OTO/Magick


I’ve returned from a sojourn in the gorgeous city of Prague. Prague is my kind of city, a place that has no patience for fakery and yet, indulges in heights of fantasy and the fantastic; that exudes the harsh pragmatism that all northern cities seem to have, yet also spits in the face of minimalism. Incidentally, it is also where the legendary magicians, John Dee and Edward Kelly, practiced for some years.

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I finally got around to watching Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s The Holy Mountain. It is a visually rich film replete with occult symbolism that rewards viewers who have studied western occult systems. Many of the reviews I have read have basically described The Holy Mountain as a feature length eye fuck, but really, it is quite a straightforward film that should feel very familiar to students of tarot, meditation, etc. It is a highly stylized  fool’s journey in which the ultimate goal is a genuine zen-like connection with reality. I will warn you that despite the film’s surreal beauty, the imagery can be violent and there is a fair amount of violence directed toward animals. Otherwise, the film is well worth watching.

What was most interesting to me was how The Holy Mountain represents two contrasting spiritual paths. The Western magical tradition relies heavily upon a multilayered network of corresponding intrasystemic symbols that Israel Regardie has described as a mnemonic system that trains the imaginative faculties, heightens the vision of the soul that peers directly into the divine astral in order to transcend the normal plane of consciousness. Grossly speaking, the Eastern traditions of zen and yoga take the opposite approach by stripping away attachments and by stilling the imaginary faculties of the mind.

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I have been ill on and off, and as such, have been whiling away the time reading biographies of Aleister Crowley.

#1 A Magick Life by Martin Booth (2001)

Booth deliberately avoids any kind of controversy or any strongly interpretative lens. He often presents details with the caveat that Crowley (and others) often exaggerated claims about himself, and then leaves it up to the reader to gauge their veracity for themselves. The book itself is clearly written, well researched and humorous. Granted, any biography about Crowley that lacks in humour is probably not worth reading. This is a decent biography for someone with any trepidations regarding Crowley’s notorious reputation.

#2 Do What Thou Wilt by Lawrence Sutin (2002)

Sutin, like Booth, aims for a balanced representation of Crowley but includes far more information about magick in general. More consideration is given to the history of magick and to Crowley’s magickal endeavours, about which he is quoted at length. Whereas Booth’s biography more or less unfolds like a chronological retelling, Sutin provides more in the way of meta analysis and does not shy away from interpretations. Because of this, Sutin may come off at times as a bit of an apologist for Crowley, who never really needed apologizing for. The writing itself is clear, accompanied by amusing chapter titles e.g. Chapter Three: Years of Wandering in Which Crowley Pursues the Heights of Magic and Mountains, Embraces Buddhism, Then Abandons All for the Love of a Woman and the Life of a Country Laird.

#3 Perdurabo by Richard Kaczynski (2010, Revised and Expanded edition)

I’ve just begun this tome but am already enjoying it. It’s certainly received the highest praise from OTO members, artists and members involved in occult organizations, and it’s not difficult to see why. Kaczynski’s writing is engaging, thoroughly researched, and accompanied by many archival photographs. Instead of childhood, it begins with Crowley’s initiation into the Order of the Golden Dawn, and so it seems that magick is given fair and serious consideration. If I had to make any recommendations, despite not having finished the book, it would probably be this one. UPDATE: This book is incredibly well researched, much more extensively than the other two. With this level of detail and scope, it’s easy to see why some have called it the definitive Crowley biography. However, it is quite a hefty text! Recommend Booth’s book if you’re pressed for time.

So one of my favourite sonic inventors, Daedelus, has written an album called Righteous Fists of Harmony about the Boxer Rebellion and links this to the GD. Download the mp3 of the track in the first link if you’re curious!

Now if only I could make out all the lyrics. I had a lot of difficulty with the greyed out words.

Order of a day to come/thus the end, begins. Darkest star have said eon Cast a stone, the night. With the centre flown on high /head nor talons/what will be the end? How can the rising sun/night is still /enter god behold. Calms the dawn/golden dawn/darkness turns to day.

Order of Golden Dawn/eastern rising sun/Boxers Rebellion/fists of righteousness

Here the warning bloody red /morning sky/soldiers now beware. Drink the tea, liquid shield, food invincible. Elixirs/poured aghast, all that’s left undead. Soldiers tasting drug and steel, slumbering, rise again, begin.

Life publishes online gallery of the wickedest man evar.

Also, recently saw In Search of the Great Beast: 666. Crowley is a difficult biographical subject if there ever was one but this is one of the better treatments out there and was well researched. The story is told mostly through stylized photographs with a few dramatic vignettes and is well produced considering this limitation. The actor playing Crowley is quite good. You can watch it on YouTube.

Since Dan Brown’s new book, there has been more interest generated in Freemasonry and I thought it would be timely to ressurect this post.

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Original Title: orders of elitism?
Original Post Date: April 29, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

I’ve been thinking about the role of elitism in terms of the OTO and freemasonry. You could say both orders are guilty of it despite principles of brotherhood and suchlike. Take Crowley’s scathing disgust with the masses and his penchant for unconstructive shit disturbing; oft cited character flaws indicating the man’s elitism which flew in the face of his assertion that “every man and woman is a star.” From an outsider’s or freemason’s point of view, as OTO members tend to hold Crowley in high regard, it may be assumed that this elitist attitude and distain for the ignorant, “unwashed masses” permeate the order. Not my opinion of course, but I can understand the perspective. However, from the OTO end, freemasonry looks totally elitist as well, with their old boys and their old money, no vaginas allowed.

But really, at the heart of the matter, elitism is not the issue. It seems to me that for many, it may appear on the surface that both orders have devised their own ways of safeguarding their secrets to keep people out. And I am no expert but I think those barriers are not really present to protect the secrets themselves, rather, their function is to protect people and to keep secrets in. Sort of like containing wild tigers in cages if you’re going to have a circus.

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I have been reading about creative illness these days, and remembered a couple old posts about sf writer, Philip K Dick and occultist, Aleister Crowley.

I don’t think Dick’s episode was a creative illness so much as a bizarre psychic time travel phenomena but it’s still interesting to explore. A quick scan of Dick’s astrological transits show that at the onset of his illness, sun had just entered Pisces and transiting Saturn was moving into to conjunct Mars, the apex of a natal kite formation involving Neptune, Jupiter and a sun-Mars-Saturn stellium in Sagittarius. During that year, Saturn transited through his 4th house, while Jupiter through his 12th.

More on Crowley’s transits after the link.

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Original Title: Philip K Dick’s schizophrenic fugue
Original Post Date: May 22, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

philip k dick by r crumb

The Religious Experience of Philip K Dick by R. Crumb

What is interesting about this account is that Dick is clearly in total possession by the unconscious, but he manages to keep his ego in tact – for an entire year! A most impressive feat if you ask me.

FYI: Philip K. Dick was a very popular sci-fi writer whose books have been adapted into popular films like Bladerunner. Robert Crumb is a prolific illustrator of underground, independent comics.

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