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The New Aeon Whore: Being a Woman in Thelema

The New Aeon Whore Being a Woman in Thelema

by Soror In Nomine Babalon


Too long has woman’s place in the world general, and in Thelema in particular, been defined by Man. 

It is time for woman to define her own place in Thelema. Not through petty virtue signaling saying woman are inherently more virtuous or better than men somehow, nor by whining about men and how they have dominated the power scale for millenia, nor by “yas queen”ing female celebrities, by paper-thin appeals to girl power while secretly and quietly perpetuating a male-dominated power hierarchy in all ways. We must define ourselves in terms of ourselves, and establish ourselves firmly as powers and authorities in our own right. We are ourselves, primarily, not Man’s partner, not their consort.

Woman is not an object of Man. Woman is Woman. I am my own person, I am not simply my father’s daughter, my brother’s sister, or my husband’s wife. I am that I am, and no other is the polestar of my identity except for my own Star. Though we claim ourselves liberated, too long in Thelema have women viewed ourselves in this way. No matter how “free” you are, no matter how sexually liberated you are, no matter how scandalously you dress or act, you are still secondary to Man if you view yourself (and allow yourself to be viewed) as simply His Object, his trophy, or his plaything. Our place is not necessarily in the kitchen to serve our male master, of course we all know this, but we place ourselves second to Men constantly. We defer in the workplace, we let aggressions and provocations slide, we place our pleasure and satisfaction as secondary to their own. Each act of deference is a bending of one’s knee in servitude, kneeling your head down to the powers that be, letting ourselves be insulted in small and large ways until we believe ourselves deserving of ill treatment. I am not saying men should do all the work, should cook every meal, and satisfy us constantly though that would not be totally unbecoming; what I am saying is that we must see ourselves as worthy of fighting for, worthy of righteous anger, worthy to say “no” when we mean “no” and “yes” when we really feel “yes”. We must move past being the victim, being the harassed, or the unpleasured and define ourselves in terms of our own desires, needs, and Wills. 

I am a Scarlet Woman not because I am some Beast’s whore, but because of who I am in myself. It is not the amount of red wine I drink, it is not the red lipstick I wear, it is not the silken red dresses I wear to satisfy the male gaze. I drink wine because it is delicious. I wear lipstick because I want my lips to pop. I wear red dresses because I feel empowered and sexy, not simply as some kind of sensuous spectacle for men to ogle at – though they will – but for myself, as a symbol of my own virility, strength, and an emanation of my personality. 

I am not simple the container for man’s sperm. I am not your magical cum-sock. I am not simply the receptacle of a man’s magick or Will. I am not the inert altar for your God to indwell. I am a God in my own right, co-eternal and co-equal with all other Stars. The Ninth Degree of OTO involves sex magick that views the woman as a simple procedural catalyst for the magick of the sperm. The secret instructions even say the woman does not even need to know a sex magick operation is occurring for it to work (consent is not the highest priority on their list, let alone enthusiastic mutual consent!) This is not simply the work of a few bad apples, a few (very) old people “who aren’t with the times”, or the case that some men are particularly conservative and have this view. It is built directly into the structure and teachings of the most prominent magical Order for Thelemites. This view seeps not just into the male Thelemites’ brains but also all of us women. Even if we do not consciously, intentionally, and fully knowingly embrace this view, it unconsciously, unintnetionally, and secretly affects us in various ways. This is but one example of the spiritual misogyny that has infested the theoretically liberating philosophy of Thelema…

Yes, we are set upon the throne as Priestess. Yes, the fact a Priestess is even called for is a step up from being absolutely excluded from all magical and spiritual works. The throne of the Priestess has become a glass cage for many. Perhaps it was built as one to begin with? Of course magick goes far beyond Gnostic Masses, and other religious ceremonies, and in these ways we must establish ourselves not simply as Priestesses but as Hierophants and Magi. As masters of the temple, as directors of magical operations, as the prime movers and not simply the assistant, the consort, or the lover. 

True Thelemic women are those that stand strong in their own strength, not depending on men’s strength, nor depending on their approval or validation. True Thelemic women are those whose sexuality is expressed in accordance with their own desires and Nature, not simply a sex-show for thirsty onlookers, not a way to finally get daddy’s attention, but a way to emanate our natural energy, power, and virility. True Thelemic women are those that show respect, vulnerability, and give help to others, not because we are weak and “feminine” but precisely because we are strong. This strength of True Thelemic womanhood acknowledges that we must be Ourselves, and therefore we must live and let live, let others develop as they Will as well. Yes, as Women we open ourselves to others, physical, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually… not because we are empty and we need to be filled, not because we are deficient and need something to complete us, but because we are full, we are strong and do not fear the passionate plunge into existence that is possible when we act truly as Ourselves. 


