An Audience with Christina Oakley Harrington

I was fortunate to catch up with the wonderful Christina Oakley Harrington while at Treadwell’s Books for my second Psychogeography workshop.

Christina is Treadwell’s founder and presiding spirit. She was voraciously interested in spirituality and magic since childhood, and grew up in West Africa, Burma, and Chile, only moving to the West at the age of 15. In her early twenties she was heartened to discover Europe’s own native religious traditions, and has been a pagan ever since. A former academic, she left university life in 2001 to establish Treadwell’s. These days she serves as a consultant for programmes and projects but is usually at the shop somewhere during the week.

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Christina presents Golden Dawn magician Florence Farr

Here you can listen to the conversation that Christina and I had which ranges across the subjects of women in magic, the importance (or not) of visualization, the use of mescaline in witchcraft, the feminist history of psychedelics, post-modern (or metamodernist) magical paradigms and other stuff!

Enjoy!

Julian Vayne

An Audience with Jake Stratton-Kent

Could you give us your superhero backstory please? How did you get involved with occultism?

It was very spontaneous, hanging out with some guys in a log cabin one of them said ‘Jake, you’ve got the soul of a warrior’. This was a life changing catalyst from out of the blue, and I rapidly hunted down a magical manual; luckily enough the first one I found was Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, and I balanced research and practice from then on, never assuming moderns knew better on an a priori basis. As the saying goes, I’ve never looked back.

Goetic Adept

Goetic Adept

Could you tell us a little about your work with the English Qabalah and the Thelemic current more generally?

When Ray Sherwin handed over ‘The New Equinox’ I contacted the editors, particularly the late Jim Lees (attended his funeral recently, complete with jazz band, a good send off). English Qaballa (there’s reasons it is spelled that way) rocked my world: it was very modern, assumed nothing on the basis of previous systems (including the numeration of letters, which wasn’t decimal but serial) and was extremely productive. The approach was radically different from the GD/AC qabalah; if there is a Hebrew analogue it’s more Abraham Abulafia (who connected so called ‘literal kabbalah’ with *practical* Kabbalah rather than mere number crunching. Other affinities range from Dee (who saw cabala as universal rather than limited to Hebrew, see Hieroglyphic Monad) to Austin Spare’s practical use of the English Alphabet. It was majorly focused on esoteric exegesis (deep immersion in scripture, which is dangerous but properly conducted very powerful too). From these ‘interpretations’ various magical formulae were derived, leading to revolutionary approaches to astrologically timed ritual. Some of this work broke the old rules, for example not avoiding the ‘unfortunate’ Via Combusta (the Moon’s  transit between particular degrees of Libra/Scorpio), but using it. The 93 Current was understood to be destructive, and SCORPIO=93 in EQ. Solar conjunctions, also traditionally avoided, were a strong focus of this work also, often with ecstatic ‘Tantric Worship in English’, which, with astro-timing a given, was essentially the definition of magick within this paradigm.

It didn’t hurt that the group concerned included several scientific types and was very capable and practical: making swords, growing herbs and test driving all manner of plants, even making their own paper – an intense and highly educational period. Had no resemblance to Edwardian Lodge magic either, which also helped!

You’ve written extensively on goetic magic, what is it about this approach to spirit work that appeals to you? What would you say have been the key discoveries from your historical/applied research and how have they informed your practice?

There’s another approach? <grin>

It’s been a while but a couple of things kicked it off, other than my long standing interest in the grimoires, and the Grimorium Verum or True Grimoire in particular.

One was the dawning realisation that the darker grimoires tended to involve more ‘primal gnosis’ and were closer to the ancient approaches as in the papyri and elsewhere. There were historical aspects to this, the shift in Western magic from images (often involving animal forms), to words and particular ‘sacred alphabets’ was a given to me from my reading of Frances Yates &c. This initial insight only deepened and widened as I proceeded.

