of providing one man’s entire income by allowing him to live off the royalties from Aleister Crowley’s works. This man is the leader of the “Caliphate” and is called “His Holy Majesty” “Lord Knight Caliph,” etc. His strategy is to keep the O.T.O. alive as a money-milking cow—the members follow as sheep, blinded to this most salient fact.
In 1985, a rather uninformed American judge ruled in the favour of the “Caliphate,” thus making way for thousands of dollars from the Crowley copyrights rolling into the bank account of this new O.T.O. group founded in 1977. The “Caliphate” not only declared itself to be “the real O.T.O.” from 1985 on, but also openly implemented a scheme of three categories of so- called “historical truths” into which facts have to fit. This scheme has nothing to do with historical, academic and methodic research but nourishes the bureaucratic levels of this legally introduced hierarchy of “truths.”
- Legally protected historical truths. “The Truth”—the “Caliphate” is the real O.T.O.—was defined by a Court. Anyone openly querying or denying this “truth” finds himself in Court—be it a mundane Court when it touches the holy copyrights, or the Inquisition room of the “Caliphate.”
- Officially privileged historical truths. As only a handful of selected and chosen faithful and “trustuvorthy” people adhering to “Caliphate” “truths” have access to the primary sources in their archives, the public has to rely on their findings.
- Ordinary historical truths that are treated as quantité négligeable. “Other” historical facts without any reference to legally protected or officially privileged historical truths, e.g. what they call distorted facts by enemies or critics.
Threats to the income from royalties on the Crowley copyrights—which is the sole basis for the “Caliphate’s” existence—have resulted in some pretty extreme and bizarre antics, as shown above. The “Caliph’s” supposed omnipotence reveals his impotence at the same time. He drifts into being perceived as a parody of a ruler by the rest of society, with his titles like “Supreme King.” In the end he acts like a tyrant whose slightest whim must be obeyed, and for whom everything must be sacrificed—including your freedom.
Have you heard of the Thelemic book patrol equipped with flame-throwers (i.e. lawyers)? Members who sell “secret” although published documents are brought before a Kafkaesque inquisition and eventually expelled. The open market (new and secondhand) of published books available through public libraries, manuscripts in research libraries, manuscripts held by private individuals who are not members of the O.T.O. etc., are also controlled by the Chief of the group. Never mind that when you bought the book, the “Caliphate” was not in existence: this Corporation now retroactively controls your Crowleyana.
Should you try to sell this material [even on Ebay—editor], you will receive a cease and desist order as soon as they become aware of your attempts. In this respect the “Caliphate” resembles the Church of Scientology’s pursuit of any and all persons who spill their “high level” documents on the Internet and elsewhere, even as these secrets pop up like mushrooms after a morning rain.
In the context of Society, of course, the “Caliphate” is completely irrelevant. If members disobey their Order’s laws, what have they to lose but the membership of the club? Gnosis? Hardly. Fact remains: Members up in arms, fighting the rules have nothing to fear in Society’s context (except they have to pay for copyright infringement, but you don’t have to be a club member for that), but the “Caliph” stands to lose everything: his cash-cow.
The “Caliphate” O.T.O. is little more than a commercial concern that allows its managing director to live off the royalties generated by Aleister Crowley’s writings. It isn’t really the membership fees that are carved up as a rich income for the organization’s chiefs, but almost entirely these royalties. Thus the “Caliphate” must continue as a withered legal appendix living parasitically on the body of the publishing. Membership is needed only in order that the chief can say, “I have a legal body that owns copyrights.” This fact is whitewashed on dozens of “consciousness-expanding” Internet homepages, which show the over-egged love-and-peace pudding of the “Caliphate” up for what it is—a Mc O.T.O.
In this respect the “Caliphate” resembles the Church of Scientology’s pursuit of any and all persons who spill their “high level” documents on the Internet and elsewhere, even as
these secrets pop up like mushrooms after a morning rain.
TAU ALLEN GREENFIELD
“The fact is that the instincts of ignorant people invariably find expression in some form of witch craft. It matters little what the metaphysician or the moralist may inculcate; the animal sticks to his subconscious ideas…”
-Aleister Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
“Gather together in the covens as of old, whose number is eleven, that is also my number. Gather together in public, in song and dance and festival. Gather together in secret, be naked and shameless and rejoice in my name.”
