intention, will and True Will

Magic wand, hippopotamus ivory, Metropolitan Museum of Art, public domain via Wikimedia Commons - digitally enhanced

The term “will” can be quite opaque for people, due to the general use of the word, which conjures up images of stony faced determination, with an expression reminiscent of the battle with constipation. In a magical sense this is not very helpful.

I think it helps to go back to the idea of intention. 

Intention is that subtle turning point within a person where decision is made, and where resting in that decision with quiet resolution (in the sense of any conflict resolved at this level), we head toward the object of our intention. But intention is somewhat timeless in its peace, and for that reason is actually more key to magic than will.

However, due to that very subtlety and timelessness, intention has a passive quality which is immensely powerful in its essential being, but does not directly belong to the world of action. For this reason, we can become nonplussed in the face of resistance.

Will is the capacity to act decisively against resistance, informed by intention (and this is where we lose the constipated look). In this sense it is more like the conventional concept of power (capacity to do work), even in the sense of physics. We need will to deal with life effectively, but we most essentially need intention to make it magickal, to make it “true”.

True Will is something else again.

True Will exists in those areas we term subconscious and unconscious, as thelema refers to something nearer to deep desire (which is why Austin Osman Spare used the term inherent dream). This doesn’t preclude the conscious realisation of our True Will (which is our real work thelemically), but it explains why the discovery of the True Will is such a magickal and creative thing, and why we need to explore our desires and deeper nature. This is also why “Do What Thou Wilt shall be then whole of the Law” is not just about doing what you consciously want, but about finding what you truly desire and dream of, and living with true intention, taking action (or inaction) on that basis, in the world where we do work.

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the biggest little planet in the world

Wolves and Roses

I write today about that Reno Nevada of astrology, Mars.

Of all the personal planets, I think Mars is the most underestimated, and that is because we would only come to understand it in a post-Copernican world, and moreover in a post-Plutonic world, and in fact I do not believe it can be understood without a modern understanding of our solar system, and of the role of Pluto.

With the former came the understanding that Mars is the first planet beyond the Earth. It is the first planet that looks outward, towards the first ring-pass-not of the asteroid belt, that mini me of the Kuiper Belt that is proving to be so fruitful for astrologers.

Mars is more than just a personal planet, it is the first unadulterated intrusion of the transpersonal into common human experience. That is why it was traditionally so associated with trouble.

In addition to all…

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In what ways are we Pagans?

Pan by Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The important thing in a religion or spirituality is, well spirituality. The official criteria are really insignificant compared to the sincere personal reality of the adherent, and their relationship with their religion, faith or practice. I agree with RJ Womack’s assertion that Satanism is essentially a form of Paganism, and I’m going to try to explain why.

Needless to say this is my view and experience of my spirituality, which is developing for me all the time. I have always been most interested in personal religion. It’s that which gave stability and integrity, and the preservation of value. In that sense I am quite religiously conservative, but unconventional. I am a secularist because it both ensures religious freedom (and freedom from any single religion), and protects spirituality from the contamination of politics. But to embark on the subject of this post:

I feel we are most essentially polytheists or spiritists, as Spiritual Satanists. We generally have a profound interest in spirits, gods, demons, otherworldly entities, the supernatural, magick, and making contact with these things.

We generally have a love for Nature, its forces, beauty, majesty and power. I think Satanists also have an appreciation of the capacity to go against Nature, against the apparent natural order, and understand that this is itself a part of Nature. But we love it and try to learn from it.

Satanists generally have a real (though unsentimental) admiration for animals, often seeing them as embodying a wisdom and dignity which we can learn from.

The romance of the “Witches’ Sabbat” and of Witchcraft has been key to the revival of modern Paganism. There is really no question that the imaginal leader of the Sabbat, whatever his possible names and ancestry, was The Devil himself for the people at large.

Similarly the god Pan became a key focus of the Pagan revival in the early 20th century. That Pan’s form was also ascribed to The Devil was I think no coincidence. In The Devil the Old Gods returned, for in The Devil and his world, they had never left.

Aleister Crowley did a great deal to bring occultism into the 20th century and beyond, and he took one of his missions to be assisting the return of Paganism. If you take a look at the “Charge of The Goddess” of Wicca, Crowley’s influence is quite clear. Just compare the language of the “Star Goddess” section with chapter 1 of The Book of The Law. Crowley said he received this text from a being called Aiwaz, and it eventually came to define his life’s work. He identified Aiwaz with Satan and Set, the Devil. So according to the man who shaped it, The Charge of The Goddess is at least partly authored or inspired by The Devil.

