Your musical flute sounding the hymn of love seeking since the birth in the crashing star nebulae Singing limbs of muscle and star-foam pursued and pursuing

Radiant Warrior, how long? Beloved God, how long?

How long, how long?30

Cameron later burned all of the paintings seen in The Wormwood Star while living with her second husband Sherif Kimmil, who was said to be the inspiration for the R. P McMurphy character in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and was by all accounts insane. Kimmel and Cameron had been up for several days on speed and formed what Cameron called a “suicide club.” Kimmel went to the bathroom and slit his wrists.31 In turn,

Cameron symbolically committed suicide by throwing her paintings in the fire. According to Kenneth Anger, Cameron’s paintings were in reality magical talismans and had to be destroyed lest they turn and destroy the creator. He states, “She was doing art for the sake of magick and her soul. She never sold her paintings.”

In this hour I decide between nothingness and creation...32

By 1960, Cameron had transcended her darker period and emerged as an individual. She began to have a greater understanding of her life’s pattern. From her diary entry of October 22, 1960, she writes:

“I sense the approaching end to my years of exile. Some inner knowing prepares me for the return to the world in my just position. In the years of exile I compounded a state of mind that philosophically remains balanced regarding the continuity of my present state of existence or to finally win for myself a gracious and rewarding end to life. Ultimatums are impossible for one who has witnessed the broad sweep of existence. Yet I am tempted to sum up the experience for I fear already I have lost the vast majority of my impressions. I have lived frugally but I have squandered dreams and visions as only the spend thrift does— sowing wide golden plains.”

In 1961, Cameron appeared in the film Nite Tide. Directed by Curtis Harrington, this film also featured Dennis Hopper’s first starring role. Cameron played a mysterious figure that is seen prowling the beach in Santa Monica. In the film she has a strange, compelling presence. On October 3, 1964, the Cinema Theatre in Los Angeles presented “The Transcendental Art of Cameron,” which featured slide projections of her paintings while she read from her journals.

She is applying makeup to her face in a sort of Kabuki style while her daughter Krystal and two other children are seen playing in the background. Cameron ignores them while staring into the mirror, smoking a joint.

By the late 1960s Cameron moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. A short experimental film from this period (1969) by John Chamberlain entitled “Thumbsuck” still exists. It shows Cameron as a striking figure with long red

hair and piercing eyes. She is applying makeup to her face in a sort of Kabuki style while her daughter Krystal and two other children are seen playing in the background. Cameron ignores them while staring into the mirror, smoking a joint.

And the Hag uvith lizard eyes embraces shadows...33

As Cameron grew older, she took on the image of an old witch or crone with long, straight white hair. She lived in a small house on North Genesee in West Hollywood and could often be seen practicing Tai Chi in Bronson Park. Her last art show “The Pearl of Reprisal” was held at the Barnsdall Art Park on April 8, 1989. Here she exhibited a haunted series of pen and ink drawings titled “Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House.” Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and The Wormwood Star were shown. Cameron also gave a reading of her poems by candlelight. The same year Cameron edited Freedom is a Two Edged Sword—a compilation of the writings of Jack Parsons published by New Falcon.

Cameron died of cancer on July 23, 1995. A magical rite was performed at her bedside at the VA hospital. A wake was held at the Beyond Baroque bookstore in Los Angeles where her poetry was read by friends and her paintings were exhibited, including the “Black Angel” painting of Jack Parsons as an angel with a sword.

