Further Adventures in Ma’at Magick

In my last post I touched upon the inspiration that I have been gaining from the Ma’at Magick current as outlined by the wonderful Nema (Maggie Ingalls). It was through her description of her work with the mysterious figure of N’Aton that I found a vehicle for furthering my own explorations of the Gnostic current in a more creative, future orientated way.

Those acquainted with my writing here will probably be unsurprised by my attraction to N’Aton as a future-mythic figure. N’Aton represents a non-binary ‘They’ at a number of levels. As is represented by their image half in starry shadow and half in light, their gender is located in a third place that dances between and beyond polarities. N’Aton as a future magical self also integrates an inspiring way of being that holds together the unique individual and shared collective.

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Face of the Future

While the primary structure of the book Ma’at Magick follows the time-tested format of the Hermetic Kabbalah, for me juiciest insights are gained as Nema incorporates her more Typhonic and Nu-Thelemic inspirations. Having worked closely with Kenneth Grant and the Kaula Nath lineage of AMOOKOS, her work weaves together a rich variety of magical strands.

One of the areas of magical practice that seems to reflect this rich material is Nema’s work with the Forgotten Ones. For her these are the personified aspects of our ancient and primal drives that have allowed humanity to survive and evolve. These are the lurkers in the deep that connect us to the potent needs of hunger, sex, clan connection, communication and curiosity.  As Nema observes: “Civilisation, law, governance and good manner form a fragile veneer over the survival urges in the human unconscious.”

Once one has entered into conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel, Nema believes that it is vital to engage in our work with the Forbidden Ones so as to avoid the perils of megalomania and potential magical burn-out. For us to truly earth our experiences of transcendence and the sense of who we might become, it is essential that we as magicians remain connected to the earthy reality of who we are as human animals. For our work to have sustainability the balancing scales of Ma’at need to be attended to. If we focus only on the future, the “spiritual” and the new, we risk fragility and escapism. If we focus only on the ancestral drives of the past, we risk getting bogged down in materialism and missing the possibility of who we might become. Like the scales we seek balance, a Hermetic tightrope walk of “as above so below”.

For me part of the genius of author-artists such as Nema, Kenneth Grant and Austin Osman Spare is their appreciation of the ‘darker’, dream-like dimensions of magical work and how critical these are in fuelling a more integrated version of magical advancement. While critics might depict such approaches as being ‘nightside’, I couldn’t frankly care less as my own experience with dusty, linear approaches is that they often fill the head while doing little for the heart or the body. For our alchemy to be real we need the fuel of body, mind and emotions ignited and transformed.

This need to reconnect to the Forgotten, dark and unconscious has been a theme key to my own magical journey. The psychological struggle to hide aspects of mySelf behind a mask of perceived respectability drove me down into what felt like a pit of confusion and personal torment.  While I longed for a quick fix that demanded less effort or a ready rescuer, the answer came via darkness, stillness and the eventual death of who I thought I was. While these days I find limited value in terms such as ‘Left-hand path’, I can still recognise the territory it is attempting to map in trying to describe those spiritual paths that engage  with the dark, earthy and potentially frightening dimensions of existence.

In revisiting these insights of Nema’s, I was reminded of my own ongoing focus on the form of draconian magic articulated in the works of Michael Kelly. In works such as Apophis and Aegishjalmur, Kelly describes the work of the initiate as being an ongoing dialogue between consciousness and chaos. Yes we might strive for an awakened sense of Self that seeks the qualities of Godhood, but we must also recognise the darker more chaotic currents of the Serpent moving through the depths of both ourselves and the cosmos. The true adept is the one able to acknowledge the presence of both chaos and order within their personal sphere, and that both impulses can be harnessed when done so consciously.

While the approaches outlined by Nema and Kelly might differ significantly in their chosen starting point and aesthetics, for me their shared authenticity is found in their balancing of wide range of human needs and competing drives. Our personal journeys and tastes will of course shape the degree of comfort and congruence with a given path, but my hunch is that any school or method of lasting value will force us to confront those forgotten aspects that potentially hold the key to deeper progress.

