Saturday, 24 September 2011
It's hard to really call this a review, as I actually didn't read the entire hefty tome in one go, but instead dipped in and out of it over a period of about a year, so my memory of certain parts is likely to be lacking. Here I will try to give my impressions.
Firstly, don't expect this book to be all Magick, Crowley had many varied interests, the other main one being Mountaineering, so expect to spend long periods reading precise details of his expeditions.
This autobiography covers in detail the period right from his early days in the Golden Dawn, right up until the foundation and subsequent demise of the Abbey Of Thelema at Cefalu, which Crowley had set up to put into practice the Law Of Thelema. Of course Crowley also talks a lot about his childhood, as the son of very strict Plymouth Brethren parents.
He talks about his first meeting with Alan Bennett (who was a highly respected adept in the Golden Dawn), who he stayed friends with for many years, even after Alan went to Ceylon to become a Buddhist Monk.
Crowley also talks about his loyalty to, and later contempt of MacGregor Mathers and the various internal battles in the Golden Dawn.
Details of the famous (or infamous) workings of the Abramelin at Boleskine House, his later meeting with his own Holy Guardian Angel in Egypt (Aiwass) and the revelation of The Book Of Law, all make for interesting reading. Not to mention Victor Neuburg and the Enochian workings which eventually lead to the invocation of Choronzon!
The final section of the book talks about the founding of the Abbey Of Thelema at Cefalu (Palermo) and the various visitors. Surprisingly, there are not many details of exactly what went on at the Abbey in terms of practices, this may have been the ideal opportunity for Crowley to have set the record straight about a few things.
Obviously, being an autobiography, the story is very much told from the point of view of Aleister Crowley, but after so much rubbish, half-truths, and sensationalist paranoia about The Great Beast, this remains something he has left in his defence.
The end is quite sad, especially the tragic death of Raoul Loveday, which according to Jane Wolfe one of the members present at the Abbey, was due to him drinking polluted water, and not some bizarre black magic ritual as the press reported at the time.
I would recommend this book to those who are really interested in Crowley and the origins of Thelema, but be warned it's a very long book, and at times hard going if you are not interested in Mountaineering!
Abbey of Thelema - Photo Gallery
Friday, 16 September 2011
Monday, 12 September 2011
Q1 - What first got you interested in Witchcraft, and around what age?
I remember at the age of 11 being intrigued by a book on Witchcraft, published by Faber. My parents kept it on the highest shelf in the house and I wasn't supposed to read it because it was too "old" for me. I don’t think my parents could have done any more to ensure that I would eventually find a stepladder and get hold of that book. I remember hiding it in my room for ages but it was a dry and dusty tome and didn't quite contain the forbidden treasures I had hoped for.
I maintained a strong interest in the occult though (despite a year long flirtation with Christianity) until I finally found books on Paganism in the local library when I was 17. Then it slowly dawned on me that people were practising as Witches today and from there I was hooked.
Q2 - Some Witches identify as Alexandrian or Gardnerian tradition based, is this something you also do?
No. In the early days I read a lot about Alexandrian and Garderian traditions, but I was attracted to Witchcraft as an antidote to hierarchical, dogmatic and internally conservative religions and to me Alexandrian and Garderian covens seemed to be all those things. Another one of the issues I always had with them was their obsession with tracing your magical lineage back to the dawn of time. I have never felt a need to prove my authenticity in that way and so that was a big turn off.
I have no doubt that they are valuable and important traditions for many people, especially in the early days of Witchcraft when they were pioneers. I definitely recognise their important contribution to Witchcraft and Paganism but they have never sung to my soul.
Q3 - Who are your biggest influences, magically?
What a huge question!
Over the years I have read, listened and assimilated countless ideas that make up my current practice and drawn inspiration from diverse sources such as Scott Cunningham, Dion Fortune, Ann Moura, Crowley, Freya Aswynn, Starhawk, T.Thorn Coyle and Jan Fries. Scott Cunningham gave me a structure, Starhawk taught me how to break it. Dion Fortune showed me how to imagine magick working in my every day world, T.Thorn Coyle is teaching me to bring that into reality, my magickal practice has (as I am sure is the same for most people) been and will be a constant progression.
But it was really through practice and dialogue with a variety of friends from many different traditions which allowed me to shape my ideas and to continue to shape my ideas. You shouldn't underestimate the power of discussing and testing your ideas with like-minded people and it is something I will always do. I don’t think there has been one author or one mentor who has had a bigger impact than any of the others but my practice has grown very organically over the years as I have absorbed and tested and either continued or rejected a variety of practices.
The biggest breakthrough work I have done has all been through my relationship with Odin. The lessons I have learned through that relationship have probably had a bigger impact on how I use magic, particularly Rune workings, than anything else and I would certainly encourage people to develop deity relationships of their own. Practising with Odin has given me incredible insights into my craft, but those insights have required work and practice - not just reading books and attending talks and workshops.
My patron is very keen on stretching me and giving me new challenges when I am perhaps coasting a little, and we all need a bit of motivation sometimes!
Q4 - Do you subscribe to the typical Wiccan "an it harm none, do as you will" or would you ever use magick for attack?
I wouldn’t say I “subscribe” to the Wiccan Rede but rather that it is broadly aligned with the personal, ethical position I choose to adopt anyway. I want my current life in this Universe to elevate people, not harm them. I do believe that the world would be a better place and we would all benefit, if people worked harder not to harm each other. Whilst I don’t always get it perfectly right I consistently try to make choices which elevate, celebrate and empower rather than harm.