Endnotes

  1. Cameron magical diary September 1962.
  2. Babalon is the companion of the Beast 666 in Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic pantheon. Crowley first wrote extensively about this in Vision and the Voice which documents his experiences with the Enochian system of magic and his own initiation. After the magician crosses the “abyss” that separates the spiritual world from the rational or mental world, he is greeted by the goddess Babalon, the great mother who resides in Binah on the Qabalistic tree of life, which is the spiritual home of those who have achieved the grade of Magister Templi.
  3. Cameron magical diary June 21, 1964.
  4. Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe December 26, 1952. 5 Cameron from the film The Wormwood Star 1957.
  5. Cameron considered all of her drawings to be magical talismans that had very real effects on the world.
  6. On October 19, 1946 Cameron and Jack were married. 8 Liber Al Chap. III v7: I will give you a war-engine.
  7. Letter from Cameron to Jane Wolfe January 22, 1953.
  8. Despite numerous attempts this order has yet to be revived by a competent group of magicians in America. The present author has however formed a new order which incorporates the teachings of Cameron, C. F. Russell and Charles Stansfeld Jones. Interested aspirants may contact him directly (see information at back of book).
  9. See Jack Parsons, Freedom is a Two Edged Sword (New Falcon) 12 Letter from Jack Parsons to Cameron Jan. 10, 1950.
  10. Aleister Crowley died on December 1, 1947.
  11. Cameron magical diary January 21, 1962. 15 FBI file on Jack Parsons.
  12. Although the Parsonage was destroyed, Cameron believed the house to be eternal on the astral plane like Crowley’s Boleskine in Scotland.
  13. From the book “The Black Pilgrimage” by Cameron 1964. Privately published.
  14. Letter to Jane Wolfe, dated December 6, 1952, 6:00am. 19 Renate Druks.
  15. Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe April 7, 1953.
  16. Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe December 26, 1952.
  17. This word not here revealed. The present writer has however obtained it. 23 Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe December 26, 1952.
  18. Atu VII of the TARO is the Chariot. The formula contained in this card is one key to understanding this working.
  19. Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe August 23, 1953.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Cameron magical diary March 11, 1962
  23. Cameron magical diary September 1962.
  24. Cameron from the film The Wormwood Star 1957.
  25. While writing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey worked as a janitor in the psychiatric ward of the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California (often under the influence of LSD). It is possible that it was there that he encountered Kimmel, who was committed to the VA Hospital for several months as a result of this suicide attempt.
  26. Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe January 22, 1953.
  27. Cameron magical diary June 21, 1964.

IDA CRADDOCK: Sexual Mystic and Martyr for Freedom

VERVE CHAPPELL

Ida Craddock (1857-1902)

In Volume III Number 1 of his Equinox occult journal published in 1919, Aleister Crowley reviewed a paper called “Heavenly Bridegrooms.” In this work, a woman identified only as “Ida C—” claimed to be the wife of an angel. A scholar named Theodore Schroeder edited the manuscript and

published it in a psychological journal, where it apparently attracted the attention of Crowley. In the review, Crowley states that “Heavenly Bridegrooms” “is one of the most remarkable human documents ever produced.” He goes on to say:

“I am very far from agreeing with all that this most talented woman sets forth in her paper, but she certainly obtained initiated knowledge of extraordinary depth. She seems to have had access to certain most concealed sanctuaries…. She has put down statements in plain English which are positively staggering. This book is of incalculable value to every student of occult matters. No Magick library is complete without it.”

This is quite an endorsement from Crowley, and perhaps even more significant in that he signed the review “Baphomet,” using his magical name as Tenth Degree of O.T.O.

Roughly 50 years later, Crowley scholar Marcelo Motta published “Heavenly Bridegrooms” along with another work by this “Ida C—” called “Psychic Wedlock.” This latter paper outlines a three-degree system of mystical initiation through sexual techniques. It was written around 1895, shortly before the founding of the O.T.O. based on a similar model involving three degrees of initiation into sexual mysteries. Motta also included a brief biography of the author, in which we learn that her full name is Ida Craddock. But except for these references, not much more about Ms. Craddock and her work has appeared in print.

Was she just insane and delusional about having sex with angels, as Schroeder contends, or did she have some kind of connection with the same sources of initiated wisdom which had influenced Crowley? Our researches took us to Special Collections at the University of Southern Illinois, which had become the repository for the collected papers of Theodore Schroeder after his death. There we discovered a treasure trove of diaries, manuscripts, pamphlets, letters, and other material which gave us a wealth of insight into this fascinating and remarkable woman.

Crowley states that Heavenly Bridegrooms “is one of the most remarkable human documents ever produced.”

Ida Craddock was born in Philadelphia on August 1, 1857. Her father died

when she was two years old. Her mother had been very interested in spiritualism and the occult, but following the death of Ida’s father she became a fundamentalist Christian and raised Ida with an extremely puritanical discipline. Ida received intense religious training, and learned to read the Bible from a very early age. The result, of course, was that this repressed young woman grew up to be intensely interested in the very subjects which were most forbidden to her in childhood: namely, sexuality, occultism, and freedom in general.