SD

 

Great Questions, Great Answers

I have recently returned from the excellent Occult Conference at Glastonbury where I had the good fortune to be co-presenting with Andrew Phillip Smith (http://www.andrewphillipsmith.com/)  on “Gnosticism in Theory and Practice: Gnosticism as a path of spiritual Free-thinking”. In pursuit of an engaging format, Andrew and I decided that we would pose to each other a series of questions about this theme in the hope that we could provide some interesting and erudite responses. While I will leave the assessment of our success to the audience, one of the most intriguing questions that Andrew asked was whether I had encountered any interesting spiritual beings during my gnostic explorations.

While sadly time did not allow for us to explore this question together during our actual presentation, musing on it did trigger an interesting process of self-reflection and insight. In short my most memorable experiences to date have been with Holy Wisdom (Sophia) and with my future magical self.

I have already written on this blog about my work with Sophia and while I have engaged with a number of god-forms in my magical work, I have been struck by the depth of her impact on me. I had long been acquainted with the personification of Wisdom as female within Biblical literature, but by engaging with her magically via Gnostic myth, I felt as though I have been given a new lens through which to view with the female divine across a number of intersecting traditions. For me this has these have led me to deep waters of Bhakti (devotional) yoga that I have found profoundly helpful. I rarely feel comfortable talking about the deeply personal dimensions of my magical work in that I find language often struggles to capture nuance without risking cliché,  but I would encourage you, dear reader, to explore for yourself the connections between Wisdom and the divine feminine in whichever path you follow.

It is perhaps slightly comical that as a Gnostic explorer I continue to be shocked by the direct challenge that this work poses, but I guess we are all prone to forgetfulness. In exploring the process of my own waking up, I have been aware of my own spark of awareness being embodied by a figure dwelling at the threshold of my consciousness. I have already written about being haunted by my memory of the Jesus I had encountered during my Christian past but this unease has a different quality. Differing schools may seek to describe this as an etheric double or the daemonic aspect of the self, but my own encounter seemed quite strongly connected to my own future self. This sense of personified aspiration or what Assagioli would call the Super-Conscious self might be explored mythically via figures such as the androgynous Adam Kadmon from the Jewish tradition or Balder “the shining one” from Norse lore. Whatever figure we might connect to, perhaps more critical is that we draw inspiration from the sense of becoming or unfolding they represent.

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Bright God

For me this is the path of aspiration, guarded futurism and teleological endeavour. Magical work that has no aspiration or no real longing that it is seeking to fulfill is unlikely to sustain focus. Most of us who seek to follow an initiatory or magical path do so because we want more. We aspire to understand our past and who we are today so that we might maximize our being, and pull-in gnosis from our future magical selves.

Nema in her excellent Maat Magick locates such work in the figure of “N’Aton”, an androgynous future Self that holds within it both our individual and collective genius: “In N’Aton’s home line (i.e. the version of the future in which they are most fully realised), we’ve controlled our mutation into a species of double consciousness: the familiar one of individuality and the new telepathic connection amongst us that constitutes N’Aton” (Ma’at Magick pg. 65). Personally I love this perception of awakening as holding both individual and collective dimensions. Each of us will have our own unique challenge in either making more connections or establishing individual ego-strength, but N’Aton reminds us that both must be held in Ma’at’s balancing scales.

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Just Goddess

My own ongoing explorations of N’Aton as a concept/being feel fruitful in that such workings can provide rich illustration regarding what we aspire to be, and the challenges that might limit such becoming. Such work can be quite edgy and disorientating (time-travel often can be!) and I would recommend thorough grounding at the conclusion of your ritual working i.e. banish, eat and preferably have contact with others.

