Magic is the sort of topic that when significantly explored will generally lead to more questions than answers. I believe this is by design, and that abandoning or questioning traditional notions of knowledge is the best way to live a magical life, as it were. Magic, at its core, is an inexplicable phenomenon that combines the inherent power of the cosmological macro/micro nature of existence and the human ego in order to create or control a given circumstance or set of circumstances. Magic within pop culture is generally either boiled down to thematic elements or a force of “deus ex machina” wherein the limits of human existence are challenged or broken altogether by forces beyond general understanding, in order to aid in the development of the plot or to convey certain motifs. Fairy godmothers, sinister warlocks, cackling witches, and wise wizards and mages who have superhuman abilities to predict the future and manipulate reality, that sort of thing. The overall splendor and fascinating characterization of magical figures in media and literature are, like most media representations of anything, are not based completely in reality, and certain key liberties are often taken by the creators of these characters for ease of plot and motif structure. The “truth” about magic is altogether too esoteric and complex to be properly illustrated in media, especially popular culture; the reality of magic and how it is conducted in actual practice is not conducive to the construction of narratives that’d keep an audience’s attention or earn a decent profit. It is primarily for this reason that the realities of magic and magical thought are not properly explored or demonstrated in media. Additionally, it can be logically assumed that a person who has been trained as or accrued significant experience as a screenwriter or media professional would have minimal technical knowledge of “practical magic” unless they are also an amatuer or armchair hobbyist in that respect. Even in this case, even if the given media article is a result of magical thinking or bona fide ritual, it can be just as easily assumed that the ease of communicating palatable plot structure or themes would, in terms of overall convenience, rise above a more realistic depiction of magic in said media. I will not go as far to say that these misrepresentations of magic are deliberately misinforming and misleading, as that take toes a fine social line, but I will attest that such misrepresentations are very clearly real and do have some sort of degrading effect when employed en masse, such as in the over saturated modern world. In another light, proper practice of magic is 90% discipline, tedium, and ritual, and only 10% result. The results of practical magic are closer to intangible paradigm/engram shifts, rather than obvious shifts in reality. Any activity of this tedious nature translates into boring media; people read books, watch films and shows for palatable, gratifying, or otherwise compelling content, and the minutiae of successful magic practice simply does not reflect well into consumable narrative, despite media being a highly effective magical tool in its own rite.
It is not a stretch to say that the majority of younger, first world demographics not only most reliably consume and process absurdly copious amounts of both targeted and random, miscellaneous media, but also have allowed or been forced to use media and media centric depictions of reality as primary building blocks for their own understanding or experience of reality. Whereas the older generations would base their paradigms and understandings of reality on solely experiential evidence, with perhaps some casual or extreme sentimentality towards select media peppered in. For example, a person born before 1980 would be reasonably expected to have a general life perspective and set of biases based firstly on her own accumulated experiences, relationships, and primary environments, and likely a less potent certain combination of celebrities, books, television programs, films, music groups/genres, or comparable media would be secondary in overall perspective or bias influence; largely due to the comparative lack of access to technology and media until later and later into life; it was more of a novelty than an undeniable force acting upon reality. Conversely, a person born after 1990 would have been exposed to so much highly varied media just in the beginning, formative years of life that it has had a significant impact on multiple developmental factors, one such factor being the overall levels of experiential evidence present in a Millennial or Gen Z individuals understanding of reality. The point I mean to make is that the line between tangible, experiential reality and ego centric depictions of reality present or based in media has long been far from crystal clear, and this applies doubly or even thricely to depictions of reality for people born after 1990. Of course the evolution of general, popular understandings of faith and magic are nearly directly tied to the development of media (beginning with the earliest symbols and cave paintings), throughout history, and ease of access to media, and therefore information of varying reliability, has proven to be inversely proportional to overall questioning the importance of or abandoning of faith as a concept altogether. Seeing as faith in a given higher order or power is the most primary vehicle for all religious applications, including magic applications of nearly any kind, it certainly is not a stretch to say that media and media depictions of reality play a significant role in not only on-going generational development but also in inter-cultural, socio-religious development at large. I look forward to apt critiques and ensuing debates on the former statement, but given the objective and abstract subject matter discussed on this particular site (that being the implications of faith and magic on the macro human condition), I will, as is the custom, maintain that the views expressed here are my own and are never distinctly representative of the various sources I employ, and should actively be considered as such. As is custom, any and all sources listed on Squeaky Table articles, are stand alone resources that ideally speak uniquely for themselves and invite fresh opinions from individuals on the initial and subsequent reads. To repeat the thesis succinctly, magic is, at its most basic level, the combinative aspects of pseudo-predictable cosmological (or social) patterns and controlled ego injection by a human party utilized in order to manipulate certain key abstract aspects of reality, and as the previous point wishes to plead, there are several factors beyond social and generational that dictate and control the variety of or ability to properly apply magical thought on any scale. The most base and honestly prominent of these miscellaneous factors is arguably the gendered aspects of magic (are you shocked? I’m certainly not), and this is what I am aiming to discuss in this particular article.