Another was my response to Ron Hutton shooting down modern witchcraft’s pseudo history; balanced with his rider that it also had a real heritage: the ritual magic tradition. Another spontaneous statement by a friend provided the final spur in the right direction. Oddly enough she has the same surname as the friend whose words kickstarted my magical career. Anyhow, she mentioned the connection between the Idaean Dactyls and goetia (a reference to them in ancient Greek is the first mention of goetia in the literary record).

So I worked my way through the process of the Grimorium Verum very thoroughly, making more pacts than is strictly necessary or sane. Much of this ‘overkill’ was necessary to better understand the system and its pantheon, which is essentially how I view a ‘spirit catalogue’. Also wrote a commented reconstruction of the grimoire based on my interest, experience and so forth. Much of this work took place in England, but some large scale group rites in the US played an important role. My appreciation of the ancient background of goetia was developing rapidly during this intense work phase. Ultimately what began as an intended appendix to the True Grimoire turned into a two volume sequel detailing the origins of ALL Western Magic in ancient goetia!

Connecting goetia with necromancy, a connection it never shrugged off even when actual work with the dead diminished in the Middle Ages &c, was a critical insight. From there it is a small leap to realising that ideas about the Afterlife  eschatology in short – are and always were connected with our ideas about spirits.

It is this which always provided a context in which spirits and magicians have a basis for working with one another which is mutually beneficial. Rather than the modern but dated ‘unpaid shopkeeper’ approach which is lacking in depth in a big way. Mugging an entity to supply your wishes is so philosophically unsatisfying, but with modern Western Magic being largely from a secularised Protestant culture, it doesn’t occur to most of us how inadequate this perspective is. The briefest possible definition of magic is in fact ‘practical eschatology’; it is interesting how much explanation such an obvious point requires sometimes!

Allowing for whatever secrecy is required by your practice, could you share what techniques do you tend to use in your magick? (ie the predicable chaos magic question ‘what do you *do*?’)

It varies. I started out with a similar toolkit to everyone else, have worked the IOT curriculum solo and with a mentor, as well as the GD/AC stuff etc etc.

On the other hand, I’ve generally had an eye on ancient methodologies as well as what little an English lad could learn about New World Traditions in 70s England onward.

One of my major bendings of the modern toolkit is definitely worth mentioning. Assumption not of godforms but animal forms (bestial deities &c or ‘theriomorphs’ to coin a term).

That always packs a punch for me, and I’ve worked it in a variety of ways with consistently good results. In the process I’ve adopted ‘animal alphabets’ connected with particular constellations and lunar mansions. Originally the magical images of the decans were of a similar type, before getting ‘laundered’ and made more human and/or allegorical.

Warping myself or my ‘astral body’ into the appropriate animal or beast headed deity &c to – say – consecrate a talisman, connects with deeply primal magical currents. It also works a treat, which is the main issue.

Could you explain your current understanding of what a spirit is (or ‘does’)?

I’ve found working with them as autonomous entities is the most straightforward and effective method. I remain largely agnostic as to the hows and whys.

Yes, as a fairly sophisticated Westerner I’ve pondered possible scientific explanations. Coming from an EQ background, or my take on it anyway, I find a ‘psycho-linguistic’ model provides a possible ‘scientific’ explanation. With leanings toward Chomsky & Monod; no Cartesian dualism involved!

Language is the vehicle of consciousness and culture, and has always been deeply linked to magic. Whether this model explains everything or not, it at least shows that the ‘Jungian archetypes’ are only one possible take, and one with more dodgy overtones. Gods, heroes, myths and spirits are present in every aspect of normal life; especially the media: sport, politics, war, drama & the arts, and our responses to them. Essentially though I’m an Instrumentalist philosophically speaking, the autonomous entity model works best and also shuts off the cop out clause. Once you begin a relationship with a spirit you have to see it through; a ritual is much more than a quick fix to some problem or other and then forget your partner in crime.

You’ve been doing this magick lark for some considerable time. Do you think esoteric practice/culture has changed since you first picked up a wand, and if so in what ways?

Yes and no – while the more aware practitioners who keep up with their peers have definitely opened new directions or rediscovered stuff the early Revival neglected or got wrong. Meanwhile, the same old same old is never hard to find. I still occasionally have to tell people goetia is not just the name of a book Crowley pinched from Mathers.

