Copyright 1990 E.V.
Painted Black by Carl A. Raschke, originally sold for $16.95 in the United States and $22.95 in Canada, but the book's actual worth is highly questionable.
For what it may be worth: A correspondent wrote to me regarding Raschke to tell me that his credentials are questionable. The dust jacket of the book announces that
"CARL RASCHKE, PH.D., [is the] director of the Institute for Humanities and professor of religious studies at the University of Denver"
and of course, an "expert on cults". My correspondent informs me that
"'The University of Denver' is in reality the 'Colorado Seminary' - an adjunct of the Methodist Church"
and furthermore, that Raschke
"has been associated with such hate groups as the Spiritual Counterfeits Project whose Newsletter of 1985 e.v. is said to be an expansion of his book. ... It also seems that an ethical investigation concerning him has been opened at UD."
My correspondent's suggestion was that I might look into these matters if I intended to review and comment upon Raschke's book, and if indeed I intended to do a relatively comprehensive review as I have with Maury Terry's Ultimate Evil, this would no doubt be a good idea. However, I simply do not want to waste too much time on Raschke and his nonsense now. Perhaps later! I may return to his book at another time. But for now I will allow the above and further statements stand as they are. This is what I have been told, although it has the ring of truth, I do not know if any of it is true or not, but perhaps you, the reader, might be interested in digging further, finding out, and sharing your findings with me and thus with other readers.
Adam Parfrey, quoted in Painted Black, issued a statement pointing out that Raschke is "a Presbyterian". Whatever Raschke's religious affiliations, I would like to note that they interest me only in so far as how those religious beliefs may possibly destroy his objectivity as a "journalist" and effect his perception of matters that are at variance from the belief system he may be inflexibly locked into.
"Raschke uses a lengthy consideration of my book," Adam Parfrey states, "Apocalypse Culture to bolster his arguments against 'Satanic cultural terrorists.' He names one of his chapters 'The Aesthetics of Terrorism' (after my essay 'Aesthetic Terrorism'), and takes quite a bit of original research from my 'Latter-Day Lycanthropy' article for his chapter 'The Metaphysics of Violence' within the section titled 'Apocalypse Now.' Raschke, dubbed 'America's leading authority on contemporary occultism' in the flap copy, plays the rather sinister game of sensationalizing and 'borrowing' the work of other researchers while assassinating their character for originally presenting the material. (Word is out that Dr. Joel Norris, another 'satanic investigator,' may be initiating a lawsuit against Mr. Raschke for stealing his material.)"
And if Adam Parfrey will excuse me for further quoting him, he concluded his statement with the following:
"This confusing stew is botulized with errors of fact. The writing itself is often hazy and imprecise. But Painted Black goes beyond other works in its genre in the vicious scale of its smear. Marketed by a large secular publishing house, we must unfortunately take seriously Painted Black's stated threat to persecute opponents to its religious and ideological goals."
I am not familiar with Adam Parfrey or his work [1997 E.V. I have acquired a copy of Apocalypse Culture but I have not yet had the chance to read it.], but since I am the disagreeable type there is little doubt that I would find many points upon which to disagree with the man. However, regarding this particular book and its author (more or less!), Carl Raschke, I find myself in agreement with Mr. Parfrey. And as a word of warning to the fanatic religionists who are viciously attacking other religions and esoteric philosophies in an effort to create a one-religion dictatorship of the world (the ultimate goal - or to use their term, "hidden agenda" - of the fanatic fundamentalist type of pseudo-christian which I do not believe is possible), they are slitting their own throats as many of the people they are attacking are far superior to them intellectually, while truly objective observers, commentators and investigators will also be forced to turn against them, resulting in the destruction of the very belief system they wish to force feed the rest of the world. An example of where this unholy "holy war" is going can be found in Mr. Parfrey's final paragraph:
"It seems that the pagans, atheists and agnostics have been much too patient on the issue of Christian crime - inflicting eco-cide and misery by working against birth control and abortion, the child abuse and pedophilia of ministers, the Jonestown-style explosions of violence in certain evangelical Christian sects."
In short, those who are now being attacked unfairly and indiscriminately, are starting to fight back, and if things continue they will fight back with a degree of force that may surprise the fanatic religionists who claim to be Christians while violating almost every one of the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene.
A comprehensive review and commentary of Painted Black, pointing out all of its errors in fact, explaining those errors, presenting the truth, would take a book of much greater length than the 276+ pages of Raschke's book. This is one of the reasons why people like Raschke think that they can get away with their presentation of misinformation. However, they err again because while one man or group may not attack all of the errors and lies he presents in his book, each individual and group will, however, attack those falsehoods which are of particular interest to them, as I will here deal with Raschke's literary rubbish as it deals with Aleister Crowley. One observation, however, is that the only thing that probably matters to the author and publisher is the bottom line, i.e., how much money they will make off of the book. Truth and honesty is not an issue that interests them.
As usual, I will just run through the book, stopping where I will to comment upon things, and zip along - well - because I am sometimes verbose (Did you fail to notice?), it may not be too zippy.
Although Raschke was "a graduate student in Berkeley" in 1967 E.V., he did not hear "for sure that there were satanists in the land [until] 1981", so he seems a little slow, and he heard this, he claims,
"from a twenty-six-year-old refugee from the occult underground, whom I shall call John Jones."
So right away, in the very beginning of his preface, we have the proverbial and usually either imaginary or phoney individual, identity hidden, who is supposedly giving the author inside information after escaping from the clutches of the Devil. Identity undisclosed, of course, or so we are always told, to protect him from persecution by the evil "occult" devil-worshipping satanists, which means to people like Raschke, virtually everyone interested in the so-called "occult", despite the fact that only a very small percentage actually believe in "devils" let alone the Judeo-Christian Devil or Satan, and even fewer are actual satanists! Never mind that, if true, the evil devil worshippers would already know that "John Jones" has betrayed or is betraying them, and they would certainly be able to identify him by way of Raschke's book - if they were truly interested in the first place, that is.
