grievous pill

Stefan Strumbel Mask By Stefan Strumbel (Stefan Strumbel) [CC 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.


The Leo-Aquarius axis in New Aeon Magick

the magick mirror of Yesod

German mirror - Metropolitan Museum of Art

I think this should tie up the loose ends of the recent series of posts and videos on magick, Qabalah and occult Satanism*.

I have always (as in going back almost 40 years) found the sephira of Yesod both fascinating and key.

It is the sphere of The Moon on the tree of life, and the most visual, tactile part of the astral plane, shifting and reforming, where one thing becomes another, and time is different, and whose flux maintains the stability of the world we see with our senses. Change in stability, stability in change. It is also a sphere much associated with sexuality and deep, atavistic desires. It appears to me as a kind of magick mirror, in which we can glimpse the signs of our True Will, our deepest desire, for thelema translates to a term closer to desire than to our mental sense of “will”.

This is also our first gate into the subconscious, and the area where magick most essentially happens.


Back in either the very late 70s or very early 80s I would look at Eliphas Levi’s illustration of the Sabbatic Goat as Baphomet, the well known androgynous figure.


Levi says of the goat figure:

he makes the sign of occultism with both hands,
pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and down-
ward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses
the perfect harmony of mercy with justice

Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual

Now though the directions of the Moons seem the wrong way round for the Northern Hemisphere, I took it that constructive Chesed would be associated with the waxing Moon, while martial Gevurah would be associated with the waning Moon. Where then would the Full Moon be? The obvious answer seems to be Yesod, which is primarily associated with the Moon, while the gateway to the astral is said to be open at the time of the Full Moon.

Though no mention is made of it in Levi’s chapter, it then left it open to me as to where the New Moon would be placed. Associated with what? The answer that came to me was that the New Moon (the dark of the Moon) would be associated with a place in the Abyss, with the sephira “which is not”, ie Da’ath. The eleventh sephira, “Knowledge”, eleven being the number of magick.


In fact, come to think of it, the way Levi describes Baphomet, Chesed is to his right (our left), and Gevurah is to his left. This is the opposite of the placements we would see if Baphomet were in front of the Tree of Life (or if we ourselves were performing a qabalistic cross for instance). Likewise the waxing and waning Moons are shown in mirror image (given that Levi would probably have never seen a Moon waxing towards the right, as occurs in the Southern Hemisphere). So in this depiction Baphomet is actually sitting with its back to the Tree of Life, facing the other way (unless this is simply accidental).


In fact I followed this association of the New Moon and Da’ath in my practice back in the early 80s, and when doing my art work I would often find that inspiration for a painting or drawing would dramatically come through at the dark of the Moon. If the Full Moon funnels down the light of Tiphareth and Kether from the astral of Yesod, then the dark of the Moon opens a gate from Da’ath, to the new, the alien, the “infernal”, and the truly individual. You have to be without judgement to work with this, and it is ecstatic, creative and liberating, but it can also be taxing, so you do have to look after yourself.

As I pointed out in my video, the hexagram arrangement on the Tree of Life marks out polarities linked to the planets and sephiroth, and one of the polarities is between Da’ath and Yesod, and between Saturn and the Moon.


Given that it has often been said that it is the “astral light” that is being worked with to make magick, I think it makes sense that Saturn and Da’ath come through here as key agents in both the shaping and the disruption of the astral, to bring about magick.

Continuing with the theme of eleven, the number of magick, the eleventh sign of the Zodiac is Aquarius, originally ruled by Saturn. Atu No 11 of the tarot is “Strength” or “Lust” (in the Crowley deck), showing Babalon riding The Beast, and is the path connecting Chesed and Gevurah. This shows the conjoining of opposites (of whatever polarity) which is involved in magick.

The number 11 however does not seem to indicate a natural union (without any sense of value judgement attached to “natural”). The 11° OTO originally referred to the use of anal intercourse, and in Grant’s reworking involved (non-procreative) heterosexual vaginal union during menstruation. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus in modern astrology, and Uranus is famous for its capacity to powerfully deviate from the “norm”, whether in terms of genius, self-expression or atrocity.

On this point I am reminded of a question which posed itself to me a few years ago. When looking at the wheel of the zodiac we can see that it divides in two between a broad Summer and Winter (which swap over in the Southern Hemisphere).


Summer starts with a sign ruled by Venus, progresses through Mercury to a union of the Moon and Sun at the heart of Summer, before leaving via a Mercury and then a Venus ruled sign.

We then enter Winter through a Mars ruled sign, travelling through a Jupiter sign, before we get to the combination at the heart of Winter; two Saturn ruled signs. We then exit Winter in reverse order, through Jupiter and Mars.

I always wondered, what was the union of Saturns? In one sense I think it is a union across worlds (or universes). In fact the “unnatural union” requires this, for it is a union of sames (Saturn-Saturn) whose polarity must involve another dimension. So there is a trans-dimensional quality to this magick. In fact, this is spirituality in the raw. The congress of and with spirit.

The two signs involved are Capricorn and Aquarius, the 10th and 11th signs. 10 + 11 = 21. The 21st Atu of the tarot is The World (or The Universe), the card of success and fulfilment, ruled by Saturn (again). It is the path that links Yesod to Malkuth (the material).

Here I believe we do see a formula of magick, mapped out in the Qabalah and the zodiac. Yesod is the magick mirror, capable (necessarily) of reflecting both the repetition of the natural and the incursion of the supernatural. It is a mirror that we can tilt towards this world or the other.

Saturn is the key planet, and Da’ath the key sephira, but of course there is a lot more to life than this, and plenty to enjoy and work with in the realm of Nature. For some of us though, other kinds of work also seem to be pushed upon us.