That aside, some of the fuddy duddy stuff has definitely slackened off, but there’s still plenty of market led consumer magic around.

How do you see the relationship between (your) occultism and wider culture (eg politics)?

There is no shortage of elitist, right wing & self-centred takes on magic; it isn’t anything like the whole story. Hecate – the archetypal witch goddess – was patron of the poor, and *need* is one of the most potent drivers and amplifiers of magic. I rarely do magic for personal gain, unless there is some experimental purpose to be served. Politically I’m wary of the State and lean more towards anarchism among the modern political philosophies. I don’t particularly like socialism, and certainly don’t glamourise communism, but while they may not be the solution, unbridled capitalism is still the problem. Both socialism and capitalism have their problems, but in a democratic society balancing the two makes a deal of sense. In practice I vote against the Tories consistently, and see the world trying to drift towards corporate fascism and a less free world than the one I grew up in, Cold War notwithstanding. Hopefully the ‘inevitable’ triumph of the Right will prove to be as illusory a tunnel reality as the old Mutual Assured Destruction was.

What current projects are you working on?

A couple of things in the writing line, one of which will compare the spirit hierarchies of several major grimoires. One purpose is to clarify the identities behind the seemingly wildly different names. Also to shift the view from text and apparatus towards the real stars of the show, the spirits; who have represented magic far longer than any of us have been involved in it.

Thanks again for your time Jake, really appreciated.

JV

You can find more information about Jake’s work here, here and here.

On Being Babalon

Since the days of the wife-swapping craziness that may have soured the relationship of that dynamic duo of Edward Kelly and John Dee, the goddess Babalon has been with us. Recast as the Divine Harlot Mother in the theology of Thelema, revealed on the silver screen by Kenneth Anger and inflaming the passions of Jack Parsons, Babalon is very much alive today. Her latest high profile manifestation was in the earthly form of Katie Perry at a major sporting event in the USA. Riding on her lion-like beast her modern archetype is captured by Freida Harris, using Aleister Crowley as her muse, in their collaboration The Thoth Tarot, Atu XI ‘Lust’.

Lusty Trumpette

Lusty Trumpette

I’m just starting to read Women of Babalon which looks like a really nice compilation of writings by contemporary female esoteric practitioners about The Red Goddess. Many of these are autobiographical, sometimes harrowing accounts of these women’s engagement with the Sacred Whore. What is also notable about this collection is that it addresses a question posed by Soror Nema (aka Maggie Ingalls of Maat Magick fame), ‘What happens when Babalon gets old?’.

The modern goddess Babalon (whatever her imagined mythic roots in the ancient cultures of the Middle East) has been critiqued both formally and informally in esoteric circles as being a rather one-dimensional view of woman. She appears to be all lipstick and tits and ass, quite different in tone from all those traditional goddesses of child rearing and agriculture. It’s easy to mistake Her creation as being purely the result of the hypertrophied heterosexualism of Crowley (which one can interpret as a man who wrestled with the spiritual and social difficuties caused by his penchant for being fucked by men).

Outside of the struggles of the Crowleyian psyche, modern goddesses do exist that fill much the same evolutionary mythic niche that Babalon does within the western esoteric tradition. Pomba Gira, briefly, is one of the  liminal spirits found in spiritual styles such as Umbanda and Quimbanda. As with the male liminal spirits (the Exu), Pomba Gira comes in a variety of flavours; there is the Gypsy Pomba Gira, her Rose Skull form, the form as Lady of the Seven Crossroads. There are forms of the goddess that appear as old and, importantly, as sickly or lame women. (There is also a close association between Pomba Gira and gay and transgendered sexualities.) This is in distinction to most of the modern western forms of Babalon, that typically range from barely legal teen to dark satanic MILF, generally imagined within a heteronormative context. Images and texts depicting Babalon are unashametdly erotic, and that is how it should be. Some of the ‘brass’ (in the senses of boldness, impudence and wanton laciviousness) shown in these images is perfectly in accordance with the nature of this goddess. There is undoubtedly great power in these qualities, especially when they are enjoyed by women (it is well to remember that there are plenty of places on the planet where the freedoms of women are controlled by explicit oppresive patriarchy). Examples like this video by Rihanna may be seen as powerful statements of female autonomy (and of course may also be critiqued as feminine power framed by the oppressive male-gaze).

