Venus Cloacina — the purification goddess… and poo

Venus Cloacina was the Roman goddess of sewers and she is a darn useful Goddess to have a contact with.

She originally came from Etruscan mythology and is a truly ancient force was a spirit of a small stream called the Cloaca which ran through the early Roman Forum. Rome was city built on a marsh and the Cloaca stream, which drained into the Tiber, was said to have seven tributary brooks that drained all the valleys of the Esquiline and Quirinal hills.

Where now the Forum lies, were pools of water and marshland,
Streams from the Tiber’s flood swelled high the banks of this brook…
Where now through the Velabrum processions move toward the Circus,
Was nothing but willows and reeds that shook in the wind. Ovid’s Fasti (VI, 401ff.)

The Tarquins, early Kings of Rome dredged the stream and lined it with stone to make a drainage canal and eventually covered it over to become the main drain of Rome. The course of the original waterway and tributary streams dictated the layout of the buildings and streets of the Forum.

The name Cloacina means “the Purifier”, and the word cloaca became the word for “drain” or “sewer”; in time Cloacina became the Goddess of Sewers the Cloaca Maxima (a huge network of sewers that kept the huge city of Rome clean.

While sewers are smelly and horrible, Venus Cloacina was the goddess of purity, because she cleaned it all out. She was also the goddess of all filth and the protector of sexual intercourse in marriage.

Rape of the Sabine Women

This might have something to do with the Sabine wars, in which the early men of Rome, who had few women among them, raided the nearby Sabine people, kidnapping and raping their women and forcing them to become their wives.

The Sabine King Tatius attacked Rome but was later reconciled to peace by the kidnapped women and the participants were purified with myrtle branches, a plant very sacred to Venus.

To commemorate the occasion, a statue of Venus Cloacina was later put up in the Forum called the Sacrum Cloacina in front of the Basilica Aemilia; directly above the Cloaca Maxima. Pliny says that before the shrine was built there had grown a myrtle-tree on the spot, and myrtle is sacred to Venus.

It was little more than a platform, eight feet in diameter. As the Forum’s street level was slowly raised, and many successive layers of stone have been found at the base of Cloacina’s shrine. It was remodelled or raised several times.

This shrine was located right over one of the main drains of the Cloaca Maxima, where two branches met up. Rectangular stairs led up to the platform on the north-western side; the platform itself was edged with a low openwork railing, and within this were small statues. There was a manhole directly into the sewer in the small temple.

They were of two draped Goddesses, either both Cloacina, or Cloacina and Venus, each with Her right hand on an incense-burner or small column; one of them held a flower in Her left hand.

Only the circular foundation of this shrine remains; but it was depicted on several coins of the first century BCE, so we know what it looked like. Romans like Julius Caesar were happy to share her image on their coins.

One Prayer offered by a Roman to Cloacina included:

Cloacina, goddess of the tide,

Whose sable streams beneath the city glide

Indulged the modish flame, the town she roved

A mortal scavenger she saw she loved.”

Terry Pratchett set his novel Dodger in early Victorian London based around a kid who lives in the sewers. The Goddess of Sewers, called the “Lady” plays a big part in his life and is based on Cloacina.

A magician with a Cloacina contact can use her remove blocks, shadow aspects of personality and shitty things.

Another practical use is that after a brief invocation you can tip stuff down which need to end up in the underworld down the loo or into a storm drain. All those wax smudges left over from candle burnings and intention papers which normally require a trip to a cross roads for Hekate or Mercury to handle.

Cloacina can be an underworld guide and is particularly useful at psychological work.  Basically, she can help you process your shit, particularly if you are full of it.

The Whare Ra warrior legend – Andrew Hamilton Russell

One of the most interesting Whare Ra members was Andrew Hamilton Russell (23 February 1868 – 29 November 1960) who is one of New Zealand’s great military heroes.

Having served with the British army in India in August 1892, he got bored and returned to farming in Hawkes Bay. He helped form the Farmer’s Union and became involved conservative politics in NZ.

In 1899 he raised a militia for the Boer War (the Wellington (East Coast) Mounted Rifles Regiment), although he did not go with them to South Africa.

He was a lot more hands on in 1913 when he was the leader of a Massey’s Cossacks which was a cavalry unit formed from famers who aggressively put down striking workers. His troops were farmers who wanted to show these commo city types who was boss.

Russell was one of the founder members of Whare Ra in 1914 and was named as Dr Felkin’s successor as Grandmaster of the Order of the Table Round when Felkin died. He was installed in the role but had to resign when WWII broke out he resigned.  Reginald Gardiner was installed as the third Grandmaster in his place. The official record is a little confused as to how long Russell was the Grandmaster of OTR, claiming that he had to resign at the outbreak of WW1, however Felkin was still alive at that point and still the Grandmaster.

History might have looked unfavourably upon the strike breaking Russell had he not brilliantly led the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade upon the outbreak of World War One, and rose swiftly to high command during the Gallipoli Campaign.

He commanded the ANZAC evacuation from Gallipoli, and went on to achieve further distinction as the commander of the New Zealand Division on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918. He effectively turned the NZ forces into the best in the line despite disastrous campaign decisions by other British commanders. What made him different from his British counterparts was he could put his hand up and admit he made a mistake as he did after the First Battle of Passchendaele which killed more NZ soldiers in a single day than any other event.  With artillery hampered by rain and mud, an attack on Bellevue Spur faltered, leaving more than 800 New Zealanders killed and almost 2000 wounded or missing. This represents the highest recorded loss of New Zealand lives in a single day,  He nearly was killed by a German sniper who managed to pierce his helmet when he was visiting a forward trench.

Russell was a strict disciplinarian, and dealt with deserters by having them shot. The five he ordered executed were later posthumously pardoned in 1980.

Never the less he returned home loaded with titles and was hailed in Maori, as ‘Ariki Toa’, The Fight Chief Sent Forward To Lead.”  Golden Dawn historian Tony Fuller said that Russell handed Whare Ra his bayonet which was used as the sword of the Heirus which seems rather appropriate.

After the war he spent two years in bed recovering. During WW2 Russell became the Inspector General of New Zealand Military Forces, before retiring again in July 1941, aged 73.

Russell’s military achievements were recognised with a CB in 1916 and, in 1917, a KCB. He was awarded the French Légion d’honneur (croix d’officier) and Croix de guerre (avec palme), the Belgian Ordre de Léopold (commander) and Croix de guerre, the Serbian Order of the White Eagle (first class) and the Montenegrin Order of Danil

Russell died at Tunanui on 29 November 1960, aged 92, and received a funeral service with full military honours. He was survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. The Obituaries on his death note  that he was widely read, fluent in French (he read Proust in the original), an enthusiastic cellist, an opera lover, and a brilliant conversationalist. Despite these gifts, Russell, a man of strong Anglican religious convictions, was self-effacing and modest. Of course it fails to mention that he was senior adept in the Golden Dawn tradition.

Why whitewashing Crowley is a bad idea

Crowlyite followers are celebrating some anniversary of Aleister Crowley at the moment and there seems to be an effort to whitewash some of the Great Beast’s darker aspects.

It is well known that Crowley was anti-Semitic, misogynistic, bully who tortured and exploited his students. However, there is now an attempt to paint him as a “man of his time” who was nevertheless attempting to push back the boundaries.

This is the pop-culture Sergeant Pepper’s view of Crowley which has nothing to do with the real person, who would look with much contempt at those who see him as a counter-culture icon.

One of the more obvious things that people have been doing is scouring what Crowley has written for “proof” that he was none of the things people said about him. For example, the anti-semitic label can be dismissed because he once wrote: “No people can show finer specimens of humanity. The Hebrew poets and prophets are sublime. The Jewish soldier is courageous, the Jewish rich man generous. The race possesses imagination, romance, loyalty, probity and humanity in an exceptional degree.”