In conclusion I will provide a snapshot from a recent invocation to N’Aton that took place as part of a ritual exploring our hopes and longings from the future:

N’Aton:

Deep Self

Future Self

Quicksilver Messenger

Who dwells on the Threshold.

Genius!

Daemon!

Dark-Feather Wind-Dancer.

Holy Guardian Angel,

Speak to us and support us.

Pull us forward

Come dwell with us now!

SD

 

Crossing the Abyss

Some years ago I completed a probationership for Ordo Typhonis which consisted of keeping a  diary documenting magical work of my choice over a 9 month period. I chose my work to consist of making contact with my Holy Guardian Angel (HGA). It was interesting and very hard and also, to some extent, successful. I am not sure that I can claim to have had wonderful unmitigated success but certainly it seemed to be the case that I had some dialogue with the HGA with some very insightful and unexpected experiences. I discovered that some of the best visionary experiences happened during times when I had a very hot bath in a completely dark bathroom: raising the body temperature to fever levels seems to help a great deal. I had dialogues with the HGA superimposed over my body and also quite counter-intuitive experiences where the HGA seemed to appear as a devil-like figure that Jung might have called the Shadow. Other times it would be at work whilst I was doing monotonous tasks.

When I passed as Neophyte I adopted the magical name ‘Frater Ixomaxip’ which means ‘Let Her be known’ in Enochian. I used an Enochian ‘bornless ritual’ to contact the HGA. ‘Let Her be Known’ was my formula for ‘crossing the Abyss’, the Goddess in Binah on the Tree of Life becoming my lode-star: Babalon in effect ‘tempting’ me across the Abyss. On the 6th November (my birthday) 2015 our magical group performed a ritual to open Aethyr 6, ‘Maz’. In this context the Aethyr known as ‘The Urn’ became symbolic of the Abyss or sacred birth-canal. From that day on my life got turned upside down! On 7th November morning I could see a planetary alignment clearly in the sky, it felt like my heart was being pierced: Venus, Mars, Luna and Jupiter were aligned.

It seemed that I had a Jack Parsons moment as it appeared that Her avatar came into my life and opened Tiphereth (The Heart) for me opening the (6th) path of ‘The Lovers’ from Tiphereth to Binah. This person seemed to epitomise what Babalon stands for and I fell for her, which was a big mistake as she belongs to no-one! She had the qualities you would expect in her personality and appearance: charismatic, independent and flirtatious. As I got to know her and her complex character she revealed a deep love of animals and an almost pathological hatred for the human race: very much resonant with the Call of the 30 Aethyrs that I intone daily. She did not want to just drink the blood of saints, I think that she would have quite happily feasted on the rest of humanity as well, given the chance (or that is what she led me to believe anyway). Her radiant and lovely persona concealed a very troubled soul and I adored every aspect of it deeply: I could have kissed the ground she walked on.

Although she has no faith in magic now  (though she was a practitioner) she did randomly say: ‘I have come to set you free!’. I left my life and family behind and visited her in Thailand during her Asian travels: this was a big adventure for me and a massive upheaval! It also caused a lot of chaos at home-as you would expect! Would I be able to return to my old life? Would I even be able to open my front door when I got back?!

All this played out against the backdrop of other very serious problems in my life. Someone very close to me was suffering from depression and was making multiple suicide attempts and I was not getting the emotional support that I needed except from my special friend who seemed like a ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark existence. I was so deeply grateful and even happy coping  with anything that life was throwing at me.

Before leaving on my journey our group performed a ‘Babalon Working’ in March: around the time that Jack Parsons did his all those years ago, opening the 7th Aethyr Deo (note the numbers!), I designated this Aethyr as meaning ‘God is Love’ (Deus Caritas). This was the Aethyr that Jack called in order to conjure Babalon.

Numbers and dates lined up in uncanny fashion. I left for Thailand on 6th May and arrived on the 7th bearing in mind that our ritual took place on the 6th and 7th of November, 6 months from Samhain to Beltane: this was very significant. The path from Tiphereth to Binah is also the 6th path from the 6th Sephirah: without wanting to bore you too much. It was also the order that we opened the Aethyrs in.