But even before she began actively pursuing these forbidden subjects, Ida was ahead of her time. She was very intelligent and ambitious, not exactly qualities that were admired in women of the late 19th century. She campaigned to allow women to be admitted to the University of Pennsylvania, and would have been its first female graduate if the decision hadn’t been eventually reversed. She went on to teach stenography to women at Giraud College in Philadelphia, and wrote a standard textbook on the subject which was published when she was just 18. By teaching this marketable skill to other young women, she was giving them a chance to become employed for themselves, thereby affording them greater opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency. This, in itself, was a radical idea for America in the 1880s.

Ida became involved in occultism beginning around 1887, about the time she turned 30 years old. At this time the Theosophical Society (founded in 1875) was the pre-eminent promoter of occult teachings, and Ida started attending classes in Theosophy at a local Unitarian church. She also began reading and studying a tremendous amount of material on occult subjects, judging from the sheer breadth and depth of the knowledge exhibited in her own writings. She cites everything from biblical and ecclesiastical sources to Hindu and Greek philosophers to contemporary academics and occultists. The recently translated Raja Yoga by Vivekananda was also drawn upon in many of Ida’s works, and at one point she listed herself as “Priestess and Pastor of the Church of Yoga,” a theosophical offshoot.

According to Schroeder, between 1889 and 1891 Ida had ongoing “illicit” sexual relations with two different men (that is, she had sex with men to whom she was not married). The first man was younger than she, and apparently not a very satisfying lover. The second man, never named by Schroeder but described as an ex-clergyman and “heretical mystic” (probably

introduced to Ida through Theosophical circles), was somewhat older than Ida, and was reportedly well-versed in the technique of Karezza, or the ability to withhold ejaculation. His lovemaking prowess brought Ida to hitherto- undiscovered heights of sexual ecstasy, in contrast to her other lover who made love in the “normal,” conventional way.

To overly repressed Ida, this discovery was nothing less than a divine revelation. She began studying esoteric sexuality, combining her extensive knowledge of folklore and mythology with various sources from the occult world including P B. Randolph and Alice Bunker Stockham. During this period there was a growing trend of increased sexual awareness and open discourse of sexuality in society. Burton had brought back translations of the Kama Sutra and Ananga Ranga from India, and Havelock Ellis had begun applying scientific principles to the study of sexuality. This was the first sexual revolution, long before the 1960s, as the western world emerged from its Victorian prudery to start openly and objectively examining sex for the first time.

Ida received intense religious training, and learned to read the Bible from a very early age. The result, of course, was that this repressed young woman grew up to be intensely interested in the very subjects which were most forbidden to her in childhood: namely, sexuality, occultism, and freedom in general.

In her massive study of religious sexuality entitled “Lunar & Sex Worship,” Ida argued that “the moon was a more ancient deity than the sun, and that she was therefore recognized as the superior of the sun-god, who, as being the exponent of a later religion, could triumph only after receiving her sanction.” This theory resembles remarkably Crowley’s description of the Aeons of Isis and Osiris. Her development of the argument cites a tremendous range of sources, including Assyrian, Babylonian, Hindu, Irish, Greek, Norse, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Chinese, Egyptian, African, but to name a few. It goes on and on, for over 100 typewritten legal-size pages.

In another work entitled “Sex Worship (Continued)” Ida contends that the symbol of the cross, not only that featured so prominently in Christianity but those found everywhere throughout the cultures and religions of the world, is fundamentally a symbol of sexual union, and its ubiquitous worship reflects a

universal worship of the sex instinct as the underlying quintessence of all religion.

Ida’s second lover was coincidentally the head of the National Liberal League, an organization prominently associated with the Free Thought movement around the turn of the century. Ida got a job as the League’s secretary, and subsequently took up the cause, promoting social reform through freedom from oppressive moral codes and strictures. In particular, she sought to address the plight of America’s married women, whom, as her own experience had taught her, were most likely not achieving their full potential of wedded bliss; or, worse yet, were suffering at the hands of their husbands who cared not in the least about the feelings or needs of their wives when it came to sex. Ida cited the following story as told to her by a nurse attending a young wife who had just had her first baby: