“New Aeon” Sexism. Meet the New Boss. Same as The Old Boss. How do we deal with sexism in Thelemic groups and the New Aeon in general?
Si Vales, Valeo
Thank you for your kind mail. The irony is not lost on me that in old Aeon speak, the term “phallicism” was inclusive… a dual-gendered reference. It is in this new aeon that we see phallicism used as a reference to the actual male organ. Crowley, being who he was, did little to divorce people of that idea, and so I always wonder if it may have been done intentionally to separate the wheat from the chaff. A boy can dream.
Women can ALSO “get it up.” But as in all things involving sexual innuendo, it wasn’t hard to further sexualize a secret by the Beavis and Butthead types that poorly understood it only wishing to get laid, and whose caretakers made no effort to correct.
Woman gave us the Western Mystery Tradition. This is perfectly clear to anyone following the Adam and Eve fable with an understanding of Qabalah and sex magick. Without her, we would still be groping in the dark without any way of finding that lost Light or making our way back to the Garden. Through her is all power given. Women are the true initiators. Even Crowley realized this as he was making his way through the A.’.A.’. degrees. He didn’t seem to have fear of the Yoni. Why should we? If this is truly the Aeon of The Child, why do we insist of mixing the profanity of gender politics with the things we view as sacred and spiritually self-evident?
There can be no question that men and women are different biologically. Our brains are different. But in the past, women have been portrayed as incapable of doing it for themselves. Like they must be subjugated because they are incapable of strength, valor, intelligence or the ability to keep secrets.
Women today fight with men (and often perform better than men under the stress) in combat. We see extraordinary Will and resolve in the women of Kurdistan who are engaged in a battle for their very lives against an enemy that wishes to annihilate them. Alongside of the quickly diminishing male fighters, women as young as 15 years old pick up the weapons of their fallen fathers, husbands and brothers to create some semblance of security, a right to exist in their land. The fact is, that women have ALWAYS fought side-by-side with their families and countrymen. If anything is to be accomplished at all in this Aeon, we must learn to see ourselves in others. This includes men in women and visa versa. Different sides of the same coin. One body with two heads. And ultimately allow those to do what they do best: NOT based on gender, but ability.
Magicians learned a lot of nasty things from the Roman Church. One of the many tricks that were picked up on from 19th century Catholicism is the idea that controlling the sexual-impulse, or genetic imperative, could be used to manipulate and produce behavioral changes (even spiritual phenomena) in individuals too ignorant to question them. Crowley used that very same impulse and trick to liberate people from the chains of superstition and tyranny. His Liber XV works wonderfully well to reinterpret the myth of original sin and make it holy. He was brilliant.
Don’t you think we know more of human sexuality and development today than the Church or Crowley did in the 19th century? So many things have happened since then. Sexual liberation, birth control, the effects of orgasm on the brain, the differences between the male and female brain, just to name the easy ones. Furthermore, social engineering has changed the “mating ritual.” What men and women unconsciously seek in a partner has evolved with our societal values, and this also transcends gender. We can’t pretend that these changes have not occurred. We must take all this new data into consideration and develop or change our magical paradigms accordingly.
The resistance to recognize and employ the Divine Female in priestly roles reeks of old aeon stinking thinking, where the Priest is the boss-man, but the goddess is represented only in the chalice. Our Masonic Brothers are undergoing a slow and painful death of the ideals that have served us so well because of being unable or unwilling to include women in the Work. Sure, there is the Order of The Eastern Star, but that is more of a social club where women knit and cook for the men who are reportedly “doing the real work.”
Some Thelemic fraternities have taken one step forward in this area. In some places there is no problem with a woman assuming a male role for initiation because the role has more to do with Kundalini than an actual penis, but when it comes to Liber XV, that idea that one must posses a physical penis stinks of Leadbeater. In Roman Catholicism the chalice is stored underneath a statute of the Virgin in a copper box, modestly covered by a white cloth. In a way, the mere absence of the Divine Female in the Catholic Rite is an invocation. Nature abhors a vacuum and one is certainly created in their Mass for those with eyes to see. And if that is the case in new aeon Mystery Tradition Schools, then it would be a great justification if it could be shown to be metaphysically sound without distorting the integrity of the not-so-secret secret Crowley hoped to teach to congregants.
I dare say that unless these organizations can either explain the metaphysics of the ritual, or in some way justify the reason for male-only priest roles, that they will begin to see the same lull in membership as our Masonic Brothers are experiencing today. And if Liber XV is simply a historical curiosity, then say that. Because the ritual works, but not for the reason most Thelemites think it does.
My belief is that both men and women are the actual Key to magick. Without both of us this so-called phallicism is little more than a circle jerk. It is understandable, almost worthy of pity, in old aeon institutions, but intolerable in the New. Too many people (mostly men) like to keep things that way because the confuse phallicism with their penises rather than the life force (which is spent without effect without the Yoni). Admittedly, having sex is a lot easier than rising the Kundalini, and humans like to think they can find shortcuts to everything, even godhood. But if it was as easy as having sex, wouldn’t everyone be one with the Supreme Deity?
If one is going to wave Crowley’s banner, as if that were a magical act in itself, then at least be consistent. The unwavering devotion to all things old, and resistance to change EVEN in the face of new data is likely caused from some psychological complex stemming from the belief that Crowley must remain infallible in ones mind in order to be a model Thelemite. Here is a newsflash: Crowley was never perfect, and even went out of his way to celebrate his many flaws, recognizing them to be a part of his True Will. Crowley doesn’t have to be infallible like the Pope. He was a man of his time, just as we are men and women of ours. With any luck, future Thelemites will look back in admiration of our Work but will also have to strive to understand us through the social engineering we were subject to just as we must be mindful of Crowley’s. Saying metaphysics are timeless is like saying the universe neither contracts nor expands, and that people will never be any different than they are today or were before. Metaphysics and reality depend on our observations. They change, and we reinterpret data according to our new understanding. That is, in my mind, the Tao of Thelema.
Crowley’s contribution to the Work should be studied and applauded. And when it comes to Thelema Crowley certainly deserves the admiration like no one else. Where would we be without him? He is The Prophet after all. But understanding and recognizing change are different than just accepting something as true when it isn’t true anymore for the sake of tradition. We must march forward, understanding the brain, human sexuality, the nature of ethics, social anthropology and many other sciences that did not exist in the XIX century, OR in Crowley’s time. It is unwise and runs in opposition to the current that is Thelema to ignore the result of those studies.
Admittedly, evolution and revolution are slow, but consider how the pace in technical development has increased our ability to adapt to changes as we become aware of them. At the very least, men AND women Thelemites, (but especially men) should be at the forefront of this movement of raising women UP, just as she so elegantly does to man in Liber XV. We should be leading this march toward human evolution, and not clinging on to the robe of our guru like a child not wanting to return home after being at his grandpa-pa’s house.
I know I am not making any friends with much of what I have said. Some will say that I have, in so many words claimed that Liber XV is outdated for the New Aeon, and that perhaps the not-so-secret secret is also dated, by extension. But I have gone out of my way to call them that: Assumptions. Besides, New Aeon or old, Liber XV stands on its own as a beautiful ritual.
Please write again as you will.