Beastly Bowls

Beastly Bowls

The mystical qualities of Babalon as the Great Whore (expressed nicely by both Peter Grey and Alan Moore) can undoubtely be imagined as the territory of the beautiful woman, but they are also more than this.

Coming to an engagement with Babalon for me certainly acknowledges the ‘standard issue’ hot chick with a chalice, red hair, high heels and a little too much rouge. However since ‘As Above, so Below’ it also makes sense to search for those Babalonian aspects in myself as well as in the desired (typically female) other.

In context of sexual magic such practices are fairly obvious. This means exploring the role of the All Accepting Whore and typically the act of being penetrated in whatever manner one finds pleasurable. In one sense the Babalon desire is ‘feminine’ or perhaps better ‘yin’ – the drive to have all creation inside, to ride the Beast of Chaos. But the reflex of this yin-yearning is the active desire to absorb, to eat, to engulf and to press down upon the yang expressions of the universe. (Music, as ever is very helpful in assisting these adventures, some of my favourites to use when I am possessed by Babalon are drawn from the oeuvre of Mother Destruction, like this, and this, and this.)

Beginning to liberate Babalon from notions of simplistic binary gender (think Crowley bumbling around the world in his later years looking for The Scarlet Woman when frankly he’d probably have been better off with some strapping lad) is important Work for those engaged with this current.

The book Women of Babalon continues this Work, in places exploring the post-menarche Babalon and the subtle effects of menstruation on the psychology of the female practitioner (any devoted follower of Babalon will have read The Wise Wound). But by looking closely at the female body there is a sense in which some of the contributors to this volume have gone beyond the simplist ‘Mr Beast 4 Ms Babalon’ model into a proliferation of roles, genders, sexualities and states of mind.

As we explore these deities such as Babalon we are exploring ourselves, and where the limits of this thing we call ‘self’ are is open to discussion. By bringing Babalon out in her multiplicity in esoteric culture, we broaden our culture’s relationship with the symbolic attributes of the feminine. We transgress limited notions of male projection and female receptivity, expanding our awareness of this Goddess way beyond the blow-up doll of western occulture.

Babalon isn’t Barbie, She’s much greater than that!

JV

Walking in the Stillness of Spring

For me psychogeography (or less formally, ‘going for a walk’) is a key practice. By moving through the landscape in a suitably mindful way one can use the journey to literally explore both the inner and outer landscape. I made a journey recently, walking beside the great river that forms the valley in which I live.

At the outset I’m impressed by the weather. On this occasion this is the unusual stillness of the early spring, the river forms a silver mirror to the high grey sky above. A few wading birds explore the shallows, dipping for their food and silent gulls row through the motionless air.

Turbulent river made still

Turbulent river made still

As I walk my mind picks over recent events, as in a dream, processing and probing experience in order to put it in place. These events included an opportunity to explore ways in which visitors to historic sites engage with the objects in those collections. The National Trust had invited me to speak at their conference and I was pleased to find that a rather lovely sign had been produced to direct delegates to my presentation.

sign of the times

sign of the times

A few days later I was in the Ashmolean Museum with my Sister. This is a world class collection which contains all manner of wonderful things. As I’ve written before visiting a museum is literally a chance to enter a Shrine to the Muses. Mindful of the ethical difficulties that museum collections frequently represent (in Britain our major museums are often free, though it is often through our colonial imperialism that the objects we see found their way into those display cases), these are places in which to be inspired.

Jai Ganesha!

Jai Ganesha!

Walking on. Catkins stand watch as the spring rises, and gorse glows yellow gold at the edge of the wood (and tastes sweet and alive). Having walked through the outskirts of my home town, I took a turn off the path and into some woodland. Here memory gives way to the immediacy of the surroundings. A stand of pine trees rise up, creating a soft woodland floor of needles. This yielding leaf litter is punctuated by the first furled forms of Lords and Ladies.