Time and time again these satanic exposés are founded upon the statements of an alleged satanic survivor who, in some cases, never had any real existence outside of the satan-fighter's imagination, or who, if he or she does exist, almost always turns out to be a complete charlatan who has never been a member of any kind of cult, worse, someone who is and has always been a member of some fundamentalist sect of pseudo-christianity and sees no "evil" in lying for the Lord. (I suggest that as a title for an in-depth exposé on the satanic hysteria mongers, Lying for the Lord.) Sometimes the individuals, occasionally identified, although often by a pseudonym only, turn out to be mentally ill and suffering from delusions, and believing their stories exposé writers, too eager for the story to check them out, accept them "on faith", and the deluded individuals, believing their delusions to be true, naturally "pass" a "lie detector" test - which is made into a big deal by the writer of the exposé.
Okay. I have strayed far from Raschke's "John Jones", but to make a point I hope is well taken.
Page ix of the preface brings up A.C.'s name thusly:
"Aleister Crowley, the arch-satanist of the twentieth century who fashioned himself the 'Beast 666,' had his own, blinding revelations of satanic truth while high on coke. He commended it as the drug of choice for those who would plunge into the abyss of black, magical mysteries."
It certainly does not take Raschke long to start twisting the truth ("Christian truth", I guess) to slander a man no longer alive to defend himself. (Ah ... I'm athinkin' of that landmark, precedent setting libel case again, in defense of a dead man. Hmm.) First of all, Crowley could not have been an "arch-satanist" for he was not even a "satanist" - and the satanists themselves will usually tell you that! He did not believe in "the Devil", as he states quite clearly in his magnum opus, Magick in Theory and Practice, and elsewhere, and he employed the terms "the Devil" and "Satan" merely in poetic or literary terms, or when discussing the sadly barbaric and childish beliefs of others who, on one hand, believe that GOD is "absolute", while on the other hand attribute some things to SATAN, as GOD certainly could not be the author of any kind of "evil", thus, even by the very proposition that SATAN, THE DEVIL, exists, limiting GOD and so contradicting themselves! I suppose that is an example of "Christian truth", as opposed to "satanic truth", whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. Point of fact, although Raschke mocks such things as this, "truth", like "good" and "evil" and other concepts, is relative. Some "relative truths" are relatively true for just about everyone. For instance, the taking of another person's life is usually "evil" or wrong. For a Thelemite, a follower of the teachings of Aleister Crowley, whom Raschke would incorrectly call a "satanist", it would be wrong to take another's life because that would really be interfering with that person's Will or purpose for existing, by depriving him of the physical vehicle that he needs to do his Will. However, do you mean to tell me that if the person Mr. Raschke most loves is about to be sacrificed by an evil, nasty, blood-drinking satanist, and the only way he can save his loved one is by killing that dastardly character, that killing would still be "evil", a "sin", ABSOLUTELY, assuming of course that the intended victim is a good and innocent person? I do hope Raschke must come to terms with such things in the future - for his sake and those that he misleads with his one dimensional, superficial thinking. Maybe Raschke would defend killing a killer to save an innocent's life as a "necessary evil", meaning a "good evil", in a sense, naturally sanctioned by God, but this only illustrates further the degenerate form of thinking people like Raschke are afflicted with.
As for receiving "revelations" while "high on coke": most of Crowley's "revelations" were received while he was completely straight, i.e. while not under the influence of any kind of drug. Check the records, folks! And aside from this, there is no reason why intelligent USE of something like cocaine cannot lead to important and useful "revelations". True, most people are prone to ABUSE "drugs", get wrapped up in delusions, and come to the silliest of conclusions (is that what steered Raschke wrong in the first place, or was he "high on" Jesus or God when he received his revelations in life?), but anything and everything that exists, in a sense created by God, or given to us by God, or more accurately, which is indeed part of God, can be wisely USED as well as foolishly ABUSED. And while I find no personal value in such things as cocaine, grass, and so forth, and strongly urge students of the esoteric and others not to bother with "drugs", it cannot be easily dismissed by a thinking individual (that leaves out Raschke) that some of the most wonderful and useful and TRUTHFUL "revelations" Crowley received came about after his experimentation with cocaine "loosened the girders of his mind" and freed him from the mental blocks and inhibitions of thought programmed into him by the fundamentalist "Christian" beliefs of the Victorian Plymouth Brethren family that he was born into. He was a pioneer and as such needed to explore, to conduct experiments, and while at times he flippantly told us that things go better with coke, he also informed us in his diaries and elsewhere of the dangerous and possible abuse and addiction. His novel, The Diary of a Drug Fiend, gives us a very nasty picture of the depths a person can sink to once he or she has become a drug abuser and addict. Contrary to popular belief, the novel does not promote drug use, but quite the contrary. Now, while A.C. as a pioneer needed to explore such things as the effects of cocaine, there is absolutely no reason why any of us who follow the Way that he made need to experiment with cocaine or anything else if it is not important to the discovering and doing of our True Will. And in more ways than one, Crowley has told us this. However, it is typical of people like Raschke to judge matters upon insufficient data, as he chooses to judge them, rather than as reason and logic, objectively applied, would judge them.
As for "black, magical mysteries": well, while Raschke may condone a televangelist on the 700 Club squeezing his eyes closed, placing his hand on a stack of letters, and claiming that the Lord, through him, is at the moment curing the cancer of someone in the viewing audience as "God's work", he no doubt thinks that anything else is therefore "of the Devil" and thus "black magic". Further comment is a waste of time - almost as much as would be actually reading Raschke's book.
