To Him the Winged Secret Flame, To Her the Stooping Starlight: The Social Construction of Gender in Contemporary Ordo Templi Orientis
Keywords:Aleister Crowley, gender, Judith Butler, sexuality, Thelema, Western esotericism.
AbstractBased on fieldwork in the United States, the article analyses the social construction of gender in contemporary O.T.O.. The article addresses an important and often neglected area of study in research on Western esotericism, and discusses how the notion of binary gender is both created and challenged in interactions between O.T.O. members. Thelemic divinity as presented in Liber AL is envisioned as consisting of a divine father, Hadit, mother Nuit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit, their divine offspring. Despite the gender polarity constructed thus, contemporary O.T.O. members stretch the boundaries of binary gender through a plethora of deities, personal gender performances and acceptance of different sexual orientations and lifestyles. The creativity and innovation of contemporary O.T.O. members’ gender constructions demonstrates the necessity of greater methodological diversity in research on Western esotericism, in order to allow an understanding of esoteric traditions as lived religions.
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