where do men who love men fit?

I was pleased to read a rather depressing article the other day. Pleased because I’d rather see an issue faced, than continue to be glossed over.

The article was “Together Alone” by Michael Hobbes, subtitled “the epidemic of gay loneliness”.

The modern movement to bring sexual minorities into the fold of wider human society and understanding probably began in the 19th century with sexologists like Magnus Hirschfeld (though it was prefigured in the arts, and famously in the poetry of Walt Whitman). In the mid-twentieth century it took on a more self-determined and militant form, leading to the “gay liberation” that we became familiar with.

Whether you  saw yourself as part of the non-assimilationist “queer revolution”, or taking your place in the fullness of mainstream life and society, there seemed to be an assumption (with the politicisation of a basically humanitarian predicament) that whatever we truly dreamed of, we could have. That what stood in the way was social, legal and political constraints that could be changed.

It’s something of a heresy to think that maybe that actually isn’t true.

Coming back to Hobbes’ article:

For years I’ve noticed the divergence between my straight friends and my gay friends. While one half of my social circle has disappeared into relationships, kids and suburbs, the other has struggled through isolation and anxiety, hard drugs and risky sex.

None of this fits the narrative I have been told, the one I have told myself.

As he relates, we have made record progress in terms of legal and social acceptance, but:

“… even as we celebrate the scale and speed of this change, the rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. ….. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: ‘It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving'”

Which is a very candid thing to say. Even where we have equal legal status, and legal marriage, things aren’t as good as you would hope.

“In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women”

That may actually be an improvement on the suicide rates for unmarried gay men, and it’s still bad.

What I think it underlines though, is the false assumption that there is some kind of level playing field that is just distorted by bad laws, prejudice and injustice. To be sure, there have been plenty of unjust laws in the past, and our society remains bizarrely anti-sexual and moralistic, but as the laws have been remedied I think it becomes easier to see that there is more to being homosexual than just being like a straight person who wasn’t given the chance. That isn’t the fundamental reality of our situation, and it actually never has been. There is such a thing as Nature, and in some respects I think it is clear that we don’t have the same place as heterosexuals. Typically society, family etc helps a person find their place in Nature, more or less. With us it doesn’t, and neither does “gay culture”, and when you haven’t found your fundamental place in Nature, it takes its toll.

Of course I could still argue that society as it stands is in conflict  with Nature, is suppressing a wider range of bisexualities, and is socially prohibiting polyamory, and I think those are factors in a different way of living being possible. But the fundamental question, the one that needs to be answered whether you live in a small village in the countryside, or the “gay village” of a large city, is what is our place in Nature, as men who love men? What are we for? What is our meaning? When well over 90% of men need a woman rather than a man. When we can’t give the man we love a child. When a ghetto really cannot be made a life. When an important component of fulfilment actually comes from our finding our place.

And just to be clear, I think marriage is tremendously positive for men who love men. It’s a really important thing to be able to have that anchor and commitment. But it’s not everything. We need more. Above all we need self-understanding.

affectionate_valentine_couple-1870s-us

Affectionate male Valentine couple, 1870s. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

pentagram invocation and banishing

Pentagram with the date 1813 on the door, Podgorica 1948 - by Boris Orel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is not a post on the experience of using these pentagrams, it is just some musings on the structure of the traditional set up. I’ll use the standard (not the “averse” forms).

Pentagrams are used in a great deal of Western ceremonial magic, and in a good deal of neopagan (ceremonially influenced) witchcraft.

Use of the pentagram as a glyph goes back to at least the Sumerian civilisation, and was referred to by Pythagoreans as  ύγιεια (Hygieia), “health”, linked to the Golden ratio. It acquired Christian symbolism with time, and appears in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the 14th century.

In terms of occultism, Henry Cornelius Agrippa (16th Century) disseminated the association of the pentagram with the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit or Idea), via an interpretation of the Pythagorean design. He also depicted a figure of a man within a pentagram, with the five visible planets arranged around the points.

