ordeal, eroticism and integrity

Magick Pig

It’s quite often recognised that people belonging to sexual minorities of various kinds can go through ordeals and crises in coming into their deeper identity, accepting it, expressing it, and living as the person they are, especially if that identity is taboo.

I’m not so much interested in that kind of ordeal though, where it focuses on a particular kind of categorisation of sexuality, but on the more intensely personal journey that anyone can go through, moving deeply into their experience of the erotic and sexual for themselves; something as unique as one’s fingerprints, yet as archetypal as myth or types of gem stone as it sinks into the depths of being. Come to think of it, it’s also a different sense of identity, a genuine one, as it is so personal, and can’t in any way be politicised, or turned into a “group issue”. This is part of the…

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chastity and consummation

Magick Pig

Some words, phrases and ideas associated with sexuality are strongly charged with meaning. Chastity, chaste, promiscuous, sexually experienced (or available). Virgin, whore, husband. Master, slave.

It’s obvious why, but when it comes to sexuality the obvious often obscures its mystery, rather than revealing it. What we receive from culture and respectability about sexuality are like puzzle pieces, half in the world, and half in the subconscious world of dreams and deep desire.

Some people say that the word “virgin” in its original sense didn’t necessarily mean someone devoid of sexual experience, but a person complete and in possession of the authentic self, not ungiven, but undiminished in self-possession.

I don’t know how accurate this is historically, but I like the idea, and whether historically accurate or not, there is a valid subjective meaning to this interpretation. That a person can have sexual experience and yet not lose their inner innocence…

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saints, healers and beasts

I have written on this subject before, as well as about my limited experience of contributing to a certain kind of art.

I have great respect for porn, and for sex work, and sex workers. I view the latter as having a sacred function in a world that has trouble according Nature its due, and the former (potentially) as art that exists below as well as above the belt. And that’s probably why it is taboo, because we are all both vulnerable and blissful below the belt, and our society has a long standing stake in dividing our natures against themselves. That may be religious in origin, though its puritanism has been vigorously taken up by identity politics, or it may be an underpinning element of a wider authoritarian mind-set.

So I am very interested in the overlap between “pornography”, art and artistic creativity, and magick. I consider this to be a sacred form of art, one which certainly may not be achieved (or aimed for) in all porn, but it is implicit in the territory, just as a form of sacred service is implicit in the field of sex work.

We have a long way to go in living free lives as the human beings we are, though many people are bravely attempting to do so in their personal and private lives, while others are hoodwinked by politics into propping up more forms of division and fabrication. I thank anyone for honestly trying to be themselves at this deeper level of sexuality, being and relationship. Pornography and sex work are not ends in themselves (anymore than other forms of art or vocation are), but services towards the wholeness of life. Extrapolated to magickal spirituality this area has many resonances in our lives, beyond pornography, sex work, or indeed literal sex. This is some of what I was alluding to in my post on Babalon* also.

The real work is our being human.

painting2

landscape, person or art?

This post is dedicated to Freya, Babalon and Set.

* indeed Babalon might be one of the “saints” of the title of this post.

29th October 2016: post edited

this little piggie

Overnight I got a message from Tumblr that one of my posts had been taken down for a “content policy violation”.

The video you posted on Sep 26th, 2015 2:29 pm was removed for violating our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, which you can skim over at: https://www.tumblr.com/policy/community

Long policy short: We don’t allow sexually explicit videos to be uploaded to Tumblr.

Too many violations and you get banned.

This post was made on a blog I have on Tumblr (flagged by myself as having adult content) called “magickpig”. My description is shown as follows:

this is my “adult oriented” tumblr blog, where I can express my reverence for sexuality and the erotic. it will include some of my art work, plus other things – I think many things considered “pornographic” are a sacred and particularly intimate form of art, and I view desire, individuality and imagination with great respect. I also share some personal things here as an expression of my inner nature

It’s a blog which seeks to address the sacredness of the erotic, and its relationship to individuality and imagination, in a personal and poetic way.

