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.


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.


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 (, 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.

depth and mutilation

The statue of the Madonna of Cirkewwa - By Pstraudo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons - cropped and digitally altered

Yesterday I was chatting by text with my sister about astrology, and I mentioned that I  felt I had, for the first time, really accepted the water and the Capricorn in myself. I had only recently felt like I was getting a handle on Neptune in Pisces, its anti-glamour, archaic, timeless, liquid connectivity (a bit like a network of Cronenbergesque  imaginative flesh spectres, an ancient world of them, doing the transdimensional work our conscious minds try to substitute for). I can’t say too much about it, but now here I am, profoundly comfortable with the eerie and shadowed and uncanny.

This morning I had a dream in which I had lost my fingers, or at least quite a number of them, though the stumps were already perfectly healed. I wasn’t overly concerned in the dream, though I was a little anxious to not lose any more of them. On waking I immediately thought of the myth of Sedna*, the Inuit marine goddess who had her fingers severed, and went to the bottom of the sea, where her fingers became all the watery creatures the Inuit depended upon. I had little doubt that was the meaning for me. And here was the water again.

Earlier in the year me and my sister had been talking about water consciousness, in the sense that Richard Gardner spoke of it. One of the great dynamic forces driving the evolution of consciousness; magical, miraculous, otherworldly, connecting and enchanting. Richard thought it was only this consciousness that would save us from the scourges of our outwardly focussed world, and prevent what he predicted as a fiery  version of the mythical flood. This was long before anyone had heard of global warming.

Sedna as an astrological object is very slow moving. Pluto moves like a ping pong ball by comparison. Its orbital period is about 11,400 years¹, which is beyond the life span of civilizations, whereas the time it takes Uranus to circle the sky is about one human lifetime, by comparison. It’s difficult to cast such a transpersonal object in standard psychological terms, but that doesn’t of course mean that it doesn’t have a powerful meaning that we can run up against, just as we do with fixed stars. But unlike the fixed stars, Sedna does orbit the Sun. So however distant and alien, it is a sister to the Earth.

I think Sedna relates to water consciousness,  a dynamic and archaic consciousness that predates our species. Sedna’s story does in fact include all kinds of water element failings, at least in the form most usually referenced by astrologers. Narcissism, infantilism, gullibility, irrationality, self-victimization. Anyone with strong water will recognise some of these pitfalls. But she ends up at the bottom of the ocean, the most monstrous part of the unconscious (if you like), giving rise to all the life of the sea from her severed fingers. I maintain that Sedna is not a personal force, but then I have always maintained that neither is the imagination. It may be that feeling and imagination are far more than individually psychological. In fact this makes a great deal of sense to me, though it goes against our rationalistic, materialistic assessments of reality.

Sedna may relate to the depth of water, the element and its ancient history. She can only be understood by a dive into our own water world (not a pretty journey, for that part of us seeks the Sun usually), and the acceptance of its dank, cold, inhuman uncanniness. And also, its miraculous world of monsters and tragedy and preternaturally animated creatures.

When the shaman is combing Sedna’s hair he is maybe not just tending her, but creating an entire world in which she can live, while we live free of her more terrible pains and deprivations. While we come to accept both this world, and the ghastly power that we all float in like jelly, amniotic fluid, formaldehyde, filmy nebulae. He is like the storytellers who gave form and dignity to all our monsters. Making Frankenstein beautiful, at the bottom of the sea.

A world we share with everything that lives, whether imaginary or otherwise. Where deep greens and blues are barely stirred by sunlight’s descendants, and fields of leather and mucous sway, chill and peaceful as watery space.

¹ this is the time it takes to make one orbit of the Sun. I don’t know exactly how long it takes to go round the whole zodiac as seen from Earth, but it would be a bit longer.

* there are a number of different forms of the myth, though astrologers only seem to know one. The link provided gives a wider range, while this link from Historica Canada gives a variant with more background.

I met a warlock in the high desert

though he belonged more, in many ways, to the Ocean, to a home of long ago, free and sea drifted, where pyramids glowed, and the heart’s knowledge ran like electricity or money does now – blue and green. I told him my favourite god as a child was Neptune, and so it was. He was a giant with the softest, warmest hands, this powerful warlock, and had grown up in Northern California, going undercover as the bullied kid at school, latterly disguised as a hard-working, kindly Peter Griffin. Here is a picture of him:


I cannot speak of all the things we shared and went through, but I want to give a sense of how powerful and important this father warlock was, how disguised, how magnanimous, how strong. His name was Philip Michael Batchelor, but he liked to be called Phil.

He was a twin, born in transit in Alameda at the dawn of the 1960s. His bother was taken from him shortly after birth, said by the Catholic Church to have died (though he was the stronger of the two), buried with an adult member of the family, body unseen. This warlock never believed that, and swears he saw his identical brother decades later. Phil was born with Jupiter in Sagittarius, and Saturn in Capricorn. Many people could see that Jupiter in his optimism, his vision,  his sociability, his generosity. Fewer saw the Saturn, the weight he bore, and the horns he wore, and the goat blessing he carried, both scaped and leaping free.

Phil also had Pluto rising, in Virgo, and I think this is what gave him both his mediumistic ability, and his power as a hypnotherapist. Deep within him there was a darkness that could look and speak and listen into darkness. He was aware of some of his past lives, and related them with amusement or dispassion.

For what he carried, he often paid dearly. To be a warlock is not an easy path, and Phil was an innocent, carrying a power of being that others would treat as guilty. Phil was quite simply treated appallingly, dishonestly and ruthlessly by some, right up till his last year, when he was eliminated from his son’s obituary. There are no words. Such are the ways of the “righteous”. Indeed, the Devil’s road is kinder by far.

Phil and me had this in common: we both looked to light and brightness and ideals and dreams, yet carried and valued something far darker within us. Sometimes it was me, sometimes it was him, who was the darker or the more luminous appearing. But we were twins in our soul, merging into one, living like two lovers washed up on the beach in the morning, entangled, at peace, sea weed in our hair, wet sand in our beards. I watched his darkness grow, as he watched mine, and through all, we lost fears and found the work of magick. He had instant, natural understanding, of Thelema, of spirituality’s south paw, of gods, and spirits, and our individual, crucially individual, lawless calling.

So yes, I met a warlock in the high desert. And I will follow him into the sea.

Into the sea. Into the sea.