That being said, there are many O.T.O. members who consider themselves Pagans. There also quite a few who consider themselves Jews. One of my dearest O.T.O. brothers is a Muslim. There are even those who consider themselves Christian (although by most "Christian" doctrinal standards they would be considered highly irregular or even heretical Christians.) There are quite a few who are comfortable identifying themselves as atheists, and a growing number who are Freemasons who are vocally not atheists.


Much of ceremonial magick draws from Judeo-Christian traditions. For some Pagans that's uncomfortable territory. Why should a Pagan work with angels or study Jewish mysticism?

They shouldn't feel the need to if they are comfortable with their mastery of the rites and traditions of their Pagan religion.


The O.T.O. has been associated with sex magick and you have written three books on the subject. What would you like to say to people who are interested in ceremonial magick and the O.T.O., but find the subject of sex magick uncomfortable or off-putting?

If after reading what I've written about the subject, someone is still disturbed by a discussion of the more universal or even metaphoric aspects of sex, then I must respectfully conclude he or she has important psychological issues that they should address before they involve themselves in any form of esoteric study undertaken by adults.


Your acclaimed book on practical Qabalism for the magickal community, The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante's Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist, is written in the voice of an imaginary rabbi. Why did you choose to write as a humorous fictional character?

Because Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford could say things that I would be hesitant to say. It's like the shy ventriloquist who can only really speak his heart through the wooden lips of his dummy.


Your autobiography, My Life with Spirits, is required reading for two classes at DePaul University in Chicago. Can you tell us about that?

It's a class on Modern Religion. A few years ago when I was in Chicago I even got to address the class.


Magickal authorities, like Crowley, have traditionally been seen as self-aggrandizing and egotistical, and magickal texts as obscure and ciphered. Your autobiography and books on magick tend to be funny and down-to-earth. Is humor and accessibility necessary to reach a modern audience?

Probably not for everybody. It is how I see things, so it is how I attempt to communicate.


Do you think information on magickal and spiritual matters can be too readily available?



Aleister Crowley, undisputed as a talented occultist, delighted in his nefarious reputation and claimed to have lived quite a wild life. You've written several books on Crowley's work. Do you have an opinion of the man himself? Was he as wicked as he made himself out to be?

He didn't just claim to have a wild life... he had a wild life! No wilder perhaps than a Ramakrishna, or an Oscar Wilde, or Timothy Leary, however. Let me ask you this... have you ever met and tried to have a friendship or a business relationship with a great artist (a famous novelist, or film maker, or actor, or dancer, or choreographer, or composer, or virtuosic musician, or singer, or poet, or painter, or sculptor) who is also a bona fide genius? It may start out pleasant enough, but more often than not the more you become enmeshed in their mad world the more your world is turned upside down.