Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What Genuine Dragons Blood Resins, Oils, and Powders Are and Are Not

Pterocarpus indica
Pterocarpus Indica (Wikipedia Commons; CC by 3.0); Forest & Kim Starr

Genuine Dragons Blood, Fake Dragons Blood, What's the Difference?

Or--The Truth About Dragons Blood, That Your Mother Was Afraid to Tell You

For those that really care--which is indubitably the magick practitioners amongst us--dragons blood is not one particular substance, thus its fragrance is bound to vary dependent upon where it's bought. As a matter of fact, a resin can be derived from specific genera of any one of the following plant types, and be called dragons blood: Croton, Dracaena, Calamus rotang (rattan palm), Pterocarpus, and Daemonorops.

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Dragons blood resin is supposed to be red, but may not naturally be; a product derived from it may be color enhanced, but as well could be reddish brown. When powdered, it is often extended with similarly fragranced powders. Beyond the aforementioned, there are some, well you could call them counterfeit versions--where an item is sold as dragons blood but is actually entirely red sandalwood mixed with frankincense (typically this would describe powders, but a resin-like product could be manufactured in this way). Though it technically seems counterfeit, such a blend literally has all the properties of a true resin, and is commonly used as a substitute. To clarify--in theory, for DB products to be genuine, any sandalwood added would be in resin form, not powdered wood or bark form as such. Keep on reading to see how sandalwood fits in at all, in the production of dragons blood products.

As a matter of fact, red sandalwood is a genus of Pterocarpus (Pterocarpus santalinus); this means that dragons blood resins sourced from it are genuine; and powders are at least to some degree genuine, when produced in the aforementioned way (they embody the right energies, at least).

Calamus gibbsianus
Calamus gibbsianus; By Eric in SF - Own work, GFDL

It is commonly held that the most valued of all dragons blood resins, is that of the Dracaena draco tree; however, a far more abundant source, is that of the Daemonorops draco. So while the first is the ideal, the second is commonly seen as "genuine," this based upon the rarity of the first kind, as well as upon the need to define one type as being genuine. As for oils, it's hard to know what you are getting for sure, because dragons blood technically defined, is a resin; period.

If you are buying oil, make sure it's labeled which of these plants it is derived from, or it literally could be anything. Even if it is sourced from one of these plants, it is not necessarily bonafide dragons blood oil, as it may not embody the energies of red--which is important--as if you are using it to make, let's say cone incense, then for it to be genuine you will also need to add some red sandalwood, to have it present the correct energies. And when it comes to the powders, in a lot of cases you are getting frank and sandalwood. Furthermore--and it goes without saying really, when buying dragons blood in any form, pay attention to what you are buying--as in which type of resin or oil it was derived from, and also to which kind you prefer. This will help you shop more efficiently in the future.

Which leaves me to ask--will the real dragons blood please stand up?

Right now I have some Daemonorops draco resin burning, and it is a joy to watch; as it burns the chunk melts down to a cyclamen colored blood-like liquid. And the smell, is simply exquisite.

Now you know why it is that there's no singular "true" dragons blood--and how even the "counterfeits" need to at least embody the cluster of energies that dragons blood resin should rightly possess. Said energies include: resonance of the color red, of one of these trees or plants (which provides a connection to raw, dragon energy), and that of pure magick.

With this all said, now we are each suitably armed with knowledge, which will allow us to buy the real McCoy--to the best of what's available to us in our respective locale at least.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Crowley, the Legend and the Lies :: Crowley Myths Exposed

Aleister Crowley--the Great Beast 666
Aleister Crowley


Aleister Crowley--controversial, a prolific writer, a true free spirit that lived wild and free, and a top notch magick practitioner with keen intellect, summarizes who he was. He lived his life the way he wanted to, and let nothing hold him back. He could be described as a hedonist, but was not without discipline--with what he achieved in his lifetime in volume of writing alone, with him few others could compare. And with what he achieved in magickal pursuits; again, few could compare. 

There is no doubt that he was loved by many and also reviled by many; ergo much has been said of him and much of it's foundless. Those who thought lowly of him told lies and exaggerated dilute partial truths, while those who thought highly of him at times made claims that were groundless, to appear as being closer to him than was factual. Furthermore, what was said long ago about this legendary magician, still carries on today. That's why we are going to sift through a few common myths--to see what brought them on, and see what the truth inside them looks like.

Myth Number 1: Crowley sacrificed humans in his magickal rites

Magickal ritual
Analysis: ❌ This is false.