I feel it is also quite clear that Thelema had a great influence on Anton LaVey and his philosophy, which certainly did not start out as atheistic or anti-supernatural. So the modern popularisation of Satanism has I feel got genuinely occult roots, which are themselves both Pagan and Satanic, prior to the creation of The Church of Satan.

As with many Pagan spiritualities, we draw on direct experience, Nature, supernatural beings, magick, poetry and art. We are not a “religion of the book”, but part of the perennial search for mystery and meaning, undimmed by monotheism and modernity.

To Spiritual Satanists

Château du Diable, Puymoyen, France - by Jack ma (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Well here I am, sat in bed with my dog curled up beside me, warm and peaceful, and I have to say it feels pretty idyllic. In a little under a month it will be Walpurgis Night, one of the great Satanic and witchcraft sabbats. In May Uranus will move into the sign of Taurus the bull, which will be a change in the energies. Uranus the magician, the rebel, the “deviant angel”, and Taurus the fecund, the stable, the earthy. Quite a change from the pioneering but volatile fire of Aries. Maybe a welcome change.

It is my hope that sincere Spiritual Satanists will lay down deep roots in this time, flourish quietly and grow in their fellowship and care of each other. We’ve seen a lot of activity and enthusiasm from atheistic Satanists on the internet, and in their activism, and the energy of the last eight years favoured that. Good for them. But the fuel for that is about to become more scarce, and the limitations of materialism will become apparent. Spiritual desire and the quest for the spiritual will prove more long lasting though, and I believe that the energies coming into play will aid that. We are an earthy folk, but much concerned with the unseen and the mysterious, and the unique. We can recognise and provide the Scorpio to compliment the sign that Uranus is about to move into.  We love Taurus’ natural sense of pleasure and enjoyment, Uranus loves Scorpio’s piercing depth and mystery.

Taurus is about values, foundations, stability, work, patience, endurance, instinctive well being. Feel it in your belly. Touch it, eat it, hug it, smell it, rest on it, make love together with it. It’s what you really have in a fundamental sense. Uranus is the crackling energy of magick and of the self. It’s not an obvious combination, but then the connections between worlds aren’t obvious. It requires spirituality, and beings from the spirit world to augment our limitations. I believe it always has.

But now I’m rambling on about astrology too much. I just have a sense that in this coming year Spiritual Satanists can do real work, and do so fruitfully.

Morning

I’ve been through a lot of trials in the last two years, and what I have found is that Satanism has acted as a religion for me. It provided strength, clarity, comfort, stability, fellowship, and influences that helped me return to firm foundations. This is something that a philosophy or a life style on its own is poorly equipped to do. Life style is a fair weather friend, and philosophy is excellent for the mind, but neither of these things comprehend the circumstance of lived experience for ordinary people. And in those circumstances we are all ordinary people, like any other. But the life of the Spirits is involved in everything, from the most common to the most rare.

Generally we are a diaspora rather than an actual community as Satanists, and Spiritual Satanists are a minority within a minority, though I have no doubt that there are far more people than we generally know of. I personally think we have the greatest natural kinship with Heathenry, Voodoo, and Typhonian Thelema. Compared to inner realities, what you are called is really not the point, though I am a Satanist as it happens, and I feel a pride in that. The conventional world (and this includes the internet, media and politics) broadcasts loudly and dominates the fractious mind, but this is not the life of the Spirits, nor of deep Nature, or our own deep nature. And this is not the life of ordinary people, who have always had to live in this world as it really is.

Don’t worry about the conventional world and its chatter. Live your life for yourself and your loved ones, and happily. Do your real work, simply because it is right for you.

grievous pill

Stefan Strumbel Mask By Stefan Strumbel (Stefan Strumbel) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons - cropped and digitally distorted

If you think that sex and sexuality can be something spiritual, then what does it say that something so entwined with carnality, desire, bodily separateness and its transcendence, is spiritual?

I ask this question because there can be a wishful assumption that making sex spiritual will make it nicer, more fulfilling, super ecstatic but ever so clean. All the “good bits” of sex and eastern mysticism, with any shadow of this world’s limitations banished. In fact, people in neopagan and New Age circles often seem to think that viewing this world as other than an essentially beneficent Eden (before the horrible men on horses came) is a “patriarchal” slur. But I do beg to differ.

The material world, incarnation and Nature may be beautiful, wondrous and mysterious, but it also has limitations for us. It is hard. Both it and spirituality involve suffering as well as joy. Magick is one of the most flexible and experiential forms of spirituality, and we do not shy from enjoyment and pleasure, nor from the supernatural, or the individual creative will. But we all know there are limitations and hard lessons, failures that also serve, sometimes the most potently of all. Life is an unresolved equation to us who travel and seek what is in our hearts.

