Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On Baphomet, the Serpent and the Lion, and the Child of Chaos and Babalon

Baphomet, by Chuk Vinson
"I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS, the sole viceregent of the Sun upon Earth; and in one Air the nourisher of all that breaths.

And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.

And I believe in the Serpent and the Lion, Mystery of Mystery, in His name BAPHOMET..."

-from the Creed of the Ecclesia Gnsotica Catholica (EGC)

Goodness, it's been a long time since I found myself at about 30,000 feet on a Southwest flight, bound to who-knows-where, memorizing the Gnostic Creed in preparation for my Confirmation in the E.G.C. It was an exciting time for me, I think I had made it to my I* in the OTO, and I was going to be confirmed in a white robe at a Gnostic Mass that was being performed by Cathy (neƩ Craig) Berry and Leanne Mason Berry. I didn't want to screw it up.

I remember digesting the bits about Chaos, eating it right up and understanding it in ways I couldn't explain. I remember grooving to the bits on Babalon, in whose cup I saw myself swimming in with abandon.

But then I got to that Baphomet part.

Chaos gets a whole bunch of stuff. Babalon gets less, but still, it touches on Mysteries that can be readily explored.

And then there's the Serpent and the Lion, in his name Baphomet.

It's a bit sparse, there.

I went into Levi, and read about Baphomet there. I read through a lot of the references to Baphomet in Crowley's writings that Google can provide on a site search of Hermetic.com. I looked into the Greek lion-headed serpent pieces I found here and there, and I finally just kind of gave up. It's not like I actually understood half of what I was reading, and the other half was getting consumed in all the other stuff I've been working on since then.

But then Harper went to New Orleans for a Mass at Alombrados, and while in the vicinity picked up a little picture of Baphomet that started residing in our Temple space. And she had dreams, and visions of Baphomet in her operations of the Great Work. And she made a little statue of that goat-headed god that destroys the destroyer, and he became mighty among us.

And then I started performing the Gnostic Mass as Priest. And I understood a thing about how Baphomet is the offspring of Hadit and Nuit, of Chaos and Babalon, and its role in the creation and generation of existence as we know it, as we experience it, and as we want it to feel as we dive into it, all senses blazing, and raw, and beautiful.

And then I started to see that it was also the married Red Queen and White King of alchemy, the precursor to the Stone of the Wise, in some systems. It is the energetic constant that creates, that takes the raw powers of the Sun and turns it into everything we experience, and everything we experience it through.

And I'm still young in this path. I've read through Frater Sabazius' discussion of Baphomet as the offspring of Chaos and Babalon. I'm looking forward to the 2016 O.T.O. Women's Symposium eucharistic rite that is based on the Marriage of Chaos and Babalon as discussed in that link. I'm looking forward to exploring where we end up as a result, when that Lion and that Serpent is created.

Baphomet kicks ass.

And in keeping with this theme, I received in the mail this afternoon the coolest representation of Baphomet I've ever seen. Chuk Vinson, who many of you might remember as the artist who created the work "Anatomy Occultus" that pops up in the background of my profile pics on Facebook on occasion, has finished his Baphomet piece. Here's me with the print:

It's now available from the Dove and Serpent store, and all proceeds will go to supporting the local lodge at the following link:

I can't recommend enough that you get a copy of this print in your temple space as soon as possible. The Baphomet of Levi is pretty awesome, don't get me wrong, but Chuk's work captures the animal nature of this entity that crops up when you actually get in touch with it. You can feel the coarseness of the hair, smell the goatiness of its potency, feel it move and move you at the same time when you contemplate this image.

