Demons of the Flesh
The Complete Guide to Left Hand Sex Magic
© Nikolas and Zeena Schreck
Chapter "A Love Cult" p249-251
Context: Aleister Crowley, and the O.T.O. in the U.S.
"A Love Cult"Beginning left-hand path sex magicians may be inspired by this book to form their own groups for the investigation and practice of erotic alchemy. We discuss some of the considerations that should inform the development of one's own sex-magical society in the last section of this study. But there could be no better illustrative preamble to some of the practical problems that can potentially arise in sex-magical groups than a brief overview of Jack Parsons' involvement with the O.T.O. Agape Lodge. Men and women of the sinister current may sincerely seek liberation from the limitations of societal and personal sexual politics. But once the organizational factor enters the picture, as the chronicle below makes clear, you must be prepared to encounter such pashu behaviors as possessiveness, power struggle, and the hypocritical pretense that every ordinary expression of lust is of a "spiritual" nature.
In March of 1941, Wilfred T. Smith, the expatriate Englishman authorized by Crowley to lead the Agape Lodge in Los Angeles, reported to the Great Beast concerning a new O.T.O. initiate. Of the 26-year old, Smith wrote: "I think I have at long last a really excellent man, John Parsons. And starting next Tuesday he begins a course of talks with a view to enlarging our scope. He has an excellent mind and much better intellect than myself...John Parsons is going to be valuable." This was welcome news to Crowley, long dissatisfied with the work of his Californian disciples, who he dismissed as mere "fans." Only six years before his death, and in poor health, the Beast was anxious that a new generation of Thelemite leadership arise to carry on his mission.
Another member of the Agape Lodge, the silent film actress Jane Wolfe, who had studied with the Beast in Cefalu, was equally impressed by the newcomer, writing of Parsons in her magical diary that "I see him as the real successor of Therion [Crowley's magical name]."
Based on such enthusiastic reports, Crowley began to consider Parsons as the logical leader of the Agape Lodge, increasingly distancing himself from Wilfred Smith, whose abilities he had long held in question. Just as Parsons had showed an early brilliance in science, conversing authoritatively as a teenager via telephone with the great German rocket scientist Werner von Braun, so had magic been a life-long fascination for the prodigy. In 1927, at the age of 13, according to his The Book of Antichrist, Parsons attempted to evoke the Devil to visible appearance, an operation that he claimed was met with success, although he rebuked himself for "showing cowardice when He appeared." Parsons' apparently sincere acceptance of the Devil as a literal being with whom man can communicate differed sharply from Crowley's relative disinterest in the Satanic mythos. The modern reader, accustomed to the prevalence of superficial, trendy youthful Satanic posturing in our time must keep in mind how unspoken a thing Satanism was in the America of the 1920s. That the adolescent Parsons would have explored such arcane realms without the encouragement of the kind of mercantile occult subculture that exists today clarifies just how far from the norm he was, even at the beginning of his initiation.
The literary agent Forrest J Ackerman, who included L. Ron Hubbard among the many authors he represented, knew Parsons in the 1940s from their mutual membership in the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Ackerman described Parsons to us as "a Howard Hughes type, tall, slender, dark, good-looking." Along with his wife Helen, also an aspirant to the O.T.O, the young, attractive couple injected some gladly received new blood to the sex magickal circle.
With his vigorous intelligence, natural inclination for magic, and scientific approach to initiation, the rocketeer appeared to be the potential leader that Crowley and the failing O.T.O. had long sought. But from the first, Parsons showed an independent streak ill-suited to the hierarchical and doctrinaire structure of Crowley's O.T.O.. Although he accepted Thelema unreservedly as the foundation of his religion, and admired Crowley as his "beloved father," Parsons took a far more creative, forward-looking view than his Lodge fellows, who went strictly by the book (of the Law).
Odd though it may seem considering Crowley's own unrestrained sexual appetite, the reportedly charismatic Smith's tendency to seduce almost every willing female member of the Lodge particularly rankled the Beast. One of the sisters of the Lodge whom Smith took as his mistress was Helen Parsons. This affair, true to the Thelemic injunction that "there shall be no property in human flesh" was engaged in with John Parsons' knowledge and agreement. The younger man viewed Smith as a paternal mentor — even as the "Avatar of a God" — and was loath to interfere with his True Will, even if his own marriage were to suffer as a consequence. This cultivated overcoming of societally conditioned sexual jealousy was part of Parsons' effort to liberate himself with the mores of his time and upbringing, and remained a central aspect of his approach to sex magic. But his tendency to be vulnerable to exploitation in this regard would prove to be a perilous theme in his abbreviated life. In any event, Parsons turned his amorous attentions to his wife's younger sister, Sara Northrup, known as Betty, who also joined the O.T.O.