I think it should be clear that sex with a spiritual dimension would involve greater challenges than simple carnality does. More work, more growth, more forbearance, and a greater chance of suffering. No free lunch. No cake kept and eaten.

That sense of entitlement to a great new dispensation of “all you can eat” nirvana was a particular hubris of parts of the hippie generation, and you can see some of the same delusion, in a different field, passed on to identity politics with disastrous effects. Confusing material reality and Nature with political “oppression”. It’s a blight which can give rise to neither freedom nor happiness.

But to return to the subject of sexuality, there are different ways to approach the sacredness of sex and relationship. One is through marriage, and it is a fine one, with recognised trials, and plenty of time and life to temper youthful ideals into what is actually there. Great props to marriage in my view. But the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s was pretty dismissive of marriage and its fetters.

Another approach sought the transformative power of sex and sexuality, and considered this in some ways allied to the idea of “tantra”, with the subtext that we could make all of life spiritual, and have the greatest sex ever, heaven on Earth, preferably with a “soul mate”, and though we’d have things to “work out”, it was the promise of happy ever after*. This sometimes got combined with the idea that we should be “returning to the garden”, that Nature and the World was a blessed place (contrary to Christian ideas of it being “fallen”), and that we could be freed of this mistaken idea of past generations. Free eco-love with the fruits of meditation, and it could all be really cool.

But of course it can’t be. Such an approach is an avoidance of both spirituality and the nature of sex and relationship. It is an avoidance of the material world we live in, and the deeper forces of the soul. It asserts that Nature is other than itself, is beneficent and convenient, and that what stands in the way of fulfilment is man-made teaching and organisation, when what stands in some of the way is just reality. Certainly things like religious teachings have contributed to unnecessary suffering and need to be dispensed with, but Nature is not just beneficent, and certainly not convenient, and things of value are not easy or free.

There is absolutely no doubt that sex and sexuality do constitute a powerfully transformative force, and one which we need to face, for it is so bound up with our deeper natures, and those parts of us that are found in what we term “the unconscious”. I believe that these areas are key to understanding the Thelemic True Will, or what Austin Osman Spare called “the inherent dream”. But never forget that the substance we transform is a poison, and some of the most wondrous and potent aspects of life lie in areas we consider horrific and painful at one time or another. Note here that I say it is a force we need to face, not use. This is deeper than our conscious identity, and in the face of this we need humility. If there is any area that seems to have a respect for it in modern life, I suspect it is in BDSM.

Even if you are not a Satanist,  it is demons that will hold the keys to those things you have lost and seek to reunite with.

The enemy of love is not hate, but the counterfeit of love.


 

* in fact such ambitions are not part of traditional tantra.

Shaking the cocktail

one of my "crucifixes" - ebay is the best bet for these

I’m not interested in politics. I’m not interested in materialism. The world of the spirit is primary for me. I’m not an atheist, and am quite underwhelmed by modern atheism. I’m not in the least interested in the so-called “God” of Christians and Muslims. Moralism is a disease. Collectivism a cowardice and failure of nerve. I don’t believe all religions are leading to the same goal, and we’re all going up the mountain by different routes. “Interfaith” is puréed pre-modern politics.

I’ve developed a little collection of inverted crucifixes and crosses, and have taken up making rosaries and necklaces for other Satanists. I really like inverted crucifixes, I find them beautiful, and their aesthetic I find most beautiful upside-down. People will often wonder if someone like me is a “reverse Christian”, and while it doesn’t bother me, the answer is in some ways both yes and no.

In moral form, no, nothing as predictable. But in spiritual essence and direction, yes in a sense. You see I consider monotheism to be a block on spirituality, and in some real senses antispiritual. So the spiritual assumptions and goals of Christianity are certainly reversed out in many cases, or side-stepped as a falsity, though the results of this would probably surprise some people.

Nevertheless, Christianity itself being a kind of inverted Paganism (I know that’s a sloppy statement considering the vagueness of the term ” Pagan”, but there is something to it), it does have content of rich form, even if a bit backwards and upside-down. That is maybe why figures such as Babalon and The Beast are so potent. Christianity has led to two things spiritually: atheism, and the delivery of antique goods, pre-Christian entities freed from their stories, made lean and modern by the journey. The Occident Express has more than reached its destination.

So am I opposed to Christianity spiritually? Well of course I am.