Christians, but these are the same people who think that witches should be executed, and that any form of magic is the work of the Devil.

The rank and file of the Old Ones might be called daemons in the higher sense that the ancient Greeks used the term, to describe spiritual beings of the air and the earth who are more wise and potent than man, but less in stature than the gods of the firmament. The great beings that I have characterized as the lords of the Old Ones would better be thought of as gods.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Why should a magician want to contact the Old Ones?

Donald Tyson

We might ask why anyone should wish to contact any spiritual being. Those of us who believe that such beings exist, also believe that they can teach us useful spiritual wisdom, and can in some cases aid us in our daily lives.

The Old Ones, as Lovecraft presented them, are beings from another dimension or plane of reality who have immense knowledge and power, but who are restrained from acting directly on this planet by the natural alignment of the heavens that presently exists. This causes them to seek human beings to serve as their instruments or agents in this world. As agents of the Old Ones, these individuals and groups receive certain gifts of arcane knowledge as a kind of payment, and they are watched over and protected by the Old Ones because they are useful to the purposes of the Old Ones.

Even though the Old Ones are restrained from large displays of direct action in our world, they can act in indirect ways, making their favor worth cultivating. Some of the lords of the Old Ones are more overtly active than others. Nyarlathotep seems to have an unusual degree of freedom, as does Yig and Shub-Niggurath. They prefer to remain unseen and unknown by the greater mass of humanity, so when they do act, it is usually in the shadows and in ways that will remain unnoticed.

There is reason to suspect that the pact entered into by witches with a being generally supposed to have been the Devil by Christian demonologists was in actuality a pact between Shub-Niggurath and her acolytes. Lovecraft identifies Shub-Niggurath as the so-called Black Man who presided over witches’ sabbats throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, to whom witches pledged their service. Shub-Niggurath is hermaphrodite, having aspects of both sexes (consider this in conjunction with the illustration of Baphomet by the occultist Eliphas Levi). She is the sabbat goat, and indeed one of her titles used by Lovecraft is the Goat with a Thousand Young.

So the answer as to why a magician should wish to contact and enter into an arrangement with one or more of the lords of the Old Ones is the age-old answer — knowledge, and power. These are the primary reasons we study magic. We seek self-empowerment.

Each of the seven lords of the Old Ones rules over a certain area of human interest and activity. To invoke and give offerings to a particular lord is to invite and seek wisdom and proficiency in that particular area of life. Cthulhu, who is a warrior, presides over martial arts and fighting skills, the dominance and supremacy of the will. Dagon, the lord of the Deep Ones, presides over arcane and occult knowledge, and is for this reason to be sought by scholars of necromancy and other obscure arts of magic. So for the rest.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What precautions would you advise for magicians wishing to evoke these beings?

Donald Tyson

In my grimoire I describe a ritual structure that is enacted within a ritual circle of seven stones. This structure is designed to channel communication between the magician and the particular Old One with whom communication is sought. Since it excludes interference by other beings, it insures a measure of safety. It is a kind of ceremonial filter that only allows interaction with the particular entity who is invoked.

Those who fear the lords of the Old Ones should not summon them. They are potent beings, but they are not malicious (with the possible exception of Nyarlathotep, who must be dealt with circumspectly). They are alien, which is to say, their thoughts, emotions and motives are not human. Do not expect them to react as a human being would react.

The primary protection for the magician is the Elder Seal, a sigil in the form of a talisman that may be uncovered to drive away the Old Ones from the circle. This sigil was fashioned aeons ago by a race that waged war against the Old Ones and defeated them — or so the writings of Lovecraft state. Lovecraft himself drew out this sigil in one of his letters — he was addicted to letter writing, and wrote thousands of letters to fans of his work and to other writers. It is reproduced in a more detailed form in my book.

A lesser protection is the Elder Sign, a hand gesture that may be used to ward away the otherworldly servants of the Old Ones, but it is less potent than the Elder Seal. This Lovecraft did not describe, but I have given my own received impression of its shape.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

In your book, you talk about the Great Work of the Old Ones. What is their Great Work, and why should human beings help them achieve it?

Donald Tyson

This is something that lies at the heart of understanding the Old Ones and their purpose on this planet, but even though it is indicated by Lovecraft in his story “The Dunwich Horror” no other writer has focused serious attention upon it, to my knowledge.