The common, modern-day occult associations of the pentagram largely derive from The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, whose teachings have formed the basis of a great deal of modern occult “technology”. This is the scheme I’ll be looking at, as a means of invoking and banishing the elements.

Here are the pentagrams in full:

pentagrams

Here are the standard elemental attributes of the points:

pentagram2

By Mefistofeles (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As is obvious, the pentagram can be drawn with a continuous line, and this is how the elements are invoked and banished. The pentagrams are “traced” in the air with physical movements that are overlayed with imagined lines of light or fire as they are drawn, as if one were painting with light. Specific elements are banished or invoked by drawing the pentagram, starting at a specific point, and proceeding towards or away from the point associated with the element*, going round the whole pentagram and ending at the starting point (by which time you should have an imagined pentagram clearly visualised in front of you). For instance the banishing pentagram for earth:

earth-banish

Starting at the corner associated with earth, the first line is traced away from that point (towards the point of “spirit”), and then continues round until you get back to the earth corner.

The invoking pentagram for earth:

invoking-earth

starts at the point associated with spirit, and draws its first line towards the corner associated with earth (which is being invoked).

The other elements have similar arrangements, except for spirit, which has two forms (active and passive), both of which follow a different rule.

If it was just a matter of drawing lines towards or away from an element, we could obviously have two ways of invoking and banishing each element, but if that were so each banishing would also be an invocation of something else, as every line is both going towards and away from a point. So we have the scheme as shown above. Let’s look at them in terms of relationships within the pentagram.The general rule of “towards to invoke, away from to banish” still holds*, but the arrangement is as follows.

Water is invoked from the direction of air, and banished towards the direction of air.

Air is invoked from the direction of water, and banished towards the direction of water.

Fire is invoked from the direction of spirit, and banished towards the direction of spirit.

Earth is invoked from the direction of spirit, and banished towards the direction of spirit.

So there is a symmetry with respect to air and water, and fire and earth.

Spirit has two forms, active and passive, and neither are invoked by tracing towards the corner of spirit, which is a banishing  technique for earth and fire, and neither is banished by tracing away from spirit, as this invokes either earth or fire.

Active spirit is invoked by starting at the fire corner and tracing towards air (masculine to masculine), then continuing round to the starting point. Active spirit is banished by starting at the air corner and tracing towards fire (masculine to masculine in reverse order).

Passive spirit is invoked by starting at the earth corner and tracing towards water (feminine to feminine), then continuing round to the starting point. Passive spirit is banished by starting at the water corner and tracing towards earth (feminine to feminine in reverse order).

It’s an interesting scheme which can be seen as deriving from the physical limitations of a five pointed structure that has to accommodate all these functions, but does it have an implicit structural consistency?

The mirroring of air and water, and earth and fire is interesting, as these pairings are also what was picked up by CG Jung as polarities in psychic functioning, in his case this manifesting as thinking-feeling (air-water), and sensation-intuition¹ (earth-fire).

Air and water are both, in their different ways, highly relating elements, and these two get invoked and banished in relation to each other in a sense here.

Earth and fire on the other hand, get invoked and banished in relation the third, quintessential element of spirit or ether. They seem to be at extremes of the four-element scheme, the ultimate in quixotic movement, flux and energy, and the ultimate in fixity, inertia and potentiality. One is the will we can singularly gain, and the other the physical basis of our separate, unique existence. These two derive their invocation from spirit, not each other, yet share an inner bond by virtue of that, and are banished by spirit in a sense, the ultimate holistic element. At least that is how it appears to me.

Active spirit is called upon (and banished) with reference to the two masculine elements, while passive spirit uses the two feminine elements.

Active spirit is invoked starting at fire and going towards air, and banished starting from air and going towards fire.

Passive spirit is invoked starting at earth and going towards water, and banished starting at water and going towards earth.

Where working with spirit is concerned, all elements are involved, but by gender, according to whether it is active or passive spirit. Spirit is invoked away from the direction of earth and fire. Spirit is banished away from the directions of water and air. So spirit is invoked in masculine or feminine forms², starting from the points of fire and earth respectively.