-Jack Parsons, Liber 49, The Book of Babalon, 1946
“If you are on the Path, and see the Buddha walking towards you, kill him.”
-Zen saying, paraphrased slightly
“Previously I never thought of doubting that there were many witches in the world; now, however, when I examine the public record, I find myself believing that there are hardly any…”
-Father Friedrich von Spee, S.J., Cautio Criminalis, 1631
“…Yet as far as Merovingian Gaul is concerned, there is no evidence to suggest that any of the pagan religions persisted beyond the 5th century, and there is no pagan religion with a ‘complex set of beliefs and practices reflecting man’s attitude to the supernatural’ which can be identified or reconstructed from
the information provided by the sources.”
-Yitzhak Hen, doctoral thesis, 1995
Having spent the day musing over the origins of the modern witchcraft, I had a vivid dream. It seemed to be a cold January afternoon, and Aleister Crowley was having Gerald Gardner over to tea. It was 1945, and talk of an early end to the war was in the air. An atmosphere of optimism prevailed in the free world, but the wheezing old Magus was having none of it.
“Nobody is interested in magick any more!” Crowley ejaculated. “My friends on the Continent are dead or in exile, or grown old; the movement in America is in shambles. I’ve seen my best candidates turn against me Achad,
Regardie—even that gentleman out in California, what’s-his-name, AMORC, the one that made all the money.”
“0, bosh, Crowley,” Gardner waved his hand impatiently, “all things considered, you’ve done pretty well for yourself. Why, you’ve been called the ‘wickedest man in the world’ and by more than a few. And you’ve not, if you’ll pardon the impertinence, done too badly with the ladies.”
“If I had it all to do over again, I would’ve built a religion for the unwashed masses instead of just a secret society.”
Crowley coughed, tugged on his pipe reflectively. “You know” he finally ventured, “it’s like I’ve been trying to tell this boy Grant. A restrictive Order is not enough. If I had it all to do over again, I would’ve built a religion for the unwashed masses instead of just a secret society. Why, the opportunities! The women! Poor dimwit kid; he just doesn’t get the point. I believe he reads Lovecraft or Poe or one of those other unsavory American fantasists too much. But you, Brother Gardner, you get what is needed.”
Gardner smiled. “Precisely. And that is what I have come to propose to you. Take your Book of the Law, your Gnostic Mass. Add a little razzle-dazzle for the country folk. Why I know these occultists who call themselves “witches.” They dance around fires naked, get drunk, have a good time. Rosicrucians, I think. Proper English country squires and dames, mostly. If I could persuade you to draw on your long experience and talents, in no time at all we could invent a popular cult that would have beautiful ladies clamoring to let us strip
them naked, tie them up and spank their behinds! If, Mr. Crowley, you’ll excuse my explicitness.”
For all his infirmity, Aleister Crowley almost sprang to his feet, a little of the old energy flashing through his loins. “By George, Gardner, you’ve got something there, I should think! I could license you to initiate people into the
O.T.O. today, and you could form the nucleus of such a group!”
The first time I met someone who thought she was a witch, she started going on about being a “blue of the cloak.” I should’ve been warned right then and there.
He paced in agitation. “Yes, yes,” he mused, half to Gardner, half to himself. “The Book. The Mass. I could write some rituals. An “ancient book” of magick. A “book of shadows.” Priestesses, naked girls. Yes. By Jove, yes!”
Great story, but merely a dream, created out of bits and pieces of rumor, history and imagination. Don’t be surprised, though, if a year or five years from now you read it as “gospel” (which is an ironic synonym for “truth”) in some new learned text on the fabled history of Wicca. Such is the way all mythologies come into being.
Please don’t misunderstand me here; I use the word “mythology” in this context in its aboriginal meaning, and with considerable respect. History is more metaphor than factual accounting at best, and there are myths by which we live and others by which we die. Myths are the dreams and visions which parallel objective history.
