Curses and Clues


Compiled by Hunter MacKenzie

A collection of lesser-known but interesting quotes from Aleister Crowley, gleaned from various things he wrote…

“Life is a sacrament; in other words, all our acts are magickal acts.”

“We are the poets! We are the children of wood and stream, of mist and mountain, of sun and wind! and to us the rites of Eleusis should open the door of Heaven, and we shall enter and see God face to face.”

“Logic is responsible for most of the absurd and abominable deeds which have disgraced history.”

“Monogyny is nonsense for anyone with a grain of imagination. The more sides he has to his natures, the more women he needs to satisfy it. The same is, of course, true, mutates mutandis, of women.”

“Magick had fallen into desuetude chiefly because people would follow the prescribed course of action and get no results. If one does not understand anything about electricity, one cannot construct a dynamo; and having so failed, one cannot get oneself electrocuted.”

“Shallow critics argue that because the average untrained man cannot evoke a spirit, the ritual which purports to enable him to do so must be at fault. He does not reflect that an electroscope would be useless in the hands of a savage.”

“The mind is a mechanism for dealing symbolically with impressions; its construction is such that one is tempted to take these symbols for reality. Conscious thought, therefore, prevents one from perceiving reality.”

“Almost all religious tyranny springs from intellectual narrowness. The spiritual energy derived from the high trances makes the seer a formidable force, and unless he be aware that his interpretation is due only to the exaggeration of his own tendencies of thought, he will seek to impose it on others, and so delude his disciples, pervert their minds and prevent their development. He can do good only in one way, that is, by publishing the methods by which he attained illumination: in other words, by adding his experience to the sum of scientific knowledge.”

“I had not realized that Magick was the practical side of spiritual progress.”

“The essential identity of all religions… is the same mountain seen from different sides and named by different people.”

“What we call ultimate truth is in reality no more than a statement of the internal relations of the universe which we perceive.”

“It is one of the most frightful consequences of increasing age that one finds fewer and fewer of one’s contemporaries worth talking to.”

“A poem is a series of words so arranged that the combination of meaning, rhythm and rime produces the definitely magical effect of exalting the soul to divine ecstasy.”

“We already know that certain spiritual or mental conditions may be induced by acting on physico- and chemico-physiological conditions. Morphine makes men holy and happy in a negative way; why should there not be some drug which will produce the positive equivalent?”

“When one is working in the eye of God, when one cares nothing for the opinion of men… when one has surrendered forever one’s personal interests and become lost in one’s work, it is merely waste of time and derogatory to one’s dignity to pay attention to irrelevant interruptions about one’s individual affairs. One keeps one’s powder and shot for people who attack one’s work itself.”

“When Freud says, quite correctly, that dreams are phantasms of suppressed sexual desire, the question remains, of what is sexual desire the phantasm?”

“I have myself constructed numerous ceremonies where it is frankly admitted that religious enthusiasm is primarily sexual in character. I have merely refused to stop there. I have insisted that sexual excitement is merely a degraded form of divine ecstasy.”

“There is, of course, extreme danger in coming into contact with a demon of malignant or unintelligent nature. It should, however, be said that such demons exist only for imperfectly initiated Magicians.”

“Facts are judged by their fertility. When a discovery remains sterile, the evidence of its truth is weakened. The indication is that it is not a stone in the temple of truth.”

“Disappointment arises from the fear that every joy is transient.”

“The Abyss being crossed… I understood that sorrow had no substance; that only my ignorance and lack of intelligence had made me imagine the existence of evil.”

“Intolerance is evidence of impotence.”

“Just as extreme hunger makes a man shovel down anything that looks like food, so the ache of the soul for truth makes it swallow whatever promises.”

“Imagine listening to Beethoven with the prepossession that C is a good note and F a bad one; yet this is exactly the standpoint from which all uninitiates contemplate the universe. Obviously, they miss the music.”

“The only love worth having or indeed worthy of the name is the spontaneous sympathy of a free soul.”

“Whatever is not ultimately useful is a source of distraction and anxiety. It gets in one’s way.”

“I fail to understand why it should be considered excusable to seduce a woman and leave her to shift for herself, while if one receives her as a permanent friend and cares for her well-being long after the liaison had lapsed, one should be considered a scoundrel.”

“We all do so many stupid things, for bad reason or no reason at all. ‘Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do’ applies to nine-tenths of our actions.”

