Friday, January 27, 2017


Obviously I am not one to shy away from big or difficult subjects on my blog, and of course given that this piece is coming hard on the heels of a piece on the subject of porn, you may be forgiven for detecting a certain, erm, obsession here. Although of course if anyone were to accuse me of being obsessed with sex, I would have to point out that they are as well, and any protestations to the contrary would be interpreted as denial.
Because I have been thinking about sex recently, and in my INFJ way, trying to create a union between a number of experiences which perhaps it is best I lay out here. I actually don't have a synthesis, except for a rather flippant one, to the big question of the role sex plays in human life and the way it is actually such a big problem to us.
My first experience is of a conservative evangelical Christian telling me (in a context of disapproving of homosexuality) that she held the Biblical position that sex is a gift. Well, I personally have read all the way through the bible once (which is more than many Christians ever do) and am unable to see how this is a biblical position on sex, but more like the way Christians tend to take a position and then use the bible to prop it up. It seems to me that actually sex is approached in several ways in the bible, and only one of them is the gift thing. Another one is actually as a punishment for Eve's disobedience to a rule she was never told about!
Of course the Christian tradition's problem with the body, with women, and with all things to do with sex and other human urges, is well known and way too big a subject even for me to try to deal with in one blog post. And so my second witness is an experience of living a celibate life myself for a time in my younger years, when I was a Benedictine monk. Was I actually celibate? Well, no, not strictly by the letter of the law, in which the only sexual thing which ought to occur would probably be limited to nocturnal emissions, but I wasn't actively having sex with other people, as were some of the 'celibates' in that community - and be wary of crossing the Hound, kids, because the major problem there has recently had aspects of his personal like splashed over the media! It took twenty years, but it's happened.
I commented in my post on porn that the police counted the number of visits to a Birmingham brothel during their sting operation, and counted an 'incredible' 99 visits. I fail to understand how this is incredible. People have been paying for it since the dawn of time, and this is merely indicative for the purposes of this post, that all attempts to contain sex are doomed to failure.
Nor is the attempt to control sex confined to Western society and religion. I have been reading Jeffrey Masson's wonderful memoir of his rather bizarre upbringing in a household dominated by an English guru who had gone East and got religion. It would be easy to laugh at the fact that this guru is very plainly a fraud, going by Masson's account, but then I am overly sensitised to some of the ways religions control people. The guru was very plain that the ideal was no sex at all, not even between married couples (even the Catholics don't expect that) and Masson, who later became a psychoanalyst before also rejecting psychoanalysis, has some very interesting things to say on the subject of burying sex. He is talking about his overly-young initiation into the myseries of sex by their maid:
'I now believe that this kind of abuse is inevitable in an atmosphere where physical desire is either denied, ridiculed, or feared, while power is worshiped and physical access unquestioned. The fact that these thoughts - not to mention deeds - were in such context with the spiritual life the disciple was supposed to be living made it even sexier, or led to intolerable tensions, depending on your point of view. The "sexiness" could not even be thought about, and the tensions could neither be acknowledged nor discussed. Such "temptations," including the temptation to pursue the only sexual outlet the prohibitions allowed - abuse in secret - seemed so foreign to P[aul] B[runton - the guru], so far removed from his life. At a conscious level, this is no doubt true.
'It also seems possible that the abuse was one factor that made the spirituality so appealing. With sexual abuse, authority is all that matters, power is all that is real. Spirituality offered a nonintrusive authority and a seemingly benevolent power. With sexual abuse, secrecy must be maintained. Our spiritual life was an exciting secret, one of charged, shared meanings. Both sexuality and spirituality offer transcendence of the mundane. But spirituality offers a child dignity and control that sexual abuse takes away. It even promises a replacement for, and an end to, sex itself.' (Jeffrey Masson: My Father's Guru. HarperCollins, London, 1994, p.43)
In my humble opinion there are two things lurking on the surface here, both of which Masson touches on. One of the question of power, and the other is the question of spirituality as oppsed to physicality. Personality I came to the conclusion many years ago that spirituality divorced from the physical was not real. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I eventually found my way to the witchcraft movement, whose founder, Gerald Gardner, set out to create a religion which far from denying sex, made polarity and conjunction, and their chief expression in sex, a central mystery of his religion.
The other question is one of power. Masson rightly highlights the way that sex and spirituality can both be misused in powerful ways, but I have a feeling that again there is something else going on here. And that is that sex is a power in itself, it is a power of nature as frightening to humans as lightning, fire and flood. And yet in common with other dangerous natural forces, it is also one which gives us great pleasure and which we literally cannot live without.
My personal opinion is that the sex drive works on both a negative and positive feedback loop. If you try to suppress it, it bounces back in all sorts of strange ways. Similarly, I think that if you were to attempt to continue with sexual activity to exhaustion, in the hope that it would leave you alone for a bit, the sheer arousal of the activity and thoughts necessary to do so would result in you being more interested in sex rather than less. I am deliberately neglecting a discussion of all the functions that sex plays in human life, since it would get way too complicated and as will become clear below, I believe it to underly so much of our lives.
My provision synthesis among all these aspects of sex is this, and I am aware that it will sound flippant: it is as if the universe is having a great big joke on us. When we are young and first sexually awake, we have a tendency to think that nobody else knows about it, and can be quite surprised to find that other people actually do it - I am of course talking about a normal sexual awakening without any abusive elements. Then sex can be an intensely dominant force in our twenties and thirties. It's not even as if it is kept secret - people who are couples are essentially proclaiming that they are in a sexual relationship, people who have children are proclaiming that they have had sex, and so on.
And yet there remains the power and mystery of sex, which cannot be tamed. All of our sexual interests and activities are only part of a huge drive towards...well, something. Of course I am a notorious homosexual, sitting here writing these ramblings on the nature of sex in human life. And so, as a final illustration of how nature is having a jolly good joke at humans' expense, I would like to present...myself!