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10 thoughts on “The New Aeon Whore: Being a Woman in Thelema

  1. This is a good argument against the misogyny that exist in the Thelemic playgrounds. I would question philosophically, however, if a woman can define herself without man to compare herself against, and vice versa. The Scarlet woman rides upon the back of the Beast. You cannot separate them without also separating oneself from the union of opposites as a valid magical practice.

    Good post.

  2. People need people to define themselves, for we are surounded by mirrors.
    Scarlet Woman and the Beast are ideas, archetypes.. they’re not “men” and “women”. Every one is a star and a whole universe in and around oneself complete with the sun and the moon, fire and water, “male” and “female”.
    Yeah, there’s a lot of misogyny and sexism in Thelema, for example when we say women can’t be whole or define herself without a man.

  3. A very interesting and well thought out article. I think it makes some excellent points. In particular, I think it is time for a frank discussion of the nature of the “IX°secret” and how the way in which it is written and presented, largely in a patchwork of notes and secondary texts, warps the core of Thelema.

    It’s problematic in several ways.

    First of all, it’s a “secret” to some of the larger groups that implement Crowley’s O.T.O. It’s a somewhat meaningless secret since it’s been public for years, wasn’t really intrinsic to Reuss’s O.T.O., and isn’t hard to figure out, particularly if you’re familiar with the milieu of turn of the century occultism and Paschal Beverly Randolph’s somewhat inappropriately named Ansairetic Mystery. Most people who are in groups that hold it to be a secret won’t award it to most of their members in any case, so it serves mostly as a point of obfuscation. Reuss held it so simply he figured that when Crowley equated roses and crosses with sex organs, or at least appeared to, he’d figured it out.

    Because of the obsessive, pounding secrecy the entire thing is hard to discuss. That’s problematic when it also forms a significant operative core of the belief system.

    Second of all, it’s terribly, terribly, presented. Crowley himself was remarkably egalitarian in regards to gender *for his time* with the understanding he was born before the Reconstruction of the American South had ended. If you really read through it, there are certainly higher readings and elements that aren’t strictly biological, (though he swears they are) and despite being gendered where he is strictly biological, he wants on some level to give equal play to male and female fluids.

    Crowley can somewhat be excused for veiling what he was writing. At the time sex magic, in particular homosexual sex magic could get you arrested, rather than being something that you could read about in cheap paperbacks and do in adult community spaces. Literally all the knowledge filtered out into our collective understanding of magic in the past sixty years, but we still don’t discuss or dissect the source.

    That said, Crowley spoils what could be a reasonable egalitarian take by his personal sperm obsession (the man tried to market his sperm as a health product) and since what we’re getting is stuff that even in the late 40s he felt necessary to shroud in code, it’s very obscure. Clearly Crowley felt strongly about the feminine fluids in sex, but he didn’t spurt them from his body so he didn’t really give them equal coverage.

    My guess is that some degree of the breast-beating heteronormativity is another layer of obfuscation over his XI° secret which either wasn’t committed to paper or was conveniently lost by his literary executors, so that best known take is actually a Patrick King’s “Rites of Shiraz.”

    But it’s time that all that was the subject for the same scrutiny and debate as Crowley’s other major works. The Book of the Law may not stand alteration, but the mess that is Crowley’s rituals definitely not only call for alteration, but very nearly require it.

    Even the patently offensive parts about using women for sex magic without them knowing it could be revised into a cogent commentary on the concept that we can interact with the divine self through sexuality without necessarily have the full engagement of our partner in that aspect, because that is inherent in sex.

    In doing so, I think if one follows the focus Crowley maintained on a high level, instead of the one his ejaculate led him to actually scribble notes about one could end up with a considerably healthier core for Thelema.

  4. ” wasn’t really intrinsic to Reuss’s O.T.O., ” should read

    “was also intrinsic to Reuss’s O.T.O. and comes directly from well known sources,”

    Ran two thoughts into each other there…didn’t catch it before I posted.

  5. Magick doesn’t care about gender. The universe doesn’t either. The Gnostic Mass is a dramatic ritual used within one certain tradition utilizing a certain interpretation of a technology. The fluids represented isn’t a moral, political or religious issue, the characters in the ritual isn’t a gender statement, it’s an exceptional mode of storytelling using masks, masks which in this case takes the form of real people. The forces these masks represent are not some sort of comment on gender, fairness or degrees of woman- or manhood. Only by the stretch of extremely dualistic imagination can such a point be valid.