“A very strange theory, that about death… I wonder if there’s anything in it. It would really be too easy if we could get out of our troubles in so simple a fashion.”

“Just as soon as you start seriously to prepare a place for magickal Work, the world goes more cockeyed than it is already.”

“Fear is the source of all false perception.”

© Copyright 2004 by Hunter MacKenzie. Republished 2011, 2015.

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The Rites of Spring

Spring Catkins by PL Miller

Photo: “Spring Catkins” by P.L. Miller

Compiled by Erin Abernethy & Hunter MacKenzie

The Spring Equinox is also called the Vernal Equinox. The word “vernal” comes from the Latin word “verno” which means “to burgeon, break into bloom” or “to be young.” Accordingly, spring traditions and rituals have historically emphasized fertility, cleansing, renewal and regeneration; many revolve around the “dying god” legends. The following are some of the more interesting ones we have found in our research.

In some of the villages of Germany, it was the custom for young people to gather and make a straw man. This was then carried out into the open fields; during the procession, they would sing a song about carrying Death away. Upon reaching the chosen spot, they would dance in a circle around the straw man, then tear it to pieces with much shouting. When torn apart, the straw man was then burned in a bonfire as the young people danced around it. After this, the young people would then return to the village and go from house to house begging for eggs, explaining that they had just carried Death away from the village to make way for Spring.

(Sort of a mixing of the modern traditions of Easter eggs and Halloween trick-or-treating.)

The ancient Romans celebrated the spring equinox on the 25th of March rather than on the 21st as is customary now. Part of their celebration centered around the resurrection of Attis, a god of vegetation who was considered to be dead or sleeping during the winter. Interestingly, when Christianity as a religion was still in its early stages, the widespread belief was that Christ’s crucifixion had been on the 25th of March, and accordingly, Easter was initially celebrated on this date.

March 25 was also at one time considered to be the date upon which the world was created.

(One wonders what was going on from January 1st through March 24th of that year… planning, perhaps? Waiting for project approval? Supplies on backorder?)

The word “Easter” comes from Eostre, the name of an Old German dawn goddess.

April Fools’ Day has its roots in the tradition of the Norse god Loki, a notorious trickster. The trickster archetype is not exclusive to Norse culture and mythology, of course. Many societies have had specific allotted times when it was permissible to engage in behaviors that were usually frowned upon.

In certain areas of France, bonfires are lit on the first Sunday of Lent. When the fires have died down, the young people take turns and compete in jumping over the embers; those who can do this without getting their clothes singed are supposed to be married within the year.

(Perhaps this is the origin of that phrase “better to marry than to burn.” Or perhaps not.)

Among some of the early tribes in China, an annual celebration was held to destroy all the evils of the past twelve months. It was carried out by burying a large clay vessel filled with gunpowder, stones, bits of iron, and so on; a match was set to a trail of gunpowder and the clay pot was blown up. Doing so was supposed to disperse all the ills of the previous year.

(Don’t try this one at home without safety glasses.)

Human sacrifice was reportedly not uncommon among the Aztecs of ancient Mexico, but it was also an annual spring event occurring around the last week of April. For this purpose, a person was chosen to symbolize a god for an entire year; he was treated as the embodiment of the god for that year, receiving all due attention and reverence. At the time of the festival, he was then killed and eaten by the people.

Parilia was a Roman festival held in April to honor the deity Pales. It included decorating sheepfolds with green branches, offering milk and cakes to the divinity, and driving farm animals through the smoke of fires in the belief that this would protect them from illness during the coming year.

(Smoke inhalation was evidently of no concern.)

April 24th is a traditional night of divination in regard to romance. A young woman who wished to see a vision of a future lover was supposed to fast from sunset, making a barley cake during the night. If she left her door open, her future lover was supposed to come inside for the cake. Floralia was a Roman festival to honor Flora, goddess of flowers and youth. Beginning on April 28th, it was known for its encouragement of sexual license. Medallions depicting various sexual acts were handed out, and seeds were thrown into the crowds as a symbol of fertility. In many places this time began the May festivals which featured the phallic Maypole and other fertility symbols; the traditions corresponded closely to the Roman Saturnalia (in December) and still survive in some form in many parts of Europe.

(Today we just have the annual Spring Break beer bashes on the beaches.)

© Copyright 1999 by Erin Abernethy & Hunter MacKenzie. Republished 2013, 2014, 2015.

