Talk given at Occulture Conference Berlin 2022
This talk will less be a lecture or structured speech than me sharing my thoughts on the importance of applying the fundaments of our magical path to our lives – which I will illustrate with the pathway of the Modern Kosmic Hetaera. As you might know, I am a member of the Kosmic Gnostic current founded by David Beth, and within the Kosmic Gnosis I am developing modern hetaerism as a pathway of what I call eroto-magical living, especially from a female perspective, and towards a symbiotic occultism, which means an approach of interdependence and complementarity between masculine and feminine, men and women, instead of dependence or opposition.
Let me first quickly explain the word hetaera. Hetaera is a female noun, meaning “companion” and, as some of you may know, it refers especially to the courtesans of ancient Greece. This is also one of my reasons to use the term and an inspiration for my understanding of the Modern Hetaera but not the only one. The Modern Hetaera embodies a contemporary concept, or rather world experience. And it is this concept that I mean also when I use simply the term Hetaera (without adding “modern” or “modern kosmic” every time). In contrast also to others who use the same term(s). A short description would be to say the Modern Hetaera is a sacred erotic companion. This may already create some images in your mind not the least thinking of the holy whore or the scarlet woman and yes, the Modern Hetaera is also that or can take on this role in her own expression but she is neither limited to a particular aspect of the feminine nor a ritual function that is essentially in dependence of the masculine or – these days quite often – in self-proclaimed independence or even opposition to the male. Again, the Modern Hetaera is the sacred erotic companion (of a primordial Kosmic Gnosis) and I see her as a woman who is striving to embody a pagan world experience symbolized by the Earth Mother or Great Mother / Magna Mater (think of cyclicality, telluric and chthonic elements; closeness of life and death; importance of ancestors and mortality; positive evaluation of sexuality etc.). A world experience we term “Kosmic Gnosis” which is – for matters of brevity – a kind of animistic-soul-body-experience vs a mental construction. This is the sacred aspect of the sacred erotic companion. (fn: ‘Experience’ is a word I will use several times in the following and should always be understood rather as a full immersion not a solely mental consumption.) In embodying such a world experience even momentarily the Hetaera will be able to facilitate ecstatic experiences of the numinous in others (that’s the companion part) by means of erotic encounters. The latter may mean a ritual, may mean sex, may mean a stimulating conversation. The last point is particularly important. Yes, the erotic is especially connected with sexuality and for many reasons this is a central aspect of my pathway of Hetaerism. But the erotic goes also far beyond sexuality and becoming Hetaera means to intertwine, to merge or fuse the sacred and the profane, the occult and the visible layer, one’s magical and profane life so that something like a conversation can also turn into an erotic encounter. This requires the Hetaera to express her gnostic world experience through her way of living including the expression of the feminine. If conversation with the Hetaera can turn into an erotic encounter, then the Hetaera is not just a role that we put on in ritual, nor a function or an office that we hold in a group.
To be able to live the principles of your magic also requires practice, training, initiation of course but specially to know and live these principles, like for example a positive evaluation of sexuality, in all of your life. And this is an aspect that I think essential for everyone who practices magic on a deeper level, meaning who follows a path, adheres to a system. For why do we do this? Because we want to change our life beyond a simple change in the outside world like a new job or more money. In my view any such change that goes beyond a simple result does not come about by just practicing whatever spell you come across. Nor by limiting magic / Gnosis to a part of your life or treat it like an accessory or live it just for its aesthetics – like imo many modern witches and sorcerers do, where it is rather life”style” than a way of living. For actual life changes we cannot take a ritual, spell or god out of context and have success with it other than coincidental or mentally self-induced. It must be embedded, re-rooted in an appropriate metaphysical framework – what I am calling the principles of our magic. The deeper level of how and why that goes beyond appearance and aesthetics. Of course, if our only interest was appearance, we could do all the mix and match we like – but, again, I am presupposing that we are students of the occult because we want to achieve actual transformation.
As an example for what I mean by taking a god out of context and why that does not work: Assume someone starts a ritual for (or “with”) Hekate or Lilith and adjusts offerings to their own moral compass or the most sensational outcome, e.g. for video recording or social media channels, then it means fully ignoring the other, the goddess in question and will neither result in any real connection to that energy but remain a mental construct – and since it is also only rooted in profane reasoning and not in magical principles embedded in ones way of living, there will also be no real change in their life (other than maybe the number of followers ;)). I am not saying that you need to practice or do ritual work for hours daily by the way nor that you can never work with a god from a different pantheon. I try to convey that we need to connect them, our magical work and principles with our normal life to bring about changes. Interrelate them. So let’s come back to Modern Hetaerism. I said that the Hetaera is striving to embody a world experience symbolized by the Magna Mater (cyclical etc.); woman in general is often said to be naturally closer to earth rhythms, cyclical time, potential of motherhood etc., the divine feminine. And if we are just looking for a surface representation of that in ritual, any woman or initiated woman will be just fine. But loosely speaking: putting a nude woman on the altar, initiated as she may be may result in effect in this setting, the symbolism, particularly with an initiated, experienced partner or participants who understand the symbolism fully, but it does not automatically turn that woman into the embodiment of the divine nor facilitate the ecstatic experience in the other – nor in herself. For that to happen, she would have to understand – more than just rationally – the principles at work or what she is to embody – through living them ((just as for example trained priestesses of old were completely immersed aka living within the world experience of their path and culture)). The importance of the interrelation of magic and life is what I am aiming at. And to make it more concrete, let’s turn this ritual setting into a ritualistic sexual act between man and woman – a sacred marriage with the holy whore if you so wish. Now this is over-fraught with mental constructs already – male (but also female) sexual fantasies that easily forget about the ‘sacred’ in ‘holy whore’ on the one side and feminists raging against the submission of woman to patriarchal values on the other. What is much worse, however, is that this situation will too often be missing an important ingredient of sacred sexuality in my view which is needed to turn a ritual act into an actual experience of divinity – I do not mean the ability to visualize a goddess or channel the probably very imagined Aphrodite-energy – no, that element is actual sexual pleasure, the ability to even become (!) ecstatic. And now you can hopefully see what I mean by merging ‘profane’ life and sacred life. For especially in this context it is a total two-way-street. And also applies to men though often with different causation. The ability to truly experience sexual pleasure – not solely the ability to orgasm or enjoying the act – requires to bridge the gap of mind and body, to leave mental control behind, break through ego, and experience fully with soul-and-body. Surrender to the experience to actually meet the other, allow yourself to be overcome.