To arrive at some perspective on what the modern mythos called, variously, “Wicca,,” the “Old Religion,” “Witchcraft”
“Take your Book of The Law, your Gnostic Mass. Add a little razzle-dazzle for the country folk. Why I know these occultists who call themselves ‘witches’ They dance around fires naked, get drunk, have a good time.”
and “Neopaganism” is, we must firstly make a firm distinction; “witchcraft” in the popular informally defined sense may have little to do with the modern religion that goes by the same name. It has been argued by defenders of and formal apologists for modern Wicca that it is a direct lineal descendent of an ancient, indeed, prehistoric worldwide folk religion.
Some proponents hedge their claims, calling Wicca a “revival” rather than a continuation of an ancient cult. Oddly enough, there may never have been any such cult! The first time I met someone who thought she was a witch, she started going on about being a “blue of the cloak.” I should’ve been warned right then and there.
In fact, as time has passed and the religion has spread, the claims of lineal continuity have tended to be hedged more and more. Thus, we find Dr. Gardner himself, in 1954, stating unambiguously that some witches are descendants “… of a line of priests and priestesses of an old and probably Stone Age religion, who have been initiated in a certain way (received into the circle) and become the recipients of certain ancient learning.”1
Stated in its most extreme form, Wicca may be defined as an ancient pagan religious system of beliefs and practices, with a form of “apostolic” succession (that is, with knowledge and ordination handed on linearly from generation to generation), a more or less consistent set of rites and myths, and even a secret holy book of considerable antiquity (The Book of Shadows).
More recent writers, as we have noted, have hedged a good deal on these claims, particularly the latter. Thus we find Stewart Farrar in 1971 musing on the purported ancient text thusly: “Whether, therefore, the whole of the Book of Shadows is post- 1897 is anyone’s guess. Mine is that, like the Bible, it is a patchwork of periods and sources, and that since it is copied and recopied by hand, it includes amendments, additions, and stylistic alterations according to the taste of a succession of copiers… Parts of it I sense to be genuinely old; other parts suggest modern interpolation…”2
As we shall discover presently, there appear to be no genuinely old copies of the Book of Shadows.
Still, as to the mythos, Farrar informs us that the “two personifications of witchcraft are the Horned God and the Mother Goddess…”3 and that the “Horned God is not the Devil, and never has been. If today ‘Satanist’ covens do exist, they are not witches but a sick fringe, delayed-reaction victims of a centuries-old Church propaganda in which even intelligent Christians no longer believe ”3
If one is then to protest, very well, some case might be made for the Horned God being mistaken for the Christian Devil (or should that be the other way
around?), but what record, prior to the advent 50 years ago of modern Wicca via Gerald Gardner, do we have of the survival of a mother goddess image from ancient times?
Wiccan apologists frequently refer to the (apparently isolated) 10th century Church document which states that “some wicked women, perverted by the Devil, seduced by the illusions and phantasms of demons, believe and profess themselves in the hours of the night to ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, or with Herodias, and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of night to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights.” (Quoted in Valiente, Witchcraft For Tomorrow, Hale, 1978, p 32. and by Kramer and Sprenger in the Montague Summers translation of The Hammer Of Witches). This document dates from early post-Roman Europe. Some form of intact quasi-pagan folk beliefs did survive through this period; even as late as the High Middle Ages it survived among the Vikings of Northern Europe. Human Sacrifice was practiced at Old Upsala well into the High Middle Ages. However, the historical record in Europe and later in the Americas generally suggests that, once Christian missionaries began to proselytize in a given area, conversion was astonishingly rapid and pagan beliefs and even most customs rapidly faded. In more recent times, the total conversion in a single generation documented in Mexico and Peru following the Spanish conquest provides substantial proof of the thoroughness of this process. In earlier times, such works as Yitzhak Hen’s Culture And Religion In Merovingian Gaul AD 481-751 show the same pattern of rapid conversion, not just in name but in substance, both in the cities and the countryside. Of course some customs from paleopagan times exist worldwide, but there has never been any evidence of a link to modern Wicca, other than a literary one. In the mystical sense, a Piscean religion best suited a Piscean Aeon, and Christianity offered answers to the questions of death and morality in a spiritual context poorly dealt with in both the State Pagan Religion of Rome and the Celtic, Germanic and other folk beliefs of Europe.
What record, prior to the advent 50 years ago of modern Wicca via Gerald Gardner, do we have of the survival of a mother goddess image from ancient times?
Farrar, for his part, explains the lack of references to a goddess in the