However what needs to be set against this are more damning quotes like: “A similar case is presented by the Jew, who really does only too often possess the bad qualities for which he is  disliked; but they are not proper to his race” and “In the previous spasm she had rushed to the registrar the most nauseating colopter that ever came under my microscope. It was a Whitechapel Jew.”

What is more dangerous is that this racism leaks into his teaching. For example he identifies the “evil” form of Aries rising as Jewish: “One must further remark that each sign governs two main types … the active and the passive. Thus Aries: the high brows, long face, aquiline nose, tall thin muscular figure, shows the fiery and martial qualities of the sign. But there is an evil and averse counterpart corresponding to the ovine nature. We have the gross, hooked, pendulous proboscis; the thick, flabby, moist lips; the patient stupid eyes, and timid, hunted gait of the bad type of Jew.”

Crowley was also a conspiracy nut believing in the Protocols of Zion and repeat some of the allegations as fact. In his “Preface to Sepher Sephiroth”, originally published in Equinox 1:8. Written in 1911 he wrote:

“Human sacrifices are today still practised by the Jews of Eastern Europe, as is set forth at length by the late Sir Richard Burton in the MS. which the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress and evidenced by the ever-recurring Pogroms against which so senseless an outcry is made by those who live among those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals.”

For those who came in late, Jews were frequently accused of ritual sacrifice, murder, and cannibalism in Eastern Europe since the Middle Ages is called “the blood libel against the Jews” — a malicious falsehood (libel) that claims that Jews drink the blood of human victims as part of their rituals — that ritual human sacrifice is part of Jewish religion.

Those seeking to white wash Crowley quote him saying this about the Chinese: “I realised instantly their spiritual superiority to the Anglo-Saxon, and my own deep-seated affinity to their point of view.” After meeting the consul of Tengyueh: “We met with a warm welcome at the consulate from Litton’s Chinese wife, an exceedingly beautiful woman with perfect manners. They had five charming children.”

Compare that to the following: “One cannot fraternise with the Chinese of the lower classes; one must treat them with absolute contempt and callousness.”

What we see in these conflicting quotes, and there are many, that Crowley might respect individuals but hate the race in general. For example, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon, the Hon. P. Ramanathan, was a “man of charming personality, wide culture and profound religious knowledge” yet the people were “idle irresponsible people, purring with placid pleasure.”

So, what about the concept that Crowley was just a “man of his time and class.” There was nothing unusual about being a racist bigot then, everyone was.
However, that is historical re-positioning of the type that gets on my tits. Sure, you can find evidence of backward racism in that time, but in the style and to Crowley’s level you should start reading racists condemned by both mainstream conservatives and liberals alike. It is important remember that Crowley was not American, and the racism of the UK was different, and less obvious, from that of New World. A US clansman would be as unwelcome among the English aristocratic far-right of Crowley’s time. For Crowley to write that sort of stuff crossed too many lines.

This blog cannot deal in detail with Crowley’s obvious hatred of women which are often white washed with long quotes from the Book of the Law about how important women were. However there are darker quotes which suggest that is largely meaningless:

“… morally and mentally, women were for me beneath contempt. They had no true moral ideals. They were bound up with their necessary preoccupation, with the function of reproduction. Their apparent aspirations were camouflage. Intellectually, of course, they did not exist. Even the few whose minds were not completely blank had them furnished with Wardour Street Chippendale. Their attainments were those of the ape and the parrot. These facts did not deter me. On the contrary, it was highly convenient that one’s sexual relations should be with an animal with no consciousness beyond sex.”

Unless Crowley were a southern back-woodsman, this sort of mindset was long out-of-date and completely out of keeping with the equality suggested by both the Golden Dawn and his own magical teachings.