Image: the guru with his own guru. Source:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reflections on the Witch (yet again)

I commented that I've really been rather unwell. Fortunately I had annual leave this week and it's only been towards the end of the week my 'mojo' has come back with a bump. It's made me think again about how nobody gets the witch...
- We often live by a whole set of rules which nobody else even knows exist...and our lives are an indictment of other peoples' rules.
- Because our world view is different, definitions such as losing and winning can be completely different for us.
- We don't believe in our religion, magic or whatever. We damn well know.
- We don't make mistakes and don't have time to regret. If you don't make mistakes, you're not even trying and there's nothing we can't turn round to our advantage.
- It is impossible to be alone as a witch. We exercise personal responsibility but when push comes shove, the help will always be there.
- Because we observe the 'tides' of nature, we know how to align things so they happen inevitably, and that times and seasons change one thing into another.
- We are unstoppable: as a force of nature if you try to contain us we come back stronger.
- Finally, as the world's most unorganised grouping of chronic non-joiners, we know that many of us who look different from us. Our greatest strength is our refusal to make our own witchcraft everybody's.
As you can see, my mojo has returned stronger than ever :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spirit of Place: By Tram to Wednesbury

Trams aren't a very Birmingham thing. Apart from the obvious implication that the Motor City with its urban motorways would lean towards road transport there is a historic reason for Birmingham's paucity of trams. In the early years of the twentieth century, bus services were run, by law, as private enterprises. Hence the plethora of competing firms. The only exception to this was where a tram route was planned, and then the council cut run a bus service until the tram was up and running. The City of Birmingham Corporation responded to this by producing the most extravagant and complex plan of proposed tram routes possible, thus leaving the road open for them to run the buses themselves.
It therefore seems rather strange that trams are up and running again. The project was plagued by logistic and planning problems from the start and ironically the route literally revives a previous tram route for much of the line (more at
Today I felt the need to go to Wednesbury near Walsall. It was in connection with a spell, so obviously the reasons must remain top secret for the present, but suffice to say that the tram was the way to go. To the person of Pagan leanings, Wednesbury is of itself an interesting proposition:
'The substantial remains of a large ditch excavated in St Mary's Road in 2008, following the contours of the hill and predating the Early Medieval period, has been interpreted as part of a hilltop enclosure and possibly the Iron age hillfort long suspected on the site. The first authenticated spelling of the name was Wodensbyri, written in an endorsement on the back of the copy of the will of Wulfric Spot, dated 1004. Wednesbury is one of the few places in England to be named after a pre-Christian deity.
'Wednesbury is one of the oldest parts of the Black Country. The ending "-bury" comes from the old English word "burgh" meaning a hill orbarrow. So "Wednesbury" may mean "Woden's Hill" or "Woden's barrow". It could also mean Woden's fortification, although the former description is often accepted.' (
To the witch, of course, a trip to Woden's hill means at least a cock of the hat to Woden himself, and I made my little sacrifice as part of my spell. In my limited experience of him Woden presides over the initiatory defending of honour, certainly a theme which has been running through my life!

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Future

The universe's new year gift to me has been a major lergy which has had me in bed for several days, so since I'm even more dizzy than usual, don't expect too much.
Funny time of year, this. There is a pull both backwards and forwards in time. Notwithstanding that this year has been a bit tricky, the Hound's tendency is ever onward. I don't need to brood, I know that if you screw me over you will get it come back to you! But it seems to come back when I let it go or even forget about it, so let's create a vision of what I want the next couple of years to be like.
In my work life, I am going to seek a promotion. Not just any promotion but one I really fancy. In fact there's one advertised at the moment and the instant my head stops spinning from my cold I will apply for it.
In my home life I need to get a handle on my finances, since I don't want to be working when I'm 75!
There are some outings I have in mind. I particularly want to stay at the hotel at Burgh Island, the inspiration for Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. If you're fabulously wealthy you can hire the whole island, presumably to lure your targets there.
I would like to go to Carlisle, where my father came from, again.
Finally I have a sort of field trip in mind, to the Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle, notebook in hand, as befits a studious witch.
Learning-wise, I want to get more into the Hebrew Letters and the Major Arcana. I think I have found out why Lévi placed the Fool at 21, so will doubtless have to return to that post at some point.
Of course I reserve the right to change these things at whim, but I still wish a new year as you Will to all my readers.