Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Most cultures have strong ideas about what kind of magic is "women's magic" and what kind is only for men. Is there any basis for any of these distinctions, outside of cultural mores? Anything an aspiring sorceress should do differently from a sorcerer?

Oh man. I need to tread carefully with the gender stereotypes here. Please, no matter what I write below, keep in mind that nothing applies to ALL men or ALL women.

Ok, with the disclaimer out of the way, yes, there is a real difference between womens magic and mens magic. A friend recently told me that someone was asking if his wife was "adept at the Hermetic Sciences". I don't know what he told to that guy, but he shared with me the following: "She can do the stuff inherently man. She basically thinks that all the charts and hermetic categories are like training wheels for us guys who are not able to just do it".

I agree. Here is the basic division that often gets made, and we may as well call it the difference between ceremonial magic and witchcraft,

Men: Intellectual approach, Solar inclination, direct approachdes, ceremonial style rituals

Women: Intuitive approach, Lunar inclinations, indirect approaches, ecstatic style rites.

In Tibet for instance Men are considered better suited for Sutra. Padmasambhava however made it very clear that women were better equiped for Tantric practice. This is one of the reasons that womens magic is so feared throughout the world. In Greece, the term Thessaly Witch was so feared that the term came to basically mean "Bitch". In parts of Asia, Africa, and South America you still have widespread persecution of female witches by male Shaman and Magicians. The magic is considered so inherent in the female, that in the Congo they believe that witches are born with a gland for witchcraft,

Of course, as I said, this division of mens and womens magic does not hold true universally true. I know many women who are more direct and have a more intellectual approach to magic than I. They also seem to lack the intuition that is necessary for "womens magic".

What I have tried to cultivate is a magical androgyny. Thankfully I was born with a somewhat intuitive approach to magic from the start, and agree with my friend that a lot of the ceremonial claptrap is basically training wheels for those who cannot see and feel directly.

On the technical end of the spectrum we also have the obvious differences in Sex magic. It has been observed that all over the world there are far more technical instruction in sex magic for men than there is for women. A little bit of this is gender bias, but for the most part it is simply that men need more help. For the real inner sex magic work you need to be able control the timing of when you climax, how long you climax for, and how you direct the energy from the climax. This is something that women (by and large) need very little instruction for. Guys however...

Ask me anything


nutty professor said...

Excellent response, but there is another point here to be made about gender: if magic is gendered, according to the BIOLOGICAL/SEXUAL differences between men and women, are you really saying something about the relationship between magic practice and the body? Or does your understanding of what "men" and "women" are transcend the bodily facts of sexual difference? Does this make any sense?

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe some of this socially constructed. When I look around most groups I'm apart of, I would agree with the solar/lunar breakdown is good descriptor of how it breaks down in modern times.

But world-wide, there seems to be plenty of male shamans and male cunning men who use magic more intuitively. To back up the socially constructed idea, Norse culture has style magic of called seidr that is ecstatic, trance-based and intuitive. Men used to practice it, until social mores changed and it became too feminine to practice it and male practitioners were killed.

It wasn't that men didn't have the talent, but it became socially inappropriate. Just like women were discouraged from pursing education for along time. It's no wonder that there is not Jane Dee.

Having said all that, there is every reason to think that culture impacts magic and magical preferences.

(And terms of the African witch-gland, my understand is that anyone can have those, which is why children, both boys and girls, are accused of being witches.)

Miss Sugar said...

While I agree of course that nothing is always true (as you said), oh man. Jow and I are so gendered (in terms of how we do it) when it comes to magic, sometimes I swear we need a translator.

Lavanah said...

I'm not sure I understand how you are using the words "direct" and "indirect." While I tend to be far closer to the traditional idea of "women's magic" my opinion of much of "mens magic" is "enough talking, planning, charting; for gods sakes, just do it already!"

Jason Miller, said...


I meant that women can attack problems from side angles and use guile better than men.

Having once ran an OTO lodge that was 50% women, I can tell you that your sentiment is shared by a lot of women with ceremonialist husbands. It is also shared by Sorcerers of both genders, as I was always with the ladies when it came down to "can we please just get out of our heads and get to work!"

Psyche said...

On this I call extreme bullshit.

This is an issue with which I take personal exception, and previous posts can be found discussing this on Plutonica.net: Sexism in contemporary occulture, Gender and the elements, with more links here and here.

Also, see Phil Hine's excellent comments here: Occult gender regimes: the Yin-Yang binary, Occult gender regimes: reincarnation and ‘Uranian’ souls in the Nineteenth century, Occult gender regimes: Polarity and Tradition, and Occult gender regimes: Polarity and the body electric.

Let me know what you think after reading these, then perhaps we can have an intelligent discussion on "women's magick". (There is, of course, no such thing.)