Part A: Female Centric Magic- Empress Energy, Hecate, and Sycophantic Strategy
The Empress is a tarot card whose symbolic implications I have explored in more depth in previous posts, and will likely discuss further in future posts. Succinctly, the Empress is the cumulative female archetype. The card’s imagery heavily signifies the natural reaction of human sycophancy toward inexplicable higher powers, and the resulting abundance as a successful navigational and social tool. The Empress represents the combined utilization (deliberate or otherwise) of reflective lunar magic, absorption/reproductive earth magic, and a necessary dose of aesthetic Venusian magic as well as clever Mercurial magic. A careful and circumstantially unique combination of these skill sets and a relatively constant environment in which to practice and hone them is the basis of female centric magic. As with most faith based inquiries, the eastern and western hemispheres vary in their religious developments, and the issue of female centric magic is not an exception. Eastern female magic is associated with the concept of “yin” or general passivity. In Daoism and later Confucianism, the concept of “yin” is integrally tied to women’s energetic roles in life, family, and overall. Passivity produces a female who is happily or stoically resigned to a secondary societal placement, and this is not viewed as an affront to feminism or liberalism, but rather reflects a cosmological “least common denominator”, and therefore the “natural order”. Eastern female magic sees passivity, the path of least resistance, endurance, as the ultimate wisdom. The concept of duality illustrated as “yin” and “yang” is responsible for perpetuating this Eastern norm, as one is cosmologically represented to require the other for maintained balance, and eventual transcendence, which is the ultimate goal of most Eastern thought schools. Similarly, the emphasis of ancestral appeals in the aforementioned Eastern thought schools, and the integral components of karma and reincarnation in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism play into the necessarily large scale nature of existence. Eastern thought generally urges one to play to the best of their means, and not beyond them, whether taking the shape of filial piety, meritocracy, dharma, or something comparable, and this general idea translates into the more esoteric avenues of Eastern female magic. On the other side, major Western religions such as Christianity and Islam are “sycophantic religions” because the default premise and practice of these particular religions is, well, inherently sycophantic, and heavily reliant on sycophantic ideals and appeals. Passivity and sycophancy are not the same, but they produce similar results when applied to engrams, relationships, and magic. Sycophancy differs from passivity in one key way. While passivity is a matter of taking the path of least resistance, a sycophant is a woman who uses long term, strategic manipulation to turn relatively unfavorable circumstances into relatively favorable circumstances through varying means. In general western religion, “God”, (or his nominal equivalent) is a male figure who has been angered by humanity, and who demands a significantly familial and historically male and palladian sacrifice for appeasement. This trend is apparent throughout Hellenistic mythology, including that of most cultural hosts, donors, and precursors, namely Mesopotamian and Egyptian, and of course the resulting biblical structures as well. These male figures, more often than not an angry father and his martyr, continually take credit for not only the creation of all, conceivable and non, but similarly for later avoidance of adverse after effects caused by humanity; humanity ought to be unwaveringly grateful to the martyr, as they are the ultimate savior, and z alone are responsible for diverting the ire of the creator away from his most perpetually disappointing side project, humanity. These types of “sycophantic” religious thought schools call for total, unquestioning adherence to these figures and ideas in order to even be considered for successful initiation, practice, and access to the varying reward tiers; they are complex, symbiotic ecosystems for sycophants and hierophants of varying degrees, busied like drone ants tasked by their queen who controls them with pheromone signals, except they are humans working tirelessly to build a fear based mental and even physical empire for an invisible God and pursuant of an inaccessible afterlife. Diversion is the first and official language of the sycophantic Empress energy both on this larger religious scale and on smaller scale magical lifestyle applications. Similarly, sycophantic magicians, Empress’ as it were, use and manipulate familial and sexual dynamics to make their desires and needs appear identical to those of the given hierophant; creating a system of interwoven agendas all operating under the same general moniker and principles. Eastern thought schools and Biblical or neo-Abrahamic entities are, at this point and for my purposes, separate from the practice of individual lifestyle magic, and I only mention them to demonstrate what I mean when I say something is passive or sycophantic. If you want or need to gain access to esoteric knowledge, and therefore power, in a way that is active, yet indirect and reliant on skillful connections and blind faith in process rather than tiered defensives or brutal offensives, then you wish to gain sycophantic prowess.
