by Sister Georgia
A few months ago I wrote an article about my experiences of sex and power within the world of contemporary occultism. After the flood a friend came to visit, and he said to me: “I am curious, for there seems to be someone missing. Why, in this great diatribe against magical abuse, did you spare Brother X?” And the more I thought about it, the more I saw that he was right. That I had thrown off the shackles of these others, but remained still within Brother X’s power. And as I thought about my experiences, and the way I assigned pain and shame to them, I realised I had been a hypocrite. And as the realisation grew, I made the decision to file an official complaint of unbrotherliness. And as I tried to express the whole complicated, fucked-up story over email to men I had never met I quickly realised I needed a fact, a crime, a single-sentence accusation if my claims were to be looked upon with any sympathy, if I were to have a chance at justice (because Justice works in black-and-white). Manipulation, lying, gaslighting, ostracization, isolation, abuse—these are too difficult to explain, the definitions and attributions of blame too flexible. “Okay” I said, “Well, what about the time he raped me?”
It happened the night before my First Degree, in his back garden, with his wife and kids in the house upstairs. He told the story proudly at first (I had no memory of it): I was drunk, and I had fallen over, and he had said “while you’re down there” and stuck his cock in my mouth. I bit it, he said, and it really hurt. So, as revenge, he pushed me to my hands and needs, pulled my jeans down, and fucked me in the ass.
Later, when I expressed how deeply that night had hurt me, he claimed the justification that he had “misunderstood what you were:” he thought that I was doing the whole ‘Holy Whore’ thing, and so his use of me was acceptable and justified as a Holy Act, rejuvenating his body and bringing in the New Aeon.
It wasn’t the worst thing he had done, in my view. It wasn’t the thing that had hurt me the most. That had been the lying—the incessant, shameless lying. But Rape is Wrong. If I can prove he raped me, then he is unquestionably a Bad Person. Because if he isn’t a Rapist, and thus a Bad Person then, he’s just a misguided creep, and his behaviour is accepted. This is what is at stake. And this is why we find it so distasteful to utter the word ‘rape’, right? Because we are magicians, we are an ostracized group of deeply empathetic people, and we hate to make pariahs.
I brought this subject up with my sister, who isn’t involved in magic at all. Immediately she described her and her friends discussing these things, describing their own experiences. Ten young women sitting in a bar, every single one of whom had experienced rape or assault, and none of whom felt it was appropriate to use that former word. “They got to the end of their story,” she said, “and muttered it, behind hands, without any eye-contact, like they were embarrassed to say it.” Rape is normal.
I remember a friend of mine saying we should normalise the word cunt. Cunt, cunt, cunt, cunt. Well, I feel the same about rape. Rape rape rape rape. Let’s all talk about rape. And lets call it rape, not abuse, or assault, or bad sex. Let’s stop treating the word as a taboo — because the act isn’t.
“Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an—hungered.
“But let her raise herself in pride! Let her follow me in my way! Let her work the work of wickedness! Let her kill her heart! Let her be loud and adulterous! Let her be covered with jewels, and rich garments, and let her be shameless before all men!”
—Liber AL vel Legis
To be shameless before all men. You think this crowned and conquering priestess with her kohled eyes and bare chest is shameless? I’ll tell you what shameless looks like. Let her raise herself in pride! You think this dancing girl is proud? I’ll show you pride. This proud and shameless woman stands, blood dripping and dress torn, screaming like a banshee and trampling over all the little dogs who would bark at her “Keep Silence.”
“Nor was she ashamed, hearing the laughter of the little dogs of hell.”
For I have buzzing round and round in my head like bees these stories, the stories of my Sisters. For every man who took the time to respond to my article by writing to tell me that this was all my fault, and that I was doing nothing but bringing Thelema into disrepute, I had five women write to me to say that I had given words to feelings they could not express.
Because while we’ve been busy establishing our raging fuck-goddess Babalon (may She forgive us such blasphemy) and celebrating sex as a holy and magical thing, we’ve left no conceptual space for rape in a magical context. On one level, I can see the logic. Magic works thought the mechanic of taboo-crossing. Rape is another aspect of this, and we need to cunt-up and recognise the transformative properties, the power of our own reactions, our ability to shape our environment, blah blah blah. And we’ve conveniently circumnavigated the fact that rape is not taboo. Rape is normal. And we’ve conveniently failed to realise that in holding up sex and female pleasure as a holy and sacred thing we’ve inevitably given more power to rape and sexual abuse. And we need to explore and express these things if they are not to become the mechanic of our own destruction.
