by Kelly N. AKA Keanu Tease
I’m not shocked. I’m upset. I’m crying. But I’m not shocked. This trial was a joke from start to finish. Murder is legal in the United States apparently, but only if you have the correct skin tone. It’s over 400 years of systemic oppression and bigotry that has led to this moment. It’s beyond wrong yet perfectly acceptable. Racist murderers continue to not be held accountable or let off scot free. I’m tired. I’m so tired. But I’m not shocked.
Immediately the tweets start coming in. Even though I am a performer, my account is mostly magick focused, a majority of the accounts I follow being Thelemites. And for the most part the Tweets reflect the outrage and anger we are all feeling.
And there it was. A completely tone-deaf tweet from a popular account thrown into the mix. For the first time since hearing the verdict, I am shocked. I take a screenshot and send it to a friend. I ask, “am I reading into this wrong? Is there any other meaning this could have?” We both sat with it but still came to the conclusion that it couldn’t mean anything else; whatever your opinion on the Rittenhouse verdict is, you should keep silent.
I would like to point out that posting this on Twitter is in fact not “keeping silent.” And it came out as a holier-than-thou post stating because your opinion on the verdict is yours to have alone, you are upholding this Power of the Sphinx. Fair enough, but… they obviously have an opinion, one they felt needed to be shared if even in a cryptic way. Instead of taking their own advice, they went ahead and clicked that “Tweet” button. Since silence was not observed here, it’s not hard to read the covert racism between the lines.
At this point I’ve completely broken down. I am sobbing. I have been preparing the whole week for an intense magickal operation which includes fasting. I feel I’m being irrationally moody. I’ve found myself in uncomfortable situations all week that have triggered angry and unnecessary responses. This was just the cherry on top. But this is the moment I start to think I’m not being irrationally angry.
POC in a Fringe Community
I express to my friend my frustrations. How being a POC makes me feel even more a minority in an already fringe community, even if all my friends are accepting allies and have shown me much love and compassion. It can still be hard to express myself or relate with others at times. Speaking up on my concerns can be difficult when a lot of people have sympathy of my experience, but cannot truly understand what it’s like to walk down the street in Chinatown the night of the election while a car full of Proud Boys flying a giant Trump flag pull over and proceed to verbally abuse you while your hand is clenched on your taser, red in color invoking Mars for protection. I can tell people the fear I felt all year while Asians were attacked at random all over San Francisco. Sucker punched on Market Street or almost ran down on Valencia while just trying to commute to work. Racist slurs accompanying the violence. I can speak up, but unfortunately if you’re white, or cis-gendered, or male, or straight, or all these, while I appreciate the support and space you have held for me, it’s unfortunately just not an experience that you can fully know.
Once I was done venting, they validated that this is my experience and I am perfectly justified in my feelings of anger and hurt. This inspired me to write it down, because this isn’t just today I have felt this, but rather a feeling I’ve had for a while being a minority Thelemite and interacting with others in this community. I just haven’t been able to quite find the words until today. I expressed that I wasn’t sure I wanted to share anything with the public, that even though I have been studying and working in magickal systems since 2009, I’d really just started in Thelema last Autumn. I feel I haven’t been here long enough to be any kind of authority to be speaking on it. Not to mention a very real fear that POC have, especially WOC, that by speaking out I’d just be written off as that “Angry Brown Woman” and my opinions disregarded. Something I’m constantly having to navigate.
My friend’s advice to me; Don’t get stuck in the feeling of “not good enough.” Channel mediocre white dude energy.
So here I am and definitely much better than any mediocre white dude because not only am I a proud, strong, and beautiful mixed woman, I’m also working towards my True Will, and cheering for my friends and community for the same.
I want to address some of my experiences I have had to deal with my entire life being a WOC, and particularly the ones I’ve had because of my proximity to whiteness. Yes, even here in good ol’ “Liberal” let’s-hold-hands-in-the-streets San Francisco. Don’t even get me started on this city’s politics, that would be a whole essay in itself. Generally speaking people lean to the left, if only slightly, and people are nice and accepting enough. But I don’t know if everyone really does their part to be aware of their bias and privilege or do enough to be actively anti racist. Let’s face it, this city’s culture has changed drastically in the last 10 years. Unfortunately this leaves room for the racial microaggressions.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in an uncomfortable situation from strangers on the bus straight asking me “are you oriental?” to people at my job making comments about my skin tone (I am an esthetician) and my all-time least favorite, being festishized and called adjectives that are equated in comparison to savage animals and foriegn objects. Objects. Oftentimes how I am viewed, an object. And being mixed, I am well aware of the privilege I do hold, however it also comes with people just being blatantly racist around you. Either they aren’t aware you aren’t full white and think it’s okay to let their guard down while saying something out of pocket. Or they are aware and are testing to see how far they can go with their hate, because they think if it flies with you then it is an acceptable opinion to have. I honestly do not know which of these two scenarios is worse, but being on the receiving end of either is terrible.
