Monday, 15 August 2016

Why the Material World is Not Enough

The other week, I had a discussion with a sceptic who couldn't understand why the material world and materialistic science weren't "enough" for me. She almost seemed affronted that I would look into matters spiritual, as though to do so was somehow an insult to the accomplishments of the modern world.

I explained that there were very logical reasons for not being satisified with the physical world and materialism as a complete reflection of reality. There is the mine of scientific evidence which supports the hypotheses that psychic abilities are real, that spiritual planes exist alongside this one, and that it's possible to communicate with those who reside on these planes.

So there's the scientific, evidence-based justification for the material world not being "enough". But as I thought about it at length, I realised that very few people actually find physical reality to be enough to sustain their interests and intellect. Don't we all engage in entertainment in our spare time? We watch sports, we read novels, we watch films, we listen to music...all mediums by which we are taken beyond our regular existence.

How did art come to be created? Why do writers write? Why do actors act? Why do we enjoy art? The answer, I think, is that clearly our material plane, as wonderful as it is, is *not* enough to keep us interested and happy for all of our lives. We need a route that provides escape and respite, something art does spectacularly well. I'm sure the person who berated me has watched TV or read a novel in her lifetime. If nature and materialism were truly all that she needed, she'd have no reason to make use of those things.

We are imbued with the desire to create, which means that we can never be *fully* satisfied with this world, because with full satisfaction comes the end of creativity. With full satisfaction comes the death of innovation. When we're entirely content with what we have, there is no further need for action, which brings human imagination and achievement to a halt.

So, no - the material world is NOT enough. What's more, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's probably a good thing. 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Separation of Materialism and State

Although I am very pro-religion in its liberal and non-fundamentalist forms, I do agree that separation of religion and state (i.e. secular government) is the fairest option for ensuring that all are treated equally. If applied consistently it prevents enactment of legislation based upon prejudiced interpretations of religion, ensures that public institutions promote neither religion nor non-religion, and leaves each individual free to believe or not believe without censure or interference from the state. In its proper form, it's designed to protect the rights of everyone. That's why, in the spirit of equality, I also make a call for the separation of materialism and state.

Materialism is a philosophy, a worldview, a set of beliefs about the nature of reality. If one were to be liberal in how they defined "religion", it would be possible to consider materialism as such. Materialism is not an established fact. It's a philosophical premise with both evidence supporting it and evidence refuting it. As a system of belief, materialism should no more affect the law of the land than any religion should.

Materialism is a viewpoint which holds that material reality is all there is and that all spiritual or paranormal experiences are tricks of the mind, delusions or deceptions. To a materialist, a psychic - or anyone who claims an anomalous experience or ability - is either delusional or making it up. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are materialists who hold bigoted attitudes about psychics and occultists - though certainly not all.

Materialists with bigoted views are entitled to them, and entitled to express them - but they don't have the right to manifest their prejudice in ways that impact OUR rights. And I don't think materialists should be permitted to entwine their belief system into government and legislation. That would result in unfair laws curtailing and removing the freedoms of psychics and occultists.

A separation of materialism and state would protect all those who currently make a living from psychic or occult services, or who would like to go professional in the future. Astrologers, sorcerers, mediums, you name it - we have the right to go professional and derive an income. The general public also has the right to take advantage of these services if they wish to.

Agitation to deprive psychics and occultists of the right to make a living from their services is an example of materialists attempting to insert their belief system into politics, and this must be fought as strongly as efforts to combine religious ideology and law. Some people go even further than that and maintain that psychics should not be allowed to give *any* public demonstrations, even when they are free of charge. They are advocating for an infringement on our liberties.

So I suggest a commitment to the separation of materialism and state. This will prevent the signing into law of such hateful and prejudiced ideology and will leave professionals with the freedom to conduct their businesses in peace.

Sunday, 15 May 2016


The Left has always prided itself on its values of tolerance, often touting itself as the side of the political spectrum which takes a stand against bigotry in all its forms, as well as a place where minorities are welcomed. The extreme radical left has on many occasions failed to live up to these principles, but the Mainstream Left consider themselves to promote inclusivity for all.