The figure of Hecate is the patron Goddess of witchcraft because her archetype illustrates how passive and sycophantic strategies play out chronologically in a feminine Empress life cycle. This is illustrated as three stages, the three faces of Hecate, “Maiden”, “Mother”, and “Crone”. Maiden is the start of a females life. It is in this stage that she is, generally, subject to the will of her parents, her male family members, her early betrothed, or perhaps to an elder or matriarch (this hierarchy will vary). A Maiden is most imaginative and altruistic, while also generally having relatively little influence over events and circumstances, and her sycophantic appeals for interest or development would be made to the aforementioned parties. Mother is the interlude in a females life, when she has accrued her own burgeoning family of in-laws and offspring to care for and support. In this stage, a woman would be nearly totally subject to the will of her family patriarch and/or the demands of her children. In this stage, the Mothers personal development becomes directly tied to that of her responsibilities, her family unit, and while the ordeals of marriage and child rearing tax a significant amount of her freedom, she is, ideally, left altogether with more control over her circumstances and a tangible increase in material and emotional security. The mother stage can be skipped if it is required or prudent, but absence of these connections and experiences, especially if they are not replaced with something equally consuming such as meaningful work, education, or religious undertakings, in certain circumstances, can be devastating or stifling later in life by creating a gap in intuition. Crone is the final stage of a woman’s life, wherein the responsibilities of child bearing and rearing are no longer a prominent or pressing concern, and the quality of this stage is determined by quantity of seeds planted, literally and metaphorically, and quality of sycophantic behavioral strategies developed in the previous stages. She need only appeal to her patriarch, when applicable, and if the Crone has played her hand well, her patriarch views her as a respected, beloved equal, and the Crone stage is a peaceful and tranquil time where all previous sycophancy pays off in spades, and she is both free to live as she pleases and is well supported. The trade off made by the Crone is the loss of altruism and absence of youth resulting in the gain of significant experiential knowledge, circumstantial clout, and wisdom. While at first glance, this three fold cycle does not seem necessarily magical, look deeper at the implications. There is something inherently, undeniably magical and directional about a life well planned, well lived, and well appreciated, a life wherein consequences and memories bleed into one cohesive and information packed tapestry, and that can be used simultaneously as a reliable source of admiration as well as one of education and direction. In lay mens terms, this all encompassing tapestry that comes together as a result of a life lived in pursuit of passive, sycophantic, Empress, and/or Hecate female magic (whether accidentally or deliberately) is the closest one could come to accurately describing the phenomenon of “intuition”… that would be my guess as to why the three fold female life cycle seems like an obvious reality rather than a magical endeavor; it is, within itself, the very definition of intuitive. However, the level of purposefulness and deliberate intention applied in these undertakings, as well as blockages or obstacles built in or stumbled upon, will have a significant effect on whether or not the desired ends are achieved in practice.