I kept this blog password protected (thus private) for many months this Summer and Autumn, as I was feeling too vulnerable due to things I was going through. Thanks to the healing and growth I have been going through recently, I have considered making it public again, but am still holding back on that.

Here is the soundtrack to the video:

This morning the video was removed for being “sexually explicit”, despite showing no sexual act, or explicit depiction of sexual arousal. I rewrote the comment on the video as follows:

this video was taken down by Tumblr as being “sexually explicit”
I made it to be artistic, with a sound track I composed, and posted it back in 2015
it was made at the time to be modest self-revelation and poetry, art
you see my buttocks, my back, and my anus in close up
I am guessing the sight of my anus is “sexually explicit”
I’m quietly complimented

It’s funny when someone as shy and sexually unassuming as myself gets this kind of reaction to a modest piece of art.

Who knew an arse had such power?

4434f5f63b3a0994a4e8412d178a29ac

penn_state_university_pigs

Penn state university pigs by George Chriss (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 us (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

* 5th October 2016: post edited

scandal, tolerance and “rights”

Today I was watching a snippet of daytime TV with a friend, and the subject was a discussion of a “scandal” that had peeked out of the political establishment, of the old fashioned politicians and prostitutes type. I tend to find the reactions to these things puerile and moralistic, often deeply disingenuously so. It’s like virtue signalling, but made in the threadbare image of the Edwardian era.

In this case the politician was a “family man” who it has emerged had been consorting with male sex workers, and he’s now resigned.

The daytime TV program (Loose Women) had some varied opinions, the one I sympathised with most defending the politician on the basis that this really was not a public issue, and he had not acted hypocritically when measured by his stated positions on things like sex work, and we should just stop this kind of media circus. Others felt more critical, and one of the issues (aside from the public service angle), was the issue of the moral aspect of his “cheating” on his wife.

One person said she thought “in this day and age” people could be openly gay, and they should be able to live openly, and this kind of thing should not be happening. But I really think this misses the point of how far we have to go in bringing about real, meaningful freedom for people, not in terms of gay rights, or anything that can even be primarily tackled by the whole “militant” rights type of thinking, but in terms of how many people aren’t free to live as themselves openly. This man might not be gay, and sexuality is far more subtle and nuanced than ticking one of three boxes. He might specifically gain a certain kind of fulfilment from liaising with sex workers, as people have for thousands of years. He just isn’t the idea of a “family man” that people have. We don’t know, and it isn’t our business, and aside from maybe conjecturing that he and his wife might or might not have some communicating to do about their respective needs, no one knows, or should know, anything there either.

It really points out to me how our society has and hasn’t changed. Yes, we do have equal rights for gay people, and that is something to be proud of and grateful for. Honestly, we have it good. But there is a great deal else to question with compassion and openness, such as why not polyamory, validated sex work, alternative relationship forms, and a release from this whole thing of gay, straight or bisexual, stamped and sealed or else (get judged as something shady, confused or dishonest). This isn’t the stuff of politics,  it’s the stuff of hearts and minds. How much greater could we be, if we appreciated the real tapestry of human nature, sexual and otherwise?

What we need is a sexual humanism.

The Great American by Jasenlee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Great American by Jasenlee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Babalon

Everyone comes to their own understanding of spiritual principles. For me the place of love and sexuality in spirituality has always been a key question, and one which I knew had crucial answers.

Certain faces of “the feminine” are very important to me, in that they coincide with my deeper nature, and the meaning I carry within me. Thus they carry an intimate and very personal meaning for me.

To be a man who loves men is not always an easy circumstance, for it really has nothing to do with being “gay”, and to be all that you are, often without social guidance or validation, and find true relationship, can be a challenge. But life is miraculous, and if we are true to ourselves, we can be taught directly, and find our loves.

Babalon is a modern Thelemic goddess, based upon a positive interpretation of “The Whore of Babylon” of the Book of Revelation. I used to find parallels between her and the Hindu goddess Durga, but I find it better to look at her uniquely now. I would particularly like to focus on the “whore” or prostitute aspect, and its relationship to a certain kind of feminine individuation¹.

