Stephen K. Bannon — political strategist, filmmaker, financier, and … occultist? Really: multiple sources have reported that Donald Trump’s advisor, right-wing populist, and former Breitbart News editor Steve Bannon has a penchant for the occult and the esoteric. Bannon had notably cited the early twentieth century Italian esotericist, traditionalist, and Nazi affiliate Julius Evola during a 2014 conference with traditionalists at the Vatican. More recently, Mitch Horowitz — author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped our Nation — wrote in Salon that, after the 2009 publication of his book, Bannon had called the author to express his “deep interest in the book’s themes,” encouraging Horowitz in his work on his next volume, an exploration of the positive thinking movement in American life. Horowitz goes on in his article to give a history of American conservatism’s interest in occultism and New Age mysticism, including Ronald Reagan’s use of Manly P. Hall’s esoteric ideas about America’s “secret destiny,” Donald Trump’s belief in the power of positive thinking, and the Freemasonic symbols in the Great Seal of the United States.
The movement of witches and magic-users to “bind Donald Trump” took on viral momentum recently, with in-person performances of the spell at local magic shops (Catland in Brooklyn, in my case), mainstream media reports, evangelical Christian pushback, and the opposition of a pro-Trump cult of Pepe the Frog “worshippers” centered around 4Chan, who believe that the Pepe meme is now a hypersigil related to the ancient Egyptian chaos god, Kek. Even one of my favorite musicians and queen of Coney Island, Lana del Rey, got involved (on the side of the angels, of course). In other words, the situation is both getting very weird, and very alarming.
Originally posted as a part of my column, The Blooming Staff, on the Agora, the group blog of the Patheos Pagan Channel.
As I continue my research into post-Crowley forms of Thelema, Christian theology, and other occult traditions (especially the teachings of the Universal Brotherhood, which Frater Achad led as Mahaguru starting in the early 1930s), one major point of difference has emerged for me between Christian forms of occultism and non-Christian traditions like Thelema: eschatology.
[Note: Originally published as a part of my column for the Patheos Pagan Channel, The Blooming Staff.]
This column explores the intersections between Catholic theology and the Thelemic current, so it was only a matter of time before Frater Achad—mundane name Charles Stansfeld Jones—came up. Prior to the late nineteenth century, most occult and esoteric movements were Christian, many heterodox Catholic—the Elus Cohen of Martinez de Pasqually, the Martinists, the Rosicrucians of the Parisian occult revival, and many members of the Golden Dawn. In the twentieth century, A.E. Waite, Dion Fortune, and many other figures continued the esoteric Christian current. But Thelema appears to have a built-in bias against Christianity, stemming directly from its founder and from his Aeonic schema, which suggests that the formula of the dying and rising God (the Aeon of Osiris) is now outmoded in favor of the formula of the crowned and conquering child (the Aeon of Horus).