He really nailed it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Progeny of Sorores Estai and Meral


After Harper and I published the "Progenitrix" articles on the lives of Jane Wolfe and Phyllis Seckler within the realms of the A.'.A.'., the O.T.O., and the ongoing impacts of their lives on the promulgation of the Thelema of Aleister Crowley, it rapidly became apparent that the history of these Sisters, and of Phyllis Seckler in particular, was a subject of dispute among modern Thelemites in the Order.
Soror Meral

The number of contradictory ideas, incorrect representations, and blatantly false allegations surrounding our progenitrix that were brought to me by our brethren was astounding. I had no idea that people didn't already know this stuff.

In writing the essay on Jane Wolfe, I relied a great deal on her actual correspondence with Crowley, and her diaries at Cefalu*. I also consulted the correspondences between Seckler and Germer, and between Seckler and Wolfe. This correspondence is publicly available, and has been published for years, made available by Marlene Cornelius**, and David Shoemaker***.

I thought everyone with an active opinion on Jane and Phyllis had read this information, but apparently... not so much.

The publicly available record directly contradicts 90% of the misinformation I've heard from my sisters and brothers in the Order, and clarifies the remaining 10% that might be interpreted improperly when taken out of context. All of the documentation I found is indisputable, by even the most adamant detractors of our Sister.

Yet accusations of recension, perversion, lack of initiation, and even implications of criminal activity continue to float around the edges of the Thelemic community.

In an effort to resolve the disconnect between historic facts and the various theories and gossip I've heard exchanged with sisters and brethren in the Order, ranging from Austin, Texas, to Baltimore, Maryland, and to here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I decided I needed to get as close to the source as possible. After all, she was with us until 2004, and it's not like I don't actually know the people who knew her best when she was alive.

So, of course, I went to David Shoemaker and asked him about some of the things people were saying.

David was one of the people closest to Soror Meral in life. He was her personal student in the A.'.A.'., and worked closely with her during the final decade of her life. As a member of a relatively small group of people who could consider themselves the heirs of her legacy, and as one of the people who actually worked with her on several of the projects that are the subject of so much confusion, it made sense to go to him and address these topics directly.

Talking to David about these subjects was quite enlightening. If you've heard his Living Thelema broadcasts, you're familiar with the calm and intelligent approach he brings to the subjects he addresses. Even extremely inflammatory accusations were met with gentle correction, supported by simple documentable facts.

Over the last couple of months I've continued to ask him questions covering topics that cover the history of the A.'.A.'. from the time of Germer's death, when there was only one recognized administration, through the development of Neo-A.'.A.'. administrations, until we reached the current state of affairs.

I spoke with him about the different methods of administration of the A.'.A.'. that Soror Meral experimented with as she progressed through her own initiations and the accomplishment of her Great Work, and came to understand more clearly how the traditional student program of the A.'.A.'. never stopped, and the actual roles the institutions such as the International College of Thelema, or the Temple of the Silver Star played under the auspices of her teachings.

After these conversations, I found myself in a much better position to understand the relationship between the A.'.A.'. and the O.T.O. historically and today.

Sisters and Brothers, a lot has gone down over the years.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be publishing the results of our interviews in a series of "Progeny of Estai-Meral" posts. It might take a while to cover all the material. There's a fair amount of it, after all. It's been more than a minute since Meral's recognition by Germer as a 5=6. Life has happened.

And it hasn't stopped.

While I get the next post together, take a few minutes and tune into this Stooping Starlight episode, featuring a rare interview with Soror Meral. Hearing her speak gives you more insight into her life, view, and personality than anything I could write about ever will. While an abridged transcript of this interview appears in The Thoth Tarot, Astrology, and Other Selected Writings (see below), the Stooping Starlight podcast provides never-before-published conversations with Soror Meral.

93 93/93

See Jane Wolfe: The Cefalu Diaries 1920-1923, available from the International College of Thelema (http://intcot.org/store)
** See Jane Wolfe: Her Life with Aleister Crowley, Parts I and II, available from Conjoined Creation
*** See The Thoth Tarot, Astrology and Other Selected Writings, and The Kabbalah, Magick, and Selected Writings Volume II, available from Weiser Antiquarian Books.