We think this Babalon model so revolutionary, when it tells women they are responsible, that they can change their world. This is no revolution, but the grotesque progeny of the Virgin Mary, a true Abomination. The Emperor in Babylonian drag declares that, “in a world which propagates your oppression at every turn, you must take responsibility for yourself.” What a gruesome reductio ad absurdum of the divine formula. We are gods, now. And gods do not sit silent and apart in painted veils. There is strength in the individual, but it is not of Her. Her strength is found in refusing to sit silent and apart while we witness the rape of our sisters, our friends, our mothers and our daughters.
I will say it once, and clearly: the dawn of Babalon is not the wish-fulfilment of Man, but his redistribution. The Aethyr is no longer owned by the phallus: the kteis was never gone, just waiting.
You cry “reclaim the Whore!” and miss the whole bloody point of the exercise. This vision of an artistically-debased fuck-a-goddess slot-machine priestess blasphemes the very meaning of Her holiness. She cries “there is holiness in the Dirt!” and you reply, “there is no Heaven! All the great mass of human experience can be found in this ball of shit.” Well, a Holy Whore is subject to the Will of Babalon, not of Man. Hers is the Divine and Bloody Rite, not some soft-focus wish-fulfilment.
“Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love!”
— Liber AL
There is sexism at the heart of Thelema and magic because Thelema and magic are about the sex difference. This has the potential to offer us revolutionary, transformative ways of understanding gender and sexuality, but instead we’re just using it to perpetuate so much convenient old Aeon bullshit. And I’m really fucking sick of this blasphemy, this profanity. These hashtags and classes are sticking plasters over an old, infected wound, one that has caused a sepsis deep inside. There will be no healing until the wound is cauterised and the poison removed.
And, you know, for a well-read movement we are obscenely ignorant of our own history. Why, as a milieu, do we have this giant hole where there should be the recognition and understanding of the intertwined worlds of suffrage, feminism and occultism at the turn of the 20th century? The occult milieu used to be a place of genuine female power when the rest of the world kept women in kitchens and confinements. Blavatsky, David-Neel, Naglowska, Besant, Mathers, Farr, Fortune, never mind the occult spiritualities created and expressed by some of history’s most prominent suffragettes. So what the fuck happened?
And I realise, that so many occult men are armchair feminists. They like their goddesses feisty but they do not understand that feminism is not about spirituality or sexuality or symbol, not first. It is about personhood. The right to vote; the right to own property. These were what the suffragettes campaigned for. The right to be a person apart from a man—and this is what I struggle to see in the male-dominated occult world. We claim to enshrine duality, yet the whole thing strikes me rather more like some Hargrave Jennings fanboy wetdream than anything approaching magical truth.
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
—1 Corinthians 11:3 (King James Version)
“Every man and every woman is a star.”
— Liber AL
We asked for personhood, and we were given womanhood. But every man and every woman is a star, and now we women claim our starhood. You—you were given starhood on a golden patten. We will take it at the tip of a sword.
“The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs”
— Liber AL
They say, we must not ruin a man’s life over one night, one act. Why not? They ruined hers. They altered her erotic topology forever. A body of stars, thrown against the dirt. Manure will make the garden grow, alright; but there will be opium lettuce and mandrake where there were once poppies and date trees. The land that is tended well brings forth rich crops. The land that has been mined irresponsibly with great phallic drills for black gold—that land rises up in protest and shakes down civilisation. And then we bemoan the land for an equilibrating reaction to the imbalance we caused?
Bodies are geographies, ripe for exploration. You, you are the coloniser, the slave driver. You entered the holy temples without permission; raided and ransacked and declared them your own. And I, priestess of the innermost, still trying to wrap the rags of my veil around me and stem the blood that flows between my legs, I accepted this great thrusting phallus and its claim that this is the true secret of sex magic. The all-begetting phallic wand. Yea, you took possession and then, to pile heresy upon heresy, declared the whore of whores, a virgin inviolate and possession of yours; only you are fit to enter the holy caves, whose mysteries you have redefined. No more.