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Chart of Hell

My life would never be the same again. A great many synchronicities occurred during this period and I went through an emotional rollercoaster ride. My family were actually amazingly supportive and patient. I chose to be honest and open about what I was doing against the advice of most people. This also caused me trouble but in the long-run it seemed to be the correct way to behave.

I would say that ‘crossing the abyss’ is like most other things in magic: the most natural process in the world with magic serving as a catalyst, the difference being that it is a volitional act in this case. Any major life-crisis where you are forced to give up the way you define yourself, any ego-shattering experience where you manage to re-assemble yourself and move forward, in one sense is an abyss-crossing. I would say it is a process of maturation with some special features that come from the magical perspective. The sense of subject/object dissolves: the trauma of the sense of self being shattered leaves you unable to purely identify with what you would normally call self, it is a defence mechanism: you expand the limits of your range. When you are ‘everything’ then ‘nothing can hurt you’ anymore.

In my particular case this experience centred around the thing that I feared and loathed the most, the thing that was the greatest enigma for me: love and romance. I assumed the lesson to be: ’love without attachment’ but the trauma around the last year or two was more fundamental than that and the lesson is still not complete: will it ever be? As long as you breathe there are lessons to be learnt.

ER

Magic about to Spring

Around this time of year, between Imbolc and the March Equinox, I begin the totes majix process of purification and cleansing, otherwise known as The Spring Cleaning. There is sufficient light to see that the windows of the house need a good wash, and the areas of the garden in need of repair after winter. Within me the spring rises up, my mood lifts and I spontaneously smile when I see the first snowdrops and daffodils emerge.

I’ve written before about the importance, in my view, of locating magic in the everyday and not only in explicitly ceremonial settings. This is the role of magic to ‘intensify the normal‘ as Austin Spare expressed it. Thus, as I potter about the garden, cutting some wood for the fire, sweeping the path, I allow my mind to mull over the projects that are coming up with the spring. I’m co-facilitating a workshop next month with David Luke and Nikki Wyrd in Snowdonia, Wales. This is the second Neuro-Magica retreat, where we use (to quote Uncle Al) ‘the method of science, (for) the aim of religion’. Informed by psychology and ethnography, using technologies derived from various spiritual traditions, we collaboratively create a space designed to generate insights and even peak experiences for our participants. That’s what we do.

Halfway up the stone steps, between the lower terrace and the enclosed grove of the second one, I find myself absent mindedly rotating a root between my finger and thumb. I’d unconsciously picked this up from the floor whilst sweeping, perhaps attracted by its alien gnarled shape. I am playing with this root, my hand above a ceramic planter in which a purple crocus valiantly pushes skywards. I take my attention to the Neuro-Magica project. I let my mind flow into the spaces that we intend to create. Mentally I step back and see how this project looks in terms of the some of the larger stuff that I (and the other two facilitators) are involved with (especially now that the psychedelic express train that is Breaking Convention 2017 is  filling up with speakers, artists, performers, films, installations, volunteers and ticket holders). I am aware of how the old root and the new shoot are emblematic of various processes connected with the projects and transformations I’m currently engaged in.

This example is not one of a planned ritual. Rather it is an instance of discovering the magical in the mundane; again of ‘intensifying the normal’. Ritual itself (to use my current favorite description) is ‘a series of inhabited metaphors’. I described it thus recently at a workshop I ran at The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. ‘What does that mean?’ asked one student, a perfectly good question, so I gave an example, something along the lines of this…

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In Boscastle, Cornwall.