The Truth:
In one of his works, "On the Bloody Sacrifice: And Matters Cognate," Crowley referred to masturbation, in his personal brand of veiled humor, as child sacrifice. For those who did not understand or who perhaps wanted to see the worst in him at a quick glance upon his work, the worst is what they found and remembered, thus the myth lives on. Crowley was serving up vital information in his own unique way, and apparently did not care if he'd be misconstrued--and he probably hoped to be misconstrued. So it's a definite no on the human sacrifice; however, there may have been a frog crucifixion. Allow me to explain why I say maybe...

But first, one could ask, why would Crowley sacrifice a frog anyway? Well, it is commonly held that it was done in order for Crowley to officially achieve the grade of Magus. And reading around it seems that everyone and his dog believes that a frog was killed, but that doesn't make it so. In the book #AmazonADLink: "The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema," Lon Milo Duquette states that Crowley did not engage in animal sacrifice in matters magickal and spiritual. I tried to contact him to gain clarity, but failed. However, I consulted another long time OTO insider--Bill Heidrick, who is a veritable icon within Thelema. He told me that in Crowley's time and in an area he spent time in--New Orleans--there was a frog crucifixion ritual that had been traditionally performed, and that no one raised an eyebrow at that sort of thing back then. It appears that Crowley was influenced by that. And thus, said ritual potentially (and likely) took place.

Crucified frog sculpture at Penn State Abington
Crucified frog sculpture; Image linked to source.

Reading the outline of the frog crucifixion ritual, it's clear that it's all about symbolically disengaging from the old Aeon. It was not a game he played, it was not for fun, and it was not evil. To provide a clearer perspective of how far less than evil it was, quoting Mr. Heidrick again--"People were rather cavalier in those days, regarding the suffering of animals. As late as the 1960s it was common practice in high school biology lab to kill one and cut it open while the heart was still beating. That's been replaced by less gruesome acts than vivisection in modern high school, for the most part. In Crowley's time, people would not have thought much about it at all. Not nice, of course. Less nasty than Spanish-style bullfighting, but that's still done."

Abramelin the Mage, on Amazon
#AmazonAdLink: Abramelin the Mage

I conclude this section here by quoting three people. My friend Adam K, who said "remember, people still believe that Crowley sacrificed children, because they don't understand the metaphor"; Lon Milo Duquette, who in the book referred to above stated, "even though there are what appear to be references to the practice in some of the Holy Books of Thelema, animal sacrifice plays no part whatsoever in the magick of Aleister Crowley." Last but not least, quoting the entire ritual in question. However, rather than to actually quote from it I urge you to read it, as it's clear that said ritual was an important symbolic and magickal expression of justice; the justice already alluded to--the obliteration of the old aeon (that of Osiris) in preparation for the new, an aeon of truth and liberty--the Aeon of Horus. Thus in its way the ritual effectively summarized Crowley's greatest life work--Thelema.

Sources have been quoted and paraphrased within this piece; certain comments were edited to streamline them, in order to obtain a better fit. Final edits were approved by their source where appropriate, including ones relative to the content below.

Additional Insights Based Upon Observations by Bill Heidrick

Recently Mr. Heidrick was shown this article, that he'd previously allowed me to consult him as a reference for; he made additional remarks that are substantial and relevant enough to share, the first of which is based upon a statement I'd made earlier, which was:
"Sure there will still be those who believe that Crowley killing the frog, if it even happened, was wrong, and perhaps evil. To them I say, consider this for a moment: this is how pigs, goats, sheep, cows and calves are killed for our consumption--an electrical current is zapped across their heart or brain (it may seem humane, but would you like it done to you? I didn't think so), and the animal is made unconscious before being killed. In industrialized slaughterhouses, chickens are shackled and dragged through an electrified water bath; and humans collectively allow this. But I digress..."

Heidrick pointed out that though it is different in the case of small animals and birds as they are very easily killed, shock is a way to render an animal unconscious prior to it being killed. It is part of a plan to minimize trauma and to produce better meat, rather than a method of killing. He observed that any method of animal killing, is "a very unfortunate necessity of life on earth." Additionally Bill offered comment on the fact that I excused Crowley potentially having sacrificed a frog:
"Those who buy meat and products made with animal ingredients, usually just don't consider an animal's death being part of it, even imagining that it somehow doesn't happen or that 'experts do it painlessly.' Crowley's religious birding and small animal offing seems to have been rare, to judge by his diaries and accounts of those who knew him or lived with him.  
People still boil live lobsters, take the occasional chicken from the back yard, and hunt and fish for sport. And cannibalism is still celebrated in Christian worship in a symbolic manner--consuming the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ once a week in the forms of bread and wine. People just accept what is normal from their childhood, no matter how weird it may be to those not brought up with the behavior. There's no reason Crowley wouldn't stab an occasional dove for a ritual, since he was exposed to such conduct for preparation of meals and the like throughout his childhood--as pretty much everybody's great grandparents were in Western culture."