Because while we’re busy arguing that sex is good, and divine, and not evil, we’ve lost the space we need to say some sex is bad. Some sex is evil. Having sex does not spoil a woman; but having sex can spoil a woman. Not because of her sin, but because she has been betrayed; because of the wrong use of something that, rightly used, can lead to uttermost divinity. Wrongly used, it can lead to uttermost degradation.
How do I express my pain without being told I’m hysterical, making too much of a fuss, that I must simply ‘get over it’? How do I explain I cannot, when it is everywhere, and it happens everyday, and everywhere I turn I see the power dynamic play out again and again. Because these experiences didn’t alter my topology only — they altered the way I look at the world.
When #metoo was making its rounds I saw a lot of things along the lines of “your sister, your wife, your mother, they have been through this”—well what about the flip side? Because most of these stories weren’t about strangers, they were about friends and lovers. That is what is so bloody terrifying. So think about this—if every woman I know has been assaulted, then how many men that I know have assaulted a woman? How many have fucked her when she was too drunk to say no?
“O lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Accursèd! Accursèd be it to the æons! Hell”
And I realise the crux of the matter: there are two types of people in this world. Those whose ethical code revolves around the question “What can I get away with?”, and those who seek to be actively ethical, to encourage and enable other people’s starhood. To me it is blindingly obvious which of these Thelema demands. Sadly, this does not appear to be common knowledge.
Your sisters are not weak for needing protection—a toxic form of masculinity has been allowed to perpetuate itself unchecked, and it is up to my brothers, as well as my sisters, to right this wrong.
I’m not playing the game of the Scarlet Woman properly, am I? Well fuck your game and its enabling, justifying misogyny. If you’re going to play your game with loaded dice that land on rape every third throw then don’t sit there and complain that no women want to play with you, like it’s some inexplicable outcome and the only possible cause must be that women are just not strong enough, or smart enough, or are unreasonably unprepared to put up with this bullshit.
“Worship me with fire & blood; worship me with swords & with spears. Let the woman be girt with a sword before me: let blood flow to my name. Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, o warrior, I will give you of their flesh to eat!”
Aye, the Woman is girt with a sword before me—“but could She just lie over there, on that chaise lounge, and pose for a few photos? Christ! don’t actually swing that thing, its for decorative purposes only!”
“Why are you so angry?!” they cry, hurt and heartbroken that their act of Love has caused tears. “You always seems so angry!” they cry, bemused.
And the White Knight chimes in, “but I didn’t do anything! Why are you angry at me?!”
And the women join the chorus: “you’re a woman!” the little dogs cry, “aren’t you used to it by now? Why are you so angry?”
I am angry. I am angry at myself and yes, I am angry with you, my dear reader. I am angry that this has been allowed to go on for so long, that this infection has been allowed to spread, unchecked, until it is coexistent with magic itself. I am angry with you and I am angry with me and I am angry at all of us who have allowed this to perpetuate. I am even angry at those who have challenged, those who spoke up. Why didn’t you shout louder? Why didn’t we raze their temples to the ground?
I am angry. And I am sick of my anger being censored, of my anger being inappropriate. Of it being distastefully female. I am sick of dampening my fire and fury to make my apocalypse more palatable reading. Call my blood and guts and fire and fury poetry, and give me the same benefit of the doubt we do our beloved prophet.
I will not keep silence. I will not keep the silence of the handmaiden, the silence of the chattel, the silence of the cup, the silence of the womb. Yes we are strong, yes we rise; but we are strong because we have been hurt; we rise because we have been raped, not despite it. Yea, you speak of Babalon rising. You think She will rise and float amidst this bullshit? You think She will smile and nod and go away quietly when they tell Her that debasement rape abuse assault manipulation and use—objecthood, not starhood—when they tell her these are necessary to serve Her cause?
The word of Sin is Restriction. I will keep silence in the Holy of Holies but I will scream and rant and rage in the temple courtyard, as did the Christ before me. My name is Soror Laleo, and I am she who speaks.
Other articles by Sister Georgia:
- 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
- Life In The Stooping Starlight: On Feminisms, Grace And The Holy Whore