“Today in this workshop we are working within the library of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. The library is a complex web of history, words, authors, collectors and many other stories. It is full of knowledge, and of truth, and of lies. For the purposes of today we are going to imagine that the library is an entity, a being, a person, a spirit. We do this because relating to other beings is what our brains are good at (see this article for more on spirits). In a moment we are going to leave the library and go outside for a short time. We will ask Judith as our host, and co-manager of the museum [who was also attending the course] to formally welcome us into the library. As we come back in, we each need to greet the library as though it were a person (perhaps aloud, perhaps mentally). By doing this we are inhabiting (i.e. doing stuff) within a metaphor (i.e. that the library is an intelligent spirit which we are looking to be on good terms with).”

(There’s a full report about this workshop on the Museum blog if you want to know more.)

Sometimes these metaphors are ones we know and create (perhaps in a ritual), sometimes there are ones that we stumble upon (me with the root and the shoot), and others are ones we only see once we have done the work. To provide an example of the latter: I am acting as mentor in magic to a friend in the USA, using a combination of Skype and email communication. This person, acting on the discussions we had, created a devotional ritual to a saint. The ritual was an original composition and, like any art, grew out of the interface between the raw media (in this case text about and images of the saint), and the artist/magician’s creative genius. Having used the ritual for a while my friend began to see things in the rite that hadn’t been obvious when it was first created. (This included some rather lovely links to the iconography of kundalini  yoga and Thelemic cosmology.) This isn’t surprising since plenty of artists create their work and only later, sometimes with the help of critics and commentators, become aware of (potentially) deeper levels of interpretation in their creation.

When we do magic we are working with these archetypal forces or perhaps ‘deep structures’ of the ‘unconscious’or, to use that lovely term from Paul Huson, the ‘Deep Mind’. Our praxis is the reflection and articulation of these deep structures of the Deep Mind. This is why human rituals, however elaborate their cultural costume, when undressed, all look pretty much the same.

Another instance of a deep structure can be found in an example I used in my Museum presentation (and, coincidentally that same weekend,  also used by Nikki Wyrd in her workshop at the fabulous Glastonbury Occult Conference). There are complex relationships between written and spoken words and sounds. In magic we often use sounds and words to do stuff, to change the universe. Occulture is full of vibrated words of power, hidden names of God, mantras and sacred letterforms. While the languages (spoken and written) may be as different as Mayan, Mandarin or Sumerian (the cultural costume) nevertheless they still share deep structures, such as that demonstrated by Bouba and Kiki.

The bouba/kiki effect is strongly suggestive of the idea that word sounds are non-arbitrary, and that there is a deep relationship between speech sounds and the visual shape of objects. (This effect was first observed by German-American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler in 1929.)

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How do these shapes sound?

Which shape is bouba and which is kiki? The vast majority of neurotypical people would say that bouba is the rounded shape, whereas kiki is spiky. When we talk about ‘high’ and ‘low’ notes or suggest that bouba is the rounded (soft, welcoming, perhaps feminine etc. etc.) we are articulating the common relationships between the psychic structures of our shared humanity. These deep structures are something magic taps into. Though they can perhaps never be precisely defined (within the conscious mind) through explorations, such as art or magical practice or scientific investigation, we can get a sense of them (we have a sense of ‘what is right’). These deep structures are our common heritage as humans (and indeed probably as mammals). Deep structures may also contain echoes of past patterns; from our families, our species and maybe beyond. To give an example of this consider the brilliantly poetic (and scientifically verifiable) example given by arch-mythographer Joseph Campell: Baby chicks from the moment they hatch know to fall silent and motionless at the sight or even the shadow of a hawk. Campbell observes: ‘Furthermore, even if all the hawks in the world were to vanish, their image would still sleep in the soul of the chick.’

As I pull the rotting leaves from the pond in the garden I am both doing a pragmatic job if I want to provide a useful environment for the amphibians and insects, and, if I pay attention, entering a metaphorical space. Turning such everyday actions into acts of magic is about being sensitive to the poetics pregnant in every moment of existence, and using our ability to notice these opportunities and align them with our desires.

