Sex, Gender, and Magic 1/n+1


I was already drafting this in my head as a response to a reddit thread—particularly this comment—when one of the bloggers I follow decided to wade into the subject.  It’s something I’ve talked about before from time to time, but usually only in reference to Wicca.  There is a great deal of gender essentialism and heterosexism in the occult community, and the privileged apologia that tends to accumulate when someone calls bullshit makes me fucking furious.

Now, let’s look at the two OPs, first: a woman asking for people to share their experiences of gender difference in different forms of occultism, and gay man exploring the possibility of a huge oversight in the (human understanding of) Hermetic Law.  The first got a few genuinely thoughtful answers, but the response to both (overwhelming in the one case, so far singular in the other) amounts to “how dare you ask that fucking question?”

That response infuriates me.  It drives home the fact that, just as the neo-Pagan community is rife with mainline American anti-intellectualism (a rant for another time, but just look at popular responses to Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon), the occult community as a whole is permeated by outdated and debunked ideologies of sex, gender, and sexuality.

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I Think I’ve Found the “Reset” Button On My Aura

Fair Warning: In this post I’m going to talk about some of the “woo” that a lot of serious magicians don’t seem to like to talk about, but which I’m pretty sure they all practice on account of… well… their magic works.  Some of this sounds hokey, I know: if someone’s got better language to describe these things, I’d love to hear it.

Like many of you, I imagine, my earliest training in magic revolved around various chakra meditations.  I imagined that I was discovering these features of my energetic body, exercising them like mortal muscles.  I worked diligently to strengthen them, all on the assumption that the Eastern traditions from which they were “adopted” had knowledge of the subtle bodies that Western traditions had just somehow missed.  Now I’m not so sure.

“Forget everything you were told about chakras.”  Was it Peter Carroll or Phil Hine who told me that?  I don’t have those sources at hand to look it up.

The last public Beltane ritual I attended featured a number of children (before they were sent off to finish their own ritual while we grown ups poured some wine and finished our own).  The ritual leader pointed to them, and their as-yet-undifferentiated auras, and her belief that it was because, as children, they had not yet learned to compartmentalize their lives: that they did everything with the whole of their beings.  The auras I could see … the explanation, however, seemed unlikely.

I have already mentioned that my ceremonial experiments have been moving things around: a Malkuth node below my feet, my Crown (Kether) chakra rising a little further above my head, Geburah and Binah nodes forming at my shoulders, and my lowest three chakras fading almost to nothing.  I have been working to counteract these trends—or, at the very least, the untenable side effects.  Since beginning my work with the Stele of Jeu, all of my chakras—except for my Crown and Heart, which have been maintained by my Yoga practice—have been fading,  leaving my aura largely undifferentiated except for a dense corona at the edge.  Interestingly, this is having none of the undesirable consequences of some of my previous experiments—unless the insomnia, which seems to have passed, was related.  All this leads me to conclude that much of what I have taken for granted about my aura—seven chakras, various layers, and what have you—are not natural features but molds we train ourselves to fit within.  The magic we practice shapes our “energetic bodies”, much as our experiences physically altar our brains… except more so.

What does this mean in practical terms?  I don’t know yet, other than the obvious: I’ve lost another round of Everything You Know Is Wrong (I actually kind of love loosing that game; it means the universe it still interesting, and also that my experiments aren’t suffering from confirmation bias.).  It certainly means that, if I continue this path and my familiar energy nodes are replaced by something new and different, certain exercises I have used for years will be less efficacious.  As long as the benefits of jamming this Reset Button continue to be more positive than negative (and so long as none of the side effects are things I’m just not willing to deal with, “objective” measurements be damned), I’ll keep the course and see how things turn out.