The Old Ones did not come to this planet by accident, but to fulfill a purpose. They are here to raise this planet up from its present plane of existence to a higher dimension of reality, a place from which our world fell countless aeons ago. They are here to restore the Earth to her former high spiritual estate. In doing so, they intend to literally wrest our planet from its orbit around the sun and pass it through the gates of Yog-Sothoth to its original exalted and more spiritual dimension.

Before the Earth can be lifted up through the gates of Yog-Sothoth, it must be cleansed of its material lifeforms. This does not necessarily mean sterilization, but rather entails a sublimation or spiritualization of living things from their present condition to a higher and less grossly physical state.

You will immediately see the parallels here between the purpose of the Old Ones, and the Apocalypse described in the biblical book Revelation. In Revelation, the Earth is also to be cleansed and purified, its inhabitants either destroyed or rendered more spiritual in nature.

There are also similarities with the Gnostic teaching that mankind is in his essential nature divine, and will ultimately be stripped of his gross covering of physical matter and elevated to his rightful place among the stars, once the veil of ignorance is lifted from his eyes, and he is made aware of his true god nature.

This Great Work of the Old Ones has been delayed by the chance alignment of the stars, which inhibits them from fulfilling their purpose. However, human beings may pledge their service to the lords of the Old Ones and assist them in preparing for the day when the stars come right, and this purpose is ultimately fulfilled. In return for this service they gain the patronage of the Old Ones, to the improvement of their lives.

It might be argued that the Apocalypse is a bad thing. Perhaps it is, for some, but it will be to the betterment of others. This is what Christians believe and teach, at any rate. They welcome the Apocalypse and constantly search for signs of its imminent commencement. They believe that it will result in a more spiritual world.

Of course, Christians have their own interpretation of this period of cleansing of the planet. The Apocalypse of Christians and the Great Work of the Old Ones are the same future event. It is merely a matter of different points of view. Whether a person welcomes it or hopes that it never occurs largely depends on how they see themselves in its unfolding — either as an active participant, or as an unwilling victim. According to prophecy, the Apocalypse cannot be averted. However, it is possible that it is not going to be quite so grossly destructive in a physical sense as is depicted by St. John the Divine. I suspect that if it does occur, it may be more spiritual in nature, and may involve more inward transformation than outward transformation.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

It’s been said that the real purpose of the Old Ones is to destroy life on this planet. If that is not their purpose, then what is?

Donald Tyson

This gets to the question of what the Great Work will actually involve. We might just as easily ask, what will the Apocalypse entail? They are the same event from two different prophetic perspectives.

In Lovecraft’s fiction, it is said that it will involve the destruction of all life on the surface of this planet (though not necessarily all life beneath its surface). But remember, Lovecraft was writing horror fiction, and his human characters are terrified by the Old Ones and their intentions. Remember, too, that Lovecraft’s Necronomicon was written by a human being, from a human perspective. It is not to be expected that we would find any sympathetic description of the Great Work of the Old Ones in these stories, where the Old Ones are depicted as alien monsters who must be destroyed.

One of the servants of the Old Ones in Lovecraft’s story the “Dunwich Horror,” Wilbur Whateley, does not intend to die when the work of the Old Ones is fulfilled, but expects to be transformed as his gross fleshy aspect is stripped away.

Consider the biblical book Revelation. It seems, on the surface, a completely horrifying and negative series of events, with endless scenes of destruction and mass killing. Yet it is presented as the necessary work of God, that will be presided over by Jesus Christ himself carrying a flaming sword. How can it be all evil if it is required by God? And indeed, when we look more closely at Revelation, we discover that not every human being will be annihilated. Rather, a chosen number will be transformed and rendered more spiritual in their natures, so that they can endure the spiritual world that will arise from the smoldering ashes of the old material world.

I do not wish to whitewash the Great Work of the Old Ones. It will involve destruction and death. It is a period of radical transformation. However, there are indications in prophecy that it is not only necessary, but inevitable. On the bright side of things, it may not take place for many years into the future, and it may not be a rapid series of events, but may occur over such an extended span that its severity is mitigated for those who actually must live during its unfolding.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Are there connections between Lovecraft’s Old Ones and ancient sources, such as the Bible, the Gnostic, or the Book of Enoch?

Donald Tyson

I’ve already anticipated this question by referring to the Revelation of St. John the Divine, the final book of the New Testament. The Great Work of the Old Ones, and the Apocalypse of St. John are the same event.

This makes the Old Ones and their minions the same angels of judgment, death and destruction described by St. John. We cannot know how accurate the descriptions of these beings in Revelation may be, since prophecy is at best, a distorted mirror of the future, but by considering Revelation we can perhaps form a fuller understanding of the nature of the Great Work that will elevate the Earth from her orbit to a higher spiritual estate.

