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  Designing for Lust
Sex Worship Posted by Xnoubis on June 17, 2001 @ 02:41 PM
from the bone-of-contention dept.

Someone recently called my attention to a chapter of Starhawk's Dreaming in the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics, in which she expounds her "Three Laws of Small Groups":

  1. In any small group in which people are involved sexually, sooner or later there will be grave conflicts.
  2. In any small group in which people are involved, sooner or later they will be involved sexually, even if only in fantasy.
  3. Small groups tend to break up.

If there's anything to this (and I suspect there is), how do Thelemic groups get around it? Not all areas can support large groups, and even then, large groups generally have to start as small groups. To proscribe sexual activity seems distinctly non-Thelemic, and still wouldn't address the issue of sexual fantasy, which can indeed be a powerful influence in magical group dynamics. What seems to be needed are time-tested techniques for groups to overcome or minimize the disruptive effects of sexual politics.

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    Re: Designing for Lust
    by Aleph on Sunday June 17, @06:10PM
    Thelemic groups tend to bring in fresh blood. Thus rather than split up, individuals split off, with the group remaining about the same size...

    Re: Designing for Lust
    by Tim Maroney on Monday June 18, @08:20PM
    In my experience -- which is limited -- there are three main sources of problems.

    The first is dishonest affairs. These can be avoided by refusing to participate in them, either first-hand or as co-conspirators. In general, the problems that result are only worsened as others are enlisted as confidants and thus as co-conspirators. There is a basic lack of integrity at play here, and the only answer is to refuse to associate with people of such low moral standards. Unfortunately this is easier said than done in some cases, or when one's own sexual maturity is not sufficiently advanced to understand that such conspiracies will inevitably rebound on oneself due to their damaging effect on the group.

    The second is quid pro quo sexual harassment, in which initiation or other group status is made contingent on sex with a person of status. One would think that leaders who create these situations would be anathematized, but in my experience the status hierarchies of the groups are so firm that it is easy to abuse position in this way. The solution is to refuse to tolerate "leaders" of this type, but again it is often easier said than done. In three different groups I belonged to, I observed instances of senior members clearly engaging in this behavior, and I could see that others were also aware of this, but in all cases there was a deliberate blind eye turned to the problem. Sometimes this was sheltered under the banner of a vague pro-sexuality in which anyone should be free to solicit anyone at any time. That is a naive viewpoint in light of power disparities and quid pro quo arrangements.

    Third, people make their romantic conflicts issues for the group and demand that people take sides. It is tempting to say that people who cannot keep their problems to themselves should be shunned, but there are issues that should be issues for the group, as for instance when one person's violent attack on another makes it impossible for them to be around each other. So I would suggest a two-step process. First, does this really need to be an issue for the group, or is someone grandstanding at the expense of the general peace? Then, if the issue is a real one, the matter should be approached in a spirit of serious investigation. All too often these issues split a group along lines of who is closer to each partner, or based on quick takes that are not at all based on evidence and testimony, and which would not stand up to careful scrutiny. In many cases people are judged guilty in absentia, without even being asked their side of the case. That is damaging not only to abstract conceptions of justice but to the fraternal bond within the group.

    So those are my suggestions based on my own, again admittedly limited, experience. I do not suggest that they are a panacea but these principles might mitigate many difficult situations.


    • Re: Designing for Lust
      by Mordecai on Monday June 18, @10:05PM
      >Third, people make their romantic conflicts issues for the group and demand
      >that people take sides.

      This can be particularly difficult when it is entirely a "he said, she said" situation, that is, when it is impossible for an outsider to tell who is telling the truth (or whether anyone is telling the truth!). One would not want to support either a partner abuser or a liar/martyr, but in some cases it is truly impossible to know what one is dealing with.

      • Re: Designing for Lust
        by Tim Maroney on Monday June 18, @10:28PM
        Very true. These situations are often quite difficult, and I do not mean to imply that they can all be resolved by simply adopting one's Holmesian cap. I only mean to say that many more could be reasonably resolved than are. Basic factors reflecting on the credibility of witnesses can easily be ignored when one has a personal agenda in the situation, for instance

        Unfortunately, the virtue of dispassionate consideration (however unattainable that may be in any absolute form) is not one that is cultivated in spiritual groups. Instead, the dominant paradigm in religion is that excitement is to be preferred to plodding credibility. Otherwise, for instance, religionists would believe in the highly credible but unpleasant theory of decomposition rather than in fantastic tales of life after death. This willful gullibility all too easily crosses over into mundane determinations of fact in religious communities.


    Re: Designing for Lust
    by jazzcat goodshiplollypop on Tuesday June 19, @03:02AM
    ...at the sake of sounding repititious, this is precisely why Meryl and I left OTO, it was the mitagating factor, hair that broke the camels back!...once again i won't go into the drivel

    and funny thing all these years later, someone
    is still tring to use emotional blackmail(emotive
    sexual harassement content)...

    seems the negitave impact of using sex empowerment
    is that it plays nicely into the invisable hands of the very reason we aspire to the new aeon, to get beyond such unfortunate backsliding...petty tactics...in circles, official orgys of power mongering...it's only magickal when it's free flowing,
    when its forced its old aeon baby!

    I feel very strongly about this...oppression
    repression, all the official dogma cursed to the aeons...hell!

    jazzcat goodshiplollypop 93 93/93 freestyle

    Re: Designing for Lust
    by Fra THA;M on Tuesday June 19, @02:34PM
    Do What Thou Wilt Is The Whole Of THe Law.

    The conflicts arising from the sexual interactions of members of a small group are evidence of an emotional immaturity by its constituent parts. The mistake, I think, comes from equating sex with love (eros with agape). It is old aeon moralizing to allow jelousy and baser emotions to bubble to the surface. This is especially true for those engaged in the process of the Great Work, for they should know better. The idea that thelemites would engage in subterfuge and sneaky affairs is an anethema, and the antithesis of magick. Such matters should be in the open, and performed with no shame (I know, easy in theory but difficult in practice).
    As to leaders who rely on coercion to obtain sexul partners, I would have diffficulty labeling them Kingly men or Thelemites. Inversely, I would have no sympathy for one was coerced (coerced, not forced) into ritual sex. It would prove them slaves lacking in some deficit of character; most likely symptomatic of gross credulousness or a naive personality.

    Love Is The Law, Love Under Will.

    • Re: Designing for Lust
      by Tim Maroney on Tuesday June 19, @02:59PM
      Jealousy and competitiveness are intrinsic parts of the human emotional spectrum. Dealing with them by condemning them moralistically does not seem particularly functional to me. In fact I have often seen situations arise between polyamorists in which the denial of jealousy was one of the greatest problems in dealing with a problem situation. One frequently encounters amazing statements like "I'm not jealous -- it's [insert rival name here] who's jealous!"

      The converse problem is the playing up of jealousy. It is often the case that people -- and without wishing to be sexist, I will observe that this is a more "feminine" behavior in this culture -- deliberately try to induce jealousy in their partners. This is a manifestation of insecurity, vanity, and/or manipulativeness.

      So my pat formula for dealing with jealousy is this:

      You are jealous. Admit it, don't deny it. But don't play it up either. Treat it like a mild toothache -- nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing that has to destroy your whole life. If someone is trying to make you jealous, realize that's about them, not about you.


      • Re: Designing for Lust
        by Mordecai on Tuesday June 19, @03:07PM
        >One frequently encounters amazing statements like "I'm not jealous -- it's
        >[insert rival name here] who's jealous!"

        Of course, there's nothing amazing about this statement if it's true. It's only amazing if the evidence of the speaker's jealous behavior is there to be seen. In itself it does not constitute jealous behavior.

        • Re: Designing for Lust
          by Kaladevi on Thursday June 21, @08:09AM
          When I point a finger at someone else, I look down to see at least three other fingers pointing back at me.

          "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." -- Anais Nin

          "I am enmeshed in my lies, and I want absolution. I cannot tell the truth because I have felt the heads of men in my womb. The truth would be death-dealing and I prefer fairytales. I am wrapped in lies which do not penetrate my soul. As if the lies I tell were like costumes." from House of Incest by Anais Nin

          • Re: Designing for Lust
            by Mordecai on Thursday June 21, @09:19AM
            This may be true on some level, but I won't keep quiet about, say, Bush's antienvironment policy just because I'm not an absolutely perfect recycler. The "anything that bothers you in someone else is in you" argument is all too often an attempt to suppress valid criticisms.

            • Re: Designing for Lust
              by Xnoubis on Thursday June 21, @09:30AM
              Which is the more imposing problem: that criticisms are suppressed by that argument, or that people criticize one another out of unconscious projection?

              • Re: Designing for Lust
                by Mordecai on Thursday June 21, @02:38PM
                It seems quite clear to me that suppression of criticism is ALWAYS more of a problem than unwarranted criticism. Now, if one moves from unwarranted criticism to unwarranted suppressive action that is an entirely different matter.

                • Re: Designing for Lust
                  by Xnoubis on Thursday June 21, @05:37PM
                  I wasn't comparing all suppression of criticism to unwarranted criticism, only suppression by that particular argument.

                  Even so, the one problem does not so clearly outweigh the other to me. Unwarranted criticism is itself suppressive action, though usually of a subtle kind.

                  *shrug* They're both a pain...

                  • Re: Designing for Lust
                    by Jon Auviere on Friday June 22, @10:59AM
                    *shrug* They're both a pain...

                    If not perhaps one in the same.

                    Both evils of the same root--a shame-
                    yet no one dared to give a hoot;
                    wist adult'rous wary! and maimed-
                    we shoot out the matter in our brains,
                    yea in our brains- were they ever what earnest men pol-lute?

            • Re: Designing for Lust
              by Kaladevi on Thursday June 21, @01:17PM
              Er, yes. That statement can be used as a weapon. Better it be used in a system of self-inquiry by the Self to know one's unconscious projections.

              Exercising one's freedom as an American citizen to voice one's opinion regarding any national or international policy foisted upon one by one's government, being conscious about one's own policies, at home... I thought we were speaking of *unconscious* projections.



              • Re: Designing for Lust
                by Mordecai on Thursday June 21, @02:46PM
                >I thought we were speaking of unconscious* projections

                Not exactly. We (at least I) were speaking of the accusation of unconscious projections. If one is actually examining oneself for these projections I think it's excellent, but when one starts telling others about their projections I think it's just arrogant bullshit being perpetrated by one's own (perhaps) unconscious projections.

                • Re: Designing for Lust
                  by Kaladevi on Thursday June 21, @03:21PM
                  Mordecai -- Oh, yez. Oh, yez. Oh, yez. ;-)

                  Xnoubis -- there *are* time-tested techniques of self-inquiry into narcissism and unconscious projection based on self-observation of emotional and physical responses to sensory input. AdiNaths refer to it as the five red sense arrows of Tripur-Sundari in the introduction to Sri Vidya. I don't recall how ancient the cult is. The next step is yantra (light in extension) or mantra (the vibe of the divine energy).

                  Kriya yoga gives the techniques of pranayama (expansion/extension of life force via breath) and mental focus on developing the inner sacred landscape.

                  I would imagine that Crowley spelled out something similar to some/all of this?

                  • Re: Designing for Lust
                    by Xnoubis on Thursday June 21, @05:43PM
                    Uncle Al does address the efficacy of pranayama.

                    As far as sophisticated methods of disentangling narcissism and unconscious projection... *snort*

                    • Re: Designing for Lust
                      by jazzcat goodshiplollypop on Friday June 22, @04:33AM
                      ...it seems to me that the only solution, other then breathing in good air and breathing out bad air, is that there is no solution short of unconscious fragmentation to the point of total
                      anti-social projection...that is, unless we are hard wired in some way that is unique to each of us, and therefore we all have our own part of the puzzel, or all attempts to rationalize or impose
                      external restraint, will only exacerbate the widening gap between any real understanding of the forces involved; and that we are in effect all a product of blind force to most extent, this is also one fragment of the whole picture , and so forth...the further thread of unfolding begins at another part of the entire labyrinth, which we have only some vague idea about that is, but we have seen images from the future, and these images are what Crowley was at pains to point to...

                      (class destroyer document, destroy upon reading)
                      cast out all conscious notions altogether, then
                      consciousness will be in a pure flame therein)
                      this is a text, only a test, you will be returned
                      to your nornmal state of bliss...or ignorance;
                      whatever you call it!!!...:)

                      • Re: Designing for Lust
                        by Kala Devi on Saturday June 23, @05:43AM
                        unconscious fragmentation? anti-social projection? Pranayama is not about inhaling "good" air and exhaling "bad". Becoming conscious of one's breathing patterns during times of peace and joy can provide one with a conscious pattern that can be applied during times of strife and tension. Learning specific breathing patterns connected with specific deity forces/forms can give one a tool for modifying one's body chemistry by modifying the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen dioxide in the blood and thereby the nervous system, bringing calmness and peace of mind so that one is not reactive but calmly responsive. And yes, one can experiment with some extremely unbalanced mental foci (example: focusing on only one dala/petal/yoni labia/tongue of a deity yantra which is the domain of a blood demigoddess/
                        mermaid/demon) such that one stimulates the limbic system (reptile brain) into a very psychopathic state of unintended fragmentation. But, then one can use that unintended outcome to consciously recognize one's own anti-social projections. Nothing unconscious about the praxis.