A good deal of Painted Black is taken up by an idiot discussion or monologue on the Matamoros incident, one of the very few sensational events that seems to "prove" that we are suffering from a national epidemic of satanic crime. Never mind the fact that such incidents are very rare, that it happened in Mexico and not in the U.S., and that it had absolutely nothing to do with satanism, or anything else in the occult ocmmunity, but was nothing more than a few twisted and perverse drug traffickers, perverting things like Palo Mayombe. Raschke, on page 11, scoffs at this, by the way, telling us that Palo Mayombe is a "misnomer", but he fails to prove this ... and besides ... no one who understands the matter ever said that Constanzo's gang were practicing Palo Mayombe, but rather that they were practising a perverted form of it. Naturally, as usual, Raschke ignores those facts which interfere with "his truth".
On page 36 Crowley is called an "eccentric and rakish Englishman", which we can accept, although even Einstein was "eccentric", so that is not necessarily "bad", but it is untrue to say that A.C. made popular "devil worship", which Raschke himself put into quotation marks, because neither Crowley nor his followers worship devils! Of course, Raschke is one of those people, obviously, who believes that anyone who has a different idea of God than his idea of God is therefore a "devil worshipper", for there can only be one God - HIS GOD. Most of us in the occult community, however, especially genuine Thelemites, are very tolerant and respectful, generally, of all GOD-FORMS, especially since all human ideas are incomplete and relative, including ours, therefore not absolute, and therefore only expressing God's existence in part. His idea of God or anyone's idea of God is, essentially, just as right and wrong as ours, so there is no sense in fighting over whose God is God and whose God is the Devil. One may judge the relative truth of a person's concept of God by that person's words and deeds - "the tree is known by his fruit". Matthew 12.33, et cetera. I am a follower of Aleister Crowley, and I say that God is God, by whatever name you call Him, or Her, or It, and all god-forms are equally sacred as well as ultimately only a convenience - Raschke's idea of God or mine - and my words are of sweet tolerance. Raschke and his kind, however, speak with bitter, sour and hateful words of how their God is God and all other concepts of God are nothing more than Satan in disguise. By their fruits you shall known them. Crowley, his followers, and most everyone in the occult community, practice and preach intellectual investigation, tolerance, openness - that all concepts of God should be investigated, one choosing that concept which one is naturally attracted to, even if it leads one away from the Way we most cherish - while Raschke and others like him essentially tell people:
Speaking of love but promoting hate.
By their fruits ye shall know them.
The entire book is, as usual, made up of a miscellaneous collection of unrelated items with which Raschke weaves his concept of "satanism" like a patchwork quilt. Well, it is one way to use a bunch of tattered rags. But instead of making something to warm society and make it safe, he, like other hate mongers, merely intends to use his blanket to smother some people and the ability in others to think for themselves.
Throughout the book he presents numerous "items", often inaccurately reported or retold news items, most of a trifling nature, all unrelated but having some kind of a dark "satanic" angle, and among these he trots out, on page 57, "John Doe 60".
"The cadaver exhibited ... multiple stab wounds in the chest ... The pattern of lesions themselves formed a familiar emblem of satanic practice - the five-pointed star, or pentagram."
If you have ever seen a photograph of this corpse, and how could you not since it is just about the only corpse found that may exhibit signs of ritual murder! you will note that the lines could be interpreted as an INVERTED pentagram, but they are so badly made that they could have also been random slashes that just coincidentally have a fairly close resemblance to that symbol if one is imaginative enough to connect the unconnected slashes. Whether or not "John Doe 60" was indeed the victim of ritual murder, I wonder: If there are so many satanic ritual murders going on, why is this poor victim the only one getting so overly exposed? I am sick to death of having that one rotting cadaver wheeled out so that some raving fanatic can point to it and scream "See! See! That proves that satanism is destroying our society!" Yeah. Right. Sure. It only proves that someone is dead and has had his chest slashed. And the possibilities are endless - including that he may have been killed by a fundamentalist "Christian" and the slashes, really intended to be a pentagram, were made so that the police would not suspect him, but instead delve into the occult to look for the murderer! Oh. I forgot. Christians do not commit murder, and if they did they would never try to deceive anyone that way ...
I am being sarcastic. "John Doe 60" may very well be the victim of some lunatic's misconceptions and insanity. The victim may have been killed by someone believing himself to be in league with the Devil or some such nonsense. However, such a person is then more likely than not someone outside of the true occult community, someone lost between the Judeo-Christian world and ours, and we certainly cannot be blamed for the actions of some lunatic - just as we cannot be blamed for the writing and existence of Painted Black and its author! By "we" I mean Thelemites, Wiccans and other Pagans, and even satanists, though I like the latter not a bit.
Enough of "John Doe 60". Let us do the "Christian thing" and put him to rest. Bury that bloody corpse and allow the spirit to go freely to God - Whatever He, She or It may be to your way of thinking.
And let me move on because this is not very zippy!
Aha! Page 77:
"the word satanism has stuck to an expanding spectrum of violent, deviant behavior for which the term ritual crime has come to serve."
This is, unfortunately, quite true, but it is because people like Raschke are foisting their Judeo-Christian concepts upon the rest of society, force feeding us "their truth", and this is not good - relatively speaking, of course.
The hypocritical hate mongers love to call everyone in the occult community "satanists" and tell the world that "satanists" all believe that "right" is "wrong" and "wrong" is "right", but what of the way they, including Raschke, twist and pervert the English language to condemn what really amounts to the majority of people on planet Earth? If the word "satanism" has come to mean that which Raschke says it means, then it is everyone's duty to correct the matter! Raschke and his kind promote such misconceptions, miseducating society, because it suits their petty, personal purpose - never mind the "cultural impact". According to my Webster's dictionary: satanism is the "worship of Satan, especially, the principles and rites of a cult which travesties Christian ceremonies." That pretty clearly implies that satanism is really nothing more than a rebellious travesty of Christianity. It has nothing to do with Thelema, the teachings of Aleister Crowley, Witchcraft, or anything else. We, Thelemites and Pagans, do not worship Satan - we do not even believe in the existence of Satan - therefore we are not satanists. Furthermore, you will note that Webster's definition does not in any way mention "violent, deviant behavior" or ritual crimes. Oh, there is the mention of "travesties [of] Christian ceremonies", and here Raschke and others go "Aha! Thelemites, Witches and others perform a travesty of the Christian Holy Communion!" Dead wrong. Our rituals of the "eating of the God", the ceremonial taking of God/dess within, is based upon very ancient religious practices, as is the Christian sacrament, and being based upon this ancient ritual that predates Christianity by at least thousands of years, it is not a travesty of the Christian sacrament. More "travesty" of sacred rites can be found in modern day Christianity than in any other religion I can think of!
