Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Witches Versus Thelemites

It's no big secret that in some parts of the United States practitioners of Wicca and witchcraft don't get along with Thelemites. This isn't true everywhere, and is actually kind of sad because in many cases OTO bodies have been very successful when they have been able to integrate themselves into the local Pagan scene in addition to attracting ceremonial magicians. As this article demonstrates, it's not just here in the States that witchcraft and Thelema find themselves at odds. In the article, with its title seemly ripped from the headlines of 1987, British "white witch" Kevin Carlyon warned people to steer clear of cult groups and wasted no time singling out OTO.

Mr Carlyon said the authorities should monitor some groups, including the controversial O.T.O., because of the alleged sex rituals held during some meetings. “I constantly tell people that nothing in witchcraft involves taking your clothes off,” he said. The European headquarters of O.T.O., which stands for Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Temple of the East), is just a street away from Kevin’s home in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex.

Now here are some facts. First off, OTO does not in fact hold "sex rituals" during meetings. Second, the article focuses on "youngsters" avoiding cults but completely fails to mention that only adults of "full age" - 18 in the US and UK - can join the Order in the first place. Finally, if what Carlyon's worried about is people taking their clothes off, it's in Wicca where you will find the practice of "skyclad" ritual nudity, not in OTO. Of course, in an apparent effort to smear the Order Carlyon ignores all of that. It's pretty clear from his comments what his "white witches" think of Thelema.

It's not that there aren't cultish groups out there trolling the esoteric scene. Isaac Bonewits put together a series of questions called the "cult danger evaluation frame" that I'm of the opinion ever spiritual seeker should familiarize themselves with in order to hone their critical thinking skills regarding any group they might want to join. However, OTO comes in quite low on the scale. We don't treat our leaders as infallible, exert control over our members lives outside the Order in any way, or demand ridiculous donations from them. If fact, we sometimes joke that the Order would have more resources if it were more traditionally cultish, except that the sovereignty of individual will in Thelema is simply non-negotiable.

Now I did a little more reading up on Kevin Carlyon, and what I found is that while he doesn't live in Salem, Massachusetts, the clown shoes are nonetheless strong in him. Back when the first Harry Potter film came out, Carlyon cursed it because it depicted Harry flying the "wrong way" on his broom. That somehow manages to be even more pathetic than the Salem group that cursed Charlie Sheen because he jokingly called himself a "warlock."

I'll believe Carlyon can truly fly on a broom when I see it, and anyway I have a hard time imagining something more trivial to get all worked up about. As for the film, it started off a series that has been one of the most successful in movie history, so it would seem that this "white witch" can't do magick at all. Maybe he's just jealous that a lot of OTO initiates can.

UPDATE: In the comments, Carlyon claims that he made no attacks on the Order and his remarks were taken out of context. If so, then the culprit is in fact reporter James Murray who wrote the article and not Carlyon. That's some pretty shoddy journalism there, though it's right in line with the press we've been getting in Britain for the last year.

That Harry Potter broom curse, though, is still one of the dumbest things I've ever seen.
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Frater.Barrabbas said...

I have no clue what tradition Kevin Carlyon belongs to, but it seems that he is profoundly ignorant of any of the BTW traditions that have existed since GBG, and they all practice sacral nudity. They might not be the largest percent of practicing Wiccans, but they are a pretty well known faction.

Kevin is obviously an idiot, and I think that witches can readily disavow him as any kind of witch at all.

As for Witches being against Thelema, I kind of doubt that is very prevalent amongst witches who know anything about magic and the occult. Crowley's public image is quite dubious, and the OTO is forever associated with him. What an uneducated person thinks about Crowley will pretty much taint what they think of the OTO and Thelema.

Since there are witches who are actually against practicing magic (believe it or not), you can bet that these same people will think very poorly of Crowley, the OTO and Thelema. A more thorough education will rectify that erroneous association, and after all, Crowley's books read quite well despite his reputation. Anyway, everyone has to start somewhere, but hopefully, no one should maintain their ignorance and reject new information, especially in public.


Scott Stenwick said...

It's certainly not a general thing. I've met plenty of witches and Wiccans who have no problem with Thelema. But it is true that there are places where outright hostility exists between the two communities. Here in the Twin Cities there is a pretty sharp division, though I haven't seen it rise to the level of outright conflict.

Given the Harry Potter broom curse, I can say with some conviction that Carlyon clearly belongs to the "clown shoes" tradition of witchcraft - you know, just like the Salem folks. Maybe he's their long-lost cousin or something.

Scott Stenwick said...

And just as a point, I want to add that by "Salem folks" here I'm not talking about everybody who lives in Salem, or even every occultist from there. I'm talking about the one particular group that decided the "Charlie Sheen curse" was a good idea, as opposed to the dumbest thing ever.

Bruce Kroeze said...

