I am currently studying of Ceremonial magic. This has brought me into awareness of the Qabalah. As I study the Qabalah I discovered an intense passion to learn Hebrew. So I scour Hebrew dictionaries, play around with language learning applications, and have come to meditate on the letters themselves. Sometimes it feels as though there is a part of my mind that remembers the letters from another time. I feel similitude and camaraderie regarding some of the fin de siecle authors of the late 19th-early 20th centuries who wrote at length on qabalah and in general on occultism: Eliphas Levi, Manly P Hall, Aleister Crowley.
During this time I am writing more fiction and poetry than I have previously. It is not difficult to see how the works I am reading and studying are influencing my work. What I find most amusing is that it was through reading the poetry of Aleister Crowley that I came full circle to a re-affirmed appreciation of the romantic poets, who had influenced his own writing. When I was fresh out of high school and entered community college, I was in love with the romantic poets. There was something very special to me about that time period.
Coming back through readings on occultism, entheogens, and sexuality emerging from the end of the Victorian period, I gained a greater appreciation for the focus of their writing during that time considering the dangerous threats made upon their persons if such writing had seen in public circulation. Crowley himself inserted many ideas into his work that were designed to challenge the culture of his time. Ida Craddock wrote extensively on spiritual relations that attracted the attention and fear of persons who sought to shut down her expression of feminism and spirituality.
A subject of great interest to me at the present are the writings from the fin de siecle era on sexuality, written by bisexual authors. Aleister Crowley and Richard Burton to name a few. Richard Burton’s widow burned his collection of papers for fear of what people of their Victorian England might say if the content were released. I fear that was a tragic loss. Crowley wrote about sex at length in his fiction and poetry. In my own writing, spirituality and sexuality lie at the center of the crossroads of all other things.
There was a time when uttering the phrase “I’m studying Ceremonial Magick” would have accrued the most ignoble treatment onto my person. Nowadays I can go on practically any digital media platform and talk about sexuality, drugs, occultism. I can talk about these things in real time as well. It might garner some weird looks from people who wouldn’t expect to hear it from me, but it cannot endanger me because it has become part of a shared national culture (save versus cultures for whom these topics are more than taboo but illegal and punished severely (even unto death). Even these subjects transcend nation as they are discussed across the globe. A few days ago I was on facebook and came across a socioeconomic quiz. Its designed to test the elasticity of one’s social bubble, how aware they are of American culture, based on their own socio-economic status as a child and through adulthood. One friend of mine noted that they are asking the wrong questions. I agree with her statement. I stated I feel no shame for being disconnected from American culture.
And then I was reminded of a very powerful statement I heard once. How can a writer contribute to social change if they are not immersed in the culture? There is a melting pot of reasons why people write. Some actively seek to thwart the auld order and evoke change, others strongly feel that they enjoy writing and that is their penultimate raison d’etre, they have no need to further define it beyond a sense of true will. In 2016 I wrote about my own reasons for writing in relation to the dark night of the soul.
So how does a writer shape his/her world without knowing the culture of place or of time? This is a hard one for me, a moment of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I often relate that I don’t really feel like I belong in this time. If I had lived in the early 20th century I think something in the field of the arts would have suited me best. On one hand I have little to no interest in aspects of our shared social constructs that seek to divide and conquer, and on the other, I’m consciously aware that they exist, I would just rather focus on other things; I’d rather focus my attention on work that brings people together not those that tear them asunder.