07 December 2007

The great "reds under the altars" scare of 1930

Nor do I think that Bolshevism ever gained any foothold in the Lodges, though I believe it tried; as witness the application to my own fraternity. The average occultist is not interested in politics, his concern is with things invisible. Moreover, the occult fraternities are too uncoordinated and scattered to be formidable political weapons even if they were imbued with Bolshevism.

Dion Fortune lays it on the line on page 223 of Psychic Self-Defence (orig. publ. 1930 - new edition Weiser Books, 1997). Well, we'll fix that.

Seriously: I must recommend everyone out there read the above book, for the small morsels of occult good sense, the hair raising True Stories of Astral Derring Do, and the general high levels of what the young people call LULZ. I love the bit where she suggests that the downfall of Greek civilisation was due to all the buggery that went on (and then goes on to quote approvingly from The Confessions of Aleister Crowley - obviously she didn't know what the "eleventh degree" was all about). I also love all the tales which have clearly been recycled since as eps of Buffy or Supernatural, or the ones which really look like they should be.

The author's style, while stuffily Georgian in places, is also refreshing in a very "no bullshit" kind of way. It reads like a sex-ed manual from a private girl's school of the period in places, in the sense of "Now stop all that silly gossip and innuendo, here are the basic physical facts so you know how not to get yourself into trouble." You get the feeling that, while she jumps to what appear to modern eyes, even modern occultist eyes, to be insane conclusions in places, she was really on the side of good and wanted to save people from fucking up their shit. Classic quote: The three main dangers of modern occultism are immorality, drugs, and the bamboozling of silly women. Very little has changed, although of course silly men are equally ripe to get bamboozled up.

I also love the bit where she speculates about the possibilities of inducing orgasm via telepathy. Where do I sign up for that programme? If all the above doesn't convince you, then let me remind you this is the book which did its part (along with a fuckload of cocaine) in driving David Bowie crazy in 1976. What more reason do you need? As I say, it's lulzy, but you'll chuckle rather than sneer if you have one shred of deceny in your astral body - and there is some serious good advice which has passed the test of time in there, along with some tall tales which you'll end up repeating endlessly to impress the gullible.

In other news: experiment in the next 48 hours with an honest-to-Karl Chaos Marxist Initiation Ritual. Published if it's not a disaster.