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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

Women vs. Men

By: Michelle Hass (in conversation with Scott Szakonyi)

"Ok folks, Loki and I have been chatting, and we're ready to raise a ruckus that might go on for months."

Chiniginish and I relish the challenge... with Coyote looking over our shoulders and chuckling...

"Here's the question: Are women superior to men, and if so, why? I think that women are superior to men in the modern world because evolution is lagging society. Most of the evolution of the human race (about 60 million yrs) took place in hunter/gatherer tribes, where aggressive behavior on the part of the male hunters was a survival trait, and relating/caring behavior was a survival trait for females. Now, in the 20 thousand or so years since we have become agrarian, the need for male hunter aggressiveness has gone the way of the Dodo, while the need for relating/caring behavior has become primary. Where does this leave us?

"Well, as I see it, women are almost ideally suited to the overcrowded, communication-intensive environment that we call modern society. Men, on the other hand, are like people with no arms playing handball. It's not that we're bad folk, it's just that we were designed by evolution for an environment that hasn't existed for 20 thousand years, which is a real drop in the bucket in terms of evolution. Evolution isn't going to be giving us any help for at least a few million years; maybe never since we are constantly screwing up the gene pool with our wars that leave the genetically defective to breed and send the genetically preferable off to evolutionary dead ends. So all we men can do is try to better ourselves and ask for patience on the part of women, who must feel like the entire male sex has completely missed the boat."

Well, you've got a nice point, but it assumes something that I believe 'taint necessarily so. Is male aggressiveness part of nature or nurture? The jury seems to be coming back from a long period of deliberation, and it looks like the verdict is nurture.

This very nicely dovetails with my own theory of what thelemites refer to as the "procession of the aeons". In Crowley's notorious Liber Al vel Legis, we are said to be passing from an aeon of belief in suffering male gods and patriarchy to an aeon of belief in the value of Self and of partnership between the sexes. Crowley called the old aeon the "Aeon of Osiris" and the new the "Aeon of Horus, the Crowned and Conquering Child." The enthroned Child is not masculine or feminine, but androgynous/gynandrous. The aeon before the Osirian was that of Isis, an aeon of Great Mother Goddesses and matriarchy.

My chronology is a little different than that which Crowley attributed to these three epochs of human history so far. Crowley declared that the Aeon of Horus began with the Spring Equinox of +1904 Common, just before the writing of the Book of the Law. I maintain that the change is still taking place, and had its roots in the +1700s Common. The writings of the philosopher Locke were some of the first to make a very important quantum jump, and provided ideological impetus for the vital changes that have and are taking place.

What Locke asserted was that government did not rest on Divine Right, but on the consent of the governed. Human beings were not born to different castes, some fated to serve while others were fated to rule by the grace of the gods. Human beings were born equal, and had certain rights as a birthright: Life, Liberty, the right to pursue Happiness, and the right to security of private property.

This assertion shows up in Liber Al as these statements:

In a little less arcane language, these statements run thusly:
Every Individual matters.
Every Individual has the right to live, be free and pursue Happiness (harmony with one's life's purpose, or True Will) as they Will.
These rights stop at the boundary of the Wills of others. Live your life as you see fit, but mind your own business and above all, harm nobody. This includes yourself in a very conditional way. You do have the right to self-destruction, but if you truly believe that you matter, why would you want to?

These assertions are usually encountered firstly in a Locke-inspired document that has passed into the history of this country, the Declaration of Independence. If there is any one document that is a trigger point for the New Aeon, it's that one. The American Revolution was the first time monarchy was cast aside in favor of democracy of a representative sort. Democracy was tried before, but never quite this way. And despite several course corrections that needed to be made, (the abolishment of Slavery, the giving of Women, Blacks and Amerinds the right to vote) and some that still need to be made (the granting of total equality for all races and sexes, a shift to a more direct method of participation, ie Cyber-democracy) the democratic experiment in the United States is the most enduring of all.

Before the 1700s, government was imposed from above, not thought of as flowing from the consent of the governed. Individuals were not accorded rights as a birthright, but were granted rights by the king, usually on a class-by-class basis. Human beings were dealt with as masses and classes, on a Collective basis.

Coincidental with these developments was a surfacing of hermetic thought in a more widespread way then ever before in history. The Rosicrucian and Freemason movements brought hermeticism to a wide audience. Within the ranks of Freemasonry were both common and noble, and often commoners would be lodgemasters in lodges frequented by those of noble birth. Hermetic orders ennobled not by birth, but by level of knowledge and initiation and (hopefully) by level of spiritual attainment.