These are entirely incidental musings on the scheme, but I hope they might be of interest to someone.


 * aside from spirit.

¹ “intuition” here refers to a fiery, lightning flash, insightful quality, not to the watery associativeness that tends to popularly get ascribed to the term.

² in a metaphysical sense, not in the sense of manhood or womanhood.

6th March 2017: edit of last paragraph but one.

more on my philosophy

Maybe “philosophy” is too grand a word. I believe very much in individual fulfilment and responsibility, as most Satanists do. Freedom is important, pleasure, gratification, desire, imagination, choice, self esteem. But life is a great, dynamic thing; passionate and serene, intricately ordered and structured, with veins coursing with the chaotic stuff of life, bound and freed, ridden and riding, a wondrous thing, that seeks ever more.

But what do we seek?

For me love is an immensely important factor in life, just not the castrated “love” of some religious traditions. There is a saying: “if you cannot curse, you cannot cure”. That which can powerfully do good can also harm. When we create we also destroy. When we love, ever more deeply, we love with all of ourselves. It is not a walk in the park. It’s not a meditation retreat. It is hazardous, a gamble, that takes our all. So love is very great in my estimation.

If part of our goal is mastery and self-mastery (and I think it is), it is also to be remembered that the deeper we go, the more our methods can look like madness, and the wisdom (in the making) of our flesh and soul look like foolishness. Except we follow the deepest course, with pure intent, the purest instinct for the deepest fulfilment.

We don’t live in our heads. We don’t live in the conscious mind, even if we must have this spark of awareness here, making sense of all this. We live across and between worlds, and our greatness, your greatness, my greatness, is found in this deepest stirring to go beyond ourselves, in the mystery of love. Undone, pure, bliss.

As poetry speaks truth, so love lives life.

eros_psyche_galate

Eros Psyche Galate – by Jean Fontayne (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

trying to string up Milo

I know I’ve said I would try and keep off politics, but fuck me.

Just to be completely clear, Milo is not a paedophile. He has worked to expose paedophiles in fact. His condemnation of paedophilia has always been clear. He was abused as a 13 year old.

I disagree with a fair amount of what Milo says generally, and that fact is completely irrelevant.

Was some of what Milo said stupid? Yes, and to me distasteful (but oh yeah, I’m a grown up and can make up my own mind on things). Were they personal to him? Yes, as far as I can see, overwhelmingly. Did he challenge age of consent law? No, the opposite in fact, explicitly. Did he “enable” predators? I am quite sure that was not his intention, and I doubt that predators are waiting to misinterpret his opinions, especially when buried in a rambling, hours long online discussion. Is he opposed to abuse of minors? Vehemently so.

I am opposed to his views on pederasty, which appear to reflect something akin to the ancient Greek idea of the mentoring relationship between  the erastes and the eromenos. I don’t buy that, as the pitfalls of potential abuse and destructiveness would be legion, given the unequal capacity to give real consent. Quite simply, a teen cannot understand a relationship in the same way as an adult, cannot understand the potential distortion of their development, and even if they enthusiastically agreed or even initiated a relationship, it doesn’t matter. Adult relationships involve adult consent. It’s the adult’s job to put the minor right, refuse and maybe see if they need proper help from the appropriate source. I think Milo’s views, which were not unnuanced, and were expressed in the aforementioned rambling online discussion, were wrong, but that is his opinion, I think it is probably influenced by his own past and how he has chosen to cope with it, and he has committed no crime. I repeat: he is not a paedophile, he is vehemently opposed to paedophilia, and has exposed paedophiles in his work.

The media frenzy over his off hand comments trivializes actual abuse – but then I think it’s pretty clear that protection of children was not the primary intention of the perpetrators of the hit.

If you aren’t defending the free speech of people you disagree with, you aren’t defending free speech at all, and it really wasn’t this speech of his they were trying to shut down.

Don’t be fooled.