One of my favourite books is George Orwell's 1984, depressing though it is, and unfortunately it is painfully clear that many of his "predictions" or warnings have come to pass through the efforts, not of the occult community, but the Judeo-Christian community. The perversion of language is but one example.
As Raschke finishes up on page 77,
and look at the impact the Judeo-Christian religions have made upon our culture today. Not only have the majority of decision-makers, politicians, corporate executives, military leaders, and so forth been primarily "Christian", of one sect or another, but look at the bloody mess they have gotten us into politically, financially, ecologically, etc. - and look at the mess we have allowed them to get us into! And worse, now that they have brought our culture, our society, to the crisis point, with typical scapegoat mentality, unable and unwilling to really accept responsibility for their actions, they blame all of us, calling us, indiscriminately, "satanists", and drag the bogeyman into it, ultimately blaming it all upon a metaphysical evil.
The fact of the matter is, we are all to blame for the "evils" in the world - either by miseducating or failing to educate and then refusing to accept responsibility for our failings, or by allowing others to spread propaganda and hate, encourage ignorance, and encourage scapegoating rather than to face the facts, accept responsibility and try to solve society's problems with peace, love, tolerance and cooperation.
And what will be the cultural impact of the hate mongery - just as devastatingly "evil" coming from the sensationalistic writers and fundamentalist "Christianity" as from the K.K.K., neo-Nazi white supremacists, and other hate groups? A world divided. Concepts of God do not set people against people. Unyielding, inflexible, narrow-minded, hatefilled and bigoted dogma sets one group of people against other groups.
By their fruits ye shall known them.
Maybe some few satanists are indeed guilty of some of the crimes committed in our society. I am certainly not going to defend them. And there will always be individuals who claim to be satanists, Witches, Thelemites, Christians, etc., while violating every precept of the religion even to the point of committing serious civil crimes. However, even if this is true, this does not condemn the entire community - or should not. Fanatically, viciously, sensationalistic writers like Raschke and fundamentalist pseudo-christians (like Raschke?) are attacking, indiscriminately, literally thousands of innocent, law-abiding, intelligent and "God-loving" people - people who have perhaps been too quiet, patient and too tolerant for too long. The only time we have struck out (verbally) against these "God-fearing" people and groups is when we have struck back in self-defense. In fact, though I have no love of satanism, considering it a blight on both the occult and the Judeo-Christian communities, it is obvious that its very existence is a kind of striking back at the Judeo-Christian community which insists upon making absolute rules in a relative universe and forcing everyone - everyone - to live by those inflexible and unyielding rules - rules that often oppose nature as if nature were evil and something separate from "God the Absolute".
Satanism is the bastard child of the Judeo-Christian culture. Yet, rather than to take responsibility for their offspring-through-fornication, the fanatics in the Judeo-Christian community use "the occult" as a scapegoat. We, who do not believe and never have believed in or worshipped Satan, are blamed for satanism! We are blamed for that which they and their ancestors have virtually created with their unnaturally restrictive "commandments" which go way beyond the Mosaic Law - which in themselves are in part irrationally restrictive.
This is not scapegoating, what I am saying here. This is merely a matter of stating the facts. We in the occult community are to blame for the way things are as well - because for too long we have allowed the fanatic religious propagandists to dictate "God's will", as they view it, to society.
"Satanism is the name we have conferred, perhaps because of the very eminence of the symbol of God's adversary in Judaeo-Christian history, on the unruly subcurrents of deliberate and ritualized destruction in this late nuclear age. Satanism is the ideology of decadence that has been raised to a computation, to an art form." (Page 81)
Who are "we"? The answer is obvious, and this "we" does not truly represent everyone in our society, nor even eveyrone in the Judeo-Christian community. The wording of this alone tells us a lot about Raschke's beliefs, for quite a few million people in the world do not believe that Satan is God's adversary, nor even that God has an adversary - except, perhaps, for the ignorance of humankind.
Tell me this: those very "unruly" individuals who believe that an unborn child that will have no real chance in life under the conditions it may be brought into the world, when, say, the mother is a fifteen year old junkie, raped by an AIDS-infected man, should be brought into this world, and who practise "ritualized destruction" by bombing abortion clinics - these "unruly" individuals who call themselves "God-fearing Christians" - are they not, then, according to Raschke and his kind, "satanists"? Or are we again speaking of a "necessary evil" - a "good evil" - "evil", destruction, often of life, directly and indirectly, in the name of God?
You see how easily the inane statements of idiots like Carl A. Raschke become springboards for rationalism and an unholy kind of "godliness"? I will try to stick to Crowley slanders only from here on - after all, I cannot really afford to eeven publish a small Encyclical Letter, and this is by no means small!
