These are times in need of beauty. These are times in need of depth. These are times in need of study. These are times in need of rallying cries and manifestos, of art scrawled upon pavement and wild dancing in the streets.
Fortunately for us, these things are happening.
Peter Grey writes: "Love is the war to end all wars, and the war is upon us." This is a bold statement by the author of The Red Goddess, from the titular essay of his latest book: Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Grey writes of a Craft that is filled with power and the lust for life. He writes of a Craft that breaks down the crumbling social orders of oppression, greed, and fear in order to raise a society of freedom. Peter Grey wants us working in the shadows and full sunlight. He doesn't want us to back down. He wants us to be born again, a danger to the forces that wreak havoc on our beloved earth, and on us.
We must look at our world as it is, and it is a desperate and painful ordeal to undergo. Yet the pain of the world is what we are masking by accepting the false dreams of our fallen empire whose jaws still devour even those in its death throes. Before dream we must open our eyes, and wash them clean.
What will it take for us to cleanse our sight? What will it take to jar us out of apathy, complacency, or sheer exhaustion? The first thing Grey asks us to do is to stop being so concerned with fitting in. Assimilation is part of what is killing us: the need to belong can come at too high a cost. That cost is our soul, and the soul of the earth.
Philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote eloquently about the need to become "conscious pariahs" rather than parvenues, assimilationists. Attempts to assimilate to sick systems make us sicker. Breaking from our need to belong frees us to become who we really are, in touch with our core natures. This freedom enables us to choose. When we can choose, we can build what we desire.
This was meant to be a book review. As you can see, it isn't. What I want to write about is the revolution Grey incites us to. His publishing company, Scarlet Imprint, is one voice for this upheaval, this revaluing of our values. Fulgur is another, and its journal Abraxasoffers a third voice. Something important is happening in British esoteric publishing these days, and we would do well to pay attention.
I've been asked in the past to review Abraxas, just as I've been asked now to review Apocalyptic Witchcraft. I cannot review either, for a review requires me to read something front to back and comment on its strengths and weaknesses within a reasonably limited amount of time. To properly review any of these publications would take me years. These are not simple books, or magazines designed to entertain. These publications require full engagement and attention. They require re-reading, examining, studying, looking. They require thought, patience, and an opening. I cannot review these offerings, for they are acts of art and magic. All I can say is: a revolution is being born if we allow it. It will not fully come to birth until we answer its call, in our own way.
There is art in Abraxas that is beautiful, startling, and challenging. There is poetry there, as in offerings from Scarlet Imprint that speak to the soul. There are things written in Apocalyptic Witchcraft that can change us, if we let them.
Yes, sometimes the writing in Apocalyptic Witchcraft verges on melodramatic. Sometimes I vehemently disagree with what is written, and other times I want to cheer. Not every essay in each issue of Abraxas moves me, but all of them make me think. This is for the good. We need allies to pit ourselves against, and to stand with, not people who keep us comfortable. There is too much complacency in the world. If love is a battle, we need comrades that test us. Peter Grey, Christine Oakley Harrington, Alkistis Dimech, and Robert Ansell are these comrades. They incite us to magic. They incite us to art. They incite us to philosophy. They incite us to live.
We could, were we to so decide, ensure that current occultism be remembered in the history of magic as a fanfare peak rather than as a fading sigh... We could allow our art to spread its holy psychedelic scarab wings across society once more, perhaps in doing so allow some light or grace to fall upon that pained, benighted organism. We could be made afresh in our fresh undergrowth, stand reinvented at a true dawn of our Craft within a morning world... (Alan Moore, Abraxas 2)
As Peter Grey reminds us: "The example we follow is our own."
What magic are we choosing? How will we test ourselves? What do we love? What shall we build?
Author's Disclosure: I was given a review copy of Apocalyptic Witchcraft and of Abraxas 1. My work has appeared in Abraxas 2 and in two poetry anthologies published by Scarlet Imprint: Datura and Mandragora. I have also spent my own money on other of their publications, beginning with The Red Goddess, which is a gorgeous book. I support the work of these publishers and feel grateful to them for their efforts on our behalf.