April 24, 2017
It is surprising the number of practitioners of the magical arts and witchcraft who were involved in military and intelligence work during the Second World War. Perhaps the best known ‘occult spy’ operating in the Second World War, and in fact long before, and whose intelligence career has been well documented, is Aleister Crowley. Author Dr Richard B.Spence believes that Crowley began his journey to being a secret agent when he took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This was at the Malvern College boarding school in 1891when he joined the cadet corps of the local Worcestershire Royal Artillery Volunteers. Later in life Crowley was to say that despite his problems and issues with the British establishment he had always felt that he was bound to that oath. In fact it had strengthened his link with England. It is possible he meant on a magical and psychic level as well as the physical and patriotic one.
As a young man, through an introduction by his aunt who was a member, Crowley joined the Primrose League. This was a semi-secret, quasi-Masonic, right-wing group within the Conservative Party whose aim was to protect it from its political enemies. Dr Spence suggests that Crowley’s Jacobite sympathies in support of the return of the Stuart dynasty to the British throne to replace the Hanoverian usurpers, could have been used by the League to persuade Crowley to spy on potential enemies of the Crown. This however would suggest that his Jacobite inclinations were not genuine or a passing teenage phase.
Crowley was lucky enough to come under the patronage of the Marquess of Salisbury, the Grand Master of the League. It has been suggested that Salisbury helped Crowley to enter Cambridge University and was grooming his young protégé for a lifelong career in the Diplomatic Service, which might well have involved spying for his country. However Crowley had other ideas, although it was at Cambridge that he met the future artist Gerald Kelly and later married his sister Rose. Forty years or so later both men were to serve in the wartime British Secret Service.
In the First World War Cowley was living in New York and he was accosted by a stranger on an omnibus. During their conversation about the war in Europe the man handed Crowley a business card.Printed on it were the addresses of two pro-German magazines and subsequently Crowley wrote anti-British propaganda for these publications.
Naturally the British government took a dim view of this anti-patriotic, traitorous act. They labelled him a traitor and the police raided his magical temple in London and closed it down. Crowley always protested his innocence. In fact he said he had been working for British Intelligence and written the satirical articles at their request. The aim was to ridicule the pro-German movement in America and discredit the magazines. This has never confirmed by the British Government, but it has also not been denied.
THE OCCULT WAR
Secret Agents, Magicians and Hitler
April 12, 2017
So be very sure of yourself before seeking entry to the Inner Arenas, and don’t say you weren’t warned. Once in, there’s no turning back. One has to go on, and on, and on, to the bitter bloody end, because one has to. No matter how horrible, how frustrating or more frequently how blatantly boring the Inner Path may seem, it has to be plodded to the very final and sometimes terrible end before it enters PERFECT PEACE PROFOUND wherein nothing can harm or hurt you ever again. You can’t just ‘take up Magic’ like some hobby and abandon it when you feel inclined. You may, and periodically should, have resting periods during which nothing much appears on the surface while a good deal is developing underneath.
Nevertheless, once you become part and parcel of the Magical Tradition, especially that of the West, expect difficulties from all directions…
William G Gray
Letter to Alan Richardson, 2nd March 1973
April 2, 2017
a little bottle or jar
wax, pink if you can
sugar for peace
vanilla for tenderness
dried rose for love
dried mint for positivity
dried sage to keep negative thoughts away
lavender for calm and love
a love stone such as rose quartz (if you have one)
How to proceed:
1. Take the time to light a candle, meditate if you wish and focus on your intent: self love, feeling love for yourself, seeing your beauty, etc. Visualize it clearly and with as many details as possible.
2. Add the sugar at the bottom of your jar, then all the other ingredients in layers. With each ingredient, repeat your wish for loving yourself.
3. Finally, add the lid to your bottle and seal it with the wax (I used vanilla wax here), focusing on your intent one last time
4. Add a pink ribbon if you wish.
5. Keep the jar with you and don’t hesitate to pull it out every time you feel self doubt overpowering you!
April 1, 2017
You are a witch. You warp the very energy that makes up the universe. You dig chunks of sharp crystal from the earth with bare hands and wear them as trinkets. You rip herbs from the dirt and use them to spice the air. You collect glass and bones and storm water and daggers.