Unfortunately, the occult community is no different and only a microcosm reflective of the whole. These same issues bleed over into our spaces. I think we are all aware of the major issues with white supremacy in the Thelemic community that I don’t even need to address here. The reality of that specific problem is that those individuals do not in any way reflect the Thelemic community as a whole. But unfortunately, these individuals in all communities across the board tend to be the loudest. It is generally a part of the human condition to shy away from conflict, ignore it, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Ie. one interpretation of “keeping silent.” More on this later.
And while I see my friends everyday speaking up about these issues, not enough people are actively fighting oppression. As long as these individuals within our community continue to be loud, we have a real problem. We can pretend it isn’t an issue just because it isn’t the majority viewpoint in Thelema, but history has shown us time and time again that these ideas are so incredibly dangerous and can easily spiral out of control. No amount of me pointing out what happened with Q or listing what led up to and transpired on January 6th can make this point any clearer unless you are willing to accept this as fact and take on the task of fighting for social change.
Prejudice in Occultism
While I know so many amazing magicians, witches, and practitioners who are also members of historically oppressed communities, the truth is this current has its roots in Victorian Europe. And while not all famous occultists of these traditions have been white, most of them are. And that’s fine, it’s just history. Not to mention the subtle racist undertones in many of the former teacher’s works. I’m not going to be mad about it or immediately go into cancel-culture mode. There is still much validity in the work and we need to also view these teachings under the scope of the zeitgeist of their times. I personally feel viewing them now with the discernment of where we are as a culture today is even more powerful since we are able to question the texts and understand why we agree or disagree, solidifying our own personal gnosis.
This is still the truth, and because of it these traditions will tend to attract more practitioners who come from this ancestral background. But this is not to say that minorities also aren’t here nor not have the right to be here. And if every man and every woman (and every individual) is a star, then we must uphold this for everyone. Magick is a birthright, and if someone truly believes others are not entitled to this right due to their race, economic background, gender, sexual identity, etc. then they have absolutely no place to be propagating the Law of Thelema.
Some examples of predudice I’ve seen in these spaces are ignorant comments about practices traditionally occupied by POC, comments calling us “savages,” antisemetic takes on Kabbalic traditions, white savorism, “tarot is closed”, homophobic/anti-LGBTQ+ attacks. The list goes on and on.
In a Facebook group I am no longer a member of, when stumbling upon hateful words, I decided to call the person who wrote them out. Someone outside this heated argument who tends to subscribe to the “good-vibes-only” sentiment, out of nowhere turned on me and decided to poke and prod as if to act like my savior to ask me why I was so upset and triggered. Racism. That’s why. Things that should be stomped upon the moment they arise. But no, they wanted come for me, making me feel like I was wrong to have ever gotten upset in the first place. Because ancestral experience, growing up in a system built to fail POC, and personal incidents don’t matter. I’m not allowed to be fed up. I have to shut up and take it, according to them.
Online Protest and Prejudice
Another notable incident of prejudice was an “influencer” whom is not Thelemic sent out an ignorant tweet that was basically alluding all Thelemites are racist bigots, because going back to those problematic individuals that are unfortunately the loudest, giving the rest of the community a bad reputation. This bad take attempted to call all of us out on sweeping the problem under the rug and allowing it to continue. Again, this tends to be human nature in general, but this harmful tweet was definitely hinting that because some Thelemites are like this, we are all like this. And because we are all like this, we not only just let it slide, but encourage it.
My response to this viewpoint is this: Not only are you not listening to POC, especially POC Thelemites, you’re also not doing enough to support us, highlight us, and give our views any sort of spotlight. We remain mostly in the shadows because oftentimes our words are spoken over. The same pattern that’s been in place for centuries. And if you’re not listening to us, it’s because you’re not doing enough to hear us.