                        • Re: Designing for Lust
                          by Mordecai on Saturday June 23, @03:11PM
                          >Pranayama is not about inhaling "good" air and exhaling "bad"

                          How very true (though it seems many fail to realize it). In his description of the practice of tonglen Chogyam Trungpa calls for just the opposite. Breathe in the poison, he advises, and breathe out healing and compassion; in that way you can make your world healthier.

                          >the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen dioxide in the blood

                          I think you mean carbon dioxide, CO(2); hydrogen dioxide, HO(2), is not very common in these parts!

                          • Re: Designing for Lust
                            by Kaladevi on Sunday June 24, @09:07AM
                            Yes, Mordecai... *Carbon* dioxide... thank you. :) I must have had combustion on my mind, typing hydrogen as I did.

                        • Re: Designing for Lust
                          by jazzcat goodshiplollypop on Sunday June 24, @12:47AM
                          yu know I am in awe of yu Kavi Devi, geometric
                          telepathy, praxis, abrasax, play jax

                          i am breathing in the Bad, and exhaling the god?

                          i am breathing in through the left nostril
                          i am breathing out through the right; yin

                          yang yin, yang yin, yan yin, slow deep exhale

                          focus on yantra, labia/petal kala nada

                          chant Ommm, listen to the nadam sauring above
                          the single note stretched into infinity
                          the supersensonic sound current, hear the
                          angelic, thunderclap, the golden gonging
                          like a frieght train of devas, kalpas, yugas
                          aeons, hear the subcurrents like layers of
                          sound wafting in and out up and down, above
                          below...ahahahahahahahahauuummmmm, sa sekem sahu
                          nothing unconscious about alphaomega...about

                          • Re: Designing for Lust
                            by Kaladevi on Sunday June 24, @09:01AM
                            In the awe of another is the seed of the True Self. Your words are beautiful, jazzcat goodshiplollipop. I bow to your lotus feet. Hamsa.

                            May the fiery breath of Bhairavi burn away all the sprouted seeds of karma and the accretions of the kleshas which conceal your beautiful jewel Self. May Her kundalini cobra fire pierce your knotted lotus cakras that you may know only Love. Klim Krim Hum Phat!


                            Kala devi... the Time before time... the darkness before enlightenment... Fulfiller of all desires.

          • Re: Designing for Lust
            by Fra THA;M on Thursday June 21, @04:06PM
            Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Luckily I've freed myself from colloquial notions of sin. The only sin is restriction. Therefore it should be our duty and pleasure to hurl them (whether in glass houses are not).

            • Re: Designing for Lust
              by Kaladevi on Thursday June 21, @04:59PM
              Ah, he who gives shall also receive... with duty and pleasure? ;-)

      • Re: Designing for Lust
        by Fra THA;M on Tuesday June 19, @05:18PM
        Jealousy implies a desire to possess. When you covet your neighbors new luxury car, it is because you are jealous of his economic surplus, and lust after the pleasures it can bring. But what good can it do? Perhaps it can drive your ambition to succeed; but if ones ambition is dependant on the emotional stimuli other individuals provide, I would be wary of where it leads. Everyone does feel jealous, and does feel the impulse to possess what others have: learning, ideas, status, wealth, etc. ad nauseum. But jealousy in matters of the flesh, and of the heart imply a hunger to possess another individual; to conflict with their will and bend it to yours. It borders on "black magick". Take your will and fill of love, when where and with whom you will, because hell, it's just love.

        • Re: Designing for Lust
          by Kala Devi on Tuesday June 19, @08:51PM
          "Take your will and fill of love, when where and with whom you will, because hell, it's just love."

          "just" love? and here I was laboring under the illusion that Love is all there is. But, then, I tend to see the entire Universe and every experience as yoni or lingam in orgasm (mirrors and echoes of spanda/samsara/tension/restriction/release/
          expansion, repeat spin cycle). So, perhaps my vision is a bit off? ;-)

          My two cents, FWIW:
          Jealousy, the illusion that we possess anything or anyone, is among the other kleshas (hindrances to enlightenment/realization of one's own divinity) identified in the yoga sutras of Patanjali which are part of the maya of non-remembering our divinity.