But is this the case today? As a member of several minority groups that most certainly do NOT seem to find many friends amongst the core of the political Left, I contend that their grand proclamations of being free of prejudice are a myth.

Firstly, where the Left gets it right – historically, and currently, it has campaigned against racism and, in more recent decades, homophobia. The Left has a good track record on gender issues, and they currently take a stand against Islamophobia. There is no doubt that when it comes to these issues, the Left has been a force for good.

In current times, however, there are other minorities which are not only rejected by the Left, but are attacked and persecuted by too many of that political persuasion. I became disenchanted with the Left when I realised that to a great many, myself and like-minded friends would find no acceptance. The people of tolerance? Not always.

Who are these minorities? The psychics, the mediums, the New Agers. The paranormal enthusiasts, the astrologers, the tarot readers. The occultists, the pagans, the witches. The alien abductees. Need I go on?

Since the Left threw its lot in with Scientism and Dogmatic Materialism (evidence of this is rampant on The Guardian, home to countless biased and sneering articles about paranormal phenomena, complementary medicine or anything which has a whiff of the supernatural about it.) This is the paper which once ran an article in which the author snarled that psychics were dangerously demented and called for *all* of us to be locked up. This is the paper which houses a great number of psychophobic bigots in the noxious wasteland that is its comments section.

The Left chooses to ignore the fact that the New Age, psychic and occult communities have generally been uniformly committed to both LGBT rights and racial and gender equality. As with any group, there are exceptions, and I’m not trying to say that you won’t find one single racist or homophobe amongst New Agers, but those of an egalitarian mind-set make up the majority. When do you ever see psychics trying to abolish abortion? When do you see occultists trying to entwine their views with the government? How often do you see Tarot readers engaging in hateful homophobic rhetoric? Practically never.

The Left also chooses to ignore (or downplay) the multitude of scientific research into such phenomena as mediumship, telepathy and near-death experiences, and the compelling evidence which supports the validity of these fields. Philosophical materialism is a fine premise to work with, but it is far from one hundred percent established certainty.  Yet disagree with the core tenets of materialism, and a lot of people on the Left will brand you as a heretic. If you’re a scientist, they’ll erroneously claim your work to be “pseudoscience” and possibly try to destroy your career. If they’re fans of James Randi, the rude and unpleasant man who helped set the nasty tone of much of the modern “Sceptical” Movement, they may even throw around juvenile insults like “woo.”

If you happen to be psychic, or an occultist, an astrologer, or someone who has had an encounter with what may possibly be extra-terrestrials, I am sorry to say that you will not find a lot of friends on the Left. At best, they will make fun of you, throw around some casual psychophobia and call your mental health into question. At worst, they will bully you, attack your character, and try to push through legislation that discriminates against you. They will try to suppress you.

I’ve said before that when it comes to something to do with psychics or the paranormal, The Guardian becomes the equivalent of The Daily Mail. I’ve seen enough viciousness and prejudice from Guardian readers in the comments section to know that the newspaper attracts its fair share of Stalinist thugs. The British Humanist Association, another nasty group, is also full of psychophobia and intolerance towards science that challenges their beliefs. Although they are not explicitly affiliated with the Left (or, indeed, any political party) it does seem that many of the BHA’s leading members identify personally as left-wingers.

The Left been shamefully unconcerned with the rights of these minorities (it’s only recently that pagans have been granted the right to carry out weddings in accordance with pagan beliefs and traditions; why did the Left not campaign for equal rights for pagans, as they have with others?) I’ll hazard a guess and say that it’s possibly because a lot of them think we’re crazy and that we’re not worthy of their time or their respect.

Not only that, but figures on the Left have actively tried to discriminate against psychics (psychics are *born* the way they are, so it’s as morally repugnant as racism, sexism or homophobia) and those who practice occultism.

When it comes to us New Age and Pagan minorities, a significant portion of the Left are our bullies, our tormentors. The spitefulness they exude is cruel, unwarranted, and creates a damaging atmosphere for those of us that have anomalous experiences or just want to be free to be ourselves without the censure and disapproval. They are as filled with hatred as any far-right group, they just direct their abuse at different targets.