Here I spend some time with the pine spirits. Often overlooked as being not so cool as broadleaf trees, I am captivated by their repeated fractal forms. I am deeply aware that these are living beings. Alive just as I am and, in their own tree-ish way, aware of the world just as I am.

As well as our commonality I wonder about our differences. While it’s clearly not about better or worse it does seem that my awareness is different from that of the tree. I wonder about the common religious suggestion that humans are somehow specifically created in the image of God and reflect that (aside of the obvious anthropocentrism) this is because we are deeply self-aware. The development of this egoic boundary is both our connection to the divine, as the embodiment of God, and the cause of our Fall (at least according to some paradigms).

I run my hands over the bark and collect some of the resin exuded by the trees. This locally, and freely gathered incense is perfect for the ritual of purification I’m planning to do (that is, Spring Cleaning my home).

Later, on my return, I stop to gaze at the river and my memory drifts back to the death of my Dad that happened in December of last year. At a good age, and after a brief illness, I was able to be by his side in his last days. I was blessed with a kindly, caring father and in my own way I hope that I can honour his memory by being a good parent myself and in the work that I do (much of my professional work is about teaching and supporting people to realise their own aspirations).

At the end my Dad had the best of medical care. Care that would have been beyond my means in many other nations. This puts me in mind of a conversation with a Brother who works within the National Health Service. Though the NHS isn’t some perfect panacea, it does represent a tremendous investment of care by the State and the people who provide those services, to the people of Britain. The fact that I can summon, with no cost at the point of provision, an ambulance to help someone taken ill creates a deep unconscious sense of being cherished by the people and organisations I share my island with. As an election begins to loom here in the UK I can fully understand why the NHS is seen as one of the critical services that politicians must convince us that they will support.

Once a close loved one dies something very interesting and deeply powerful may happen. As their individual narrative ends so the relationship that one still has with that person becomes a relationship with The Ancestors. My Dad has become part of that archetype of The Father and luckily for me the fact that we had a good relationship when he was alive allows me to find healthy and beautiful ways to now connect with that psychic structure. Wrathful Jehovah and his kin may be part of The Father archetype too, but my pathway to this force is now guided by the psychopomp of the kindly man whose large hand I held as the warmth evaporated from it. While there is certainly a sense of loss and of sadness, I also know his body was tired out. The spirit of the man I knew is now liberated from its outworn shell and is become part of that Great Spirit.

Turning back to home I can’t resist the temptation to again cut away from the path and ascend several hundred feet to the crest of a rolling Devonian hill. Great beech trees stand sentinel over the rising green earth, and gnarled oaks ride like Hagazussa on the dry stone walls marking the boundaries of grazing lands.

Smack my beech up

Smack my beech up

This exertion galvanises me, and I return home to work, more and better, refreshed by my walk, inspired and enthused. For me this walk is an act of magic, an everyday magic, where we use skilful means to process those things that have been rattling around in our minds. The walk, be it the pilgrimage or the situationist drift, gives us a literal new perspective, it shakes up and smooths out our psychic selves, as well as exercising our physical bodies.

It reminds us, away from our books, and screens, and other people, of all those other beings in the world; sky, birds, river, pine, gorse and more, and gives time for us to hear their teachings.

JV

Intent, Consequences and Virtue

The use of the Statement of Intent is a common feature of most rituals. This can be couched in Pagan terms ‘We meet here today to celebrate the festival of Samhain…’, in NLP savvy results magick style, ‘We rejoice as the project of fracking is abandoned in the British Isles’ or Buddhist friendly lingo, ‘We dedicate the merit of this practice to the liberation of all beings’. And though it’s undoubtedly important to spend time divining and formulating what it is we want our magick to accomplish, it’s also important to appreciate the rule of Unintended Consequences. There are lots of examples of this principle; the inadvertent increase in bio-diversity in some war ravaged parts of the world, or the increased use of fossil fuels as smoke free pubs put heaters outside to warm their patrons now banished into the chilly night.