[23rd February: post edited].

a project

One thing I would like to do is cover some books which I think have unique value, though maybe aren’t considered by some “serious” occultists for varying reasons. Just as some books at the Left Hand Path end of things get avoided due to preconceptions, some at the more New Age end of things get ignored, when they actually have insights to offer. I think you should take what you find value in from any source you like, and not expect anything to provide everything for you. Finding your path is definitely an individual journey.

I’d like to start with Marion Weinstein‘s “Positive Magic“, which I know a lot of American Pagans rate, and I certainly do as well, even if I differ from her on her opinions on Crowley and Satanism.

There are different approaches to Magic, some much more amenable to the beginner as a form of self-help or life improvement than others. These don’t cover all aspects or types of magic of course, but they can still offer a great deal to people.

It might take a while to prepare this, but hopefully it will be on the blog reasonably soon.

I might also take a look at her book “Earth Magic” sometime.

Maybe expect a lighter approach from Uncle Dawg this year, we’ll see.

wp_20170220_15_49_50_pro

 

the work

As I’ve said before, I want to write more on Richard Gardner‘s work, and I feel I really need to, like I’m being pushed to do this. This is a start on that.

Richard classed himself as a “metaphysician”, and was deeply interested in human consciousness, and the nature of consciousness itself. He is in many ways a voice from another age, and I think even more valuable for that.

Richard studied the tarot and wrote a number of books on the subject, from the point of view of the teaching he saw preserved within it, rather than for its “fortune telling”. In it he saw the working of consciousness for its evolution, and he considered the evolution of consciousness to be the driving force of life, and of ourselves as part of life.

He also saw the elements as key to this, and love as I think in many ways the great work of the evolution of consciousness. Love, with its great drives, and its promise of bliss and perennial dreams fulfilled, and the despair engendered by its frustration, was at once the most direct, subtle and luminous of instructors. Richard considered the understanding of sexuality and sex to be very important in this.

He used to write that in the tarot, “God” was most clearly represented by The Fool, the unconditioned, pure Life Force, and this also represented what he termed “super-consciousness”, which he considered miraculous. This card is either unnumbered or numbered “0”, and he likened it to the Divine Androgyne. Richard’s God was not a god of authority and rules though, but a god of life, love and pure adventure, divine play, rather than personage, for it was in and through everything.

This isn’t a “religious” philosophy in any conventional sense, indeed it isn’t philosophy as such, but a metaphysical teaching to be experienced, an attempt to get us to experience and live life more consciously and fulfillingly, and understand what drives us.

tarot_de_marseille_major00_fool

Tarot de Marseille Fool – By Nicolas Conver (http://www.wischik.com/lu/tarot/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

what “self” means to you

I came to a realisation recently, about the “self” that I feel pride and worth in.

When I was very young I led a quite creative, bohemian life for a while. I painted and drew a great deal, and threw myself into meditation, magical practices and journaling, and I did access a good deal of creativity, and even seemed to enthuse others with an expressive spirit at times, but I was actually deeply unhappy. I had a very definite “self”, and a productive one, but I was unhappy because what really mattered to me was love. And I was very, very lonely.

It’s not uncommon for me to say to my loved ones that I wish to do or achieve things for them, and I do sometimes get the response that I should do it for myself. I understand why they say that, because self-esteem is very important. It can seem like I might be neglecting myself in some way, but what I realise is that I am working to actualize my deeper self. The self I truly value, love, and feel good in is the self that loves my loved ones, has those bonds with them, and lives in the capacity to love. This may be why Freya is my Heathen patroness, and Venus is my astrological chart ruler. I know it can be different for other people, but for me that is how it is, and it’s important for me to understand that about myself.

Love has always been the central reality of life for me, for as long as I can remember. Not the sterilised “love” of some kinds of exoteric religious teachings, and more than just the romantic type, which can be many things. But the spiritual heart of the erotic, rooted in soul, body and heart, that cannot be scripted, bound by a narrative, status or any power other than itself, infused with the energy of Life itself, seeking its true fulfilment, that has always been the meaning of life for me.

And that is why I am as I am, and I love as I do.

love2