Maybe you’re a different sort of witch. Maybe you write music like a siren’s song, sung to the stars, manipulating them until they shine the way you wish. Maybe you delve deep into code and weave quiet, meticulous charms into the very bones of the cyber world, feeling the flow of waves and Wi-Fi like others do the wind and the ways of the cosmos. Maybe you collect eldritch creatures, spirits and deities like others do stamps, frightened because you’re smart, unceasing because you’re brave, and know you’re much scarier than anything you welcome over your threshold.
Maybe you slip blessings into food. Maybe you slip curses under doorsteps. Maybe you draw symbols on your arms. Maybe you write incantations to be heard only by crickets, wicked, whispered nocturnes.
Whatever you do, however you do it, you are a witch. You are a warrior by default. Your strength is as innate to you as breathing. The only thing you must fear is what will happen when someone pushes you too far.
March 27, 2017
I want to talk about magic, how magic is portrayed in fantasy, how fantasy literature has in fact contributed to a very distinct image of magic, and perhaps most importantly how the Western world in general has come to accept a very precise and extremely suspect image of magic users.
I’d better say at the start that I don’t actually believe in magic any more than I believe in astrology, because I’m a Taurean and we don’t go in for all that weirdo occult stuff.
But a couple of years ago I wrote a book called The Colour of Magic. It had some boffo laughs. It was an attempt to do for the classical fantasy universe what Blazing Saddles did for Westerns. It was also my tribute to twenty-five years of fantasy reading, which started when I was thirteen and read Lord of the Rings in 25 hours. That damn book was a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of my life. I started reading fantasy books at the kind of speed you can only manage in your early teens. I panted for the stuff.
I had a deprived childhood, you see. I had lots of other kids to play with and my parents bought me outdoor toys and refused to ill-treat me, so it never occurred to me to seek solitary consolation with a good book.
Then Tolkien changed all that. I went mad for fantasy. Comics, boring Norse sagas, even more boring Victorian fantasy … I’d better explain to younger listeners that in those days fantasy was not available in every toyshop and bookstall, it was really a bit like sex: you didn’t know where to get the really dirty books, so all you could do was paw hopefully through Amateur Photography magazines looking for artistic nudes.
When I couldn’t get it – heroic fantasy, I mean, not sex – I hung around the children’s section in the public libraries, trying to lure books about dragons and elves to come home with me. I even bought and read all the Narnia books in one go, which was bit like a surfeit of Communion wafers. I didn’t care anymore.
Eventually the authorities caught up with me and kept me in a dark room with small doses of science fiction until I broke the habit and now I can walk past a book with a dragon on the cover and my hands hardly sweat at all.
But a part of my mind remained plugged into what I might call the consensus fantasy universe. It does exist, and you all know it. It has been formed by folklore and Victorian romantics and Walt Disney, and E R Eddison and Jack Vance and Ursula Le Guin and Fritz Leiber – hasn’t it? In fact those writers and a handful of others have very closely defined it. There are now, to the delight of parasitical writers like me, what I might almost call “public domain” plot items. There are dragons, and magic users, and far horizons, and quests, and items of power, and weird cities. There’s the kind of scenery that we would have had on Earth if only God had had the money.
To see the consensus fantasy universe in detail you need only look at the classical Dungeons and Dragon role-playing games. They are mosaics of every fantasy story you’ve ever read.
Of course, the consensus fantasy universe is full of clichés, almost by definition. Elves are tall and fair and use bows, dwarves are small and dark and vote Labour. And magic works. That’s the difference between magic in the fantasy universe and magic here. In the fantasy universe a wizard points his fingers and all these sort of blue glittery lights come out and there’s a sort of explosion and some poor soul is turned into something horrible.
Anyway, if you are in the market for easy laughs you learn that two well-tried ways are either to trip up a cliché or take things absolutely literally. So in the sequel to The Colour of Magic, which is being rushed into print with all the speed of continental drift, you’ll learn what happens, for example, if someone like me gets hold of the idea that megalithic stone circles are really complex computers. What you get is, you get druids walking around talking a sort of computer jargon and referring to Stonehenge as the miracle of the silicon chunk.