I have no such illusions that the Left is a reliable champion of tolerance and acceptance for all. It is a champion of tolerance and acceptance towards some minorities, yes, and this positive work should be applauded. Simultaneously, however, I will call them out on their disgusting prejudice when it comes to groups they’ve decided they don’t want to help and protect.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Psychics and LGBTs: Their Common Ground and Similar Causes

The psychic struggle and the LGBT struggle. While one might not at first see cause to link the two, I believe that there are valid comparisons to be made between these two groups, resulting in a connection from which, if strengthened, all could benefit.

For centuries, psychics and LGBTs have suffered discrimination. While the modern West is undoubtedly more tolerant of both, being either psychic or LGBT can still invite persecution today, and both groups face ridicule and attack from psychophobes and homophobes respectively.

None of what I am about to say should be misread to imply that psychics have endured the same levels of prejudice as LGBTs. Although there are individual cases in which that has indeed happened – and, in some countries, one could easily make the argument that psychics do indeed suffer equal discrimination – in the West, overall, LGBTs have had it tougher. Both, however, have been the targets of bigotry and there comes a point when pedantry over which group has suffered more becomes tiresome and redundant. I’m seeking to highlight the similarities between the psychic and LGBT struggles and make a call for both parties to forge links and lend one another support.


I would like to acknowledge Craig Weiler’s role in drawing my attention to the common ground between psychics and LGBTs in his blog post ‘Psychic People: The Last Quiet Minority’, which can be read here. -

Gay people and psychics both have the choice to hide their nature from others. Where members of racial groups are easily identified by their complexion, psychics and LGBTs have no such physical markers and other people only find out when the psychic or gay person informs them.

Both historically and in modern times, psychics and LGBTs have been accused of being “evil” or “sinful” by extremist religious zealots. Psychics have also had to deal with secular psychophobes casting aspersions upon their character and portraying them all as inherently immoral.

Psychics and gay people have both been identified as psychologically abnormal or mentally ill. The American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a disorder until 1973. Today, you can often hear psychics declared to be “crazy” or “mentally unwell.” Some people even advocate forcing psychics into psychiatric hospitals.

In both cases, there are bigots who ignore or disregard evidence that runs contradictory to their prejudices. Some homophobes insist that homosexuality is a “choice”, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Some psychophobes ignore the scientific data that lends credence to psychic abilities.


In response to prejudice, both gay people and psychics have formed movements to stand up for themselves. Gay Pride events are numerous and the New Age movement created a space for psychics to interact with like-minded people and defend themselves. Other members of misunderstood religious or spiritual minorities have also formed ‘pride’ events, such as Pagan Pride.

Given the common factors that unite gay and psychic people, I think it would be in the interests of both parties to forge stronger connections and give support to the other’s causes. My reasons being:

While many of those who support psychics also believe in gay rights, it is very uncommon to see the issue of psychic rights addressed by those who support LGBT equality.  Many either don’t care, or, in some cases, are actively psychophobic themselves. For example, the belief system of humanists essentially prevents them from being friends to the psychic community, as they are mostly of the opinion that all psychics are either delusional or lying. While the website of the British Humanist Association does not contain any explicit psychophobic material itself, it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that possibly a great deal of their members hold such views. Indeed, some of their prominent supporters have made psychophobic comments of their own – a notable example being Stephen Fry, who declared that all mediums were frauds.

The humanists also have ties to the organised sceptic movement, of which some factions have a long history of behaving in a bullying and bigoted manner towards psychics. Notably, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) – formerly known as CSICOP – and the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation.) This is also true of the New Atheist movement (many of whom are also humanists) – which, when it comes to psychics, has often promoted prejudice and nastiness. A lot of prominent New Atheists are also supportive of CSI and JREF.

So while the issue of combatting anti-LGBT intolerance is on the cultural agenda, I don’t think the same can be said of combatting anti-psychic prejudice. A lot of people either don’t realise it’s an issue, don’t care, or are psychophobic themselves. It seems clear to me that more needs to be done to raise awareness about the importance of speaking out against psychophobic bigotry.

