Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Lent book

I have posted here each year on the practice I have borrowed from the Christians, of a Lent book: a practice I usually subvert by making it a completely unsuitable book, at least from a pious point of view. I see the practice is found as early as the Rule of St Benedict (eighth century, but codifying earlier custom):
' On the days of Lent, from morning until the end of the third hour let them apply themselves to their reading, and from then until the end of the tenth hour let them do the work assigned them. And in these days of Lent they shall each receive a book from the library, which they shall read straight through from the beginning. These books are to be given out at the beginning of Lent.' (
This custom is surprisingly easy to witchify. I suspect much of the point of it from a Christian point of view is that the book is given to the monk by some authority - for example the Archbishop of Canterbury selects a Lent book each year. As a witch my instinct would always be to let the book suggest itself, on the principle that the teacher will come along when the witch is ready. I was a bit perplexed this year because nothing was coming to hand. I want to read the new biography of Doreen Valiente, but it wasn't bringing itself to my attention in the way things do when they have something to say. Ultimately I resorted to going through the hard drive of my laptop and as a result my Lent book is Aleister Crowley's Moonchild, which I have read before, but a very long time ago when I was a very young witch who was reading his way through all the occult literature he could get his hands on. Certainly it seems suitable for my present circumstances, since it is about a war between two competing groups. Nor is it only fictional (as is so often the case with occult literature)  and I'm intrigued to see, which I had either forgotten or didn’t know to start off with, that the characters are based on real people!  I'm more intrigued than ever to see what Uncle Al has to say to me knowing that :
' In this work, numerous acquaintances of Crowley appear as thinly disguised fictional characters. Crowley portrays">MacGregor Mathers
 as the primary villain, including him as a character named SRMD, using the abbreviation of Mathers' magical name.">Arthur Edward Waite appears as a villain named Arthwaite, and the unseen head of the Inner Circle of which SRMD was a member, "A.B." is">theosophist">Annie Besant. Among Crowley's friends and allies">Allen Bennettappears as Mahatera Phang, the dancer">Isadora Duncan appears as Lavinia King, and her companion Mary D'Este (who helped Cowley write his magnum opus "Magick: Book 4"under her magical name 'Soror Virakam') appears as Lisa la Giuffria. Cyril Grey is Crowley himself, while Simon Iff is either an idealized version of an older and wiser Crowley or his friend Allen Bennett.' (

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