Being completely honest I wouldn't rule out using magick for attack if my life was immediately under threat (or similar extreme circumstances applied). If someone tried to physically attack me then I wouldn't see anything wrong in hitting back to defend myself and I don’t see magick any differently. In fact I am considerably better at magick than I am at hitting; but there are rarely situations where defensive magicks wouldn’t simply serve the same purposes.
I don't ever see myself sitting quietly in my ritual space cursing someone. To use magick for attack (other than in the first example of immediate danger) requires you to spend a lot of time and energy thinking about your subject. You might be ruminating on why they deserve that attack or planning how you will execute it and frankly this is not a valuable way to spend my time and energy. Exerting energy on attacking another person in this way to me seems like a total waste of time I could be spending on any number of other projects like; getting a closer relationship with my Deities, campaigning against domestic violence, or just relaxing with a good book – all of these things would be better for me and my life and the community I live in rather than attacking and I am jealous of my time. Also I think that spending time and energy on attacking someone in this way (regardless of the excellent reasons) is a probably keeping you in a pretty negative headspace and that isn’t a headspace I want to live in.
I think for me the question of a magickal attack comes down to “Why would I bother?” since there are, likely, a number of more productive ways to resolve the situation at hand which will elevate me and the people around me. So it really comes down to the fact that I can imagine almost no circumstances where there isn't just a better way of doing things.
I mean “you” generally of course not “you” as in Phil or your lovely readers.
Q5. How do you incorporate Witchcraft into your daily life (for example, do you devote yourself to particular Deities or celebrate special days)?
I try and do a daily magical practice to keep my magickal muscles as fit and strong as possible. When I am really in tune with my magick, life just flows. This practice takes a number of forms, meditation, resonating runes, blogging about Witchcraft, touching in with my Deities etc. I find that having a personal relationship with my Deities where sometimes I just seek to share my space with them for a time is particularly rewarding.
Since moving my altar into the living room, I have completely changed the way I use it in a really positive way. It has become this living, breathing, magical presence in the room in which I spend most of my time and I am still learning about how to integrate this presence into my life. At the moment this is probably the one single thing which is helping to bring my Witchcraft into every aspect of my life – and I really didn’t expect it too!
I do observe the Eight Sabbats of the year; whether participating in a big ritual or celebration or making simple and quiet acknowledgement that the seasons are shifting. I find I am very sensitive to the different energies generated by the land, climate, seasons and cycle of natures etc.; if I don't take the time to re-attune every so often then I get out of sorts, tired and even grumpy! The Eight Sabbats obviously follow a natural cycle of seasons and the agricultural calendar so they still hold great practical significance for me as well as being representative of periods in the year which have big energetic significances. Outside of the Sabbats generally I think that ritualised festivals (whatever your tradition) are spiritually nourishing for the human soul. Preparing for and participating in festivals of any sort is hugely uplifting and really refills my energy well.
Antara can be contacted through her website:
Thursday, 8 September 2011
Anyway, this is something I may come back to at a later time.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
As I don't seem to have the time or energy to do much ritual magick lately, I have decided to try and finish skrying the Enochian Aethyrs, but this time through dreams.
This is very experimental, I've not come across anyone who has done this before.
- Before getting ready to sleep, I will recite the Call of Aethyrs and Vibrate the names of the governors (a quick banishing may also be a good idea).
- I will then close my eyes and try to drift off to sleep.
- I will make a note of any visions as I have my eyes closed, or anything that appears in a dream.
The next Aethyr to skry is 22 - Lin.
Results from last night very poor, I vaguely remember something about the number three, and some visions trying to "get through".
I think I should try again tonight with the same Aethyr and process. It may take a while for this to work.
Watch this space!
Explorer Of The Shadow Realms
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Firstly, don't think this is just another book about Aleister Crowley, as it definitely isn't! This book is more about looking at how the Book of The Law, the text that was received by Crowley from his Holy Guardian Angel, Aiwass, can be seen to be predicting a new Aeon (the Aeon of Horus) and a shift in human consciousness. Crowley is the “Prophet” or “Messiah” charged with ushering in this new age.
Crowley is seen not as an evil black magician, and Paul Weston has done much research to disprove some of the half-truths and general unfounded rumours that caused the Great Beast to be seen as the “wickedest man in the world”.
This book explores the events, people and currents that can be seen to be pointers to this new Aeon of Horus, the God of War who would bring about destruction starting with World War Two in 1939.
The book also looks at the magical revival, which Crowley is undeniably the major player in.
Psychedelia and ET phenomena are also explored as undeniable evidence that a shift in consciousness was happening.
This book covers so many interesting people and events, from World War Two and Hitler, to Witchcraft and Conspiracy Theories.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone, not just those interested in Aleister Crowley, but anyone interested in the history of Occult, and especially the Nazi involvement and interest in the Occult. I found this book very hard to put down once I had started it! The only criticism I would make is that addition of footnotes referring the interested reader to further research material would have been a good idea.
Sunday, 4 September 2011
I already have a practising Witch who has kindly agreed to spare some time to answer some questions on Witchcraft.
I also intend to start writing some book reviews, as I find myself reading a lot of books at this time.