Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sex, Sentiment and Wonder

According to Anton La Vey there are two types of magic: High Magic and Low Magic. High Magic refers to ‘ritual magic’ and Low Magic to the magic of ‘situation-manipulation’. In La Vey’s system ritual magic is performed in a similar way to that which many contemporary magical practitioners would be familiar with: there is a general circle format, an evocative setting, supernatural beings are asked to assist, symbolic tools are used, and the practitioner needs to be specific about and concentrate on their goal. The point is — unlike a lot of other types of modern magic — to actually achieve a result, not to just revel within a magic ritual, that being enough of a result for many people.

In addition, the High Magic system of La Vey has only three types of ritual: rituals for Compassion, for Lust and for Destruction. In each of these rituals the practitioner is required to be fully involved emotionally with the purpose of the ritual, for example in a recent Lust ritual I needed to become physically lustful — La Vey says that if you can’t achieve an orgasm over the person you are lustful toward within a ritual designed to attract that person, then you don’t deserve to have them! So what one is meant to do in these sorts of rituals is to evoke as best as possible the real-world scenario of the desired result and become immersed within that — essentially fantasy — world as if it is real.

If I want to attract someone sexually I need to be actually desirous of them, otherwise I need to analyse whether I should be doing, say, a Compassion ritual instead. It depends on what I want the person for. La Vey liked to pare back human needs into simple categories: desire, hunger, anger. He believed that humans are simply clever animals — which we are — and so when you take on his type of system you have to do a lot of analysis of yourself and of the situations you find yourself in and then try and work out what kind of ritual approach is the best one, or if ritual actually is the correct approach to a problem or situation. I need to stress that many La Veyean Satanists do not do a lot of structured ritual, certainly not a lot of group ritual, because effective ritual needs intense concentration and that’s not easy to achieve in a group, unless you are very close. 

As for the ‘Low Magic’ which really is the type of magic I like best these days and, in my opinion, is actually more difficult than the more formal ritual magic which is just a case of following procedure. La Vey’s Low Magic also involves a three-fold category, the Witch or Warlock (yes, La Veyean male Witches are called Warlocks) need to assess themselves first because they are their own tool in this type of magic. You need to assess your effect on other people — because this is really about interacting with other people and getting them to conform to your will — so you need to be well-informed about your appearance, your sound, your smell, the subtle and not-so-subtle animal cues that people give to each other all day without thinking about it.

La Vey believed there are three general categories that people fit into: Sex, Sentiment and Wonder. Sex is pretty self-explanatory, sentiment means that you evoke pleasant memories in another thus making them open up to you and wonder can incorporate a range of reactions ranging from admiration to fear. Other people will view you and classify you (semi- or subconsciously) into one or a combination of these categories. La Vey believed that there are predictable responses different types of people have to the Sex, Sentiment and Wonder categories and you need to assess yourself in regards to those categories and assess your quarry and how their type is known to react to those qualities. You need to work out which category you fit into and then take it from there. It’s about appearing to become a ‘package deal’ and people thinking they have you all worked out, when they actually don’t.

Basically it is about acting. For example, I seem to come across as a mixture of sex and wonder, I don’t think I project any sentiment. Depending on whom I am dealing with and what I want from them I may have to modify my ‘normal’ projection to one that they will be responsive to. For example, an overconfident, macho he-man would be more receptive to a coy ingĂ©nue who appears to think everything he says or does is “really amazing”; a submissive male would be more likely to shiver with delight if I were to come across as very stern, dominating and no-nonsense—neither of those are the ‘real me’, it’s a case of me assessing a quarry and then putting on an act. 

But is it magic? Well, Aleister Crowley defined magic(k) as the art and science of causing change in accordance with your will — he never specified a particular way to achieve that change, just that you do achieve it. So my opinion regarding La Vey’s Low Magic system is that while it is not a ritual procedure, it is definitely ‘magic’.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Strange Days have found us...