One way this could be done is for psychic friendly groups to develop official relationships with Gay Rights organisations. They could each draw attention to the work of each other and officially support tolerance to each other. Imagine, for example, a Gay Pride event in which they showed their assistance to the psychic cause by inviting a couple of psychics to give readings to attendees. Or a Psychic Pride event in which psychics also spoke out in favour of LGBT equality. Or a joint Gay/Psychic Pride event.

Representatives of gay rights organisations could attend psychic events and vice versa. Not only would this bring greater publicity to the psychic cause, but the topic of LGBT rights would receive another public voice. The message of both groups would reach a wider audience.

I am not suggesting an official connection between all psychic and LGBT groups, and not all people would be in favour of such a link anyway. While the majority of psychics believe in LGBT equality, there are a minority of homophobes in the community, and I have personally interacted with gay people who I discovered were psychophobes. But if only a few ties could be forged between a small number of LGBT and psychic groups, I think the cause of each party would gain further acceptance and benefit.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Defiers of Culturally Imposed Reality

I was reflecting earlier on how direct and personal experience and practice of the numinous is a maligned lifestyle in modern culture. I then reminded myself that this is far from new – since the decline of ancient paganism and occultism and the spread of authoritarian monotheism, forging one’s own foray into the world of spirit is an activity which has been both frowned upon (and officially persecuted) for well over a thousand years.

Psychics and occultists have long been the defiers of culturally imposed reality – or, to put it more accurately, defiers of culturally imposed interpretations of reality.

In sixteenth century Britain, spiritual beliefs were more widespread than they are today, but people were immensely restricted on what they could do with spirituality and how they manifested it. There was a belief in non-physical entities, but summoning and communicating with these entities yourself was strongly condemned. Likewise, belief in magick was normal – but practicing said magick was an offence, an affront to the sensibilities of the religious leaders, who proscribed witchcraft as an act of evil, of devilry, wickedness of the highest order. This is one of the reasons why alchemists often couched their views in esoteric language – symbolism which would be understood only by an elite few. To put their pronouncements in laymen’s terms could very well have meant imprisonment or death.

Now even in these very anti-occult times, it was possible for a few people to get away with openly deviating from majority Christian ruling. (John Dee, adviser to Elizabeth I, practiced scrying and openly conducted communication with angelic entities who dictated the famous Enochian language.) In general, however, publicly declaring yourself to be practicing witchcraft, or some other form of verboten spirituality, would have been suicidal. The only valid manifestation of spirituality was to be undertaken through adherence to Christianity, with metaphysical powers to be the domain of God and His angels. Attempting to develop these metaphysical abilities yourself was seen as sinful.

In many ways, the modern UK is vastly more tolerant, but by no means all. The contemporary West is just as anti-occult as ever, it’s just that the invective is mostly a result of wider acceptance of strict materialism. (There are still some fundamentalist monotheists who think that witchcraft is ‘the devil’s work’ but their voices are waning and have been losing traction with the growth of liberal and moderate monotheism.) In my experience, I’ve found that if you’re open about your practice of occultism in the UK, you’re much more likely to be scolded and sneered at by some smug self-proclaimed “sceptic” than you are to be told that you’re evil and going to hell.

Materialism, while not the lone worldview, is very culturally strong at the moment, certainly much stronger than alternative spirituality and occultism. And the “rules” of the materialist worldview is that the material world is all there is; that there is no “spiritual” plane, no magick, no non-physical entities, nothing except this world here. Inevitably, the rise of materialism will continue (not necessarily intentionally) the cultural alienation of psychics, New Agers, occultists…those who experience and practice stuff that, according to the radicals, DOES NOT, CANNOT AND MUST NOT exist.

Witchcraft is no longer illegal, true (though it’s worth noting that the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which continued the criminalisation of witchcraft, was not a product of religious bigotry but of Enlightenment-era intolerance, in which it was assumed that witchcraft was impossible, so anyone trying to do it or claiming to do it was to be punished with fines or a prison sentence. The Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951 – up until then, anyone publicly practicing witchcraft was breaking the law. To put that into perspective, consider that it was in 1967 that homosexuality was decriminalised – it was only a mere sixteen years before that, that witchcraft was decriminalised.)

