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Equal Rites

by Sister Georgia

The history of Feminism is intermingled with the burgeoning of alternative spiritualities at the turn of the century. The Co-masons, the Theosophical Society and the Golden Dawn offered spiritual stimulus to the women, and publicly supported the suffragette causes.[1] This is not coincidental;  there cannot be equal rights for women without a Goddess. Religion is the root of politics, for religion orients ourselves to our bodies, our body politic, our body in its interaction with the world. The patriarchy separated power from the body to create capital: they separated knowledge from the nervous system to create the academy. We cannot reclaim our power, our knowledge, without destroying this separation. We need the radical influx of Our Lady’s grace, which does not act upon, but inspires. The economy keeps us individual and helpless, and thus we need an influx of the monstrous. For Our Mother is the Mother of Abominations.

For there will never be Equal Rights until there are Equal Rites; but the metaphysical structures of seduction within which we exist (all that which we call religion and spirituality, but which would be better called Sex) are not equal in the sense we expect. They form an alternating circuit. We have forgotten that seduction is an act of power; and seduction is an act of magic. Thus there will never be Equal Rites until Woman is reestablished as the dominant and dominating power.

Discover the meaning of No Man, and of the Servant King; the King places himself in the service of the Land. Force and form. The Fisher King’s wound was the loss of the Divine Feminine. The Grail is the Maiden. The King is He Who Serves. This is the key, the secret. The mirror image that is not the same.

For when we destroyed the duality of gender, we forgot that we are not all one, but legion. And we would deny the force of our own history; unless we can Understand.

The gender duality plays across history, myth and culture. Across psychology – archetypal or trained. The symbols are all-pervasive. They tell the story of Difference; of Otherness, Love and Fear. It is as simple as the Holy Grail, and as complex as the entirety of written history.

To resist this structure is meaningless, for this is the way we have been built (as good little bees within the system). We must learn to make it new. Revolution only ever means a temporary reversal. The carnival never lasts. Instead we must learn to undertake the process of evolution. To be wise to the tricks of patriarchy, the jewelled, glass cage and the glistening blood. There was never a Virgin Protectress of the Grail, never an Eve; this was a fiction, a misunderstanding. We are Kundry in the castle and before that we were Lilith, and Asteroth.

We are the despised, and the desired.

We are the acted-upon actors.

We are the beginning and the end.

Force does not travel in a straight line unto form. Rather, it is a cycle.

And this is your god.

They tell me we cannot turn the tide, but must learn to ride.

I say, they haven’t yet seen the shape of the comet that is hurtling toward the sea.

The following are fifteen conversation starters and points for debate, regarding the participation of women in the contemporary occult milieu. These were first presented at the Women in the Occult forum hosted by myself at this year’s Babalon Rising festival. In the hope they might offer some elucidation, or inspire some further debate, I offer them to you here.

  1. We have to talk of men and women because this is a symbolic structure, a cultural archetype. But we should remember that man and woman is a sign, the lingam and yoni symbols, of metaphysical truths. Personal gender is always a spectrum, and each person contains within them two twisting snakes.
  2. In many ways the question of gender, symbolism, sign, duality and synthesis is the very site of magic. The gender difference is the key to magic.
  3. Can there be equality? I am not sure; humans tend to hierarchy. A circuit has two alternating poles. Perhaps woman must indeed be reestablished and the dominant and dominating power, in the realms of the spirits, and of medicine. Yet, this is yet another archetype.
  4. The focus of our work cannot be solely on women, leaving men as a blank space. We need to find a new role for magical masculinity too. As with women, it is the oldest one; the true role of the King, which is Service; I AM has become – Nemo.
  5. This is the problem with traditional interpretations of Will: we may be individual stars but we are all in orbit with one another, and subject to the cosmic pulls and ties. ‘Freedom to’ is a lie, a misunderstanding; the only freedom is ‘freedom from’.
  6. We need a clearer account of magical ethics. A better understanding of our interconnection. For it is  in the interstices, in the process and site of connectivity, that personhood is constituted – and that magic exists (for, of course, what is magic but the negotiation and renegotiation of the person in the world?)
  7. Feminism and paganism should not be separate; it blows my mind when people say politics should not get involved in magic  (or that magic should not get involved in politics). Politics is already involved; it is your political privilege that allows you that opinion. Our bodies are political.
  8. Children are a women’s issue – though often invisible. And this needs practical things like childcare, cultural things like men volunteering giving up their magical time for childcare – but also theological things, for while the magical child is the focus of our work, the real life child is excluded.
  9. The problem of misogyny links directly to other problems the milieu currents faces; those of racism, facism, ableism, classism. When you have denied one group the right to inhabit personhood in the same way you do, it is the easiest thing to do it with others.
  10. Our priority should be keeping young women safe as they approach the milieu, which means educating men. And this comes in two parts; the newbies, who may have read the wrong books; and, far more difficult, the old guard. In the latter we fund the systematic aspect of misogyny in our milieu.
  11. What are the practical ways forward? Woman centric events, women leaders – we’re beginning to do this. Talking about sexual assault – we’re getting better with this too. But what about new rites, new books (by women), new collections and editions (of women); what about initiation? What about a form of sexual magic that is created from a feminine perspective?
  12. No amount of ground-up policy change in various milieus is going to influence the larger issue. What we have is a theological problem, and we need a theological answer: we need women writing about magic, we need new work that offers an alternative to phallocentric symbolism, and new work on feminine initiation paths.
  13.  We need myths; if we as women are to grow strong, we need stories.  Where are the stories of women initiating women? These reveal the secret initiating power of jealousy – that is, the truth of being acted upon – and Strength.
  14. What are our rights of passage, as a global culture, as men, women and people? What are our rites of passage into the magical world? What are our real-life initiations, how can they be divided – and how should they be altered/developed?
  15. We are not aware of our history. And this in itself was a historical choice within the occult stream to move towards fictional history, away from strict definitions of truth. And this is an important magical practice, and important for the magical worldview. But this means we often don’t see the gendered or misogynist roots of things we practice now. And although it is of course legitimate and good to reclaim and adapt and use these practices, we must understand their basic premises if we are not to find ourselves repeating them, unaware.

[1] See Divine Feminine by Joy Dixon for an in-depth exploration of this topic.

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