While I was plundering the fantasy world for the next cliché to pull a few laughs from, I found one which was so deeply ingrained that you hardly notice it is there at all. In fact it struck me so vividly that I actually began to look at it seriously.
That’s the generally very clear division between magic done by women and magic done by men.
Let’s talk about wizards and witches. There is a tendency to talk of them in one breath, as though they were simply different sexual labels for the same job. It isn’t true. In the fantasy world there is no such thing as a male witch. Warlocks, I hear you cry, but it’s true. Oh, I’ll accept you can postulate them for a particular story, but I’m talking here about the general tendency. There certainly isn’t such a thing as a female wizard.
Sorceress? Just a better class of witch. Enchantress? Just a witch with good legs. The fantasy world. in fact, is overdue for a visit from the Equal Opportunities people because, in the fantasy world, magic done by women is usually of poor quality, third-rate, negative stuff, while the wizards are usually cerebral, clever, powerful, and wise.
Strangely enough, that’s also the case in this world. You don’t have to believe in magic to notice that.
Wizards get to do a better class of magic, while witches give you warts.
The archetypal wizard is of course Merlin, advisor of kings, maker of the Round Table, and the only man who knew how to work the electromagnet that released the Sword from the Stone. He is not in fact a folklore hero, because much of what we know about him is based firmly on Geoffrey de Monmouth’s Life of Merlin, written in the Twelfth Century. Old Geoffrey was one of the world’s great writers of fantasy, nearly as good as Fritz Leiber but without that thing about cats.
Had a lot of trouble with women, did Merlin. Morgan Le Fay – a witch – was his main enemy but he was finally trapped in his crystal cave or his enchanted forest, pick your own variation, by a female pupil. The message is clear, boys: that’s what happens to you if you let the real powerful magic get into the hands of women.
In fact Merlin is almost being replaced as the number one wizard by Gandalf, whose magic is more suggested than apparent. I’d also like to bring in at this point a third wizard, of whom most of you must have heard – Ged, the wizard of Earthsea. I do this because Ursula Le Guin’s books give us a very well thought-out, and typical, magic world. I’d suggest that they worked because they plugged so neatly into our group image of how magic is ordered. They serve to point up some of the similarities in our wizards.
They’re all bachelors, and sexually continent. In this fantasy is in agreement with some of the standard works on magic, which make it clear that a good wizard doesn’t get his end away. (Funny, because there’s no such prohibition on witches; they can be at it like knives the whole time and it doesn’t affect their magic at all.) Wizards tend to exist in Orders, or hierarchies, and certainly the Island of Gont reminds me of nothing so much as a medieval European university, or maybe a monastery. There don’t seem to be many women around the University, although I suppose someone cleans the lavatories. There are indeed some female practitioners of magic around Earthsea, but if they are not actually evil then they are either misguided or treated by Ged in the same way that a Harley Street obstetrician treats a local midwife.
Can you imagine a girl trying to get a place at the University of Gont? Or I can put it another way – can you imagine a female Gandalf?
Of course I hardly need mention the true fairytale witches, as malevolent a bunch of crones as you could imagine. It was probably living in those gingerbread cottages. No wonder witches were always portrayed as toothless – it was living in a 90,000 calorie house that did it. You’d hear a noise in the night and it’d be the local kids, eating the doorknob. According to my eight-year-old daughter’s book onWizards, a nicely-illustrated little paperback available at any good bookshop, “wizards undid the harm caused by evil witches”. There it is again, the recurrent message: female magic is cheap and nasty.
But why is all this? Is there anything in the real world that is reflected in fantasy?
The curious thing is that the Western world at least has no very great magical tradition. You can look in vain for any genuine wizards, or for witches for that matter. I know a large number of people who think of themselves as witches, pagans or magicians, and the more realistic of them will admit that while they like to think that they are following a tradition laid down in the well-known Dawn of Time they really picked it all up from books and, yes, fantasy stories. I have come to believe that fantasy fiction in all its forms has no basis in anything in the real world. I believe that witches and witches get their ideas from their reading matter or, before that, from folklore. Fiction invents reality.
