a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Thelema and Subcultures

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.misc,alt.thelema
From: (nigris333)
Subject: Thelema and Subcultures
Date: 23 Aug 1997 11:55:23 -0700

49970806 aa2 Hail Satan!

[alot of this text removed as not relevant to public forums]

...I don't think that 'free love' is a very thoroughly
understood concept in its rudimentary features. ... I have rarely found 
them in any community, let alone one dedicated to polyamory, for example.

some of my experience [in avoiding 'nasty' social situations], was due 
to learning to avoid certain types of people who exhibited what I would 
now call 'danger signs'.  these I initially found in the subculture 
surrounding the recreational use of psychoactives, and I have seen it, 
as Lainie says below, in many different subculture communities.

while I do think that [such nasty social quagmires do arise], I don't 
think that 1) it can be avoided except through avoiding groups of people 
who are involved with anything unusual (cultish, taboo, countercultural, 
etc.), and 2) it describes all of the individuals of any particular 
social and/or geographical group....

...I have noticed within religious
groups generally and esoteric and/or elitist groups in particular the
desire to avoid confrontation.  this includes the (c)OTO of which I 
am a member.

when beginning an encounter with my local (SF/Berkeley) Thelemic 
community, I was an alien shamanic who'd loved the texts of Crowley and 
was becoming social for discipline purposes.  I was treated more like a
visiting investigator (which I was) and was very hesitant to get
involved with any 'funny' ceremonial activities (I was convinced that
they were dangerous, which I still think they are :>) and wanted to
study them before allowing them to potentially corrupt my virgin mind.

my ...response to the creepier people was that they were the 'dangerous 
element', the 'wild' from whom I might learn something profound.  damned 
creepy at times, and some of them I think got off on being so (perhaps 
we all played at this to some degree or another).  I was intrigued yet 
cautious (having had brief investigative expeirences with cults like 
Scientology, Krishna Consciousness Movement, and brushes with the 'hard 
drug' culture in my South SF Bay area).  the criminal and esoteric 
weren't therefore entirely unknown to me.

I came away, after several years of intermittent involvement, with
the impression that, as in many odd groups, there are some weirdos
who were worth the exposure and a great many who were not.  discerning
one from the other was not an easy skill to acquire, but I do think it
developed over time.  having read a modicum of Crowley's ideas on
magick was *extremely* helpful in the Thelemic community.  I'd 
developed my own understanding of them and their application (largely
as a philosophy and/or a direct application in the 'mundane world') 
and was contrasting it as counter to the popular ideologies in our
conversations and could discern, through their reaction, how they felt
about their own dogma, what kinds of challenges they did and did not
like, how much degrees and secrets mattered to them, etc., etc.  

I would recommend this approach to any esoteric and elitist org: reading
up and doing homework prior to becoming involved is very valuable.  it
is also very valuable to have friends or internal connections going
into the venture.

I saw that some individuals were absolutely hazards, but there were a number 
of others within that community who were gems, rare founts of inspiration,
artistic genius and subtle and sometimes completely intuitive wisdom.  it 
was to these latter, by my estimation, I would gravitate in my subsequent 
visits (sometimes of 2-3 days, staying periods at Oz Haus and elsewhere 
and welcomed by most residents and visitors).

in general I recommend against organizations of all sorts, ...especially 
those which involve secrecy and hierarchy and a connection to 'spirituality' 
and 'wisdom'.  more often than not they can become festering quagmires of 
feud and vampirism.  however, I would add my ...temperance saying 
that I think there is a definite value in taking particular approaches 
to such groups, almost a kind of 'glancing trajectory' in which one does 
not really become totally infused within the social system yet participates 
in some group affairs (like Masses, which I more often than not enjoyed) 
and one-on-one talks.

in addition I would suggest that avoiding such contact may be one method
of avoiding the situation you describe, but that there are other ways of
going about it such as more thoroughly learning communication and 
behavioral cues that indicate early on that such problems underly the
social system to which one is being exposed.  there are red flags that
are available which may well be described in modern communication theory
books or those on horrific experiences in cults and power-cabals (some
of which I've read just to acquire this kind of innoculation).

re amazement at the suggestion 
	"that good people will be drawn into involvement with 
	 the Thelemic community if they just meet some of its 
	 fine, upstanding members. 

my experience is that this suggestion is true, but that what people 
mean by 'fine' and 'upstanding' and how well they are able to assess 
such qualities varies alot.  sources of authority are important, and
I think there are some very wonderful exemplars of Thelemic culture
who at times have little attention drawn to them on account of their
humility and ability to move amongst the feuds without ruffling feathers.