So we’re currently free to do what we will, and many of those with a materialist persuasion are willing to live and let live when it comes to innocuous manifestations of spirituality. There is, however, a movement of radical materialists whose aim is to eliminate *any* kind of metaphysical belief or practice, and they have agitated for legislation which would impinge upon our rights. I don’t doubt that if radical materialists gained significant political power that we would shortly be seeing a curtailing of our spiritual freedoms.

It’s hard to imagine a world in which alternative spiritual beliefs are the cultural philosophical norm. Occultism and the paranormal went through a wave of popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, but even then, it hardly became mainstream. Maybe acceptance of occultism will rise. Or maybe not. But in the here and now, psychics and occultists are what they have been for many, many years – defiers of culturally imposed interpretations of reality.

All I can say to the rest of you, is – keep on keeping on. I know it’s hard. A lot of people just don’t “get” you. Some hate you and think you’re dangerous. Some will bully you. Some want to criminalise what you do. But as we defy culturally popular interpretations of reality, we can also defy the prejudice of the ignorant – by standing true to what we think and what we practice, to upholding the dream of a diverse and tolerant society and solidly refusing to break away from our practices due to taunts or peer pressure. Continue defying culturally imposed interpretations of reality by thinking for yourself and creating your own path. For it is free thought – and marching to the beat of your own drum – that are some of the beauties of occultism. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

My Disillusionment with the Mainstream Left OR Bring Tolerance into Left-Wing Discourse

I will say at the outset that I try to avoid being an overly politically-minded person, since the subject is of very limited interest to me. I seldom engage in matters of politics, finding much more enjoyable things to do with my time instead. If pressed to identify where I naturally lean politically, I’d identify myself as a moderate leftie – I have socially liberal views and dislike the extremes of both sides. But overall, politics is something I try to keep at arm’s length.

So this kind of post is rare for me, but after exposure to some malefic attitudes and behaviours which appear to be characteristic of the mainstream Left, I feel the need to explain why, as a liberal, I feel so disillusioned with contemporary left-wing perspectives.


I used to naively assume that the Left was the champion of those who deviated from the norm, of harmless eccentrics. Even if they thought some of the people were rather batty, I believed that they offered friendship, kindness and open-mindedness.

Well, no longer, at least not when it comes to alternative spirituality.

I am an occultist who has been interested in New Age and esoteric studies since my teen years. It has been my misfortune to find out the hard way that the mainstream attitude of the modern Left is to show a shocking level of bias against such subjects as psychic ability, witchcraft, astrology and many other alternative metaphysical beliefs and practices which would fall under the umbrella of ‘occult’. I am not the only person who has noticed, for example, that when The Guardian runs an article on something to do with the paranormal or the spiritual, there is a likelihood that the standards of journalism will descend to those of The Daily Mail. The Left generally prides itself on its pro-science stance, but is decidedly very anti-science when it comes to the evidence supporting telepathy or mediumship. In general, they appear to have thrown in their lot with fundamentalist pseudo-sceptics and dogmatic materialists, a trend which I find most distasteful.


Following on from the contemporary Left’s unfairness in regards to occultism, I have often been very disturbed by the intolerant, draconian and cruel rhetoric that they rain upon not just the metaphysical concepts themselves, but also the people who incorporate alternative spiritual beliefs and practices into their lives. The majority, by far, of us new age occult types, are completely innocuous, yet the Left seems to regard us all as enemies and as targets for bullying and oppression. Only this very morning, I took a look at the comments on a Guardian article on why young women were taking an interest in witchcraft, and saw the usual hateful and bigoted garbage. After wading through two pages of this sludge, I’d had enough. These people are entitled to be as mean as they want, but if that’s the way the Left is going, I want nothing to do with them. Far from being interested in upholding our right to do what we want in our personal lives, too many on the Left seems to want to take away our right to practice magick, astrology, the tarot, or whatever form of occultism we’ve taken up.