What most people do not want to understand when they read Crowley is that they are not looking at a 1960’s love guru with progressive views. Just because someone takes drugs and sleeps around with different genders does not make them progressive. There are many gay right-wingers (usually full of self-hate)

In fact, Crowley wanted a new aristocracy which could pursue long-range goals without the encumbrances of pandering to democratic whims. Crowley described a government following a Thelemic course as one in which, far from a hedonistic free-for-all, “set[s] limits to individual freedom. For each man in this state which I propose is fulfilling his own True Will by his eager Acquiescence in the Order necessary to the Welfare of all, and therefore of himself also.”*

Victor Neuburg bullied

My view of Crowley is not that he was an evil black magician, but someone who did some good stuff but failed to deal with his own stuff. This unbalanced before he started to deal with the heavy stuff. While it was wrong for him to be blackballed from the GD for being gay, I am not really sure that was entirely the reason. He was a young arrogant twat, who developed without guidance to be an old autocratic arrogant twat who knew a bit about magic. His inherent anger and violence against students like Victor Neuburg, coupled with his messianic megalomania undid a lot of his cleverer stuff. What Crowley was doing was not hedonism or free thinking, it was compulsive and destructive.

Whitewashing this out of Crowley, presumably to keep him as the 1960’s guru image does him no service. Not only do we get an incorrect assessment of the person, we are unable to fix his mistakes.

Indeed, while justifying him, you repeat his mistakes. There are Thelemites who think it is ok to treat women like sex slaves because Crowley did it. I have a friend who suffered appalling at the hands of the Canadian OTO for the crime of being a strong woman.

Fashionable fascism is now a thing worldwide and Crowley’s teachings are a magnet for those who consider themselves hedonistic libertines. Unless Crowley’s fascist, white-superiority and backward leanings are shown for what they are, then there is a danger they will corrupt and contaminate any chance of a spiritual awakening from those who follow that way. Crowley could become the justification for every right-wing autocratic bullying occult leader to give in to their psychology.

* Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Samuel Weiser, 1991, Liber Aleph Vel CXI, De Ordine Rerum, clause 39.


Sorry, you can’t be alt-right and a member of the Golden Dawn

A debate has started on Facebook about me banning a couple of people from a GD discussion group for disseminating alt-right ideas.

Some people think that the issue is political and you should not be talking about politics on a Golden Dawn chat group anyway.  While there is some truth in this, for me the issue is NOT political at all. Alt-Right ideas are not political at all but are the antithesis of everything the Golden Dawn represents.

Stripping away “political” ideas of alt-right we are still left with the following fundamental beliefs which are alien to the core of the Golden Dawn:

  • The superiority of white males.
  • Hatred of Jews and Muslims and homosexuals.
  • A misogynistic opposition to “feminism” which is a call for women to adopt traditional roles.

The Golden Dawn founders were familiar with these views as they were typical of those which surrounded them in the late Victorian period.  However, they were explicitly outlawed by the Golden Dawn which wanted to move away from them. Firstly, the Golden Dawn wanted to see equality between the sexes within magic. It is possible to make a case that the GD was formed for that purpose. It paid dividends to the GD as some of its most significant ritualists and teachers were women. A GD adept is sworn to protect equality within the order. Someone holding misogynistic views, or who wants women to get back to a support role to men, therefore, would not be allowed to take the 5=6 oath.

Religious intolerance of any type is forbidden in the 0=0.  All religions are said to “contain a light of the highest of which you seek.”  So if you attack Jews or Muslim beliefs, you are insulting the Higher which manifests through them.

Lastly, the Order teaches at that all things come from one thing and humanity is part of a single divine being. What race is Adam Kadmon?  If you are saying white males are superior, you are disconnecting yourself from the unity which is the human race.

Working against unity, against humanity, is not the path of a Golden Dawn magician. It is the path of something darker. So, this is why alt-Right types are unwelcome within the Golden Dawn tradition. This goes over and above any political beliefs that might be held about “guns,” “family,” “global warming” “abortion” etc.

Of course, there might be some modern GD groups that disagree and allow race-hate, sexism, homophobia and intolerance amongst its members.  It is just that in my little patch of the post-GD garden we frown upon such things. To me it is a bit like a Satanist wanting to be a Roman Catholic – there are fundemental reasons why such a mix is impossible. Personally I think that the Golden Dawn, despite is age is not the voice of conservative magic but rather liberal.