On page 84, Raschke, like so many others before him, actually ignoring what Crowley wrote on the subject, implies that the Law of Thelema, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law", only means to do whatever you want regardless of the consequences to yourself and others. Once more, dear friends, for not all of you reading this will be well educated Thelemites, this is not what the law means, as Crowley so clearly explains in many places throughout his prolific works. "Do what thou wilt" (interestingly misinterpreted in the same way by both satanists and Christians) simply means to discover and accomplish your own particular True Will or purpose for existing, that Will that is the Universal or God's Will, and do nothing else. To do one's Will does not necessarily mean to ignore the pleasures in life. Enjoy all things of sense and rapture! Yet if your enjoyment interferes with the Will of another, if it causes actual harm to another, you are in the wrong and must find another way to enjoy yourself. And it is worth noting that if your enjoyment proves to be causing you harm, you may want to rethink things, for if you harm yourself, can you do your Will? Will you not be interfering with your own Will? Very often, to do one's Will, one must choose between what one should do and what one's petty ego wants to do, and ego must then lose. Very often the Thelemite chooses not to do what he or she wants to do because it interferes with his or her purpose, True Will, and choosing Will over petty desire always proves to be a satisfactory choice. People like Raschke continually confuse the petty individual egoic will with the "divine Will in 'man'", which is to say, recognizing their own inability to rise above their petty desires, they believe all men and women incapable of doing so to discover the True Will, the "divine Will", and do that. We are all judged by the limitations of our judges and not by our own limitations.
I know. I bloody well need a pulpit ... at least a podium.
"In the hands of Aleister Crowley, tantrism became the focus of twentieth-century satanist rituals"
Raschke wrote on page 85. No. In Crowley's hands tantrism was what it originally was intended to be, a means of God-realization, essentially, and it has nothing to do with satanism, although satanists have stolen ideals and terms from Crowley, the tantrists, and others, perverted them, and misapplied them for their own petty, egoic reasons. I find it interesting that there are so many similarities between satanists and fundamentalist pseudo-christians as well as sensationalistic writers, all of whom twist and pervert the original meaning of ideals to serve their true god - EGO.
Speaking of the Black Mass (not practised by Thelemites, Wiccans, or any other sane person with a God-focussed orientation, by the way), Raschke says on page 89 that
as if there were something wrong with this, which again shows you where his head is at. This idea that the "denial of the flesh" is somehow spiritual often leads to one of the worst "sins" in the whole catalogue of "sins": spiritual pride. Everything that is, is but the manifestation of GOD. The nuns and priests back in my old Roman Catholic school used to tell me that "God is everywhere", and were without a sensible reply when I pointed out to them that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time, so that God, to be everywhere thus had to be everything.
Flesh and spirit may be apprehended scientifically as matter and energy, and Einstein has proved, with his theory of RELATIVITY, that essentially, between the two there is no difference. One is not superior to the other, nor is one inferior to the other. They are, in fact, essentially equal because they are merely two aspects of the same thing. I prefer to be scientific, relying upon demonstratable fact, rather than barbaric, relying solely upon faith, which very often is eventually proven to be false.
Crowley a "showman" and "huckster"? (Page 91, bottom) Showman, yes. Huckster ... hmm ... was that not Raschke I saw on Geraldo promoting, trying to sell his book?
Huckster: "a peddler or hawker of wares ..., a mean, haggling tradesman; a tricky, mercenary peddler; an avertising man." (Webster)
Look who is calling the cauldron black!
Page 92, among other things, slanders Tantric yoga by mentioning that it has
"been associated over the centuries with immoral excesses that included random murder, sodomy, and cannibalism"
but he fails to explain that these associations have never had anything to do with real Tantric yoga, and that the associations were made primarily by people very much like and including Carl A. Raschke!
The twisting of the truth, regarding Crowley and so many other individuals, groups and ideals, is so pervasive throughout Painted Black that I cannot deal with it all in this place, especially with the amount of editorializing I am guilty of here! For instance, Crowley supposedly took "perverse delight" in discovering that the "'angels' or spirits" that he contacted proved "to be demonic", Raschke wrote on page 93, and this is sheer nonsense, as pointed out elsewhere in this Encyclical Letter. It was equally nonsensical of Raschke to accept the word of the members of the Golden Dawn, as if they all stood up and collectively said this, no individual being credited for the quote, i.e. that Crowley was "an ' unspeakably mad person,'" when in fact most of the members of the G.D. were petty diletanti in the first place. On this page too Raschke mentions that Crowley married Rose Kelly in 1907. He, in fact, married her in 1903 E.V. It is just this kind of inattention to detail that has led Mr. Raschke to innumerable errors of fact and judgment.
The rubbish about Crowley driving Rose to drink is brought up - never mind the fact that she was a budding alcoholic before A.C. even met her and that he had tried to cure her of her alcoholism and hung on to the marriage well into her alcoholism in the hope that things would turn out right - a vain hope, as it turned out. True, Crowley was not what one would call the "perfect husband", but he tried as best he could - and the same can be said for many a basically "good" person then and now.
Raschke likened the language of The Book of the Law to the poetry of Robert Browning, which seems to indicate to me that he does not have familiarity with either!
Raschke quotes The Book of the Law wrongly, saying, for example, that it
"spoke of a 'new religion' and a 'new eon' that would be distinguished by complete self-fulfillment and the unleashing of private volition and desire"
misinterpreting everything to suit his desire to misinform his readers.
In point of fact, unless I made an error of omission in my index to The Book of the Law, the word "religion", new or old, does not even appear in that book, nor does the word "eon" - Crowley and Thelemites spell it "aeon" or "æon", although "aeons" does appear once in Chapter I, Verse 41. I wonder if Raschke even read, a single time, let alone studied, this cornerstone of Crowley's teachings, this foundation of Thelema!
Among a host of absurdities on page 94 and elsewhere, Raschke wrote that
Like most of these satan-battling hate mongers, Raschke is incredibly rigid (except, perhaps, where it counts, accounting for some of their emotional problems!) and lacks a real sense of humour, thus constantly missing Crowley's jokes. How many men do you know have at least once indicated that they would like to die in bed with a smile on their face? I know many and I am one! And of course Crowley also spoke of losing consciousness and entering a certain trance state or altered state of consciousness, during a performance of Tantric Magick, and he employed poetic and mystical language, which, like the jokes Raschke is too dim witted to get, choosing to take it literally.