Parsons later interpreted this incident as a turning point in his erotic initiation, writing of himself in Analysis by a Master from the distance of the third person: "Betty served to effect a transference from Helen at a critical period. Had this not occurred your repressed homosexual element could have caused a serious disorder. Your passion for Betty also gave you the magical force you needed at the time, and the act of adultery tinged with incest, served as your magical confirmation in the Law of Thelema."
Crowley, struggling for survival in dire war-time London, was less forgiving when he heard of these far away Californications, which he felt reduced the ideal of sexual initiation to a banal soap opera. In one of many scolding letters to Smith, Crowley accused him of providing the O.T.O with "the reputation of being that slimy abomination, a 'love cult.'" Since Crowley had been accused of much the same thing for the past twenty years, we must imagine that this sudden outbreak of puritanism in his old age was merely a ploy to depose Smith, whose increasingly authoritarian guidance of the Lodge was inspiring sedition among the already feud-riven brothers and sisters of Agape.
Crowley installed Parsons as the acting master of the Lodge, despite the Beast's accurate observation that he was "very young and easily swayed by passing influences." Complicating this accession to power over the Lodge was Parsons' tenacious devotion to his excommunicated predecessor Smith, whom Crowley had pronounced persona non grata. Parsons's young wife Betty apparently despised Smith, which must have exacerbated the already existing tensions considerably.
Parson's early interest in Satanism and the darker expressions of the divine had always separated him from the more conventionally benevolent magicians in the Lodge. Now he began to develop an ominous reputation, enhanced by his fascination with the evocation of demonic entities via Voodoo and the more malevolent manifestations of witchcraft, practices almost entirely unknown to Americans in the 1940s. Agape Lodge members wrote to Crowley in England to complain that their new leader's experiments were creating a sinister atmosphere in the communal house where meetings were held. Parsons seemed uninterested in undertaking the duties of the Lodge, as his focus shifted away increasingly from the performance of orthodox Crowleyan rituals in favor of more personal sex-magical adventures.
He even dared to reprimand Crowley himself, complaining that the Beast's rather sadistic treatment of the disgraced Wilfred Smith was unfair. As protest, Parsons resigned from the O.T.O. in 1943, an event Crowley recorded in his diary, with a typically misogynist snipe at Parsons's wife: "Letter of resignation from puppy Jack; his snout glued to the rump of an alley- cat." Despite his anger at this insubordination, the Beast persuaded Parsons to remain in the fold, which tells us something of the admiration he must have held for his promising if refractory student, who many still considered a likely successor to the Thelemic throne. Although he remained the nominal head of the Lodge until as late as 1946, Parsons' growing fascination — one might even say obsession — with the seductive feminine mystery of Babalon was to lead him to a heresy that would finally cause him to characterize the O.T.O. as "an excellent training school for Adepts, but hardly an appropriate order for the manifestation of Thelema." As must happen with any true magician, Parsons graduated from apprenticeship in a dogmatic school to remanifestation as his own independent entity.
And as is the mark of the left-hand path initiate, it was the fascination exerted upon him by a woman who led him gloriously astray. Not just any woman, but Inanna, the Great Whore of Babylon, her ancient allure risen again in a desert far from the sands of Iraq.
© Nikolas and Zeena Schreck
temple of set
by Alex Burns (firstname.lastname@example.org) — December 17, 2002
2002 Schism: The Storm Awakens
Left Hand Path institutions often have a history of confrontations between individualist practitioners of different worldviews. The Temple of Set is no exception. High Priest Don Webb stepped down, and, on 9 September 2002, was succeeded by High Priestess Zeena Schreck. Six weeks after the Helsinki Conclave (September 2002), Zeena, Magister Aaron Besson, Magister Nikolas Schreck, and Magister Michael Kelly all resigned on 8 November 2002. Four Priests Alfred Rodriguez, Kevin Rockhill, Jared Davison and Richard Gavin also resigned. Temple of Set sources have claimed that eighteen Initiates have resigned while others have estimated the number at closer to sixty (including several Orders, Elements, and members of the Adept and Setian degrees).