As for the prophecy of Enoch, it may well be that the men of old who were the result of the interbreeding between the angels known as the Watchers and the daughters of men, were servants of the Old Ones. The Watchers gave their hybrid offspring knowledge of all arts and sciences, including the knowledge of the forbidden arts of magic. It is also said in the Book of Enoch that these children and their descendants were more intelligent and stronger in body than ordinary human beings. This suggests the benefits that may result from a close interaction with the Old Ones. Wilbur Whateley, the servant of the Old Ones in Lovecraft’s “Dunwich Horror,” was the result of breeding between a human woman and one of the Old Ones, perhaps Yog-Sothoth himself.

The Gnostic connection would be in the view that a transformation from a physical body to a spiritual body is not something that is to be feared or dreaded, but is to be welcomed as a liberation from our prisons of flesh. The Gnostics taught that mankind is trapped by incarnation in ignorance of his true divine nature. The ultimate goal of Gnostics is to achieve liberation from this prison of flesh that binds us all to dross matter. The way to this achievement is through gnosis (wisdom). According to Gnostics, the process of gnosis began in the Garden of Eden when the wise serpent gave to Eve the gift of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. It will be consummated when the world we know ends and we cast off our vessels of matter and ascend to the stars as fully aware, spiritual beings.

But as I mentioned earlier, these momentous events may not occur in our lifetimes, or for many lifetimes to come in the future. They need not be feared as imminent.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

You once told me that you believed Enochian angels were intent upon ushering in Armageddon. Is there any similarity between this view and the goals of the Old Ones? Why do you think the alleged “end of the world” is a desirable event?

Donald Tyson

I do tend to think that the Enochian angels believed themselves to be agents in triggering the Apocalypse described by St. John in Revelation. Whether this belief on their part is plausible is for each person to decide, based on a consideration of the existing angelic communications they made with John Dee and Edward Kelley.

If we presume that there is one apocalyptic series of events that is being foreshadowed by prophecies, then the Apocalypse sought by the Enochian angels and the Great Work pursued by the Old Ones, intimations of which Lovecraft glimpsed in his dreams, are at root the same thing. This suggests that the Enochian angels may be agents of the Old Ones.

I don’t view the end of the world as a desirable event, from a purely conventional human perspective. It will cause great disruption in human lives, even if it is not immediately fatal, and disruption and change are always to be avoided, and are almost always viewed with horror and looked upon as disastrous by those they afflict. However, it may be that some form of great transformation, such as that predicted by various prophecies, is inevitable. It may also be that it will be seen as a good thing by those who weather its difficulties and emerge at the other end of it transformed — though exactly what they will be transformed into is a matter of conjecture.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Are you planning any more volumes in your work on Lovecraft and the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

Yes, I plan at least one more book on Lovecraft’s mythos, that will be a reference work describing and categorizing all the strange beings and races, alien landscapes, and curious objects, revealed to Lovecraft in his dreams, and recorded by him in his stories. I intend this book to be a resource for those who wish to work in a serious way with the magic of the Necronomicon and the Old Ones.

It is also possible that I will write another novel concerning the adventures of Alhazred, the author of the Necronomicon. Writing my novel Alhazred gave me great enjoyment, and was an experience I would like to repeat.

The Rapier’s Edge is a semi-regular column featuring interviews with our contributors, other occult authors, and celebrities of interest to RTV readers. If you’d like to be interviewed, please contact admin@rendingtheveil.com and we’ll be pleased to consider such an interview (especially if you have suggestions for questions!).

Donald Tyson is the author of Sexual Alchemy: Magical Intercourse with Spirits, Familiar Spirits, and Soul Flight: Astral Projection and the Magical Universe, among other works. You can visit his website here.

Sheta Kaey is Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil and is working on her first book, Infinite Possibility. You can read her blog here.

©2008 Sheta Kaey and Donald Tyson.
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Veiled Issues #1B – In Defense of Bunny Hunting

February 13, 2007 by  
Filed under paganism, semi-regular, veiled issues

Veiled Issues #1B - In Defense of Bunny Hunting

Veiled Issues

Over the past several weeks, there has been a lot of talk online about bunny hunting. That’s good; talk needs to happen and debate needs to happen. But it’s when talk stops that things go bad. And in this case, talk stopped and attacks began.

I am casting no aspersions. There are a lot of people to share the blame here, no one person more so than any other. This article is not to point fingers or say “you were wrong.” This article only gives the other side of the argument, the one drowned out by the strident voices.