Raschke calls the "Gnostic Mass" Crowley wrote "the thelemic version of the Black Mass" on page 94, yet anyone familiar with both will see that this is sheer nonsense. Methinks Raschke either has not even read the "Gnostic Mass" and like so many so-called "occult experts" does not even know what the "Black Mass" is, or worse, he is deliberately misleading his readers.
On the following page, 95, Raschke wrote that
"Crowley cultists, at minimum, granted themselves a license for human sacrifice"
after misquoting, out of context, The Book of the Law, in part, Chapter III, Verse 12, which says
Crowley's comments to this book are to be found in two different editions, perhaps from three different publishers at this time, these comments explaining the often highly esoteric language of the book. All Crowley wrote about this verse, basically, is that he believed that it pertained to him personally and that the sacrifice of a child referred to a prophesy, his own child by Leah Hirsig in Cefalu having died of natural causes, despite the immediate medical attention he obtained, said event plunging Crowley into an abyss of sorrow and suffering as it would any decent man and father. The verse has absolutely nothing to do with human sacrifice and every Thelemite and would-be Thelemite knows that. Now A.C. did not fully comment upon every verse in the book, for indeed the book itself even says that he would never understand it entirely. However, the sacrifice of cattle may easily mean the sacrifice or death of the "herd mentality" (people like Raschke count upon that because it is so easy to frighten "the flock"), and in reference to the "child" to be sacrificed, let me remind you of another Crowley quote often and eagerly misinterpreted by satan mongers like Raschke, despite the explanatory footnote that follows in every edition of Magick in Theory and Practice.
"A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence* is the most satisfactory and suitable victim."
The chapter is entitled "Of The Bloody Sacrifice", and the footnote explains,
"... 'It is the sacrifice of oneself spiritually. And the intelligence and innocence of that male child are the perfect understanding of the Magician, his one aim, without lust of result. And male he must be, because what he sacrifices is not the material blood, but his creative power.' ...",
which is a reference to semen/sperm and all that that implies and symbolizes. Rather than an act of physical death, Crowley is referring to an ACT OF LOVE.
Drugs, drugs, drugs! Drugs have become a major scapegoat in America. "Drug" has become a really nasty four-letter word. We speak of "the drug problem", as if drugs were the ultimate cause of our society's problems. The fact of the matter is, drug abuse is more of a symptom of those problems. A means of escaping the inflexibly unnatural restrictions of the Judeo-Christian culture. A means of escaping the sense of being one of "the flock". One has to look at drug abuse not as the cause of problems, but instead one must look deeper and ask: What causes people to want to use and abuse drugs? Problem is, the answer drives hard and straight to the heart of the Judeo-Christian culture and the religious dogma of the Judeo-Christian religions, and rather than to face the truth and deal with the heart of the problem, it seems easier to blame a scapegoat instead, whether that scapegoat be "satanism" or "drugs". Raschke often turns to the drug scapegoat, such as on page 95 where he wrote that
"The taking of drugs ... were recommended as the perfect fulfillment of the thelemic commandment given in The Book of the Law."
According to Raschke, drugs play a major role in Thelema. However, I have been, formally, a Thelemite for two decades and only, after often turning drugs down which were offered to me by Christians, and after I felt properly educated and prepared, when I was between 29 and 30, did I experiment with things like cocaine and marijuana, and I did not find any personal value whatsoever in these because through my training in magick and yoga I could by then achieve the altered states of consciousness attributed to these drugs, and without the dangers of side effects, addiction, imprisonment and the outrageous cost of drugs on the street, and I advise others to travel the Way without taking an unnecessary chance with drugs.
Furthermore, the word "drugs" only appears ONCE in The Book of the Law, which is composed of three chapters and 220 verses of varying length - forgive me, but I have not before thought to count the number of words - and here, Chapter II, Verse 22, the word "drugs" is qualified by the preceding word "strange". Now according to my friend Webster, even your mother's chicken soup qualifies as a "drug", i.e. "any substance used as a medicine or in the preparation of medicines or chemical mixtures". This one time the book uses the word it says "strange drugs", not just "drugs", and this should lead one to the conclusion that something "unusual", "foreign", not what one would commonly think, is here implied. Or so one should conclude if one is first capable of analytical reason and not given to superficial, prejudicial thinking! One might conclude that this has something to do with the "Medicine of the Wise", i.e. the so-called "Philosopher's Stone", and not be far wrong. Also, a good deal of the book can be explained by reference to the Greek Qabalah and it is worth noting that "strange drugs" may be translated into Greek as "Ta paradoxopharmakon", which comes to the numeration of 1469, each letter in Greek (Hebrew and other languages) also being a number, and 1469 is also the numeration of "soterian", meaning "deliverence, salvation, be saved" (found in Rom. 10.1; 1 Pet. 2.2), "protheseos", "purpose, plan, will", "streniao", "to wax wanton, to live in sensuality", and so forth. The point being that superficial thinking is not enough to understand The Book of the Law, yet superficial thinking is all that Carl A. Raschke seems capable of.
By the way, I have always found this interesting: "pharmakon" is the Greek word for "medicine, drug", and by changing only the final letter from Nu to Sigma the word "pharmakos" is produced, the Greek word for "scapegoat, an innocent who suffers for the wrongs of others".
"At the time of his death Crowley had physically wasted away from overindulgence in drugs." (Page 96)
He died at the ripe old age of seventy-two, was extremely mentally alert and astute to the very last, still writing, albeit less prolifically, and he had led a hard life, mountain climbing and travelling the world, and if drugs had anything to do with the normal wasting away process of aging, they played only a small role along with several illnesses acquired through his travels of the world. Stuff and nonsense again.
"Crowleyism became one of the larger ideological streams feeding the swollen torrent of fascism."
