by Sister Georgia
“There is no legitimate reason that I have ever been able to see for keeping these things secret… The only reason of which I am aware, and one which I suspect of being a weighty one with those who have so long sat resolutely upon the lid of occult secrecy, is that for purposes of priestcraft and prestige a secret system is a useful weapon. A weighty reason, this, human nature, being what it is, but not a justification in the eyes of those who have the welfare of humanity at heart.”
—Dion Fortune, “Ceremonial Magic Unveiled,” published in the Inner Light Journal, 1933.
Why did I write the Rape of Babalon? Not for my own pleasure, I can assure you. In the weeks since writing it I have been subject to gossip and rumours raging from the idea that I made this all up for attention, to claim I am using NLP to promote a ‘leftist’ agenda, to the rumour that I didn’t write my article at all, but am being used as a puppet and mouthpiece in a political play. And these things made it clear to me, first hand, exactly why more women don’t step forward.
For any woman who is attempting to re-form herself after an abusive relationship, all of the second-guessing and gaslighting and manipulation and shame that goes along with speaking out, it is all too much to bear. It isn’t worth it.
But what hurt me the most wasn’t the gaslighting and victim blaming; it was realising how many people had read my articles, and managed to completely miss my point. My personal experiences were a microcosm of something that I have evidence of happening over and over and over again. It is one example of a pattern. Written up and hung to dry like so much dirty laundry, it is a pieta, a tableaux— it is gruesome and painful and it draws sharp emotional reactions. It is an image for meditation: we pulled Christ from the lap of His Mother, and now Pity is a broken whore, pulled apart by beasts. But the point about Pieta, the point an highly intelligent group of people appear to have studiously and deliberately missed, is that it is a microcosm of a much, much larger thing. My one experience is connected to a macrocosm of structure and culture and of a pattern repeated ad infinitum.
I did not dredge up some of my most painful memories because I like attention and drama, or I’m an emotional masochist, or I want to arbitrarily punish Big Bad Wolves. I conjured these spectres to haunt me once more because it was the only way I could think of to make people care. To make people realise this seemingly harmless and liberating culture of divine sex positivity has evolved into something that is not harmless, not at all.
But this conversation about culture never happened, was shut down with a painful PR positivity that demanded “practical—and positive!—suggestions only, please!”
We have to speak of individual experience because everything else is theoretical, a statistic. This is the only way we can begin to talk about things on a larger scale. But this also opens one to a scapegoating response, whereby the entire conversation became about the individual victim and the individual perpetrator. And then I realised—the hob-nobs, they know it’s a microcosm, too. And they think that if they can shame and silence me, then the larger problem will go away as well.
And it’s funny. Over and over, as all this was going on, I kept hearing the same image conjured – swept under the carpet, swept under the rug – and of others tripping on these lumps. You see, we have a party policy of silence. That’s the point of occultism, of esotericism, of hermeticism, right? It’s what the words mean: ours is a project of Silence.
But this great mystical truth has been poisoned, broken, compromised: the egregore is tainted. For this idea—Keep Silent!—is systematically used to gaslight, to ostracize, to abuse, to cover-up, to sweep under the rug. Because nothing is more important than keeping the good name of the Order—but guess what? Everybody knows. It’s the big joke, the open secret. I was naïve enough to dismiss it as so much satanic panic. But it isn’t. Its true. The carpet is so lumpy even a blind Fool can see the ugly shape. Because you can shove atom after atom under there and think them all discrete, but after a hundred years there is more lump than carpet, and that lump is beginning to look suspiciously like a broken woman.
I stand accused of bringing the good name of my brethren to shame – but I tell you, our name is already shamed with a secret shame. I am lancing a boil, bringing the pus out into the air. Don’t you know how silence works? Didn’t you study the origins of the universe? Tsimtsum – god sucks back, creates a hole. There is silence, heavy, pregnant silence until it overspills, and out bursts the Word.
You know what else really got to me, out of all of this? The thing that convinced me there was no changing from within, and that I had no choice but to leave. After all of this bullshit, an email from our Supreme and Holy to say… shut up. Keep Silent. Big Brother says shhhhhh!—women shouldn’t talk so loud. Oh, my dear—so you can speak after all? How exquisite. You would have been better to Keep Silent.
“Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone…”
You think talk online makes people scared to come forward? Talking online made people speak to me – and I have done far more for their cause than you have. You are scared of another satanic panic? This gaslighting cover-up bullshit is exactly how you get one.
And, just as a head up for anyone still unconvinced that this is as big an issue as I’m making out: if you had been privy to the contents of my inbox over the past two weeks, there would be no doubt in your mind. Countless brethren, friends as well as random folk, have contacted me to share their own stories. And a day does not pass without a new one. And I am so glad to empower people to be able to speak to me about these things. And I want to say, “speak out!” But I could never ask another to take the kind of treatment I have been subject to. So we who have the voice will continue to speak, on the voiceless ones’ behalf.
I have only been able to do what I’ve done because I have significant brothers on my side; people who believe me, and whose belief bears weight. And that makes me realise how, all these women who didn’t have that, who had that working against them… of course no one cared. The “manned up” or left. Because the new girls dont matter, not compared with the old guard, and if they are abused and leave, well they just couldn’t cut it with the reality of the Order, right?
