Paranormal Perceptions ~ Crowley and 1970's Witchcraft
The Paranormal Perceptions series was created to gather some of the most interesting authors that are using paranormal elements in their stories. Every author has their own perceptions and provides their own insight on all things paranormal, ranging from urban legends and paranormal research, to myths and inspirations. This week on the guest series is author of Hath No Fury, author Hal Rappaport(@HalRappaport).
Hath No fury explores the lives of magick practitioners set in the 1970s and later in the 1980s. In the 1970’s the word “Wiccan” had not become a pop-culture term. The television show, “Charmed” which showed witches in a positive light, hadn’t yet aired and reruns of Elizabeth Montgomery’s Bewitched resembled the practice of a “witch” in name only.
The general public knew little about the practice as an earth-based, almost hippie-like culture. When people thought of witches they either imagined the pointy-hat-wearing hag from the Wizard of Oz or even worse, something out of Rosemary’s Baby. Even the books available among practitioners of the art seemed darker. Books like Mastering Witchcraft, What Witches Do, or anything by Mr. Alistair Crowley, while mostly accurate, appeared dark and mysterious compared to the brighter, more mainstream, works of Silver Ravenwolf that would be available in years to come.
While Mr. Crowley’s infamous reputation was not entirely undeserved, he was not a devil worshiper. His somewhat selfish and mysterious life did involve the practice of magick, but his unchristian like behavior around sex and personal morality would be considered timid and not unusual by today’s standards. But his seemingly darker practices of 100 years before were not reflected by most that brought forth the peaceful revival of the craft.
Most of the dark light was not cast by those who truly followed the practice. Modern Wiccans follow a code called “The Wiccan Rede.” This guideline of practice opens with the very firm statement of “Harm none, but do what thou wilt.” It firmly separates itself from the more guilt riddled, Judeo-Christian rules and fundamentals with “…do what thou wilt…” preserving only the doctrine to “Harm none.” Even the style of the practice seemed dark to some.
There are as many varieties of Witchcraft as there are of Christianity. Wicca is a contemporary term for many styles. Like Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholicism and Methodist are sects of Christianity, so are there many sects of Wicca. Some practitioners liked to set their distinction of witchcraft by adding the practices of different mystical disciplines varying from Native American to Druidism to Kabala.
Despite many myths, and many more Hollywood creations, there is really no such thing as “Black” magick or “White” magick. There is just magickal energy and what one does with it. The energy itself has no real “Black” or “White” nature any more than the electricity that saves a life in a defibrillator is different that the electricity that runs through an executioner’s electric chair.
While traditional witchcraft denies a Devil or antichrist, which is truly a Christian creation, it does acknowledge evil and evil entities. Witchcraft acknowledges Angels, Archangels and the angelic hierarchy the same as Jews and Christians. It’s one of the few things most religions share. It also acknowledges that there was once an Angel named Samael.
Out of the miasma of magickal beliefs comes something of an enigma has risen. A practice arose of people who worship a dark, malevolent entity. The Christians have actually elevated this entity to a status opposite and equaling that of their god. They worship the dark, fallen angel Samael. The common term for them is “Satanists.”
In adapting the practice of magick and incorporating a supreme deity out of mythology, Satanists are essentially creating and living the fiction that was spread by the Catholic Church in order to assimilate and ostracize the pagans (Pagan’s were simply nature worshiping country dwellers, and witches among the pagans were simply regarded as “wise ones.”) in the first place. The practice makes about as much sense as if NASA built a space ship in the shape of the Starship Enterprise and then told everyone that Gene Roddenberry’s stories were all actually real. Like Star Trek, there is a great deal of background and mythology behind their practice.
These groups, whose rites are often similar to that of Wicca, either ignore the rule of three or strangely embrace it as an obeisance to the one they call their dark master. Both use the same fundamentals of what we call magick, in much the same way two opposing armies might use the same weapons or tools. Even one who doesn’t understand the implications of magick can use it. Again, this is just as a child might understand how to operate a firearm but not understand the consequences of actually shooting and killing someone.
They take the familiar symbols such as the cross or the pentacle and turn them upside down to make them sinister. The Christians find the inverted cross to be an abomination. The Wiccans and other pagan sects don’t really acknowledge the orientation of their symbol to the same degree. They tend to concentrate more on what each point is said to represent.
About the Author:
I currently live in New Jersey, in a small town just north of Princeton. I grew up in Philadelphia. I guess I’ve been writing stories since I was about 11 or 12. I loved the idea of being able to transport someone to another place, or to create my own.
I’ve always been into technology. I’ve worked in the field for almost 25 years. I wrote for the Syfy Channel’s technology site, DVICE and several of my articles were picked up by NBC (NBC Universal owns the Syfy Channel). I have regular articles that are science fiction inspired, but about REAL technology. It’s been my passion to incorporate something real from fiction. In the case of my book, it’s incorporating something real INTO the fiction.
Before any of the Syfy channel stuff, way back in the early days before Facebook and before Blogs, I created a web site for Horror themes called, Frightscape.com. It’s still in existence in its very primitive form.
Anyway, I decided to write an article for my own site about one of the scariest places I had ever been. It was a haunted attraction that had existed in the 1970’s and 80’s. It was called, Brigantine Castle. It was gigantic. It was five stories tall with over 80 live actors. Through the early search facilities of the web, I found a few of the original cast and got them together using a yahoo group (They still use it).
It gave me a unique opportunity to interview them and to write some great stuff about the place, with a lot of their pictures and even some sound recordings.
The editor of Haunted Attractions magazine read my web site and asked me to write one for him. It was my first professional writing. I’ve written a few more articles for Haunted Attractions Magazine since then, along with a few other industry publications.