    As stars we are neither man nor woman. Ask the sun it’s gender, or any other star for that matter. Even if it had a voice, it would laugh.

    As for the more socio-political points made, fair enough. The sexist nature of some of Crowley’s practices and writings, and of some OTO-members views, also valid as far as I can see. But I would advice caution when it comes to the (in this text) implicit idea that liberation comes through the increased identification with one side of a duality (except, maybe as a technique in ritual, but that is a different discussion… Or perhaps not).

    1. I think the problem is that Thelemites proceed from the presumption that the Gnostic Mass, and indeed many of the attributes of Thelema are fixed properties. If you’re in the A∴A∴ then there are a few things “set in stone,” of which the Gnostic Mass is not one. If you’re not, then really the entire thing is mutable.

      The story that was told in the early 20th century when the Mass was written, when Cabell cribbed it for a novel scene that got him tried for obscenity, was one of sexual liberation.

      Now a century later, those masks don’t mean the same thing. They convey meanings about patriarchy, about fixed structure within society. Where once they could easily be read as general inferences, now the symbols have become far more tied to human political concepts than esotericism.

      One approach is to say “let go of the political concepts and attachments. Forget about the patriarchy, forget about the relegation of women to secondary roles, and just experience this ancient pageant for what it was meant to be.”

      I think there is some validity to conducting historical things in the fashion of the time, and understanding them in context. And performing them in that context. But I also think that should be a “sometimes” practice, to borrow from Children’s Television.

      Ultimately that is also saying “this was written at a time when everyone accepted that gender roles were binary and limited, so just for the sake of argument fall back and accept that binary paradigm and limitations.” Is that really embracing the new Aeon or is it trying to make an old formula “fit” the new era.

      The other approach is to change the symbols into something that is meaningful today. To understand that in the multitude of binaries that conveys 0=2 and vice versa perhaps a presumption of human binary gender is actually not all that great a choice. The fact is that a lot of Crowley’s writing still carries the stamp of the Old Aeon, as does the sex magic formularies he carried forward from Randolph and Steiner. Perhaps it is time to be done with that, and move towards new understandings that firmly break an Old Aeon understanding of human sexuality, even if Crowley did embed it into some of his magical systems.

  6. James Gordon, I agree that the ‘masks’ mean something else today than they did hundred years ago, and this is something Thelemites have to deal with (each in their own way), especially those who try to navigate the current debates of politics and gender. These debates are not about magick or ritual, and as far as I can see, one should be very aware of ones reasons if one chooses to make rituals beholden to political or ideological context.

    When Soror In Nomine Babalon writes:
    “in these ways we must establish ourselves not simply as Priestesses but as Hierophants and Magi. As masters of the temple, as directors of magical operations, as the prime movers and not simply the assistant, the consort, or the lover,”

    I understand her to mean (and I might be wrong here) that some human organization or person(s) can prevent her (or any other star for that matter) from being or achieving any or all of those things.

    If we are discussing politics, religion, ideology or economy, then one can try to analyze how structures, society, history, race or gender has a hand in the matter. In the temple… to quote the great master Yoda: “Your weapons. You will not need them”.

    1. I very much agree that no human organization can prevent anyone from establishing themselves “as Priestesses but as Hierophants and Magi. As masters of the temple, as directors of magical operations, as the prime movers and not simply the assistant, the consort, or the lover,'” I think human organizations can help or hinder that work, make it easier or harder, reflect it more or less well. That said, I’m definitely in favor of a Thelemic community that serves as a support for that work, rather than manifesting the ordeal one must overcome for it to become manifest 🙂

  7. I agree. Ideally organizations should help further the Work. And I believe the Thelemic community needs a bit of time to find the best way forward (and I think the Soror’s text is an important and well written contribution in this regard).

    It is however important (for the purpose of the Work), in my opinion, to be careful of interpreting the forces at work in ritual and the tools and shapes serving as their masks, in light of certain contemporary debates which often (although not in this particular case) are very polarizing and furthermore often instill in the participants a powerful need for identification with a certain group (political, gender, race, religion) that is not aiding in ones Work.

    That being said, people must themselves decide how they will participate in the furthering of Thelema and its organizations. If that is done through the lens of some ideology or other (other than or in addition to Thelema), that is fine, and I am open to the fact that for some it might be the correct approach.

    Appreciate the conversation🙂

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