Richard Kaczynski

Richard Kaczynski is the author of Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, Perdurabo Outtakes (Blue Equinox Journal #1), and Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City (Blue Equinox Journal #2), and co-editor of The Revival of Magick and Other Essays (Oriflamme #2). He’s been a student of Thelema since 1977 e.v., an O.T.O. member since 1987, and a lecturer on magick since 1990. Within the O.T.O., he is past Master of Blue Equinox Oasis in Detroit, an ordained Priest of E.G.C., a Certified Initiator Trainer, and a Local Body Mentor; as a member of U.S. Grand Lodge's Education Committee, he is chair of its Qabalah subcommittee. Over the years, his writing has appeared in various magazines (High Times, The Magical Link, Neshamah, Cheth, Mezlim, Eidolon, Different Worlds) and books (Golden Dawn Sourcebook, Rebels and Devils, People of the Earth), and he was recently interviewed for the PBS documentary, Secrets of the Occult. His current projects include an edited and annotated re-issue of Crowley's Sword of Song.

Magick in the Victorian Age

A small network of like-minded individuals populated Victorian esoteric circles, particularly those few societies teaching techniques of practical magick. This talk examines the primordial soup from which 20th century icons like the Golden Dawn and Ordo Templi Orientis sprang. Groups discussed will include esoteric Freemasons (John Yarker, Kenneth Mackenzie, Theodor Reuss), Rosicrucians (W.W. Westcott, Frederick Hockley, Hargrave Jennings, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Eliphas Lévi, Freeman Dowd), Martinists (Gérard Encausse), Église Gnostique (Jules Doinel, Jean Bricaud), the Brotherhood of Eulis (P.B. Randolph), and the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (Peter Davidson, Thomas Burgoyne, Emma Hardinge Britten). Understanding these 19th century traditions informs and enlightens our magical practice in the 21st century.

Sex and Religion: The Social and Literary Background of Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass

In 1913, the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s shockingly innovative Rite of Spring: Pictures of Pagan Russia caused a riot in Paris. That same year, Aleister Crowley penned his Gnostic Mass. It was likewise unveiled as the central ritual, public and private, of Ordo Templi Orientis to mixed reviews: Some advanced it as the official religious ritual of Rose Croix Freemasonry, while others decried its thinly veiled sexual symbolism as pointing too clearly to the central secret of the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis. Either way, the Gnostic Mass did not appear in a vacuum. Crowley penned his ritual in the post-Victorian era amidst two envelope-pushing literary streams: First, books on sex worship—especially phallicism—among the ancients were in their heyday. Secondly, Protestant England produced anti-Papal works claiming that the rituals of Catholicism were demonstrably borrowed from paganism. Crowley’s innovation was to link these two literatures in his own inimitable style. Whether or not you’re a fan of Crowley, this talk will paint a fascinating picture of the social, sexual and religious insurrection that occupied esoteric thought and practice in the Victorian and Edwardian ages.

Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City

“Is Detroit heaven?” Aleister Crowley asked his field organizer, Charles Stansfeld Jones. It certainly seemed so at the time: Bookman Albert W. Ryerson was selling Crowley’s books and publishing the latest installment of The Equinox; several prominent Masons were interested in establishing the Lakes Region of Ordo Templi Orientis; and Jones was in high demand teaching classes on magick and Thelema. But things turned suddenly sour. When slow book sales dragged the Universal Book Stores into bankruptcy, the activities of the O.T.O. were luridly thrust onto the front pages of the daily news. The Equinox was declared obscene and all copies impounded. The O.T.O. “love cult” was blamed for everything from broken homes and Hollywood’s wild parties to the mysterious murder of film director William Desmond Taylor. This important yet little-known episode of occult history is based on Dr. Kaczynski’s 2006 book by the same title.

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