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Crafting The Art Of Magic:
A Critical Review

By D. Hudson Frew (Morgann)

Copyright 1991 by D. Hudson Frew.
Used by permission of the author.


Since the completion of this text, I have had the opportunity to discuss it with several readers. Here appended are the results of those conversations:

. Richard Smoley of Gnosis Magazine said that he assumed that the "English educational system" mentioned by Kelly on page 47 above encompassed the full range of educational opportunities in England at the time, including private tutors. I question, first, that this was Kelly's intent, second, that it is true that students of private tutors were caned as frequently as those in the public schools, and third, the assertion that a childhood experience of caning inevitably leads to an adult sexual addiction of any kind at all. Certainly, there are plenty of Englishmen that are not so addicted and plenty of non-Englishmen who are.
 In regards to Gardner, Valiente notes on page 43 of The Rebirth of Witchcraft (Robert Hale, London, 1989, as listed in Kelly's bibliography):

Gerald's constant travelling began at the age of four, when, because of the asthma from which he suffered all his life, his nursemaid persuaded his parents to let her take him abroad to a warmer climate. This nursemaid, an Irish girl called Josephine McCombie and nicknamed "Com" [not "Con", as Kelly has it], became the dominant influence upon his childhood. She was quite a character -- most of it decidedly bohemian. Under her tutelage Gerald never had any formal education but he certainly saw the world. He taught himself to read and from then on read everything he could lay his hands on. Consequently, he never suffered the brainwashing of a formal and respectable education; but he learned to think for himself and to enquire for himself instead of accepting the ready-made opinions of others. (emphasis mine)

Would a man suffering from life-long asthma be able to be bound and scourged if it involved either a prolonged period or any great degree of hardship, let alone enjoy it? Does Gardner's education, as described above, resemble the picture painted by Kelly on page 28 of headmasters beating "little boys on their bare buttocks with a cane or birch branch, before witnesses" in any way? If anything, it sounds as though Gardner received am unusually liberal education for his day.
 Additionally, on page 103 Kelly notes that:

Fred also told me that the remaining members of the original coven soon thereafter decided to use the circle-dance-and-drop technique as their major way to raise power, rather than the bound scourging that had always been Gardner's favorite technique.

Isn't it possible that a life-long asthmatic such as Gardner was not physically able to do the circle dance effectively? Might he not have opted instead for a more sedate and soothing form of power raising, such as the "light, steady, monotonous, slow strokes" of a scourge?

2. Gus di Zerega and Anna Korn pointed out that it was incredibly facile, not to mention insulting, for Kelly to assert, on page 27, that Gardner's supposed sexual addiction to flagellation:

... was forced upon him, as it was upon most Englishmen of his generation, by the English educational system. In this system... normal practice was, until very recently, to beat little boys on their bare buttocks with a cane or birch branch, before witnesses. As a result, their sexual development was distorted and fixated on their buttocks: even as adults, they needed to be beaten on their bare buttocks (or at least fantasize about that) in order to achieve an erection and so be capable of sexual intercourse.... Unlike most Englishmen, however, [Gardner] did not try to hide this fact, or make do by patronizing prostitutes who specialize in what is now called "bondage and discipline". (emphasis mine)

I'm sure that Her Majesty's Government would have something to say about this!

. On page 81, Kelly presents the well-known "Amalthean horn" prayer. Kelly comments:

The Farrars (1981, p. 41) say that it is a poem by Aleister Crowley, originally addressed to Tyche. (However, the Crowley mavens I know beg to differ, and I have not been able to find it in The Equinox or several other of Crowley's books I have skimmed through.)

The poem is by Crowley, and it is originally addressed to Tyche. As Glenn Turner first pointed out to me, it is printed on page 120 of the Collected Works of Aleister Crowley Vol. III (Foyers Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, London, 1907). It is titled "La Fortune" and is part of a collection of "Sonnets and Quatorzains", which in turn is part of a collection titled Rodin in Rime. In the second stanza of the poem, Tyche, having listened to the humble invocation, "spurns and crushes the pale suppliant", seemingly out of pure caprice.
 Anna Korn pointed out that it was only appropriate for a smart suppliant to approach Tyche in such a manner. Kerenyi notes, on page 41 of The Gods of the Greeks (Thames and Hudson, London, 1951) that:

... Tyche was a goddess whose name means "what may hap" or "Chance", a deity... whose power... proved stronger than the rule of Zeus.

Further, Robert Graves says on page 125 of The Greek Myths: 1 (Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1955) that:

Tyche is a daughter of Zeus, to whom he has given power to decide what the fortune of this or that mortal shall be. On some she heaps gifts from a horn of plenty, others she deprives of all that they have. Tyche is altogether irresponsible in her awards...

In other words, the poem was written in the form of a prayer to an awesomely powerful, yet utterly unpredictable, goddess; not as an exercise in sado-masochism, as Kelly implies on page 83.



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