Monday, 25 August 2008

Sex in the City: Mandrake Speaks review of The Red Goddess

An excellent review of the Red Goddess has just appeared in Mandrake Speaks, the Mandrake Press of Oxford newsletter. An indepth look at the text by the highly regarded Mogg Morgan:

The Red Goddess by Peter Grey (review)258pp, Hardback 2008 £37 + p&p
This is a beautiful, provocative, thought-provoking book, one man’s journey in search of the obscure object of his desire – full of odd typography, robust, sometimes rough language and a £37 price tag.
Using the latest research from books such as "Strange Angel" , "Love and Rockets" and "The Unknown God" the author blends his own narrative around that which he sees as the three pillars of the Babalonian mythos – Enochian Magick, Aleister Crowley and Jack Parsons. Thus one reads: "Eunuchs have been used traditionally to serve the Goddess, often as sodomitic dog priests. That name is not a slur but most likely comes from their dog position sex. These were important priests who served the ancient Love Goddess by sacrificing their reproductive power. They are no longer men. They cannot penetrate the mystery. I will not advocate the joys of self castration or the smooth root of the Skopsie, but it is certainly one way to serve Our Lady. I prefer Magick with the balls to push shaft deep into the crimson petals of the Goddess."
Babalon is modern goddess, one of the most recent to emerge from the cauldron of serendipity. Even so, some, Peter Grey amongst them, would claim she has antique roots. She remerged in the modern world via the writings of Aleister Crowley, who is also responsible for renovating the old English spelling as Babalon, which has a significant numerology of 156 as opposed to 165. For Babylon, is an ancient Mesopotamian city, the BĂȘte Noire of the ancient Hebrews, and therefore a natural cipher for corruption and hubris in the strange apocalyptic end game of the Biblical New Testament. I’m talking of the Book of Revelation, a book that exerted a powerful influence on Crowley’s imagination and one way or another figured large in his new Thelemic mythos.The Book of Revelation is widely believed to contain much hidden and indeed Kabbalistic symbolism, So no surprise that the "anti-gods" of that book turn out to be, according to Thelemites, the true corrective of the modern age.
The goddesses of ancient Babylon were Innana, Ishtar and Astarte. These are "Red Goddesses" in more ways than one – and possible role models for the modern woman who is powerful, self sufficient and above all sexual. Whether modern "scarlet woman" is, as Herodotus suggested, willing to give herself to any man for any small coin, seems unlikely these days somehow. So in as much as the author of Revelation was saying that it’s the goddesses that really bring society down, Crowley and the Thelemites say the opposite.Few would argue that Peter’s Red Goddess is a Mesopotamian creation. Most of us accept Mesopotamia, as the "cradle of civilization" and the dispersal hub for many important things, writing, astrology, technology, religion, etc etc.
I must admit my own dealings with "The Red Goddess" are in her Egyptian territory (see "The Bull of Ombos") Peter devotes a short chapter to the exploration of her possible Egyptian roots, although this is maybe a clear example of where the works of the Victorian Egyptophile Gerald Massey provide an inadequate guide to the material.AFAIK, Egypt, did indeed benefit from early contacts with Mesopotamia before the rise of the Pharaohs (i.e. 4000BCE) but its main development was independent. So for example although writing may have been invented in Mesopotamia, it was also invented quite independently in Egypt, presumably for the same imperative. The earliest reference in Egypt to the Semitic goddesses Astarte and Anat belongs to the reign of Thutmoses c1500bce, both love goddesses were married to ultimate "Red Bull" Seth. But my Egyptian "Red Goddess" has to be Hathor, a goddess as old as time, goddess of the cattle cult (hence the horns) she is indeed sensual, sexual and intoxicated. (See "Hathor’s Secrets") When old man Ra is down in the dumps she lifts her skirts and gives him a laugh.Having said something of the mythology of Innana et al, Peter soon leaves behind the ancient world. I definitely wanted more info on Mesopotamian religion, as his analysis is consistently interesting and engaging.
He then follows the tracks of the Belle Dame Sans Merci, through the writings of her numerous modern devotees, including John Dee, Marquis de Sade, Jack Parsons and indeed many a modern mage, including his own dealing with she who must be obeyed, which brings to mind the lines of the song "my knuckles are bleeding and my knees are raw". This reworking of the Crowleyian material on the nature of the scarlet women, is seen largely through his poetry and forms "The Red Goddess’ " vibrant core.Peter has no time for the post modern obsession with transgender and reclaiming the "blossoms of bone". "Eunuchs" he tells us, "cannot penetrate the mystery." But there again for me, Babalon might be like "post porn modernist" Annie Sprinkle –the love of whose life is famously the tortured Les, a female to male transsexual.
So all in all an interesting and provocative monograph; worthy I would think of some wider circulation. It might be that this first edition which is perhaps aimed at the "collector" for whom "the medium is the message." Its white wibeline cover with red embossing is very striking; there are tipped in illustrations, one in colour. And indeed interior text is black and occasional red. Even so I’d be happy to read it in a standard hardback "Starfire" mode or even a good trade paperback. But whatever way you read it, it’s definitely worth a spin. [Mogg]

Friday, 8 August 2008

Red Goddess Devotee Edition

The 49 Devotee Editions of The Red Goddess arrived yesterday from the binders.
She is looking beautiful in red silk and black morrocan goat with gilt edging and handmade marble end papers.

For those too delicate to have developed a taste for hardcore booknography we suggest you look away now.

There are still a few copies available of the Devotee edition, full details and more pictures at

In Nomine Babalon

Scarlet Imprint x