The formation of any new magical group usually creates a period of inter-group conflict between the old and new. Michael Kelly's document Four Horsemen (11 November 2002) was posted by others in doctored form on the alt.satanism newsgroup (13 November 2002). An early draft of a Frequently Answered Questions document defines the new and as-yet unnamed group as '. . . a loose confederation of Setian Teachers and Students, an alliance of Orders.' The group has eschewed the Temple's administrative and non-profit structure, as well as its degree system and titles. 'We Work together through mutual respect and interest, not through any organisational limitations or restrictions,' the FAQ document states. Finally, its founders have sought to avoid the "magical society" structure of post-Theosophy groups: the confederation is 'an ongoing Magical Working in which we may participate, a living, dynamic and evolving thing.'
After a period of custodianship and transition, the Council of Nine, the Temple of Set's oversight body, ratified the nomination of Dr. Michael A. Aquino on 9 December 2002 as the new High Priest of Set.
Public Research Sources
While the long-term implications of this schism are still unfolding, interested parties can check out a growing collection of public material on Left Hand Path practices and traditions. Neville Drury's Occult Experience book (New York: Avery Penguin Putnam, 1987) and documentary film features an extensive interview with the Aquinos. Larry Kahaner's Cults That Kill (New York: Warner Books, 1989) contrasts Setian philosophy with 'occult crime' distortions during the 1980s Satanic Ritual Abuse cycle. Dr. Stephen Edred Flowers' Lords of the Left Hand Path (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 1997) remains the most authoritative and academic study of dissent and antinomian spirituality; Nikolas Schreck's Flowers From Hell: A Satanic Reader (London: Creation Books, 2001) collates key literary texts. Don Webb's Seven Faces of Darkness: Practical Typhonian Magic (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 1996) and Uncle Setnakt's Guide to the Left Hand Path (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 1999) offer a postmodern and practical approach to Left Hand Path initiation. Nikolas Schreck's The Satanic Cinema (London: Creation Books, 2001) offers a self-critique of Devil as Satanic archetype in historical film. Two books, Dr. Stephen Edred Flowers and Crysta l Dawn's Carnal Alchemy (Smithville, TX: Runa-Raven Press, 2001), and Nikolas and Zeena Schreck's Demons of the Flesh (London: Creation Books, 2002), reveal Left Hand Path practices of sado-magical and tantric sexuality.
Review by Alan Cabal NEW YORK PRESS Jan 15 2003
Demons Of the Flesh
by Nikolas and Zeena Schreck
Say the word "magic" and most people immediately think of Houdini or Penn & Teller. The other image that comes to most people s minds is that of the contemporary consumer occultist, waving an edged weapon or a stick in the air above a pot of burning herbs while chanting nonsense syllables by candlelight in a deluded effort to compel some hobgoblin to deliver that winning Lotto ticket, that hot babe or the head of an enemy on a silver plate. "Magical thinking" is repeatedly cited in the DSM IV-R as a symptom of mental illness. In that context, there is an inherent flaw in the perception of cause and effect not unlike the defective reasoning that leads primitive people to religious faith. The idea of magic as a tool of radical self-transformation doesn t occur to very many people.
Utter the phrase "sex magic" and the response of most will be a titillated smirk and a vision of wild orgies. A few who have managed to plow through any of the handful of obscurantist texts on the subject might get a visual of some joyless ascetic sweating bullets as he strives to avoid having an orgasm. Until this year, the only truly lucid book on the subject was Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger s Sexual Secrets, first published in 1979 and rereleased with additional color plates in a 20th-anniversary edition. That book has sold more than a million copies and it s a fine introduction to the subject, but it s also hopelessly vanilla, mired as it is in a white-light Weltanschauung.
Now two authentic enfants terribles of the Satan Circuit have published the definitive guide to sexual alchemy, Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left Hand Path Sex Magic (Creation Books, 398 pages, $19.95). Authors Nikolas and Zeena Schreck have been major players on the Dark Side of the Street for decades. Zeena was born into it: as the daughter of misanthropic con artist Anton LaVey, she was the first child baptized into his cash-cow Church of Satan. She parted company with her father and his enterprise (which she now refers to as the "Crutch of Satan") sometime before her mother, Diane Hegarty, finally got sick of the bitter old coot s abuses and sued for divorce, driving the Church of Satan into bankruptcy.