But back to the original topic, that all subtopics arose from; which was that there's a long-time rumor circulating that Crowley killed humans in his rites; Mr. Heidrick remarked on that too:
"I have no reason to even imagine that Crowley actually killed any human or even large animal in that way (hunting large animals, another matter)--he may have shot some footpad who tried to mug him in India in self-defense one dark night, but was so shocked and frightened by the possibility that he fled the country--this from his autobiography."

When Bill speaks, every word is like gold. He concluded with:
"I am one who does not believe that the execution of a human being is justifiable under any circumstances. An informed end of life request is another matter, as is self defense. But vengeance and punishment to that degree appear to me to be an admission that society itself is too morally and financially impoverished to behave with the common decency of an ordinary reptile."

That last quoted sentence, sounds to me like something the Prophet of the New Aeon himself would have said. No great wonder though, given its actual speaker devoted much of his life to Thelema. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Bill Heidrick, that will serve to shed greater light, onto who Aleister Crowley really was.

** Mr. Heidrick was kind enough to provide insight, but will not be available to respond to comments

Illustrated Goetia by Crowley; on Amazon
#AmazonADLink: Illustrated Goetia by Crowley; on Amazon

Crowley Myth Number 2 :: That he was a Pedophile

Bleak staircase

Analysis: ❌ This is false.

The Truth:
There is no evidence whatsoever that Crowley was a pedophile, so this is patently false. However, there were things he said and things that happened that could be taken out of context; here is one of them:

In Crowley's book "The World Tragedy," he said, “Let me seduce the boys of England. Then these boys, becoming men, may bring about the new Heaven and the new Earth…for the transvaluation of all values must yet again take place…but without an army I am useless. Give me an army, young men; and we will sweep those dogs into the sea.”

My commentary on the above: Crowley clearly stated that his desire was to cultivate an army of open minded people, and he wanted to start by working with England's young men. Common sense dictates that he wanted to seduce them into joining him in creating change; still, this is one quote that has been twisted by some to suggest that he meant otherwise.

Next, we have an example of how Crowley quotes can be spewed out to justify what criminals have done. Though he was not the only one to use such an approach, as an example we'll use a man from southwest Great Britain, who will be referred to anonymously for legal reasons. He was a predator, who placed heavy focus upon child victims. He somehow believed that his acts were based upon the teachings of Crowley's "The Book of the Law"--even going so far as to dress up in a magician's robe prior to his crimes and read from it. As Thelema advocates freedom of will in all ways, including through sensual expression, it seems that the confused and misled individual here referred to, felt that he could and should do as he pleased. The bottom line is, that Crowley and his life works, bear no correlation to anyone that performs such heinous acts.

In this next, similar example, the perpetrator changed his name to replicate Aleister's name at birth (which was Edward Alexander Crowley). The man was demented; yet due to his choice of name, and due to the fact that the police investigating his case showcased one dark Crowley quote (which people happily took out of context), his story somehow ends up adding weight to the notion that Crowley was evil. A certain segment of society thrives upon sensationalized articles mentioning him--they love to think that though he died in 1947, he is responsible for acts happening far into modern times--even when said acts do not align with his Thelemic tenets.

The quote referenced, by the way is, "A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim." A quick Google search would dispel any sinister assumptions regarding that quote, and may even land one on this page at some point, which fully explains it. Crowley thrived upon the notoriety surrounding him and fed into it. Even so it's sad to see that the lies, misinformation, and disinformation continue.

Unicursal Hexagram pendant, on Amazon
 #AmazonADlink: Unicursal Hexagram pendant

Additionally, there was a man named Mohammad ben Brahim; when Crowley was in Tunisia the two cohabited for a while. Mohammad is commonly referred to as a youth; but I looked it up, and was dismayed upon available findings. That Crowley lived with a youth, some say teen, is popularly cited, but no one states where the information originated from or even goes as far as to mention his age. For just one case in point--in Lawrence Sutin's book, "Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley," he is listed as a young male, nothing more.

It is also popularly stated that while in Italy, Crowley occasionally travelled to Palermo where he obtained supplies and visited rent boys (male prostitutes). While the term implies that such prostitutes are young, in fact it refers to male prostitutes in general.

