The Cold Fingers of Death

Last night I tried to post a piece on me touching Aleister Crowley's helmet ... something I should not have done according to the placard that was beside it.

My computer went nut butters and I wasn't able to post it at all. 

I'm not one to believe in the occult, though I understand its allure and power, but I did find it ironic that the entire post was about me touching something Crowley used to wear, something I wasn't supposed to touch, and then that post pretty much disappeared into the nether of the Internet.

If you don't know who Crowley is, you can easily look him up.  They don't make people like him anymore.  The Beatles were influenced by him.  He's made appearances in video games.  His books were mandatory reading for lots of disenfranchised youth.  He was The Great Beast.  The Unholy Roller.  The Dope Fiend.

Personally, I can understand the appeal, but I never put much stock into it.  Fascinating?  You bet?  A piece of culture that doesn't exist anymore?  Not that I can find.  A real conduit into the unknown?  No.  Only the unknown of our minds.

What was odd was writing this piece about this great helmet that one of his ladies made for him and how I felt about touching history ... and then due to the uncertainty of the Internet it isn't able to be posted, edited or even found.  Those believers in the the physical rather than mental powers of magic and certain occult-think would look to that as proof.  I think serious scholars of such things, however, would use that to exemplify the very real power the occult has upon the mind.  (After all, I don't think I'm alone in thinking that is where the real power always resides.)  

The power of symbols, the occult (using the commonly understood definition), and other such things is how it can affect those who accept them on face value.  Their power does not necessarily reside in them.  It is manifested by those who believe.  It has nothing to do with real magic or the occult and everything to do with humans and their unending ability to attribute magical powers upon things.  It is why religion works. 

Religious types often label the same type of thinking they have that is attributed to a different "god" or belief system as "the occult."  In America, anything that falls outside of the big box religions is often "occult" in nature.  This makes people who believe these things to become easily exploitable.  An effective occultist, such as Crowley (and, of course, the ultimate bad daddy Anton LaVey) knows this and uses this to his or her advantage.  And what an advantage it is!  You are loved!  You are hated!  You are feared!  You are worshipped!  You have followers who will do anything for you, and people who want you dead.  It think it's fairly easy to see the appeal of that.

I found it somewhat ironic that while writing about Crowley and my touching of a helmet that I should have kept my hands off of, my posting totally disappeared.  At no time did I think it was due to Crowley's influence from beyond the grave. 

I don't attribute any supernatural powers to people like Crowley.  I just think they are great manipulators and sometimes blatant exploiters.  What makes them fascinating to me is not how they do it, but the people who let themselves be exploited.  What drives them?  What do they see in people like Crowley?  Why do they love him or fear him?  It's a great sociological experiment that goes to show just how weak our minds are.  I tend to think that the more you believe in things that can't be proven (like religion or ghosts -- and I admit a fascination/skepticism about things like that), the more you leave yourself open to all kinds of "magical thinking."  I am interested in the idea of ghosts.  I don't look at them as supernatural beings, but rather a form of energy.  I understand I can't prove this, and nor has it been proven to my satisfaction, so I remain somewhat skeptical, unlike, say, I am about the sun coming up every morning.  I believe that will happen.  Science and experience says it's a safe bet I'll wake up to the sun rise.  By remaining skeptical I believe I protect myself from falling into a rut where I start to believe ever magical idea thrown my way, be it miracles or the power of Satan.  I don't think others have it that easy because they embrace things without much thought or input from reality.  That may feel people with a sense of relief or a feeling of power, but it does little to prevent them from being easily exploited.
There is no Crowley lingering around in the shadows these days.  I find that kind of sad, actually.  People haven't become any less believing, so it says to me that people have started accepting the "natural order" of magical thinking (big box religion) moreso than ever before.  In the past, the occult was part of our landscape.  You don't see that much anymore.  There are no more "personalities" to latch onto.  There is simply religion and the rest of the world.  I don't care either way, as I have no problem with people believing what they want to, but I do think it makes our culture a little less interesting.  Perhaps the closest we've come to that is Marilyn Manson or the lesser-known Boyd Rice back in the day.  (I happen to think Rice is more fascinating than Manson, but you can't argue Manson's cultural appeal.  Rice requires more of an intellectual examination from the masses, and our masses aren't into that at all.  Manson is easily digested, and that works in his favor, though I think most of the public at large just finds him shocking and thinks little of the occult aspect of his work.)

I think Crowley's time, which wasn't all that long ago, would have been fascinating to live in.  The public was less jaded, more willing to examine the unknown.  Now all we seem to care about is Facebook and inane postings, or deals at the mall.   That child-like wonder at the world around has been reduced to a Google search.  The occult is nothing more than black clothes at Hot Topic or some heavy eyeliner.  We have lost our ability to generate true rebel figures.  CNN doesn't cover people like Rice.  It covers those idiotic flash mobs that people seem to think are really special.  ("Oh look!  People are singing in the mall!  How crazy!")

Maybe this will all change someday, and another occult figure will stomp his way to the forefront of culture.  Until that happens, we still have the memory and words of Crowley ...  and his apparent ability to destroy the Internet from beyond the grave.

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