I swiped this photo from Facebook because I thought it was so unusual. What's going on here? Does anyone know the history of this photo? Is it a real event? Anyway, despite its rather destructive imagery, I rather like its composition...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Hwicce

I'm surprised that Stephen J. Yeates' books on the Hwicce aren't having more fuss made about them from within the Wiccan/Pagan scene - at least not so as I could notice. I would have thought that they'd be a wonderful source of potential evidence for the historical authenticity of British Wicca beyond the 1950s when Gerald Gardner claimed to have met some witches. Especially seeing as since the publication of Ronald Hutton's book, The Triumph of the Moon, many of the historical claims of Wicca have been shaken and stirred - to quite an extent (although, see an interesting new critique by an Alexandrian witch of Hutton's book here). One would think that Stephen Yeates' books might redress Hutton's historical destabilising of Wicca somewhat. At the least, he has specifically used the word 'witches' in his title, suggesting that he's wanting to point the books in that direction. I've searched quite a bit for reviews of his books and have only come across the Cambridge Archaeological Journal review on the first book, a review of both of them on The Twisted Tree, and apparently there's a forthcoming review of the second book coming out in British Archaeology Nov/Dec 2010 issue (which I don't have yet). There might be others that aren't showing up in my search, so I'd be interested to hear of more. There are some quite good reviews of the books on and Apparently 'Hwicce' means, according some 'chest or trunk' and according to Yeates, 'vessel or cauldron'. Either way, it sounds like it means something to do with a container. Plus I've always been told that 'wicce' is the feminine form of the Anglo-Saxon word for 'witch' (and that 'wicca' was the masculine form). Why sure, the Hwicce might not have anything to do with Wiccans (as we know them today)... but then again they might - we all know how much part a sacred vessel plays in modern Witchcraft. Frankly, I need to read these books myself, which I am about to do. Then I'll post a review of them. The third book pictured here The Anglo-Saxon Landscape also covers the territory of the Hwicce, which is why it is included.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Major Nostalgia

Ever since my article on the reception of The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley got accepted by The Pomegranate (in press), I've been haunted by My Past just "appearing". This has led me to re-visit that past, which is weird, as I usually cut the past off with a guillotine blade... I don't usually look back at it. There are simply heaps of people I used to hang out intensively with that I now don't. Anyway, I have followed it up and come across my very first magickal instructor, various past friends (some of whom are still friends) and weird ancient memories from when I lived in the country, particularly 1987 at Mount Franklin. Why is this so weird... Can't I have a past? I guess I have such intense experiences with people - whether lovers or close friends - we tend to "break up" quite dramatically, so to see or hear from them again is surprising, but it probably shouldn't be. Anyway, I've gone through some of my past photo albums, three pics from which are shown here: Me and pals at Mount Franklin; me, MJ and DGM somewhere in Central Victoria where we used to live; and me with herbalist-witch David O'Connor, he and I shared a flat for about a year. I suppose I've been such an antisocial hermit for the last decade... Hmm, maybe I should re-think that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Books, BOOKS, and MORE BOOKS !!!

When I first got a blog I'd just missed a blogging trend where people had posted photos of their piles of books onto their blogs. I really wanted to do it too, but I think I must not have had a digital camera at that stage or something. I was recently reminded of these pics of books, while looking through some year-old photos - they actually date to 2009. So I thought I'd post 'em up here. I love books, I now have some new bookshelves in my 'office' - yay! - but before that some of my books (as you can see in these photos) were stacked up in the most messy and crazy way... on the floor, on a desk... But now they are in bookshelves. All the other books in the domus are in bookshelves, starting with the blue bookshelf in the last pic that I got for only $20 from some student in the next street - bargain. Then all down the hall, into the lounge room, bookshelves everywhere. I'll leave those pics for another day (primarily because I haven't actually taken them yet). Can one actually have too many books? I don't think so. I do think I need a new house to put them in though. I'm thinking the 'white cube' look might be good, like an art gallery, with books lining all the walls. My ‘office’ is also somewhat re-arranged now too. The desk is under the fresco paintings calendar now, and in the corner are my bewdiful Officeworks bookshelves. (Despite the many bookshelves in this domus, we really could still do with more…).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Do Minority Religions Own the Past?

Modern Druids are making a fuss about ancient human remains on display in museums in Britain. How it is any of their business one cannot begin to guess. I suppose they need to think of ways to stay in the media's ever-hungry headlights... and claiming to be 'new indigenes' - likening themselves to colonised peoples such as Australian Aboriginals or Native Americans who do have a legitimate claim to have their actual relatives owned by museums re-buried - seems to be working for them. It is difficult however, to see how Druid claims regarding museum objects such as, for example the Babylonian plaque, the 'Queen of the Night', are actually 'Druid'. The behavior of Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD), the group spearheading this activity, is unnecessary, appears contrived, and smacks of self-publicity under the guise of a virtuous ‘cause’. Not all contemporary Pagans are pro-reburial of human remains in museums however, see Pagans for Archaeology ,