It has been something of struggle deciding whether to share a very private battle I’ve undergone in recent years to support the current #me too campaign. I haven’t spoken publicly about a devastating experience of sexual abuse until now for many reasons. Primarily, because it felt important in terms of my recovery to wait until I had returned to some form of equilibrium and gained some distance and healing, rather than lashing out whilst in a vulnerable, damaged state. I have some misgivings that most of the effort in driving the #me too debate has so far come from women feeling they have to expose themselves publicly regarding extremely traumatic events that have often scarred them for life, in the hope that perpetrators of abuse might start to take responsibility for their actions. As I was writing this post, I was glad to see that alternative hashtags to ‘#me too’ are now circulating in order to shift the balance of responsibility. In any case, the ‘#me too’ debate feels like a breakthrough, a watershed moment that transcends the personal, and after much soul searching I felt it would be extremely remiss not to add my voice.
The women who have had the courage to tell their stories should be thanked, but for every woman who does come forward there are many more who cannot and this must also be acknowledged. The responses and solutions to the many headed hydra of misogyny and sexual abuse are obviously both extremely simple and incredibly complex. It’s obviously vital that the misogyny experienced by all women on a daily basis is rendered completely unacceptable, but it is so entrenched in myriad cultural, political and religious forms in every corner of the globe, it’s difficult to see how that can happen. The suppression of women is so enmeshed in the status quo that even just trying to visualize an egalitarian, post- feminist world seems impossibly radical and utopian. Sex and power is the driving force at the core of the conflict and finding new ways to resolve the abyss created by thousands of years of imbalance and moving towards new forms of enlightened sexual engagement is key to our ongoing evolution and survival. A fundamental soul shift, within the magical, prima-materia of human consciousness is necessary. Having spent what feels like most of my life at the ‘coal face’ as it were, trying to get to grips with the ‘Nigredo’ of these core issues surrounding the great writhing abyss of misdirected energy that surrounds sexuality. It still seems that the problems generated by failure to engage with sexual energy in an enlightened manner have barely changed. This is a blight upon us as a species and finding progressive solutions is absolutely vital.
On a personal level I’ve experienced every shade of misogyny, from the most mundane, everyday levels of inappropriate behaviour and intimidation from men that all women experience, through to some darkly surreal manifestations of misogyny encountered within the occult world that have some rather grotesque and unique qualities. It’s this latter area I want to comment upon. Within contemporary occult paradigms and practices some of the most potent and ambitious models of sexual transformation are being generated, which arguably hold many of the most promising solutions to the problems we face. Unfortunately, working at source with such a powerful energy still has the potential to bring out the worst instinctual behaviour and prejudices, even in individuals that claim to be ‘enlightened’. The occult world can be a minefield that attracts extremely predatory, exploitative and violent individuals and many will no doubt think it naïve to expect anything other than trouble by putting oneself forward as a female practitioner of sex-magic and therefore ‘asking for it’. Well the problem with this is making it understood what one is actually asking for from magical partners. In many ways, I undoubtedly have been naïve in the past, in assuming I was understood before being on the receiving end of behaviour that made it clear that I was operating in a completely different universe from male practitioners I’ve encountered, despite apparent intellectual compatibility. As a result, one of the main reasons for publishing my work in recent years has been to make the magical agenda behind my esoteric practice absolutely clear because it has been so often misunderstood.
To return to the ‘#me too’ issue. Any previous personal experiences of misogyny were completely eclipsed during the last decade when I was subjected to a prolonged and traumatic ordeal at the hands of an individual firmly entrenched in the UK/London occult establishment, a member of some of the most long-standing magical orders and esoteric fraternal institutions. The abuse and sexual violation/exploitation was multi-faceted, chillingly cynical and sophisticated. I now believe the protagonist of the abuse has a serious personality disorder, so any attempts to rationalize what happened is pretty futile and it still feels too raw to go into any great detail. The situation was very complex, but suffice to say that I dedicated myself with absolute sincerity to what I felt to be an extraordinarily profound, ambitious and lengthy program of sex-magical work with this individual. After some time it became clear that his intent towards me was utterly dishonest, corrupt and exploitative and I found myself enmeshed in a nightmarish ordeal which was the polar opposite of the aims of the magical collaboration to which I had originally consented. In the aftermath I was left with a form of PTSD that badly affected my memory and cognitive functions. As a result I was unable to continue my job as an art lecturer and lost all my income, and so as well as trying to get over the emotional and physical effects of abuse, I have had to endure years of extreme financial hardship as well. Focusing upon writing and some public speaking in recent years has thus been challenging but very therapeutic in terms of recovery and I am gradually rebuilding my life. I didn’t have the resources to attempt to seek any legal recourse which in any case would have been futile. Because I consented to the liaison in good faith before it turned into an appallingly toxic, abusive situation, I cannot legally claim rape, although I was traumatized beyond description by what occurred. The main clear-cut legal offense against my person, an incident of unprovoked physical assault was not witnessed, and so it’s a case of my word against his with little chance of it being brought to court. I have long since resigned myself to the fact that any accountability for what happened will be settled on the scales of Maat.
In terms of trying to understand the archetypal dramas playing out in some of the more destructive attitudes to women in the occult world, Showalter’s analysis of the Grail mythos seems particularly apt. In her book ‘Sexual Anarchy : gender and culture at the fin de siècle’, she describes the view of the grail mythos in the era of the art and literary scene of the Symbolists and Decadents as a valiant attempt to resurrect masculinity (within a burgeoning women’s liberation movement) and snatch sacred wisdom from the vagina-dendata of the goddess. Giving the example of Rider Haggard’s ‘She’, in which the male hero must ‘seek out the woman, and learn the secret of Life, and if thou mayest find a way slay her’. On a mythic level this sentiment seems to be prevalent within the occult dimensions of human sentience, and is reflected in the wider world in the treatment of women and the fear of change that women’s equality represents. Though, why a vast tract of humanity still seems set upon violence to those that gave birth to every individual on the planet remains unfathomable. Some clear choices have to be made right now on many levels about what kind of world we want to live in together.
I didn’t want to lapse into pompous proselytization here, but obviously my magical practice has been a great source of solace and inspiration throughout all of the turmoil of recent years. Sex is the both the Solve and Coagula, the inescapable force that divides us and binds us within the crucible of existence. The Babalon current opens a Venusian doorway into a most exquisitely transformative erotic territory, a magical ground of interaction that is dramatically different to anything that has gone before. Its manifestation is tantalizingly close, yet painfully far from realization, but this is what I will continue to fight for while I have breath left in my body.
To be clear, what I’ve been asking for from men has been participation in the most profound conjunctions of magically ensouled flesh, dazzling explosions of ecstatic sentience that create the ‘strange drugs’, the alchemical pneuma, the medicines, that will transform our consciousness, with the intent to create a fleshly paradise on earth. What I didn’t ask for was the hell of cruelty, disrespect, violence and cynical exploitation. The consequences of clinging onto the brutality of ‘old aeon’ values are now inescapable on every level, but the scope and implications of change are apparently still fucking terrifying to the old order, which in its many variations is based on keeping women from full equality. Question is, will there ever be enough momentum to bring about any real transformation?
P.S. I must thank here the friends who were aware of the situation and have given me unwavering support. Seven years on, despite the fact that the events disclosed here will leave an indelible imprint, I am doing much better and am slowly returning to health. My magical work is continuing as before.