Hey, Hookah!

קְדֵשָׁה
Parts of Speech: Singular, Absolute, Adjective, Feminine.
Root: קָדֵשׁ (Q-D-Š)
In English: Kedeshah
Transliteration: qəḏēšāh
Definition:
1. to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, beKedesh = “holy place”
a. 1. apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness
2. temple prostitute
Related to the words: Kaddish, Kedushah, Kiddush (all rituals to sanctify); qodesh (holiness); nhitqadsh (marriage—the verb; I’d like to think it’s kinda like hieros gamos if only Hebrew played like that); and miqdash (temple).

And if you switch the e and the h of the last two syllables, you get my sacred name: Ehsha, חשא (aleph sheen hay). But that’s just me being momentarily narcissistic.

Read this for some weirdness—Wyrdness—that no one was prolly ever meant to find. Especially the part that says: “Ishshah, which is affiliated to eshshah [is] nonlinguistic fire; the latter is the distaff ramification of cosmic fire, which is esh. . . . The Ashkenazi letters categorization esha are aleph-sheen-hay, and esh is aleph-sheen wrappingeesh (man) is aleph-yod-sheen.”

Hee-hee, he said “distaff.”

If you’ve been following my argument about the female helix, you’re prolly saying, “Wait, what now?”

Let me back up and actually say something comprehensible. In my attempts to debunk so-called “Spermo-Gnosticism”[1] and develop a sense of a return to the divine female within sacred sex–but devoid of all that objectification slathered on her bod by the likes of Crowley and Gardner, I’ve been reading a lot about sex today. Not erotica or HBOrgasmus, but ritual sex and temple prostitution as it relates to seiðr (which, it is safe to assume, called for sexual rituals involving völva). This means I’ve been parsing out Akkadian, Sumerian, Hebrew, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon until I don’t even know how to speak English anymore.

Strangely, my day started with Agrippa. Pre-translated.

Once I hit the point where I was actively looking up funk by P.R. Koenig, the notorious O.T.O. infiltrator, I found myself wishing I had taken better notes.

I love technological approaches to research but the process leaves me feeling more confused when I started than when I began. (Plus, who knows what the library staff must think of my book and article orders. I know the currier quite well by now.[2]) I have twenty tabs open over two instances of Chrome, have maxed out my library allowance for the day, and have nothing to show for it.

So, I thought I’d start speaking Biblical Hebrew with you and see if I can land on something.

קְדֵשָׁה –Kedesheh—temple prostitute.

Whenever I teach The Epic of Gilgamesh, I find myself wishing I didn’t have such a hard time contextualizing sacred sex for twenty-some-year-olds in the Bible belt. I really just want to tell them, “You know, it’s just like Shakta Tantra.”

OK, fine, I do say that. I just wish it made sense to them.

Do they get, “Temple of the Flesh as a good thing rather than a sin”? No.

How’s about, “Ecstatic[3] gnosis without the monotheistic underpinnings that zap it of all meaning”? Nope.

Even, “The libidinous worship of Venus,” negative connotations and everything, is out of reach during Gilgamesh days.

How’s KJV’s “Harlot” and “Whore”? Ah, this they understand. No wonder Mary Ellen Tracy of The Church Of The Most High Goddess landed her nekid arse in jail.[4]

I’m really just trying to rend my va–helix from the vice-grip of the male-oriented tradition preferred in the seventeenth-century (as per my last post – which is now a funny “box” joke to me) and embraced by the likes of Kellner and Reuss (and thus Crowley) as “the cult of the Lingam” which imagined women as non-essential materia, entirely unnecessary except as a container for the almighty serpent-seed.[5] Or whatever else he wants to pull out of his body. (I keep thinking that Formula AD (Eleventh Degree) sounds less like a recipe for enlightenment and more like a recipe for conjunctivitis. (Tee-hee, Pink-Eye-of-Horus.))

See, when I get my brain too full, it spills over with disconnected facts and blasphemous side commentary. And I hope to have given Angela plenty to look up this time! Lemme know.

The Bad Witch is an overachiever, I know. I’m not going for the easy sell: restoring the sacred feminine in the predominantly female realm of Witchcraft. Nope, I have my sights set on Sorcery and the Occult. I mean, that’s my thang. A year or so ago, Brandy Williams wrote The Female Magician. I read it and loved it—had it been published in 1999 alongside Irigaray and Butler and Foucault, this would be a very different conversation. But we can’t solve the problem of female degradation by building on patriarchal models. We may not have to throw Golden Dawn, Thelema, etc. out with the bathwater, but we sho need to scrub the Kabbalistic (Abrahamic/patriarchal) spooge ring out’the tub.

And I’m on it. I have a really sound argument. And the more I find, the stronger my argument gets.

Here’s a problem. Or maybe it’s a non-issue; living in The Bamas makes one lose track of real and perceived problems.

Take the F-word: Feminism. Folks think that to raise the philosophical subject position of the female to one of egalitarian justice (without erasing gender[6]) is the same as to strike a coup d’état,[7] thereby placing masculinity in subservience to femininity. Feminism does not aim to displace patriarchy. There is a way both the male and the female can be equal—it just takes a little thought. And we kinda hate thinking, don’t we?

Not you and me. The American “we.”

Likewise, I have heard very scholarly male magicians pooh-pooh the (admittedly often strategically deficient: ehem, Z.B.) attempts of feminists to genuinely reclaim the sacred feminine. Poke Runyon, for whom I have an inexplicable tender spot, makes me absolutely nuts when he rants about the Goddess Worship movement. He really is just talking to the wrong feminists (anti-feminists), Ann Finnin aside. I super-glad to have male counterparts like Freeman and Polyphanes who don’t see me as an Aristotelian deformed male. Or at least they are good fakers. 🙂[8]

So, my big fear (not so much fear as frustration[9]) is that my male counterparts, the ones invested in a power position within occult circles which might be threatened by my helixical competence, will dismiss me out of hand simply because they, like those who thought feminism was about political castration, believe that I want to make magical eunuchs out of all men. It’s that either/or fallacy (phallusy) again.

I do believe that there is a place for the phallus—er, *sputters,* I mean—never mind. Start over. Imagine two approaches to Sorcery. If the Shaivite school and the Shakta school can survive contiguously in India for centuries (although, not without friction—go ahead, let your mind go to the gutter; I’ll wait), then can American Sorcerers agree to two disciplines? Please say “yes.” The restitution of the Sacred Feminine, after centuries of subjugation—and especially after the sixty-some years it’s been misrepresented, is the most important Work I can imagine undertaking right now.

That, and dinner.

Seeya Friday?

TBW


[1] Go ahead, look it up; I’ll wait.

[2] We made friends during the dissertation days. “Hey,” he’d say on a regular basis, “I don’t judge.”

[3] I actually have to tell classes that “ecstasy” is more than a drug—Oh, and that “incubus” is more than a band.

[4] Even if I disagree with her theology, I don’t think she was running a “brothel.”

[5] Urban, Hugh B. Magia Sexualis. University of California Press, 2006.

[6] See Luce Irigaray’s An Ethics of Sexual Difference that explains how the sexes can remain distinct—without complimentarianist ideas, yet equal.

[7] I love a good castration joke.

[8] The Bad Witch totally just emoticoned, y’all.

[9] Sacred sexual frustration. Right on.

magicK

Magick.

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.

K?

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.”