Some blessings are strange indeed, and some strangenesses a blessing.

Love, and do what thou wilt.


* and this post

Light, dark, crowns and reversals

Coronadolores By Cofradía de Ntro. Padre Jesús Nazareno (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons - digitally altered

I’ve been finding it good to do videos at the moment, having found a nice way of recording them on my phone while pacing around the flat, which makes the flow and spontaneity work for me. I’ve been focusing on Spiritual (Theistic) Satanism, and things like Qabalah, and it has been a relief to be able to just focus on the kind of Satanism that speaks to me, without qualifying it with an attempt to (not mis-) represent Satanism more broadly. In fact, since really embracing the sense of Satan as a being, things have really slotted into place, and I’ve come that much closer to finding the next steps of my path. In some ways this was inevitable for me, as I am a polytheist and occultist, and the spiritual (rather than the materialism of more purely LaVeyan inspired Satanism) was bound to play a large part for me.

My last video was more of a video diary entry, and in it I was musing on the meanings of “dark” and “light” which people refer to.

One of my problems with neopaganism was its prosaic use of what were meant to be significant insights. We were told often of how monotheism “demonized” the dark and exulted a sense of the “light”, and how Pagan religions, being far more “natural”, accepted the different parts of life, the dark and the light, the painful and the blissful. We were given the sense of dark and light being a polarity of Nature, embraced by naturalism. Night and day, Summer and Winter, sunrise and sunset, birth and death. But there’s a catch here.

Is all that we have to consider really natural? Are we really accepting suffering equally with happiness (and should we)? Are we, in all our apparent aberrations as human beings, not also Nature? And when you have gone through the cycle of accepting day and night, birth and death (speaking as an ex-nurse, I have never got used to death), with that panacea of “reincarnation” as the supposed solution – have you really done the dark? Even if we talk about “facing the shadow” psychologically, what do we really mean? And what of “evil”, that ultimate emotive term of condemnation? I have no doubt that none of this is as the monotheists claim. But is it really so easy, so clean, so tamable?

As you might guess, my answer is “I don’t think so”. It’s good as far as it goes, but it only really goes as far as the insights of secularism and a tolerant common sense, which is fine, but not profound.

If you want to enter into a spiritual understanding of existence, then the darkness you deal with can’t just be “psychological” or symbolic, and can’t just be natural. And beyond a certain point, neither can magick. My critique here is not of the “Paganism” of old, which while it may be only partly known to us, dealt in grittier, dodgier stuff. It’s more modern, mainstream Paganism that I think hasn’t got it. The monotheisms, while I am opposed to them on pretty fundamental grounds, at least know something is there, and have the guts to call it “evil”, even if they don’t understand it, or its place in self-actualisation, and are antagonistic to the latter.

At some point we have to deal with the alien, the monstrous, that which doesn’t even belong to this Universe, which cannot for that matter be said to either exist nor not exist. This brilliant, lawless darkness we glimpse through the cracks, the points inbetween, and in so doing breathe a freedom we have never known before, an original creativity which lies also at the heart of ourselves. At that point, all bets are off. It is neither evil nor good, but ecstatic, yet in the absence of goodness will always be rationally and conventionally viewed as “evil”.  This freedom is part of what I see as being at the heart of both Satanism and Thelema.

The Left Hand Path has different goals to the Right. It is not “one of the infinite paths up the mountain”. This is no holism or universalism.

The Right Hand Path would have us ascend the Tree of Life, and merge ultimately in egoless union with The One. At least I believe that is the general picture. At the top of that tree (qabalistically) is Kether, The Crown. I don’t see any point in this, the coming here, only to go back, not even to a heaven, but blissful extinction in the unity we were meant to have come from, and should necessarily still be a part of already. So the Left Hand Path (in my view) takes another crown for its system, the sphere of Da’ath (knowledge, I think as gnosis), the gateway in the abyss, to other Universes, to the reverse of the Tree of Life.

Here we have the mystery of time and space, multiple alternate realities, and the labyrinthine, lustrous, black mother of pearl of the tunnels of being. And here the lawless creativity and gratification, the Sabbat of the dark of the Moon, the New, the brilliant, the free.

Here poetry, art, criminality (inevitably though not necessarily), and the savage desire that fires genius and the crackling, reckless impulse of science.

Here a figure dances and glitters between dark and light. An illicit Mercurius; magician, trader, thief, demon.

The fruit of Saturn, and Pan and our deepest dreams.

The new flesh.


the little genius with teeth, claws and a desirous heart

Coming back to a painting I posted about here, just a little more on what I see it representing now.

IMG_0029 I was always touched by the image, the protectiveness of the demon, the trust of the little child.

I see this now as an image of the inner demon in a person, the divine, individual spark that can grow and flourish, pictured as a baby, black as night but etched in light, the hidden god.

The baby is held by a demon because it is itself a demon in potential, and because it is guarded by the discarded, the disregarded and the reviled within us, and because this very area, wild and beyond judgement, is what “looks after” our potential, while we are finding the way through life, and won’t let us quite forget our true nature.

For a similar reason, this scene is in the desert, the place of barrenness, loneliness and the harsh extremes of nature, clear and crisp and immense.

The Moon is waning, because the waning Moon has always seemed like an old friend to me, and as it wanes it accompanies those who greet it deeper and deeper into the night, at the most solitary and secret times, until it is itself a sliver of silver heralding the dawn.

On the horizon there is a glow, as of an intimation of first light, but the phase of the Moon makes this impossible, for dawn would be a long way off with the Moon in this position. This is not the light of day, but an unnatural light, and a reminder that magick is never only natural. Against Nature also has its place in magick, and self-realisation.

Little demon, hidden self.