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  1. Vodou in Berlin

    In our recent trip to Berlin, we happened across a wonderful exhibition at the Museen DahlemVodou: Art and Cult from Haiti – which is on until 24th October 2010. If you should find yourself in Berlin, it’s well worth a look. Continue reading »

  2. Experience – III: Some conundrums

    “At one extreme experience (present) is offered as the necessary (immediate and authentic) ground for all (subsequent) reasoning and analysis. At the other extreme, experience . . . is seen as the product of social conditions or of systems of belief or of fundamental systems of perception, and thus not as material for truths but as evidence of conditions of systems which by definition it cannot itself explain.” Raymond Williams, Keywords

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  3. Letter to a Young Gay Man on Celebrating Beltane

    You asked about how a gay person can celebrate Beltane, as it’s about fertility.

    It is such a standard image, no? Beltane being about the God and Goddess having sex or marrying. She in her long hair and coy long-legged femininity. He always tall, muscular, strong, looking conventionally masculine, holding her a loving embrace. I too attended rituals celebrating their happy union. And at midsummer, they stood together, a couple with their child, born from their Beltane coupling. Like you, I heard this described as fertility. And it did seem logical. Continue reading »

  4. Side projects: Tracing lives

    A couple of years ago, prompted by a footnote in Logomancy of Zos to the effect that Austin Osman Spare was one of the witnesses for the defence at the trial of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness (1928) I became interested in attempting to trace this connection. Continue reading »

  5. Kula Bodies – II: Dividuals?

    “…persons – single actors – are not thought in South Asia to be “individual,” that is, indivisible, bounded units, as they are in much of Western social and psychological theory as well as in common sense. Instead, it appears that persons are generally thought by South Asians to be “dividual” or divisible. To exist, dividual persons absorb heterogeneous material influences. They must also give out from themselves particles of their own coded substances – essences, residues, or other active influences – that may then reproduce in others something of the nature of the persons in whom they have originated.” McKim Marriott Hindu Transactions: Diversity without Dualism

    Continue reading »

  6. Intensities: Spreading outwards

    We did the ritual at the stump of Jenny’s cherry tree, and afterwards walked in silence down to the beach. Continue reading »

  7. Tantra’s Metahistory III: The Left-hand Path – II

    The Tantrists do not seem to go higher than the six visible and known plexuses, with each of which they connect the tattvas; and the great stress they place on the chief of these, the Muladhara Chakra (the sacral plexus) shows the material and selfish bent of their efforts towards the acquisition of powers.The Mahatma Letters (Letter CXIV, p480)

    In the last post I reviewed how the notion of the “left-hand path” and much of the themes which relate to it emerged out of nineteenth century Indology. I will now turn to how the concept of the left-hand path” was used by Madame Blavatsky and other early Theosophists. Continue reading »

  8. Tantra’s Metahistory III: The Left-hand Path – I

    In popular occult discourse, the concept of the “Left-hand Path” is often stated as originating within the tantric traditions, and sometimes, its popularisation within western occultism is laid at the door of Madame Blavatsky and other popular Theosophical pundits of the late nineteenth century – to the extent that the conceptualisation of the idea of the LHP in wholly negative terms (as can be seen in the writings of successive western occultists – Dion Fortune for example) is something that begins with Madame Blavatsky. However, although she may have been one of the first occultists to write extensively about the Left Hand Path, its identification with moral (and spiritual) degeneracy certainly did not begin with Blavatsky. Continue reading »

  9. Tantra keywords: Relational

    “This vision, relational being, seeks to recognize a world that is not within persons but within their relationships, and that ultimately erases the traditional boundaries of seperation. There is nothing that requires us to understand our world in terms of independent units; we are free to mint new and more promising understandings. … the traditional view of the bounded individual need not be eliminated. But once we see it as a construction of our own making – one option among many – we may also understand that the boundary around the self is also a prison.” Kenneth Gergen, Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community (p5)

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  10. Occult gender regimes: Polarity and the body electric

    “In taste, in learning, wit or science,
    Still kindred souls demand alliance:
    Each in the other joys to find
    The image answering to his mind.
    But sparks electric only strike
    On souls electrical alike;
    The flash of intellect expires,
    Unless it meet congenial fires.”
    Hannah More, The Bas Blue 1786

    For this series of posts on the theme of polarity discourse, I’m going to focus on representations of polarity which make an appeal to forces – to electricity, magnetism, etc. Continue reading »