Monday, November 14, 2022

Sex, Drugs & Magick: Words in the Wings

Sex, Drugs & Magick: Afterwords To The 2021 Edition

Skimming over RAW's occasionally humorous glossary, a part of the book that would have meant a lot more before the rise of the Internet, we arrive at the four afterwords that bookend Wilson's study. The amount of forewords and afterwords attached to this volume show how impactful it has been in many students of Wilson's lives. I won't say as much about these afterwords as I have said about Wilson's writings, some deal with the present and the future and I have no intention of arguing with living magicians. After all, they could be right and I could be wrong. 

Rodney Orpheus, in his "Our Holy Trinity," gives us a solid foundation in the why of the title of the book; why do these three things seem to go so well together and why are they so reviled? I must admit, the first time I saw the title of this book, in the back of another Wilson volume, it seemed particularly brazen. The subtitle didn't help. I was also a teenager and still very conscious of what my books were titled, as my parents could see them at any time. I still remember my mother's heartfelt sigh when she saw me earnestly studying Lon Milo Duquette's Enochian Sex Magick. It was a sigh of bitter acceptance, I think we could look back on it now and laugh- but I won't be brining it up at Thanksgiving. Orpheus points out that "undue" interest in sex, drugs and magic all keep us from being normal. Normalcy being the desired state of a populace by its rulers, those of us who purposefully discover things outside their purview become the enemy. The things we love and revere become filth. 

But, Orpheus points out that sex, drugs and magic are winning. My own writings here have shown my qualms with this assessment, but the trend is still towards greater personal freedom, in some ways and for the moment. 

Andrew O'Neill's "Global Agnosticism" explores the changes that are afoot and the role that Wilson played in the past. O'Neill's survey of the changing attitudes towards gender, sex and relationships is combined with the widespread interest in the occult as well as the greater acceptance of hemp-derived CBD and psychedelic therapy. O'Neill wisely points out that our internet, particularly social media, doesn't fulfill the role of an open source of information because of "the algorithm" and that we must still strive to question every idea to truly become wise. O'Neill also acknowledged the pushback that has come from the spread of sex, drugs and magic and succinctly compares it to the phrase "I can remember when this was all just fields," which somehow encapsulates the sad, stodgy nature of the naysayers. (Our author also made me guffaw when they pointed out that those of us who shake our heads at the rise of "Instagram witches" might welcome a resurgence of the witch-hunts.) 

Most importantly, O'Neill praises Wilson and acknowledges that he would have still been trying to grow and accustom himself to the world if he were still alive. This has always been my personal belief, that someone, one of the closest that we had to a saint during our lifetimes, of his stature would not have simply calcified into wherever he was at the time of his passing. The world has changed a lot since the Old Man's Greater Feast- perhaps naively, I hope I get to hear what he thinks of everything that has happened. 

In "The Alchemical Mystery of Prima Materia," Alexis Mincolla gives us another explanation of the opposition towards sex, drugs and magic and then aligns our three concepts with the three alchemical principles. Mincolla's essay neatly aligns salt (the body) to sex, mercury (the mind) to drugs and sulfur (the soul) to magic. Mincolla points out that this trinitarian model is easily applied to many principles, but makes a convincing argument that his present interpretation fits particularly well. Alchemy is essentially concerned with transformation and Mincolla outlines how each element of our title are tools for transformation. Like Orpheus, Mincolla states that personal transformation isn't in the interest of the powers that be, hence their calumnies against its avenues. 

Mincolla does state that most people aren't going to question you if your trying to turn a buck- hence alchemists would claim they were simply trying to turn base matter into gold. However, I should point out that many alchemists were reviled. And that the manners that people have tried to make money off of sex, drugs and magic have been suppressed and are still sources of scorn: prostitution along with non-government sanctioned drug dealing are two of the most hated professions in the world. I would also probably laugh, in a bitter grapes kinda way, at someone trying to make a living simply by being a magician. That said, the idea of owning a metaphysical book shop, however niche, appeals to me more and more every day I go into my current job. 

Finally the book closes with a delightfully inspiring and inspired essay by Arden Leigh, "Seven Guidelines For the Intrepid Adventurer Pursuing the Expansion of Consciousness Through the Practices of Sex, Drugs, and Magick." The essay won me over by the line closing with "...eyes aglow and bellowing divine gibberish." Leigh's afterword, the longest of the four, is a brilliant, very human communication about the trials, tribulations and joys of consciousness expansion. Perhaps it is her former occupation as a pickup artist, which she directly alludes to a couple times, that account for her brilliant and intimate communication skills. I was not expecting this kind of dialogue at the end of the book, but I deeply appreciate its presence. 

