Editorial: Skepticism and Seeking

Pagan Perspectives

An intimate pointed out to me recently that when it comes to literature, I have a distinct preference for a specific sort of narrative: that of an unbeliever coming face to face with the possibility of a religious awakening, and then, after staring long into that profundity, choosing to turn away from it. I protested this idea at first, but after she pointed out the kinds of writing I point to as my personal models for writing about religion, I had to concede that she had a point. For example, take Next Year in Jersualem, one of my favorite essays, published in Rolling Stone in 1977. Ellen Willis writes about her powerful attraction to orthodox Judaism after seeing her brother embrace it; she goes so far as to move to Israel and take up studies under a Hasidic rabbi. Willis finds, however, that as much as the religion appeals to her, and more than that, makes sense to her, she cannot reconcile it with the feminism that is the foundation of her ethics.

Column: Whiteness is Dead

Whiteness is dead. James Baldwin proclaimed it back in 1972, prophesying ominously that there would be “bloody holding actions all over the world, for years to come.” The holding actions have gotten bloodier and bloodier with the rise of Trump and the self-described “alt-right,” but these are death throes of a doomed egregore. Whiteness is damned not by progress, but by entropy, by the truth that “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.” It’s become cliché to state that “race is a social construct,” but from an occultist’s perspective, that which was birthed through sorcery can and must be killed by the same means.

Column: Resiliency and the Spirit War

“6-3-6: The concept of politics has then become completely absorbed into a war of spirits.” —Nietzschemanteion

Or as Diane di Prima wrote, “the war that matters is the war against the imagination/all other wars are subsumed in it.” The enemy is despair, but secular ideologies of progress will never be enough to keep the enemy at bay. It takes a certain kind of sympathetic magic to counter despair. The seeds of what one is fighting for must be contained in one’s actions. If you want to live in a world where the relationships between the gods, the ancestors, the land and human beings are in harmony, then you have to put effort into strengthening and balancing those relationships right now.

Column: Black August

The dog days of summer are here, marked by the rising of the star Sirius in the morning sky, “the star they give the name of Orion’s Dog, which is brightest among the stars, and yet is wrought as a sign of evil and brings on the great fever for unfortunate mortals.”¹ On August 13, Sylville Smith was killed by a Milwaukee police officer. In the following two nights, eight businesses and numerous cars were burned, rocks and bottles were thrown at the police, and guns were fired on multiple occasions, resulting in at least one hospitalization. Meanwhile, the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center has alleged that the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) prison gang may be planning “to kill correctional officers and Aryan Brotherhood gang members” in commemoration of Black August. Black August originated in the 1970s following the August 7, 1970 deaths of Jonathan Jackson, James McClain and William Christmas during a prisoner liberation and hostage-taking at the Marin County Courthouse and the August 21, 1971 death of George Jackson during a prison rebellion in San Quentin. Prisoners participating in Black August “wore black armbands on their left arm and studied revolutionary works, focusing on the works of George Jackson.

Column: The Fire Is Here

Five people protesting the police killing of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man, are shot and injured by a group of white men in Minneapolis. A candidate for the United States Presidency says that a database for all Muslims is “certainly something we should start thinking about.” When asked the difference between such an idea and Nazi Germany’s registration of Jews and other minorities, his only reply was, “You tell me, you tell me. Why don’t you tell me.” The same candidate’s white supporters physically attack a black heckler at a rally; the candidate states in an interview, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.” In Greece, the neo-fascist political party Golden Dawn, which has no relation to the occult organization, became the third leading party in the country by winning 7% of the vote in the elections this September, approximately 500,000 votes. What do Pagans and Polytheists see when they read the news; when they look at history? Do they see deviations from an inevitable progressive march from animism and polytheism to monotheism to atheism, from savagery to barbarism to civilization?