A lot of people have made uninformed comments, judgment calls, snap diagnoses and pop-psychology psycho babble feel-good nonsense. I have seen people call all bunny hunters bullies, mean, hatemongers, guardians of morals and craft dogma, and other names. These aspersions include me, since I have been actively hunting bunnies.

Over my time practicing Wicca and Witchcraft actively, I have been seeing people say, “There needs to be someone who will speak out against these idiots,” for the last 13 years. It started with Laurie Cabot and her insistence on wearing all black, all the time, and it continued into wanting to distance Witchcraft from the excesses of Stevie Nicks. It has continued right up to present day and such people as Kevin Carolyn (and his spells to protect the Loch Ness Monster), Silver RavenWolf (and her books), Fiona Horne (and her infamous appearance on Mad Mad House), right up to the Wiccans and Witches who appear on reality TV and shows like Tyra Banks. But somebody should do something about it, right?

Back in the days of the infant online networking between Witches with America Online, Prodigy and Genie, there was a certain amount of fluff that had to be tolerated. Information was scattered and dispersed between multiple groups and communities, with few books available. Everyone was referencing the same three-dozen text articles, and reading the Riders of the Crystal Wind book of shadows (in fourteen volumes). Finding non-fluff information was very difficult, especially since most bookstores didn’t carry anything that was relevant, and when they did it was in their “Religious Studies,” “Self Help,” or the “Philosophy” sections.

It became imperative to spread the best information you could find. Books like the Big Blue Book or Cunningham’s were about as good as it got, then Doreen Valentie got into publishing her works, and the Farrars wrote their works. [Editor’s note: The Farrars started publishing their works in 1981; Valiente in 1962. They predate Buckland and Cunningham as well as being their contemporaries.] Things started turning around.

But with these autonomous isolated communities, a problem started occurring. It was whispered about in the chat rooms, referenced in one paper, shared with a few communities, and that problem was the predator. The predator would come into a community and tear it apart simply for the joy of watching it burn. They would use and take advantage of others who didn’t know any better, under the guise of the tolerance of Wicca, to take the money, the self-respect and the sexual energy of the people they were supposed to be guiding. The insular nature of the covens only reinforced this, because other covens who didn’t have that problem would look at what was happening and say, “well, that’s not my coven, I can’t do anything about it. But somebody should do something about it.”

If questioned when the different leaders got together in a community networking event, they might say there should be a council that would keep track of predators like this and warn people, a “database of the shunned.” Everyone would agree that it was a good idea and nothing ever came of it. Stories would be shared, object lessons passed on to others, the injured might be taken to those who could help them, and everyone would shrug and move on until the next time. Again, people would say that somebody should do something about it.

And in every case, the community would be ripped apart. There were coven leaders suggesting that it was okay to do illegal drugs in the magical operations and who would make those drugs a mandatory part of the ritual (if you didn’t do it you would be expelled from the group in a time when just finding a group was a monumental task). Famous authors advocated in their books on Witchcraft that it was okay for a father to carve dildos and to use them on their pre-pubescent daughters in a public ritual, or show them how to use them (by hands-on training), or to give that same virginal daughter to the head of the Circle, even if that head was her father, to be used sexually.

Every time a story like this came to light, nothing was done. Suggestions of going to the police would be met with cries of “we police our own,” and nothing would happen. There was no kind of magical or societal retribution at all. If the community moved with one accord to shun the person in question, the one who was shunned simply packed up and moved to another area and started again, destroying the new community they met and using the new seekers they found there. Everyone would agree, again, that somebody should do something about it.

I have been a victim of these kinds of actions; it has taken me ten years to recover, and my daughter still has nightmares about it. My wife and I nearly committed suicide because of the abuse of such a leader. That leader is still in her position of power, using new members of the Craft, destroying communities and moving on. She is even lauded in publications and books as a major force for good in her area. But every story I have heard about her has been negative, such as allowing rape to occur on her covenstead grounds, which she knew about, and doing nothing either before, during or after except to blame the victim.

With the widespread use of the Internet, there is absolutely no excuse for bad information. Yes, the new seeker needs guidance, and there are groups online that will help aplenty. There are multiple people they can turn to and get good resources and information from. There are hundreds of websites that have accurate history, frank discussions about the inner workings of the Covens and the Mysteries to satisfy the curiosity of any seeker. There are websites that are the gold standard for those seeking more than just basic 101 information on how to be a Witch or a Wiccan.