Sure as eggs is eggs...

Sure as eggs is eggs…

Living as we do, in a complex world of every shifting inter-connected events, the idea of saying ‘I want X’, can never be the whole story by any measure. In fact I’d suggest that most of our magick operates as much through us, as something that apparently emerges from us. In those ritual moments, where we become conscious of the process we’re engaged in (celebrating Halloween, doing results magick or a spot of Tonglen), we’re actually pointing back towards the on-going process of our lives, reminding ourselves of what we’re doing just as much as casting our desires into the future.

Let’s say that you do a protection ritual for someone. The way in which the ritual is framed will emerge from your psychological state at that time. Do you choose to mirror the nasty stuff coming at you, returning it to it’s apparent point of origin? Do you attempt some cursing sorcery or ill-wishing antics? To generalise; the former policy (setting up protective wards, working to support those who are under threat and make them stronger, deploying blocking and binding spells), these betoken a much more nuanced, long-term and intelligent way of dealing with the problem than wildly stabbing at poppets or similar histrionics.

If you’re a poppet stabber chances are also that you’re caught up in a view of the universe characterised by fear and hatred. In such a state that old chestnut Lust of Result (assuming you think it applies in your model of magic) will probably be at a maximal value. It’s also likely that the law of Unintended Consequences will get you. This isn’t some kind of re-writing of karma or three-fold return but the simple fact that if you set out to do harm you’re quite likely to find quite the reverse taking place.

I saw a great example of this recently following the unpleasant trolling of friend where the anonymous emails sent her way actually galvanised a great up-welling of support on her behalf. This included messages of care and assistance from people she has previously had had minor disagreements with. In swinging his metaphorical club around the troll has stirred up a support group for their intended victim. This process included inadvertently calling allies with specialist computer skills, ideal for tracking down the miscreant. The actions of the nasty troll (who of course made some claims of curse-wielding powers) had had the unintended consequence of summoning a bunch of particularly helpful spirits to my friends aid!

Droll Troll

Droll Troll

Does this cut both ways? What if you act all starry-eyed and trusting in the universe? What of the unintended consequences of becoming a door-mat for those opportunistic, confused or just plain psychopathic people out there? There’s nothing in principle to stop that happening however this is where the idea of Virtue comes in. Developing a Virtue is the deliberate cultivation of a dynamic equilibrium between extremes of behaviour. There is, for instance, the virtue of courage. At one end of the continuum of behaviours we have foolhardiness, and at the other cowardice. Courage stands somewhere between them. By cultivating our virtue we seek to place ourselves in a balanced, yet dynamic relationship with the world, and in practice this means we usually have a wider field of perception. We’re better able to notice the unintended consequences (both positive and negative) or our actions and reactions to the world. We’re more flexible and more likely to be successful in what we do (and able to meet the lessons from our failures more honestly). (My favourite model of virtue is described in Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman).

The person fixated on getting their way in the universe (bellowing Barbaric words at the top of their voice in the street and relentlessly pushing their monolithic interpretation of the world) is likely to be very far from virtuous. They miss the positive unintended consequences of their actions (from which they might theoretically capitalise) and the negative consequences (which could inform them to change tactics). Their obsessive desire makes them quite ignorant of what’s actually going on around them and, amusingly, the more they dig themselves down into their rut the easier it is for the unintended consequences – especially those that diametrically oppose what they want – to proliferate. They literally invoke their own downfall.

Both our daily lives and formal ceremonies may have all kinds of consequences, some of which we will never know (check out the excellent movie Cloud Atlas for a beautiful exploration of this idea). The aim of the wise magician then is to cultivate an on-going project of developing their virtue. This is a pragmatic sorcerous strategy to get us what we want (see my article HERE). Our virtue is reflected in our spells, in what we choose to pray for, and how we choose to act in the world. Those who spend their time Working to screw up the lives of others tend to end up friendless and screwed up themselves. Those who Work for wisdom, justice and humanity in the world actively create the conditions for those experiences to manifest. Such people are better able to weather the storms when times get tough. Moreover when the storm is done they’ve got plenty of capacity in themselves to enjoy the sun, and many loved ones around them with whom they can share it.