In nature, whether in eastern or western terms, females are receptacles. They hold, nurture, and perpetuate the continuum of existence, and they reflect, sustain, and internalize all of the valuable data they encounter; modern human women do it with tact and flair as well. This is not an affront to feminism or liberalism, it is the stone cold facts. The manner in which a woman will receive and process source varies on a number of circumstantial, Hermetic factors, but it is her role entirely, and ignoring or running from this fact (as opposed to embracing or skillfully manipulating the reality) removes much of a woman’s capacity for magical intention applications. This is not meant to be an inflammatory conclusion, but should rather be considered as a logical warning. You would not build a sky scraper on flawed foundation, and likewise you should avoid magic coming from flawed or unclear intention, as yearning for or establishing intention based outcomes on an incomplete or inauthentic psychological reality, whether it is experientially based or abstractly, media based, will backfire or lead to burnout; ennui and wasted energy at best, and life altering, consequence rich denial at worst.
Part B: Phallic Magic- Magician Energy, Paladin Archetypes, and Dominative Strategy
Many people agree that a major aspect of what separates humanity from the animals is our capacity for understanding and utilizing language and tools at a questionably exponential pace. The Magician is a card that I have mentioned in previous writing, but not to the extent that I ought to. Condensed, the Magician represents the dawn of intelligent, “civilised” man through tools and symbols. In the traditional Rider-Waite art, the tell-tale yellow background of dominative male energy engulfs the scene, and unnaturally decorative and complimentary flora fills the edges, leaving our proud magician and his sacred objects framed and on full display. Passivity be damned, he seems to convey smugly, as the longer you stare you realize he controls the nature around him and not the other way around; the infinity sign above his head suggests that he has figured out how to tap into source and keep this concentration up indefinitely. Looking further into the imagery you’ll notice something else. His hands are outstretched in a way that mirrors the hand placement of Baphomet on the Devil card, and the items present on the table are the same ones needed for Satanic ritual: a cup, a wand, a sword, and a coin emblazoned with a pentagram, otherwise known as a pentacle (buffs will also note that these are the four suits of the minor arcana as well). The last item is the actual phallus being wielded by the magician (not the one beneath the robes either, an actual dick shaped item that the magician is holding in his left hand), whose emphasized positioning suggests that the phallus has something significant to do with the way in which our magician is able to manipulate what grows around him and where. If we pan to cosmology for reference, we all know that the ultimate “source” is obviously the sun. All variables, on earth and throughout the solar system, would not only appear drastically different than they do at present, but would be perhaps altogether observationally moot if it weren’t for the sun being in the particular yellow giant activity level and being located exactly where it happens to sit. If you can even rudimentarily understand source, you can understand your own existence relative to source, then you can appear to temporarily manipulate the laws of nature; this is the basis of Phallic, Palladian magic. A “paladin” (and in this context I mean the RPG character class, and not one of Charlemange’s frat bros), is a male magician who practices (deliberately or non) phallic magic; paladins are, ideally, noble bringers of enlightenment, and their mission in life is “unburdening” all of those who they are able from “bondage”. In cosmology, we have the sun whose light and heat allows all life and movement to happen and be observed, “unburdening” the local cosmos form the “bondage” of freezing darkness. In nature we have men whose magic goo can “unburden” maidens from the “bondage” of an empty, childless life. Of course in social nature, there are the great kings and later emperors who would “unburden” ancient nomadic cultural groups from the “bondage” of barbarism, and selflessly provide them with a steady if deteriorating diet and opportunities for slave labor on temples and statues. Contemporarily, religiously speaking we have old Jesus Christ who turned water into wine, and “unburdened” the human race from the “bondage” of sin and very selflessly offered to forgive each and every sinner, (for a small fee, payable to the Italians for some reason). Jesus’ literary nemesis, Lucifer, or Satan, is also a paladin, the primary difference between the two being that Jesus is a symbol for large scale and oppressive pseudo-enlightenment through means of emotional and social manipulation, while the idea of Satan advocates for individual or small community enlightenment through interpersonal and intrapersonal education and experiential means. Paladins appear to manipulate the laws of nature, but they are still ultimately subject to them. While this sounds like an absolutely unbeatable way to live and operate, always out to share light and improve life, the variables and state of parties receiving palladian aid can be vast and are not always in accordance with the mission or offerings of the paladin. If this is not addressed, it can be catastrophic over time; while female magic generally promotes following and adhering to patterns and processes of nature, male magic is all about throwing a bone in said processes in order to manipulate them, or appear to manipulate them, and on a