Update: In the comments, someone suggested that there's one poem Crowley wrote, that seemed to confess he'd engaged in activity referenced in this post. However, poetry is art and Crowley was an artist. Consider that if such a well known man was an offender, there would have been people telling the story. Even if there were victims that would not come forth, there were people around him that would have known and let truth out. He was consistently surrounded by people through most of his life; the tales would have carried and reverberated throughout his life. As much as people wanted to hate him, that never happened. Far more importantly though, the man was never accused of such in a lawsuit.

Crowley Myth Number 3 :: That he had another son besides Ataturk

Another son?

Analysis: ❌ This is false.

The Truth:
No he did not. As a matter of fact, let's clear up any misconceptions about how many offspring he sired. He had two with Rose Kelly: Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley, who died at two years of age (1904-1906); and Lola Zaza Crowley, who died in 1990 (1906-1990). Then, by Leah Hirsig, he sired Anne Leah Crowley, who is shown to have died the same year she was born--1920. And by Ninnette Fraux, he sired Astarte Lulu Panthea Crowley, who died in 2005 (1920-2005). And by Patricia Doherty MacAlpine, he sired Charles Edward d'Arquires, aka Aleister Ataturk (1937-2002). Now we move onto discussing why there is so much confusion concerning A.C.'s offspring...

Liber Aleph vel CXI
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There was some tendency within the Crowley family to assume names other than their own, and it appears therefore when we encounter their various names, that he had a whole lot of offspring. But there were five in all, and that's it. Apart from his actual family members, there was a man once who changed his name to Edward Crowley (Aleister's birth name), who went on to commit murder. Rumor spread that he was Crowley's son.

Then there was Amado Crowley, who claimed to be Crowley's son. However, according to those that knew him well, he was a bit of  a yarn spinner, and had a vested interest in making such a claim. His claim is believed to be groundless.

And finally, some may ask--who was MacAleister? Was he Crowley's son? Well, most of us familiar with Crowley are aware of the infamous Paris Incident tale--that Crowley summoned the deity Pan, upstairs in a Paris hotel room with the help of an assistant by the name of MacAleister. After said working, supposedly Crowley was babbling to himself, and MacAleister, said to be his son, was dead. Although it's a quaint and heart-touching story, there's no truth to it. It was more than likely loosely based upon an actual event. (This author does not necessarily agree with all information on the linked to page, but finds the remarks concerning this particular incident to be likely.)

Crowley Myth Number 4 :: That he Died Penniless and Alone

A few coins

Analysis: ❌ This is false.

The Truth:
Crowley was no longer a rich man by the time he went to Netherwood, but he had a comfortable place to live and his needs were met. As well, he had between £450 and £500 under his bed in a container. Such an amount of money was a lot then--equivalent to over £18,400.00 today. At some point, Lady Frieda Harris tried talking him into paying for a nurse's care from the money. The money came to him from OTO members to support publishing his works, which apparently during his life would not see the light of day. He would not touch it though, as he wanted the money to go to the OTO after his death--he likely felt some sense of importance in this, as his works would surely go on to be published by the OTO. Hence Lady Frieda Harris chose to pay for his nursing care herself.

It appears that until Crowley got truly unwell he had a fair shake of visitors. It's common with elderly folks, that after a while their people feel they need more rest, or find regular visits inconvenient to engage in... it may have been the same for Crowley. But he was not entirely alone, and was not underappreciated. He certainly had some visitors; as a matter of fact Patricia Doherty MacAlpine, who was there at the very end, alluded to this in her works. Crowley's son by her (Charles Edward d'Arquires) was there as well. But how many visitors A.C. had towards the end of his life is unclear, as is when regular visits from his dearer friends subsided. There isn't a whole lot written on the topic by those present and some reports conflict. It appears that he was infirm for some time, so when he actually passed it was without fanfare.

Netherwood has oft been referred to as a boarding house, but the truth is that it was anything but. It was a place where people went in retirement, it was for the refined. To provide a clearer illustration of how nice it was, Kenneth Grant--Crowley's secretary, resided there for a while; he rented a guest abode on its grounds. The term "boarding house" became popular after it was once used in a documentary, "Masters of Darkness," that seemed set on making Crowley look sinister, and in the end, broken down.

I think we can rest assured that there will always be plenty of interest in this great man, who achieved so much... and his song will play on for many decades more--the song of the wondrous Great Beast. 

Do what thou wilt; 93/93

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