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Pond edge

Desire is what makes magic magic. Our wish, our intention, our (True) Will is what drives the magician to seize these moments of power. For me desire is like the concept of motivation in Vajrayāna. It is something that emerges in and through us; desire happens within the network of relationships. Thus we ‘keep pure our highest idea’ (again to paraphrase Crowley). My desire to clean the pond serves as a practice in which I clear out the clogged winter detritus of my own psyche and in doing so conjure a place for animals and plants to flourish in my garden. A win-win set of mutually beneficial outcomes. I get what I want and so does everyone else. I come to recognize my own Buddha nature by striving for my own liberation in a context where my desire becomes part of the larger project for the liberation of all beings.

JV

 

 

An Audience with Charlotte Rodgers

Charlotte Rodgers is a writer, artist and magical person. She kindly agreed to tell Steve Dee more about her life and work.

SD: Could you tell us a little about your own magical background? (How you got into it.)

CR: I don’t think one’s intrinsic being changes much from early childhood, aside from layering up a load of behavioral baggage and experiences to obscure, and hopefully at times to enhance, our essential self. I always had a spiritual world view, highlighted by a personality that had a great deal of difficulty relating to others. At times, I lived with my grandmother where I was overexposed to fundamentalist Catholicism which I found fascinating; but I found the premise of good and evil made no sense to me (I was a precocious child… and looking back perhaps a bit ADD or sociopathic). As a child, I was obsessed with books, my microscope, astronomy, archaeology and mythology; constantly looking for other worlds that I could relate to as this one made no sense!

I was seven or so when I came across Man, Myth and Magic and it was like boom bang…this was IT!

I used to see colours and shapes and always believed in magic. I remember being about ten and walking home from the cinema with my little sister and telling her, ‘I’m a witch, watch… the lights at every crossing we come to will turn green when we approach them’… there were about seven I think on our walk home and indeed each one did turn green.

By age 12 I was into tarot and palmistry and started studying various magickal practices consciously. I also later studied Phenomenology of Religion for O levels and A levels and simply enough, was always searching for something.

As with inherent approaches to learning that tailor for individuals through hearing, seeing or experiencing, people have different ways of understanding their reality. Philosophical (relating to ideas) political (relating to structures) and spiritual (relating to ‘other’). A bit simplistic perhaps but it makes sense to me, and my frame for experience and perception is very much a spiritual one.

So, I’ve always been magical, and constantly been trying to understand and work with this, whilst trying to sort my life out on a mundane level.

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The Hermit by Charlotte Rodgers

You’ve worked in a few different traditions, could you tell us about those and which approaches you currently find most meaningful?

My answer for this is a continuation from the above in many ways. I’m not a group person in that I cannot cope with the structures and power plays that often deviate (some may say develop) a tradition and cause it to lose its original premise. Conversely, I love the inspirational buzz and play I get from working with a group. For a long time, there was a sense of ‘should do’ or ‘should be’ in my practice. I ‘should’ develop discipline in my practice by adhering to a certain tradition and following its rules, I ‘should’ validate myself by reading certain books or following the rules, though my essential magical self just loves to play and when I’m working with the right current, it’s a flow, a key to a lock.

I’m also no good with names and that is a big problem with some traditions… I just can’t get my head around identification of energies with certain titles… works in my head but my magickal self just wants to toss it all aside.

I immersed myself in Crowley’s teachings for many years. It was accessible at the time and very interesting. Parts of them I found very workable and at that time I felt that as a woman it gave me more validity than accepting more nature related witchcraft which came so naturally to me living in New Zealand and later in Asia. I was a member of a few groups, and seemed to work well with certain currents that though I didn’t relate to a specific named god or spirit form, say Set, I could relate to their essence and work incredibly well with them.  Later I was initiated into the Uttara Kaula and AMOOKOS which also made sense to me on many levels but I reached a point of self-confidence where I started stripping back, and realizing that my magic was an intuitive path, and I was trying to follow the rules of others, a method which had become counterproductive.