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This Week at Gatewood: July 5 – 11, 2015


by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

We’ve finally done it: added a subscription box to our site! Frankly, I’m a little intimidated by MailChimp, but I held my breath and poked around until I felt we had something usable, and our tests showed it to be in good working order. Our e-pigeons are standing by to bring you your newsletter!

Don’t worry – all the hard part is done on our end. Your part is easy. Just put your e-mail address in the box, click the button, and wait for your confirmation e-mail. Then click the button when your confirmation e-mail arrives. That’s all. (One note: I have noticed that subscriptions managed through MailChimp take a little while to send out the confirmation e-mail. It doesn’t instantly show up in your box. Our tests ranged from 5 to 15 minutes.)

What do you get when you subscribe? Well, currently the plan is to send out a monthly newsletter with all our features for the month. Like a weekly wrap-up, only monthly, because we don’t want to overload your e-mail box. Like a magazine, only digital, because we love trees.

Needless to say, we won’t share your information, and you won’t get a ton of useless stuff or spam from us. We have no relatives in Nigerian royalty, and no one here has the slightest idea what to do if your penis isn’t everything you’d want.

Here are our features for the week of July 5 – 11:

Monday:Corpus Libertas,” photography and digital artwork by K.C. Collins

Tuesday:Thievery,” poetry by Rowan McConnell

Wednesday:Seven Questions on Life & Death” an interview with D.V. Gray from Hunter MacKenzie

Friday:Monsters and Fear,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from Mike Carey

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as all sorts of humor, animal pics and rescues, and other tidbits of interest. If you have ideas for things you’d like to see included in the newsletter, or general suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. E-mail us or contact Doc on Twitter with your ideas.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of July 5 – 11, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

Photo via MorgueFile.

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This Week at Gatewood: June 28 – July 4, 2015

staff meeting

Artwork via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

We’ve continued to make improvements on the site this week by adding a Writers Index. This gathers all the work by writer rather than by subject, so if you enjoy the work of a particular writer and want to read more, everything they’ve written is listed in one spot, regardless of topic. The page lists writers in alphabetical order by surname; writers who have more work on the site have their own pages, and you can use the drop-down menu of the Index for that.

The Gallery revision is now complete as well. We’ve added a section on the drop-down menu for P.L. Miller, and I’m told that the photos in that section here are a completely different set from what’s posted on the P.L. Miller Photoblog.

Here are our features for the week of June 28 – July 4:

Monday:The Architecture of Cleveland,” photography by Teran

Tuesday:3:33,” poetry by Hunter MacKenzie

Wednesday:Today I Have Hope” commentary from Rob Colfax

Friday:Wings for the New Highway,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from Richard Bach

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here’s a bit of humor from our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas:

plans for 4th

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as writing humor, animal fun & rescues, and other tidbits of interest.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of June 28 – July 4, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

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by Hunter MacKenzie

We sleep three hours,
a regimen made for mania,
all night on the streets,
walking and walking
and talking to strangers.
Hopes raised and dashed,
each one with the possibility
of infinity.

We leave notes
in the car park,
queries to the universe,
under the open sky,
the dark but wide-open sky,
teeming with signals
from beyond.
Occasionally we receive
a cryptic response,
enough to keep us

We pace past the coffee shop,
past the shuriken boys
with spiked hair and trenchcoats,
past the old theater with
rocking-chair seats
and concrete gods
watching over the entrance.
We watch for signs.
We walk.
We wait.
Always waiting,
Everything is significant
except that which is

We burn candles and bury them
tied in red cloth,
exactly three hundred and thirty-three paces
from the derelict fountain,
near the railroad,
during a lunar eclipse.
Three threes make nine.
Three threes are the number of chaos.

We hope that the freight train derailment
three nights later
is unrelated.
It may be metaphorical –
a possible indication of
the condition of my brain –
but I won’t believe it until
three years later.
For now it’s only
another suggestion of
delays and dashed hopes.

Later in time,
when the threes and nines
have loosened their hold,
and I have no streets to walk
and I can see no stars to consult
and I have given up the search
because I no longer know
what I’m hunting,
and hope has run out before time,
I will still be restless,
still be awakened
each night

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This Week at Gatewood: June 21-27, 2015


Artwork via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in! We’ve changed our background this week to something a bit lighter, and increased the font size a tiny bit more. Small changes, but I think it makes things a bit easier on the eyes – and that’s important to us, since the latest numbers indicate that many of our visitors stay here reading for an hour or more. Let us know what you think by emailing us at info(at) or tweeting to @docnicholas.