I fully endorse the advice given and reading it has made me reexamine some of my attitudes, post-conceptions and conceits I've accrued over the years. I especially appreciated Leigh's wise words of caution about the relationships we form on these journeys and how to discern which ones are right and which are a waste of energy. Her description of the workings of magic is moving and, in my experience, accurate. What a lovely coda. 

Thus begins the end of our discussion of the Hilaritas edition of Sex, Drugs & Magick: A Journey Beyond Limits. I'll see you out there, and hopefully our paths will continue to cross on our journeys. 

Stray Thoughts

- Remember that Tom's Natural Law reading group will be starting up this month. My copy arrived and it does look like an excellent volume. It should be an interesting time. 

- I don't know what we'll be doing here. Eric said he's thinking about reading Balzac's History of the Thirteen. I haven't read that before, but I did know someone who was fond of the novel(s). 

- Again, please check out Oz's lectures on Deleuze. 

- I've recently finished Alan Moore's Illuminations and Phil Baker's City of the Beast: The London Of Aleister Crowley, both of which I intend to review soon as I think they'd be of interest for our little group. I also received Higgs' soon to be out of print novels which I might write down some thoughts about. 

- It occurs to me that Andrew O'Neill is a sort of magical older sibling or cousin to me. I respect their words all the more after watching some of their stand up routine. (As my most important magical partner, before my wife, informed me: "performance" is the essence of magic.) 


  1. Thank you for mentioning my interest in the Balzac novel, and thank you for this reading group.

  2. Last night I dreamed that this post was up on your blog. Happy to see that I got it right in my sleep.

    In case this passed you by, Jamie from the F23 podcast conducted an interview with Arden Leigh earlier this year, you might enjoy it.

    I also enjoyed greatly both hers and Alexis Mincolla's afterwords. In a way, I thought they were being more explicit than RAW in the entire book.

    As we are now about to close the discussion on this Hilaritas edition of DS&M, I'd like to add that as much as I usually enjoy amoeba's work on the new cover arts, I can't help feeling underwhelmed by this one. The color tones are nice, but apart from that...I dunno, might there be something I am not seeing?

    Thank you Apuleius for leading this reading group.

  3. Thank you Eric, for being such a faithful participant.

    @Spookah- I will have to listen to that! I can agree about the afterwords being more explicit than RAW; perhaps that is the nature of the evolution of occult writing. Pretty dramatic gradient since Blavatsky, the Golden Dawn and all those Palladists/Rosicrucians maybe running around in the nineteenth century.

    I interpreted the cover as a modern, gentler take on the dramatic red and black abstract of the New Falcon edition. Not as harsh, but still suggestively energized for a newer, less-concrete age.

    Thank you Spookah, and thank you for sharing some music in common. It's always welcome.

  4. A few years ago, I read a book by Gordon White called "The Chaos Protocols," thinking I would learn about magick, and I was struck by how often it seemed to me that I was reading a self-help book. When I read Arden Leigh's graceful essay, I had rather the same thought that her advice would be useful to everyone, not just to someone who was a practicing musician.

    If you are curious about her music, see this music video I posted on my blog of her cover of a Ramones song, "Poison Heart."

  5. Oh, talking about music, thanks for this Sam Flax song, I did not know the artist.

    I was lucky enough to catch the other day the recent David Bowie docu Moonage Daydream on a big screen. I heartily recommend it, sombunall of you might like it. It does not take the usual bio/hagiographical route, instead going for what appears at first to be a more free-form collage of archival footage (no talking heads), all edited in a pretty potent psychedelic fashion. The film is a trip.

    But I have the suspicion that the half hidden agenda of the director might be to present us Bowie as a praticing magician. A clue to this thesis is the introduction of his interest in the occult very early on in the docu, although the film doesn't delve too much in it either. Just the right amount, perhaps, to ensure that the occult will stay concealed, while the seeker will find.
    But I thought that when seen through this specific lens, the whole thing became a coherent exploration of Bowie's own 'journey beyond limits' of constantly reinventing himself under different aliases and in different art forms, including a crossing of the abyss of sorts when wondering who he might 'really' be under the many personalities.

    I do not think his drug use was mentioned even once, and I cannot decide if I find that refreshing or dishonest.

  6. Work claims my time again, I didn't know this posted until Tom brought it to my attention at RawIllumination.

    I think the Afterwords lend contemporary relevance to Sex, Drugs & Magick Arden Leigh, in particular has great pragmatic advice about Magick.

    Thank-you for mentioning my Deleuze video series again, more on the way next week after this work cycle evens out.

    Spookah, Bowie seems to have returned (if he ever left) to magick as he got close to death. His last videographer had a rep for a Crowley piece. I wrote of the symbolism on his last album cover:

  7. Thank you for the link to your post, Oz. That was very informative.


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