When I ran the O.T.O. Oasis in Minneapolis, I was once at a party with a bunch of mixed magic/witch types.

I got into a discussion with the head of a local coven, who proceeded to tell me that the big work their group did was to "astrally defend" Minneapolis against ... get this ... the O.T.O.

So, you are telling me you are engaged in "magical combat" against me and my friends. You don't recognize me, because you haven't done any homework. You don't realize that at least 3 other people at the party are the people you are fighting. The final nail in the coffin here is that the guy said they'd been doing it for years.

We never noticed.

I guess his magical technique was rather lacking. Funny though.

Scott Stenwick said...

@Bruce: Funny indeed! You never told me that one before. Perhaps stuff like that is why there still isn't a lot of overlap between the witches and the OTO here.

Yes, since LL is still going strong their magick must have been pretty ineffectual. What did they think we were going to do to the Twin Cities, anyway?

Bruce Kroeze said...

It was the "Triskelion Order", which I suppose is probably defunct, or else has moved onto some other silly goal.

I didn't mention it because it was beneath contempt for my mindset at the time. Now, it seems funny. Then, it seemed like dorks attacking us.

Funny how time makes things funnier.

Bruce Kroeze said...

The other funny bit is that the Minneapolis witches had the only "surprise" sex magic ritual I've ever attended.

Yeah, I've attended a few, this is the only "surprise" one.

It was a "great rite", and it was well attended. I'd been invited. I attended. At some point in the evening, men were asked to come forward and stand in a circle.

No reference to what was going to happen.

Basically, spin the bottle time. The lucky guy got to have sex with the lucky recipient of the bottle in the opposite sex.

The King and Queen of the new year.

I did get some witch asking me "are you sure you want to be in the circle?", but with no clue about why he was asking, I didn't think much about it.

I'da done it, had I been the lucky spin-the-bottle winner. No problem, not with public sex, sex magic, any of that, but ... it would have been nice to have been informed beforehand.

KevtheWitch said...

The problem is here you are taking the article in the Express out of context. If you weren't so far up your own arses you would realise that three differnt subjects, Crowley, Halloween and perverts in Witchcraft have been incorrectly linked together to for a sensationalist article and I certainly made no mention of the O.T.O in any bad light and yes I do have knowledge of their past and modern practises.

If you had any occult powers at all you would ask what was really siad not jump on a Christian based Witch Hunt.

Kevin Carlyon

Scott Stenwick said...

So in the section copied from the article, did the media misquote you? The statement that OTO needs to monitored certainly puts it in a bad light, as the does the allegation that OTO practices rituals involving sexual activity. We don't.

However, if it's not what you really said and the spin there is coming from whoever wrote the article, I apologize for attributing those statements to you. I'm well aware of the attitude of the British press towards OTO.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't take his comment too seriously Mr Stenwick. Kev links to the supposedly misquoted article on his own website. The website also shows him for what he is, a charlatan and spiritual whore selling spells and tarot readings on the Internet. Most of his spiritual beliefs seem centered on him making money off others. Really, it's so dangerous to do spells for myself I need to pay him a hundred and fifty pounds?

Unfortunately Kev is expressing a lot of what modern Wicca has become. He's judgmental and dogmatic, and expresses a disdain for alternative spiritual practices that borders on the SRA scare. At least he's not trying to completely demagify Pagan spirituality, but he is trying to limit it, so that he can benefit from selling it.

Scott Stenwick said...

I can't say I'm all that worried about it, but I do want to make sure I'm leveling my criticisms at the right person. If it was in fact the reporter who spun the story, I'd like to know. Otherwise, I'm going to assume my post can stand as is.

KevtheWitch said...

I was first introduced to the reporter by a local photographer. He said that the item was about the rise in Witchcraft and Aliester Crowley's time in Hastings, both as a young child and where he died. Yes I did openly comment that there are unscrupulous individuals who groom youngsters for everything but Witchcraft.

A brief mention of the O.T.O. was mentioned as having an address in Pevensey Rd, St Leonards on Sea. This is the first I had heard of it as I understood them to be in nearby Hollington. They went to the Pevensey Rd address after me but had no joy.

This can turn into all the Bicca/Bitchcraft personal attack that you like but I did not expect the article to in any way be mainly about me and the O.T.O.

Thanks for your people drawing people to my website.

Scott Stenwick said...

Trust me, there's nothing I "like" about the ongoing spats between witches and Thelemites. It's a real shame, which is why I wrote about in the first place.

That being said, if the interview indeed did go as you claim and the reporter is to blame, I apologize for accusing you of attacking the Order. I'll add an update to the article mentioning your comments to that effect here. I trust that if you are indeed linking to it on your own web site you will want to add some similar language to make sure there are no more such misunderstandings in the future.

As for generating web traffic, I aim to please! ;-) Information should be free, and obscurity benefits no one.