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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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.

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.

 

kindness, darkness and time

Pan and Psyche - by Edward Burne-Jones [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was thinking about things I really valued, and that I would name as important in human relationships. I thought of energy, the good flow of energy between people who trust each other. I thought of a few things, and then named “kindness”, which is a perfect word for something really, and then I hesitated at “love”. I hesitated because whereas kindness has an essential intelligence to it, love can be so many things, and some of them are not intelligent. Some of them are irrational, crazy, possessed, because love can be part of an intense process of growth and awakening.

There are a number of ways of saying it, but when we bring something into the light of consciousness first off, it brings with it a darkness that has to be processed and transformed, and that can involve suffering. That darkness is the history of it having been unconscious. So there is that quality to darkness in consciousness, which is connected to past unconsciousness, to time (spent in this state), and separate material existence (which makes this experience and process possible).

Darkness, materiality, time and unconsciousness are an intrinsic part of why we come here. They are the substrate of our growth and development. They directly reflect the evolutionary drive, which is shown in the planet Pluto astrologically.

Love carries a good burden of this process, thus love must introduce us to darkness and its challenges and potentials (we might think of the myth of Persephone here, or the myth of Eros and Psyche). Or to put it in different, Thelemic terms (for the love of “Love under Will” is Agape, not Eros), our True Will must introduce us to darkness, for it is the why of our coming here.

And to return to the distinction between kindness and love, it is the arising of intelligence which is the emerging light, an intelligence that comes from our soul.

 

 

Water – swamps, canals and seas

Santa Maria Della Salute, Venice by Friedrich Nerly [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Water has become very important for me. The element, its world, its nature and my place in it. It was always important for Phil, and we always looked for water energy. The two homes we really made in England were either side of that serpentine loop of the Thames which forms the Isle of Dogs. The first was in Greenwich, with its waterfront and maritime history, the second in Poplar, with its canals and history of docks, sailors and sea trade. Over on the Island, a light winked from the illumined pyramid atop Canary Wharf.

It’s taken me this long to get Neptune in Pisces (it’s been there since 2012). It was glamour before: of romance and harmony (Libra), sex and mystery (Scorpio), travel and adventure (Sagittarius), wealth and status (Capricorn), technology (Aquarius). Maybe I expected it to follow the same pattern in Pisces, but actually Neptune in Pisces is something different. It’s like the lack of nighttime vision in the centre of your eye. The radio silence as the space capsule went round the other side of the Moon. The dead zone to all the other things Neptune meant in other signs. The silent, liquid click of the safe lock. The doors opening soundlessly, deep down on the sea bed. The reset, of the cycle that began in 1847.

Turn inward, or way out, and you could float, effortlessly, through the imaginative, filmy, sensitive tissues of the other world, that grows into and out of this one, like capillaries, tendrils, fungal threads, mushrooms of light, sheets of feeling, enzymes and hormones of invisible pattern. Older than all of Life, bleeding timelessness, messages as old and as encrypted as the ocean of space. Wet sails billow, wood creaks, and the prow swings, with no crew in sight.

When I became a Satanist I aimed to destroy (or at least deactivate) external moral authority, and pursue magick and life for myself and my loved ones. What Satanism came to mean most fundamentally for me was spirituality. In my pursuance of a path, I came to view Satan-Set-Saturn as essentially one being. I was delighted to see Michael Bertiaux present a somewhat similar view about Set and Saturn, but also referring to Shiva rather than Satan. Mr Bertiaux has been a periodic light to me for over 30 years. I would hear or read something from him, and something would fall into place, become clear, such as the centrality of communication with entities for magick. Funnily enough after all this time, “spirituality” essentially means congress with spirits, with the invisible for me.

Mr Bertiaux also gives a lovely, fascinating, gentle talk on some water related themes in the video below. I love the combination of the weirdness and kindness:

Late last year my sister introduced me to some ideas connected with evolutionary astrology, and to the Porphyry house system. The “houses” are the ways astrologers divide up the space in the chart, demarcated by the horizon, and the direction of the highest point of the zodiac’s rising in the sky, and lowest point projected under the earth below.

m-house_house_divisions

An example of an astrological chart. The circle of the zodiac represents the sky as seen from Earth (focusing on the ecliptic). The lines radiating out from the centre are the house divisions, dividing up our spatial observations into segments, defined from the horizon. [By Macalves (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

There are 12 houses, and according to which house system you use, they end up as differently sized for any one location and time. Like the signs of the zodiac, each house is assigned to one of the four elements. Using the Porphyry system I found that my Sun was in the 4th house, the water house associated with the sign of Cancer, rather than the fiery 5th house I had previously taken it to be in. This made so much sense to me. In fact my grand trine of Moon, Sun-Uranus and Saturn were all in water houses, even if in fire zodiac signs. The fieriness of my grand trine is actually somewhat paradoxical anyway. Sun in Leo is combined with the very un-solar Uranus. Sagittarius has a dampening Saturn in it, while Aries has the most watery body of the Moon in it. Fire is quite a complex deal for my grand trine, which is an important resource in my chart. The water houses, on the other hand, make a great, and previously hidden sense. The Moon is at home in water. Saturn’s nature also suits water better somehow. Water wears down resistance and structure with time. I knew about both these house placements previously. The new one was Sun conjunct Uranus in the 4th house. The Cancerian 4th house is the perfect balm to the fractured, traumatized nature of Sun conjunct Uranus. I always loved being based at home. Always loved the Moon, and the early hours. I didn’t forget childhood vision Family was important to me, even if difficult to achieve. I always loved baking. I always wanted a husband. I was lucky enough to really get one.

Speaking of which, my husband came through a number of mediums in Yorkshire at the weekend. Spiritualism was something we had become interested in, in the last few years. Spiritualism and Spiritism are again very watery. Both arose during Neptune’s last passage through Pisces.

Phil always had this thing about Atlantis. If you do our composite chart by one method, “we” were born in the Atlantic Ocean. But there’s a much bigger ocean that we’re all in.

Beautiful relief, that there is such a thing as mystery.

Lights out. Come to the open doors at the back.