large enough scale, can cause incredible imbalance in the natural order over enough time. Satanic or simplified and localized palladian lifestyle magic can be effectively practiced on an individual or small collective, community scale, and when arrogance is kept in check by means of various sacrifices and cleansing rituals using the components of “magician” energy. However when applied to large groups of varying or unwilling people it can be devastating, and the consequences can snowball. Unlike women who are passive receptacles of source and life, men can more easily see themselves as being one with source rather than ones who must interact with it, as the phallus’ found on their bodies contains something akin to a miracle elixir for life when/if mixed properly within a female receptacle. Over time, the fanaticism over and perversion of this basic function has taken countless forms, most important of which, arguably, being “civilisation”. While female centric magic revolves around receiving input from and internalizing source, male centric magic revolves around sustained physical manipulation and ostensible controlling of source through outright dominative means. For instance, in regards to human evolution, pre-historically ancient egalitarian or matriarchal hunter-gatherer societies survived for aeons, and were content to wait passively for food or meet it at the source, and to rely on the patterns of nature to collect sustenance. However, the flip side of that, patriarchal civilisation, relies hugely on not only physically dominating resources such as earth, light, and water for the purposes of centralized farming and architecture, but equally relies on mental and religious domination (and as we’ll see, overtime, necessary degradation… one side fills the other, leading to the cycle of destruction and creation within human empires and civilisations, en masse) of those who would dwell within such a civilisation. This task of large scale and deliberate centralization and concentration of energy through civilisation, if it could simply be done with cum and willpower, would be easily achieved by any animal race on earth, but as you might have noticed, this is not exactly the case. The ways in which one can control their environment through phallic magic are complex and varied in today’s over stimulating world (the cumulative product of once divided but now globally interwoven and unbalanced, unchecked phallic “paladin” magic no doubt), but execution ultimately comes down to the utilisation of three main components: technology, symbols, and ego. Ego is the real magic elixir, as mixing it with nature and cosmology, such as was done by prehistoric humans who first saw their reflections in still water and polished obsidian, leads to extremely potent environmental symbolism, which leads to new connections being made between the internal world of the mind and the external world of reality. This progresses into language which leads to the sharing of said connections, patterns, problems, and solutions between individuals, creating community beyond necessity, and ultimately, the development of innovative novelties- tools and technologies. The cycle folds in on itself indefinitely, like as depicted by the infinity sign over our Magician’s head, as reality builds and rebuilds itself, upon these new tools and technologies, while also becoming increasingly indiscernible from and reliant on collective ego development. This pattern is the basis of dominative strategy; in order to maintain male or palladian control over something as inconceivably large as patriarchal civilisation, the paladins or leaders in question must double down on oppression in order to keep the imbalanced resource intake and populations from spilling over. Irresponsible dominative strategy, whether warranted or wanted or otherwise, systemic refusal to bend to or blend with elemental realities, is, the way I see it, the primary cause of both collective and individual Malthusian continuums. Female magic is self sustaining, self balancing, while male magic is simply quite the opposite, and sincere efforts to respect and balance with and appeal to female energetic counterparts must be ritually included in palladian undertakings if long term success is desired. Male human magic, for all its direct connection to source and all its dominative capacity, still operates on a female scape, the earth, and relies on female energy to provide it with every single other ingredient and component (just like semen is nothing but pointless excretion without an egg to fertilize, and the suns light is just an standard and unremarkable byproduct of fission without an earth to absorb it, reflect it, and facilitate awe). When there is no sacrificial or regenerative efforts put in with said female energies, they retaliate, slowly and over time, with social imbalance, deterioration, and eventually environmental cataclysm (this is the natural order regardless, but intelligent life offers a separate and unique perspective relative to its own ego and inextricably cyclical nature). Whether this means the end of a civilisation or the end of the personal cycle is subject to scale. Once again, this is not to condemn the practice male dominative magic, but rather a warning. Know what you are doing, to whom, and where, always remember to give credit where credit is due, and actively consider and understand yourself, your intentions, and your actions in relation to all involved parties and energies. Dominative strategy can make your life, or it can destroy it, often it is both along a learning curve, while ultimately a matter of perspective. It’s all up to the palladian practitioner to be effectively balanced and strategic, and to always be accountable for all of his moves, manipulatives, and tulpas.