Now, this was fine in theory, but unfortunately in practice things weren't so swift. It was only until the mid-1800s and groups like the original Golden Dawn that women had the possibility of initiation. Even now, in Masonic lodges that have lost their occult focus and are now little more than men's clubs, men are ritually strip-searched to assure the initiator that the candidate is indeed male and not a disguised female.

The baggage of the old days of sexism and classism remain in a lot of hermetic orders even today. Crowley himself had serious problems accepting women as equals: he had a rather low opinion of them and was quite cruel to them in numerous cases. But very explicit in the message of the New Aeon is that people are to be dealt with, not by sex or race or social strata but by their inborn, inalienable rights as individuals... as Stars, to use a thelemic term.

The Neo-pagan movement was a definite evolutionary step in defining a New Aeon mode of spirituality. Unlike the traditional hermetic order, Wicca and other forms of Neo-paganism do not have a multiplicity of ranks and a chain of command. Some have three degrees, some two, some only one, that of initiate. Initiation is not a bestowal of rank, but more a purpose-oriented process. As magickal orders continue to evolve, they will either need to emulate more and more the informality and non-hierarchical non-structure of Neo-paganism or choke on their bloated hierarchies. It is funny when one considers that there is much evidence to suggest that Neo-paganism evolved from the Astrum Argentum and the OTO, and that much of Gardner's groundbreaking work in reconstructing the old pre-Osirian Druidic religion was helped along with the research help of Uncle Al himself.

Perhaps, as the knightly orders of the past were meant as guardians of the Christian Church, there will become a symbiotic connection between Neo-paganism and Magickal orders, especially among those whose non-structure mimics that of the coven. Arguably this symbiosis exists now, and hell, I'm living proof of this.

So what the deuce does this have to do with the sexes? You'll see as I wrap this up. Ok... remember I mentioned that before the Osirian epoch and the patriarchy, which seems to have come in with the rise of the big cities and the transformation from a hunter/gatherer society to an agrarian one (methinks you have placed the transformation a little too far into the past) there was the Isian epoch and the matriarchy? Well, before patriarchal philosophy displaced matriarchalism, women pretty much ran things. They didn't hunt because to place women, who were the living image of the Goddess and the ex-nihilo creatrixes of the next generation, in bodily jeopardy was literally blasphemy. Women were the intermediaries for men to the Goddess, who was unapproachable otherwise. The men had their hunting cults, but they were as insignificant in reality as the Victorian-era anthropologists misread the ancient religion of the Goddess as merely an inferior "fertility cult."

When the transition came to the cities and to patriarchy sometime around -10,000 to -7,500 Common, the long-suppressed males took by force what the Goddesses of the Isian era denied them by their divine decree... power. Male warrior deities replaced female mother deities. The priestesses of the old religions were destroyed. (The Book of Joshua in the Old Testament is a vivid account of one triumph of Osiris over Isis.) And the new order began. But the old matriarchal religions survived for several thousands of years after the turn of the aeon, and it is painfully obvious that the old patriarchal ways will haunt us for thousands of years into the future, even as new ways take hold and new philosophies become more accepted. But it really is nurture rather than nature that makes men aggressive and women passive. Men can learn to be nurturing and loving, and women can learn to be assertive and empowered. In order that we can truly enter this new aeon where all are leaders and all are Stars, we each have to cultivate the "other side" of our Selves. No, women are not superior to men, nor is it the other way around. Every Individual matters. Everyone has the potential to be a King, in the thelemic sense of the word. We need to learn to treat all with dignity, be they material successes or abject material failures. We need to treat even those still enslaved by the old ideas fixes with as much dignity as those who have declared their secession from them and their embracing of the New Law.

The evolution is really and truly in our own hands.

Beauty and balance, Will and Love,

The coven that I've been working with in Denver begins its cup blessing by a dialogue between the Priest and the Priestess. Both have a hand each on the athame and the chalice:

Priest: "Be it known that a man is not greater than a woman.

Priestess: "Nor yet is a woman greater than a man"

Priest: "For what one lacks"

Priestess: "The other can provide"

Priest" "As the Athame is to the male"

Priestess: So is the cup to the female.

Both: And when conjoined together, they become one in truth, for there is no greater magick in all the world than that of love.

BB Rowan

Next: WHAT IS D.A.W.N.? (Denver Area Wiccan Network)