The Roman Venus was a patroness of many things, but amongst them were prostitutes and homosexual men. The link between homosexual men and prostitutes is really quite long and abiding, probably because we are both manifestations of the feminine (at some level) that goes beyond the “respectable” and socially acceptable, or at least beyond the procreative family. In both our cases there is something conventionally “missing” or mismatched, but on a deeper level there is also something that convention cannot provide. Also, we both tend to find our meaning in a form of service (I think that is a reasonable if inevitably non-comprehensive generalisation*).

When I say homosexual men, to be historically (and maybe psychically) valid, I mean men who primarily love and desire men in a devoted and receptive way, as there are many men who are able to have active sex with another man without being “homosexual” or “gay”, and who may want to for many reasons. This kind of homosexuality doesn’t necessarily have outward feminine characteristics though, it being a much deeper and instinctive orientation within someone who is male, and little to do with superficial appearances. These of course cannot be definitive generalisations. Our modern categories are just overly controlling and inaccurately labelling.

Love engages all of us. Body, heart, soul and spirit. This kind of love is a fire that brings us alive and burns down our constraints, transforms us, and offers us the chance of both ultimate fulfilment and complete destruction. You have to be courageous to take up such a challenge, such a risk, but to not do so is to never live.

In my own life Babalon is an exemplar, of how to live from my heart and soul. And of how to have the strength to truly love, even beyond need, and beyond calculated safety. This same great force leads people to love purely and with absolute “fidelity” (which can mean many things), and to the madness of obsession if our own needs and blocks are not burnt up for the sake of love. Only through this fire do we understand the nature of union, and how we love with our whole body and soul, following our true meaning, with those we are truly bonded and intimate with.

tattoo of Leilah Waddel, magician, musician and Scarlet Woman to Aleister Crowley - by Rosa Laguna

tattoo of Leilah Waddell, magician, musician and Scarlet Woman to Aleister Crowley – by Rosa Laguna

¹ meaning individuation along a feminine pattern of experience, whether for a woman or man.

* it is striking that homosexual men do tend to end up in service occupations, whether it is retail, health care, counselling, mediumship, therapies or sex work. I think this is in many cases an instinctive orientation, rather than that we are “better with people” etc.

21st August 2016: last paragraph edited “needs” to “needs and blocks”.

the chemistry of union

I have been saying for some time that I would do a follow up to the posts on Tammo de Jongh and Richard Gardner, and their work with the elements, so here it is.

If you’re new to this subject, you can find a bit of background here, here and here. What follows is a summary of information contained in the chapter on “sexuality” in The Future Will Be Green by Anelog (Tammo) and Brother Sebastien, with just a little of my own reflection. I will refer to Anelog as Tammo during the post, because though he was called Anelog towards the end of his life, most people searching for him will know him as “Tammo”.

Reading this chapter I am really reminded of Richard Gardner and his vision, expressed in books like the Purpose of Love or Evolution Through the Tarot. Tammo clearly did his own work and researches, but there are points in this chapter where Richard’s spark really shows through. I remember writing to Tammo in 1981, saying how much I was interested in transformation and bringing about mutations in consciousness, as per Richard’s ideas. He wrote back and told me that he was not interested in that. I think I can now (happily) see that was not entirely true. The reason I am choosing this chapter is that it has that spark so clearly, and deals with something that is also at the core of Richard’s teaching.

As I summarised in a previous post, Tammo’s scheme involved the ordering of the elements within a person, in terms of their relative strength, with the different positions working very differently to each other. So someone could be earth 1st, water 2nd, fire 3rd and air last, for instance. 1st element dominates the essential nature of a person. 2nd element is repressed and is a kind of shadow element (even though it is the 2nd strongest). 3rd element dominates the personality, and can easily become a relatively negative or superficial manifestation. 4th element is the one we reach fulfilment through, even though it is the weakest.