          The chapter of the book to which Xnoubis refers is all about recognizing the various "masks" we each wear in relating to others when we are in that state of non-remembrance... which "roles" we are each most comfy with in a group dynamic and how nasty the interactions can get when we assume our accustomed roles unconsciously. Starhawk gives marvelous examples.

          Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone or even most members of *any* magickal group could get beyond their illusions and denials and feel accepted enough to be dead honest about their insecurities and agendas and then do some conscious work (alchemical process), alone and with the group to get beyond the old patterns of behavior?

          But, then, how many in any given magickal group have an inkling that this is one of the rewards of the alchemical work? (See Marfiza's post re: the awesome rendition of Wagner's Parzifal).

          It is all too easy for the human animal to become mired in 1st through 4th chakra issues, never rising above the samsara of fear, lust, anger, power/control issues, fierce devotion, shame, insecurity (repeat spin cycle) because focus on transcending these issues through conscious work is all too often not the stated focus of magickal groups whose leaders are, themselves, not even "halfway up the mountain."

          As for polyamory... (was it Tim who brought this up?)
          When one is not in the space of remembrance, but has been there, one is aware of the necessity for being present in the moment with the current partner, open to all possibilities. One is also aware of the need for compassion, grace and the giving of dignity to all involved in a web of relationships so that all get their respective needs met. A task not for the faint of heart. ;-)
          Great Work if you can get it. ;-)


          KaLa Devi

        • Re: Designing for Lust
          by Mordecai on Wednesday June 20, @09:23AM
          >hell, it's just love

          I was in total agreement until this. Love is the foundation of will, and it's also hardly ever just!

          • Re: Designing for Lust
            by Fra THA;M on Wednesday June 20, @10:50AM
            I've always made the distinction between love (small l, with it's accompanying vagueries), and the formula of Love Under Will. I have never assumed that the great formula of the aeon was an umbrella under which to shelter every conception of what love is (with all the petty, mundane and restrictive elements), but that it refers to something a little more transcendant. To clarify, when I said "hell, its just love" I was referring to the idea that lust and the emotional entaglements that accompany it are abrogate, and that physical love for pleasure should be free of the guilt and shame that are often present. I was not referring to the Love which is creative, active, magickal and subject to will; but to a love that subjects our will. I used a flippant and offhanded tone to convey my loathing for old aeon moralizing and any 'progressive' line of thought which is in essence anachronistic and whose advocates who forget that 'existence is pure joy'.

            • Re: Designing for Lust
              by Mordecai on Wednesday June 20, @01:08PM
              Thanks for the clarification.

    Re: Designing for Lust
    by jazzcat goodshiplollypop on Tuesday June 19, @03:38PM
    ...skirting issues, is truely an art!
    especially when you are a lawyer type!

    • Re: Designing for Lust
      by Mordecai on Wednesday June 20, @09:26AM
      You got something against skirts?

    Re: Designing for Lust
    by Larissa on Saturday June 23, @03:42PM
    Fascinating discussion...

    (In general, the book that started this whole thing off is a very good one for discussions of group dynamic, sexual and otherwise. I have found it helpful in dealing with more than one group relations pickle).

    Certainly within OTO I have seen all of the types of problems outlined here by Tim, Mordecai and others... and we are far from alone in this, its prevalent in all the magical groups I've been involved in, except one, which has had lots of other problems, we just haven't had people sleeping together etc (yet).

    I guess in terms of what to do about it the best thing I have found is to try to stay out if it does not directly affect you, avoid taking sides, etc... but as people have mentioned this can be awfully hard, especially with all the various lenses people tend to stick on their reality glasses.

    The main point I wanted to make is that I think we as a community do have a responsibility to try to help brothers and sisters work out conflicts if they ask, and especially if there is or seems to be some sort of harassment going on, to try to deal with it. Not always easy!

    • Re: Designing for Lust
      by Fra THA;M on Monday June 25, @11:21AM
      I have only a passing familiarity with the system and workings of the OTO. I know when discussing the AA, Crowley was in favour of an intiates contact with only his immediate superior. I have just finished rereading Magick Without Tears, where he emphatically warns AA initiates against group workings for many of the reasons outlined above. What am I saying? I don't know. What do you think about this from an OTO standpoint?

    Re: Designing for Lust
    by Peaji on Friday September 28, @12:20AM
    Love is not Sex. Lust is an attachment. People with attachments are not free. You who talk of freedom need to really Wake up !

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