"Crowleyism", like "Crowleyanity", is a term used derogatorily by rude individuals like Raschke, and it was not used by Crowley nor is it used by today's Thelemites to refer to the teachings of Aleister Crowley, i.e. THELEMA. Furthermore, this is an asinine statement (i.e. a typical form of Raschkeism!), implying that Thelema, which teaches that we should all discover our own individual Way and Will or purpose in life, pursue that, and let no man, Christian, Thelemite or other, dictate to us otherwise, is a form of fascism! Yep. Here comes Webster again! Fascism:
"a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of the opposition ..., the retention of private ownership of the means of production under centeralized governmental control, beligerent nationalism and racism, glorification of war, etc."
Now while Thelema teaches that, if we must, we should fight for our rights, and that defending our rights has a glorious element to it, which seems to be a common element of "manliness" everywhere, the rest of the definition does not in the least resemble the teachings of Thelema. However - you're gonna love this one, boyz! - this definition of fascism does fit very neatly the painfully obvious religious and political program of the fundamentalist and reconstructionist pseudo-christians who believe that we should all, and without exception, accept their idea of salvation through "the Lord Jesus Christ", etbloodycetera.
Every time Geraldo Rivera does a program on satanism he calls for a new Inquisition which amounts to a "forcible suppression of the opposition", which he seems to see the entire occult community as, and Raschke is trying to do the same thing with this book, while getting as much notoriety and money as he can along the way, naturally. The fanatic pseudo-christians are always trying to pass bills through Congress, labelling all of us "satanists" and trying to forcibly suppress us, considering us the opposition (because we encourage people to think for themselves), to strip away our constitutional rights. Fortunately, Congress is more alert than we sometimes give them credit for being (although still overpaid, we will all agree) and sees in these FASCIST attempts the threat to the Constitution of the United States of America.
When people like Raschke and the fundamentalists call us all satanists and say that satanists believe that "good" is "evil" and "evil" is "good", and statements like the above are made, I keep remembering something I learned, and that is that very often certain types of individuals constantly accuse innocent parties of the very crimes that they themselves are guilty of committing.
All the old dirty tricks are played by Raschke. Shortly after linking "Crowleyism" with fascism in a sentence, the linkage remembered by most readers long after the sentence is forgotten, he links the name of Hitler and Nazism to Crowley and The Book of the Law, although again any likeness is extremely superficial as they are in complete opposition, and Crowley, in his last years, went on record speaking out against Hitler while many had no idea as to what he was up to and what was about to happen when Hitler would decide to extend his rule over all of Europe and eventually the world.
"Crowleyite satanism", Raschke says, "would be decidedly difficult, if not altogether impossible" to blame as "a straightforward 'cause' of the Nazi holocaust", but the implication is that "Crowleyite satanism", a nonsensical phrase, had some influence in causing the holocaust, and again the dirty trick of playing with people's heads is used, linking unrelated things together so that Crowley's name is associated with satanism and the holocaust in the memory of the average reader who will soon forget the original sentences.
People like Raschke and the fundamentalists talk an awful lot about how satanists, i.e. everyone in the occult community, practise "brainwashing" and "mind control", but here again we see how they are guilty of the very crimes we are accused by them of committing! This constant linking of Crowley's name with Hitler's and Manson's, with Fascism, Nazism, the holocaust, et al, is a mind game - clear and obvious attempts at "mind control". And Harper & Row should be ashamed of themselves for participating in such destructive and inhumane practices - and all for the sake of financial gain, no doubt. What is the worth of humanity? Of societal health? Harper & Row can probably give us the bottom line dollarwise!
On pages 100-1, the reader is given the idea that Kenneth Anger's films represent the teachings of Crowley, and indeed, there are pseudo-thelemites who think highly of Anger. I, on the other hand, see Anger's films as the worst kind of pseudo-intellectual rubbish and see nothing particularly Thelemic in them. I see his homosexual fantasies explored, cheap special effects, and nonsensical repetitions, but what is there of Thelema? Crowley's image used in a scene? A cheap copy of the Stélé of Revealing held by an "actor"? A few such inclusions make Anger's films no more an expression of Thelema than would the image of the Star of David superimposed over the mass graves of Jews killed by the Nazis indicate that Jewish religion and Hebraic philosophy were being depicted.
The point here is that not only are the sensationalistic hack writers like Raschke and the fanatic religionists like the fundamentalists creating a problem for Thelema and the other sincere students of the esoteric, and not only are the satanists who pervert everything and misrepresent us all adding to the problem, but the inane monkey antics of pseudo-thelemites, who see in Thelema a vehicle that they can use to promote and gratify their ego through misinterpretation and misapplication only serve to create more misconception, adding more fuel to the fires stoked for a new burning.
According to Raschke, we, all being "satanists" of course, are terrorists, and he says on page 102 that
"Terrorism can only thrive where there is constant revolutionary agitation and movement, where there is an obsession with history, where there is an actual set of cultural values adulating change."
(Or is he here plagiarizing out of context?) The implication seems to be that, although "Change is stability", we should shun change and as a society be stagnant, that we should not look back upon and learn from history. Why? In truth, because learning from history is bringing about a change that people like Raschke do not like because it will leave them out in the cold! The conditions under which Raschke claims terrorism thrives are the very conditions under which democracy and human evolution thrives, at the expense of belief systems based upon irrational superstition and the domination and suppression of the human will.
Note: there is only the difference of one letter between "revolutionary" and "evolutionary", "revolution" and "evolution", and drastic change is not necessarily bad, especially with present circumstances as they are, and revolution need not be bloody - although the fanatic religionists seem inclined to always make it so.