This third reason may be a little sketchy, and I don’t actually believe that being in favour of child sex abuse is a common view amongst those on the Left. On the contrary, I think it is still, at present, a minority opinion. I also recognise that that there have been numerous individuals of the political right who have inflicted abuse upon children; it is not simply a left-wing problem.

That said, I am including this reason here because I have tended to find that, in cases where there is outright support of child molestation, such sympathies have often been espoused by outlets aligned to the political Left.

I also want to make an important distinction clear. I have no issue with any left-wing support of non-offending paedophiles (i.e. those who have resolved never to harm children.) I sympathise with paedophiles who genuinely hate the way they feel and are committed to obeying the law. Articles in defence of them – fine. Similarly, left-wing support of treatment options for paedophiles in order to help them control their urges, stop them re-offending, or stop them offending in the first place – fine. I am objecting specifically to left-wing sources that have actually come out and appeared to sympathise with actual child sex abuse. One example I can think of is an article from The Guardian which maintained that it was uncertain as to whether child-adult sexual relations were harmful to children. (As far as I’m aware, there is tons of evidence that in most cases, it certainly is.)

Again, I don’t believe that support of child sex abuse is a normal view amongst left-wingers, but I am wondering if it is in the beginning stages of a slow-growing trend. If so, it is something I want to distance myself from. If pro child sex abuse views were ever to become the mainstream of the political Left, then I would think that would be a major nail in the coffin of their most historic values. Isn’t the Left supposed to be in favour of looking after the vulnerable?

I am in no way trying to imply that every single left-winger (or even the vast majority) holds all of these views or adopts all of these behaviours. I know for a fact that  there are lefties who remain true to the values of tolerance and compassion, who are kind and polite in conversation, who are capable of respecting those with whom they disagree. But it does seem to me that it has become conventional for left-wing outlets to be hotbeds of bigotry, dogma and bullying, and while they remain that way, this liberal will just grow more and more disenchanted. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Spirituality: Sex for the Soul

Recently I’ve been giving some thought to the connection between sex and spirituality and, influenced to some extent by John Michael Greer’s series of postings on ‘Sex and Occultism’ at The Well of Galabes, I’ve decided to articulate some speculations of my own.

Asexuals aside, some form of sexual fulfillment is a physical need for most of us. Hon-harmful and non-abusive expressions of sexuality are as natural as eating and drinking. Most of us are familiar with the biological purpose of sex – to bear offspring, to bond with your partner. But mystics have also held that there is also a spiritual purpose to sex and that, undertaken in such a way, it can be a means of connecting to the Divine, of transferring our consciousness to an alternate plane, or of giving a powerful boost to our psychic and magickal workings.

Many will be familiar with the creeping disconnection from our regular framework of awareness as we surge closer to orgasm, the physical and mental energies becoming more intense until, in a short moment of disassociation, we climax. The human orgasm can be thought of as a brief spiritual experience, as in both cases the individual undergoes a change in consciousness.

I make it well-known that I think spiritual fulfillment is also a fundamental human need for most people. My definition of spirituality is quite broad and includes manifestations of a non-mystical and physical nature, readily enjoyed by people who don’t believe in spiritual phenomena. In no way does a person need to be a ‘believer’ in order to get what I think are their innate spiritual desires satisfied.

Whichever way we indulge our spiritual urges – material or mystical – I think these urges are as natural a part of our being as sex. Of late, I’ve been thinking of spiritual and mystical experiences as ‘sex for the mind or soul’ or, to be even more precise, an ‘orgasm for the mind or soul’. As stated before, sex and mysticism both result in changes in consciousness, a transfer of awareness. During those moments of sexual climax, I think we are tapping into realms of psychic power to which occultists open themselves up in mystical practice. Magicians have used sex in their sorcery for good reason; the basic belief being that the force of sexual energy provides greater power to the spell and increases the chances of the ritual’s effectiveness.

Just as it is unethical to prohibit non-harmful and non-abusive forms of sexual activity, it is also unethical to prohibit non-harmful and non-abusive forms of spiritual activity. The radical pseudo-sceptic who would like to see witchcraft, psychic demonstrations and palm-readings illegalised is no different to a homophobic hate preacher who desires to see gay sex banned.