In Western Europe, certainly, wizards are few and far between. I have been able to turn up a dozen or so, who with the 20-20 hindsight of history look like either conmen or conjurers. Druids almost fit the bill, but Druids were a few lines by Julius Caesar until they were reinvented a couple of hundred years ago. All this business with the white robes and the sickles and the oneness with nature is wishful thinking. It’s significant, though. Caesar portrayed them as vicious priests of a religion based on human sacrifice, and gory to the elbows. But the PR of history has nevertheless turned them into mystical shamans, unless I mean shaman; men of peace, brewers of magic potions.
Despite the claim that nine million people were executed for witchcraft in Europe in the three centuries from 1400 – this turns up a lot in books of popular occultism and I can only say it is probably as reliable as everything else they contain – it is hard to find genuine evidence of a widespread witchcraft cult. I know a number of people who call themselves witches. No, they are witches – why should I disbelieve them? Their religion strikes me as woolly but well-meaning and at the very least harmless. Modern witchcraft is the Friends of the Earth at prayer. If it has any root at all they lie in the works of a former Colonial civil servant and pioneer naturist called Gerald Gardiner, but I suggest that its is really based in a mishmash of herbalism, Sixties undirected occultism, and The Lord of the Rings.
But I must accept that people called witches have existed. In a sense they have been created by folklore, by what I call the Flying Saucer process – you know, someone sees something they can’t or won’t explain in the sky, is aware that there is a popular history of sightings of flying saucers, so decides that what he has seen is a flying saucer, and pretty soon that “sighting” adds another few flakes to the great snowball of saucerology. In the same way, the peasant knows that witches are ugly old women who live by themselves because the folklore says so, so the local crone must be a witch. Soon everyone locally KNOWS that there is a witch in the next valley, various tricks of fate are laid at her door, and so the great myth chugs on.
One may look in vain for similar widespread evidence of wizards. In addition to the double handful of doubtful practitioners mentioned above, half of whom are more readily identifiable as alchemists or windbags, all I could come up with was some vaguely Masonic cults, like the Horseman’s Word in East Anglia. Not much for Gandalf in there.
Now you can take the view that of course this is the case, because if there is a dirty end of the stick then women will get it. Anything done by women is automatically downgraded. This is the view widely held – well, widely held by my wife every since she started going to consciousness-raising group meetings – who tells me it’s ridiculous to speculate on the topic because the answer is so obvious. Magic, according to this theory, is something that only men can be really good at, and therefore any attempt by women to trespass on the sacred turf must be rigorously stamped out. Women are regarded by men as the second sex, and their magic is therefore automatically inferior. There’s also a lot of stuff about man’s natural fear of a woman with power; witches were poor women seeking one of the few routes to power open to them, and men fought back with torture, fire and ridicule.
I’d like to know that this is all it really is. But the fact is that the consensus fantasy universe has picked up the idea and maintains it. I incline to a different view, if only to keep the argument going, that the whole thing is a lot more metaphorical than that. The sex of the magic practitioner doesn’t really enter into it. The classical wizard, I suggest, represents the ideal of magic – everything that we hope we would be, if we had the power. The classical witch, on the other hand, with her often malevolent interest in the small beer of human affairs, is everything we fear only too well that we would in fact become.
Oh well, it won’t win me a PhD. I suspect that via the insidious medium of picture books for children the wizards will continue to practice their high magic and the witches will perform their evil, bad-tempered spells. It’s going to be a long time before there’s room for equal rites.
Speech at Novacon 15, 1985
November 29, 2016
Black magic operates most effectively in preconscious, marginal areas. Causal curses are the most effective. If someone has reason to expect a psychic attack, an excellent move is to make oneself as visible as possible to the person or persons from whom the attack is anticipated, since conscious attacks on a target that engages one’s attention are rarely effective and frequently backfire.
William S. Burroughs
The Western Lands
November 25, 2016
SUNDAY: (ruled by the sun) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving banishing evil, exorcism, healing and prosperity. Colours: orange, white, yellow.
MONDAY: (ruled by the moon) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving purification, protection, peace, the goddess, female fertility, messages, reconciliation, theft and voyages. Colours: silver, white, grey.