Some of the traditions that resonate for me, such as Haitian Voodoo or Santeria I’ve learned from and respect but take no further.  Others such as Bengali Folk Tantra press my buttons and made me realize my magic is incredibly simple.

I’m an animist and a generator of energy so whilst I can work well in many spheres, for me finding a tradition and structure had become a very human need to find a place amongst others, rather than finding the right practice for myself.

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Spirit House by Charlotte Rodgers

As an artist who works in a number of differing mediums, could you describe something of your artist process and how it may (or may not!) overlap with Magical work?

O the more I immerse myself in my art the more I realise that art and magic are the same; expressions that can be directed. I don’t plan anything that I do, just amass ingredients then when the time is right I go on automatic and channel the piece as it evolves. My creative process and magic run side by side, different facets of the same thing. The most conscious pieces that I make are charms, fetishes or elemental conductors and my larger pieces tend to be spirit houses or effect orientated portals, although often I don’t realise what I’ve done until it is completed and the piece tells me.

For a long time, I was primarily working with bones and remnants of death as they were the most obvious conduits to certain characteristics or properties, but as I realised that everything has memory, I started working more with discarded and found objects and what was contained within them.

In your (excellent) book The Bloody Sacrifice you explore the way in which practitioners use their bodies to explore and create change; how has your own work with the body evolved since its publication?

Hah! Hugely! I went through a very early menopause and my last period coincided with the completion of the book. Also, the book was written as my own blood was dealing with all the chemo that had been pumped into it to try and rid myself of hep C and which took about two years to be expelled (the treatment didn’t work).

Menopause is fascinating, and my energy is much more contained now. There is all the social stuff that goes with it… aging and perceived power loss etc., but in most ways my body is the strongest it has ever been.

I’m much more aware of the physical impact that magic has on me now, especially on my immune system (for people with long term hep c, your 50’s is often the age it can really kick off and become problematic) and work with that.

I’m more careful about my body at magical gatherings as I find my metabolic rate goes into overdrive (this used to happen to me years ago, when I did readings for people) and I lose way too much weight and get run down.

Yoga is more important than ever for me and dance is a necessary joy.

I still regularly have ritualised tattoo work done on myself but mainly I am aware of an integration of my magickal self and my physical self that I think is a combination of my past work and perhaps just growing older and stronger in myself.

In many ways, my art work is intensely physical in that I am channelling part of myself into the art to bind it together and need to keep my back, hands and shoulders strong… if I want to channel I need to work with my physicality simply enough.

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Family Dynamics (detail) by Charlotte Rodgers

Given your focus on the body and your use of animal remains in your Art, how well do you think contemporary Occultism is doing in its engagement with Death?

I’m not as much in the loop of what’s going on in the occult community as I was… It seems that rituals of death and burial have progressed hugely, although I still think there is a great need of support for pagans and magickal practitioners after they have ‘lost’ someone. The acceptance in Western based occultism of ancestor worship has helped a lot, but I think many feel their beliefs are challenged when someone they love dies and could do with support that is non-denominational and unconditional, but still essentially magickal.

There is still a fascination with darkness and death in certain sections of Occultism that is perhaps blinkered but that is the nature of working with taboo… easier to go for the dark and forbidden rather than something like unconditional love and joy! (I can say this I think because I’ve had that struggle myself!).

Over the last few years there have been some deaths of people who were incredibly important to me magickally, Michael Howard, Donald Kraig and David Blank. There have also been important practitioners who have died that I’ve not had direct personal involvement with and it is worth thinking how their lives and deaths have contributed to the growth and development of the present magickal current, and what changes will occur in it due to their loss.

Lastly, can I ask what your hopes are for the future evolution of both your Magical and Artist practice?

Now there’s a question. Recently I’ve felt a need to go slow (not my usual way!) and make no major decisions.

The world is very crazy with major changes going on, so treading careful seems to be the best option.

