That dang K. Do we love it or do we hate it?

Tomorrow (well, today, I suppose, it’s slipped on into morning for TBW – so bear with me if this post doesn’t actually make sense) I am leading a discussion on High Magick and I put together a (mighty fine, if I do say so myself) timeline of CM.

And I started looking at the Victorian Era a little differently.

The need to set magick apart from magic. The Golden Dawn prohibition against hypnosis. The rise in the popularity of Tarot. Alistair Crowley in general. The Queen in general!

Fun side note – One of the most (in)famous anecdotes about Victorian prudery relates to an English saying with roughly the same meaning as “grit your teeth“ or “grin and bear it.” Of course, childbearing was considered a patriotic duty in Victorian England; it was particularly necessary for royalty to provide heirs to the throne. However, because women were not supposed to enjoy sexual intercourse, the details of “wedded bliss” were foggy for most women (and likely men). Brides in particular would have been ignorant of the facts thereabout. According to one urban legend, when Queen Victoria gave instructions to her daughter on her wedding night She told her to simply, “lie back and think of England.”

With a hegemony so antithetical to sexual pleasure, it’s no wonder social non-conformists tossed their keys into the fishbowl and loaded up on opium.

So when we look at movements like Thelema (and whatnot) we have to remember that they did not spring forth in a vacuum. There is a cultural context to consider.

On another front, we have to think about the limitations they elected for themselves as well. The Victorian Era was like the populace who cried “Wolf” when it came to the occult. (I think of the fairy movie with Julia Ormond and Harvey Keitel as Harry Houdini.) What with all of the charlatans and fakers, it became necessary to weed out the fibbers before proceeding to approach the aether. But now, we understand the value of self-hypnosis in magickal practice and we don’t (typically) make initiates oath to not be hypnotized.

That’s no new news to anyone I’m sure.

But I’m starting to think about my favorite novel (to teach), Dracula by Bram Stoker, a purported member of The Golden Dawn. And I’m starting to wonder how much I’ve missed in that tight little epistolary. All his talk about “animal magnetism,” I wonder what I might uncover if I were to read it with an eye toward the OTO.

And I’m also thinking about other historical contexts – like Gardener’s post-WWII nudist preferences and I’m starting to think I have a viable explanation for his (and to a varied degree, Alexander Sanders’) preoccupation with The Great Rite.

I’ll post about it when it’s *not* the witching hour.


This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet.”