Part C. Hermeticism, Baphomet, and The Myth of Duality
For anyone who has so far felt marginalized or unaccounted for, I assure you there is more the story of duality than male and female. See, the very fact that dual existence as a concept is a thing necessarily dictates that a non dual existence is equally possible and even prevalent; if there is, there musn’t be. Following this logic, it stands to reason that unified, indivisible, and agender magic must also have its claim of the spoils of ego, and it most certainly does. While there are several undeniably dual and opposite forces found in both cosmology, nature, and humanity, there are also those equally naturally occurring elements that are totally agender, non-binary, and non-polar; things that transcend duality, and therefore gender, entirely. For instance, some of the most enduring concepts and life forms are such invisible forces that impose hard limits onto the universe, to those teeny-tiny microscopic hermaphrodites who so very often represent hard limits to life; all coming into existence built in with everything they need to self perpetuate indefinitely or reproduce asexually; from gravity, time, and other mathematical models representing cosmological constants such as the electromagnetic spectrum and the speed of light on the inanimate side, to most if not all prokaryotes and several eukaryotes; bacterias, viruses, certain fungi, plants, and small, spineless animals on the flip. These things, asexual or agendered things, are considered “Hermetic”, as their male and female components are one in the same; they work so closely together in such close proximity that they are for all intents and purposes indiscernible. In Hellenistic mythology, Hermes is the Olympian credited with the creation and patronage of fertility, husbandry, commerce, language, sleep, thieves, and travel. He is also known as “messenger of the Gods”, leader of the nymphs and graces, and he is also accredited with the invention of the lyre. All of this by itself is common knowledge, but when following the themes of this article, what do all these specialities have in common? Hermes is not in charge of things black, white or even gray… he is a patron of an accurately colorful, confusing, and ensnaring reality. All of his specialties shirk duality as a necessity by being combininative; purposefully mixing ego with nature, male with female, mortal with immortal, permanent with temporary, and the light with dark. It is for this reason that music, speech, fertility and husbandry, medicine, and many abstract aspects of esotericism fall under his domain; practices that are all known for having massive ritual significance throughout so many world cultures, renowned for their capacity to heal and induce trance like states, and most importantly, either do not require specific gendered assignments or employ sustained disregard or unifying balance of dualism to be effectively practiced. This is the basis of Hermetic magic, or Hermeticism; harnessing your capacity for magical thinking and action by tapping into something akin to pranic or universal life force that transcends all dual or social boundaries. This is best done through Hermetic means that are meditative or can easily put people in a trance like state; things like singing, playing music, meditation, lucid dreaming, travelling, homeopathic healing, smoking, farming, gardening, or breeding other animals, tantric movements like dance, yoga, and sex, et cetera. Unlike the dual facets of magic previously presented, hermetic magic transcends caveats, as these practices and activities are stand alone, highly individualized, and do not require any crazy metaphors or cosmological symbolism to make sense of. Instead of picking and choosing cosmological parallels to reflect a social agenda, as is done by ego heavy paladins and empresses, hermetic magicians simply and without fanfare, reflect the entire picture of existence, so to speak, as it is defined by the limits of space, light, and time… it is “as above so below”, whether they understand the full plethora of implications or not.