Those going into the forums where new seekers are, who still claim that nine million women died in a 100 year period in Europe, or that all Christians are exactly like the fundamental bigots you see in extreme cases, or that all Wiccans are vegetarians might be uninformed, but are more likely trolling for flames and people to use.

When someone like this shows up in the typical forum or e-list, three or four people will counteract their information with accurate information, decent resources and good historical facts. Normally this is ignored or knocked down with, “Well, I don’t believe that so it can’t be true.” When more good information is made available through references online and off, and it is ignored and dismissed again — when it is decried, and the person trying to give true information is repeatedly attacked, there is a problem.

It absolutely stuns me that there are still people who consider this kind of baiting to be innocent ignorance. When multiple attempts to educate are shot down and deflected and dismissed, even when they are proven as facts, it stuns me that there are those out there who still think that it is no big deal.

I recently reviewed a book that was published by a Christian Publishing house that was about Wiccans and Witches and what we believed. It was designed to be a primer for those who didn’t know who we are and how we came to be. One of the biggest criticisms that I saw over and over in this book was that “Wiccans tend to be ignorant of their own history,” and “They believe in myths that fly in the face of all factual evidence, both archeological and anthropological.” If this problem is so bad that Christians are seeing it, then something is dramatically wrong.

As a whole, society views us as freaks, fools or predators, mainly because of people like this. Because they shout the loudest, those who spread inaccurate information, those who live in dream worlds of escapism, those who perpetually are the victims of something, and who have to find other people to blame for all that is wrong in their lives — these are the public faces of Neopaganism.

There is nothing wrong with believing in fairies, unless you insist that every single houseplant has a colony of fairies living in it and you must feed them all when you have people over. There is nothing wrong with casting spells to help in your daily life, until you only cast spells and do nothing else to bring what you want to you. Acknowledging your cat as a familiar is fine, but calling your cookbooks “grimoires” probably isn’t. And there is still nothing wrong with that until you go on TV on Wife Swap or Trading Spouses, or a show to get a new house, or a talk show, and spout that as what all Wiccans believe.

I’m tired of my religion and my way of life being trivialized and demonized by insane practitioners simply to get their 15 minutes of fame. I’m sick to death of people who have less time in the Craft than the age of my roll of toilet paper telling me what I must believe and do to be Wiccan. And I’m sick of those people who play up to those stereotypes.

I had this conversation at one point, and it made me physically ill when I was done:
“You think you are a witch?”
“Yes, I am a witch.”
“You really think you are a witch”
“Yes, I am a witch.”
“You really believe that stuff?”
“What stuff specifically?”
“You know, that witch stuff.”
“Yes, I do, because I am a witch.”
“You really believe you are a witch?”
And it went on like this for ten minutes, back and forth. I wanted to ask her, “Do you really think you are a Christian?”

This trend trickles over to every aspect of life. Out in your workplace as a Wiccan? Beware that your boss hasn’t watched Mad Mad House, or they may question your competence to fix that car, because Fiona did a spell to make her car run.

These kinds of attitudes keep being replayed over and over in the community and society at large, and they are affecting everyone.

This is the stereotype that is being perpetuated by these fluff bunnies. Not the typical stereotype of the nose-wiggling, green-skinned, broom-riding, black-wearing witch who eats children. But the stereotype of the ripped T-shirt, sullen, antisocial, angry and depressed emo kid who hates everyone, is under the illusion s/he can float over the ground, who is amoral and kills without a thought simply because they can.

I’ll admit it — I had my time as a fluffy bunny. I also had my ass handed to me multiple times by Elders who did know what they are doing. I’m a better person for it. I got so tired of what I was stating being criticized that I started looking up every little fact before I posted it, and I discovered that most times I was totally wrong about what I was saying. I stopped trying to teach others since so much of my basic information was wrong at that point. I have also spent time finding those Elders who kicked my backside and I’ve made amends to them, thanking them for their patience.

Please don’t misunderstand me. New people to this path are not fluffy bunnies. Let me state this again because it doesn’t seem to penetrate the brain. New people to the path are not fluffy bunnies. They are simply new. They are ignorant. They can be educated and they are desirous of education. They come seeking education and the get it for the most part. They also get advice and a support structure.

Fluffy bunnies are willfully ignorant, they are perpetrators of lies and inaccurate information, and they take articles and information from others without ever crediting the people they got it from or even asking if they can use it. They are those who have patterns of behavior including posting something that causes a negative reaction and then continue stoking the flames with more posts, deliberately trying to keep the fight going. Once it stops for various reasons, they start it again. Or they simply pack up and move to another forum and do it all over again. Anyone who disagrees with them on factual grounds is a fascist who just doesn’t understand them. They have rights and you do too — until you disagree with them. And somebody should do something! Right?