JV

I Who am All Pleasure and Purple – Polymorphous Sex Magick

Beltane (as profilic as one should expect in its spellings and derivations) is the season we celebrate sex. As the bluebells thrust through the leaf litter and the sun is already long in setting (at least in the British Isles). This is the time of May dances, of showers of blossom and the earnest buzzing of the bees.

Our evening of Purple magick, fortuitously coinciding with the waxing half-moon, began with a round of greetings and a banishing ritual.

Our South American Sister brings a guided visualisation. In this we strip back the blockages, imagined as a layer of slime on the skin, and emerge into our new selves. We honour what we have emerged from for it too is part of our story. In my imagination the discarded puddle of restriction is absorbed into the earth, composting into rich soil.

Sexy slime

Sexy slime

Following this practice is An Annointing for The Lover, each participant performing a nyasa style placement of the bija mantras into each chakra. Marking each point with perfumed oil. A simple but powerful practice to acknowledge the sacred as expressed through our bodies.

Having thus prepared ourselves it’s time for The Ardhanarishvara Brain Re-wiring Rite. Using the dual form of Shiva-Shakti we each create sigil from that divine name and these are installed into out non-dominant hemispheres. In order to prevent unpleasantly weird physiological effects (experienced by the developer during the alpha test of the ritual) a horizontal double-ended Shiva trident is visualised, connecting both hemispheres of the brain. We dance the sigil into our nervous systems, connecting the masculine and feminine aspects of ourselves and bringing these into unity.

The Polymorphous Elvis Transformer Ritual is next. This rides on the gnosis of the millions of orgasms which are happening across the planet right now. Moving our hips in the transgressive motion of The King and imagining the paparazzi flash-bulbs of erotic ecstacy all around us we:

“…key into the energy waves that are being generated, regenerated and amplified even as we sit here now. This ritual is also a tribute to Genesis Breyer P. Orridge who introduced me to the ideas of Sex Magick via the Temple of Psychick Youth and continues to break gender and push ideas of sexuality into new areas.”  TP808

Our sexuality, like everything else in the universe, is a flow rather than a static thing. For the closing ritual each person gets to fill in a form (and, frankly, how sexy is that?). By doing so they are reflecting on how their sexuality emerges in that moment. This is done using the sexuality play spectrum HERE. We share these with each other, taking an intimate and funny moment together to disclose our (current) sexual identity in a safe space.

We sit together, silently acknowledge this intimacy, this trust. Then it’s time to get up and dance (to tunes HERE), laughing and joking we step outside and light the Beltane fire, burning up the forms, the fixed notion of who we are. Realising the ebb and flow, of on and off, is a continuous process, like sex itself; always mixing things up, stirring the genetic cauldron. And though sex can make us think of dualities – God and Goddess, male and female, chalice and cup – it is actually much closer to a cloud of possibility. The erotic can, as Susan Sontag observes, erupt in a bewildering variety of expressions. Our own indentities flux and flow and even down at the genetic level things X and Y chromosones can morph and shift, responding to hormones in different ways, and expressing themselves in a wide varities of forms.

Perhaps this is an axiom of a ‘Baphometic Witchcraft’; rather than a simple polarity model of sex we acknowledge that we are all, at different times and different degrees, in the flow of sexuality. Like Baphomet we are cut-up entities manifesting sex in a muliplicity of forms (including asexuality). Thus we free ourselves from the simplistic (apparently) fixed duality of forms and become something rich and strange. Our morality becomes rooted in a sensitivity to issues of consent and coercion, not in a priori stereotypes of what men or women should or should not do to express their sexual nature.

Hardcore mollusc action

Hardcore mollusc action

The plant sex organs that are the apple blossom envelop the penetrating sisterhood of hungry honey bees. Dandelions proliferate through kinky apomixis. Horned and hermaphroditic, snails stab love darts into each others’ flesh – everything, as Austin Spare would say, fornicates all the time.

JV