Thursday, July 9, 2015

Deserts of Mars -Alibi

Originally published July 9, 2015 via alibi.com

There’s something sexy and dangerous about robed occultists performing rituals for old gods in the moonlit desert.

With the arrival of my digital invitation to this weekend’s public performance of the O.T.O.’s Rite of Mars comes a flood of mental images provided by Hollywood films I’ve seen growing up: hooded figures silhouetted by firelight—long shadows lying in the sand like serpents, disembodied voices droning incantations in dead languages.

Of course this is all fantasy. I’ve been to these sorts of things before, and what they don’t show you in Eyes Wide Shut is the scene after the ritual, when the cultists have to go home and throw their robes in the wash before taking the dog out to pee. Under the masks are usually people like the rest of us.

But I have to admit a touch of excitement as I drive to the home of Soror Luz, a representative of the local encampment of the Ordo Templi Orientis. The O.T.O. may be one of the most famous occult fraternal organizations of this century and the last, thanks largely to the influence of its one-time leader, Aleister Crowley—the infamous drug-fiend, sodomist and blasphemer. Crowley (which rhymes with “holy” and not “bowely,” as Ozzy would have you believe) was also one of the greatest minds to come out of the 20th century. His influence blasted through popular culture, leaving the ’60s in its wake (Timothy Leary really did claim to be the reincarnated Crowley, and you can find the old sod’s head poking out between Sri Yukteswar and Mae West on Sgt. Pepper. As for the myth that he fed Aldous Huxley his first mouthful of peyote ... the results are still out).

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