by Soror Amiana
It is not just about sexual assault.
Women’s lives are all too often a string of stories of men whom we trusted, who did not respect us.
We are judged first and foremost on our physical appearance and youth, and treated as though the most important thing we have to offer is sex. We are expected to dress to be noticed, walk around in shoes that destroy our feet, cover up every “flaw” with makeup. We’ve had dates who stalked us for saying no, boyfriends who have used guilt to get sex, who have made us feel terrible about our bodies. If we’re discouraged by this, we’re “jaded”.
When we go to school, we learn the history of men—throughout history we have been treated as property. Where we go to work, the top layers of leadership are comprised entirely of men—throughout history we couldn’t even get an important job. We’re even supposed to give up our name for a man.
We found something different in Thelema. “Every man and every woman is a star.” But digging deeper, when we read Crowley and other spiritual texts we encounter disparaging comments about our gender everywhere. These books are written with the assumption that the reader is a man, that occult knowledge shouldn’t be shared with women, that women are incapable of attainment. The prevalence of misogynistic comments in spiritual writing makes it clear that prejudice runs so deep within us that even destroying the ego and reaching the pinnacles of spiritual attainment may not completely eradicate it.
“So then a Woman advanceth never in Magick, but remaineth the same, rightly or wrongly ordered according to the Force that moveth Her. Here therefore is the Limit of Her Aspiration in Magick, to abide joyous and obedient beneath the Man that her Instinct shall divine so that by Habit becoming a Temple well-ordered, comely and consecrated, she may in her next Incarnation attract by her Fitness a Man-soul.” — A.C., Liber Aleph
For all that we understand about the power of thought, and how powerful one stray thought can be, what effect do you think reading these derogatory remarks has on women?
For what it’s worth, I wholeheartedly believe that for every sex magick or tantric practice that only a man can perform, there is an opposite and equally powerful formula that can only be performed by a woman. The basic principles of equilibrium in the universe would seem to require this.
We see no women at the top level of Thelemic leadership, and few in our history. There have been some whose names are known, but only because they are the partner of a prominent man. The Scarlet Women are not celebrated for their own attainment, but for what they did for Crowley. There are many women today who are doing amazing work in the Order, but few of their names are known, and there is most certainly still a glass ceiling. The only exception I can think of is Phyllis Seckler.
I hope that in my lifetime I will see one of our national O.T.O. bodies with a Supreme and Holy Queen—or even a female O.H.O.
I wish the O.T.O. would legitimately recognize female saints. It doesn’t need to have anything at all to do with the Mass, it just needs to exist and it would be a relatively easy thing for the leadership to do to show the community that in Thelema, women are of equal status with men. Even Catholics recognize female saints.
Since I have been active in the Thelemic community I have met many wonderful men who have appreciated me for my mind and not just my body, who do truly see women as equals and want to see us better represented. I am thankful and fortunate to know them. And I am encouraged to see the community at large discussing women’s issues. But it’s not just about sexual assault. There’s a larger issue at hand, and we need to stop hiding behind Crowley quotes and using symbolism to justify sexism.
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