Raschke mentions Mapplethorpe's "Piss Christ", a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine, which he tells us "Defenders of the avant-garde" said "was nothing more than a vivid pronouncement of disgust with commercialized religion." Raschke's opinion should be obvious by now. Now let's surprise him with a Thelemite's opinion. First, coming as no surprise to him, I think it is a valid form of self-expression, if indeed Mapplethorpe truly had an artistic point to make. On the other hand, although hardly a fan of Christianity (have you noticed?), I found it to be bloody rude and do not believe any symbol, even the ghastly crucifix, that others consider sacred, should be so treated, insulted. My opinion is very much the same in regards to flag burning. While it may be one man's means of self-expression and it should not be made illegal, and while, when all is said and done, a flag is but a symbol and not the thing it symbolizes, and is, after all, only a pretty rag, a nation's flag is, to that nation, a kind of sacred symbol, and as you would have others respect your sacred symbols, you, in turn, should respect theirs. I cannot imagine myself ever urinating or spitting upon the Christian crucifix, regardless of my personal and professional feelings about the choice of symbols and all that it is supposed to represent and truly represents, nor can I imagine myself desecrating any nation's flag. Then again, if the fundamentalists have their way and make the U.S. "one nation under THEIR God", I may lead the ranks of rebellion and revolution by doing those very things, pushed to the limit and beyond!
Oh, let's skip a lot of nonsense - much of which has already been replied to here in one way or another. I see that on page 153 Raschke mentions "willing", comparing Michael Aquino's concepts to Crowley's as if they are the same, which is not so, and Raschke tells us that "Will is really a verb, not a noun." I am going to have biceps like Schwarzenegger soon from constantly lifting my Webster's for verification and quotation. Here we go again! Hmm ... "will" not only appears to be a verb, but more, including a noun with eight definitions, or definition variations. The one I most like is
"5. the power of self-direction or self-control".
Carl A. Raschke is intent upon changing all of the established rules even of language itself in an effort to halt change, afraid of the revolutionary effect such change might bring about, and he is shameless in his efforts. And I wonder: Do the people at Harper & Row even read books like Raschke's before they decide to publish them, or is their only concern the degree of sensationalism necessary to sell? Silly question ...
On page 176, attacking heavy metal music - yet another scapegoat of the Judeo-Christian society, its symbolism and substance in actuality a symptom of the disorder and not a cause of the disorder in this society - Raschke says that
"in the magical world of satanist believers from Crowley to Constanzo, evil power is the ultimate datum of experience - it must be mastered, or it will master you."
Again the little "mind control" game, linking "Crowley" with "Constanzo". In truth, in most cases, the ultimate reality for heavy metal bands is financial success - not "evil power", although one can stretch a point by quoting "Money is the root of all evil" - right, like Jim and Tammy Bakker, etc., etc.
We have already pointed out that Crowley was not a "satanist believer", and it would seem that I would only have to point out to an utter moron that "evil power" is not the ultimate reality for Thelemites nor was it so for Crowley. "Evil" is a relative term, relatively speaking! and "power" is largely illusory, but then, isn't everything! In other words, Raschke's entire statement is, characteristically, idiotic and nonsensical when you stop to think about it, which, unfortunately, most readers probably will not do, which Raschke is counting on.
Now, if "evil" has to do with "demons", and "demons" as I have explained elsewhere are essentially subconscious psychological complexes which the magician ceremonially evokes outside of himself, without the magick circle of his being and into the triangle of art, masters them and then banishes these "demons" with the sword, the symbol of reason and analysis, then it is true that Crowley insisted that such "evil", within oneself, exteriorized during ceremonial magic, must be mastered. Psychological complexes that are not confronted, analyzed, dealt with, mastered and dissolved, inevitably master an individual and rule where reason, love and divine Will should rule.
However, since these complexes are a form of crippling dis-ease, they weaken individuals and make them more easy to control, thus dissolving these complexes would be contrary to the desires of those who want absolute control over others, and since Crowley advocated the dissolution of these complexes by "mastering" their "evil power", it stands to reason to conclude that Crowley was not one of those who desire absolute control over others! What Crowley obviously advocated was not mastery over others, but rather self-mastery and freedom for all. The "American Dream" as opposed to the fascistic domination proposed by fundamentalist pseudo-christianity.
Every student of Thelema I know who heard of the "ITEM" on page 230 was outraged, i.e. that a fifteen year old punk named Kevin Lindquist, during a Ku Klux Klan rally in Florida, hurling "a facist polemic", according to Raschke, identified himself by the pseudonym Aleister Crowley. Somehow Raschke seems to think that this further condemns Crowley and his followers, and again the "mind control" game is played, linking Crowley's name with the K.K.K.. In point of fact, this is an outrage to Thelemites who have nothing whatsoever to do with the K.K.K. and its system of beliefs.
[For the record: "Today, we see the Ku Klux Klan attempting to impose, by secret society methods of anonymous menace backed by boycott, arson and assassination, the ideals of a clique; and nearly as noxious are the arrogant aims and brutal tactics of Catholics and freemasons." And further, in reference to a visit to the U.S. in the early 1900s, A.C. wrote, "The hatred of the Yankee (i.e. American) and his fear of the Negro are as great as ever. In the latter case it has increased. The recent revival and the nation-wide spread of the Ku-Klux-Klan is one of the most sinister symptoms of recent years." These quotations from pages 728-9 and 794 of the 1969 E.V. Hill & Wang edition of The Confessions of Aleister Crowley should make clear his loathing of the K.K.K..]
Ah, but enough of this! And Harper & Row: Enough is enough. Publishers should act responsibly towards the reading public. The publication of this piece of hateful, truth- and fact-perverting rubbish is, in my opinion, irresponsible.
The book's title, Painted Black, we learn on page 241, was inspired by a Rolling Stones' song, and it "is what [Umberto] Eco dubs the 'decadent' Middle Ages."
What Carl A. Raschke and the fanatic religionists choose to see as the "Decadentism" of the so-called "last days" before the "final judgment" - these religious fanatics always so terribly eager for the end of the world - I see as nothing more than the awkward stage of growth when the child is becoming an adolescent just before maturing into an adult. The end is near, and such books as Painted Black cannot stop it, but the wise know that every ending is but a new beginning, and change is both inevitable and desirable.