Sure, you could be reading this and be thinking “well she talks a mighty big talk on the internet, who cares.” While I agree a lot of online activism and SJWs come off purely performative, arising when it’s trending, I can assure you this is not me. Speaking up now is not my first rodeo. I grew up in the Bay Area’s punk scene which not only helped shape my politics but gave me my fight. I went to protests as a teenager and young adult, I remember “baby’s first riot” in 2009 when we said then that Oscar Grant’s life mattered, that black lives matter. I believe the revolution does take all kinds, and while spreading the information online is important, my friends and I would go out Nazi punching during actions and protests. A notable incident when after all that big talk, only two Proud Boys showed up at Chrissy Field to have a parade of sieg-heils to an audience of laughter. All while SFPD protected their right to do so, yet have a history of neglecting and even taking the lives of the people whom these ideas are a threat to.
On that note, I’d also like to say ACAB. I have punched a cop before. I have even twerked on a cop, but this is more of a segue of the type of activism I participate in now. As I think back on the things I used to do I reminisce in awe, I also wonder how I was never seriously hurt or arrested. I realize I cannot be doing this anymore. Last year, the rest of the world finally caught up to the fight we had been fighting for years, the fight we took over from our parent’s generation, and so on. And I applaud the young punk girl who reminds me of a young me, seeing the injustice and taking over from here. I ask her to be safe, but I applaud her.
I express my protest now through my art and creation. Either through written word, creative projects, and through burlesque acts. As much as my magickal practice inspires the creative process, so does my personal experience. Last year after sitting in my room unemployed and bored I started to write a 2020 inspired act. As events transpired the way they did, the act needed to be changed. The finished act was titled “No Justice, No Peace” and was a play on the shadow aspect of the major arcana Justice, as some of my acts are based specifically on tarot cards. It asked of me my pain and my tears. I performed it one time, a hypersigil, declaring the change and shift in mentality we as a country need, and I’m not sure if I can ever perform it again. It was but a spark in the life-long work we need to be doing towards social change. As long as there is injustice, I will continue to challenge oppressive viewpoints, either through speaking out, through my art, or any other means that deem it necessary.
The Weaponization of “Keep Silent”
Now back to “keeping silent.” This is a power I have pondered for some time. I think it is something many of us have, and many seem to even misinterpret at times. Myself included. Again, I am too fresh on the Thelemic scene to give any sort of take or share any interpretation on this. I have mulled over what it means both in the external world as well as what it means on the internal plane. And even doing just that seems counter-intuitive to the point. I think each individual will have a very subjective idea of what it means. Some of our interpretations will overlap and some will not. I know in a way I break it by even daring to speak up today. I definately know I break it by the idiotic urge to tweet every joke that pops into my brain or by making photoshops of Aleister Crowley (but let’s face it, if anyone deserves to be made fun of via meme, it’s him.)
But I have also witnessed instances where “to keep silent” becomes weaponized. Dangerous people using it to get away with dangerous ideas, to stay under the radar or justify their actions. Even gaslighting victims for speaking out about wrongdoings, as if them breaking some kind of oath of silence is the bigger and real offense being committed. Alluding to the fact that you have a bad opinion on the injustice that happened today when Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges and attempting to disguise it as wokeness falls along these lines.
I would like to take the time here to thank my teacher and friend Marco Visconti for being an ally with a history of fighting oppression within Thelemic communities. That kind of action is admirable and an example of how we can all be doing more. But Marco did another important thing for me in helping me understand Chapter 3 of Liber AL vel Legis. Let’s face it, at first read is comes off very “and now I choose violence.” However it’s not about waking up and choosing violence, but it’s also not about shying away from it. Conflict will come to you and no amount of spiritual bypassing or pretending it doesn’t exist will stop this inevitably. Conflict is all around and does eventually meet you. Do not run from it, but address it head on. And take the appropriate stance and actions that are being asked of you. Maybe that looks like twerking on a cop. Who I am to say, do what thou wilt.
I feared coming off as the “Angry Brown Woman” but the truth is, I am an Angry Brown Woman. Anytime I dare to just exist in this world and take up space. I am a very gentle and light-hearted person who shares much joy in her heart with Nuit, but there is no denying my personal experiences. I will continue to dare to exist and take up space. I showed up in Thelema like a chaotic flash and demanded a seat at the table. I was given one. But just because I have a seat, this doesn’t mean I am expected to be “well-behaved.” I will continue to make an uproar for as long as I need to. I am an Angry Brown Woman. I can “remain silent” but if my god of War and Vengeance gives me a war-engine, it is disrespectful to not use it. So while you are entitled to your opinion to remain silent on matters of bigotry and oppression, if you are not outraged, you might need to check your privilege. And maybe take your own advise and shut the fuck up.
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