Nikolas wandered onto the scene freely and of his own will, as the saying goes. I first met the couple in Oakland, CA, in the early 80s, at a party hosted by an officer of Aleister Crowley s OTO. I had my doubts about them then, owing to their association with Boyd Rice, the Nazi performance artist. Nikolas and Boyd worked together with the band Death in June and then had a fairly nasty falling-out on the heels of a performance event staged in San Francisco in 1988. Besides his Nazi leanings, Boyd was toadying up to Anton in the old man s dotage in a blatant (and ultimately futile) attempt to capture the brand name. Recently he s become a monarchist and seems to be attempting to claim the throne of France.
Nik and Zeena went their own way. Disinclined toward adjusting to other people s paradigms, they founded their own occult school, the Werewolf Order, an interesting musical endeavor called Radio Werewolf, and opened a terrific shop specializing in morbid curios and books on Hollywood Blvd. called Hellhouse of Hollywood, replete with a wax museum depicting various infamous characters with narration by their friend Christopher Lee. They also produced a marvelous CD of Mr. Lee singing songs associated with darkness and villainy.
Nik has authored a fine book on Satan and Satanism in the movies and edited a nifty collection of Satanic essays, poems and stories and a great collection of the wit and wisdom of Charles Manson. He also directed a documentary film, Charles Manson Superstar (currently available on DVD), which contains the best interview with Charlie I ve ever seen. It s unique in the fact that Nikolas knows enough about his subject to ask the right questions.
Most recently, the couple parted company with the Temple of Set just six weeks after Zeena was appointed the organization s High Priestess. It seems to have been a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. They currently reside in Berlin.
Demons of the Flesh is a complete and thorough presentation of the history and techniques of radical self-transformation and enhancement through the practice of sacramental sex. The book is divided into three main sections covering the better known Eastern Tantric practices, the hermetic Western methods and a tutorial on the practical application of the methods described. The nature of magic is clearly stated by the authors in the very first chapter, as they introduce the reader to the Vama Marga Tantra of India:
"It is a keystone of our understanding of magic s underlying identity with maya that magic is not a comfortable niche to be settled into forever. Instead, it is a transitional vehicle, a means to an end. Magic can be the awakening agent that frees its practitioner from certain illusions, allowing the flash of insight that transcends all philosophical inquiry. Through magic, the mind can learn that there is not one indisputable reality. There is an endless multiplicity of realities... The direct confrontation with maya that sorcery allows might be said to be magic s primary objective. It is this confrontation that permits the sorcerer to viscerally understand how deeply his or her shifting subjective overlays influence that which he or she perceives an understanding that may hasten the transformation of human sentience to divine consciousness."
They also emphasize the need for "hands-on" instruction, so to speak. Book learning can only take one so far in these matters:
"The left-hand path is a physical discipline that must be personally taught by a male or female guru from a lineage of teachers competent to instruct the initiate. The aspiring student of the left-hand path often spends many years in the quest for the teacher most suited to initiate him into the lineage of adepts. Indeed, Tantra is adamant that initiation can never be learned from books, and that second hand knowledge can never lead to direct realization of the self. The Tantric left-hand path mistrust of book learning, or pustake likita, goes so far as to warn that the goddess Shakti, the informing divine power presiding over the practice, curses all who try to take a short cut to initiation through the written medium... The left-hand path is defined by its manifestation in worldly deeds, and as such is better understood as a way of life rather than a faith or an abstract system."
The Schrecks have been around the block a few times, and have more than a few pithy things to say about the Western tendency to exploit this phenomenon for petty personal gain. They offer an excellent critique of Aleister Crowley and the various museum-piece fraternities dedicated to preserving his legacy. Crowley is probably the best-known Western practitioner of sex magic, but his various personal pathologies and his inability to control them did a great disservice to the technology. There are numerous admonitions and warnings scattered throughout Demons of the Flesh, especially as regards the kind of parasitic exploitation that was Crowley s specialty.
This is the Schrecks most refined and accomplished work. Meticulous research, extensive citations of original source documents and a witty, modern approach including the latest clinical research on the physiological effects of these practices enliven this book and place it at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in the subject. It presents not merely history and technique, but a worldview and a way of life, a path to personal liberation much needed in a world that increasingly resembles the "Black Iron Prison" of Philip K. Dick's less pleasant revelations. Extreme conditions require extreme responses.
Volume 16, Issue 3
Should any one wish to reach Zeena or Nikolas Schreck: mail
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More about all this in: Andreas Huettl and Peter-R. Koenig: Satan — Jünger, Jäger und Justiz