Lainie Petersen :
# ...people who are involved in "subcultures" are often there for a 
# reason: they can't get along anywhere else. 

my impression was that these subcultures afford the misfits an arena of
operation whereby their true nature can be concealed, and especially
where occult or mystical secrets are afoot, an easy means of disrupting
communication such that their ruse is not discovered until they have
achieved their purposes and moved on.  this is why one of the more
important ways to discern these individuals is by their length of residence
or involvement with the local body.  hopefully over time the real problems 
are discovered and removed or ostracized if there is genuine concern for 
this within the community.  in some cases these individuals become the 
reason for deep divisions into sects within these same communities or the
very hub around which a sick community exists.

# I have experienced the worst treatment of my life at the hands of
# so-called "Thelemites", only rivaled by similar treatment at the hands of
# people active in other obscure political/social movements. 

I'm somewhat confused by this statement.  my impression is that with any
deep involvement with political and social groups these types of experiences
are inevitable unless a very strong and stable community has developed to
prevent it (the community being very fluid of communication regarding the
really important things like deception and hypocrisy).  

it may be that 'Thelema' as a culture is, like the Satanist culture or 
that of Chaos Magicians, more prone to damage fallout on account of the
emphasis given to the ego, to the will of the individual, and to freedom
in behavior.  to a certain extent I think it is *healthy* to emphasize
these, yet on the other hand it makes for a more dangerous cultural ground.

here at Haus Kaos we have had substance abusers, thieves, and those
involved with a host of more seriously problematic behaviors and have
chosen to attempt to deal with them with respect while still seeing how
much we could salvage of the small community we've developed (sometimes
dwindling to two individuals: the Abyss and myself).  

it hasn't always been easy and at times it was very painful.  if we'd
had 'rules' or standards of ethics/morality as a kind of litmus test
for residence I'm unsure that things would have been different, but we
might have had far less honesty in our discussions.  as it was those
who were causing problems were usually asked to leave eventually, not
always with the least amount of pain suffered by those remaining.  
quite a few residents left *because* of this afforded latitude.

# there are fine, decent, competent Thelemites out there, but by golly, I
# haven't seen much evidence of "Thelema" influencing their lives for the
# better.... such behavior is common amongst most if not all sub-cultures.

social groups are by their nature dissolutory of individual integrity.
a 'subculture' is merely an intensification of a loose social system
which identifies with specific ideas or symbols particular to a greater
community (e.g. the Hindu is the greater community of the Krishna
Consciousness people).  

I think that subcultures do provide some value to individuals, however.
they can become gathering-nexi for those who are central to the 
experience and wisdom which is indicated by the social system.  there
is variety of signal/noise depending upon the particular geography and
social make-up, yet often if one looks closely enough there are those
to be found (sometimes at the bottom rungs of ladder-orgs, doing the
'dirty work') who exemplify the doctrines, philosophy and/or values
around which the group ostensibly congregates.  how to go about looking
for them and how to find them seem to depend on what one is seeking.

# ...the type of people you are talking about can really be a piece of
# slim ball scum, but they come and go.  

I think this is definitely an overstatement.  some cults which I have
investigated, for example, did not just seem to contain the odd individual
who qualified for this description, but the qualities seemed common.  there 
is no reason that a group of like-minded shysters and charlatans cannot, 
as a group, set about deceiving and duping incoming newbies, whether this 
be in a local group or even something more extensive.  in fact I tended to
go *into* my encounters with the more exclusivist groups presuming this
was the case and watching for real signs either way.

I gather that some measure of what (c)OTO admin does, for example, is to
watch out for precisely this sort of development in localized groups,
and then either rectify it through removing the problem individuals from
authority or shutting the whole body down.


nigris (333) -- --

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races