Tammo sees sexuality as being about an exchange of sexual energy, and one which can be miraculous in its effects:

“wonders happen where there is genuine love, expressed in a natural and spontaneous way as a true response”

Anelog/Sebastien The Future Will Be Green, 1996

Which sums up a great deal, and incidentally is pure Richard Gardner to my ears. What follows is a working out of the what and how of elementally magical relationship.

In Tammo’s scheme everyone is one of 24 types, based upon elemental orders and combinations (the above mentioned earth-water-fire-air order would be one of these 24).  The sexual relationship dynamics are strongly based upon polarity, but not the polarity of the biological sex of the people involved. It is a polarity of elements which is effective, not a polarity of genitals. Tammo here introduces two terms which encapsulate this polarity, while getting away from the idea of “men” and “women” (which is simply not relevant in itself). Depending on a person’s elemental ordering, they are either dard or voy. “Voy” we would think of as conventionally feminine in various respects, while “dard” we would think of as conventionally masculine, but we need to understand what we are describing by these terms, because they are not in actuality tied to a person’s biological sex. There are 12 dard types, and 12 voy types (making up the total of 24). What really determines a person’s nature is their last element, through which they gain fulfilment. If their last element is water or earth, they are voy. If their last element is fire or air, they are dard. The reason someone is dard  is not because they necessarily behave habitually in a “masculine” manner (they might or might not), it is because they gain their fulfilment through an element which is “masculine”. Similarly with someone who is voy. They may or may not behave habitually in a “feminine” manner (and there is a lot working against the expression of real femininity in our culture, especially for men), but their means of fulfilment lie in a “feminine” avenue of being. The terms “masculine” and “feminine” are of course misleading at the same time, because of conditioned association with one “sex” or the “other”, which is why using “dard”, “voy” and the elements is useful.

“each type has one of 12 essential natures which are the opposite of what he/she WANTS to be, once he/she becomes conscious of it. Everyone needs their ‘opposite’, the type they feel drawn towards – ‘opposite’ from an inner, psychic point of view – the kind of person they need for their inner growth and fulfilment”*

Ibid

 “From a psychic point of view therefore, sexual attraction exists between dard and voy types primarily and generally between types opposite to each other, irrespective of gender”

Ibid

Further:

“If people generally could become aware of the full potential of divine, receptive sexual intercourse they would be astounded at the power of love and the magic that would be released”

Ibid

I think many occultists would not be surprised by the valuation of sex and sexuality here, and most people who have held on to a sense of innocence and romance instinctively understand the gist of this, but in the cynical, airy society we live in, sex has been reduced to reproduction, power plays or a superficial sport or recreation. That isn’t what drives sex though. We only become aware of what drives sex when we are opened by love to the inward. It is only in that state of innocence and defencelessness that two people can truly experience sexual love, and its transformative potential. But to whatever extent we can come closer to understanding ourselves and our own deeper desires, accepting ourselves and others, and welcoming love into our lives, we benefit thereby and live more fully.

Tammo divides the 24 types into three groups with different sexual dynamics: Nomadic, Agricultural and Urban. These don’t necessarily reflect actual social or economic lifestyles in themselves, they are more associative and suggestive. For simplicity I will use the archetype names for the element combinations shown in the diagram below.

circle of the 12 channels of consciousness painted by Tammo de Jongh, from "The Purpose of Love" by Richard Gardner

circle of the 12 channels of consciousness painted by Tammo de Jongh, from “The Purpose of Love” by Richard Gardner

The Nomadic group contains people with earth-fire (Slave) and fire-earth (Warrior) as their essence or nature, and attracts their opposites with air-water (Patriarch) and water-air (Child) as their essence or nature, so they complement each other. This group is described as relating to “animal force” or vitality, which we benefit from by controlling. “We have the image of the herd led by the Patriarch, the stag” (Ibid). This group unconsciously reflects characteristics of nomadic tribal attitudes according to Tammo, and finds monogamy difficult.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are conquest and surrender, and domination and submission. The dynamic is one of aggressor-victim, or master-slave. But these have to be understood in the context of love, sexuality and permission of course.