New people to the craft will never be targeted as fluffy bunnies unless they exhibit these symptoms.

Because of the spectacular failure of various education tools, the only tool left is showing these toxic bunnies as their true selves to the public. This means exposing their hypocrisy, their opinions on others, what they are teaching, their mood swings and insanity, and basically embarrassing them off the Internet. Everybody agrees somebody should do it.

As one toxic bunny complained at one point, this could ruin his/her reputation. To which I say, “Good.” Maybe the threat of having a ruined reputation will force them to actually start researching and teaching accurate facts. Somebody needs to open their eyes.

The supreme irony here is that if they would reform, all the persecution they hate would stop. But as long as they continue to attempt to teach, spread false information, tell lies and continue to be a danger to those who are truly new to the community, this kind of behavior from the bunnyhunters will continue.

Recently there has been an escalation of sorts. A group on The Bunny Trail (dot) Net has started putting up profile information on the worst of these. Once the last tool of embarrassment fails, the only step available is to enter that person in a database and warn others away from them. That way, when others go searching for information, it will be available.

Just as others in various communities have stated, it’s been needed for some time. Somebody should do it after all.

Frankly, I hope the members of The Bunny Trail succeed in their goal: warning people away from those toxic bunnies. The Gods witness I have tried my best and failed with some, and after countless attempts to communicate, even I realize when there is no use trying any more.

As someone who worships a God of Hunting, as a significant percentage of Pagans do, it is surprising how many people object to hunting online. I realize that the Lord of Hunting is supposed to be He that helps us get food, but isn’t the King Stag, as He is oftentimes called, also the protector of the Herd? Doesn’t He also drive off predators and make sure the new babies and the oldsters and those who are educating the next generation are safe to continue on their duties? Does the doe that has lived in peace, thanks to the King Stag, object to the blood on His hoofs and horns from the wolf He killed?

His mandate to us is to protect each other, to succor each other, and those who would willfully violate the directions and oaths they swore as Wiccan should be punished. They should be driven off. And if they continue to be a problem after being given a second chance, they should be driven off and not allowed to return. After all, somebody should, right?

So I call these idiots on their insanity, and I get told I’m a bully, that I’m mean and worse than they are.

I have been hunting in this manner for several months. There are those who are absolute threats to not only Wicca, but those who will be studying Wicca in the future. There are those who sully the name “Elder” and who claim things that no member of any tradition of Wicca should ever try to pass off.

There are those who, even though new on this path, “know” more than some of these teachers, and while most of their information is laughable if you have good references, in most cases, the new and innocent can be sucked into their cult of personality. The damage done, the dupe can take years to heal, and sadly sometimes they simply don’t recover. In the meantime, the toxic fool damages others, and the cry of “Something must/should be done! Somebody must…” continues to no avail.

I have made sacrifices personally. I have had my life threatened and my wife’s life threatened and my daughter’s life threatened by one of these toxic bunnies. I have had legal action threatened multiple times, and I have been told that if I ever meet these toxic bunnies that I will have my ass kicked.

It would be nice to be told, “thank you” by those I’m trying to protect from these predators. Instead, I’m hated. Instead, I am told that I am mean and that I’m no better than those I’m hunting.

Well, so be it. If that is the attitude of the group, I can live with that. It is not going to stop me, and I will use the tools at hand to succeed in this goal.

To paraphrase The Operative from the movie Serenity: “I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. There’s no place for me there; I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.”

I look in the mirror every day and I wonder if what I am doing is right. I wonder if I am going too far. I check with others who are also hunters to give me a reality check, and I also slap those other hunters who are going too far. We keep checks on each other as to how we are behaving. We don’t want those who we are protecting to be hurt by us; we don’t want the innocent to be harmed. We work very hard to prevent that.

It is still a job that somebody needs to do.

For every toxic bunny that stands up and starts posting all over the Internet about how evil Christians are, there will be 500 Evangelical Christians who will see it and use that as proof that all Pagans are evil and hate them, and that we as a group should be put down and shot or put in concentration camps.

I don’ want to live in that world. And if it takes pissing off a few dozen toxic bunnies and a section of the Pagan world as well, I’m ready to make that sacrifice.

I’m somebody — Care to join me?

©2007 by Daven. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

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