And to experience or instill sexual pleasure in such a way in a ritual context requires to be able to do so in ‘normal’ life. Not every sexual act is ‘sacred’ or has to be; nor does it have to be a “deep connection”, “orgasmic explosion” or a solemn celebration of love making. But every sexual activity – whether with a partner or not – that you treat as a step towards a sacred experience by turning it into a – at least potentially – pleasurable act; to enjoy, to feel pleasure – by relaxing, by going into your body, and for some this is more difficult as they may need to overcome trauma; it is highly individual as are the people partaking in ritual – every act like that is a potential to learn, to experience, to expand – and that will reflect back and gradually change every ritual encounter or activity you may engage in – and also any ritual act that requires the use of erotic energy and sexual arousal which you can much easier access and experience deeply other than on the surface if you know sexual and erotic pleasure and all its layers. To be certain: while I am not per se a fan of ‘breathing into your yoni’, I take breathing exercises over mental visualization of intent as the latter is often taking you further away from the actual physical experience. Anyways, the point is that the profane training so to say of sexual pleasure will improve and change the ritual implementation of sexual pleasure which then in turn, eventually, may also lead to more and more ‘profane’ encounters to become ‘sacred’ and to facilitate an experience of the numinous in others. This is, however, a process. Which is also one reason why I said that the Modern Hetaera is a woman who is striving (!) to embody her world experience / magical principles / Kosmic Gnosis. In contrast to saying that she does embody it. For on the one hand she – as for example a woman who just set foot on the path – may not even have had the experience herself yet other than a brief glimpse, an inkling or an inner pull towards certain people, surroundings, teachings and events – because this is not a matter of will – although we all are quite capable of mentally inducing physical sensations usually, we cannot will the moment of full mystical experience or gnostic insight, of an immersion in the eternal. The same applies especially also to enabling an experience in others – we can provide the circumstances and context but not guarantee the outcome.
But again, the chances of having such an experience and also instill it in other, this is again facilitated by applying principles of this Gnosis to her mundane life, which also means to consider mundane life aspects in light of the/her magical pathway; like for example exploring her own values and living them and changing them, exploring her sexuality; what the feminine means to her; to reconnect to her body; allow beauty and intellect to co-exist; reflect on weakness and talents; to integrate ageing, death and ancestors; to basically include all areas of life like for example the big areas of sleep and dreaming – not to control them but to practice and repeat experiencing – and surrender to experience. This may seem self-evident and simple but the ‘simple’ is most often deceiving and a part of choosing the expression “to strive” (like she is striving to embody) is that it carries the implication of not being necessarily easy but rather strenuous – and as we all know and have seen, the real test comes in moments of crisis. While it may happen to everyone that we fall back into old patterns of behavior and thought, if we apply our magic, that is principles embedded in the pathway we follow, to our everyday life, we will certainly recover much faster and/or deal with the next situation differently already – which will not be the case, however, if our magic is limited to the Saturday evening ritual and some reading that we do not even try to transfer to how we interact with others, how we go about our work or simply everyday life.
The other reason I said that the Modern Hetaera is a woman striving to embody the Gnosis, live her magic, is because it will always be an ongoing process for that is what living is about. Any numinous experience will happen in a timeless eternal moment that will remain with us and yet be gone. The we may experience it again but differently. Thus we may only strive to embody it – by applying our insights to our life. Which in turn will also help us to appreciate life’s moments more fully and enable us to become companions to others. Another implication of “striving” as trying to reach a goal may therefore be a bit misleading since we know and embrace this striving as a process (of our..?) liminality, meaning the status of in-between stages, neither fully in the metaphorical esoteric wilderness nor in ‘normal’ heterodox society. Living magic as an in-between stage and process is also what I mean by the expression “wilderness within” and excuse me for metaphorically speaking now but as they say he who has ears to hear… so in our esoteric exploration we wander into the wilderness, out of our comfort zones, into the unknown… but we do not stay there nor stay then at the fringes because this would consist in a path/point? Of escapism, of pursetors of society – instead, we rather keep the image or experience of the wilderness within us and carry it with us directly into society of which we are no longer fully a part, are liminal, but with which we interact like an antibody that consistently transforms the world we live in and the people around. Living our magic or Gnosis to also inspire others and maybe show them a way to their true home. Eventually, if we live our Gnosis, our magic, it becomes less about a ritual enactment and every ‘profane’ encounter may potentially turn into a numinous experience. So, change your life, live your magic – fully and deeply – also beyond this conference [or blog post]!
Photo by Kabinett Obscura