Despite being the namesake, there is actually a second figure that does a better job of more blatantly conveying the themes of hermeticism than Hermes: Baphomet. Baphomet is most often falsely identified as being a Satanic figure, but Baphomet is not considered a paladin, and the two are not considered to be the same. Baphomet is a winged, horned, bearded goat with bird claws on his feet and both male and female genitalia. The Devil tarot card is a famous depiction of this figure, and in the image, there is a nude male and female who are voluntarily chained to the throne from which Baphomet towers over them with a knowing and cautious look upon his face and a pentagram nestled between his horns. The man and woman are human, but they have grown horns and tails; from the womans tail sprouts a pile of berries or fruits, while the mans tail burns an enlightening ember (Charizard style). Baphomets arms are outstretched, with his left hand (curiously emblazoned with what looks suspiciously like a cross), raising above the female figure, and his right gesturing down behind the male figure, grasping a large wand with a wolf or dogs mouth on the end, from which the flame on the mans tail seems to originate. This perhaps could suggest at the “left hand path” and “right hand path” magic styles referred to in canon by hobbyists and practitioners, with Baphomet or contemporary “devil” worship representing the third camp of “chaos magic”, but this is just a fun theory. Additionally, the man holds some sort of dish beneath Baphomet, ostensibly to collect samples of something or other or perhaps just to reference the genitals. There are countless iterations of what this card means, but for me it is descriptive of the all encompassing nature of hermetic entities. In a single asexual or nondual entity, there are female parts that provide the necessary nourishing components, there are male parts that serve as a connection to source, and there is of course some mechanism that imitates or channels source and allows for these components to work as one cohesive unit. Although the initial energy given off by this card is one of fiery oppression, the details and implications speak separately and convey a different tune; one of relative simplicity, cyclical sufficiency. The man and woman on the card seem content as can be, and why wouldn’t they? There’s food to feed them, fire to warm them and light up the room, and they are not only continually near the source of their sustenance, but integrally and unabashedly connected. They may first appear to be in bondage, but they are not, rather they are engaged in voluntary symbiosis with Baphomet, whether physically or simply mentally, conceptually. I wager the reason this card gets such a vast variation of interpretations is because bondage and symbiosis are not exactly mutually exclusive, and every situation where these principles are applied can appear one way and truly be another; it’s all a very, very subjective matter of situational perspective. For instance, for a long while in human history, and even still to a certain, if lesser, extent today, marriage and slavery appear starkly similar in writing, especially when you consider the long used system of dowries and the consistent commoditization of women, even those who are considered free agents. However, knowing the glaring differences in definition outright, if and when these relationships are executed accordingly, a wife and an enslaved person are very obviously two different classes of individual, despite the dogmatic and conceptual overlap between their predefined social roles. The specifics or ethical implications of a given husband/wife and owner/slave relationship are all ultimately situationally based, and the relationship of the nude couple and Baphomet is equally subject to the perspective of those involved. Perhaps duality does add to ones sense of identity; it fills life up with exciting arcs and challenges you wouldn’t otherwise encounter, but ultimately it is frivolous. I’m not saying there isn’t anything to be said for it, because in terms of evolution and social applications, it is certainly the most interesting and fractally fascinating, but it is not the most efficient strategy, strictly speaking. Chronologically speaking, non binarism is the first strategy, and the most enduring; the first and oldest known lifeforms are reproduce asexually, and conceptual models such as light and time are also devoid of any sort of obvious or required binarism, but rather are fluid, spectral, and self sustaining. Despite this, it is equally worth noting that there is very little to say about the social tendencies of such asexual or nondual exhibitions if anything can be said at all, as asexual things do not require any sort of socialization to survive and thrive. The endurance of literal and conceptual non binarism has everything to do with its proven, if inexplicable, ability to endure, and is not due to any of the nuance that familially intelligent or socially aware lifeforms rely on.
Like was stated previously, if there is, there musn’t be, and if there isn’t, there also must be. Nondualism is the absence of duality; in practice it is the balanced union of duality achieved through hermetic activities, resulting in a temporary cancellation of duality, and therefore a period of relative clarity. The “myth of duality” is a very interesting term that invokes several complex reactions for me; if a “myth” is essentially a massive, culturally charged story, but there is plenty of duality in nature and cosmology, how can duality be a “myth”? My conclusion is that while it may not be a fiction, it certainly is a culturally charged idea, and when viewed through the lens of ego can take on certain epic and mythic aspects. It is undeniable that we experience light during the day and darkness during the night, all life does in fact live to die, equally men and women are fundamentally different and built different spanning countless species. However, the reflective social frameworks of “bad” and “good”, “ethical” or “immoral”, et cetera, are not naturally or cosmologically occurring; though to live on earth as a contemporary human, you’d be hard pressed to realize that “right” and “wrong” are only fractally sound engrams established by a force of social evolution that is separate from