The Agricultural group relates to the “vegetable force” or kingdom, and a way of life determined by coupling and pairing, rather than living in a group. It contains people with earth-water (Mother) and water-earth (Enchantress) as their essence, and attracts those with air-fire (Magician) and fire-air (Joker) as their essence, who also form part of this group. These elemental “channels” are associated with cultivation, production, crafts, settled communities, growth and change. These elemental combinations tend to lead settled lives and relate monogamously.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are penetration and absorption, and manipulation and sensitivity. These involve a “total compensation” between the “masculine” and the “feminine”, as one partner has entirely “feminine” elements in essence, while the other has entirely “masculine” elements in essence. This is probably the most hetero-normative of the groups by tendency, though that doesn’t mean that its members will necessarily be heterosexual.

The Urban group relates to the “mineral force” or kingdom (characterized by dependence upon minerals and fossil fuels interestingly), and is more individualistic, with its sexuality tending more towards masturbation and stimulation. It contains people with air-earth (Observer) and earth-air (Old Woman) combinations as their essence, and attracts people with water-fire (Actress) and fire-water (Fool) as their essence.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are observation and display, and abandon and restraint. The dynamic here is of the desire for independence, and freedom to break with restrictions.

You can just see people being horrified or embarrassed by all this, because we still live in a society that demonizes sex and sexuality, even as it tries to use it in a distorted fashion to sell products and manipulate people. Difficult as it is to credit, we still believe, somewhere inside us, that sex is both primarily for reproduction, and yet also dirty in itself. We think producing babies in an overpopulated world is sacred, but that love is somehow perverted.

“For many centuries the connection between our psyche, or soul, and our sexual nature – which may include desires paradoxically considered to be ‘unnatural’ – was ignored and the majority of people today would still be frightened of and hostile towards it”

Ibid

That really has to change.

***

How Does It work Out?

So we have people with different essential natures, who attract their “opposites” in an elemental sense, most crucially in terms of being dard and voy, and who can be grouped into a number of characteristic types. Remember though, we are not all equally self aware, and it is quite difficult for some types to be freely self aware in our present society. Some elements come to dominate our personality (notably the 3rd place element), but this will not lead us to our essential nature, or our way to fulfilment. My third element for instance is air, and I am superficially very airy, and sometimes that is what people latch onto. I write, I think a lot, I problem solve, I analyse, I think too much, I am too judgemental. And that is neither my essential self, which is far more earthy, nor my way to fulfilment, which is watery. If I identified with my 3rd element, and tried to relate from it, then I would probably be trying to act as a false dard, and it would not work, because I am actually a voy with water last. Similarly, if I sought out someone who say had a really fiery or airy personality (fire or air third), but who deep down needed to develop their earth or water, and where that fire was not part of their essence, it would not work, because they also would be a voy, and we would not fulfil each other.

I would not condemn or criticize anybody’s relationship where there is love, as love is always the teacher, not a theory, by Tammo or anyone else. But I think it is an uncomfortable truth that many miss their opportunity for deep happiness (when they aren’t denied it outright by our phobic and deluded society) through misunderstanding themselves, and the nature of real, deep, attraction. Most people know what it’s like to see someone and know, deep inside, that you have met your corresponding other, where the chemistry locks, and there is just no doubt of that chemistry. Relatively few people, unfortunately, believe in it with enough understanding, to know that “this is it”, when put in competition with credibility, ego, prejudice, cynicism, peer pressure, lifestyle, or past hurts. It’s a strange angel that helps us through this maze, but it does happen.

It seems that the things to watch out for negatively in this regard are:

 – relationships based on 3rd element, on superficial “personality” – because they will tend to be neurotic and unfulfilling

–  relationships between two voys or two dards, because these again do not provide the deep fulfilment that is sought in relationship

Tammo goes so far as to say that “the only valid relationships are in terms of the last elements”, meaning in terms of the kind of soul fulfilment we have been talking about. In terms of dard and voy, I understand where he is coming from. What I’m a little unclear on is how dogmatic he is meaning to be, in terms of which specific of the 24 types can fulfil which other types. I think the poetry of love can be surprisingly adaptable myself, but above all there needs to be chemistry.

