*Note: I intended for this to be a bit longer, but I felt like the last big point I want to make should stand on its own. So if you were thinking I was going to talk on something that isn’t here, don’t worry. It’s coming.
Do what thou wilt or whatever.
Last time, I talked about some of the big characteristics of occultisms that make them more friendly than you might want to fascists and their reactionary collaborators. If you missed it, you should read that post first. It was a good one.
I ended that last piece with a promise to share some thoughts about how we move forward as communities and beat back the fascist and extreme reactionary blocs that have, as far as I can see, been active in occultims since forever. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about here, Season 2 of the podcast Penny Royal does a great job of laying out the symbiotic relationship between occultisms and reactionary movements in the United States going back to the Civil War; there are a ton of resources that also lay out the links between occultisms and various Nazi affiliated groups as early as the 1920s and coming forward to today. So now what?
The quick and dirty is that owners of paranormal and occult spaces have got to do the work both in the short term and medium term to make those spaces as actively hostile to fascists as possible. The short term work is pretty similar for paranormal spaces as well as all flavor of occult spaces.
- We all have to accept that this isn’t a 2 sided situation, where it’s Fascists vs Everybody Else. The sides are more like this: fascists, not-fascist reactionaries, anti-fascists, POC/Romani People/Jewish People/Queer People, and everyone else. So the reality is that it isn’t enough to simply say “I’m not a Nazi” and be done with the whole thing.
- Spaces that wish to be actively anti-fascist have got to take a zero tolerance approach to the use of fascist friendly symbolism and speech, except in the context of identifying something unexceptable. This is probably going to be pretty uncomfortable for some of y’all; that sounds like a personal problem.
- We must acknowledge that there are no apolitical spaces. Last time, I talked about how fascists really thrive in spaces where they can lay low and keep their shit ideas to themselves until they deem the time to be right. I’m not saying that there needs to be a test at the door, or that every (or any) spaces need to engage with public policy or party politics. But I am saying that when we shut down any kind of talk about how power does or should operate in society writ large, or even within a specific community, we relegate these sorts of conversations to the shadows where they can’t be moderated.
- Center the experience of marginalized people in all of this. What this doesn’t mean is that we’ve got to, for example, only ever listen to the one black person who ever comes around, and follow their lead every single time. What it does mean is that, given that there are marginalized people in the space (and we should be assuming that there are), we should all aim to reduce to zero the chances that they will be exposed to hateful speech (coded or uncoded) or harassment.
There’s also some medium term stuff, which is much less about literally kicking fascists out of spaces or not letting them come in the first place, and more about starting to re-evaluate how we are thinking about our traditions or areas of exploration of the paranormal/occult.
- Acknowledge that many of us operate from a countercultural perspective, and that in 2022 so does fascism. A lot of occultisms can yadda yadda down to facilitating self-actualization, and the paranormal is often about connecting with those things that society would have us turn away from because they defy conventional logics. The fascists are also interested in connecting with those things, but as a means of either reconnecting with some imagined long gone power that they feel was taken from them, hoarding currently held power that they feel is their right to wield, or destroying a social order that makes space (albeit not much space) for POC, Queer people, women, Jewish people, and Romani people.
- We have to accept that fascisms and fascists aren’t usually constrained by logics that aren’t fascist. So arguing that Crowley says “XYZ” or Heathenry means “ABC” or whatever you would point to that proves your weirdo corner and fascisms to be incompatible is useless. The exception to this is if you’re pointing to a “fascists can kick rocks or get hit by rocks” sign.
- We have to have strategies for deradicalizing those who are open to it that don’t ask marginalized people to basically prove their humanity to anyone, or else potentially “show grace” to a recovering fascist. What that might mean is having specific spaces that are for deradicalization, or getting the consent of e.g. Jewish people who normally come through before bringing an ex-Nazi around.
- GATEKEEPERS. Theoretically, in many of our esoteric/paranormal sects/fields/traditions, the first gate is even knowing that there are truths to seek. Coolio. Here’s why that’s totally meaningless in 2022: it’s never been easier to be exposed to new information than it is right now. So you aren’t dependent on having a weirdo in your town with access to Passport to Magonia or Liber AL or Witchcraft Today; now you just have to stumble on the right (wrong?) part of the internet and fall down a rabbit hole. So it’s more important than ever that people who have occult/paranormal knowledge use some discernment with who and how they give it out. Communities, as they firm up, need to practice discernment with who they let come into their spaces, how they’re allowed to show up, and when they can hold space. Teachers specifically have a duty here not just to judge whether or not their students have enough knowledge to learn any given technique, but if they are willing to stand by their students as they use those teachings and share their knowledge when appropriate. On twitter, @polyphanes made a distinction between writers and teachers, and I think that point and the frame put around this kind of gatekeeping is so vital.
This can be challenging work that might push on some friendships, and create some division. That’s hard, but super necessary. I’ve got some more thoughts about how to reform Thelema specifically that I’ll share next time.
Love is the law; love under something. IDK.
Nick the Melaninated Magician
Nick AKA The Melaninated Magickian (They/Them) is a Thelemite and explorer of existence. They write observations about High Strangeness, Occultisms, and how those things intersect with race, gender, disability, and other social identities on their blog and on Twitter. In their normie work, they are a professional DEI practitioner, avid film watcher, and home cook.