TUESDAY: (ruled by mars) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving courage, energy, physical strength, stimulation, banishing negativity, revenge, military honour, courage, surgery and the breaking of negative spells. Colours: red, orange.
WEDNESDAY: (ruled by mercury) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving communication, divination, writing, knowledge, wisdom, study and business transactions. Colours: yellow, grey, purple, and all opalescent hues.
THURSDAY: (ruled by Jupiter) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving luck, wealth, happiness, health, legal matters, male fertility, healing animals and agriculture. Colours: blue, brown.
FRIDAY: (ruled by Venus) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving love, romance, beauty, sex, marriage, friendships and partnerships. Colours: pink.
SATURDAY: (ruled by Saturn) is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving spirit communication, meditation, psychic attack or defence, locating lost things or missing persons and change. Colours: black, blue, grey, purple. Incense: black poppy seeds, myrrh.
It is also EXTREMLY important that magick spells and rituals be performed during the correct lunar phase. A “rule of thumb” to remember regarding moon phases is if your working is tailored towards receiving or gaining something, perform your spell during a waxing or full moon – if you wish to rid yourself of something, perform your spell during the waning moon – for new beginnings, the new moon phase is best.
* NEW MOON (begins on the day of the new moon to three-and-a-half days after). Use the energy of the new moon for new ventures and new beginnings. Also use the new moon for love spells, job hunting, and healing.
*A WAXING MOON (seven to fourteen days after the new moon) is the proper time to perform positive magick such as love spells, magick for wealth and success, courage, friendship, luck or good health.
*A FULL MOON increases extrasensory perception and is the proper time to perform lunar Goddess invocations, fertility rituals and spells that increase psychic abilities and prophetic dreams. Any spellwork that requires extra energy, such as finding a new job or healing serious conditions, is best begun during the full moon.
*A WANING MOON (three-and-a-half to ten-and-a-half days after the full moon) is the proper time to perform destructive magick, negative incantations, and spells that remove curses, hexes, and jinxes, end bad relationships, reverse love spells, banish negativity, break bad habits, cure addictions and decrease fevers, pains and sickness.
November 22, 2016
Magical power is sexual power. Crowley understood this. Parsons understood this. Bataille understood this. Or to be more accurate, Laylah knew this, Candy knew this, Laure knew this. Witchcraft sometimes seems to have forgotten it, along with the body, a trend that technology continues to exacerbate. For the return to the erotic we need a physical culture that our dancing bodies weave and chorus into life.
Witchcraft is inherently erotic, by which I mean it is a construct of shadow and light. Of historical elements and of our current experience, of truth and lie; as it always has been. Witchcraft is an art of glamours which demands that we explore and harness our full erotic potential and that of others. Witchcraft is neither a glossy magazine, nor a gender studies module, nor a particular aesthetic; though they may be paths towards it they are not to be mistaken for the thing in itself. Modern expressions of witchcraft that appear to value style over substance are better seen as part of a continuum of erotic expression, of the necessary poses demanded in a culture of surfaces. Witchcraft is a practice with attitude, not a practiced attitude. The erotic is witchcraft if it not only attracts power, or the gaze, but if it is able to harness that power for its own ends. We are not here to please, or to be measured in likes.
Though it is often, and somewhat smugly, pointed out that the brain is the most important sexual organ to stimulate, that misses the fact that the brain is a direct evolutionary result of our need to process movement. We are not a series of selfies but bodies in motion. We are not a brain in a control tower whose interaction with the world is only done with our thumbs. The body awaits our rediscovery of it, for ours is a naked art, garbed only in the shadows we artfully cast and the masks that demand to be danced.
Touch marks and transforms us. It is the most eroded of the senses and the most necessary to our psychological health. Touch is a condition of all sentient life, the loss of tactility is death, and as Aristotle observed, thought itself depends upon tactility.
Though we deal with the intangible, touch is something we should be developing in the creation of a series of exercises to extend the range of our senses. It is not surprising that the blindfold is one of the key technologies of both initiation and sexual play. Leading and being led, hunter and hunted are the ways in which we extend our sensitivity across the country of skin.
Forging the body of the Witch
(Lecture given at the Occult Conference in London, England, 18th June 2016)