Here are our features for the week of June 21-28:

Monday:Seaver,” artwork by Zengael

Tuesday:The Photographs of Photographers,” poetry by F.X. MacKenzie

Wednesday:Intro & Preparatory Notes for The Tarot Compendium” from D.V. Gray, Hunter MacKenzie, and “Queen Z”

Friday:Letting Go,” photography by P.L. Miller with wise words from the Tao Te Ching

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Here’s a bit of humor from our Special Assistant Dr Nicholas:


Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as book love, animal humor & rescues, and other items of interest.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of June 21-27. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!

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Intro & Preparatory Notes for The Tarot Compendium


Photo via Morguefile.

by D.V. Gray, Hunter MacKenzie, and “Queen Z”

Our Tarot Compendium now has its own page here:

Below are some notes and recommendations for best utilizing the Compendium and the Tarot in general.


Although there are some general meanings which tend to hold true for divination with the Tarot, it is highly individualized and needs a great deal of work, study, observation and interpretation on the part of the reader. The more experience you gain, the more accurate your insights will be. The meanings suggested here are intended to give some basis from which to start – not to be a comprehensive or dogmatic list of rules. It is to be expected that as one gains experience in reading the cards, one will expand upon the suggested interpretations, developing a deeper and more individual sense of meaning from each card.

Some suggest that reading more than two or three times a week is excessive, but we have not found this to necessarily be the case. For matters in which you wish to assess probabilities, it is essential that you learn what sort of time frame the cards tend to form for you. To this end, reading once a day (or every other day) at approximately the same time each day may prove useful. Once the habit has been established, insight and understanding becomes far more fluent than it tends to be in a situation where the cards are read haphazardly or only on occasions where the querist feels in desperate need of “answers.”

As far as layout, several have become common in general usage, and it cannot really be said that one is inherently better than another. The Celtic Cross tends to give just about the right amount of information, in our opinion, and makes establishing the time frame of events relatively simple. (Note: we do not use the method described in the booklet accompanying the Waite deck, where the querist chooses a “significator” card. If that method resonates with you and works for you, however, then by all means use it.) Other layouts may provide a more “condensed” view if information is needed quickly or if a narrower focus is desirable, while some layouts on the opposite extreme tend to yield a great deal of information based on the relationships of the cards to one another in the layout. It is not necessary to be familiar with all layouts to be proficient; it is more important to master a layout that gives you the right amount of information – then if you find it necessary to expand or narrow it, you may wish to explore other layouts.

Regarding reversals (upside-down cards) – there are various opinions on whether this should be incorporated or not, but we feel that the cards yield much more detail and intricacy in the interpretation if reversals are allowed.

Regarding gender – many sources contend that the “court cards” (Page, Knight, Queen and King) will always represent persons of certain genders (i.e., Queens will always represent an older woman, Knights will stand for a young man, etc.). This depends mainly on one’s own orientation and beliefs about the matter. We tend to get more accurate insights from the cards when the court cards are not assigned one gender – but again, this is a matter for individual interpretation, and your own experience is the best guide to how you should interpret these for yourself.

It is recommended that you keep your cards in a safe place, out of general view, and that you not let others handle them indiscriminately. The more “bonded” they become to you, the more accurate the insights will be for your life. With a new deck, it is not a bad idea to sleep with them under your pillow for some nights at first (although this may be more psychological than anything else).

It is advisable to bear in mind that events are probabilities and are not “set in stone.” The very act of looking ahead to gauge the possibilities available to you changes the range of those probabilities and the likelihood of what will happen. Therefore, it is a good idea to phrase your questions in a way such as, “What is likely to be the result if I…?” or “I would like insight into…” rather than expecting the cards to display a specific outline of future events. It is not uncommon for the process of reading to function as a tool to extend awareness and clarify what you already know but aren’t aware that you know.

Divination by the Tarot is a practice based largely on interpretation. While the cards themselves may have designated rudimentary meanings, what you get from your reading is necessarily highly personal and subjective. The better you know yourself and the further reaches of your own mind, the more accurate your readings are likely to be.

© Copyright 1993 by D.V. Gray, Queen Z & Hunter MacKenzie. Updated and republished 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015

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