To illustrate some of the dynamics, Tammo gives the following examples:

– the “Patriarch” (essentially air-water) who wants to rein in his/her fire third opposite (which also helps his/her opposite actualize their voy last element).

– the “Warrior” (essentially fire-earth) that wants to blow up the icy detachment of his/her air third opposite (and ditto).

– the “Fool” (essentially fire-water) who seeks to shock their air 3rd opposite and bring them to life.

– the “Observer” (essentially air-earth) who has to remain impassive and not react to their fire 3rd opposite, so that their voy nature can emerge.

Note here: if I am reading Tammo correctly, then when you reverse the order of the 3rd and 4th elements, you get an archetypal combination which is really important for the person’s fulfilment, and this seems to be something which is facilitated in these “live” relationships. So when you switch round the personal self (3rd and 4th elements) you get something very magical for the person. It seems as if this is where the weakest 4th element is able to flower into the fulfilment it can really become, while the superficially over-developed 3rd element is able to dissipate and retreat somewhat (along with its associated neurosis), and allow the deeper voy or dard nature to emerge spontaneously. A personality-based self characterized by the Patriarch (air-water) would give way to the Child (water-air) voy expression. A personal self characterized by the Slave would give way to the Warrior (fire-earth) dard expression. A personal self characterized by the Mother (earth-water) would give way to the Enchantress (water-earth) etc.

So you can see here, even really compatible people could have challenges, working with each other sincerely and with honest and deep feeling and regard, to overcome the dominance of personality, and give each other the support to bring out their element of fulfilment (the last element).

With respect to sexual emotions, desires and fantasies, Tammo says:

“If these are objective and true, such feelings must become an aid to discovering a deeper part of ourselves, apart from being helpful to those to whom we are attracted”.

Ibid

The price of not helping people through a soulful understanding of love and sex is immense, as it underlies so much of our dysfunction. As Tammo says, we all too often punish or leave vulnerable someone seeking out the fulfilment of consciousness through sex (whether it is through destructive laws, scandal, prejudice or other kinds of small mindedness), but we encourage the violent criminal expression of the same elemental forces, and with less of a sense of moral outrage (fire 3rd is a placement which according to Tammo can easily lead to criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, when it needn’t). But the basic elemental drives which we all experience are always open to the fulfilment they are actually seeking in love.

Tammo, like Richard Gardner, saw our problem as largely being due to what he termed fire consciousness, which (amongst other things) has reduced what sexual freedom we do have to a vision of frivolous license, unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease and statistics. What they both wanted was for us to embrace the poetic and romantic world of water consciousness, which would see sex through the eyes of imagination, intuition, deep feeling, symbol, and beauty, as it sees other parts of life also. Tammo felt that there was a brief flowering of Water consciousness in art, from the end of the 19th century until the First World War.

I think fire consciousness has given us a great deal; modern medicine, technology, modern freedoms, insight into all manner of things, but at a price, and one which is ravaging our world. We need the dynamic of water consciousness,  deep feeling, imagination, healing, intuition, romance, innocence. We are beyond both ultimately (represented by both The Fool and The World in the tarot), but we can’t live with just one and not the other. We need to be guided by Love.

“The Age of Pisces …….. was characterized by division, two fishes swimming in opposite directions, ‘a man is this and a woman is that’. With the Age of Aquarius and Natural Psychology, the knowledge of dard and voy, sex will be better understood and therefore with a more honest and conscious approach to it people will consider the consequences of their actions. This is what is meant by conscience. Aquarian spirituality will not be a denial of sexual feelings, but an imaginative and truthful expression of these”.

Ibid

Amen to that.

“The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

* These 12 natures are shown in the diagram of the wheel of “12 channels of consciousness”. There are 12 of these, consisting of two elements each. The 24 types refer to the ordering of all four elements within a person.