Sunday, June 1, 2014

Yin and Yang of Ritual Work

The role of women as magicians is a topic that rolls around the internet periodically. It seems to be back in sight at the moment, and I wanted to say a thing about it. Most of what has surfaced is the usual. Lots of it is advice driven: Don’t hang out with people who want you to do things that seem inappropriate to you (no sex for initiations, don’t pay the guru too much, etc). Find something that resonates with your interests, and don’t be intimidated into doing things. There’s nothing earth-shattering here. People should do what feels right to them, and avoid doing anything that feels wrong.

Another topic that has surfaced (again and again) is whether certain magickal organizations are inherently sexist. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are the societies that were developed in late Victorian times with a masonic structure. Certainly, when looked at with modern eyes, the people who developed these societies look fairly sexist. For their times, however, they were for the most part quite progressive. The organizations founded around the turn of the 20th Century that are still in existence also find themselves on the edge of social progress. Since they promote the double-edged sword of personal freedom and responsibility for one’s actions, these occultists are typically supportive of LBGT rights and of any sort of consensual relationship. Many are champions of civil rights of all kinds.

The “sexist” label comes into play, at least in the OTO, because of the lack of outwardly recognized female saints and the very rigorously defined roles of priestess and priest in the Gnostic Mass. Since this is the only OTO ritual that most people know anything about, this evidence can appear somewhat damning. However, there are reasons for the sexual polarity invoked in the Mass, having to do with the energy of procreation.

Descriptions of the reasons for the public silence involved in female saints and this sexual polarity of the Mass are numerous, and truly scholarly work exists to explain how this is in no way represents a sexist situation. I’m not going to go into those things, because others have done a beautiful job of it already, and if you’re going to allow yourself to have a knee-jerk reaction about the facts in the paragraph above, adding my voice to those will not change your mind. The reason I brought this up is that I wanted to address some polarities in ceremonial ritual work that have been under discussion lately.

I want to talk about the polarity that exists in the working pair of the magician and the seer. In this operative pair, the magician is the projective element, and the seer the receptive element. This is not the same as doing dishes as compared to changing the oil in the car. The latter pair of activities do not have an inherent polarity, they just both need doing. The only thing that is similar about the two pairs of activities is that there are not inherent gender assignments for either one. The relationship of the magician and the seer in conjuration is the same as an outgoing email is to the electronic answer. They form a necessary couplet, which is a communication. It is also as gender specific as this example, which is to say, not at all. It's not even a different function, it's more like a frequency shift, as in the gif of the sine waves.

To more thoroughly beat this dead horse, then, men are not inherently the projective part of the pair. Women are not naturally more sensitive, and therefore the seer. I would venture that you can’t do either at will, you need to do some homework. Some people have brought forward that I’m the seer end of the R.O. – H.F. dyad because I’m female. Folks, it’s just not that simple. My professional life is thoroughly masculine. I’m normally the only woman in the room at any meeting. About my role in magickal operations, I have been the projective part of our magickal couple many times, but prefer the receptive part because I need the practice. My “mundane” life doesn't give me that opportunity; I’m lucky to have it in my spiritual work.

In closing, I’d like to say something indirectly related. It’s been forever since I’ve written a post. I’ve been finding a new job, finding a new home in a city 1300 miles away from where I am now. And now I’m packing. Prior to that, the room that served as our temple developed a leak in the window that the landlord wouldn’t repair, making it impossible for us to use that room the way we were beforehand. I am hoping my focus returns to ritual work shortly; life isn’t the same without feeling the invisible friends at your side. Is it?

Blessed be thou.



    A lot of people put a lot of stock in the Maile=Active Female=Passive idea, but its shit, Even when its deeply ingrained in tradition, its shit.

    You can point to some Tantras and see that male=means and female=wisdom but then you have the Shakti Tantras where females are the active element and Shiva is shava without Shakti, The fact that both Tara and Chinnamasta - important Shakti Tantric figures, are originally Buddhist in origin should also point to this idea being false in the original conceptions of Buddhist Tantra.

    There are certain operations where male/female is required simply due to the physical genitals and the kalas produced, but the active vs. passive thing is not really an elements of it.

    There are also mysteries unique to male/male and female/female pairings.

    1. Thanks for your words, Jason! I'm imagining that you have lots more to say about this in your upcoming book, "Sexual Sorcery!" I'm looking forward to reading it and gleaning more information about the use of various types of polarity in magickal work!

  2. I rememver someone in Horus Maat lodge proposing once that the Caliphate teachings are akin to Shive Tantras and very phallus based, whereas Grants teachings are very Shakti centerered and represent the other side of that coin.

  3. I agree with a lot of what you say here, but I'm concerned that you're still positioning it as a polarity, as if female and male are the only genders that exist, and as if even these two don't exist on a spectrum. Occulture really needs to move past the outmoded idea of the gender binary. Things aren't that cut-and-dry, biologically or psychologically.