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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.

Update Continued

12. Kelly recently sent an "open group letter" (dated 2/1/92) to several Elders of the Gardnerian community (and through them to all "readers of The Hidden Path"), addressing a number of the complaints that have been made about him. Kelly claims that he "never had any intention of taking... anyone... to court", just that that was a figure of speech indicating how firmly he felt that he was in the right. Nevertheless, Kelly defends the concept of taking a Witch to court with some rather alarming statements:

... the [Craft law] says that you cannot take another Witch to court if that would expose them to persecution for their beliefs. We are living in the USA, not Reformation Europe. Our beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, just like everyone else's, especially in the workplace.... it might be inconvenient, in fact, bloody awful, to get fired because some asshole Evangelical supervisor doesn't like your religion -- but you can then take him and the organization to court, get reinstated, and get damages to boot.... the plain fact is the legal situation is NOT one of persecution; hence many Witches quite reasonably suppose that that particular "Craft Law" is simply moot in the USA.

It is painfully obvious that Kelly has not been involved in America's Craft community for much of the last two decades, rendering his perceptions highly idiosyncratic. In many parts of the country, Witchcraft is still against the law. Legal protections apply only if you can convince the court that Witchcraft is indeed a religion; no mean feat in many communities and a prolonged legal process that few Witches can afford. I have talked with hundreds of Witches who have lost jobs, had their children taken away, their homes burned, pets killed, all because of their religion, with virtually no legal recourse.
 The bigoted boss doesn't put in writing that he fired you for being a Witch, so how do you prove it? The Child Protective Services teach their people to assume that Witchcraft and child-abuse go hand-in-hand; have you ever tried to fight Child Protective Services' ability to bend the law to suit their whim? Prosecuting the "assholes" who kill your pets, throw rocks through your windows, and burn your home, presupposes that you know who did it and can make the charges stick, especially if the local sheriff is a Born Again Christian. Good luck!
 Times have changed and our situation has definitely improved, but it is dangerously naive to believe that there is no persecution of Witches in the USA. It is clear that Kelly's long absence from involvement in America's Craft community has been such that he is no longer in touch with the issues and problems facing Witches in America today. As a result, his generalizations regarding Craft opinion and belief cannot be trusted (as with the statements about reincarnation noted in Update #5, above).

13. Kathy Fleck of the OTO recently reviewed Kelly's book in January 1992 issue of the Thelema Lodge OTO Newsletter. Not being a Gardnerian, Fleck confined herself to a critical evaluation of Kelly's claims regarding Crowley, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD), and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Fleck notes the following inaccuracies in Kelly's work:

  • Waite was not a member of the... HOGD, as Kelly states, but was a member of Stella Matutina.
  • The break in HOGD was not primarily from Mathers elevating Crowley in the Order. It was the result of Mathers declaring the founding charter a forgery.
  • Mathers' credits are inaccurate (according to Bill Heidrick):
    • The Greater Key of Solomon was not a translation, but a transcription from English language MSS;
    • Mathers' Kabalistic treatises were plagiarized, notably his introduction to Kabbalah Unveiled from Ginsberg's essay; and
    • Mathers' "major" book on the Tarot was only 35 pages long.

Fleck also notes that:

On not finding a reference to the scourge and cord in his research of outside materials, [Kelly] credited Gardner with their introduction. The scourge and cord can be traced. Aleister Crowley shows a scourge and chain on the plate that accompanies Chapter 1, Part II, in his 1911 edition of Book Four; the same work gives details on the use of the scourge in ritual and how it is made. An Egyptian style scourge was part of the regalia of officers of HOGD; Crowley makes occasional use of this in his workings, remarking that he saw it in visions. Crowley's Liber Aleph refers to Babalon as applying Her Scourge to him. The Equinox has numerous references to the scourge in metaphor, and in Vol I, No 1, suppliment [sic] pg. 48: "I think the Postulant should be actually scourged..."; Crowley (pg. 60 sup., Equinox, Vol i, No 1) mentions in the "John St. John" that he used the scourge, dagger, chain and Holy Anointing Oil in his own rituals; (Vol I, No 10) "the Ship," Crowley's Mystery Play, has one character use a scourge and rope in an allegory of initiation (parts of the Gnostic Mass were first printed in this work, notably the Anthem.) the scourge is also used in the "Rites of Eleusis"; "Liber Stellae Rubeae" uses the scourge on the altar: "Liber Pyramidos" uses it in a ritual of self initiation; Liber 777 lists the scourge with No 5, Geburah; etc., etc....

And later:

Crowley's work on Magick is monumental, both in depth and breadth, yet in his bibliography, Kelly lists only one of Crowley's books, Magic in Theory and Practice, and mentions skimming through "The Equinox and several other of Crowley's books." This is a major flaw in Kelly's work.

And in conclusion:

[Kelly's] subject was timely and important, but because of its narrow scope of evidence, the treatment is inconclusive.

Isn't any of Kelly's research reliable?



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