I’ve started worked more, both magickally and creatively, with rust and discarded modern objects, and finding with ways to integrate it with nature and ‘the old ways’ to bring forth a progressive evolution.

I’d briefly touched on this in 2011 when I integrated broken glass from the London riots and car accidents into sculptures trying to positively redirect the rage and impotence at injustice, that fuelled these riots.

Now it seems the right time to carry on with this modern alchemy!

Aside from that I’m in the process of a final edit of The Fulcrum Method, a divinatory system that I’ve created with Roberto Migliussi, and also organising a Summer Solstice based exhibition in Bath, ‘Rust, Blood and Bone’.

What I want in the long term and general sense? To carry on progressing with my art and magick, to carry on learning and to have fun.

I want to retain that joy in adventuring spiritually and creatively whilst not getting bogged down by games and infighting and power plays. I’d love to be able to make a living out of what I do, so I can focus all my attention on it and see how far I can take the journey, and to where.

Thanks very much Charlotte. SD.

To see more of Charlotte’s work visit her blog and gallery.

 

 

Alice’s Adventures in Underground Culture

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Originally posted on the psychedelic museum:
February 2nd – February 4th at The Horse Hospital, London. Down the rabbit hole we went…and into the second exhibition by the Psychedelic Museum. Alice’s Adventures in Underground Culture brought together the fabulous art of John Coulthart, expertly printed onto blotter paper, and works from a number of other…

Enjoy Sex… a review

Enjoy Sex (How, when and IF you want to): A Practical and Inclusive Guide

enjoy

Frankly if you like your sexual self-help replete with pencil drawings of bearded blokes and their female partners trying to get pretzel-like in search of “better sex” this book is a bit rubbish. I can see from the back-cover author snap that Justin has a beard but that’s as far as it goes. By contrast what Enjoy Sex… gives us is powerful tool for exploring what is might mean for us as human beings to explore intimacy with both others and ourselves.

Visitors to this blog will already know that I’m a bit of a Meg-John fan boy! As well as writing this review for their recent graphic non-fiction book Queer (in collaboration with the brilliant Julia Scheele).  I also wrote a review several years ago for their first relationship opus Rewriting the Rules. In that book Meg-John sought to challenge us to consider the societal stories and familial conditioning that we might have received concerning intimacy, gender and friendship. In a compassionate and accessible manner they asked us to honestly explore what we really wanted for ourselves and those to whom we are connected.

In many ways Enjoy Sex… feels like an organic expansion of this previous work. We find chapters looking at the messages we receive about sex and how the sex advice industry often compounds powerful ideas about perfection, performance and a penis in vagina (PIV) end game. This is a book that beautifully inverts the presumed heteronormativity of most sex advice and openly revels in diversity. Each chapter incorporates multiple voices of people exploring intimacy and I loved the richness and complexity that these added to the themes under consideration.

Both of these authors bring their considerable wealth of experience as educators and activists to the format of this work. Justin has worked for over two decades in providing meaningful sex education to young people and Meg-John is renowned as a lucid communicator and advocate for sexual and gender diversity. This book is accessible without dumbing down and provides a whole host of exercises and activities for helping the reader dig into their own reflections and explorations.

This is a book that places self-understanding and consent at its centre. In order to access the type of intimacy that we may or may not want with others, we must first reconnect to our own bodies and the stories that our culture and experience have passed to us. In order to act compassionately and consensually towards others we must first exercise proper self-care in understanding what we value for our selves in this present moment. This is a book that seeks to move mindfulness from the meditation cushion and into the realm of our whole lives. In contrast to so much touted as “spiritual” sex, the erotic realities of solo sex, porn and consensual non-monogamies are explored as possible means for more fully “knowing thyself”.

In a world where the tyranny of performance and perfection threaten to disconnect ourselves from truly engaging with deep sensuality, Justin and Meg-John have provided us with an accessible tool-kit for tuning in to our own unique version of the erotic.  A truly liberating work!

SD