that of biological evolution, and, as far is understood, totally exclusive to the human race, and not at all physical realities present throughout life on earth or in general. It’s not a stretch to assume that naturally occurring and cosmological duality and the drastic effects it continually has on the environment on earth, whether in terms of climate or population concentration, was the primary fear and inspiration for these social dualities to mesh with human ego (and therefore environmental symbolism) allowing them to develop exponentially over time throughout worldwide settlements, and relative to geography and culture. As human societies began to evolve rapidly, the premise of hermeticism or religious rites revolving around non binarism began to emerge alongside them as taboo and esoteric avenues for religiously significant and sacred balancing activities like those mentioned previously in regards to the Hellenistic figure of Hermes. Through all levels of ego injection and gendered perversion within world religion and esoterica, hermetic elements remain both prevalent and effective, and most religions and spiritualist schools have and continue to retain hermetic elements as integral to their practice, usually through musical or tantric means. My point is that these Hermetic elements transcend cultural and gender barriers, and always seem to be strikingly constant throughout human culture; they are never, by themselves, considered “right” or “wrong”, they are just consistently reliable and useful, and therefore employed often and indefinitely. The “myth of duality” is not that duality is an outright myth, but that there are mythical depictions of duality which are dangerously, nearly identical to cosmological and naturally dual realities when viewed through an ego heavy or strictly human perspective. This conceptualized “myth of duality” is the closest thing I can find to a warning when advising on the practice of hermetic magic. Do not be tricked by social constructs that appear to reflect the natural order; remember that mirrors, whether naturally occurring on the surface of still water or purposefully manufactured on a reflective substance, are completely accurate except for the fact that reflections always appear backwards from what is really there. This is not an issue for things that are necessarily and naturally symmetrical, or for things that do not employ or understand abstraction or symbolism, as these things generally do not have the ego capacity to consider the nature of their own reflections. If we consider the overbearing human ego to be a conceptual if naturally occuring mirror that reflects what it absorbs from its environment, and similarly broadcasts a reversed depiction, this should be noted when ego is applied or injected into a given circumstance. Take care to remember that ego based abstract symbolism, and physical manifestations of said abstraction, such as ritual, art, and language, is nearly all of what certainly separates us from the animals, and these are the same components that are reliably and obviously unintelligible or even perverse when viewed in reverse. Hermetic magic urges one to avoid disturbing and to passively appreciate the natural balance of a given thing or circumstance, and to actively understand and participate in the ways one can achieve balance, such as by entering ritual trance states often, and by harmonizing with their world, on whatever scale might be applicable in a particular situational instance. In a saturated and imbalanced environment such as the modern one, the practice of hermetic magic can be tricky, as even though the logical conclusions of hermetic magic seemingly speak for themselves, social norms, media depictions of social norms, and the stewards of the inter-generational development of these norms are so drenched in mythical duality and reliant upon ego perversion that balance simply cannot be outwardly or inwardly forced onto them in a harmonious way. The most effective way to practice any form of nonbinary hermetic magic is to practice it on an interpersonal and small intrapersonal scale. Very simply, you can only control yourself, your attitude and actions, and if you live a ritually balanced and harmonious life, the more likely someone else around you will observe and appreciate it. These small instances of shifts toward balance may not seem like much when observed next to the towering institution of social duality, but over the course of a single well balanced lifetime one can hope to at least chip away at the external imbalance through all the tiny paradigm shifts that they were able to perpetuate through maintaining their own inner balance. It warrants mentioning that hermetic magic can be practiced by itself, but also in tandem with empress or paladin magic (if there is, there musn’t be). I am planning to do a deep dive into the specific history of western hermetics into the various mythical, religious, and even secular applications that have evolved from it, but for now I hope this explanation satisfies the criteria when it comes to comparing the practice of hermetic magic to those previously discussed gendered aspects of empress and paladin magic.
To conclude, magic is the convoluted byproduct of ego, nature, and time. There are several avenues for practicing individual lifestyle magic, regardless of how it may be abstractly or improperly represented in media, and despite how we may be oversaturated with said depictions in the contemporary world. Magic is highly accessible to the individual if they understand where to begin, and archetypal, conceptual learning is, in my view, the best place to start learning. Understanding the separate components of magical thinking and practice in relation to yourself can only be done when you have a general and holistic basis of what already exists. There are three main classes of existence, three classes of magic: female, male, and nonbinary. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, specialties and pitfalls, and studying these conceptual classes is the easiest way to understand yourself in relation to them, and therefore will aid immensely in not only deciding your own personal playstyle, but will make you more effective in the long run as a magician or magical thinker regardless of age, race, culture, gender, et cetera.