And a part of me is sitting here trying to understand how it is that you still don’t seem to really understand. The most powerful magic is done by playing with taboo. Every time you shush us, you make the taboo against speaking about these things stronger, and thus you make our words more powerful. The irony is wonderful.
This whole victimhood and other’s responsibility – it wasn’t my line before. I had created myself around this narrative that it was all my choice, and thus my fault. Well, fuck that. I have dealt with the extent to which these things are my choice, my fault and my responsibility. Now it is your turn. This isn’t unthelemic: this is freedom from, rather than freedom to, and this is what real freedom looks like.
Because we’re all adults, right? We’re all stars here. Only when they gaslight you, when they lie to you and manipulate you and make you wait for months and months in the name of due process, when they isolate you and ostracize you they rob you of your adulthood, of your consent, of your ability to be a Star.
They castrate you with their apathy. And I know, this is why my work seems so incredibly distasteful to some. Like I’m this hysteric, this attention-whore. Fools. The more emotionless you are in the face of my anger, the more angry I will be. The more silent your front, the more effective my shout.
You say Thelema is the law of the strong. Do you not understand that strength and weakness are relative terms? That the whole point of magic is reversals. The Holy Knight lays down arms for the Lady, and is restored. This is the one thing the Thoth fucked up with Lust. Once, it was Strength – and Strength was a young woman, looking into the lion’s mouth. Yes, sometimes Babalon rides and roars. But sometime She shows Her weakness, and there is Strength in there too. Out of the carcass of these beasts I will make honey to feed my queen.
We’re magicians, we revel in taboo, edge-things—our sacrament is menstrual blood, for god’s sake! Yet say ‘rape’ and everyone loses their mind. The truth is, I had accepted my rape as one of another in a string of abusive things he did that I allowed him to do, to myself and to others, because he had destroyed my will. But I realised I had to speak about rape as rape, despite the backlash I knew it would bring me, because otherwise no one cared. Everyone is so used to creepy behaviour and scared women and abusive relationships that no one fucking cared. But suddenly I say rape, and we’re all a-tizzy, saying I’m being unfair to the order, and must seek justice through the legal system, or get stuffed. To everyone who has asked “why no criminal charges, eh?”: do you know anyone who has endured an abusive relationship? Marital rape? Ask them. In fact, if really you struggle with this question, just go find some women that don’t come from your immediate social group or background to talk to for an hour or two.
It also strikes me as very weird, this dismissal to a higher authority. I thought we were magicians? I’m not saying for one moment that we should operate outside of the law. But to use the law as an excuse for not making a moral judgement within our community seems like the weirdest kind of cop out—more than that, it strikes me unpleasantly like giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s—like if the law were not there, then they wouldn’t care at all. Because Do What Thou Wilt, right? We thelemites need to take a lesson from Kant. Ethics are not something extraneous to our work, and magicians don’t get to make ethical cop-outs.
In this New Aeon of Justice, we must come to Understand that it is only by doing right by the Other that we can do right by ourselves. It is not that we must transcend the Christian ethic, but that we must come to a new understanding of why. Not because some father god commands obedience, or because we are threatened with hell thereafter but because here, on this earth, there is nothing so hellish as the man without love, and nothing so heavenly as Love under Will.
And this is the really fucked up thing about advanced magicians preying on new initiates. They are in a position of power. They have abilities. They must use them responsibly. If they do not, and we allow such to continue because there isn’t anyone else for the job, or they haven’t done anything too bad yet, or their charisma is effective for getting new initiates (the same charisma which gets the new girl into bed, and convinces her nothing is amiss) then how are we any different to the infamous fucking Black Lodges?
And I’m angry. I’m still so fucking angry that this vast vault of adepts I had been promised has been revealed to be nothing more than pile of yapping little dogs with fancy hats. Everywhere I turn, old men in badly fitting priest robes claim to be Adept. We are suffering the tyranny of the Sadducees – we are repeating ourselves over and over and over again. We’ve ended up smack bang in the middle of a century ago. On the verge of pointless war, in a political climate defined by misinformation and emotion and us vs them. With feminism back where it was before; with occultism, secrecy and sex all perched in this weird pseudo-victorian nest.
I’m gonna say this one more fucking time for the guys at the back with their fingers in their ears. It is systemic. This is what systemic abuse looks like. It looks like people scared to speak up and gossip and scrabbles for power. You think all these people make it up? That is simply and absolutely absurd. There is no joy in opening old wounds, only pain and shame. Yet we do it anyway—because we have hope, that things might change.
“One does not see sporadic manifestations of the same thing springing up here and there in entire independence; they come from a common source. This source I believe to be one of those high spring tide in things spiritual which, from time to time, visit our earth. For any organisation to try and close the sluice-gates against it by oaths of secrecy, is to keep back the Atlantic with a broom. ”
—Dion Fortune, “Ceremonial Magic Unveiled.”
Other articles by Sister Georgia:
- The Thelemite and the Drunk Girl
- The Rape of Babalon
- Theosexuality: Sex And Magic
- A Response To #RespecttheNoinOTO: Consent Culture And Ordo Templi Orientis
- I Have Been Wronged: Sex And Power In The OTO
- Babalon For Sale: Notes On The Divine Economy
- Tantrums In The Temple: On The Unspoken Fruit Of The Holy Whore